Happy Easter…I Think

Kathy and I are hanging out in an enclave in Southwest Florida called Gasparilla Island.For years it has been a playground of the very rich without a desire to be famous. The Duponts and others made this one of many stops for the winter with the centerpiece being the Gasparilla Inn, which is more like a mini Greenbriar than a quaint roadside rest. The long abandoned tracks are still in town, a poignant reminder of long gone Pullmans shuttling swells and hoppers carrying phosphate to the mainland.

We went to mass on Palm Sunday in an oversized chapel that normally held about 150 but was bursting at the seams during Spring Break. The grandmas were in Lily or J McGlaughlin and Grandpa in his faded Nantucket reds with the requisite Guccis or Topsiders with no socks. Nothing gaudy but well kept. Old money has a classy way of telling you they are doing just fine without shoving it down your throat. As the Passion was read I couldn’t help but think about a guy named Jesus who came from a poor background but had made His way over the centuries into folks of all types of bank accounts.

We were not alone that Sunday morn as many other churches were packed with their denominations. All WASP but nice to see people going to church. Not for the religion per se but the upholding of traditions. On the streets you can see the denizens saying hello to one another with air kisses and bro hugs. Kind of like the gathering of the clan. There are no Bentleys or Maseratis. The chariot of choice is a golf cart that is neither fancy nor tricked out. They are four to six passenger models and are festooned with an occasional faded country or college flag and the basic color is rust. The driving age is 14 but no one is watching if the young’uns cruise around the block or further.

You feel that time is standing still and the causeway could be the drawbridge over the moat. Nothing bad happens here in Camelot. If we were threatened someone would just close the gates and life would go on. One has to feel that way about America as we watch the news and word of massacre in Belgium. 9/11 was horrific but we have been spared turmoil for the most part. Maybe it is heightened security but could be it is the Atlantic Ocean that keeps the mayhem makers at bay.

Easter is the sign of new life in a year. The flowers’ shoots pop through the earth with colors that break the grayness of a long winter. Jesus is risen and so are our spirits. You feel revitalized and that first really warm day brings a spirit of renewal. Hey,we made it through another one and clear sailing is ahead. Politics and war be damned.We are just going to kick back and enjoy this one….for now.

Looking out over the Gulf Of Mexico you wish we could just freeze this in time. Ain’t gonna happen. Times change and whether you consider it good or bad, it still happens. The beauty of living in the Land of the Free is that we can do whatever we want. And that too is its tragic flaw. I want you to say whatever you want as long as it’s not hateful or inciting riots. I want you to practice freedom of religion as long as it is my religion. I want you to feel comfortable in bearing arms lest your home be invaded but that right kills kids either on purpose or by accident.
Our spirit of creativity and discovery has let genies out of the bottle and they can never be put back. The Internet has been a boon to many people but it has also become a tool of terror. We don’t want our privacy to be violated and yet we splay our innermost thoughts and our sex lives for all to see on Facebook. Look at the absurdity and quite frankly the depravity of Hulk Hogan being awarded $115 million for some webpage showing him having sex with his best friend’s wife. Sick on all counts.

Computers are being amped up to where their capability doubles every two or three years. Artificial Intelligence(AI) can now beat humans at highly intuitive games. We can replace any organ or bone in our bodies and if we can’t find a decent transplant we can always recreate one by 3D printing. As a matter of fact we can replicate 3D printers themselves by producing clone after clone and on and on. I wonder if it will work on our souls. Can we devise a way to convey feeling such as elation  and heartbreak? Don’t say no without thinking about it first.

Long story short is that places like Gasparilla, the Hamptons and La Jolla are not going anywhere physically any time soon. Nor are the Fergusons, south sides of Chicago nor the barrios of LA. As evenly as the people with it good want it to go on forever, the people with bad are praying it will stop. Where we are today is that everyone has their own agenda and history tells us that can’t be good.

How the hell we are going to pull this all together is a mystery to me? I can rant and rave and hope that someone on either side wakes up and takes the reins before this wonderful wagon goes careening off the cliff. You say, why can’t you be optimistic? I say, give me a reason. I say go beyond this and saying that’s a great idea TTG but I am busy. Politics, corporate behavior and our basic morality needs a long introspection and 200 year plus overhaul. Maybe those 3D printers might do the trick.

It’s Easter and the flowers are growing but we need to weed the beds and put in a lot of fertilizer if this years crop is going to make it. We have to feel the warmth of the sunshine not only on our faces but in our hearts. This all may sound corny but I feel it more than ever. If you think it is going to get better all on its own, think again. Happy Easter.

As always
Ted The Great

Americans buy more than 700 million marshmallow peeps during the Easter holiday, which makes Peeps the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy.
The exchange of eggs for Easter dates back to a springtime custom older than Easter itself in which eggs were given as a symbol of rebirth in many cultures.

Eastern Catholics celebrate mass differently that the rest of us. Not Eastern Orthodox but Eastern United States. They don’t hold hands during the Our Father. The handshake of peace is tepid at best. One guy in a church in NYC told me,”I don’t do that crap.” They leave right after communion and will cut you off in the parking lot while leaving, if you get in their path. Outta my way asshole! Pax Vobiscum.


Way back when, in the fifties, there was a horror movie entitled, “Them”. A nuclear disaster created giant ants and they kept multiplying in the New Mexico desert to terrorize the populace. I imagine that is probably how the Donald and Co are viewed by a lot of Americans and maybe the world. It got me thinking.

We assign “them” to lot of different types of people ranging from ethnic to regional to religious differences. They become more pronounced in election years as we cast our ballots. Hilary wins the blacks. Donald gets the red necks. Cruz caters to evangelicals and Bernie, socialists in hiding. I am not sure if I am in any of those categories so my choices may be limited. But whoever you are it comes down to us versus them. This is not as much of an aberration as one might think. It may be in our genes.
This goes back a long time ago to Neanderthal man. Then it was us against the rest of the animal world. We got together for common good in so far as security and food gathering. As we started to communicate we went from grunts to simple sentences to eventually complex thought. Sometimes I think we are still stuck at the monosyllabic stage. But I digress.

Them becomes a broad category that we paint with a wide brush. We can categorize with color,accent or dress as in Blacks, Hispanics and Muslims. You probably could include various regions of the US in that dialect thing. Hyperbole seems to be the order of the day and rational thought gives way to rants. If I don’t have to consider the individual or particular circumstances I can get really riled up at whole assemblies of peoples and feel just fine.

But for a moment let’s think about the concept of banding together. A group can be as few as two people that have something in common. We share ideas and maybe beliefs. When we are small we can be more specific and detailed. As the masses enter, the founding concepts get blurry and a few bullet points are all that matter.

People want to be part of a group. We are social beings but you have to wonder why? Is it security or camaraderie? Necessity or convenience? I think it is just that they want to belong, to say they are part of something. It also denotes acceptance. You have made it and are considered one of peers. The rules become tougher as the old guard want to enforce the founding principles. Beyond rituals there is a feeling that if one gives in at all it will weaken the organization.

Two phenomena occur. Unless it is in itself a group of entrepreneurs or free thinkers there is a loss of individuality. Creativity is looked askance at and new ideas suffer or not depending on your point of view. People are reluctant to speak out or stand from the crowd at the risk of alienating people. Instead of being a contributor you are looked upon as a zealot or rabble rouser.

The second part is the emergence of a “loner”. They can become everything from a solitude seeker to a social outcast. Some people just don’t want to mix it up which is fine but others feel an enormous lack of acceptance by their fellow man or woman. This can grow into  psychoses or paranoia. Our jails are littered with those who have fallen prey to their demotion or nonacceptance and decided it to take to out on the world with a firearm or sword in hand. Now we have new group of whackos and weirdos that society paints with the same wide swath. As our populations grow and categorizations multiply, more and more are left out of the mix and murder and mayhem become the only panacea.

Hobbes and Rousseau et alia have delved far deeper into social contracts than this small brain can muster but it really is intriguing to think of the options. Is the individual the product of society or is society the creation of the individual? We first start to converse and those interactions give way to ideas and beliefs. That in turn becomes a culture over time. Common laws are quantified and we live in harmony..sort of.

There is another way to look at this. Are we the organism or are we just appendages to the mass? I personally like the primary mover part. Without recognizing one’s contribution and effect on society we are at the whim of the world. I happen to ascribe to self determination and the ability to change society for better or worse. Maybe it is a distaste for acquiescence and rather the knowledge that whatever terms we are living under, they can be improved.

Given that, remember we are known by the company we keep. If you are comfortable being a hard right or left go for it. If you are only tending that way take heed and speak up. Maybe this is fodder for a third party. Not one that arises from a pout but one that really wants to draw from both sides of the ledger. If you are a member of a club or organization that does not share your values, either change their direction or quit. What have you lost your mind TTG? No, but maybe some of us have lost our way.

After all this deep cogitation I have arrived at the conclusion I was hoping I wouldn’t get to. The ability to find a middle ground as we are currently constructed is a remote hope and distant possibility. Very distant. Our minds are too closed and quite frankly the effort to coalesce is just not time well spent in our increasingly busy world. Peace, fraternity and egalite`are lofty goals that don’t fly. We are too busy to try to turn “them” into “us”. And that is a tragic but the contemporary state of affairs. I’ll deal with ti.

As always
Ted The Great

What is the social contract theory of government?

Social contract. the voluntary agreement among individuals by which, according to any of various theories, as of Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau, organized society is brought into being and invested with the right to secure mutual protection and welfare or to regulate the relations among its members. Source unknown but sure makes sense.

Five defining characteristics of stupidity. First, is sheer ignorance: Ignorance of critical facts about important events in the news, and ignorance of how our government functions and who’s in charge. Second, is negligence: The disinclination to seek reliable sources of information about important news events. Third, is wooden-headedness, as the historian Barbara Tuchman defined it: The inclination to believe what we want to believe regardless of the facts. Fourth, is shortsightedness: The support of public policies that are mutually contradictory, or contrary to the country’s long-term interests. Fifth, and finally, is a broad category I call bone-headedness, for want of a better name: The susceptibility to meaningless phrases, stereotypes, irrational biases, and simplistic diagnoses and solutions that play on our hopes and fears. Rick Shenkman,Editor History News Network. Perfecto.
The 10 most innovative countries in the following order: Switzerland, United Kingdom,Sweden, Netherlands, United States, Finland, Singapore, Ireland, Luxembourg, Denmark (Home of LEGO.)


I was going to be clever and frivolous this week…until Friday night. Kathy and I went to see Spotlight and all I can say is the Academy in Follywood for all its faults and foibles got it right. For the uninitiated it is a film about an investigative group at the Boston Globe called Spotlight and its dogged pursuit of the Catholic diocese of Boston and its horrible handling of pedophilia among several of its priests. This is not going to be a movie review but musings from a long time Catholic who loves great journalism.

At its best it shows what a principled group of reporters can do. They pursued the story for over one year and by all signs got it right. At its worst it shows what it takes to get a story out as editorial boards decide sometimes arbitrarily what gets through and what doesn’t from both a worthiness as well as political perspective. Good ideas sometimes find the circular file because one doesn’t want to make waves or enemies. You have the feeling it is not only the Fourth Estate that exercises the prerogative.

As portrayed and I believe in reality there were no superstars but a group of people who received a tip and delved to find its veracity.They literally turned over every rock and pursued every lead. If you are looking for salacious details they are not there but the underlying misery and guilt of those preyed upon lets the story unfold. It is an indictment of the Catholic Church for sure but it also affects society as a whole. While watching, you can’t help but let your mind drift to every seat of power and apart from the specifics of this particular situation see them every bit as culpable.

I have locked horns with our former bishop about the Church’s response or lack thereof. It wasn’t naivete but an assault on their power base that caused them to cover up and subject those poor bastard victims to intimidation and guilt. We are sacrosanct and holier than thou and don’t you dare challenge us or our decisions. Our failures and perversions are not to be displayed lest one shake the foundations of the Holy Mother Church. By the way our bare knuckled exercise of ordained powers have kept us in the driver’s seat all these centuries. We have history and God on our side. What incredible arrogance!

For those that shout foul please consider there were 87 priests in the Boston diocese that were guilty of the most heinous crimes perpetrated on young people. Let’s take your cries of unfairness and reduce that number by a half. But then multiply that by hundreds of dioceses throughout the US and sadly the world. For a moment let’s even give the offending clerics a pass and say they were sick, sick people. I lay the blame at the feet of the hierarchy. The wealth and power of the Church is over the top and that has been passed on to its district managers everywhere. Now this is the point where I think of the Congress and board rooms and say the religious are not alone.

Think about Watergate, Clinton, GM,Volkswagen, JP Morgan, Bear Sterns, Lehman, Enron, BP, Madoff to name a few before you cast the first stone. It is considered dangerous to your career if you don’t  look the other way. At the same time we see every type of transgression and dismiss it saying we are just following orders or even worse using it as get out of jail free card. 50 shades of gray is not a tacky novel but a way our consciences and outrage shift and bend to make every situation different and somehow palatable.

I am not a boy scout or trying to adopt some sense of righteousness but I can’t help but think our keen sense of right and wrong becomes duller over time. One of the most telling lines in the movie is a Lebanese lawyer named Garabedian who states in a very Irish Catholic town that,” It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to abuse one”. We don’t worry about political correctness but how we will look to our fellow man or woman. Hey, we have to work together or see each other at the club. Don’t want to get the evil eye you know.

I came away feeling incredibly sorry for the poor parishes of North and South Boston, Revere and the Elmhursts and Woodsides of New York. These places grew up as places of solace for poor immigrants. You were known not by where you lived but what parish you belonged to. It wasn’t a Sunday go meeting place but in many cases the center of your life. You went to school there, were an altar boy and your mom and grandparents made novenas for those who had gone to war or a dad who had lost his way. The titular heads of this family were the pastor and his curates. It was a place of trust and unfortunately who one trusts one becomes vulnerable. Kind of like when one puts faith in a company where they work, a boss they loved to work for or even a company they invested in for a better life later on. Not so simple to just say one of the oldest and most revered pillars of decency is besmirched. They, my friends are not alone.

This is a far cry from the pithy piece I wanted to write but I hope you understand that after seeing the movie and cogitating for many hours I had to open up and maybe yes for once not look the other way. Those shades of gray become a lot more black and white when one puts a Spotlight on them. I felt deep down a bunch of emotions and I just wanted to share that with someone. I guess that was you.

As always
Ted The Great

Newspapers today have for the most part forgone investigative journalism. It is too time consuming and expensive. People want headlines not deeply involved analysis. Too bad.

It is estimated that some 5,000 priests are guilty of sexual predation in the US which is about 5% of the clergy. Of those that have come to light it appears that 80% of worldwide offenses have been here in the US but the factors enabling people to come forward are incredibly difficult to quantify.

If there are 5,000 rogue priests that means there are 95,000 out there who are for the most part wonderful and decent people. The Catholic Church has led all other charitable organizations in the help of the sick and the poor. I have known priests and religious my entire life. Many of them are close friends whom Kathy and I treasure. In all those encounters over 65 plus years I have never encountered even a scintilla of impropriety.

Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources.


True Grit….

In a big country like ours, life is full of contrasts. We go from the canyons of New York City to the Grand Canyon of Arizona. We celebrate Senior Chief Edward Byers and give him the Congressional Medal of Honor for shooting the enemy and showing incredible bravery in the retrieval of a hostage. We wonder in disbelief how another human being could go into a lawn mower parts factory, take people hostage and cut them down indiscriminately? We admire people with plenty in our land and then we look askance at people with plenty of nothing. Amazing place.

We are known for our pluckiness and resolve. I wonder not at what makes people successful but what keeps them coming back for more when they are knocked down. You read of every manner of being who has put up with failure only to try for that brass ring or a new start time and time again. How about people who have overcome handicaps of every sort both physical, mental and financial? What is it that makes them hang in there in the face of unbelievable odds?

This is not just a romantic concept that finds its outlet in “chick” flicks. There is something going on here that demands study by all of us. Warren Buffett took many economists and pundits to task in his annual letter this weekend. He said we can figure out how to live on 2 1/2% growth rate and have a good life. But if you listen to the Donald, our country sucks and if you harken to Bernie and at times Hilary our good times are behind us unless of course you elect one of them. Maybe it is time for America to rebel not only against politicians but all the bad news we have been hit with.

We all have something that has gone wrong in our lives. We have lost jobs and loved ones. A child has been gravely ill or diagnosed with a horrible malady. Maybe we have lost our faith. Maybe we have lost our face. Anyone who tells you they have not been through a crisis of one sort has somehow missed out on life. Of course we all know one or two braggarts who have never lost money in the stock market or on a business deal. Their marriage and kids are perfect. Good for them in their fantasies. Don’t dare look below the surface.

Psychology Today tells us “Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes” Fair enough, but do we all have the capability? Strangely enough we all do but some just don’t want to listen to their internal “Knute Rockne” speech. You know that they take some sick pleasure in wallowing in self pity and the idea the world is against them.

There was an interesting study at the University of Michigan into bouncing back from adversity. It seems that those that recover have the ability to understand the gravity or sorrow in situation and deal with it while others keep reliving the vile experience over and over again. They can’t neutralize their emotions. “Get over it” is not in their lexicon. Yes, the sensitive are more prone to getting stuck. So are those that do not plan well or who are reticent to make decisions. Yet those traits are acquired not inherited.

As I think back on my life I can’t count the times I have been knocked down. Some incidental bumps and others head on collisions that have taken their toll. Some are self inflicted. I have a tendency to speak my mind which I know will shock all of you. That doesn’t always work well. I also am prone to taking chances and thank God I have a wife who is a good sport or at least she says she is. But I do have the ability to look myself in the eye and admit I have screwed up. There are two keys hidden here. A good support system and the ability to call a spade a spade.

But the rebound is not automatic. It takes work and that is where people flater. You mean there is no pill for this or that? Sorry,but no. I am too old, too tired,too busy, too stressed to deal with it right now is the common litany of excuses. I went back to weight training this week and of course overdid it. Walking like an invalid has me questioning a second day of madness. Something inside says forget it but there is another that says get off your ass and do it. Guess which one won out?

That was a frivolous example and many of you are facing much more trauma than a sore butt. There was a couple in church on Sunday with their severely palsied boy of 18 or 19. I know many of you who have lost loved ones and yet have faced things full frontal. If I were a 55-60 year old today who had lost his job I don’t think I would be up for TTG’s message of hope. But then again somehow we survive. Somehow we make sense of all this.

As I work in hospice I have been involved in many final hour situations. The human body no matter how diseased or broken is an amazing thing. There are telltale signs the end is near. One of the most dramatic is that the patient’s extremities get cold. The blood is no longer pumping there. The body knows it is in trouble and tries at all cost to protect the torso and use whatever it has to preserve the strength in its most vital organs. When you would almost expect a person to totally acquiesce they are fighting with all they know. That is true grit. Let’s hope we can fight as hard for our world that we so cherish.

As always
Ted The Great.


SEAL training is over 50 weeks long. The recruits are constantly pushed physically and mentally with each week getting worse not easier.Hell week has you sleeping no more than four hours a day and under incredible pressure for the remaining 20. Around 1000 start out and about 200 make it to receive their SEAL trident. During training they can opt out by taking their helmet off and ringing a brass bell three times. I imagine it would kill me to have to do that. Here’s to those that make it.

The Donald called out Sen. John McCain for not being a war hero. He flippantly said heroes don’t get captured. McCain broke a leg and both arms upon ejection from his plane and lasted over five years in the Hanoi Hilton. I call that resolve and a healthy pair of you know whats.

Special Note from my nephew :
Some of you probably know Glen Doherty passed away during the 9/11/12 attacks in Benghazi. Glen was a good friend of mine who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting his fellow Americans. In order to remember and honor Glen, his family set up the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation to celebrate Glen’s life and his passion for igniting the human spirit through adventure and education.
The best way I can honor my friend is by asking for your help in locating Veterans that may qualify for one of the scholarships offered by the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation. Additionally, I am looking for members of your community to donate to this worthy cause. Donations can be made directly at http://www.glendohertyfoundation.org/.

This fund provides scholarships, subsidies, and gifts to current and former special operations professionals in one of four ways:

•Scholarships for current or former Special Operation Professionals used for traditional education
•Scholarships for current or former Special Operations Professionals used for vocational and non-traditional training
•Subsidies and grants for the children of Special Operations Professionals to attend camps that build leadership
•Gifts for the families of Special Operations Professionals and Foreign Service Officers, where a loss or life-changing debilitating injury has been suffered, to be used for recreation as a way of supporting the family unit through positive outdoor activities

Any donations or recommendations for scholarship recipients would be greatly appreciated!