A Man Walks Into A Bar…..

And shoots everyone…. What seems like an intro to a classic joke turns out to be a tragic outcome. It could be a bar, a church or a super market. The most sanguine of locations sets the stage for slaughter. Once a rarity, it is now an all too common part  of our lives. 

People say how sad and move on. Adaption or aquiescence? Maybe if I ignore it, the aberration will just go away. We fail to dig down and find out what is causing this in some madman. Is that capacity for hate and anger endemic to all of us or just the few? 

At birth we have the capacity for both aggression and empathy. We are imbued with a sense of survival but also a desire for connection. We are by nature social animals. We want to love and be loved.The outcome of good or evil is a learned trait. 

 It is great to be part of a group, a town, a state, country and of course a fan of our favorite team. It is ignominy to be an outsider. If someone moves into our neighborhood we are welcoming but wary. Are they going to be one of “our kind” of people or are they going to try to turn my wonderful little life upside down? I get defensive and maybe angry. I could even hate that person if it goes far enough. 

Let’s start with that getting pissed off thing. Psychologists will tell you rage is caused by an event, a feeling you are not valued or the grandaddy of them all, injustice. Somebody cuts you off in traffic and you flip them the bird. What might have been simple faux pas gets to the point of road rage. 

Overlooked as inconsequential or shunned by your peers you are hurt to the core. Your Rodney Dangerfield moment where you don’t get no respect. What am I chopped liver? Some are hurtful and some are downright nasty in their putdowns. It’s what we do as we revel in “gotcha” moments. 

The cause of the day, year or decade is injustice. No matter how hard to you try to be reasonable you are convinced you have been screwed. It could be your status in life, your position in the company or just a series of failures that you blame on anyone else but your self. Some right. Some wrong. 

I get nailed for a drug charge and get sent away for forty years. A rich kid with a great lawyer pleads it down to a misdemeanor. Better yet I am arrested for trafficking when my customer was a rich kid from the burbs in his BMW. Does that sound just to you?

The world is against me because I am black, gay, muslim, Jewish handicapped etc. Many of these are not imaginative but real. Racism, sexism, ageism are there no matter how hard we deny it. I hate to tell you but the world is not fair. The bigger question is should it be?

Now I am a white male in a golf community with decent resources. I can opine on how hard work got me here but I would be stretching things a tad. A member of the “Lucky Sperm” club? You bet. A stable home life to grow up in? Check. Good schools? Yes. Good student? Maybe. 

Yes,I did have to have my wits about me and fend for myself on more than one occasion. Did I take chances? Of course. And yes it could have gone horribly wrong. Did unfair things happen to me? Sure. But people weren’t shooting up my neighborhood all night long? Was my father a drunk who came home and beat the crap out of my mother and siblings? Thank God that’s a no. .

My point is this. Don’t say you have experienced all of the above unless you have. I feel your pain is a bit theatrical. Have you really walked hundreds of miles to a border with your wife and three kids so as not to get killed or raped in your own hometown? Until you have been totally destitute, don’t be so quick to judge and dismiss.

But as in almost any disagreement, this is really a fine edge to be defined. There are two sides to the immigration story. Ditto racism et al. The needle bounces all over the place trying to find true north. And herein lies why we can’t make any progress. 

We are a highly competitive nation. We like to win. As a country, an athlete, a parent or a person. The opposite of competition is cooperation. But If I cooperate today I am seen as weak and yielding. You can’t compromise your position. Do not yield the high ground. Stick to your guns and sadly we have taken that literally. This can only go so far. 

The last time we had any cooperation across all party lines was 9/11. We were one and we were even one with most of the world. We shared and hugged and cried as one. We were partners. A friend told me one time that partnerships were wonderful until one side or the other feels they are being screwed. We got back to looking out for ourselves and the romance was over. 

We are at juncture and I don’t see the way out. Whether it is the US vs China or Russia or whites vs blacks or liberals vs conservative we have lain down the gauntlet. People are angry. People are disgusted. Empathy for the other side is a hard to find commodity. 

It will probably take something pretty bad once again to make us come together and collaborate. It might be global warming. When things get so desperate there is no other way whatsoever. It might be mass killings on such a scale that even the coldest soul has to take heed. I just hope and pray the guy walks into the bar and the joke is not on us. 

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

We concentrate on mass shootings and mental illness. It is shown however that of the 120,000 deaths due to guns only 7-8% are directly related to mental illness. It is somewhat bizarre that we concentrate on mass shootings that total of several hundred victims in a year but do not even consider the other thousands that don’t make the news. 

In fact over 80% of shooting deaths are committed by persons who have many of the problems that nearly everyone has to manage at some point in life: anger, isolation, depressive moods, resentments, jealousy.

Anger is a condition in all of us. It can create heartburn or be a motivating force. It can cause us to wallow in self pity or provide impetus to do better. It is many times valid. How we tame or control it is another question.

Self esteem is a personal estimate of one’s worth. China does not like its position in the world. It is hell bent on being number one to make up for the Century of Disgrace. If one is confident of their self esteem they are more open to new ideas and contrary thinking. If they are worried about their image they will do everything possible to protect their point of view. 

Sea Change….

Although nautical in nature, this idiom refers to philosophies and credos that undergo some sort of metamorphosis or distinct change of direction. The cognoscenti would rather call them paradigm shifts in today’s vernacular, but I think you get the idea. 

I have written many times of how painful change can be. We are creatures of habit and comfort in knowing this is the way things are supposed to be. The COVID monster has thrown us for a loop but I feel it is just symbolic or even a distraction from what’s really going on. 

I hate subtlety and the latest blurring of the line between equality and equity is particularly galling. Up to this point in our fair nation we have at least striven for equality. We should all have the same status, rights and opportunities. Bumpy as the road is we have slowly but surely fine tuned what it means to be equal. There is a long way to go and many are impatient and they should be. There is a similar crowd that says we have gone too far. 

Equity is whole other thing. Equity allocates resources differently. You are poorer, slower, sicker, less imaginative than others because of your surroundings. We want to change that and reallocate resources to ensure your success. 

The difference between equality and equity must be emphasized. Although both promote fairness, equality achieves this through treating everyone the same regardless of need, while equity achieves this through treating people differently dependent on need. However, this different treatment may be the key to reaching equality, but not always. There are some that want success to be guaranteed. 

All this is well and good but the results of the Great Society of LBJ tells us differently. Despite trillions of dollars over 50 years, we have lowered the poverty rate from around 20% to 10%.That sounds good but it was accomplished by raising Social Security so the gains were for those over 65.  The pandemic has brought big bucks into the debate once more.  I am not as much against giving the money as to how it is distributed and accounted for. We have not been good at this. 

Education has been proven to be the ticket out of lower classes. Several years ago I was involved in a program called Tri County Scholarship. We took an abandoned Catholic High School in beautiful downtown Paterson, NJ. This was a tough area to say the least. We stressed commitment and discipline. There were no entrance exams so we did not cherry pick. Sister Gloria ran a tight ship but that did not mean we were not open to all faiths.

It cost us $2500 to educate a child at a time when the state was spending $11,000. Public school’s attendance was around 65% and ours was 100%. We graduated 90% into some form of higher education and they were coming in at 33%. Every child had to pay at least $5 in tuition and the money had to be brought to school by the parent. 

Why were we successful? For the same reason schools like this throughout the country today are succeeding today. We won their hearts and minds over to a concept of striving to be better and taking incredible confidence going forward at its accomplishment. Everyone wore uniforms which gave them a sense of pride. Today that is  considered an act of tyranny. 

We are changing today. No longer are we to be competitive because that does not give everyone a fair chance. Discourse and true questioning are not allowed. We want everybody to be the same and think the exact same way. We forgive student debt. We forgive your rent and your mortgage payments. You don’t have to have any responsibility because we are going to make it all work for you in some magical way. 

Don’t get smug on the right. There has been a gravy train and you know it. You have made the top tiers so impenetrable that the hoi polloi can only wish from afar at your cult like status. We cite the here and there success stories but only consider the Ivies and top MBA mills as appropriate supply chains. The disparity between the worker bees and El Jefes salaries is obscene. 

How does this all tie together? In all areas it has become about me. Rich and poor. Black and white. We decry violence but each side finds some sort of rationalization in burning Federal buildings or storming the US Capitol. Send those SOB’s back to Mexico or Central America and let the wait them wait their turn while others want to take down every border control station. Each one can justify their narrative by citing this poll or statistic. 

We have created a fantasy world. We watched as royals cried victim. The suits of corporate America will tell you how hard they worked. So have others. Many cry poverty but have a new SUV in the garage or a big screen in every room. I watched on TV as a Mercedes pulled up to a food bank. Seriously? Everyone dreams of winning the lottery….or at least getting a check from the government. This can’t turn out well. 

In a radically changing world we need an efficient and caring government. The COVID chaos has shown a lot of flaws. In industry we need compassionate managers who will recognize people for their talents and not necessarily their CV. We need a work force that wants to work and create a pride in achievement like we had at Tri County. Each and every one of us has to figure out how to help someone besides ourselves. 

Sure this is altruistic and heady stuff. Tell me if I am wrong? Whether you are a billionaire or impoverished I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Get some skin in the game. There is a sea change and if we don’t get it right there is a good chance of being swept overboard. Unfortunately I don’t see a lot of lifeboats on the horizon. 

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Women earn 81% of what men do for doing the same job. 

The pay gap between top executives and workers continues to be wide. Since 1978, CEO compensation rose 1,007.5% for CEOs, compared with 11.9% for average workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In comparative terms, CEOs now make 278 times the average worker. In 1978 it was approximately 30 times.

Very high earners are up 339%

19% of the US population received government assistance in 2020. That is about 59 million people. 

The US spends 11.6% of public spending on education. The international norm is 15% 

We spend on average $12,612 on K-12 . 

New York state spends $24,000. 

Colorado spends $12,200 

Utah spends $7600.

 . 

Trust Me…

Our world gets a little more complex every day. Just when you think you have things figured out something out of the blue hits you right between the eyes. It could be an event or concept. Where do you go? I think we have to start with trust.

It has been called the glue that holds everything together and I think whomever coined that phrase was right on. But how do you gain trust or more importantly how do recapture it after is has been lost? 

Whether it is your parents, siblings, friends, boss or lover you approach things warily. You take small steps at first and then increasingly feel comfortable opening up. You get enthused as the door to your and their psyche opens. As you increasingly feel that you are not going to get hurt, you let them see more and more. It is very human.

As much as we crave community, you are ever watchful. If you have had a great childhood with few disappointments you are more prone to believe. If you have been hurt either physically or emotionally you are saying I never want to go there again. We see severely deprived adults who can’t even conjure up a smile or a wave. How tragic but oh so understandable. 

Trust is belief in someone or something. You know it to be true and reliable. Sometimes we accept all that without empirical data and that is a thing called faith. You believe because the person speaking has degree of competency in their certain field. Words that pop out to me are reliability, authenticity and fairness. It is so hard to achieve and even more difficult to win back. Once burned, you are petrified of the flame. 

As I think about all the things I believe in, I harken back to my youth and parents and siblings. My parents loved me and I responded. Not so much my one brother who needled me constantly and I thought he could clearly be labeled a terrorist today. Ha! Friends were many and some even became close.  You won’t tell anybody, will you?

School at the onset was rote. Who am I to argue 2 + 2 of course equals 4? Doesn’t it? But as you go on you begin to have a doubt here or there and in some cases outright revulsion over what was being said.I just don’t agree! You are starting to think independently. That was what learning was all about but of course today that discourse is not allowed. 

I used to have a lot more trust in the government. They were smart or at least productive and “In God We Trust.”  Unfortunately they tend to think those words on the fins and c notes referred to them personally. Not so.

For me it started with John Foster Dulles and his brother at the CIA who thought they could play chess with countries. Watergate, Iran Contra, the Rose Law firm, K Street, dalliances, elections, Russian influence etc showed that most if not all politicians had their flaws and some went very deep. 

All one has to do is look back at the Great Society and the trillions spent with scant results. WMD’s brought us to war even though they never existed. Money commandeered with the right intentions gets siphoned off in bridges to nowhere and a detailed review of the latest COVID relief bill shows the kids are still at work.

The world scene? Do you trust Russia or China? How about Turkey, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba ?  The World Health Organization(Who) ? Maybe even the UN? We all have our skeletons but it is hard to trust egocentrics and petty dictators. 

Big business? Volkswagen,Boeing, JP Morgan, McKinsey et al, have paid out huge sums to make things go away. All without admitting any guilt of course. Bernie Madoff conned hundreds of people and institutions. He even betrayed his Jewish faith by screwing many temples with equanimity. You just don’t do that! Have you no conscience?

Speaking of which, how about religion? The Catholic Church, not my faith has lost me. The lies, the coverups and sanctimonious preaching was beyond a breach of trust to those they counseled.  Ministers and rabbis are right up there but not as easy or visible a target. 

Doctors and coaches molesting at will. I could go on and on. Am I being unfair? Have you lost faith in me? Good question. I have often felt to solve a problem you have to admit to it. We are not very good at that. If you want my trust there are some simple things you have to do to get it back. 

Be sincere and be vulnerable. No one is perfect. If you are wrong, admit it. If you don’t know the answer don’t try to BS me. It will come back to haunt you. Learn to trust others. Don’t think I can’t take the truth. The Donald and Cuomo were almost complicit at the same time in the failure to give us the facts. Equal Opportunity Offenders.

How about being humble? Look yourself and then me in the eye. Show me your warts. I will do the same. Then maybe we can get back on track. When you believe you are beyond excited. When you see inequities and falsehoods it sucks all the air out of the room. We are devoid of oxygen in many places on our big blue marble. 

Hopeless? No, but a daunting endeavor lies ahead. Where do I get just the facts to make my decisions? Is the speaker sincere or duplicitous? Do the corrupt speak for entire countries and institutions? Do we have the inner drive and gumption to turn things around? Therein lies the problem. Trust me. 

As always 

Ted The Great

Factoids:

Digital information which floods our world is suspect to many. Are the claims honest? How are you going to use my personal information? Is my credit card info going to be pilfered? Yet we pound away all day on that keyboard or phone. 

People you should not trust are fickle, tell secrets to others, are too sweet to you, competitive, narcissistic, lack empathy and are social climbers. Yikes, is anyone left?

Lying…telling falsehoods. We all lie between one to two times a day. I am sorry I am busy. I think you look great. I feel great. If you lie five times a day you are probably younger, male and have occupational status. Memories of liars become reality in the their minds. It is easier to lie in an email than it is in pen and paper or in person.  Ask me no questions, I will tell you no lies.?

Pew Research:

35% have low trust, 41% have medium trust 22% have high trust

The top professions that are  trusted are scientists, military and police officers, with journalists, business leaders and politicians bringing up the rear. 

Attention Please…

My wonderful and very liberal daughter, Megan gave me a subscription to the Sunday New York Times for Christmas. She thinks my thinking is too far right or for sure too far right of hers. I am a grateful donee. It does take a few hours of my Sunday morning to get through but it keeps me off the streets. 

The Sunday Review revealed a particularly interesting article by Charlie Warzel. Spoiler alert: I am going to plagiarize many of the thoughts presented. They were outstanding. 

The gist of the article was an interview with a guy in Berkley who was somewhat of a  savant about the internet, websites and reality TV to name a few. In the early nineties he focused on appropriately, ”Attention”. It seems it is currency of sorts that we distribute without giving much thought to its worth. 

A zillion times a day we are bombarded by requests for our attention. It could be the boob tube, newspapers, the internet or just someone with something to say. Each one wants you to take notice, to be of interest to you or on the other hand to have meaning themselves. 

I don’t know about you but I am getting numb to a lot of things no matter how much the volume has been pumped up. A coup in Myanmar, floods in India, snowy weather, the impeachment trial and worst of all daily COVID stats have the ability to have me pay no attention at all. 

Now if they have something to say that might enhance your life or get to your soul you might perk up and want to hear more. You break out of that semi conscious state and in a sense they have caught you. Tell me more. It’s like the guy who will enable me to hit my driver thirty yards further. Where do I sign.?

Whole industries have grown up about buyer psychology and behavior. The type of music or the color of the background all are perfectly tailored to get the most out of you. The truly scary part is the the good old algorithms and AI are going to be able to design a pitch geared to you and you alone. 

Our writer surmises that the more attention you get the more powerful you are. If your posts are seen by millions that is cash in the pocket of the writer or votes for that particular politician or sales on HSN. If you have thousands or millions on your Twitter account that is some pretty heady stuff. You are king or queen of your empire. People genuflect at your every word. It really happens.

Now let’s get back to that whole ides of you giving attention. Or better yet trying to feel like you mattered because no one was reaching out to you. You were the unwashed masses and the Donald tailored his pitch directly to you. You mattered. You counted. And no one had ever really done that to you before. 

Is it possible to be selective about who you give your attention to? Yes, but I think it would take practice, patience and curiosity rather than blind acceptance.

Get back to that idea of it being a currency that I can choose to spend or not. Look at yourself as a panoply of responses that you want to dole out carefully. Be selective. Even be demanding. Not in a snob like way but to put some barriers on who you let in. 

 I can get your attention in a number of ways. I can yell at you.I can whisper.  I can slam doors or bang gavels. I can create an aroma or a bad odor. I can push eroticism. Sex always sells. I can preach a gospel. Maybe not so much. I can offer you riches. Get rich quick. I can tug on your heart strings for pity and maybe a shekel or two. 

We have to work hard at paying attention. We want to be wowed and captivated otherwise we shunt it aside or merely daydream. We have labeled it a disease as in ADHD. No doubt some suffer deeply from it but for others it is just an excuse for goofing off or screwing up. There is reality out there that I would rather not deal with. 

It seems to me that type of approach might actually make our lives better. For the past couple of nights I have avoided any contact with TV. I sit in my corner chair and just look things up that interest me. I read an article or book. I go back to reread an article I may have glossed over in the Sunday Times. A little classical or smooth jazz sets the scene. Hmm. That feels pretty damn good. 

I am here at an early hour. I am humbly trying to pour out drivel so the I might get your attention. It is a wonderful sport. You help me think things through and see many sides. I feel some sort of duty to be witty or pithy. It’s all in there. I just have to make sure I get it out right. 

I have to catch your eye. I have to be worthy. In a real sense I am not trying to get your attention. I am really just paying attention to you. Nice concept.

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

The average person has about 48.6 thoughts per minute, according to the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California. That adds up to a total of 70,000 thoughts per day.

Finding Nemo. Our attention span has gotten shorter. From 12 seconds in 2000 to less than 8 seconds today. The attention span for a goldfish is 9 seconds. How the hell do they know that?

Psychologists found that the human mind is actually wired for this state of continuous distraction. In a study conducted with 2,250 adults, they concluded that we spend around 47 percent of every waking hour “mind wandering.”

FOMO (fear of missing out), FOBO (fear of being offline), and nomophobia (fear of being out of mobile phone contact)—all forms of anxiety that border on obsession or compulsion. People are constantly checking their laptops, tablets, and phones because they worry about receiving new information after everyone else, responding too slowly to a text or an e-mail, or being late to comment on or like a social media post.

As Time Goes By…..

A momentous occasion occurred last Saturday. The Divine Miss K and I marked our 50th wedding anniversary. I can hear you all now, wondering how she did it? I usually quote the Bible and tell her that, “Many are called but few are chosen”. We have had a lot of fun and it doesn’t seem like 50 at all. 

A weekend in Palm Beach was a more than fitting replacement for a worldwide cruise or a quick jet to Paris. The Brazilian Court Hotel is old school and elegant. Maybe the way things used to be. Not a throwback but a hidden treasure.  It was perfect. 

For the uninitiated, Palm Beach Island is its own little world with His Hairness and Mara Lago to the north and Worth Avenue to the south. The latter is home to swells and wannabes. Comically a hot red Ferrari came around the block several times with the radio blasting. Gauche but noticeable. It called to mind “cruising” in American Graffiti. Just grayer hair and a lot more expensive hot rods. 

There was a marvelous inside terrace at the hotel that was the meeting point for breakfast, an afternoon glass of wine or a wonderful dinner. Neat but not gaudy is the phrase I like to use. Kath and I chatted quite a bit. We reminisced and looked forward. That forward part looms ever shorter but we still have a little runway left. 

Looking back was an adventure. Friends made and too many friends gone. Wonderful kids and grandkids. Successes and failures. New horizons and incredible memories. When you think of it we have seen assassinations of presidents and wars of all sorts. My little sojourn to Nam interrupted our wedding plans. 9/11 struck right in the heart of my daughter’s nuptials. A death of my best friend broke my heart. Financial crises almost broke my and a lot of other people’s back. 

We thought we would never recover. Watergate was going to bring down the country. Riots at the Democratic convention in Chicago were almost as heinous as a couple of weeks ago at the Capitol. Kent State. MLK and a soulful speech of hope in  “I have a dream” and then to have that candle snuffed out by a lunatic. Little Rock, Montgomery. You think you have seen violence?

Yes, we got down but I still revel in our tenacity and resilience. In every single instance we came back stronger than ever. Bruised but not beaten. Why do we dwell on all that is wrong and fail to even consider what is right? That is not to brush off the gravity of now. It is bad and we know it. But why is it so hard to dig deep? 70% of our populace feels we are going in the wrong direction.  Do you feel that deep down or is it just chiming in with the chorus because it feels better ?

Okay for the moment let’s call me a “Have”. We were comfortable growing up but a wonderful Irish mother would cut you off at the knees if you even hinted at that. We had paper routes, cut lawns and babysat. I delivered mail one summer to pay for my college expenses. 

Was it hard? Who knows ? It was a job and you did it.  Military service was not an option but a rite of passage. Nobody gave a shit who your daddy was. It was a remarkable experience in that everyone was the same and you were serving your country. 

Along the way we have met trust funders and others who climbed the wall. People who got their place by right and others who got it by grit. I am turned off by the entitled. I am equally so by the “ you owe me”crowd. Just a fair shake, not a free ride. The world as we know it is not fair. That is unless we are willing to give up any sense of achievement or self esteem. A socialist society begets equality. If that is what you truly want, then go for it. I honestly don’t think you will like it once you get there.. 

I am not pontificating but maybe just spilling my guts. Kathy and I have seen a lot but we are not sage philosophers. At least not me. As a society we tend to analyze and criticize ad nauseam. Gotcha here. Gotcha there.  Is there any role for just living? Doing the best you can. Saying what you feel without retribution. Spontaneous and genuine, not canned and appropriate. 

We are a minuscule dot in the history of time. We think we are the cat’s meow but we are just a few years from being a has been. Maybe you have giant headstone or a building named after you. After it is over, does it really matter? Fame is fleeting and so is life. Take time to enjoy.

I truly hope you have been as lucky as me and hopefully that still very cute brown eyed girl feels that way also. It is not money or fame. It is a life that has been a blast. Every night I make some smart ass comment before we go to bed. She smiles broadly, giggles and it is the best thing in the world. As time goes by. 

Factoids:

Several years ago I wrote down how I hoped to live my life. Not commandments but aspirations. I hope one or two might work for you.

Nobody and I mean nobody is better nor worse than me. Whether you are a vagrant or a billionaire we are the same. Don’t play either card or your are history. 

I will speak out when I see injustice. My place in life sometimes may makes that uncomfortable but I have to look myself in the mirror every day. It is just not right 

I am passionate and sensitive to the core, which some see as a weakness. I take it as a strength. I feel for myself and I feel for you.

I will lay down in the road for you if you make the effort. Charity is a two way street. I will give but you have to show me you want to take steps to change

I trust people to a fault. I believe in their goodness. I have been betrayed on occasion and it stinks. I have also been rewarded and they are some of the best moments of my life. 

I crave the unknown. It is not an abyss but an exciting prospect.

I can’t take back what I said 5 seconds ago. I really don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I am writing to you, my good friends at this very point in time and that is very cool

I am going to turn people off. Too brazen. Too outspoken. But if you get me, we will have a boatload of fun and maybe accomplish some wonderful things. At least we tried.

Equilibrium

Webster tells us it is a state in physics in which opposing forces are balanced. In our bodies it is the things in our ears that keep us from falling over. In our markets it is the equality of supply and demand. In our hearts and souls it is a sense that all is well. Right now in my life at least it is a concept I have not enjoyed for too long a time. 

I started to write last week but the events at the Capitol put me in a state of confusion. Due to the randomness of my ways, chaos is not a unique experience but this time it seemed to overwhelm me. How could I find a foothold? Something that was in some way normal? Tough to find.

I have had this feeling that I am being incredibly selfish. I have a great wife and family, live in an idyllic place with a roof over my head and food on the table. Suck it up boy. This too shall pass. But will it?

I am not talking about COVID. There is a vaccine and despite our foibles, sooner or later we will all get inoculated. Yes, there has been death and disease and this is consequential enough to scare one but it is incidental, as crass as that sounds. 

There is a substrata in our country and our world that has people feeling they have been screwed. States and countries want to regain their rightful position in the hierarchy whatever the hell that means. 

China’s bitch goes back over two hundred years. Putin and Russia are trying to go back to the 90’s and the USSR. Turkey wants to be the kingpin of the Middle East and every little tyrant wants to flex their muscle. 

Governors like Cuomo and Newsom are basking in the limelight, eying bigger and better positions. Bezos, Zuckerberg and Musk count their money and their clout in reshaping our world. Don’t get me started on the Pelosi’s, Shumer’s and Mc Connell’s of the world. When you come right down to it, it seems to be everyone for themselves. 

I am of the opinion that it is clash of styles. Humanists versus scientists. `The latter look at most things as an equation or a transaction. Black and white and survival of the fittest. There must be a cost benefit to everything. Thank you for your service but you are no longer needed. I am sorry but you don’t fit in any longer. We have found a process or machine to replace you. 

Humanists are based more on history or tradition if you will. Morality and the Golden Rule are at the forefront. We should all play by a set of rules that look to enhance the greater good. There is no “I” in team and all that. Fairness, equality and justice are the bywords. 

Is it just me or is this a clash that is being fought every day in every dot in the atlas. We have made our world smarter, faster, more efficient and convenient in oh so many ways. I used to go to the hardware store on Main St. Now I go to Home Depot. We loved a neighborhood bar to get beer and a burger. Now we just call up the chain and have it delivered. 

All this feels like progress and Utopia in our world. If we play it right we don’t have to come into contact with anyone we don’t want to. I no longer think about homelessness because I really don’t see it anymore. Riots, crime  and violence. Sorry, I just don’t feel your pain.   

 My daughter sent me an article about a mayor in Colorado who went homeless for a week. He is a staunch Republican but had the guts to do it. His life and his insight has changed dramatically. What if you or I spent a week in housing project or even a jail? Do you think we would be so dismissive and callous? 

By this time if you are still reading, you are saying TTG is a real downer. I don’t blame you. But at the same time that old pragmatic SOB in me says we or at least I have got to take a long hard look. I think we are kidding ourselves if we don’t.  Do you? 

This isn’t a revival meeting and if we were saving souls I would have to be first in line for redemption. But last week’s events as well as those of the summer focused on the optics and not the underlying condition. The jerks that busted into Congress were the same ilk as those who tore down Portland and Minneapolis. In both scenarios there were those who are upset and probably rightly so. Their message was bulldozed by violence and now have given the cognoscenti on both sides the means to rationalize their hatred. 

There is inequity but everyone can’t be the same. The system has screwed up on education and healthcare but the downtrodden are not without fault. There is a thing called standards that we have to agree on. What is decent and what is obscene? Both in wealth and behavior. The chasm between us is enormous. 

Can we do it? I really don’t know. The political charade of impeachment is not a good start. The selfish and infantile behavior of Trump has created a nightmare. Both sides have built war machines that are revved up and raring to go. 

In my own small and probably naive way I am asking all of us to lay down the arms and try just for once to see the other side. Put away the barbs and the tudes and just say how can we get together? Everyone and I mean everyone has a valid point. It would take some very humble and big people to understand that. I crave some sort of equilibrium in my life. Do you? 

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

The Amazon argument goes both ways. In one sense they have taken over the supply chain and monopolize it. On the other they have given small businesses the ability to market products to people that would have never reached. 

While working as a volunteer at homeless shelter in Denver I unscientifically figured out that about 25% of our residents wanted to not be homeless. Another 50% were either mentally ill or substance dependent. The other 25% just liked being homeless. 

There are 300,000 people in prison today for drug violations. 45% of those in federal prison are there for drug offenses. Most “Three Strike” laws mandate a life sentence for even those who have never committed a violent or aggravated crime. 

All Is Calm

NOT!  We are probably as far from calm as you can get. I started enumerating all the events of 2020 and found myself looking for the scotch bottle at 7:00 AM.

Start with a dose of COVD, sprinkle in the ensuing calamity for our economy, and the just when you think things are getting better here comes Derek Chauvin and his callous disregard for a human life in George Foreman. Breanna Taylor, Kenosha and the lawless rioting in Chicago, Seattle and elsewhere and things are really starting to boil. 

Had enough? Sorry, but the Gulf coast is belted by hurricanes three times in a row. Almost like a prize fighter getting up off the deck after each knockout punch only to get hit with another. The fires in California and my beloved Colorado almost give you the feeling of doomsday or at least a glimpse of it from the edge. 

The response to the virus is chaotic. New York screams for help but a hospital ship with hundreds of beds goes unused. We can’t find masks, PPE, or ventilators. We dart to and fro trying this or that to stem the flow but it is a dam breach that takes down everything in its path. 

Just when democracy should be at its best we keep shooting blanks. Congress stutters in fits and starts. It is locked in a battle of egos and one upsmanship with our Tweeting president. The elections are contested no matter the assurances and we the poor people are clamoring for a leader. Anyone, anywhere among this ship of fools. It is almost as if everyone in Washington has fiddles while the rest of our beautiful country burns. 

This is not the year in review of a man who is depressed but rather one who looks at all we have in consternation. We were favored by 171/2 points and here we are in the fourth quarter and down by ten. We are so incredibly creative and resourceful when we want to be but we have chosen to bitch and moan about our lot, even though there is none better. 

The irony and maybe the beauty of all this is the ability of the locals to get back to basics. When in doubt do it for ourselves. Here in La La Land we don masks out of respect for our neighbors not feeling in any sense docile nor subservient. We play by the rules not because it is the law but because it is right. 

There is a school in Indiantown run by two nuns. It is called Hope Rural. The locale is home to the people that pick the fruit and labor in the hotels and condos. It has existed for over 25 years to educate a hundred or so kids in the basics of education and life. They do this without a penny of public or even diocesan funding. 

I mention them because as a community we give Christmas to the over 100 families every year. Our garage was the depot for our members to bring bags of presents for each. A vey cool thing but more importantly going on in nooks and crannies throughout our generous nation. Food banks, shelters and neighbors looking in on each other are a part of our landscape as a country and a people. 

I am so torn about how good and how bad we are. Sure it is life but does it really have to be that way? I am always amazed by the balance of nature. Food chains and adaptations over millennia have enabled all forms of life to survive. There is flock of sand hill cranes flying above me. I wonder if they fight and bicker about who is boss or does one have more than the other?

There was guy who was born over 2000 years ago. Let’s for the moment not even call him God. He preached about loving one another. He healed the sick. Maybe it wasn’t a miracle but maybe the human spirit just reviving because someone took the the time to care. We are so quick to rule it out as a possibility because science says it can’t happen. We can’t seem to get the message that is so obvious. 

I worry about us because we want to keep slicing off pieces of the pie for own. We want to be recognized and rewarded for what our color, nationality or sexual preference is. We want to stand out for what we have materially and not for what goes on inside of us. We are losing our sense of community in our burgs, our nation and our world. That can’t be good. 

I am going to go out and say hello to total strangers today. I am going to write or call friend and say thank you for being so. I am gong to have a talk with my God and tell him my shortcomings but also how lucky I am. I hopefully have put into words what I think we all feel. We can get there but it is going to take a lot of work. But as I think about it maybe “All is bright” after all. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you.

As always

Ted The Great

Factoids:

With three devastating hurricanes, extreme wildfires, hail, flooding, tornadoes and drought, the United States tallied a record high bill last year for weather-related disasters: $306 billion. 

In a letter Thursday, Capitol physician Brian Monahan informed members of Congress and their staffs that the National Security Council had designated vaccine doses to Congress to meet “long-standing requirements for continuity of government operations.” Members would be vaccinated first, followed by “continuity-essential” staff, and then other staff members until the supply is exhausted.The Devil made them do it.  As of press time many emergency room doctors and nurses throughout the country have not been able to be vaccinated because of short supply. 

From the beginning of March through the end of October, food banks nationwide distributed an estimated 4.2 billion meals to our neighbors facing hunger in the United States. 

Since 1947 the Marines Toys for Tots program has given out over 584 million toys to 265 milli9n kids. That is just one program!

92% of Americans celebrate Christmas. 79% put up a tree. About 35 million trees are sold each years.

Overall, American consumers will spend more than $1 trillion for Christmas this year, with almost $150 billion going to online retailers

Searching For Sanity

There has been a lot going on in this little brain over the last week. My social interaction has been severely curtailed so I have to find my own way to entertain TTG. 

I went to the boob tube and found little that was of comfort. I have given up on PBS after every newscast was full of bias and subdued hate during the unending presidential campaign. McNeil, Lehrer would be disappointed. As for regular news, I completely understand and respect COVID. I just don’t need it every night. Lines for testing everywhere in America and the 49th closeup of people dying in ICU’s have numbed me rather than intrigued me. 

How about Frontline? The latest on the Uyghurs being deemed subhuman in China? Perhaps The Social Dilemma which will cause you to toss everything technological that you own. I am not dismissing any of this. It is just difficult to find anything uplifting.  

A friend very nicely dropped off a book to me called,The Kill Chain by Christian Bose. I read it in two days. It discusses war from a new technological perspective. I will admit it was an incredible page turner but at the end I wanted to have a stiff scotch. That was at 8:00AM!

I picked up my Wall Street Journal from the driveway this AM hoping for solace. It’s Tuesday, so the crosswords don’t offer respite. Let me see,COVID again, Trump still denying, student debt, congressional inaction on monetary aid, Pearl Harbor, the Pope’s inaction in China. What’s a nice guy like me doing in a place like this? 

But wait, there is a full page ad taken out by the HANS Foundation. Probably looking for money but let me peruse. It seems it is run by this guy from India, Manoj Bhargava. A former monk who turned entrepreneur and had this “5 Hour Energy” drink. Made him a billionaire. My type of guy. 

His latest venture is called the Hans Premium Water Invention,HPW. It can turn brackish, chemical water into crystal clear pure water much like that Guy turned water into wine at Cana. This thing is the size of a dishwasher and doesn’t use chemicals. I have to read on. There has to be a catch somewhere?

If he is right then we don’t have to buy water in plastic bottles. We can go to God forsaken places like Calcutta and provide people with aqua pura. There are one billion people in the world today without access to clean water. 80% of the water in China is contaminated. Forget about that. What about Flint, Michigan?

Sucked in, I kept reading. He never asked me to buy one of these things. He never asked for money. This dude actually gives away billions to the poor people of India. He wants to provide at no cost, this device to regions and countries in the world with no access to fresh water. Is he for real?

I immediately sprinted to my laptop to find some sort of critique. He had to be a whack job at best or charlatan at worst. The fact is I could not find anything derogatory. There was an article in Forbes five years ago and just recently in Crane’s Detroit. But no malice or forethought. Hmm. 

The best imprimatur I could find was a deal he just cut with Culligan Water Treatment to distribute his products in the US. I don’t think an operation of that size would risk their rep on a fly by night. Wow. A positive story, that he had to pay the WSJ for. 

Point being is there are some good things happening out there that get little or no ink. If I had breezed by page 10 to find the editorials, I would not have had my sprint uplifted. If I had not researched I would not have discovered a billionaire doing good things whom I had never heard of, much less know how to spell his name. Imagine that. 

There is whole lot of good stuff out there that costs very little or nothing. Go to a body of water. It can be the ocean or a pond or perhaps a puddle. Look at and into it and just think about nothing but simple things. 

Take a walk down a path where there is nothing around you but beauty in its most primordial form. No, I am not going Thoreau or Chopra on you but trying see life for what it is. Sure we have been thrown a few curve balls lately but that is the hand we are dealt. 

Can I find bad in today’s world? You bet. There is a bunch of it. Is there a whole lot of good. Yup! You just have to look a little harder or even better as that full page ad demonstrated, not overlook it. A little bit of sanity is starting to creep in. Don’t worry, not too much in my case. I don’t want to lose my reputation. 

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

68.7 % of the fresh water on earth is trapped in glaciers. 30% of the fresh water is in the ground in aquifers. Water is 71% of the world’s surface. 80% of all illness in the industrial world is water related Yikes!

Approximately 400 billion gallons of water are used in the United States every day. About 6,800 gallons of water is required to grow a day’s food for a family of four. Unsafe water kills 200 children in the world every hour. 

The number of negative news stories far outweigh the good. Humans may be neurologically or physiologically predisposed towards focusing on negative information because the potential costs of negative information far outweigh the potential benefits of positive information.

Uyghurs are a Muslim population in the Xinjiang province of China. They number about 2.5 million and have lived in the area for over thousand years. The Communist Party in China has been trying to root them out since 1931. Most have been imprisoned in what are called “reeducation facilities”.

Many Thanks…

Many Thanks

It seems like some of the craziness is tapering off while we still hold onto our cherished moments of insanity. Transition can go forward and the vaccine is in sight. Yet as homo sapiens we can’t control our urges to mingle on the feast day of feast. 

We all want our place at that Norman Rockwell table even though Uncle Lenny always gets smashed and someone makes a remark or taunt to causes one or several to leave the buffet in tears. We say grace but real fast so we can dig in. Some don’t say anything. 

In the midst of all this I have decided to sit down a few days before and really think about all I have and how good life has been to me. Not riches or fame but an incredible series of events and relationships that have formed me over these 75 years.

For a moment just think about family. Not just immediate but over the centuries the number of unions that go into the DNA of you and me. My grandmother, who at the age of 14 joined her 16 year old sister to go down a country lane in County Roscommon, town of Boyle  and wind up in a place called America. Talk about guts or desperation or perhaps a little of both.

There have been so many teachers that cajoled, disciplined and gave you little pearls of wisdom that have stuck with me all these years. The Sister Eamons and Albertas that were strict but not as heartless as wags might tell us. My beloved Jesuits who taught me to question and an English teacher in college who liked the way I wrote and may have given rise to Ted’s Head so many years later. 

Bosses? As a true rebel and egalitarian I have railed from time to time about authoritarian figures. Still there were some who saw something in me whether as a captain of a ship or a titan of industry. One in particular gave me wide latitude to as he said, “make myself or hang myself”. Your option. 

I mentioned to a fellow golfer last week, a memory  when  I had a caddy back in New Jersey. He dryly noted he never owned a caddy. I quickly added that Steve, a black man from Harlem and I were good friends. It did make me think about so many people who have been so giving to me over the years. 

Whether it is a waiter, maitre’d, cleaning lady, bartender, nurse, shopkeeper in a little town, just for a moment of revery I am going to cogitate about how gracious so many people have been to me. Again I have always thought of them as friends.  I wish there was some way I could thank each one of them and let them know what that has meant to me. Maybe just a please, may I have, and thank you today can make up for some of that. 

Kathy and I have lived in so many locales over the years. A little nuts? Of course but just think of the myriad of people we have come to know from all walks of life. Neighbors by the score in towns, churches, clubs, kid’s soccer teams, schools and business. When you stop to add them up, it is really astounding. 

Of course there have been some that have stood out more than others. Roommates, teammates, classmates, shipmates. For some unknown reason we clicked and I am so fortunate to have so many good friends right now and it is incredibly sad that some have so few or none. I have girl friends. Don’t tell the divine Miss K but I love talking to women. I am an equal opportunity gabber and sometimes flirt. To each and everyone of you I say thank you. 

To those who have departed you know now what an effect you have had on my life. My closest friends, John and Tom. My older brother Kevin. All gone far too soon, no matter what their age. All are there when I needed them. I only hope I was half as good in return. 

Of course the final piece has to be family. I have a sister that is the mother hen and the glue that holds this group of reprobates together. Even at this age when we are supposed to be independent she is there watching and worrying. 

My son and daughters are in a word, fantastic. They have spread their wings but have not forgotten their roots. Each is is special and unique in so many ways. My munchkin grandkids can do no wrong. I look at pictures around this joint on a daily basis. I think of each one as the amazing individuals they are becoming. I forget birthdays and ages but they are always in my heart. 

Last but surely not least I can’t believe how lucky I am to have such a wonderful wife. A good friend told me several years ago if I was married to any other woman I would have had three wives by now. The oracle thus spake. I am always amazed at the serendipities and pure chance that we met. It’ll be 50 years in January and doesn’t seem half that long. 

The coolest thing is that when asked what she did for a living, she responds forcefully she was a mother and a wife. It has been her calling and her life. She is as cute as the day I met her and suffice to say I married up. 

I hope if you have gotten this far, that you too can think about what gifts we all have. Not just a quick prayer on one day of the year but a realization that someone has been looking down on us even if you don’t believe in a God. Thank you for listening and reading all these years. You are all wonderful and dear friends. Thanks for the ride

As always 

Ted The Great

I Am Thoroughly Confused…

I live life in what some of you might consider a random fashion. Winging it and turning on a dime might be considered some of my DNA. Yet the last year has been a challenge. Like every other homo sapiens I look for a little certainty where there is none. 

For Kathy and me, this year started off in the South Pacific where we cruised, making Australia as our final destination. We toasted our 49th wedding anniversary overlooking the Sydney Opera House. All was good until all hell broke loose. It’s ironic that Wuhan was light years away and yet it would soon affect every human being on the planet. 

We can argue about response time and safety measures but I think this virus caught everyone, including some very smart scientists by surprise. Yes they had talked of some sort of super virus that would spread because of our global connections, but to this extent? We were all quickly assured we were smart enough to figure out a way around it. How naive and probably incredibly stupid. 

I respect this pandemic but I don’t live in fear. I will take adequate protections but if somehow it sneaks through my bubble then it is probably the luck of the draw. That’s just me. But it galls and yes confuses me why people don’t wear masks? They are available and stupidly easy to put on, so it defies logic that we don’t all do so. I do not look at it as a threat to my virility or Superman status. It is simply a mark of respect for my common man and woman. 

We have just concluded a presidential election. For months we have been lectured to by the cognoscenti. Pundits and pollsters have flooded the airwaves with their version of the way things are or will be. Raw news and facts are now sandwiched with editorial comment. 

Op Eds aren’t just one but every page of the paper. The “latest” polls proved terribly wrong. The Blue Wave fizzled and 71 million Americans thought he other guy was right. How could they?

The Dems outfoxed the GOP. They pushed mail in voting while the Republicans excoriated it and held big rallies and get out the vote campaigns. They did a fabulous job on Election Day but unfortunately the public wanted to mail in. They failed to realize the subtle impact of COVID on the voting process. I guess they were confused.

But beneath the rubble there was another number that stood out to me…the number of non voters. There are in the US 233 million people of voting age. Only 145 million voted. Imagine if you had figured out a way to get some of that other almost 90 million out to cast their ballot? Confusing isn’t it?

The stock market is not easy to figure out. Yesterday we had a ginormous rally over the possibility of a vaccine. Today we are wondering how to distribute it, so perhaps we will have a pullback. A month ago oil was at almost $0 per barrel. Today it is at $40. Once again every financial guru has his day but can anyone get it right? It leaves the public guessing which may be the way they like it. 

Add into this maelstrom the, NFL and college football, weather forecasts, protests for and against, crime and my golf game and poor old TTG has run amok. No matter what little tidbit of sagacity I try to hold onto, there are nine counters saying I am an idiot. (Please don’t comment on my last). You can say these are just alternate opinions but I do have to question just how really smart they all are?

I abhor the term genius. I think I have told you Mark Twain’s maxim that everyone is perfect, just at different things. In times like this we crave some stability, some light to lead us out of the darkness. We watch Dr Phil and Dr Oz on TV. We pick our news cast or channel by who seems the smartest. If we stepped back for a moment, we could probably punch holes in every argument both left and right. 

People are great but man are they opinionated with a dollop of superiority on top. Not so much social but intellectual. They know the perfect way to redo their house, buy golf clubs, go on vacation, pick out single malt scotch and fine wines and of course express themselves politically. They have it all figured out or do they?

I guess my point is that we are not as smart as we think we are and the other guy is not as dumb as he looks. The titans of industry, renowned scientists, columnists, pollsters and eloquent bartenders are all entitled to their opinion. And I am entitled to mine. But life isn’t as predictable as we think. There are aberrations and upheavals beyond our control every day of the week. 

As we look for answers we would do well to dig deep and form our own well thought out viewpoints. God forbid that may take some of our valuable time in our ultra busy world. Then we have to be able to adapt them to our ever changing diorama called life. As we accept things for what they are, we might actually feel less confused. I know I do. 

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Polls affect public perception of everything from voting to racism to God. If they are flawed it results in wrong conclusions by ordinary people and vast amounts of money spent going this rabbit hole or another. Polls actually cause us to think one way or another even if it turns out to be wrong.

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
Thomas A. Edison

Illusory superiority (also known as the above-average effect, superiority bias, leniency error, and the Lake Wobegon effect) is primarily a term used in social science which indicates an individual who has a belief that they are somehow inherently superior to others. They have the tendency to overestimate their own capabilities in relation to the abilities of others.  Legends in our own minds

HAPPY VETERANS DAY….Thank you for your service