Spring 2018 random notes

I ordered the book Homecoming by John Bradshaw tonight. I checked http://finderscheapers.com for prices, but pretty much ignored that website. It listed two used bookstore services I have accounts with, http://alibris.com and http://abebooks.com Alibris lost the sale because their checkout screen failed. Amazon, I avoid on principle.

I conjured up some one-time-use credit card numbers. They’re great for online purchases because they put a (lower) limit on the risk from bad people stealing my information from a vendor’s databases. It comes from Bank of America’s “ShopSafe” which is a service on their online banking site.

I got a long, relaxing nap this afternoon/evening. I woke up at 7:05 which was a little late for some events I wanted to go to that started at 7. I could have gone late, but I chose not to.

I really like my new sofa. The old one was tore up by my cats. I’d had it for years. I have been having trouble with back pain sitting on the old one so I needed to take action. Thanks mom!

I’ve got to the Y three days in a row which is a big accomplishment for me.

I made an appointment for Friday with the nurse with my cardiologist. I am concerned how badly winded I got moving the furniture with my dad. It shows that blood pressure might be an wishful explanation of my cardiac condition. I was upset the cardiologist had let my blood pressure be dangerously high for months while he said it was ok. I canceled my last appointment in March when I finally forced the issue. At that time, he told me my goal level was quite below those levels. Right now it is quite consistently a good number. It’s in the universally recommended range so I’m happier…. Also that I’m only taking one medication instead of the 2+ that I’d been taking until March.

There’s an famous-ish song Dragostea din tei that had a viral video that made it famous. Back when I first learned about the song, I found a musician Craig Anstey https://www.youtube.com/user/Canstey84 on youtube that had done a cover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFonM543atg of it. I have a copy of his cover that I have for making a mix tape (BQM XVII). It’s not a literal translation of the lyrics, but its text is well known.

My last cousin is engaged. The wedding is Sept. 15. We’ll all be packing up and going to Louisiana for the festivities. Of the 15 in our generation I’ll be the only one not married and it is most likely going to stay that way. There’s also been only 2 divorces among us which is a point of pride for me — of the 6 pairs of married aunts and uncles, they have a combined 300+ years married.

On the most recent royal wedding in Great Britain I liked that the officiator of the wedding said “I proclaim them man and wife.” I don’t think “proclaim” is used much (at least it sounds more elevated than the language I remember from my family’s weddings.)

I was able to run the media for my church this week. I had someone behind me helping my confidence. There were a couple of places where he suggested I black the screen that I didn’t notice on my own. The social media feed was a little messy to turn off, but I remembered the right way to do that so it was not broken for long.

I guess I’ve typed enough….

President Carson, Vice-President Trump

The beauty pageant circus that’s the current presidential race is really mindless in what it wants to focus on. The real problems that face our country are ignored while we talk about who “won” the last debate and which candidate is having a tiff with which other candidate this week.

There are lots of more useful things to talk about–perennial topics that none of the candidates want to touch.

* What is the ethical approach to the needs of the American’s who are working and have trouble paying grocery bills and rent at the same time?
* What are we willing to do to protect our environment? What does the environment need from us?
* Is it morally right that the wealthy can get the best medical care while those less fortunate don’t have the opportunities to recover from a serious illness?
* What is our responsibility towards the homeless and mentally ill? Do we have a moral imperative to respond to their suffering?
* Are we willing to sacrifice our privacy and freedoms because of fear?

The news media has appropriated the word “ethics” to mean “Did a public figure do something shady that will help me sell more advertising?” Ethics means the rules of conduct one applies to oneself. It isn’t about the other person or what the ethics committee wants to sanction. It’s about what I’m willing to do or not do in each area of my life.

Since Ben Carson is the front runner in the Republican presidential race right now, I want to imagine, based on his current behavior, how will he act as president.

Currently, there are several issues that are critical of him. I won’t list them because some will fade away, while new ones might come up. However, his reaction is consistent to anything negative: “The liberal media is out to get me!” “The media is lying about that topic!” Or any other paranoid response. (From Merriam Webster: “paranoid: having or showing an unreasonable feeling that people are trying to harm you, do not like you.”*)

This kind of defense is successful because many political conservatives have talked up the motif that the media is liberal and that it can’t be trusted at all. It has been said enough times that people believe it. This is really dangerous. If you don’t believe anything that the news media presents, then there are no resources to ask difficult questions to the people in power.

So, this gets me to President Carson. How would he behave in a controversy about some action of his administration. Since past behavior is the best predictor of future actions, I would expect him to still fall back on “The media is out to get me” & “The media is lying.”

It’s a good thing that that argument didn’t work for Nixon and Spiro Agnew. The media was asking difficult questions about their actions. The media was not saying what they wanted to hear. It seems that, if Nixon were in office now, he could just shout down the media, and he would have stayed in office.

I don’t think this is the way I want my government to work. The media’s job is to ask difficult questions, it’s not their job to “play nice” or “only talk about things the way I want them to.” Right now, it appears that if the media says something critical about a political candidate, it’s not evaluated on its merits. The current attitude is “if they say it, it must actually be false. The opposite is true.” Ben Carson says “I’m wonderful, why don’t they leave me alone so I can control what people think about me?”

There are a lot more difficult and important questions to ask than whether someone got a scholarship to a military academy. The answers to those questions are complex and cannot turn into a quick sound-bite for Fox News or CNN. No one knows beyond “trust me, I’ll only do good things, just wait, you’ll see.”

(*) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paranoid