Privacy and the New World Order

Last night (02/06/17) I attended my second Talkeetna Community Council (TCC) meeting as part of an effort to learn more about what is ongoing in the community and what is being planned.  I felt this effort was important for me as I terminated my volunteering with KTNA at the end of December, 2016 and I also resigned from my post as vice president of the Upper Susitna Food Pantry effective March 13, 2017 which is the next board meeting.  The former was driven by ideological differences while the latter was based upon growing tired of being taken for granted and handed far more work than any of the other board members.  As such I’m now without a volunteering opportunity for the first time since I relocated up here in August of 2013.  Even then I was only without volunteering activities for a bit more than three months until I began at KTNA.  Prior to that I’d have to look back to April of 2010 which was when I first started volunteering at the Northville (MI) Sunrise Assisted Living facility to find a time when I was not volunteering.  As such volunteering has become a huge part of my life and I know I will not go long without locating at least one new opportunity in this area.

But back to last night’s gathering; about 90 minutes into the meeting the Chairman put forth a proposal to prevent any video – and just video, not audio – recording of the TCC meetings.  His basis for this proposal was a very unfavorable interaction with a film crew from KTUU (NBC in Anchorage) at the previous meeting which I also attended.  His proposal was met with a wide variety of views and responses, many somewhat passionate, and as I listened and absorbed what I heard I really started to reflect upon a person’s right to privacy versus the public’s right to know.  To this point I’m still rather conflicted; I can see both the pros and cons of this proposal.  Ultimately, as the TCC is an elected board that can and does make local policy, I feel they surrendered their basic rights to privacy with regards to the community meetings when they accepted their posts and therefore they probably couldn’t withstand a legal challenge if they invoked such a proposal.

However, there were many valid points in favor of such a proposal and it was these that really fueled my cogitation regarding this matter.  One of the most powerful involved the act of videoing producing a ‘chilling’ effect on people’s right to be heard.  Having a camera and/or microphone shoved in one’s face can be very intimidating for a lot of folks.  Indeed, the potential of this happening could easily cause some people to forgo their feedback and this is definitely counterproductive to the entire purpose of the meeting.  Another possible issue involves existing technology, not to mention developing tech, being used to manipulate both audio and video such that what was actually being said is altered or taken out of context.  There once was a time when we might have trusted journalists not to undertake such outrageous practices but as NBC showed during the Trayvon Martin debacle they were more than willing to alter audio and then try to hide behind the concept that omission of facts does not constitute a lie.  Such despicable behavior is, sadly, expected of scum trial lawyers but until recently wasn’t something most Americans expected from their media.

I feel I must reveal that I am a fairly private person by nature so, as such, my leanings fall with one’s right to privacy.  Indeed, I am proud it requires extensive and knowledgeable digging via the ‘net to even find my name.  I have nothing to hide but I also feel I should be able to choose what is revealed regarding me and my life.  And this is where I truly diverge from those of the younger generations.  It seems as though they have no real problems with revealing so much about themselves on-line that I often cringe if I happen to see some of such ‘revelations’.  I understand a lot of this is based upon generational gaps and I also recognize that it is a person’s right to reveal as much as they feel comfortable sharing with others.  When I’ve shared what I recognized as potentially private details regarding myself and my life I’ve often spent days contemplating doing so and really struggling with possible negative aspects before making my decision.  And I’d guess more than half the time I decided against doing so.

I had to learn that once one puts something on the ‘net, be it via social media, email, blogging or similar one effectively loses ‘control’ of said information and it can be used in virtually any manner.  Because I grew up before the internet and all the associated technologies I didn’t have the now all-encompassing caution regarding using the ‘net and a couple of my lessons were rather harsh.  So I ‘learned the hard way’ but there was no great loss or negative impact upon my existence.  Sadly, as so many have learned, this is not the case today!  Ultimately, I feel it comes down to being responsible for one’s own actions; if I have any concerns about posting something online I will not do so.  But the choice is my own.  In situations like what I described occurring at the TCC meeting if someone were to video me providing feedback and then post it to social media I lose that ability to control what is and is not shared on the web.  And, for me, this is totally unacceptable!

How to control this from happening is a very difficult concept and reminds of that admonition to ‘not try tap dancing in a minefield’!  However, such situations are becoming more and more common as now everyone seems to have a cell phone capable of at least grainy, if not HD, video recording.  We’ve already seen instances where videos made of public events have failed to show the context or ancillary information and thus have provided a skewed view.  Whether this was deliberate or not is another question; the simple fact that it occurs is troubling.  One thing so many people need to really consider is this; as we give up more and more of our rights to privacy we offer governments, businesses and organizations more and more information about ourselves and our lives.  Are we really ‘okay’ with this concept in an age of increasing surveillance and data mining..?!?

big-brother

‘Political Correctness’ or ‘Potential Catastrophe’?

Followers of this blog will recognize I have very little positive to say regarding the whole concept of ‘political correctness’.  I maintain the practice stymies clear, concise communications and is largely used by the far left to attempt to camouflage some of their more onerous activities by couching them in less accurate terms.  At a time when we truly need accurate and concise communications more than ever I see ‘PC’ as a real danger.

With this said it has come to my attention some folks chose to believe that my denigrating the practice of being ‘PC’ also meant I favor the deconstruction of civility and basic human respect.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!  I profusely apologize for giving such an impression!!  Above all else I believe in the need for open, civil discourse and one cannot engage in such an activity without maintaining an air of respect for one’s supporters as well as the opposition.  In just being ‘civil’ there is no room for negative remarks based on any facet of race, religion, philosophy, gender, education or culture.  Such comments actually destroy the civility of any debate and generally point to an individual without a solid foundation in terms of comity and respect.  Given this I do not consider such language to fall under the auspices of ‘political correctness’; no, this is simple decorum and courtesy.

My issues with the ‘PC crowd’ center on the use of this maligned philosophy to twist facts and concepts by using inappropriate and/or inaccurate language often to conceal what is really involved or ongoing.  Let me offer up an example of one such situation:  the use of the term ‘entitlement’ to refer to ‘food stamps’, government assistance and similar programs.  These are NOT entitlements; rather, they are governmental handouts – good and needed or not – from taxes collected from the general populace.  True entitlements are things like Medicare or Social Security which involve the return of monies to those who have paid into the programs after meeting some standard.  The far left understood that ‘handouts’ or ‘welfare’ were terms that most tax payers did not embrace so they started using the term ‘entitlement’.  Now you tell me; is this clarifying to call a handout an entitlement?

There are a myriad of such examples around us and they all fall under the umbrella of ‘political correctness’ as far as this writer is concerned.  And the current administration has taken the bar to stratospheric altitudes in just seven years!  We can no longer refer to the ‘war on terror’ although those we were once ‘at war’ with certainly are still slaughtering us by the hundreds!  Our president will not even speak the term ‘Islamic jihad’ although the terrorists themselves regularly refer to themselves using the exact language.  How can we ever expect to defeat the Islamic terrorists if we cannot even call them what they are..?!?  One need only look at the state of our conflicts with the likes of Al Qaeda or ISIS to answer that question.

And then there’s the absolute lunacy of using ‘PC’ as the reason behind some recent incredibly ludicrous definitions.  In this sense I speak to some who think that saying someone is ‘short of stature’ is demeaning and instead would like to refer to them as ‘vertically challenged’.  Someone who commits felony after felony is not a criminal but rather ‘legally unskilled’?  And we should be calling illegal aliens ‘undocumented immigrants’??  Will someone please explain to me how calling illegal aliens ‘undocumented immigrants’ helps clarify their status?  I sure as heck do recognize most people will react less negatively towards the term ‘undocumented immigrant’ but isn’t ‘illegal alien’ more accurate (Hint: they are not legally in this country and they come from other countries)?  So what this form of ‘PC’ is really supposed to do, regarding the last example, is cloud the facts of the matter behind inaccurate words and terms in an attempt to make people doing illegal activities appear to be doing nothing illegal at all..?  And this is improving the clarity and succinct nature of human communication?

I have no patience with this kind of philosophy as it smacks of attempts to manipulate and even control people through rewriting terminology.  And this reminds me all too much of the ‘thought police’ and their ‘double-speak’ in George Orwell’s novel “1984”.  Of all countries one would think America would stand firm against such violations of our language but this has not been the case.  I will grant the PC crowd that maybe two to three decades back there might have been a need for a movement to clean up our discussions and become more sensitive to the rights and thoughts of others.  But in a characteristically ‘bad’ display of human nature a few zealots high-jacked what might have been a sound concept and distorted it, and especially amplified it, beyond recognition to utilize its inherent power.  So now I find myself pondering this question; ‘Should ‘political correctness’ run amok really be the basis for our person to person communications on this world?”

PC Insanity

Equality for All..?

To this old fart it sure seems as though the world, in general, and this country in particular has suddenly and tightly embraced the concept that everyone should be ‘equal’ in terms of social, economic and cultural aspects of their lives.  And so many feel this is a ‘right’.  I’ll deal with the fallacy of this concept in a later blog piece.  While a noble idea I find the very concept a bit removed from everyday reality.  Indeed, it seems to me to be more of a ‘lofty goal’ than something we humans might aspire to within a generation let alone a presidential race.  But my difficulty with this theory is more than I just mentioned; to the best of my knowledge I cannot identify one single example of this theory within Nature.  And, for me, living in harmony with Nature is something I strive towards and so many in other generations claim to embrace as well.  But how can we create a country let alone a planet where all humans are equal when there is no ‘template’ or examples within the realm of the natural world?

Equality is a human concept born of the idea that we should all be the same regarding our lives, our places within society and our material wealth.  A most benevolent concept but something unimaginably difficult to even begin to reach especially in countries such as the US in which a sizeable portion of the population prize their differences from others.  In this context it seems more like a topic to be bandied about by the so called ‘ivory tower’ types yet there appears to be a ground swell of support for this goal.  The younger generations are particularly enamored of this concept; this is hardly unusual or unexpected.  But to my mind no group let alone a single person has really demonstrated how this would work at the ‘nuts and bolts’ level.  Far too often younger folks become so captivated by such an exulted goal they fail to recognize the difficulties involved in even beginning to make it happen.  But as anyone who has set out to make large scale changes is only too aware ‘the devil is in the details’.  And this is where individuals like our politicians – especially Sanders – have not really been forthright with the American people.  Sanders talks of destroying the banking system and hacking up large corporations but these are just ideas; even if he does become president he will lack the power to make this happen.  And with what would he replace said systems or corporations?  He has never shared such details mainly because he lacks them.

But I go back to my discomfort with such concepts because there is no known model for this ‘universal equality’.  Certainly there is no such system among organisms like bacteria, viruses or even insects.  In their worlds they struggle to survive by eating, producing waste and breeding.  In fact, insects are just about a polar opposite as many species have highly regimented societies in which one is born to be a worker, a solider, a drone or a queen.  Such an order seems to permeate most groupings of organisms.  There are those who do the work of locating food such that others can harvest it and share it with the community.  But within said community there are others that serve the queen, protect the colony and service the queen’s needs.  Often even the size of organisms within such a collective varies based upon their ‘birth right’.  Moving higher up the evolutionary scale there are some examples of communities whereby there are more degrees of equality.  Take a wolf pack; in a broad sense most of the pack is close to equals with just the alpha and beta males and females holding a ‘higher’ status.  This affords them the ‘right’ to bear young whom the entire pack helps nurture and raise.  But the alpha and beta pairs have a higher status which is notable not just in terms of breeding but also at the site of a kill.

It seems as though the ‘right’ to breed within a community is something earned and then protected via ongoing vigilance.  Nature has determined this is her method for insuring the long term existence of a wolf pack.  Allowing every member to breed would not only ‘equalize’ the gene pool – something Nature seems to forswear – but would also make it almost impossible to sustain the pack for more than a few generations.  The need to pass one’s genes on in the ‘dance of life’ is one thing all organisms on this planet share.

Since I’ve used a canine analogy and I live near a village that truly fancies dogs, not mention I own a pair of wonderful canine companions, I’d like to expand upon canines and undertake a thought experiment.  Let’s look at the totality of the domesticated canine population.  First off there’s the size and breed differences; it is such diversity that makes the domesticated canine a successful race.  There are large, powerful canines like Newfoundland’s, Irish Wolfhounds, Great Pyrenees, Alaskan Malamutes and similar; these breeds adapted to their lifestyles of being predators well up the food chain.  Then there canines noted for their intelligence and joy of working with humans like German Shepherd Dogs, Standard Poodles, Doberman Pinschers and Australian Sheep Dogs.  Humans appear to have singled out their early ancestors probably because they did exhibit innate intelligence; over time humans bred them so the genes for intelligence were favored.  There are breeds particularly acclimated to water like retrievers and labs as well as those able to cope with dry extremes like Basenjis and similar.

Now let’s imagine the canine world decided to make all members equal in status.  The smaller breeds would need to grow larger just as the large breeds would need to shrink in size so eventually all canines were of a similar size.  Size plays a large part in dominance and if all are equal ‘dominance’ shouldn’t exist.  Any ‘stand out’ traits would need to be muted unless they could be shared by all canines.  More intelligent breeds would have to be ‘dumbed down’ while those of less intelligence would have to be bred to be smarter.  Dogs with survival abilities like the Malamute would need to dramatically decrease such attributes while small, toy breeds would have to become more able to survive on their own.  The list goes on and on but I believe I’ve elucidated my point.  Nature had a huge part in creating the plethora of canine breeds and so most breeds became specialists.  By this very progression the idea that all canines could be equal becomes a fallacy.  All organisms on this planet are shaped by their surroundings – and, of course, their genes – so it is painfully obvious given the diversity of ecologies said organisms will be different and ‘unequal’.  Unlike the human generated concept of ‘equality’ Mother Nature has no such intent; indeed, she appears to drive diversity as a means to protect and embellish organisms and races.

Does this mean as a race we shouldn’t strive towards caring for our poor, sick and/or crippled?  Definitely NOT!  But we can accept all human beings are created equal but very soon develop along different paths yielding ‘unequal’ people.  Not everyone can be a nuclear physicist, a butcher, an author or an explorer because we are all inherently different with differing skills, intellects and aspirations.  We should revel in our differences and recognize that diversity makes our race stronger and better able to adapt and survive.

The Cheapening of America’s Polarized Culture

As this hellishly long election process grinds painfully to its conclusion I, for one, am both disgusted and exhausted by the process!  Not only has it already been underway for more than a year but the overall atmosphere of the campaign continues to mine new levels of repugnance and revulsion.  Civility is nowhere to be found nor is a substantive discussion of truly pertinent topics like the economy, terrorism, immigration and entitlement reform.  Instead, the candidates of both parties would rather sling mud and bait each other with abhorrent personal attacks; in addition said attacks are now targeting family members!  Just what has happened to the concept of gathering to discuss issues employing decorum and respect?  Apparently this approach has been discarded in favor of rancor and vitriol.

Without question there’s plenty of blame to go around starting with the candidates themselves.  Somewhere along this process the need to be truthful in one’s dealings fell by the wayside; indeed, the need to be truthful at all seems a lost concept.  Apparently it is much more important to make a large impression with one’s ego and bravado than be truthful.  And the lame-stream media fuels this fire by affording the most coverage to the most outrageous actions and comments.  In a culture where few have an attention span longer than 30 seconds and most want information spoon fed to them along with how and what they should think the media willingly panders to such guilelessness as it generates ratings.

But neither of the aforementioned are honestly the root cause of this heinous situation; no, sadly the main reason we’re seeing such coarse and childish behavior is ‘we the people’ want it.  Over the past sixty years there’s been a steady decline in morals and values within the American culture all in the name of ‘social progress’.  Progressives point to this with pride as examples of the advancement of the American people while all the while continuing to willing chip away at so many of the virtues which allowed this country to both grow and prosper.  They view conservatives as Luddites clinging to past behaviors rather than embracing new social miens.  Yet without continued social development and growth our culture will definitely become stagnant and eventually fail.  Conservatives all too often view progressives (aka ‘liberals’) as crazed, morally bankrupt maniac’s hell bent on destroying anything ‘good’.  Those of a more conservative bent will not at least consider, let alone embrace, the idea that as we evolve we must continue to adapt and that implies change.

So our culture has reached a point at which we are fundamentally polarized to extremes.  Neither faction appears willing to just try to undertake a civilized dialog with the other regarding even the most basic of concepts like immigration.  This, by itself, is a recipe for deadlock and thus we find ourselves embroiled in our current situation.  Far too many people have embraced the ultimate lunacy of ‘political correctness’ which is a guaranteed killer of honest, open communication at a time when we truly need clear, concise conversation.  But there’s more as well; it seems that with the advent of electronic communication in the form of email, tweeting and similar we lost the notion of civilized communication.  It’s almost as if because we do not have to face someone we feel we are free to say anything regardless of how disgusting or vile.  Just visit virtually any chat room or forum and you can see endless examples of a total lack of common courtesies and civility.  Apparently many folks have taken the old adage ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me’ to a new and despicable low.

Given all this I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise we have candidates willing to stoop to crass, bathroom humor and insults the likes of which most of us left behind on the grade school playground.  In a very real sense we are getting exactly what we asked for or at least what the majority of Americans appear to desire.  But does this do anything constructive for our political process let alone our culture?  In a sense it really does seem to be one of the polar opposites that defines today’s America; we have this willingness to forgo all aspects of civility and politeness in favor of crass, boorish behavior juxtaposed against the prim and proper miasma of political correctness.  And this is but one example of how polarized American culture has become.  At this point I have to ask; “Is this the kind of ‘social progress’ we desire as a nation?”.

My sense is most folks would prefer not to continue down this path but are either unsure how to redirect our ‘advancement’ or are too overwhelmed by what it takes to maintain a satisfactory lifestyle to care.  But regardless, we are experiencing the unfolding of this situation so we shouldn’t be surprised when our political race turns into an all-out free for all with the candidate most willing to plumb the lowest depths of acrimony and rancor most likely to get the most media attention and, hence, come out a victor.  Yet there is a relatively simple ‘fix’ for this situation; if ‘we the people’ refused to sit enchanted in front of our media source of choice vapidly soaking up such behavior the media outlets would soon stop running the imagery on an almost 24/7 basis.  If we all chose, instead, to read about the campaign from the outlet of our choice as versed with being spoon fed the mindless video superimposed with some equally mindless talking head providing foolish and irrelevant commentary we could affect an eventual change for the better.  But for most people this would mean unplugging from the continual information bombardment of our technological time and instead investing in reading and making up our own minds.

With respect to the larger issue of a dramatically polarized population the answers are not so forthcoming.  Obviously we need compromise but this cannot happen until we are amenable to conversing in a civilized and cultured manner.  And we must put aside past issues and grievances!  History can and will be an important part of any such discussions but a desire to dwell on perceived past wrongs and/or injustices will only poison the well of good intentions.  But perhaps most importantly we must communicate in an open and honest fashion and this means dropping any use of political correctness.  It is far too important to resolve this issue rather than allow such efforts to be torpedoed by concern for a few people’s overly sensitive perceptions.  We have the power and means to begin bridging this polarization but we really need the will!

Why Shouldn’t I Be Fed Up..??

A totally unforeseen effect of my semi-rural Alaskan relocation has slowly been growing and festering within my existence. While I now understand I recognized the beginnings of this ‘effect’ upon my psyche a couple years back only in the last six to nine months has the fallout become so very clear. In conjunction with my growing recognition of this situation has come a slowly simmering anger at its intrusion into my otherwise calm and serene existence. And I suspect my anger will only increase if I allow this to continue unchecked; in this sense I’m hoping that just writing about this situation may prove cathartic.

Because living in semi-rural Alaska does leave one somewhat remote and hence out of touch with world events and current history I developed methods of ‘keeping up’ mainly via internet news sites and satellite TV. But herein were the seeds of my current dissatisfaction; as I tried to stay ‘up to date’ regarding local, federal and world happenings I began to notice a definite increase in my stress levels. At first I assumed I was just showing the signs of age in that I was becoming curmudgeonly based on being set in my ways but with time I began to realize there was more going on. Indeed, I was just beginning to react negatively to so much of what I read about and saw happening across the planet. Sadly this has continued to grow and chafe at my sensibilities until it reached its current level.

Why shouldn’t I be fed up? I played by ‘the rules’ all my life; I paid my taxes, generally stayed out of trouble, broke very few laws, worked as steadily as I could and saved money for my retirement. In doing so I forced myself to work for companies I came to abhor and in darker moments would refer to myself as a ‘corporate whore’. I attempted to climb company ladders in search of more responsibilities along with more money; when I couldn’t make this happen within some firm I would seek out and start another job. From the time I graduated college in 1978 until I settled here in 2013 I relocated 14 times which figures down to a move once every two and a half years and pretty much insures one will lack any ‘roots’. I recognize these were, for the most part, my choices and I am willing to live with the consequences.

But while sacrificing so much to follow the American Dream I did not expect that once I reached that point in my life when I could supposedly reap the benefits the game’s rules had shifted. Obamacare was thrust upon the population with virtually no opportunity to really review and understand what it involved. It canceled my existing medical policy at the end of 2014. And my choices were Draconian at best; my original policy cost me $510/month but the cheapest I could locate in Alaska during November and December of 2014 would run $860/month for the same insurance. Because I was unwilling to pay that differential I decided to go without medical coverage until October of 2015 when I could start receiving my social security pay outs which would cover the increased costs. Fine, I made a decision to take this path. When I fell and severely fractured my left radius and ulna in March of 2015 and ultimately ended up spending almost $48,000 for orthopedic surgery and all the associated I understood I had made a decision to gamble and failed. So be it; I believe in accepting responsibilities for one’s actions. But to this day I cannot escape the fact that I wouldn’t have been in the position of having to make such a decision if the rules hadn’t been changed. So I must ask again; why shouldn’t I be fed up?

The more I read – I’ve given up on video newscasts as all are biased in some direction and unabashedly pushing their own agendas – the more frustrated I have become. Our once proud and strong country’s soul has been sacrificed on the dystopian altar of ‘political correctness’. While I eschew the nonsense sweeping colleges regarding censoring literature if it contains anything someone might find offensive and rewriting history if it is at all controversial I also see the roots of said ‘nonsense’ in the political correctness wave which really started back in the late 80’s. What a surprise we raised a generation terrified of offending anyone or anything; if I lived like that I’d need a ‘safe space’ on a regular basis as well! Of course one might wonder why all this censorship is acceptable in the first place but then one would have to be able to think critically and have a sense of history; our higher education system has worked diligently to insure these abilities are not taught to the masses. Once again; why shouldn’t I be fed up?

Truth no longer has any merit and for this we can largely thank the deviants we’ve allowed to hijack our political and legal systems. Everyone has seen some politician suddenly take a stand wildly divergent from something they stood for in the past yet they will deny it even when there is video tape of them saying or doing it. And we can thank the morally bankrupt lawyers for allowing spin (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman..!”) and falsifications (‘the attack on our Libyan embassy was the result of an anti-Muslim movie just released’) to become acceptable in courts or in explaining their client’s aberrant behavior. But wait..! Ultimately ‘we the people’ have somehow embraced the concept of unaccountability; if some CEO or politician bald-face lies to the public as a group we’re okay with not holding them accountable..?!? When Obama said ‘you can keep your current doctor’ during the Obamacare debacle and then we discovered this was known to be false even before he publicly claimed this to be the case why didn’t we rise up and demand accountability? Because we’ve swallowed the whole ‘everyone makes mistakes’ line of reasoning, which is completely true, but in so doing we’ve taken it to a new low. Sure, we are all human and we do make mistakes but the vital foundation to this concept we’ve discarded are the need for us to take responsibility for our actions and learn from our errors. Given this why shouldn’t I be fed up?

Sadly I could continue this litany for days but I believe I’ve made my points. As a world we’re awash in this ill-conceived and downright dangerous concept of political correctness, as a country we’ve lost the ability to think critically, to remember and learn from our history and to separate right from wrong. This does not bode well for our collective futures. As a race humans have so very much in common; why, then, is it so hard to find even just a few of these commonalities in today’s world? Could it be there are a multitude of power bases that do not want this to happen because polarized, divided people are more easily controlled and manipulated? Some will say this is just paranoid conspiracy drivel and I most certainly cannot count this interpretation out but I’m also not convinced it can be so easily dismissed. In fact, I could make a case that I’m just an aging American who cannot keep up with all the ongoing changes and feels threatened by the ‘New World Order’. But herein lies something important that is largely missing from so many of our perceptions; at least I’m willing to think critically about what is happening around me, to compare the lessons of history to our present situations and to wonder at the causes and solutions. Yes, it can be frustrating and it does take time and effort but given the current desperate times this seems like the only intelligent effort one can make. Because in a world gone barmy with ISIS openly killing ‘infidels’, with ‘social justice’ running roughshod over the Constitution and individual’s rights, with major world powers sizing up a weakened America and taking actions to benefit themselves we cannot afford to get our next steps wrong. Or maybe these are just the railings of an elderly man bewildered by all the change surrounding him. Regardless…why shouldn’t I be fed up?

Back With A Vengeance!

It has been a while since I last posted on this site as my sister and brother in law visited me and we spent 18 wonderful days together during which I was privileged to show them ‘my Alaska’. I say ‘my Alaska’ because across the years I’ve discovered many magnificent places to visit which very few tourists even know exist let alone visit. Examples are the Denali Highway (AK 8), Teklanika campsite in Denali NP&P, the west side of the Kenai Peninsula and the East End Road in Homer which is at the terminus of the Sterling Highway (AK 1). Both were mesmerized by these and other locations; the fact they’ve spent maybe 35 years living on the front range of the Colorado Rockies only highlights the majesty and awe-inspiring nature of ‘The Great Land’. I was sad to say ‘adios’ to them in Anchorage yesterday but also whetted their appetite for a return trip by explaining we still had the east side of the state to explore. Hopefully we will be able to do so in the near future.

So now I’m once again able to post my thoughts and I find this initial piece will be a bit different from most of the previous. The nucleus for my post began to coalesce with my reading of an excellent tome titled “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton. It is an amazing read focusing on how ‘We the People’ are being manipulated by a consortium of political, legal and media special interest groups with a focus on the outright lies perpetrated by the extremists in the environmental circles. Without a doubt Mr. Crichton has his own opinions and some of his ‘science’ is both a bit slanted and outdated – the latter not his fault as the book was published in 2004 – but overall I found the book eye-opening to say the least. He makes it abundantly clear that the current ‘global warming’ disaster claims are based on shoddy and incomplete science at best and often employ fear-mongering along with political and economic pressures to produce the desired outcomes. If one doubts this I can only point to the fact that many of the websites and on-line postings he highlighted as support for his beliefs have since disappeared from sight.

But I truly enjoyed his basic message which is; “Think for yourself, do your own research, question everything and do not just buy-in to what the lame-stream media or the current political party are spewing!” I’ve often railed about the average American being led around by their noses through the liberally biased lame-stream media agendas thinly veiled as ‘news’. Even these losers no longer try to claim they are ‘journalists’; indeed, we haven’t seen true journalism in these outlets since the early seventies. To me this should make it even more apparent to those of us who can remember the likes of Murrow and Cronkite – both of liberal beliefs, by the way, but unwilling to color their reporting with their own beliefs – that the current mass media outlets all have their own biases and use their programming to push said agendas. The purpose of ‘the Fifth Estate’ was to be a watchdog on the federal and state governments; given they now support liberal politics and smear anything else should not be lost on the American people.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday I read a story in ‘Discovery News’ which spoke to the falsehoods behind the environmental extremists who have been shouting that polar bears will be extinct due to starvation by 2068 when it is forecast that the Arctic sea ice will be absent 180 consecutive days each year. Apparently a just released report from American Museum of Natural History now states that polar bears are much more adaptable regarding food sources than the wacko environmental extremists wanted us to believe. There is now reason to believe these bruins will learn to eat other food sources which will substitute for the seal pups they will no longer be able to hunt and kill in the absence of Arctic ice. Of course this will pressure the species and that is not good but their impending extinction so touted by extreme environmentalists as a clear sign of our impending doom will most likely not materialize.

Do I doubt the climate is changing? Not in the least; the earth’s history shows the climate has been in continual flux since there was a ‘climate’. Do I doubt we are seeing warming temps? Living in Alaska this is abundantly clear and other world-wide data would seem to support this concept. Do I believe man is the main cause? By no means!! While I do believe mankind has contributed to the warming I remain unsure as to just how much. In addition I feel we know so little about the Earth’s climate over the past billion years we should not try to draw conclusions based upon a mere century or even a millennium of data. Only now are we beginning to learn of the effect of solar cycles on the Earth’s climate; the jury is still out on creeping shifts in the magnetic poles. I could go on and on but I believe I’ve made my point.

If we are to truly trust scientific research then we need to completely remove the influence of funding from special interest groups with their own agendas, allow research that is free from political pressure based upon pseudo-science and remove the emotionalism from all scientific efforts. Without this we will almost certainly continue to exist in a ‘state of fear’…

Memorial Day Show

Once again I find myself reflecting upon this very special Monday and wondering just how many of my fellow Americans are doing the same. Indeed, we should start every day with a brief review of all we have to be thankful for and our freedom should be right up with the top five selections. But this Monday has been set apart as ‘the’ holiday to honor our vets and all they have done for us. While the focus of the holiday is on those vets who gave their all for this country and its people I prefer to include all our vets in my reminiscing. As a country we can never hope to adequately thank our vets for all their incredible effort on behalf of not just Americans but so many people around the world.  Most of us have no real feel for the level of sacrifice these brave men and women put forth on a regular basis to ensure our comfortable and free lifestyle.

Yet we are a country divided; one in which a large faction seems intent upon destroying the very liberties and freedom we hold so dear. There is a fringe liberal movement that would shame us into weakness by holding that we are an imperial power bent solely on dominating the world at any cost and as such we are evil. Tell this to the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps or those who endured natural disasters around the world across the past 15 years and are alive today only because of the generosity of the American people coupled with the power and strength of our military who selflessly were almost immediately on scene to provide assistance, supplies and comfort.

We elected a president who believes we should no longer be a major player on the international stage; that we have for far too long meddled in other country’s business simply for our own gain. And he and his dysfunctional administration have sought to ‘lead from behind’ – the very phrase is idiocy personified – while slowly eroding our military power. As a result we now live in times that are actually more dangerous than those of the Cold War days when it was the USSR and the USA at odds. During such times each super power had too much to lose to ignite a full blown conflict; nowadays with the likes of al Qaeda and ISIS bloodying the news we are all vulnerable to terrorism from savages with no moral compasses. While nuclear Armageddon hardly felt ‘safe’ as someone who lived through those dark days it was preferable to the specter of nuclear, biological and/or chemical terrorism initiated by fanatics with nothing to lose.

I fear for my country yet I cannot deny ‘we the people’ allowed this situation to grow and fester through inattention and an unwillingness to understand what was happening within our government. Decades of preferring TV and video games to becoming involved in the political process has left us with a bitter legacy which has poisoned so many people’s outlooks on this once great country. Fringe elements on both ends of the political spectrum utilize the fallout from this poisoning to recruit new ‘believers’ in the war for the country’s soul while so many of us are forced into inaction because we can see no way to reverse this trend.

Against all this I cannot help but wonder what all our veterans would think of this country; the same they spilled blood to support and often gave their very lives? Would they be proud of their efforts and sacrifices? Or would they just be befuddled and confused regarding what has happened to ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’? Sadly I believe it would be the latter and that is a disgrace upon their collective honor, one they shouldn’t have to bear.

On this most poignant of national holidays I fear for my country yet I also have hope because of the legacy our veterans have given us; that of commitment to cause, dedication to principle and a willingness to sacrifice everything to perpetuate the dream of a free, proud and strong America. They have done, and do, so much for us and ask so little in return. Yet the debt we owe them is immeasurable and we can never hope to even begin to adequately repay them for their service. Across my years I’ve purchased and stuffed packages with ‘comfort’ items going to troops overseas, I’ve written letters to many service men, I’ve assisted in cleaning local veteran’s cemeteries and I give as much as I can to support organizations like the ‘Wounded Warrior Foundation’ and ‘The Snowball Express’. But in the end it all seems so meager, so little in the face of their sacrifice. Yet I will continue to do what I can because our vets deserve it…and so much more!

Tonight, if tuning into 88.9 KTNA Talkeetna or listening on ‘KTNA.org’ I will once again make a very humble offering in the form of:

“Good Evening, you are listening to KTNA broadcasting at a frequency of 88.9 MHz on your FM dial and streaming live via our website – KTNA.org.  It is now 20:00 on a Monday evening and that means it is time to ‘Take A Little Trip Back…’ Tonight is a special program as once again we find ourselves celebrating Memorial Day; as such this is the day we take time to remember all those who gave their lives to ensure this country would remain free. Indeed, this is something we should reflect upon each and every day because as this holiday so poignantly reminds us:  ‘Freedom isn’t free!’ I’m dedicating this entire to show to all our service women and men, whether still with us today or deceased, Thank You All for your dedication, your courage and your sacrifice!! You embody the very best this country has to offer and ‘we the people’ owe you all a debt we can never hope to adequately repay. With the greatest of respect I dedicate the next hour to our vets…”