Saturday, December 27, 2008

"You First....No, YOU First.....No, YOU First....No, YOU..."

Hey, want to hear a riddle?

What’s the difference between an expert and a know it all?

The know it all doesn’t get paid for the opinion.

Don’t get the wrong idea.

I am all about the American Dream, circa 2009.

The dream that we can get a nice big fat paycheck every week while expending as little energy or effort as absolutely necessary.

And how much energy or effort does it take to simply tell people what you think?

Obviously, not very much.

This regular mouthing off of my two cents is living proof.

Here’s the thing, though.

In a culture where the Internet, and blogging, et al, in particular, have made it possible for every Tom, Dick and Harriet to express their opinions and find a mass audience for them by simply hitting “save” and “send”, the pitfalls of “expert” opinion grow in numbers that more than match the amount of said opinions being expressed.

In other words, any and every idiot has access to the pipeline.

And the problem with giving any and every idiot access to the pipeline is that there are, literally, millions of people who accept, without question, the doofus dogma.

“Well, uh, Marge…I know it seems kind of, uh, stupid…but, uh, it’s right here on the Intra-net, so it must be true…”

The whole thing goes back to something I said a couple dozen blogs ago.

The problem with freedom is that you have to give it to everybody.

Ergo, the problem with free speech is that you have to allow everybody to speak freely.

And share their expertise, such as it is, wherever they want with whomever they want.

Including those millions of people who accept, without question, the doofus dogma.

Cause it’s, uh, right here on the “Intra-net”.

Healthy debate on the merits of the various Amendments that provide us said freedoms aside, here’s the reason I was inspired to offer my doofus dogma on the subject today.

This is an excerpted article from a relationship page on

Give it a read, if you will.

I’ll be right back to debate the dogma.


By Wendy Atterberry

(The Frisky) -- If I have a daughter one day, among the many things I'll teach her will be how to tie her shoes, to look both ways before crossing the street, to never end a sentence with a preposition, and to always let the man say "I love you" first.

This issue can cause a bit of commotion. "What is this, the Victorian era?" wrote one person, "if you truly love someone, tell them. Otherwise you're just playing outdated coquettish games."
Another put it more diplomatically: "I don't think I've ever said 'I love you' first, but someone has to do it. It's okay to take a few risks."

I appreciate both arguments and understand the sentiments behind them, but at the risk of having my feminist card revoked, I think it's naïve for a woman to utter those three little words before a man does.

Unlike asking a man out, making a move on him, or even proposing, there's no action-based response to the first "I love you." It's all words, it's all emotion. In that moment, he either loves you back or he doesn't -- you only hear the black or white of a 'yes' or 'no,' not the gray of "Well, I like you a whole lot and I could see myself falling in love with you, but I'm just not quite there yet."

And the truth is, it often takes men longer to get there than it does for women. Men process their emotions more slowly, they're usually more cautious about taking their feelings and relationships to the next level.

So what happens if you get there first and you say it and he's not there yet? What happens when your "I love you" is met with a "thank you," or worse, a deer-in-headlights look? Well, it stings, sure, but more than that, it can stop a perfectly happy and healthy relationship in its tracks before it's even too far from the station.

If a woman asks a man out and he says 'no,' at least she knows where she stands with him and she doesn't waste any time pining over someone who isn't interested. Same thing goes if she makes a move on him and she's rejected.

If she's in a serious relationship -- one where the expression of love has been made clearly by both partners -- and she's eager to make a deeper commitment, there's nothing wrong with proposing. At the very least, it'll start a conversation of where the relationship is headed so the woman can decide for herself if and how long she's willing to wait if the man isn't interested in getting married yet.

But an "I love you" uttered too soon, before the man has processed his feelings and reached the same level of adoration could end a relationship that just as easily could have had an eternal shelf life. As soon as those words are said, they change the dynamic. If a man isn't feeling the love quite yet, he may suddenly feel pressure to manifest that emotion. And if the woman doesn't get the response she expected, it could damage her confidence enough to derail the whole relationship entirely.

First, I have no idea who Wendy Atterberry is.

And I don’t know anything about her.

There is no bio information included with her writing here.

I have a feeling that at least one guy has ripped her heart out because he stiff armed her when she said the “L” word first and he just nodded and went back to SportsCenter.

But, I’m just guessing.

And because there is no bio information, my intrinsically skeptical nature has me imagining that she’s not “qualified” in the conventional sense (degrees, pedigrees, professional experience, etc) to be doling out advice on how people should deal with some of the most heart felt pieces of the puzzles of their lives.

So, my assumption is that she’s a civilian.

Either way, my opinion of her opinion is the same.

She’s full of shit.

Life is short.

Love is the greatest gift.

And if the person who unwraps that exquisite gift you hand them looks like they were just given a membership in the Jelly Of The Month Club, do what you would do in any similar situation.

Tell them to have a nice day.

And move on to the next person on your gift list.

Wendy is probably a very nice person.

And I’m sure her someday daughter will manage to grow up emotionally healthy in spite of Mom’s baggage.

But Wendy isn’t seeing the big picture when it comes to the L word.

And at this time of the year, that’s especially sad.

It’s more blessed to give.

Just imagine where we would be if God was waiting for us to say “I love you” first.

Then again, I’m no expert.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Please, Sir...I Want Some More...and Some More...And Some....

The things I know, I know really well.

The things I don’t know, I don’t know at all.

That’s why I’m steering clear of any serious bitching about the bailout of the big three automakers.

Oh, I’m right there with a lot of you, feeling, at least, weary and, at most, pissed off, that once again tax dollars are being spent on everything BUT new schools, hospitals, housing for the homeless, et al.

But I like to think of myself as smart enough to keep my mouth shut when it comes to subjects in which I don’t have sufficient expertise to offer expert opinion.

And even the PhD’s in economics are in various states of agree/disagree about the issue.

To bailout or not to bailout.
That is the question.

The party line is that if the bailout doesn’t happen, the big three will collapse and the financial ripple could easily and quickly become an economic tsunami.

Obviously, I have no way of knowing whether that’s a fair assessment or just a fear tactic to get us all to suck it up and pull the stock optioned coated asses of those mismanaging CEO morons out of the fire.

And the only sure test of the theory is to let them collapse.

And then hope to God that the wave doesn’t wash us all back to 1932.

So, for whatever it’s worth, I’m going to try and think of this payout as an insurance premium.

Glass half full stuff.

It occurs to me, though, at a more philosophical level, that this bailout and all the others, for that matter, are a contradiction to one of the most basic and earliest learned lessons of childhood.

If you spend your allowance before the end of the week, don’t come crying back to me for more money.

That may be the source, deep down, of the frustration that a lot of us are feeling.

As parents, we’re instinctively rooting for Congress to tell the big three that THEY’VE got to suck it up and lie in the bed that they’ve made.

The problem, of course, is that when you tell your kid to live with the fact that their allowance is gone, it doesn’t result in all of the other kids in the neighborhood having to go without food, clothing or shelter for the foreseeable.

And that, I think, is why there is so much emotion about this issue.

Because it’s not about lending a helping hand to a friend in need.

It’s about having a gun put to our head and being told to fork it over.
Or else.

It’s one thing to teach little Johnny a lesson.

It’s another to drag Johnny Q Public over the side, too.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

...Let's Look At Bush From Both Sides Now...."

Lately, “legacy” seems to loom largely on the landscape.

And aint that an abundance of awesome alliteration.

Up front, let me offer that I’m probably as weary of poking Dubya as you are reading me doing it.

So, while I cant make a pinky swear promise that you’ve read the absolute last of it, believe me when I tell you that, like the high carb stuff that has been flowing like water since Halloween, I’m going to start doing my best to wean myself off of it.

Today, though, I’d like to ponder, for a moment, the concept of fairness.

Bush’s detractors, and I count myself among them (well, come on, I’m relentless, but I’m not stupid…) suggest that there isn’t a single redeeming factor to be found in the eight years that America gave the guy to lead and/or inspire.

Which, by the way, aint always one and the same.

But that’s another blog.

And since he leaves office the most “unpopular” president in the history of the presidency, I don’t think it unfair to say that his is a failed presidency.

Okay, there’s that fairness thing again.

Bush’s advocates, on the other hand, while doing a pretty good job of staring at the floor and shuffling their feet when almost any discussion of the guy comes up, do express their belief that if he accomplished nothing else (and, again, even his advocates admit, if only in private, that nothing else about sums it up) suggest that he should be given credit for the fact that America, under his administration, has not been attacked again since 9/11.

Okay, let’s be fair.

That statement is, factually, true.

America has not been attacked, directly, since 9/11.

And for the sake of not wandering too far off the point, I’m willing to reserve, for another day, discussing the idea that, were the administration as militarily savvy as it has always wanted us to believe, the 9/11 attack shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

So, let’s just give the guy a little wiggle room and say that the Bush administration didn’t actually begin on Jan 20, 2001 and that it began on September 12, 2001.

Fair enough?

In that light, it is absolutely fair to say that America has not, in fact, been attacked directly since 9/11.

And since Bush has been in the White House every day since then, he should rightly be credited.

It’s only fair.

And those folks who hold fast to the idea that the legacy of George W. Bush should be, at the very least, his keeping safe from foreign attack the United States of America deserve to have the point conceded.

Fair is fair.

And since Bush has been in the White House every day since then, he should also be saddled with the responsibility of an economy that has taken us all to the brink of the second great depression, an environment that grows more poisoned every day, a health care system that ignores the heath needs of its citizens and makes fatter the wallets of the health corporate, an education system that is neither systemic, nor educates and a disillusionment about the entire political process that has not been experienced in this country since Herbert Hoover was sent packing in 1932.

Otherwise, it wouldn’t be fair.

It’s said that, in life, we can’t have things both ways.

Actually, we can.

Actually, in certain cases, we are required to.

The simplest of those, taught from our very first cognitive moments, is that we are accountable to each other, not to mention God, for both the good and the bad we do.

The right and the wrong.
The good, the bad and the ugly.
Can’t have one without the other.

Love and marriage, love and marriage….

Sorry. I tend to hear songs in my head at every turn of phrase.

If the legacy of George W. Bush is to include his successful safekeeping of America, it must also include his failure to accomplish almost anything else.

Otherwise, the legacy would be incomplete.

And that wouldn’t be fair.
Would it?

"...God Help Us....Everyone...."

This Christmas season, I’ve rediscovered an old passion.


No, not acting out.

That’s been a part of my basic psyche since first I had a psyche.

I’m talking about acting.

The stage, the lights, the costumes.

The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd.

There’s NO business like SHOW bu…….

Okay, so, really what I’ve done is take a part in a community theatre production of “A Christmas Carol”.

And before you start contemplating which character would most befit me, let me spare you the wasted time by sharing that my schedule would only allow me to take a bit part.

Community theatre being what it is, though, the “bit” players always end up multi-tasking.

So, according to the Playbill, I am, in order of appearance:

Second Charity Man.
Dick Wilkins.

Oh and while it doesn’t appear in print, I’m part stagehand, as well.

The play will exist on DVD in a week or two and, for grins, I might just post it here so you can witness my triumphant return to the stage.

I’m told that my “Second Charity Man” is one of the great moments in theatre.

Of course, I’m the one telling myself that.

As usual, though, I digress.

Being in the play has been more than a lot of fun.

But it’s also gotten me to thinking.

And, as we all know, nothing good can come from that.

I’m thinking about a version of the classic Dickens play that could easily be written these days.

The main character would be a man who has spent his life in the single minded pursuit of his own agenda, with no ability to see that while his heart may have always been in the right place, the unwillingness to consider the consequences of his actions resulted not only in failure, but in pain and suffering for those around him.

And then, one night, he is visited by three spirits who walk him through the collected results and/or ruins of the life he has thus far led.

The Ghost of Weapons of Mass Destruction past.

The Ghost of Home Forclosure Present.

And, in the most chilling and haunting scene of all, The Ghost of Possible Great Depression Future.

In this play, the man would, like his Dickensian counterpart, see the error of his ways just in time to change his ways, turn the page, start anew, make it right.

Unlike the original script though, this one would require not a changing of the ways, but a changing of the guard.

After years of living with the man’s dogged clinging to his values and the results of that clinging, the townspeople finally rise up and replace the guy.

And he would slowly fade into the shadows, stage right (wink, wink) to count his coins and write his own history, as it suited him.

This play, unlike the one that inspired it, has no happy ending, per se.
It simply ends.

Ebenezer Scrooge came very close to becoming a tragic figure.

Dickens pulled him out just in time.
Turns out the founding fathers took care of that for us when they wrote that thing about term limits.

In the spirit of seasonal giving, though, I'd like to make an offering.
So, I think I'll make a contribution to the forthcoming presidential library.
A copy of "A Christmas Carol".