Friday, April 27, 2012

My Romance

It is an internal conflict as old as romance itself: a fascinating woman walks into your life on the arm of a friend.  The more you get to know the woman, the more you think about her – and him – and how she looks at him; you become jealous. 

Because you are friends with the man, you try to normalize your feelings for the woman and act as if nothing has changed between you. You evade your feelings for her until her adulation and hardly hidden passion for your friend breaks through your fa├žade. Hurt, you rationalize your own ardor away, helped by her strong indications that your feelings are unrequited.

Then you begin to question your own lovability? Didn't you do everything right? Aren't you every bit as desirable as your friend? Why doesn't she love you? What is the answer to this seemingly unanswerable problem?

It's simple, really. 

You write a pop song. You use an obscure word in one of the verses. Your conflict becomes immortalized and screamed by throngs of girls throughout the ages. You soon forget all about Jessie’s Girl

(My complete adoration of 80s music is why I do, but should not, listen to the oldies station in my car.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Plainsies, Clapsies

A ball bouncing game from my youth instructed the player to throw the ball up (plainsies), throw it up and clap (clapsies) throw it up and roll your hands (roll the ball) and touch your shoulders (tabapsies). In trying to locate the rest of the ball bouncing chant, I found out not only is my “tabapsies” a mondegreen, but also the motion – touching your shoulders – isn’t even the correct movement!

You are supposed to clap your hands behind your back and say “to backsies.” 

Yeah. That makes much more sense.

Being only slightly deflated by this discovery, I will still share my exciting news. 

In an attempt to counteract the stretching of my wrist from doing front squats two days in a row, I pulled out the tabapsies motion this morning.  This, in itself, is not newsworthy.  However, I grabbed both shoulders with all five fingers!!!

Again, not exciting unless you know that when I was nine years-old, I broke my left elbow doing a running cartwheel; the repair required a pin to hold three broken boney bits together, Dunlop’s traction for two weeks (during which time I learned to play cards with my feet), and physical therapy twice a week for a year.  I regained 95% of the range of motion of that elbow, feeling the loss only during . . . you guessed it – tabapsies! I was subjected to a life of partial tabapsies where I could only graze the top of my left shoulder with some of my finger tips. It was a real schoolyard challenge, but I met it stoically.

So this morning’s full-on tabapsies was a revelation regarding the fact that it’s never too late to improve your mobility.

Tabapsies on, people. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Courting Bellum Omnium In Omnia

I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers. Our landholders, too, like theirs, retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must wander, like theirs, in foreign countries, and be contented with penury, obscurity, exile, and the glory of the nation. This example reads to us the salutary lesson, that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, and to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering. Then begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia, which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.
Thomas Jefferson in a Letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1826 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Turtle Shirt

The turtle shirt belongs to my daughter, it’s true
Wearing it, I’m told, is not what I should do.
“It gives children a fright
When your face they then sight,
Expecting a kid but instead, seeing you.”

I was just happy it was clean and it fit.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chosen: Appreciated Words, Rejected Premise

The Choice

by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
The intellect of man is forced to choose
perfection of the life, or of the work,
And if it take the second must refuse
A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
When all that story's finished, what's the news?
In luck or out the toil has left its mark:
That old perplexity an empty purse,
Or the day's vanity, the night's remorse. 

I found the first four lines of this poem as the section marker of a book I am currently reading and wanted to know more. While I relish the clever and succinct use of rich words, I don't find truth in Yeats' inherent choice between life and work. 

Isn't work the action of living? 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sound Serendipity

We've owned our car for two years and just found out that it has an Automatic Sound Levelizer. 

Apparently the adults who drive the car suffer from an acute lack of curiosity that the newly-promoted-from-back-seat-to-front-seat child does not.  That’s kind of sad, really, but the discovery has added a bit of auditory thrill to our acceleration/deceleration cycles. 

Okay, maybe that's kind of sad, too. 

In other news, our car also has intermittent windshield wipers and automatic windows, both of which we recognized right away. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hymn of Breaking Strain

by Rudyard Kipling, 1935

The careful text-books measure
    (Let all who build beware!)
The load, the shock, the pressure
    Material can bear.
So, when the buckled girder
    Lets down the grinding span,
The blame of loss, or murder,
    Is laid upon the man.
        Not of the Stuff - the Man!

But, in our daily dealing
    With stone and steel, we find
The Gods have no such feeling
    Of justice toward mankind.
To no set guage they make us, -
    For no laid course prepare -
And presently o'ertake us
    With loads we cannot bear:
        Too merciless to bear.

The prudent text-books give it
    In tables at the end -
The stress that shears a rivet
    Or makes a tie-bar bend -
What traffic wrecks macadam -
    What concrete should endure -
But we, poor Sons of Adam,
    Have no such literaure,
        To warn us or make sure!

We hold all Earth to plunder -
    All Time and Space as well -
Too wonder-stale to wonder
    At each new miracle;
Till in the mid-illusion
    Of Godhead 'neath our hand,
Falls multiple confusion
    On all we did or planned -
        The mighty works we planned.

We only of Creation
    (Oh, luckier bridge and rail!)
Abide the twin-damnation -
    To fail and know we fail.
Yet we - by which sole token
    We know we once were Gods -
Take shame in being broken
    However great the odds -
        The Burden or the Odds.

Oh, veiled and secret Power
    Whose paths we seek in vain,
Be with us in our hour
    Of overthrow and pain;
That we - by which sure token
    We know Thy ways are true -
In spite of being broken,
    Because of being broken,
        May rise and build anew.
        Stand up and build anew!

Bit of poem found in today's WSJ review of new book: To Forgive Design.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Eggs Anyone?

Happily, at my last physical I found out I was fine.

I was kind of surprised that I was fine because when I arrived at the doctor’s office, I was assaulted with some new paperwork to fill out. I say assaulted because, I am told quickly and gleefully, that this paperwork must be filled out and returned, so that the secretary may then put me in the queue to be seen by the health care professional whose services I have contracted near the time I have scheduled that service. I thought my blood pressure would be quite high. 

So what was this new paperwork? HIPAA forms letting me know of my doctor’s intent to share my medical information with other medical and non-medical providers so I can get the best treatment, but really to "simplify" the administration of health records? Nope. I had gotten used to that CYA bit of white tape. Was it for insurance information to prove that I had the ability to pay the doctor for his services or had contracted with another agency that assumed the relative risk of the cost of my health care in exchange for great sums of money in order to pay the doctor for his services? Nope. I always have proof that I contract with health care insurance provider on hand because I've chosen to pay a lot, but willingly, for that particular value. 

No. This new set of paperwork was courtesy of the government’s federal billing standards and “Meaningful Use System.”  Easter eggs from Obamacare.

Not that these provisions were intentionally hidden, as the term Easter egg might imply, but that our elected legislators did pass the bill so we can all find out what's in it after all.  What's in it is a gigantic morass of new rules, new agencies, new standards – in fact, it's 2700 pages worth of legal yarn spun, twisted, and knotted up into an 1.1+ trillion dollar ball of taxpayer's money which promises to spawn over 27,000 pages of further inscrutable regulations administered by government bureaucrats.  And yet, there is nothing that will actually help me gain better access to health care, better understanding of how I'm responsible for the decisions that affect my health, access to better doctors, or a healthier outlook on life.  

Quite the contrary. 

Every government intrusion into what should be a private interaction between an individual and his health care providers pushes the ostensible goal of a populace of healthy individuals further away.

So this is the form my most recent Easter eggs took.

“Understanding Your Insurance Benefit for Physicals”

“Meaningful Use System”

Because nothing protects a patient’s affordability of care better than not knowing what he’ll have to pay for until AFTER the services have been provided except possibly, his doctor knowing the race, ethnicity, and language of all patients everywhere. 

What other rotten eggs will this joyless hunt yield? 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

His Sight is Worse Than His Snark

"Ultimately, I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,"  
"And I'd just remind conservative commentators that, for years, what we have heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism, or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law."   - President Obama

I'm glad to know that the Attorney General of the United States seems to have heard of Marbury v. Madison.  I find it slightly disingenuous that he herein extols the virtues of each branch of government having to uphold the same Constitution when his response was prompted by the Commander in Chief publicly chiding the judicial branch (above) and when members of the U.S. Legislature scoff at having to determine whether or not their proposed laws fall within the power of the Constitution.

Barack Obama is a duly elected charismatic thug heading a group of duly elected lap dogs willing to do his unprincipled bidding at the expense of our individual liberty and justice.

Why we continue not only to elect these power whores, but inexplicably to call for more tyrannical restrictions over the freedom of our actions from an ever-growing, overbearing government is what I just can't figure out.

As voters, is our collective head so far up our metaphorical ass that we can no longer see the light of wisdom in a government limited to the protection of individual life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Or that we can't even recognize an existent threat to that liberty as promised by a limited government?

Has the extraordinary enshrinement of individual rights in our government's founding been so comfortably buried beneath centuries of individual achievement that we've forgotten why it had been enshrined in the first place and what it means to now have a government which frequently violates actual individual rights in favor of imagined collective rights? More basically, does rights mean the right to have food, houses, healthcare, cars, cell phones, internet access -- the goods and services produced by others -- provided for us by an omnipotent government, or does it mean the freedom to act in one's own best interest in seeking our own values? Free from force and fraud.

Is the enticement of equal outcomes, egalitarianism, so deeply twisted into the core of our culture that we have lost the ability to understand that it is each individual's freedom to act -- equal under the law -- which is the critical component of justice? That a person's freedom to act, not how that individual chooses to act, is what the government must protect and enforce?

Has the fear of being labeled inhumane caused us to embrace anecdotal emotional arguments to the very point of turning away from principle and reason? What is humane, let alone just, about government forcing individuals to act against their own best interests?

These are the things I just can't understand.

Why anyone thinks that the government -- both those elected officials and the countless bureaucratic spawn -- will do a better job making decisions about my life than I would, or that government should make decisions about how you live your life makes me wonder what Utopian government he is thinking about. I am looking at the United States government. You know, the one founded on the principles of individual rights which is now so bloated that it is suffocating its own principles with the consent of its governed?

The vision of our nation, as seen through the actions of our duly elected leadership, seems to be that in order to protect our rights we must be relieved of much of the burden of thinking and acting for ourselves.