Thursday, September 18, 2008

Get 'Em While They're Young

Propaganda: ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause (merriam-webster)

Shameless Propaganda: “We all want our children to feel safe in this world,” said Meryl Chertoff, wife of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, at a ceremony held at the John Tyler Elementary School to announce the partnership. "And who better to do that than our Sesame Street friends, Grover and Rosita!”

Oh, yes, we want them to feel safe. But how can 3 year olds really feel safe unless we first make sure they know how much there is to be afraid of? And who better to tell them how dangerous the world is than the out-of-control, jack-booted fascists at the Department of Homeland Security.

I don't make any of this stuff up: Homeland Security, Sesame Style

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why My Children Will Never Set Foot In Government Schools

Just one reason among oh-so-many. I could make you a list. U.K., U.S., makes no difference.

Teach 'the pleasure of gay sex' to children as young as five, say researchers

Maybe I'm being too close-minded; after all, they use puppet shows as part of the "desexualization" discussions. Little kids like puppets.

Monday, September 15, 2008

RFID to the Rescue

If this story isn't disturbing to you, it's only because you're looking at it as an isolated event. I would encourage you instead to take the time to put it in context with everything else going on in the United States. If you can unplug yourself from the noise of the world and do that, you will see this for what it really is; an integral part of a much larger whole, and a single step in a journey that is only just beginning.

Chipping away at border wait

Is something very similar to this written in the pages of What So Proudly We Hailed?

And in that story, did the people of the United States welcome it also?

And did they eventually come to regret it?
Oh, yes. Very much so.

But by then it was too late.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Allow Me to Set Your Expectations . . .

One of the things in my past life that I always tried my best to do was to set people’s expectations. Whether in my job as a salesman or as a manager, I would “prime” people upfront about what to expect later on. It’s a very simple “no surprises” philosophy, and it saved me from many an uncomfortable situation. Nobody likes an unwanted surprise.

A problem exists, however, because what people’s expectations are set for depends almost entirely on the one(s) who sets it for them. In other words, you can make people accept something that they wouldn’t ordinary do simply by getting the thought into their head before it happens. After that, it's all but a self fulfilling prophecy.

Here’s an example:
There is a terrible terrorist attack on our country. Those in power set the expectation that we will, from that point on, be (forever) hunting down terrorists. Several years go which allow us to become acclimated to the new policies, organizations, and procedures that are swiftly implemented in this “new, post 9/11” world in which we live. We are all aware about this.

Earlier this year, racial profiling targeted at people who look Middle-Eastern – something that was an abhorrent concept to American civil liberties even in the wake of 9/11 – became legitimatized in our quest to find these vaporous terrorists, even though there seems to be a pronounced shortage of actual acts of terrorism in America. You may or may not be aware about that, and even if you were, you probably didn’t think much about it because it didn’t apply to you.

Now that racial profiling of people who look Muslim has become acceptable, the expectations are now being set to get us ready for what’s going to happen next, which as it turns out, is that everyone will be a potential terrorist: Next U.S. Terror Attack Could Be By White Guys

Well now, that pretty much covers the board, doesn’t it? Remember too, we’ve already made the commitment to hunt them down.

Is this all just paranoia? You tell me. Read the below news articles – they’re all real - and then tell yourself that you don’t see a common theme when you look at them together, either in things that are already happening or in things where the expectations of us all are being manipulated so that we won’t be surprised later on.

GM crops 'the only way to feed world' says agri expert (I especially like where he presents it as "one way or the other"; no third option available. Also nice to know that "GM crops have been accepted in most of the Americas". Not by me.)

Not feeling afraid? We can fix that: School Shooting Drill Terrifies Unknowing Teachers

Mandatory Microchipping In Adopted Pets (This is already "voluntary" for people now. I'm sure they'll never make it mandatory.)

Clones' offspring may be in food supply: FDA (May be in your food. We're not real sure)

Purses Banned At School (To quote them, a "bold" move. I actually had another word in mind, but good taste prevents me from sharing it.)

Park attendants ordered to interrogate adults spotted without children (This is in the UK, but does it really make a difference?)

It is Illegal to Collect Rain Water in the USA (Definitely in Utah, anyway.)

Do you need more? You can find plenty at Help yourself.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Place I Call Home

Note: I wrote the following article for an upcoming issue of "Back Home in Kentucky" magazine, which appears below in its original, unedited form. I thought it turned out pretty nice.

It’s a beautiful day for a drive.

You’re an hour or so south of Lexington when you cross yet another county line. You didn’t catch the name of it as you went by, but you’re keenly aware that something has just changed. The air feels different somehow.

The top is down, your sunglasses are on, and the breeze rushing past has become pleasantly cool as you maneuver your way down this quiet country road. The faint buzz of cicadas far away on the wind and the sweet smell of fresh cut hay melt away your cares, working together like a tempting siren’s song to lead you deeper into uncharted territory.

You suddenly realize that you’ve lost track of time, and the thought doesn’t bother you at all.

Fields of corn and tobacco stretch out in pockets from the edge of the road to the lush, rolling hills in the distance on either side. You briefly wonder what it would be like to have a home on top of those hills, and then feel a tinge of envy as you see that some people already know.

Everywhere you look, rippling creeks cut their meandering paths under the cover of Maples and Black Walnuts, and quiet dirt roads branch off through the shade of the trees, holding their secrets close.

There are horses and cattle here; black barns & fence. But while the houses & farms may betray the presence of man, the unbridled beauty of it all continues to assault your senses. Your mind is consumed with thoughts that have been absent for years, and they now feel like long lost friends as you welcome them back and become reacquainted: Space. Tranquility. Beauty. Peace.

Around a curve, over a hill, and you find yourself in a quiet little town boldly proclaiming the name of “Liberty”, and the feeling of freedom you now carry with you confirms that it could be called nothing else.

You stare astonished at the hundreds gathered in the park; scores of parents proudly cheering their children as they play ball on every available field of dreams. Your journey takes you by well kept homes – the newer additions mixed in comfortably with the monuments of days long past – and the backyards and porch swings lead you deeper yet toward the center of this town whose skyline is dominated by trees, church steeples, and American flags, and whose veterans are remembered with a wall and a fountain and a Liberty Bell of their own.

At the center of downtown you finally come to a stop at one of only 3 traffic lights in the entire county, and you imagine how your friends back home might laugh about that. But you’re not laughing.

Instead, you’re transported back in time; 50 years, 75 years, 100 years, more. The buildings announce their births from the days of gas streetlamps, and as you stare at the courthouse that was standing long before the first Sunday drive ever took place, the asphalt suddenly disappears before your eyes, the power lines vanish, and the dirt streets that now lay before you become crowded with the bustle of horses and wagons and people from a time long forgotten.

With a start you realize that the light has turned green, though when it did you’re not sure; no one is honking their horn.

Reluctantly, you proceed through the crossroads, and in a flash the town disappears behind you, to be replaced with a cool, winding stretch of road nestled in the hills as it follows the lazy path of the Green River. The late afternoon sun dances over you through the leaves, and you know you could stay here forever.

All too soon though, you find yourself crossing the county line out of this place, and you feel a heaviness and a deep sense of loss as the cares of your world come back to you. You pull the car to the side, turn off the engine, open the door and stand, trying to make sense of it all.

And then a sound you never expected catches your ear, and you look up in amazement to see a black buggy coming towards you on the road, the soft clip-clop of horse’s hooves gently overcoming the faint ticking of your cooling engine. The Amish driver gives you a silent nod as he passes. You nod back. And as you continue to watch him move slowly off into the distance behind you, your eye sees the sign bearing the name of this realm you’ve just left: Casey County.

With the quiet of the evening once again wrapping you in its peaceful embrace, you realize that your original destination doesn’t seem so important anymore, and as you get back in your car you feel the smile returning to your face as you turn around to head back the other way.

It’s a beautiful day for a drive.