Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The People We Elect, Redux

It is not enough for an elected member of Congress to represent their particular district, no matter how convoluted its lines are drawn. Those who stand on Capitol Hill, do so to represent not just their state, but the nation as a whole. Each takes an oath, similar to that which the President takes, and it is such that a Congressman is bound to their duty to "bear true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution is the guidebook to how the business of the nation shall be conducted, and the Preamble makes it quite clear what the duties of the Federal government are.

So, it is quite disheartening, when a major legislative figure in Congress makes a statement which so completely contravenes the spirit and the word of the Constitution, to wit, the protection of the "general welfare." That nondescript, two-word phrase, encompasses the highest order of the land, for it enjoins Congress to see to the needs of the nation and its citizens at all times and in all places, and that no American need suffer where the Federal government can render aid and comfort.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The People Who Serve

It bears repeating, if only to remind us to do our duty as citizens, that many have given their lives, physically and emotionally, to create and preserve the freedom and liberty we in the United States enjoy. The freedom of worship, the freedom of expression, the right to vote... all that is encompassed in the Constitution of the United States and the charters of the States therein, exists, not solely because some with lofty ideals put words to paper, but because some lay dying on the soil of our nation, or in some foreign field, having given the fullest measure of themselves to preserve and protect it.

Let the day not be about picnics, fireworks, the beach, the mall, but let it be about solemn remembrance and gracious thankfulness for the sacrifices these men and women made in our defense. Let us honor them, not just today, but every day, by being the best citizens we can be.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The People We Elect

If you ever wonder why the United States continually finds itself in dire straits, seemingly rudderless, filled with nothing but invective and inaction, we only need look to the quality of those people elected to govern. Or in many cases, people elected who fail to govern.

To give you some fairly pertinent examples:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


In the game of baseball, a player is often asked to do something that on its face is counterproductive: make an out to move a base-runner forward. It is known as the sacrifice bunt, because the player is being asked to give up the chance to get an actual hit and add to their own statistics, to increase the likelihood of the team being able to score a run. The sacrifice does not help the player, but may help the team; there is no guarantee. They are being asked to take it on faith that doing so will help the team win.

As in baseball, so it is in life. We are individuals, each striving to make our way in the world, to successfully navigate our daily routines in order to ensure another days' existence, and in many cases, move our family forward with us. We think nothing of this, performing the same actions day-in and day-out for decades. And yet... we often forget that there is a larger community to which we belong, that may also require us to make sacrifices: humanity. Our lives and those of our families are important, but ultimately are for nothing without the remainder of humanity. We are an interconnected whole, like the billions of connections in a computer chip or the billions of stars that form The Milky Way. We are separate, but united in one common thread of life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beauty And The Labcoat

The obsession modern human society has with beauty is an outgrowth of the need for the species to procreate, which is an evolutionary imperative enforced through natural selection to drive the continued diversification of the species, to allow for its success in adapting to changes in environment. A rudimentary system to ensure the survival of our species, dragged along into the modern era through the auspices of our DNA, we have taken it, expanded it, "codified" it, and then attempted to enforce it, through media and opinion. Beauty has gone from a primitive device to the bane of human society.

Nowhere is that more evident than in a remarkably troubling event that took place this week, when Psychology Today -- a magazine loosely dedicated to the dissemination of useful knowledge in the field of psychology -- printed a tract by Satoshi Kanazawa that was entitled “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” It was another in a series of diatribes dressed as science by the author, seeking to apply a veneer of scientific legitimacy to sexist and racist ideas in the disreputable field of "evolutionary psychology." It was attempting to paint a picture of black women as "undesirable" compared to "social norms"; instead, it painted a picture of a bigoted author trying to justify that bigotry, an all too common practice over the centuries. Science has now usurped scripture as the medium by which nonsensical, biased, and backward ideas are perpetuated and reinforced.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fear, Itself

Today, May 17th, is the International Day Against Homophobia. It is a time for us to acknowledge that even as many groups in this world have thrown off the shackles of oppression, or fought to gain the rights and freedoms they so richly deserve, there is a group of individuals that still faces rampant discrimination, abuse, and bigotry: homosexuals, and along with them, their trans-gendered and bisexual compatriots. Lumped together, the LGBT community suffers under the crushing weight of an abject and unsupportable hatred that threatens to break humanity; today, let us acknowledge this and do something about it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lead By Example

It was customary in ancient times, to put the heads of vanquished foes on pikes or posts, or to leave whole bodies strung up or crucified, so others would get the idea that any attempt to overthrow the current order was futile. Strangely, no matter how often this was done, it did not stop the stout of heart from attempting to do it anyway, fighting back against systems they knew were stifling, corrupt, and tyrannical. Some were not put off by the spilling of blood; others looked upon the vanquished as merely unfit to do what they set out to do.

So, now, we have the conundrum as to whether or not it is right and proper to release pictures of a dead Osama bin Laden. The most strident voices for their release hearken back to those bygone days, assuming that the site of the now defeated bin Laden will deter any other fanatical terrorists from attempting to attack us.

It doesn't work that way.

Friday, May 6, 2011

No Woman Left Behind

Some men are afraid of women, specifically strong women, women who are independent, capable, willing to work and scrape and fight for what they want. For some reason, the idea of women being as capable as they are, frightens them. It goes against their personal sensibilities, their sense of entitlement, their lust for total control and power. As long as they could look upon women as the "lesser" gender, as long as women "knew their place," they were happy. Now, they are scared.

These men often occupy positions of power, and they wield that power in any way they can to hold women down, to beat them back, to wrest control from them. Take, for example, the execrable legislation just passed in the House of Representatives: H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The bill itself is pointless, in that it simply reinforces already extant legislation (the Hyde Amendment), forbidding the spending of Federal funds on abortions or abortion-related services. Even so, it is significant, because it marks a blatant slap in the face of every woman. A bunch of mainly older white men, decided, more-or-less unilaterally, that women were incapable of making decisions about whether to have an abortion or not, and they would make it for them, by choking off a funding source, making it that much harder to get one.

So much for getting government off our backs.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Darkness Held The Monster

With great power, comes great responsibility. You may scoff at a line from a comic book, but the origin of the words bears nothing upon their meaning. It is true -- great power, used responsibly, can cure the ills of humanity. Used inappropriately, or with caprice, such power can sow darkness, despair, and destruction. There is no greater power than our own minds, the engine that drives us. Within the electrochemical workings of our synapses lie the ability to turn our knowledge into power, and that power into action. If we do not think, do not apply our knowledge to a task, or wield our knowledge loosely, we stand to make bad situations worse, and horrible situation catastrophic.

Victor Frankenstein found this out, when he took his knowledge of life and matter, and sought to imbue dead flesh with life once more, strapping together a new human being from parts of old human beings. The import of this was lost on him, so mad was he with the desire to see his knowledge writ large across history as the man who defied death's grip. He did not see the bigger picture, did nothing to enfold the greater sum of humanity into the the equation. He simply brought his creation to life, and thus his grisly jigsaw puzzle of humanity was born of madness and electricity, and would eventually turn out to be his death in the Arctic wastes. His irresponsibility caught up with him.

Mary Shelley's cautionary tale, and Stan Lee's words of wisdom, stand testimony to that which humanity cannot ever seem to come to grips with, truly: what we do, and how we do it, returns to us in the end. If we do not think ahead, we will find ourselves in pursuit of our own monster, loosed upon the world through our oversight.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


As the battle for the budget builds into ever-widening crescendo of rhetoric, let us stop to consider, for a moment, how we really got to this point of being so far in debt. Let us critically examine what our government owes us, and more importantly, what we owe it. Not just in monetary terms, mind you, but in our adherence to the responsibility we were given for our government by those created it over two hundred years ago.