Defending beliefs

I find it humorous to engage people in discussions of why they believe things to be a certain way. Oftentimes there is no real logic or rationale, just an arbitrary decision to support or not support something.

I am guilty of it sometimes too.

But the problem stems from the laziness of some people. They are unwilling to put in the time to figure out why they believe things to be a certain way. It is a good intellectual exercise to do the opposite of the slackers and spend a few minutes with yourself.

Why are you a Democrat? Why are you a Republican? What values are important to you and why?

Yahoo! News - Leopards Prey on People in Bombay Park

The leopards and I have an understanding. They recognize that if they try and bite me I am entitled to a new fur coat. Being killed by an animal ranks right up there with being beheaded.

Yahoo! News - Study: Sex Abuse Prevalent in Schools

Stories like this just infuriate me. What is wrong with people. How can you do that to children.

Technology News: Science: Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft Set for Saturn Tour

I am old enough to have watched Armstrong and company land on the moon, not that I can remember it. :) I find the idea of space travel to be very exciting.

Not to mention the idea of being weightless.When I was 20 I was able to grab the rim on a standard basketball court, but I could never dunk.

I figure if you put me on the moon I might be able to do a fair impression of Michael Jordan.

Life is challenging

More random thoughts about my life in general with no particular order or meaning. My father had a younger brother who died in February of 1994, he wasn't quite 50 when he passed away.

He was gay, but not the stereotypical flamboyant gay man that you see portrayed on TV, there was no birdcage. I was just short of 18 when I found out that he was gay. I had never bothered to consider that he could be, it never occurred to me that he was anything but my uncle.

But my middle sister must have been thinking about it because she asked him. We were in San Francisco on a youth group trip and he had dinner with just the two of us. One moment I had the cool uncle who bought a beer for me at dinner and the next, he was gay. He laughed when she asked and answered that he was.

Suddenly I was posed with a dilemma as I had grown up hearing gay jokes in school. I may have even told some. I never heard them around the house, but I knew that it was something that many people frowned upon. I truly cannot remember if I spent much time thinking about it, although I know that I found it to be disconcerting. Regardless of my discomfort I reminded myself that he was my uncle and that I loved him.

And that was the end of my concern about it, it really was short lived.
It was January of 1987.


Sometime in 1989 I learned that my uncle had tested HIV+. Now my uncle became gay again to me. I remember as a 20 year-old boy who was trying to figure out who I was that I knew that my uncle was going to die and I felt sad for my father and my grandfather.

For a long time he didn't show any signs of the disease. He had trouble gaining weight, but he was always skinny. As the opportunity presented itself I would go back to SF to spend time with him. He was so similar and so different from my father. It was fascinating to me to see in some ways the man my father could have been had he not had 4 children to take care of.

Sometime around 1993 the virus decided that dormancy was not for it and the little buggers began their assault upon my uncle. It was slow at first and he fought it. We are a strong willed family and he wasn't anxious to give up. I began to do what I could to speak with him even more than I had. I really looked to him for some guidance and support. He gave me what advice he had to offer and set me straight about a number of things.
My happy go lucky uncle was dying.


I began to see little things that I hadn't noticed before, aspects of his personality that I had never been exposed to. I don't know if they had always been there or if the disease brought it out, but they reared their head for me, pretty and ugly alike.

It became more and more apparent that time was not on his side and out of necessity the drugs he took to sustain his life were increased. And now I got to speak with a drugged and not always lucid 49 year old. I didn't like it, but I didn't blame him.
In February of 1994 my uncle died of complications caused by the virus, he wasn't even 50.


Due to dumbluck, karma, kismet or whatever I got the call from SF saying that he had passed away and I got to due the honors of telling my grandfather that his youngest son had died. A short time later my mother and I let my father know that his younger brother had died. In practically no time it seemed like I had decimated a family.

No one blamed me, no one yelled at me. It wasn't my fault, but I felt empty and hollow. I had "stabbed" my grandfather and my father. I did it carefully, I tried to be tender, but the words cut them both.

My grandfather cried and I could do nothing.


Fast forward to 2003. It is August and my grandmother has a major stroke. We know that within days she will die. For all intents and purposes she is already gone, her body is a shell, more like a three dimensional picture. My grandfather held her hand and sat with her, but the look on his face said that he knew.

At her funeral he leaned against me and I realized that overnight he had aged. My poor grandfather had buried a son and two wives and time was catching up with him. It made me very aware of his mortality. I was 34 and a father and I felt like a three year-old boy. Suddenly all of his weight was leaning against me and even though I felt strength in the muscles, he felt frail.

And for the second time in my memory my grandfather cried.


Fast forward to April of this year, 2004. My sister is pregnant with her third child. On April 17th my parents left for New Jersey so that they could be there for the birth of their newest grandchild.

On April 28th my father was admitted to the hospital. Within hours he was on a ventilator and my BIL and I were discussing whether he would survive. It was touch and go and there were concerns that if I waited for any length of time he would die before I could get there.

And suddenly I realized that I might be stuck telling my grandfather that his oldest son had died. It was so unfair, I was going to be placed in a position of being concerned about whether telling him could kill him. It was bad enough telling him about my uncle, and now 10 years later I faced the prospect of history repeating.

But this time there was no other child and no wife to lean on, just a 35 year-old grandson.

Life is funny that way. So I rolled the dice and lied to my grandfather and my other grandparents about having to take a sudden business trip. It was April 30th and I caught an early morning flight to New Jersey. I got on a plane not knowing if my father would still be living when I arrived and the knowledge of all of the responsibilities left behind. Three grandparents, a pregnant wife, three year-old son and two younger sisters.

Ahead I had my mother to take care of and my sister and her kids. I was incredibly thankful for my BIL, not just because he was a doctor but because I felt some support, that there was at least one person in New Jersey that I could rely upon to help with the family.

It is June 30th now.


My father beat the odds, roll out the cliches. He survived when so many of the docs were dubious about the possibility. And now I worry about him and my mother coming home in time for the birth of my new baby. The due date is July 22, but my wife expects that we have about 2 weeks to go. She is carrying the baby, so I suppose that she should know.

I am looking forward to seeing dad come home. I am not ready to give him up and I don't want to rob my children of knowing their grandfather. What a wild year it has been. There is something fitting in seeing my folks arrive in time for the beginning of a new life.

I love you dad. Get mom on a plane and come home, please.

Yahoo! News - Politicians tell men to have more sex

Now I can get behind these politicians in a heartbeat. ;) Of course here in the prude US of A this would likely never happen.

Yahoo! News - Baby's Diaper Absorbs Snake Venom

Talk about what could have been a "crappy" experience. Whew.

The Credit Card Prank

I am glad to see that I am not the only one who plays this game. If only I had thought to document it, oh well.

When I graduated from College they gave us cards to fill out with our names as they supposedly appeared on our diplomas. My friends and I had a field day filling out our "real" names and then some.

Lot of interesting graduates were found that day. Not to mention that some jackass got into it with one of my fellow graduates. Basically he was there to see some family/friend graduate. In his efforts to film the ceremony he blocked our view. We yelled and asked him to move, apparently this irked him enough that he threatened to come kick our rears.

Not only that, but he said that he was going to put the camera away and that he would return to inflict said punishment. The funny part is that he pointed at us and said "I'll remember you."

I am sure that 1000 of us dressed all dressed in black caps and gowns looked very different from each other.

Dennis Prager: SO, WE'RE HATED

Again, I agree with Mr. Prager.

One more point. When you look at the roster of the America-haters and realize that none of them hates France or Sweden, this assessment of America-hatred is rendered even more obvious. America, largely alone, calls these groups and regimes what they are — evil. America, largely alone, wages war against them. America, largely alone (with Israel), prevents them from assuming far more power.

How very true.

Walter Williams: Will the West survive?

It is worth thinking about. A few years ago I never would have bought this argument, but now I wonder.

Thoughts about war

Just some basic thoughts to throw out. For anyone who has been reading the board for any length of time now it should be evident that I support the war in Iraq.

I think that we did the right thing and I am happy that we did it. I am not going to run off and provide all of the reasons that I think we did the right thing. I'll say that I am disappointed in how some things have been handled and that I think that we have fumbled the ball several times.

And I also want to add that I do not buy the argument that by going in we created an environment in which millions of people are going to crawl out of bed and become terrorists.

I think that it will create new terrorists and that this will be a good recruitment tool for AQ and friends. But I think that many of those people are predisposed to this behavior and not likely to have been friendly towards us to begin with.

There are lots of ways to disagree with people/politics and most ways do not involve violence. I don't think that everyone is capable of launching murderous attacks even if they support the idea.

That being said, I believe that there are a number of things that are happening now including a polarization of sides that is being pushed by members of the fringes so to speak.

I think that there are many people who want this to become a case of Muslims versus the rest of the world and that they will continue to perform outrageous acts to fuel this desire.

What we are seeing and reading about now are more and more calls for revenge. People want blood and are calling out for action. I happen to believe that overwhelming force is going to be needed to bring the terrorists down and to force a position in which they have to use political means and not violence to negotiate their terms.

That being said I wanted to mention that I came across a site called Ogrish. It made me sad, it is "chock" full of barbaric videos of violence from the war and other places. I think that part of what made me sad is that I watched pieces of some of the videos. It was like a trainwreck, I had to force myself to stop watching.

I have seen some very bloody things in person and they were not nice, but it wasn't nice to see it on the computer either. And I couldn't help but think of the parents of these victims and how they have to face this terrible reality for the rest of their lives. It is a terrible weight.

And I think that part of what makes me sad is just my belief that the way to peace is going to require so much more bloodshed. Such a terrible contradiction, so wrong, but sometimes so necessary.

Life really is absurd sometimes.

Wow

What a busy time in my life. Today my father was released from the hospital. He went in on April 28, so just short of 2 months later the big man has been paroled from the joint. It was a combination of pneumonia, heart trouble and a few other odds and ends and he beat the odds and came through.

I am excited by I feel spent mentally and emotionally. The problem is that there is no time to sit back and mull over these things. It won't pay the bills and it won't keep work from piling on my desk. On days like this I think that I should clone myself 2 or 3 times so that I can always be working on the things that need to be done. And since it will be my clone I won't have to worry about being in three places at once, I will be. and better yet, sorry, not sure what the better yet would be.

Beheading

It is a sad day and I feel badly for the family and friends of this poor man in South Korea. I feel badly for the family of Paul Johnson too. Slaughtered, they were slaughtered like animals.

It is ugly and it is only going to get uglier. Violence will be needed to solve this, they need a boot to the throat and an understanding that they cannot achieve their goals in this manner.

Once they capitulate there may be room for further negotiation and hopefully we can take a stance that allows for education and more progressive thought. A lot of contradictions in that paragraph, but that is life.

A few thoughts

So it is another Saturday night and I am feeling kind of funky, not particularly unhappy or melancholy, but not ecstatic either. Not that there is anything wrong with that, so do I sound like Jerry Seinfeld.

In a short few weeks my second child will join my family in the "outside world" and I'll have one more person under my care. Some people are really concerned about the world, they live in fear of what could happen, what might happen not what will happen. And I am just so thankful that I am not caught in that trap.

I cannot blame people for feeling a certain way, but I cannot accept such a negative view of the world. In part because I had the good fortune to be born in the US and to have done something with my life. When I look at history I cannot help but be optimistic, there is less brutality and senseless death in so many ways.

We do not live in the Dark Ages, but it does feel like it sometimes. OTOH, we see medical advances enable our friends and family to overcome health issues that would have killed them a generation ago. So there is progress.

On a different front I must say that I want to know what the hell Jerry Buss is thinking. Jerry, you used to be the finest owner out there and now you are turning into Steinbrenner. Why?

But It's True - Torah.org

But It's True - Torah.org: "'I'm not speaking Lashon Hara--its true!!' "

So much to consider when we discuss being honest and forthright with people. At what point does honesty become brutal and at what cost does that honest come. Sometimes our words are like the stones that drop into a still pond causing ripples whose consequences we cannot predict.

If I am not for myself, who is for me?When I am for myself, what am I?If not now, when?

: "If I am not for myself, who is for me?
When I am for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?
�Hillel"

Worth the whole commentary:

Commentary [1:14]
Today Hillel’s famous three questions are usually taken rhetorically, meaning: Look out for yourself, stick up for yourself, or no one else will; but if you are only concerned for your own selfish interests, you are unworthy; and now is the time to act.

Rabbinic commentators give a similar but more pious interpretation: only I can carry out my responsibilities to do good, and get merits by which God will judge me when I die. Maimonides adds psychological insight: a person acquires habits of doing right or wrong—virtues and vices—while young; youths should do good deeds now, and not wait until adulthood.

Hillel put these sayings in the form of questions, I believe, because he intended them to be asked and answered when we face important decisions.

If I am not for myself, who is for me? not only implies that it is legitimate to pursue your own interests, but also starts you thinking of the best way to pursue your interests. Your answer to “If I were not for myself—if I had to rely totally on others—who would be for me?” will give you a shrewd idea of who are your friends and allies, and who is not with you, or is actively opposed to your efforts.
When I am for myself, what am I? asks “What should be my role in this situation?” This partly a moral question: what do I owe to others, what do they owe to me? And it is also a practical question: how should we define and share responsibilities in a way that is most beneficial to both people in a relationship?

If not now, when? is the strategic question of timing. Sometimes, we should act immediately, and sometimes we should wait until a later, more opportune moment. What is urgent? What should I postpone? What can I do now to improve my options later?

Hillel’s three questions encapsulate a philosophy of life which is a true synthesis of the ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek traditions—a synthesis at the heart of Classical Judaism. In contrast to the Greek tradition, Hillel doesn’t begin just with personal happiness as the goal, and then try to see how wisdom can lead a person to the path of goodness. And in contrast to the Hebrew tradition, he doesn’t begin just with a person’s responsibilities to others and to the community.

Hillel’s approach instead is a conscious effort to balance the pursuit of self-interest and service to others. He sees that balancing our personal interests and our obligations to others is a problem that each of us needs to solve creatively at each stage of our lives. Each time we face an important life decision, the three questions launch us and guide us on this quest for balance.

ESPN.com: Page 2 - Remembering Ralph Wiley

ESPN.com: Page 2 - Remembering Ralph Wiley

I really enjoyed reading his columns, there was an energy and a life to them that reminded me of Jim Murray. I know of no better compliment than that.

"Choose yourself a mentor;Acquire yourself a friend;

acts of kindness, Pirkei Avot: "Choose yourself a mentor;
Acquire yourself a friend;
And make it your habit to judge every person favorably.
�Yehoshua ben Perachia"

The first two lines are sensible and easy to do, or one would hope. One can never have too many friends. It is always good to have people you can trust, who you can share your hopes/dreams/fears with.

Community is important, we are communal creatures.

A mentor is a good idea as well. Very few of us try activities in which no one else has ever engaged in. So it makes sense to try and find a trustworthy person who can share their experiences with you and hopefully assist you in avoiding some of the pitfalls that can hit you.

The final component is really tough. It is just hard not to judge people. We are consistently forced to evaluate people and it is not easy to just ignore your first impressions.

Pirkei Avos - Torah.org

Pirkei Avos - Torah.org: "Only we can fulfill that most basic and fundamental commandment of all: Know thyself. "

And that is the real challenge that we face through life, trying to understand who we are and what we stand for. This is something that evolves through time as we grow and evolve. At least you hope that you do not stagnate and that you do continue to grow.

We can find guides and recommendations on how we should live, but we cannot let others live our lives. They may share in it, but they can never truly feel our feelings or understand our thoughts. In some fashion we are always alone. But this is not a bad thing.

Life

Spent a few minutes considering what the last year of my life has been like and came up with the following list. Since May of last year I have had/experienced the following:

The company I was working for split into two new companies.I was sent to work for the prince of darkness and his evil consort for 8 months after which they let me go. No surprise, it was expected. For that matter it was a race to see if I could find omething better before they let me go.My grandmother died and my grandfather moved into my parents home. My wife got pregnant with our second child. My other grandmother had a series of heart issues including a major heart attack and managed to survive, but the docs are questioning how long.My sister had her third child and my parents flew out to meet the newest grandchild. While they were out there my father had a heart attack and some other major health issues. We were told that there was a very strong chance that he wouldn't make it, but he proved them wrong and two months later is healing, albeit 3k miles away from here.My sister had an emergency operation in which her gall bladder was removed, but is doing ok.

The lack of spacing is intentional because that is what this past year has been like, sort of. It really isn't close to what it has felt like, but I wouldn't expect anyone to be able to truly get it and that is ok with me. This is my burden and my task to bear.

Yahoo! News - Last Man Saved From WTC Wreckage Retires

Yahoo! News - Last Man Saved From WTC Wreckage Retires

I would have retired long before, at least I think that I would have. It is hard to believe that it is almost 3 full years since 911.

Cleveland

What can I say about that place except it is fortunate that they have a competent fire department. :)

Ok, I can tell you that it is superior to at least three other places, Buffalo, Detroit and Blythe, which could be called Blight. They haven't any sense of decorum and are not in touch with reality. Most of the people I meet from cleveland are short and have inferiority complexes. Not sure why, they must have some normal people there.

On the other hand they probably have all fled the city.

Funny, I keep receiving these silly comments from angry clevelangelenos about their fair city. So, I'll agree on the scale of evaluation it is fair. Not great, not good, not poor, but fair.

ESPN.com - NBA - Bryant's 3 saves Lakers, evens series 1-1

The tide is slowly turning in so many ways. I love Shaq, always have. The mixture of power and agility is just awesome. But you can see the future in Kobe.

Assuming that he stays with the Lakers it will not be long before it truly becomes his team. I remember seeing the transition from Kareem to Magic and now this.

Yahoo! News - PluggedIn: Step Aside TiVo, Here Comes Freevo

I love Tivo, yes, I am another TiVo evangelist. It makes it so pleasant and so easy to watch the few shows that I enjoy on my time.

Yahoo! News - Judge Lets DiSpirito Enter Restaurant

Here is proof that 15 minutes of fame can lead to a lot of heartache. I don't feel badly for the man,sosomething tells me that he can keep burning food and making a buck for a while.

Report: Newlywed Jennifer Lopez Pregnant

Go away Jenny from the block and stop polluting my airwaves. I am so tired of hearing about you. Such nonsense is just irksome in a time of so much discord. No really, it is.

Reagan

Reagan

Domestically I think that there were a lot of questionable policies, but from a foreign policy perspective he was more formidable than many realized.

Lightning Is About To Strike

Lightning is about to strike again, not a doubt in my mind that we're going to see it live and experience in 3D. Some lips are bound to ...