Monday, December 29, 2014

What We Have In Common

(This posting is United States centric, but it should apply to all humanity.)
One of the nicknames of the United States is THE MELTING POT. People would come from all parts of the world – the vast majority of the time because they wanted to become part of America, and have America be part of them (I suspect it already was – they were just coming home.) They wouldn’t totally abandon the culture they came from, but they would embrace OUR culture, too – melt into and become part of the American family, while adding their own ingredients to the mix at the same time - everyone blended into the melting pot.
Lately, this feature of America has been corrupted by multi-culturism. Now, even suggesting that there is ONE COMMON AMERICAN CULTURE, or that this should be DESIRABLE brings accusations of racism and bigotry. How dare anyone think that the American Culture is superior to any other? THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT (although there must be something good about American culture – the success of our nation has had didn’t happen despite it.)
A common culture unifies us, and the more that culture is diluted and denigrated, the less unified we are as a nation. This isn’t just a problem with the lack of assimilation of new immigrants (legal or otherwise) – it’s particularly damaging that it’s happened with ACTUAL AMERICANS who have forgotten that that’s what they are. We’ve become hyphenated Americans, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if the emphasis was on the suffix (the AMERICAN part), but instead we stress the prefix (the part that SEPARATES them from being Americans.)
This is why we have Mexican-Americans who think it’s okay for people to come into our country illegally. It’s why we have African-Americans who will protest the self-defense shooting death of a thug in Ferguson SIMPLY because of his skin color. We can’t function as a society if any one group thinks the law shouldn’t apply to them.
I’m an Italian-American (among other things); I identify most strongly with being American. I’m also a white American, but I refuse to have my ethnic background, or the color of my skin, be the most important thing to define me. And I won’t allow my allegiances to be blindly determined by the same. Why should I scream “Foul!” if another Italian American is arrested for stealing? Or if a white person is tasered or shot while assaulting a police officer? Really?
It’s sort of like wanting to belong to a club or a church, but not being willing to follow the rules that are a condition of membership. Why did you join? Why are you staying? (answering that question might help you see the benefits of membership, and help you realize that MAYBE this isn’t the heartless, oppressive place that some people have told you...)
We live in a nation of laws, created by WE THE PEOPLE, and a big part of being a functioning member of our culture is understanding the importance those laws have in maintaining a civil society. The law applies to everyone, regardless of their skin tone, ethnic origin, or any other subset you want to use.
I feel sorry for anyone who lives in what I believe is the greatest country on earth but who can’t be anything beyond their prefix. They’ve bought into a bill of goods, sold to them by power-seekers who continue to get what they want as long as WE allow them to divide us.
Why can’t we all just look at what we have in common, instead of allowing ourselves to be distracted and manipulated by our differences?
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “The Final Ending?”) can be found in many places, such as:

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Torture and War

Last week we had to watch Democrats, having been kicked in the pants and out of control of the U.S. Senate, put their vindictive selves on display again by making “news” with a last parting shot at George W. Bush (and the United States): a “torture” report that had less to do with torture and more to do with politics.
Exactly what is torture? I always thought torture was something that left irreparable physical or psychological damage. Pulling fingernails. Ripping tendons. Breaking bones. The kinds of things that were done to John McCain in Vietnam.
How many people would volunteer to be tortured? Yet how many have volunteered to be waterboarded, just to prove how BAD it is? Some have even volunteered twice. Waterboarding is uncomfortable, coercive, and effective – but it isn’t torture.
Let’s get real. The people we’re fighting RAPE women, BEHEAD people, BURY children ALIVE. I’m supposed to be outraged that we’re making some of them listen to loud music? Reading them Harry Potter? Or make them stay awake past their bedtime? REALLY?
This is an extension of the misguided notion that if we just show the terrorists that we’re nice, then they’ll be nice, too - sort of a COOKIES AND NAPTIME with terrorists. Well, we’ve done our mea culpa, ISIS – your turn (hear that sound? Didn’t know they had crickets in the Middle East, did you?)
Might doesn’t make right – but you want might so you when you’re right you can defend it. Right doesn’t make might. Being right doesn’t make the bad guys stop trying to kill you.
For those who believe we should treat our enemies in the WAR ON TERROR by the GENEVA CONVENTION: do you realize that that would dictate that we line them up and shoot them for violating that same convention? We are dealing with people who indiscriminately (and often intentionally) kill or put innocents in harm’s way. There are other parts of the Geneva Convention that they also violate, such as being in uniform.
WAR IS HELL, but sometimes you have to fight or die. When did having superiority in technological weapons become a crime? Why do we handicap ourselves and increase the risk to our own people? We’re at war whether we like it or not; don’t engage in the arrogance of underestimating our opponents. There is NO RATIONAL REASON to even up the odds. Are we afraid that we might make our enemies feel bad? Hurt their precious self-esteem? These are people who are trying to kill us – best to treat them that way.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “New Antiques”) can be found in many places, such as:

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Wishing Isn’t Doing

Less than a month to go before the traditional NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS. Is there something you have been saying that you WISH you could do, but you just can’t seem to get to it? Time to GET SERIOUS examine why not.
If I had pulled out my trumpet for just 5 minutes every week, I would be a better player now than I was when I stopped 36 years ago. The more concentrated the time, the better – if all those 5 minute sessions were put together, I could put in four full-time weeks (40 hours/week) and would be even better then.
When I write, I need an hour to get a decent amount of words on paper. I can’t hit my stride on less than 5 days writing each week – less degrades my speed. There is an almost exponential increase in output – the longer I write in one sitting, the more words per minute I get. The same applies the more often I write per week. There is degradation of performance with any hiatus – small or large.
There are still three weeks before the end of this year, but I know I’m not going to make my goals. Things happen to derail us from reaching our objectives sometimes, and it’s hard not to get discouraged, but no amount of complaining about a lack of time will change the situation. Only practice makes (closer to) perfect. Just do it -  practice what you preach.
If wishes were horses then beggars would ride. If wishes were fishes we’d all cast nets. Wishing “If only I had more time” is about as effective, and should be stricken from my vocabulary. 
Nothing that’s worth doing happens on its own. That novel won’t write itself. The mountain really WON’T come to Mohammed. Good things may come to those who wait, but they don’t just sit on their hands while they’re “waiting” – they’re working toward their goal. Pick up YOUR dreams and get to work.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “New Antiques”) can be found in many places, such as:

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Some Words About THE TRUTH

We are living in a world that is becoming more and more fragmented; at times it feels like a never-ending twilight episode. Whole sections of society become blind to the meaning of facts, especially when those facts conflict with their worldview. People go into rants because they have a particular point of view that they want to push, and when the known facts don’t back this up, they ignore those facts, sometimes making up others to replace them.
I believe a lot of that is caused by relativism – the notion that facts or truth are a personal thing. We have been cowed into a politically correct framework that says when you are wrong; it isn’t nice to tell you. In this new world order, there is no right or wrong – no one has the right to judge anyone else (UNLESS the judge holds the right, politically correct views.) Two prominent examples come to mind:
Man-made Global Warming is a religion masquerading as science. Statistics were twisted, climate models with no true foundation were presented as fact. The name had to be changed to Man-made Climate Change because we haven’t been warming for at least a decade. Proponents have been caught red-handed, throwing out or suppressing data that conflicted with the theory they wanted to push.
As John Adams said in defending the British soldiers on trial for the Boston Massacre, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Ignoring facts and evidence is not science; science is based on examining and accounting for ALL the facts, especially the ones that disprove your theory. Despite a profound lack of proof, there are still people pressing to fix a problem that has existed - forever? – and is mostly caused by variations in solar activity.
The killing Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has become a rallying cry against racial injustice and police brutality (and a convenient excuse for lawless rioting and looting), with no evidence to support either charge. All physical evidence and verifiable eye-witness accounts validate the officer’s account, and a Grand Jury has refused to indict the officer for defending his own life. Yet people with a particular political axe to grind refuse to pay attention to these stubborn facts, and continue to act as though we’re talking about an angel killed by white devils. Regardless of the facts, they insisted on an indictment – and then a conviction – or they would protest/riot. And if there was an indictment? They would still riot anyway. Neither the evidence nor the decision really mattered.
In relation to this story, it would be nice if we could see some honesty in reporting. Using the phrase “unarmed teenager” to describe Michael Brown may be factually correct, but it is a way of using the connotation behind those facts to lie about what happened, and I still see it used today. Here’s a test: close your eyes and visualize an unarmed teenager, then open them and watch the video of Mr. Brown stealing cigars. Does that description really match the person?
A thug regardless of his color is still a thug. If he performs a strong-arm robbery, refuses to respond properly to authorities, then assaults a police officer, and when pursued charges that officer to assault him again, tell me why he shouldn’t be shot?
There also seems to be confusion over the use of the words PROTESTOR and RIOTER, as though they are one in the same. That needs to be cleaned up, too. People exercising their freedom of speech by expressing their opinion in the public square are PROTESTORS, and have a CIVIL RIGHT to do this whether I agree with them or not. People breaking into and burning buildings they don’t own, or stealing the property of others, are violating our laws and the CIVIL RIGHTS of others, and should be behind bars, no matter what color they are.
You can have your own opinions, because there are plenty to go around. Why are there second opinions? Because opinions can be wrong, and they can also change. You can’t have your own facts. The truth is fixed – not malleable. Facts don’t lie; they can be manipulated, misinterpreted, or misrepresented, but they don’t change just because you want them to.
Can’t we all just deal with reality? REALLY.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “Dead End Jobs”) can be found in many places, such as:

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