Thoughts about cursing

Have you ever spent time wondering about the nature of human cussing? I’m sitting here eating lunch at McDonald’s and for reasons unbeknownst to me, I started thinking about cussing. Not that I had an urge to cuss or anything like that, but I’m just wondering why we do it. I hear people of all ages cussing all the time, and of course I let one slip occasionally, after all, I am a people. Folks like to distinguish between certain words like darn and dam and various other words but I think the act of cussing is much deeper than that. I constantly hear people using words like freaking and we all know it’s just a couple of letters away from the real cuss word. So, to cuss is not so much about others perception of you, but more about what in our brains makes us want to use words that might offend other people. If the highly religious Rev. Bill says darn, everyone in the congregation gasps in surprise, but if a raunchy comedian says a whole string of expleted-deleted words we are not phased and hardly notice the language used. If Rev. Bill says darn and feels like he said a bad word, in his mind he is cussing. Nowadays it is not unusual to hear a five year old with no idea of what they are even saying, yelling out the f word with virtually no response from the parent. No doubt the words used in cussing evolve and we continually search for words that truly express our anger or frustration or to just get someone’s attention. I remember when the word “shit” or “dam” were never used on TV, those days passed many years ago. On regular network TV the cussing vocabulary has expanded greatly and there are ways to imply that you are using other unacceptable words. HBO has literally no restrictions on language and is the place to go if you would like to expand your cussing vocabulary.

To pull this together, I think we may be the only creatures on the planet that do cuss. Think about it, when your cat sticks it’s foot in a mouse trap, it just screams out. Maybe that is cat cussing..

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Why is our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) so good?

Economics is not my strong suit but something seems wrong with this latest quarterly report from the Feds about our GDP. So many events over the last year have occurred which should have lowered the GDP, but it is higher than expected. Here is a chart of the past 20 years GDP in the United States.

You can clearly see the recessions in the data and a general slowing of our economy since 2008. It has stayed somewhere between 1.5% and 2.5%. The recently announced number of 3.1% is an improvement.
However, about half the gain reflected two factors not expected to last — a big jump in stockpiling by businesses and a sharp contraction in the trade deficit. Both of these issues could be related to Trump’s tax policies and removing corporate controls. Below is an explanation of what GDP is:

  • GNP (Gross National Product) measures the output of a country’s residents, regardless of the location of the actual underlying economic activity.
  • Income from overseas investments by a country’s residents counts in GNP, but foreign investment within a country’s borders does not. This is in contrast to GDP which measures economic output and income based on the location rather than nationality.
  • GNP and GDP can have different values, and a large difference between a country’s GNP and GDP can suggest a great deal of integration into the global economy.

This all seems a little complicated to me but it may reflect a growth in the industrial complex and an increase in military spending. In case you forgot, our illustrious leader just gave the military a very large increase. They are already the most expensive military by a factor approaching 10, and corporate America just got a huge tax break. Is it possible that the GDP might be artificially increased by the large amount of money that has been given to the military complex and big business? Just saying…

I would love to hear ideas on this so that I could become better informed on this issue.

Why do we eat?

Ok, lets get rid of the obvious answer to this question. We eat to maintain our bodies, allowing us to grow and exist in the world. The more scientific answer is, we need energy to function.

Now lets think about the less obvious answers. Everyone knows that Americans, and actually most people in developed countries, are getting fatter. We Americans seem to be leading the way in this problem. In fact, here in my home state of West Virginia, we are one of the fattest places to live in the country, which means we are one of the more porky places to live on the planet!

Getting fat is a function of eating. In other words, eating too much or overly caloric meals causes us to get fat. So knowing this, why do we overeat? I have been told that some animals will eat themselves to death! I am wondering if that includes humans? Recently I was talking to one of my former students who is now a nurse, and she said it is routine to see at least one person a week at the hospital who weighs in at 600+ pounds, and there have been patients who weigh as much as 800 lbs!! Why would a person allow themselves to get that large?

Enough questions, let try and find some answers. Why do we eat too much? I think most of the time I eat because it is enjoyable, especially when it is a cream filled chocolate doughnut or a hamburger with all the toppings bulging out the sides. So tell me this doesn’t make you salivate, a tray of hot lightly salted french fries and a bottle of Heinz ketchup just waiting to be your friend. So tell me you are not salivating right now! I will bet your stomach is telling you to head for the kitchen stat!

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that to you, but if you think the people who make this delicious stuff will apologize for making you want to devour more food, don’t hold your breath. Lets face the facts, we are a decadent society with way too much calorie rich food available to us. And much of the food that tastes really good is cheaper. Contrast this with the fact that a large portion of our people who do not have enough food, should I say nutritious food, are starving in a new and different way. Like most of us they would rather eat a chocolate, cream filled doughnut which does very little good for the nutritionally starved body. Don’t give me that stuff that you would rather have an apple, that is just the cerebral part of your brain attempting to overrule the survival part of your brain. The doughnut may provide you quick energy for your escape from a wild animal but…it will also make you fatter, which in the long term, will make your escape less likely.

Who do we blame for this dilemma? Is it us, the consumer’s fault for eating so terribly? Is it the manufacturer’s fault for making such delicious bad foods so that they can increase their profits? Is it society’s fault for not educating its population on proper nutritional lifestyles? Is it the demise of the family and the traditional family meal? Is it Micky D’s and all the other fast food vendors? Is it the scientist’s fault for not yet having a consistent answer on what is the best way to eat? Is it the medical profession’s fault for not being more insistent on their patients eating properly? Has government dropped the ball in enacting legislation mandating food be more healthy? Should TV only show healthy nutritional advertisements? The answer is oh so clear to me. Everyone is at fault! We are all in this together! The advent of a modern industrialized world has left us all grasping for answers to so many questions. The simple truth is, our society cannot afford to get fatter. The medical cost of this fat epidemic is going to bankrupt this economy! I am all for the introduction of a single-payer health plan but in order for this to work, we are all going to have stop our visits to Dunkin Doughnuts. Writing this has made me terribly hungry, I have to go find something to eat. You all have a good day.

Razzle Dazzle

Sometimes I think of stuff that may seem a little off beat and I think this may be one of those times, but here goes. Most of us have been conned at least once in our lives. Like many life experiences we pack it away in our memories so as to try and avoid putting ourselves in a similar situation. I also believe that some individuals are more easily conned than others partly due to their upbringing or maybe even their genetic makeup.

Do you think it is possible to con a country, or at least a large portion? It has happened repeatedly throughout history. Populations have been told things that they know are not true, yet, because of the messenger’s ability to produce a gold coin from out of nowhere, they believe what he says without reservations. I do believe that deep in their souls they know they have been conned but who is ready to admit publicly that they drank the koolaid?

A good carny always creates distractions with one hand while they do their “magic” with the other. If someone pulls a coin from out of your ear, you can bet his other hand is attempting to distract your eyes to watch it rather than the magic hand. You have probably already figured out where I am going with this train of thought so I might as well get there.

As you probably know, a boat load of stuff has come out about Trump recently from the special prosecutor. Most of it is wrapped in hype and legalese so as to keep us less informed, less informed yet interested. Make sure you read that last sentence carefully. One of the statements I heard from the talking heads that really interested me and brought me to write this article was when Trump made this statement after Mueller was appointed to be special prosecutor, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f#@ked”. This is the carny letting his guard down for a short moment and allowing us to briefly see the real person behind the scam. This is the carny exposing the fact that he is a scam artist and his act may be open to public viewing.

As to whether Trump is impeached or not, it is hard to say with all the corruption that exists in our government. But one thing is certain if you care to look, the carney is exposed and his act is no longer relevant. He has tried to pull the coin out of our ear too many times and we are learning to watch the other hand. I believe that many of us have taken the stance that Trump is crazy. This is a very comfortable place to hang out and it helps us explain his many political gyrations, but his above statement scares me even more. Yes he is crazy, crazy like a fox would be more accurate. We best keep our eyes on both hands as this drama unfolds.

The Redbuds

Often times in early spring

I travel down these mountain roads

The smell of spring consumes my being

The greening trees make spirits soar

A certain road I often travel

Not far from my home, I’ll take you there

A few short days come every year

As the universe unveils its care

The road is clear, the sun is bright

You must go there to see this sight

Up ahead , I see its splendor

The redbuds sing a song of vigor

A feeling wakes inside me strong 

The streams are flowing, the snow is gone

The bright fuschia of the flowers

Reaches deep and grabs my soul

I do believe in my heart

There are few sights that compare

The horns have sounded, the drums have played

The birth of spring is on its way.

Taxes are a pain in the …neck…or, who’s in charge?

Just like many of you I have procrastinated until now to do that laborious task we all dread…taxes! I had several choices to make; buy a program for around $40 to $100 that, despite answering several thousand tedious and useless questions, makes doing my taxes relatively easy, or I could find a program on-line and pay money to allow me to do my taxes on their site (after which you always end up paying more than you expected) or, pay someone a sizeable chunk of money to take all these papers and forms and magically figure it out for me.

I want to ask a very fundamental question. Why am I paying money to someone or for something, so that I can give money (pay taxes) to the government? Am I the only one who sees the craziness in this? I heard on the news the other day that our country is one of a very few countries with such a convoluted tax system. Most citizens of developed countries are able to do their taxes in a short period of time. The IRS has all this information in its computers already! They could push a proverbial button and tell you what you owe or what is owed to you in a millisecond!

Now, here comes the real insanity of this issue! Recently some silly congressperson proposed a law that required the IRS to provide free on-line access to a program to do your taxes. Now any sane person would think this would be a great idea, right? So why can’t the proponents of this bill get it passed? I will tell you why: money! Yes, money! Our government is up for grabs by the highest bidder. There is a multi-million dollar business surrounding tax preparation and these folks, in a self preservation mode, send millions of dollars to our elected officials so they will vote the way they want them to. In other words, our elected officials think they work for corporations and lobbyists! I have some very important information for our elected officials, THEY WORK FOR ME! THEY WORK FOR YOU! WE ELECTED THEM AND WE PAY THEIR SALARY! WE ARE THEIR BOSSES! Whether it be health insurance, tax reform or any government decision, we are the executives in their organization! We the people are the ones who enjoy their decisions or suffer from them. When we vote every couple of years we need to get these damn leaches out of government! This is not a democratic or republican issue, it is an “us and them” issue. Us being the 99% who make up this country and them, the extremely wealthy 1%. If my information is correct, this free tax preparation program is being opposed by BOTH PARTIES! Can you believe that? Believe it! All of them are in the pockets of big business!

Here is the answer to our problem. Do not vote for any politician who is not funded by private contributions. No corporate contributions allowed. I would write more but I need to finish my taxes…

The true meaning of The Matrix by Sophia Stewart


The statement was made by Lord Acton, a British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

I, like many of you, have seen the movie, The Matrix. Although the movie was entertaining in a sci-fi kind of way, I always thought there may be more to it. Recent developments in the news have awakened this idea. Just to jog your memory of the movie, it was set in the future when intelligent machines have basically taken over the earth and are using man as a wet-cell battery to power the complex. As an act of twisted humanitarianism, the machines created an imaginary world that kept the comatose, well fed by tubes, humans, somewhat happy. Of course there was a small band of rebels who managed to escape their battery compartment and create resistance to the machines. So in a nutshell, most humans lived in an imaginary world totally unaware of where they were and who was controlling it.

Get ready for this next turn in thinking. Lets step back into current events in our world today. Throughout my life I have often felt as if there was some kind of controlling entity in our world. I am not talking about god, he is much too busy keeping the universe from falling apart, and probably not interested in our quirky day-to-day idiocies. I am talking about something ominous, lurking in the woods, always out of sight, somewhere between abusive control and keeping humanity from destroying itself. Wow, that sounds creepy, and I wrote it!

Recent events may have given us a view of this small exposed piece of a very large iceberg. I am referring to the college scandal. If you think that this was one single incident taking place in this country, I believe that you are naïve. Initially I viewed this as a small group of extremely rich people intentionally manipulating their children’s college admission. After some thought, I came to the realization that this may be the real world that we more financially challenged do not have access to. Lurking just out of our vision is a world of money, power and control, careful to keep out of sight, careful to only make occasional small waves. This machine keeps everything running smoothly and tailors to the very, very rich. Generally we do not have access to these events, so as not to anger the masses or give them any ideas that this kind of stuff is going on. This incident was a flagrant mistake, and although none of the people involved probably ever saw THE MATRIX or think there might be some element of control over our world, it did give us, the people, a glimpse of another realm of our society. It is important to realize, we, the public, believed our schools were mostly exempt from this kind of behavior, especially some of the schools mentioned in the report, like Yale and Stanford.

I realize that this is a very uncomfortable train of thought to engage in, but, I do believe that with the information age consuming us at an ever expanding rate, these activities will become more and more visible to the common person. You may have noticed that ever expanding large companies are focused on controlling the internet. In order of worth, companies like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook are all jockeying for control of the services offered on line. Whoever controls the internet will control our world and the information available to us. One last thought to ruin your day; Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The true cost of Healthcare in America.

HEALTHCARE! If you are like most Americans, you struggle with healthcare. The cost of becoming sick or needing to see a doctor for any reason, god forbid it is something serious, is almost unimaginable! For many families and individuals in this country the burden of medical services has reached the level of a crisis. Many people opt out of insurance and are at the mercy of the medical community to fend for themselves if medical services are needed. It is important to make note of an additional fact at this point; there are very few industrialized countries in the world that do not offer some kind of government sponsored healthcare. In fact, Viet Nam, that little country that is among the poor countries of the world, recently began offering a medical plan for their citizens! Yet, here we are in the United States of America, the richest, most lucrative country in the world, and we do not have a state sponsored healthcare plan for our citizens! We are left to fend for ourselves against a gigantic and powerful medical complex that spends billions of dollars each year to control the governing bodies of this country. We have Democratic and Republican parties that have grown rich and fat on a steady diet of contributions from this incredibly controlling machine that gives a ‘rats ass’ about your health!

The main topic of the upcoming 2020 election should be

So what are the benefits of a federal health program for Americans? First, and most important, is the right to receive proper healthcare throughout one’s life. To many of us this seems obvious but to a large portion of the public, healthcare is a luxury they cannot afford. This group of people suffer from a variety of treatable illnesses that many of us would never tolerate. The hospitals which are, by law, required to treat them must patch them up as cheaply as they can and send them on their way to fend for themselves. Many private hospitals will refuse people without the means to pay for service.

Another reason to provide healthcare to all is to benefit, believe it or not, small businesses. Everyone is constantly talking about the need for small businesses in our economy. In order to hire good people in a business, some basic needs must be provided to employees, including healthcare, retirement, vacation and many less tangible reasons. Of all these services, healthcare is by far the most expensive and places an enormous burden on the employer, who many times is competing with larger corporations. If we took the responsibility of providing healthcare insurance away from the employer, this would allow them to compete more successfully against large corporations.

A third reason, and probably the most important in a capitalistic system, is MONEY! I sat down and figured out that we spend the equivalent of almost $15,000/year/person to provide healthcare to the 330,000,000 Americans even though many of it’s citizens receive little to no care! There is an industry in this country that is milking us Americans like the proverbial cow. We are locked in a small enclosure, fed what we need to produce milk, hardly ever allowed to wander around the barnyard, constantly told how good we have it and never allowed to question the way things are…but you better keep giving milk!

What to do about this mess? Never elect a person who receives contributions from any form of medical business regardless of his or her political party. Be an informed voter. You might say, THAT’S IT? That’s all I can do? When you sit at home on your fat ass and do not vote, you enable these wealthy senators and representative to do what they want depending on who gives them the largest check. I am going to make an effort to find out which one of our elected officials receives money from the medical industry and post it on this site for you to see. Stay tuned!

This will be difficult since our Supreme Court decided that corporations are people (Citizens United) and can create PACs (Political Action Committee) to silently send money to candidates. Stay healthy, you may not be able to afford the alternative.

Local ministers ask, “what would Jesus do?”

 

I tend to stay away from the emotionally charged issue of religion but this is one opportunity I can not resist.  I am so happy and excited about the three articles that were published in the Hampshire Review on January 23rd 2019, I could just bust!  The first article was written by Don Kesner who confronts a popular TV evangelist who claims Jesus is on his stage in person (I thought it was an altar)!   Conveniently, only the TV evangelist could see him.  For a minister to pull this kind of stunt shows that our religions have ventured far from the teaching of Christ.  Don goes on to point out that the Bible says that “judgement begins at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).  In other words, it means that Christ’s first action would be to denounce the exploits of many religions! The next time I see Don, I am going to give him a big hug and thank him for writing this great article.

If Don has not gotten your interest, Alanna McGuinn, the Minister at the United Methodist Church in Capon Bridge, went on to say this: in Corinthians 12: 12-31a,  Paul urges us to work together for the glory of God by recognizing and celebrating the diversity found in the body of Christ, i.e. the church.  In other words, love and respect every human being regardless of race, ethnicity or religion!  In a time when many folks focus on our differences as something to be afraid of, Paul would say that diversity is necessary for the advancement of the kingdom.  Just saying Alanna…Jesus should go to your church!  It is so exciting for me to hear religious leaders in our little community acknowledging the errant ways of some in the religious community!  Said simply, if you are going to espouse that you are a Christian then your behavior should be Christ-like in all ways!

Finally, and certainly not least, we have the Rev. Roy Knight who says that ” the Bible is inspired by the word of God, but that inspiration is ultimately telling us that salvation comes from Jesus, not the Bible!”  He goes on to say, “At some point, Christians need to decide whether they value their interpretation of specific verses over the actions of Christ himself”.  So well said!  Explained another way, “Christians can overemphasize the importance of the Bible and under emphasize the life of Jesus”. I really love this next part,  ” Quoting Jesus saying things like “love your enemies” and “love your neighbors as yourself” is now seen as “liberal” among many political conservative Christians”.  Wow Roy, I do not think anyone could have said that better but, I wonder how far some of the evangelists have wavered from the teaching of Christ.

Folks, since the beginning of civilized man, religions have played a major part in helping us survive in what often seems like a chaotic world.  The gods of the American Indians explained the stars were holes punched in the sky by ancient trees.  At one time people had a god for everything they did not understand.  Even today there are a multitude of religions around the world with varying interpretations of what God is and how he wants us to behave.  Religion plays a major part in modern society creating a place to congregate and share or discuss thoughts and ideas.  It also creates a community of people who support all people in need, not just the ones who believe the same way!  In today’s world I fear many of our churches are not using the actions of Christ as a guidepost in their everyday decisions.  I am not a religious person but I try to live my life in a way I think Christ would have approved.  If I were asked if I am a Christian, I would have to say yes, I follow the teaching of Jesus. So, if you see any of these local ministers walking around, make sure you tell them how much you enjoyed their column in the Hampshire Review on January 26th…even if you do not go to their church.