De-Bunking Buncombe

It’s a beautiful day and I haven’t done anything fun in a while.  Let’s try this from two years ago – back when we could laugh at Trump.

Every election year, it’s critical to evoke the Founding Fathers. What plan for a strong military would be complete without the spurious blessing of the Father of The Country, George Washington? How could you float a plan for tax givebacks, er, reform without evoking the Father of Liberty, Thomas Jefferson? Who would dare enter a conversation about the sanctity of our national credit without the hallowed words of Alexander Hamilton – or, indeed, his apparent ability to sing and dance his way to 16 Tony nominations?

No one, that’s who. But the process of doing so actually invokes one of the most important Founding Fathers of all, Felix Walker. His contribution to politics is nearly endless and absolutely critical.

Felix Walker, after all, was a US Representative from Buncombe Country, North Carolina, and as such gave us the concept of “bunk”.

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Boundaries

I want to revisit this post from two years ago with no changes at all.  We should have known we would get to where we are now, and if we had looked up from our phones for a moment we might have seen it.

If you want to learn everything about someone, just become friends with them on facebook. The details often go beyond their birthday, city of birth, and even mother’s maiden name – things you would need to pull of an identity theft. You may know when they are out of town, their religious and political beliefs, and far more.

Not long ago many people would sit down at a meal and pause for a moment to give thanks, perhaps making the sign of the cross with their hands. Today those hands might raise their phone, posting a picture on facebook. Yes, you’ll even know what someone had for breakfast if you are their “friend”.

We live in a world without boundaries. And that may be the one true thing that has gone horribly wrong amid a sea of mistakes we are making as we navigate a stormy, changing world.

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Climate & Culture

As the world is shaped a bit smaller by various technologies and opportunities, nearly everyone finds themselves working or living next to people they do not understand or even like. There are so very many cultures, beliefs, attitudes, mindsets, and ways of doing things that it’s impossible to keep straight.

People are people, however, but cultures are cultures. Generally, any given person will react about the same way, within bounds, to any given stimulus. But since all of us come from different cultures, it’s often very hard to know just what someone is thinking as we don’t know how they have learned over time to think about what is important, what is moral, or what they own.

Certainly, among all these cultures, one must be “The Best,” yes? No. Not at all. They cannot be compared that way and they are never any kind of marker for genetic or intellectual superiority. They are nothing more than a series of observations which became habits which were in turn codified. To miss this is to miss the richness of the world, and to simply accept it is to miss the importance of intuition and intellect working together which defines our species.

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Rule – of Law

On a Friday the 13th when the sky hangs grey over what should be Spring, the world appears on the edge of catastrophe. The Trump debacle descends into the kind of madness that Shakespeare made a living out of, careening into the end of the second act when the stage goes dark.

Hollywood, for its part, depicted days like this as slasher movies, their idea of scary. There was never a cop to be found as people traipsed through a hellscape, dark and throbbing in surround sound.  There was no order, only survival – for a few.

Yet here we are, waiting for something. And into it comes James Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty.”  The former top cop appears to doing what we have so far been unable to do ourselves, coming in to rescue us all. But it’s still scary, and more in the Shakespearean way, because there is something bigger than the players on the scene strutting and fretting. There is, there has to be, some kind of morality made real.

There has to be law – either the law of humankind of morality.

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Social Media Should be Boring

It’s still unraveling, but the story of facebook and data sharing has captured the attention of its users and Wall Street alike. It seems that personal data was shared in many ways which violated facebook’s own policies and privacy laws in some states and nations.

Step back for a minute, however, and we can all see how much worse the problem is. From the Clinton hacked email scandal through this to even more revelations to come, it is very clear that every single thing online has to be treated as if it is public knowledge. There is no privacy.

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Barometer

The weather is terrible, and I feel lousy.  Perhaps you do, too.  Here’s a piece on a possible reason why, from ten years ago.

On a grey and dreary day, nearly everyone is running a bit low. You can see it in people’s faces – they’d rather snuggle under a blanket with the cats up close and warm. Some of us, however, are even more sensitive to the weather than that. We are the human barometers.

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The Case for Pragmatism

This is a post from four years ago.  After a weekend of robotics I am plain exhausted!

You probably have a better idea about how to do something. But will it work? You’ll never know until you try. When you do give it a go, you may find that getting there requires a lot of compromises along the way before your dream is realized. Or, perhaps, you’ll simply give up – blaming your own inability to make it happen or blaming the world for being so darned unfair.

Both experiences are simply part of human nature meeting reality. We’re all idealists at heart, at least in a certain sense. Only a few people have the skills necessary to make those dreams a reality and much of the time they have to keep their eyes on the prize. A dream is one thing, but getting there requires wide-awake attention.

That is why an open, democratic political system can’t live by rigid ideology alone.

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