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I have been wondering what to say about Tuesday's election since Wednesday morning. Here on Saturday, I sat down to write this and it hit me.

Shame on you. ALL OF YOU. Both sides of the aisle you.

Because this is what you get when very few people read the Constitution, the very framework of our government. This is what happens when you don't know what it means, or why it was written the way it was, and more importantly the intent and purpose of the men who wrote it.

Democrats are bitching and moaning about "Hillary won the popular vote, SHE should be President!" I hate to break the bad news to you, but the United States is not one country. It is fifty individual countries bound together in common cause. Fifty different experiments in freedom. The States are not provincial territories, subservient to Washington, D.C. They are individual entities who each have their own way of doing things. The way they do things in California will probably not work in Iowa, and vice versa.

We are The United States of America. This country is the United States, which is on the American Continent. To call ourselves "Americans" is a misnomer, because Canadians, Mexicans, Guatemalans, Brazilians and all the others can lay claim to the term "American" as well. America (North, Central and South) reaches from the Arctic Circle all the way down to the Straits of Magellan. This is why I 99% of the time refer to this country as the United States, not America.

The Founding Fathers designed this country to have long periods of political discussion, culminating in an election. At that point, our Constitutional Representative Republic (we are not a democracy) would move forward on one course, until the political discussion started up again and another course change after the next election. The Legislative and Executive Branches are staggered in their terms to insure that it is impossible for there to be a radical change in leadership in one election. The President is elected every four years, the entire House is up every two years and Senators are elected for six year terms, which are staggered so only one-third of the Senators are up for election every two years.

So, shame on you Democrats, because with your riots you clearly demonstrate that you are basically little, petulant children. These riots are nothing more than a collective temper tantrum because you didn't get your way. You are directly responsible for Trumps election for the sole reason of your name calling of everyone who disagreed with you. Democrats have for decades collectively called anyone who disagrees with them misogynists, homophobes, sexists, racists and more. The people who have received these denigrating labels for years without justification for the sole intent to shame them into the Democrat camp finally had enough. So, they elected the person who is (to the Democrats) the penultimate misogynist, racist, sexist homophobe.

You think I'm alone in this view? Here you go. This is a six-minute profanity-laden tirade from Jonathan Pie who explains clearly what I just said. If you don't believe me, maybe he can get this point through to you.

Don't be snickering over there Republicans, because you're next.

You Republicans are acting so smug. You just elected "an outsider" who is going to "change everything." Let me pop that bubble right now. He won't radically change things because he can't. You sons-of-bitches need to read the Constitution as well. The "most powerful man in the world" has a whole lot less power than you think, and if you knew his duties under the Constitution, you would know that. The president's main duty is carrying out the laws of the country. Laws passed by Congress. Unlike President Obama who has done his best to enact his own agenda. "I have a phone and a pen" and all that.

But here you are, parading around that Trump won. You are no different than the Black lady who was put on TV Election Night in 2008. She was yelling, "AW, LAWDY, OBABA WON! WE GOTS US A BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE! HE GONNA GIVE ME A FREE PHONE AND A CAR AND BETTER HOUSING!" Shut up and work with those who disagree with you, if they are willing to respectfully work with you.

And a last note, to all y'all (which is a proper plural noun in the South). The president does not control the price of gas, or how much you're paid in your job, or where you live or any of a hundred other things that are credited to (or blamed on) him. He can influence the conditions under which things might move a certain way, but his influence is one of many conditions which all contribute to the final result.

Please realize the actions of the President of the United States has very little to do with your day-to-day lives. When it comes to solving your problems and making your life better, look away from Washington and to yourself, your family and your friends. It is the choices you make that determines the overall course of your life. Not Obama, not Clinton, not Bush, not Trump.

Many of us have forgotten this and we all need to remind each other to meet everyone we encounter in our lives where and how they are, not where, who and how we want them to be.

As Bill and Ted said, "Be Excellent to each other!"

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Ex Post Facto

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The Supreme Court recently released a decision that I agree with, yet vehemently oppose the basis of. Here it is, Voisine, et.al. v. United States.

This ruling basically upheld the Constitutionality of the 1996 Lautenberg Amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968. These two men, Voisine and Armstrong, pled guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence charges and were caught possessing firearms some time later.

I actually support the court in their decision to uphold the law as it stands. The petitioners cries of “it wasn’t on purpose that I hit my partner” rings hollow because these men pled guilty to the original charges. If they wanted to bring up their lack of mens rea (the guilty mind, e.g. intent), the time and place for that was before the guilty plea.

However, the law which formed the basis upon which everything else is built is corrupted because it is a bad law.

A bit of history: In 1968, Congress passed the Gun Control Act of 1968. The initial idea for this was in response to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It never went anywhere until the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. This law created the Federal Firearms License, the banning of firearms sales through the mail and many other aspects of the reality for gun owners today. One of the major parts of this law was the permanent “chilling” of a citizens RKBA (Right to Keep and Bear Arms) under the Second Amendment if they are convicted of a felony. I have spoken on the subject of chilling rights before.

There are two basic kinds of crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. What separates these two is the level of punishment. A misdemeanor is punishable by confinement of no more than 11 months and 29 days (less than a year). A felony is punishable by confinement over a year. From 1968 until 1996, you lost your RKBA (Right to Keep and Bear Arms) under the Second Amendment only upon your conviction of a felony.

In 1996, The Lautenburg Amendment amended 18 U.S.C. 922 (that part of the United States Code that came from the GCA of 1968) to specifically include misdemeanor Domestic Violence convictions in the list of things that chill your RKBA. This amendment specifically added 18 U.S.C 922(g)(9). Out of the tens of thousands of misdemeanor offenses that you can be punished for, this one alone will cause you to lose your RKBA.

Simple assault is basically an unwelcome contact with another person. It can range from one person touching another person on the arm when they have told the first person not to touch them, all the way up to a semi-serious beating (no weapons used, no broken bones or other serious injuries). Simple assault becomes Domestic Violence when it is done against a family member or the family member of someone the assaulter is in a relationship with.

Example: Everyone meet Ray (Hi Ray!). Ray and his wife Becky have been in a feud with their neighbor Jill. One day, it all comes to a head and Ray went and beat the crap out of Jill. Becky, who saw the assault, started to freak out over the violence. Ray tries to hug her to calm her down and Becky said, “Get away from me!” Ray grabs her anyway and holds her until she calms down. By this time the police get there and Ray is arrested and charged with assault against Jill and domestic violence against Becky. Ray gets 6 months in the County jail for each conviction, however because one of the convictions was domestic violence was against Becky, he can no longer own or possess firearms, even though he beat Jill and didn’t hurt Becky. An extreme example? Kind of, but relevant and realistic nonetheless.

Just so you can be aware, here is the entire list of actions that will get your RKBA revoked, with the Lautenburg Amendment bolded:

18 U.S.C 922 (g) It shall be unlawful for any person—

(1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
(2) who is a fugitive from justice;
(3) who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));
(4) who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution;
(5) who, being an alien—
    (A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or
    (B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(26)));
(6) who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
(7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship;
(8) who is subject to a court order that—
    (A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;
    (B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
    (C)(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or (ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or
(9) who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,

to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. 

Another thing that this amendment did was to violate the Constitution, specifically Article 1, Section 9, Article 3, “No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.” The term “ex post facto” is Latin for “after the fact,” where a law is passed today that criminalizes an action committed before the law became effective and people are subsequently punished under that law.

As an example, say last year you chopped down your neighbors’ tree because it irritated you immensely (its leaves landed on your property, it blocked the afternoon sun on your porch, the neighbor refused to trim the tree, pick one or more). For some reason, at the time it was not against the law for you to do so (it was partially on your property, whatever). Your enraged neighbor then starts petitioning the government and gets a law passed last week criminalizing what you did. Today the County Sherriff knocks on your door and arrests you for violating that tree-chopping law. That is an example of ex post facto.

The document about the Lautenberg Amendment above says this about this “not violating the ex post facto law.”

[T]he court [Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit] explained that the Lautenberg Amendment, by prohibiting post-enactment possession, did not criminalize conduct that occurred prior to its effective date. As such, the court held that the Amendment was not retrospective and, therefore, not violative of the Ex Post Facto Clause. This explanation referred to Hiley v. Barrett.

This “reasoning” is utter bullshit for this simple reason: If someone committed a crime in 1976 (20 years before the law became effective) and completely paid their debt to society in 1977, yet when this law became effective in 1996 they lost their RKBA rights. Their reasoning this isn’t ex post facto? The Lautenberg Amendment does not punish you for your firearm possession between 1978 and 1995, only your possession after 1996. The loss of rights for a person today, for having committing an act before this law was passed, who paid the debt assigned upon conviction at that time is the very definition of ex post facto. “I did something bad years ago and I was punished for it. Today, I am penalized more for something where I have already paid my time.”

These two reasons are why 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9) is a very bad law. This section needs to be abolished, or domestic violence needs to be elevated to a felony status. The ex post facto part of it needs to be revoked as well.

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Why there is an RKBA

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If you have been paying attention to the events going down in the Dakotas, this is the primary reason why the Second Amendment exists. This is why the RKBA (Right to Keep and Bear Arms) is an integral part of the American world view, our culture and our fundamental Rights bestowed upon us by our Creator. It is why the unarmed man is a Subject (as in Subject to the Crown) and the armed man is a Citizen. 

Recently, Citizens have had three major clashes with the government. The first two protests, the Bundy Standoff in Nevada and the Oregon Standoff, where a government building was captured, were performed by well-armed Citizens who protested unwarranted government excesses. These armed Citizens stood up to the government. As a result of their being armed, they were treated with respect by government agents, no one was hurt and the government ultimately backed down. The Citizens involved in the Oregon event were arrested, charged, tried and acquitted of all charges brought against them by the government.

Currently, we have peaceful, unarmed protesters in the Dakotas trying to prevent an unwanted pipeline from passing through their lands and over sacred burial grounds. These unarmed citizens are being tear-gassed, shot at and the riot police push them around like children. There are reports of snipers picking off protesters and animals, with agent provocateurs trying to provide the reason for the government to move in on the protesters. 

This is an unattributed quote, possibly from George Washington. However variants of this has shown up throughout history:

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.

A fire properly contained in the fireplace provides light, heat and the ability to cook. When a candle is lit from that fire, if not properly attended it can set the entire house on fire.

When the government is moral and has a conscience, peaceful protest can work. I have no problem with peaceful protests. This is why Gandhi was able to win Indian Independence from the British. If Gandhi had tried that against the Nazis when they occupied India, they would have simply shot him and any supporters in the head and that would have been the end of it.

The last eight years has shown a great increase in the excesses of governmental power. Agencies make up regulations with the force of law, which relentlessly encroach on freedoms. The speed and scale of encroachments with continue to accelerate when not opposed by armed Citizens.

Stand up. Arm yourselves. Be a Citizen, not a Subject.

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Why I stood to be Expelled

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I have been wanting to write this for a while, but the full scope has not become clear until now. I am still reeling from my “Masonic Death” (i.e. Expulsion) and thusly still sorting my way through it.

I also will say up front that my thoughts and opinions which follow applies only to Masonry in Tennessee. Most other Grand Lodges do not have such things that they persecute their members for.

To give you some plain-speaking context, let me explain how I feel about Masonry this way. I love this country and the ideals she stands for, namely freedom and self-determination. For thirteen years, the United States government held a check written by me, payable to “Freedom” and the price being “any price, up to and including my life.” That’s a hefty price, no matter how you look at it. I would not trade my knowledge, experiences or friends from that part of my life for anything in the world.

My love for this country is but a pale shadow compared against my love for the ideals and brotherhood of the Masonic Fraternity. The ideals of Masonry extend from this world into the next. While my brothers and sisters-in-arms would protect my corporeal being, my Masonic brothers protected my integrity and my soul.

So when I saw brothers persecuted and in distress, subsequently suspended and recently expelled solely on the basis of publicly expressing their love for each other, I could not stand by silently. Their “crime” consisted of publicly expressing their union with each other when it became legal according to the law of the land.

I do not believe that rules, laws or regulations made by man should be obeyed just because they are duly constituted by established procedures. Any law, codified or societal, needs to be made based on the premise that the individual’s freedom not be subsumed to the demands of the society unless the individual is actively harming the society that they are members of.

For example, the concept of chattel slavery, a permanent elimination of an individual’s freedom of self-determination was once codified law in the United States. The “national discussion” on this subject culminated in a Civil War, where over 650,000 people died horrible deaths because the citizens of this country had a disagreement over whether this concept was acceptable or not.

In the 1980’s the Masonic Grand Lodge of Tennessee decided to codify in their bylaws that any Mason in Tennessee who physically loves another man, or is supportive of that concept is to be expelled, does not make rules like that right or good. The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry, codified in the 19th Century, is the foundation upon which the Fraternity is built. One of those Landmarks states that the only physical requirements for him to join the Fraternity is that he is male, uncrippled and is of legal age. There was not any inquiry of their sexual preferences nor methods, because the “private” parts of a person’s life are not subject to the purview of any clubs or societies they might join.

The two brothers who were expelled were openly a couple when they petitioned the Lodge they joined. The brothers of this lodge did not have a problem with these men and their sexual preferences. One of them advanced through the officer stations, becoming Master of the Lodge. These two expelled Masons spent hundreds of hours of their time fixing and restoring the lodge building which had fallen into disrepair. When severe storms ripped part of the roof off the Lodge, these two spent thousands of dollars of their own money on building materials and hours of their time to repair that building. One of the appendant bodies of Masonry (other organizations that require their members be Master Masons before they can join) in Memphis had a non-functioning pipe organ. Again, these two men spent hours and hours repairing and tuning that organ until it worked, then one of them played the organ at the meetings. And someone is trying to tell me these men do not belong? I beg to differ.

A brother going through the degrees is not permitted to see the Masonic Code before they swear an oath to obey it. I admit, I never looked at the Masonic Code of Tennessee in its entirety after I became a Master Mason, even after I became Master of my Lodge. If I had known that this was part of the code, I probably would have not assumed the Oath of a Master Mason.

When this issue first came to my attention, I was Master of my Lodge and I initially paid it little mind. Once I heard that they had been suspended, my interest grew. Upon finding out the Past Master had submitted a change to the Masonic Code to eliminate that part of the code, I decided I had to speak up.

The applicable part of the Tennessee Masonic Code reads as follows:

Section 6.207,

(27) To engage in lewd conduct. To promote or engage in homosexual activity. To cohabit immorally in a situation without the benefit of marriage.

The proposed code change I spoke in favor of would have reduced this to “To engage in lewd conduct.” That part of the Masonic Code had been used rarely if at all in 30 years since it was passed, either for the homosexual part or the “cohabitating without the benefit of marriage.”

The 2015 Grand Master of Tennessee, Dwight Hastings made it clear through his deputies that any comments about Grand Lodge business in public or on social media would result in the offender being expelled. Because I wanted to speak on this at the Grand Lodge, I remained silent against my will. At the 2016 Grand Lodge Meeting (called the Annual Communication), I stood and spoke in favor of eliminating this part of the code. I was shouted down by many of my "enlightened" brothers. I felt disheartened at that moment, not because my “brothers” not wanting to hear what I had to say, but that the Grand Master made zero effort to curtail this immature behavior by exerting any kind of control over the situation, which is his purpose and obligation as Grand Master.

The Grand Lodge of Tennessee was made aware of the sexual orientation of these men in 2007, after they announced on Facebook that they had flown to Scotland and obtained a “civil license.” The fact that the Grand Lodge waited eight years before bringing them up on charges points straight at what kind of men Hastings and Cutlip are.

While I do not know them personally, I will assume that in most parts of their personal and business lives, they are upstanding men. Both of these men are to the best of my knowledge very passionate about their Christian faith. From my impression of them capriciously discharging the duties of Grand Master for the Masons of Tennessee, they are closed-minded, thin-skinned, hyper-religious, childish, insecure, tinpot tyrants who cannot stand the thought of someone publicly disagreeing with them. My impression of them is that they feel driven to “protect their legacy” by driving out or expelling anyone who dares challenge their authority.

Leaders will recognize that not everyone in the organization will agree with them 100% on every subject. Leaders also understand that they need to see what the organization wants and needs, tempering that with where the organization needs to be. Hastings and Cutlip have both clearly demonstrated that their personal morality trumps the views and the will of the brothers.

I had a private meeting with Grand Master Cutlip and several of his Grand Officers when he visited Memphis a couple of weeks after I stood up in Grand Lodge. During that meeting I presented the case that he is on the wrong side of this issue. I told him that several of my friends and acquaintances were considering asking me how to become a Mason (that’s how you start the process. You have to ask a Mason, “How do I become a Mason?”). Because of this controversy, each of them told me they had decided to not ask.

The response from Grand Master Cutlip was approximately [NOT A DIRECT QUOTE], “I would rather have 1,000 Masons who share my beliefs than 10,000 who believe like you do.” Grand Master Cutlip then gave me three choices: 1) Shut my piehole and remain a Mason, 2) Demit (voluntarily quit the Masons) or 3) Be expelled.

The problem about this issue is that Masonry is meant to be non-sectarian. The Fraternity only requires that you profess a belief in and an accountability to a Supreme Being. Who that Supreme Being is, the Fraternity doesn’t (or isn’t supposed to) inquire about. There are religions on this planet that do not believe homosexuality to be an offense to their God. The majority of Masons respect the beliefs of others. When the Masonic leadership usurps this ideal, replacing inclusiveness with exclusiveness of all but their religion, that path will end up destroying or rendering the fraternity irrelevant.

Masonry is meant to unite men of all faiths by their love and obedience to each man’s Supreme Being. It is a long standing policy that Masons do not discuss politics or religion in or near the lodge because they are considered divisive issues in a Fraternity meant to unite men. This policy from Hastings and Cutlip has forced these issues into the Lodge, because this is the only place where it can be discussed now.

This is why I stood in favor of deleting that part of the Masonic Code. This is why I stood and opposed the Grand Lodge and forced them to expel me. On the day that I stand before my Creator and He judges me on my life and actions, I believe being expelled from the Tennessee Masons to be a far preferable thing to remaining silent and quietly condoning the persecution of brothers based solely on the basis of whom they love by continuing my membership in that organization.

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More Sea Stories

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Well, considering they are a collection of my experiences while "sentenced" to Guam, they aren't "Sea Stories" per se. If you have heard one or two of them, they are now all together in one place for your enjoyable consumption, here.

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Epiphanial thunderbolt

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I was hit with an epiphanial thunderbolt the other day. A phrase that literally shook me to the core of my very being.

First, a new link: Monday Morning Memo. Go read and sign up now. I command it. You will not regret it.

The other day I was listening to The Ziglar Show #426, which was about this issue of the Monday Morning Memo titled The Talented-Person Blind Spot. It talked about two conditions called the Impostor Syndrome and the Dunning-Kruger Effect. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

About the 36:00 mark of the Ziglar podcast, the host starting talking about how inadequate he felt leading personal development classes on subjects that he felt he need a lot more work on before he felt comfortable teaching others about. This transitioned into talking about hypocrisy, which is defined today as a person declaring a personal standard (usually moral) and then failing to meet it.

This “hypocrisy” is used by Liberals all the time against those they oppose. If someone Liberals don’t like (usually Conservatives) declare a standard, then when someone of that disliked group does not meet that standard, Liberals use that to try and declare that standard invalid. An example that comes to mind is when Republicans speak against debauchery and degradation of women. So when a couple Republican lawmakers are found enjoying themselves in a strip club, Liberals start screaming, "SEE, THEY DON’T LIVE UP TO THEIR OWN STANDARDS!!!"

To continue with the podcast, the guest brought up Thomas Jefferson. The man who wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”, yet he owned slaves. Which, using the current definition of hypocrisy, Thomas Jefferson certainly was a hypocrite. Declaring that all men are equal, while at the same time owning human beings.

Here’s what the guest quoted Thomas Jefferson saying about this:

"This thing I believe, do I water it down to the level that I can live up to, or do I say the truth, even though I am falling horribly short of it myself?"

This is that epiphanial thunderbolt I spoke of earlier. Do I set my standards to where I can reach them, or do I set them high enough that my maximum effort may or may not attain that standard? A deep quandary indeed to all those of deep thought want desire to improve themselves.

I have certain beliefs as standards that I hold myself to, even though I fall horribly short of them on a consistent basis. Every day I fall short in my obligations to my family, friends and all those whom I interact with. However, because I will fail does not mean I should never try. With that being said, I work every day to try and attain those unreachable goals, even knowing I may never reach them.

I have multiple other ways of saying this, such as, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,” “One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for one can just barely achieve through one's greatest efforts” and many others. I heard in another podcast this intent (since I don’t remember it exactly enough to quote it):

Never fear failure. If you fail, this means you picked a target outside of your comfort zone and your abilities. If you tried your best and failed, be proud of yourself because you got out on a limb and tried, which puts you way ahead of those who never try.

This is the message I want to leave you with. Strive for what is out of your reach. You just might get it.

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I got your back

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I am being deliberately vague here to protect who everyone is while keeping them straight and paraphrasing what was said...

The story below highlights how I treat and speak of others when they are not with me. This is how I act about all of my friends and acquaintances.

I was visiting a friend (Friend) during my lunch break yesterday, and while we were standing near my work truck (I was preparing some parts to be shipped back) a neighbor and acquaintance of Friend (Neighbor) came over to us and said to me, "I know you from somewhere." As we talked, we discovered that Neighbor had been in a class I had taught some years ago while I was a Mental Health Counselor.

Neighbor and I continued to talk, and the conversation turned to people we mutually knew, two in particular (Mutual A and Mutual B). Neighbor called Mutual A an "asshole" and Mutual B an "idiot." I replied, stating "Mutual A is strong-willed and is set in his ways about doing things. Mutual B has knowledge, however they lack the understanding to apply it properly." I did provide an example of Mutual B's "expertise." Neighbor pressed me, trying to get me to call Mutual A and B the same names he used.

It was at this point that Friend said, "Give it up Neighbor, he doesn't say things like that about anybody."

I am not providing details as to why so don't ask. I respect Mutual A and Mutual B, make no mistake about that. I continue to be friendly with them to this day, when our paths cross. To say that I like them, not so much. I have had occasional less-than-satisfying encounters with both. I can suspect, but I will never fully know their motivations and reasoning about why they treated me as they did.

I cannot change them, nor can I change their perception of me. All I can do is to try and be the best person I can be. How that appears to others and how it influences their opinion of me I cannot affect, nor will I lose sleep over it. That is their burden, not mine.

I defend everybody I know when I hear their character maligned. On Facebook, I have defended both Trump and Hillary when I see memes or whatever that state things I know are not true about them. If I have two friends/acquaintances who were in a relationship and broke up, I don't take sides with one over the other, and I ask one not to malign the other with me.

I have your back.

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From the hip

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Over the years I have developed a practice of not commenting immediately on things, but this is blowing up FB.

I don't watch TV, so I have only heard to references that Trump during the debate last night that he (if President) would order his Attorney General to investigate Hillary.

My question is, why is ordering the AG to fully investigate a person and to bring charges and prosecute when evidence of violations of the law are discovered bad, versus ordering the AG to not bring charges when clear evidence exists is acceptable?

The law that Hillary falls under concerning storing classified emails on an unsecured email server does not require intent. If you do it without knowing that the information is classified, guess what? You're still guilty because laws like this does not require mens rea (the evil mind, legalese for intent). There have been multiple instances of military members convicted and serving prison time for inadvertently releasing even small amounts of low-level classified information.

I guess the rules are different when you're running to run things.

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Big Things Coming

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In the next couple of days, I will be traveling to an undisclosed location for an unspecified period of time. Actually I am going to training for my job for a couple of weeks.

The point is, I will have a fair amount of time sitting in a hotel room with nothing better to do. I have no interest in being a tourist (I've been there before), so after dinner and my studies I will be spending my remaining time writing. I currently have over 8,600 words invested in five "big" posts and one "small" post. The big ones will likely end up in one of the top sections just below the banner because they wouldn't fit into the standard front page blog posts. I probably have almost an equal number of words to go to complete all of them.

I also have three more "big" posts that will take at least a dozen hours just of research before I can move forward off the premise and actually start writing content.

I believe you will like what I am working on, all of them.

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Unethical behavior

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This is literally a first time in thirteen years that I have been running this blog that I am substantially changing the point of one of my posts.

One of the greatest powers a human being has is the ability to change their position on an issue. This usually occurs when new evidence is brought to ones attention that causes a reconsideration. I always try to arrive at the correct conclusion the first time and thus prevent this from occurring. I will admit that I am a flawed person who makes many mistakes daily. I failed to consider the full ramifications of what I wrote below.

If you read the original post, I speak of holding both the company and the people who have done bad severely accountable to the tune of crushing financial fines. After a similar story about Deutsche Bank being "fined" for $14 Billion because another country fined Apple for the same amount, I listened to Dan Bongino talk about the ripple effects if Deutsche Bank being crippled or driven out of business entirely due to this crippling fine.

I still believe that those directly responsible for committing "bad acts" be civilly and criminally punished in the most harshest manner possible. Criminal prosecutions attached with large fines and prison time, plus crippling civil lawsuits from those injured by the bad acts.

The change I have arrived at is that the company should not be fined. For large companies/corporations like Wells Fargo which employ hundreds or thousands of people who did and are doing what they should be doing, if the company is fined out of existence, the ripples will turn into tsunamis. The good employees will be suddenly unemployed, customers are left in the lurch, plus all of the other ripple effects that will hurt others unnecessarily who have no connection to the bad acts.


As you may have heard, Wells Fargo has been caught with its proverbial hand deep in the cookie jar.

Over at least the past seven years, there has existed a corporate culture of setting ill-advised metrics for employees. Many employees were given "sales quotas," meaning they had to have customers start so many of their various "financial products" such as credit cards, bank accounts with them and so on. The bad news is when the customers didn't do it on their own, the employees "helped" the customers open those accounts. This resulted in millions of dollars of bank fees, overdraft fees, interest charges and on and on.

This unethical behavior was approved and encouraged by management. Employees who actually had personal ethics and didn't engage in this behavior were penalized and fired.

Now that this scheme has been discovered, 5,300 employees who engaged in this have been fired and a fine of $185 million has been levied against Wells Fargo. That may seem like a lot of cash, however when compared against the 2015 total profits of almost $22.9 billion from total revenue of $86 billion, that fine equates out to be 0.8% of their profits. I would call that pocket change.

Ideally, people and businesses should always act to do positive things and not injure those they interact with. Of course, this ideal will never be reached, however if we apply appropriate external incentives, we can at least hold these grevious incidents to a minimum.

When you consider how hard it is to "pierce the corporate veil" to hold executives, managers and employees personally liable, both criminally and civilly, this needs to change.

First and foremost, the laws need to be simplified and consolidated. To have a thousand ways to be assessed a fine and civil liabilities like I propose below is unreasonable and subject to abuse by governmental agents and agencies. The laws must be simple and clear as much as possible.Instead of working off exact numbers, let's try percentages. Penalties from the government the corporation, let's assign a penalty of 50% of their gross revenues for each year this violation happened. For those executives and other board members who can be shown they were knowledgeable and/or culpable in bad behaviors, confiscate 95% of their net worth. That would still leave the CEO of Wells Fargo John Stumpf with about $2.5 million out of his current $50 million personal fortune. Junior executives, management and employees could be fined lesser but still heavy percentages. That's just the fines from government.

As far as individuals suing those responsible, whatever damages they can show, multiply it by 100. If a customer was bilked out of $10,000 by the company and specific individuals, let's award them $1,000,000.

I can hear some people screaming, "You'll destroy the company and those people!!!" That's my point. Do you really want a company to continue to provide goods and services to you or those you love after a grievous breach of trust? To allow them to continue to do business with many, if not all of the leadership team intact? Really, what is preventing Wells Fargo or any other company guilty of a breach of trust from going right back to doing business just like before?

If there were laws like this in place where you know if you step over that line you would personally be financially crushed and the company along with you, how likely would you engage in this kind of activity? Hopefully, not very likely.

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Link updates

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This doesn't rate a FB post. I have fixed, updated and added some links to the left. I discovered that there is a Zig Ziglar podcast and I have had great pleasure in the last week listening to their archives as I drive around my territory delivering my services to my customers.

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Get your head out of your politics

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There is a mental disorder called Borderline Personality Disorder. It is best characterized by the phrase "I hate you don't leave me!" There is no comma in that phrase as common English grammatical rules would call for because there is no pause when someone with BPD says it.

Other characterizations include very black/white thinking. You either intensely love and or adore someone/thing, or you just as intently hate or despise the same person/thing. There is no in-between and vacillating from one side to the other can be rapid and random.

No person is 100% angelic or demonic. The most famous people in history, either beloved or reviled had done both wonderful and horrendous things in their life.

I bring this up because I see this in many people concerning the current Presidential horse race. They revere without reservation one candidate and revile with equal emotion the other candidate.

As Dave Ramsey says, "Pull your head out of your politics." Both of the major candidates have serious issues. Don't vote for a person because of what party they ascribe to, nor their personal plumbing. I suggest your take Mrs. Corsale's advice.

Mrs. Corsale was my Geometry and Trigonometry teacher in High School. When she was in college, she had three suitors after her hand in marriage. Being the extremely analytical math nerd she was, she used math to decide which suitor to pick. She wrote a list of every quality she wanted in a husband. She then wrote a list of every quality she didn't want in a husband. She gave each suitor a point for every quality they had on the first list, then deducted a point for every quality they had on the second list. She married the guy with the highest total.

We are going to be stuck with either Trump or Kane for the next few years. If what I have been reading about Hillary's condition is true or pretty close, if she gets elected she won't survive her first year in office. While what she has in and of itself is not fatal, it will probably kill her through complications, one of her "falls" or she will deteriorate to the point she won't be able to perform her duties.

All I ask is you look at their accomplishments. If you don't like either, consider the Libertarian or Green Party. Think for yourself and don't let soundbites from either side make up your mind for you.

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I don't need anger management

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This is not going to end how you think. Really.

I don’t have anger issues, really. I am very laid-back, happy and deferential when it comes to 99% of my interactions with people. That last 1% however can screw up and put a negative spin on the rest of my day.

I have been on “that side” of the phone, as a CSR (Customer Service Representative) and help desk. I always tried to be helpful and giving of information and resources. It seemed to me that giving the information would improve the customers’ experience. Some help desk/CSR banks though have intentionally gone the other way. This department of this company seems to ascribe to the “Piss them off so they won’t bother us” school of thought.

My work history has been unsteady lately. Out of the past 31 months, I have been unemployed 14 months and underemployed (30% base pay cut compared to the 5 year job plus no benefits) 17 months. When I got the underemployed job, I worked with the bank that holds my car note to fold the three payments I was behind into the end of my loan. The lady I worked with was sweet, kind, attentive and caring. Six months ago, I had to file for bankruptcy because my expenses were more than my income. Being severely underemployed will do that to you. Due to various delays I have not fully discharged the bankruptcy yet.

I covered all of that so you have the context of my call transcript below. I am now (again) three car payments behind. So I called the bank again and was routed without choice to the bankruptcy department because I am still in Bankruptcy.

Me: Hello, I am calling because I am three payments behind on my car and I need to speak with someone about what I can do to roll those payments onto the end of my loan.

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: I did this exact thing back in December 2014. What do you mean ‘we don’t do that here’?

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: Okay, what you're saying is the Bankruptcy department can’t do that, I understand. Who would I have to talk with to make this happen?

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: [Looking for my ball-peen hammer]
Me: […pauses to keep from shouting…]

Me: Could you please volunteer some information so I don’t have to be extremely pedantic and exacting in my questions in order to try and gain some information you have that could solve my issue???

CSR: You have to reaffirm your debt to get it out of this department.

Me: [Found the ball-peen hammer, debating to use it on the phone or my head]
Me: […pauses some more to keep from shouting…]


CSR: Your lawyer must fill out and return the appropriate paperwork to us.

Me: [Sarcastically] THANK YOU. I just want to tell you that you could have prevented the last five minutes of my life from being excruciatingly painful merely by being slightly forthcoming in the information. If you had said the first time you opened your mouth, ‘We can’t do payment rollovers in this department. The loan has to be transferred out after you reaffirm the debt.’ I would have been understanding instead of aggravated.

Me: Now that we got that out of the way, is there a way you could inform me if you are about to take my car for non-payment?

CSR: No.

Me: [Puts hammer down. Looks for a power drill with a paddle bit to drill on myself]
Me: “Bye.” [Hangs up]

At that point in time I was aggravated to the point I was going to call into question in a very detailed and graphic manner the genetic relations of her prior three generations and use very impolite language. Normally I would do this and use language suitable at a ladies afternoon cotillion but I was rushed and not in the right frame of mind.

I didn't, because at the last second before I opened my mouth I realized she could have been under orders to not be helpful (yes, there are help desks that do that). Maybe she had a bad day herself and my yelling at her and belittling her more than I did wasn't going to improve the attitude of either one of us.

I learned a while back that in any interaction I have with another person I should always ASSUME GOOD INTENTIONS. This means that I should never think the other person is intentionally trying to ruin my day. That does not preclude that they might be a mean person, however you should always assume that the other person is fighting a battle you will never learn about. This bad news will affect how they interact with others, but you should never let their attitude spread to you then you take that and hurt others.

I illustrate this point using a story from Stephen Covey:

Stephen was coming home on the subway, trying to unwind after a stressful day. At one stop a man gets on with several children. The man seemed unconcerned that his children were running up and down the car, screaming, fighting with each other and being very unruly. Stephen walked over to to the man to tell him to control his children, but at the last second something in the mans demeanor gave him pause. Instead, Stephen sat down next to the man and asked, "What happened?"

The man replied that he and his children were heading home from the hospital, where his wife and the children's mother had just died a few minutes ago. Stephen's attitude changed 180 degrees from "yell at him for not controlling his children" to "How can I help?"

I apologize to the lady I spoke with. It was my failure of control that caused me to be upset and yell at her. I try to leave every person I encounter better than how I found them. I failed with you.

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9/11 and Occam's Razor

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After any 9/11 anniversary, I get edgy around people who think the Towers falling was an "inside job." They post meme's like this one to try and convince the unknowlegeable that there is a hidden and more complex reason why they fell. They never try to take into account Occam's Razor to explain why.


911 meme

I am going to straighten the record out in clear, plain and unmistakable language that a 3rd grader can understand.

Source onesource two, source three. Please, read them.

First rest off, the Towers were basically giant Jenga towers. Perfectly stable as they were built and designed to withstand "off-axis forces," such as an aircraft impacting the building, a massive hurricane or even an earthquake. The Towers were also meant to withstand an out-of-control fire for up to three hours as well so everyone could get out safely. The Towers DID survive the impact of the aircraft.

Second, the base steel used (there were 12 types) in the construction was A36 steel. That grade of steel does indeed melt at 2,750 degrees, and jet fuel does indeed burn at 1,500 degrees.

But that's not the whole truth.

A36 steel (which has a structural strength of 36,000 pounds per square inch) does indeed turn into a liquid at 2,750 degrees. However at the lower temperature of 1,500 degrees, it loses half of its structural strength, well below the temperature that it becomes liquid. There were also other materials burning in the fire as well. Such a conflagration would have caused an updraft, which would have somewhat raised the temperature and increased the intensity of the fire.

Again, the designers of the tower anticipated an event with the same effect in their design, so that the Towers would stand long enough to get everyone out safely. What they didn't anticipate was that the aircraft would dislodge the layers of fire protection covering the structural members. This allowed the heat to get to and soften the structural members.

The result is like when you pop a balloon full of air or water. As soon as that one section of the balloon is punctured, the structure of that part of the balloon fails and transfers it's load to what's left. This is what happened in the Towers. A couple of structural members were destroyed by the initial impact. The surrounding uncompromised members became soft and weak from the heat of the fire because the insulation was knocked off and the heat could get to the steel. Once the weakened structure members became soft enough that they could no longer hold the weight on them, the members failed and dumped that stress and weight to the unaffected structural members. They now had more stress and weight they could handle and snapped. Because that's what A36 steel does when it's stressed with over 36,000 PSI.

When the overloaded floors snapped, they dumped the entire load of the upper building onto the next lower floor. This caused the lower floor to "pancake," suddenly squishing out all of the air, windows and loose items from that floor, making it look like there had been an explosion. This cycle repeated for each floor until all of the now-rubble came to rest.

Now, if you think the Towers were "a demolition job," watch this video:

Watch the time, work and planning it took to successfully drop that building. If you think that kind and scale of work can go on for a couple of weeks or months without anyone noticing, you're an idiot.

Another thing to consider, was how it was possible for two barely-trained pilots to hit a very specific spot perfectly to cause this whole chain of events? If the aircraft had hit too high or too low, the Towers might not have fallen. This is why Occam's Razor beats any massive conspiracy.

When you want to decide and go public on something, please have all of the facts in proper context before you blindly offer someone else's opinion.

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Sitting down for what you believe in

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I want to say this on Colin Kaepernick's sudden decision to not stand for the National Anthem.

I fully support him for his decision. I served so that he has the freedom to have the choice to stand or not on those occasions. His reasons are his reasons which are good enough for him. I don't know his motivations and quite frankly I don't care what they are.

I also fully support those people who have decided to destroy their team merchandise with his name or likeness, to stop buying merchandise with his name or likeness and in general loudly voice their displeasure over this action.

I do NOT support those people comparing Kaepernick to other NFL players who left the NFL and joined the military, implying that he is "less of a man" or "a coward" for not joining the military. The military life is not for everybody.

It does not matter one way or the other to me if Kaepernick keeps his job or is let go because of this PR scofflaw. I don't do sports any more, despite being raised in the Dawg Pound long before it was called that.

Consequences are the inevitable result of our choices. There are good and bad consequences. Learn, realize and accept that.

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