Posts Tagged ‘special interest’

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On farming …

January 12, 2016

and covering your donkey ….

There was a farmer who grew excellent quality corn. Every year he won the award for the best grown corn. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors. “How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.

“Why sir,” said the farmer, “Didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”

So it is with our lives… Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all…

 

[That little story was swiped from Facebook without permission, ……………..what?…..]  

 

Everyone (I suppose) loves a “feel-good” story. Like any story, of course, when told around the campfire often enough, and for an extended time, the details cannot help but change.

This is not by any design or intent. Perhaps the greatest reason would be context. Another would be the nature of human communication or language itself.

“Watching a buddy’s back”, for example, is kind of a nice metaphor for friendship, teamwork, and so forth. The precise meaning depends upon context. One might safely assume that the concept was first given voice during some primitive confrontation somewhere, sometime, and when used in that same context even today could be taken quite literally, indicating concerns regarding survival. The intent and meaning today, however, is normally a mixed bag of the literal and the metaphorical. While the circumstance surrounding the phrase’s use may be metaphorical, and would be considered an exaggeration of the mood accompanying a literal context, the intent would be to lend precisely that kind of intensity to a more benign situation.

The study of philology, or the history and origins of words and phrases, may provide some insight.

An immeasurable and indistinct length of time ago, one of humanity’s primary concerns was survival. If a person should survive into the following day, he would then focus on water, and food. Thirst and hunger abated, or at least temporarily distracted, things like shelter and clothing, such as it were, could see daylight. Extensively changed, often beyond recognition, and certainly beyond any imaginable context for most of us, much of our modern communication could likely be linked to those times long before car payments and credit limits and matters of “style” became the first things one thought of upon awakening in a comfortable bed to the aroma of automatically perked coffee.

Thus, I would suggest that the warm-fuzzy tale of a farmer and his fields of corn must bear such a history, its origins lost among the multitude of lessons of survival no doubt learned through observing the experiences of those who didn’t survive to tell the tales.

As mentioned earlier, contexts change, as do intents, though function may remain related. The path of human development and evolution evidently favored those who gathered into groups and coined such strokes of genius as “safety in numbers,” just as they favored those who ate organic material instead of pretty rocks.

Several hundred contexts later, with countless factors added to, or subtracted from, the pile, such allegories as the corn farmer tale came to be part and parcel of various religious tenets. As is often the case, “points” are made, in more ways than one, by the use of exaggeration, overstatement, and the clouding of boundaries between contexts, so that survival of the group transitioned to survival within the group, and so on. Securing enough points to earn whatever the promised rewards might be meant following the tenets of one’s inherited or chosen creed better than one’s neighbor, who, ironically, one was also often charged with ensuring the welfare of. Sometimes that meant giving your best seed to the farmer down the road.

Presently, early in the twenty first century, the evolving metaphor has come to link salvation, in its various formats, with providing for the survival of imperfect strangers through the provision of metaphorical as well as actual Free Lunch, Potlatch style.

And similar to the tale of the fortunate farmer (and his even more fortunate neighbors, who apparently enjoyed the products of his labor), seeing to the welfare and good fortune of one’s neighbors, even if it means conscripting the assets and unwitting participation of The Unwashed, may very well be about taking care of one’s own backside far more than that of one’s neighbor.

 

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Beauty, among other things….

November 8, 2014

is in the eyes/ears/mind/imagination of the beholder….

Adjectives used to be applied with a little more thought than seems to be case these days, especially in the use of indirect pejoratives. It’s difficult to engage in conversation without teetering on the brink of committing some nearly unforgivable verbal act and being labeled sexist, racist, homophobic, bigoted, etcetera. The potential violations of “PC” are unlimited, the definitive factor being whether or not a potential accuser is in a foul mood.

Interestingly, however, the alleged “targets” aka “victims” of sexism, racism, homophobia, bigotry, etcetera apparently are immune from being named perpetrators of same. When was the last time a woman was called sexist, a minority was accused of being racist, a non-heterosexual was called heterophobic, etcetera?

The irony may very well be that in the effort to eliminate various forms of “prejudice” we will have succeeded only in redefining and redirecting it.

 

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Human economics…

December 20, 2013

the supply and demand of ill will

Next to water, human petulance is the most abundant presence on this amusing little planet. There has never been a shortage of people anxious to be offended, nor of endless lines of people anxious to fulfill the demand.

 

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Extreme ennui alert!…..

April 30, 2013

listen up…!.

I read today where another jock came out of the closet. Whoop-dee-doo. What does he want, an extra mil? A merit badge? A free vanity plate? I really don’t understand why all of these people who have resided at various points along the bell curve over the past half century think anybody should give a rodent’s rump about their particular brand of uniqueness, unless it’s because they get something in exchange for the information. You know, kind of like a cop might get a free donut.

Well……..I have an IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT to make, and I invite the media to park on my front lawn, peek in my windows, and check all of the usual nooks and crannies for any history of antisocial behaviors or substance abuse over the past 69 years. Bring two notepads and an extra pencil. But that’s not the BIG NEWS.

I do all of those things like vote, pay taxes, and mow my lawn. I have never been a member of any special population, unless one wants to include Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Home Room Captain, a school crossing guard in sixth grade, the fraternity I joined in college, USNR, a few other things I can’t think of right now. Oh, yes. I also was in the Nittany Grotto Spelunkers club for a year. But that’s not the BIG NEWS.

Whenever I got fired (twice) it was because I did a lousy job, not because I was picked on. Whenever I quit a job, it was because my boss was an idiot. I’ve been married twice and a good husband once. I swear too much, but it doesn’t offend me. I own guns, like to set off fireworks, go “mudding”, and spit. I’m lousy at sports, I like flowers, fine art, and classical music, but I’ll square off with anybody who isn’t more than twice my size or that I can’t outrun. But that’s not the BIG NEWS.

The only check I get from the government is my Social Security, and I paid into that from 1958 through 2008. I have never asked to be treated differently from others for any reason, nor have ever felt like I got screwed because someone else was taller, better looking, more athletic, or richer than me. But that’s not the BIG NEWS.

I am here today to come out and reveal, devoid of any shame or embarrassment whatsoever, that…….

I AM A HETEROSEXUAL, WHITE ANGLO SAXON PROTESTANT MALE.

….and I completely understand why most of the folks who read this will probably think anything more dynamic than a yawn would be over-reacting. I was actually bored silly just writing it. I’ve had an epiphany….since the big juice for several decades now has been “equality”, why don’t we start by reacting the EXACT SAME WAY to any and all who want a parade just because they fart off key.

Now, I’ve changed my mind about the media. They better get the hell off my lawn, and fast. I have water balloons, and I know how to use them.

 

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On missing the clambake…..

March 25, 2013

because you’re diggin’ clams….

It didn’t really begin to grab my attention that much until it had been going on for twenty or thirty years, and right under my nose at that! Fact of the matter is, It’s probably been going on since the beginning of time, but I can only lay claim to the very brief perspective experienced over the course of a half century or so.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” kind of sums it up, but of course even that piece of folk wisdom had to wait for the advent of wheels and grease to garner any attention from the old bastards sitting around on park benches and the like solving the world’s problems. Regardless, I have no doubt curmudgeons and carpers down through the ages have come to the realization at some point in their comparatively deprived existences that folks of little or no talent, intelligence, or character have been making out like bandits simply by making noise. My epiphany occurred last Tuesday sometime after lunch.

I feel compelled to explain why I didn’t notice sooner. I come from an incredibly long line of reticent New Englanders, some of them cutting bait around Massachusetts Bay and the Gulf of Maine before the Pilgrims had cut teeth. Surely the people in the sterns of their boats found out about impending landfall several days after the people in the bows, simply because secular communication was some sort of a sin back then, I suppose. You’d think our gene pool would have eliminated or at least toned down that sort of thing over the last four hundred years, but such tempering has been unenthusiastic, to say the least. Except in South Boston, where they just won’t shut up.

Please understand, my family is a very loving line, but those lacking innate ESP and an ice pick could look right at it and never see it. Take holidays, for example. People would travel from the four points of the compass to gather at my parents’ home and spend time in the same room together, perhaps for the first time in decades. It could really be intense, but if you blinked you most likely missed it. Once the initial Grand and appropriately noisy Entrance had been made, everybody retreated to their personal space zones to thumb through catalogues or stare out the windows. We loved being together, really, but we knew that, so why yammer on about it?

My wife comes from a large family where get-togethers sound like a chicken house at feeding time. That’s been a good influence on me, actually. I still may not verbalize much sometimes, but I write incessantly, almost as if I had learned to type in South Boston.

Anyway, I don’t come from an overtly communicative bloodline, unless one understands the subtle nuances of a rattled newspaper and three or four elementary variations of “Mmmph…”

Thus, while I was aware of the goings on in the world, it has only been recently that I have put it all together and figured out how to not only collect my slice of the pie but to snag someone else’s as well, and have them thank me for my trouble to boot.

First of all, I have to figure out a handful of ways in which I am negatively unique, no mean trick for one who was encouraged to spend a lifetime identifying and talking up the bells and whistles. If one is to stand out and gain attention, though, which is of course key to building interest, one must make noise, …. metaphorically speaking, …..sort of. Who gives a toot about puny peeps from the right rear wheel when the left front sounds like a train wreck trying not to happen?

The difficult part is that this can’t work on an individual basis. It takes a group effort. That’s why Republicans are notoriously underrepresented among such populations. While they have exquisitely honed skills when it comes to activities like incorporation, most are pathetically inept when it comes to starting a riot or holding a sit-in. I suppose that’s perfectly understandable, however, if you ask yourself just what the hell a CEO might hope to accomplish by camping out on the allotted parking space in front of the custodian’s trailer.

I’m no Republican, but I do have that New Englandy “Bubble Wrap Approach to Social Interaction” about me. If I can get around that tendency (I have no intention of changing, you have to realize) and gather enough similarly unique individuals to create an annoyance of some sort, Fat City should be right around the corner.

I’ve been working on a strategy, but so far haven’t come up with any viable plans. I’m a bit shocked, actually, at just how many things that we have already incorporated into our culture as being unique enough to warrant special attention! Like toxic particles in the air, you don’t see them, but man, are they ever there!

I first thought I might be able to make a play on my white hair and bad knee, but AARP and a half dozen other groups already have that corner sewed up. That chicken’s been picked clean and there isn’t much I could get out of that one. I’m of Caucasian heritage, as well; my ancestors were a bunch of pickle faced Puritan Prostestants, and their ancestors were largely the Anglo Saxons and Normans who thought up the whole Occupy shtick in the first place, now that I think of it, by setting up shop in England almost a thousand years ago, so there’s no meat there, either.

One would think that having a Liberal Arts, Bachelor’s Degree would help, but it’s more of a liability than an asset for those who have their sights set on directly benefiting from any recognition of unique characteristics that can in turn be rationalized as meeting the basic criteria for, if not free lunch, then at least free snacks. A Bachelor of Arts in Head Scratching may have helped hundreds of thousands of advocates and facilitators earn their keep by leading legitimate sheep to Fort Knox, but I’m retired and I really don’t want to work even that small amount. I just want to park my sweet ass by the head of the cornucopia and start making up for lost time.

I’m just a little annoyed that it took fifty years of employment before I figured it all out.

Talk about missing the boat…..

 

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