The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Month: June 2009

My obligatory Michael Jackson piece…

Yes… it is sad that Michael Jackson died.  Yes… he was a legend in the music industry.  Yes… the image that he held (please note the past tense) will be missed.

The fact is that the Michael Jackson that died is not the same person that I used to listen to when I was growing up.  In fact, in the last several years what has MJ really done or accomplished except become some kind of circus display or curiosity for the media to chase around.  I have to think that even though his family still loved him because he was a part of the family, he was probably not high on their invite list for birthday parties and social gatherings.

When you look at his career, however, his success does overshadow his flakiness, but only just barely and then only if you took the time to see everything he did.  There is an entire generation of people now that will only know him at the reclusive nutcase with the masked children, freakish face and a long drawn out court case involving pedophilia.  Whether the allegations in that case were true or not is for the historians and the lawyers to figure out.  But when a charge like that is leveled at a person, even if it is false, it is hard to get away from.

His Death…

I have no remorse for MJ and how he died.  You see… when you do as many things to your body, even if you think it is for the better, you are weakening it.  When you look at all the work he had done to his face and all the treatments he was having done to try and live longer and stay younger looking, you have to understand that it is hard on the system.  I see no difference in what Michael did to himself than that of what a drug addict or a person who has to keep getting piercings and tattoos… then eventually dies of a drug overdoes or septicemia.  MJ wore his body out and it failed him.  While we will have to see what the coroner says about this, I have to think that I am not too far of f the mark.

I do hope that he rests in peace, but I have no doubt that he had a hand in putting himself there.  So you will find no remorse, pity or tears for his loss from me.

If I have offended anyone with this, then I do hope you get over it.  These are my opinions and I will not apologise for them.

The Metric System – Isn’t it about time?

This debate has been going on for a long time, but when most of the world is using the metric system, why are we one of the last hold-outs?

When you look at the world, especially from a scientific point of view, it is obvious that the old English system that we presently use is out of date and out of touch with the rest of the world.

The US is joined by only two other countries, Myanmar and Liberia, that have not adopted the metric system.  This is not to say that there is anything truly WRONG with the english units of measurement, but when the rest of the world has moved to a more fine tuned way to measure everything from the very large to the very small, you have to think about the wisdom of holding onto something as antiquated as the old English system.

Another demonstration as to this point is that here in the US, even the scientific community has adopted the metric system for their use, soas to keep in parity with the rest of the world.  This does not always work, however, since there are a few hold outs.  This miscommunication can cause issues and even disasters… who can forget the Mars Climate Orbiter back in 1999?  Two teams and two separate measuring systems, equals one pile of aluminum and titanium with an American flag on it, somewhere on the surface of mars… maybe. I am sure that also been other errors and mistakes that have been made due to the conversion from and to the English system.

So…  if we were to buck up and switch to the metric system, would it be easy?  Not for us older folks that are used to the English system.  We will be the hold outs, the ones fighting it all the way and not wanting any part of it.  But for the children, it will be simple.  They will no longer learn fractions, inches, feet, etc…  it will be meters, liters, etc.  Everything will be different for us, but the world will not end.

The fact is that the we are actually holding out from a system that is leaving us behind.  Metric is the way the world is going and we will need to follow in the footsteps of the world this time.

Here are some interesting links regarding the topic:

http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/cartoon.htm

US Metric Association

Helium article on the Metric system

xkcd – A Webcomic

What to expect from July

In July I will be trying something new.  I will be writing eight articles that feature a different band or performer.  I have decided to write about people that many of you who might read this would probably not be very familiar with.

My reason for doing this is because of the level of importance I place on music in my life and what music and it’s meanings are to me.

Every song tells a story and every group or band has a different story to tell… I am hoping that I can convey some of what I see in the music to you and share my love for the art.

Is America watching?

There is no denying that the elections in Iran and the controversy surrounding them have the attention of the world focused on that country.  We may be witnessing a monumental moment in the development of the middle east, depending on the results of the riots and the upheaval.

To say that rigging the vote is not out of the question for someone like Ahmadinejad is foolish.  Here we are talking about a man, who each time he opens his mouth utters nothing but nonsense.  He seems to live for the effort of generally pissing people off.  He denies that the Holocaust ever happened, in spite of the overwhelming proof that it did… putting him on the same standing as such intellectual giants as Louis Farakhan.  His opinion on the state of Israel alone demonstrates that he is probably no better than any other person that attests to the teachings of people like Hitler, Wagner and Voltaire.
Is there any doubt that there is no place in a position of power for people like Ahmadinejad and his ilk?  More, he and they represents a anachronism, a class of leader or leadership that should be put out to pasture, or retired.  There is no place in the world for people like this.  The world has become too small for so much hate, and if there is going to be any chance to develop ongoing peaceful relations with the middle east for the US or any country, Ahmadinejad and leaders like him need to be deposed and sent away.

I am very interested in the turning of events right now in Iran for several reason.  Most importantly of these are the effect that the upheaval and it’s success or failure will have on the surrounding countries or the region and the fact that the next leader of Iran will help determine the United States’ policies for that region.  In spite of Obama’s promise to entertain communications with all foreign leaders, I have to think that not even he will be so bold as to enter into any serious talks with this idiot.

I do understand that the middle eastern culture and the US culture differ greatly, so I will not pretend that our way of life should mirror theirs in any way other that what they desire it to.  But there is no way that when so many people are rising against you, as a leader, you cannot see that you are screwing something up somewhere or somehow.

Ahmadinejad… Step down.


Flowers for Men…

It has been many years, but I once received flowers at work from my wife.

To say it was an unusual experience is an understatement.  But to say that it was not welcomed, is untrue.

Typically men will send flowers to their wives, girlfriends, lovers, etc… sometimes all three at the same time, though that is topic for another posting.  But the reverse is not as common.  You do not hear of a woman sending her Husband, boyfriend, lover, etc… (again, sometimes all three.) flowers.

I think, from the man’s point of view, there is a little bit of intimidation to the idea of a woman sending him flowers.  It is a little more aggressive than some men are probably use to or want.  I can even see how this might drive a wedge into a budding relationship.  Face it, men like to feel like they are at the helm of the relationship.  Receiving flowers, especially in someplace as public as work or in the presence of friends, can lead to a little embarrassment.

Speaking from the point of veiw of a guy who has gotten flowers at work.  It is a little bit of a red faced moment, to be sure.  But it is fun.  You can let the minds of your fellow workers wander a little bit as to why you are getting them and from whom.  You do not need to tell them all the facts.

So… for those few ladies that might read this blog… send your men (Husbands, Lovers, Boyfriends, or all three at the same time) flowers some time… just to see what happens.  If you really want to mix things up put some little “naughty” note on the flowers.   You know the co-workers will read it and they will start the rumors.

Love is meant to be fun and have fun… you just have to find the things that inspire you.

Who is to blame???

No matter who you listen to or what you read, it is painfully obvious that the nation and the state of California are experiencing financial difficulties.  There does not seem to be any disparity between the various news agencies about this.  For once they are almost all in agreement about it.

What bothers me, however, is not the media’s take on this, though they are not all doing anything to set the record straight, many times, but the fact that the various government agencies seem to be treating this like we, the tax-payers, are somehow to blame for the problems we are seeing.  The steps that are being taken, here in California for example, are being done in such a way that makes one feel as though the tax-payers themselves are being punished for the state of the State.

In reality, this is not our fault, unless you count the fact that we voted for many of these people.  This is the fault of mismanagement on the part of the state and local governments.  That is not to say that they are all to blame, not all of the the leaders are as inept as, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jerry Brown.  There are those that really seem to be making a real effort to make things right.

This morning, for example, I read a list of the various state projects that are being closed down.  These are programs that benefit people and give us things to do through the course of the summer.  Programs that benefit more than harm.  I am curious why we are taking the money from these programs when there are other things we can take it from.

I have often wondered why we, California, could not make more use of what appears to be one of this state’s biggest natural resources… prison inmates.

What can we not take this people, the low to medium risk offenders and put them to work replacing many of the road crews and road maintenance tasks that are assigned to CalTrans?  Why not the same for the Parks system or the various other public works projects.  These are people that are supposed to be “paying their debt” to society, yet many of them languish in cells, watching television, excersizing and getting an education, all at the tax-payers expense, yet in many cases doing nothing to truly contribute.

Why not make all state-elected officials take a 50% (or more) pay cut until the financial crisis is over with and we are back on track?  Why not eliminate the “Per Diem” that California legislators receive completely.  Let them travel to and from work on their own dime, like most of us have to, instead of you and I paying not only for our own travel to and from work, but also theirs as well?  All this instead of forcing correctional officers and other state employees to take furloughs and cuts in pay.  Why take the money away for the people that earn it and let ones that are responsible for the budget not pay for their actions?

It is apparent to me that the people that should be running the state and local governments are not the ones that we are electing.  We need people that are successful business men and women.  People that have a proven history of financial responsibility and success.  Not actors or career politicians.  Not people that are in bed with special interest groups whose election is thanks to a well purchased victory and not because they knew what the hell they were doing.

Yes… I voted for Arnold… At the time, he was better than another term with someone that wanted to fill in where Gray Davis left off.  There for a while, Arnie did alright… then he fell into the same routine most others did.

This is also the problem with the national goverments as well.  There are too many that are in it for their own benefit and not the betterment of the nation.  That is not to say they are all bad, but the ones that are bad tarnish the reputation of those that are trying.  This, in turn, makes them all appear to be a corrupt band of “back-patters”, whose only goal is to make themselves look good and get rich doing it.

I will be the first to tell you that I love this Nation and could not think of anyplace better to live… but I will also be the first to tell you that there is a lot of changing to be made.  Starting with all the members of the house and senate being fired or otherwise ousted.  Put rules in place to make it so that anyone attempting to run for the offices has to take some kind of aptitude test to show that they have some idea what is best for the people and not themselves.

Altruism… that is what government is missing.  The understanding that their position should be self-sacrificing and not meant for personal gain.  They are there at our will… the will of the people.  They should fear for their jobs because of us.  We should not fear what happens to us because of them.

As I have quoted many times before.  “People should not be afraid of their government, the government should be afraid of their people.” That is not to say I support violence, that is to say that I believe that we have the right to stand up and show our disapproval with the only strong, legal action we have available to us.  Our voice… either by voting or by publicly, peaceably, speaking out.

I am sorry… this was meant to be a commentary on the mismanagement of the State government and I have turned it into something more.

As always, I thank you for reading and I urge your to share your commentary with me and the others that read this Blog.

ABBA – Memories of the past

I was born in 1968… so by most counts, many would not consider me to have experienced the 1970’s.  I will grant you that, yes, I was not old enough to participate in the 70’s in the manner many people did, but that does not mean that I did not get something out of them.

My earliest memories are from around 1970… the music, the way it flowed through the house. My mother and father talking, the Television and the reports from Vietnam, which I really did not understand until years later.  The clothes that people wore, especially my mother in her bell-bottomed jump-suits that she made from paisley print materials in bright yellows, reds and greens.

Most of all I remember the music.  I can recall the sounds of the Kingston Trio, Jimmy Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Lawerence Welke and too many others to remember.  But there was one group that really and truely opened my eyes.

After my Mother and I moved to Bakersfield after her and my Father divorced, I went into the mode most children do, and that was to hate the parent you are stuck with.  This is more common than not and most people that have been through it, will know what I am talking about.  In addition to playing with the few friends I made, I lived in music.  I let it become a part of me.  Saturate me, if you will.  I got into the habit of memorizing the lyrics and writing in notebooks all the things I thought about the music in addition to the lyrics themselves.  Unfortunately these books were thrown away or lost through the ravages of time.

One day… and I am not sure when… I was watching TV on a Saturday when KC Casem’s television version of the Top Twenty countdown came on.  One of the first videos that he showed was from a group I had not yet heard of called ABBA… and the video was to “Knowing me Knowing you”.  I was in love.  Not so much with the group itself, but with the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, up to that point.  Agnetha Faltskog.

I was young, not even ten years old, yet here I was, completely smitten with this woman that was on the TV.  Call it my first crush, if you will, but I had it bad.

Fast forward thrity-three years and here I sit.  Still watching ABBA videos and listening to their music.  I have seen the Movie “Mamma Mia” and plan on buying the DVD, I have every CD that is available by them and they are a permanent fixture in both my ipod and zune.  Yes… in addition to loving my wife maddly, I still carry a little torch for Agnetha.  She is still a beautiful woman and I would probably, if ever given the chance to meet her, talk like someone had placed twelve marbles in my mouth in a vain attempt to talk to her.  If I ever had one wish that I would like to have granted, it would be for her and her husband to have dinner with Naty and I someday.

This is why ABBA as a group brings back so many good memories for me.  I listen to them and I remember that childish love I had way back then.  Back when I did not even know what love really was.  Before I was old enough to feel the physical attraction that puberty brings on and completely screws us males teens up with.

I listen to the music and it brings back memories of laying on the floor in the living room, listening to the Hi-Fi on Saturdays after helping clean house… the smell of pledge and floor wax still in the air as I listened to America’s Top Forty.  Writing in my notebooks the lyrics to every song that they played.

Thank you, Anna-Frid, Benji, Bjorn and especially Agnetha, for the music… and the memories.

More annoyances…

There are a great many things in life that annoy me to no end.   The list is, in fact, to long for me to place here without losing you, my loyal readers, before I get to my point.

Last night I had dinner with the wife and folks at Applebee’s.  First off, Applebee’s is not a BAD place… I consider them to be something akin to Denny’s younger, hipper, brother.  The one that makes all the friends and stays out drinking all night, but who has poor taste in food and eating habits.

One annoyance that seems to be a constant is the ever-present birthday.  Of all my pet peaves, this is one of the worst, and they always seem to congregate around me.  It’s like there is this sign over my head that says, “Have your birthday celebration next to this guy!”

It is not the celebration itself, that I can accept.  It is this desire that people have to hear the restaurant staff attempt, very badly, to sing “Happy Birthday” to you.  Add to this that if you really look at the faces of the staffers that are singing, you see that they are really not enjoying themselves either.  There are, more often than not, pained looks on their faces, covered with the mock show of appreciation for your “Special Day.”  Sometimes these looks have the appearance that the singer is trying to push out a turd that they have been hanging on to for the last three days with lots of fiber and little water.

On top of this, they always… without fail… choose to sing right in the middle of the most important part of whatever I happen to be talking about at the time.  Just as I am about to drop that pearl of wisdom that my captive audience, at my table, is waiting for… “Happy Happy Birthday”.  Concentration is then broken… and I have to wait for the humiliation of both the Singers and the Recipient of the song to pass.  Then, if I am lucky, the point of my story or conversation will not be lost.

Just remember.  Friends don’t let friends tell waiters or waitress’ that they are having a birthday.

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