The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Author: Samuel Wright Page 4 of 33

Same-Sex Marriage

OK… so I have been told that my view on this subject is everything from dismissive to discriminatory.   I have had people criticize me names for this view and even had a couple people “unfriend” me on Facebook.

Do you know what this earth-shattering opinion of mine is, on the topic of same-sex marriage?

I DON’T CARE.

Yes…  you read that right.   I could care less about the whole topic anymore.  I think that were you to really look into the minds of many of the politicians that spoke on the issue, one way or the other, they might not really care either, but since the issue makes great political fodder for distraction from real issues, they use it.

Right now, at this moment, what is going to affect you, the general populace, more? weather the two guys next door can get legally married or if the state cannot manage it’s budget and pay the Highway Patrol?  If Mary and Jane can get on one or the others insurance as a same-sex couple, or if there will be another tax increase voted in that will take a little more of your money and give it to a group of people that have a history of mismanaging money to a spectacular level?

I am not saying that the issue is not important to some.  I am sure that it is, and to those people, I tell you to keep working for what you believe in.  Personally, I do not support it but that is not the point of this piece.  I am not talking about my personal views on the topic here as to whether it is right or wrong, I am talking about what is more important.

When you look at all that is happening politically, there are some things that are so much more important than this right now.  We have budget issues on a national level, we have border security issues, problems with the people that we put in office abusing that power with which we have trusted them, we have a nation that is, piece by piece getting itself into hock with China and it is only a matter of time before they start calling in some of those debts.  Considering all this, and the many things that I have not touched on, is the issue of same-sex marriage really THAT important that we all have to fight about it, keep resurrecting it in the courts, etc???

I am fairly certain that my writing here will cause some of you reading this to think that I am attacking homosexuals, but I am not.   I am simply saying that the fact that you like someone of the same sex is not important enough to me to warrant setting it above the more important issues of state.  Issues like making sure that the country is not going to drown itself in debt to foreign powers, surrendering the sovereignty of our borders to anyone that wants to cross without going through the proper processes because asking them to do so might offend someone, especially if we have to tell them no.

Penmanship – A lost art?

I recently read an article by Louise Brown called “Why Johnny can’t sign his name”, and I have to admit that it was a little disheartening.

I can, personally, recall many hours as a child trying to get my cursive looking like something vaguely similar to what the teacher was showing us.  I recall with a certain amount of horror the many hours, or so it seemed, of practicing curves and loops on lined paper so that I could be ready for my days of writing everything in cursive.

If, through the course of these lessons, I fell off some, it would show in the form of a note on my report card.  I would always fall a little short on this part and never brought home anything better than a C or C+ for cursive.  This was mostly my own fault, I think there may have been part of me that sensed I was going to be in computers or engineering when I grew up, so I did not try as hard at the time.

I do not use cursive today, in fact, I have not written in cursive for many, many years.  It was just never something that was comfortable to me or for me to do.  It felt, for lack of any better explanation, alien to me.  But then again, I was never a fast writer and cursive, while being sold to us as a fast alternative, never really helped me write any faster.

All this being said and my personal demons with this way of writing aside, I am dismayed that this is not being taught in schools as much these days.   I see it as an important program that is being taken away, not so much for the intrinsic value of being able to WRITE in cursive, but the fact that there is something so much more human about writing.

If I receive a letter or note from someone that is written in longhand, it means so much more to me than if I am sent an email.  For example, I occasionally get “E-Cards” from people for my birthday, and I do appreciate that, but it seems so… disposable.   When I get a real, paper, greeting card in the mail, that means something.  Someone took the time to buy a card, sit down and write a message to me.  Even if it is something as simple as “Happy Birthday Sam, hope you are doing well.”   That means they took the time and effort for me.  In my opinion, that is a perfect example of quality over quantity.

I will get letters from my mother from time to time, and she still writes longhand and cursive.  That beautiful script that they taught so many years ago with the long sweeping arcs for the letters and flourishes here and there.  Letters that look like maybe they should have come from nobility or royalty.  Well… she is my mother, so to me, they are.  But I note that even in my time, when I was a child, penmanship was not taught with the level of importance that it was in her time.  And when my son goes to school, I wonder if they will even bother with pens, pencils or paper at all.

One thing in her article that stood out to me was this quote:

“Under the language curriculum, it’s mentioned briefly about six times between Grade 3 and 8, so it’s a choice for students,” she said — not a must. “The real focus is to be digitally literate and to think creatively.”

While I do agree that we need to make sure that the youth in school needs to have a good grasp of the IT world, I think that to deprive them of the basic ability to convey their thoughts on paper is foolish.  There is strong evidence that people retain more by writing it down and organize their thoughts better of they have a habit of writing, than if they merely make a note in a Word document.  Further, the quote leads me to think that someone out there thinks that by writing longhand, we are limiting our creativity.  This is pure silliness.  Some of my best ideas have some from hashing things out in longhand and then translating them to the PC.

In short, penmanship is a dying discipline, so while the schools seem to be withdrawing from it, I think that we, as parents, need to break out the pens, pencils (quills if you have them) and start teaching this art ourselves.

Special thanks to Louise Brown for a great article.  I hope that you do not mind my citing your work here and linking to your article.

Muslims…

With the stories that I see each day, I find myself struggling with my own convictions and beliefs with regards to the Muslim community as a whole based mostly on the actions of a few.

As a Jew, I have a personal reason to know better than to dislike a group for their religious followings and beliefs.  To understand that by picking out a group for their religious beliefs and casting them in a shadow or shunning them BECAUSE of their religious following, would make me no better than those that have done the same to me and my people.

As I have posted in the past, I KNOW that there are good Muslims out there, and I am not talking about the recent converts.  I am talking about the people that are “Multi-Generational” Muslims who have practiced in the manner that their predecessors have before them.  People for whom this is more than words on a page, but a part of their culture.

With the events in England and Boston over the last couple months, as well as the other rumblings, it remains my focus to explain to people that these are the actions of a few, militant, groups within the Islamic community and certainly the exception and not the rule.  But it would be so easy for me to cave… to give in to the anti-Islamic uproar and fall in step with them to condemn the Islamic community as a whole for this.

But that would be wrong.  It would also be wrong for me to allow others to take this attitude without my trying to explain to them, like I am trying to here, that you cannot hold an entire group accountable for the actions of a few within it whom have decided to act on some misunderstanding that they have picked up from their readings.

This is usually the point were someone points out how violent the Qur’an is and how, but I would ask those same people, mostly Christians, to review their own texts and tell me that there are no violent or outdated actions that are suggested to carry out in the Bible.  But I am not writing this to argue religious texts.

The point of this to not hate Muslims, or any other group, for the actions of a few within it.  All this does is raise distrust among all of us and create more hatred, thus giving other groups the feeling that they have earned some right of revenge against the other, and so the hate and anger become self-perpetuating.

I will say, to all servicemen and women everywhere, to please watch yourselves carefully.  With the horrific attack on Lee Rigby and the suggestions that the Radical Islamism are going to carry out more such attacks on soldiers, I worry for all of you serving out there.  Keep your guard up and I would suggest, as I think many commanding officers should as well, to not travel alone, if you are in uniform.

As always, I thank you all for reading.

 

The wonders that he will see

The other day I was sitting on the chair in the living room with my Son, now two years old, and we were watching a program on the history channel about the space program and about the Apollo missions, then about Skylab and the Soyuz mission.

As we sat there, I started thinking about when I was a child and remembering experiencing some of these things myself as they were happening.  I remember being glued to the TV, watching the launches and seeing some of these history-making events myself.  I remember thinking about all the neat things that would come of our steps into space and all the possibilities that seemed to lie before us.

As I grew up, I remember how my world revolved around the space program and all that it seemed to mean for us, as a world, at the time.   I watched any programs that came on television about the space program and when the shuttle program was launched, it only spurred my imagination that much more.

Remembering all this, I thought about my Son, Gideon.  He is going to see so many advances in his life, and there are so many things that he will see change and improve because of those advances.

As a child, I lived during the time that man first walked on the moon and when we put our first space station in orbit.  I got to see some incredible advances in medicine and in science in general.  We have found new moons in our own system and some incredible new facts about some of the planets, and even got to see a planet “demoted” from planet status.  At to that we have found proof of planets in other star systems and even exoplanets ( or Rogue) planets.

Looking at all this, I have to envy Gideon for all the things that he is going to see in his lifetime.  My wife and I saw man walk on the moon, but he may get to see mankind set foot on Mars, or maybe even BE one of the first men to set foot on Mars or one of the other planets.

Then there are also the more “terrestrial” dreams that we have for him, the dreams that most parents have for their children.  There are so many advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, etc, that the possibilities that lay open for him are limited only by the decisions that he makes and the guidance we give him along the way.

For now, we sat on the chair and watched the program and I sat there smiling and telling all about what I remember, and he sat there, not really understanding what I was telling him, but he enjoyed the interaction.  And I guess that is what is important for now, to be a supportive and loving parent to him and be there for him now.

Who knows what will happen in his life, or the path it will take.  We, as parents, want the best for our children, but when it all comes down to it, we will love him no matter what choices he makes, Scientist or Dog catcher, Doctor or High School teacher.

But still… I am envious of all the things that he will see in his life.   I only wish that I could be here with him to see it all too.

 

Not getting it your way!

 

I have been noticing, lately, that when I use the drive-up window at some places, I am almost playing a game of chance when it comes to my order being right.

Take, for example, my most recent foray to KFC.  My wife and I were going through the drive through because neither of us wanted to sit in the place, and also because I had just gotten over a flu and was not wanting to be sociable or in a place with people that would, potentially, be sociable to us.   I am not a friendly person when I am getting over a cold or flu.

The first problem started with the order placement itself.  The gal on the other end of the microphone sounded like she had a half dozen Ritz crackers in her mouth when she askes us to place our order at any time.  Then, when we did place our order and she read it back to us, she got it wrong.  So we corrected that and moved on.  When we got to the window, my wife paid with a hundred dollar bill and our total was about $19 and change, when the change came back, she only gave us $60 and some change.   So we had to ask her to rethink it, and she did and then gave us our $20 that she shorted us.

For one evening, that would normally have been enough and you would probably, and rightfully, think that this was a one-off.   Something that just happened because we were in the right place at the right time.  But you would be wrong.

On the way home, we decided that we wanted a couple iced teas.  So we opted to drive through McDonalds by our house for two iced teas.   Now… we are already on alert with this particular McD’s because of their never ending habit of giving you exactly the wrong drink.  This is a chronic thing with them and instead of going to another location, we just accept it and check our order before leaving the window.   Think of it like that irritating cousen that everyone seems to have, that instead of getting into a family brawl because of them, you just accept that they are an idiot and deal with it.   That is the case here.

So Anyway, tonight we ordered our two large iced teas and when we get to the window, they confirm that the order was for one large iced tea.   We corrected him and paid the money and moved on.

The point being that it just strikes me funny how you have this method to order your food that is supposed to be such a time saver, turns out to really not be that much of one at all, when you factor in the process of correcting the order and then checking everything in the bag before you drive away.

This was just a little thought I wanted to share with all you readers out there.  Please feel free to share your personal drive through disasters with me.

 

How Gross is Gross

 

I am not the most financially minded person in the world, I will freely admit that and go one step further and say that this is one of the areas in which my Wife excels…  So I feel perfectly happy handing anything financial over to her.  I can look at most number problems and be perfectly fine, but then I look at the checkbook and I fall into this trance of mental loss.

On that note, I would like to talk about something that has bothered me for years.  I am not expressing this opinion as an expert, just as a generally annoyed person who is tired of being denied for certain things because of an accounting rule.

Gross income versus Net income.

Why is it that so many places where we go to apply for loans, benefits, etc, require you to list your Gross and not Net income?  If you earn $4000 a month and you only Net $2900, then why do places like banks, auto dealers, etc, base your income on the money that you do not have?

Likewise, if you go into someplace and apply for a particular benefit or assistance of some sort, then they use your Gross income as a deciding factor, when in reality, you only ever see a little more than half of that amount in your pocket?

It does not make sense to me, really.  But I am sure that there are those out there that are more knowledgeable about these things than am I or my wife.  To those people I would like you to comment and share your expert, and maybe not so expert, opinions and understandings of this.

 

President’s Day

 

Remember when there were two days commemorating the presidents?

When I was growing up, I remember school being closed for Lincoln’s  and Washington’s birthday.  I also remember that we did things like make stovepipe hats out of construction paper, and cotton wigs to look like George Washington.  There were also the obligatory beard cutouts for the ones that wanted to look like Abraham Lincoln as well.

When I was very young, we were taught the cliches about the presidents, as most 1st and 2nd graders are not apt to understand the details behind what really happened at Gettysburg or Valley Forge.   We did not care about Washington’s relationship with people like Lafayette and how that friendship is part of what saved the early United States.   We were more interested in the tales of Washington and the cherry tree and the stories about his wooden teeth.

But even with that early, and what may seem like silly, education, I worry that with the combining of the two birthdays, that there are some that are losing the understanding of why we celebrated those days in the first place.

A few years ago I was talking to someone I know and I met their daughter, a ten year old.   I asked her what they were doing for their president’s day holiday and she told me that they were going to buy a car, because that is what president’s day is for.  I asked her where she heard that from, and she told me, “The TV”.

This is sad in two major ways.  First because it tells me that if the school she is going to IS teaching about the meaning of the holiday, even if they are using it to celebrate all the presidents and not just the two that it was originally combined from, then they are not doing a good enough job at it.  Secondly, that their parents are not doing a very good job at teaching the child either.   Believe it or not, parents, education does not stop the moment the kids leaves school.

There is another thing that I thought of while writing this and that is that most holidays are suffering from the commercialism and sales aspect that has been assigned to them.  All the holidays seem to be getting lost in the commercialism morass these days.   I start to wonder if there will ever come a day when people will start to forget that July 4th is just about a day to go get a good deal on a big-screen television.  Or that Christmas is not one of the most important Christian holidays because you get really good deals on year end automobiles.

For me, and the way I am going to raise my son, President’s Day will be a day we sit and spend a little time talking about the past leaders of this country.  And yes, unfortunately, even Bush, Clinton and Obama.

Sempre Fi!

Playing well with others

 

Playing well with others is not something that I have ever done well.  I mean, I do get along with most people, usually.   And I try to fit into the usual social norms that are expected of me, and will be polite to people… most of the time.

But I have learned, mostly through the sometime gentle, sometimes not so much (ask Nick), chiding of others, that I tend to be abrasive, condescending and sometimes rude in my interaction with others.  But I just do not see it, myself.  I really, honestly, do not.  But I think I understand the WHY behind the reason that I do not notice it.

If you ever read any of Carl Sagan’s work, I would like to think that I have developed somewhat of a BDK… The polite name for this acronym is “Baloney Detection Kit”, but I like to use the less polite name of “BullS**T Detection Kit”.   This is something that I have constructed in myself over the years, and learned that if you listen to enough people, read enough books and meet a large enough cross-section of humanity, you begin to see patterns in human nature and in the way people talk, interact and spin yarns.

Through this, I have gotten to a point where when someone is telling a story of that is supposed to have been something that they personally experienced, yet I have heard the same story at least ten times before, it becomes increasingly hard to stand there and act like you are riveted to the tale.

For example… I used to work with a person, years ago, that one day told me this story of how they were in Las Vegas with their girlfriend and the girlfriend had to go back up to their room.  When she got on the elevator there was a black man with a dog…  blah… blah… blah… if you are over the age of ten and have an email account, then you know the rest of the story.  He yelled “Get down lady”, she hit the floor, it was Lionel Richie, yada yada, yada.

It could have been a very believable story, had I not already heard it two or three times before and read about it on the internet and on Snopes.  The story does vary some from time to time, mostly because people realize, at some point, that they are idiots perpetuating a mostly racial anecdote for the sake of humor.  Not that I am against racial humor, face it, some of it is pretty darned funny.  But unless Lionel Richie made it a habit to frequent Las Vegas elevators with his dog, for lack of any better entertainment, or unless there happened to be a whole heck of a lot of people in the elevator with him and they all “Hit the floor” at the same time, the story is rubbish.

As I stated earlier in the post, there is something in me that, with age, as prevented me from being able to just let people talk about things that really make them look or sound silly, and not say something about it or point out their faux pas.

OK… So that you, the reader, do not think that I am not the victim of my own social arrogance, I will be the first to tell you that there have been times that I have failed my own tests.   I have had several times where I will be talking to a person and suddenly I will stop, think about what I just said and then say something like, “That was a pretty dumb comment, wasn’t it?”

People who know and are comfortable with me are more than willing to agree with me if I am right and they know that I had a momentary episode of verbal or mental diarrhea.  But there have been a few that try to save face themselves by telling me that they agree with what I have said.

In any case, I think that we should all learn to develop our BSDK (Bulls**t Detection Kit) and keep it handy and ready to use.   There is a lot of BS going around out there and the quicker we are to understand where to see is and how to respond to it, the better life is going to be for all of us.

Think about this too.  If one quarter of the population of the United States would start using a little BSDK on a regular basis, then we would not end up with so many idiots in politics.  I present that comment with no political bias… I direct it at BOTH sides equally.  The BS quotient for the current elected body is astronomical.

As always… thanks for reading…  all five of you.

Who has it in for Russia?

This is just a quick post regarding the recent meteor strike in the Urals.

First, and most seriously, my prayers to all those that were affected by the event.   This has to be something unimaginable to happen to someone, and I would not have any way to identify with those who were there and affected by the hit.

When I think of things like this, it seems odd.  We all understand that we are at the mercy of the earth for most disasters.  Wind, rain, floods, earthquakes, etc… we all know that these are possible calamities that could affect us, dependent on where we live.   But who expects a meteor strike?

I mean, it’s not like that is even something you can prepare or plan for.   There are no meteor impact kits or things like that to even make you feel like you could be prepared.

I am just glad for all those people there that this was only an air burst.  If that meteor had impacted the ground in one piece, at the speed it was traveling and the size it was, we would have been looking at a much different set of headlines.

If any of you that were affected by this event happen to stumble upon this page, you have my best wishes.

Are we dead yet?

So this is the day that the world is supposed to end.

If you are reading this, then it would appear that the Mayan’s were off a little or the joke was right, they simply ran out of room on the stone that they were using.  If the world has ended… then there is no one to read this and it does not matter anyway.

Have fun!

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