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Jul. 29th, 2015

04:16 pm - Inspection- Tough Talk about Guns

  As a gun owner, but not always in tune with some defenders of gun rights, after another theater shooting I braced myself for the obvious. And the obvious happened.
  Same old, same old talking points.
  We will never shoot our way, or psychiatric care, our way out of these things. Obviously regulating as much as some want is like closing the barn door centuries after the barn door was not only left open, but torn off the hinges and burned. But all limitations and regulations aren't necessarily ill-advised, and if you can't admit that, as I shall soon show, you're being intellectually dishonest. Unless you're ready to push for prisoners having loaded submachine guns, eight-year-olds having hidden, loaded, 357s in their classrooms.
 I expect little will change in our gun debates, but I do think we can change our attitudes, that's for damn sure.
 To start: guns are neither the solution, nor the main problem. It's our attitudes, our anger, our tendency to blame those we disagree with and to think guns are a "handy" solution to interpersonal problems, or groups we're inclined to blame for all we perceive as wrong. Sometimes, I swear, it's like society has become one huge elementary class where the "adults:" the teachers, like talk show hosts and pols, inspire such actions instead of behaving well. The big difference being this is an elementary class with guns and sometimes far less self control than an actual 5th grade class.
  Every time one of these events happens both sides accuse the other of politicizing the event, which would be slapstick funny if not for all the blood and gore. "Politicizing" is what people have every right do when they see an immediate danger to society.
  It's also called "free speech." I've noticed those who accuse rarely have problem with politicizing things when it's
convenient. Most of the time we have a right to: but somehow they always find time to say, "This is not the time..."
  Considering free speech the only answer to this would be some polite version of "Screw you." They have no more right to decide "the right time" than we do.
  A few observations...
  In many of these cases more guns will solve nothing, indeed far too often it will most likely make matters worse: especially in crowded, dark, theaters. If those familiar with guns are honest they will admit a good portion of the public rarely considers what they do before acting, are terrible shots, over react... all you have to do is go to youtube, or consider the many "watch the stupid people" video clip-based TV shows, to see how they behave. Having lived in an area where all kinds of folks came from out of town for hunting seasons, unfortunately, far too many left in boxes or body bags.
  The problem with The Darwin Awards is for every idiot who "wins" there seems to be even more stepping up to the stupid plate.
  But asking for any absolute absence of guns is like demanding less rain. Ever notice after one of these horrific events, and the rhetoric starts, gun purchases explode?
 And that's the source of our problem. The fact over the top has become the preferred method of spouting opinions and reacting to what we don't like, or agree
with. We already shout each other down constantly in what used to be civilized disagreements.
  But the biggest, most important, fact is all good people have the same interest: less of this. But for that to happen we have to start with the obvious: our attitudes towards guns and each other have to change. Yes, that will take time. But
otherwise: expect it all to get worse.
  Guns are tools.
  Any tool can be misused.
 Guns must be respected.
 People have a right to participate even if they disagree with you.
  While seemingly not connected, shouting each other down, refusing to see the other point of view, vilifying, blaming whole groups, passing Stand Your Ground-inspired laws: all of this only combines to create an environment where killing is seen as the one and only solution.

How blind we are to anything else is presented all too well by going to a church, attending services, discussing religion then standing up and declaring you have no other choice but to start shooting because "you people are the problem."
 In that I hear the echoes of talk show hosts and pols and other politically driven pundits. They are like cheerleaders: intentional, or not
  If our anger, and guns, continue to be viewed as the only, or the first go to, expect more theater shootings.
  And if the only answer to you is banning guns, confiscation or severe restrictions: good luck with any of that, and again, expect more theater shootings.

The next edition of Inspection is about the election circus, but the one after that features the same topic, only from a different angle: a bounce off a conversation I had on Facebook with an old neighbor, and friend, named Dean.

  Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2015
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jul. 9th, 2015

01:12 pm - Inspection- On Attempting to X Out of Xfinity

 Really this is a column about how business is done in America, how it has become "ScamAmerica." Xfinity, a Comcast company, is just an interesting example.
  There are certainly others: WalMart teaching employees get public assistance so they can pay poverty wage, while living on the dole themselves: relying on eminent domain, breaks in regulation and taxes, meanwhile using those breaks to sell so cheap they kill Mom and Pops, AT&T reps telling customers they'll get one price and when the bill comes in there's always fees, on fees, on fees... and odd charges like activating lines, or phones, already activated. Ironically it's the same charge to activate a totally new, extra, phone service as it is simply to switch to a new phone and keep the same old, same old.
  What was once capitalism has definitely become scam-a-lism. All due to the fact that anti-reg fanatics dominate our politics these days, and love to make us poorer in order to make the uber rich even more "uber."
  But Xfinity sure is one fascinating example. I think it may be paving the way to an even more, consumer unfriendly, form of scam-a-lism.
  I have never bought their services, and only used it once. It was a mistake. Had no idea who Xfinity was, or that they were Comcast: a company that recently rated as having the worst customer relations in a public survey.
  I was at a Wendys and Xfinity was the only server showing in a business location claiming to have free internet. I figured it was what this specific Wendys called their free internet. But it wasn't the "only," and it certainly wasn't free for all but the first hour. I found out later if you just keep refreshing the Wendys internet will be displayed along with several other services, then not displayed: just Xfinity, then displayed again, then not. It's like Xfinity is struggling to block you from seeing the other servers. Perhaps I shouldn't have typed "like?"
  Couldn't be, could it?
  After my first, and only, hour I would have had to pay for the service. I didn't. I left.
  Story over?
  No. The only thing I can figure is it downloaded something into my laptop because for months after that, wherever I went, it would favor Xfinity. If I asked the laptop to hook to Wendys, or McDonalds, even the library, it would try to hook up with Xfinity. This would happen after I had been on another server for an hour or so. Suddenly I found I could surf nowhere.
 (Anyone notice "surf" is rarely, if ever, used anymore? Did I just commit the crime of showing how ancient my net lingo is?)
  Back on topic, why had I lost my net? You've probably already guessed, yup, without being asked I had been switched to Xfinity.
  This happened several time while in libraries, and having five bars, Xfinity showing far less. Also at McD's, Wendys and Burger King.
  It's happened so much I can't imagine it not being intentional. Do the spooky Burger King, Wendy and Ronald now work for Xfinity? I doubt that. I suspect this is Comcast performing a form of digital, non-consensual, server user rape.
  Any company doing business like this needs to be fined, at best, dismembered if necessary. This is not 'free market," nor "capitalism."
  Other metaphors...
 Attempted connectivity murder? Server murder too, since they block other connections?
  This the kind of corporate criminal behavior that's the antithesis if "free enterprise," where other servers either have to step up and become as aggressive, or go out of business. We'd be like puppets passed back and forth, or better yet an abused woman who keeps falling in with abusive boyfriends.
  One cry over the years has been that we let the market take care of itself. Yet this is exactly one possible result of "leaving alone." And this is what would happen if something isn't done, legally, to limit, regulate, unfair business practices. Without such you can guarantee it would go downhill from here.
  It's also proof the most fanatical anti-reg folks are, at best, not just wrong... but completely whacked.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2015
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all rights reserved

Jun. 24th, 2015

01:22 pm - Inspection- On the Sheer Idiocy of Simplistic Literalism

Over my past 61 years of shifting from a Buckley conservative to more leftward in my views there’s been one constantly amusing spectacle: those who are so literal they basically must either be posing as, or actual, simpletons. Take for example Agnew’s somewhat clever, “nattering nabobs of negativism,” comment.
  Of course he didn’t write that, Safire did, but it was somewhat clever in an alliterative way. And though his targeting may have been off, way ahead of his time and way too convenient, the essence was right and very applicable today. Think that off? Well, look at the comment as applied these days…
  As we well know now in a time when some dare call FOX “news,” yes, indeedy, there are those who act as if they’re just objectively, professionally, assessing an administration’s doings, yet whose blatherings are actually focused on all things negative: some somewhat real, some imaginary, usually with an intent to thwart any goals that administration has, and another goal… to service in the grossest, quite socially perverse, sense certain extreme partisans.
  Which is why I find all the tittering coming from some on the Right regarding Obama using the “N” word, and his remark that racism is in our DNA, amusing.
  I swear sometimes these folks wouldn’t understand a meaningful metaphor if Goebbels, or the editors of Pravda, slayed a dragon called Speech right in front of them.
  But let’s take their kvetching at face value for now….
  Well, regarding those who suddenly, finally, all too conveniently find their voices regarding the use of “nigger,” it’s obvious their simplistic objections revolve around, and are only about, the word. Kind of like some think voting for Hillary is only about electing someone with female sex organs, or voting for Barack was only about brown skin.
  I’m sorry, Barack Obama was saying exactly what he should have been saying, as if he had been speaking to adults on an adult topic. But good way to prove that some of you haven’t reached that level of maturity yet.
  And all their lectures regarding what liberals “really think,” or “really feel,” are exposed by their puzzlement over why a word might be OK to use in one context, one setting, and not another, or why the left won’t vote for any woman, any black. In these cases it’s not the left being overly simplistic, it’s them. And they have come to believe in their own framing so much they have become like Lenin’s never actually said, or written, “useful idiots,” quote.
  Then you have the big, collective, baffle over the “racism is in our DNA” comment. I mean. do they really think Barack believes DNA is so readily altered? No, it’s a METAPHOR, morons! And it’s a damn good one. But to simplify for the syntax impaired, yes, considering our long history with the racism, slavery and its aftermath, it’s as if it was permanently planted in our DNA, and, as an aside, since there was so much hoochie screw-chie between the races from the start, it may even BE in our collective DNA in another, ironic, sense. Finding Americans who have no black in their makeup that “somehow” slipped in through slavery’s rape-y back door may be tougher than these simpletons think.
  That last comment was mine. I make no claim that Barack believes that.
  These folks are not abnormal. Well, correction, not “unusual,” historically speaking. There were those on the left in the 60s who claimed if they succeeded against the establishment peace, love, flowers and rainbows would would conquer all. We would would study war “no more.”
 Even many friends I had on the left thought most of them were “airheads.”
 Unfortunately we were right. Instead the Right predictably regrouped and used these same kind of simpletons, who exist on the left and right, and used hatred over Nixon and leaving Nam to continue the killing, feed the machine.
  How much do we hear of “peace” now?
  Ending all war?
  What frightens me, as it did then, is the power of the sheer ignoramus idiocy of simplistic literalists. Snow means global climate change is a fallacy? Not going to war means we will lose our freedoms? Going to war, bombing, torturing are the ONLY answers? Privatization solves all… big business always, “yabba dabba do,” government efforts always on the (bed)rocks?
 Even Fred Flintstone is smarter than that, and he’s a cartoon.
  If enforced political correctness rules to the point you can’t even use a word to refer to the problems created by the usage of that word…
  if the kind of people who think God literally created everything in seven days 6,000 years ago are allowed to take over the media’s narrative, pushing without question the kind of literalism that destroy true context…
  Common sense, common decency and decent conversation might become as extinct as the creatures Fred Flintstone’s pet, Dino, was based on.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2015
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all rights reserved

Jun. 19th, 2015

12:50 pm - Inspection: Another Turner Diaries Inspired Mass Shooting?

  Let's be clear. Right now, as of the day I wrote this, there's no proof our shooter at the Charleston church ever read Turner. But Turner Diaries inspired?
  Given the wider view, I would say, "Yes." And Dylann Storm Roof's cry as he shot person after person that blacks were taking over the country, raping children and therefore had to be murdered only underlines the possibility. Being a supposed "singular" act also reinforces the underlined possibility and puts it in bold. The fact, according to friends, he wanted to start a "race war," is pure Turner Diaries-like.
  There's no evidence yet he belonged to some Turner-based cell. But there wouldn't be. Southern Poverty says they weren't aware of the murderer. Having had arguments with a representative of Southern Poverty on this topic a few years ago, let me just say the rep went way out her way to avoid connecting any obvious dots.
 Ironically, in Turner, rights groups and the government did the same, thinking not mentioning the possibilities dis-empowers them. Didn't work so well, at least in fiction... and I think in reality too.
  James Holmes: shooter at the Colorado theater, nothing has been mentioned.
  The shooters in Connecticut: the same.
  So how can I make this claim?
 By connecting the dots. You can too if you read, and understand the true intent, the real nature, of The Turner Diaries.
  Let's see if any of this seems familiar...
  The movement is broken into tiny, independent cells that go across the country creating havoc: blowing up power plants, shooting up churches; the goal is not always "liberals," or "blacks," "Jews," "Hispanics," "Immigrants..." The goal is to keep the government busy by creating chaos, and try to pit different groups against each other.
  Most of these evil acts that eventually bring down the government, and start a race war of sorts, are committed by one or two people. They are expendable and set up for deniability. Meanwhile recruiting in the military and among police certainly is not out of bounds.
  The memes intentionally put forth in Turner by the cells, and bought into by the media and many in the government, are: if anyone is held responsible for these acts it's only the individual... not any cell, group, writer or hate filled, violence-inspiring talking head. However, if the target is white, fundamentalist, Christian then it's the fault of society, the whole group, liberals and the "fact" that society hasn't completely bought into their nightmarish version of vengeful, hate-filled, "Christianity."
  Oh, and keeping people at each others throats is another goal, create a race war, encourage chaos. So more guns in dark theaters, churches?
  Blaming it all on some war on Christianity?
  Triple check.
  Whatever it takes.
  Fans of Turner must be gleeful at the constant shootings, choking, beatings and the increasing general militaristic, occupying army sense to it all. If their final solution, Turner Diaries wet dream, comes true, I tend to wonder how many police will stay on the right side? And how many excuse makers, like on FOX, are enabling this kind of terrorism, perhaps intentionally?
The Turner Diaries; fictional piece of vile trash, makes Hitler and his "merry" men look merciful, in comparison. In the end, when they win, everyone not an extreme white Christian Conservative Fundamentalist is hung, shot or otherwise butchered. This also includes relatives of, and their children who are considered the fruit of bad seed. They are all lined up across the country and hung from light poles, shot in the head as they beg for their life, insist on their innocence. Intellectuals are targeted, college professors exterminated. Blacks, and people of color in general, would find the worst slave masters "kind," in comparison.
  This is the writer's idea of a "happy ending?"
  Maybe Turner has little to nothing to do with all of this. But I find it more than ironic, and quite frightening, that regardless: all seems to be proceeding "as planned."

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2015
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jun. 13th, 2015

07:06 am - Inspection- Strawman Memes

Meme: in this case I mean one of those billboard/poster-like items we make on sites like memegenerator.net, and most often posted on Facebook.
Strawman: I am referring to an artificial, filled with little more than straw, argument... the kind of simplistic arguments used in these memes that offer false comparisons, or a lack of logic, common sense. They often use simplistic talking points intended to get folks defending the indefensible.

 Here's the meme that inspired this column...

I am going to assume Margaret actually said this and it wasn't taken way out of context, only because it serves the point I'm trying to make here. So Hillary, according to this, must obviously agree with anything, and everything, Margaret Sanger ever said, which in some cases I'm guessing some on the right might be a tad mum about too. After all, it was Margaret who referred to abortion as, at best, a terrible form of birth control.
 Couldn't use that quote, eh? Doesn't quite suit the partisan purpose of vilifying Hillary, pre-2016, does it?
 How do we know this kind of comparison, this method of framing, is a strawman, and offers bogus reasoning? Well...
 Let's use our Wayback, fellow Sherman and Peabodys, and go back a ways to Ayn Rand: holy mother of libertarianism. Yes: I'm practicing a tad hyperbole there too, but it's only meant in good fun. It is claimed that Rand's main character, John Galt, was based, in part, on William Hickman, a horrendous, murderous beast who, in one case, kicked the body parts of a father's dead daughter out of his car after getting his ransom from the girl's father. "Kicked them out" while the father was watching, having just provided the ransom to Hickman. You see he had taken her apart and then temporarily sewed her back together with the purpose of doing just this, as he laughed at the sheer joy of the moment.

 Libertarians, and Ayn Rand: pro kidnapping, pro dissecting a human while she's still alive, pro murder for fun and profit?
 Unfair, you say? Damn straight it is. But it's no more "unfair" than taking a pro Sanger comment and assuming that means whomever said it approved of everything she said, or did. If we are to accept the premise that saying something positive about someone means that person is responsible, in agreement with, everything and anything that "someone" ever said, ever did, well, slamming Rand for Hickman is just as justified.
 Ronald Reagan promoted cigarettes, so obviously he must have loved cancer, enjoyed the fact that people died from them, right? Maybe he even had death from cancer porn he watched on a daily basis. Hey, if Hillary saying something positive means she loves everything about Sanger, then saying something positive about cigarettes could be used as proof positive too. Indeed, he not only said positive things about cigarettes, he was also a willing, paid, spokesperson. So that would make him a tobacco whore?

 Do I think that? Hell, no.
 Even worse, Bush Senior, and Ronnie, supported, helped fund and train, a group of "gentle" folks in the 80s who were, supposedly, like our forefathers, one of whom was bin Laden, and quite a few who either became part of the Taliban, or al Qaeda.
 Yes, our forefathers would have heartily recommended striking the towers on 9/11.

John McCain pushed for funding a group he declared, indeed guaranteed, were moderates, many of who became ISIS. Part of the funding for ISIS came from McCain's efforts. And then he turned and blamed the result on Obama.
 Like Osama funded al Qaeda: John McCain, the financial father of ISIS?
 Do I believe any of this? Well, I do believe these folks may not have thought out what they did, made mistakes... just as Hillary has made mistakes, not thought out some of what she's said.
 John McCain: helping to fund beheadings for fun and political profit!

But that's actually the opposite of my point here. "Point" being, you can take the words of any person, like the Hillary meme maker did, and think: smugly, you're making some valid point. But... you're not.
 Do I make the claim the right is only guilty of this? Hell, no. This is the problem with politics all across the board these days. Instead of rational, reasonable, thoughtful debate, we have hyperbolic framing that relies on strawmen: trying to make people defend the indefensible.

Do I claim to be pure in this regard?
 Double, "Hell, no."
 But if Hillary Clinton saying something positive about Margaret Sanger means she supports everything Sanger ever said, then an equal claim could be made that Sarah Palin saying positive things about the Duggars means she supports everything every member of the family did, and as important, didn't do.
 If Hillary Clinton saying something positive about Margaret Sanger means she supports everything Sanger ever did, then just as "logical" an assumption would be that Mitt Romney keeping a dog on the roof of the family car for many, many miles means Mitt Romney is pro puppy torture. I suspect some meme maker could take something he said out of context and use it to show he would cheerfully support tossing excess puppies and kittens into a woodchipper.

Courtesy whisper.sh

 Of course these claims are not just beyond sheer and utter nonsense. If they aren't slander, they sure as hell approach something once called "slander:" something we rarely, if ever, prosecute these days as we increasingly worship at the altar of the nastiest forms of hyperbole.
 I started writing this because I realized someone needs to point out the almost mindless wrongness of it all. I knew people needed to visually see just how easy it is to turn the tables on those who attempt this nonsense. I also wanted to give a not so soft nudge to those who repost these things without thinking, hoping they might be able to consider how posting these things might be problematic, at best. Doesn't matter if it's Hillary, Rush Limbaugh, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, Ann Coulter or Ayn Rand. Who the target is isn't important to the point I'm making. What is important is this kind of framing contributes worse than nothing to our need for rational debate regarding the important issues of the day, and does everything to help distract from such.
 Hence this edition of Inspection

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2015
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jun. 8th, 2015

03:31 pm - Inspection- The Assassination of Pope Francis

Watch your back, Francis.
  You do know what happened to the last pope who was perceived as more "liberal," right?
  Of course, if that's all there was: and nothing was ever proven than he died naturally, these words would mean nothing, except pushing a conspiracy theory.
  Except if you look at the long list of leaders who have been assassinated since I have been alive: 61 years, it would be hard to make the case that even a minor number of them have been more tilted towards "conservative." Now there are caveats for each and every one. There always are. Oswald was supposedly a commie: a convenient claim, especially for the time. Yes, there are oddities that make that claim suspicious, as there pretty much are with King, RFK, X...
  But you know how that goes. Damn conspiracy theorists, blah, blah, blah... And we know, despite government being terrible at damn near everything, when it comes to finding the non-political-based, perfect, reasons for what happened, they are never, ever, wrong. And it's just a plus that the reasons are pretty bloody politically convenient. One lone nutjob assassin, or one group of theocratically incorrect fanatics, that's all.
  Move along.
  I am a firm believer that whatever is the most convenient story to tell for those in power will be the one told and the one enforced through social shaming. That doesn't mean it's always wrong. Indeed I think there's often more truth than not. But I also believe there's always more we don't know, no matter how honest that story may be, or seem to be.

  But just considering the long list of inconvenient folks who have been assassinated, victims of those who can be used for political gain by the right, I would watch my back, my front and my sides, Francis.
  When I was young, Francis, my family was politically active on the right, and we knew a lot of like minded folks who wished people dead. They were angry: specifically at them, and expressed pleasure when JFK was assassinated, RFK, King...
  I'm sure you and I would disagree as much as we agree if we sat down for a beer, or a beer and a sip of holy water. Yet I certainly wish you no ill, just as I didn't wish past, more conservative, popes ill. I wish you only the best. But, to be crude, and I hope you take no offense, I'm guessing you're pissing off a lot of the wrong people right now.
 And, in my lifetime, I've noticed when they get mad somehow some of the most horrific, sadistic, evil wishes come true.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2015
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

May. 30th, 2015

07:55 pm - Inspection- Humanity’s Greatest, “Best-est,” Companions

 Sorry feline fans, but no cat can compare. Yes, I admit: I have a prejudice here.
 Dogs have been with us since we became sentient. I’m sure they were attracted to our camp fires, or our warm caves; maybe both? They are scavengers, but kind ones… mostly. And they love being part of the pack. Doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, hippie-like, a racist, left, right, atheist, cult leader… dogs just want to be with you, play with you, share the joy of life with you.
 How many times did we have to take Batmutt, our last pup, back to our porch, to remind him, and his companion Frankincense the collie, to “stay,” when we had to leave? Dogs so want to go everywhere, anywhere, with us.
 Batmutt, the Don Quixote of dogs, died the day before I started writing this. For many, many months, maybe half a year he slowly slipped from that well loved, windmill seeking, noise box who would challenge leaves when they moved, bite sea waves, spin in circles, into being, oh, so silent.
 He was called “Batmutt” because I commented, when we got him, that if you put wings on him he’d look like a bat.
 Maybe now he has wings?
 At least the pup who tried to bully the collie, chased the cats, went after wild beasts ten times his size, but shook in fear during storms, “isn’t afraid of thunder anymore,” as Millie just said to when she found his thunder vest today as we cleaned. This marketing wonder worked… somewhat.
 We were never quite sure, nor was the vet, what was wrong. At first we thought it was kidney damage that started this long slide into dog hell. He had just gotten off a long round of conquering heartworms when, for some unknown reason, his treatment failed him. But then he started shaking, going into spasms and collapsing, and the doctors thought maybe it was a nerve condition that comes with old age that started it all.
 We were force feeding him, using hydration fluid bought from the vet at our almost weekly visits. He would get better, better, then slide back into that deep pit that had grown even deeper. We were using an eyedropper to get even more water into him, feeding him baby food with meat. In the end it was a fight to feed him anything, a fight we all lost.
  As owners many of us have had to euthanize our dogs. Millie and I had to have it done to Frankincense last year. If we had known Batmutt wouldn’t improve over all it that would have been better than all he went through. Indeed, in some cases, if humans were wiser, and more trustworthy, maybe, in certain cases, it would be better for us too.
 Spending months on his back, bloated, was no way for my uncle to die.
  Seven years of getting, oh, so close to the edge of from death cancer was no way for my mother to go.
  Being taken apart due to severe burns and diabetes no way for my father to pass.
 Depite all the claims about “letting God decide,” that are somewhat beside the point because we do “decide” when we use drugs, antibiotics, operations, intravenous fluids, radiation… I sincerely think we are less accepting of helping others go because we simply don’t, even can’t, trust each other. Even worse: sometimes because our more corrupt nature favors using everything, anything, to gain political and social advantage over each other.
  Are we really a “sentient” species?
 I admit I find it impossible to accept the concept that any deity worth worshiping would grant us the ability to think, to imagine, to find ways to save lives, or do the humane thing and help our pets let go, who would also demand our loved ones must needlessly suffer when the outcome is so obvious, the torment so real.
 We need to find our way to being able to offer the same kind of kindness to each other that we offer our pets. If only we can get beyond our darker nature and dogma. And maybe if we can find our way past our own failings we will find ourselves closer to truly loving each other, as the most popular prophet in human history pleaded for us to do.
 I admit, it so very hard, indeed almost impossible, to make that decision, even when it’s a pet.
 Batmutt was really Millie’s dog. I’m the collie guy, always have been. I felt bad for Frankincense the collie in our former two dog house. How does a bigger pup compete with a hug-able, fur covered, all too needy, hyper, lap lying, teddy bear that small dogs are? It’s almost as if lap dogs are born with a wife magnet inside.
 Maybe I should be thankful, considering whom she married? I’ve shed most of my “fur,” like my beard. Hopefully that matters less than one might think.
 In the end I think Batmutt passing hurt me as much as it did Millie.
  Dogs have been sharing our lives for so many times. They have been discover in digs hugged by their owners during their final moments: Pompeii. They prove we can get beyond our partisan nonsense, our thinking that if someone doesn’t agree, or isn’t like us, there must be someone wrong with them.
 If only we could be more like them, and less like our deeply dark, and very bloody, side.
 One of my more recent fascinations was a muse in a book I read where, a few years after a dog dies, a child walks up and says something to the former master that makes him think when pets die maybe they return as humans, and maybe even find ways to thank us.
 If even highly unlikely, how fascinating, how just, might it be if we return as pets to people who treat us just like we treated our pets. That would be, not just a repeating circle, but both a possible blessing, and a warning, a curse to be fulfilled for the cruel, the sadistic.
 I’m not claiming I believe any of this. But I would hope, if true, when we do find each other again and again, we heal old wounds, re-teach forgotten lessons, keep filling each other with more love: for we are all leaking, broken, cups.
 Another muse: what if we are already at that final destination so many faiths believe in? What if the lives we live here: dogs and humans, are but mere reflections of who we really are, images from some endlessly deep, eternal, celestial pool?
 Maybe none of this is true. Maybe there’s no “after,” If so, here’s to making this a better place for each other during the brief time we, and even briefer time our non-human family members, are here.
 Whatever the truth is, I have no doubt dogs are our greatest, “best-est,” companions, and they absolutely help us, love us, while they share this trail we all must travel.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2015
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

May. 25th, 2015

09:15 am - Inspection- Feeding the Monster: A Short Cautionary Tale

 Here's a short, short story I have written, and rewritten, many times. After all who died in our wars this reminds us there are other ways to lose what they felt they were fighting for. So, somehow, I imagine this story well suited to present to you, my readers, this Memorial Day...

Feeding the Monster
by Ken Carman

  Once there was a land where a tale was told of a monster who stole away freedom, ate it up like other fables told of creatures who ate children, trolls who lived under bridges who did unspeakable things to those who dared to pass over those bridges. One might argue "the monster who stole away freedom" was the lead monster: he who helped all the others commit their horrible acts.
  The people were rightfully afraid of the monster, and were kept so by those who warned others not to hold on too tightly to too many rights or they would not be able to protect them from the monster. They pointed here, there, saying, "See, he's close, just around the corner, over here, over there. You need to give us enough power to protect you."
  So they kept giving them their rights so they could be protected. But it seemed the more they gave, the worse the danger became.
  Soon the monster was all too real, and freedom was no more. People who objected disappeared, people the monster didn't like were not allowed to defend themselves, the innocent were found guilty, the all to convenient guilty weren't prosecuted, people had no privacy. Tyranny ruled the land.
  As the people suffered, they cried out, "Who gave you the right?"
  The monster smirked and said, "Why, you did," then ate all those who complained.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2015
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

May. 21st, 2015

02:50 pm - Inspection- No, the World is NOT "Safer Without Saddam Hussein"

  We should well remember how freedom would supposedly "ring" if we took down Saddam. How, if we didn't, we'd have a mushroom cloud. The future leader of Israel even claimed taking out Saddam would do amazing, wonderful, miraculous things for the Mideast.
  And still we listen to such "wisdom?"
  Obviously Saddam and "freedom" were not even close to synonyms. I would type "antonyms," except it's becoming increasingly obvious what will replace what replaced him will be the real "antonym." And what the previous administration set up might have been marginally better than Saddam, but possibly less competent than the results of Vietnamization.
  It shouldn't even have to be typed out on my keyboard that damn near no one liked Saddam, or that it's obvious he was, for years, considered by Republican, and Democratic, leaders of this country to be, "An a-hole, but OUR a-hole."
  "Hey, let's sell him poison gas and shake his hand, there's a 'good' idea!"
  The fact I have to keep typing these caveats to "protect" myself from sneering jerks shows just how partisan-ly sick we are becoming, and why we can't have civilized discussion in this country.
  People accuse others a lot of demanding political correctness, of trying to make everything political. "Funny" thing is those who do the accusing seem to demand political correctness the most, do more politicizing of everything than those they accuse.
  How dare Barack Obama mention a black child looks like he could be his child because, well, he's black! He should shut the hell up! Be... essentially... more... "politically correct."
  How we talk about Saddam is a prime example. You can't even write or talk honestly without having to use all these caveats regarding what any idiot knows: Saddam was a bad man. Duh.
  But if you don't every conversation turns into pure mock.
  No, the world is not "safer without Saddam." If it had been, basically, ice cream, candy and rainbows after, as promised... or if the whole Mideast vastly improved as a certain war monger in Israel promised years ago, OK. But it didn't. Not even close. And many of us said it wouldn't, knew it wouldn't. We were mocked back then. Now we've been proven right they just shift how they mock.
 Dontcha just "love" political correctness lectures from those who insist on, indeed demand, their brand of it damn near at the same time?
  And what has made it all worse is how far down the less freedom, hellish, rabbit hole, the same mockers have taken us since then.
  None of this made Saddam "nice," or someone I would prefer leading Iraq.
  See? I'm still offering caveats, running over old news, having to reinforce what people should know, should remember. That's how strong lies that are repeated over and over are. How strong "he wouldn't let the inspectors in," followed up by strange counter intuitive, contradicting, claim, "he kicked them out" was.
  Goebbels' metaphorical progeny thrive in America.
  If there had been any massive nuclear program that would have been paraded past the world's cameras by now. Ditto about all that massive amount of WMD. The only "parading of proof" has been about an old shell with some very dated remnants of mustard gas Saddam told us about.
  You know this to be true. No one would seriously claim those who pushed this war were ever shy about "catapulting the propaganda." Hell, their propaganda in chief wasn't "shy" about letting that phrase slip out, or about mocking the soldiers searching for WMD, and dying.
  Not surprised he said it. Not at all. I'm sure sometimes the actual truth must have slipped out of Goebbels' piehole occasionally too.
  And the results of the changes to our country due to this dishonest misadventure have been horrific. Our very sense of what freedom is has morphed from it's OK to throw suspected combatants into concentration camps, to taking an accused American citizen from an airport, torturing him and turn him into a vegetable... then convict someone unable to defend themselves from not being a bionic glow worm from the planet Grogspit. And, finally, it has "taken us" to where a potential candidate for president, one Lindsey Olin Graham, can suggest he'll run on a platform where if any citizen even thinks of joining ISIS: no judge, no jury, his house should be droned. No mention of protecting any children or spouse inside. No mention of proving he, or she, was "thinking of joining the "evildoers."
 "Run" and the mainstream media yawns. No one in his party publicly says, "Now wait a minute..."
  We love freedom so much we're willing to murder anyone we can claim might have been thinking of such things? And their spouse? And their children?
  It's so damn obvious the world isn't "safer" without Saddam. If not for our foolish adventure there would be no ISIS. Al Qaeda would not have become like a colony of termites getting wood over finding a fresh wood feast called "Iraq."
  No, the world is not more free, or "safer," without Saddam.
  Not even close.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
©Copyright 2015
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

May. 11th, 2015

02:43 pm - Inspection- Of Beer, Wine and Society

I've been pouring through Denny Conn's book on experimental brewing. We started homebrewing in 1979. Books on homebrewing these days are light years beyond what they used to be, but I'm not writing this to dis old home brewing books. Let's be honest: without them many of us early birds would have missed the worm.
  Hey, I'm experimental, but worms in beer? Ewe.
  One part of Denny's book was quite fascinating beyond homebrewing. Denny wrote about studies that offered wine tasters samples of wine, some from high priced, very well respected, wine bottles. Another had tasters comment on various samples of dark beer. The control being it was all the same wine, and all the same beer, some with food coloring added.
  Even professionals were fooled.
  Tasters offered descriptors one would expect for fine wine or dark beer. Roastiness and esters were found in beer samples that, in reality, weren't there. "Fine" wine presented that way was perceived as superior.
 Visual and mental cues easily deceive. I would argue dogma, political/social skews and preconceptions are like the food coloring, or the fine wine bottles, used to make some some pretty horrible opinions and policies palatable. As Jonestown proved years ago, some folks will prefer poison if it's presented in deceptive ways.
  As a beer judge I've noticed how easily opinion can be skewed. After the quiet time when two judges assess a beer, we'll discuss an entry. Often one judge will claim to have found something the other didn't find. What's the result? The other judge: the one who didn't "find," will reassess and far too often find what may not be there at all.

Visual cues contribute: "gushers," or those with a lot of sediment, or "floaters," are assumed to be infected, or have some defect. Even though the object is to use all senses: independently, before a conclusion is reached, like the tasters with the food coloring, or wine from a expensive bottle, one can be too easily led astray.
How does this apply to politics, to society?
 Accusation, framing and spin are like the food coloring, the cheap wine bottles, of life. But they work. Step back and think. Ever notice how many of the same accusations leveled at one administration are often leveled at the next administration? Doesn't seem to matter what party was voted in. One might assume they're all corrupt, but it's more likely all this framing is food coloring, poor wine in expensive bottles. Really, does anyone think Rush Limbaugh, or Rachael Maddow, are objective when it comes to packaging opinions on Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, atheists, agnostics or theists?
 How much are you willing to pay for the Brooklyn Bridge again?
  In my short 61 years I've noticed the number of well paid cheerleaders who are merely out to defend or accuse strictly according to political labels has increased. It's their job to put the food coloring in the beer, to put the fine wine in the cheap bottle. They poison the Kool Aid. And the more outrageous they get, the better paid they are, the more broadcasting time, or ink, digital space, they get..

It becomes all about who can deceive the best, the most. Who can "do your thinking for you."
 Although I find the claim too often becomes disingenuous, I understand the concept when people claim it's just "humor," or "entertainment." When Bill O'Reilly attacks a certain group, or person, is it all that surprising? I'm sure you could say the same about Ed Schultz. To me, using a wider camera lens, it seems this form of "entertainment" is not unlike a verbal form of the Roman games. Sometimes it can be just as bloody when people with problems take the demonizing to heart and try to solve it all with guns, knives or bombs.
 Backing off enough to see the "big picture," is this supposed form of "humor," this kind of entertainment, really good for society? I doubt it. Perhaps we need less spitballs from a distance, and more consensus? I admit: consensus is tough sometimes, even in judging beer.
 But that's one of the things I love about the best judging. Despite what we individually sense, or think, at the end we have to come to a consensus score within a certain number of points. The sheets can show just how different two or three people can be when judging any entry.
 Perhaps when pundits speak they should have warnings, like on cigarette packages, before and after they speak...

"The opinions and supposed 'facts' presented in this program may not be facts, or honest opinions, at all. They may be intentionally manipulative, even break any BS meter due to too high a reading."

They used to have something like that for discussion panels, "The opinions expressed here..."
 These days most discussion panels I've had the pleasure of turning off only seem to serve to feed flames of hate; all left, all right, or the worst: some marginally opposite panelist who gets run over by the rest, or their mic potted down level-wise compared to the rest.
 Again: is any of that, "...really good for society, considering? I doubt it."
  Whether beer, social and political issues, it also comes down to balance. Relying on watching, or listening to, only our own, personal, skewed rhetorical nirvanas is like a Stout with way too much roasted barley in the recipe: harsh... or a pale ale with tons of hops that were boiled for hours, and hours: bitter, astringent.
  And that's how I would define much of our social discourse these days: intentionally "harsh" and "bitter." "Harsh" and "bitter" may make a lot of money, but is it good for us? No, nor is the fact that real balanced: not some "fair and balanced" marketing phrase, social discourse has fallen out of favor. No coincidence: so has respect for anyone not perceived to be more like us.
  I find good judging an adventure where we learn from each other. We discover more than what one person's palate may perceive, and adjust as much as we can to our differences.
 If only we could find that in our social discourse.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2015
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

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