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Feb. 4th, 2016

07:46 pm - Inspection- Roller Coaster

There’s a lot of personal information in here, but most of it leads to a point that I think will help others, and bring new perspective to politics, that bully boss, or fellow employee who can’t stand you… and life in general.

  Why is it we recognize certain truths only when the journey is so much closer to the end than it is to the beginning? I was so sensitive as a youth the moment things went south I just “knew” everyone thought me the fool, that something had to be seriously wrong with me and nothing I could ever do would change that.
 Poor self image feeds into itself, like cancer it can be terminal when not cared for. Depression is its own fertilizer and could be considered the only perpetual motion machine ever, if there was any actual motion, or machine.
 And there are always those all too willing to help; family members, older brothers or sisters, playground bullies.
 I should have recognized this when a kid I didn’t know picked a fight with me in elementary school and one of the members of the crowd I’d never met cheered him on with, “Kill him! I hate that kid!”
 I put my fists down and said, “This is stupid,” and just walked away.
 But even into my teens I dealt with poor self image, and what was it that highly respected philosopher, Bart Simpson, said about teens?

“Ah, depressing teenagers: like shooting fish in a barrel!”

 It took me years to recognize that our perceptions of what people really think are often deeply flawed, especially when it’s someone we disagree with, or don’t understand. And the normal highs and lows of life don’t help, except “help” those who enjoy pushing others around.
‘ Life is a roller coaster. We take the lows too personally, and lay claim to causing the highs far too often. We also dismiss any lessons either can teach us far too easily. Perceived blame becomes a cancer, destroying relationships with ourselves and others. You have those in the back of the coaster cars pointing and laughing at those headed down in the front car, and those in the front beating on themselves, asking, “What did I do wrong THIS time?”
 From Ronald Reagan and Bush, to Bill Clinton, to the more eventful sequel: Bush II, and then on to Obama… no matter what you believe, politically, life’s roller coaster effect is so obvious. Anyone who lived through the sixties should be able to attest to this.
 Because our perspectives are so different, we are each at a different point in the ride.
  Politics, especially as practiced these days, encourages this angst. And even more so than us regular folks, politicians: almost by their very nature, often think it’s all about them.
 It’s not. Never was.
 I look back at my 62 years, all the presidents, all the wars we thought would never end, the assassinations, AIDS, how gays were used to win elections and then, in what seemed a snap of the fingers, politically, it became politically unacceptable to opposing them getting married: all can fit into this roller coaster metaphor.
 There have been times when most of the drama was over actual issues, rather than personal insults. It was about more than “I hate that kid I really don’t know: hit him!” But, unfortunately, they seem fewer and fewer. Single issue politics make it worse. It’s far easier to be that bully so that anyone not against, or for, legalized abortion is evil.
 Some describe how we view such things as black and white, but I think it’s more like where they take old pictures, or movies, and do a REAL bad job of adding color. This kind of politics are so destructive
 Yet, there certainly are those who enjoy all this, those who truly get their pleasure out of being sadistic. They love how Facebook enables their snarky, ad hominem name calling, debate sites enable their non-debating “talents.” They use all that to cheer up their tiny, sad, depressed, self hate-filled, lives. They get great pleasure out of being being sock puppets, trolls, out of turning posts into something never said, then blaming what they did on the poster.
 Unfortunately I have found the only thing most respect, what causes them to back off, is hitting them with the same nasty snark they so freely spew all over on everyone else.
  Perhaps, being so much closer to the end of the ride than the beginning, some of this is cynicism on my part. So I enjoy as much as I can. Since none of us chose to be here, as life’s clown car gets more erratic the speed keeps increasing, days flash by faster and faster… beautiful vistas still fly by, as do more slowly passing days I’d rather not repeat.
  I guess no matter how bad it gets, the secret to it all is letting go and enjoying the ride.

       The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
       Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it.
       Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
       But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.

       The secret of love is in opening up your heart.
       It’s okay to feel afraid, but don’t let that stand in your way.
       Cause anyone knows that love is the only road.
       And since we’re only here for a while, might as well show some style. Give us a smile.

       Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
       try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.

               -Secret O’ Life, by James Taylor

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 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 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jan. 22nd, 2016

09:52 am - Inspection- How Hitler Could Come to America

 One of the most frequently asked question asked is, "How come Hitler?" Looking back, from our perspective, it does seem a puzzle. Some of that is answered by as anti-Semitic as Germany was, it's not like he ran on a, "let's exterminate the Jews," platform from the start. Another answer refers to how Nazism's excesses, or the public's awareness of them, came on slowly, the old "first they came for the..." and slow to boil frog analogies seem quite fitting here. Add to this how inspiring, upbeat, Hitler was. He did lift Germany up economically. He did fix infrastructure, build new roads, get big industry back on what eventually became fascistic feet. Who was impressed? Well. the British prime minister at the time was so impressed, when he visited, he proudly took away a signed portrait. Underneath all this the frog, of course, was getting hotter and hotter.
 Unmentioned, however, is one of the most likely, most powerful, and very scary, explanations. Looked at uncritically, yet logically, it simply made sense economically. I'll leave the more current comparisons; then the finger pointing, the inevitable framing, to my readers.
 You have to look back at the nightmare that was the 1930s: a worldwide depression. Compared to post WWI Germany the rest of the world's economic picture may have seemed slightly more rosy. Franklin Roosevelt winning was a bit of an anomaly if you only consider policy. In a time when businesses were dying,
unemployment horribly high and Wall Street beyond panic, the idea of holding the "royalists" feet to the fire must have seemed counter intuitive. Spending a lot of money on public works programs certainly must have seemed like tossing good money at make work programs, and over taxing a public already in distress: just the opposite of what the situation required.
 Whereas National Socialism, which offers a hand in hand, big business friendly, approach would seem quite attractive: more business therefore more jobs from the private sector.
 Never you mind who was pushing it. That's hindsight. A lot of his excesses were yet to be revealed. Like supporters assaulting someone who dares question the almighty Trump, just gloss over, or shrug at, the Brownshirt-like bullies beating on people. Just remember the fact that Hitler sucked Germany in with his upbeat approach at first. There were no, "let's experiment on those with infirmities until they die horrible deaths," slogans.
 Helping to propel this: hate and blame. The Jews, those who were a "burden," immigrants, the gays, Germans framed as unpatriotic; not really "true" Germans, they were to all to blame for the not so fine mess Germany was in. Hating them, getting rid of them, not letting them in, was legitimized. The economic hell that was Germany had become a nation-sized, nitroglycerin volatile, ammunition dump, hate the gasoline poured, politicians, like Hitler, were matches.
 Meanwhile, back in America, there have been many predictions of economic hell coming soon, maybe as soon as this year. I tend to be skeptical. I find doomsayers tend to have almost the same poor record for accuracy as those who predict when Jesus will return riding his mythical Puff the Magic Dragon-like dinosaur.
 But if they're right, if the timing is just right, this could be the year we choose between a more Roosevelt-like direction, or more Hitler.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 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 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jan. 15th, 2016

12:51 pm - Inspection- A Brief History

Over the years I've done a few "brief" introductions to this column, but more outros once I moved away, or early on in the history of Inspection when I was about to graduate and it was the end of the school year. What you will read here is a rewrite of a 2005 edition I wrote when the website I was on went dark and the owner of another site told me he wanted my weekly Inspection column on his site.

So I thought maybe the best way to start my regular editions in 2016, since 2005 was the last overview, was to reintroduce my column. Why? Because Inspection has spread far beyond its once limited net home in 2005.

Inspection is a column I have been writing, off and on, for over 40 years. The first edition appeared in The Marplot Stamp, a publication of Mohawk Valley Community College. The year was 1972. Still a conservative at the time I had an idea for a more local: Utica, NY, version of William F. Buckley's column On the Right. Since then it has appeared in various publications including, but not limited to, publications at Plattsburgh State, Belmont University, an occasional newspaper. Usually it would be a special one off edition: sometimes labeled Inspection, sometimes not. I wrote Inspection under my own father's column name several times: From the Hermitage, when he was in a burn unit in Syracuse. I kept my own format, other than the name.
  What would I have missed if I hadn't boldly gone where this Ken Carman had never gone before? Well, I would have missed annoying the hell out of many of the severely anal enforcers of what can only be framed as "overly politically correct." That's left and right.
  If I hadn't walked in that day I would have missed my editor begging the manager of the local Dominos not to sue us. Dominos used to be a very small chain: not nationwide, and there was one in Plattsburgh. A certain columnist, in a column about college life, complained about the "free quart of soda" promised that never arrived at the student's doors in my dorm. No, that wasn't the problem. That I would have understood: despite overwhelming anecdotal evidence, and many students agreeing with my assessment, I wouldn't have been able to prove no soda ever arrived with any one order.
  The problem, according to my editor, was my comment after that: "But who cares about glue-like cheese, cardboard-like crust and a sauce to rival Chef Boyardee? Some dare call it 'pizza.'"
  The manager told my editor, "Why would I sue you? I've had more people come in to try pizza since you published that than before."
Damn! Am I responsible for Dominos still selling something marginally more like pizza? Curses, tinfoil-like crust foiled again.
 Since then, I have to admit, it has improved. It's no longer that bad. Not quite. Maybe close, but not quite. Let me get out my molecule measuring ruler.
 I did wonder, at the time, had my editor ever heard of a food, or restaurant, critic?
 As I changed, and shifted, politically, if I had stopped writing the column I would have missed the outrage at my support for Ted Kennedy's candidacy. To be honest I had issues with Carter at the time: most specifically the phony Rose Garden strategy. He should have come out and talked health care as once promised, instead of hiding. Carter really could be his own worst enemy, unlike me.
  But this was minor compared to the bigger than solar flare hot, hot air-based, anger over another comment. Having just moved to Tennessee I wrote about how much I loved my new home, I just really wished public works would pick up all the dead, run over, rotting in mid-day sun, dogs. Then I added that "driving over smeared schnauzer offers terrible traction."
  WOW! The "how dare you damned Yankees come down here and lecture us!!!!!!!"-based anger was so over the top you'd think supporting a New England liberal was an impolite fart, but complaining about paving our roads with rovers was heresy punishable by crucifixion.
  I suppose it didn't help that we published that in a paper sponsored by a somewhat hard shell Baptist college.
 Maybe it was both my ragging on Frisbees posing as pizzas comment, and my creamed collie critique, that helped me realize there are sidebars to issues: weird, yet important, observations; unseen, under the rocks of controversies we face in life. "Observations" that are at least as important as those tired, old, debates that no one side will ever really, completely, win. That's why, yes, while I write what we commonly call "rants," I almost always look under the rocks. And sometimes pretty much all I write about is what's under those rocks.
 I would have missed writing about dreams and what they mean about the complexity of the human mind, about Albert Payson Terhune: a collie author at the turn of the previous century, religion, faith... the last two by no means the same topic. So much I would have missed if I had just dropped the column after college.
 These columns usually offer at least some tie in with more current, political, social or faith-based issues. For everything is connected. Politics, religion and society are intertwined, inseparable. Every time we insist on putting a wall that says "No trespassing" between the two, we miss so much.
  I have been writing this column so long I even have a few stalkers, like a certain grammar Goebbels who manages to lecture me every once in a while about, well, grammar: usually in childish, insulting, terms. He rarely, if ever, talks content, and when he does it's usually obvious he hasn't really read the edition, or has a severe problem understanding content.
 Not surprising. It happens.
 I must admit, my writing has always had a casual approach, to a certain extent. As I wrote once, "Too many of today's English teachers and professors are standing on the tracks and the train is coming: the ever moving English language. They yell, 'STOP!' but syntax runs them over and the train keeps moving. Wouldn't it make more sense to at least attempt to subtly shift the tracks towards a better destination?"
 I firmly believe English teachers and profs; even regular folks who are concerned, have that power. Instead we rag on each other while changes run us over anyway, and instead of managing changes English remains what I once called, "A stagnant, slimy swamp."
 So, hopefully, as you read, you'll be entertained, amused and maybe, hopefully, you might see what you couldn't see before, or see something in a different light. I also always write to help myself see things in a different light, and as I compose I find myself learning, and sometimes learning, what I've forgotten.
 Those are just a few of the most important reasons why I write. I certainly don't write just to convince folks I'm right.
 And as long as any of that happens I have achieved all I hoped for in when I walked into the offices of The Marplot Stamp in 1972 and asked if I could write a column called Inspection.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 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 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jan. 1st, 2016

08:18 am - Inspection- My New Year's Ghost

   New Year's morning: 2016. The chains drag up my stairs, the door creaks open and the ghost of Richard Nixon moans, shakes his chains, as rotted skin falls like gray snowflakes.
 "Aren't you late to be a Christmas Eve ghost, Mr. President? It's New Year's Day."
 "Spiro's slow doing his only job in Hell again. He just finished scraping the stank off my soul, damn him."
 "A little redundant and useless, since he's already damned and the stank will just grow back. Hmm... 'Spiro Agnew in Hell.' Make note to self. Name for new short story, or oldie rock group for old fart musicians."
 "You've been falling down on your job, Mr. Carman. You should be supporting all that's bad for America but makes our rich overlords even richer, promoting any lie told that might punk leaders on the left. Kind of like 'College Republicans' on campuses in the 60s. You remember meeting me at that big planning session after the New Years in Westchester in 68 for Conservatives, right? What happened to you? I hear you've strayed far from the dark side!"
 "I do remember the College Republicans, and how their dirty tricks led to the nasty tactics of Rove, Atwater. That's one reason why I left. And I hardly call that a 'meeting.' You were supposed to sit with all of us and discuss plans for the upcoming election. Instead you were marched through the crowd, gave a very short canned speech, and then marched right back out. Hey, those cookies you're trying to eat are for the big guy in the red suit!"
 Tricky had attempted to sneak a cookie from Santa's plate as he also tried to sit down... his posterior going right through the chair. He sat there with a look of surprise, wondering why: being non-corporeal, he didn't just fall through the floor.
  Yes, that really happened. No, not the ghost part, just the meeting in Westchester with Nixon being there... briefly, marginally. Oh, and yes, I was a very young activist in the Conservative Party in the 60s. People change, especially when they grow very disenchanted with the direction their party is headed.
 No party is pure. Questionable actions and tactics abound, historically, left, right and between. But then there have been downright evil, beyond immoral, freedom destroying acts. Influencing the public with over the top, even very false, framing is one thing. But when the goal is to bring the opposition down any way possible that's evil... sometimes downright traitorous.
 The Nixon administration is a clear starting point for this, and I sincerely believe the unstable Nixon by 68 was so paranoid he was kept away from us, he was seeing enemies around every corner. Real "enemies," or not, almost doesn't matter. Almost.
 Sometimes I wonder if we have increasingly become a nation of Nixons, when it comes to fear, paranoia and "by any means." The constant framing of all of those who are not our candidate as mere two dimensional villains is destroying our nation because, too often, we get candidates who can distract us by making us hate and fear the other guy, or gal, more..
 Remembering the dark days in the last years of the Nixon administration has left me asking a question lately. What if Nixon had won in 60? Richard Nixon in 1960 was not as much the brooding, paranoid, character he became after he felt the election had been stolen from him. I wonder if he would have served, then faded into lesser president obscurity. But, I'll be honest, this is an intellectual exercise with no resolve, for like the movie Butterfly Effect, there are most likely unpredictable results when history shifts. Who would have guessed how Lyndon Baines Johnson would become so haunted by his own tenure due to the war he wouldn't run again? Or all that would follow after Lyndon left? Previous to that a president resigning was pretty much unthinkable.
 Nixon going to China? Left, or right, I don't think any of us would have predicted that.
 Nixon's deepening psychosis haunts us all. We can draw a clear line from Watergate, to Iran/Contra, to Whitewater, to pretty much every scandal: real, pumped up, or outright nonsense. With each year politicians and pundits get better at avoiding humiliation they may well deserve. And a once, somewhat, objective news media has gotten better at turning damn near nothing into some "scandal..." frequently dragged out until the next election.
 Where does it stop? Politics has become like some an endless rack of tawdry check out magazines with questionable tales to tell. We need to break this tit for tat cycle, where what's more important than anything else is some smear, candidates idea of debate is a name calling snark off, and a candidate less than big biz friendly can hardly get coverage at all, no matter how good his numbers. How do we stop the hatefest? How do we escape the trap that makes election not about issues, but who does the best negative framing? We can draw a straight line from Atwater, to Rove, to declaring John McCain supposedly having an illegitimate black child, to calling Bernie a "commie," to claiming Hillary took great joy getting an accused rapist off: a case she was assigned, and had asked to be relieved.
 And why is it those who declare their candidate pure are most likely to love wallowing in the deepest mud?
 I feel we're like John Cusack in (room)
1408. We are locked in the room from hell, and just when we think we're free the illusion is torn down and we're back in that hellish room. We desperately need Ghostbusters to show up, if only all this could be trapped, safe, inside some containment vessel powered by sheer collective mirth at the idea that most of this nonsense is even slightly worthy dominating our public debate.
 Now excuse me. I have a ghost to kick out of my house.  

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 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 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Dec. 24th, 2015

09:56 am - Inspection- Your Gift: 2015

 I have been wrapping and unwrapping another yearly Christmas gift to my readers over and over again: shifting sentences, deleting whole paragraphs, finding new focus, and finally I took this year's column from Santa's sleigh, returned it to the Worn Out Rhetoric, Inc. store, and decided to start again.
 I didn't get all the time spent back, but I didn't expect to.
 I understand the old cliché' about nothing being new under the sun. No matter how clever we are shifting words around, it's been done before. So what separates one story, one tale, from another? Why is it the stories that surround Hanukkah or Passover, or any of the other celebrations, seem to have less power than the Christmas story? Why is it Star Wars outshines Star Trek? Why do some stories fade into obscurity, like the many virgin births in mythology, but one captivates millions?
 We can get into theological correctness, or divine intervention, or... so many reasons, some which may be no more than excuses.
 Some might claim the story told is better than other stories. I know my talents are meager, and like everyone else, my vision not perfect, but I simply don't find that to be the case.
 Many object to Santa, the tree, elves, "Happy Holidays," "Season's Greetings," as clutter that masks "the reason for the season," but I disagree. Just like early Christians knew the power of pagan solstice and appropriated the celebration, business, appreciating the power of the Christmas story, spun their own tales. The entertainment industry snatched the ball and re-spun the story into everything from many variations on A Christmas Carol to yearly Robot Chicken satires. And every retelling leads back to the source.
 How many altered versions of Hanukkah or Passover have you seen? Not many, I suspect. Star Trek is far behind when compared to Star Wars spoofs. In many ways it's unfortunate, because the lesser known stories have value too.
 Despite those pushing theological correctness, maybe it's the constant weaving, and reweaving: retelling, that makes the magic, keeps the tale alive. As we gather in groups large and small to share our lives, to tell our favored tales: true and fanciful, and blend that with the celebration, wonderful, magical, things can happen.
 I hope, in my own infinitesimally small way, I have inspired others to reweave at least a few of the tapestries I have offered in my columns.
 So, to all my readers over the past 43 years, both those who have stayed with me and read my many musings, or just stopped by to share the warmth of my very meager creative fire a time or two: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings: whatever might bring you and yours closer at least for a day.
  And may there be many others.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 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 C
artenual Productions
all right reserved

Dec. 10th, 2015

01:41 pm - Inspection- Do We Need MORE Tantrums?

 So now it's time for Ken Carman's unofficial conspiracy theory number... oh, hell, why would I even bother trying to count?
 Was it a long time ago, in a galaxy far away? Seems like the last Planned Parent shooting could be described that way, or at least the mainstream media may wish that was true. Could that be by design?
 More outlandish theories might insist the couple somehow were part of some vast right wing and terrorist conspiracy,
intentionally enabled by the mainstream media, but that's so stretched we might as well blame the anti-truth fairy. Even if true. It's certainly very anti-Occam's Razor-ish.
 Yet it sure did shove one theologically incorrect massacre by a terrorist off the front page, or away from even being a back page story, for the more right wing theologically correct terrorist story done by those claiming to be Muslims.
 David Brock wrote a book a while ago called The Republican Noise Machine. To be honest I found it a tough read, but only because instead of focusing in on the story of what happened he spent too much time trying to include every name of every person responsible from day one for creating the noise machine, and then expecting the readers to remember almost an infinite number of names he kept fading in, and out, of the story. He seemed to care more for that than the actual story he was telling.
 That criticism may be a hint unfair. Having been one of the "faithful" in the 60s, however, I can see how it would be a hard story to tell without at least some of that.
 But more to the point, David showed how their ability to fund, organize and make a hell of a lot of noise, was very successful in cowing mainstream media into downplaying aspects of some stories in favor of others.
 A story, like the Planned Parenthood shooting, is something that the right finds offensive because it's counter to the narrative they really would rather not be told: how their constant demonization, and outright encouraging violent action among the craziest; most paranoid, gun owners in their base, is not to be mentioned, or even given the chance to come to light. Responsibility for one's words is a one way street, to them. So dropping less convenient terrorism ball for a more convenient one comes naturally.
 How do they influence the media, if it's not just some "conspiracy?" Well, one of the main ingredients in their formula works quite well: be like the loudest, most tantrum-y, child in a very, very small store. You know: the squeaky wheel paradigm.
 The cost of staying on the Planned Parenthood story was just too high. So maybe less of a the mainstream media participating in some complex "conspiracy," than exposing, once again, the shallow, knee jerk, gutless mainstream media.
 So it's no surprise they were hot to get off the Parenthood story, especially because there was nothing there that the right could sell to promote their holy jihad against an organization that does far, far more to help prevent abortions than doing them. That's the "planned" part of their mission.
 But, you see, birth control doesn't fit their narrative either. Punishing women does. Blaming all Muslims does. Blaming "sluts" like Sandra Fluke does. Claiming conception rarely happens after a rape does. Turning pregnant women into no more than incubator chambers controlled by the state does.
 Avoiding, lessening, abortions via readily available birth control and the knowledge needed for to avoid their dictum of forced birth at all costs?
 Not so much. Well, not at all. OK, just the opposite.
 Despite Media Matters, and many other fledgling organizations, the hyperbolic tantrums that provide a deafening clamor as soon as something happens that can be skewed the news cycle back to some more politically, and theologically, correct narrative dynamic is here to stay until we can out shout, out scream and out "noise" them. For these are not days of rational, respectful, discussion, unfortunately. Meet the Press type shows have become more "meet the Republicans." NPR
and PBS have been stripped of journalistic integrity by corporate funding and partisan appointments. And Firing Line has been replaced by the screams of "do it live," calling everyone who dares to disagree a "pinhead," being told someone else has to do your "thinking" for you, someone testifying for women's rights has to be a "slut..." Well, there are too many examples to list.
 You'll never win a WWE fight by being in defensive mode, appealing to rationality: "But wait a minute, that's not logical..." You'll just get, in this case, a rhetorical chair slammed into your head, and kicked in the jewels. And the rabid crowd that cheers on the bashing is eager for the "big gun" to climb into the ring: in this case the terrorist who will either silence the "bad guy" they don't like, or feed the desire to see more blood, more gore.
 So until rationality rules again... do we REALLY need to start having our own tantrums?

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 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

Dec. 1st, 2015

06:48 pm

Talking about how race ties in with right wing talking points?
 Politically incorrect.
 Saying Obama created ISIS? Politically correct.
 Telling the truth: the previous administration stomping all over oil country, policy in Iraq and John McCain helping to fund them created ISIS? Politically incorrect.
  Mentioning that, yes, unlike all those invisible hordes of Muslims cheering on 9/11 in Jersey, there have been people
encouraging, cheering on, terrorism?
  Politically incorrect.
  Just like it's politically correct to mention how many in this country helped, enabled and inspired terrorists like Eric Rudolph.
 Claiming only the right was targeted by the IRS during the election? Politically correct. Mentioning all groups came under scrutiny and only a leftward group lost its tax free status? Politically incorrect. Mentioning assessing if any of these groups these groups fit the criteria was their damn job? Politically incorrect.
 Just like even whispering that inspiring people to hate to the point of murder should mean you are responsible for your words is politically incorrect. Only the right decides who has any "personal responsibility," and never anyone encouraging someone to do their dirty work for them if the action they've decided to take serves to terrorize those you don't agree with, or like.
 In their version of The Godfather, the Godfather is a saint who was simply using his free speech when he encourages the hit.
 "Black lives matter?"
 Politically incorrect. We should be saying "all lives matter."
 Except you don't believe "all lives matter." You believe if someone thinks all they have to do is just declare they feel threatened then they should have a right to commit murder. You believe the state should be able to make up stories about massive amounts of WMD, and then mock soldiers searching for it, some who died searching for it. You believe the heroism of a soldier is less worth honoring, the loss of his life less of a concern, if he was shot outside Planned Parenthood, and then died after going back in to warn people. But if someone dares to question a war then, Mr. Phony, you claim we dishonor all those who have died.
 There's plenty of evidence, including how abandoning programs that help mothers and their infants, you don't give a shit about "lives." You care about control, and silencing anyone who dares to disagree with you, who challenges your own brand of political correctness. And if anything they believe in might save lives, well, your brand of political correctness is more important.
 "Libtards?" "Pinheads?" Do you even have the minimal amount of brain matter it would require to understand that's an attempt to support the politically correct stance that only you get to toss out insults? How Donald Trump-ian of you.
 Sigh. There I go being "politically incorrect" again.
 The most politically correct thing about the right is how they demand we stop political correctness out of one side of their mouth, while demanding their own brand of political correctness out of the other.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 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

Nov. 16th, 2015

02:21 pm - Inspection- We Will ALWAYS Have "Paris"

What to do...
  What to do...
  There's so much we shouldn't do. Turning ISIS into a legit enemy like they really are a "state," demonizing Islam and all Muslims, bombing and attacks that will increase hatred: thus hand over more power, more converts, more terrorists, to these evil, anti-Allah, God hating, heretical bastards. You know they're going to continue to try to goad us into it. That's all they have.
  What don't they have? Well, regardless of propaganda pushed by those longing for war to gain more power, more influence, enrich their corporate donors, and our own religious fanatics, they don't have Muslims. Not even close to a majority. They are a small minority, and as long as we don't keep spewing hate, and going out of our way to piss off peaceful Muslims, that will remain a truism.
  Here's some perspective...
  These fanatics, and I mean beyond ISIS, don't represent most of Islam, or even the governments of countries where the majority of the populace is Muslim. Yes, many of these countries are very strict theocracies, and by today's standards cruel when it comes to what they dare call "justice," though if some folks who really do hate all of Islam in this country had their way we would be just as strict as they are, just in support of Christian fundamentalism, not Islamic fundamentalism.
  By the way, to us beheading is a horrible practice. But what makes it "better" than cooking a human being in a chair? Or poisoning them? Or blowing multiple bullets through their hearts? The guillotine was invented to make beheading more humane, quicker. If those so concerned with this as an execution method were serious you'd think they'd be pushing for this, not just using beheading as a method for inspiring hatred.
  I also think our own support for dictators and tyrants has created this scenario. Some, like Saudi Arabia, have our full support and are damn nasty places. Other countries? Well, like our installing Saddam then "firing" him, we have helped create this "fine" mess we are in.
  You know, like John McCain helping fund ISIS, claiming them moderates, then when it all blew up in his face blaming Obama?
  The best thing we could do right now is not bomb them, it would be to be friendlier, and more supportive, of moderate Muslims. You want to enrage ISIS, while taking power away from them? Paris, let's have an arm and arm parade with Muslims, Christians, other believers, Atheists, Agnostics marching around the Eiffel Tower: supporting religious moderation and marching against cowards like those who run ISIS. The more they go after us, the more solidarity we should have.
  That would be far more powerful, far more effective, than any bomb, shooting #1 ISIS leader, #2, #3... that's like thinking swatting at a swarm of mosquitoes will solve your mosquito problem. It's more likely to attract them.
  There will always be another #1, #2... and it won't stop terrorism. Nothing will stop all terrorism. We will always have "Paris." The best thing to do now is make damn sure the mass murderers in Paris don't "have" us.

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

Nov. 12th, 2015

07:16 pm - Inspection- The Corporate Mugging of Craft Beer

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power"
Benito Mussolini

 This edition of Inspection also appears as an edition of Brew Biz, another column by Ken Carman. This is by request of the author since he is also a beer/homebrew writer.

When beer boards, or government, and big corporations, join hands: especially to decide what the public can/can't have, and to help hinder, even crush, small business, that's certainly yet another step closer to "fascism...." -moi'

Can anyone tell me what's good about the recent purchase of SBMiller by Bud's owner, InBev? Context: I mean "good" for the consumer, beer lovers, beer world, healthy competition, less big corporate influence in politics, less corporate attempts to squash the multitude of small breweries, brewpubs, employees... not necessarily just "good for" management, CEOs, corporately corrupted beer boards or stockholders.
 Allowing even more dominance of any market by yet another mega corporation may be good for stockholders, pols who get their donations, political appointees on the take and CEOs, but it's certainly not good for craft beer, or perhaps, even homebrewers. Government turning a blind eye, or even favoring, consolidation of corporate power rarely ends well, as citizens of Italy in the 30s might warn us.
 Luckily, and with determination, craft has survived, even thrived: despite serving laws, brewing laws, laws banning growlers, mega going to distributors and threatening to drop them if the stock craft. This joining of two major companies just hands more influence over to mega brew.
 One might think homebrewers would be an exception, but not really. I mean the more bland, the more folks are driven to brew their own, right? It's what drove me to drink... um, brewing. Yes, for years Miller and A/B have had their lawyers do all they can to not only limit distribution of craft beer, but buy off pols so they create small brewer unfriendly legislation. If my experience with their lawyers and distributors in New York State is any indication, homebrewers are a target too.
 Gee, ya'd think they think they "own all beer," sometimes. Well, with mega brew and pols snuggling so close, maybe they kind of do?
 This is something I will expand on in a future, Brew Biz: Werts and All, column.
 But, conspiracy rants aside, I think the big losers will be the public and employees. There will be more fake breweries, like The Plank Road Brewery, another name for Miller. Unless you have been real observant, you may not have noticed that a lot of the craft brew stocked over the years has been not craft at all. It's been InBev and Miller creating fake breweries and, sometimes, not even listing anywhere on the packaging that it was actually brewed by InBev, or Miller.
 Do you really think there's a Shocktop Brewery, or Blue Moon is a small, independent, craft brewery? If so, so sad. You've been conned.
 But that's minor compared with the economic impact. Fools would think that this purchase would mean more employees. Untrue. It gives mega InBev a chance to consolidate breweries, terminate employees, enrich stockholders and give themselves giant raises for doing so.
 That's not a "beer" thing, that's just the nature of huge acquisitions and mergers.
 It certainly doesn't mean better beer for anyone. It does give them more power, and more market share, and therefore a bigger club to use on true craft breweries.
 Whatever happened to our laws on monopolies? Well, so much of the public has been convinced that any regulations are bad, except those on abortion, voting... wait, isn't all that regulating too? Yup. Sure is. But, disregarding all too politically convenient exceptions, and my slight sidebar there, the public has been convinced that regulations are all bad, and business will regulate itself.
 Can you think of any activity where humans automatically become saints?
 In this columnist's humble opinion all, I repeat all, human activity requires rules. No system set up by humans is perfect. Not one damn one is "self regulating," unless you mean "to serve the selfish, the greedy, criminals and those eager to commit con jobs.
 I did read that InBev is selling off a portion of the Coors portion of Miller to "appease regulators." You do know they'll just try to purchase it back at a later date, right? Or crush it? Why is it I think there will be a sea of invisible hands "raised" by shill-pols eager to help, while selling off more integrity.. what little they may have left?
 Some of these shenanigans remind me of Gannett who came into Tennessee and purchased the Nashville Banner, the lesser of our two major papers. The Tennessean, one of the the best papers I'd ever read at the time, was eventually traded for the Banner, and then the Banner quietly went out of business.
 My, how convenient. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
 Of course, ala' all Gannett papers, ads were increased at least three fold, and news became something I read two to three weeks ago, or hardly news at all: puff pieces.
 Just like mega brew has longed to turn most beer back to unexciting, bland and all about "clever" marketing.
 You may have also noticed that mega beer has been snatching up craft beer breweries. For now, at least, they have let companies like Goose Island brew what they had been brewing. But anyone want to bet against my stand that once the war is over they'll do what Miller did to Lowenbrau in the 70s and 80s? What was an excellent, proud, German, brand, became just a slight variation on Miller, and Miller Dark. Since then the brand has bounced around as to who brews it, whomever has the rights to North American production: with variable results.
 Eventually I think, if they do win, they'd just let craft beer die by brewing inferior spin offs, all to get back to those "marvelous" King of (All) Beer days
 No, nothing good will come of this purchase if it's allowed to stand. It will just give more power, and more money, over to those who would do anything to go back to the days when there was, basically, one American beer style with some slight variations. And this just gives them a bigger club to use to make sure American beer goes back to being as exciting, as interesting, as club soda.
 And, pulling the camera back to get a wider view, this is what America, even the world, will look like if corporatism wins the day, politically.
 Want to bet, somewhere in Hell, the ghost of Mussolini is smiling?

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

Oct. 15th, 2015

01:53 pm - Inspection- NOT "Debate," CNN

And in this corner...
 With all the class, all the seriousness, all the importance of a WWE fight, it all started with the moderators, on air pundits really, speculating what the weaknesses of Hillary the Loser were, how insignificant Bernie the Insignificant was, and how much less each candidates the Lesser were. The bars they had to get over were, of course, impossible. Prepare for the chair smashings, the body slams, to begin, guys and gals.

Ready, set, BARF!
  My wife and I listened to, perhaps, half an hour, shut it off and went to bed.
 This was not a “debate,” CNN.
 We saw this shisen storm start its brown out from the start, as the candidates gathered CNN played cheesy, worse than any pre-game sports score, music under bumpers... bumpers interspersed with quick, witless, speculation about what Hillary, or Bernie, had to do to convince the public. The speculations as to what they had to do were only slightly less impossibly high dung hills to climb than speculations regarding even more marginal in polls candidates on stage who, apparently, were allowed to be there merely to be battering rams and nail spiked clubs for bloodying up the top two.
 Did the MSM do this for the Republican debate? We've been off the grid, and I wasn't going to torment myself by listening. I'm guessing... not. The high dung hills were mostly gone, replace by starry eyed, dreamboat-based, pro right wing Fox-i-tude.
 Flash forward to CNN's fictional, bad framing-based hills, where the mostly imaginary hills each had to climb were imagined to be beyond Everest. To quote Trump, these pretend “fair” mods had already predetermined these candidates were all the biggest “losers.”
 We could only listen to satellite radio. I imagine the TV graphics were as cheesy as the audio. You most likely would know better. Worse, perhaps?
 And the whoring out to advertisers! CNN: you come back from a break, say the candidates are about to introduce themselves, then go right back to yet another round of seemingly endless, revenue pumping, ads like some gym obsessed weight lifter? Really? Could you be more nakedly sucking on the advertising teat?
 Probably not.
⏠ Sex workers in Maddam Legsspreadwide Happy Ending House of Horny probably prostitute themselves less.

Latter, once again, my “old man wakes up just past midnight” sense had me with head phones listening to yet another Mike Malloy hate Hillary rant. Despite some disagreements Mike's very entertaining, OK? While his focus was more on Hillary, less on how bad the media was behaving, mine was more the latter.
 Really, “How would your presidency (insert candidate's name here) not be a third term for Obama,” is a real question? How would that be “bad,” Mr. “Where the %$#@ Did You Get These Idiotic Questions From?” When is any presidency an exact repeat of the previous presidency? Even if possible... how would that, necessarily, be assumed to be a “bad” thing by everyone out there, as the question seems to assume? One would have to assume no president was ever reelected if that question has a micro gram of reality to it.
 How many actual issues did they cover, or was it all mostly just arguments about framing? How artificial is that?
 Word: VERY.
 The intent, I suspect, was to turn the Dem “debate” more Republican, as in various Trump-ian versions of, “You're a stupid head.”
 There were at least two high points I caught replayed on the Malloy show, like when Hillary in a reversal of the old Don McClean song stole the ball. In the McClean song, American Pie, the good guys didn't steal the ball. In this case they did: like when a mod framed a question using the tiresome Republican talking point that assumes only Dems want to interfer in the lives of others. Hillary turned it on its head showing how the right has that goal as they accuse Dems of it. Bernie was passed the ball which he also handled well, running down the field... I was happy to hear it happened once again with the E-mail nonsense.
 Maybe there was more substance than our, “Screw this, we're going to bed,” tude provided?
 We need more of this snatch the ball away from mods with an agenda tactic. Candidates, especially on the left, must realize the media is their true opponent during these Roman game-like events. The media and their guns for hire are like Caligula who perpetually tries to get the crowd to go along with his every thumb down. If you've seen the scene in Gladiator, a movie based, in part, on Caligula's horrific reign, there's a scene where thumbs up is only given: very reluctantly, when the crowd's collective approval of the gladiator's bravery forces his, well, thumb upward. For now we still have that power, but given the blood thirst in the masses it will take cooperation, and mutual respect among the candidates to get the best of media... something the MSM is trying discourage.
  Bernie and Hillary working in tandem against moderators with an obvious agenda was exactly what it took. A stirring moment in the midst of what, to us, seemed a dung heap of attempts to keep what some dared call a 'debate” in playground bully territory. All with the Trump-ian intent of turning “debate” into...

  “You're a poopy head.”

  “No, you're a poopy head.”

 But were we to expect? When previously Bernie couldn't get attention even if he set off a nuke? When Hillary's “attention” amounts to variations on, “You had the same kind of server as many Sec of States have had, you probably didn't set it up youself, and it was more secure than our electronic voting machines, but we're going to use it against you anyway.”
  As an aside: anyone else notice when the scandal machine starts rolling no question will ever be adequately, or completely, answered according to those in the media who obviously enjoy pushing faux scandals? Or when someone like Bernie changes his opinion, or alters his voting pattern, that absolutely has to be a lack of character, not proof of one's character where someone learns from their mistakes,
matures as a human being and as a public servant?
  Oh, I'm sorry, does that spoil your he said, she said, WWE fight- based framing, Mr. and Ms. MSM? Gee, golly, willikers, I am SO sorry.
 No, I'm NOT.
 Each and everyone of you reading this rant probably heard more than we did. We got out early. We simply had had enough. Hope you can prove me wrong. But what we heard was pretty much a total waste of time, artificial and sleazily slick.
 Prove me wrong.
 Prove me wrong.
 Otherwise: not a debate. No way in hell.

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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