On-Air Shooting & Political Rant

DSCN0419Yesterday a reporter and cameraman were murdered on live TV. The gunman, a disgruntled ex-employee of that station, claimed he had been racially abused and this was his retaliation. There are lots of issues that this event could touch on: guns, crazy people out on the streets, and racial anger. But the issue that intrigued me the most was about the video itself. There were people that objected to the video being shared online. I suppose you could question the motives of some of the people clicking the share button, but overall I believe it’s time we stop being coddled. Maybe if we were shown the raw carnage of gun violence something might get done about it. Imagine we were shown the aftermath, in shocking, disgusting images, of the senseless shootings in the classrooms at Newtown. Would that have made a difference? Instead, we get interviews with distraught parents. We get documentaries about the kids lost and collages of their cute faces. This makes most people sad, but pictures of the carnage might make them angry. We don’t need sad to fix the epidemic of gun violence, we need more than that at this point, because whatever you call what we’re doing now is not working.

Where should the anger be directed? Like most things wrong in America, I think it should be directed at our elected officials. They just are not getting the job done. They are not fixing the problems in our country. They aren’t even trying! They don’t debate important issues. They don’t pass laws. They do nothing but collect taxpayer money and campaign for the next election.

And, we let them. As I’ve stated many times, the % of incumbents that get re-elected is a disgrace. We give Congress approval ratings in the teens, yet the vast majority of incumbents get re-elected. It’s always the “other guy” that’s screwing up, never our guy. It’s bad at the Federal level, it’s even worse here in Illinois. We don’t hold our elected officials accountable and they know it. They listen to the lobbyists and PACs that give them money, not the voters. And the reason they do that is they know they don’t have to pay attention to us. The money they receive virtually assures them re-election because most of us will just vote for the guy that’s already in office, the one with the most TV ads. We’re the victims, but we also have to take some responsibility for our own condition.

If they aren’t getting the job done, vote them out – even if you have to vote for a guy in the other party! And if he / she doesn’t get the job done, do it again. Keep doing that until they get the message that they cannot take us for granted. Stop being sheep!

Artist Talk – Saturday, August 22nd From 1 – 3 – Water Street Studios

DSCN0419I struggle with art. Sometimes I just do not get it. I have had frustrating discussions with artists on marketability. I haven’t always been shy about expressing my opinion on a particular piece. Imagine my surprise when I got a call from Water Street Studios to moderate their Artist Talk on Saturday, August 22nd, from 1 – 3 PM. Of course, I’m the moderator; I’m not there to spout my opinion about the artwork. But I have been thinking about art and the creative process recently. I read a play called Red, by John Logan, that talked about the role of art, the idea that art should be significant. I highly recommend this short play – it’s worth your time if you are interested in the creative process. I was talking with an artist earlier this week and she said that art is important because we are all attracted to beauty – we need beauty in our lives. She’s right, but I do not think all art is beautiful. But, I do believe people are universally attracted to stories and all art has a story. So, I’m looking forward to the Artist Talk. I want to hear the story behind the artwork, how the story developed. I find the creative process fascinating and if you do too, I hope to see you there!

Pope’s Encyclical #107

DSCN0419I like the way this book is written. It’s organized into numbered sections, which connect, but also stand alone. It’s a style well-suited for the internet age. In fact, it’s also well-suited for FewerThan500.com! Would it have killed the Pope to submit a few of these to our site? Admittedly,  we’re all about flash fiction, but I suspect we would have made an exception for the Pope. I digress.

#107: Too much of our lives revolve around technical or financial considerations. For example, could I have majored in philosophy in college today? A cost-benefit analysis would surely say advise against such a foolish choice, given the parameters we’re encouraged (in some analyses, required) to use today.

The Pope:

It can be said that many problems of today’s world stem from the tendency, at times unconscious, to make the method and aims of science and technology an epistemological paradigm which shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society. The effects of imposing this model on reality as a whole, human and social, are seen in the deterioration of the environment, but this is just one sign of a reductionism which affects every aspect of human and social life. We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of certain powerful groups. Decisions which may seem purely instrumental are in reality decisions about the kind of society we want to build.

Murder on the Floodways Now Available!

FloodwaysKindleCover20150218Harold G Walker just released his latest book: Murder on the Floodways! It is now available for Kindle or Kindle App users as well as in paperback. Visit Harold’s author page.

From the book’s back cover: Donald “Hokey” Busby has a bit of the devil in him, but nobody thought he’d kill his best friend, Harry “Fats” Shell. Yet, one night on the Walker family farm, Hokey brutally shoots Fats down. Hours later, Hokey is found dying in a pool of blood, from a single shotgun blast. The Walkers fear more bloodshed will come as family and friends gather for the shocking double funeral of the murderer and victim.

Pope’s Encyclical #47

I downloaded the Pope’s Encyclical to my Kindle and read a lot of it on a long flight from Reno. I was impressed.

In section 47 the Pope offers some observations about the internet and media.

To summarize: Get off your device; turn off the tube. Interact with people face-to-face. We’re too isolated in our own little silos, where we only interact with people that share our beliefs. It’s always been this way. Most of us tend to prefer the company of like-minded people. But, in days past, when watching Walter Cronkite, visiting the Elks Club, or bowling in a league, you stood a good chance of being around people with conflicting opinions. Today, with cable TV news, the internet and social media you can control your interactions more and filter out ideas you don’t find acceptable.

I believe this has contributed to intolerance and coarseness in our society.

Here is section 47:

Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise.

My Website was Hacked

My website was hacked last week. Google was kind enough to inform me. When I went to look at my own site to see the disgusting links reported by Google, I saw nothing! After some research, I discovered hackers can arrange it such that I would not see anything amiss. Clever.

It took me a few hours, but I finally found the bad stuff and removed it. Google reviewed my site and pronounced it clean. After I received the clean bill of health I changed passwords, but as I have no idea how the losers put the bad stuff in I can’t be sure it won’t happen again.

If anyone saw the disgusting links on my site, know that I didn’t put them there. Fortunately, statistics show hardly anyone visits my site so I suspect no damage was done. However, those same statistics do show a pretty healthy spike in hits the day the hackers struck. Interesting…

Book Review: Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina

Storming HeavenStorming Heaven by Denise Giardina
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a compelling story. I know little about the labor movement and if this is based on a true story I find it horrible that companies hired their own security and completely mowed over worker’s rights under our Bill of Rights. Call me naive – I need to learn more about this history.

I ended up skimming portions of this book though and it’s all due to the language. I’m pretty sure the dialect used was authentic from my time in Kentucky, but it was very difficult for me to read and really detracted from enjoying the story.

If you can get past the dialogue, you’ll enjoy reading this and it might shock you enough to learn more.

View all my reviews