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Blue Spider's Coffee House

Truth, Love, Beauty and all things Virtuous

Month

September 2011

Supersize the Jerkburger, Please!

Twilight was later than Derek was accustomed to coming home from his state government job. Tired and out of his normal routine, Derek felt emotionally edgy as he walked through the front door of his forty-year old rental home, a constant jab at his wasted youth and his uphill climb to be a stable provider. Aware of his edginess, Derek consciously made an effort to push it below the exterior of his countenance and put forth a happy front to his loving wife, Deb, and his overachieving, super-extraordinary kids.

 Deb was busy in their tiny white kitchen preparing her standard fare… hamburger. Derek’s irritation slowly seeped from its hiding place as he realized that he had an acute case of hamburger fatigue from Deb’s lack of creativity in the kitchen over the last two weeks. In all fairness, Deb made dinner every night for the threesome who at times took it for granted and was most of the time unappreciative of the thousands of meals she had prepared for them. Derek knew this and knew that sometimes the inspiration for meals left her for periods at a time and most of the time he understood this. Although, it can be said he never offered to cook meals during when these moments occurred.

Noting that Deb was pounding out only one patty, Derek asked Deb if the kids were eating dinner tonight. Deb replied that she had already fed the kids and told Derek what she had fed them. Now, Derek was not the sharpest tool in the shed but he did pick up on the fact that they had not eaten hamburger. All of the sudden his irritation burst out of its hiding place and Derek went to his dark place and began to erupt about Deb’s tendency to mollycoddle the kids and put them, in his opinion, above the family. Knowing that argument had no effect on her, Derek took his immaturity one step further and used a sarcastic kids voice to demand something other than hamburger and then went off in a huff to change clothes.

 All of this time Deb quietly resisted all temptation to reach for one of the many sharp implements in the kitchen. Instead, she found more satisfaction by adding to the size of Derek’s hamburger patty, pounding it over and over. The more she reflected on the way he had talked to her, what a big jerk he had been to her, the more the size of the burger increased. When Derek came out of their bedroom in one of his man-child t-shirts with a sports team logo or some funny, ironic quip and in his shorts, he was met with a surprise when Deb handed him a large hamburger on one of the kid’s melmac Disney plates that they had owned for years.   

Deb went to the living room to read her emails from her parents and her friends’ Facebook updates. Meanwhile, Derek shoved off to the TV room to eat his hamburger. There was no wall between the two rooms and Derek had a straight look from his spot to Deb’s back. Derek strategically looked at the hamburger and pridefully vowed to eat the whole 2 pounds of hamburger no matter what it took. Deb and her mollycoddling was not going to win this time. Deb was equally determined not to give Derek, the cad, any attention for the rest of evening—no matter how many talking animal videos her parents had sent to her that day.

It was about a half-hour into the burger ,that would not stop giving, that Derek realized just how big this burger was. His pride had blinded him to the thickness and density of Deb’s burger. As drops of sweat began to bead up on his forehead and the room’s temperature began to rise, he did something he rarely had done took off his shirt. Shirtless with his stomach slightly distended from all the hamburger he had eaten and all the milk he had drunk up to that point, he went into the kitchen to get his third glass of milk.

Still he persisted, albeit less convincingly, to tell himself that he must not surrender to her and her mollycoddling. He was going to make a point and by golly she was going to honor it and obey him for once. The kids needed to learn as well. If not, Derek was pretty sure, they would turn out to be shiftless idlers and he could not have that on his conscience. Several weeks ago, he had secretly made an oath to eradicate all mollycoddling under his roof and to deal swiftly with all mollycoddlers. Here was his first battle and losing was not an option, this pernicious evil had to be stopped.

It was towards the end of the second half-hour when Derek began to experience mild panic attacks. He envisioned all the packed red meat coursing through his already dumpy body getting stuck as it was pushed up and around corners making its way to his heart. In a delirious sweat, his imagined himself experiencing a coronary attack.  Derek reasoned that tonight would be a terrible time for death to come knocking on his door. At that moment, the words, “I can’t do it”, were meekly uttered from his lips. Feeling Derek’s weakness, Deb asked Derek to repeat himself. In his meat induced stupor, Derek in a monotone voice obeyed Deb’s order and repeated “I can’t finish my hamburger”.

Always the gracious winner, Deb released a good-humored smile and came over to Derek’s side. As she gently wiped the sweat of Derek’s Neanderthal brow and carefully put his Disney plate down, she looked into his glossed over eyes and said, “I forgive you…jerk!” and then mollycoddled him for the rest of the evening.

Mutual Respect and Tolerance

“Let us reach out to those in our community who are not of our faith. Let us be good neighbors, kind, and generous and gracious. Let us be involved in good community causes. There may be situations, where, with serious moral issues involved, we cannot bend on matters of principle. But in such instances we can politely disagree without being disagreeable. We can acknowledge the sincerity of those whose positions we cannot accept. We can speak of principles rather than personalities.”–Gordon B. Hinckley

“The word tolerance does not stand alone. It requires an object and a response to qualify it as a virtue…Tolerance is often demanded but seldom returned. Beware of the word tolerance. It is very unstable virtue.”–Boyd K. Packer

Cursed Costco: Grapefruit cups and Almond Breeze

Cursed Costco! Several weeks ago, we went to Costco near lunch time and I am still living to regret the decisions I made on that day. Intoxicated by all the different foods and flavors that I was able to sample that Saturday, I foolishly began to feel like I should and could take control of my life. For the most part, I bought some great food like the spinach tortellini, horseradish cheddar cheese, and some good dried fruit, but there were two items I bought that I regret having bought and am still trying to use up.

 The first item was a 16-pack of grapefruit cups. I hadn’t had grapefruit in a while, even though I really like it.  If I had been at a grocery store, I would have bought a single grapefruit and eaten it that day and my urge would have been taken care of for a while since grapefruit is something that I can only intake in small doses. But no Costco sampling made me stupid and I bought a 16-pack of grapefruit cups without seriously considering my tolerance for grapefruit and without considering that I am the only one in the household that likes grapefruit.

 But as stupid as that decision was, my next choice was even more softheaded. I bought an 8-pack of Almond Breeze. For some odd reason, I always hold out a fool’s hope that their exist in this world some good tasting almond milk so when I saw that Blue Diamond had vanilla flavored almond milk I gave into my desires and bought that neatly packaged 8-pack. While I jumped at the word “vanilla” on the packaging, I forgot to read the other words like “soy free”, “lactose free” and more importantly I did not notice the red box on top that had the word “unsweetened” in it. Now, I don’t profress to know much about Heaven and Hell, but I am pretty sure the there will be a lot unsweetened Almond Breeze on tap in Hell.  I hear that angels and demons alike refer to it as “Satan’s Martini”

 So here I sit this morning bitter and slightly downhearted writing about grapefruit and almond milk working on my fourth 32 oz box of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze still waiting to taste the vanilla.

Living Out of Your Comfort Zone

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”

Paslov’s Dawg: Rebuttal to Dr. Paslov Nevada Appeal 9-3-11

Note to Reader: I Know It’s Pavlov’s Dog

Several weeks ago, I wrote a letter to the editor in Carson City’s rag The Nevada Appeal aimed at Dr. Eugene Paslov’s editorials and his out-dated 1960’s LBJ liberal cries for expanded government. Imagine to my surprise when I, joe citizen, found out that in his editorial The Destructiveness of Anti-Government Mood has Run Amok, dated September 3rd, 2001, he quoted a portion of my letter to editor.

While shamelessly flattered for being important enough to be included in his editorial,  I object to his critique of my statement that “very few of humanity’s problems are solved with more money or government programs…the last 50-80 years bears this out.” Dr. Paslov speciously agreed with my observation about money and government programs and their inability to solve’s humanity problems, but then did an about-face in his next statement describing my version of history as a revisionist. He further went on to claim that history showed the opposite: that in fact more money and more government programs like the New Deal (not a government program), Civil Rights, Anti-poverty programs,  Social Security and Medicare worked and they “all made this nation great”.

Dr. Paslov’s assertion that government programs made this nation great characterizes is top-down view about how to solve this nation’s problems. Government programs have never made and never will make this nation great, “…the record of big government in the twentieth century–even when it has not degenerated into vicious totalitarianism–shows it does little good in the long run and frequently harms those it seeks to help.”–Robert P. George, On the Moral Purposes of Law and Government, p.2.

What makes this nation great is its people and the constitutional freedoms guaranteed to us from our farsighted Founding Fathers. Freedoms that allow individuals to develop and maximize their divine potential.

To be fair to Dr. Paslov, the free market doesn’t make this nation great, either. Again its the moral quality of individuals participating in the free market that make it great, good, bad or indifferent. Artificially construed concepts don’t make things happen therefore cannot make a nation great.

Dr. Paslov’s alleges that my statement “that the last 50-80 years of history” show that money does not solve humanity’s problems was revisionist history. If we are talking about Dr. Paslov’s fanciful version of history that heavily discounts anything that happened after 1960 and ignores the present state of things, then I would say yes I was trying to improve upon the accuracy of his interpretation of historical events. The culmination of the past (history) is in the present. To accurately represent the state of government programs we need to judge them from their beginning to the present day. We don’t judge them solely for what they did in on a particular day in a particular month in 1935 or 1952 or 1964. History is not stuck time, Dr. Paslov, but is continuously being made.

Even if you choose to believe Dr. Paslov that government programs like Medicare, not individuals, make this nation great. It would be difficult to present a rational argument that all is well.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or stick a pretentious title like “Dr.” in front of your name to know that there is no nuanced intellectual wordsmithing that can undo the reality that these programs have done very little to improve the socio-economic environment of the individuals they purport to serve. If there has been any benefit it has not been worth all the massive debt incurred by this nation to maintain these programs at the expense of the future of others. For all the progressive cries for justice, this independent voter asks: Where is the justice of burdening present generations and robbing future generations with huge debts for programs that by every standard are failures?

My experience is that government programs like the ones initiated by the New Deal, that Paslov referenced, maintain people at certain tolerable artificial standard of living, but in general they themselves do not raise individuals to any sustainable financial independence nor do they, on the whole, lead to massive job growth that benefits everybody. In fact, the longer the exist they eventually become a socio-economic burden that outweighs any value they might have initially had.

Civil Rights was an interesting program for Dr. Paslov to cite. Although I am unaware of a government program called “Civil Rights”, there are a couple of things that I can say about the Civil Rights movement. One, is it got its start and momentum from the actions of many brave individuals, one of them Martin Luther King never held any political position.  The government did not begin the Civil Rights movement and apart from passing the Civil Rights Act, it can be argued the government has done more harm than good to these movement. The black community had a fairly healthy middle class in many communities at the time the Civil Rights movement began, a middle class that did not trust the government. Where is this healthy middle class today?

Apart from rewarding a small few with huge payoffs, this current stronghold of the rapper/gangster culture seems to hold many of its own down and appears that at least spiritually this movement has regressed more than progressed. Tarnishing the greatness of it’s original accomplishments.

Another program or programs he refered to were anti-poverty programs.  I don’t how you can judge this programs as a success when poverty over the last 50 years has remained steady. Let’s face it there is only one path to overcoming poverty and that is through education (including a vocation) and job opportunity. Do these programs provide an education? No, not really, and not what anyone would consider an education that provides any marketable skills. These programs rarely create jobs and when we compare the ratio of jobs created by these programs versus those created by the private sector is not even worth talking about.

It difficult to say these programs over time have been successful when you judge them against criteria of marketable education and job opportunity. Financial independence does not even appear to be an afterthought when you look at these programs.

These programs when initiated back in the Depression did provide some meaningful, albeit temporary, help. However this was because  the dire circumstances that existed at their initiation guaranteed at a minimum certain level of success. Or at least appeared to have done something even the facts show that even in the short-term they did not help.

For example, in the 12 months following the 1929 stock market crash the highest unemployment ever got was 9 percent and by June 1930 unemployment has decreased to 6.3 percent. After the Smoot-Hawley tariff unemployment’s decline reversed and by November 1930 it had reached 11.6 percent.  After a series of other large federal interventions into the economy, unemployment stayed at double digits for the remainder of the decade.–The Power of Fallacy, Thomas Sowell, Basic Books 2007, New York, N.Y., pg.9.

It seems the longer anti-poverty programs have been in place the less effective they have become and more and more they have become about supporting their advocates and their service providers than they have become about solving poverty.

Because the failure of Social Security and Medicare past, present and future, is a very time-consuming and involved discussion. I will save that for another day.

Well, Eugene, its time to go. May God bless you and keep you despite our differing viewpoints.

Dale Hansen

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