Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The U.S. and IL Constitutions: Just Words

"Just words": this phrase has two meanings, almost antithetical
to each other. "Just" refers to persons or principles interested in,
committed to, "justice" as well as "merely" or "only". History and
current events prove out these paradoxical definitions daily in
real/reel life: high-flown hopes written by our founders and
leaders into national and state law become mere palaver when
the specific stipulations are ignored, whether by intent  (-politics,
anyone?) or ignorance.

Who cares? I ask seriously, not flippantly. Is our society a
joke, or do we actually have standards and reasonable
rules of law which we follow closely?

The answers are within our very selves.

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Open Letter to Illinois Governor Quinn re: Our State Constitution's Budget Address Stipulations

Dear Governor Quinn,
You can only survive a court challenge to your
"five year plan"  budget address if the judges
are illiterate. Article VIII--Finance, in the current
Illinois Constitution, Section 2., subsection (a)
clearly states the serving governor must submit
to the General Assembly a state budget for the
ensuing fiscal year. (-That is, one year out,
NOT five!)  "At a time prescribed by law" had
the date as February 19th, but you, Mr. Quinn,
now want to skip that by, oh, I don't know,
executive fiat (allowed by Cullerton and Madigan),
instead wrapping the "ensuing fiscal year" into a
five year plan full of estimates and precious little
hard data. Your proposed date of address is
March 26, eight days after the election...why?
Do you need to know who has won the Republican
Primary for governor before your big budget reveal? 

Yes, the state is in serious arrears by billions;
yes, the five percent Illinois income tax is quite
unpopular, although necessary; yes, your political
career's future is definitely on the line....

But  none of that authorizes an abrogation
of our state constitution, period.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Throwing Down the Gauntlet: "Genius" Hackers, Help Save the World--Don't Destroy it

"Genius" gamers and hackers can cause commotion, facilitate
crime and make negative news, but what ELSE have they got?
A Russian teenager is now alleged to have caused the Target and
Neiman Marcus customer card many millions strong hacking
incident (the published numbers ran from 40 to 70 to 110
millions and more, so I'll be vague.)  "Intrepid" hackers, all
the way back to the 414s in Milwaukee (~1980s) have
managed to get into hospital and  government databases.
That was not internet hacking, however--there was no
internet until the 1990s; although Darpanet and Arpanet did
exist, they were not public-access technologies.  

So, gamers/hackers, show me your true genius: find a cure
for cancer, comprehensively create an enduring peace plan,
effectively encourage employers to increase their hiring,
ad infinitum. Instead, I see a far more pathetic personality
profile for you in the aggregate.  You:

(1)  Deploy what intelligence you DO have to focus many
hours over several years to the exclusion of other pursuits
to gain mastery of the "hacking skill set"...genius not required
to acquire such "expertise".

(2)  Feel disaffected, out of place, powerless, so Black Hat
malware activities are justified somewhere in the nether regions
of your subconscious.  (Such rationalizations may also be

(3)  Haven't helped solve many/any of humanity's ills, probably
won't, because you don't actually care. You don't mind
harming many who never hurt you--demonstrating a deep
lack of character, logic AND intelligence.

I could rant on, but I AM certain that great intelligence and
caring concern generally co-exist in the same brain; Albert
Einstein and  Albert Schweitzer come to mind.

I'm issuing an open challenge right here, right now:
genius hackers, take up the gauntlet and get to work,
a world's awaiting. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

After Actor Hoffman: The Demons That Possess too Many of Us...

are not simply a matter of individual, personal failings.
P.S. Hoffman had help, plenty of it. A celebrity culture
that obviously allows and encourages alcohol and drug
use, because mere reality "ain't good enough" is part
of it; needing to be part of a wide acquaintanceship
circle, therefore not being selective, is another; 
generally, our American denial, escapism and frantic
focus on fun underscores much of this.

Then there are personal life and family factors: Mr.
Hoffman's parents were high achievers (she, a judge,
he, a tech exec) who divorced when Philip was nine.
Study after study and anecdote after anecdote
demonstrate how difficult and life-changing divorce
is for the child, even in the most amicable separations.
Look at a bit of Philip Hoffman's existence: he was
quite overweight (-all food is "comfort food"), had
a partnership with a woman which produced three
children, but no marriage, after 15 years. It may
well hark back to little Phil, age nine.

Whether there are emotional issues, addiction
problems or criminal behaviors (often all three)
look at the whole life circumstances to get a
fairer understanding of what has brought
someone down. Chances are excellent that
other people played a significant role, even
if it is also true that adults must take
responsibility for themselves.

The demons that possess us should be
fought with every ounce of strength we
can muster. It is a worthy and important

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Violence: Varied, Criminal, Cruel and Senseless--Subjects for the Soapbox

Today's rant is a two-fer, with a third complaint thrown in free
of charge:

(1)  Genocide by Suicide
 Having watched black-on-black crime, violence and murder
over the last few decades, I suddenly realized what's at bottom
in this tragically wasteful phenomenon--a large number of poor
African Americans in Chicago are doing each other
(and ultimately, themselves) in, a form of genocide by suicide.
Boy, the racists in the woodwork must be rubbing their hands
together with glee--but why help them out? If only struggling
minorities would band together so that they wouldn't fuel the dark
hopes and aspersions of their enemies. (Sounds dramatic, no?
But it is real--the poor and minorities actually HAVE enemies,
pay attention!) The problem is fiendishly complicated, but here's
an inspiring, important reminder to act on: everyone is greater
than their circumstances. Think of what that could mean to
every life, if everyone on Earth believed this.

(2)  Rougher Buffer Zones Around Abortion Clinics and
The news nationwide (~01/20/'14) was replete with laws and
proposed legislation regarding the size of protest buffer zones
near abortion clinics and burial grounds. The zones' sizes vary
widely from state to state, some of  which are ridiculously
small (eight feet wide) and therefore, threateningly intrusive.
The pro-life and political activists at these sites claim they are
only exercising  their First Amendment rights to free speech.
--But free speech for whom and how, exactly? If you scrutinize
the United States Constitution minutely, you will discover
a most salient fact--NOWHERE is it stipulated there that
anyone is required to hear and obey, or even to give the
merest listen. It is not constitutional to attempt to force
one's views on anyone, even about a serious subject like
abortion. There are other, more effective means to get
one's points across, and I suggest you activists begin
employing them now. YOUR rights stop directly at a line
across the front edges of MY toes, a sensibility generally
acknowledged across the world, if not always honored.

        *Less Important, Yet Highly Irritating*

(3) Grammar Gripes, Hither and Yon
Intellectual rigor has departed the planet, evinced by
the network and PBS TV talking heads playing fast and
loose with English grammar...hey, newsies, it's not cute or
cool! New viewers everyday are being "educated" by
television, often to their detriment. Have some pride
as well as community concern, really!

The soapbox is now removed for today.