A Farewell


June 16, 2005 – March 19, 2020

I’ve long said that the cruelest joke life plays on you is that everything you need to know at age 18 you don’t learn until you’re 40.

The second cruelest joke is that dogs only get to live a fraction of your life.

That day when you decide to get a dog you unknowingly accept that this day comes. You don’t think about it on that day. You don’t see it coming on that day. On that day you only see a wagging tail and hopeful eyes pleading with you to take them home. This day comes, though. This cold, overcast, drizzly day inevitably comes.

Jack’s body had been breaking down for some time. Three years ago our veterinarian told us he had congestive heart failure and gave Jack, at best, a year to live. Well, he certainly beat that back. Soon, however, more things started to go. He developed cataracts a couple years ago and they’d grown so that he couldn’t se very far in front of himself. His hearing deteriorated over the past several months finally leaving him to look around the room to figure out from which direction the sound of someone’s voice was coming.

All of that lead to this day. But between that day and this day are thousands of others which make you wish this day would never come.

Some dogs are made to protect. Some are made to hunt. Some are meant to be the court jester, providing a family with entertainment, laughs, and unconditional love. That was Jack’s role and he fulfilled that role like a beast.

In his younger years he was fascinated by running water. From wherever he was in the house, he would come running and whining at the sound of someone turning on the water for a shower. he burst through the bathroom door, put his front paws on the edge of the tub, and watch the water as it flowed from the faucet. If you were foolish or thoughtless enough to have closed the door before turning on the water, Jack would let out desperate barks until you opened the door to let him see the magic of flowing water.

Jack’s chief skill was jumping. Guests were always amazed to see how high and often he could repeatedly jump. It was especially funny to watch from across a table as you would see his head appear then disappear above the edge of the table.

He also loved going for a ride in my car, standing as tall as could to put his nose out the open window. Before we had curbside recycling, I had to take our recyclables to the township garage. I’m pretty sure Jack knew when it was Saturday morning because you could see it in his eyes, feel it in his excitement and anticipation, and hear it in his yearning whine. He knew Saturday morning meant a trip to the recycling center.

What he loved best in his younger years was chasing deer out of our yard. Jack was never happier than when took on beasts thirty times his size. It was fun and fascinating to watch from the time he sprinted across the deck with anticipation, often not being able to stop in time and sliding off onto the first step to his manly bark as he ran right at the deer who almost immediately turned and sprinted from our yard. Pride may goeth before destruction but Jack paid that proverb no heed as he id a victory lap around the yard in celebration of scattering the invaders.

Even though Jack was packin’ just 7.5 pounds and was a fraction of the size of most every dog he ever encountered, he had no fear. In his head, he was labrador or a doberman. He fearlessly stood up to any dog that crossed his path. If any dog had a Napolean complex, it was Jack. He even scared away a black bear cub with a single bark.

When we built and moved into our home in Beech Mountain Lakes, which is a development carved out of a wooded area, Jack was no doubt the happiest dog on the planet. He loved to spend his time in the backyard — the land of a thousand scents — and explore. He loved the wildlife. He loved the trees. One autumn afternoon — it may have been the first autumn in our new home — Jack spent nearly an hour just watching and barking at the falling leaves.

Early this week, Jack’s breathing had become labored. My wife, a nurse of 30+ years, knew something serious was wrong. She took Jack to our vet who gave us the devastating diagnosis — end stage heart failure. The prognosis was worse — she said it could be a day or it could be a month. All I heard was ‘month.’ Maybe it was all I wanted to hear.

I wanted to be with him when he was breathing his last breaths. I wanted to hold him, gently scratch his chest, and tell him he was the best dog anyone could ever hope to have. I wanted to tell him I did my best to give him a good life.

It was not to be, though. The message came from my stepdaughter that Jack’s breathing was becoming harder for him and on him. My wife knew it was coming and left work early and suggested I get home, as well. But I couldn’t. I was in the middle of another hard day of desperately trying to get product onto shelves at yet another market in the middle of a world gone mad with hoarding and panic. The word came from my son at 2:15 that he was gone. All I could do was leave shoppers who passed me by wondering why a 56 year-old man had tears in his eyes in the middle of a store.

Perhaps the best quote about dogs comes from John Grogan, author of Marly & Me:
“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he’ll give you his.”

This was true of Jack. He just wanted to love and be loved.


People Across the Political Spectrum Are Indebted to Rush Limbaugh

If you’re my age, you remember the pre-cable television universe of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. It consisted of three networks — ABC, NBC, and CBS. You also remember that at 6:30 every evening, the vast majority of the country was seated in front of their televisions for the evening news — their principal source of information on the issues and events of the day.

The three anchors were liberals. All of the reporters were liberal. The editors and producers were liberals. The Left had a veritable monopoly on news, information, and entertainment in those days, to which I’m sure they refer as the ‘glory days.’

The late Neil Peart wrote in the song ‘Subdivisions,’ a song about growing up in the suburbs: “Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone.” For conservatives, it was the news and entertainment universe where they always felt so alone.

Rank and file conservatives watched, listened, and read the only news that was available at the time. And they all scratched their heads because some of it just didn’t sit right with them. Intuitively, they knew what was presented and how it was presented was out of sync with their views. They saw the difference in how the media treated Reagan in comparison to how it treated Carter; how it treated Kemp and Dole compared to how it treated O’Neill and Moynihan. In the silence of a three-network, no-internet no-social media world, though, they thought they were alone and maybe a little crazy.

Sure, conservatives had William Safire, the token conservative among a hundred liberal reporters and editors at the New York Times, but Joe & Mary SixPack weren’t reading the Times. There was also the intellectual giant, William F. Buckley, but he and his Firing Line show were relegated to PBS, a mom-and-pop shop in a news industry dominated by the Wal-Mart, Amazon, and Costco of ABC, NBC, and CBS.

In 1988, however, a voice began emanating from radio speakers in homes, in cars, and in workplaces across the country. He talked politics but in a very different way. This host was funny and irreverent. Most importantly, he was a conservative and he took great pleasure in not simply addressing the issues of the day from that viewpoint, but in tearing down the veil that protected liberalism from scrutiny lo those many years prior. Rush Limbaugh’s popularity grew almost overnight and he became a force in the national conversation.

Conservatives finally had a national, unifying voice. Suddenly it was ok for conservatives to come out of the shadows to which they had been relegated.

When the Left and the mainstream media finally accepted Rush’s success, they felt the threat to their fiefdom. They attacked and accused Rush of only providing one side of a story or an issue. They demanded he be balanced in his approach. To that he replied with his best, and perhaps most memorable line, “I am the balance.” No truer words had ever been spoken.

What is critical to understanding the meteoric rise and unparalleled success of Limbaugh’s show is this: Rush’s listeners didn’t tune in because they agreed with him. They tuned in because he agreed with them. That’s an important distinction. Limbaugh didn’t create “ditto heads.” They had always existed, a silent seam of gold — coast-to-coast wide and twenty million listeners deep –pressed beneath the political landscape into which Limbaugh sunk his pick axe.

When callers had the opportunity to speak to Rush, the rest of his listeners didn’t just hear Joe from Syracuse or Linda from Lubbock. They heard themselves and felt the warmth of the spontaneous camaraderie with like-minded people they knew must have existed but had been kept hidden and silent.

Limbaugh connected where Buckley failed to do so.

Buckley was deliberate and measured in his speech. He spoke in $25 words. His language was champagne, caviar, and brie and he spoke for the upper management conservatives. Rush used the straightforward ‘beer, burgers, and dogs’ language of the working class conservative. Buckley was a brilliant stuffed shirt. Limbaugh was an irreverent flamethrower. Buckley sat his opponents down and eloquently and methodically reduced their arguments to ashes. Limbaugh tossed molotov cocktails through their windows.

Predictably, his detractors are seizing on a handful of quotes from Rush’s show in an effort to discredit and smear him. They are cherry-picking a handful of statements Rush has made over the course of his three decades plus on the air. Having spent three hours per day, five days per week, fifty weeks per year for thirty-two years behind a microphone (that’s more than 24,000 hours for those of you in Rio Linda), surely it is expected for passion and pressure to get to any host and a comment or two that crossed the line slipped through. These immaculate, virgin-tongued detractors would have you believe that they themselves, nor their liberal heroes, have ever in 24,000 hours of conversation allowed a single comment to come from their mouths that they ultimately regret. We know better. We know the only difference between them and Limbaugh is the fact that their comments are forever in the untraceable ether while Rush’s have been recorded for posterity.

Radio has given way to podcasters and YouTubers. Despite the change in delivery method, though, each of these thousands of new-medium hosts, whether they be conservative, liberal, libertarian, or any political stripe along the political spectrum, can trace their freedom and opportunity to make their voices heard all the way back to a ‘harmless little fuzzball’ from Cape Girardeau, Missouri named Rush Limbaugh.

Even if you’re not online as one of these podcasters or YouTubers, you are probably one of the millions who have searched for and finally found a podcaster or YouTuber that agrees with you and speaks for you. You finally found your voice in theirs. You also found comfort in the fact that you’re not alone and you’re not crazy.

And that, my friend, is your gift from Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee, Rush Limbaugh.

Let’s Stop Manufacturing Mass Murdering Weapons

I don’t know much about Ian Long, the young man who killed 12 then himself in a California bar this week, other than the basic facts and a few stories from his mother’s neighbors.

There was a great deal of speculation and rants by social media pundits about what happened in a Thousand Oaks, California bar, and about Long and why he did what he did.  We still know very little.

There is just one thing I know for sure about Ian Long and what he did.  He wasn’t born a mass murderer.  We crafted him. He is the latest mass murdering weapon we as a society have manufactured in this factory we call post-modern western society.

Yes, we are manufacturing mass murdering weapons but they don’t go by the names of AR-15 or AK-47.  They have names like Ian Long, Adam Lanza, and Nikolas Cruz.  They aren’t manufactured in buildings.  They are formed and assembled in the great wide open, right in front of our veiled eyes.

Even as I write this, the event is all but forgotten because fires are raging in California, people are mourning the death of a 95-year-old comic strip artist, and there was no evil AR-15 involved in the shooting.

Most don’t realize or refuse to accept that the blame lies with each of us for each of these horrific crimes or all of the other murders that occur but fly under the radar of social media and network news because the death toll isn’t high enough to move the ratings needle.

As there always is in the immediate aftermath of crimes such as Long’s, there was the predictable and mind-numbing gun vs. anti-gun nonsense, each side hoping against all hope that a certain gun was used so it would help bolster their argument.

To discuss guns in the wake of these incidents is intellectually lazy.  The weapons that need to be discussed aren’t made of metal and wood. We manufacture weapons made of flesh and blood. The process often starts in childhood. We start with raw material, then slowly re-wire each brain — devaluing and stripping away fathers, filling brains with violence, pornography and warped values.

What’s lying beneath the surface is all of the other murders that don’t titillate with body counts — murder-suicides, spouses hiring hitmen to eliminate the other, murders for $20 or for some invented offense.  These are all still the result of what we have created.

We churn out these mass murdering products then get upset when they work as they were designed. Reports indicate that PTSD may have played a role in Long’s rampage. Can we honestly be surprised?  But every previous generation has been at war, too.  Why is the result so different today?

My wife works as a nursing supervisor at the local VA Medical Center.  The stories she brings home invariably include the words ‘alcoholic’ or ‘addict,’ especially when addressing the young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Why have these wars produced so much alcoholism, drug abuse, and violent or troubled behavior?  The greatest generation of the 1940’s had to go to war.  They were trained to kill and many of them did. They came home and went back to the factories and moved on to live normal lives.

What happened to this generation of soldiers who are suffering from addictions and PTSD at much higher rates than their fathers and grandfathers?

Twelve people are dead in Thousand Oaks, California and scores more in Florida, Connecticut, and other places not because of a gun. Their deaths are the result of a long history of collective decisions we made over the years.

We traded true commitment to a marriage for no-fault divorce & temporary living arrangements

We traded fathers for visits

We traded faith in something greater and consequences for actions for YOLO

We traded having children for having things

We traded information for entertainment.

We traded working toward a goal for instant gratification.

We traded the long haul for the shortcut.

We traded community for isolation with handheld devices

We traded coping skills for participation trophies

We traded hard truths for easy prescriptions

We traded intelligent and respectful discourse for social media diatribes

We’ve taught two generations that not all human life is equal and made the slaughter of 60 million humans at the direction of their own mothers not only acceptable, but something that should be shouted with pride. You can even buy a t-shirt to celebrate your child’s dismemberment and death.

We’ve given an entire generation instant access to all the violence and pornography — and violent pornography — that their minds could possibly crave with just a few taps on a smartphone or a button on a video game controller. At the same time, we’ve erased any delineation between right and wrong, sacrificing it at the altar of political correctness.

We’ve spent more time in war than in peace.

We hollowed out the middle class by sending manufacturing jobs — the best and easiest way for non-college graduates to find a spot among the middle class — to other countries to build their middle classes.

We did all of this without a single thought or care as to the effects and outcomes. Actions have consequences and we are living all of them.

We have met the enemy and the enemy is us.

We all know the solution is prevention, but that goes way beyond having more psychologists and group therapy.  It’s much bigger than that. It’s taking a long, hard look at ourselves — individually and as a society.  What do we value and what are we willing to sacrifice?

That’s a long, hard road and there is just no place for that in the land of instant gratification. We are western society. We don’t have time for long-term solutions. We want a shot of ‘feel-good-about-ourselves’ and then get back to our reality television, Netflix, and Instagram.

We want our vote for the right candidate and the right party to be the extent of our involvement in the work that needs to be done. We want to spare feelings rather than collectively learn hard truths.

Even in 2018, society has no idea what to do about mental illness and has no willingness to suppress its pride to admit that the true fault lies not within our guns but within ourselves.

Until we realize that the troubled person is the weapon, the best we will do is continue the endless arguments over gun metal. Until we admit the failures of the free-love 60’s and the long-term effects it has had on society, we will continue to think first of ‘me’ long before we think ‘us’.

Are you ready to do the really hard work?  Are you prepared to let go of much of what you’ve been led to believe? Can you subdue your pride to move forward on this?


Alex Jones is a psychopath.

Alex Jones is a carnival barker, a charlatan, a sick joke.

His name shouldn’t even be spoken.  Yet, here we are.

Jones, a proud purveyor of accusations without evidence, forced his way into the national spotlight by shamelessly leading the “911 Truther” movement, which based all of its ‘theories’ on debunked claims first put forth by a small band of individuals who were physically barely out of their teens but whose minds, reasoning skills, and physics experience remained well within the haunts of adolescence.

The easy and obvious debunking of those claims didn’t phase Jones.  It never does.  In the alternate reality he creates on a daily basis, the ‘government’ dutifully plays the convenient boogeyman and universal excuse for Jones when the truth blows up in his face.

Jones was preparing his conspiracy schtick while still in college, long before 9/11.  He first concocted his potion of psychosis mixed with his utter lack of shame to join those accusing the government of staging the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.  It has continued unabated since, including last year’s Charlottesville tragedy which he immediately labeled an operation contrived by the CIA.

Make no mistake.  A healthy cynicism of and an ever-vigilant and critical eye on the federal government and its power are good and necessary.  But when they are dragged down into the abyss of self-serving vitriol and the theater of the absurd that is Alex Jones and his ilk, it tarnishes that good and everything it accomplishes.

He is called a conspiracy theorist, but that is not accurate. Theorist is far too legitimate a title for someone so cretinous as Jones. His intellect does not rise to that level.  He is conspiracy theater.  He creates fiction out of misdirection and sells it as reality.  Within minutes of the carnage of the Boston Marathon bombing, Jones was already freeze-framing raw footage of the event and drawing circles of what he deemed mysterious people and things. It is troubling that so many can be led to believe there is legitimacy in the simple act of drawing a yellow circle on a grainy frame of film.

All of the above pales in comparison to Jones’ most egregious act, which in came in 2012 in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.  Jones called it a hoax.  Twenty-six people dead. Twenty-five families shredded and Alex Jones commits the ultimate act of callousness by claiming — repeatedly and to this day — that it was all an elaborate hoax.  He even went so far as to posit that the murdered children were actors.

It is disturbing that so many actually believe the twisted words that come out of his mouth.  It’s sad that so many feel disaffected enough to be taken in by his swindle.  His YouTube videos collectively boast over one billion views — that’s a ‘b’ for billion, folks.  He also uses his outlets to sell supplements and survival gear.  The estimated annual revenue from the sales of these products is between $7 and $12 million. 

There’s no doubt that Jones ends each day with a wide smile as he puts his head to his pillow, knowing that his deceit goes on one more day and the pool of his blood money grows in his bank account.

While Jones’ brand of crazy appeals to people across the political spectrum, it is concentrated far more on the right. The right needs to assume responsibility for this or risk delegitimizing itself. Jones is a boil that needs to be lanced.  The right believes in the free market and it must use that mighty invisible hand to squash this piece of human debris called Alex Jones.  He needs to be vanquished and left to the ash heap of history.  The right must stop acknowledging Jones and his verbal sewage.  Stop quoting him.  Stop sharing his videos and website links.  Stop inviting him onto shows, even if it’s to ‘add another voice.  Stop citing him altogether.

The opposite of love is not hate.  It’s indifference.  That’s how Jones will be stopped because he cannot bear to be out of the spotlight.

The market is the way and the only way this should be accomplished.  It is the market, led by those who can wield the most influence, that must mark him for what he is and destroy him.

Worse than enabling Jones to profit from his snake oil is using force and censorship to shut him down.  In the era of the Internet, that will will never be successful.  To do so would only play right into this charlatan’s hands.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what is happening.  To earn a medal from their neighbors inside their shared political echo chamber, tech titans — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, et al — are removing Jones’ accounts, no doubt with fists raised in the air to the delight of their own sycophants.  But those sycophants are no better than the members of the Alex Jones cult.

Banning Alex Jones — or anyone — is not the answer.  It has never been the answer and never will be. 

Yes, it is sad and maddening that he can enrich himself through deceit.  But the market must take care of that.  Banning Jones — especially someone like Jones whose followers are practically a cult — only legitimizes him.  He will now self-appoint himself as the poster boy for censorship, raising a sword to the jackbooted social media giants and quoting Braveheart as he leads his deceived warriors into battle, a battle after which he will undoubtedly enjoy even greater spoils.

Yet, that is exactly what they’ve foolishly done.

Instead of the tech giants banning Alex Jones, perhaps they should take a look at the fiction put forth from Michael Moore, who is just another version of Alex Jones. Moore hides behind the cloak of film-making, as if it’s more sophisticated and legitimate than talk radio, thereby shielding it from scrutiny and scorn.  His ‘documentaries’ are riddled with the same baseless garbage and conspiracy voodoo that Jones peddles.  They should even take a look at Hollywood and its fork-tongued soldiers of fortune for the years of garbage and lies it has spewed without the threat of correction or censorship.

If they still have time after examining the baseless conspiracy theories put forth by Moore and Hollywood, perhaps they could turn their attention to college campuses across the country where only a certain political viewpoint is allowed.  Come to think of it, they’re probably using the strangulation of thought on today’s college campuses as a guide.

If the left wants to start down the dark road of censorship, banning content, and trampling over the first amendment, it should keep in mind that should a block of well-heeled conservatives decide to join forces to buy majority positions in the publicly traded social media companies, the crime of censorship will find its victims among those whom the left holds dear. 

Alex Jones may be the worst of offenders, but his insidious buffoonery is present under more names than just his own.  Censor one and you must censor them all.

The weight of Jones’ absurdity would have eventually led to his demise.  Censoring him and banning his content have handed him a victory and significantly prolonged the time between now and that glorious day.


Evangelical atheist Richard Dawkins has a dream that one day human beings will get over their ‘yuck’ factor and start eating each other. 

To be fair, he wants laboratories to grow human flesh and meat for consumption, but that’s just window dressing.  The inevitable always lies just beyond the sanitized initial request.

Dawkins was reacting to a producer’s claim that animal meat is very close to being produced in a lab setting and may be available for human consumption by the end of this year.  But the thought of having an alternative to killing livestock for meat wasn’t enough for Dawkins.  It never is for “progressives.”

On Twitter, Dawkins mused, “Tissue culture ‘clean meat’ already in 2018? I’ve long been looking forward to this. What if human meat is grown? Could we overcome our taboo against cannibalism? An interesting test case for consequentialist morality versus ‘yuck reaction’ absolutism.”

Perhaps Richard was watching ‘Silence of the Lambs’ at the time and cheering on Hannibal Lecter, and that prompted the bizarre tweet.  Sadly, we know from his twisted writings and musings that’s not likely. Hannibal the Cannibal has been made real in the form of the world’s most famous faith-hater.

Dawkins’ vision of a human-eat-human paradise would be great news for traders in the destruction of human life and the vessels that house it.  Just think how convenient it will be for Planned Parenthood to finally come out of the shadows of selling human body parts on the black market and simply offering daily deliveries to local fast food joints.

The advertising is already predictable.  “Eat organic human flesh, not lab grown…”  “Our human flesh is guaranteed Non-GMO.”  Preventing Parenthood at All Costs will finally realize its financial dream of becoming a true slaughterhouse and openly selling fresh meat in the form of baby arms and legs.  Surely one of their marketing pros will brand them as ‘human veal.’

Crazy?  An unfair extrapolation?  Hardly. 

Progressive-ism — which is atheism in its political form — never stops after any victory.  It takes what is given and will immediately demand more.  It assumes a new base and grabs for more.  And more in human form sees its ultimate fulfillment in Dawkins and his deranged views.  Lab-grown animal meat today means human meat tomorrow.  Even if Dawkins’ dream is not achieved in his lifetime, his sick crusade will be picked up by one of his devotees.

Oh, I can hear you as I write this, my atheist friends. Richard doesn’t necessarily represent you, correct?  The variation of atheism you espouse and cling to wouldn’t be party to anything this out of the mainstream, yes?  You’re shouting at your screens right now.  “Dawkins is an outlier!  He doesn’t speak for the rest of us.  He is just an aberration!”

But Dawkins is no aberration.  He is the destination.  He is where the atheist road inevitably leads.  He is its final revelation.  He is the cheese at the end of the warped mental maze that is atheism.

If humans are nothing but a random, accidental collection of molecules devoid of purpose, meaning, or value, then we really are just meat.  Dawkins would be right and atheists necessarily must accept that cannibalism is acceptable.  Bon appétit.

The continued decline in the respect for human life has consequences.  Two generations growing up under Roe v. Wade has led to not only the acceptance of, but the rabid defense of, the intentional killing of nearly 60 million human beings who were simply resting and growing in their mother’s womb. Other consequences of abortion can be found in the practice of medicine, mental health, and more. But those are just rest stops on the highway to Dawkins’ Cannibal Island paradise. 

Every journey begins with a first step.

Life Fights

Every human life — no matter its duration — leaves behind lessons for those left here.  The long, protracted life will leave behind a list of do’s and don’t’s, some of them universal and others left for personal interpretation.

Even a life of just nine months — six in the womb and three outside — as was my step-grandson Greyson’s, was rich in lessons. Of those lessons, the one that surpasses them all is this: life fights.

Life, that mysterious, animating God-given force that separates us and the animal kingdom from the rest of creation, is the most unique and precious force in this world.  We are not trees that must forever stand in one place until we are felled by an axe, never knowing the value of friendship.  We are not rocks that can neither feel a cool breeze on a hot day nor know what it is like to love or be loved.  We are not dust that is at the mercy of the wind to determine where it will lie and when it will move.  Life is what separates us from these things and we’ve lost sight of how precious that is.

From the very moment of conception, life is present and begins its journey.  Without regard for our station in society or our circumstances, life fights and continues to fight until its host body succumbs.  Life itself knows nothing about nor cares about any of our arbitrary definitions of what is good or normal or happy or socially acceptable.  It just moves us forward.

Life itself cares nothing about and isn’t affected by how much or how little you want to get through another day.  It will and it will insist that your body come along.  Our eyelids don’t open in the morning because we decide to make them open.  Life demands they open. There is nothing more natural than life forcing itself into another day.

In the case of Greyson, there is an abundance of evidence that life, indeed, is a warrior unto itself.  Greyson was born ten weeks premature at 2.5 pounds, which alone presents so many challenges for the host body.  That was just the very beginning of his of his battle. He would immediately face many other challenges, yet life demanded that he face them and, with the help of so many around him, he did.

Greyson beat leukemia, by enduring chemotherapy.

Greyson beat bloodstream septic shock.

Greyson outlasted a massive cardiac thrombus (clot).

Greyson survived an enterococcal peritonitis/shock.

Greyson beat a large abdominal skin wound.

Greyson beat a bowel obstruction.

Greyson overcame kidney failure.

Greyson overcame heart failure.

The life in Greyson forced him through critically high potassium (7+) levels

The life in Greyson forced him through two code blue events (the first without any broken ribs, the second without compressions)

Even in his third and final code blue, the life force inside him willed him to survive but his body could not comply.

In the land of Rocky Balboa, Greyson went the full 15 rounds, took and countered every punch, and provided for all of us a model of strength, endurance, and persistence.

In situations like this, our egos will cause us to say things that misplace the credit for these victories.  We all want to say, “He is such a fighter because he has (INSERT SURNAME HERE) blood in him.”   The truth is, it isn’t the blood, or the bones, or the tissue that leads the fight.  They are all but soldiers in the command of Life, and Life is equal in every one of us including those in the womb.  No human life has the right or moral authority to snuff out another human life that is driving its host to live, no matter where in its journey that life may be, including in the womb.

Life fights to go on, to survive.  It is incumbent on all others to make it and its survival the center of our thoughts and actions.

What It Means to Buy A Buick

Today, I took the first step toward becoming a senior citizen. Today, I bought a Buick.

Buick is the brand of the final car you own. A Buick is the car you drive just before the kids have a talk with you and convince you to turn in your keys for your own safety and then follow up that conversation with one during which you help pick a nice nursing home.

The word Buick is derived from a French term that means “a man completely and utterly without sex appeal.” When a man talks to his friends about his Buick, he cannot use the same terms that he used when he spoke of his previous cars, those from his younger days. He no longer uses terms like “sweet ride” or “a burner.” He will refer to his Buick as a “solid, dependable car” and that it is a “good value for the money.”

He tells his new friend Morty, a thirty-year resident of the nursing home, all about his Buick. He shouts into Morty’s hearing aid that his Buick even has ‘navigation GPF’. Morty thinks he said ‘rice pudding’ and a five-minute argument ensues, at the end of which neither the man nor Morty has any idea what started the argument and he tells him again about the ‘navigation GPF’.
The image on the navigation screen never changes because he can’t figure out how to use it. The screen becomes that picture that comes with a new frame that sits on the shelf at Walmart.

When a man finally gets the radio to work, he learns that Buicks cannot play any music recorded after 1979.

When a man buys a Buick, he tells his family that it’s good to buy an American-made car because ‘the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor and we shouldn’t be rewarding them for that by buying their cars.’

There was another person at the dealership who was interested in this solid, dependable car. A blue-haired 78 year-old woman who had obviously mastered the walker and pulled an oxygen tank behind her as if it were a feather. When she tried to make an offer, though, her teeth flew out of her mouth and fell to the floor. I saw an opening and I seized the opportunity. I made my offer and the salesman accepted it but said at that price he could not include the one-year supply of Geritol that comes with every Buick. I was fine with that.

During the ride home, I noticed that people drive too darn fast and the radio seemed loud. I also learned that Buicks come with a warning should you try to drive with just one hand on the wheel. Sensing only one hand, Frank Sinatra’s voice will come from the wheel saying, “You get two hands on that wheel, mister.”

This will take some getting used to, because…wait…what was I talking about?


Its eloquent name notwithstanding, Net Neutrality was a horrible idea.

I’ll demonstrate with an analogy. The internet was called the ‘information superhighway’ way back when AOL was called America Online and was actually the second largest online service to a company called Prodigy. Raise your walking cane if you remember Prodigy. So let’s take that a step further and compare the Internet to an actual highway.

A point of clarification: nobody is connected directly to the world wide web, and the web with our without ‘net neutrality’ will be free and open. We are given access to that mysterious collection of semiconductors and fiber optics through ISPs. Now, ISP’s have the unenviable task of investing millions into servers, personnel, and the stringing millions of miles of fiber optic cables to millions of homes, paying a rental fee for every telephone and utility pole they use to hold their cable along the way. And it’s not just a one-time cost. ISP’s have had to constantly upgrade and invest more along the way to keep up with the traffic.

For purposes of our analogy all of those fiber optic cables and servers provided by the ISP’s are the highway — let’s call it the Cable Highway. Things on the Cable highway were going fairly smoothly as compact cars and even smart cars were zipping along and not taking up much room. That was until a hand full of cement companies began sending their huge cement trucks on the highway. The weight of these trucks started to wear out the roads. At first, the cars and trucks got along fine, but then the cement companies began sending thousands of their trucks down the highway until 70% of all traffic on the Cable highway were cement trucks. It slowed traffic and pushed the cars to the side. The people in charge of the Cable highway had no choice but to spend all their money building more and bigger lanes for all of these trucks.

The cement companies were making billions of dollars thanks to the road which they used for free. In fact, the cement companies had almost no overhead or costs, yet still paid nothing to help maintain the roads that were so crucial to their business.

There were smaller highways that ran parallel to the superhighway. Let’s call them the Verizon and AT&T highways. Some of the cement trucks traveled on these highways which provided some small relief to the people taking care of the big Cable highway. But the Verizon and AT&T roads became toll roads and the people who were receiving the goods from trucks that used the Verizon and AT&T highways were told, “If you keep making these cement trucks travel on our roads, we’re going to charge you much, much higher fees. In other words, we’re going to throttle you with fees.” So those people bought wireless routers and smartphones and pushed almost all of those cement trucks off of the Verizon and AT&T roads and dumped them onto the Cable highway.

The people taking care of the Cable highway said, “Wait, this isn’t fair. You cement companies are taking advantage of us and everybody else. You’re literally getting a free ride on our highway and our money. You should be helping to pay for these roads.” The cement companies refused, so the people closed a couple lanes on the Cable highway because they couldn’t afford to just keep investing millions and millions more so a handful of billionaires could make even more money off them.

So, the cement companies — let’s call them Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, and Facebook — went to their friends in the federal government and demanded that they pass a law that said that the people building and maintaining the highway shouldn’t be allowed to ask cement companies to help pay for the building and maintenance of the highway. We’ll call the law something nice like ‘Net Neutrality’ and use words like ‘free and open internet’ to help sell it to the public. They’ll think it’s vital to save humanity when really all it will be is a way for us to avoid paying our fair share.

(Keep in mind who were among candidate and President Obama’s most ardent supporters. Yes, the Silicon Valley chapter of the Billionaire Boys club – Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Jeff Bezos, et al. “Say, Mr. President, it would be a shame if cable companies made us pay our fair share for internet traffic. Here’s a bunch of money for your campaign. We came up with something called ‘Net Neutrality.’ You’re going to love it. See to it that it’s implemented.”)

In the end, the cable and the trucking industries are the same: they both provide transportation. Cable companies provide a path for e-commerce and online video companies to transport their information to their customers, while trucks transport hard goods over physical highways. Each of them do this at an expense. Trucks pay higher taxes and fees to help maintain the roads. In the online video and social media industries, though, the ‘trucks’ are refusing to accept responsibility for maintaining the information superhighway.

Now, you are free to shed your tears for the Silicon Valley chapter of the Billionaire Boys club and fall for their apocalyptic warnings of the death of the Internet, but I assure you they will be fine. For those screaming about the GOP Tax reform bill being a giveaway to the wealthy (which is woefully inaccurate) where is your outrage for the wealthy Silicon Valley bullies who are getting a free ride on your cable bill?

Finally, despite the dire warnings of the death of innovation because of this move, remember that ‘Net Neutrality’ came into existence just two years ago. All of the major companies at the center of this debate — YouTube, Netflix, etc — existed long before then. The repeal of this horrible scheme will have not one iota of an effect on innovation. It will flourish just as it did for all of the years the Internet existed before ‘net neutrality.’


The Enlightened Feminist OR You Mean Men Aren’t the Worst Thing to Happen to Society?

BOOK REVIEW –  Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism  by Camille Paglia

Having been born in 1963, my life has closely paralleled the second wave of feminism along with its daughter, today’s third wave.

Throughout its five decades, the second wave of feminism achieved its goals of opening up opportunities to women in society and in the workplace.  It did so admirably in its early days but something happened along the way.  Since then, it has forged ahead in a monolithic and increasingly hostile and exclusive manner.  In contrast to its early years when women fought to let it be known that they deserve an equal shot at economic success to go along with the rights the first wave had won in the early 1900’s, the movement became more about what’s wrong with men.

The popular brand of feminism — the one that drew the attention and the ears of Washington DC — made a wrong turn.  In its quest for more power, it made its demands not by extolling the virtues and value of women as much as it became a tearing down of men and all things male. I watched as popular culture, shaped greatly by Hollywood, went from “Father Knows Best” to fathers know nothing.\

My shell-shocked brothers and I were suddenly the sole reason for all things that were wrong in the world.  And everything was wrong.  We’ve endured the public floggings, both overt and subtle, while doubting everything about ourselves along the way.  It left us wondering, “We’re busting our butts for this?”  At some point, it became less about equality and more about power.  The movement became its own stumbling block.

Imagine how refreshing it would be to read a work by a feminist that is not only free of the mindless denigration of all things male but one that proclaims an actual appreciation for men and their history of accomplishments for the greater good and for women specifically.

Enter Camille Paglia (PAH-lia).  Actually, that is not completely accurate.  Paglia was there at the beginning, a vociferous champion of equal opportunity for women in all areas of life before the feminist movement was co-opted by the Gloria Steinem cabal of man-hating flamethrowers.

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve only come to know Paglia’s work in the last several years through her columns on Salon.com.  That is also testimony to feminism’s internal struggles and her exile from the feminist movement for speaking truth to power.

The first two chapters of Free Women Free Men are an anthropologist’s wet dream.  Paglia leaves no room for doubt in the reader’s mind that she is an intellectual powerhouse who has clearly earned her many impressive credentials.  Keep a dictionary and thesaurus close by as she guides you through history, ancient cultures, and their relevance to modern feminism.

Those chapters serve as the foundation for the rest of the book, which is a collection of selected essays, lectures, and interviews.  At the core of Paglia’s brand of feminism is a railing against anti-science womens/gender studies which ignore basic biology and are offered by a university system that she describes as ‘an absolute wreck.’  Another common thread running through each of them is the radical thought that men aren’t to blame for everything wrong with the world and society and that biology and sexuality play the primary role in differentiating the genders.  To label those as radical seems odd, but in the upside-down world of political correctness, the truth and statements of the obvious become revolutionary.

As for her writing style, reading Paglia is akin to watching a world champion fencer — quick, elegant and deadly.  Her parry to an opponent’s attacks and misguided vitriol are brutal and are followed by the swift riposting of a counter-point before laying to waste said opponent with a deadly lunge and thrust. The cadence and structure are crisp and straightforward as she drives home superbly-researched and winning points.  She deftly lays to waste not only her opponents and their arguments, she also slays current wave feminism’s sacred cows — from Title IX, to Rosseau-based gender-fluidity, to safe spaces and the general infantilizing of women that comes with them.

While there are disagreements with the author one will find on many topics along the way, Paglia is someone with whom you can walk alongside in the preservation of the political, economic, and social gains that women have won without the obligation to hurl self-loathing insults at men or the mythical patriarchy.  She is an intellectual companion to all and, unlike her feminist counterparts, consciously shows respect for those with whom she disagrees.  She is an atheist with profound respect for people of faith; an abortion-rights advocate who is authentic enough to admit flaws its reasoning and refuses to denigrate those in the pro-life camp.  Paglia seems to save her harshest criticisms for her fellow feminists and liberals.

Despite the camaraderie one might enjoy with Paglia in stating the obvious about feminism, the conservative would be mistaken if he/she believes a political ally has been found in Paglia.  Make no mistake, Paglia is hard left, politically.  She was a vociferous supporter of crazy uncle Bernie Sanders and voted for Jill Stein in the general election. That’s ok, too.  Even here she demonstrates respect and deference toward her opponents.

Paglia is a true feminist, someone who genuinely believes in the abilities of all women and refuses to tear down in order to build up.  Free Women, Free Men is a book which men, particularly, will enjoy as it doesn’t ask the reader to rage against the all-too-convenient feminist boogeyman called the patriarchy in order to recognize the abilities, contributions, and needs of women.

Free Women, Free Men, like Paglia’s breakthrough book, Sexual Personae, is a tome that deserves a space in the great works of modern feminism.


Get Free Women, Free Men HERE



Let me begin with a disclaimer: I haven’t worked a single day in the field of Human Resources, nor have I ever played a human resource executive on television or in a blog. I am speaking as the father of young man trying to find work, as well as someone who, himself, has been through the hiring process a time or ten.

I worked for an organization that helps manufacturers streamline processes, improve soft skills like leadership and innovation, and grow their top line with growth services. Our meetings and consultations with these firms covered a wide range of topics and they vary from company to company. One common thread, though, is the lament from nearly every one of them that they are having a difficult time filling open positions. It’s not just skilled positions that are going unfilled, but general labor positions, as well. On any given journey through the region, numerous billboards advertising job openings from various companies can be seen on roadsides. On the same road trip one will hear radio ads from the same manufacturers or distribution centers letting you know that they are hiring.

Likewise, while shopping around town one can’t walk through the door of any retail outlet or restaurant without seeing a sign reading ‘Now Hiring’ or ‘Help Wanted’. At every stop, I pull out my phone, snap a photo of the sign, and text it to my son, a recent high school graduate with past work experience who has been looking for a job all summer.

Given the plethora of signs and the desperate pleading from manufacturing firms’ human resources departments, one would think that anyone searching for a job could simply express just a modicum of interest and he/she would be welcome with open arms.

Unfortunately, every one of those manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants offered just one option for job applicants: go to a website and fill out an application. For the job-seeker like my son, it’s another website. Another impersonal, time-draining, patience-testing, soul-crushing website. There isn’t even an option to fill out an application onsite. It seems that human resource departments have removed humans from the early stages of the hiring process.

So, my son has filled out dozens if not a hundred online applications, just like his older brother and sisters before him. The response? Crickets. Nothing. Not even an acknowledgment via email that an application was successfully submitted from the vast majority of employers to which he applied. It has been remarkably discouraging and frustrating. And I feel his pain as I have been through this new, depressing process, as well. It also makes me question just how hard companies that claim to be challenged in finding the right people are trying to reach those people.

Look, I get the convenience of online applications for HR personnel. I’m sure it’s much easier and less overwhelming to simply point to a website and retrieve applications and resumes when the need arises. I have to ask, though, is it really that much better to use such an impersonal method of gathering applications? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to hand someone a physical application and interact with them even for a moment or two in order to get a feel for who they are as a person? Would that not go a long way in weeding out those who wouldn’t be a fit for the position or your company, thereby saving time in calls and interviews with people with whom your sole interaction up to that point was a few lines of copy on a computer screen?

In 1983, I had just finished my sophomore year in college and planned to kick off the summer by getting tickets to a concert. In those days, concert tickets were dispensed from a computer terminal tied to a dot matrix printer housed at a location somewhere. That location for us in northeastern Pennsylvania at the time was Joe Nardone’s Gallery of Sound, a record store located in the Wyoming Valley Mall. On the fateful Saturday morning when I stood in line waiting to purchase tickets, Nardone himself, the owner of the five-store chain, was at the helm of the Ticketmaster terminal. I made my purchase, paid with cash, and Nardone placed the tickets and my change into an envelope and I was on my way.

When I arrived home, I removed the tickets and cash from the envelope and discovered that he had given me $10 too much change. I immediately got back into my car, drove back to the store, and returned the $10 to Nardone himself. He was stunned and impressed enough to offer me a job on the spot. I started working for him the following Monday.

The point is that without that personal interaction, Nardone would have had no idea who I was as a person or how I could benefit his business. The same is true for my son. With his personality and the care and courtesy for those around him he has demonstrated all his life, he would be great in customer-facing work environments, while his discipline and compliance would serve him and his employer well in other positions. But how would potential employers know that if their only interaction with him is a cold, faceless online application?  Pixels on a computer screen have no personality and offer little insight into the person who may very well be the perfect fit for an organization. With online applications, candidates are homogenized and commoditized leaving HR personnel no way to get a feel for any one of them.

Allow me to take it one step further. There are so many people out there who are still searching for jobs and careers similar to the ones they’d lost as a result of the Great Recession. Many of them are primary or sole providers for families. They are stressed and possibly desperate. Do you know what it’s like to click ‘submit’ on a website’s application page and then be treated to radio silence forever more? And don’t get me started on those companies which demand that applicants attach a resume and then fill in an online application that asks for the exact same information that is on said resume. Further, I am convinced that not even Dante could dream of a lower circle of hell for those who demand applicants go through attaching the resume, filling in the online application, AND completing a personality survey, only to receive not even an acknowledgment that someone somewhere in the organization has at least seen the submission. Do you know that the unemployed who are in desperate situations have started the clock on waiting for a positive response (or any response) from a potential employer the very second they click ‘finish’ or ‘submit’? Do you know what it’s like to be stuck in that silent separation not knowing what is going on with the hiring process and have only a computer screen onto which to express your frustration?

Any communication would be welcome, even if it’s negative. At least the person wouldn’t be spending weeks thinking a phone call is coming. Couldn’t HR offer more than silence? Imagine a human being from a company’s HR department calling another human being and saying something like, “Hi, we received your resume and while your experience and qualifications aren’t the best match for this position, I know ABC Company is hiring and you might be a fit there. I can forward your information to my friend there if you’d like.” Or, perhaps, “Other applicants for this position have more experience or qualifications that are a better match, but we’d love to talk to you about another position with us.” Do you have any idea how much that would mean to someone?

I will end where I started. I don’t know what it’s like on the other side of the human resources door. You surely have great challenges before you. I am only offering insight into what it’s like on this side of your website. We just want you to know that we are real and we are more than the pixels on your screen…and that we have sons who need to earn some money so they can pay their share of the monthly car insurance premium. Just sayin’.


A man with a gun is not dangerous, nor is a man with a flag.
The dangerous man is the one with no job, no purpose, and little or no hope.

I have bad news for everyone who promises to stamp out racism. It has been here for millennia and it will be here long after everyone reading this is gone. It didn’t start with black vs. white and won’t end with those colors, either. As it exists today, the racist strain is small, with the number of those practicing it dwarfed by the 320 million Americans that do not. Consider that the march in Charlottesville was a national call for people of that ilk to join and the final number who showed up was in the hundreds. They couldn’t even fill the streets. Still, racism will never die.

I do not hate either side that engaged in the violence that day — the bigoted neo Nazis nor the masked and violent vandals of Antifa. I can only pity them. The truth is that they are all lost souls who at some point in their lives lost purpose, lost hope, and lost affection, then sought replacements from the worst possible sources, oftentimes, the only one made available to them.

As I watched clips of the march and counter-protest, it occurred to me that if both sides engaged in real communication, rather than meeting hate with hate, they would have discovered that many of them had one thing in common. They would have noticed that a great number of the members of each group are among the economically disenfranchised.

One thing women will never understand fully about men is the sense of self-worth that work provides them. In the absence of work, or in the performing of work that offers little opportunity or a worthwhile share in society, a man never feels whole. Without the ability to provide for himself or his family, a man will eventually believe he has no purpose. He will also begin to assign blame for his plight. The longer a man is in this state, the more susceptible he will be to distorted thoughts, ugly philosophies, and the welcoming arms of sympathetic hate-mongers who offer easy two-tone answers and the blood money of professional protesting. This is not only true in America but on the streets in countries where Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terror organizations flourish. Idle hands are truly the devil’s workshop.

When American companies began closing their American mills and factories and stopped providing American workers with jobs in the late 1980’s, they created another type of factory, one that began churning out displaced men. In 1993, Congress ratified and President Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and that unemployment factory went into full production mode. In addition to the 700,000 existing manufacturing jobs that almost instantly disappeared, an estimated 5 to 10 million jobs that would have been created for an eager and hungry workforce in America’s heartland were handed to people south of the border when American firms built their new factories in places like Chihuahua instead of Charlottesville. Non-college graduates who could once count on a place in America’s middle class with the help of their manufacturing jobs were cast into the socioeconomic pit of service jobs, leaving them forever pressing their noses up against the window of that middle class.

NAFTA became the most socially destabilizing policy ever put forth by America’s leaders. It has nearly hollowed out the middle class and is one of the chief causes of income inequality.

On its current course, the outlook for the American worker only gets worse.

Right now, there are a handful of billionaires paying armies of software engineers to develop artificial intelligence beings, advanced robotics, and autonomous (self-driving) vehicles. Combined, these creations will put tens of millions of Americans out of work and leave only the best and brightest of their children with middle- and upper-middle class jobs. They will dwarf NAFTA in terms of job destruction. Granted, we are probably at least two decades away from most of this to hit critical mass, but what is the plan for workers and their families? NAFTA was implemented without a single thought as to how we would deal with the displaced workers of its first generation and an equal amount of thought for its second. In the movie Jurassic Park, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) challenges Hammond, the park’s creator with the movie’s best and most poignant line. “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Hammond manipulated life to create a self-enriching paradise. Elon Musk, et al are attempting to do the same with artificial life, potentially destroying real lives in the process just like Hammond. I do not fault their desire to proceed, but we can only label ourselves criminally negligent if we again fail the American worker with a lack of foresight and planning as we did with NAFTA.

A man with a good, family-sustaining middle-class job has something to protect. He has something to defend and he has self-worth. He has little time or patience for hate, marches, and counter-protests.

Yes, there is a lot more that goes into preventing one from slipping into the pit of racism and its new violent counter — education, empathy, and communication to name a few. However, with smarter growth-focused economic policies and more foresight and planning, we can choke off the supply of men (and women) who are vulnerable to their sick allure.

Five Course Comedy

Another book that shouldn’t have taken so long to get through but for the fact that I had to stop to laugh. Constantly.

My daughter bought this book for me after reading it because she knows that the author, comedian Jim Gaffigan, and I must be related somehow. Six degrees of pizza or something. Having seen his comedy routines and especially after reading this book, I’m confident she is right. It would not surprise me that should either of us ever need an organ transplant, we would each be a match for the other.

Gaffigan is an unapologetic lover of food and the consumption thereof (my people!). The book is his thorough assessment of all things food from everything he likes, such as bacon — “the candy of meat”– and cheeseburgers — “there should be way more poetry written about cheeseburgers” — to the much smaller number of foods he finds repulsive, such as “seabugs” (lobster, shrimp, clams, etc) and health foods like kale — “tastes like bug spray.”

What sets this book head and shoulders above others in the humor genre is Gaffigan’s remarkably prolific comedic mind. With humor books you hope for a laugh on each page. In this book, you’re getting one in almost every sentence. Many of those will cause you to close the book to spend a good amount of time laughing or if you are really in the spirit of reading “Food: A Love Story” by eating while reading, you will find yourself expelling your taco or bacon from your mouth or your nose. You’ve been warned.

You’re not going deep here. From a literary point of view, you’re not getting steak (“the tuxedo of meat”). Enjoy it for what it is — a damn good (and hilarious) cheeseburger.

An Open Letter to Young Fathers

“If you’re lucky enough to have done well, then it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.”

–Kevin Spacey

This is an unusual Father’s Day for me.  Last Monday, the youngest of my four children graduated from high school.  In the eyes of the state, I’m officially, technically done as a father.  I can hop aboard a plane destined for the island of St. Croix with a wave and a ‘Good luck in life’ wish for my kids.

We fathers know that isn’t how it works.  We are among the very small handful of people on planet earth that knew our children when they were babies, toddlers, tweens, teens, and young adults.  Our greatest wish is to continue to know, be with, and watch them grow for the rest of our lives; to see the adults and parents they will become.

No, I’m not done – not even close.  My role now changes from teacher to advisor.  Their lives are their own; their decisions, too, and the consequences and rewards that come with them.  There is no more “You will do this.”  From now on, it can only be “Well, my experience has been…”  That’s really what parenting comes down to – passing on knowledge in the hope that your children will avoid the same mistakes you made.

While it would be arrogant to assume that I have been a successful father – that’s something for my children and my children alone to decide – I have successfully guided four human beings from birth to adulthood.  I’ve learned much along the way so per Mr. Spacey’s exhortation above, I’m sending the elevator back down.

First and foremost, get their hearts right.  As fathers, our role is dominated by teaching and pushing for achievement.  That’s important, of course.  Ultimately, though, we will all be judged on our hearts and how we interacted with the world around us.  Intellect and achievements are wonderful, but they make for cold eulogies.  Teach them how they fit in to the grand scheme of things and how the rest of the world fits around them.  Teach them how each of their actions can make the world a better place or a worse place. Teach them to empathize – to walk in another’s shoes, to understand, to feel compassion.

Don’t get divorced.  Just don’t.  I don’t care how bad you think their mother is, there is nothing worse or more damaging to your children than divorce (you can close your email app.  I know abusive relationships are an exception. I get it.)  My children may read this, so I’m not going to get into my ex-wife’s behavior and faults.  Suffice it to say that whatever you are going through with yours, I’ve been there with a multiplier of ten.  Through all of it, I was willing to stay, to keep the marriage together to maintain stability for my children.  You can and you should work it out.  If you’re thinking life is going to be so much better with someone else, you are mistaken.  From a very selfish perspective, it may be.  Your second spouse may be kinder, less selfish, etc.  But you are simply trading one set of problems for another, some you can’t anticipate.  Divorce and remarriage are no panacea. Divorce is horrible and puts terrible strains on you and your children.  Worse, it causes untold and unseen damage to your children – damage that you may not even know exists until your children are grown.  Whatever is going on in your marriage to your children’s mother, work it out.  The reason the divorce rate is so high is that people have no idea what marriage is.  There is always so much talk about sex education.  I say forget sex education.  There should be marriage education.  Don’t get divorced.  Just don’t.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. You are not perfect, so don’t expect your kids to be.  Discipline is good.  Control is not.  Don’t freak out over habits and messy rooms.  I don’t know about you, but my bedroom was a disaster area when I was a kid.  When I get got my first apartment, though, I was suddenly a neat freak.  Not OCD level, but I took care of it and nothing was out of place.  Why?  Because it was truly mine and I was a grown-up (sort of).  Yes, try to get them on the right path, but don’t let your time with them be overrun with constant nagging. Your children are human beings with their own unique life and future.  They are in your care for a period of time, but they are not your property.

Don’t fall for the ‘quality time’ lie.  This goes along with my exhortation about divorce.  I was born in 1963. Technically, that puts me on the tail end of the baby boom generation – easily the most self-centered generation in the history of civilization.  I’ve never felt any connection to this generation, but the anthropologists want to lump me in with them.  If so, then I’m part of the generation that has made its primary objective to force the natural order of things to work around individuals’ selfish desires.  It didn’t invent divorce, but it brought it into the mainstream.  It not only made divorce acceptable and seems to be working on making it a rite of passage.  To make divorce more acceptable and palpable, they came up with the lie of ‘quality time,’ which dictates that it doesn’t matter if you only see your children two weekends per month, as long as you have a good time with them, it’s ok.  It’s one of the biggest lies of all time.  Don’t fall for it.  Your children need you every day.  Every.  Day.  Your children will learn FAR more from you by your example than by your words.  Your example seeps into their subconscious and influences them more than any words you pelt them with.  They can’t get that from ‘visitations’ a few days a month.

Furthering the previous point, it’s not enough to be present in your children’s lives.  You need to be in the present while you are with them.  Turn your full attention to them in those times.  Make that time sacred.  Do not think about your checking account, or your job, or anything else except your children and what they are enjoying or learning during that time.  If your mind is elsewhere, they will know it and feel it.  If you do not focus on them in these times, you may find yourself one day – perhaps during the week that your youngest child graduates high school – struggling to summon a memory and when you do only to find that it is cloudy or paled over because at the moment it was happening your mind was elsewhere.  Finally on this point, my children’s first ten years or so occurred before cell phones and long before smartphones.  Today, they are ubiquitous and dangerously addicting for everyone.  So, for the love of God and all that is sacred and pure, put away the smartphone when you are with them.

One of your most important jobs is to cultivate, to nurture their natural strengths and abilities and recognize their interests.  Do they have natural athletic ability or a creative flair?  Explore it and cultivate it.  The trick is to walk that delicate line between cultivating/encouraging and forcing it upon them to the point that they no longer enjoy it or they grow resentful.  Good luck with that.  While you try to walk that tightrope, there are two major pitfalls to avoid:  1) don’t make idols of your children.  Celebrate their achievements, etc, of course, but do not overpraise or over-expose them on social media, and 2) if your child is blessed with athletic ability, don’t be that father at all of their games.  You know the father (or mother many times) to whom I am referring – the one who is always arguing with the umpires, referees, and coaches and insists that it is his child that is a superstar and can do no wrong.  I’ve spent many years coaching Little League and youth football.  Here’s what I can tell you about what’s happening in the dugout and on the sidelines while you are acting like an idiot in the stands.  Your son/daughter is reacting in one of three ways: 1) being profoundly embarrassed and wishing you would shut up, 2) laughing at you with teammates or being picked on by those teammates because of you, or 3) worst of all becoming conditioned to think that everyone else is wrong, that authority should not be respected, and that they are somehow better than everyone else.  Also, stop yelling instructions or constant praise while they’re on the field.  Here’s another news flash: when they are on the field they don’t hear or understand what you’re saying and it’s nothing but a distraction for them. Finally, they will survive striking out and bad calls.  It’s part of life.  Sit down.  Shut up. Enjoy the game.  More importantly, let them enjoy the game.

Don’t over-protect them.  You may think you’re helping, but you may very well be causing more damage than you realize.  You may be conditioning them to be afraid of everything when they are adults.  Mistakes and experience can often be the best way to learn and for some like one of my sons, the only way a lesson gets learned.

They do not need things.  They need you.  No matter how wealthy or poor you are doesn’t matter a single bit to your kids.  Sure, they will cry and put up a fuss when you tell them ‘no’ when they ask to buy something.  I’ll let you in on a little secret: within an hour or so, they will have completely forgotten about whatever it is that they ‘had to have.’  Also, if you’re thinking that your house isn’t as nice as your neighbors, again, they don’t care.  It’s their home and the place where they are creating memories.  It will always be home to them.  Besides, they won’t have a clue as to the difference between houses until they are older.

Make sure they know where you stand on the big questions.  I came to faith late in life when my children were already well on their way to forming their opinions on such matters.  Regardless, there can be no doubt in their minds where I am on that journey and that I am here whenever they have questions.

There is no harder work than being a father.  Likewise, there are no greater rewards. It can be scary at times while you’re on that elevator, feeling every bit of pain they feel and praying to God that He transfer the pain from your children to you.  It will all be worth it and the elevator ride will be over before you know it.  When you arrive, you will regret your mistakes and smile at what you got right.  It will be with bittersweet satisfaction that you will press the button to send it back down.

‘Free’ Community College Is A Bad Idea

One state finally pulled the trigger.  Tennessee will make community college free to all of its residents.  Earlier this year, New York state made a four-year college degree free for its residents, albeit with some serious caveats.

Naturally, the instant reaction is that such moves are simply wonderful.  I tell you, though, it’s a really bad idea.  Sorry, I know that makes me a horrible person, but allow me to explain.

First, let’s start with a quick visual economics lesson. Imagine you’re holding a water balloon in one hand. Now, take the thumb and middle finger from your free hand and wrap it around the balloon and squeeze. You moved the water from the middle of the balloon, right? Did the water disappear or was it just moved to the top and bottom of the balloon, distorting its shape? Congratulations, you just learned how government intervention wreaks havoc upon and distorts the free market.

Now, let’s look at how this program will affect the higher education industry and cause far more problems than it cures (like just about every government intervention into the marketplace). First, what always happens when something of value is suddenly given away for ‘free’? Demand skyrockets, yes? In my home county, Luzerne County in Pennsylvania, our local community college has an enrollment of just over 6,000 students and the yearly tuition is about $3,500 for an in-county resident. When something with a value of $3,500 is suddenly offered for ‘free’, do you think demand will go up? One cannot even use the traditional marketing/economics formula of price elasticity to measure such a proposition. Can we agree that enrollment would double, especially when you throw in a segment of the population who would say, “Nothing else to do, so what the heck? Let’s go to college. It’s free, after all.” Let’s be conservative, though, and say the 6,000 students would turn into 10,000.

Since our local community college campus — currently 15 buildings — isn’t built or staffed to handle 10,000 students, what has to happen? The college will have to build and staff to accommodate. That means that county officials will have to raise taxes to build the new buildings and parking lots and hire additional faculty and staff. That means more than just paying for one-time construction costs (which will run over budget by millions, guaranteed). It would also need to fund ongoing maintenance of the buildings and grounds, as well as salaries, benefits and sweetheart pensions for the additional faculty and staff.

‘Free’ community college would also be a menace to four-year colleges and universities. Currently, most four-year colleges will accept most if not all credits earned at community colleges. Who wouldn’t then get those credits for ‘free’ and then transfer to a four-year college, rather than paying $40,000 for the first two years at a university? Therefore, four-year colleges in the future will do one of two things: stop accepting community college credits or raise tuition exponentially to compensate for the lost revenue from their ever-shrinking freshman and sophomore classes. Competition will most likely force them to continue to accept the credits, which means they will simply raise tuition. They will have no fear of doing so because they know the federal government will simply increase funding through grants and loans because it is political suicide not to give the education establishment whatever it wants. Anyone objecting to blindly increasing education spending year after year is always labeled as ‘anti-education’.

Let’s take a look at how else the free market gets distorted by this proposal. Today, there are roughly 7,000 trade and technical schools in the United States. While less expensive than colleges and universities, on average, trade and technical schools still generally cost more than your typical community college and will certainly cost much more when community colleges are ‘free’. So, what do you think will happen to all of the trade and technical schools when the ‘free’ community colleges begin offering the same courses and certifications? If you guessed they will go out of business, give yourself a gold star. And when all of those schools are gone and all of the education is being done by one institution — the ‘free’ community college — what will happen to the quality of the programs? The quality will inevitably suffer from the lack of competition.

The annual operating budget for Luzerne County Community College is $42 million. With future student enrollment ever increasing, that budget would easily swell to $70 million. Suddenly, the hottest job in every county is the presidency of the local community college. With all that new money flowing through a government agency, waste, corruption, nepotism and cronyism will inevitably follow. Do you think a good chunk of that new money might just end up in the pockets of the board members and administrators? Nah.

Former President Obama spoke of free community college in one of his state of the union speeches.  His plan would have covered it nationwide.  It had some dangerous fine print, though. The federal government, according to this proposal, would only kick in 75% of the cost of this program and demanded that states pick up the rest. State legislatures and governors would have been handed an unfunded mandate (classic political tactic) and be forced to raise taxes through no fault of their own in order to pay for the federal giveaway.

‘Free’ government programs are never free and they are never without consequences. Besides, reaching into taxpayers’ pockets to provide ‘free’ community college is a classic example of fixing something that isn’t broken. Is there a community college crisis out there that only the government can solve?

Things That Go Bump In The Morning

I know what you’re thinking: that’s an odd place for a chandelier. Either that or you’re probably thinking that lamp is too big for that coffee table.

You’d be wrong with either.

Our day started just before 6:00 am with a thunderous, house-shaking boom coming from our first floor right below our bedroom. My first thought, obviously, was a terrorist attack. They found me — the infidel, the great Satan. Our dachshund puppy immediately sounded his barking alarm and that comforted me. The jihadi son-of-a-slug that got into our home is in for it now, I thought. Suffer dachshund rage, you scum.

When I got downstairs, though, there was no smell of bomb residue — not that I would know what that smells like, anyway. There was no sinister, smiling terrorist, either. What we found was our chandelier resting comfortably on the floor. It seemed stunned but perhaps relieved, too, after spending all of those years being dangled above the table and floor as if it was rushing a fraternity and having to endure a decade-long prank before being accepted into the frat house.

Looking up, we saw the apathetic links that had held the chandelier all those years. They were defiant, just hanging there knowing that it wasn’t their fault. No, the fault was in their weak friend — the one link they always made fun of and made carry the heaviest load. “Don’t look at us,” they quipped. “We’re right where we are supposed to be. Check the floor. You’ll find the culprit,” they said. “Watch out for all the tiny shards of glass, though.” At least they were somewhat thoughtful, if not remorseful. We searched the floor and found the lowest link — the weakest one. “I tried, man, I tried. Just couldn’t hold it anymore,” it said with its final breath while looking at his other half a few inches away.

The dangling electrical wire, snapped and stripped, was afraid of blame. “There’s no way I was going to be able to hold that beast. You can’t think I could be responsible for that can you? I have to deal with lighting the thing.  There are still people I have to deal with who think what I do is witchcraft.  ” I paused and realized he was right. “I know,” I said. “It’s ok.”

The electrician who came to install a new one this afternoon said that he never heard of a chandelier just falling down like that, especially after only ten years. He suggested taking it back to Lowe’s. My wife was way ahead of him.

Your prayers for whoever is working the Lowe’s customer service desk tomorrow when my wife and I take the chandelier back would be appreciated.

This Is How I’ve Nearly Eliminated Stress, Tension, and Anxiety

I am loathe to give advice.  That’s not what this is about.  This is not a ‘revolutionary three-step plan’ for a better life.  The best I can do is say that this worked for me.

One trend I’ve noticed over the past few years is the growth in tension, anxiety, and worry in our society.  Whether it’s a true growth or if it’s simply being vocalized and brought to the surface more, I don’t know.  Perhaps social media is giving it a higher, more visible platform.  Regardless, it is evident that we complain a lot.  We worry a lot.  We get tense way too often.

I noticed it in myself, though it wasn’t a recent phenomenon.  Stress and tension, as well as non-clinical anxiety, were dependable companions for most of my life.  Raising four kids, dealing with an ex-spouse, working in marketing which always up being first in line for the chopping block when the economy or business turns sour, and trying to balance a new life can certainly be labeled as contributing factors.

All of that is still present for me.  The kids will be an ever-present worry, no matter how old they either of us get.  I’m still more than a decade from retirement, so I go to work every day hoping that day isn’t the last.  I still need to balance my past life with my wife, while trying to help her do the same.

What has changed is my re-ordered thinking and the shift in my prayer life.  I stopped focusing on what I wanted and started focusing on, and appreciating, what I have.  Simplistic, I know, but sometimes the answer is truly right in front of us and can be that obvious.  Concentrating on gratitude has made a big difference.

The gratitude is not for things.  That will never last for when a time comes when those things are no longer present, no longer will be the gratitude.  It is not a comparative gratitude, either.  To be thankful that I’m not a starving child or homeless, because that will still focus one on material things.  The gratitude is much more basic and granular than that.  If a person can get the gratitude to the level of the basics — waking up, air in the lungs, freedom — the rest naturally fall far down the list of what can infest a person’s mind and attitude.

In my prayer life, as well, I made a conscious shift from requests and supplications to simple gratitude.  I’ve nearly stopped sending requests and demands to God for what I desire and instead send my gratitude for what I have.  I have no calculator on my prayers, but I can confidently say that 90% of my prayers are those of simple gratitude — for my eyes opening each day, for the air in my lungs, and for another opportunity to enjoy my wife and family, music, art, literature, and the whole of creation.  There will be a day when that won’t happen.  Perhaps it would be best to keep that more to the forefront of our minds.

The problems I thought I had became far less significant and their status as problems has even become questionable.  There is no magic, here.  The conflicts and challenges of life do not suddenly disappear.  A mind re-ordered by gratitude have minimized their effect on me.

10 Songs That Prove the 90’s Was the Golden Decade for Female Songwriters

As a writer, one spends a great deal of time in front of a computer.  And since computers are perpetually connected to the Internet, it means one’s most addictive distractions are ever-present.  For me, that’s YouTube.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I told myself that I was just taking a three-and-a-half minute break to listen to a song.  One song.  It will serve me well to re-charge my creativity battery and give me that push I need to finish the next chapter.  Three hours later, I find myself in the middle of a documentary on The Partridge Family (kids, ask your parents).  Well done, cyber pied piper.

It happened again recently. I made the innocent mistake of watching the video for Shawn Colvin’s Sunny Came Home.  With YouTube set to ‘autoplay’ another song started as soon as one song ended.  I went for a long ride through 90’s music, mostly songs written and performed by women.  As I listened, it struck me that some of the best songs written and performed by women were created in the 90’s.  It was a golden decade of female creativity.

Sure, the 60’s gave us Carole King, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell and in no way do I mean any disrespect to these legends.  Examining the work of female songwriters of the 90’s though gives us a glimpse into a time when it all seemed to come together for them.  The writing was taken to a new level, a higher one on which female creativity came into its own and flourished.

Women were reaching into themselves and our collective psyches to find places we hadn’t before explored, at least not so well nor with such honesty and emotion.  Not only did the decade produce some of the best songs of the rock era, it became the soundtrack for young songwriters hoping to follow in the footsteps of their childhood idols.  Taylor Swift, Avril Lavigne, Amy Lee, and more all spent their formative years listening to the songs and artists below.  While they certainly learned and honed their craft since then, there just doesn’t seem to be a collection of songs in a short amount of time since the 90’s that can be considered comparable.

With that said, here are the top ten songs from the 90’s borne of women.  They are in no particular order with the exception of numbers 1 and 2, which I believe represented the zenith of the collected works.

10.  Natalie Merchant – Wonder

Exploring not the struggles of special needs individuals but their beauty, Merchant delivers a beautiful take on life and avoids trashing the subject with political pleas and demands.  She decided to zig while others zagged.  I ‘wonder’ if this song could even be written today without an industry exec or even the artist demanding some sort of political dig at someone or something.


9.  Tracy Chapman – Fast Car

Has there ever been a better, more descriptive portrait of life, love, hope, and disappointment in urban America than this song?  Chapman packed a novel’s worth of emotion and story into this simple yet powerful song.


8.  Sarah Mclachlan – Angel

There has been no better expression of what so many have felt at least once in their lives — despair to the point of suicide — than this haunting, emotive song.


7.  Suzanne Vega – Luka

Go ahead and try to make an insightful, heartfelt song about child abuse while at the same time crafting a catchy melody.  Again, we see a woman’s ability to get around the obvious and explore a topic from another more emotionally charged point of view.


6.  Paula Cole – Where Have All the Cowboys Gone

A creative, yet simple plea for a return of the traditional male while at the same time lamenting his failures.  Out-of-the-box and unique.


5.  Meredith Brooks – B*tch

Sorry.  I can’t change the title.  A song which may very well have enraged hardcore feminists is a welcome one by not only women who, if they can’t see empowerment in the lyrics, at least some sense of relief from its honesty, and men who are just happy to say, “Finally.  All we wanted was acknowledgment.”


4.  Shawn Colvin – Sunny Came Home

Colvin’s ability to remain vague in the lyrics while still tossing out enough red meat for those feeling victimized by something is quite a feat.  Everything about this song is great — lyrics, instrumentation, production, and even the video.  Powerful song.


3.  Lisa Loeb – Stay

I probably could have filled the entire list with Loeb’s songs.  A graduate of Brown University with a degree in comparative literature, it’s no surprise that she has a unique ability to squeeze every bit of meaning out of every word and lyric, while being a master of weaving words into a Rembrandt-level work of art while nearly every other writer is content with paint-by-numbers.  Her other songs, such as I Do and Do You Sleep? could easily be substituted here.


2.  Jewel – You Were Meant For Me

Here, too, this artist’s work could fill this list.  Jewel is a brilliant, creative songwriter that elevated not only women but the art form itself.  The loss or ending of a relationship is often paralleled by the process of the loss of someone through death.  The same stages exist, denial being one of them.  There has never been a better song about the denial stage than this masterpiece.


1. Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know

Ask any writer how hard it is to capture raw emotion and they will tell you of the hand-wringing and the sleepless nights of trying over and over again to get it right.  As Jewel captured the denial phase of loss above, Morissette explores the anger phase and takes it to level: expert.  The only other song that comes close to capturing raw emotion is U2’s Like A Song and even that favorite of mine plays second fiddle to Morissette’s masterpiece. What makes the writing of this song so incredible is that Alanis was only 19 years-old when she penned it.  Artists in their 60’s would have difficulty exploring their life experience to find such honest emotion.  Quite a feat.


So, what do you think?  Did I get it right or are you shaking your head thinking I’ve lost my mind?  Any songs that you think should be here?


There was a time that I was all in on chivalry. It went way beyond simply opening doors and pulling out chairs. I stood when a woman entered a room, approached a table, or rose to excuse herself from a table. I gave up my seat whenever a woman was standing, whether it be in a public meeting, at a children’s sporting event, or those rare times I’ve been on public transportation. I held a coat for a woman to aid her in putting it on and picked up anything a woman had dropped. I still cannot rest if I see a woman carrying something, just about anything, especially if the item seems heavy or if she is toting a child in her other arm.

That has faded over the years. It’s not that I don’t believe in doing all of those things. I do. Rather, the gestures have made me an anomaly; a quasi-time traveler hopelessly out of sync with a 2016 world. In rare circumstances, I will stand when a woman approaches a table, but, if it happens in a room full of people, it is a half-hearted stand in both posture and conviction and is tempered by an aversion to drawing unnecessary attention to myself. Today, these chivalrous gestures generate little more than suspicious glances from both the women for whom they are intended, as well as the onlooking men present.

The first incarnation of chivalry in the late middle ages actually had little to do with interactions between men and women. It was focused far more on men as warriors and citizens than as gentlemen in affairs of the heart and as defenders of a woman’s honor. The latter seems to have been more of an add-on. It was a “fusion of Christian and military concepts of morality” according to encyclopedia.com.

Since the end of the Middle Ages, chivalry has undergone revivals followed quickly by movements to bury it. Ironically, each time a revival was beaten back – from the Renaissance, to the Civil War, to the turn of the century — the reasoning was the same: it was outdated.

(Here comes the part where women throw sharp objects at me in their heads)

Even as the remnants of chivalry have attempted to survive within the cloak of Victorian/Emily-Post-ian codes of gentlemanly behavior, they’ve withered under a brutal beating from a wing of the feminist movement. The Gloria Steinem brand of feminism has aimed to advance its cause by erasing the differences between men and women under the guise of empowerment. It encouraged women to be one of the guys.

The inherent irony of such a misguided pursuit is that it is a woman’s femininity that is one of the essential keys to that very empowerment that was sought. The fatal oversight in that drive toward sameness is this: women are the most powerful civilizing force on the planet.

It is unfortunate that much of the resistance to chivalrous behavior from such women is based on the false notion that chivalrous behavior somehow invalidates the advances that women have made. Too many would have women believe that chivalry is an insult, the residue of an oppressive patriarchal system

Meanwhile, shell-shocked men are on the sidelines seeing nothing more than this in their gentlemanly behavior: one group of people (men) showing respect for another group of people (women) and nothing more.

Very early in life women are asked to take on a daily routine, not for their own benefit or other women, but for men and ultimately for the survival of the human race. They apply makeup, shave their legs and underarms, walk in heels, and stress over their hair, clothes, and weight. Early in their lives, they begin enduring a monthly cycle. Women then agree to have our children and voluntarily subject their bodies to more changes — some permanent – than we care to know. They then give from their bodies sustenance essential to the child’s survival. Women literally give of their bodies to ensure that the human race perpetuates and survives. As if all of that isn’t enough, they have another great change to which they must accept in the form of menopause. Every step of the way, they must contend with the inherently visual nature of men and a culture that feeds and intensifies it.

I cannot speak to the motivations of those who first devised the concept of chivalry centuries ago. I can only speak to my own desire to do what I do. For me, chivalrous acts have nothing to do with a perceived weakness in women. In fact, it is quite the opposite. They are a recognition of a woman’s strength, what she is asked to endure, and the honored role that women play in society. Men are well aware that a woman can open a door, carry a box, etc. That is obvious. Opening that door or carrying that box for a woman shouldn’t be seen as an insult.

Every gesture from a chivalrous man is an act of gratitude and honor. It is a silent acknowledgment and ‘thank you’ for everything that a woman goes through, much of it for men and children.

So, what is such a man to do in a society that increasingly rejects such behavior? To continue would be to accept life as a pariah. It is to endure the wary looks from onlookers. To stop is to go against instinct.

In a world that is quickly losing its graces and turning from civilized behavior, it’s troublesome that attempts to keep them alive are seen as outdated (again) and are failing to take hold.

The 3 Questions That Determine How You Live Your Life

There are many questions we as humans have about many things, including life itself. When it is all boiled down to the bare minimum, there are really three basic questions that every human being answers from which we draw our conclusions about life. Some people answer these questions consciously, with much thought and introspection. Others kind of back into the answers and deliver them subconsciously. Make no mistake, though.Every human answers these questions and their responses are manifest in their life, thoughts, motivations, and actions.

There is a very large subset of questions if you answer in the affirmative to the above question (what kind of God? etc.). All of those, however, come after this very big one. No other question holds the power that this does, especially in how one conducts his/her life.

For those answering ‘yes,’ then it naturally follows that you need to know who God is and what that means for us.

Answer ‘no’ to this question and life gets a little simpler. You have one shot at life and it only makes sense to get as much as you can. Gather as much as you can in any way you can.


This question isn’t about physical evolution, nor is about advancement and achievements in the physical sense. It is about the shifting moral landscape.

Was it better long ago? Was there a standard to which we adhered then slowly let go of over time, whether it be because we became bored, selfish, etc.?

Or, are we rightfully moving away from something that was oppressive and bad, and by doing so we are becoming a better people? Morally, are we becoming a better species than we were?


Are we just marking time, waiting to die or does each life have a purpose which may not be evident at all times? Is it for us to determine, for others to determine, or is that in the hands of a higher power?

How a person answers these questions — consciously and deliberately, or otherwise — plays a leading role in how that person conducts themselves, makes decisions, and interacts with others.


Full Disclosure: I’m a big fan of football and look forward to each season.

While the rest of the country was watching one billionaire businessman be elected president, the people of San Diego were rejecting the thought of a handout to another. In surprising numbers, San Diegans told Alex Spanos and his NFL Chargers ‘no more’ to taxpayer-funded football stadiums.

We can only hope that San Diego is the tipping point in the drive to de-couple taxpayers from the building of workplaces for the country’s 31 billionaire football team owners.

There is no question that hosting an NFL franchise is a boon for a city’s economy. That boon, though, is almost always less than promised and given the high price taxpayers have been asked to pay for the questionable increase in economic activity, the break-even point is too high. Taxpayers are not only fronting the millions to build the stadium but in almost every case, the local government is financing the project through the issuance of municipal bonds on which taxpayers must pay the interest on top of the principal.

In 1994, Jeff Lurie bought the Philadelphia Eagles for $195 million. In the early 2000’s, the Eagles were provided with a brand new stadium – Lincoln Financial Field – at a total cost of $512 million, half of which ($256 million) came from Pennsylvania taxpayers. Lurie and the Eagles put up a paltry $50 million toward the construction costs, and the NFL, which raked in more than $13 billion in 2015, contributed zero. Nothing.

By the time taxpayers are done paying for the Lincoln Financial Field, to include interest on the financing, their total cost will be north of $600 million. Meanwhile, the value of the Philadelphia Eagles franchise has grown to $2.85 billion. That comical $50 million the franchise paid for their workplace barely registers as an asterisk on Jeff Lurie’s balance sheet. The taxpayers of Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania have made Lurie a very wealthy man, indeed.

It gets worse, though. For their $50 million pittance, Lurie and the Eagles get to dictate terms for the field’s use. They’ve used that authority to charge Temple University’s football team $1.8 million per year in rent for use of the stadium for its home games. Oh, the NFL’s greed doesn’t stop there. The Eagles also keep all proceeds from all concession sales during Temple’s home games. Temple is a publicly-funded school, which means even more taxpayer dollars are finding a home in Lurie’s pocket.

So, what will happen when Lincoln Financial Field becomes obsolete? It will probably occur not long after taxpayers are finally done paying for it. Given the past modus operandi of the NFL and its franchises, including Spanos and the Chargers last year, Lurie will pout and threaten to leave Philadelphia, while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, will sit silently by and watch it play out, knowing that some city will be dumb enough to put up the money so he could keep the NFL’s billions safe and secure. No NFL franchise has any incentive to stay put other than the established fan base. The small amount they have invested in a stadium is hardly a reason for them to stay anywhere. It is easier for them to leave the old stadium as a problem and eyesore for the city it leaves behind. It has no skin in the game.

Spanos and the Chargers weren’t prepared for the relative ease with which the San Diego community bid them farewell. Equally satisfying for taxpayers is that his team has hardly received a hero’s welcome in their new home city of Los Angeles, a city that had already lost two NFL teams and barely registered an increase in its collective heartbeat when the Rams returned this year. It’s time for taxpayers to get beyond the allure of hosting NFL teams and stand up and let them know that their team loyalty comes at a price, one which demands that multi-billion dollar businesses build their own workplaces.