Wednesday, December 15, 2004

More Division

Back. . .after a long break.

Still see the things that divide us in huge numbers. Somebody has got to make a move toward some goals that everybody can get behind. At this point we see ads for T-shirts that want us to wear our colors proudly. Thus making "the other side" hate us on sight. We have to really get serious about building common ground for my future and the future of my grand kids.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

More Evidence Today

In today's New York Times some additional evidence is spelled out on the split in the United States. By itself the split is alarming, due to the lack of meaningful discussion between the sides. But if we look at what other humans do when there is a split similar to the intensity of the United States', we may have real cause for concern.

As a nation after this election we united behind a single candidate. As doubts, officially unchallenged, continue, suspicion grows and we might even see the same conditions here at home that we see in Ukraine. We can't afford to do nothing. We must begin the dialogue and then maintain it.

Monday, November 22, 2004

A Nation Divided

Seldom have we lived in a nation so divided. We had hoped that President Bush would be able to pull us together, but since he has taken office, with the exception of the 9/11 period the division has grown. During the election there was little or no contact between sides on the issues. Instead, we had televised speeches being made to audiences that already agreed among themselves and with the speaker.

What we have lacked in our politics we need to restore to our society: free and open discussion of issues that face us all. When have we ever noticed that a couple, for example, has grown closer because they didn't speak to each other about the issues that divide them? Not discussing issues between us will likely lead to suspision and mistrust. As a nation we are now seeing deep suspisions and mistrust. The buzz on the internet is constantly commenting and speculating about the evils the other side has committed.

The issues that face this nation, faces us all. We will either solve them together of continue to drift apart. Encourage discussion and debate in your own circles of influence. When there is disagreement think of it as an opportunity to grow towards common goals. Keep in mind, conflict is normal in humans. The resolution of the conflict is the progress we make in our lives.

Friday, November 12, 2004

". . .The Enemy Is Us"

There's much that's good about the United States. One of the things that made this country great is the citizen's willingness and ability to discuss/debate topics of interest to all our communities. There seems to be a growing feeling that in order to avoid conflict, we should avoid discussing/debating the issues of the day, especially when that involves politics. We need to continue this honored routine in our lives. We must use all devices available to improve our views of both the problems and the possible solutions. We can't do it by ourselves, we need each other.

The methods being used in politics today reduce very complicated issues to slogans. Then both sides imply that there is something basically wrong with you, and all your friends, if you don't agree with the slogans. We must insist that the slogans be fleshed out, made clear and applied in discussion. We must all understand what is going on and we must let others know if we think we see a better solution. This method made this country great. We must continue or we will lose or damage our ability to self-govern. Don't make decisions based on unnecessarily limited data and broaden your base of research and discussion, always seeking a broader understanding of the topic at hand.

How can it be that more than 70% of our population indicates that they believe that there are/were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that there was a direct pre-war relationship between Al Quada and Iraq. And yet, where is the data that backs up that belief? We cannot afford the luxury of being swayed by anything other than available data. Then we must use that data to guide our discussions/debates as we attempt to govern ourselves.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Interpersonal Communication Most Important

In the chapter, Understanding Interpersonal Communication, Beebe, Beebe and Ivy give insight into the role of communication in building relationships. There are many sources for this kind of information available and the broader your knowledge base the more likely you will have information that will aid you in reaching your goals.

This book, "he's just not that into you," is plain spoken and easy to read. For some, the authors Greg Behrendt and Liz Tucillo will have some insights that may fit the conditions in which you live. Rather than waste time on relationships that aren't going anywhere, learn to recognize where it may be wiser to spend your time and energy. Avoid becoming dependent on anyone who finds you merely convenient. Look for someone who shares your idea of what your relationship should be and spend your time and energy there.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Like The Air We Breath. . .

With a few and occasional exceptions, we are accustomed to how we sound when we talk. We travel with friends and family and their language patterns and sounds are familiar to us. Once in a while we run into someone who wants to know, "Where are you from?" They know we're not from "around here" because they hear it. Its in these transitions of life that our language trips us up and often we don't even know it.

For example, in a job interview, our language reveals that we have at least two standards for people in general: male and female. Human Resource personnel must try to hire the best people who will be the best fit for their organization. They will be listening for not only what you say, but how you say it. They don't want to have any problems within their organization and some problems can be avoided by not hiring people who routinely speak of the opposite sex in a negative manner.

The person being interviewed is simply saying "what everybody knows and believes." Your language has given your position away and you may not get the position you want/need because you were unaware that people can and do read between the lines. It is very likely that you don't even know why the Human Resource Director decided you weren't a "good fit" for their corporation.

The fear most employers have when they hear bad language is missed or misinterpreted communications on the job. Grammar is the method we use to control the number of possible interpretations of what we are saying. If our grammar is sloppy the outcomes may not be predictable.

The folk we travel with most of the time probably are not viewed by us as having an accent. Its only when you get out of your usual environment that others say, "Where are you from? I think I hear an accent in your voice." That example applies to many things, including the cultures in which we are raised. It certainly applies to the environment of most Human resource offices. The more aware of who you are and how you appear and sound the greater the probability that you will be hired.

There are some excellent resources available to you on job interviews. Take some time and begin working on this problem while you have time. When you're sitting in the interview it may be too late. (The links are just two examples of what is available to anyone interested.)

Self-Awareness Needs Attention

In the book Communication: Principles for a lifetime, there is a discussion of self-awareness. It quotes Stephen Covey saying, that self-awareness ". . .allows us to stand apart and examine even the way we 'see' ourselves--our self-paradigm, the most fundamental paradigm of effectiveness. It affects not only our attitudes and behaviors, but also how we see other people."

The suggestion here is that time spent thinking and developing knowledge in this area will indeed help us to better understand and control our growth as a person. You don't have to depend on chance, or any other source of your own identity, to understand and control your own development.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Change The Future

One of the most important prizes awarded to any US President is the right to shape the future. If you pass laws, the next president can change them. If they create alliances, the next administration can violate them. But, in the area of the US Supreme Court you can make appointments to the bench that will affect the next 20 years of history. If you feel strongly about a candidate for president you must vote or not complain about the things that happen to you and your country over the next couple of decades.

Robert Cohan writes about the future and the past and the relationship between the president of the United States and what the court decides this country will do. Its good to remind ourselves that our participation in this democracy does make a difference.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Big And Few

Ownership of electronic media, radio and TV, has been concentrated over the past decade. Because of the possibility of great profits, corporations have invested huge amounts of money. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allowed increasing concentration of electronic media ownership and the Chairman of the FCC, Michael K. Powell, continues to push for greater ownership concentration. That concentration (at the bottom of this link) has a chilling affect on most who see the ownership expressed graphically. The implications are clear.

If a few wanted to swing the opinions, or votes of many, what would it take for America to head in the direction desired by the big and few that own much of the electronic media. Its worth considering. What should happen? There should be open consideration of our condition and debate about what is good for America as well as what is good for those investing in America. We need to know what Bush and Kerry think about this situation. Then we might have a clearer idea of what to do with our vote.

Monday, September 13, 2004

What Competition?

I have "conservative" friends who are constantly touting the great blessing we have in the United States of competition for our dollars. I have increasingly wondered where the competition was that they were talking about. I do see competition for market share. I don't see innovation and serious competition of product or ideas until every last cent has been squeezed from the earlier research and development. So, other parts of the earth have products which are years ahead of us in the United States. They have services that are fast and useful, such as broadband. Recently Wired News shared a bit of info with us that further confuses me when it comes to the current definition of competition.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

What Has Happened To Republicans?

Not too long ago, Republicans were folk who were "right" much of the time. Folk you could trust and appreciate. Recently, Garrison Keillor wrote down some ideas that really ring true. The question that keeps coming to mind is, where has America gone. It seems to me that they used to be informed, think well and speak out. Now, it seems they don't know what's going on and if they do, they don't care.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Some Excellent Journalism

There have been examples of good journalism this past few months and this is an article that merits attention. Often, in face of very powerful people and administrations, the product that we have come to call news isn't what it ought to be. When we have little or bad information, " government by the people" becomes dangerous. When general citizens vote without accurate information our future is in doubt.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Conglomerates and Safe News

How safe is any democracy where a few control our information?

The New York Times for June 24, along with many newspapers in the United States, reported that “A federal appeals court on Thursday dealt a setback to the nation's largest media companies by ordering the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider the rules it issued last summer, easing the way for them to grow and enter new markets.

The Bush administration, with its “what’s good for business is good for the nationĂ‚” philosophy had hoped to make ownership of broadcast facilities even easier than it is now. So the New York Times reporter suggested “The decision was also a setback for the Bush administration, which supported easing the ownership limitations, and for Michael K. Powell, the chairman of the commission and the main architect of the new rules.” This trend toward fewer owners of communications media have “allowed companies to own as many as three television stations, eight radio stations and a cable operator, as well as a newspaper.

My concern continues to be the concentration of ownership of all media, but in particular, the electronic media. Almost everyone in the United States listens to the radio at least once each week. The same thing is true about watching TV. If just a few corporations own a bulk of the electronic media, the temptation to present lopsided information may be too great to resist. These owners are already adept at presenting what the audience wants to see and wants hear. If, for any reason, the owners want to present politics, law, current events and world affairs in the same "unworrisome" packaging . . . presenting programming that is desirable to very large audiences, an unaware audience might be deceived. If the people of the nation believe that they really know what is going on in the world and they are not aware of how a few owners control a bulk of the mass media, they may be in for a rude surprise.

It is clear that we must use every resource to provide ourselves with a balanced view of the world we live in and avoid being swept along by those more interested in profits than accurate and balanced information or freedoms.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Enrons of the Future?

Enrons of the Future?

Bernard Wasow, Martha Paskoff
The Century Foundation, 6/18/04

An overlooked but important new study has uncovered yet another ingenious sleight-of-hand that top executives have been using to enrich themselves at the expense of their employees. The report by three economists—Daniel Bergstresser and Mihir Desai of the Harvard Business School and Joshua Rauh of MIT— provides evidence that CEOs systematically manipulate their employees' pension funds for their own personal gain.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Let's Rethink Brains

When I was young, it bothered me a lot that my parents didn’t think that I could be trusted to reason through situations safely and properly. After all, how are you going to learn to think and reason unless you are allowed to do it on a regular basis? Now some recent research is coming together that is beginning to explain why my parents were so uncomfortable with my youthful reasoning. Now that I’ve lived through that time in my life and watched my children live through that time, this research makes a lot of sense.

The first paragraph of an article entitled "Getting Inside a Teen Brain" in Newsweek, February 28, 2000, Sharon Begley spells out the observable data. “You probably recognize the species: it's known for making stupid decisions... barely able to plan beyond the next minute... clueless when it comes to reading parents' facial expressions... exhibits poor self-control... seems to think with its hormones more than its brain... all thumbs when juggling several tasks. Such is Homo teenageris.”

Jay Giedd of the National Institute of Mental Health: “What is most surprising is that you get a second wave of overproduction of gray matter, something that was thought to happen only in the first 18 months of life.

The first surprise came last May, with the discovery that the corpus callosum, the cable of nerves that connects the right half of the brain to the left, ‘continues growing into your 20s,’ says Giedd.

In a piece entitled “Adolescent Brains are Works in Progress” by Frontline producer Sarah Spinks: “What the researchers have found has shed light on how the brain grows and when it grows. It was thought at one time that the foundation of the brain's architecture was laid down by the time a child is five or six. Indeed, 95 percent of the structure of the brain has been formed by then. But these researchers have discovered changes in the structure of the brain that appear relatively late in child development.”

At the NIMH web site there is a review of research into the development of human brains. The article entitled, “Teenage Brain: A work in progress” the following statement is made: ”The observed late maturation of the frontal lobe conspicuously coincides with the typical age-of-onset of schizophrenia—late teens, early twenties—which, as noted earlier, is characterized by impaired ‘executive’ functioning.” This, coupled with our own observations of others and ourselves might lead us to change many of the ways we do things.

It could be that we, as a nation, need to rethink several things: 1) parenting, what is involved and how long it takes, 2) voting age, 3) drinking and driving age, 4) minimum age for marriage 5) minimum age for the death penalty and possibly 6) minimum ages for becoming a soldier. It appears that our brains finally mature somewhere in the mid-twenties.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Give Us What We Need

Mass media seems to have abandoned the charge to provide the United States with news. Instead, it spends very nearly all its time trying to build yet bigger audiences. Right now, we read, see and hear constant comments about all the wonderful things President Reagan did for America and the world. Indeed, he did many good things.

On the other hand, it is increasingly customary for reporters to insert words and ideas that don't reflect the facts nearly as much as the reflect their ideas or their "corporate ideals." Two skilled writers published columns in the New York Times commenting on this problem. Paul Krugman points out information that doesn't seem to match what is being said in the media. It isn't the job of the media to rewrite history so that we can feel less pain or gain more political strength. When reporting news, its their job to give us the facts: what is happening, where is it happening, why is it happening and who is involved.

Maureen Dowd talks about the same problem in thought in her column "Epitaph and Epigone." In our grief, we must keep our balance. In our sadness at the loss of president that could bring thousands of people to unite behind ideas, we must not misrepresent either him or his achievements. Give us the facts. Then, in clearly marked areas let our columnists and others say how they feel about what is going on.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Patterns And Education

If we look at learning, brainpower, in another way, it might help us to break out of patterns that we seem to follow year after year.

Steven Johnson in his book Emergence says, “. . .unlike most computers, the brain is a massively parallel system, with 100 billion neurons all working away at the same time. That parallelism allows the brain to perform amazing feats of pattern recognition, feats that continue to confound digital computers—such as remembering faces or creating metaphors. Because each individual neuron is so slow, Kursweil explains, ‘we don’t have time . . . to think too many new thoughts when we are pressed to make a decision. The human brain relies on precomputing its analyses and storing them for future reference. We then use our pattern-recognition capability to recognize a situation as compatible to one we have thought about and then draw upon our previously considered conclusions.’ “

Education is a process that adds and teaches students how to continue adding to the patterns their brain recognizes. Education doesn’t have to be in some school, college or university. Education is the process of adding new and varying patterns to your memory increasing your abilities to “analyze” or spot similar patterns. Education should never stop. You are your own best teacher. Next best are those with whom you travel. Never stop.

Friday, May 28, 2004

What’s Happened To Our News?

There has been increasing concern about the effectiveness of the media and news coverage. Now the press has joined the concerned group. That’s good. Paul Krugman reviews some ideas that really deserve our attention.

“People who get their news by skimming the front page, or by watching TV, must be feeling confused by the sudden change in Mr. Bush's character. For more than two years after 9/11, he was a straight shooter, all moral clarity and righteousness.” Krugman points out that, “After 9/11 much of the press seemed to reach a collective decision that it was necessary, in the interests of national unity, to suppress criticism of the commander in chief.”

You may not agree with Krugman’s view of the president, but it is hard to escape the changes we’re seeing in the media and their impact on our ability to think effectively about the problems this country faces today.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Koppel Communicates

I hear “debates” wherever I go about the war in Iraq and I’m reminded that nearly none of us have firsthand information about what is happening in that country. We get it from the mass media. The mass media isn’t really in the business of keeping us informed nearly so much as making a profit. So we should be careful with the data we get from them. On the other hand, the “debates” almost always sound like the debaters have a complete and accurate database on the war in Iraq and that their conclusions are the only reasonable conclusions.

Here is just a part of Ted Koppel's graduation address at Berkeley recently. He points out that we must set aside how we feel about what we know in order to conduct the nation's business even on our own city block. We must be informed and think as clearly as possible before we become part of the problem rather than part of a solution. Koppel said, “We have become so embroiled in the distaste we have for one another's ideologies that we are losing sight of the real peril that confronts us. Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11, and invoking the war against terrorism for the U.S. invasion of Iraq invites skepticism. Still, terrorism is not a figment of this administration's imagination. It doesn't matter what you believe the United States is doing or may have done to earn the enmity of so many people around the world; someone has to be thinking about the consequences of that hatred, even as we consider what can reasonably done to address it.”

No matter what our government has done and no matter whether we agree with what has been done, we still have an obligation to become informed before we attempt to communicate what we think ought to be done. Knowing how to communicate is important, but it is not more important than the things about which we are expected to communicate.

Seek balanced information. Don’t rely on the efforts of the mass media to inform you and your community. Use every available channel, think about the information and then communicate. That is, after all, the only hope we have to live in the community of our own choice. We must help to build it.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

How Should We Spend The Money?

We are facing some huge problems in the world and right here in the United States. They include: health, education, oil, crime, and highway infrastructure to name a few.

I agree that looking toward goals that stretch our imaginations and make us feel better about a brighter future raises the human spirit. But, when I think of the money spent on space missions and the attempt to land men on Mars, I can't help but think that there are students who can't afford to go to college. There are elderly folk who have to choose between eating and medication or worse.

How 'bout setting goals like these: find a cure for cancer, cover human beings need for health care, provide the best possible education for everyone, find a better source of cheaper energy and other goals in these areas.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

How Do We Feel? How Should We Feel?

When horrible things happen and we feel powerless to do anything about it, that stirs us in many ways. Anger. Frustration. Hate. Powerlessness. We don't know what we should feel, although we suspect that dropping a nuclear device on the people who beheaded an American seems like a good idea. We know that isn't the answer.

What is the answer. First, don't lose your ethical balance. Continue to evaluate everything with the same ethical yardstick you used before this happened. Don't kill all, even figuratively, to be rid of the "confusion" about what civilized people will or won't do. Don't assume that only some civilizations do not have deviants in their midst. We all have our share of humans that seem to us to be uncivilized.

Talk to somebody. Not about what you've seen, heard or read, but about how you feel about what you've seen, heard or read. Friends are great for that. If you can't find a friend, find an advisor, councilor or anyone who will help you talk about your feelings. Don't keep them inside. You really can't. They will come out and you may not like what you see when you explode.

Give yourself a chance to absorb the event and keep expressing yourself as you do. You will be able to cope.

That is no way changes the horror of what happened. You're the one that adjusts. Now you're free to move ahead helping others cope with what life dishes out.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Paul Krugman Nails The Issue

Without the media we all depend on to know what is going on in the world, the probability of abuses of all kinds became real.

Paul Krugman in his column, "Just Trust Us" makes the point, "No administration since Nixon has been so insistent that it has the right to operate without oversight or accountability, and no administration since Nixon has shown itself to be so little deserving of that trust. He adds, "Sooner or later, a moral catastrophe was inevitable."

Great column giving us all insight into why we need a truly free press everywhere.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

The Bush administration’s stance on Kerry’s military service has been bothering me for some time. Until recently, it was generally assumed that one of the “smartest” things you could do was to serve your country in a low risk and rewarding fashion: join the National Guard. Unfortunately, the National Guard is no longer a safe haven for those who fear to serve. It’s becoming the backbone of the United States military. In fact, seen on an Oregon vehicle not long ago was a sign about the National Guard that said, “One weekend a month . . .like hell!”

That’s what George W. Bush did. Conventional wisdom held that military service could be “dodged” without the stigma. If you “needed” to do something other than serve the National Guard, an early out might be arranged. Sort of a flexible service plan.

Kerry, on the other hand, joined and risked everything in a war that Americans really grew to hate. He served without regard to the risk. He did the job he was asked to do and did it better than most. He was awarded medals and recognition for his service.

Now, by a strange kind of reasoning, Kerry is being depicted as a person who doesn’t understand things military and that he wants to make life for soldiers as bad as possible. The Bush administration is saying to the nation that Kerry, who fought and knows war from the ground up, isn’t worthy to think about wars and make decisions. While those who have avoided serving their country in the military, know best what to do with our young people by putting them to war for reasons progressively unclear.

The Bush administration's current TV spot about Kerry's military votes in the Senate, his military service and military support is, as the commercial says, “Troubling.”

Sunday, April 25, 2004

An increasing number of people are beginning to notice and more importantly talk about the amount and types of information we’re able to read, hear and see on TV concerning the conduct of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. In The Sunday Oregonian, Michael Arrieta-Walden, reminded readers that reporting was different during the Vietnam War.

“Reports on Iraqi civilians killed are even more difficult to obtain for readers. The U.S. government does not provide the numbers of Iraqi civilians killed.”

“That contrasts with how deaths were reported in the Vietnam War. Take this account from government officials, published in The Oregonian 35 years ago today: ‘The casualty totals last week were 216 Americans killed in action, 1,162 U.S. troops wounded, 329 government soldiers killed, 884 wounded, and 3,379 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese killed.’ ”

There are those who think that the U.S. failed to finish the war in Vietnam and that in large part the failure was caused by news reporting, especially TV. So the U.S. during the Persian Gulf War limited reporters to areas deemed safe. Then they were provided regular news briefings, which in turn were sent back to the United States. There was a lot of complaining about the Pentagon’s methods and restrictions and so during the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. government has embedded reporters with the troops and restricted where they could go and apparently what they could report on. For example, little or no information or summary statements have been reported on troops that are AWOL, injured, and killed as well as civilians in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Recently, a photograph was printed in The Seattle Times, showing flag-draped coffins on board an aircraft bound for the United States. The photographer lost her job. The American people apparently aren’t supposed to see the coffins en route or when they arrive in the United States. The impact of such photographs would clearly be great. When we can see the consequences of our actions so graphically portrayed we might very well alter how we feel about any war.

I agree with the headline on the Commentary section of The Sunday Oregonian which reminds us that, “Reporting Can’t become war casualty.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

There’s a nagging doubt in the back of our minds: how are we paying the bills for, 1) war in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2) troops abroad, 3) homeland defense, 4) increased benefits for Medicare, 5) increased support for education, and many more increases, while at the same time lowering taxes and asking that the tax reductions be made permanent. The debt is huge: The estimated population of the United States is 293,862,533 so each citizen's share of this debt is $24,384.75.

Who will eventually have to pay these bills? How long will it take? Didn’t mom and dad tell us that when you live off credit bad things could happen to you? Have we all lost our concern for this kind of behavior by ourselves or by our government? Why aren’t there lots of folk talking about the massive indebtedness and its cost? Why aren’t more folk talking about the value of the dollar and what is likely to happen to it as the national debt increases? Where’s the discussion? Where’s the pressure to do something, anything, about this massive national debt? What’s up?

Thursday, April 01, 2004

As I have said in the past, I prefer a government that will allow me to decide when and how to worship and a government that will take care of the roads, libraries, schools, police departments, water, etc. A thread in political discourse has been more and more noticeable: religion. In fact, it is assumed that one of the needs of both sides in this presidential election is the support of religious right.

In discussions, press conferences, speeches and interviews, thoughts such as Teddy Roosevelt’s words are beginning to tint the meanings of what is being said. For example, “If I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness.” I think few of us would favor anything other than “righteousness.” The problem for the United States is severe. We have a very wide range of folk who live here and they don’t always believe the same things. What is righteous to one may not be to another. When one religion appears to be getting unfair support from government, we can expect trouble in the future. When one religion appears to be attacking another there will be problems.

We can see how that works by looking at Iraq in the news right now. The Sunni Triangle has become a deadly spot in these “after-war times.” Sunni Islam is different from Shiite Islam. Under Saddam Hussein's former government, the Sunni were favored, and since the war have lost position, power and money. They’re angry. The Shiites, on the other hand, are more accustomed to being oppressed and things appear to them to be more hopeful since the Hussein government has been overthrown. This is an example of what can happen when one group is favored over another, because of religion.

It seems that today we use the word “righteous” to mean correct, right and proper, as opposed to wrong-headed thinking. Further, if there is a disagreement and you suggest that we might approach our current problems from a broader base, it turns out you are “unrighteous.” I get the uncomfortable feeling that our right to freely disagree and freely discuss those things that are important to us is in danger. It almost seems there is a feeling when disagreement happens that those who disagree are thought to be “evil.” Allowing religion and religious nuances to enter the political discussion adds a force that can lead to your religion uniting with your government against you.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

One of the main reasons Europeans came to North America was the right to worship the way they thought appropriate, when they thought appropriate. In addition, the government could not directly settle any disagreements on how individuals worshiped. This context provided us with the “freedom” to worship in the United States any way we thought we ought to without interference from our government.

Other countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia to name a couple, have their “normal” governmental responsibilities such as money, taxes, water, transportation and so on, interpreted through the expectations of a dominant religion. That presents the citizens of those countries with major problems. What if they don’t believe in the majority or dominant religion. All the limitations applied to the believers is also forced on the non-believers, because the government and religion are one and the same.

For example, “’Critique and criticism of the government’s policies are not bad, but when someone attempts to undermine the foundations of the government, it is treason and not freedom of expression" (Ayattolah Ali Khamenei, 1998)”

“These words, uttered by the supreme spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1998, very well explain the standpoint of the leaders, the so called gray eminencies, of the theocratic republic of Iran. Due to their religious principles they reject any outer influences which might restrict the power of the clerical institutions and might introduce unwanted democratic characteristics to the present regime.”

One of the problems with religions is that many of them claim to “have the truth” about life, which they have possessed since their religion was established. Most religions disagree in significant areas. Since there are no easy or quick ways to “update” those religions, they tend to be most satisfactory for the general population when they are started and as time goes by become less and less satisfactory when change may be called for by new circumstances.

In the United States we’re seeing an increase in religious pressures. The rest of the world has seen it as well. We are speaking less as a government and more like a religion each year. That works well if others are in agreement with the announced religious posture. That increases division if there is disagreement on the religious posture assumed.

In my opinion, we should ask our government to do well those things that governments can do for all of us. Be more careful when getting into areas where the government has to choose between religions in order to serve all of us. If unity is a good thing, and I believe that it is, then we should nurture an environment in which un-coerced unity can survive.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

The separation of church and state, freedom to make choices and freedom to talk about things that I believe are important, I never want to be without.

We can see what happens when countries like Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan try to build a nation which must deal with secular things that affect all governments, but attempt to do it with religions that are centuries old with little or no coping skills for modern problems. In most cases, the religion that is in the majority or has the greatest power, superimposes it's system on everyone in that nation. That type of situation can lend itself to all kinds of abuses and many are committed in the name of religion.

If I decide that I want to move from one state to another, with the freedom of choice I will be allowed. If I want to build my house close to the surf along the coast, I can if I want. If I want to change careers and need to go back to college to pickup a new area of expertise, I can if I want. The idea of having the government tell me that I can’t do any of those things seems deeply wrong.

If I want to talk about some method of accomplishing tasks in my community, I can if I want. Even if I know you’re wrong about what you’re saying, you should be allowed to talk about what’s on your mind. I get uncomfortable with folk start telling me that I can't say certain things, which I hold to be of value and true. I choose to believe that if you would just listen to what I have to say, you too might see the merit in my ideas.

These to me are very important freedoms. And, if I want to listen to jazz, rock, folk or polkas, I don’t want the government to be in a position to tell me that I can’t listen. I don’t want the government to tell broadcasters that they can’t meet my need when it comes to music or other programming.

The problem isn’t in these freedoms. The problem begins with us and then it is passed on to the children we raise. If the methods necessary to solve life’s problems are not in our citizens, we need to start by looking at parenting. After we’ve looked at parents and parenting then we need to look at the institutions we have established to transmit and improve our cultures and societies. When we find problems there, we need to have within us the resources to fix the problems without violence. But, we need those freedoms in order to assure ourselves that we have the raw materials to build a better world.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

In the United States, we value freedom of choice and freedom of speech very much. We feel sorry for nations that do not seem to have those freedoms as we enjoy them. There may be some consequences to these freedoms. For example, “Poor eating habits, lack of exercise and smoking are to blame for more than a third of all deaths in the United States.”

Well, what do you think? Don’t I have the right to buy, eat or smoke anything that I want to? And if I don’t have that right, what is the basis for my freedoms being endangered? Why should anyone, no matter how well intentioned be able to stop me from getting my fries supersized? And if McDonald’s decides that they won’t sell me my fries supersized, why can’t I just buy a double order? If I decide I want to do something that other people feel I should not do, what gives those people the right to curb my rights?

I ask you. Why should the FCC be allowed to censor, in any way, what I choose to see on TV, or hear on the radio? What about the rights of the folk who simply want to hear “free speech” or take advantage of the delicious opportunities that present themselves to us every day?

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

In the British newspaper, The Observer, February 22, 2004, the following headline appeared: “Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us.” In the story filed in New York by reporters Townsend and Harris, they report that, “Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.”

They report that, “The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure swindling food, water and energy supplies.” According to the Pentagon analysis, “Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life. Once again, warfare would define human life.”

This report published by foreign media was treated quite differently by US media February 25, 2004. “Pentagon downplays report on climate change that it commissioned” is the headline that appeared Tuesday, February 24, 2004. “According to Britain’s The Observer, US military officials censored an alarming report because the issue of global warming could wind up thrust into the US presidential campaign ahead of the November vote.”

Why should that report bother the citizens of the US that prides themselves on free speech? Why shouldn’t the issue get free and open debate? Why would we want to have an issue that might be extremely important to all of us on the planet, censored?

Thursday, February 19, 2004

If we assume that everyone is different from everyone else because of DNA and our place in time and space, then it would seem natural that conflict is inevitable. If we add to that a natural tendency to seek out information that is substantially in agreement with our current positions in life, such as those who are interested in automobiles subscribing to automotive publications and visiting auto shows, then conflict is not only inevitable but also natural.

Add the cultural orientation given to our population by parents primarily, which defines the lives of their children. For example, men are supposed to be assertive, take-charge people who appreciate clear lines of difference between the sexes while keeping their emotions “under control.” Women are to be peacemakers and produce harmony whenever possible.

If in general parents across the land agree that taking care of yourself and making something of yourself are important components of success and that the individual is more important than the group, conflict becomes inevitable, natural and a way of life.

If all of that is true, or even close to it, what should we be doing to fix the problem? Is there anything we can do? Where do we begin? How long will it take?

Sunday, February 15, 2004

“Freedom of speech does not give someone—anyone—the right to bust into your home to exercise it.” A well stated thought from Pseudo news, sordid culture in the Commentary section of Sunday’s Oregonian. The author, Stephen Kline, goes on to say that, “Buying a fax machine or a computer does not constitute a tacit or implied invitation to anyone to badger, harass, sell or promote.”

Just because some publicity agent somewhere hits on the idea of using the Super Bowl for a “coming out” party for Janet Jackson trying to reestablish her career doesn’t mean anyone should be surprised by unwanted actions. Shouldn’t our culture contain enough “expectations” to make it unnecessary to have our courts create rules to govern inappropriate behavior?

Cynthia-Lou Coleman, in her related article, also in the Sunday Oregonian, points out that, “The problem is, fake news over time becomes more interesting than the bland unfolding of reality.” How do we train ourselves, let alone our children, that they should depend on the media to keep them informed so that they can cast votes of value to positive growth in our nation?

Again we must ask the question, “What is there that we can do?” “Is there anything that can be done other than pass laws that prohibit what culture used to control?” “Are we a sinking ship with no way to save ourselves?”

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

For several years we have seen Bill Moyers' work published, on PBS and in person as a speaker in high demand. He thinks, and then tells others what he’s been thinking about. In November of last year he was the keynote speaker at the National Conference on Media Reform ('Our Democracy is in Danger of Being Paralyzed'), and he had a great deal to say about media and what should be happening.

He reminded the audience that the American Revolution “ran in good part on the energies of a rambunctious, though tiny press. Freedom and freedom of communications were birth-twins in the future United States. They grew up together, and neither has fared very well in the other’s absence. Boom times for the one have been boom times for the other.”

Moyers goes on to say that they drive for constantly increasing profits is eroding the role that journalist and journalism used to play in the health of our nation. He told the audience that indeed our democracy is being paralyzed and I think it should be clear that clouds our future as a free nation.

What is there that we as individuals can do to restore journalism in the mass media to a healthier position? Or, is it already too late to fix the system?

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Our entire body is constructed according to the DNA our bodies have to work with. We have different abilities to taste, smell, see, touch and all the other things that make us what we are. The quality of our hair and are brain is ours, which is a good thing.

The hard part in this situation is that when you see, touch, smell or build an idea in your head, you are using equipment that is unique to you. That means that when you’re talking to anyone about the taste of food or the color on the house your “world view” will be different from his or hers.

Out of these differences grows conflict. We’re all taught to avoid conflict whenever possible. The fact is, we cannot avoid conflict. We are different and those differences cause conflict. Since we cannot avoid conflict, we must spend much of our time creating methods that will allow us to resolve conflict in appropriate ways.

Much of our communication must be devoted to the resolution of conflict, or we will suffer unnecessarily in life. Peace is something that seems to be a worthy universal goal, Perhaps we should combine the two concepts and recognize that peace may be the sustained satisfactory resolution of conflict.

What do you think?

Sunday, February 01, 2004

When we listen to talk radio today, we are told repeatedly that “the media” is liberal and often unfair. As we listen we hear a wide range of things which, might lead us to conclude that anything we believe that doesn’t match what the talk show hosts are saying is incorrect.

Is there a possibility that by allowing concentrated media ownership, our nation has invited political control over the media and its listeners? In The Oregonian, February 1, 2004, Garrett Epps’ commentary, “Talk radio: It's time for more than right-wing hot air” clearly spells out the argument that the media is not only not liberal, it is conservative and just possibly conservative by intent.

What we need is balanced media that will provide us with what we need to make long-term plans and empower us to deal with people and issues. That way we can move ahead as a nation of freedom loving people rather than a workforce for a few who are very wealthy.

What do you think? Do we have balanced media? Do we have liberal media leading us down a road to self-destruction? Do we have conservative media creating a world where huge corporations are the primary beneficiaries of everything that makes the United States great?

What do you think? Until we can find another source for comments please use my e-mail address:

Tuesday, January 27, 2004 used to be able to provide help in the area of posting comments. As you can see from the quote below, they may be out of that business. If so, we'll just keep looking until we find a way to include comments. In the meantime, try e-mail:

"Ok. well as you have all probably found out, BlogOut is pretty much down. I dont have the drive space to facillitate the system any longer and am unfortunately going to have to shut it down for now. Hopefully in the future I'll be able to bring back a more stable, more flexible solution, but until then I apologize for the inconvenience."

Thursday, January 22, 2004

“Limit your own talking. You have two ears and one mouth. The more you listen, the more opportunity you’ll have to find out what the customer really wants.” That’s number one of a list of six (6) concepts that should help a person communicate. It could be for business purposes or personal relationship. If you don’t think the word “client” applies to you, just substitute friend or associate. Often when we talk too much the real reason is that we think that the person we’re talking to doesn’t realize how valuable we really are.

“Notice nonverbal communication. Only 7% of the message our client is communicating is through the words he/she uses, 38% is through tone of voice and 55% is through body language. This means that 93% of the message that someone communicates is conveyed by body language and tone of voice. Therefore, if you’re talking to a prospect, and they start doing things like, crossing their arms, crossing their legs away from you, yawning, leaning back, looking bored or avoiding eye contact, you need to "listen" to their body language and not only their words.” This is an accurate description of what happens in any conversation. When you’re talking to someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, it might be even more important that when you’re talking to a client.

“Don’t only think about what you’re going to say next. Too many times we are so concerned about we want to say that we don’t hear what the other person is really saying. By not paying total attention to our client, we ‘sell’ them on what we think is important and not what they really want. This frustrates the potential client and in many cases we lose the sale.” If what you’re selling is you, then your loss of a “sale” may be huge.

These ideas are worth learning and applying. If you ignore them, be certain that you’re rich so that you don’t need others to help you support yourself and be ready to begin sorting out those who “like” you because you’re rich from those who really value you and want to be with you.

Friday, January 16, 2004

When we study or discuss communications, we most often think about speech or writing. In discussing communications theory we talk about verbal and non-verbal communications. The impact of non-verbal communication on verbal communication is fairly easy to see and experience. We tend to remain narrow in our analysis of communication in spite of the fact that we can see many of the implications that non-verbal communications suggest.

For example, in a special issue of Time Magazine, January 19, 2004, there is a discussion of "How Your Love Life Keeps You Healthy". There is a suggestion in the article that we may be too narrow in our thoughts about communication. In the article entitled, The Power of Love, the author suggests that we all may be too narrow by saying "that human sexuality is a form of communication as much as it is of procreation. Nearly all creative acts are at least in part communicative."

Later in the same article, non-verbal communications is pointed out. "In uncounted thousands of such tactile transactions, kids learn to use touch as a means of connection at least as expressive as, and certainly more satisfying than, anything so detached as speech."

How might this broaden the discussion of communications, and help us to live with the person of our choice or build productive relationships within our families? Does it make more sense to limit the definition of communication to what is being said and how it is being said?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Our parents are our first and most effective teachers in most areas, but in communications and culture they are most powerful. If you had an easy time of the English classes in school, in large part it is your parents you need to thank. All your teachers had to do for you was to underscore what you already knew. You learned it without very much apparent traditional instruction. You picked it up through observation and interaction. Much of the instruction was non-verbal.

Later in life, the chances are much increased that you will be able to live with the person of your choice, live in the community of your choice and work at the job of your choice, if you have effective communication skills. A gift of huge value we give our children.

Human Resource Departments are increasingly looking for employees who communicate well. In fact, the person with effective communications skills will often get the job over others who, on paper, appear to be better prepared. The gift of communication skills gives our children an increased opportunity to reach their goals in life.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Communication is important to us all, from self-talk up to community building world wide. If we want to live with the person of our choice we must continuously improve our communications. If we want a better community in which to live and raise our families we must continuously improve our communications. What one of us misses or doesn't understand another will catch and help us to understand. Together we can make a difference, and communication is basic to the process.
It appears that radio and TV are broadcasting content that suggests that if you don't agree with what they are broadcasting on their talk shows, you must be anti-American or some wild liberal. Another way to look at disagreement is free speech.

How can we successfully sort through the mass of "information" that is available and determine what we need to know in order to enable us to think, plan and/or vote? Which medium is most honest and dependable? Are all media so focused on profits that no medium is left that will fill the traditional role that used to be filled with newspapers, radio and TV?