Be Nice, It’s contagious.

If there is a positive thing that I have seen come out of the current presidential race, it has to do with the attitude of the people who are supporting Bernie Sanders.  For the first time in a long time, people who are posting on social media are generally posting positive remarks.  People are looking for a positive message and they are repeating a positive message.  People are getting fed up with the popularity contest that politics has become.  They are also looking for a person they could believe in and not just pick the lesser of two evils.  I still do not know if his campaign has long term staying power, but the longer he stays in the greater the following he is going to get.  For the first time in a very long time, maybe even ever, I am really impressed with someone who is running for President.  You really get the feeling he is doing it for the right reasons, not just for the power and prestige, but because he wants to make a different in the lives of ordinary people who have been forgotten due to the vast amounts of money that is being thrown around.  I don’t know how far he will get but I like the precedent he is setting with talking about issues, not just talking badly about everyone around them and using shock value to win points.  Eventually the shock value wears down and you become just another idiot yelling into a microphone.  If you talk about the issues, you could never go wrong.  So many others could learn that lesson.

Stana Katic

Stana Katic Wallpapers @ go4celebrity.com

If there is anyone who rivals Melissa Rauch for biggest crush on TV right now, it is Stana Katic.  Castle is one of the few shows that Christine and I watch regularly.  There is not weak link, the entire cast is just amazing.  Not only is Stana Katic good looking, she kicks ass and does it in high heals.

I had 9 Days

I was not brought up with a very strong religious identity.  My mother’s family wasn’t religious.  My dad’s was but for some reason, my Dad’s explanations of our religion, which is Judaism, never extended further back than the Holocaust.  When I questioned anything, the answer was was an angry “because if you were in Germany in in the ’40s you’d have to wear a yellow star and you probably would have been killed”.  Um.. ok.  I was 11.  I get it.  I get angry sometimes when I don’t know the answer to things either.  We were Jewish 9 days out of the year:  2 days for Rosh Hashonah, 1 for Yom Kippur, 2 for Passover because after that who cared and about 5 for Hanukkah, because 8 was just way too many days in a row to do anything that significant.  When we did go to temple, my Dad would take me to the only temple  he knew about in the neighborhood.  One in which a friend of his went to.  It was not really a temple, but it was in a storefront and it was all orthodox and ultra-orthodox.  We were looked upon by the regular congregants as if we might as well have been Christian.  No one ever talked to my Dad except his friend and no one ever talked to me except his friend’s son, and that seemed reluctant at best.  I didn’t go to Sunday school to learn about our religion leading up to my Bar Mitzvah.  I went to some guys house once a week to learn how to read two pages of a Haftorah that I had no idea what I was saying or why I was saying it.  So it is safe to guess why I rebelled and never really went back.

I talked to my Mom about this several year later.  Her parents were not religious at all.  I don’t even think they had 9 days.  She had a lot of Aunts and they were all pretty religious but it didn’t extend to my Mom.  She grew up in Borough Park in Brooklyn which was and is Jew Central.  I don’t know how it happened, but my Mom said once when she was young she wandered into a Catholic Church on Sunday morning.  She listened to the Homily and she said she loved going back every week just to listen to the Priest talk.  One day one of her Aunts saw her coming out of the Church and freaked out.  She never went back.

Through the years I have gone to different temples, but I never fit in.  I have a lot of friends who while only going to temple on the holidays, they knew the songs and prayers.  They had a family history of getting together and making it a family event.  For me, it was me and my Dad, my sisters and my Mom were exempt.  If I was Jewish 9 days a year, they were Jewish for 5 or 6.  I when I went to temple recently and it came to one of the songs that is very well known and even the worst Jew could sing, I was unable to do so.  I left feeling unwelcome, dejected and upset.  We have a son.  He just started religion classes at the Church.  My mom asked if he would grow up knowing he was half Jewish.  I told her that he would know as much as I did growing up.  I think she got the gist of the answer.

I could have done something as an adult to learn.  I could have gone and filled in all of the vast gaps left by my upbringing, but I have always been so bitter and angry that I never did.  By doing that I am also missing the one thing that all of my Jewish friends talked about which was the family togetherness.  It was their tradition.  It was something they shared as a family.  I didn’t have that and the ship has sailed.  I am clueless to this day.  I admit I am not without fault here, but when I did try to go back, it was empty.

I married a Catholic girl and she is amazing.  We got married with a Priest and a Rabbi.  The Rabbi, it turned out was my grandfathers Rabbi from Canarse.  The priest was and is one of the most amazing men I have ever met.  I have since been to church more than I have been to Temple.  We often go to the Priest, who is a Monsignor, and hear his mass.  He is an incredible speaker.  Really inspiring.  I know what my Mom heard when she went to church back in the day.

This is all about religion and not about faith.  I try to live a life that my ancestors would be proud of.  I try to live a life that if I ever find myself face to face with Moses or Jesus, they would look at me and say that even if I didn’t live up to those high standards, I tried my best.  I don’t go back because I am very blessed and never felt the need to.  I might not have been given religion, but I try to live a good life and in return I have been extremely blessed.

It’s Not War

Doritos made rainbow colored chips to support a charity that is trying to prevent suicide in the LGBT community, a group where the suicide rate is really high.   The level of open hate and hostility toward people and companies that choose to support equality for all is really very disturbing.  People actually posting that people are being too tolerant.  Too tolerant.  Because intolerance is what we need, right?

My problem with all of this is that the people who are against equality are saying they are against this in the name of Christianity and God, then when people are not getting on board with their intolerance in the name of religion, they claim that it is a war on Christianity.  There are fewer things today that get me as worked up as people who claim that there is a war on Christianity.  The war is not on Christianity or with Christians.  I don’t like calling it a war either, because people die in war.  People aren’t dying here, people are getting their knickers in a twist and that is hardly the same thing.  The thing that people like me are against is the intolerance.  I am personally insulted that people would invoke God and religion to justify their own bigotry.  The truth is that most Christians I know are good, loving people who would do anything for anyone who needed it.  These are people of all political leanings.  One of the men I admire most in this world is a Catholic Monsignor who was one of 2 religious men who officiated at my wedding, the other being a Rabbi.

I am fan of the teaching of love and respect that is a part of the teaching or Christianity.  When you cherry pick certain passages to justify your stance that other Americans should not have the same rights that you have, you are no longer a Christian.  When your default stance is to deny people love and respect, you lose the right to call yourself a religious person.  When you go out of your way to actively seek ways to stop others from enjoying the rights you enjoy, you are no longer acting like someone who is following a loving God.  If you get online and post anger and hate toward your fellow man and American, then claim to be so devout, you show yourself to be hypocrite.  The war and the anger is not with Christianity.  The anger is at the hate and fear that people show in the name of religion.  I wish we could take religion back and not sully with fear and bigotry.

Almost Election Time.. GET OUT THERE!

Growing up I was a huge fan of the political process.  I really enjoyed learning about the government and I was fascinated with how it worked.  As an adult, I have joined the growing number of people who have become so disillusioned with how things are going, I have all but completely lost interest.  I say all but completely because there is a part of me that realizes just how important it is to be involved.

I think the single biggest problem today is the fact that we have become so polarized as a people.  We have taken the bait of the parties and cable news and we consider people of the opposite party the enemy.  I have heard politicians use this word in talking about the opposing party.  Enemy is such a strong word that was used for places like the Soviet Union during the cold war.  The axis powers were the enemy.  North Korea, North Vietnam, the communists were the enemies.  Once we started referring to other Americans as the enemy, we have reignited the Civil War, albeit a cold one.

Today on social media it just takes the mention of Barack Obama to start a vitriolic hateful diatribe with more hateful people responding before it devolves into an angry, hateful name calling war where no one is listening, and no one is really saying anything.

The election process is a joke.  There are no more debates.  The so-called debates have been replaced with a reality television shows where everyone rushes to get in their 3 lines of canned, rehearsed script and a swipe at another candidate or Hillary Clinton or the President.  The louder the swipe and the more hateful the swipe is at the President, the louder the applause, until the person who yells the loudest is declared the winner.  I never understood how there could be a winner of this sort of debate.  Why are we declaring winners and losers?  Do we have to take the college football culture and apply it to government?

I am fascinated by Bernie Sanders.  He is talking about issues.  He is not bashing the people around him.  He is not building himself up by tearing others down.  He has consistently refused to get down into the mud.  He is going to places that are deeply ensconced with the opposition party, and he is emerging successfully.  His message is one that is positive.  He seems to really care about those that big money, post-Citizens United ruling government have forgotten, those in the lower and middle classes.  Everyone is getting up there talking about how everyone else is your problem.  Everyone wants to tell you who to hate and who to blame.  How about we have people who get up there and tell you that they are going to fight for you.  It isn’t about hating people, it is about respecting people.  It is about realizing that you judge a person by how he treats those that cannot do a thing for him.  It is about looking forward with an attitude that is positive, not looking back with hate to see whose fault it is that you have your lot in life.  We don’t need to support he millionaires and billionaires and take care of them with special incentives and tax breaks, we have to take care of those that have nothing.  We have to make sure that those that have nothing, can find a silver lining.  If we make the bottom of the pyramid strong, it will support everything at the top, if we put every thing at the top, it may look great, but it whole structure will collapse.  We are on the verge of collapse.  We cannot continue with the greed and the hate.  We cannot consider other Americans the enemy.  We have to stop worrying about who is getting married to whom and we have to stop worrying about petty crap that will not do anything to change the direction of this nation.  We need leadership and direction.  We need to all stand up and let those in office know that we will not accept the status quo of corruption and hate and greed.  We need to bind together and send the message that we want to be a nation of people who care and not a nation of haters who only want to blame.

Voter turnout is abysmal in this country.  Even in years with a President on the ballot.  We need to get everyone out there to let them know that our votes count for something and you can’t buy me the way you were bought by your billionaire benefactors.  The constitution was  written so everyone had a voice, not just those with money.  Everyone has 1 vote.  If every one used their 1 vote, and I mean everyone, we could really make some waves.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Enemy

Spoilers for a show more than 25 years old.

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One of the story lines in this excellent episode of TNG shows Worf refusing to allow his blood to be used to save the life of a Romulan.  He is asked to reconsider by Beverly, Riker and Captain Picard.  Worf refuses all, but tells Picard that if ordered, he will comply.  Picard said he didn’t want to order Worf to donate his blood and when Worf stands firm, Picard backs down, and the Romulan dies.  Definitely not a very Star Trek moment where Starfleet and Starfleet officers are supposed to be above reproach.

I listened to the recent Mission Log podcast on this episode where they discussed this story in depth.  The problem that I have with this discussion and with most discussions on this topic is that the main assumption that everyone makes when talking about this is that these character are “good”.

When it comes to good and evil, it is good to start with some preset definitions.  I have always loved the Dungeons and Dragons alignment chart.  I know some people have issues with it, but I think it is really well laid out with “good vs. evil” on one axis and “lawful vs. chaotic” on the other axis.

So we assume that our heroes are some form of “good”.

Lets set some definitions while we discuss this.

Good – altruistic, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

In the range of “good vs. evil” there is grey area, which is referred to as Neutral.

Neutral – with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but may not make the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others depending on the circumstances. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships or “by the code or rules that they live by.”

I would say that in the good/evil scale, Worf fits right into the Neutral category.  I don’t even think I need to expand on the definition, as I think Worf is perfectly described in this definition.  The part of the definition of Neutral in quotes is a part I added to make more sense to the Star Trek world.  People don’t just act on their own, but rather they have rules that are followed.  Though there are different rules for different people.  Humans, Klingons and Ferengi all have a code, but they are vastly different.  In this case, Worf is torn between his Klingon code and his Starfleet code and he even admits that by saying he knows what his training as a Starfleet officer tells him he must do, yet, he doesn’t.  He will act of ordered to, but he will not volunteer.

This is a concept that Beverly cannot understand.  Her character is solidly on the side of “good”.  Riker is an enigma, which is for another day.  He can be good or neutral depending on the day, which I guess technically makes him neutral, but in this case, he cannot see past the “good” view to see what Worf is going through.

On the other hands, Picard sees and knows what Worf is going through because Captain Picard is not “good”.  He is most definitely Neutral.  His Starfleet training and command experience demands that he remain neutral.  He doesn’t act on personal relationships, but rather based on his laws, which is absolute to him.

The other axis is “Lawful/Chaotic”

Lawful – Law implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability.  Those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.

The definition of Lawful is one that fits Worf perfectly as well as Picard.

The opposite is chaotic.

Chaos implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility.  Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.

In the area of command in Star Trek, you can argue that Captain Janeway was forced into a more Chaotic behavior for the sake of her ship.   In TNG, Riker is more of the Chaotic naturein comparison to Picard’s definite Lawful stance.

When it comes down to it, Picard and Worf are both Lawful Neutral characters though their Laws are different.   Picard’s law is the Prime Directive.  With the Prime Directive, at times hard decisions need to be made including letting people or even civilizations perish as not to violate the Prime Directive.  With Worf, that is the second level of laws, his first is Klingon honor as shown in The Enemy.  He is willing to let the Romulan die as a matter of honor for his family and culture even through his Starfleet training tells him the opposite should be done.  Picard, as a Lawful Neutral character himself, understands this and stands down.

Melissa Rauch

So my wife and I recently binge watched Daredevil on Netflix.  First of all, it was incredible.  If you are a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe,  then Daredevil is an absolute must-see.  Though I will most likely do a thing about the MCU, this isn’t about that.  My wife had a major crush on Charlie Cox.  Hey, it happens, it’s all good.  I’ve had my share of TV and movie crushes, but I hadn’t  really thought about it.  After talking about another Charlie Cox interview she watched she asked if I minded.  Of course I don’t care.  She asked if I had a current crush.  As I had said I hadn’t thought about it so if I had to think about it I would have said I didn’t have one.  But somewhere in the recesses of my brain,  there was an answer and I answered without even missing a beat.

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The Ink Squirts

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When it comes to WWII nose art, it is usually the Heavies that get the attention.  There are quite a few famous B17s whose nose art is nothing short of iconic.  The B24s, with their broad sides, were perfect for drawing large intricate works of art.  You don’t generally think of the medium bombers.  Or at least I don’t.  I obviously can’t speak for anyone else.  I came across this picture of a B25 call The Ink Squirts.  She was with the 41stBG, but not a whole lot is known about it.