Are we there yet? Heaven help us if we are.

June 20, 2022

I saw a quote that seems to sum up where we are headed as a nation if we are not already there.

“People have moved beyond apathy, beyond skepticism into deep cynicism.” – Elliot Richardson

Much of my early life and some of the middle of it was lived in years of apathy in America, punctuated by periods of “woke” unrest caused by resistance to the Viet Nam War and in rise of the Civil Rights Movement. More recent awareness of issues and wrongs, such as the “Me, too” movement, the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the issue of LBGTQ rights has pulled the scabs off things in our society that we cannot and should not allow apathy to gloss over. The power of social media and modern communications channels have quickly moved us passed the phase of skepticism and towards cynicism.

That movement has been exacerbated by the wide political divide that has developed in our nation. We no longer enjoy the stability of an intelligent and thinking moderate political majority in our government. The old bell-shaped curve in which the majority of our politicians were in the middle on issues, with outliers at the extremes on both sides has been replaced by an inverted bell-shaped curve where the majority of politicians have aligned themselves with the extreme positions and only a few, moderate voices remain to try to find compromises.

As we approach yet another election season and the attack ads start to pop up on TV and social media, I can’t help but ask myself, “Is these really the best people that we have to offer?” Are these politicians from the extreme on either side really our brightest and best; or are they just the only ones willing to put up with life in the gutter that politics has become? As a nation are we ready to follow these sleazy politicians in their crusade AGAINST others and various causes; or would we rather follow true leaders towards higher, positive goals for America? Do we vote for the guy (or gal) who can yell, “The other guy is a bum” the loudest or do we look at what they really stand for and vote for people with a vision of what good can yet be done in America?

We cannot afford to be apathetic, but we need not become cynics. We need to look with skepticism at the messages being aimed at us on social media and in the news. We need to look at what the current elected people have actually done while in office, verses what they initially promised to do (it is seldom the same). And we may need to compromise a bit ourselves, putting some of our own priorities or issues aside for the moment to vote for the best people for the jobs.

So, let us not become cynics; but, rather let us become better informed and more thoughtful voters this year. One cannot just sit on the couch watching the nightly news and saying, “What an idiot” when current elected officials pass yet another dumb or vindictive law. It is our task as good citizens not to let the voices of reason and moderation get drowned out by the yelling and misinformation from the extremes on either side. It is no small task to search for the best people amidst the noise of the calliope that modern politics has become, but they and the truth are out there. We see signs on beer and liquor trucks saying, “Drink responsibly”; maybe we need signs on polling places saying “Vote responsibly.”

I’ll see you at the polls.

Let’s hope that we’ve learned…

May 18, 2020

Jack had a particularly apropos quote today in his blog – Jack’s Winning Words“Experience is a hard teacher, because she gives the test first and the lesson afterward.”  (Vern Law)

We are all living through the test right now and the real-time grades that we see on the news every night show that many are failing and even more are failing to learn. Even the national health official in Sweden who made the call not to impose any stay at home guidance now is saying, “Gee, I didn’t realize that so many would die.” Sweden has experienced one of the highest per capita death rates in the world because of that decision.  They were going for herd immunity and instead ended up thinning the herd.

In the United States we have seen the consequences in meat packing plants across the country of some states not taking enough precautions. We will soon see the second wave of infections due to the re-opening of many states before they were ready. The focus has now turned to testing and tracing, neither one of which we are prepared to do adequately. The models predict well over 100,000 dead by mid-June. Still, some idiots claim this is all a hoax or a plot to unseat President Trump. He certainly doesn’t need the help of this pandemic to prove that he shouldn’t be President.

I’m certain that the cooler heads of the health professionals that still exist in Washington will learn from this experience; however, they will probably not be allowed to use that new knowledge as long as the Tweeter-in-Chief is in charge. He has already chosen to ignore their advice on re-opening the country and called into question their loyalty to him every time they disagree with one of his pronouncements.

Hopefully, the experience of the last four years has taught enough of us a lesson that we take actions to apply what we have learned at the ballot box in November. We shall have to wait until after the election to start to see sanity return to the decision making process at the Federal level. Until that time, remember that we are still taking the test and what you do to protect yourself and others will determine your grade.

Stay home. Stay safe. Learn from this experience.

Choose to vote…

November 5, 2018

The quote on the Jack’s Winning Words blog today is “Your life is the result of your choices.  What will you choose today for your tomorrows?  (Robert Allen)

Jack used that quote to talk about voting or at least not whining about the results if you don’t vote and you don’t like the outcome.

While we may not agree on anything else about this election, I think all of us can agree that we’ll be glad when it’s over and those obnoxious political commercial cease ruling (and ruining) the airways. If the ads are to be believed, we have choices between the debaterssleaze-bags and the dirt-bags; between fanatical, bigoted storm troopers on one side and Communist sympathizers on the other; between those who would stand by and watch your sick child die and those who would steal the future from that same child. The party colors may be blue and red, but the political contrasts stand out in stark black and white. The only reaching across the aisle being done here is to reach out in anger for the throats of the opponents.

Lost in all of the rancor and bombast is the welfare of the people of the country. Taking care of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure or providing for the health and welfare of those less fortunate and in need takes a seat at the absolute back of the political buses of both parties, which are focused almost solely on gaining or maintaining political power. Of course, both sides claim to be protecting America from the ravages of the other side’s radical politics.

Still, if you listen carefully, there are a few voices of reason out there among the candidates that give us hope. Sure, they are running under the banners of one party or the other; candidates have to do that to have any chance at all in our political system. voteHowever, some of these more reasonable candidates have expressed their independence from the platforms and leadership of the party under whose banner they are running. They have shown that they are more in tune with the needs and desires of their constituents than the just being toadies to the party line. In itself, that is enough reason to get out and vote on Tuesday. Make the choice about your tomorrows by voting on Tuesday.

Turn that anger into votes…

October 13, 2018

A post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time back had this little quote – “Did you know that Dammit I’m mad spelled backwards is Dammit I’m mad?”  (Sent by Norlene)

I read an article in this week’s BusinessWeek magazine about female anger and why it is so often suppressed and allowed to fade away. The #MeToo movement brought to the surface a lot of that repressed anger from women who have been taken advantage of and abused by men during their lives, especially in the business environment. The article speculated on whether the sense of anger and frustration that boiled over this summer, culminating with the confirmation hearings for Judge Kavenaugh, will affect the angry womanNovember elections and change the face of American politics. The article pointed out that a record number of women are running for office this year at all levels of government. Certainly, replacing the good old boys in government with women is one way to overcome the issue (at least in government).It will take a longer, more concerted effort to change the business world. So, maybe the #MeToo movement is morphing into the #OurTurn movement, and that’s a good thing.

In the political world, turning anger into votes is what got Donald Trump elected. He successfully read and tapped into the anger of the voters over issues on which they felt the traditional politicians had abandoned them. He was able to cast the professional politicians who ruled Washington at the time as a part of the problem and offer himself as the solution. It worked because those same politicians had become isolated from, and arrogantdisdainful of, their constituents. They had become focused upon feeding from the trough of lobbyists’ money and doing the bidding of those who paid for their attention. It became well known that the lobbyists were writing the legislation being sponsored by their toadies in Congress and that did not sit well with the breakfast crew at the local café. Given little other outlet for their frustration, it’s no wonder that so many voters took the chance to vote for someone like Trump, who claimed that he wanted to “Drain the Swamp” in Washington. Whether he drained the swamp or just brought in a new crop of snakes and alligators is the topic for another day. He turned that anger and frustration into votes.

Now it’s the women’s turn to change things. The anger level has been building throughout the year as abuse of women scandal after scandal erupted onto the scene. The #MeToo movement may have started out of things that gained attention in Hollywood; but, it has always been there, just below the surface. It was suppressed in the homes and workplaces of America. It was hushed up in the churches and schools of America. It was winked at in Americas’ board rooms and in the Halls of Congress. But ityoung-woman-furious was still there; festering; the anger building. This time, maybe it won’t fade away. This time, maybe it will once again turn into votes. This time, maybe the women of America will do what the President didn’t do and drain the swamp that American politics has become. We shall see on November 6. That’s the day in which women have the opportunity to say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.”

Voting for Huron Valley history…

January 13, 2015

I’ve mentioned this here before and your will see it again before next Monday. I’m the President of the Board of the Milford Historical Society (MHS). We run a small museum in Milford that is open 8 months of the year. The Milford Historical Museum, like many small town museums across America focuses upon local history, in our case the history of the area surrounding Milford – The Huron Valley area. The museum houses memorabilia of various sorts that have been contributed by local residents. It also houses a unique collection of microfilmed copies of the local weekly paper – The Milford Times – going back to its beginning in 1871. The Milford Times like many small town weekly papers, is a great source for historical material on the life and times of Milford and the surrounding area. The ads alone would make a great graduate degree study in the changing tastes of mid-America.

microfilm readerWhen this archive was conceived and created back in the 1970’s the most logical medium to use was microfilm, which is what it is recorded upon to this day. Microfilm has a very long life, but the technology has been supplanted by newer, faster and certainly more useful technologies. The microfilm library that we have is not indexed (other than by start and stop dates on the film reels) and cannot be searched. It is a tedious process to find a specific issue and an impossible task to find all mentions of a specific subject. We hope to change that and make the files searchable, while at the same time moving to a newer technology that will last long into the future.

Our Museum and the Milford Historical Society has joined forces with the Milford Library, the Highland Township Library, the White Lake Township Library, the Commerce Township Library and Historical Societies from Highland, White Lake (and Fisk Farm), and Commerce Township (and Byers Farm) in a project that has been named the Huron Valley History Initiative. This group has joined together to facilitate the project to convert the copies of the Milford times that exist on microfilm in the Milford Historical Museum and at the Milford Library into a searchable database that will be house on a server that will be accessible to the group members. The resulting database will be indexed and searchable. The groups have also committed to the digitization and addition of other of their records and memorabilia, such as old photos, cemetery records, tax records and such. Once done the resulting database will allow a very rich search environment for historians and genealogy researchers.

The tasks that must be completed to realize the vision of having all of this history on line are formidable, but they start with getting the current microfilm library scanned in and converted to digital format. To that end, the group has applied for a grant from the Clarke Library, which is associated with Central Michigan University. Clarke accepts annual grant requests for history-oriented projects from around the state of Michigan and then chooses one request to fund. The choice involves letting the communities that will be impacted by the grant work vote on the importance to the community of the proposed work. The Huron Valley History Initiative is one of the five finalists for this year’s Clarke Library grant. The voting is done within a one week window, from Jan 19 until Jan 25.

vote graphicBeginning Jan 19, members of the community (or anyone for that matter)  may “vote” for the project of their choice by using Twitter to post a Tweet with a unique hashtag (in our case the hashtag is #DigMilford) or they may send in a post card with some Michigan theme or content (a picture of something in Michigan) addressed to Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Clemens, MI  48859. The postcard should contain the hashtag DigMilford on it to identify it as a vote for our project. You can click here to view the poster that we’ve created and which will be in store window in Milford and in the libraries mentioned. The Huron Valley History Initiative has also created a Facebook page – ,which you can visit for more information. The Clarke Library also has a web page that will allow you to vote, just remember that our hashtag is #DigMilford.

I encourage all of my readers to Tweet or re-Tweet during the voting window using the hashtag #DigMilford. Admittedly, this is a “cause” that doesn’t pull at the heartstrings like most of the health and welfare causes that we are all bombarded with all of the time. The needs in those areas are great all around the world and I encourage you to do what you can for them and give what you can. In this case, we aren’t asking you for any money, just a few moments to Tweet or re-Tweet something with the hashtag #DigMilford to support our project. Of course, if you do happen to have a Michigan-themed postcard and want to send it in to vote for us, that would be great. Postcards count as 100 votes, so that counts as a lot of Tweeting. Send your cards to – Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Clemens, MI  48859. For my international followers, perhaps a postcard from your country to the library with something historic in your area would be counted – just make sure to put the hashtag #DigMilford on it.

I’ll post a reminder on Monday, Jan 19 when the polls open. Thanks for your support.