Wednesday, January 31, 2024

A vacant and hollow nation

Ours has become a sad, sad country.  We don't even care.  At least about anything that matters.  Youth are taught to hang their righteousness on vast, sweeping ideological crusades that cost them little in terms of self-sacrifice.  Like global warming.  Actual character or values barely make the grade at this point. 

I thought of this as my eldest - our resident sports guru - was commenting on the upcoming Super Bowl.  Before Sunday night's game, he said the real betting was over which narrative would come out on top.  Would it be the Detroit Lions, everyone's favorite worst NFL team, finally winning the Super Bowl?  Or would it be the corporate media's insistence on the Chiefs, with the lucrative tie-in of Taylor Swift Incorporated, that would win out?  Apparently that has dominated much of the chatter on sports sites and other outlets. 

And I though on that.  I mean, we realize what this means don't we?  It means people are discussing this with the assumption that the fix is in.  That it isn't a case of 'which team will be the best.'  It's which narrative will be sustained for the benefit of whoever benefits from it.  That is - it's rigged.  And more to the point, nobody cares. 

This has already been demonstrated by the cheating accusations against Michigan's football program.  If you don't know, Michigan University football has been accused of cheating for the last couple years.  It's being investigated, and I'm the first to say innocent until proven guilty.  But the evidence does look damning.  After all, Michigan's football program struggled up until Covid.  Then, suddenly, it flipped and became a powerhouse, this year making it to a victorious national championship.  The worst part is that the accusations of cheating match the turnaround for the program. 

Now, as I said, innocent until proven guilty. But what has shocked me is the Michigan fans who have said they don't care.  If it's true, so what?  A meteorologist who used to work here but moved back to her Michigan hometown said as much.  If Michigan cheated, it's on the dopes who were cheated - not on Michigan.   They won and they won.  That's what matters.  Even the press and sports media seem to have swept it under the rug, mentioning it only as an afterthought.  If it's mentioned at all.  I compare this to the outrage that arose when the New England Patriots were found to have cheated, and how that one scandal sort of tarnished the entire program no matter what they accomplished. 

Yet today?  Nah. Just like the discussions about which narrative will win the day at the Super Bowl.  It's as if we just accept corruption and corporate manipulation.  That people are talking about it like discussing the weather suggests a beat, lost, done nation.  Granted, this is only the internet and social media.  But I have always subscribed to the idea that where one example is found, hundreds of others haven't been.  And there were enough my son pointed to that suggests this is not some fluke from one site or another.  

I just thought on that.  Is it only football?  Yeah.  Is it life ending?  No.  Are there bigger things to worry about?  Sure.  And yet there seems to be a connection.  'Say it ain't so, Joe', became a veritable proverb and was often repeated in my youth even if I didn't understand the context.  So devastating was the news of corruption from that earlier period in time that the phrase passed down to my years as part of our national lexicon.  Yet today?  We seem to take it in stride. 

Isaiah says woe to those who call evil good evil and good evil.  Beyond the clash of good and evil, we have right and wrong.  We seem to have lost the ability to care, much less discern, the difference.  And I can't help but think that isn't a good thing.  Because if we no longer care about right and wrong, not caring about good and evil can't be far down the road - if it's not already here. 

Thursday, January 25, 2024

News media and the economy

NPR notes that a record half of Americans can no longer afford housing. This article is worth the read.  If for no other reason than its stark honesty.

For over a year, almost every economic news report has been some variation on 'things are looking up.'  The hilarious - and yet sad - part is that such reporting is often flanked with stories of Americans unable to afford groceries, utilities, housing, automobiles, needed repair work and other necessities.  Just today, CBS crowed over the growth in consumer spending.  Oddly enough, people pay more when the things they are buying have to be bought even if prices are at all time highs.  

I will give CBS credit.  It also mentioned that personal debt is at staggeringly unprecedented levels. It even suggested the two might be connected.  Though it assured us economists are optimistic, there should be no recession, and take it away Paul:

If you don't want President Biden to be reelected, I would do nothing at all about this.  I've long maintained that a reason Trump won in 2016 was because the press purposely downplayed or ignored the problems in the country.  Having learned no lesson at all, it appears that the press will try it again.  

Funny thing about people.  They will believe a lot that seems unbelievable, but they won't believe they've never had it so good when, in fact, they have it so bad. 

Friday, January 19, 2024

A full rich week

So as weeks go, it's been a week.  As my sons like to say.  Or a year for that matter.  So far 2024 has been less than optimal in the 'Great Year' department.  Almost the opposite.  I told my wife that in the first couple weeks at least, 2024 acts like I ran over its dog. 

Not everything has been some horrible disaster.  But some bumps in the road with a few potholes thrown in just to liven it up.  Which all seemed to be converging on this week for the grand finale.  At least hopefully the grand finale for the year. 

My wife was scheduled for some medical tests on Wednesday.  Nothing too serious, but those tests you get just to make sure all is OK and crossing Ts and everything. But that became the least of the concerns on Tuesday night.  My mom, it turned out, had a stroke at some point during that day. 

Now, that's concerning when you're 93 years old and have suffered from dementia for almost fifteen years.  The good news is, she appears to have bounced back about as well as we could hope.  In fact, when we were told to call 911 and the EMS crew showed up, they made me explain why they were there.  Given her vitals, and that she couldn't remember her name or speak clearly, given her age and dementia, didn't seem to warrant the emergency call.  I had to establish the baseline. 

The most I could say is we knew something was wrong.  We had our little routines, things we did with her every day and night.  Things we said every night before she went to bed.  And suddenly she couldn't say them.  It was a hunch on our part that something was wrong.  So to the ER she went and the scan confirmed our suspicions and fears.  At some point she suffered a stroke.

Nonetheless, they sent her home yesterday.  As the doctor explained, for a woman of her age and the long trail of dementia, having had a significant stroke, she's doing exceptionally well.  Oh, she's had a memory wipe.  She no longer knows my name.  Though as I explained to the doctor, she may have forgotten it some time ago.  Since we were here with her and interacted on a daily basis, it never dawned on us to quiz her.  She knew her name and birthday, something lost to her now.  But she knows us still.  

When my son and daughter-in-law stopped by the hospital, even though I wasn't around, she knew them. Not by name.  But she knew them as opposed to, say, the nurses.  Her reaction to us and interaction with us was clearly different than her response to nurses or doctors and such.  As I said, she may no longer know who I am, but she still knows what I am.  Which is about par for the course with us.  I've stated before that we have a knack for being hit with some of the big things that can hit a family, but almost always in the best ways they can happen.  If that makes sense.   

With that said, she will need a new level of care.  Especially over the next month or two.  We'll have some home care and some therapy and some special monitors in the coming weeks.  They believe that might help improve a little in the communications department while watching over her more closely.   But as they observed, she's already back to speaking and talking and communications well beyond what we could have hoped.  But it will change things, more than they were already changing.  

Hence the sudden drop in blog posts.  I said I would cut down, but didn't mean that much.  I at least wanted to post on fun things.   But it's been a bit busy these last days.  Prayers would be appreciated for my mom.  I think the toughest part is that now she's home, we know it is only the beginning.  Which is fine.  As my wife and I have admitted, this is the path we chose.  And given what my mom did for me through the years - including that whole giving me life thing - I consider it the least we can do.  

I would say kudos to the boys who, as always, stepped up to the plate.  One thing they have learned is how to swing into action when something goes wrong.  But it will probably be a little bit longer before I'm back to blogging unless some crazy thing happens - and that could include crazy good things.  Otherwise, I'll be back when I can.  

Friday, January 12, 2024


As many can tell, blogging has been light recently.  Well, it's been mostly non-existent.  I have no intention of declaring an end to the blog or anything.  I've done that before, and almost every time some crazy 'next step to the abyss' moment happened.  The most recent example being when I pledged to set aside issue based blogging - on the eve of the Brett Kavanaugh kangaroo court.  The noteworthy moment with that fiasco was listening to lawmakers, pundits and even journalists explain that while innocent until proven guilty, due process and burden of proof are fine things for our dusty old courtrooms and legal types, in 21st Century American society they no longer apply. 

Incidentally, has anyone noticed the next step in this?  Donald Trump is being removed from ballots, and as far as I know, he has yet to be convicted in a court of law.  And the ones advocating for this are those legal law making types who roam about in those dusty old courtrooms.  I'm no legal expert, and perhaps there is an explanation.  But it looks to me like we just took another step across another line in the sand. 

Therefore, because you never know what will happen next - like the Left being 'awe shucks' about non-right-winger activists celebrating the worst singled day slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust - I won't say no to topical blogging.  I will, however, cut back.  As I have already been doing, if you can't tell. 

Part of it is practical.  A growing number of online news outlets and other forums are becoming 'paywall protected.'  When I started this back in 2010, even those media outlets that had paywalls had a sort of 'ten free a month' type offers.  But now?  Nope.  Not only the big mainline outlets like the NYT or Washington Post or Wall Street Journal, but even others like Fox or some Catholic sites I've visited are having more 'subscribe to read the whole thing' messages.

On top of that Twitter has changed.  I have never (nor will I ever) belonged to Twitter, the scourge of discourse and mature dialogue.  But I could still access imagines of those who are on Twitter. But they've changed something, and now I can't. That means there's just not much left to turn to when it comes to linking to a story or reading up on what is going on.  Unless it's our local papers or a magazine off the shelf, it just isn't that easy anymore.  On top of that, people just don't seem to be interested in keeping up with the crazy the way they used to.  I still get some emails or FB messages about what the latest kookie thing written, but not nearly the way it used to be. 

This includes blogs, BTW.  I seldom link to blogs that are more traditional or conservative, for obvious reasons.  Most who read my blog read theirs.  While there is nothing wrong with what they say, I have always felt it odd to simply repeat what others have written, especially when most are coming to my blog from theirs.  

Beyond all that, here on the home front, it's just tougher to keep up.  Despite the media's propaganda to the contrary, this is not a wonderful economy with our best days ahead.  Our family, too, is under the joy of  Bidenomics, and will have to adjust accordingly.  Plus, certain commitments around the house are demanding more time on our part, and that takes away from the time I can give searching for the odd outlet that has a story to muse on that I can access.

So I'll cut down my 'issue' blogging to about one a week.  That is, a post bouncing off some news story about the country, the Church, the world, whatever.  I won't waste time with liberal Catholics online anymore.  They have retreated behind bans and blocks and no comments sections to avoid confronting dissenters.  No sense posting about something nobody can react to, other than shake fists and say 'told you so.'  But dealing with the latest news crazy, or problem in current events, will occupy about one post a week.  Huge, catastrophic moments always being a potential exception.

That's not to say I won't muse on things.  I reserve the right to post something based on my general assessment of life, faith, or fancies.  But the 'follow this link to a story because of the latest' will be a once a week endeavor.  

Of course I will keep posting on fun, family and other such important ventures.  We have a good priest, an excellent associate pastor, and thus far, a wonderful bishop, and that helps in this maelstrom of Francis era Catholicism.  More on these things down the road.  Beyond that, the latest movies, games and family outings are always fair game. 

But I wanted to update.  Again, once a week I'll try to throw something out based on what is going on in the wider world. Beyond  that, I might post on reflections in general when the spirit moves me.  Hopefully more on the family and fun and faith parts, just to keep active with the blog overall.  If any of that makes sense.  Thanks for the visits, and hope to see everyone soon.