Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Few Thoughts From An Active Mind

A few lines from my FB Page.............

I have lived long, and I have lived short.....I've seen three types of people. Those who sit and watch from the sidelines. Those who wanted to do something but did not for lack of intestinal fortitude. And those who, lose, or draw, they did something that made a difference. 

So many people have the personality of canned of peas; soggy and off-color.  

Telling a hungry man that you will pray for him does not fill his stomach.  

We are born and we all die. In between is this thing called life. Our birth and death are not important. How well we live our lives is.

When you stop feeling sorry for yourself and take charge of your life, "miracles" happen.

Those who have, when they take from what is intended for the have nots, are nothing more than thieves in a different dress. They have no honor.  

Living life without hope is like drinking your morning coffee without a cup.  

It is better to live life as who you REALLY are and not try to impress others by attempting to be something that you are not.  

                                                                Copyright @2013 Terry Unger

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Old Neighborhood and the Cost of Dying

Once upon a time in America, every neighborhood had its very own butcher shop, barber and beauty parlor (as my grandmother used to call it), at least one saloon, a mom and pop grocery store, and an undertaker.  When you wanted a chicken, turkey, or pot roast, you went to Joe's Butcher Shop.  You went to Joe's Store to get the veggies to go along with what you bought at the butcher shop.  When you needed a haircut, or mom wanted a perm to look good for that special occasion, you visited Joe's barbershop/Josephine's beauty parlor.  And Joe's Place, the local watering hole, was the place to stop after a hard day's work, or when you and mom wanted to go out on a Saturday night.  When you needed to bury your dearly departed with dignity and respect, Joe the Undertaker was there for you.  So much has changed.

In our march of progress, much of the above has been either radically changed or eliminated.  Mega-stores have replaced neighborhood shopping.  Unisex salons have replaced the barbershop and beauty parlor.  Hell, most of the neighborhood watering holes have been replaced by chain-style bar and grills located in the 'burbs (how much easier it was to stagger home on a Saturday night when "home" was very close, and driving an automobile was not even a considered option - you had two feet and home was just down the street).  And then we had Joe the Undertaker.

The Undertaker was as much a part of the neighborhood as the bar and grill; he too, has been replaced.  Bending to "political correctness" or maybe "progress," the label undertaker is no longer used.  Today, the preferred term is "Funeral Director."  And along with the label change came the "care change."  The very personal care given by the local undertaker gave way to the very impersonal care corporations dole out.  Corporations you say?  Yes dear heart, corporations.

In North America, there are four corporations that have eaten up a large portion of private funeral homes and cemeteries.  And, they all have plans for expansion; death is big business and business is booming.

Two of these corporations are based in Houston Texas; the third in New Orleans, and the fourth in Tampa Florida.  Do not be confused.  These corporate entities move with all the stealth of a deployed Navy Seal Team.  When they buy, there is little or no public public notice of the sale.  The old, local and in many cases, "family name on the door" does not change.  The original family/owner/operators stay on for a few years to assure a smooth transition within the community.  And know this:  the new owners, the corporation's managers, are well schooled schmoozers when it comes to public relations.  After they have brow-beaten you for every dollar they can get and you sign on the dotted line, do not expect a lot of "service after the sale."  But, hell, don't take it personally.  After all, it's just business here in the USA.  It's almost like buying a new car from a national dealership.  But, as of this post, not all is lost.

These four after-death merchants have yet to suck up all the privately owned funeral homes and cemeteries.  However, it's really hard to figure out their total holdings without a look at their balance sheets; they are stealthy and not very forth coming.  Remember, they do retain on their acquired properties, the names of the previous owners.  So, if in need, just ask; they have to tell you.  And, as gruesome and as heartless as it may sound, shop around.  There still are many privately owned funeral homes and cemeteries remaining that can give you top-notch, personal care and service.  You may find a private funeral director that is sharp enough to show you the "corporate price" and their price.  Do not be shocked when you see that the little, private guy's fees are way less than the corporate's.

That said, it's obvious that yesteryear is long gone; that's why it's referred to as yesterday.  Progress had brought changes; now death is a growth industry.  But you and your deceased loved ones do not have to be robbed of your dignity and cash.  Keep your eyes and ears open open.

                                               Copyright @2013 Terry Unger   


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Another Case For Evolution

There are times when a writer has a spot of trouble beginning an article.  In this instance, it has nothing to do with writer's block.  Rather, it has to do with the silliness of a subject that needs serious rebuttal.  And, a rebuttal far weightier than I can muster.  But to sooth my fevered brow, into the breach I go!  The subject that is in need of serious rebuttal is known as creationism.  Take note of my lack of capitalization; that's how silly I believe the subject to be.  But then, this is coming from an  infidel.

The short story as told by the creationists:  evolution is a scam perpetrated by modern science.  According to creationist doctrine, god (their version of god) created the Earth and all in it just a mere 6,000 years ago.  Dinosaurs were Adam and Eve's pets and the huge teeth on those beasts were used to crack open melons.  Creationists, while having no use for modern science and its practitioners, have their very own "scientists" who claim that all fossils are forged.  Fossils, according to them, have been forged to dupe the general public into believing that evolution is a fact.  This is all a part of Satan's plan to take people away from god (again, their god) and the bible.  And, if you should visit one of their creation parks (think an extreme, biblical oriented Disney-type land for the mentally challenged) that have popped up, they will be more than happy to show you how modern science has forged fossils in a strenuous effort to make you a "true believer."  Also, they have published several books on this subject (the creationist viewpoint) and a few of these books, unfortunately, found their way into schools.  This happens when creationists are elected to your local school board.  Also, creationism seems to get a lot of media attention and not all of it is negative.  Given all this, one might think that creationism has a large following; some elected officials, more than just elected school board members, are creationists. And, does a question about politicians pushing personal agendas need to be asked?  I digress.  When compared to the Roman Catholic Church, the creationist population is small.  And, the Catholic Church's position on evolution is damned near opposite that of creationism.

 Decades after Darwin published his On the Origins of Species in 1859, the Church played "footsy" with the idea of evolution; various members of the Church clergy penned articles for and against the subject.  But in 1950, the fate of evolution as part of Church doctrine, dogma, and instruction was sealed.

Pope Pius XII issued his papal encyclical, Humani generis.  This encyclical stated that there is no conflict between the Church and evolution provided the person believes that the human soul comes from and is/was created by god and not the material Earth.  Over the next few decades, the Church refined its position on evolution into what is now known as Theistic Evolution:  god kicked off creation, evolution happened, it is ongoing, and god made the human soul.  Pope John Paul II hammered home this point in 1996.  This is all good stuff, but in the tapestry of time, the Church's teaching/revelations about evolution are fairly recent.  There are texts far more ancient than the Church's recent pronouncements that speak of creation and evolution.  These texts are known as the Voluspa and the Rigspula.  

The Voluspa is the Germanic/Norse story of a seeress's prophecy that was requested by the Aesir high god Odin/Wodan.  It deals, in part, with the creation and destruction of the world and a few things in between.  At one point, the story focus's on Odin/Wodan and his two brothers (the three creator gods) as they walk through Midgard (Earth).  They come upon two beings, known as Ask and Embla, who are often referred to as trees.  The pair are described as having not much more than a vegetative existence.  Obviously, Ask and Embla did not look like anything remotely human.  Then, according to the Voluspa, something remarkable happened.  The three gods blessed the duo with soul, the breath of life, and more.  These gifts put this particular species on an evolutionary path to become human.  The gods, for whatever their reason, tweaked evolution.

The Rigspula is, in my opinion, often misunderstood; Dumezil and his caste system of thralls, farmers, and rulers is wrong.  I think this opinion about caste comes up when the story is read and it is assumed that the visits of the god Rig (probably Odin/Wodan) happened one right after the other.

As the story goes, the god visits the first couple, who according to the text, are really ugly.  And, their situation is very primitive.  When night falls, the good is invited to sleep between the man and woman.  The god impregnates the woman and a child is born (the thralls).

Later, the god visits the second couple.  They are much better looking and their situation is much improved over that of the first couple.  The nighttime bed sharing happens again and another child is born (farmers, freemen).

Finally, the god visits the third couple who just happen to be downright handsome and their situation is the best of the three.  Once more, nighttime activity produces a child (rulers, warriors).  Now is a good time to pause and mention a few things.

For folks not familiar with mythology in general, the storyteller uses simple and rather folksy ways to get his message across to his listeners (or readers).  The couples mentioned in the Voluspa and the Rigspula represent the existing humanoid/human population of the particular time.  The god sleeping with the couples and the resulting children are folksy ways of telling us that the god spent time among  people and gave them significant gifts.  Those two god-gifted beings in the Voluspa started the human evolutionary ball rolling.  In my opinion, the Rigspula tells us more of the same.

In the Rigspula, when the god visits the first couple, they are more evolved (but still in a primitive condition of appearance and way of life) then the couple Ask and Embla in the Voluspa.  The visiting god gifts them with an evolutionary booster shot and they (the population) evolve and become the couple of the second visit.

When the god appears for his second visit, he sees that the "couple" is more evolved than the first.  They are more attractive to the eye and their means of providing for themselves is far better than couple number one.  Another booster shot is administered, and couple number two become couple number three.

The god is obviously pleased with human evolution on his third visit.  The people are very handsome and their lives are superior to those "couples" of the past multi-millennia.  The god is so pleased that a third evolutionary shot is given.  That third couple evolved, modern man.  At this point it is tempting, after considering that humans may have received various evolutionary tweaks from some sort of divinity, to make certain assumptions; I will not.

In my opinion, for a caste system to be the message of the Rigspula, the story would have started with the rulers/warriors first, the farmers/freemen second, and the thralls last, and not as it is written.  In that method, the couples would have devolved, not evolved.  I am convinced that the Rigspula is a mythical story describing human evolution from the beginning up to at least the pre-viking age, with the possibility of some divine intervention.  Also, I am convinced that the Voluspa holds many truths, yet to be discovered.  But this is an opinion, mine.  Sadly, the Voluspa and the Rigspula are incomplete; both are missing whole sections.  Hopefully one day, the missing will be found.  For those who have reached this point, do not be to quick to draw similarities between the Roman Catholic Theistic Evolution and the Voluspa/Rigspula.  The latter are very old, while the ink on the Church document is still wet.  And, it is doubtful that the Church would consider ancient heathen works to form its opinion.  Or maybe not.  But, what about the creationists?

It should be obvious that if the creationists reject rock solid science, they also reject the Roman Catholic Theistic Evolution doctrine.  There are two reasons for this:  the creationists despise anything Roman Catholic (a tool of Satan).  And, the doctrine, in its own way, validates evolution, something they swear is a complete falsehood.  Of course, anything written by a heathen, an infidel, now or two thousand years ago would be rejected without any due consideration with the exception, possibly, for toilet paper.  But really, what is sillier; the possibility that divinity tweaked evolution or that Adam and Eve had dinosaurs as house pets?

                                                   Copyright @2013 Terry Unger     




Saturday, August 10, 2013

False Friends

Our modern world has a few pitfalls.  One of them is the addiction to being "connected and on-line."  Another, I believe, is friendship, or what we think real friendship is.  People "like" us, on-line and in real life, and want to be with us.  Why is that?  There are many people who want our attention.  If they want our attention, then probably, they are interested in other things.  Words from my innocent youth still ring true in my ears.

When I was a mere boy of 9 or 10 years, a neighborhood chum's mother told me something that, at the time, I thought to be rather strange.  She told me that I would be very lucky if I had one or two real friends during my lifetime.  She was right; now I understand that wisdom.

A true friend, a real friend, stands by you through thick and thin, joy and adversity, and only wants the same from you.  It would be nice if that was a universally recognized axiom.  However, modern human behavior, the hurrah for me and the hell with you, tells a different story.

Many people but not all (thank the gods) are out for themselves and are not shy about using the concept of friendship to achieve their goals.  Then there are others who sleepwalk through their life and are not aware of their actions.  However, consciously or unconsciously, sleepwalking or not, using friendship to further your own goals is unconscionable.  And then some do not have any goals.

Many people want to live their lives vicariously through others and friendship is the way that they suck the life and more out of people.  When the parties have stopped, the BBQ's end, and you stop sending gifts to their kids on their birthdays, these people forget that you exist.  Oh, and how they are offended!  And yet, there is another reason for these false friends to throttle you.

Your opinions about a thing or two have changed.  This upsets the bloodsuckers because within their vicarious selves, you are connected to something else, something greater than you, in their estimation, that they admire; you are their personal conduit.  Your change offends them; in many ways, you have cut them off from that something else.  When this happens, these false friends, these bloodsuckers, waste no time in publicly and privately condemning you.  These people are and certainly never were your friends.  They should be classified as parasites along for the ride (or barnacles to be scraped off a ship) and when the ride abruptly ends, they are pissed at you, like it's all your fault.  Baloney.  Again, people of this nature are not your friends.  People or this type want to live vicariously off of others because they lack the courage to live their lives on their own merit and  admit who they truly are.    

When people mask their intentions, sleepwalking or not, they certainly do not have your best interests at heart; it's all about them and what they want, consciously or unconsciously.  Here is a litmus test.  When a real life boogeyman  beats down your door, who is there to stand by your side, tuck you in at night, tell you that all things will work out, and that you are a good person?  Guaranteed, you can count them on one hand, minus the thumb and the pinkey finger.   

                                                 Copyright @2013 Terry Unger      



Friday, August 9, 2013

Judgement Day

For those folks of the Judeo-Christian persuasion, judgement day conjurers up thoughts of their eternal fate, the moment when their god will condemn them to hell or eternal bliss.  This is pretty much like a human court system with no hope of appeal.  And the judge in this scenario is more like a 13 year kid on crack.  Now that I have your attention, let's consider how people judge people.

Every argument and failure between two people or two million is judged by those who have chosen what side they want to be on.  This is normal human behavior; anyone who has passed through a withering divorce can tell you the same.  However, they will only see one side of the argument, the story.  Moreover, they do not want to look at the other side.  Not only do these folks want to consider that their side is wrong, they do not want to believe that they have chosen the wrong side of the argument.  When it comes to being confronted by the cheerleaders from the other side, there is, I believe, a simple way of handling yourself and having a good laugh.   

Carry some loose change in your pocket.  Pull out the largest coin and give it to the person who is confronting you and insulting your intelligence.  Ask the buffoon about the total number of the coin's sides.  Then point out that the sides are different but make up the whole coin.  Let your would-be judge keep the coin and walk away.  It will be the best 25 cents you've ever spent.

                                                     Copyright @2013 Terry Unger     

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Discovering a New World

Men used to clamber into their ships and set off to discover new worlds.  Once upon a time we sent  men to check out the Moon; a place we knew existed but had not visited, until July 1969.  Now, we just talk about manned expeditions, preferring the unmanned versions.  Whatever happen to a colony, an outpost on the Moon?  But there are other areas of discovery that are just as exciting as they are full of frightening possibilities.

Recently, it was announced that scientists made a hamburger from stem cells.  To make it more palatable, a few ingredients had to be added.  This new achievement was hailed as a possibility to feed millions in the future; in and by itself, maybe not a bad idea.  That said, something stuck in my craw.  Here it is:  science fiction becomes reality.

How far away can we be from manufacturing human beings on an assembly line, like an automobile with all the bells and whistles desired?  I say manufacturing, and not making babies the old fashioned way, through sex.  Maybe the day of a perfectly flawless, manufactured human population, is closer than we think or, want to believe.  Personally, I shudder to think of the consequences of this happening.  We humans are unique in many ways including our flaws.  Repairing a damaged organ with stem cells is one thing but leave the baby making to the old fashion methods.  But for people and groups who still insist that the body is evil, sex is a sin (heaven forbid that people really enjoy it!) and  making babies is dirty, they can take heart in the "manufactured process."  Heavens forbid that happens.

                                               Copyright @2013 Terry Unger    


Unity of a Forgotten Kind

The world and all it contains, both seen and unseen stands with mankind in a state of consubstantiation.  Our ancestors understood this as...