The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

So Many People Going Out of Their Heads! (#BOTB Results)

That is one of most vitriolic statements I've heard in a long time. You've just outed yourself for what you really are. You are an angry old white man. That can't stand either the liberal agenda, or anybody that can. You truly are not the man I thought you were, and I'm done with you.
--comment received on a recent post at TOSSING IT OUT.

Angry Penguin
Angry Penguin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
     In recent months--certainly since shortly after Donald Trump announced his candidacy and I hinted my support for him as president-- a few followers have been trickling away from my blog while others have expressed a distaste for my support of Trump.  No problem there since disagreement, so long as it is respectful and healthy, is something I think we can and should all accept without getting whipped into a frenzy.

       However, after the election when Trump won and it was fairly known that I had voted for him, there has been some crazy reaction to me and to some of my blog posts, which I have tried to present with a sense of intentional calm and rationality.  It seems those on the opposition side to mine can say whatever they wish in any disrespectful way they wish while what I say or what others on my side of the fence might say is met with anger and vituperation.  It all seems a bit unhinged to me, but what's a blogger to do?

     Though I haven't unfollowed any blogs, there are a few that I no longer bother to read for one reason or another which probably works to my advantage from the standpoint of using my time wisely.  If a blogger does leave a comment on my site then I will visit their blog and usually leave a comment--that is, unless they've left a comment like the one that opened this post.  I don't want to rile anyone any more than they've already been riled.  If I do visit a blog and don't leave a comment then that would be highly unusual for me, but it would also mean that there was nothing for me to respond to--and this from a blogger who will typically even respond to a post about knitting or something that I don't do or know nothing about.

            And then there are those comments on my posts that seem genuine and intelligent to which I will leave thought out and often extensive replies which I don't know whether they have been seen or not because there is no further response from the blogger who left the original comment.   But more on that come Friday's post...

Battle of the Bands Results!

            My most recent Battle of the Bands contest featuring renditions of the classic Little Anthony and the Imperials song "Goin' Out of My Head" did not turn out quite like I expected.  I thought there was far more disco hate out there, but I guess when put up against an eccentric sounding La Lupe, disco rules. The Queen of Latin Soul in this match was no contest when put up against a queen of disco.

        It was kind of close deciding for me, but the disco string section wins me over more than percussive Latin horns, which I do have an affinity for though not enough to sway my vote in this match up.  And in agreement with most of you voting in this round, Gloria Gaynor's voice was more appealing than the--how do I put it?--the slightly kooky vocal styling of La Lupe.  I never really got on board with that "Disco Sucks" movement and I still enjoy hearing the danceable music that I don't normally dance to.  Sorry Lupe, you were kind of fun, but your version didn't have the appeal for me that Gloria did.

 Final Vote Tally

Gloria Gaynor     19

La Lupe               2


Next Battle of the Bands on Wednesday March 1st

       My next Battle will be continuing on somewhat the same theme as this previous Battle with a bit of an international flair.   It's a well-known American artist's pop hit from the sixties that seemed to have caught the attention of the world with renditions coming from somewhat unexpected places.  It's another "crazy" tune that will tie in with my post that will appear on Monday February 27th.   Before that Monday post though, I'll try to push the envelope a bit more with an absurd post on Friday that might mostly bug some bloggers who might not see it.  But what the heck--I've started stirring the pot so I might as well finish the stew.

        Have any of my posts ticked you off a bit, but not enough to run you off yet?   Do you come back to a comment thread to see if a blogger has responded to a comment that you've left that has included questions?     I doubt whether you can do it, but would you like to venture a guess as to my next song choice for BOTB?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Personal Encounters with Mental Disorder

“I think that we're all mentally ill. Those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better - and maybe not all that much better after all.”

  --Stephen King

Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat ill...
Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat illustrator Louis Wain near the beginning of his mental illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Was There Something Wrong with Me? 

        When I was in high school I became concerned that I might have had or had been becoming afflicted with a mental disorder.  I felt out of place, unable to fit in well with the culture of my peers.   Most of the time when I wasn't at school I stayed home watching television, reading, writing--doing solitary activities.  Having few friends, I was certain that there was something not quite right with me.

        In my concern, I began doing research about "mental illness".  I read every book and article I could find on the subject.  When I enrolled in college, I started out with a major in psychology with my aim set on become a psychiatrist or a psychoanalyst or something related to these fields, partly in hopes of curing my own affliction.

       As I was completing my second year in my pursuit of my major in psychology, I began to rethink my original intentions.  This was partly due to my struggle with the required statistics classes which I could not understand why they were important to what I wanted to do.  In retrospect I wish I had focused better on those classes as statistics is now a topic that does interest me.  At the time it just seemed like another difficult degree requirement that I would have rather not had to contend with.

       That's when I changed my major to English and pursued a general liberal arts education that left me with a fairly well-rounded acquisition of appreciation of fine arts and general knowledge in a whole realm of different subjects.  This is the course I pursued for five years until dropping out of the University of Tennessee just a few credits shy of a degree.

         Soon after that I found myself with a career in show business traveling on the road and discovering that I wasn't any more mentally ill than most average people.  What I had earlier mistaken for "mental illness" was merely a state of mind called adolescence and then later it went on to become aimless meandering of young adulthood.

          Reflecting with old friends and acquaintances as years went by I discovered that not only many of them had the same self doubts and fears that I had, but some suffered to a greater degree.  Through the years I've seen people I know struggle with problems of dependency and depression.  A few even committed suicide.  Some came out of those years just fine while others fared far less well than I.

          I guess we've all had our moments of craziness and periods when life tried to batter us down. I can't think of anyone that I've known who hasn't at least considered therapy, counseling, or some kind of treatment whether it be from someone else or their own pursuits of self-help.  What we ourselves do with major or minor mental crises determines how our own stories turn out in the end.

My Brother's Story

         My youngest brother by eleven years difference began his own struggle with mental disorder after he entered high school.  By that time I was mostly away from home so I wasn't close to what was happening in his life or the lives of my parents.  I didn't understand the seriousness of his condition until after he was hospitalized with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.   And being away like I was, the situation didn't have that much of an impact on me.

         My brother's condition was a great burden of sorrow on my father until the time of his death at age 67.  My father kept my brother in the best hospitals until his insurance would no longer cover the cost.  Over time my father researched the disorder and sought out whatever treatment he thought might help and yet to no avail.  His youngest son seemed to be hopelessly ill with no cure that would even bring a semblance of normalcy to his life.  There came a resignation that his youngest son, my youngest brother whom I discovered that I had never really gotten to know very well, would probably be institutionalized for the remainder of his life.

        After my father died in 1990, my mother was left to shoulder that burden which was a burden that she carried mostly on her own (with the help of the mental health professionals) for the next 24 years.   Fortunately she did meet a kind devoted man who became her partner in 1997 who did help her tremendously until his death in 2012.  And though I spoke to my mother regularly--and after 2009 almost daily--on the phone and visited her as often as I could, she being in Tennessee and me in California, and she received some emotional support from my other siblings, this was still a relatively small solace in contending with a mother's baby who was in such a sad condition of mental health.

        Then my mother died in November of 2014.  Still institutionalized in Nashville, his closest family living three hours away, my brother was an orphan in his fifties.   The responsibility of attending to his affairs fell upon me.  Correspondence and reporting from the care facility is directed towards me and now it is I who is responsible for making important medical and life decisions for my brother.

         He calls me several times a week and sometimes several times a day mostly to talk about music CD's he wants me to order for him.  Most of that CD conversation is redundant if not a bit perplexing to me since he seems to be buying music that he has owned in the past that has been lost or stolen.  All of the music is from the seventies and eighties or newer releases that those same artists might have put out.  Sometimes he tells me about other things he needs like clothes.  The CD's, the clothes, and whatever else he wants or needs I order online and have drop shipped to him at the hospital where he lives.

          Occasionally, I'll try to get him to change the subject of what he wants me to order for him to something about him and his life.  In some rare instances he'll talk about the past or he'll talk about his life now.  Often I don't quite understand what he is referring to or the stories will seem so outlandish that I don't know if they're real or not.  He often tells me about his pain, mostly due to his legs and neck being broken. I tell him that he wouldn't be able to get around if his neck and legs were broken, but that doesn't convince him that they are not broken.

         Some readers of my previous posts of the past week might have thought that I take the topic of mental disorders lightly.  Believe me, I have first hand experience with the subject of mental disorders.  I understand the difficulties that those directly affected by mental afflictions go through as well as the pain and sadness that the families and others might face.  Mental affliction is a serious matter and yet like most serious matters you can laugh about them sometimes.  One almost has to laugh about them now and then.  Life can heap enough pain, sadness, and misery upon us that can wear us away and even destroy us if we allow the negatives to beat us down.  There are times to weep as well as times to laugh, so laugh I will when I feel like laughing and laugh I will in the face of defeat and adversity.  Laughter is, as the cliche goes, the best medicine and that is something I firmly believe.

        I have a great tendency towards being a patient person.  I also attempt to be one who will try to reason with those who are being unreasonable.  This is partly why I've taken on my President Trump Acclimation Series.  I've been hearing the craziness all around me for eighteen months now.

         Unlike trying to reason with my brother, I have hope that some of the vehement anti-Trumpers can be reasoned with.  There are also times I tip to the edge of humor with poking a bit of fun at what I see as lunacy on the left.  Even my brother has brief flashes of what seems like a brilliant clarity that makes me want to believe he's been scamming all of us all along.  However, I know that's not true but only my glimmer of hope that one day he'll suddenly say with lucidity that he wants to come back and be a part of the reasoning world.  When he explains concepts of wants versus needs or contemplates spiritual issues I have a hope that the man that my father dreamed of my brother becoming one day has finally emerged from a distant dim place of confused thinking.   When he comes up with an insightful bit of wit that brings laughter to the both of us, I feel like somehow he gets the humorous aspect of life's darker sides.

          I don't really expect that he will be better any time soon because he has been medicated for too many years and probably could not exist without being in some type of institutionalized setting where others have to make decisions for him.  It's doubtful that he can ever live normally like most of the society around me.

          Then I look at the insanity that is going around in this supposedly normal society.  In my post Is Extreme Anti-Trumpism a Mental Illness  I might have seemed to be making light of a serious situation, but I was indeed as serious as I could be about this current socio-political phenomena.  Consistently taking things to an extreme and fixating upon them can, in my opinion, start leading to some serious problems within an individual as well as within our society.

A Closing Thought with Example

            I realize this has been a long post, but I felt a need to clarify where I'm coming from about mental afflictions and fixations and such related things.  Before I close, I'd like to leave you with an exchange between myself and a blogger who has seemed to have developed what I think is a peculiar almost unhealthy fixation regarding President Trump, Trump supporters, and the beliefs those supporters have.  I've decided to no longer identify or link to this blogger, but as illustrated in an exchange which began prior to Donald Trump's announcement to run for president and continued to shortly before his inauguration.  The nature of the relationship as it progresses strikes me as weird, but I'll let you decide.

        To set up the comment thread, the original post was what I found to be a rather cynical, but entertaining review of the film Whiplash.  Take note that I was interested in the conversation with this blogger enough to remember the initial exchange and return to the conversation over a year after it began.  Here is the thread that ensued with dates of each comment and response:

Very funny review.

I've been hearing so many good things about this film that it's had me curious to see it. Then your review reaffirms the bad things I've heard about this film. I might see this one eventually when it makes it to DVD, but I might forget to see it too. This sounds like one of those films that will end up on my Netflix queue toward the bottom and never make it toward the top because I keep putting other films above it.

Then again, based on your review, I might have to see it just to see what you've described. It sounds pretty crazy.\

  1. anon blogger          January 28, 2015 at 1:09 PM
    Lee: It is pretty crazy. But what I find more crazy than the movie are all the things people who like it are saying about it. It's like, maybe, they are blinded by the music aspect of the movie. Or, maybe, they all had experiences with a band director who yelled at them for screwing up, so it's some kind of "experience" to see the movie. I don't know.
  2. Finally a year later my wife and I watched this film. We both liked it a great deal. Everything you've pointed out above is true, but I guess I'm often more than willing to suspend disbelief for a film like this. I'm not as forgiving these days to suspend my disbelief for a lot of the sci-fi that I watch (which I find myself watching less as time goes by).

    Whiplash was entertaining for me aside from the parts that annoyed me. I can be pretty forgiving about a lot of movies while others (e.g. Prometheus) I find my assessment to be rather harsh.
  3.               January 7, 2017 at 12:51 AM
  4.                I guess that just serves to demonstrate that you have a fucked up, distorted view of actual reality.
  5. (Yes, I am only just now seeing that you left this comment.)

  6.        Have you ever felt like you were experiencing some sort of mental affliction or breakdown?    What have been your direct encounters with people who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder?   Does the example of the comment exchange I've provided seem odd to you or do you find it totally acceptable?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Going Out of my Head (#BOTB)

      Mental illness is not only used as a metaphor to cover a broad swath of conditions of the state of the human mind, it has also been literally called a metaphor by some who have studied the issue.  In his renown book The Myth of Mental Illness (published in 1960), Thomas Szasz introduced the controversial idea that "mental illness" is not a true disease in the same sense as cancer and the concept termed as mental illness is in reality "a metaphor for human problems in living".   Szasz actually comes to a conclusion that those who say they have a mental illness have a "fake disease.

      While some might deem the variant popular terms related to mental illness as disrespectful and flippant, many of us use descriptions like nuts, loony, crazy, and whacked to describe a number of human conditions.  Love has often been cited as the cause for driving one mad or crazy and not in a true psychological sense of the condition described.

       In the following post-Valentine's Day Battle of the Bands I present a popular song that has nothing to do with what we would normally think of mental illness, but uses the condition of being in love as a metaphor for a disruptive mental condition...

Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action

Goin' Out of My Head

       I was still in middle school when Little Anthony and the Imperials hit the pop music charts with the lovely "Goin' Out of My Head".   Living in the Chicago Land area at the time, I'd hear this song played often on radio station WLS and it became a theme song of sorts for my own adolescent longings for love.  In reality I had little idea of what romantic love was really about, but like many a young fellow I thought I was in love more than a few times and it was never easy.  Unrequited love, lost love, or any love that leaves one unsatisfied or unfulfilled has been the inspiration for so many songs.

      For the purpose of reference only--DON'T VOTE ON THIS VERSION--here's that original version of "Goin' Out of My Head" in case you've forgotten or never heard it before.

      Since that first recording of "Goin' Out of My Head" was released, the song has been covered by many artists both vocally and instrumentally. In this current Battle I present two versions that are quite different from the original.  The tempo and energy gets stepped up a bit to give the song a distinctly different flavor.  So get your dancing shoes on and get ready to move and groove and go out of your head...

Gloria Gaynor  "Goin' Out of My Head"  (1978)

      After ten years of paying her dues in the music business, Gloria Gaynor finally broke out as a well known artist with her disco album that included her hit "Never Can Say Good-bye".   However her signature song "I Will Survive" will always be the one most identified with her. The album that featured that song also included Gaynor's fine cover of "Goin' Out of My Head".  I'll have to admit a bit of a weakness for disco music so I happen to like her cover though I know there are some of you who might not be so keen on this music genre.  Hope this doesn't drive you out of your head...

La Lupe "Goin' Out of My Head"  (1967)

        "The Queen of Latin Soul" La Lupe was a popular Cuban entertainer who was no stranger to controversy when it came to her frenzied performances as well as her life outside of music.  Exiled after Castro took power, La Lupe eventually landed in New York performing with Tito Puente among other notable musicians. Her career was short-lived as she descended into a life of drugs and destitution.  A long adherent to the religion of Santeria, she eventually ended up crippled and homeless until healed at an evangelical crusade after which she became a born again Christian.  Her final recordings were albums of Christian music.  She died in New York City in 1992 at the age of 52.

           Get up and dance to the crazy Latin sounds of La Lupe...

Time To Vote!

        Maybe not your favorite musical styles, but hopefully you have an opinion of some kind.  Which version do you like the best?   Surely one version drove you less crazy than the other.

        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands



'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Winner Announced on Wednesday February 22nd
    I'll tally the votes next Tuesday and announce the winner of this match-up the following day Wednesday February 22nd. However, since we'll have a week-end that gives adequate time for everyone to stop in to vote, I'll be continuing my topic on mental illness on Monday the 20th. If you missed the first installment, you can find it here.

        What are your thoughts about the "Mental Illness is a myth" theory?  Are you offended by non-pc terms like crazy, nuts, mad, and others?   What do you think  is the "cure" or solution to mental illness or do you think there is one?  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Is Extreme Anti-Trumpism a Mental Illness?

Mental Illness: 
Any of various disorders characterized by impairment of an individual's thoughts,emotions, or social functioning
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary

Introduction:  Keep Your Cool If You Can

       More than a few reading this article will undoubtedly be offended by its premise.  In no way do I intend to make light of the serious issue of mental illness.  My post of next Monday February 20th will elaborate on my own background on the broader topic of mental illness, but for today I will start with that which will offend some while others will understand the gist of my argument.  I might as well add to the outrage some have felt over my previous posts in my President Trump Acclimation Series.

       Keep in mind that my intent is to present my side of a story with the hope of starting an intelligent discussion.  Some might call it stirring the pot or some such term, but I think of my aim here as merely Tossing It Out--presenting ideas for you to consider.  It's something I've done since the outset of my blogging, except in recent months my subject matter has had a tendency to rile more than a few readers and followers.   And I don't always expect that what I write here will make everyone feel good or agree with.

An Illness Takes Root

       By no means am I the first to suggest that liberalism and leftist thinking are mental disorders.  The idea has been around for many years, but the extremism displayed by the anti-Trump crowd seems to have taken the notion to levels of absurdity.

       Now, be assured that I am not assigning the "mental illness" label to those who merely don't like President Trump or disagree with him.  That's as normal as those who didn't like President Obama or any other politician, person, idea, or whatever.  What I'm talking about is the ceaseless ranting, sometimes to almost foaming at the mouth proportions, about the President, his administration, his supporters, and anything else related to Trump or his family.

       Prior to June of 2015 there were probably few people who thought much about Donald Trump.  Most of us knew the name, some of us might have seen him on television, but for the majority of us Donald Trump had little to no affect on our thinking.

       At first Donald Trump was dismissed as a joke, a passing fad perhaps.  But then a strange thing began to happen.  Trump's words began to be taken more seriously by those who understood what he was talking about.   His rallies drew crowds,  He began to amass a large number of followers.

        The media seemed perplexed, but recognized the value of a ratings generating story.  The political world began to feel annoyed and then intimidated.  With every seeming misstep taken by Trump that pundits predicted would cause him to collapse, the novice candidate would only grow more popular and gain more credible standing in the presidential race.

        Trump's presence in the race was maddening to the mainstream media and absolutely frustrating to most of the Republican party. In the meantime, Democrats smugly cast derision upon the Donald and prepared for the coronation of Queen Hillary.  Those on the left who weren't rioting or protesting Donald Trump, campaigned with full expectation of another win for the Democrats.

         When the outcome of the November election didn't turn out as planned, Democrats and other liberals were confused and shaken.  At first reduced to stunned disbelief and weeping, soon many began to express rage as they tried to figure out what had happened.  Thankfully, most who had been against Trump in the election are essentially still against him, but have dropped the issue to move on with their lives. Oh, sure, they'll express their displeasure when pressed, but for the most part they have moved on with their lives and dropped the issue.  A steadfast number, however, cling to their outrage and are unwilling to shut up about the whole thing, repeating the same tired complaints and arguments about President Trump and anyone who supports his administration.  They take their negativity to a level of irrationality.

Who's to Blame and When Will It End?

        Media in all its forms planted the seeds of insanity regarding the anti-Trump movement while television media takes it to a level of utter absurdity.  If one accepts the cliched definition of insanity being the repetition of certain actions then watch television to confirm it.

       Unable to watch CNN and MSNBC for any extended periods of time I tend to watch Fox News more than any other network. At times, I have suspected the casting agents at Fox of placing wild eyed wackos who spew nonsense and convey dubious logic as representatives of liberalism.  They are often like unrealistic caricatures of mentally disturbed agents of the left.  Then I switch over to the competing networks and there are the same types of spokespersons along with  fake news panels and show hosts who repeat the same nonsense ad nauseam that we've been hearing since Donald Trump began running and continuing after his unexpected win.

       And what about the demonstrators protesting Trump.  Or the rioters going bonkers with disruption, destruction, and as much chaos as they can create.  Is there any element of sanity to any of this behavior?  They carry "Love Trumps Hate" signs and decry violence while interfering with the normal people who just want to catch planes, get to work, or whatever it is that normal people are trying to do when their activities are screwed over by people who are angry because their side lost and now they no longer know how to behave in any sensible manner.

        I find it immensely ironic when certain representatives in Congress and other arms of government suggest that President Trump may be suffering from mental problems.  Excuse me--look at who are the ones delivering these messages:  Al Franken, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, and so on.  These are like the poster faces of emotionally unstable individuals so who are they to be casting aspersions.  Please!  You people are driving me nuts when I see and listen to you.

A Contagion Infecting Many

      A lot has settled since the immediate aftermath of the election and yet there are a persistent minority who won't let any of their post-election grief and anger subside.  There are still those folks on Facebook and Twitter who have a compulsion to continue with their loony tune posts and more often than not there are vitriol and insults directed toward others on those social mediums, often family and friends--or should I say ex-friends.  I ignore these things for the most part, but I wonder what these whiners are trying to accomplish to make the world a better place.   Their posts become repetitive empty railings to the other inmates in their imaginary asylum of life while they alienate the rest of us.

      I'm sure there are also a number of bloggers doing much the same thing, but since I've mostly only been visiting the blogs of those who have commented on my posts I'm missing those anti-Trump rantings.  There is one blogger, who I will no longer name or link to, who is bearded and conveys this arrogant attitude as though he were the supreme expert on all things including morality, who I occasionally check on only because his posts seem to be in response to mine.  It's sad because I've known this blogger for quite some time and have always made some attempt to be congenial with him even though he often retorted with his better and smarter than thou responses to my comments.  At least I tried to be nice.  The few comments he receives are mostly from a small stable of like thinkers who somehow seem gratified that this blogger's words have provided some validation to their own irrational thinking.

       Like thinkers seem to congregate and when those like thinkers are extreme left, anti-Christian, anti-Trumpsters there seems to not only be no room for any opinion from the other side, but they will also be rudely castigated for their opinion, ignored, or even have their comments deleted.  So much for free exchange of ideas.

 So What About You, Mr. Loony Bird?

       Some of you might be thinking, "Well, you've keep posting your pro-Trump garbage!  Doesn't that make you mentally ill too?"

         Okay, fair enough.  The difference, as I've pointed out from the beginning of my series, is that I'm taking the arguments and insults against Trump and his supporters and attempting to rationally explain each one, disprove the fallacies, and correct what I see as outright lies.  I've also been trying to analyze what I see as serious issues from my point of view arguing my case regarding each issue.

          I have tried throughout to be respectful of opposing views and attempted to avoid calling names or casting a net of generalized insults.  And if you're thinking of my earlier comment about certain politicians who I think look unstable then I'll just say I'm dishing a bit of slop back to them and I didn't intend to insult any of you directly.

            Then there is one final thing I want to point out.  There have been some excellent discussions on the posts in my series.   Some of you have gotten upset and some of those readers may no longer be reading Tossing It Out, but in each of those cases I think that I have responded in a responsible manner--maybe a little ticked in a couple of cases--but I've always tried to smooth things over when I've felt there has been a misunderstanding of some sort.  If I've failed then let me know and I'll be willing to engage as respectfully as I know how.

           In closing let me say that I have the best commenters anywhere.  Even the ones who have gotten upset with me.  You are always welcomed at my site and your comments will always be read and acknowledged when I can.  That is, unless they become vile and profanity laden.  Then they are deleted.  Fortunately, this hasn't happened yet if I remember correctly.   But like I said, I have the best commenters of any blog.  Of course, I'm a bit prejudiced about those who leave comments on my site.  Why wouldn't I think you're the best?   Thank you all.

           A bit more on this topic next Monday.  Be here this Wednesday for my next Battle of the Bands which will be featuring two versions of a song that relates to today's post.

         Have you been having a difficult time watching any of the television shows that are overly fixated on the outcome of the election?   What annoys you the most on television?    Do you have any idea about my song pick for my next Battle of the Bands match? 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Do You Think Bible Prophecy Is True? (#BOTB Results)

If It's in the Bible, Is It True?

        One thing that I've found over the past week is that the topic of abortion can piss more people off than talking about Jesus.  But I guess nothing pisses some people off more than President Donald Trump.  I'm still hoping that during the Trump administration, and soon at that, the United States moves its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and we build even stronger ties with Israel.  That will likely piss the whole world off and I'm ready for that.

        I don't know what other religions of the world are so grounded in prophesy as much as the Judeo-Christian tradition.  From my understanding of Islam, the Hadiths and maybe some other writings contain something they refer to as prophesy, but I see no real trustworthy prophesy of future events in any Islamic writing.  They call Mohammad a "prophet" but I'm not sure what he actually prophesied that can be put in any believable context.  Then again (oh wait for the gasps and stirrings of indignation) I don't accept Islam as truth.

        However, the prophecy of the Bible gets pretty darn specific when you start studying it all closely.  And these prophecies started coming thousands of years ago in regard to events we see coming into shape in our time.  Sure, some might say that its all just generic statements that can be applied to anytime and anything, but places are named and signs are indicated and we can see this all coming about in our age.

        There will always be the scoffers--more of them than believers--but before anyone scoffs too heartily I would encourage a closer study of the prophecies with a comparative look at world events. Is Jesus coming soon?   To me it would appear so, but I'm not going to be one to predict when.  For now I'll just be a watchman on the wall.  

         By the way, for those who are familiar with the Bible, have you noticed how much the Bible talks about walls?   So who says building walls isn't a Christian activity?  In fact, despite what some will say, to my knowledge there is no mention of building bridges in the Bible.   Well, other than a metaphorical bridge which is Jesus Christ.  

           Did I offend anyone today?   I hope not.  I didn't mean to offend, but only to tell truth as I see it.  My hope is that maybe you'll think about what I've said here and perhaps even do some research about what I've said.

Battle of the Bands Results!

     As is often the case, my latest Battle of the Bands was not easy for me to prognosticate the outcome.  However because of the more contemporary more mainstream sound I figured the win would go to the 1970's group Dogwood.  Initially that was the group I was favoring for my own vote, but as usual as the week progressed my vote wavered back and forth between the two choices.  After all I usually pick out two versions that I especially enjoy.  In the end though I decided to go with the traditional Southern Gospel sound of the Blackwood Gospel Quartet despite that strange video they had put together.  Based on the audio only I thought they captured the spirit of the song best.

     From the outset of voting, Dogwood took a rapid lead and it looked like it would be a massive win for them.  Then in the final quarter, like the Superbowl champion Patriots, BGQ raced forward as they captured most of the final votes.  Still it was not enough for a win as Dogwood maintained the lead by a mere two points.  What a contest it was!  I thank you all for voting on this song that I thought might be a turn-off to most, but things didn't turn out too badly at all.

Final Vote Tally

Blackwood Gospel Quartet     11 votes

Dogwood                                   13 votes

Holy Naamgenoot!

        As I alluded to in my BOTB post, one of the featured groups, Dogwood, was not to be confused by a very different Christian punk metal band also called "Dogwood".    This latter band which hails from the San Diego area has been around since 1993 and continues to be active.  The band has ten albums behind them as well as contributions to a number of compilation albums.  For the sake of contrast I'm offering a few of their songs for your listening pleasure--or perhaps I might call it curiosity since you might not care for their style.  I find them to be kind of interesting and it's good to hear their message attached to music that might appeal to a younger crowd.  See what you think...

Dogwood  "Feel the Burn"  (1999)

Dogwood  "Building a Better Me"  (2000)

Dogwood  "Never Die"  (1998)

Next Battle of the Bands Coming Soon!

        Another Battle of the Bands match will appear on my blog on Wednesday February 15th.  This Battle will be related to a post which will precede it next Monday the 13th--a post which may raise ire (so what else is new?) or have some of you nodding your heads in agreement.  As you might have guessed it will be another post in my  President Trump Acclimation Series .   I mean really, there are still many ridiculous voices yammering on about the President of the United States so I might as well keep debunking that nonsense.   I probably won't continue this much longer, though on the other hand, if the antis keep up their fight then maybe I'll keep pushing back.   After all, what else do I have to blog about?

         What else would you like me to talk about on this blog?   Do the controversy posts turn you off?    Would you rather I talk about writing or some such subject?

Monday, February 6, 2017

In Defense of Abortion and a Better Tomorrow

No woman can call herself  free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself  free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.   ---Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood)

“Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.” 
 Margaret Sanger

       So enough of the President Trump nonsense.  It's time to discard the foolishness of conservative values and face the world of tomorrow--the brave new world of progressive thinking and moral reconstruction.  As I see women marching for their rights, I stand in solidarity with them.  The past is dead and needs to be forgotten.  The future belongs to those who are willing to accept radical change.  

        Planned parenting and abortion will pave the way to a better tomorrow.  In a tumultuous world that is overflowing with human detritus filled with hate, disagreement, and degradation; as well as an excess of population taking up space and consuming the resources of our beautiful Earth, perhaps it's time to reevaluate why we are all here and who should remain to make this world the Eden that it was meant to be.

         There are far too many people who wander aimlessly through their lives or the masses who seem to merely exist as little more than a burden upon those who support that vast majority of a basically useless populace.  The world and those who drive socioeconomic structure cannot continue without eventually reaching the critical mass of a world conflagration that destroys everything.  A new movement of Darwinian Purification must be undertaken in order to save humanity if humanity is indeed worth saving.  

           Abortion is the first logical step in the purification of the human race.  Currently, the primary arguments for abortion are to prevent unwanted children from coming into the world either because of economic reasons, health or well-being of the mother, some fetal problem that would lead to a defective birth product or mere inconvenience,  Perhaps we should begin to see most pregnancies as unwanted and unnecessary except for only in cases where the most perfect of the species would be brought into the world.   Selective breeding should be the aim of future generations.

           However, abortion should be the one small step to advance humankind into the better tomorrow.   Unneeded unproductive humans should also be eliminated.  Any persons who are in any state of dependency in order to survive should be allowed to die or be exterminated.   This would include all who are disabled, sub-level intelligence, subsisting on welfare, institutionalized, or any other non-contributory segments of society.   Vast areas of populations in the world should be eliminated by arranged warfare subsidized by dominant governments or other means of organized extermination.   Whatever peoples who are determined to be unnecessary masses of resource consumers detrimental to the environment and economic well-being should be brought into control.

          As this process of population control continues, a focus should be directed toward eliminating the elderly.  Upon reaching a determined age such as 35, each person should be monitored according to their health and ability of self-sustenance.  When health or economic conditions dictate, these persons should be culled from the population pool except in cases where there is a special factor of contributory reasons to keep them alive.  

           These measures suggested in the above treatise might seem like extreme radical ideas to some who are stuck in old ways of thinking, but this is not a time for outmoded belief systems.  Tearing down the establishment is a good thing for the future even though it may not seem to benefit many of us living now.  But, after all, the future does not belong to us.   It does not even necessarily belong to all of the unborn children yet to be conceived.  Babies have no say in the future either.  

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
- George Orwell

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." - Isaiah 5:20

         Do you think the world is overpopulated?   What do you think is the best answer for a better future on Earth?   Were you reading between the lines?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What Blog Topics Do You Avoid? (#BOTB) (#IWSG)

         If you want a blog post that will lure in more readers then write about blogging.   This has always seemed to work for me.  The topic is an easy one for other bloggers to comment on for fairly obvious reasons.  Since titles are the first draw to a post, mentioning the word "blog" or some derivative of that word is a good way to start.  On the other hand, certain words in a title might scare off readers or make them hesitant to read any further.

          This current post is a continuation of my post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group which can be found here.   To summarize, in that post I discussed the topic of reading and writing content that I find offensive.   In the following I provide a specific example of a word (or more precisely a name) that some might find offensive or something they might want to avoid if they saw it in the title of a blog post, book, or what have you.   I've incorporated this word/name/theme into my Battle of the Bands offering for February 1st.

Battle of the Bands

       Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.

Jesus Is Coming Soon

        "Jesus is coming soon" is a controversial statement that a lot of people would prefer not to hear, while others might be excited to hear this.  It's a statement that can stir anger, fear, debate, or an icy cold shoulder.  Some people upon seeing this as a blog title or a book title or a title of anything might avoid reading it.   Even though "Jesus Is Coming Soon" is the name of the song I am using in Battle, I thought it best not to run off readers at the onset which is why I used a title that would have a bigger draw.   I may have lost some readers as they progressed through the post, but I hope you'll approach the following with an open mind since it is an oft recorded song and one that I happen to like.  Aside from the subject matter, I'm sure more than a few of you will not like the style of music since it is rather an acquired taste for those who have not been around the culture where songs of this nature are common.  Hope you stay with me and we'll see how this goes.

        The song "Jesus Is Coming Soon" that I'm featuring today was written by R.E. Winsett, songwriter/publisher from Tennessee, in 1942.  From what I've found, the song was apparently not recorded until the latter 1960's and achieved its greatest fame after appearing on the 1969 Oak Ridge Boys album It's Happening.  This album won "Album of the Year" in 1969 at the Dove Awards and the song was named "Song of the Year" as well.  In 2002, "Jesus Is Coming Soon"  and Winsett were inducted into the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame.  Over the years the song has been recorded by numerous artists.

The 3 Oak Ridge Boys vinyl albums that I bought circa 1970
 and still own and enjoy (photo by Betty)

       Prior to moving to Tennessee I had never heard any Southern Gospel music to my knowledge.  It's country music with a Christian slant to it.  Often accompanied with bluegrass or country style backing, the singing involves intricate harmonizing with a "twangy" vocal style as some are fond of saying.  Initially country music was a big turn off to me, but then after my family's move to Tennessee I gained more exposure to country music as well as Southern Gospel.    

       During my high school and college years while still living with my parents, I'd watch an early morning television program that showcased videos of Southern Gospel artists singing their songs.  As my ears became more acclimated to the music I also began to appreciate it more.  The Oak Ridge Boys especially stood out for me with songs like "Jesus Is Coming Soon", "I Know", "He Did It All for Me", and "I Wish We'd All Been Ready".   Eventually I bought three albums by the Oaks which I still have in my vinyl collection (pictured above).   Since that time I've also bought some CD's of their Southern Gospel music.

        The history of the Oak Ridge Boys goes back to 1943 in Knoxville, Tennessee when they were known as Wally Fowler and the Georgia Clodhoppers.  After becoming regular performers in Oak Ridge where they were popular with the employees of the nuclear research facility, they eventually changed their name to the Oak Ridge Quartet.

          This group went through a number of personnel changes through the fifties until Wally Fowler sold the rights to the group name to a group member, Smitty Gatlin, who eventually updated the name to Oak Ridge Boys in 1961.  The group recorded a number of albums and continued to go through other personnel changes.  In the late sixties they updated their stage appearance with a more moddish rock and roll look and added covers of pop/rock hits that had positive messages alongside their gospel tunes.

         The evolution of the group continued until they were signed by the Columbia label and then later by ABC Records.  In 1977 they released their first all country album and after that they begin hitting the charts with the mainstays like "Elvira" and became country music superstars.  This is how most people think of this group though they have returned to their gospel roots to record Christian albums along with the more popular country albums

          I'm definitely partial to the Southern Gospel that first drew me to them.  The other stuff is fine, but the Gospel songs touch me the most.  Well, actually I've never listened to much of their other music other than what gets played on the radio.  As for me and my house, give me that old time religion!   Here's an early live performance of their award winning "Jesus Is Coming Soon"--please don't vote on this as I've offered it here for perspective comparison.
Oak Ridge Boys "Jesus Is Coming Soon" (@1970?)

For reference only!!  Please don't vote on this version!!

Here are your voting candidates:

          This was probably my toughest Battle that I've compiled yet.  The first choices that I really wanted to use showed up on Polsy as not being available in all countries.  As I searched through many more it seemed that very few versions of this song were available in all countries.  Eventually I started finding many many more versions that were available.   After much consideration of a number of good versions, I finally narrowed my contest down to the following two choices:

Blackwood Gospel Quartet  "Jesus Is Coming Soon" 
( 2009)

       This version is done in a traditional style, but the video is downright strange--one of the odder music videos that I've come across.  Not sure what's going on with this other than I guess these guys have a sense of humor.  Inappropriate considering the song topic?  I'll let you decide.  I'm also a bit confused about how this group relates to any other group as from everything that I could find they seem to be a contemporary offshoot of the old Blackwood Brothers Quartet, but the group as portrayed in this video seems to have possibly disbanded and regrouped with new members.   If anyone knows then feel free to fill us in.  It's a highly competent version of the song no matter what the case.

Dogwood "Jesus Is Coming Soon"  (1976)

      Not to be confused with the Christian punk/metal group that came about in 1993, this Dogwood was a folk/rock group that recorded and performed during the mid to late 1970's.  The group was founded by Steve Chapman (not to be confused with multi-faceted Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman) and his wife Annie.   Their version of "Jesus Is Coming Soon" provides a more contemporary feel a la the Seekers and other such groups.   The band name Dogwood relates to the traditional Christian legend that the Dogwood tree was used for the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.

Time To Vote!

        Maybe nuanced to those who don't listen closely, these versions provide different musical takes on the same song.  Which version do you like the best?   

        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands



'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 
J. A. Scott  

Winner Announced on Wednesday February 8th

          Since voting will be open throughout the weekend, everyone should have adequate opportunity to vote. I've got a zinger of a post planned for Monday.   It will be sure to offend some as I get back into my political musings presenting a slant that might come unexpectedly to some of you.  I just want to try something different as I look at political controversy from a different perspective.

          But by all means do come back on Wednesday February 8th to see who won the above Battle along with some additional comments about the topics that I brought up with this post.

          Do you think you might have avoided this post if I had used the song title as my blog title?  What is it about religion that you feel causes many people to avoid reading about the topic?   Is there any particular style of Christian music that you especially enjoy?