Tattoos and Other Really Bad Ideas

I am a pretty progressive guy. But I guess every non-progressive guy thinks that about himself.

Whether I consider myself progressive or conservative in my general approach towards life, I would like to think of myself first and foremost as a critical thinker; meaning every issue I face is examined on its own merits independently of the larger association to which it may belong. liberal

The artificial wall we have built between progressive and conservative is utter bullshit anyway…it is a fictitious concoction designed to keep us simultaneously interested and distracted while the rich and powerful keep us occupied with the Trayvon Martins and Paula Deens—not to mention Kim Kardashian’s ass—as they directly make their way to the bank, unimpeded by a distracted public. Does anything really change whether we have a Republican or Democrat president? Please. It is all bullshit.

But that is not the point of this blog so I am not sure why I just went there.

Damn Golden Snake.

If you were to talk to me about certain issues (i.e. legalization of drugs, immigration, LGBTQ rights) you would conclude I am a flaming liberal. Yet, if you were to talk to me about other issues (i.e. economics, welfare state, centrality of family) you would contend I am a John Birch right-winger—well, not really, though you get the point. I attempt to think critically and do not give a damn what political camp I might be identified with on any given issue…my only camp is Jimmy’s camp.

This being said, I would generally consider myself a liberal parent (whatever that means)…particularly in my kids’ latter years during which time I have really only had a few steadfast rules  (though I guess every conservative parent has said that as well). For example, one steadfast rule was that you can party your ass off IF, and this is a big IF, you take care of your responsibilities first. You know, like do your homework BEFORE you go out to play (such a dated example, I mean stay in and play Xbox).

The only two other areas that I actually had an opinion was that of smoking and tattoos—I cannot stand either.

Yes, crusty old Grandpa Jimmy (get on that my children, will you?), you know the one who loves singing bowls, drum circles and adrenaline rushes, has spoken.

No tattoosSmoking to me is a disgusting and sad habit. I have no judgment on those who do it— I simply decide to abstain from it myself….and just don’t blow that crap in my face.

The problem I have with tattoos—the point of this blog—is that they are permanent and if I know anything about myself and human nature, it is that we constantly evolve and change; hell, I will disagree with the first paragraph of this blog before I get to the last.  I know for certain that whatever “cool” tat I would ink on my ass or elsewhere will be uncool within a very short period of time –yet there it is, forever—probably not a wise choice to make a needless permanent decision over something that may hurt you as you move through life and will certainly NEVER help you.

So why do I care about tattoos? I really do not. Yes, I do think they are an unwise choice though if one decides to do something that can only possibly hurt oneself, why should I care? I don’t. If one wants to make a stupid, regretful, unwise decision that in no way can affect me…go for it. I will still love you. And I have lived long enough to know I could very well be wrong…perhaps in the near Hottie_Body_Jewelry_Tattoo_Artist_At_Workfuture I will be the unemployable one for having un-inked skin…who knows? Maybe that’s just wishful inking.

Yet my children are a different story. Ultimately, they fall in the same category as everyone else…free human beings with free wills to do whatever they choose with their bodies. Though weren’t we old farts (aka parents) placed in our position for a reason? We old folk were all once 18, 20, 25 and have lived some years on the planet and perhaps know something our children don’t. Of course this could make us either out of touch dinosaurs OR the wise sages; such a fine line between stupidity and brilliance.

A recent Forbes article suggests I may be the former as tattoos no longer carry the stigma they used to; employers really do not care.  In fact, I ran across quite a bit of information suggesting they are becoming socially acceptable. Yet employment is only a part of the anti-tattoo equation.TattooRegret_main_0523

The BBC reports “that research being presented at the British Association of Dermatologists’ conference this week suggests nearly one in three people regret tattoos.” Interestingly, more men have regret than women and often it depends where on the body…lower body tattoos tend to have less regret than upper body ones.

So what’s the big deal?

It’s really not…though it comes down to a general life philosophy: “Life is hard. Why do ANYTHING 384830_10150552481899186_1986457111_nvoluntarily in life that MAY make it harder?” It is the same reason yours truly cut off his beloved curly locks prior to his interview with the college. I doubt there was anyone on the interview committee who thought to herself, “We really need a surfer-looking dude with long hair teaching our communication classes.” The much likelier possibility would be the interviewer who looks negatively upon the “hippie” and harbors some inward, subtle prejudices. Why unnecessarily roll the dice on the latter? Off it went, received tenure track….and back it came.

Why risk regretting something the rest of your life over a voluntary activity? If we have that great a need for a fashion statement perhaps there are other issues we need to be looking at in our life.

Why risk having to pay thousands of dollars in numerous painful surgeries over something that did not have to be there in the first place?

indexWhy risk having to see something the rest of your life that you once thought was cool at 18? Hell, if I had decided to get a tat at that age, I would be spending the rest of my life staring at Robin and Maurice Gibb (really, BeeGees?), Farah Fawcett (yes, really) or Fonzie.fonzie

Is the small piece of skin art really worth it?

“Aaaaaayyyyyyyy!” I guess I really am conservative. Yet I do have both my ears pierced. Pretty progressive, huh? Oh, and if you do decide to get a tattoo, just make sure you are a woman who gets it somewhere on her lower body.






Prohibit This: Seven Positive Consequences of Prohibition

Will Rogers once said, “Prohibition is better than no alcohol at all.”

BoozeOf course the ironic reference alludes to the abundance of alcohol during the years the United States banned the consumption of it with the 18th amendment in 1920 through December of 1933. The overall failure of prohibition reinforces the notion that we humans are most desirous to indulge in that which we cannot have.nolips

Will Rogers went on to say that if the U.S. banned learning that we would be the smartest nation in the world within 5 years. Perhaps not a bad idea? Let’s talk prohibition kids; and learn something while it’s still legal.

When one mentions the word “prohibition” the first idea that pops into most of our minds is the greatest singular example of the “legislation of morality” gone terribly wrong. For example, today many will use the prohibition argument to make the case to legalize marijuana. Yet, upon closer examination, perhaps we have been too hard on the 18th amendment to the constitution over the past 9 decades. Prohibition was an earnest and genuine attempt to solve a woefully widespread social disease in the United States at the time, known as alcoholism.

Prohibition was not the spontaneous brainchild of a slick politician nor an ill conceived impulsive idea from our nation’s leaders spawned to foster political favor. The case for prohibition was being made a full century before it was enacted in 1920 by various “temperance” groups. Quite the contraire to being impulsive, if anything the country was extremely slow in attempting to solve a national crisis. In fact, the problems were so bad many alcohol drinking citizens in the U.S. were in support of prohibition.Here_lieth_a_temperance_man_--_cartoon

How bad was this crisis that even drinkers were willing to make one of their favorite activities illegal? Alert: Hard core statistics ahead.

According to Dr. Jack Blocker (please see this very informative US National Library of Medicine journal article to support many of the claims contained within this blog entry), the problems with alcohol consumption were of epic proportion. Between 1900 and 1913, Americans began to drink more and more. Beer production jumped from 1.2 billion to 2 billion gallons, and the volume of tax-paid spirits grew from 97 million to 147 million gallons. Per capita consumption of ethanol increased by nearly a third, a significant spike over such a short period of time. With this rise in annual ethanol consumption to 2.6 US gallons per capita of the drinking-age population, the highest level since the Civil War, created a real public health problem. Rates of death diagnosed as caused by liver cirrhosis (15 per 100,000 total population) and chronic alcoholism (10 per 100.000 adult population) were high during the early years of the 20th century.

This high consumption of alcohol coupled with the historical context of the subjugation of women (women could not vote until 1920; ironically the same year prohibition was enacted) and the overwhelmingly patriarchal practices of the day, meant alcohol was the primary fuel that caused spousal and child abuse, while tearing up the home and sending shock waves through the entire social fabric.

hospitalizing-drunk-teens-costs-two-million-a-day_300The nation was like a high school kid that had not learned how to “maintain” and handle their drink.

Prohibition was not all bad, in fact in part it was good – it was like grounding the above drinking kid, sending him to his room and taking his car keys. It is not farfetched to contend that it could easily still be the law of the land today if it not for another major social slash financial crisis: The depression.

One of the primary reasons prohibition was repealed was not necessarily stemming from the unintended consequences of prohibition itself (namely underground organized crime); rather when the stock market crashed in 1929, the country lacked the necessary time and energy to devote its enforcement of prohibition while economical concerns became much more prevalent and the focus of our attention. Prohibition was not cheap and drastically effected the economy in negative ways. I believe it would be a reasonable claim for one to contend that if the stock market did not crash we could very well still be a “dry” country today.

It is my opinion that the mayhem that ensued during the 1920’s and the flourishing organized crime alcohol trade was bound to happen and such activity was to be expected as any major cultural shift has a transitory period in which the culture must adopt. It was growing pains for a transitioning wet to dry country…perhaps we eventually would have solved them had our economy not crashed.

Thus what did we learn from prohibition? Seven things:

1. We learned that many (not all) people will change personal destructive behaviors as a result of public legislation. The number of drinkers plummeted during prohibition and even after its appeal it rose…though never close to the level it was before prohibition (see above Blocker article). In this sense, prohibition worked. By nearly any historical account and quite contrary to what the Rogers above quotation above would have you believe, alcohol consumption and alcoholism drastically decreased during prohibition with a consequential benefit to families and communities.

2. Hundreds of counties today still opt to go “dry.” Perhaps prohibition, despite its national fallout, provided dry options for the country and should one want to live in a dry area, they have the freedom to do so -approximately 10% of the US population today live in a dry county.

3. We learned that people have a strong tendency toward a bipolar self: A public persona and private persona -church by day, speakeasy by night. Many drinkers actually supported prohibition because they believed it would better for society as a whole…of course with the promise that it was still not illegal for one to make their own alcohol for their own personal use. The grape growing and malt industry flourished in the 1920’s. Perhaps what some may consider a double-standard was in reality a willingness by drinkers to sacrifice convenience for the better public good – this assisted by the new presence of women in saloons, see below.

4. Many people want to be governed and have the government’s assistance in self-policing. After its repeal, the threat of prohibition coming back loomed on. It is believed that approximately 40% of Americans supported the return of prohibition in the late 30’s.

5. Say what you will negatively about prohibition though at least it was an attempt to solve one of the largest and widespread problems in our nation’s history. In addition, prohibition was a major wake up call for this country. We had a problem and we needed to confront it. It is no coincidence aa-500x315-gifthat when it was repealed December 8, 1933, only 2 years later, in 1935, what is arguably the most effective program to deal with alcoholism in the world, Alcoholics Anonymous, was born. Perhaps without such a drastic measure, prohibition, we would not have seen the creation of effective alternative solutions to deal with alcoholism. Prohibition was an excellent motivator and the fuel for the creation of innovative, non-legislative programs to deal with the problem of excessive alcohol consumption, such as the aforementioned Alcoholics Anonymous -not to mention nearly countless other substance abuse programs.

6. Is it a coincidence that during prohibition we saw the subsequent rise of female rights and powers? The 1920’s was a revolutionary period for women’s rights. Women were finally heard in terms of both supporting prohibition and bringing it to an end.women's rights Prior to prohibition women were not allowed in saloons and the unchecked masculine energy ran rampant, hence male-like problems. During the illegal speakeasys, women were as much a part of the saloon scene as men…the feminine energy providing the much needed checkpoint for inebriated male behavior. Prohibition provided the unintended consequence of saloon equality for women -who witnessed first hand the hypocrisy of public abstinence and private drink- which provided a primary motivation leading to prohibition’s demise…a female led endeavor.

7. Finally, the great majority of us believe in in the concept of prohibition- we just differ over what should be prohibited and why. A nation where crystal meth is injected in the streets concerns me. In this sense, I am for prohibition of certain mind altering methsubstances. My guess is so are you. Thus the concept of prohibiting certain items for public use is agreed; we may just disagree on what is prohibited and where.

So next time someone wants to use the “just look at prohibition” argument with you to suggest the legalizing of a substance, tell them to think again or better yet, read my blog. Prohibition was not all bad. Sometimes keeping something underground is the best place to keep it. After all, we were all just one less stock market crash away from being a nation of soft drinks ourselves.

Though to be fair and not perpetuate the schism between public and private selves, I did write this blog for the first time while slightly buzzed. Though if you passed a law prohibiting “blogging while buzzed” I can guarantee more entertaining blogs from this point forward. Hehe.


Paula Deen, the N Word, F Word, G Word and W Word. Word. Religion Part III

I have not blogged in a while because, frankly, truth be told, the religion subject was beginning to bore even me…and I’m the one writing this holy crap. In spite of the fact I have received some wonderful feedback on my last blog concerning a different understanding of FCBE- the force, creator, being, energy formerly known -by some- as God, three parts just seemed one part too many and most of you may agree after reading this final installment. Yet, after this whole Paula Deen scandalous “N paula deenword” ordeal, I am once again inspired for reasons that may seem unapparent at the moment.

As an educator of communication I do have some experience with the practice of words and language. I am not a linguist (check out Jordan’s blog for an example of a master linguist…warning: you may notice like father like son) I am much more a philosopher of language and its use.  For example, a book that really floats my intellectual boat would be S.I. Hayakawa’s Language in Thought and Action in which he breaks down language and it’s function in a variety of different contexts. If I would be so bold as to summarize his language philosophy in a sentence it would be very similar, if not identical, to my own sentiment:

Words alone mean absolutely nothing.

Even the text that many would consider to be the ultimate authority on words, the dictionary, does not dictate nor authoritatively provide definitions, rather it is only a reporter, or historian, on how words have been used in the past. Just read a dictionary from 1880, hell 1980, and find out just how many definitions have changed over the years; examples are nearly endless. Dictionaries do not create, they report.

stock-photo-the-word-dictionary-close-up-of-the-word-dictionary-and-its-definition-2660487As a society we collectively assign meanings to words -and just as society is complex and diverse, so are the meanings we assign to words.  What someone means strikes at the heart of communication –NOT what someone says with words.  Frankly it terrifies the living hell out of me that as a society there is now a shame and Orwellian type of big brother fear in uttering a single word, nigger, regardless of context or reasoning. Yet nearly every other word in one half of every hip hop/rap song uses it and my son’s friends, black and white together, call each other nigger, ma nigga, negro and even nigs. Perhaps our younger generation has a much stronger ability to see through such politically correct bullshit and realize words are about what they mean and little else.

Why is there no shame in songs or friends using the word nigger? Simple. The intent is friendly. nelis_niggerLoving. Fun. Harmless. There is no hate or animosity. This blog is using the word to educate on a philosophy of words and language. There is no hate or animosity. As for Paula Deen, I have no idea what she meant…yet that is all that matters. She may be the world’s worst racist or lover of all races, I don’t know. What I do know is that the use of a word alone will ultimately tell us nothing.

Rather than having an “N word” perhaps we should have a “W word” or “Word word” as words seem to play the dirty culprit more often than not and are the biggest problem in society. Unfortunately we have little alternative.

So what does all of this have to do with religion, part III?

The name we assign to FCBE means nothing. We trivialize FCBE when we assign a label.  As H.R. Huse explains, “Dictionary definitions permit us to hide from ourselves and others the extent of our ignorance.” We only need a definition when we are unclear of a concept. We do not need a definition for the things we know and even then that definition is speculative at best. FCBE is unclear and is going to stay that way.

At the risk of getting way too philosophical on your ass, a branch of philosophy known as phenomenalism suggests that we can only really know anything within ourselves and our inward experience with something -once we attempt to communicate about it we dilute the meaning.  

oakbarrel2For example, think of a barrel of pristine, pure water. The only way to release the pure water is through a contaminated water spicket that contains impurities and will compromise the quality of the water. The water can only be pure on the inside within the barrel. Likewise when we put into words our thoughts and ideas contained within us they immediately become impure because the limitations of words and the process of communication contaminate our true inward meaning. The communication process is like a contaminated spicket.nothing-20130324-179

Yes, I realize the seemingly contradictory irony of using words to criticize words -yet if you could climb inside my brain and see what I REALLY mean you would be REALLY impressed.

Therefore the idea of FCBE is better off unstated, unworded while resting comfortably in the confines of our own beings. Once we assign a word the contamination process begins. Thus, my new name is simply             .  And because             is unknowable, infinite and eternal, perhaps               prefers no moniker as this only cheapens the concept.

And if             is in the business of blessing, may            bless you for           ‘s sake.

Finally…now I can get on to some more interesting                  damned subjects.