Bag of Randomness for Thursday, June 4, 2020

Yesterday, in response to what I posted about Bob Sturm’s thoughts, one of my readers sent me the following Wall Street Journal article, and I know there wasn’t any ill-intent behind it.

The Myth of Systemic Police Racism – Hold officers accountable who use excessive force. But there’s no evidence of widespread racial bias.

I was bothered by it for two reasons. One, I’m concerned that I may have somehow communicated that I believe police are racist. And two, I’m surprised something like this was posted in such an esteemed publication. For something like that to be printed, I’m led to believe that many sane and rational people may actually think that’s true.

So, I guess I want to go on record and say a few things. I suppose in a small way, I’m pulling a Bob Sturm. I have never felt that law enforcement, or the military for that matter, is endemically racist, and to my knowledge, no one in my family or circle of friends does either. I know there are more good cops than bad cops and it’s the rotten ones that cause the stink. But this is where I may differ with you and I don’t think it was addressed or implied in the article. It’s my belief those who are racist and those who need that power trip or feeling of control are more likely to navigate towards a career in the military and/or law enforcement. They are the bad apples. Of course, there are racists everywhere. I don’t have a way to prove it, but the majority of people in law enforcement and the military are not racists, it’s just a lot of racists prefer to be in that kind of profession. I hope there’s nothing in my writing that shows I think law enforcement or the military is endemically racist. I also believe the majority of protestors don’t believe either are endemically racist, though I also have no way of proving that.

But I will go on record saying I believe “the system” or whatever you want to call it is deeply flawed. In the example of George Floyd, we all now are deeply familiar that one police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes – five minutes and 53 seconds of kneeling before officers declared that Floyd was unresponsive, followed by two minutes and 53 seconds of continued pressure. That is disturbing in itself, but I’ll argue what’s more so is that three other police officers at the scene acted barbarically by not stopping it. The closest we got is one of them twice asking if he should be rolled over with the kneeling officer (who had a history of 17 complaints) responding with, “No, staying put where we got him.” The system is flawed if three other cops aren’t able to intervene. The system is flawed if cops aren’t able to keep each other accountable. I have no idea why it’s that way. Maybe it’s the intimidation of correcting a more senior member, maybe it’s fear that the next performance review will say “Not a reliable team member.” It’s got the same eerie feel to it as the movie Casulaties of War. If this singular event wasn’t recorded and then only reported by a citizen, no one would be held accountable. And sadly, as more and more of these incidents are being recorded all across the country we see more and more evidence of a failed system. There’s no quick or easy fix, this failure is generations in the making, and it will take generations to fix. I’m not on the side of the cops, I’m not on the side of the victims, it’s not that easy, though I do want to justice and a change for the better, nationwide. I’ll save any thoughts on rioting and other related items for another day.

Some things make me angry, some things make me sad, some things make me both angry and sad. One day, they are going to ask themselves not if they should have done this or not, but if it was worth it.

Armchair political strategist time:

If Trump really wanted to show he’s not afraid to go outside of the White House grounds and rile up his base, I think it would have been far more effective if his staff asked the church for half an hour alone in their sanctuary the following day. Show him walking to the church with a Bible in hand and have no one inside except him. Just tell the press the president wanted to spend some time in the church alone. It doesn’t matter what he does in there, he could read the paper, just say nothing more than the president wanted to spend some solitude in a house of worship. As for Trump, take no questions and never say anything about it. The mystery and image of it would be greater than anything else, just imagine how the media and social media would respond.

For Biden, the next time he speaks at a church, especially from a lectern, work with the church to set up a clear plastic shield in front of it, like what we now see at grocery stores, and speak without a mask. The message of COVID-19 awareness would still be taken seriously and you would connect with the public more.

I’m simply curious to know who owns that Bible Trump used in the photo op. Was it someone’s personal Bible or just one someone found on a White House bookshelf? I do find it a little odd that Ivanka pulled it out of her purse to give to him since she’s not a Christian, she converted to Judism so she could marry her husband. You know, that’s an interesting thing Kushner had to do, sell to a man of Trump’s stature that he not only want to marry his daughter but have her change religion as well.

This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

I’ve been tempted to check out FBC Dallas’s Robert Jeffress’ Twitter account but have refrained from doing so. I think if I did, a range of sadness, anger, and disbelief would cloud my mind for hours.

The president’s favorite Bible verses.

New York congressman caught on hot mic at protest event: “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care”

Local station News 12 captured Engel, a Democrat, making the comment at a press conference in the Bronx following another night of civil unrest following the death of George Floyd. In a clip posted on Twitter, Engel is seen talking to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. about whether he’ll be able to speak at the event. Diaz is heard telling Engel there’s a “list” of planned speakers and there might be too many people.

“If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care,” Engel says. When Diaz doesn’t hear him, Engel says it again.

This Tesla Cybertruck redesign makes it look like one of the Batmobiles.

Dyson shares new photos and videos of its canceled electric SUV

Posted in Personal | 1 Comment

Bag of Randomness for Wednesday, June 3, 2020

I think that kid is wearing Reebok Pumps.

It doesn’t matter what I try to do, crack open a book or watch television, but my mind keeps going back to what’s going on in our country. Something I think that has been uncovered are all the marches going on across the globe for the same cause.  The internet sure has divided us but also brought us closer in many ways.

Twice-baked potatoes sound like a good idea but they are highly over-rated.

It was five years ago some folks were worried about a thing called Jade Helm.

This was popular on social media yesterday. My apologies if you are offended, but you should probably get your head out of the gutter, he was obviously referring to a cat.

Am I bugging you? Don’t mean to bug ya. OK Edge, play the blues…

A Twitter feed which is equal parts funny and depressing – @influencersitw

House where Adolf Hitler was born to become a police station

Austrian authorities have presented the winning plan to redesign the house where Adolf Hitler was born in 1889, turning it into a police station.

They are trying to make it unattractive as a pilgrimage site for people who glorify the Nazi dictator.

Mississippi News – Madison County prosecutor: ‘We can only hope the deadly coronavirus strain spreads in riots’

This is from a Houston Redditor.

I have literally never been more proud to be a Texan. from texas

I heard a Terry Dorsey reference yesterday, that’s a name I haven’t heard or thought about in a while.

Here’s the Hardline segment I referenced yesterday in which Bob Sturm talks about faith and politics. Of course, all of this came about due to recent events. A lot of us who grew up in Evangelical youth groups and attended Baptist colleges feel a real kinship with Bob. When Bob talks about his parents and church leadership telling him not to listen to any music other than music from Christian artists from Christian record labels we know where he’s coming from, and how shallow that can make us. We empathized with him when he spoke reverently of Jerry Falwell Sr. while at the same time being frustrated with what came out of his mouth. We know how he feels when certain folks we admire in the Christian community say or do certain things that really aren’t representative of the Christian faith, even though they loosely rationalized those actions with scripture – the most egregious being love of country over love for Christ. We love Bob because we know what it’s like to be Bob. So, when Bob pulled a Jerry Maguire yesterday and laid his balls out there and the segment (which lasted over 23-minutes) wasn’t interrupted to go to a commercial break, we knew this was a big deal. And later in the day when you saw him tweet about the president being a wolf in lambs clothing and retweeted something like this, you totally understood he was at the same crossroads you encountered before, though it’s going to be harder for him because of his public profile. A lot more arrows are going to fling his way. He was brave enough to state something I’ve been wanting to say for years on this blog, it’s all about one issue.

I transcripted almost everything he had to say just in case you aren’t able to listen to the audio.

  • The luckiest thing to ever happen to you is that your mom happened to be within  U.S. boundaries to give birth to you. It had no meritocracy, you simply were born here.
  • I’m part of two groups. I’m a white affluent male. I was born in a Christian home and the religion of my parents became mine. It’s a life of faith I have chosen and I’m not embarrassed by that. If you are part of either of those groups, can you think about employing a little more empathy?
  • It has always bothered me as a Christian that we have white churches and black churches. And I know there’s no fixing it now, but I’m going to take a wild guess and assume there are black churches probably because churches weren’t really welcoming back in the day and so the black community figured out their own house of worship. If I’m uninformed or ill-informed on that, please accept my apologies.
    • I’m taking a wild guess because I am familiar with how things worked in our country, whether it be diners, or water fountains, or hotels, so I’m going to take a while guess and say the people making you go to a different water fountain, or a different restaurant, or a different hotel, probably also had something to say about where you went to church.
  • So where am I going with this? I even think about the wisdom of speaking about this publicly. But I think we, as Christians, and I realize I’m saying “we” and it’s an inclusive term, and if you don’t feel like you are a part of that group feel free. I’m not trying to include anybody against their will. But those of us in quote “Bible Belt” who believe in Jesus and his message, I think we have taken a wrong turn and have confused our faith with our politics, and that’s just so counterproductive, man, because on issues like immigration, and on issues on just social decency, and on issues of racism or whatever, we’ve got our political jersey out and it totally smothers any sort of message of Jesus’ love. And you don’t have to go very far into the Gospels to see, you know, the good Samaritan, and just all the messages of look, if you are treating people differently on color of skin or religion or any sort of thing, you are doing it wrong.
  • And I realize the elections are super important because that it all comes back to abortion, and I get it, I understand. I have parents who would literally, and I love them, but they would vote for Darth Vader to protect abortion (his parents are very religiously and politically conservative and pro-life).
  • And so, you know, as I see all this, and I’m not a real political person, but I really believe that those of us who believe in religion, and again, I’m not trying to alienate anybody because this is not a religious radio station so just bear with me just for another moment. Those of us who really want to see things change in this world, we got separate our faith from our politics. You can still care about both, man, but the second you merge them together, you are more worried about losing an election or losing a judge or losing anything, that’s when you became tone-deaf to anyone who isn’t like you. And that’s how we can’t get out of this, man. And I’m not asking you to change the world, I’m asking you to consider a different, a different uh, turn in the fork in the road, man, or we’re going to be stuck here. I feel that so much.
  • Honestly, it does come back to the human reaction on the blame game. Because affluent white guys or Christians, you know, they don’t want to feel like they are being blamed for society’s ills like, “I had nothing to do with slavery,” “I had nothing to do with George Floyd,” “I had nothing to do with Botham Jean” or the lady in Fort Worth, “I had nothing to do with any of this stuff, why are you guys acting like it’s my fault?” Well, it’s not your fault, but if you are part of this society and you dont’ want to do this every three months, could we figure out a way to have empathy for those who aren’t affluent and white. Could we leave our little shell, even if it’s just between our ears and say, “Man, I could probably pull on the rope a little better to help people that aren’t me.
  • I’m gonna step on a grenade here because my parents are going to disown me on this one. I just think if your willing to sell the world for one political issue, I think you have to have a tipping point, personally, and I get, you know, abortion, because I was raised in a house where that was the only thing that mattered to them and they are freaking that I don’t support the president who claimed for the last five years that he cared about abortion. I’m not buying it, by the way.
  • I do know that most of my brethren from the church, because I’ve argued with many of them about this in the last couple of years, I just think you have to have, like if you want to say, “Look, I will vote for the candidate that agrees with me on abortion,” then my counter to you is, okay, how many other thing are you willing to give up before you would move from that position? And if the answer is literally everything, then we are having a different conversation. Because I think there is way more nuisance to this world than that one political issue. Now that’s a very, very, very important one but so to me is showing no empathy for the little Guatamlean, Honduran, Mexican kids at the border. I think that was shameful because they are God’s children, and as a disciple of Jesus, it’s my job to care about them too. And it’s my job to care about people losing their life because they used a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill.
  • I do feel compelled to speak my peace about my particular place in life. Even over the weekend, and we can get into this later, and it has nothing to do with faith, but I honestly was trying to make sure that we didn’t fall under the exact same path of “oh, huh, black community, yeah, hey, really mad about something, had to trash our city again, great.” I’m starting to hear that from relatives, from fellow believers, and I’m just like, dude, don’t fall into the same traps, man. Otherwise, we never heal, we never get better, we never improve it for any of us. Hopefully, some people heard that and wasn’t completely offended by it. And maybe it made you think, and like I said, I don’t have all the answers. My brother is a preacher, there are a lot of good preachers out there that hopefully have better answers than I do. I’m just absolutely sick and tired of a world where we have confused faith and politics to a point where, gosh, I think politics might be more important to a lot of people. And let me tell ya, things of this world that don’t last, yeah, politics. Your election, when you were 30 and you’re on your death bed, you aren’t going to care, but maybe you will care about changing someone’s life.

Posted in Personal | 2 Comments

Bag of Randomness for Tuesday, June 2, 2020

I hope I can find audio of Bob Sturm of The TICKET’s Hardline (gosh, that feels odd typing that) expressing his thoughts on politics and faith. He worded it exceptionally well, and having a similar Evangelical youth and college experience as him it really hit home.

Buzzfeed – 19 Tips For Anyone Who Plans On Protesting

Here are a few random ones:

1. Go with a group of friends and make sure someone knows you’re going.

4. Have a couple emergency contacts written down in case of emergency or arrest.

8. Don’t wear loose things that can be easily grabbed like jewelry.

18. Don’t wear makeup because tear gas can stick to it.

Kerry Kennedy is one of RFK’s daughter’s. I think she has a unique fireplace setup. The two bookends are of her slain father and slain uncle. That JFK bookend bust looks like a smaller version of what’s in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in D.C. I remember from my seventh-grade field trip that bust was created using a bubble-gum technique of applying small pieces, which look like chewed up bubble-gum, one-by-one to form the overall piece.

My last two or three phones have been a Google Pixel, so my ears are always open to updates. There are some new features about to drop.

Next up is a nice convenience for people who often rely on Google’s Recorder app. Now, you can use Google Assistant to start recordings (or search from your existing ones). Better still, you can automatically get transcripts of your recordings in Google Docs. It’s always nice to see more cohesion between Google’s services and apps.

A living mop.

This happened yesterday, per FastCompany:

At 5 p.m. Eastern and Pacific today, ViacomCBS’s entertainment and youth brands (MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, BET, Pop TV, CMT, VH1, Logo, and Smithsonian) and CBS Sports will cease programming for eight minutes and 46 seconds to protest the death of George Floyd. The time is symbolic, of course, as it is the same length of time that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin ground his knee into Floyd’s neck and prevented him from breathing despite his entreaties.

Nickelodeon went with something a bit softer on placed this on their Facebook page.

Jesus never let me down. You know Jesus used to show me the score. Then they put Jesus in show business.  Now it’s hard to get in the door.

The Dutch theme park Walibi Holland put 22 oversized teddy bears onto a roller coaster

I was bummed to learn that my hometown newspaper is no more. It appears COVID-19 was the final nail in the coffin. The farewell should have had a more sentimental or wistful tone. I know I made the front page at least one time, though I think I’ve been on it around three. All my life, I recall local residence complaining about it and predicting its demise, but I doubt any of them actually thought it would happen and would rather have a paper to complain about than no paper at all. I think in a lot of ways, people are like that in general.

I rummaged through the final edition and read a feature in which a graduating senior is interviewed. This part stood out. My father was always concerned about the group of friends I was hanging out with, sometimes comparing them with my brother’s friends, which made it a challenge as one of them was accepted and graduated from Annapolis. Overall, I understood what he was getting at but it’s not like there were a lot of folks to make friends with. Thankfully, I did end up with a great group of friends who helped me make some sound decisions for people our age and put me on a great path.

“I wish I had made better friends, who would have made me make better choices. I had some friends in the past that I wish I had not become friends with. I know that sounds bad, but I am truthful. I think people need to realize that maybe their friend group is not the right one for them, and there are other choices out there. I wish I had signed up for the National Honor Society too. I forgot to do that,” Price said.

Posted in Interesting | 2 Comments

Bag of Randomness for Monday, June 1, 2020

Yesterday, DaugterGeeding turned 10-years old. So, I decided to print out and gift a certificate to WifeGeeding honoring her for one full decade of parenting.

WifeGeeding did a great job of making the day special for DaughterGeeding. She threw her a surprise Zoom birthday party. Earlier this week, she delivered a basket of items to DaughterGeeding’s friends, and they used those items for a handful of “minute to win it” games. One of the items was a cake mix you could heat up in a mug in a microwave, so everyone got to eat some cake.

You may recall us starting some renovation work a while back, I think we started back in November of last year.

Were very close to finishing but still have some small work to do, which I’m sure you’ll be able to find in these before and after photos, such as some painting. While we did most of the demolition, we didn’t really do any of the handy work. If you are wondering about the top of our island, it’s made out of spalted maple and was created by a small but fantastic woodshop named Rustic + Modern located in Aubrey, TX.  We thought we’d do something different than the common marble or granite tabletop and leaned toward butcher block until we saw some live edge tabletops. It may be hard to see, but there’s an overhang at one corner, as opposed to either one or both of the sides of the width. Eventually, we’ll get some high chairs or stools to stick underneath them.

I’ll be honest, the first 20 times I saw this photo, I kept wondering why the cop had his hands in his pockets. It wasn’t until the 21st time that I was able to tell he was wearing black gloves and they were blending in with his dark pants. Of course, that doesn’t excuse his behavior, I’m just stating how my eyes deceived me.

As I reflect on Elon Musk’s accomplishment of sending American astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil, I can’t help but think of one of the opening lines from the Hamilton song Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down), “Immigrants, we get the job done.”

I’ve seen reports of the U.S. paying Russian anywhere from $80-86 million per astronaut to send to space, SpaceX $55 million per astronaut, and Boeing $90 million. Those figures are based on per seat estimates regarding their respective contracts.

WifeGeeding’s nephew had his high school graduation ceremony on Friday. It was held outdoors at the football stadium. Graduates were seated six feet apart on the field and I don’t think anyone but immediate family could attend. It was streamed online, and WifeGeeding pointed out that all the special needs students were the first to receive their diploma. She couldn’t tell me if this is done every year or was don’t this particular year because of the accommodations made for COVID-19.

I asked her what his class rank was and she didn’t have any idea. That was a big deal to me, it was a personal goal to graduate within the top ten percent of my class. A few months ago I mentioned my graduating class was under a hundred and someone pointed out I was probably wrong about that, and I have to agree. I think my class size was 183 or 187. My father had a heart attack three days before the graduation ceremony so he couldn’t attend since he was hospitalized. My closest friends were nice enough, upon my request, to visit him in the hospital in their graduation attire before the ceremony.

Posted in Personal | 3 Comments