April 22nd, 2016

Уипчэдыжь шІу! (It would be still very cold in the Caucasus Mountains in the Russian Federation where someone might say, “Good Morning” to you this way!!!) 

I was done with this week’s update when the news about Prince’s passing hit the airways. It seems like I can’t get through a month without loosing someone who seemed to touch my life at a key point musically. I admired and respected his honesty and commitment to his own brand of creativity. He could see our joy before we got to it. I have featured his music hear a number of times and hopefully you have enjoyed those moments. His popular songs were always different while his deeper cuts some how seemed to cut deeper into our lives. Prince was another soft spoken innovator who will be missed and its sad his time with us was so brief.

Charity. During Tax Time, I am forced to reconcile my charitable donations. It seems that this year, have not been a generous as I have some years. I usually give a little bit to a lot of different bleeding heart kind of things – Always to PBS (since being in CA – KPBS), Habitat for Humanity, SPCA, Smithsonian, Sea Otter Fund, WWF and now I am adding Keep Arts in the Schools. I gave again but the amounts were smaller as I am not generating the income that I was. President and Mrs. Obama gave like $64K to charities this year. He also gave all of his Nobel prize money away ($1.4 million). I think that is pretty spectacular giving. I got to watch an interview of the President by Charlie Rose the other night. My, how he has aged, his hair is so grey and the lines are so deep on his face! I am grateful for his service and sorry it took so much from him. It is hard for me to understand the vehement hatred that some people seem have for this man.

Charity. It is the one thing in all of us that would make many of the “human services” of government unnecessary. Human Services is also the one thing that angers conservatives the most because they feel the “government” is terrible at administering such programs, that they are “wasteful” and many conservatives feel that many of those who receive these benefits are “undeserving”. Anytime some one is caught defrauding programs intended to do help those less fortunate or to perform a charitable act, the conservatives amplify the message – “See, I told you that “they” are unworthy of these benefits!!!” But the biggest sin of these Human Services is that they cater to people of “lower character”. The perception is that these are people who give up on themselves, who have babies because it is easier than “working” or abandon their children or other family responsibilities. And with all such things, some of these accusations are true about some of the programs and some of the people that use them. These Human Services organizations have become huge and unwieldy. There are those that may have made choices because our society provided those services and there are even a small minority who studiously take advantage of those services in every possible way. But there are also hungry children fed or immunized that wouldn’t be with out this institutional support. There is more equality in our education than we would have if left to the demonstrated “free will” of our “communities” after the civil war. And we still don’t do enough or do enough right. Our Veterans who served us so bravely and unselfishly are being served poorly today. We have cut back arts in schools that still offer contact sports. So yes the government could be lead better to perform better to ensure that programs deliver better to only deserving people for only as long as they deserve the help. But all in all they do much more good than any practical alternative available.

Our friends the Libertarians would stop all this frivolous provisioning of services through government. They favor the individual over government and all services (except National Defense) provided via free market over anything provided by a government. On the face of it a very attractive notion if we all were starting from a level playing field and if the Libertarians had a path to such a harmonious place. But the fact is our forefathers deprived us of that opportunity when they elected to import slave labor to help build our country. From that moment to this one, we have struggled with our inherited demons. Not all of us have the same stuff – skills, opportunities, tools, etc. to work with or the means to get them in a free market. Good Libertarians would tell you that the services to help those people lost in a Libertarian oriented government would be provided by local grassroots charities such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and other humanitarian organizations fleshly funded by neighbors no longer burdened by an onerous federal or state tax burden. But there is no assurance of such ongoing or sustaining behaviors.

I think every one should read and understand the Libertarian platform (https://www.lp.org/platform) because it is both attractive and dangerous. Its reliance and elevation of the individual above that of the government is commendable but after the declaration of freedom from tyranny there is no balancing logic on how to live with the new tyranny of newly “free” individuals who may or may not take care of each other during the transition or after. There is no treatment of the pragmatic issues of its promotion (except for a mention of retirement). If the government is curtailed at the scale implied, yes there would be significantly less government participation, cost and regulation, but there would also be less employment (release of 100Ks of government employees, contractors, etc.), less support for services provided, and very real, perhaps dire, consequences if services fail or abuses take place during transition. I don’t expect the details of how it would be managed but I would expect acknowledgement of the issue in the platform if you were seriously considering the options. In any case, we should consider any option as alternative to the failed 2 party based practices in place now.

This week I learned some stuff:
• I really like the smiles that I get when I just blurt out,”Thank you for Your Service” to random service men and women I happen to meet out in town. Last night I was ordering Chinese food and a brand spanking new Ensign came in to pick up his order and I thanked him and I really think he appreciated it. I highly recommend it.
• It was interesting reading about The Libertarian Party this week. I actually agree with most of what they would like to have but I am thinking that we would need to colonize a new planet to implement the LP principles because of the built in inequities that exist already on this one.

Website Update
• Sorry about the mix up on the Vocabulary Quiz! last week. I hope the updated quiz was worth the hurry up and wait!

Painting Update:
• Slowly, step by step, I am making my way to the paints…but not this week. I probably won’t get back to this stuff till after the move.

Writing Update:
• I took another week off from editing … still finding typos in GPS. I probably won’t get back to this stuff till after the move.

• My grandson BJ is becoming a giant! I swear any time he leaves the room, even for a few minutes, when he comes back he is like a half inch taller and maybe even a little better looking too! I guess I was like that at his age too but I am just too old to remember. And wouldn’t you know it.. on my last doctor’s visit they said I was like almost 2 inches shorter .. Damn It!
• I had the opportunity to see “Slowhand at 70” Eric Clapton at The Royal Albert Hall on KPBS this week. It was a great show if you haven’t seen I recommend it highly. I really loved the part in the beginning of Cocaine where he plays like 5 or so minutes of freshly stolen John Mayer rifts. Its also cool to watch all the old biddies and geezers running down to the front of the stage to dance around like teenagers 🙂 I swear Eric laughed out loud!

Music Update:
Kind of pulled out a pretty mixed batch for you all this week. I had already uploaded our music for this week before I heard the news of Prince’s passing. I will add something next week but I have featured Prince here in UJTland many times over the years.

• Bruce Springsteen – Nothing Man — This is a sad song from his, “The Rising” album. There is a great You-tube thing on this song about 9/11… nothing fancy.. just the song playing and a bunch of stills of NYC after the towers. Made me cry.
• Love – Seven and Seven is — This is another refugee from days with my buddy Duane Tannenbaum in his dayglo garage at his mom’s house. This may have been Love’s biggest hit from their Da Capo album.
• k. d. lang – Wash Me Clean — Just a real pretty song.. She has one of those velvety clear voices that flows over me like cool stream water down a mountainside. The acoustic guitar played by a fellow by the name of Ben Mink is magic on this cut as well.
• Tedeschi – Trucks Band – Simple Things — From their, “Relevator” album, this is just a song of celebration before they formed the real band (Susan and Derek got married:).
• Stanley Clark – Quiet Afternoon – From the Vinyl !!! Another sweet bit of jazzy solo joy after he left Return to Forever from his first solo album, “School Days”.
• Loggins and Messina – House at Pooh Corner — This one comes back to me from somewhere in 1972 or so and makes me smile each time it rolls around on the music merry-go-round. I connect up to a magic moment or two in my life where everything around me crackled with a sparkly softness and sweetness.
• Marc Cohn – Walking In Memphis —  From the first time I heard this song it just locked into my head and stuck. I really need to listen to other stuff by this guy sometime but I never have gotten past this on. Maybe I am afraid hearing more will ruin it for me:)
• Derek and The Dominos – Thorn Tree in the Garden —  Bobby Whitlock wrote and is singing this sweet soulful sad song about a man who did away with his little dog. He wrote the song in one sitting and then played it for the ‘thorn tree’ in his garden. You can almost hear the tears hitting his guitar as he plays. Every one thinks that Eric is singing this one for Patty Harrison. But then they also think that Derek and the Dominos was Eric’s band. Eric was just trying to disappear. Bobby formed the band with, Eric, Jim Gordon and Carl Radie after they all finished working on All Things Must Pass with George Harrison. Duane Allman played with Derek a lot as well.

That’s it… Do the best you can; Laugh every chance you get;  And always remember, the best is yet to come! 

As always, thank you for being my friend!