Talking to My Kids


My kids are fond of telling me that I am old fashioned in my ideas. They mock my truck because it is old and frequently in need of repair. They laugh at my favorite shirt: an old flannel with one of the pockets torn and threatening to fall off. They tell me my work boots are old and ratty.

"That’s an old joke, Dad," they say when I attempt to be funny.

They roll their eyes when I sit down to watch an old movie and shake their heads when I turn on my old music that will never grace the memory of their iPods. They tell their friends that having to abide by our rules gets old really fast. I didn’t know it was possible to get old really fast.

They complain that it gets old when I have to drive into work for an emergency or an outage. They no longer laugh as loudly, nor as freely, at my old stories. Political discussions solicit the response that the old world I grew up in no longer exists.

They would much rather facebook and myspace than to sit down with the old tomes that grace my bookshelves. So let’s see: to sum up, my clothes, my books, my music and my ideas are old. I wonder if they’re trying to tell me something…

God Sends Me Email

From time to time (every couple of hours it seems) I receive an email threatening to provide a blessing or a miracle, or the thing my heart most desires. It has to be God sending me email—who else would know what my heart most desires? You see, that desire changes on occasion. First thing in the morning, what I desire most is a cup of black coffee. Or three. At dinner time, that desire is to make it through dinner without some idiot calling me, trying to give me a weekend at a Sedona resort. Or sell me aluminum siding. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. Houses here are made from cement blocks, or covered in stucco. Not aluminum siding. This whole city is a resort. If I could afford it, I could golf 365 days a year, and swim for over 200. And if I head up north to Sedona, I most definitely am not going to sit through some 90 minute time share presentation.

According to these multifarious emails, it seems I will receive this magnanimous bounty from God if I will only read and forward said email to at least seven people. Or everybody I know. Or everybody I know who could use cheering up, or a hug. Or simply the sheer joy of receiving an email from me… well, not from me exactly. Forwarded by me.

I’m sure you know the ones I’m talking about. The subject is always the same: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd:, followed by a list of 400 names (all but one or two you won’t recognize) and their email addresses, and who they forwarded it to. And because God read’s all emails sent—or forwarded—by anyone, some of these people feel guilty about sending, or forwarding just another bit of fluff without personalizing it, so below their name, and their email address and who they sent it to and when, you find bits and pieces of failed attempts at keeping in contact. Phrases like "thinking of you", or "thought you might enjoy this", or "miss you", or "reminds me of the time…".

In this way consciences are assuaged, hearts are healed and we have kept in touch. Through email. And we shall be blessed because God reads all our email. He must have a total of 10 or 12 pieces by now—four thousand times each, so far today—and therefore he knows the promises of his blessings contained within each one. That is of course unless God does what I do… DELETE anything that contains Fwd: more than once in the subject line.

If you truly want to receive God’s blessing for you and your family, and your seven favorite friends, and their families, and each of their seven favorite friends, and each of the families of those friends of the families of your seven favorite friends, you must immediately forward a link to this page to everyone you know, and everyone they know and everyone you will have known by some future date. If you don’t, God will know, and he will see to it that your fingers rot and fall off.


The congestion today is the worst it’s been for months. These allergies have thrown a roadblock on my sinuses and it’s about as painful as trying to drive a truck through detours and road construction. My eyes are swollen to the point that I’d be afraid of trying to take public transportation anywhere for fear of stepping off the curb into a stream of oncoming vehicles. The only good side to that might be accidentally running into a roadside pharmacist trafficking in all the pollutants that might ease the gridlock of my nasal thoroughfares. What a rush-hour long relief from some of them.

Oh man, my eyes are fuzzy, blinking red and green spots, with flashes of yellow. I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. Or a delivery truck. I hate being stuck, sitting here thinking, feeling like my life is going nowhere. Almost like I’m on auto pilot and in need of finding a new direction. I really should “brake” these pedestrian habits of mine, maybe take the car for a walk. Although, in order to insure that I can Navigat or function correctly, maybe that should wait until after I take my Benz adril.

Sure wish these little pills would accelerate through my system. It is high time I was somewhere doing something productive. This road I’m traveling, my journey through life, has left me exhausted already today. And I’m forgetting something; an emission of vast proportions, I fear. My brain seems befuddled, wrapped in a cloud of smog. Hopefully, that will pass and I can motor my way back onto the highway of normal life.

As I sit here, silent and still, looking out my window, I can see the neighborhood obviously hasn’t changed over night. All the same faces in all the same places. My next door neighbor has fired up her cell phone while she puts on her makeup for all to see. The guy next to her is enjoying breakfast. Looks like he may have transited through the golden arches.

"Jeep-ers Chrysler! Get the hell out of my way!”

Whoa, there, Mr. Mustang. Wonder what he’s upset about? Maybe his sinuses are backed up forever, too. Maybe he just needs a vacation; a chance to hit the road-rage through the wilderness, as it were.

Apart from the clogged, unyielding pressure I feel, it is a rather pleasant day as I sit here in the intersection of today and the rest of my expletive-expletive-reallylongstringofexpletives life. On the radio, The Cars are playing my favorite song: Drive.

Social Media Slated To Kill All Knowledge

Is there a day coming when we will effectively know nothing?

In your favorite search engine, if you type "what is a black hole", or "black hole in space", most likely you will be presented the expected scientific entries that vary slightly in their presentation, but are reasonably consistent to give the inquirer a working definition.

One such site is: wisegeek. Some of the answers that are posted there would qualify as scientific, as correct according to our current theories. But which ones? How would the lay person know for sure, or be able to distinguish between right and wrong answers on a scientific topic such as this?

Well, one approach, adopted by Yahoo Answers, and many other sites, including most social media sites, is to allow people to vote on the best answer, or offer their opinion. So, in the case of a question "What is a black hole?", we can have anyone from a high school freshman in their first physics class, all the way to Stephen Hawking and other prominent physicists voting for the best answer.

The physicist’s answers are obviously going to be more correct than the freshman’s, but the trouble with most answers from scientifically educated individuals is that they often assume a level of understanding not actually present in their audience. Also, their use of the language is generally at a level much further advanced than the average high-schooler, and most people will not bother looking up the meaning of a word they do not know.

At any of those "vote here" sites, which answer do you think is going to be voted as the best answer? The one closer to being correct but filled with technical terms and obscure references, or the one that says something simple like

A black hole is like a tear in space that sucks up everything around it. The distance between the edges of the rip is called a wormhole.

Many people will like, or vote for the answer above because it is stated simply, sounds correct, and draws an effective, though completely wrong, picture in the questioner’s mind. Thus, that answer gets many page views, more people like it because of it’s simplicity and all the major search engines begin to take notice of that page with the wrong answer getting the most attention.

Over the course of time, because of the popularity of the page, it begins to move up in the search engine rankings and gets displayed more prominently, thus propagating the very cycle that it started in the first place. It becomes a virtual perpetual motion machine, sustained on the sheer momentum it has created and the indiscriminate nature of the algorithms that drive the search engines. Eventually, this page could conceivably be the first result returned to the black hole query and at the point, for the vast majority of seekers, the true knowledge of what a black hole is, and perhaps more importantly, what it isn’t, are lost because of the answer that was allowed to be voted on for best status.

This black hole example is an extreme for the moment, but serves to illustrate the point of how we gain knowledge. We are far more likely to trust an answer from someone we know and like than from someone we don’t on just about any subject. There is an old acronym in the computer programming world: GIGO. Translated, that is Garbage In, Garbage Out. The same holds true for the human mind as well. When it comes to scientific inquiries or fact finding excursions on any topic, the answer voted as the best may be nothing of the sort. Soon, we will all know absolutely nothing.

Other commentaries on current culture by j. m. raymond:
New Job Application
God Sends Me Email


Based on several factors relating to concerns over political correctness in today’s America, I would like to propose a change to the job applications currently in use in this country. Not only will this new form insure that we all receive the same consideration when applying for a job (career/business opportunity/method of procuring monetary sustenance for our family(ies)/(la familia)), it will also save on paper costs because of its brevity. Thus, we can safely say that we are preventing discrimination, aiding in the fight against global warming, and practicing effective environmental conservation. What more could you ask for?

Please inform us of your name ________________________________
(and/or the name you prefer to be called)_________________________

Thank you for choosing to fill out this form. Due to pending legal cases and other pre-established policies of what we can and cannot ask on these non-intrusive questionnaires, there will be no further questions posed to you. There will also be no interview prior to hiring, so that we may avoid even the hint of anyone’s personality interfering with the hiring process. We… that is a collective we, by the way… have devised what we hope will be a simple, legal, and risk free to all, method of engaging the help of individuals to nurture our business concerns.

Without posing any further questions, please allow us to extend to you (any and all who read, have read to them, or choose not to read this document) our invitation to you to join our team. If you are a member of any political, religious, or ethnic minority; or if you believe you are; or if you feel, think, hope, have been told you are; or even if you would like to be, please be here Monday morning, or afternoon, whichever is more convenient for you.

Thank you, again — you’re hired.