<![CDATA[Jack Durish  - Jack's BLOG]]>Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:52:44 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Would you sacrifice all to punish the Devil?]]>Mon, 19 Feb 2018 16:56:32 GMThttp://jackdurish.com/jacks-blog/would-you-sacrifice-all-to-punish-the-devilOpinion
Many Americans perceive President Trump as the Devil himself, incarnate. They call for his impeachment. I’m told that a petition begging that end collected more than a million signatures in less than a week. Well, collect away. I don’t care how many sign. A hundred million. Two hundred million. We don’t decide who will be impeached and who won’t, not even We the People. The law decides and it's clear.
“SECTION 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
-- The United States Constitution
To punish someone without due process of law is mob rule. Sadly, the pursuit of President Trump’s removal from office this past year, since even before he took office, has been worse. It has been a reprise of the Salem Witch Trials, fraught with hysteria. To name a word to describe it, it has been embarrassing. I see Americans frustrated with the law, calling to cast it aside. They have put me in mind of a scene from the play A Man For All Seasons wherein the enemies of Sir Thomas Moore are attempting to entrap him and have enticed one of his proteges, Richard Rich, to bear false witness against him.

Well, there certainly has been a lot of that, bearing false witness, hasn’t there? And yet, after months of investigation by a hostile team with the aid of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has been acting more like a secret police organization than the federal police, there is no evidence of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. He may be boorish and sophomoric, but still innocent of any crime.

I suppose that people consider me as one of the Devil’s minions. However, in their anger they fail to perceive that I am not defending President Trump. To be fair, I haven’t seen that he is yet in need of defense. No, I am defending the law which is what all of us should do, especially those of us who swore to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same…
<![CDATA[Have you ever been abducted by aliens?]]>Wed, 14 Feb 2018 18:25:49 GMThttp://jackdurish.com/jacks-blog/have-you-ever-been-abducted-by-aliensOpinion
I have often joked about falling off the Earth. During my almost six years in the military service, it seemed that I had. I am a native of Baltimore and the Civil Rights Riots occurred and the Orioles won their first World Series championship while I was attending Infantry School and then serving in Vietnam. Laugh In and Star Trek appeared on TV while I was stationed in Hawaii where broadcasts were aired by tape delay a week later, but no one was watching. Thus, I was disconnected, oblivious to the popular culture of the time. Literally, it was as though I had fallen off the Earth.
Now, I have a new excuse and a new joke. I suffer from Transient Global Amnesia (TGA). The operative word is “Transient”. It passes. It’s temporary and I have no memory of anything that occurs during an episode. The brain loses the capacity to form short term memories. My wife tells me that I keep repeating the same thing, “Something’s wrong”, but I don’t know what. And, if she asks me about anything happening during a TGA episode, I can’t answer correctly. When it’s over, I announce that I was abducted by aliens. That’s my new joke.
I have always responded to pain with humor. During my one stroke, the paramedic was confused. While talking to a doctor at the hospital via radio, reporting my vitals, he reported that I seemed “strangely upbeat.” I was telling him my best jokes. Sadly, he couldn’t understand them. My speech was badly slurred because my entire left side was paralyzed. Don’t worry. I’m completely recovered. I’m the poster child for fast treatment of strokes.

I was amazed to discover that TGA’s aren’t all that uncommon. A neighbor had one a week before me. A friend had one on the golf course a couple years before. Still, no one had warned me that they could recur.

I’m here to tell you that TGA’s can recur. Be prepared.

Also, be prepared if you’re around someone who suffers a TGA.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken countless first aid courses. I took them as a Boy Scout. I took them in the Army. (I know what to do with a sucking chest wound in case you’re wondering.) I’ve taken many more over the years since.

One of the funny things about first aid courses is that each one teaches me that something I learned in an earlier class could kill a patient. Don’t, for example, give a bag to a person who is hyperventilating to breath into. Rebreathing carbon dioxide could kill a diabetic. Well, at least that’s what I’ve been told after learning in an earlier class that the paper bag treatment was simply the best first aid treatment for such a situation. They’ve possibly changed that warning in a more recent first aid class. The medical profession always seems to be changing its mind about something or other. Like cholesterol.
If you see someone exhibiting these symptoms, they’re likely experiencing a TGA. Do what my wife does. Don’t let them drive. Reassure them. Keep them safe and comfortable. Call 911.
<![CDATA[Do you have hope for the future of America?]]>Wed, 14 Feb 2018 00:28:05 GMThttp://jackdurish.com/jacks-blog/do-you-have-hope-for-the-future-of-americaAmerica
Do you have hope for the future of America? Or have all the stories of doom and gloom gotten you down? Well, one week  gave me a boost of confidence in our nation and our children, its future. You may have already seen two of them but missed the real story behind the scenes. The third is a very personal experience, one in which I escorted three WWII Veterans to a high school to meet the students who wanted to pay their respects and learn their history. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did
<![CDATA[Are you ready to sever the ties that bind you to cable television?]]>Sun, 07 Jan 2018 21:16:38 GMThttp://jackdurish.com/jacks-blog/are-you-ready-to-sever-the-ties-that-bind-you-to-cable-televisionTelevision
Our odyssey began with the latest screw up by our cable company. On December 6 I notified them by telephone that we were moving on December 15 and would require them to transfer our service on that date. When I attempted my next call, the phone was dead. Using my cell phone, I was able to contact the cable company to find out what had happened. They informed me that they had responded to my service request to disconnect my service.

When I asked them to restore it I was informed that they couldn’t. They were in the process of switching from analog to digital phone service.

So what?

Well, they’d try.
Four days later, they were still trying.

Fortunately, before I retired I was a computer systems architect and understood things like Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and asked, “Does that mean when we move, you were planning on providing me with a new modem, one that would have a telephone jack as well as an Internet connection?”

When they responded in the affirmative, I suggested they run one of the new modems out to me and I could use it at both the old location and the new.

Great idea.

Why didn’t they think of it?

When we moved to the new location, no one showed up from the cable company to install our service.

Why not?

Well, since they had provided me with the modem (and I seemed to know what I was doing) they assumed that I was going to install the service myself.


How was I supposed to do that. Sure, I can plug in a modem, but I don’t have the necessary tools or supplies to run cables and connect to the network. Thus, I waited again until they could schedule someone. More days without service. More aggravation.

The ultimate insult appeared in the next bill when they charged me almost $300 to fix my failed self installation. That was the day we decided we had had enough and cancelled our cable TV service.

Yes, we’re saving a bundle, but what do we do for entertainment? Therein lies a lesson, one we’re still learning and will now share with you.

We’ve switched to streaming entertainment services.

The first challenge was choosing the correct streaming device(s). Sure, we could use a computer but that seems to be overkill. Instead, we looked at the most popular choices: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chrome TV Stick, and Roku.

Our first choice is Roku.

Our selection criteria was ease of use, lack of buffering, and entertainment choices. Cost was not an issue. Although Roku is the most expensive, the price difference is not significant.

We kept the other devices because each has its advantages and, what the hell, they were already bought and paid for. What’s the advantage in trashing them now?

The second challenge was in choosing a universal remote to coordinate all these devices with our receiver/home entertainment center amplifier, BluRay player and the television.

We chose the Logitech Elite Hub. Although pricey, its ease of setup and use as well as its ability to coordinate multiple devices using IR, Bluetooth, and RF signals is necessary.

Now comes the hard choice, the one we are still mired in: Which streaming service(s) to use?

Thus far we have settled on Hulu Plus and Netflix online. These are economical and offer the widest range of entertainment resources.

Currently, we are experimenting with DirecTV Now (live programming via the Internet rather than a DirecTV Dish) and CBS Live Access. I’m pretty sure we’ll drop the CBS Live Access even though they broadcast most of the network programming that we watch.

I watch many programs on History Channel but can’t tap into that without a cable TV provider. Thus, DirecTV Now seems to be a keeper to serve that purpose and it’s only $35 per month.

Inasmuch as our cable TV bills exceeded $230 per month, we had not signed up for premium channels such as HBO, Showtime, etc. However, now that we’re saving so much, we may reconsider those.

No, our adventure is far from complete. However, I see no possible outcome that has us returning to a cable TV provider. Effectively, they are unregulated monopolies and it's time to either get them under control or allow them to lapse into irrelevance.

<![CDATA[Are you lost in the fog of war?]]>Tue, 10 Oct 2017 16:49:44 GMThttp://jackdurish.com/jacks-blog/are-you-lost-in-the-fog-of-warAmericana
War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth.
— Carl von Clausewitz
It’s easy to get lost these days. There are at least three wars raging in America simultaneously. We are being attacked from within and without while at the same time we are immersed in the Revolution that has never fully quit since the founding of the nation.
America is being attacked from without by the new enemy, fanaticism. Religious zealots have taken up the banner dropped most recently by the Nazis and the Communists, and loosed the dogs of war. Their weapon of choice? The only one available to them: Terrorism. They are supported and supplied by petty tyrants who use the terrorists as agents to wage wars they could not wage on their own.

America is being attacked from within by collectivists and individualists organizing under many banners. The Frankfurt School and the Progressive Left have been working assiduously to fundamentally change America for more than 100 years while Constitutional Constructionists and Originalists representing the right wing of the ideological spectrum oppose them. Fanatical groups such as The Occupy Movement and AntiFa sputter and burn briefly, but leave little lasting impression.  

Finally, the Revolution, the war within America, that once was relegated to the ballot box has burst those confines and now rages endlessly. Elections are no longer capable of giving satisfaction to the traditional electoral duelists, the political parties, who seem to have lost their relevancy. Thus, the people are becoming increasingly fragmented into ideological subsets employing ever more belligerent tactics to gain attention.

That’s a lot of war, all of it generating fog. Who wouldn’t be lost?

Clarity comes with patience and persistence. Like any good military commander, we must probe the battlefield to gather intelligence. Sadly, our enemies have planted those fields thick with misinformation. We are assailed by it at every turn. The ideological Left has employed this tactic far more expertly than the Right. During the past 100 years they have infiltrated and come to dominate the entertainment and news media. Meanwhile, a disorganized band of rebel journalists and commentators have sniped from the Internet with electronic books and weblogs. All have surrendered the high ground of traditional journalistic ethics to engage in a propaganda melee. Thus, we cannot afford to trust any news, any opinion, even that which arrives from friendly sources. Every fragment of intelligence must be examined and tested. Tiresome, isn’t it.

There is an alternative. Simply join a side, shut down, and follow the leader. Of course, there are consequences.

I had a friend who used to drive for Greyhound Bus Lines. Once, while lost in a peasoup fog in New Jersey, he got behind a dump truck and followed him. All went well until he left the road and found himself parked in a barn having passed through the hole in the wall left by the truck that preceded him. He lost his job.

You have a lot more to lose. Maybe a nation.
<![CDATA[Who was America's quirkiest President?]]>Mon, 09 Oct 2017 16:17:51 GMThttp://jackdurish.com/jacks-blog/who-was-americas-quirkiest-presidentAmericana
Someone is always running a poll to name America's favorite President or it's most important President. Sadly, most people can't answer well because they don't know more than a handful of them. Here's an opportunity to simply choose the quirkiest factoid from a list provided. Who knows: You might need this information if you ever end up on a game show...
<![CDATA[Are concentration camps a necessary evil?]]>Mon, 02 Oct 2017 18:55:21 GMThttp://jackdurish.com/jacks-blog/are-concentration-camps-a-necessary-evilGood Read
Are concentration camps a necessary evil or are they simply places where acts of evil must always occur? I once thought I knew the answer; however, after reading One Long Night, author Andrea Pitzer’s global history of concentration camps, I’m not so sure.
If anyone had asked me to guess at the earliest examples of concentration camps, I might have mentioned the reservations used to remove Native Americans from valuable lands that we coveted. Or, I might have mentioned American plantations where African slaves were employed in forced labor. However, Pitzer makes an excellent argument that the modern system of concentration camps began in Cuba during the revolution there during the late 19th Century. Inspired by Sherman’s March to the Sea, the Spanish engaged in Total War, incarcerating and tormenting noncombatants, to separate the rebels from their popular support base thus depriving them of food and war materials. She then shines a bright light into the darkest corners of history and tells a tale that comes full circle, ending like a thrill ride where it began, at Guantanamo Bay.
Dare you read it? If Pitzer limited her descriptions to the cold academic facts, you would have nothing to fear. However, she breathes life into the story by populating it with real people who were incarcerated in concentration camps. The effect is as though you’re touring a Nazi camp at Auschwitz or Birkenau and you recognize a family member or friend among the piles of bodies. Not even Old Blood ‘n Guts himself, General George S. Patton, could bring himself to enter the carnal houses full of strangers. Could you knowing the humanity of these victims?
Click to purchase on Amazon
Maybe you should force yourself to read it, as I did. It is unlikely that concentration camps will simply go away. They have been an important strategic element ever since the warlords came to realize that, as Napoleon infamously said, “Armies march on their stomachs.” All wars, even wars of aggression mounted by terrorists, depend on the support of a civilian population feeding, arming and, in some case, hiding the warriors.

We must solve the riddle of how to deprive enemy combatants of this support or suffer the consequences. Sadly, as Pitzer describes in her book, civilians have been incarcerated in time of war without evidence that they are supporting an enemy, but rather to rob them of their personal and real property, or out of unfounded fears, or simply in response to racial, cultural, or religious bias. Thus, we can no longer simply leave these decisions to elected or military leaders who have proven, if Pitzer’s testimony is to be believed,  incapable of deciding these issues wisely.

Ultimately, we need to memorialize a solution in law or, when the devils we seek to defeat turn, there will be no one and nothing to defend us. Our defenders may become our persecutors as has happened in almost every concentration camp in recorded history. You must prepare yourself to join the conversation. That’s why I highly recommend One Long Night.
<![CDATA[Have you ever encountered road rage on the Internet?]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2017 21:58:51 GMThttp://jackdurish.com/jacks-blog/have-you-ever-encountered-road-rage-on-the-internetBlogging
Let’s ignore simple disagreements. Those are easily explained. But what about those times when you say something like “The sky is blue,” and someone responds, “No! The sky is blue.” That’s the kind of “road rage” I mean.
Let me give you an example. In a discussion about YouTube censoring videos that reflect conservative points of view, I mentioned that “... it isn't the government restricting free speech.” A respondent commented, “I gather you have not read the Constipation for a while. the first ammendment [sic] does not ap[ply [sic] to the actions of private businesses that do not use the pubic [sic] airwaves?”
NOTE: For those unfamiliar with the annotation “[sic]” means that the preceding text was copied meticulously including any errors.
This respondent is well known for comments such as this. Despite the fact that I acknowledged that I was complaining of censorship by a private business and not the government, the user focused on the fact that constitutional protections of free speech do not apply to anyone but the government. Okay, maybe I should have been more explicit. Also, the typing errors are common enough and should not be indicative of anything amiss. However, the use of “Constipation” for “Constitution” could be worrisome. Maybe he was just trying to be funny (although there’s nothing funny that I can see in that word substitution). In another discussion thread he responded, “Anyone decent would gave left atby he fir da t racist or anti-semitic chant [sic]”. I suppose that could be explained by anger.
Again, it is not any one example that makes me suspect a disorder, but rather the pattern of behavior that gives me pause.

No, I’m no psychologist. I’m just a reasonably educated person looking for an explanation, one that will help me communicate better. However, after countless incidents like this, I’m beginning to wonder, what chance have we?

And no, I’m not talking about the pop psychology of “Trump Derangement Syndrome”. That’s simply one ideologue insulting another.

This pattern of communication sent me exploring the Internet for a possible explanation and I found Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder.
“Social (pragmatic) communication disorder is characterized by difficulty with the use of social language and communication skills (also called pragmatic communication by professionals). A child or teen with this disorder will have difficulty in following the ordinary social rules of communication (whether they are verbal or nonverbal), following the rules for storytelling or conversations (each person takes a turn), and changing language depending upon the situation or needs of the listener.”

The cited article goes on to state “Difficulty understanding what is not explicitly stated (e.g., making inferences) and nonliteral or ambiguous meaning of language (e.g., idioms, humor, metaphors, multiple meanings that depend on the context for interpretation).”

Two questions came to mind after reading this: (1) Do such disorders persist into adulthood and (2) Do such disorders impair written communication as well as verbal communication. If you research further, you will find that the answer to both is yes.

Thus, when you enter the arena of debate on the Internet, be patient. Among the many issues you will have to deal with above and beyond the topic of debate, may include a handicapped individual. You can no more be angry with them for their misunderstandings and malaprops than you can be angry with a cripple for limping.
<![CDATA[Are today’s Nazi’s my father’s Nazis?]]>Tue, 29 Aug 2017 18:48:24 GMThttp://jackdurish.com/jacks-blog/are-todays-nazis-my-fathers-nazisAmerica
My father was a Nazi. I don’t know if he actually belonged to the American branch of the Nazi party. I have grounds to suspect he did. In any case, he was a fervent admirer of Adolf Hitler and all that he did. I grew up listening to my father extol Hitler’s dreams. Fortunately, I learned at an early age that my father was bat guano crazy and to ignore him.
Now, before you judge him harshly (that’s my prerogative) remember that many greatly admired Americans shared his beliefs. Charles Lindbergh for one. Joe Kennedy, the father of the famous brothers including President John F. Kennedy, for another. Why not? Der Fuhrer pulled Germany out of the Great Depression and who really cared what he did with the Jews? Everybody hated them.

Thus, I look with more than passing interest on the shenanigans of today’s Nazis. I wonder. How do they compare to Hitler’s minions?
First, there is no direct connection that I can find between the Nazis of Germany and today’s American Nazis. There is no individual who arrived on these shores to spawn such an organization. Indeed, there have been a couple of iterations of American Nazis since the fall of the Third Reich.

The first iteration of American Nazis were the ones to which my father belonged in the 1930s when Hitler first rose to power. They were distant admirers rather than acolytes. In time they met in enclaves to share news of progress in Germany and complain about American politicians who failed to bring such relief to their desperate lives. Interestingly, President Franklin Roosevelt was as much a socialist as Herr Hitler, possibly more so, but socialism wasn’t the Fuhrer’s principal attraction. He focused more on giving his people a scapegoat. I think that is why my father despised Roosevelt. I suspect that he wanted the President to be more like the Fuhrer in placing the blame for the nation’s ills on some identifiable minority, blacks or Jews, more so than even curing the economy.

When the war broke out, American Nazis and their sympathizers scattered like cockroaches in the kitchen when the light is switched on. Some even joined the fight against the Nazis. My father didn’t. He found work in the war industry that sheltered him from the draft.

The second iteration of the American Nazis came in 1959. It was an actual political party founded by George Lincoln Rockwell. Originally known as the World Union Free Enterprise National Socialists, he renamed it the American Nazi Party in 1960. Thank God. Is there anything more confusing than “Free Enterprise...Socialists”. It’s an oxymoron. They claimed to adhere to Hitler’s ideals and policies, but that “free enterprise” think must have given them trouble. In any case, the American Nazi Party disbanded in 1967 when Rockwell was assassinated. (It seems unfair to elevate his murder to the level of an “assassination”.)

The third iteration of American Nazis was headed by Rockwell’s deputy commander, Matt Koehl. Koehl, a self-identified “Hitlerist” appears to have exposed the real intent of American Nazis, to seek an all-white America. Christian, too. Groups of American Nazis then began to splinter off, intent on pursuing their own agendas. For example, Frank Collin, secretly the son of a Jewish father, formed his own chapter of the American Nazi Party in Chicago focusing on a crusade against Jews. (Ironic, isn’t it?) Their march through Skokie, Illinois, home to a community of Holocaust Survivors, led to the Supreme Court Case of Nationalist Socialist Party of America v Village of Skokie which established the legal right to display the swastika by virtue of the First Amendment Right of Free Speech. (Remember, popular speech doesn’t need protection.)

Since the late 1960’s there have been several other iterations of the American Nazi Party. Although their focus shifts to reflect their personal prejudices, they tend to remain enamored of the German Nazi iconography, especially the swastika, and uniforms.
This, of course, merely glosses over a substantial history of Nazis in America. You will have to fill in the details for yourself. There are plenty of resources available in local libraries and on the InternetWikipedia is a good place to begin, but question everything you find therein. Remember, Wikipedia is publicly edited and that may include a Nazi or two. However, I have reached a few conclusions of my own.
  1. The American Nazi Party of today bears little resemblance to earlier iterations and almost none to the Third Reich. Indeed, if one of today’s American Nazis met a member of the Third Reich they would likely wet themselves.
  2. The American Nazi Party of today is not a socialist organization.
  3. The American Nazi Party of today is primarily a racist organization preferring swastikas and brown shirts to white sheets.

Click to view weblog posting
I have two propaganda filmstrips that I believe my father came in possession of while participating in Nazi meetings and I'm still looking for a worthy home to donate them. Please see my earlier weblog posting describing them.
<![CDATA[What chance have we at understanding each other?]]>Fri, 25 Aug 2017 18:04:22 GMThttp://jackdurish.com/jacks-blog/what-chance-have-we-at-understanding-each-otherWriting
Seriously, what chance do we have communicating effectively when lexicographers can't agree on the meanings of the words we use? Oh, what would you call a person who is an expert with words? Educated? Grammarian? Linguist? See what I mean?

The topic of this essay was suggested by a comic strip that I recently read in which a character laments, “There should be a term for the opposite of ironic.
Click to enlarge
Well, there is, isn't there? There is, I looked it up. All was clear until my wife looked it up. That's when confusion reared its ugly head.

Ironic: Antonyms
  • My source: logical, sincere
  • Her source: exaggeration, hyperbole, overstatement

That's when the argument, or should I say “debate”, began. We decided to settle it by first agreeing on the meaning of “irony”.

Think about it. We did. What is “irony”? Okay, you aren't a lexicographer and neither are we. We turned to our smart phones and looked it up. Apparently the experts can't agree on the definition either, nor the synonyms for “irony”.

Well, let's go back to the source. Let's consult the people who invented the word. They should know, right?

Irony (origin): early 16th cent. (also denoting Socratic irony): via Latin from Greek eirōneia ‘simulated ignorance,’ from eirōn ‘dissembler.’

Say what?

H. L. Mencken famously described the British and Americans as “two people separated by a common language.” I suggest that my wife and I similarly separated as is everybody else.

So, before you jump down someone's throat for some imagined slight, I suggest you stop and ask, “What did you mean by that?”