The Living Years

I got a phone call Tuesday from my sister informing me that my father is on his deathbed. Stage 4 bone cancer. This on top of the dementia that has been eating away at his mind for the last several years. The last time I spoke to him it was a struggle to form a coherent sentence. He knew me, but could not tell me who my wife or kids were. That was a year or two ago, so I have no idea how far gone he is now.

Some of you may recall a song by Mike and the Mechanics from the early 90’s called “The Living Years”. The song is all about the distance and disagreement between a father and his son. The first verse says:

“Every generation blames the one before, And all of their frustrations come beating on your door.

I know that I’m a prisoner to all my father held so dear I know that I’m a hostage to all his hopes and fears I just wish I could’ve told him in the living years

Oh, crumpled bits of paper filled with imperfect thoughts,

Stilted conversations I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got

You say you just don’t see it he says it’s perfect sense , You just can’t get agreement in this present tense

We all talk a different language, talking in defense.”

 

That pretty well perfectly describes my relationship with my father. I did not listen to that song this morning on my drive in to work, but I heard it in my head nonetheless.

My father and I have been estranged for quite some time. So, as I type this post this morning I am not entirely sure how I feel about the news I have received. I guess, if I were a “normal” person I would have called in to work this morning, taken the rest of the week off, and rushed off to see him in his last moments. I didn’t do any of those things.

I did inform my manager of what was going on, simply because I am not sure how I am going to react. I wanted him to be prepared in case I abruptly left, or began sobbing uncontrollably, or something…

The thing is, I am as much a spectator in this situation as everyone else. I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know how I will feel. I have no idea how I will react when the anticipated passing of my father happens in what I assume will be the next few days. So I am, in many respects, watching a movie I’ve never seen before, and waiting to see what happens.

I think it’s entirely possible that when a new idea or concept strikes many of us we have a tendency to believe we have “discovered” something. Our epiphany is an epiphany for all mankind. I’m sure this is particularly true if we are considered (by ourselves or others) to be “smart”. But then you talk to someone else, or read something someone else wrote, and realize that there is nothing new under the sun.

Nevertheless, while exploring my thoughts and feelings on the matter I was struck by the notion that in the end our lives are really just a series of snippets in the memories of other people.

We are born, in many cases we procreate, and eventually we die. The circle of people who care about any of these things is relatively small. The number of lives most of us will touch is also relatively small. In the end, even if a whole lot of people know who we are, the people who actually feel our loss is a small subset of that number.

Who we were becomes a function of how we are recalled by those still living. Being forever silenced and unable to correct the record or defend ourselves, perception becomes reality. All the things we accomplished fade away. The awards and achievements, the degrees and certifications, all of the accumulated pieces of paper and plaques…all piled into a pine box alongside the husk of who we once were…and turned to ash and dust along with us.

All that remains are the smiles or frowns of those who knew us when, from time to time, we come to mind. The things we said or did traded in for the things people think we said or did. Nothing lasting, nothing permanent. In my case, having fathered two girls, not even my last name will carry on. All that will matter when all is said and done, is what those two girls think of me, when they think of me.

Lest I depart too sharply from my normal manner and thereby cause consternation amongst my friends, let me follow up by saying….I’ll be dead. So, in reality, I won’t know, or care, what anyone still alive thinks. It certainly does make for some interesting thoughts though…and no doubt quite a few tee-shirts and bumper stickers about how all that matters is how we treated others, etc.

Right now, in a house I’ve never seen, in a town I’ve never been to, surrounded by people I’ve never met…my father is dying.   When I imagined for a moment what going to his funeral might be like, and what I would say if I were asked to say something, I came to some conclusions. I guess it’s up to the reader to determine if those conclusions are sad, or insightful, profound, or ambivalent. I can’t rightly say.

For the record, and for those not familiar with the situation, I will briefly recap. My father left my mother in the most cowardly manner I could imagine. He was a pastor and he ran off with the church secretary. He married her shortly after his divorce from my mother went through because, as he explained to me at the time, they didn’t want to live in sin, “any longer than is absolutely necessary”.

My mother is, as are we all, a flawed woman. But she continually and constantly pounded one refrain into my mind from the time I was old enough to speak. “I hate a liar”. That can be translated over to, “I hate a hypocrite”. I did see, and still see, my father as a hypocrite. I believe he violated sacred covenants, abandoned his flock, led people astray, and committed a whole host of other things that his faith deems “sins”. Nevertheless, he did them. And he did them for the most base of reasons. I have never truly found it in my heart to forgive that.

That fact is in and of itself intriguing to me. I know women whose fathers sexually molested them, and they have found it within themselves to forgive them and attempt to repair the relationship. My father broke a vow to a God I don’t quite believe in, and (to be fair) he also lied to me in the process. But these things seem so much smaller than the things other people are able to see their way past. So I have to consider for a moment, is the failing his, or mine?

Not that I bear him ill will, or walk around with anger in my heart. I just added him to my internal list of people I prefer not to associate with. What that translates to is, in the last 15 years I’ve seen him once and spoken to him by phone 3-4 times.

I guess in my dad’s case what angered me was that he set himself up as a leader and an emissary of God, and then fell on his face. And he didn’t stumble over some unusual set of circumstances or extraordinary moral conundrum. He was tripped up by the same shit he lectured me on.

He demonstrated conclusively (in my mind) that Jesus isn’t changing hearts. He tore apart his own family, and the family of the woman he committed adultery with, and then he shrugged and said, “God forgives me, if you don’t that’s your problem”.

And now he’s dying.

What would I say if I were asked to say something?

My father was not a great man. Some would tell you he was a good man, and I wouldn’t rise to oppose them, though I would disagree. In the end, he was a man. He had his flaws. He had his vices. He had his shortcomings and failures. I do not begrudge him any of these things. We all have things about ourselves we are less than proud of. But he lacked honor, and was therefore not someone I chose to spend time with.

My father paid his bills, fed his kids, and served his country. He spent 4 years in the Air Force and the rest of his working life at NSA. He taught college courses, coached tee-ball, baseball, and softball. (An interesting aside, my dad was tried out to play Catcher for the Baltimore Orioles way back in the day.)

He gave to me my love of reading, chess, and debate. He taught me to think. And when he was younger and in decent shape, the man could play baseball.

He participated in the rearing of two moderately successful children. His progeny is no burden on society.

I hear that in recent years he got involved with child welfare and became some sort of court appointed advocate.

That’s it. That’s all I know about the man.

I recall a few ridiculous things like the way he would stick his tongue in his cheek when he was angry. I remember a few times we almost came to blows during my teenage years. I remember he was a bit of a clown, and enjoyed being the center of attention…which I suppose is the unspoken reason he chose to go into the ministry.

Mainly, since I hung up the phone with my sister, I have been thinking about more abstract things.

I wonder if he’s scared. I wonder if he’s even cognizant of what is happening. I wonder if he’s looking forward to “going on to be with the Lord”. Or is it possible that now that the question is no longer rhetorical, he has his doubts?

I wonder who has come to see him. I wonder, when I am in his position, who will come to see me? I wonder if he wonders if I will come…or if he even remembers my name. If he does remember my name, and does hope that I will come, will the last thing he feels be profound sadness? Is that my fault? Does it matter?

Assuming he has anywhere near a firm grasp on reality, I wonder does he look back on his life with regret, or satisfaction? I wonder how I would answer that same question.

In the end I am simply writing this because I am experiencing an event I will only ever experience once. I am not looking for pity or condolences. My father has not been an integral part of my life for a very long time. I won’t miss him more the day after he’s gone than I did on any given day last month.

I’m simply thinking about things, and seeing them, in a light that only shines once. So I’m capturing my thoughts and passing them on.

Maybe I’m just creating a snippet in the memory of someone else…

Inclusion and Diversity

A good friend of mine posted an article to LinkedIn about Twitter hiring a new VP of diversity and inclusion. In her comments she stated, “Diversity & Inclusion is necessary for long term success.”

I do in fact believe in inclusion, though my definition may not be up to snuff with whatever the social justice code word of the month is. But in the classic sense, I believe that people with relevant experience and opinions should be included in conversations. I believe that people with skills and expertise should have access to compete for open positions. I believe that access to things which are generally accessible, should include all the people who are interested in accessing them.

But I struggle with the notion that diversity is necessary for long term success.

The very history of this nation, and the fact that we are the most “successful” nation on this planet, kind of defeats that argument. We grew, and prospered, and defeated our enemies, and saved the world, and invented the most important stuff ever invented…all while being a nation primarily run by old, white, men. Which is not to say that we should be a nation run by old, white, men… but simply that it is entirely possible to have success without diversity. In fact, there are a number of fairly successful nations on this planet where diversity is pretty much against the law… Saudi Arabia for example.

If I run an accounting firm, and my employees spend all day adding and subtracting numbers…does the color of their skin matter? Is 2+2 more emphatically 4 if a black person says it? Is the math going to change because a Muslim quotes it? Are you going to pay less in taxes if your returns are prepared by a woman?

Diversity makes us feel good. It may even make us look good. It adds to our personal lives when we are able to discuss different cultures, beliefs, customs, etc. But it is, imho, wholly unnecessary for “success”.

My daughter is getting a college degree right now. She is doing the entirety of her program on-line. Thus her diversity is as low as it can possibly be, as she takes all of her classes alone. And yet, she is successfully completing her degree. She will also successfully obtain employment and begin a career. She will do this in the absence of diversity, and I don’t think it makes a bit of difference.

At the end of the day, it will be non-white, non-male, people who will disagree with me on this topic. I get that. But let me ask the next logical question…

Would the NAACP be more successful if they included white people in the interests of diversity?

Would NOW be more successful if they included men in the interests of diversity and inclusion?

Would whatever organization you support that discriminates against white, straight, male, Christian, Republicans be more successful if they included white, straight, male, Christian, Republicans in the interests of diversity?? Yeah…I didn’t think so.

In my personal experience when people say “diversity”, they mean that *I* should let *them* in. They NEVER mean that *they* should let *me* in.

American Values

In recent days various individuals and representatives of various groups have claimed that executive orders issued by the Trump administration do not represent “American Values”.  I have found this particularly interesting in light of recent protests.

At UC Berkeley last night property was destroyed, people were injured, police were assaulted.  All of this during a protest of a speech by a Breitbart news editor.  Oddly, I was under the impression that “Freedom of Speech” was an American value.  But it seems I was mistaken.

At The Women’s March in Washington speeches were given expressing vulgarities, profanity, and in one case discussion of bombing the Whitehouse.  I thought, apparently mistakenly, that public decency was an American Value.

The simple fact here is that the left is only in support of free speech if they agree with what you are saying.  They are only concerned about what their sons and daughters hear from national leaders, if those leaders are Republicans.  So they run ads saying “Our children our watching, what kind of President do you want them to see?”  But they have no problem with the filth that spewed out of the mouths of Madonna and Ashley Judd.  In fact, their children weren’t just watching, they were brought to the event.

The truth is, we are going to have to take this nation back from the left-wing loons now attempting to control it.  We have beaten them at the ballot box.  We have beaten them in the courts.  Now they want to reduce a difference of opinion to riots in the streets.  I’m afraid we’re going to have to beat them there too.

Amazingly, though 6 people were injured and tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage done, not a single person was arrested at Berkeley last night.  Clearly the police are either ill-equipped, or not motivated, to do their jobs.  We may have reached the point where we need to do it for them.

We may have reached the point where the only reasonable response is a proportional response.  Because people who refuse to have a discussion, or accept the results of an election, apparently understand nothing else.

IMHO the time has come to meet violence with overwhelming force.

It is sad that we have gotten to this place, but it is the left that has put us here.  It is simply up to us, the sane, rational, normal people of this nation to decide if we will allow anarchists to tear our nation down one brick at a time.

I, for one, am not okay with that.

 

Management Decisions

I have been sitting here this morning listening to the two senior people in the security operations center I work in discussing staffing and access.  You see, the security operations center does not currently operate.  We are in the process of standing it up.

In any event, as I listen to them speak about what access entry-level and journeyman people will need versus what rights and privileges “senior” people will need, I am reminded once again of a fatal flaw in organizational thinking regarding management.

In a couple of months, when this operations center is fully operational, I am certain I will find myself reporting to some “senior” person.  However, the use of the term “senior” is meant to describe the level of experience the individual in question has with a certain set of tools, or in a certain environment.  It is akin to describing an auto mechanic as a journeyman vs a “master” mechanic.  The problem being, knowing how to fix a car doesn’t mean you know how to run a dealership.

I am speaking now as someone who will always be a technician and never a manager because I do not have a degree or a PMP certification.  But the simple fact is that both I and every other contractor I know has worked on one or more failed programs run by people who do have degrees and PMP certifications.  So, while I know no one is ever going to actually read and act on what I have to say here, I will say it anyway.

Management is not a college major.  It’s not a name tag.  It’s not a corner office, power ties, or business lunches.  It’s not being called “sir” or “ma’am” by ass kissers in your office.  Management is a role, a process, a means to an end.  And on the whole I think we have entirely too many wholly unqualified individuals sitting in big chairs, with big titles…who don’t know shit.

Management starts with clearly understanding what has to be done, and selecting the right people to get it done.  It begins with the creation of accurate job descriptions.  It involves cooperation between recruiters, hiring managers, and the actual manager who will lead the personnel in question.  It involves actually understanding the work and the skillsets required to accomplish it.

After you have determined the goal and hired the personnel, you need to clearly define the roles, the milestone, the expectations, the penalties and incentives, and the risks.  Then you need to pass this information on to your people.  There is nothing less productive than an employee that does not understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, when it needs to be done, and in what manner.  A clueless employee is just a butt in a seat.  An FTE.  An excuse to bill hours to the customer.  You do your customer, your company, and your employees a disservice when you engage in this type of management.

Management involves a clearly defined and understood chain of command.  One of the things I liked best about my favorite manager of all time is that when the customer showed up in our space and started grilling us, she would intercede.  I can still recall her saying, “If you have a question or a problem, you come talk to me.  Do not talk to my people.”  *That* is management.  That is freeing me to do my job by taking on the responsibility of doing yours.

Lastly, management involves a lot of intangibles.  Sure, you have the pedigree.  You have your bachelor’s or master’s…or God-forbid your PhD.  You have your PMP.  You have your 40 hours of this training and 80 hours of that.  All wonderful.

Do you know how to motivate people?  Do you know how to get the best out of the people who work for you?  Do your employees see themselves as part of a team, and you as the team leader?  Do you take the side of an employee when they are right, even if it puts you at odds with YOUR manager?

Or do you see your job as simply standing by the clock to monitor when people come in and when they leave; cracking the whip from time to time during the day; taking long lunches and; hanging out with big-wigs?

Can you juggle multiple tasks, and people, and events?  Do you freeze in an emergency?  Are you capable of prioritizing, providing guidance, and pushing your team across the finish line?  Or do you simply provide the excuses and point the finger at other people when things go sour?

I will never be a manager, because I lack the credentials.  In spite of the fact that I manage an international gaming group with hundreds of members, and spend my evenings managing a much larger group of people than most of the organizations for whom I work.  In spite of the fact that I can, and do, all of the things I listed above.

The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t really bother me much.  I have enough to deal with at home and in the cloud.  I am happy to do my job, cash my check, and go home.  But on some level, it does stick in my crawl a little.  Always having to answer to people who I wouldn’t let run one of my guilds, much less handle national security related activities.

And the further truth of the matter is, it’s their loss not mine.  I make plenty of money.  I forget what’s going on at work as soon as my ass hits my car seat.  I have my evenings and weekends to spend as I like.  There are no long hours or late nights.

So why am I “bitching”?  Because it grates on me a little that someone who has no real skill or ability in management will be placed in charge of me because the “paper well”.

Sigh…. 20 more years to go….

 

 

My Changing Perspective

There are moments in life, or at least in my life, where I come to sudden realizations.  Epiphanies they call them.  But there are also slow, inexorable, seemingly decades long processes where I confirm what I suspected at the start.  I don’t know if I can put my finger on the moment when that confirmation became a reality.  But, I suspect I am in, or near, one of those moments as I type this.

I spent a good portion of my life pretty well broke.  I can still recall when my children were little and I had separated from their mother.  I was living in a rent-controlled studio apartment on the wrong side of town.  Driving a vehicle graciously given to me by my former father-in-law.  One day in particular stands out.  My kids asked me to take them to the park, and I had to tell them that I didn’t have gas money for a ride to the park.

Broke!  Like, for real!

Which is why I develop a special level of anger at people who assume that because I am white and/or male, that I do not understand the plight of the poor.  As if you have to be minority in order to have no money.  Let me state for the record…I understand the plight of the poor.  I live every day with the knowledge that if I were to lose the access I have to the facilities I work in, I’d be right back in that same boat.

Anyway, Lose Yourself by Eminem came out and the third verse really stuck in my head.  I decided that I had to formulate a plot…or end up in jail or shot…

In any event, some 12 years ago (or thereabouts) I began to aggressively pursue success.  First through a contact of my then girlfriend (now wife), and then through other contacts made as time went on, I found myself in increasingly better paying jobs.

I did some telecom work for a while.  8 hours a day standing on a ladder, pulling wire over my head.  I walk around with messed up shoulders (they tell me it’s arthritis) nowadays as a result (IMHO) of that experience.

Then I got a security clearance and began a series of jobs.  Some were physical, some were technical, but each time I took on a new position I got a raise in pay.  When you’re dead broke a raise in pay is pretty much all you care about.

Eventually Bev and I got married.  Between the two of us the money going into the checking account went up about 10x.  I went from telling my kids I could not take them to the park, to sending my oldest to London as part of her senior class.  It truly warmed my heart to be able to provide things for my kids, and I regarded this as my highest calling (aside, of course, from teaching them to be decent people).

When I was sitting around watching paint dry for a living (yes, really) I kept thinking (and saying) that I was meant to do more.  When I worked Helpdesk, when I filled a small IA role, when I did Requirements work…I kept thinking and saying that I was capable of more.  I even wrote a number of blog entries right here about how life has to be about more than just trudging to work to pay the bills.

Oh yeah…the bills.  For those who do not know, or have only walked on one side of the street, let me take a moment to tell you about the bills.

When you’re broke…and I mean gas money broke…you “shop”.  You find deals on things like food and toilet paper.  You try to make sure you have enough money left over to pay for internet access or cable tv…because after all, there has to be something to do on the weekends.  You accept gifts and donations from friends and family.  You buy books on how to fix things, rather than pay someone to fix them.

When you cross over to where I am now (my eldest still recalls me telling someone that I make enough money to pay someone to punch them in the face), life is different.  My wife, having never really lost her low income mindset, still calls me to say that she wants to get her nails done.  I always reply with, “Do whatever you want.  I don’t care.”

These days I do things like spend a grand a month adding ink to my arms.  I wake up and decide I want a Harley, and that afternoon I ride home on my Harley.  One of my daughters asks for something…and they get it.  In short, I am now living the life I imagined I wanted back when I couldn’t afford to drive to the park.  And don’t get me wrong, this is not one of those posts about how money cannot buy happiness.  It absolutely can!

When I am sitting at the winery enjoying a good time with my friends…that’s happiness.  When I am riding down the road with the wind in my face on the Harley I wanted since I was a kid…that’s happiness.  When my daughter gets to see the world, and do things that other kids don’t get to do, and she hugs me and says “thank you daddy!”…that’s happiness.  All sponsored by money.

No, this post is about the constant drive to do more, learn more, and earn more.  It’s about the fact that when you are always on the bleeding edge…it’s you that does the bleeding.  It’s about the thought that maybe I have reached a comfortable place…and then I took one more step…and maybe I should take a step back.

It’s about thinking that maybe a nice, boring, 40 hour a week, do it in my sleep, no certs or training required, type job might not be a bad thing.  I had one of those a few weeks ago, and I moved on to where I am now sitting.  Because I wanted to do something meaningful and “important”.  I wanted to work in “security”.  Cyber security to be exact.  So here I am.

I haven’t been here long enough to really form an informed opinion.  I will give it some time before I really make any important decisions.  I am simply writing this because for the first time I can recall in my life, I have moved on from one place to another, taken a step ahead in pay and responsibility…and thought that maybe I made a mistake.

There are a lot of reasons why this thought has crept into my mind, but I won’t bore you with the details until I see how things pan out.

Time will tell.  When it does…so will I.

Cheers

 

Stop Talking

Have you ever run into someone who feels the need to speak every time they walk by?  I’m not just talking about the guy who says your name a little louder than needed each time you pass them in the hallway.  I’m not even talking about the guy, obviously raised by a single mom, who doesn’t understand urinal etiquette and asks, “How’s it going” while you’re both standing there.  I’m talking about the guy who walks up to your desk and starts a conversation about absolutely nothing.

In my case it is a guy I report to.  As it stands right now, while the project is staffing up, I am the only person who reports to him.  As such, in just under three days, we have apparently become old friends.

He stops by my desk with a notepad and pen in hand and says, “Questions for me?”  Apparently unaware that if I had any questions I would have come to his desk and asked them.  Interestingly, when I do go to his desk with a question there is generally no good answer forthcoming.  That’s what I do… I ask the questions you don’t have the answers for.

In any event, he has become fascinated with the various aspects of my life.

I have always been something of a conundrum to the majority of the people I work with.  Though to be fair there are usually one or two people at every workplace who get me.  This guy is not one of those people.  But man he sure is trying!

As I have said on several occasions, I am a defense contractor.  I spend much of my time surrounded by people in various stages of business attire.  From time to time a few of them whip out their Master’s degrees to see whose is bigger.  There are lots of shiny shoes…and shiny cars.

I report to work in jeans and a polo.  I am well into the process of getting full sleeves done on both arms.  My definition of “the mission” is to feed my kids and pay the mortgage.  What I do is not my life, it’s the means by which I finance my life.

This guy seems like he wants to get it, but the goofy smile tells me he does not in fact get it.

It appears that to him I am simply a combination of caricatures or things he has seen on TV.  With regard to my tattoos for instance, upon learning that I have quite a bit of ink his response was, “Freakin’ Navy guys.”  I have never served…

I mentioned an expression we in the gaming community use, and his reply was, “Gaming community?  Are you a WoW’er?”  Like everyone who plays games plays WoW.  Or more to the point, WoW is the only game he is familiar with.

Yesterday he came up to my desk and asked me if I have written any SOP’s yet.  We are three guys sitting in an Ops Center that is not operational yet.  The other two guys are the Op Center Lead and the CND Lead.  I was brought on in an entry level capacity.  My purpose in being here is to learn the tools and skills, and gain the experience, to continue on a Security track during the remainder of my career.  In other words, I’m here to learn.  But he wants to know if I’ve written any SOP’s yet…

I left a position in property management  to come here.  At the moment of my departure I had no interest in continuing in that capacity.  Security has always been of interest to me.  Property accountability and management has never been of interest to me.  But I have to say, this morning I really started thinking about that position.

Having to chase technical certifications every year and dealing with high stress, high consequence situations, may not be as much fun as I imagined.  I will have to give that more thought.  But there is one thing about which I am certain.  Two actually..

  1. I do not like when people who do not know me talk to me like they do know me.  It’s presumptuous and irritating.
  2. The people that I work with are the largest contributor to whether or not I enjoy my job.  They create the environment.  They make the day go faster…or slower.  So if this guy doesn’t stop talking, we’re going to have a problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Truth, Without The PC Bullshit

Lately it has become fashionable to make all manner of statements on social media which “feel good”, but contain no basis in fact.  I have let these statements go for quite some time without responding, but I find myself unable to continue doing that.  There are some things people need to know for their own good, and it appears that it falls to me to explain them.

  1. “Any body is a beach body.”

No.  It’s really not.  Let’s be honest with ourselves here.  There is a reason you put on clean clothes.  There is a reason you put on deodorant.  There is a reason that you shower regularly (I hope).  The reasons for these things is that when you go out in public dirty and stinking, you offend other people and embarrass yourself.  Well guess what?  When you go out in public with your blubber hanging down to your knees in a freakin’ bikini…you offend other people and embarrass yourself.

Women have co-opted this issue.  For some reason they believe that it is perfectly acceptable to eat yourself into a state of morbid obesity, and then flaunt their lack of care for themselves in public.  Oddly, no one has posted any memes or opinion pieces on why a 400 pound man in a speedo is perfectly acceptable.  Know why?  Because it’s not!  Men have the good sense to know that.  Women apparently (at least some of them) do not.

In our victimhood society it has become fashionable to find whatever victimhood status you can, ascertain who the victimizer is, and then rally public support to coddle you and punish them.  So let me offer you this little tidbit.  The person victimizing you…is in your mirror every morning.

The fact that you smile a lot doesn’t make you happy, and the fact that you aren’t concerned about your weight doesn’t make you healthy.  Obesity is directly linked to high blood pressure, sleep apnea, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other medical conditions.  If you can’t tie your own shoes, or even see your feet standing up…you’re not healthy.  Period.

The simple fact is that we are an animal.  We are not sexist, or heartless, or shallow because we seek out attractive mates.  This is the natural order of things.  All you need to do is watch birds preen and dance, or rhinos fight, or any other member of any other species do whatever it is they do to attract a mate.  If your brain works you’ll get it.  Your physical condition is an indication of your desirability with regard to passing on genetic material.  If you’re fat, weak, and sick…you’re not a good candidate.  Unfortunately mankind has circumvented nature’s design, and through browbeating, peer pressure, and the feminization of the male of the species, we have managed to turn it on its head.  So now fat, weak, sick people do in fact procreate.  And we give birth to more fat, weak, sick people.  Thus leading to a diabetes epidemic, a healthcare crisis, and the general weakening of our species as a whole.  Congratulations!

2) “The rich don’t pay income taxes, they pay a lower rate called capital gains taxes, and that’s not fair.”

Yes, in many instances this is true.  The problem is that the reason you are poor to begin with is that you a) Don’t understand how money works, or b) Make really stupid choices.  So, you fall for this line of crap without a second thought.

As Joe or Joana worker bee you have about 3 options for ever rising above your economic circumstances and becoming any sort of “wealthy”.  You can invent something.  You can start a business and grow it.  But for the vast majority the most likely solution is, you can invest your money.

Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, options, futures… these are all methods of making yourself more wealthy.  Now you may be thinking “that system is rigged too, and I’ll never make money in any of those markets.”  Let me offer to you that there is a difference between a system that is rigged, and a system that you cannot profitably participate in because you do not understand it.

When Facebook stock went public there were a whole bunch of instant millionaires at the company.  As you read this there are truck drivers riding around the country in Walmart trucks that are millionaires.  If you have a 401k plan, you are in the stock market.  If you own a home, you are invested in real estate.

Guess what?  When you realize a profit of any kind from any type of investment, you will pay capital gains tax.  So look at your 401k balance and ask yourself this question.  Do you want to pay the higher income tax rate or the lower capital gains tax rate on all that money?  Oh wait.  If you have a 401k then you have a job, and the good sense to plan for retirement.  So I’m probably not actually speaking to you in this post.

You know, greed is one of the seven deadly sins.  So is envy.  Stop worrying about what other people have or what other people pay, and start worrying about yourself.  The reason the vast majority of people who are rich, are rich…is because they got up and did things you are unwilling to do in order to make it.

Steve Jobs changed the world.  Meanwhile, you can barely muster the energy to mow the lawn.  But you’re going to sit on your couch, drinking your six pack, scratching off instant lottery tickets, watching MSNBC, and bitching about how the system is designed to keep you down?  If you want money like Steve Jobs had, do something like Steve Jobs did.

And recognize this.  There will always be rich people, and there will always be poor people.  Those same folks you complain about controlling the majority of the wealth also pay the majority of the taxes.  That’s a fact.  Your piddly ass $20k salary isn’t providing the taxes to pave any roads or buy any fire trucks.  Wake up!

Try saving some money.  Try asking yourself where you want to be in 5 years and putting a plan together to get there.  Try doing SOMETHING other than bitching about the things you don’t have.  Because here is the plain and simple truth.  If the government suddenly took every dollar Bill gates has…you wouldn’t get a dime of it.  Your life wouldn’t change in any way.

The only person that can change your life is you.  And the real bitter truth is, aside from a few loony toons running around giving out free hugs and shit…no one else cares.  So if there’s a problem, solve it.  Sitting around whining isn’t going to fix it.  And raising taxes on “the wealthy” just makes it harder for someone who is not wealthy to become wealthy.  (Hint: That someone, is you).