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My daughter and I just got back from a week-long trip out to the Grand Canyon.  We spent the evenings in a tent and the days shooting pictures and hiking.

It was awesome, and I'm going back -- there's no possible way to really take it all in with any reasonably-short period of time.

But the trip, and the last couple of days, drew into sharp relief a few things that I've written on previously, but with a new focus and urgency.  So here we go, in no particular order:

  • So you want to talk about the "inerrancy" of some holy book eh?  Those of you who are into the whole "God thing" really need to step back and think -- if you're able to think, that is.  The Canyon puts it all in sharp relief for you within seconds of seeing it for the first time -- not in a picture, not in a movie, but for real up close and personal.  This is a geological formation that took hundreds of millions of years to form.  In front of you at first glance this is no longer abstract, it is proof that the tectonic plates collided, that this collision produced the various striations of the canyon and then the river cut the path deeper and deeper into it, and in fact does so today to the tune of a tiny fraction of a millimeter every year.  I've heard it is akin to about the thickness of a piece of paper annually, which sounds about right.  Those of you who think the earth is 5,000 years old or some nonsense like that are simply full of crap -- period.  There is hard proof that humans were living in that specific area 10,000 years ago, among other things, and that's just the human presence which has left hard proof behind.  The evidence is incontrovertible and "in your face" out there.

  • The vast majority of Americans today are flatly incapable of taking in a huge percentage of what this park offers due to their own personal lifestyle choices.  Smoke?  Overweight?  Out of shape?  Forget it, other than the rim walk -- and the neatest part of the canyon is in fact down.  On the way home and over the last day or so I have, of course, been "back in America" -- People of WalMart land.  That such a huge percentage of the population is simply unable to experience what we did up close and personal is saddening to an extreme degree -- especially if that inability is through elective choices.  10 or 20 years ago, in fact 30 years ago, I remind readers, I was incapable of the Kaibab South hike we took myself.  I changed that and for those who can (and that's most people irrespective of age) I ask this: Why aren't you?

  • Thy land is so vast and thy person is so small. I've had this moment before on the ocean in the form of "thy sea is so vast and thy boat is so small", but the thing about the sea is that it appears infinite -- and unchanging.  This place is different in a qualitative and quantitative way and is of an entirely different character.  If you haven't been, or even if you have but only on a "cursory" tour around the rim then the "ooohhh" and "aahhhh" factor might be there, but the real experience hasn't hit you.  Get below the rim a way down and all that changes immediately.  There's nothing "the same" from one foot to the next, vertically or otherwise.  Pictures don't do it justice; you have to be there.

  • The critters cheat death by the minute.  Why are you so damned scared?  At Skeleton Point there were two squirrels.  One was lean and looked like it wasn't going to do so well through the upcoming winter.  The other was a fatty who obviously had no problem remaining fed.  Both wanted what we had for a snack (neither got one) but here's the thing -- both were scrambling over precipices that were quite-literally "straight down to certain death" deals if you lost your footing.  How does this apply to you?  Simple: How many of us go through our day, week or year without a single risk, without pushing ourselves to do more, to step out, to spend time smelling the roses instead of tromping the hamster wheel?  How many of us take the road less-traveled -- or not traveled at all? How many think that Lexus or "Joneses" house, boat, or $200 pair of Air Jordans are the most important things in the world?  How many young people eat themselves to death and take on $100k worth of college debt for worthless degrees instead of choosing the old car, a job and the ability to decide to say "effitall" to chase whatever dream they may have?  One squirrel was obviously more successful than the other thus far in life but neither walked the easy road, despite one being able to do exactly that.  Think about it....

  • This place is different. I've hiked parts of the AT and been all over the woods in various parts of the country.  Nothing hits you the way this place does.  Nothing.  Yeah, the "hike of the bees" near Neels Gap is cool, and so are the ridge-walks that are a part of that area of the AT.  The Smokies are cool too, including Paul's Bunyon. Yes, all of those are neat and enjoyable, but this is transformative.

  • Mosquitoes? What are those?  Probably due to the lack of standing water there basically aren't any.  We used exactly zero bug spray and got bit never.  How nice....

  • Scared of big animals -- including up close -- or intend to do stupid things around them?  Don't go.  Seriously, we had elk in our camp passing single-digit feet away from our tent -- and us.  If you don't respect said animals and their inherent power and majesty you might regret that.... You're not the biggest thing out there, in short.

  • Please don't be a drunk jackass, particularly in a campground at night.  You know who you were.  I like to party like everyone else but not at night, in proximity to other people who have no interest in your revelry.  Seriously, there's something special about this place and you can be profane anywhere, never mind that some folks would like to sleep.

Finally, don't go here expecting to get your "every minute is an Internet moment."  It's definitely not.  While there are places you will have cell service (surprisingly enough) in the park you certainly can't count on it at all.  This I see as a feature rather than a bug, incidentally.  In town at the coffee shop, however, I had service.

I'll be doing more of this sort of thing, and less of everything else in the coming months and years.

"Effitallandyourcraptoo" as a life position got a lot more real this last week, and I'm going back for much more.

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Let me be clear: Obama is a terrorist sympathizer and so is Hillary Clinton.  I will explain.

We now know that the Orlando shooter was motivated by a strike on an ISIS commander:

In a newly released transcript of one of the calls with police made during his siege of the Pulse nightclub early on June 12, Omar Mateen said his massacre was retribution for the coalition strike that killed Abu Waheeb, a somewhat obscure executioner and propagandist with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“Yo, the airstrike that killed Abu Wahid [sic] a few weeks ago, that’s what triggered it, okay?” Mateen told a police negotiator in one of the multiple calls made while he was inside the nightclub.“They should have not bombed and killed Abu Wahid [sic].”

Now the facts.

Obama has denied that Islamic terrorism was responsible for the massacre.  He lied and he knew it.

And Hillary Clinton's State Department blocked an investigation into the mosque the killer attended because it "unfairly" singled out Muslims (Gee, you mean Muslims attend mosques, and nobody else does?)

Then the shooter's father, who is a supporter of hers, showed up at one of her campaign rallies.

Oh, by the way, where is the shooter's wife -- it does appear, does it not, that Obama's government, that is, HILLARY'S party, let her leave the country and of course she will never return to face the music as an apparent accomplice since there are reports in the media that she drove him to the club, heavily armed, to commit his massacre.

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My God, millennials are really this dumb?  Or is that post-millennials?  I can't keep track any more...

I was able to get a summer internship at a company that does work in the industry I want to work in after I graduate. Even though the division I was hired to work in doesn’t deal with clients or customers, there still was a very strict dress code. I felt the dress code was overly strict but I wasn’t going to say anything, until I noticed one of the workers always wore flat shoes that were made from a fabric other than leather, or running shoes, even though both of these things were contrary to the dress code.

I spoke with my manager about being allowed some leeway under the dress code and was told this was not possible, despite the other person being allowed to do it. I soon found out that many of the other interns felt the same way, and the ones who asked their managers about it were told the same thing as me. We decided to write a proposal stating why we should be allowed someone leeway under the dress code. We accompanied the proposal with a petition, signed by all of the interns (except for one who declined to sign it) and gave it to our managers to consider.

smiley

They all got canned the next day.

I would have fired every one of them (except the one who didn't sign) and I wouldn't have waited for the next day!

Look buttercups, employment is not a democracy.

I pointed this out a couple of times to my daughter when she was growing up, and I said it in much cruder terms -- in fact, I said it exactly like this:

"There will be things your boss tells you to do that you think are stupid.  You may think certain policies are stupid, the way things are done are stupid in some fashion, or that some aspect of how the business is being run is stupid.  As a worker rather than a boss the successful way to think about this is that you have to figuratively blow some people you don't want to.  Not literally -- that's illegal -- but figuratively.  If you really believe you have a better idea you can try to ask your boss, but simply asking is likely to be ineffective because it shows you're reacting to a situation instead of thinking toward the furtherance of the firm's interests.  Instead, if you really believe you have a better way to accomplish something or a change that should be made, first take the time to do your damndest to understand why it currently is the way it is -- there is a reason.  Then figure out how and why you would change it, and if your change is accepted how that change will improve the company's efficiency, profitability or (even better) both.  Then, and only then, take the whole thing, including your analysis, to your direct supervisor in private.  If you get nowhere with that then see the first part of what I explained -- working for someone else sometimes means doing things that you think are dumb or worse, but unless they're criminal you're the subordinate and the other person is the boss!"

In short even when you're pretty sure you're right you won't always win.  In fact you'll probably lose more often than you'll win and some of the time even when you win your boss will steal the credit for it!

But if you try to foment any sort of uprising among the staff I supervise unless I'm legally barred from canning you for doing it (and there are only a few ways you can do it where that prohibition exists) you and everyone else involved are going to be instantly fired -- and I don't care if doing it means I have to call a temp agency and fill the damn building with temporary workers an hour later.

Every.

Single.

Time.

A workplace is not a democracy.  It is (at best) a benevolent dictatorship where ideas, properly formed and presented in a helpful, not threatening manner, will (if your boss has any brains) be analyzed, passed up the chain and perhaps implemented.  In a well-functioning company those who do pass up such ideas often get not only recognized they get promoted.  There was one person of particular note at my company who started at the very bottom and wound up running a department with a private office -- all because she had brains and even better, knew how to pass things up the chain of command in a way that made sense without threatening the stability of the company or its employees.

The minute you decide that you have the power in such an organization when you do not if the firm if functioning properly everyone involved in same is going to immediately be fired because that act by definition threatens the proper, legitimate and orderly functioning of the firm.

It's that simple.

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What do you do to a parasite?

You kill it.

Well, how about this?

California's last nuclear power plant will close by 2025 under an accord announced Tuesday, ending three decades of safety debates that helped fuel the national anti-nuclear power movement.

The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and environmental groups reached an agreement to replace production at Diablo Canyon nuclear plant with solar power and other energy sources that do not produce climate-changing greenhouse gases.

There is no such source that (1) is available all the time and (2) can and will actually replace said energy source.

In point of fact California isn't and hasn't been either net electricity neutral or a net producer for a very long time.  Enron was, to a large degree, all about trying to manipulate California wholesale energy prices -- for power sold by other state's producers.

I remind you that behind every unit of GDP is a unit of energy.  For a state to claim to be a "powerhouse" of economic activity while it is a parasite, and a damaging one at that when it comes to net electricity production is a monstrosity that we must not tolerate.

In short California is practicing the exact sort of nonsense that corporations are when they offshore -- they want all the filth they produce to go poison someone else while they get the benefits.

What should result from such a demand?

Refusal, in short, coupled with a nice open knife switch on the power lines at the state border until and unless the state becomes net energy neutral or better.

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You're flat-out insane, Tim.

WASHINGTON –  Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine is predicting that the Roman Catholic Church may eventually change its opposition to gay marriage.

Kaine is a Roman Catholic as well as a U.S. senator from Virginia and a former governor of that state. He told the Human Rights Campaign during its national dinner Saturday in Washington that he had changed his mind about gay marriage and that his church may follow suit one day.

"I think it's going to change because my church also teaches me about a creator who, in the first chapter of Genesis, surveyed the entire world, including mankind, and said, 'It is very good,'" Kaine said. He then recalled Pope Francis' remark that "who am I to judge?" in reference to gay priests.

No it won't, and no it shouldn't.

Indeed, if it does then the Catholic Church will cease to exist at that instant in time and will become something else -- and that, my friends, is exactly what Tim Kaine and many others want.

You can disagree with Catholic theology all you'd like.  There are some 5,000 religious paths available to you today, and if you don't like any of those you can go create your own and the government is required to leave you alone.  So says the US Constitution.

But Catholic theology isn't formed from public opinion, nor should it ever be subject to same. As for Pope Francis and his view on gay priests let me remind you that priests, gay or otherwise, are required by the Church to take a vow of celibacy.

In other words irrespective of how you feel you are required to conform to a particular standard when it comes to what you do.

The Church, and indeed nearly all Christian faiths, teach that humans are inherently sinful. That is, we're imperfect; we err both in thought and deed.  But such are in fact errors when it comes to that path, and the Church does not, and indeed cannot without destroying itself confer upon that which is claims to be error a blessing.

Marriage is a sacrament, not a civil act.  The conflation of the two is one of the worst errors the Church has undertaken, and ought to be corrected.  As I have written on many occasions, including for many years before starting The Ticker, if you want a civil contract of some sort then you should go see a JP.

If you want a sacrament to be performed then go see a priest.

The two ought to be disjoint acts.  Why?

It's simple, when you get down to it: A Catholic sacramental marriage is irrevocable until death of at least one of the parties unless originally formed under false pretense -- that is, invalid at the time it was originally undertaken, not at some point later.  This is not unique to marriage as a sacrament -- you cannot be baptized twice either.  If baptized by anyone, in the Catholic Church or not, you cannot have the ceremony performed in the Catholic faith as you're already baptized.

Sacraments are not civil obligations and conflating the two when they do not represent the same set of conditions is open, rank hypocrisy and in this case an intentional lie told before God in a sacramental context.  Such an act is quite-arguably the most-serious of sin because it not only evidences intent to deceive it is undertaken as a direct part of a sacrament that requires taking an oath as to your intentions before God.  

In short civil marriages are subject to termination any time either party wants them to be, and this is in direct conflict with the Catholic Church's teaching on marriage as a sacrament.

Therefore, by definition the presentation of a state-issued marriage license to a Catholic priest and his signature on same is a per-se act that invalidates the sacrament itself as the moment you do so you have presented a written document bearing your signature under oath -- that is, under penalty of perjury -- which directly contradicts the oath you are required to take in order for the sacrament to be performed!

You can't have this one both ways folks and Tim Kaine has obviously never actually studied Catholic theology.  He was probably confirmed as an adolescent and thus lacked the capacity or incentive to do so, but it doesn't matter. Theology just is, and if you accept that a Catholic sacramental marriage is what the theology claims it to be and the grounds for annulment (one of them being the lack of intent, at the time of contraction of the marriage, for it to be for life) then the very act of presenting a state document that by the controlling law for same leaves either party the option of voiding their marriage at any time, for any reason or no reason at all is a per-se act of fraud upon God and the Church with the willful and intentional complicity of the priest who countersigns same!

In short all such marriages are void ab-initio and subject to annulment under Catholic theology -- that is, Canon Law.

This is theology, not politics.  I have no quarrel with gay people who wish to do whatever, including getting married in any religious path that has no problem with it, or through some civil ceremony.  But the Catholic Church, should it "allow" what Kaine claims, will cease to be the Catholic Church.  I don't believe that will happen, nor that it should.  Diversity of paths in faith is good, not bad.

Instead of Kaine's insanity the Church should insist that its priests not execute any form of civil paperwork in the context of marriage.  There is not only no law requiring it to do so no law can be passed compelling it to do so due to the First Amendment's protections.  The Church should instead register Catholic marriages internally as it does for other sacramental rites and events, including births, baptisms, confirmations and deaths, practicing the faith as its theology directs.  If Catholic celebrants wish to have some sort of civil law registration of their commitment they should go handle that separately, preferably after their sacramental marriage.

The Catholic marriage sacrament is not "marriage" as defined by civil authorities or, for that matter, other religious faiths.  It is defined by the theological rules of the Church -- sacramental procedures, requirements and rites that the Church alone has the authority to determine.  We're long past the point where restoration of that split between church and state, which once existed when it came to marriage, ought to be vigorously pursued and enforced by the Church with regard to both its priests and celebrants.

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