06 February 2011

Prime the Pump

Prime the Pump

Billy Edd Wheeler is a West Virginia songwriter/playwright & artist. One of his country/folk favorites is called "Desert Pete," and is the story of a thirsty man running across a water pump out in the desert. The last person there, Desert Pete, left a bottle of water, just enough to prime the pump. The thirsty man's challenge is to trust that using that water to prime the pump will make the pump work and give him all of the cold & sweet water that he needs.

The chorus of the song goes:
You've got to prime the pump.
You must have faith and believe.
You've got to give of yourself 'fore you're worthy to receive.
Drink all the water you can hold.
Wash your face cool your feet.
Leave the bottle full for others.
Thank you kindly, Desert Pete.

I haven’t posted in 6+ weeks. I’m moderately surprised that Friend Jan hasn’t hassled me for my laziness. In reality, I just haven't primed the pump.

The “winter of my discontent” has been wrapped up in a tea bag and dipped into the hot water of politics. Mind you, I love politics, but this heat was scalding because it was me wrangling for an office. Our long-serving Circuit Judge, Fred Fox, retired. He is the longest serving judge or justice in the history of West Virginia, and his retirement still came as a shock. It did set off a frenzy of maneuvering amongst the Bar to find a replacement to be appointed until the 2012 election, and your wretched scribe was in the battle. The Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission met last week, made a short list, and made the wise decision that a black robe would be just too strange looking on this poor stiff.

I will confess that my legendary good humor was strained for an hour or two after I got The Word on Tuesday. And then, Wednesday morning, I was having coffee as usual with Bro. Dave at the Classics CafĂ© and we were again solving all of the World’s Problems. Jeri, the owner, came up and exclaimed “Hey, look!,” and pointed at the Courthouse right across the street.

The photo above is what she, and then we, saw: A double rainbow over the Marion County Palais du Justice. Dave and I burst out laughing. Coincidence? Refraction of light, nothing more? Or was it a timely reminder that all of our little machinations don’t amount to a Hill of Beans in the scheme of things?

Good humor restored. "You've got to prime the pump. You must have faith and believe. You've got to give of yourself 'fore you're worthy to receive.

You Are Your Own Security

When I go to our newspaper’s site in the mornings, I’m greeted with an online video ad, usually something local. This morning, though, it was a feel-good, professional ad for Smith & Wesson Security Services. I have a positive feeling for Smith & Wesson, but I didn't know that they did home alarm systems. The video was of a happy little family group on the couch, but the male announcer told me what a close call they had just had. An intruder had just tried to break in! “But thankfully, the Peterson's were never in any danger. The Peterson’s Smith & Wesson Security System sounded the alarm and scared him off.”

Bull. Shit.

Mind you, I believe in electronic security and perimeter security. There are all sorts of good reasons. Most criminals are stupid, greedy and lazy. If they meet strong resistance gaining entrance, most will leave. If they believe that the police are coming, most will leave. Moreover, other electronic services and devices, such as smoke alarms and the personal distress devices for older people, work very well and save lives.

But, but, but - to say that “The Peterson's were never in any danger” is magnificently stupid.

Most criminals are lazy morons. If they were not, they would make the connection that crime doesn’t work to make their lives better long-term. But not all of them. What the public does not recognize is that evil people do not reside just on the movie screen or in books. And just as dangerous as the evil people are the amoral people and the sociopaths, those who do not make the connection that it is wrong to harm others. Unrealistic? Excessive? Nope, consider it a tip from Mr. Reality.

God bless our police officers. They do a hard and dangerous job for not enough money. However, primarily they are a reactive force. When something bad happens, they react to it. They deter crime because most criminals fear that they will be caught and punished after the crime is committed.

And so, to sell us “complete security,” the alarm companies are peddling the bilge water that “The Peterson's were never in any danger.” Loud noises and the threat that the police will arrive in a few minutes will not deter the sociopath. They may merely hurry him up and make his attack all the more violent.

This is not a “get-your-gun” polemic. The decision to take up a weapon is an extremely serious one. It should only be made after a commitment to respect the extreme responsibility attendant to that decision. It should only be made after a commitment to learn to use weapons responsibly and safely. But do not console yourself that you are relieved of the duty to protect yourself and your family because the thought of police coming in 3 to 5 minutes will chase away every criminal. We citizens are at our most vulnerable when we become too complacent or too lazy or too afraid to consider our own safety.

Mumbles from Mumbai

As I’m working, often I keep “Internet radio” playing in the background. There are not many advertisements which, curiously, emphasizes those which there are.

This morning, I heard a well-done ad. Did you know that you can get the help of a “personal assistant” for only $6.98 per hour? Personal assistants are the folks who trudge through the minutia of life so that we can think Higher Thoughts and do Greater Deeds unimpeded by Ordinary Things and, coincidently, stay out of touch with humanity. Miley has a personal assistant. So does J. Lo and Brad and Oprah and The Donald, so why can’t we, and on the cheap at that?

Well, my question was, how can they provide this service for less than the federal minimum wage? Dummy me. I looked at the website. I bet you already know how they do it. They describe themselves as “a full service offshore outsourcing solution provider” located in the US with the “operated delivery center located at Mumbai, India.”

In other words, Americans (maybe) formed a company to service greedy and lazy Americans using Third World labor.

Before any of us get all pious, let us remember why this outfit has a call center in India. We put it there. We’re the ones who demand plastic junk which can be made cheaply in Asia and then sent by containership to North America at a lesser cost than it could be manufactured on this continent. We are the ones who are unwilling to pay American wages for work that we consider beneath ourselves. We are the ones who look at products which fill our mouths with the saliva of irrational desire and tell ourselves, “oh, just this once, it’s okay to buy something that’s not American.” And in doing so, wink wink, it’s OK to have some illegal immigrants just this once to harvest the crops so we can eat cheap at Applebee’s and, wink wink, we’ll pretend that proud American brand names (Buck, Springfield, Timber Rattler, or, hell, Ford, GM & Chrysler) are still All-American. Are your winking muscles getting tired yet?

Government regulation is not the answer, even if it were possible to get a square deal there. (It is to chortle - some of the best investments in America are made in its politicians. And the funny part is, it’s legal. Wink, wink.) We the People have a right to spend our dollars as we choose.

Where do we choose? Here is a test of us as a people. Not whether we have a government strong enough to coerce us to long-term economic health if ever it were inclined to try, but whether we have the people who are intelligent enough and of sufficient moral strength to do so. I say these things not from some position of moral superiority - - I have my own excess of Chinese, etc., shit. It has to end. Or not. Our choice.

What’s it going to be? Mumbai or Fairmont? Shanghai or St. Louis? Indonesia or Indiana?

Note: There are places to learn about american products, such as
Buyamerican.com and buyamericanmart.com, among others.

My Secret

I don't care about the Super Bowl. Mum's the word.

Pippa passes.


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