Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Our Brave New World



     George Orwell’s book, “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s, “Brave New World,” seemed far fetched back when I read these books, but not any more.  Evidently those books have seen a resurgence of interest lately.  Let’s just scope in on one area of change.            

            With genetic engineering we can almost design our offspring to fit our preferences. Women can carry and have a baby for someone else.  I remember reading about a pregnant man.  Talk about a guy who needs a group hug…or a lobotomy.   Women can have a litter by taking a pill.  Can you imagine the feeding frenzy when eight little suckers fight for a nozzle on the “Octomom?”  Remember her?  She’s the woman who spit out an entire litter in one sneeze.  

            Japan has robotic dogs and cats for pets. Korea imported some of these robotic pets, but stopped when people choked on ball bearings and metal washers.  

            I’ll bet they’re working on a process to create a new species of computerized quasi-humans.  Some of us already have mechanical parts.  My new knee starts walking when I’m asleep.  If I had two, I’d probably find myself half-way to town before I woke up.  I’ve kicked poor old Dakota off the bed more than once.  I don’t know where Gayle went.

            We are coming up with all kinds of innovative techniques to modify who and what we are.  Mel Brooks said, “It’s good to be king.”  Some people go further and say, “It’s good to be God.”  Evidently God didn’t get it right.

            Michael Jackson changed from a black man into a white woman.   Based on his jerky body movements, he may have actually been a hyperkinetic robotic clone.  In some ways we are going beyond Huxley’s, “Brave New World” and Orwell’s predictions.  It won’t be long before we won’t know who is 100% human and who is a mechanical clone. 

            I just read a news item where robot sex is currently under development.  These creations look and feel human, according to one report. The cost of these machines may be off-set by the fact that a man won’t have to pay for dinner, wine, flowers, and all the other “preliminary” stuff and women won’t need to pretend to be in love.  Just press the right button and they’re ready to go, which is not much of a change when you think about it.

            The definition of marriage has been broadened to the point that someone might actually marry one of those “humanoid” machines.  I’m not sure why a man would want to take the chance that a divorce could give his ex-robot his house and half his retirement.  And what would a woman gain from divorce from a robot?  Maybe a mechanical arm and a leg.  It’s safer to just buy one of these things on EBay and stay uncommitted. 

            They say that you will be able to design your own robotic “partner.” You can pick height, sex, body dimensions, facial characteristics, hair color, and even whether or not you want them to talk.  That “talk” option on the order form would rarely be checked by men unless he could program the exact dialogue, like, “You’re wonderful.”  “You’re the only man I’ve ever loved”- goofy stuff like that. 

            I’ll bet that when a woman chooses her ideal robot man, his vocabulary would be limited to, “It’s my fault” and “I’m sorry.”   Human husbands learn these two phrases early.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Sex in the Military? Duh…

        "Women in the Senate Confront the Military on Sex Assaults." That was a headline on the front page of the New York Times. I got this second hand, because I don’t read media that I don’t trust.

         I’m going to quote from an article by the great Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, one of my favorite “thinkers”, and a prolific writer.

         In a recent article Sowell responded to that Times article by saying, “In a triumphalist article showcasing the growing numbers of women on the Senate Armed Services Committee, ‘one of the Senate's most testosterone-driven panels,’ the story line presents female Senators attacking male military officials over charges of sexual assaults against women in the armed forces.

         “For thousands of years, people around the world had the common sense to realize that putting young men and young women together in military operations was asking for trouble, not only for these young people of both sexes, but for the effectiveness of military forces entrusted with the fate of nations.

         “Yet, in these politically correct times, civilian leaders who increasingly have no experience whatever in the armed forces are far more willing to try to micro-manage the military than back in the days when most members of Congress and most Presidents had served in the military.”

         Sowell adds, “There seems to be something liberating about ignorance and inexperience.” Ain’t that the truth…!

        Women served in the army back when I was in basic training at Fort Ord. They were called WACs, a remnant program of WWII, terminated in 1978, but they had no contact with us. We could see them marching while being berated by foul-mouthed female drill sergeants, but they didn’t share foxholes, barracks, and communal latrines with us. The scary part was that even the female sergeants began to look good to us after a few weeks of incarceration.

        Hormones are raging in young soldiers. Hookers may have come on base during payday weekend, but most of us were like cloistered monks with pictures of our girlfriends and highly anticipated letters that were always “sniffed” before opening. The perfume aromas would be proudly shared with our buddies. But sharing your tent with a woman introduces a dynamic that destroys the military paradigm. Military men with combat experience should make these decisions - not women and quasi-male politicians.

        When I was in basic training, protective mothers (not mine) pressured our base Commander to allow their little angels to get proper sleep, so the rule changed to disallow lights on in barracks until 5 a.m. Prior to that, lights came on at 3 a.m. or so and cleaning began. Thanks to those mother hens, the lights didn’t come on until 5 a.m., but now we had to scrub the floors at 3 a.m. in the dark and polish our boots in the latrine, where lights were always on. The military hadn’t been castrated yet.

        We have women in political leadership positions along with men who never served, and a “Commander-in-Chief,” who claims to know nothing about anything, when it comes to his endless scandals. But his distain for the military is clear. With people like this using military policy for social change, can our government be serious about the strength and morale of the military?

        We are feminizing our country with government usurping the care and protection of women that men in previous generations provided. Consequently, the notion of self-reliance, responsibility, and the male protection of women has been replaced by government, making men expendable and irrelevant appendages.

        I think most men in my generation escaped this trend, because we still have an inbred sense of responsibility, including the protective instinct. In past generations, men could be men and women could be strong, but genuinely feminine at the same time. That’s one reason most members of the Tea Party and its sympathizers seem to be well past puberty.

        That’s also why old dudes will deck you for an offense against their wives, while a young metro-sexual will just giggle.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On the Road Again

     Remember the old story about Little Red Riding Hood?  Little Red walked through the forest to visit her grandmother.  Gayle and I emerge from the forest to visit our grandkids.  Seems a little backward, but all of our kids work and even a couple of grandkids work, and our mountain retreat is 6 or 7 hours away.  Consequently, it’s too far for a weekend visit for our kids.

            So Gayle and I pack the car and brace our nervous system for our entrance into the frenetic Bay Area.  Classical music and the drive through the Feather River canyon is the lull before the storm.  There’s a lot to do and many folks to visit within a few days.  Prep time.

            We hit the checkered flag and the dog-friendly hotel in Los Gatos in the afternoon, after the NASCAR  race track on Highway 17, where you evidently save fuel by staying in the draft of the BMW ahead of you.

            Gayle went off to her daughter Carrie’s for dinner and I went for Chinese food with my old friend Al Borges.  Al is one of the most gifted musicians I’ve known.  He and I played in clubs up and down northern California, back in the day. 

            Normally, a visit to Los Gatos wouldn’t be complete without visiting my life-long pal Dick Whitaker, but his recent death leaves a sad space in my schedule.

            The next day was taken up by the graduation of our grandson Luke Brunner from Los Gatos High School - the same school Gayle and I graduated from back when land first appeared after Noah’s flood.  He’s the third grandkid to graduate from L.G. High.

            It was a record-breaking turnout on a record-breaking heat wave and the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the sun and listen to speeches. I planned my escape.

            Gayle went to the ceremony and I took Dakota and visited my friend and former coach, Pietro (Pete) Denevi.  Pete is the author of the book, “Pietro,” in addition to being the best athlete to ever attend Los Gatos High. He’s now 86 years old and looks 60.

            At 8:30 we had dinner for Luke and our family of eleven at Palacio Restaurant in Los Gatos.  New comers to Los Gatos don’t know that the restaurant where they enjoy their steak was originally a mortuary. 

            The next morning we visited Frank and Ruth Nelson, old friends and classmates, but left at noon to meet with my two daughters and their families for a barbeque.  We had the “maturity” to sit while our grandkids never stopped moving.  My daughters are great cooks and it was good to let their husbands do all the work.  It’s part of the senior discount program.

            We headed to San Mateo after dinner to meet with Gayle’s son, who was celebrating his 50th birthday.  We couldn’t find a parking place at the restaurant, so Gayle could only run into the restaurant to greet Greg and the group while I drove around and hid in “no parking” zones until she came out.  Very sad for Gayle and her son, but we had too much packed into one day and got there late.  Greg and Teri came out to the car, I congratulated him, and we drove off.

            We escaped the congestion in San Mateo and headed for Discovery Bay, where several friends awaited our miraculous appearance.  Obviously drained, we spent the evening with our good friends Jay and Carla Cross (no relation to Gayle).  Jay anticipated our arrival and had a gin and tonic ready for me.  He knew I’d need it.

            The next day we had lunch with Dwight and Lynnette Klassen, life-long friends and I met Dwight later that day for a beer. Then came the finale. 

            Four old friends had a fantastic dinner hosted by Jay and Carla, with Gene and Dannette Kreps and two tired mountain people.  This was a stimulating experience with great conversations among the six of us.  Jay is a retired steel company executive, Carla is convention speaker and member of Mensa, Gene is a brain surgeon and is on the Executive Committee of the Republican Party.  His wife, Dannette, is a brainy woman and a nurse and when you toss in my intelligent wife, the conversations were fun and enlightening. 

            Fortunately we were all on the same team in terms of religion and politics, although Gene is a solid Republican and I’m more of a “Conservative/Libertarian” combination.  But there wasn’t a single issue that he and I didn’t agree on, which was interesting.

            The next morning was involved in moving furniture, hanging pictures, and other “decorative” stuff, engineered by Gayle and Carla.  Finally we packed the car and drove the many hours back to Greenhorn Ranch. 

            All of the above is just typical of every trip we make to see our kids and friends. I guess I wonder if we’re nuts.  Is this type of behavior normal for grandparents in today’s world?  Are there too many cars and too many people back in “civilization” or have I lived in the mountains too long?  Today is my first morning back.  I just took my dog Dakota for a hike in the mountains and it felt reeeeeal good.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Quotes to Ponder

            As a change of pace, I thought I’d post some quotes and ask you to think about how they apply to our lives.  Please consider the wisdom and truth in these thoughts. Some are metaphorical and require contemplation to understand the message. Of course, I had to add a couple by the master of self-deprecation, Rodney Dangerfield, and the king of political humor, Will Rogers.  Be sure to read the last quote by a wise and loving mother.

*   *   *

“When a finger points to the moon, the idiot looks at the finger.” 
- Ancient Chinese saying

“Those who trade liberty for security have neither.”
 –John Adams

“There are two theories to arguing with a woman.  Neither works.  
– Will Rogers

“The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living. “ 
- Unknown

“There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.
 -Will Rogers

"Free men do not ask permission to bear arms.” – John Adams

"Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the American Government take care of him, better take a closer look at the American Indian." – Henry Ford

“I was such an ugly kid.  When I played in the sandbox, the cat kept covering me up.” – Rodney Dangerfield

“After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box.” 
- Italian proverb

"The danger to America is not Barack Obama, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency.” – Part of an article in a Prague newspaper by Prager Zeitungon:

“I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity.  The world will only have a generation of idiots.” – Albert Einstein

“What you do speaks so loud, that I cannot hear what you say.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

 "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." - Thomas Jefferson

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!” -  Pericles (430 B.C.)

 "Eloquence may exist without a proportionate degree of wisdom." 
- Edmund Burke

“I was such an ugly baby.  My mother never breastfed me.  She told me that she only liked me as a friend.” – Rodney Dangerfield

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts.”  - Richard Feynman (Physicist)

 “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
- Eleanor Roosevelt

"The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions."- Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

"Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression." - James Madison

“A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”
 - George Bernard Shaw

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams

“I don't know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.” – Will Rogers

“Tolerance is the last virtue of a dying society” – Aristotle

“When small men cast large shadows, it means the sun is about to set”. – Chinese proverb

“All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmond Burke

 "One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived." -Niccolo Machiavelli

 “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” – Irish proverb

“The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.” 
– Will Rogers

“If there is no God, everything is permitted.” – Fyoder Dostoevsky

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." 
- George Santayana

“I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” 
- Winston Churchill

 “If you don't learn to laugh at trouble, you won't have anything to laugh at when you're old”
- Will Rogers
*  *  *

A profound quote that has impacted me came from my mother who told me, “Treat everyone as though it is the last time you will see them.”  She lived that philosophy and exuded love, as my friends who knew her will attest.  Think about it.  At some point you will see everyone for the last time.  The older I get, the more I understand my mother’s wisdom.