With Respects to Clement Clarke Moore

December 24th, 2010

‘Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the land,

Everybody still scurr’ing

For gifts somewhat bland.

 

Whether Smart Phone or Xbox

Though economy was wrought,

Even perfume and spice

Every item was sought.

 

Happy Holidays or Christmas

Which one should we say?

In our efforts to blend

Lost the source of the day.

 

It is not buying fine gifts

Though the Three they did bring,

Nor is it grand meals

And songs we may sing.

 

It’s the meaning of Christmas

And the hope that it shares.

In a world full of strife

It’s God’s love that it bears.

 

Whether Christian or Jew

Or Muslim or other

‘Tis our heart that is key

To treat each as a Brother.

 

It’s God’s gift of a Son

With its promise of peace

To the world as a whole

Is the message to preach.

 

So remember the meaning

And remember the cause.

Remember the Savior

And this week give pause.

 

For a moment remember,

For a moment reflect,

And spread Joy to the World

And treat all with respect.

 

For what is a Christmas

Without Christ and great joy?

For what is a Christmas

If our focus’ a toy?

 

God’s true gift is evident;

For this reason we praise.

Remember the Christ-child

On this day of all days.

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas

And this poem I do write.

Merry Christmas to all

And to all – a good night!

RIP My Dear and Loyal Friend

December 22nd, 2010

If the FCC’s Net Neutrality ruling is allowed to stand, December 21, 2010 will be known as the day the Internet, as we knew it for the past 25 years, died.  The federal government will have succeeded in getting their regulatory tentacles into the most successful, innovative, and freest institution ever created, and to what end?  Allegedly to protect us from predatory Internet Service Providers such as Comcast.   Is it a coincidence that they did it on the darkest day in 372 years? 

Go to any online new source and pull up a story on the FCC’s NN regulation, then check out the comments to the story.  The majority of comments from those who support NN sight Comcast’s actions as proof that we need government regulations.  The vitriol directed toward Comcast, and only Comcast, is incredible.  You would think that they were having unprotected sex with under-aged dogs in the back of SUVs while smoking cigarettes.  That is, hopefully without sound to conspiratorial, the government’s modus operandi.  They need to have a villain to use as a foil against which their saving regulations appear trivial.  Who cares about NN if it stops companies, companies like Comcast, from were having unprotected sex with under-aged dogs in the back of SUVs while smoking cigarettes.  But what has Comcast actually done?

Comcast had the gull to deny access by their subscribers (i.e., people who have chosen Comcast as their ISP) to certain peer-to-peer Internet sites under the guise that they were such bandwidth hogs that they impacted to overall quality of their service.  They violated the Holy Grail of the Internet – they restricted access.  So the Feds stepped in, under the banner of the FCC, and filed suit against the practice.  The FCC lost.  The US Appeals Court ruling allowed the corporate giant to continue to deny access to those who had voluntarily chosen to use Comcast as their ISP.   So now those poor souls cannot access these particular few sites.

But wait, shortly after the ruling, Comcast abandoned the practice and restored access to these sites.  It appears that there was such a powerful public outcry (i.e., Comcast customers, who voluntarily use Comcast and can voluntarily stop using Comcast) about the practice that Comcast had to reverse their decision.  That ladies and gentlemen is called free market pressure, and it is what has allowed the Internet to develop into what it is today, not some government bureaucracy deciding what is and what is not acceptable.  If the FCC imposes some similar regulation or – wait for it – “fee”, what recourse will you have then?  These are FIVE, non-elected bureaucrats who have thumbed their noses at the Appeals Court and circumvented Congress to get what they wanted.  All I can say is: good luck.

May the Internet Rest in Peace.

To Boldly Go …

December 11th, 2010

Space X launched its Falcon 9 rocket this week and I’m not sure what to make of it.  It is a magnificent accomplishment for a private company and, evidently, the direction our space program is headed.  But that is my dilemma.  We appear to be starting over.  Not to diminish Space X’s accomplishment, but what they accomplished was first done fifty years ago.  What’s next?

Private company announces that it has invented the microprocessor, again.  It is not nearly as fast as current MPs and its reliability is questionable, but it proves that we could do it all again, if needed.

I’m certainly not a big government guy, so I guess I should be happy to see the private sector take over this aspect of space flight, and I am, but I guess what is so difficult for me to accept, is that we, as a nation, have fallen so far.  I am a child of the Golden Age of space exploration, when anything seemed possible, and whenever our attention is drawn back to some space-related accomplishment, I am forced to once again acknowledge the tremendous opportunities we have squandered and money we have wasted.

In the thirty-five years since the Apollo Program ended, NASA has spent $280 billion (2007 equivalent dollars) on their human space flight program (HSF), and for what; the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station?  Now granted, the Space Shuttle is a marvelous piece of engineering, but what have we accomplished in the two decades we have been flying them?  There have been 133 shuttle missions.  The last 35 have been to ferry supplies and people back and forth to the ISS.  What a wonderful use for one of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment ever built?

Of course there is NASA’s new Ares Program and President Bush’s goal of returning to the Moon by 2020.  It’s a six year-old program that is already five years behind schedule.  President Obama has all but scrapped the idea.  China will get to the Moon long before we have the capability or desire to do so.

I guess I simply have to accept that the nation has lost the drive to strive for greatness in space and that we are willing to start all over with the private sector at the helm.  So kudos to Space X, Virgin Galactic and the others out there who are boldly going where only governments have gone before.

Live long, and prosper.

The Beginning of the End

December 10th, 2010

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends … Ladies and Gentlemen, the INTERNET (apologies to ELP).  It’s an anything goes, no-holds-barred, Wild West extravaganza with nearly unlimited potential.  You and only you decide how the journey will unfold.  That is unless the FCC gets its way.

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, your government is taking another crack at Internet regulation.  While you are out holiday shopping and otherwise preparing to Christmas, the FCC’s new rules will likely to be approved on a final 3-2, party-line vote on December 21, despite being shot down earlier this year in a unanimous decision of the DC circuit court of appeals in Comcast v. FCC, which eviscerated the FCC’s claims to have the jurisdiction to regulate the Internet.  If at first you don’t succeed ….  But why?

Proponents of a government regulated Internet say they just want to insure that all information is treated equally, and to protect us from big corporation’s control of the Internet.  They simply want Net Neutrality.  Who are these proponents that want to “fix” the Internet.  Who knew the Internet was even broken?  Sun Tzu taught that you should “known your enemy” before entering into battle.  Enemy, come on, that’s a little over-the-top.  They just want what’s best for us.  Well, let’s meet these kindhearted souls.

During the 2010 elections, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee issued a pledge for candidates to take as a sign of support for Net Neutrality.

“I believe in protecting Net Neutrality – the First Amendment of the Internet. The open Internet is a vital engine for free speech, economic opportunity, and civic participation in the 21st century. I stand with millions of working families and small businesses against any attempt by big corporations to control the Internet and eliminate the Internet’s level playing field. In Congress, I’ll fight to protect Net Neutrality for the entire Internet – wired and wireless – and make sure big corporations aren’t allowed to take control of free speech online. Mark me down as a 21st century Internet champion!”

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Ninety-five candidates for the Congress and the Senate signed the pledge – all ninety-five lost.  Now they didn’t lose because the voters were against Net Neutrality, I feel confident in saying that few even knew of the pledge or what it meant.  They lost because they were some of the most radial, left-wing, big-government candidates running.  The ones who want to tell you how much salt or calories should be in the food we choose to eat, whether or not you can call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree, what type of healthcare coverage you can have, and we are to believe that Net Neutrality is simply their efforts to protect us and will not interfere with its operation or advancement.  All ninety-five candidates lost, three hundred members of Congress signed letter of opposition to FCC Internet regulations, so the FCC decided to do an end-run around Congress in an effort to obtain regulatory control over the Internet.

One of the biggest advocates in support for Net Neutrality is the organization Free Press and its founder, Robert McChesney.   There is no way to sugar-coat this guy.  He is a Socialist and staunch anti-capitalist.  In an interview with the Socialist Project on August 2009, he stated:

… fighting to make changes in the short-term, not just in the long term, became of utmost importance. Instead of waiting for the revolution to happen, we learned that unless you make significant changes in the media, it will be vastly more difficult to have a revolution. While the media is not the single most important issue in the world, it is one of the core issues that any successful Left project needs to integrate into its strategic program.

Also:

You will never ever, in any circumstance, win any struggle at any time. That being said, we have a long way to go. At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.

His view of Net Neutrality certainly is not as benign as how the FCC is defining it.  But not to worry.  It is the FCC who is going to establish regulations not Free Press.  There are no connections between the FCC and the radical, anti-capitalist group, Free Press.  That is, if you don’t count the fact that the former communication director for Free Press, Jen Howard, is FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s press secretary.  Small world.

It comes down to control: the marketplace and the end users or the government.  If your IP changes something you don’t like, the marketplace provides additional options for you to choose from.  If the government regulators make changes you disagree with, to whom do you turn then?

The Internet is not broke.  It does not need the government to step in and make it better.  The Internet does not need Net Neutrality and the doorway to ever increasing government regulations it provides.

Can you hear the giant grasshoppers munching their way toward you (sorry, another vague movie reference; Google it while you still can)?

WikiLeaks, Setec Astronomy and the Internet

December 10th, 2010

It’s a dangerous world out there.  Okay, that’s no big newsflash, but it needs to be succinctly stated every now and then less we forget.  So again, it’s a dangerous world out there.  There are religious fanatics, governments, corporations and even individuals who wish to do us harm.  We need to be vigilant in order to remain secure.  In the course of our vigilances, things are done that may seem to be extreme, barbaric and even illegal.  If a man is holding a gun and says he is going to kill you, what measures would you rule out to protect yourself because they may seem to others as extreme, barbaric or illegal?  Would you even give a hoot (a word with which I have recently became reacquainted) what others thought, or would you simply pull out your own gun a shoot the bastard in the head?  Then the question becomes: do you keep this fact a secret or do you let the world know how you deal with threats to your security?  In other words, do secrets make us safer?

There is a hierarchy of secrets: national security, bureaucratic, corporate and personal, not necessarily in that order.  The world has become inundated with secrets at all levels.  It’s the Setec Astronomy syndrome (Google it if you don’t speak in vague movie references), and the very close cousin to secrets is lies.  It’s not that there are too many secrets.  It is that there are too many lies.  As in the hypothetical threat mentioned above, a secret would be: Yes, I shot him, but I can’t tell you how I got my gun because there are others out there who wish to kill me.  A lie is: No, I didn’t shoot him, somebody else must have.  One is to protect your security, while the other is to protect personal interests.  One allows the reasons for the attack to be addressed, while the other denies the reality of an attack entirely.  One is keeping a secret.  The other is telling a lie.

If the purpose behind Julian Assange’s leaking of the information provide to him by others is to expose without prejudice the lies governments and corporations are telling and operating under, then there is some merit to his actions.  I do not think, however, that his motives are so pure.  He appears to be targeting the US and US interests, and for that reason I do think he is a danger.  Although I do not see as others do an extreme threat to world security.  Some things should remain secret, but the fear is not so much that the secrets WikiLeaks has will cause irreparable harm to the nation’s security or severely damage corporate finance, as it is a fear by those in power that the lies and deception against their own people and alleged allies will be revealed; all the corruption, the back-stabbing, the misinformation disseminated will be available for all to see.   And that fear may cause Julian Assange his freedom … or more. 

However, his actions, along with his cohorts who are bombarding Internet sites that do not support his efforts, could impact all our freedom if the powers-that-be use this issue as justification to impose strict regulations on the Internet.  Watch out for that.  The Internet is not the problem.  It is Julian Assange and those who have malicious intent that are the problem.  He could do what he is doing now without the Internet.  It’s just a lot more effective using a network that gives potential global access to everybody.

Evil, Rich Fat-Cats

December 9th, 2010

We hear it from the media, the politicians and the income redistribution crowd all the time.  The rich in America are evil, money-hoarding scoundrels.  They might not use those exact words, although some have, but their true beliefs could not be clearer.  They believe the rich have gathered their wealth by oppressing the poor among us and it is unfair.  The rich do not “pay their fair share”.  Even now, there is a tremendous up roar in Congress about whether the “rich” should be forced to give more of their money to the government.  You can hear the utter distain in their voices as they lobby for laws to essentially rob from the rich and give to the government.  I have never understood those who feel such distain toward the wealthy.  Sure, maybe some envy or even jealousy, but distain?

I don’t know very many wealthy people.  In fact, personally, I only know one, my boss, the owner of the company where I work.  I don’t know how much he is worth, but I do know he has enough money to own a private jet, and it was rumored several years ago, also an island in the Bahamas, or was it a castle in Bavaria … maybe both.  Whatever, it was something most of us will never have.  At the same time he was buying jets, islands, castles and miniature giraffes, he was using his wealth to leverage large loans to expand the company and make even more money.  That’s what the rich do, right?  They want more and more.  After all, there are always new jets and larger islands and other beautiful things to acquire. 

Then the recession of 2000 hit.  Though not as devastating as our current recession, it had an enormous impact on his company.  Sales plummeted.  He was overextended with his loans.  Gone was the jet, the non-existent island/castle and he was in jeopardy of losing the company.

Ah-ha, you might say, that greedy bastard is going to get his just rewards.  But unfortunately, from your point of view, he was able to survive and eventually prosper once again (the jet is back in the sky), and the eight-hundred people he now employees are more than happy for that.  It’s a dirty little secret that the media, the politicians and the income redistribution crowd don’t like to advertise, but it is the rich who provide for the rest of us through employment.  Multiply his story by a couple hundred thousand and you have the story of America’s greatness.

Of course, there are some unscrupulous rich people, but they are not the norm, at least not in America.  It is often stated that America gives less to the needy as a percentage of our GNP than most other developed nations, and if you are talking about government “giving”, you would be correct.  However, if you add in personal donations by the rich and equally the “non-rich”, i.e., you and me, you would be way off.  Personal charitable donations given by private individuals and entities amount to over $300 BILLION a year, far more than any other nation.

If you are still not convinced that the rich are not the evil fat-cats you envision, or if you simply want to be inspired to voluntarily “spread-the-wealth” yourself, check out Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s The Giving Pledge at http://givingpledge.org .  Read the pledge letters submitted and see just how much and for how long, in these cases, the uber-rich have been giving back, aside from the hundreds of thousands of people their wealth employs.

Coal-Fired Cars

November 28th, 2010

They are all the rage, “green” cars that run on coal.  Most still require that the majority of the driving is through the use of a gasoline engine, but advances are being made to produce a reasonably-priced car (less than 50% more than the cost of conventional powered vehicles) that in some areas of the country will run almost entirely on coal.  France is even touting their version of the “green” car, the nuclear hybrid.  Just imagine that, an atomic car.  Environmentalists and fifties science fiction buffs are giddy with the prospects.

Atomic cars may be the answer for pollution ridden urban areas, but, as a viable alternative to the internal combustion engine, they have a long way to go before they can achieve widespread success.  They are too expensive and too inconvenient for how American’s drive.  The highly ballyhooed Chevy Volt gets about 40 miles/charge.  Again, great for urban driving, but you’re not going to gain much by driving to grandma’s house for the holidays, or for that matter, if you take the Interstates to get to and from work each day.

So why all the fuss?  How great are they if the government needs to give people a $7,500 subsidy to buy one, or use hundreds of millions of tax dollars to build 20,000 charging station in selected cities around the country.  Did you get a tax-break when you bought your first computer or cell-phone or George Foreman grill?  If the idea works, we will be willing to pay the premium.  Those first computers, cell-phones, CD-players and flat-screen TVs were expensive by today’s prices.  It is just another example of how the environmental movement has been politicized.

When the technology is available, alternatively-powered cars will take control and the gasoline-powered car will go the way of vinyl records, but we are not there yet.   Until that time, if you really want to make a difference, just drive less, properly maintain your car and don’t drive with a “lead foot”.  Around a race track a 350hp Audi gets better mileage than a Prius.

As nifty as an atomic-powered car sounds, before you buy one ask yourself: would the extra money I spend on this be better spent elsewhere and is it right to use other people’s money (tax dollars) to help me buy this – and what about the radiation risks?

Post Thanksgiving Day Blues

November 27th, 2010

I got the post-T-day-blues.  I ate enough to support a person living in half of the other countries in the world for two weeks.  I have enough leftovers, much of which will be thrown away, to support them for an additional month.  While I was gorging myself, 25,000 people died of hunger or hunger-related causes.  Even during such tough economic times, why do we do this?  I think the answer is: because we can, and that’s not a bad reason.

If I had fasted yesterday and donated the $50 I spent on my feast, would that have really made a difference?  In the long-run, I think not.  They are waiting in line to die.  Those lucky enough to have received food from my donation would have been replaced by someone else, and when my money ran out, they would simply return to the queue.

Think about it.  Even if only $2 of my donation translated into real food in someone’s stomach, enough to keep them living, it means that it would only take $50,000 to eradicate hunger from the world for that day.  Of course, that means that the next day would cost $50,000 plus an additional $50,000 and the next day would be $50,000 plus $50,000 plus $50,000, and so on.  For the year, at $2/day for 25,000 people, the cost to feed the world’s hungry would be slightly less than $3.4 billion/year, (50,000*(3652 + 365)/2), and that is not a staggering amount of money, especially when you consider that we spend $74 billion/year on carbonated soft drinks.  So, if we reduce our soft-drink consumption by 5% and donate that money (approximately $11/person/year), we can eradicate hunger-related deaths.  Not so fast, Kemo Sabe.

Some people say that we are overpopulated and can’t feed everybody.  That is not the case.  While 25,000 deaths/day are a lot, it means that 99.85% of us have enough food to survive.  We throw away more food than would be needed to keep these people alive, but it is more than simply staying alive.  An estimated 1 billion people are malnourished, while even more are considered overweight.  Again, it is not that we don’t have the food.  We obviously do.  It is a question of distribution, priorities and politics. 

The leading cause of hunger is poverty (duh).  World economic growth over the past 50 years, largely spurred on by the US and Western Europe, has helped reduce world hunger by a third, but dragging the rest of world up as the Western economies grow can only go so far.  As the economies of the poorer country improve, food distribution remains a deterrent.  The malnourished are largely in rural, hard to reach areas.  Cultural and religious biases also play a role, but by far, the politics of the region is the biggest obstacle.  Ninety percent of the countries with the biggest hunger-related issues are net exporters of food (34 of the 40 most impacted countries).  We can’t help them if they refuse to help themselves.

Don’t fall for the notion that we have so much because we stole it from the rest of the world.  Food shortage is not the issue.  Poverty, natural disasters, culture and politics are to blame.  Stay healthy (i.e., don’t over eat too often), donate to reputable food organizations and support foreign-aid programs designed to help the developing countries of the world establish stable economies and governments.  So go eat some leftovers.

I’m Tired of Being a Racist

October 17th, 2010

I’m a conservative, white male in my fifties living in the South.  The last person I hired was a white male.  The last person I fired was a black male.  I never even considered voting for Obama, and, like his grandmother, I might become apprehensive if while walking down the street at night I saw several young, black men heading my direction.   I support the political leanings of the Tea-Party.  I think illegal aliens should not be here.   I think the mosque near Ground-Zero should not be built (actually, that makes me a bigot, not a racist, so add that to the list).  I guess you can say that my beliefs and actions epitomize racism – or can you?

If the developers of the “Ground-Zero” mosque want to build a mosque next to Ground-Zero and they complied with all the local ordinances, than there is nothing we can or should do to deny them their right.  That being said,  I don’t want a mosque built near Ground-Zero because historically, radical, violent Muslims have built mosques on or near sites of conquest, and do not want a mosque near Ground-Zero to be used by radical Muslims as a symbol of victory over Christians and the West.  You can build a mosque next to my house if you want, but the developers do not want to build it next to my house or your house.  They want to build it next to Ground-Zero, and since there are currently no plans to establish a 9-11 memorial or a display condemning those who murdered so many on that day, or any other direct relationship to 9-11, you have to ask, ”Then why there?”.  Ethnicity or religion has nothing to do with it.  Context does. 

I understand why Mexicans and others illegally cross the border.  If I was in their position and had an opportunity to sneak into the US, I probably would, too.  That, however, does not excuse the fact that they are here illegally.  It’s the sheer number that is a problem.  There are upwards to 20 million illegal aliens in the country, and more are coming each day.  It is not sustainable.  They are a burden on our social programs and our healthcare system.  Their working and living conditions, though acceptable to the conditions they left, are often horrid by our standards.  It has become a cliché to say that they are doing the work Americans refuse to do.  They are doing the work Americans refuse to do at that pay level and under those conditions.   We are generating a whole class of people that we can treat as substandard and when they become a burden, toss them aside.  Is that compassion or something else?

I support those who believe in the Constitution and are against a big, intrusive, central government and the tenets that go with that (e.g., ever increasing taxes and federal regulations), and those concepts are the foundation of the Tea-Party movement.  I, and the vast majority of those who follow the Tea-Party, don’t give a hoot about the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your ethnicity …  just that you accept personal responsibility for your life and your actions and believe that a large, central government is a threat to our way of life.

I have voted for president nine times, and not one of them was a Democrat (though two were not Republican).  So why would I even consider voting for the most liberal Democrat to ever run for the office in my lifetime?  Because he is black?  Isn’t that racism?  As far as being apprehensive if I saw several young, black men approaching me on the street at night, if the four men in question were wearing pastel-colored shirts, gaudy polyester pants and carrying golf bags, I wouldn’t give them a thought, whatever color skin they had.  However, if they were dressed with gang paraphernalia or had shaved heads and swastika tattoos, then, yes, they would give me pause.  It’s not the color of their skin, it’s the attitude and demeanor they project that I would react to.  If you say otherwise, then I’d have to think that you are either a fool or a liar.  Again, context, not skin color.

In the eight year span between firing that black man and hiring that white man, I have hired one man of Hispanic origin, one man of Asian origin, two black men, two black women, one white woman, two people over the age of sixty and two white men.  I hired the best qualified person for the job – period.

So yeah, I’m tired of being a racist, or more accurately stated, I’m tired of being labeled a racist.  I think about it whenever I want to discuss the futility of Obama’s policies or the illegal immigration problem or even something as innocuous as school assignments, because one misstatement, one suggestion misconstrued can bring out the racist charge.  It truncates the conversation, assigns false motives to suggestions so that they can be dismissed, and does not allow for honest debate.  It builds a barricade around issues that obstructs the chances of resolution.  It is fraudulent and destructive.

Taken out of context, any of the statements in the first paragraph could get me labeled by some as a racist, especially the first sentence.  If you are one of them, then who’s the racist now?

Sticks and Stones …

September 12th, 2010

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  On the playgrounds of my youth we all heard that old phrase.  It was used as a shield to ward off the pain hateful words were meant to cause.  We knew the people using those words were bullies and were indeed trying to hurt us with their words, but we simply refused to accept the premise of the attack and thus denied the bully any satisfaction from their attack.  Unfortunately, kids today are indoctrinated with the concept that words can and do hurt as much as physical violence.  In accepting that premise, we are forced to accept the corresponding axiom that there is some truth in what is being said, otherwise it wouldn’t hurt.  We relinquish our personal power and readily submit to the intent of the words and accept the hurt.  We walk away actually believing, to some extent, the words and blame the bully for blatantly pointing out some personal fault where none actually exists.  We leave the encounter with less self-esteem and empower the bully.  We let the bully win and he continues to use the tactic because he received some self-gratification from your emotional response.  Words cannot hurt you unless you let them, but we are teaching our children to allow words to rob them of self-esteem rather than teaching them that people who revert to name-calling says a lot more about them than it does about you.

The impact of accepting the “obvious” hurtfulness of words is multiple.  One manifestation is that we are now hurt or offended by words/names used by one person against somebody else.  It’s as if people are looking for reasons to be offended.  How can we allow something said by someone else to someone else offend us?  We can disagree about the appropriateness of the comment, but we shouldn’t allow it to offend us.  That simply feeds the psyche of the bully and often elevates their status.  It perpetuates the notion that perhaps there is some validity to the bully’s comments and that we need “third-party” outrage to protect our self-esteem, which is simply impossible.  It’s called self-esteem.  If you need someone else’s approval, it not self-esteem.  It’s something less.

The most blatant impact manifests itself in the tone of public discourse.  It has become commonplace and even acceptable to ignore the message and simply attack the messenger.  All the major news websites allow for comments on the news stories they post.  What a cesspool of name-calling drivel.  There is little content in the responses.  There is no discussion about the validity of one idea over the other, but simply the Internet version of a shouting match.  Who can come up with words that they believe will hurt the other person the most.  Part of it is the format and the anonymity, but a major part is the belief we have instilled that if we shout loud enough and disparage strong enough, we can intimidate people to relinquish their stance.  Blogs have become the adult version of a grade-school playground where bullies are allowed to run supreme.

But the most dangerous impact of accepting that words hurt as much as sticks and stones is that if they are indeed equivalent, then it is appropriate to respond to a verbal attack with a physical one.  We see it every day in those who feel the least empowered in society, a “dissed” gang member, a person of color who feels they have been racially insulted, even among certain religious groups.  They all feel justified in resorting to physical violence when verbally confronted, and consequently become even less empowered.  All because they accept the premise that words hurt.  A premise that society, in general, is increasingly accepting.

It comes back to the fact that words cannot hurt you unless you let them.  People resort to name-calling and disparaging comments not to make a point, but to anger the person to which the comments are directed.  If we consider the source, their defeatist reasons for making the comments and the pure pettiness behind the attempt, we can shield ourselves from accepting the hurt they are attempting to inflict. 

 PS        The exception to the comments above is when the words are spoken by someone in a position of authority or respect, such as a parent or teacher.  That is an entirely different situation.