Episode 010 The Anvil’s Ring Podcast – What You Need Is A Makeover

In this episode, John and Kerry discuss reinventing yourself. Kerry makes a mistake and allows John to find amusing stories to tell from the news without her reading them first possibly causing an international incident with the Germans, insulting our Hollywood betters and hurting Oregonian’s feelings.

Episode 008 The Anvil’s Ring Podcast-The Nazis In Your Backyard

In this episode Kerry brings up an excellent New York Times article on how Americans get started on the road to Nazism, White Supremacy and White Nationalism. It was the Social Media response to the article that was even more interesting. Also, did you know a potato chip bag can be high tech?

Moore Or Less.

I am friends with a lot of Southerners who for one reason or another moved to Montana. They tend to be from Alabama, Georgia or Tennessee. We talk about the right way to barbecue, we wax poetic about bird dogs, shotguns, hounds, horses and cattle. The ladies have that silky smooth southern drawl that can mesmerize me. I’ve had more than one southern woman chastise me for some transgression and I reacted with a sappy smile said “yes ma’am,” before I do what she wants with a song in my heart.
I thought it high praise when one gentleman said to this born and bred New England Yankee, “John, you sir were born in the wrong century and on the wrong side of the Mason Dixon line.”
That being said, some weeks back, I saw some putz with a cowboy hat on TV where he stood on a stage and waved a dinky pistol around sweeping audience members with the barrel. Any firearms instructor would have had a stroke at the sight.
“What in God’s name…?” I muttered to Her Majesty.
“I think he wants to be a Senator,” she said not looking up from her book. “He is from Alabama. Roy Moore is his name. Ring a bell?”
It didn’t, until I looked him up and a whole bunch of bells started ringing. This guy is a piece of work. Twice elected to the Alabama Supreme Court, he was removed once and resigned once. Why, you ask? Both times he left the Court because he won’t obey court rulings. Founder of the Foundation of Moral Law (Pro Tip. Anytime you hear of a group with the words, “moral”, “rule,” or “order” in the title…run), he supposedly received one million dollars over five years from the non-profit, which was more than was reported for taxes. Allegedly, the foundation also paid for personal perks and campaign expenses. These things are no-nos but ol’ Roy is a Christian, follows the Ten Commandments and isn’t Hillary Clinton so obviously he can do no wrong.
Ol’Roy is a Birther, believes Christian tenets should supersede US law, believes Muslims should not be allowed to hold public office because of their religious tenets (not joking here), and believes homosexual behavior should be illegal.
With qualifications like those it is little wonder Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, is ol’ Roy’s right-hand man. I shook my head in wonder mostly because the President decided to back Moore’s opponent in the GOP primary. His opponent’s name was Strange. The jokes write themselves with these people.
I had mostly forgotten about ol’ Roy until various women started coming forward after his primary win. They told stories that ranged from the judge dating them when they were in their teens and he was in his thirties, to outright molesting a fourteen-year-old.
He denied it all but then backtracked some and said he didn’t recall, then said he never dated anyone unless their mamma said it was OK. His wife, President of the Foundation for Moral Law and a high school classmate of one of his accusers(No joke. Look it up), joined in the fray.
First she posted on social media that the restaurant mentioned in one woman’s story didn’t exist back then. News flash: it did. His wife also released a letter signed by 50 pastors supporting ol’ Roy but forgot to mention the letter was from August during the primary before we all found out about his penchant for following teenage girls around the mall. Now, some pastors want their names removed from that letter. Not sure if that has happened mostly because I’m still stuck on that only “some” of them wanted to separate themselves from this person.
I read a few days ago of another woman has come forward with a story of ol’ Roy giving her a ride home from work, forcing himself on her, then when she said no and tried to get away, he dumped her out of the car into the parking lot. Before he left, of course, he warned her to keep quiet. She was 16. No word if her mamma said it was O.K.
I am no lawyer and I don’t play one on TV but I’m pretty sure that 30 year-old-men molesting 14-year-olds and groping 16-year-olds are criminal acts. Even in Alabama. Even 40 years ago.
All sorts are defending him. They make brilliant excuses such as comparing his behavior to Mary and Joseph (yes that Mary and Joseph); revealing vast conspiracies by The Establishment or Democrats; explaining it happened a long time ago; innocent until proven guilty (necessary in court, but this ain’t court y’all); dating teenagers as a thirty- something is fine as long as they are consenting; it’s Alabama and dating is different there; and (this is one of my favorites)he has been happily married since 1985. Devastatingly effective defense, isn’t it?
I’m curious: how in God’s name did we get to the point where it’s controversial to think a grown man shouldn’t be dating high school girls, let alone molesting them? Have we become so tribal that we can’t agree that at the very least we wouldn’t want this creep as our next-door neighbor, let alone a Senator who will vote on judge’s nominations and participate in law-making?
In the end, Alabama voters will decide if he’s worthy to represent them. If they do, the US Senate can then decide if they will allow him alone in the cloak room with Senate Pages. After all, what’s one more creep in a city apparently full of them?
One last thing. This is one of those times I like to use the Cokie Roberts Test she used during the Monica and Bill scandal back in the 1990’s. One of the defenses used, mostly by men and weirdly, feminists, was that oral sex was not sex. Believe it or not we got warnings before these segments on Sunday morning news shows to remove our children to spare them graphic language. We were so uptight back then.
Cokie said in response to this particular defense that we all should turn to our wives and ask them if they thought oral sex wasn’t really sex and therefore not cheating. I almost fell out of my chair laughing.
So, turn to the mother of your children and ask her if your 16 -ear-old daughter can date a guy 14 years older than her. Tell her he is a fine upstanding gentleman and has dated several of your daughter’s classmates and nothing bad happened.
Do me a favor though, when you ask, make sure you film it and put it up on YouTube so we can get a good laugh. We all need one.

Update: Donald Trump now supports ol’Roy because Trump doesn’t want a Liberal Democrat to win and because ol’Roy denys everything. Strangely however, a pastor says ol’Roy dated teenage girls for their purity and after ol’ Roy’s Vietnam service no girls his age were available. No joke. Look it up.

Episode 006 The Anvil’s Ring- If The Shoe Fits

The third episode in a series of three where John and Kerry talk about one company, Zappos, that has made a good workplace culture the center piece of their business model. They also discuss lost loves and how much trouble they can cause.

005 The Anvil’s Ring – Work Place Culture Change

In a promised continuation from the last episode, John and Kerry discuss solutions that other countries have tried to stop work place harassment and bullying. They also have a brief chat about an incident in their marriage.

Desperate Violence

 

Thoreau wrote “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” You may remember something about their song dying inside them as well. Thoreau never said it, but it’s a nice touch.
I was sitting in an old rocking chair on the porch of a little cabin deep in the woods of Northwestern Connecticut the first time I read “Walden”. I stopped rocking in my chair for a moment when I read “quiet desperation”. Incredibly, at least in my love addled mind, 120 years ago a man had put my feelings into words. I was in love with a young lady who could not return my ardor. Unrequited love made me quietly desperate. It also made me do some desperately stupid things. My chest ached. I found excuses to do the most physical labor possible in order to drive her from my mind with exhaustion. I was obsessed and knew it but didn’t care. I would have done anything so she would love me.
Eventually, I saw the truth. One cold, grey December morning I told her we wouldn’t be seeing each other anymore. There were tears of loss for both of us. I picked up the phone at least twenty times to call her over the next month, but didn’t. It’s funny. Now I just remember the fun we had and smile. I hope she does too.
However, at the time, despite the soul crushing angst, it never entered my mind to go shoot people attending church, even though I owned firearms. I never considered bombing a building or running down people in a crowd with my pickup truck. There were angry thoughts to be sure but nothing to be acted upon. That would have been… crazy.
There was a movie in the early 80’s starring Charles Bronson called Ten To Midnight. At the end the naked, rapist/murderer is chasing a young lady down the street with bad intentions. He is stopped in the nick of time and as he is handcuffed by the police he brags about how he will get out of prison because he could play the system by pretending to be insane. They would let him out and then everyone would hear from him again. Bronson’s character says, “No we won’t.” and shoots the bad guy in the head, executing him. The theatre I was in went wild with cheers. One man behind me said,
“Finally, someone is doing something about all this.”
I’m pretty sure he knew it was a movie and not real life but it was the overall reaction that was interesting. It was as if all the “quiet desperation” over the spike in all types of crime in the early 1980’s boiled over in that little mall theatre. When I tell people that story it’s fairly common for them to say they had similar experiences. Charles Bronson made a mini career out of playing avenging angel parts in the 80’s because people were feeling helpless and desperate. Bronson’s characters were popular because they brought justice to an unjust world.
Yet, there was no spike in vigilante justice. We had plenty of guns and ammo. The bad guys were in plain sight in any American city. Movies had shown us the way and we loved it. It would have been easy to teach them all a lesson, but it didn’t happen. Want to know why? Well, that would have been crazy. Certifiable insanity.
This past Sunday, in a little church in Texas, a man murdered 26 churchgoers. He was dressed in black and wore a ballistic vest. He murdered them with weapons that were unlawful for him to own because of his violent history and mental health issues. Supposedly, he was angry with his mother-in-law. It was her church but she was not in attendance. This would make him a violent lunatic but stupid as well.
I’m not going to get into gun control laws, bureaucratic SNAFUs or whose fault it all is. There are more than enough people pontificating and making political hay over all of those things and at least half of them have no clue as to what they are talking about. What I found fascinating was the immediate vicious criticism of those who sent “Thoughts and Prayers” to victims, families and friends on Social Media. It went so far as having some say the prayers were “shot out of the victims” and how this proved there is no “magical man in the sky who looks out for you.”
At the same time there were the would-be avenging angels who believe that this proved that churches should have a large number of parishioners armed with concealed weapons. These people didn’t like it if you disagreed and then would call you vile names while proclaiming they would courageously cover you as you run away like a sniveling coward. All of this while EMS personnel were still trying to move the bodies of young children out of the church.
We are at a tipping point as a society. Our “quiet desperation” has been boiling for 20 years or more . Racism, bigotry, destruction of the family, distrust of basic institutions, tribalism, economic upheavals, divisive politics, never ending war, terror attacks, opioid crisis, hypocritical leaders, failing schools, failing health insurance plans, massive student debt, gang violence and shootings in never seen numbers in major cities, race riots, cop killings and of course mass shootings. The lid has come off the pot and the desperation, no longer quiet, is hissing all over the stove top. Guns and gun violence are not the problem. They are a symptom. We The People are the problem. Every single one of us.

004 The Anvil’s Ring – All Thats Abusive Isn’t Harvey Weinstein

In this episode John introduces Kerry O’Connell and they  discuss the Weinstein case, workplace culture and the more common place harassment that takes place in our everyday work lives.

Character

 

Did you know last week was officially declared National Character Counts Week by Donald J. Trump? https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/10/13/president-donald-j-trump-proclaims-october-15-through-october-21-2017-0
Yup, I didn’t think so.
I am mystified by the popularity of the never-ending litany of specially named months, weeks or days. From National Cupcake Week to Horseshoer Appreciation Day it all seems like such an obvious (obvious in the worst sort of way) attempt to drum up some business, pretend we as a society care about something or make individuals feel special with their lot in life. My mail carrier always has a spring in his step each February 4th during National Thank A Mail Carrier Day. You didn’t forget, did you? You heartless wretch.
There are over 1200 national days believe it or not. I don’t know about the weeks or months because I found it too boring to look up. Generally, I suppose it’s all harmless, feel good, let’s-all-like-it-on-Facebook-or-a-puppy-will-die sort of fun. Except when it isn’t.
If you haven’t read the character proclamation through the link provided, please do so now. I’ll wait.
Done? Good. Notice anything interesting?
You may have noticed that once again there is no one in the White House who can write coherently. Much like POTUS’s Twitter feed and press conferences, everything they write bounces around like a squirrel on meth. Accomplished writers often say you must write on an 8th grade level so the largest audience can understand you, but this is ridiculous.
For instance, the White House feels few things are more important than “cultivating strong character” yet two paragraphs later they find character to be hard to define. If, as the last paragraph states, we are striving each day to “improve our character and that of our Nation” then shouldn’t we have a definition to go by? It’s possible the White House is thinking about the definition of character along the same lines as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” If they are, then considering POTUS’s past comments on women, his daughter, and sexual matters, the White House should probably find something else to think about.
Fortunately, we can turn to any dictionary and see character is defined quite well. After reading the definition most of us would come to the realization we should be cultivating good character, not just a strong one. An individual’s character is the sum total of how they interact with society. People can be kind and fair. They also can be corrupt and evil. Having a strong character that is made up of evil traits is not good.
Speaking of not good, here is another proclamatory gem: “This week, we reflect on the character of determination, resolve, and honor that makes us proud to be American.”
Huh? Determination, resolve and honor have a character all their own?
Don’t you dare say, “You know what they mean.” We shouldn’t have to guess. I’ve heard many times that Trump wasn’t elected to speak well. I’ve got good news. He doesn’t and apparently his staff can’t write well either.
Moving along, there is some predictable political tripe about kitchen tables (we don’t just do finances there anymore apparently, we teach character there too) civic and religious organizations and then applause for, “families as they perform the often thankless task of raising men and women of character.”
I don’t know about others, but my wife and I didn’t have children and raise them to be far better men than many in Hollywood, politics and the Oval Office in order to receive thank- you notes and applause. We did it so they would take care of us when we are old and not be tempted to bury us in the backyard and sell the house. I kid, I kid.
Some will complain that I’m being petty and nick-picky. Maybe, but people of good character say what they mean and mean what they say.
National Character Counts Week was incoherently proclaimed by Donald J Trump’s White House around the same time we found out about Harvey Weinstein, whose behavior “everyone” knew about but ignored or whispered about. Around the same time that Roy Moore, the man who believes Muslims shouldn’t serve in elected office and homosexuality should be illegal, won a Senatorial primary. About the same time that Bill O’Reilly announced he was mad at God for all the sexual harassment accusations leveled at him. The accusations he spent tens of millions of dollars on to settle in order, he says, to protect his children.
Also about the same time there was the Presidential ham-handed attempt at assuaging a pregnant war widow’s grief, the sequined cowboy hat wearing Congresswoman who eagerly made it public, and the President’s thoughtless response. To top it all off… when asked by a reporter if he should be more civil, the President said he doesn’t need to be more civil. He went to an Ivy League school and is very smart.
There are more examples of strong American character that make us proud but it’s all too depressing.
Many years ago when I was a farrier’s apprentice, I read something in a horseshoeing book that had little to do with horses. It was about being in business and being a human being. It said,”it is always preferable to have character than to be one.”
Wouldn’t that have been a better proclamation?