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by Jeff
Rated: 18+ · Book · Biographical · #1399999
My primary Writing.com blog.
Logocentric (adj). Regarding words and language as a fundamental expression of an external reality (especially applied as a negative term to traditional Western thought by postmodernist critics).

Sometimes I just write whatever I feel like. Other times I respond to prompts, many taken from the following places:

         *Penw* "The Soundtrackers Group
         *Penw* "Blogging Circle of Friends
         *Penw* "Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise
         *Penw* "JAFBG
         *Penw* "Take up Your Cross

Thanks for stopping by! *Smile*
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August 13, 2022 at 11:55pm
August 13, 2022 at 11:55pm

If I had access to a time machine, I'd divide up my travels into two components. The non-interventionist "just visiting" component, and the "meddle with the timeline" component. For the first component, the tricky part would be narrowing the list of times and places to see. I suppose my top five list of historical places to visit in my time machine would include, in no particular order:

         *Bullet* Prehistoric times - gotta see a living dinosaur!
         *Bullet* Italy during the Renaissance
         *Bullet* Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Egypt during the time of Jesus
         *Bullet* Ancient Rome and/or Greece
         *Bullet* The Roaring 20s (before the Great Depression)

If I were going into "meddle with the timeline" mode that's a little tougher because (a) there's so much I'd want to change, and (b) I generally subscribe to the butterfly effect theory of time travel, and often think that if massive changes were made to pivotal events in history (the "kill Hitler so WWII never happened" type of things), it would have unintended consequences that we can't predict. So my meddling would probably be relegated to things designed to get us to the familiar present with just enough different to put our modern world in a better place.

For example, if I went back in time with $10,000 and systematically bought stock, jumped forward in time, sold that stock to have even more to buy stock in the next big company (i.e., IBM or GE to Microsoft to Apple to Tesla, etc.), you could have literally hundreds of billions of dollars. Maybe trillions. Now as much fun as it would be to imagine having astronomical personal wealth like that... imagine if that wealth was concentrated into a private firm that was designed to use its wealth and power to influence the shaping of economic policy for the better? It could be run by a board of progressive interests: pro democracy, pro equality, pro labor, etc. With that kind of money they could afford just as many (if not more) lobbyists as the special interests.

They could fund social programs designed to help the lower and middle classes. They could lobby for regulations on industries and special interests that otherwise could use their own power to circumvent accountability. They could invest in new technologies to fight climate change, or stabilize our crumbling educational system to make the next generation's outcomes that much better.

I'm a progressive at heart. I believe in change and pushing things forward to try and make the world a better place. If I had a time machine and used it to go back and meddle in the least invasive way possible, it would be to help the progressive interests of today build as strong of a foundation as possible so that the scales aren't quite as tipped against them as they currently are.

August 2, 2022 at 2:49am
August 2, 2022 at 2:49am


         *Movie* Chip 'n' Dale: Rescue Rangers
         *Movie* The Gray Man
         *Movie* Spiderhead
         *Movie* Top Gun: Maverick


         *TV* The Dropout
         *TV* Loot
         *TV* The Old Man
         *TV* Only Murders In The Building (Season 2)

On the movie side of things, Chip 'n' Dale: Rescue Rangers was a fun, surprisingly subversive movie that was crammed full of references to both Hollywood and the old Saturday morning cartoon. File that one away under "pleasant surprise." The Gray Man was entertaining enough, I suppose, but as a huge fan of the book series it's based on, I found myself a little disappointed. It felt like they just kind of made a generic espionage thriller and a generic action protagonist out of what I think is a really compelling literary character. It was fun to watch, but I like the books way, way better. Spiderhead was a weird little movie that I'm not sure actually made sense, but kept my interest. And Top Gun: Maverick was delightful. It's a total old-school action movie and they don't make many of these anymore. Definitely worth watching if you were a fan of the original. It's a masterclass into how to do an excellent sequel.

On the television side, The Dropout was good but hard to watch because it was a little slow and the subject matter of watching Elizabeth Holmes basically destroy her own life and the lives of others in pursuit of a fraudulent invention is not the lightest of fare. Loot was fun to watch, but didn't really feel like it was offering much new to the "out of touch rich person learns to be a human being" genre. The Old Man was really slow but got good until abruptly ending. I'll definitely watch the new season and the acting was phenomenal, but it was a bit of a frustrating show. Only Murders In The Building Season 2 is a lot of fun. They found a way to continue the story in a completely different and yet familiar way that captures the magic of the first season, which is hard to do in the second season of a show.

TOP PICK: Top Gun: Maverick
July 31, 2022 at 8:20pm
July 31, 2022 at 8:20pm

The first foreign country I visited was Spain in 2009. My cousin-in-law's parents were missionaries at a Christian school outside of Madrid for almost a decade and hosted us for their last summer before returning to the States. After years of wanting to travel but never having the opportunity, my wife and I soaked everything in and immediately fell in love with international travel.

The following year (2010) we visited London for the first time and I surprised my wife with an overnight trip to Paris, which we followed up two years later with a trip specifically to Paris in Spring of 2013. Later that summer, my wife went on a mission trip with his sister's church to Brazil (Sao Paulo, specifically), and I followed her on a second mission trip a year later in Summer of 2014.

The next few years were filled with lots of domestic travel for various reasons (mostly short getaways and attending weddings). Other than my wife's third trip to Brazil for Thanksgiving 2017, we went on trips to Hawaii, Nashville, New York, Portland (Oregon not Maine), Reno, Seattle, Texas (separately to both Austin and Dallas). When we were getting ready to start the foster-to-adopt process and start our family, we took one last "big hurrah" trip to Thailand in July 2018, and that was the last international trip we've taken. I was hoping to visit three different continents before our parenting journey began and thanks to that last trip to Thailand, we were able to get stamps for Europe, South America, and Asia in our passports.

Since then, being new parents and the whole global pandemic thing have really put a lot of our travel plans on hold, and our list of places we want to visit has only increased in the intervening years. If I were to narrow down those places to a short list, the top three places I still want to visit at this point (which one is first depends on the day and the price of flights *Wink*) are Japan, Australia, and either Ireland or Italy. There are a ton more places I'd love to visit someday but whenever my wife and I talk about international travel, those are the destinations that we most often check first to see what's available.

With the kids' adoptions being finalized earlier this year, we're just waiting on their official paperwork (new birth certificates so we can get new social security cards so we can get passports), and once that happens we'll be cleared to start traveling the world again! *Bigsmile*
July 30, 2022 at 2:26am
July 30, 2022 at 2:26am

"Blog City Prompt Forum | Prompt

I remember this quote. It's from a commencement speech that SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts gave at his kid's graduation ceremony from some boarding school somewhere. At the time it was met with mixed reviews, with many either celebrating its irreverence or dismissing it as faux-intellectual nonsense. The version in the prompt is actually an abridged version, though. Here's the full text of that section of his commencement speech:

"Now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted.

I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship.

I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes."

He gave that speech back in 2017, before the Supreme Court replaced Anthony Kennedy with Brett Kavanaugh, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Amy Coney Barrett, and Stephen Breyer with Ketanji Brown Jackson. Back before the Court's most recent term where they overturned Roe v. Wade, gutted the federal government's ability to regulate major types of environmental pollutants, and have dramatically limited the rights of states to regulate guns (funny how they say we must entrust reproductive rights to the states, but gun rights are too important to be left up to individual states to decide... *RollEyes*), all things that are wildly unpopular with a significant majority of Americans.

In retrospect, maybe this is exactly the kind of person that John Roberts has always been. Someone who prides himself on being moderate and sensible and an institutionalist is, at heart, a "fuck your feelings" type who foreshadowed five years ago what they were going to do when given an opportunity. After all, it's good for us to be treated unfairly, to be betrayed, to lose and have your opponent gloat over their victory. The really important part isn't how badly you get screwed over; it's whether you learn something from the experience.

Spoken like someone who has routinely done the screwing over and has rarely been screwed over himself.

Don't get me wrong, I do think there is a grain of truth in what he's saying about the fact that we are all tempered and shaped by our failures. We often learn the most salient lessons about who we are and what we believe in the face of adversity. I guess I just have an issue with the messenger on this one. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, who by most accounts has led a pretty charmed life and now has the power to change the course of history in this country is telling a bunch of middle school graduates "I hope you'll fail at your dreams and be disappointed so you learn to suck it up."

For me, it's kind of like being lectured on your parenting skills by friends who have live-in domestic staff, or like an inheritor of generational wealth giving you tips on how to build a fortune. At best, it's the misguided advice of someone who hasn't actually practiced what they're preaching. At worse, it was a subtle warning of what was to come... an era where we're all going to get jurisprudentially fucked and his advice for when that happens is to basically be the dad from Calvin & Hobbes and tell us all how it "builds character."

I used to think John Roberts took his role as the steward of the Supreme Court seriously. That he actually believed in the fair and balanced application of the law was more important than partisan politics. The more I read about John Roberts and the actions he's taken since helping the Bush team argue in Bush v. Gore to stop the count in Florida and declare Bush the winner of the 2000 presidential election (a decision he directly benefitted from by subsequently being appointed to the federal bench), almost all of his opinions and decisions have frequently aligned with the interests of the Republican Party. And I don't mean with conservatism as a general judicial philosophy, I specifically mean key decisions that have implicitly and explicitly entrenched the political power of the Republican Party. I know all this sounds a little

... but seriously, look it up sometime. See what Roberts had to say in Exxon Shipping v. Baker about corporate responsibility for wrongdoing. Or Citizens United about corporate political donations being considered free speech. Or Heller, which disregarded the "for the purposes of a well regulated militia" part of the second amendment (odd for so many "originalists" on the court to decide in that specific instance that the founders didn't know what they were talking about!). Or Shelby County v. Holder where states with a record of voter rights violations no longer needed the federal government's approval over new voting laws because racism doesn't exist anymore. It's remarkable how often Roberts' opinions aren't just generically conservative but are very specifically in favor of a course of action that benefits the Republican Party in efforts to entrench its own power.

Maybe a guy like that shouldn't be telling a bunch of kids that he hopes the struggle and fail. Then again, maybe someone who seems to be putting his thumb on the scales of justice is exactly the kind of person who would tell kids that he hopes they learn something from inevitable adversity and disappointment with the system. *Think*
July 9, 2022 at 11:53pm
July 9, 2022 at 11:53pm

"Take up Your Cross | Prompt

My favorite church activity is Bible study. For a long time I didn't read the Bible, and for a while after that I read it quite skeptically. To be honest, I still do that, but I now have a much greater appreciation for the text, thanks to years of listening to really smart sermons, and realizing that a bit of confusion and uncertainty is kind of the point. Once I accepted the fact that the Bible isn't supposed to be a step-by-step blueprint, I was able to really appreciate all the nuances it contains, including inconsistencies and pieces of it that can be vastly misinterpreted by different people.

As a piece of literature, there's nothing quite like it. How it was written, how it was compiled, the sheer among of complexity and different authors and styles and types of writing... it's a remarkable text. I love attending Bible studies where people who are much more familiar with the text than I am weigh in on their interpretation of certain passages.

I'm particularly enjoying my church's current Bible in a Year study where we're reading the entire Bible, cover to cover, between January and December. Our pastor, who has a number of advanced degrees not just in theology but also ancient languages and history and other supplemental studies that are applicable to the Bible, meets with us once a week to talk through what we've read from both a historical and pastoral context. I've really gotten a lot out of this particular bible study and I anticipate it will encourage me to continue to read more and learn more about the Bible for years to come.

"Take up Your Cross | Prompt

This struck me as a really odd question. The entire Christian religion is based on following Jesus. Almost the entirety of the New Testament is about following Jesus. Most Christians spend their life seeking to discern God's will for their lives. So Jesus decides to do a one-day encore performance on Earth and he's going to spend it with you... and the question asks what I'm going to do that day? How can it be anything other than saying to Jesus, "I'm doing whatever you're doing" because I'm not the most important person in that meet-up.

The question makes it seems like we should be debating what to do with the presence of Jesus as if he were an out-of-town relative, or a VIP visitor from work, where you're debating whether you should plan a chill day of showing him one of your favorite shows on Netflix and ordering in Thai from the pretty decent place next door, or if you should make reservations at a cool new restaurant and maybe take him out for a night on the town. *Confused*

What's being proposed in this question is nothing short of world-changing. Jesus, a figure that up until this point, modern Christians have had to read a very old book about and do their best to intuit what he would do in a given situation, is back and willing to spend time with you. The New Testament is full of stories of his disciples following him around, or those who follow in the footsteps of the disciples and try to do what he would have done if he were with them during the time periods depicted in Acts, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, etc. I just can't fathom any response other than, "I just want to go wherever you go, and do whatever you do." The whole point of the Christian faith is that we're supposed to follow Jesus' teachings... what better opportunity to do that than if he were to show up on your doorstep.

If Jesus said, "Let's go to the beach, there's something I want to do there," I'd grab my keys.

If Jesus said, "Hey, are we close to Jerusalem, because I want to check on something," I'd book us plane tickets.

If Jesus wanted to kick up his feet on my couch and said, "I have some thoughts on some things," I'd grab my laptop and start taking notes.

The whole point of the Christian faith is that it's not about us; it's about Jesus. I have no idea what he'd want to do if he showed up on my doorstep one day. All I know is that I'd be far more concerned about what he wanted to do than what I wanted to do... and whatever he wanted to do should be something I automatically say "yes" to.
July 7, 2022 at 4:46pm
July 7, 2022 at 4:46pm

WDC 48-Hour Challenge: Media Prompt | Prompt

I was trying to think of something to write for this month's media prompt about this song and instead of doing a short story or writing about how the song makes me feel, I thought it would be more interesting to write about some behind-the-scenes information about the song itself.

If you're familiar with the Rewatchables podcast, it's a podcast where the hosts rewatch classic (and not-so-classic) movies and, with the benefit of hindsight, answer questions like "Who won the movie?" and "For whom was this movie the apex mountain of their career?" and things like that. One of the sections they have in the podcast is called "Half-Assed Internet Research" and that's exactly what this is.

I have no idea if any of this is actually true because I didn't work on the song, but according to my own half-assed internet research, I discovered the following:

*Vinyl* The song was inspired at least in part on Jack Kerouac's On the Road. The line "'cause baby you're a firework / come on, show 'em what you're worth / make 'em go awe, awe, awe" is based on Kerouac's line "burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Aww!'"

*Vinyl* In the interests of full disclosure though, the most interesting part of the inspiration anecdote, as she relayed to Billboard in an interview is that it was combined with "this very morbid idea... when I pass, I want to be put into a firework and shot across the sky over the Santa Barbara Ocean as my last hurrah," she said. "I want to be a firework, both living and dead." *Think*

*Vinyl* The song is most familiar to people with the lyrics as, "You just gotta ignite the light / And let it shine / Just own the night / Like the Fourth of July," but that last line was originally "like a firefly" which Perry wrote because she thought that fireflies remind her of fireworks every time she sees them at night. But enough people kept misquoting the song that Perry eventually changed the lyrics and now sings it as "Like the Fourth of July" herself at concerts because she thinks it's a better fit and thematically works with the imagery of the song a little better.

*Vinyl* The one thing she didn't change the lyrics on was the "make 'em go awe, awe, awe" line. Many people misattribute it as "up, up, up" or "ah, ah, ah" including her fellow American Idol judge, country music star Luke Bryan to whom she specifically said, "It's not up, up, up and it's not ah, ah, ah. It's awe, awe, awe. A-W-E. It's awe, awe, awe everybody, get it right!" *Whistle*

*Vinyl* The song recently became relevant again quite recently, not for it's popularity but for the politics. When Roe v. Wade was overturned, Perry tweeted "'Baby you're a firework' is a 10 but women in the US have fewer rights than an actual sparkler smh" which, you know, would have been fine if not for the fact that just a few weeks prior she endorsed Rick Caruso in the Los Angeles mayoral race, a billionaire developer who - while running as a Democrat - has a long, long history of supporting conservatives and anti-choice candidates. In the words of Twitter user @KayTeeeOh, "Girl you endorsed Rick Caruso maybe sit this one out" *Laugh*

Hope you've enjoyed this little half-assed internet research details about the song!
July 2, 2022 at 12:26am
July 2, 2022 at 12:26am



         *Movie* Interceptor
         *Movie* The Lost City
         *Movie* No Time to Die
         *Movie* Thor: Love and Thunder


         *TV* The Bear
         *TV* The Boys (Season 2)
         *TV* The Boys (Season 3)
         *TV* Invincible (Season 1)
         *TV* Obi-Wan Kenobi

With a couple of exceptions, I was mostly disappointed with the movies I saw this month (except for Thor: Love and Thunder which I really liked), and I was mostly really happy with the television I saw (except for Invincible which I had a hard time getting into).

Interceptor was a garbage action movie about a nuclear deterrence platform that's taken hostage and Elsa Pataky is some sort of weapons specialist who is, of course, the only one that can stop them. The action is pretty weak, and the characters and the dramatic scenes are even worse. Unless you're an Elsa Pataky stan or will literally watching any action movie, it's safe to skip this one.

The Lost City and No Time To Die were both movies that came highly recommended by a number of people I know, and both fell short for me. They were okay, but didn't really knock my socks off.

Obi-Wan Kenobi was fun to watch as a Star Wars fan, but I'm really starting to wonder why they keep going back to the same well. The Star Wars universe is one of the richest, most well-developed, expansive media franchises in the world and they still... just... keep going back to the same core characters. As much as I enjoy these little glimpses at "the stories between the trilogies," I'm getting really desperate for new content about some of the characters and storylines that haven't been done before. I really hope they figure out to do more with the remarkably diverse IP they've created.

The Boys continues to be one of my favorite shows on television. It's so dark and twisted and satirical; I just love it. You haven't really experienced all the superhero genre has to offer until you've see "Herogasm," an episode that focuses on an annual super-powered orgy. *Ha* This was honestly shaping up to be the second month in a row I picked it as my top choice, until a couple days ago when I started watching...

The Bear. Jeremy Allen White (Lip from Shameless) plays Carmy, a virtuoso chef who leaves behind a promising career in the fine dining world to take over his family's crappy sandwich shop in Chicago after his brother commits suicide. It's a really touching story about a talented young man struggling with his promise, trying to make something of himself, set against the backdrop of everyone who knew his brother coming to terms with his unexpected suicide. Hulu's really knocking it out of the park lately... between this and Dopesick which we watched late last year, they have two really outstanding series in the past two years to be proud of.

TOP PICK: The Bear
June 29, 2022 at 11:39pm
June 29, 2022 at 11:39pm

"JAFBG | Prompt

While I do understand and appreciate the power of collective action, I'm not one of those people who thinks that climate change can be combatted by individual households giving up single-use plastic drinking straws, or using reusable shopping bags only, or going vegan. I think meaningful change to climate policy is going to have to come from high-level changes from large corporations and governments. That, unfortunately, is an opinion that a whole lot of people use to justify doing nothing, so I'm going to still try to attempt to answer the question of what I individually would be willing to give up when I don't think it's necessarily individual choices that will make the most difference.

The two biggest things I can think of giving up would be, depending on the consumer good, low prices and/or convenience.

The meat industry is a great example of one where I don't think personal choices (individuals not eating meat) make much difference but the industry as a whole is a major contributor to climate change (not to mention animal cruelty) due to current production standards which emphasize a cheap product over anything else. I would be willing to pay significantly more for meat if it meant changing the industry in a way where meat production was sustainable, environmentally friendly, and cruelty-free. I'd also be open to consuming meat alternatives more often if it meant combatting climate change. If we were in a world where a hamburger cost $20 instead of $5, I would consider that a reasonable tradeoff for making that industry greener and more forward-thinking.

I realize the "It's fine, I'll just pay more" rationale is one that comes from a place of great privilege though, so I would also be willing to give up my greatest resource (time) if it meant better climate outcomes.

Earlier this month, I read a Wall Street Journal article by Life & Work reporter Rachel Wolfe entitled "I Rented an Electric Car for a Four-Day Road Trip. I Spent More Time Charging It Than I Did Sleeping  ," which chronicled her drive from New Orleans to Chicago using an electric-only EV. Her big takeaway from that experience was that the EV was cheaper (she spent $175 on charging and would have spent an estimated $275 on gas with a traditional gas-powered vehicle), but the lack of EV charging infrastructure along the way meant that they spent a lot of time sitting around waiting for their car to charge.

If I'm being completely honest, that's why the last car I bought (back in 2015) was a hybrid rather that a fully-electric EV. I was concerned that it would be a challenge to find charging stations and that would make the car impractical for long trips. I specifically drive from Orange County to Sacramento (a 500-mile drive) to visit family a few times a year, and the idea of stopping four or five times to charge the car for a couple hours at a time seems like a nightmare. That would turn a seven-ish hour drive into a literal all-day affair and, if you've ever been to central California, you know there's not a lot to see between Los Angeles and Sacramento!).

But as climate change worsens and I see what little is being done about it, I really do think our next vehicle purchase will be an EV. Not just because battery technology and charging stations are getting better and better every year, but because - at this point - I'm prepared the take on the inconvenience of the EV charging grid if it means getting us farther away from our reliance on fossil fuels and the massive damage to the climate that the non-renewable energy industry is causing.
June 29, 2022 at 2:38am
June 29, 2022 at 2:38am

Like a lot of people, I've been experiencing a lot of grief, anger, and frustration at what's been going on in our country over the last couple of weeks. And not just the wildly hypocritical decisions coming out of the increasingly politicized Supreme Court (we can tell state legislatures that they can't regulate guns but who are we to say that they can't regulate abortion?), but the fact that it seems like both sides of the aisle in state and federal governments seem oblivious to what everyday people are going through. One of our political parties seems to be increasingly hostile to generational concerns like income inequality and climate change and social justice, while the other seems to be weak and ineffectual whenever they do have the opportunity to make progress.

I'm disillusioned with the system, but there has already been plenty of writing about current events. And as a financially comfortable white male in a progressive state, my opinions and perspectives aren't one that we need to be listening to right now. But I'm a writer, and the way I process the world around me is to write. So I thought it would be an interesting exercise to spend a little bit of time imagining what an effective system of government might look like. For this exercise, I'm going to take the three-branch governmental structure we currently have and pretend like I have the sole authority to modify it to my heart's content.

If you're so inclined, give my fantasy government a read and let me know what you think!


We'll start with the one that's been the most newsworthy lately. One of the biggest issues I have with the Supreme Court is how politicized it's become. I don't think anyone can seriously make a claim that this is a branch of government free from politics when every single vacancy itself has now become an openly political act. Lists of acceptable nominees by partisan organizations, vacancies held open (or rushed through) depending on which party is in power at the time, televised hearings packed with more drama than Court TV. The courts aren't impartial bodies anymore.

One of the suggestions I really like on how to reform the Supreme Court was to take away the "celebrity" of SCOTUS justices, where so much is determined by the personalty and temperament of the individual justices. We could do that by expanding the Supreme Court (which is not the same thing as court packing, BTW) to include, say, all of the roughly 180 circuit court judges, with nine being "called up" to serve as SCOTUS justices on a decision-by-decision basis. So instead of the same nine people deciding every single legal decision that comes to the highest court, it's instead decided by a larger pool of judges and no one necessarily knows who will get assigned to what case.

I'd also impose term limits on judges. Rather than lifetime appointments, I'd limit them to ten-year terms so that so much doesn't ride on who's in the White House at any given time; the entire judiciary in the above example (or even just the nine justices in SCOTUS' current form) would rotate out on a predicable schedule so every president had the opportunity to appoint the same number of vacancies (barring any deaths or retirements).

I think both components above would have the effect of lowering the temperature on the winner-takes-all approach to nominating justices that we currently have, and all the politics surrounding who gets nominated and when. I think it would bring us back to a closer approximation of what this branch was intended to do, which is to make assessments on the specific legal merits of specific cases.


Term limits here too. I think five terms for the House (ten years total) and two terms max (twelve years total) for the Senate. I get the benefits of experience and wanting good people to stay, but our system has repeatedly shown that it entrenches power and enriches individuals more than anything. If you want to stay in public service, find a new way to do it after a decade.

I would also reform campaign finance so that it's publicly funded. Give each candidate in a race the same amount of money and the same media access, so that elections aren't decided by who can raise and spend the most, and so that elected officials don't have to spend so much of their time raising money for their next election. Let them focus on doing their job rather than keeping their job.

I'd give representation to all major U.S. territories and jurisdictions: DC, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They're affected by things our legislature does, so they should have a voice in said legislature.

And with regards to the Senate, in particular, I would abolish the filibuster for the simple reason that I don't think the minority party should be able to prevent the majority, on a consistent basis, from enacting legislation. The filibuster has basically ensured that nothing ever gets done and although abolishing it would probably create a pendulum effect with legislation being enacted by one party and repealed by another, let that process play out (and all of its resulting effects on future elections) rather than having a legislature that barely does anything because partisanship means almost never getting 60% of the senators to agree on anything substantive.


Say goodbye to the Electoral College. It served a purpose, for a time, but in this day and age there's no reason why the popular vote shouldn't determine the outcome of an election, especially one as consequential as a Presidential election. If you're running for president and more people vote for you than your opponent, you should win regardless of which state your voters happen to live in.

I would also codify all the norms into law. If the Trump presidency taught us anything, it's just how much of our expectations of the nation's chief executive are not actually a matter of law but just norms and best practices. Pass actual laws and assign criminal penalties to things like destroying presidential records, violating the Hatch Act, the peaceful transition of power, etc.


While I'm playing around with omnipotence, a few other odds and ends:

*Bullet* North Dakota and South Dakota are hereby a single state known simply as "Dakota." The two states combined have fewer people than the city of Phoenix, Arizona; they don't need four senators. In general, I think we need to look at the way our states (and territories, see above) are represented. The idea of an equal number of senators per state was a good idea at the time it was conceived, but I don't think the founding fathers ever imagined we would have a system where states like California (40 million residents) and Texas (30 million residents) have the exact same representation in the Senate as Wyoming (600,000 residents) and Vermont (650,000 residents).

*Bullet* I would be fine with a more conservative-leaning judiciary if we could have a more progressive legislature. The idea of a legislature passing laws and reaching forward and pressing boundaries that are then guided and occasionally reigned in by a judiciary that is looking to temper extremism is a dynamic that would work better for progress as a whole, I think, than a conservative legislature who is trying to restrict progress, and an "activist" judiciary that's rebelling against that. Make laws that are then tempered by legal action, rather than taking legal action to push forward an issue that no one will agree to make a law about.

*Bullet* Get rid of the debt ceiling and invest in this country again. There is very little economic research to support the idea that federal debt works in the same way as a household checkbook (a favorite comparison for many) or even state budget (which has to be balanced every year) works. With the obvious caveat that we shouldn't spend irresponsibly, we're too skittish about spending money in general, especially on things like new technology, infrastructure, education, etc. that will pay dividends later. If the federal deficit increases in the name of making meaningful, noticeable improvements to this country and the lives of its citizens, it's money well spent.

Anyway, that's some random thoughts on things I think might start to improve our system of government and start making it work more in the interests of the people than in the interests of perpetuating the system that's already in power. I'm sure this will be a controversial blog post, so I'm interested to see who agrees, disagrees, and has other thoughts on what they'd like to see happen if they got to hold the omnipotence wand for a while. *Smile*
June 22, 2022 at 12:34am
June 22, 2022 at 12:34am

"Take up Your Cross | Prompt

1. The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)

This parable about a Jewish traveler who is robbed, beaten, and abandoned on the side of the road being overlooked by others until a Samaritan (someone who's supposed to hate them) stops and helps him is the first Bible story that hit two different keynotes for me.

The first is that this is the first passage I read that really resonated with me while I was still exploring my faith. I came to faith later in life and after a whole lot of skepticism about what the Christian faith is really concerned with. This was the first Bible passage I read where I thought, "Yes! This is what it's supposed to be! This is what I believe too!"

The second is that it's the first passage that I really came to understand in different ways, and gave me an appreciation for the nuance and subtext of the Bible. On the surface level, it's a story Jesus tells his disciples to point out that the key to the "love your neighbors" commandment is to offer kindness to everyone, even those you don't like. But many pastors have also pointed out that it's a metaphor for the Christian life, where we're all the traveler on the side of the road, beaten and broken, and Jesus is the Good Samaritan who stops and, out of nothing but his abundant love, takes mercy on us even if we don't deserve it. This is the first passage where I thought about the different dimensions to it.

2. The Beginning (Genesis 1:1-2:3)

I find the creation myth endlessly fascinating for many reason, not the least of which is who was witness to this process? It's also super interesting how different people have interpreted the timeline in this creation myth. Literalists will tell you that the timelines provided in the Bible mean that the universe is only about 6,000 years old, a premise which is mercilessly mocked by nonbelievers. Others will tell you that the language is meant to be metaphorical and God's "days" are in fact much longer we understand a "day" to be. So on the "third day" when He created land and seas and vegetation it wasn't over a 24-hour period, but could have instead been millennia, or eons.

The pastor at much church actually mentioned this Bible story in a recent sermon and said something that struck me as really interesting. He said, "Science and the Bible aren't necessarily incompatible. Science will tell you that the universe started with a 'big bang' and Christians don't necessarily have any basis to dispute that... we just believe the 'big bang' was God saying 'let there be light'."

3. The Book of Job (Job 1:1-42:6)

This Bible story is fresh in my mind because we were just discussing it in my Bible study group a couple weeks ago, and I'm consistently amazed at how complex this story is. There's the obvious message of consistent faith in God despite adversity, but there's so much more to unpack here. It's evidence that God and Satan aren't equal and opposite forces (Satan has to get permission from God to torment Job, he can't do it on his own), and it also raises a ton of questions about why a kind and loving God would allow Satan to torment one of his believers.

It's a fascinating book that is packed full of more questions than answers, so it's been one of my favorite books of the Bible to look to time and again when I want to do some deep thinking about the nature of God, the world, etc. God is an infinitely complicated being that we can't even begin to fully comprehend and this Bible story is a frequent reminder that there are some things that will always be beyond our limited understanding.

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