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Shawn Bowman
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BBQs are wonderful - likewise the bonfire with friends. I wonder though, whether it doesn't have to do with the specific nature of the event - all those trappings of "BBQ" that you list, Rob. I wonder if the difference isn't found in the spirit with which one approaches participation in the BBQ, as opposed to the office environment. When we go to a BBQ, it seems to me that we abandon the pretense and required roles of the office and simply relax into being who and what we are. There isn't a social event less formal than a BBQ, and maybe entering into that simple spirit of People Together is what enables it to work its special magic. And it doesn't hurt that there's food into the bargain. :D Good post, Rob - thanks!
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As someone who's enjoyed many a potluck meal at the Biggley's house only to find myself heading out on an hour-long drive back home at 11pm, I can say that I concur. :D
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You aren't wrong. And where you're asking the impending "Silver Wave" about the quality of life that runs hand-in-hand with the strength of their retirement situation, it should be pointed out that you're ALSO asking the Younger Generation about THEIR futures - if there's nothing left for those who have paid into the system for their entire lives, what will be left for those who simply can't afford to pay into anything the same way as the generation that came before? After all, the life of job security and the opportunity to build a life slowly over the years has been gutted - of the people my age that I know, very few are in a position to take on a mortgage like my parents did, and rely on being able to stay in one place (with one job) long enough to reliably pay it off and have a home of their own. Most of my friends and classmates are relegated to being little more than a "better class of migrant worker" (as one of those friends recently called it, in conversation), where it's a life of travelling to places where a job might be found and relocating every few years to be able to keep their heads above water. Usually, the members of the Younger Generation live lives of rental properties and disposable goods, and end up building absolutely nothing of lasting or permanent value (if, as you indicate, such a thing can be said at all). Children (especially in the Maritimes) leave home of necessity to "go west" and find gainful employment - in the Nova Scotia community where I'm from, I find that I recognize almost none of the faces that I see, and most of those are 50-55+ in any case. What does that say for your Family or Tribe? What does it say for the Family and Tribe of the future, when those who are my age today find themselves your age tomorrow(and find themselves facing the same problems with even less to work with)? In a world where Family and Tribe are lost in general disconnect, there is a fundamental break with the common sense thinking that support such things - the good common sense-based thinking you suggest here is like a voice crying in the wilderness. You seem to be saying things that everyone needs to hear...and act upon. But it's my experience that it's human nature to avoid facing a problem until the problem is so large that it can't be turned from: convenience and comfort are the things people care most about, and those who have it today generally don't care about tomorrow. It's the hardest thing in the world to rouse people from the happiness of even the most tenuous Dream, especially if you're doing so to make them face an Uncomfortable Reality. I know this because I'm guilty of it too. As Paul of Tarsus put it, "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing". For my part, though, I think I've finally come around to seeing a little more sense and have truly become willing to do more than just toy with the convictions implied for my own life by some of your words here. Recent reflection has served to show me how I fail everyday to do those things I know I must do in order to avoid the future you point to. Maybe the answer is to band together (in a New Tribe?) with others in the community around us to lead by example. Maybe the New Family is one of willful association around a commonly-understood Need?
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Continuing on with the subject of your post, Rob: I've just returned from a breakfast reunion with some of the folks from the Chilliwack Hospice Society (I volunteered there for the two years I lived here) - talk around the table invariably finds its way back to the common subject matter of death and dying, and there was some talk about some of the folks who have had Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) as part of their final journey (it happens more often than many people think). We started discussing some of the common threads of those Experiences, and one of those mentioned was the fact that many people report being greeted, first, by beloved pets - even those who report being greeted by family and friends who have gone before seem to say that they are greeted initially by their dogs (if they've had one that they felt a close bond with in life). Many of the people who go through the NDE report that one of the things they remember most is seeing their beloved dog running to them and jumping on them and licking their face in long-anticipated greeting. I thought that the synchronicity of my morning conversation was something I should pass along to you here - a common experience, often reported, usually points to some objective reality...specific interpretations of that reality notwithstanding. Which is to say that there are almost always more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies.
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Of course, I've always seen the separation as one of almost pure semantics - which is to say, not much separated at all. I said as much the very first time we ever spoke to one another: http://smartpei.typepad.com/robert_patersons_weblog/2009/12/the-meaning-of-christmas-remember-there-is-a-bc.html#comments Merry Christmas, Rob! :D
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"So I think that this is why, when I am open, not busy, not preoccupied, not thinking too much, he comes back. I can also call on him and he comes. Not of course in body - but in his spirit. So he is here for as long as I don't lose myself in busyness." I know that we're at opposite poles where a declared "religious" (I hate the word) belief is concerned, but this is as apt a description of my own conception of a truly spiritual life as I've heard in some time - my own feeling is that you've hit on a central truth, and not just in terms of an authentic spiritual life...but in living an authentic life. "For I suspect that we live not only in a surface field of gravity etc also in an emotional field. Just as we now know a lot about the fields of electro magnetism, I bet that in the future, we will know a lot more about how our emotional fields work.We both give energy into the field and we also receive it. The more we love another, the more our own personal fields collapse into each other's." Careful, Brother - you're stepping awfully close to a brink. :D Hope that this finds you enjoying the Season, Rob - if ever there was a time set aside for love, this is that time! For my part, I'm enjoying family in British Columbia - will look forward to seeing you in the new year! All the best to you and yours! Love, Shawn
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Well, as for institutions being deadly, I agree - Denise and I have long since been committed to home-schooling our children. But the little fridge magnet thing is as good an illustration as anything else: the tools (if suited well-enough to the task) can actually take the bulk of the actual "teaching" out of the hands of parents who might not have the time, expertise, or patience to carry out the repetitive "instruction" necessary for teaching (for example) a young child their letters. But what the tools can never replace is the commitment of a parent to reinforce the lessons everywhere else they go, when the tools aren't there - no tool set can replace parental commitment to teach. I keep coming back to the notion (as Denise and I are looking at the whole thing from an outside-the-institutional-school kind of perspective) of finding that balance between making truly-useful toolsets and learning materials (and curriculum) available, in such a way that parents are empowered to use them and see them used. Maybe that's the role of the "institutional experts": to put their expertise and experience (such as it is in a totally different learning context) to work at developing the tools and materials that could be given away to parents? If you're interested in getting together sometime to chat about this a bit further, I have a few notions for a great Project that falls along these lines. Would love to gather some momentum toward trying a few of them out in Real Life! :D
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“We need to think of building education downward, but at the same time not ‘schoolifying' kids but stimulating kids” through optional, play-based programs." Couldn't agree more - the question to me is when does learning really begin? Our Sam is not yet 2 years old (he's 23 months tomorrow), but he already knows his alphabet (with all the assorted letter sounds) and his numbers to 20 (with a missed step here and there). And this is not to say that we sit and drill him on these, only that they've been objects in his play, and so he has picked it up. One of his favorite toys is this thing, which we've got attached at his eye level on our fridge: http://shop.leapfrog.com/leapfrog/jump/Fridge-Phonics%AE%3A-Magnetic-Alphabet-Set/productDetail/All-Toys/lfprod20305/cat800014 He loves playing with it, and it teaches him (especially if attentive parents try and put its lessons to use, everywhere we go that we can point out letter and say "What's that?"). Children learn from the very beginning - the engagement is the key, and it starts with the parents. Maybe the key isn't to hire educators to do the work of an engaging parent - maybe the key is facilitating parents toward being the best educators they can be, themselves.
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As I say - I envy you. :D
Toggle Commented Nov 20, 2011 on My Fraser Mustard at Robert Paterson's Weblog
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Beautifully written, Rob - you have suffered a great personal loss, from having lost this teacher and friend that you loved. I envy you. All the best to you through your remembrances.
Toggle Commented Nov 20, 2011 on My Fraser Mustard at Robert Paterson's Weblog
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DYje57V_BY
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(ROB:) "Who demands credentials now? The Bureaucracy. The old style employer. How do many of us get work now? By our reputation in our network - by our deeds and by how others know that we can do the work and have the knowledge" My personal experience is that both of these points ring true. The employers demanding credentials are those "old style employers". And I've always found my work the way you've described: by building new things on top of those things I've done previously - my "network" has always been those people I've worked for...and done a good job for, so that one job leads on to the next. Now - try moving to a place where you know absolutely no one. After having had your "job chain" broken in 2008. The fact is, if you find yourself in that situation, you are starting again from scratch, proving yourself in whatever job you can get (which is likely nothing like the place you were in before your chain got broken). Here's the thing: those old style employers represent the vast majority of potential employers, and so having a network is nice (if you find you still have it), but it's trumped by the fact of your credential (or lack thereof) when you find your hard-built network gone all of a sudden. In a world where you're starting from scratch, if you want access to the vast majority of available job opportunities, you NEED to have the credential to even get your resume across the HR desk. Unless you have that warm hand-off that a personal contact can provide, the ugly fact is that your previous experience (and all of your skills and accomplishments) usually don't get a second glance unless you have the credential first. (ROB:) "I suspect that a simple reliance on a credential was always a fake and lazy assurance. It worked in a non human workplace but I would never hire on that. I would look at the life of the person. I would interview in depth and I would ask others about the person. What kind of person they are - their attributes and behaviour are at least as important as the technical skill." I think that you nailed it - laziness. But not necessarily on the part of the job-seeker. Look at how you described your own ideal hiring process: interview in depth, asking others about the person. Finding out more about the applicant themselves than merely "where did you go to school". How many companies do you know that do this? In my own experience: not too many. Why? Simply this: it would take too much time and energy. Laziness rules on the hiring end of things, and so you can hardly fault those job-seekers who see things as they are and call it like it is. I've been torn between trying to build that professional network that we're talking about here...and simply biting the bullet and going back to school to get that stupid piece of paper to hang on my wall that proves I can do what I've already done. The fact is that I've tried to do things without a Credential, and have always ended up picking up that work that no one else wants to do. There comes a point where a person gets sick of working more hours in the run of a week than they have free and clear to live whatever life they might choose. In the end, the question has to be asked: is it better to swim upstream and against the current, for the rest of my life, or to sacrifice a few years now to get that pedigree demanded by the mindless HR selection process? As for the middle ground that you're all talking around, where an alternate model for credentialing is being proposed: why reinvent the wheel? If the problem is that being qualified to do a job isn't credential enough, what makes you think that a different credentialing system is going to be the answer? In the end, isn't the problem simply that the vast majority of employers (meaning they're a Network of their own) simply refuse to recognize value in any other currency than a traditional diploma or degree? If the answer is that the Small, Independent, and Personal Network is looking for a way to unite and create its own jobs, then why is it necessary to find a new (even a better) way to conform to the Old? Why not just build something entirely new altogether, or else just shut up and swallow the bitter pill? At least, that's the question I've been asking myself lately. Of course, my problem just might be that, for all that I've been working my own way and learning my professional skills on the job instead of in a classroom for all these years, I've STILL only ever done this from within the framework of that same system I'm now shut out of. Maybe my problem is one of being lost in translation: My skill set might not be my problem. Maybe my problem is that I simply don't know how to do those things that Sarah suggests: "start their own companies, contract themselves out, self-publish, establish an online presence etc". Still, though, my first problem is that, in starting something new outside the confines of what I already know, I am faced with having to largely abandon my old network and start a new one. In the case of a young graduate, in any case, how do you start a career based on job experience when you can't get much above a minimum wage job without that piece of paper? Seems a catch-22 to me, without a concrete middle ground that serves the interests of the vast network of potential employers. Would LOVE to build some viable alternative here on PEI. As one of the currently-disenfranchised, my family's future depends on it.
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Point taken - but maybe this is a leadership opportunity: how about instituting an official Commons-wide ban on plastic utensils and styrofoam cups (and dishes)? If the Commons is about community, and community is about direct individual contribution, then aren't these items a means of circumventing community activity, even if that activity is something as simple as washing a spoon? Little things can matter, and add up to big change. :D
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Excellent point (I've made the commitment long ago to not have coffee at any event where styrofoam cups are the only option) - but how many plastic utensils are there on the counter at the Commons? :D
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But isn't the problem, in the end, one that has been created by policy (or, more appropriately, policy makers)? I think that the answer lies in the space both you and Walt indicate: that space where "parents are convinced" and where "no one doubts that smoking is bad for us now". My question, though, is the same I had for Walt: How do we best help change the inner paradigm of people? Is it policy that coerces understanding...or the other way around? Do we now understand the harmful effects of smoking (without room for "scientific" debate about that particular issue) because the policy was created first? Or was the policy created out of the fullness of the new understanding? It seems to me that no change comes from the top-down: again, "people resist those who know better than they how they should live". And so a policy-based solution (on its own) is impotent. Still, policy has its place: it's what sanctions a truth we all come to acknowledge (or, at least, a majority of us). So how do we bring: (a) people to a place of personal conviction (through new understanding), where they are ready to participate in the creation of those policies, themselves and (b) policy to a place where policy-makers are responsive to the demands of the majority they are called to serve? The answer interests me, and seems to be what we're really talking about here. As for the notion of using food stamps for "sugar-sweetened beverages": I was raised to classify those as "junk food" - and so should be considered a "luxury". People who are living (even in part) on the generosity of others shouldn't be able to turn that generosity to the end of getting luxuries for themselves - and so long as food stamps can be used this way, I think it's human nature that they will be. We can be fairly manipulative, when we want to be, you know - and it seems to me that we almost always do, for one reason or another. And it seems to me that maybe we're talking about that here, too. :D
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"People resist those who know better than they how they should live." Seems to me that this is a Truth, and well-stated. "At some point, we have to recognize that we need to convince *parents* to change what their families consume and how their families live. Talking about four, five, or six food groups in school matters little when dinner every night is instant macaroni and cheese." How is this possible, practically, in light of your previously-stated Truth?
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Actually, as I recall, the employer who first put me into my first cubicle also had a stringent policy against rearranging the computer equipment like you did here, Rob. Punishable by termination, I think. Just goes to show you how tenaciously people cling to their ways, even if their ways make no sense at all. :D Creative solution, but I wonder about having to look down at the screen. I actually do that now, with my laptop: it's sitting on my desk (which is high enough to type without stooping), but I find that my neck and shoulders get pretty stiff with my eyes always looking down. Maybe some wisdom to a teacher I once had who taught me that a person's stance is defined by the place they direct their eyes - maybe looking down all day leads us to stoop in more subtle ways that find expression in my tired neck and shoulders. :D Anyway, just a reflection on having been typing this way since reading Rob's post initially - I'm thinking that a wall-mounted screen that I could stand straight upward with would be a vast improvement.
Toggle Commented Apr 1, 2011 on Standing Desk at Robert Paterson's Weblog
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Great post, Rob! Reading this reminded me of how, back when I was starting out on my own professional path, it was the routine to be working at stand-up desks. I started out in computer labs where you're up and down so much moving to get parts for various repair needs that you just don't bother sitting down. Plus, once you HAVE all the itty bitty parts in one place and ready to work, the WORK requires you to stand up on tip-toe to reach around the case to set something in place or whatever - more up-and-down. Soon enough, I found that I came to see the chair as an irritant. Instead of sitting in one of those super-ergonomically-engineered desk chairs I'd be working standing up all the time because it was just naturally easier to do so. That trend continued when I worked in the Engineering Labs, getting to work with the people that build the cool new stuff - most of the people in there came from the same 'hands-on' places where the norm was to work standing up. So, even when the Engineering guys were standing around in a purely conceptual design meeting, they tended to do it standing up, as was the norm. :D I wonder where the norm changed for me, where I switched over from having standing be the way I work to my current norm where I sit in my beautiful chair in front of my daily work. Actually, scratch that. I know where and when that particular work habit started for me: it was when I worked for my first employer for whom the sit-down desk was the standard. I've just kept doing it since then because it's such a small thing to notice, when you're sitting down with your mind on WORK. Thanks for pointing out the wisdom of my own experience. That's how I know a great solution when I see it. :D I'm going to be making some changes to my home office: it's mine, and I spend more time in that room than I do anywhere else. I'll be keeping the desk (long hours in that room :D), but will be incorporating a stand-up workspace. Great post, Rob. :D
Toggle Commented Apr 1, 2011 on Standing Desk at Robert Paterson's Weblog
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"How long will the west watch the middle east and think what what is going on there is different?" Until it happens here.
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And while we're talking about things slipping under the Radar, go and do some reading on ACTA. Might tick you off a bit (it did me), but might add an additional dimension of understanding the recent CRTC BS with the rulings on internet-use caps. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement As always, what we see in the open is like the tip of an iceberg. But that's usually the case when the controlling interest reports on itself.
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Interesting conversation so far - hope to see it continue. My own view is that the change will be a change for the worse: relaxing these content standards neuters the CRTC of any real relevance that it holds, which is derived from its mandate (even an erstwhile one) of seeing that a certain standard of self-verification would be taken as a given among producers of news content. I agree with the notion that news reporting can be democratized - through an eventual (inevitable?) access to media technology by more and more people, it is conceivable that news reporting could truly become bottom-up (as opposed to top-down). Entirely possible that individual bloggers, etc, could all become their own news reporting station...but I do see several problems with that arrangement. (1) The Standards are Being Relaxed: I ask myself, "whose interest is most being served by this change". My immediate impression is that the only people who stand to gain are precisely those media concerns that have access to the most resources. How do they benefit? I'm sure they'll make out well for themselves in a wide variety of ways - they are, after all, the biggest names in the business of media broadcasting, and so they can appreciate the intricacies of their planning much more than someone like myself can. I don't know much about business planning or media conglomerates (although I suspect the job is made easier the more influential one becomes), so I won't waste anyone's time analyzing the specifics. In general, though, I do understand something else that comes into play here, and that's the simple idea of producing good work, to some stringent standard of quality. What I'm seeing happening here is that stringent standard of quality ...well, LESS SO, meaning that Sloppiness and Mediocrity are the new Quality. It seems to me the CRTC is essentially saying "don't worry about the actual truth of the news you're reporting, so long as no one gets hurt by your new lax standard of expectation". This seems to me to be equivalent to saying that the highest standard possible isn't the one that should be aspired to. Doesn't seem like a good idea to me, for some reason. Seems to me that the direct result will be an influx of sloppy reporters who really don't care about standards of accountability in the first place, and whose only external requirement of work quality is the formatting standard they need to follow in submitting their content. Sad but True Fact: most people don't really give a shit about their work, and only produce work that satisfies some identified minimum standard. I'm not a Statistician, and so I don't have the exact numbers, but I'm sure the 80/20 rule could reasonably apply: it apparently applies everywhere else, after all. :D These are negatives, but of course there's all kinds of corners that can be cut from an operational cost perspective. I mean, if you can find your way clear to being in business without having to produce a quality product, that must translate somewhere into "things that can be cut because we simply don't need them anymore". So I'm sure it makes sense to someone, somewhere, at the Top of some particular Tower. Probably the Tower of someone who's Twitter Buddies with VIPs at the CRTC, maybe. Actually, scratch that last one - the people making and influencing these kinds of decisions don't know how to use the Internet, do they? (2) With the relaxing of quality control standards, it becomes much more of a single-determinant answer to the question of "whose voice will be The Voice": the real question now becomes "who has the most access to resources and market share - who is in the most competitive position to produce and distribute content?". I think that the most-established outlets are those ones who fit the bill of being the ones with the 'most'. Otherwise, more small-scale local media alternatives would exist. Again, it doesn't seem to me to be rocket science (although a Rocket Scientist is another Thing I Am Not, so it might very well BE rocket science, for all I really know) to see that this is a leveling of the playing field, but that this leveling provides a much more lopsided "home field advantage" to those media concerns who already have their team stacked with all the best equipment, best players, and a hiring salary that no other teams in the world can match. Also makes for a pretty boring game, in my opinion. (3) All those independent bloggers and Jon Stewarts and whoever else is involved in an ongoing commentary on the truth in reporting: they can only really do it by pointing to a standard and saying "THIS is what it should be like - anything that we broadcast AS news should at least be our best understanding of the TRUTH of the story". If the standard is removed, then it only serves those media outlets who are currently NOT living up to that standard themselves: it serves them by neutering Jon Stewart's commentary that those outlets aren't living up to The Standard, because the Standard Has Been Officially Removed. All this to say nothing of the fact that, with no established Standard of Quality, there is no Standard of Truth - all of the blogger-newsies I can think of find their Voice in RESPONDING to the content being produced by the larger media channels (at present, to some form of standard). I think of this situation as being something like my own blogging: I have never been able to bring myself to actually put together a blog of my own (for various reasons), but I feel no problems writing unnecessarily-long responses on other people's blogs. I wonder how much of the voice of commentary that the Bloggers might provide will be neutered by the new lack of accountability on the part of the Big Ones to report accurate news content in the first place. On a completely divergent note, this whole situation seems to me to contain a lot of points in favor of having an independently-established infrastructure / network. In the case of the airwaves, there is still the opportunity for open use. In the case of the Internet, the whole thing is a closed network if it's controlled by any specific Interest. The CRTC is seemingly dropping the ball on a number of fronts where representing the concerns of the majority is concerned. My own opinion is that, if that's the case, maybe their own Standard of Quality has degraded to the point where their "work" is no longer useful. In which case, maybe someone's services should no longer be required. After all, we've already discussed how operational costs can be eliminated where formerly-essential operations have ceased to be so.
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What makes you think this isn't already a reality for new grads in North America? Who do you think is serving you your coffee or stocking your grocery shelves right now (usually on a part-time basis)? Certainly there are a lot of "uneducated" people filling up the rank and file in these positions, but I know more than a few people who've graduated from their programs of study only to find out that there is no pot of gold at the end of their particular rainbow.
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From the original article: ""The question really should be: 'Why do we NOT eat insects?," said Dicke, citing research that the average person unwittingly eats about 500 grams of bug particles a year anyway -- in strawberry jam, bread and other processed foods." I find myself conflicted between the somewhat-reasonable-sounding argument that insects are awesome good food and the fact that I hate the factory food system for having made me eat them already. I wonder how much the amount of "insects consumed" increases for those who drive motorcycles.
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Hmm. And here I was thinking that you were going to add something to the Paleo menu. :D
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An avoidable consequence of truly rocking the boat is that everyone ends up getting at least a little wet - but I wonder if the media can be made to shoulder all the blame when it's widely acknowledged that all they really do is tell people what they want to hear. I'd add yet another question to Dr. Paul's list, and it would be directed at the average citizen (and not the government or media establishment): "Now that you have incontrovertible proof (yet again) that your government lies to you and that you can't rely on anything they actually tell you, what kinds of things are YOU going to do, actively, to make it more accountable?" People truly do get the government they deserve, and the finger-pointing-blame-game isn't conducive to anything but more effective rationalizations. What's the saying - "fool me once, shame on you: fool me twice, shame on me"? Who are the real wimps - those that do wrong or those who let them continue doing wrong?
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