Monthly Archives: June, 2018

Free Will…Or is Life… Lines of Code in an Algorithm?

The popular HBO show, Westworld, concluded its second season last night.

The program is a remake of the original film,Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton in 1973.

Westworld is a theme park, much as a Disney Hall of Presidents…on steroids, and the story line has followed the intellectual awakening of the robots and their seeking of free choice.

In the final episode of season 1, the robots, or hosts as they are called in the program, have an uprising and begin killing all of the VIP human guests that are attending a cocktail gala that is in commemoration of the a new attraction at the, humongous park, created by Dr. Ford.

This season of the program has revealed that the true vision of Westworld was to map the minds of every guest that had attended the park over its thirty year run and to subsequently perfect transferring humans to robots, with their minds and psyche in tact,…or immortal life.

The surprise finale, for the season, was to learn that, the man in black, or the owner of the park, was indeed one of the robots…and had apparently been so for some time.

Two of the main characters, Bernard and Dolores, journeyed into the mind of the computer system, that controlled the park and all of its creations, and they talked with the system, in the form of person, who told them that he had discovered that the re-creation of a human mind was simple…only 12,348 lines of code in the algorithm.

And, so by way of a rather involved science fiction television show…what controls our lives…nature or nurture?

When we make decisions are we making our own choices or are we pre-programed by our genetics to take the fork in the road that is in our programing code and hard wiring?

Some would say that we are pre-destined by our creator to become a christian or not.

Others would inform us that all of our decisions are totally our own and that we are free agents as to the directions that our lives take.

I was watching the new Jurassic World movie this past Saturday, which is another Michael Crichton creation, and was taken aback by the final decision made by one of the stars as to the survival of the dinosaurs.  The decision did not follow logical progression of thought…free will?

Many of the decisions that we make during the course of our time on Earth are nature decisions.  As an example, if you are out of work and have no money to pay your bills or buy food for you family…you will probably accept the first job that is offered to you.  Now, you had the right, as a free agent, to say no…but logically you would not…survival made the decision for you.

You find that you like the job and receive a promotion and have the promise of additional promotions in the future.  You can make the decision to leave…?

As a child you are told that you must attend grammar school and then high school and then college.  These acts are by and large perfunctory and involve little decision making on your part…other than perhaps where to attend college.

Then, you graduate and get an entry level job in the discipline that you studied and you are given a large manual of rules and regulations that outline, in detail, what you are to do and what you are not to do in order to succeed at the company that you hope to have a prosperous career in.

You work in an office that has a preponderance of republicans…while you are a democrat.  You have an opinion…but if you utter it…you will be roundly criticized and condemned.  You want to get along with your co-workers…so, often, you are silent regarding your heartfelt political views.

You marry or you have a partner who’s primary mission is you.  They want to create a clone, or robot, of themselves.  Do you attempt to re-form yourself in their image?

You are part of a church that recognizes particular norms of behavior and deportment of its parishioners….and so your act, much as theatre, the role that your are expected to play.

How much of our lives is determined by our, sometimes, limited choices and our desire to fit into the group and our biases?

Why not stretch your options and your vison of your future and increase your choices?

We do not to find at the end or our days…that we have been a robot for most of our time on this blue planet.








‘The Pilgrimage of The Magi’

‘Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the was to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?  for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.  And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, ‘

‘And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.’

‘Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, what I may come worship him also.  When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was…’

‘And when they were departed, behold the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thous there until I bring thee word:  for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him….’

‘Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.’    Matthew 2: 1-9, 13, 16   KJV

I shared, on Facebook, the other day a captivating painting depicting Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, fleeing to Egypt.  The caption stated, ‘That Moment When You’re so Desperate To Protect Your Child That You Risk Fleeing To Another Country.’

I was, subsequently, admonished to ‘get my head out of the sand and research the real story,’ and I have listed the real story above.

I was a bit perplexed by the, I am sure, kind admonishment…and then I considered that perhaps the person giving me the sage advice was considering the real story the current southern border crisis and the fact that we have separated thousands of children from the parents as they attempted to cross our border and therefore committed a misdemeanor.

Certainly our current president traffics in the politics of fear and class warfare.

We are told by the president that those attempting to apply for asylum in our country are; rapist and murderers  and drug dealers and criminals and members of the MS 13 Gang and that ‘coyotes’ are responsible for bringing many refugees to our border.

The president highlights the familes of US citizens that have had a loved one killed by an illegal immigrant.  Of course, this is terrible and we must have strong border security and through checks and procedures in place to stop entry or the granting of assylum to criminals and murders.  This is simply common sense and necessary and vital to the security of our nation and our people.

It is not necessary to seperate minor children from their parents to facilitate the determination as to whether they qualify for assylum in the United States.

Many of the refugees have taken an extremly dangerous journye of over 2,000 miles to come to our border…only to find that the legal ports of entry…are either closed or that they must wait for days and weeks to talk with someone.  This is by design…to slow down immigration.

The number of immigrants that we accept has been declining for several years.

The Chinese have the largest number of immigrants to the U.S.

The United States unemployment rate is 3.9%…we need immigrants to work in our country in many fields, including construction, and to perform jobs that our aging citizenry have been unwilling to do for many years.

If an African American is mean to me…that does not quantify that all African Americans are therefore mean.

When a white person murders or rapes or pillages another…that does not signify that I and my family should be labeled…murders…rapist…or pillagers.

When a woman flees domestic violence…with her young children holding on to her hands…the human beings at the shelter…believe her…and comfort her…and help her.

Jesus…was not an American…and he was not white…yet would not we all be honored to welcome him into our home and give him the best seat at our table and tenderly binds up and care for the wounds that he received…from his own people…and in his own country?

‘And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’





Hollow Leaders

‘Hollow – Having a hole or empty space inside.’   Google Dictionary

I was talking with a friend, the other day, and reflecting on the hollowness that is in some leaders and managers of people.

When I first encountered this type of narcissistic management…I was still a teenager and the concept that the person that was leading me cared nothing about my well being or self worth and that basically everything that I accomplished…was about them and I was merely a dim reflection of their manic paranoia.

When I began at SIU my crew supervisor, Don, would regularly assign me additional buildings to clean when others members of the staff were either sick or on vacation. At first, I did not concern myself with additional duties as I was ecstatic to be a part of the organization.  However, I could not help but notice that my boss sat in front of the television in the Law School Lounge…for the majority of the work shift and drank coffee and visited with his boss, Jim, while I worked harder and harder.

Again, I simply felt that Building Service Worker I’s and the student custodial staff must be the only members of the operation that performed manual labor.

One day I was told that my boss was supposed to be a working supervisor and that it was his job to pick up, at least a portion, of the work that he was assigning to me and my student colleagues.

Still, I thought that this is fine…I have the best job that I have ever had…until he began to criticize the work that I was performing on the shifts that I had neither time for a break or a lunch.

I determined that if I ever had the honor to lead others in the department that I would treat them with respect and dignity and recognize the worth and value that they brought to the organization.

Some leaders/supervisors have a group that are their favorites and they receive the good and easy jobs and the best perks that the manager can supply them.

But, there is another group…and that is those who must be punished…and these unfortunate members of the staff are given increasingly more work…that they can not possibly perform…and then chastised and punished and disciplined for not being  super human.

grayscale photography of woman with spraklers

Photo by Thibault Trillet on

I have worked for and witnessed leaders and managers and administrators that led by their conspiracy theories and paranoia.

I have sat in meetings where the Bible was quoted and the scriptures perverted to support the hollow and heartless agenda of the administrator.

I have witnessed the caviler locking up of children and those of a ‘tender age’…babies and toddlers…for a narcissistic and political agenda…using the children as pawns on a chessboard…to reflect the all consuming needs of the leader…admiring his reflection in the mirror.

Work assignments yield to logic.  That is why there are recognized time studies and manuals written regarding work loads as to what is doable in a work shift and what is punishment and that will have the result of breaking down the health of the loyal and hard working staff person that is trying to not fail in what they have been assigned.

I have witnessed staff, during my years at SIU,  that have been given more work than they can possibly perform…break emotionally and I have had people come to me, privately, and admit that they were thinking of suicide.

The power of a manager or administrator or leader…or president…is a fearful and delicate dance of getting a job done and not hurting or damaging the wonderful technicians that are performing that work.

The Escaping Jewel of Little Egypt

Carbondale, Illinois, the home of Southern Illinois University once had four movie theaters.  Now we have one.

Our University Mall has ever increasing vacant store fronts.

One of the two Dry Cleaners, in town, has closed and posted on their door that there simply was not enough customers in Carbondale to support two Dry Cleaners any longer.

Our only independent Book Store, Book Worm, which had been a staple of our economy for many years…has closed due to the lack of a buyer for their store.

The Marion Mall, which is about ten miles from Carbondale, is sectioning off their vacant spaces and retrofitting the structure due to about two thirds of the facility being vacant.

When I was hired at SIU on October 10th, 1978, I immediately began searching for a new automobile to purchase.  I looked in DuQuoin, Illinois and when the car salesman asked me where I worked, I responded that I was just hired as a janitor at SIU.  He responded that my credit would be good at their establishment as SIU had wonderful and extremely secure jobs.

The first custodial crew that I supervised as a Building Custodian contained student staff from; Africa, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and Iran.  What an education in international diplomacy!

I was not on the college track in high school.  I was on the vocational track.  The first SIU course that I took was something that I did not perceive that I would ever do.  The course was an Introduction to Computers and the professor told me that I had a great aptitude for university course work and I received an A in the course.

I wanted to enter a discipline and I called the Chair of Electronic Data Processing.  The African American Chair treated me like I just transferred from Harvard.  He met with me in his office and spoke with me at length regarding the benefits of an EDP Associate Degree.

I wrote computer programs by punch card and received the printed out data on watermelon paper.

I studied Basic and Fortran and flowcharts and garbage in and garbage out…and I did well.

I studied composition in Carol Burns class in 1984.  We read the book ‘1984’ in 1984.  Carol spoke to me as an equal and she told me that I could succeed in any academic discipline that I chose.  She suggested law.

Carol was my favorite professor.

Before I retired I was privileged to be a member of the Civil Service Council for over fifteen years.  During that time I served on two chancellor search committees and became friends with several of them and one president of SIU.

What I observed regarding the administration of SIU and the management thereof is that it is not rocket science.  Both Don Beggs and Jo Ann Argersinger were doing a wonderful job and subsequently were not allowed to continue due to human egos and personal agendas.

I personally witnessed students and faculty and staff be attracted to the leadership of Chancellor Argersinger.

I saw the lightness of spirit and the renewal of a vision for the future of SIU under the benevolent two years of Chancellor Beggs.

I was a member of the coming together of the university community while positive chancellors influenced positive change for our beloved school.

I spent my entire 32 year and three month and two week career in Building Services as SIU.

The Building Services Staff love SIU!

We worked tirelessly to provide clean and immaculate buildings that reflected the academic excellence that was provided from our school.

Many custodial staff received their Bachelors and Masters degrees while they were working for SIU.

We were fortunate to hire many individuals who were challenged by either physical or intellectual disabilities.

These custodial technicians were some of our finest staff.  Before I left, one of our deaf staff, Jamie, was promoted to supervisor and subsequently managed a crew of several students and Building Service Workers…and did a tremendous job!

I think of my friend, Ryan, and the herculean work that he performs on a  nightly basis.  This man loves SIU and is totally invested in its success and it requires a good and dedicated and humanitarian and visionary leader…to be worthy of leading him.

Listen SIU Leaders…your staff are believers in SIU…strive to be worthy to lead them!

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is a school that has wide open doors to those who have disabilities.

SIU had a open door to minorities when it was not politically fashionable to do so…and they still do.


SIU is the home of the first generation college student.

SIU has so many natural advantages and houses elite academic programs and is waiting for a leader to bring them together…to dream again!

Let us seek vision over monetary reward.

Who wants to lead us because it is in their soul…not on their resume?

Who will fire the furnace of desire and vision and dreams and hopes…that was SIU…and that is more needed now than ever

When I was asked, suddenly, to lead SIU’s Building Services…I prayed that I could be worthy of the dedicated men and women that made up the organization.  I knew that they deserved the best…and that without God’s help…I was not up to the task.



It is Not a Liberal or Conservative Problem…It is a Humanity Problem

‘The internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II was the forced relocation and incarceration in camps in the western interior of the country of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom lived on the Pacific Coast.  Sixty two percent of the internees were United States citizens.  These actions were ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly after Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.’   Wikipedia

‘Japanese Americans were incarcerated based on local population concentrations and regional politics.  More than 110,000 Japanese Americans in the mainland U.S., who mostly lived on the West Coast, were forced into interior camps.  However, in Hawaii, where 150,000 plus Japanese Americans composed over one-third of the population, only 1,200 to 1,800 were also interned.  The internment is considered to have resulted more from racism that from any security risk posed by Japanese Americans.  Those who were as little as 1/16 Japanese and orphaned infants with ‘one drop of Japanese blood’ were placed in internment camps.’   Wikipedia

President Franklin Roosevelt was a democrat and a liberal and what he did was wrong.

The separation of children from their parents to make a point regarding how difficult that it is to immigrate to the United States…is wrong.

The majority of the South and Central Americans, along with many Mexicans, who are seeking refuge in our country are fleeing drug cartels and gangs and threats to their lives…they have no other options!

When you listen to the cries of little more than babies…for their fathers and mothers and you see them in cages…replace those images with the loving images of your own children and your precious grandchildren and then tell me that this Hitleresque policy is just and necessary.

Times are changing much more rapidly than any of us could have imagined…what if we engage in a nuclear war and our opponent is the victor?

What will you say when our victorious adversary begins to round up our children and separate them from our privileged and white and upper middle class life?

Will we plead for humanitarian…mercy?

Or will we quote the Apostle Paul and say that we had to obey the law…just like the Germans did…in Nazi Germany?


Travel By Book

A locally owned bookstore, Bookworm, is closing after many years in operation.


Jonathon and I visited Bookworm on Saturday and the crowd was so great that you could not adequately see the books on the shelves…while the line for check out was at least an hour long.

We returned this morning and found a healthy amount of patrons…but not unmanageable.

You, see, all books are on sale for $1 and this includes; rare books and books signed by the author and new books.

People were purchasing multiple bags and baskets full.  Many of the happy shoppers remarked to the owners…that they would be back….this week…of course.

Giant books for photos and medical journals and mystery and thrillers and suspense and local authors too.

Books that cried out. ‘read me’ and ‘I will show you adventures like you have never experienced’  and ‘I will tell you of mysteries that you have never thought of!’

The joyful and ecstatic and childlike look in the patrons eyes…especially those with multiple bags of books…was compelling.

I am currently listening to the Audible book, Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe.  It has transported me to the New York city of the 1980s’.