Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Kind of Back Handed Compliment

Tucked away in Faulkner County just north of Little Rock, Arkansas sits the Beryl Baptist Church. Located in the town of Vilonia, it's flock is righteously tended to by Pastor John Lindsey, the 2nd. Faulkner County is like many rural counties across this country. Median income is just below the National average and more people did not go to college than did.

What I find interesting is that for a population of around 88,000 people, there are roughly 121 churches of some kind. According to demographic information I found, these 121 homes of worship serve roughly 53% of the locals who claim to belong to one church or another. 121 places to pray for 47,000 people. Far and away the single largest block are the Baptists. They claim 48 churches with about 25,000 folks claiming to believe. You add in the other evangelical protestants and Faulkner county is Jerry Falwell heaven.

I found this sign on another blog. It was a blog that proudly proclaimed it's disdain for religion. The image is supposedly real and not one of those Photo-shopped images, or one of those goofy "fill in your slogan of choice" images. The real McCoy. Someone supposedly thought this would make sense to their parishioners.

But finding it on an anti religious site made me suspicious. I began a search to find out the truth of it. So far, I have found nothing to disprove or corroborate it's authenticity. And that really pisses me off. I was hoping to be able to debunk it or reinforce it. My plan got shot in the butt.

I did verify that John Lindsey is the Pastor of the Beryl Baptist Church. I even found a picture of him playing pool after a hard day on the revival circuit. But no where could I confirm or deny the message in this sign. So here I am with all this useless information about a church, a county, 121 churches and 88,000 people who I would guess could not care less if the sign is real or not. Well, I am assuming at least 47% of them do not care one way or the other.

After all this digging and prodding Google in the right direction, I feel my efforts should amount to something. At least one post regarding the message, my frustration, or even some pithy comments on why the Hell are there so many churches in one county?

So why don't I just look at this message?

I would be one of the first people to claim I do not see much logic in many religious takes. I will also be there with those who claim that faith does not need reason or logic to exist. But to say reason is the enemy of faith publicly on a church sign is just not logical. I cannot believe that even the hardest core bible thumpers would come up with this message. Church folks are not all dumasses they are played up to be. Yeah, many have blind spots regarding their beliefs, but I have never considered them imbeciles.

So lacking any evidence in either direction I think someone is pulling the Internet's leg again. Or maybe I just have more faith in my fellow man than some would consider reasonable.

(548 / 13,747)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Silent Conquest of Ourselves

The recent rash of musical oriented posts on some of the blogs I read has left me feeling out of the loop. Left alone in a wilderness where silence reigns supreme and lyrical notes do not exist. Randal posted about six cover tunes that he felt were worthy of or more so than the originals. Trukin Dog just posted a Molly Hatchet album image that promised to rock my socks if I entered it. And Utah, well Utah has recently discovered Jeff Beck. And naturally she has turned this new infatuation into a discography of sorts about the hot tempered Brit.

I visit other blogs and the same thing is happening. It is as if everyone has been bitten by the "I must post about music now" bug. Why have I not felt this need? What failing deep inside my soul causes me to resist this urge to write about music? But it is not even a question of me resisting. It is near impossible to resist that which does not exist.

I should not be surprised though. I have a lifetime behind me of instances just like this. Well meaning people who go about the flow of their days without even so much as a nod in my direction. It is as if I do not exist when the topic is music. Is it because I am tone deaf? Or maybe going deaf? Is it my fault I cannot easily discern the hidden meanings so artfully crafted into lyrics like "I wanna Hold Your Hand" or "Wild Thing, you make my heart sing"?

I exist as a barbarian among a cultured and enlightened society. A musical heathen who has never completely understood that double time is not four/four time cut in half. I have to be reminded of this on a regular basis. Okay so I am a white guy who can't dance, can't sing, can't rip it up on whatever instrument you might mention. Still, I think I am pretty fly for a white guy. No matter what the sophisticated audiophiling bloggers think.

In order to prove my sophistication is at least the equal of the Bubba living down the road, I have taken it upon myself to expand my musical horizons and take them into the future of music that is not yet. Music so cutting edge, it will be here long after we are all dust filling the stomachs of maggots.

The album, "Silent Conquest of Ourselves" at the top is what I am talking about. Looking at the cover, one almost need not put needle to waxen grooves to know this group has transcended all previous lyrical efforts that came before it. It's subtle tones and quiet harmonies emphasis the futility of Life and tell us where it all ends. Listen attentively or you might miss it. Let the quiet hush of nothing fill your mind and core as you are silently carried to Music's irrevocable final flourish. Even the silent breaks between the soundless riffs shout out to incredible voids tucked inside the deafening stillness. The experience will leave you speechless.

As Peace Rueben, the headman of the group says, "Silence is golden, Silence speaks volumes. Silence is the ultimate melody".


This review of new music invented by me was inspired by yet another blogger blogging about music. Well sorta, kinda, maybe a little. It is obviously the result of a blogger who has spent entirely too much time in front of the screen. briwei over to It's Bri Wise World turned me onto it. And given the current rage of musical posts, I thought it would dovetail in nicely.

It goes like this

1 - Go to Wikipedia’s “random” page:

The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to Quotations Page’s "random quotations":

The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your album.

3 - Go to Flickr and click “explore last seven days”
The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
It's nice to credit the photo source.

4 - Use Photoshop or similar to put it together.

5 - Post your photo to your FB page with this text in the "caption" or "comment" and tag friends you’d like to join in.

And then to add my own twist or mod as the gamers call it I think -

6. Do a musical review on the album. Lying is not only encouraged, it is the only alternative.

I am not going to tag anyone. I recently did that. Besides, I think it was just cool to do it. Hell, I came up with a whole long winded post about it. What's not to like?

Thanks to John Wilkie in Flickr for the use of the image

Keep it 'tween the ditches..................

(763 / 13,199)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Don't Touch Me There - Don't Touch me Anywhere

I really enjoy being a US citizen. For the most part I find Americans to be a decent bunch. But sometimes I just have to chuckle at the stupidity we are capable of displaying on a regular basis. We are living in a country that many people contend has the most Freedom of any country in the World. I wonder though sometimes when I read about what well meaning custodians of that Freedom do to insist their idea of Freedom is ours also.

East Shore Middle School in Milford, Connecticut is the site of this latest example of expressing their idea of what Freedom means. Apparently one kid kicked another kid in the crotch. Okay, not good. But hey kids kick each other all the time. After the kid with the swollen nads headed to the hospital, the principal took the time to come up with a school wide policy that would avoid such confrontations in the future. I am guessing Principal Catherine Williams took at least a minute of intense deliberation and decided after 10 seconds of anguish that the solution was "No Touching" at all. No hugs between the gals or guys. No high fives. No hip fist hits. No playing tag on the playground. And I assume no kicks in the crotch either. No physical contact period. Her stated goal - to provide a safe educational environment.

I'll let this notion sink in a minute........................ for both of us...........

Obviously Ms Williams is in a job beyond her capabilities to handle. A new poster child to re-confirm the Peter Principle. She has just made her own job 1000% harder if she actually plans on enforcing this new rule. I would guess there were already rules about violence which would cover the groin kick. I am sure there are already rules regarding unwanted sexual touching. Why in Hell would she think prohibiting all touching would make those negative examples go away? I have come to the conclusion the woman is an idiot.

What bothers me the most though is this woman has risen to the top of her profession. She is a principal. How could someone this clueless land in the job she has? I would say Milford, Connecticut needs to re-evaluate their hiring criteria for the education department. An overreaching policy such as this does nothing to enhance the educational atmosphere. We have enough trouble keeping kids engaged in learning without taking away their right of inter personal contact. Instead of protecting the educational environment, this "No Touching" policy inhibits it.

The first learning experiences children have are through their senses. Sight, sound, taste, smell, and yes touch. To educate them and socialize them, allowing them to utilize these senses is part of the educational process. Of course we need to monitor and restrict their use in some cases in order to keep them safe. But to deny them any contact runs counter to what a society should be doing in order to build good citizens. Teaching them the difference between accepted physical contact and inappropriate contact can only be done on a case by case basis. Cutting off all contact gives them no logical base of where good physical contact ends and negative contact begins. The woman is a moron. That's the plain simple truth of this. She has no business being in education.

Stay Loose.............

(557 / 12,427)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Other Dangers of Climate Change

First, let me state clearly my position about Global Warming, Climate Change, or whatever you want to call it. Not my complete take, but enough to give you a clue of where I stand.

It does not matter to me at this point whether Man has created the changes we are seeing in our climate. The fact is, the planet is going through some changes. A brief hiccup or a longer readjustment is beside the point also. To deny the facts of this different climate is to be dangerously stupid. And based on what I can tell, it is a case of willful stupidity when being used as a political counterpoint. Natural or not, we need to take notice and do what we can to meet and deal with the changes that are on everyone's horizons.

This post however is not me going all Al Gore and ranting about the evil human destroying his planet. Instead I want to talk of opportunities and the potential dangers of pursuing those opportunities that have resulted from Climate Change.

As far as I know, all the experts are in agreement that the Ice Sheets found at each end of our mutual rock are shrinking. The effect on our planet from an environmental point of view is likely to be profound. It is the Arctic shrinkage though that will most likely result in profound geo-political changes also. The shrinkage up North is now uncovering that "Northwest Passage" so many explorers were sure existed, but could not find because well, it was under ice.

The possibility of open shipping lanes across the top of the World changes the dynamics of transporting anything from one continent to the other. The shrinkage is also uncovering more areas to exploit for the black gold the World loves to pump into their infernal combustion engines. The Arctic seems to be our next point of global confrontation. That next flash point not many people saw coming thirty years ago.

This reality of open sea in the Arctic has every country bordering the Arctic Circle scrambling now to claim as much of the area as they can and calling it their own. We are about to divide up the North Pole. It's historical neutrality is on the auction block. And this is no game. Countries are damn serious about this.

Whoever controls energy production over the next 50 years is likely to ensure themselves a seat at the big dog table for the foreseeable future. And the untapped reserves up North has everyone up there salivating hard. Russia, Canada, and of course the US are the prime players in this next International soap opera. Each one has claimed so much that their claims overlap. Surprise, surprise. The other players like our laid back Scandinavian friends are quite vocal and have laid their claims also.

This initial posturing is to be expected I guess. It is the way the game is played. Claim more than your share and by the the time the dust settles, you might end up with what you really should have. Or something like that.

With this new opportunity staring us in the eye, the big three are now casting suspicious eyes on each other. All have begun to posture with talk of doing what is necessary to "protect" their interests and rights. Russia has just publicly announced that they are going to develop an Arctic Military Force.
Heated debate has begun in Canada about what they need to do to protect their rights up there. And I would imagine the US has many defense scenarios already plotted. Our boys in the Pentagon just love conjuring up worst case scenarios.

This new twist of an unforeseen consequence of Climate Change is now thrown into the unstable mix that makes up international relations today. One more unneeded problem to make an already deteriorating situation harder to deal with. One more new glitch that tells me the next 50 years will most likely be the most interesting times Mankind has ever experienced.

See Ya..............

(672 / 11,870)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Six Random Things

I was recently rewarded for some advice I dished out by being tagged. Contrary to the thanks I received over the advice, I now wonder if the kind words were just warm puffs in my ear. See if I raise my hand and volunteer in the future Utah.

I know. Or at least I think I know. Being tagged is an odd form of paying another blogger a compliment. I appreciate the attention and the friendly effort to highlight another's presence in this ocean of voices I call the Blogosphere. After all, if we don't swing the spotlight on others, many of us will just exist as one more noise in the infinite numbers of voices that make up this written word symphony. A meme allows one to be a singled out soloist, if only for a moment.

The meme is 6 random things about myself. Hmm. Random huh? For some reason I am having trouble with this. Had it just been "6 things about myself" I could go to town. The addition of the word "Random" puts a kind limit on what I pick. It should not constrain my choices, but somehow it has. Random seems to indicate that some things about me are not random while others are.

I could get wrapped up agonizing over this for hours. So I won't. I will start with the first thing that pops into my head.

1. I first knew I lusted after taller women on that first Friday in music class in fourth grade. At Dale Mabry Elementary School in Tampa, Florida Fridays were not dedicated to singing off key, playing goofy instruments, or listening to Hayden or Guy Lomabardo. Friday music class was a trip to pre-pubescent Hell. On Fridays, we were forced to dance. And dance with yucky girls ferchrisakes. Square Dancing, Polkas, and other musical beat tortures that necessitated actually touching girls.

That first Friday of dance was tough. Like two opposing armies facing each other, the boys stood scared and nervous on one wall and the twittering girls with their whispering coniving ways stood grinning from ear to ear on the other. Between us, an unassailable void kept both sides apart. The music teacher resolved the issue by grabbing a boy and pairing them up with a girl. I was coupled with Lois. Lois towered over me by at least six inches. Rail thin, dirty blonde hair, and hands that were huge. Some would call her awkward and gawky.

That first dance class was a case of ambush. I never saw it coming. On the following Fridays though, I had a chance to prepare my mental attitude. While I did not especially enjoy myself, I came to enjoy the close physical proximity I had with Lois. Girls were not so bad after all. They smelled different. They were softer than us guys. And by the end of that fourth grade year they began to look a whole lot better than any guy I knew. Ever since then, long legged women have filled my fantasies. Yeah, so have short legged women. But well, when I see and appreciate an Amazon, I think of Lois.

2. I have never been to Europe. I have never wanted to go to Europe. While my roots can be traced in that direction, I dream of going to New Zealand. Why? Not sure. I have nothing in common with Kiwis except a common language. I do not even know anyone from New Zealand. But there is just something about that country that captures my vacation spirit. Maybe one day I will set foot there.

3. I hate talking on the phone. And the idea of texting just seems even more hateful. Maybe it is because I am often at a loss for words. I need time to collect my thoughts and the immediacy of a phone conversation takes that away.

4. I have size 9 1/2 triple EEE feet. My mom called them shovel feet. Not sure why I am sharing this, but well the idea here is to be random. Relaying one’s shoe size is pretty random. Growing up with feet that do not easily fit into any shoe unless they are a couple of sizes bigger than the length of the foot would indicate caused me to hate shoes. I think my tendency to go barefoot or wear flip flops comes from this aversion of mine to looking like I had clown feet as a child.

5. I have not talked with either brother in several years. Before that a decade passed without any communication between us. There are hard feelings between myself and one brother. The other one, well, I guess cutting them both off seemed to make sense at the time. I admit the problem is more my problem than theirs.

6. I like to puff up and say I have no regrets. I lie. I most certainly have regrets. I just don’t regret the normal stupidity of my past. My regrets are more that I regret building walls between myself and those I should not have. Ties in with number five I guess.

The Rules
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Okay. Drum Roll please. I will now pick some other poor slobs to continue this game of tag. I do not have a very good track record of picking bloggers who are willing to play in these blogging games. But who really cares anyway?

Carlita – I do not think I have ever tagged her
El Cerdo Ignatius – just because he’s been on vacation and deserves it
The Frumpy Professor - I do not remembering ever tagging him. He loses this time.
Old Dude - He will play
Yooper in Crackerland - Just because I like his attitude and he has never been hit by me
Chef Cthulhu - Just to make him set that beer down for a minute


(1043 / 11,198)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shoot Out at the Burger King Corral

Miami - In a bizarre confrontation of one gun toter against another gun toter, it seems what we have here is an incident that will feed the fires of both sides of the guns in America debate.

Around four O'clock in the afternoon in a crowded Burger King in Florida, a masked man wielding a gun went in and robbed the place. A gun carrying patron who up to that point I imagine was just enjoying his repast of burger, fries, and a coke noticed what was going down. He confronted the robber and an argument ensued ending with them both using their respective weapons to try to convince the other of their point of view.

Shots were exchanged, customers ducked for cover, and when the smoke cleared, the robber was dead in his tracks. The gun wielding do-gooder was still breathing but probably wondering if it was worth all the hassle now that he had a couple of new holes in his body.

The NRA types will jump all over this as a perfect example of why we should be free to carry guns on our person. A cop is not always there when you need one. The balls of the do-gooder will be weighed and found to be massive. The gun worshipers will fall prostate at the alter of self defense. The man will be and already is considered a "good Samaritan", "hero", and "courageous". Hmm.

The limp wristed ban all guns crowd will use this as their poster child of what happens when too many citizens have guns. Cowboys like this hero will put every one's life in danger by pulling a gun out in a crowded Burger King. They will contend that no one else being killed or wounded was a miracle.No consideration will be given to the notion that both gun toting fools might just happen to have been good shots.

I have no problem with folks owning guns. But I do not like the idea of "concealed guns". If you are going to carry one, hang it out in the open so everyone can see it. Had this robber gone into that crowded Burger King and seen four or five patrons with six guns strapped on like codpieces, he might have moved on.

The gun debate to me is a fools errand for both sides. The horse has already left the barn. Banning them might look good on paper, but it will hardly do much for the 200 million or so weapons already in American hands. Gun lovers are like drug addicts. No law will make many of them give the firepower up. Just more useless laws that will make someone happy that there is now a new law legislating something. That the law will not work is beside the point.

As to our "hero". The man was an idiot in my opinion. He needlessly put others in danger by pulling his weapon. I hope he recovers, but I cannot consider him as anything but a dangerous fool. No amount of money is worth a life.

See Ya................

(510 / 10,155)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wishing to Legislate Stupidity

Once again I am being reminded just how close or maybe not close but reminded that I am now an old fart. In an ever increasing curve, I am losing touch with what is hip and what is not. Seems the rage of "texting" has an offshoot called "sexting". Nude, porn and other tawdry images are being transmitted between teens all over the nation. And now a recent teen suicide is being blamed on this phenomenon.

It seems a young lady from a high school in Cincinnati "sexted" a nude picture of herself to her boyfriend. Okay fine. Whatever. But as these things go when dumb kids are involved, it got out of hand. Suddenly her picture was being transmitted all over the high schools of Cincinnati. She became so distraught, she killed herself.

It is always tragic when a teenager commits suicide. No matter the reason. But now it appears her parents are attempting to build support for a type of censorship I find more insidious than the natural urge of teens to abuse anything in their hands. Her parents want to somehow get the government involved in filtering out what we can transmit over our fancy phones. That somehow the Nannie state fell down in it's duties and now their child is dead.

They contend that this problem is not one that should be laid on the parents and their failure to do their job. This is the fault of Society and Society's total lack of regard for their implied duty to provide a safe environment for our children. Once again, someone is attempting to get the state involved in things we all should hope they do not.

I don't blame the parents. I don't blame society. I don't blame the government. I am sorry, but the fault for this can be laid at one person's doorstep. The teen who transmitted her image in the first place. She was in High School. Certainly by that time some responsibility for one's actions needs to be in their own hands. This is one of those situations. Sexting a nude photo of herself was not an innocent, "I did not know what I was doing" kind of action. She most certainly did know what she was doing. That future teens should somehow be protected from their own stupidity is not the job of government. Kids will continue to be stupid. No legislation will change that.

Had our Society not been so hung up about nudity and sex, this young lady might not have accumulated the type of hangups that would have caused her to go over the edge in so dramatic a way. Instead of railing against the lack of protections, maybe we should redefine just what nudity is. It is nothing but humans without clothes. Who cares? It should not be that big of a deal. Instead our anal retentive attitudes about sex and nudity create unhealthy imbalances in our youths minds, leaving us with stupid numbers of pregnant youngsters, sexually deviant behaviour, and diseases spread because of puritanical restrictions on information that might keep the diseases under control. It is not censorship we need. We need a more realistic approach to the issue.

It bothers me that we are becoming a society that no matter which side of the political aisle we hang in, we are more inclined to look to government to resolve every issue that invades our lives. The government is usually only too happy to jump in if they see another avenue of control to wield in our direction. This tendency to give away our freedoms makes me nervous.


(601 / 9645)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

1001 Ways to Armageddon

After another session of sensory overload on a political and religious forum, I seem to have lost any enthusiasm for making it through another day. The purveyors of doom n gloom on both sides have convinced me that no matter what, we are all through. Done. Kaput. It's all over, don't even bother to shout. Some of the prognosticators limit the damage to just this country and our apple pie way of Life. Others take a broader view and include the Planet as a whole. Regardless, it has been decided that there is no use. Any resistance or keeping a stiff upper lip is futile. Writing a will is no longer necessary.

The law of averages would indicate that with so many opinions out there about the upcoming regional or global Armageddon, one of them has to be right. Right?

If the economy doesn't get us, the shadow world government run by and for Aliens will. Then there is that religious twist. The forthcoming Anti-Christ and his smack down match with God puts that nail of finality into our collective coffins with a bullet. And who can forget Mother Nature and how we have worn out our welcome by shitting in our own nest. She can't be happy.

There is an upside to all this though. It is a selfish upside I take no real pleasure in. I do not want to over do the selfish part and laugh and point fingers. All those years I wasted not accumulating wealth, property, and good standing seems to have been the correct course given what we are now facing. Knowing that we cannot prepare for survival, only prepare to die makes all my wasted years seem worth it. There is no pension in the After Life.

Which brings me to what happens when this inevitable calamity befalls us. Again, so many opinions, so many choices. One just has to be correct. With almost 7 billion people crowding the planet, one of them has to hit this nail on the head.

One scenario I like if only because it fits in with my love of anything smacking of Sci/Fi, is that we will either become enslaved and be forced to waiting on tentacled Aliens hand and foot for the next 30,000 years. Or we become the stockyard to the stars. If the former, I will attempt to wheedle my way into the gardening department. I like working outdoors. If we become meat, then I suppose I will hope there is room in the stud farm. Being a guy, the idea of being a bull instead of a steer appeals to my machismo side.

Mother Nature wreaking havoc and destruction and tossing us back into the primordial stew seems kind of heartless. But there it is. She's done it before and I am sure she will not waste any tears when she does it again. For this potential eventuality I have no plan. I will just have to suck it up and know that in another million years or so, a new life form will be pumping me into their internal combustion engine at I hope will be a reasonably high price.

God and his army offer the best hope of having something positive come out of all this. It just depends how good a God follower I was while alive. If I have sinned and not sought to confess these sins, I am toast. God has a special place for me. Maybe I should convert to Judaism. I hear the only Hell they suffer is living with Mom. But alas, I am afraid it is too late for this sarcastic heathen to lay claim to any righteousness God might find worthy. If God and his armies descend upon us, I will be one of the first to go.

With so many awesome and powerful forces aiming their ill will at us, it doesn't matter which one gets us. One of them surely will. Damn, I hope that Mayan Calendar is off by a hundred years or so.

See Ya..................

(674 / 9044)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another Day on the Obama Planet

So I only caught part of Obama's appearance on Jay Leno last night. Witnessed the "Special Olympics" comment. All I could think of was, "He'll get some grief over that remark." And of course he has. I did not concern myself with the remark as much as I noticed it as something he said that we all might say but really shouldn't when we are on TV in front of millions of people.

Before the show even aired, Obama called the guy in charge of the Special Olympics and apologized. Apparently his apology was sincere and he did not mean to offend. What the Hell? In this day of over sensitivity, what was he thinking? Oh yeah, that's right, he is human. Bonehead remarks are part of that human condition. Instead of jumping all over him, I think we should look at his own situation as a Black and his own response to the insensitive words thrown in his direction. He blows them off.

People get stupid sometimes. Shit happens. But at least the line could have been delivered better. Obama Man better keep his day job. He ain't no comedian.

My daughter went to UNC for her Master's degree. As students often do, she became a dedicated Tar Heels fan. That her discipline was also Athletic Training, it was a no brainer. By direct relation, so did I become a fan if I knew what was good for me. I am rooting for Carolina Blue to go all the way in this annual March of Madness. I did this before I knew Obama Man also is rooting, no more like demanding that UNC prevail. Believe me when I say my daughter's influence came first.

I think back through the Presidents I have lived through. It seems that with each one, the world that grabs and swoops them up became more complicated and urgent than their predecessors. Media spotlights shine in every corner of a President's life now. No longer can even a distant relative or third grade screw up go unnoticed. We have a World with apparently more pressing needs than ever before, yet we hold the magnifying glass ever closer with each administration. And each administration strives harder to keep that magnifying lens further away.

Obama has promised more transparency. In some respects he has accomplished this. He shows his human every man side well. But I am becoming nervous that the transparency we want from him is not the transparency we will get. Maybe I am wrong and I am just getting caught up in the frenzy of "fix it now", "I want the problems to go away" instantly routine. Obama needs to settle down and focus. He is beginning to waste more time back pedaling than I am comfortable with. Admit the mistakes and move on. And ferchrisakes stop the campaigning. You won already.


(480 / 8370)

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Dangling from the branch upside down, gravity forcing blood to his head and his butt out of his britches, he continued to share his philosophy of an upside down existence, and how it was impossible. Only now he had moved to the notion of Gravity.

He rambled on about Life being just a perspective ruled by Gravity. There was nothing else but Gravity. Without gravity we would become shiftless and forever nomadic. Nothing, not even procreation could happen without Gravity. Without Gravity, we would not exist.

I stood watching and listening. I tossed the worn baseball up and caught it as it came down in that new mitt I got for my birthday.

"What about Space moron? Alan Shepard lived through it. There's no gravity in Space."

Ralph stopped swinging on the branch. He looked at me oddly. He blinked. Damn it was unnerving that he could hang like this for so long.

"How do ya know there's no Gravity in Space? How do you know Space even exists? I can prove Gravity exists. See." And he shot a loogie in my direction. It fell to the ground almost on my new sneakers. "Just cuz they said he went into Space doesn't mean it's there. Prove to me Space exists."

I ignored his dare and continued tossing my ball up and catching it as it came down. He had me there. I could not prove Space existed other than the lessons taught to us in school or what we saw on TV. I never could argue with Ralph. He just wasn't human.

So I asked him this. "Does Pain exist?" I grabbed his legs and tossed him off the branch. That five foot drop had to hurt.

"Yeah I guess it does. Especially when you throw some Gravity in", I said. "Now let's go play some ball".

Keep it 'tween the ditches............

(308 / 7890)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

I suppose it being St Patrick's Day and all, I should be celebrating and wearing the obligatory green something to show my respect for my heritage that has it's roots in the Emerald Isle. Hmm. If I were to follow the family creed, I would be spitting on this day and wearing Orange instead of Green. My Irish ancestors were Protestant and hardcore Orange men. Celebrating a day dedicated to a Catholic Saint was not necessarily their idea of a good time. Or maybe it was since the Irish do seem to love beating each other up.

Instead of making me feel pride in my heritage this one day a year, I more often than not feel sadness and anger over the stupidity that has had it's grip on Ireland for centuries. And though the hostile attitudes there have been dampened to some degree in recent years, the anger still simmers just below the surface.

I could blame the English who conquered and exploited the Irish. I could blame the Catholic Church or the Protestant clergies for allowing religion to falsely be used to further political ends. But I don't. I blame all the Irish for not finding a way to resolve this absolute stupid situation. They have bought into the hate that had real reason to exist 200 years ago, but now seems to have settled into hating for hating sake.

The story or the family legend on my mom's side goes like this.

In the late 1700s, my Irish forebears became part of the new Orange movement that honored William of Orange, the King of England a hundred or so years earlier. It's purpose was political, but was soon turned into a religious struggle between Protestants and Catholics. This nasty little situation created a need for my Irish ancestors to find a way out of Ireland and do it quickly. They came to America in the early 1800s.

Okay, many marriages later spanning at least nine generations, here I am an American who is supposed to be proud of my ancestors for being stupid. My name may identify my genealogical path, but I am not Irish. I am not Scottish. I am an American with American roots long planted. I feel no kinship to them. No connection. I am interested, but only in a kind of historical sort of way. Any kinship has been lost over the almost two centuries since my early relatives put feet on US soil.

If anything, my family's history in Ireland and Scotland reinforce my negative view of organized religion. And thus a not too favorable view of God. No better example exists in the West of the damage religion can cause than the struggle of one kind of Irishman against another kind of Irishman. So forgive me if I just ignore the traditional green beer, the riotous celebration of being proud to have Irish blood flowing even a little through my veins, and just treat this like any other day on the planet. Because when all is said and done, that is all it is.

(512 / 7582)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Childhood Heroes Don't Exist Anymore

Gone are the days of the clean cut B-serial hero fighting evil and do gooding his way into our hearts. Good and Evil were once clearly defined from the opening scenes with heroes and villains appearing either Evil or Good right out of the gate. Mustaches and black hats and names like Black Bart or Snidley Whiplash left no doubt as to the roles these clowns would play. Our imagination was then left free to wander all the possible dastardly wicked things they might try to pull on the White Hat baby faced hero who would rather kiss his horse than Laura the buxom young maiden in distress.

Heroes were always patriotic. Heroes often gave their lives to uphold an ideal. Heroes were our notion of Ethics and Morality with the muscle to defeat the weaker sides of our more often than not villainous sides. Heroes told us what we should be, not what we really were.

I used to watch these cinematic heroes and read about my comic book heroes as a kid and often think about why we needed fake heroes when all we had to do was step up to the plate a little more often ourselves. With the child's mind it seemed simple to me.

Of course the black and white outlook of childhood tends to fade as we accumulate faults and imperfections over time. Life mutates from a literal world to a world of shades, dark corners, and subtle differences. We learn this on our own most of the time. It does not have to be taught to us. We outgrew the innocence our parents and other stewards tried to retain for us as long as possible. The ugly side of the Planet would catch up to us anyway, so why thrust us into it right out of the gate?

That attitude seems to have changed. The heroes of our children are darker now, more human like. They still fight evil for the most part, but the creators have decided to incorporate faults alongside the noble and true. So we end up with heroes like Watchmen or V. A group of heroes right out of an Ayn Rand novel. Heroes who end up doing good even if they did not intend to. Heroes who will not save ourselves from ourselves. They will often stand by while we destroy ourselves and only help those in our way.

And it is too bad in a way. Children now start on a diet of Barney and Tele Tubbies and move right into the ghettos of human experience. In grade school the reality that they see at home is often reinforced by the mass media onslaught of flawed do gooders who often miss the mark of true "Hero".

I suppose it could be looked at in a positive light though. Trying to deny some of the complexities that make up the Human Race and filling their heads with a Pollyanna overview might not prepare them for the reality that encroaches young lives at what seems a lower age every decade or so.

Sex at age ten. Carrying guns to school at age eleven. Substance abuse starting in third grade. Beauty pageants for five year olds. Plastic surgery by age eight. Children now have to grow up faster than I did. The world may revolve at the same speed it has for ages, but the pace at which we try to keep up has stepped up many notches. The time frame we allow our children to just be children without adult baggage has narrowed to the point where being a child is now more a case of being born a small adult and the only thing we let them do is change their clothing sizes.


(625 / 7070)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Angels & Aliens Both Start With The Letter A

All right now. I was willing to cut the gentle Christians some slack with the Intelligent Design thing. It's a stupid idea, but hey whatever blows their dress up. But this hijacking of the sacred cow of tinfoil folks everywhere is beyond the pale. Religion has absolutely no business mixing up aliens and angels. The two could not be further apart. You see Aliens exist. Angels don't. And this high handed attempt to lend their "Angel Fantasy" some credibility on the backs of the poor Aliens is well, just shameful.

Both have their advocates. Both have their detractors. But when one tries to hijack the goodwill of the other just to create a more modern and hip image for itself, it is more criminal than when Pop music hijacked Country. Or was it Country that hijacked Pop. See, when the lines get blurred like this, pretty soon we'll be seeing images of aliens with crosses and Jesus will suddenly have eyes the size of small pie plates. The Bible will be re-written with Moses using a tractor beam to part the Red Sea. Noah's little conundrum of how do you fit two of every animal in a forty foot boat will be explained by his use of a miniaturizing beam combined with a dash of stasis, leaving Noah plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy the forty day cruise.

Although I will be most interested to see how the faithful treat the subject of anal probing. That tried and true method all aliens use to get to know us might be tough to rationalize in a Godly way. A quick new rule will be found written as a BTW in some pots aged just for that purpose. One of the "discovered" parchments will contend God doesn't mind sodomy as long as it's done mechanically.

Of course it is understandable that a religion as old as God would look for ways to bring the good word into the hip modern world. Especially since it seemed to miss the last century altogether. Better late than never I suppose. But to pirate the hard work of others is immoral. That's what it is. Immoral and sinful. Aren't there rules about coveting and do onto others as you would have them do onto you and other high minded ideals?

You Christians came up with Angels. You have described them and filled out their bios. They have been an established part of your game forever. Aliens seem to fit into the science scenario a little cleaner. Trying to dress Angels up to fit the Hi Tech gee whiz world on our doorstep just seems like an act of desperation. Or maybe an attempt to hedge your bets, because science is kicking your butt. But sneaking in the back door this way won't work. I am on to you. Now say Amen.

(473 / 6445)

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Chef Cthulhu mentioned the other day he did not blog as much as he could because of his hangup about perfection. If you have suffered through even one of my posts, you can see I have no such hang up.

But the Chef got me to thinking. Just when did I decide perfection was not attainable and my loftiest goal would be "give it my best shot"? Of course as precise an idea as perfection is, it leaves no room to interpret a relative value for oneself. Right. I guess I need to come to an agreement with myself just what perfection is before I can demean my own best effort as somehow never being perfect.

( I know, I know. It is looking like Mike is about to have another Orange Barrel moment here. And I will admit it is tempting.)

The humorless and sterile Daniel Webster type might define perfection as something without flaws or mistakes. The art gallery crowd with their wine in hand might agree with this, but base perfection more on who the hot artist is at the moment. Each group or individual tends to value perfection based on an arbitrary set of criteria. And some cultures, religions resolve this idea of perfection by assigning one supreme being the honor of being the only thing that can be perfect. Everything else in the Universe is flawed in some fashion.

Math guys and gals often get on their high horse and contend the only perfection is found in numbers. Calculations that either work (perfection) or don't (imperfection). If I was able to add 2+2 and always get 4, I might agree. But I have my brain skips on occasion when even that does not make sense.

For me, perfection is a fluid thing. A concept that binds a mind and a moment in time and space where what is happening, being seen, read, heard, or felt is perfection. A moment when most if not all of our senses are satisfied at the same time.

We can seek perfection. But why bother? Perfection seems to have it's own agenda. It's own schedule. Perfection is not one thing, but a combination of things, ideas, and perceptions. We live our lives for the most part below perfection. We have become used to making our lives in world that will never be perfect. And when an example of perfection passes before us, more often than not, we miss it.

Often people will talk about the perfect day. Or mention how a trip went perfectly or flawlessly. Maybe they might mention "aged to perfection". People are always assigning perfection to small parts of their lives. And yet they often miss the implication. For me those moments are perfection. The times I realize a deep sense of satisfaction with part of my existence. Perfections are small things that go right in my life.

But what of the commonly accepted idea that perfection does not exist? It is unattainable. I have been programmed to think this way. Most of us have. But I think it is a cop out. A negative view that is not based in reality. Perfection surrounds us. We just need to open our eyes and our minds to see it. Life is perfection. What we do with it after is what turns it imperfect.
I wrote the above in one breath so to speak. I cleaned up the grammar, etc. But what's there was one word and my immediate train of thought that followed. I have re-read it and find it way less than perfect. But I feel I came close to almost mediocre. Anyway, it by no means is my over all view of perfection. Just the take I had at the moment.

What I find interesting is where I started and where I ended up. I had nothing a half hour ago. And yeah, I may still have nothing, but at least it's a lot of nothing.

See Ya...............

(662 / 5972)

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Playground

Sparrow, Buzzy and I trudged across the Daley School playground. The space was a three acre patch of grass, dirt, and broken playground equipment liberally salted with glass bottles dashed to the ground by drunk teenagers in the dark nights after everyone else was asleep. We were technically teenagers too. But so new at it, all we could do was listen in awe of the wonders to come through the lies and exaggerations of the real teenagers who were already there. And though we thought we were, we were not tough yet. And we were not smart enough yet to be scared. Life at this point was new perspectives emerging out of odd desires and troubling images we could not quite yet get our minds around. We were well into making that transition from child to troublemaker.

Usual conversations passed between us as we strolled through our neighborhood school yard. Our feet moved in no special direction but never really stopped. It was as if our feet knew where they were going but had all the time in the world to get there. And we were happy to just go where ever they headed. Our only deadline, be home by dark.

The three of us were more intent on just sharing each others company than plotting evil deeds or chasing some great mystery. We might have talked of who had the last fight at the Bridge. Or the latest news any of us had on the trivial scandals in school. And all the while just wandering, putting worn sneakered feet down one in front of the other in that shoe scuffing irritating habit teenage boys use to wind up their parents.

Our aimless trek passed across the broken pavement of the basketball court. It had long been useless as a place for jump shots and lay ups. The backboards still stood, but the rims had been lost before our time. Over near Ashely Street an old man, a younger man, and a dog were passing through in the opposite direction. Sparrow stopped at one of the backboards. He was in the middle of a great tale of a baby sitting job his older sister had let get out of control. He began to swing around the pole in the ground holding up the wasted backboard. It began to shake and shimmy at it's cracked concrete base.

I turned to leave. Sparrow had finished his tale and well, we may not have had anywhere to go, but I just wanted to keep the feet moving. Behind I heard Sparrow yell, "What the Fuck man!" I turned and saw Buzzy on the ground with the younger man who had been passing by kicking him in the stomach and chest.

"I am tired of you fucking punks vandalizing this playground", he screamed. And whump! His foot caught Buzzy in the face this time snapping it back hard.

I was struck dumb. I remember this clearly. Standing there some twenty feet away from me was the biggest human I had ever seen lunatic mad in my life. The guy looked like the Hulk. Ban Lon shirt overfilled with muscle topped off with the classic bully buzz cut of a Marine Sargent. And in the meantime, the older man stood off in the distance calmly watching with his dog leash drooping to the neck of a dog busy digging in the dirt. Sparrow was still attached to the pole like he was glued there. His eyes looked like mine felt. All bulged out with fear and surprise.

It was surreal.

I began to holler. I began to scream. I let loose with every cuss worded expletive deleted my young mind could come up with. And then I went ape shit. I ran right at the huge jerk and tackled him. He was so big, he didn't go down. But he stopped kicking Buzzy and turned his attentions on me. It was not even a contest. I had no chance with my 120 pounds against someone over 200 pounds and a foot taller. But as I lay on the ground taking my lumps I never gave up. I spit at him. I scratched, I threw futile punches. And I laughed. A maniacal laugh, Buzzy and Sparrow told me later. Said it creeped them right out. But I don't remember much of it. The man beat the living shit out of me.

At some point, the older man with the dog came over and managed to get his son off of me. Again I don't really remember that part, but apparently I took some more thrashing when I began to verbally abuse the father for allowing his grown son to beat on children. Junior gave me a few more lumps and a couple of more kicks to make me shut up. I passed out.

At some point on the way home, I became aware again. The three of us were still shuffling, only now it was as fast as we could to get us home. When I seemed to come out of it, Buzzy and Sparrow stopped. I collected myself and enjoyed the first real rushes of pain through every part of my body. They filled me in on the fight.

Sparrow, who had come through this ordeal unscathed, said, "Man, I thought you were dead. Not just out but really dead. You didn't move for like fifteen minutes."

Buzzy looked at him in disgust and said, "Mike it was more like a minute or two. But you were definitely knocked cold."

"Who was that guy?" I asked. I was still the new kid. I had only been living there for a few months at that point.

Sparrow piped up, "Oh that's Freddy Hewitt. He's a whack job. Someone told me he was put away. Guess he's back. He's Jack Hewitt's older brother. Man, did he kick your ass."

"I guess so", was all I said and I fell silent until we all separated at Buzzy's house.

I didn't make it home before dark. Sporting torn clothes and thrashed face added to the heat I received from my mom. She had become used to seeing boys with black eyes. Raise three sons and I guess that's what happens. Empathy is lost to what it is going to cost to replace that shirt, those pants. My dad hardly even acknowledged me as I went upstairs to clean up. I was just as happy. I was not wanting to suffer the 3rd degree.

About Ten o'clock the door bell rang. I didn't hear it, I was too busy listening to tunes on the mono record player and reading.

"Mike!" Dad was using his military voice. It cut through the music like a knife. I knew something was wrong. I scampered downstairs. It was then my mom really noticed my face when the front hall light hit it. She gasped. I guess a couple of hours of fluids had built up and I was no longer the son she remembered. She just rolled her eyes towards the living room. I still had no clue.

There were so many people in the living room, it was worse than standing room only. My dad looking real disgusted. Two cops looking official. Buzzy and his Dad looking uncomfortable. And Old man Hewitt with that whack job who had kicked my ass earlier standing next to him with his head down. And he was in handcuffs.

My dad started things off. His thirty one years as an Air Force officer kicked in and he assumed command of the situation. "You were in a fight this afternoon. Did you start it? Were you vandalizing?" His eyes bore right through me.

When Dad put on his military hat, I knew it was formal time. Respect the elder time. Tell the truth time. Don't beat around the bush. My ole man could smell bullshit a mile away. He had been through 3 sons also.

"Yes sir I was in a fight with him. I lost. But I was not vandalizing. None of us were."

The one cop looked like he was going to smile. I must have looked like I was going to pee myself. He stepped forward as if on cue.

"Buzzy and Mr Morin have decided to press charges if you go along. They say and another witness at the playground backs them up that you boys did nothing to instigate the altercation. Your father says it is up to you about pressing charges. "Son, are you okay? You look awful. You should maybe head to the hospital. Buzzy says you were knocked unconcious. Is that right?" I nodded.

At that point, Old man Hewitt spoke up. "Freddy really regrets what he did to you and that young man over there. Freddy has some problems and we have been trying to get them worked out. Putting him back in jail I don't think will help."

It was too much. Standing there like I had done something wrong and now this spineless old man is groveling while his loser pyscho son just stands there. I said, "Tell Freddy to apologize. I want to hear him say it."

And Freddy raised his head. Our eyes met. I knew in that instant this man was one dangerously crazed individual. He apologized, but I knew he didn't mean it. Everyone in that room knew he did not mean it. I looked over at my dad hoping for some guidance. Nothing. His face was blank but his eyes were focused on me.

I looked at the floor and mumbled, "Yeah sure. I wasn't going to do anything anyway."

My dad spoke up. "Before I pass on this, I want assurances. Freddy stays away from my son. Look at him for Christ Sakes, he is huge. What the Hell were you thinking sir?" And he got right in Old Man Hewitt's face. "You made no attempt to keep your adult son from possibly killing my 13 year old son. I want your word, not Freddy's that you will control him from now on."

Nothing from Hewitt. Just downcast eyes. I immediately felt sorry for the old man. He had no control of his out of control son. Finally in a quiet voice, "You have my assurances." Freddy looked at his father and glared.

One of the cops moved quickly to separate my father from Hewitt and Freddy. "Okay calm down everyone. Calm down. We are going to leave now. But we have made a report and I will be checking up on Freddy."

Suddenly everyone was gone but me and my parents. The quiet in the room was louder than the previous crowded scene. Dad just sat. Mom puttered with stuff on the coffee table. I sat in the blue overstuff looking at my hands.

"Why didn't you tell us about the fight?"

"Uh, I don't know. Didn't seem important I guess."

"Goddammit Mike!" My father was up off his chair. "That animal could have killed you. What were you thinking? Ever hear of retreat? Dumb ass kids!" And he stomped out.

Mom was still fiddling with this and that on the coffee table. She stopped and looked at me. "You know your father was scared for your safety don't you? When we heard about the beating you took, we were shocked. Why didn't you run?"

I looked up from my hands, "I don't know Mom. Guess I was trying to get him off Buzzy."

Mom looked at me for a moment. She shook her head and sighed, "Let's go upstairs and check out those bruises."

(1929 / 5310)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Confusion Surfaces

Imagine my mind as it stumbled upon this mysterious reply to what I had considered a very witty and insightful comment of mine on some thread somewhere outside my normal stomping grounds. A member of this forum made up of many dubious intellects wrote -

"a clue to confusion surfaces"

I sat back and pondered this enigmatic reply. I sat with dull eyes and even duller mind and wondered just what the Hell were "confusion surfaces"? Nothing in my experiences to date had I ever run across "confusion surfaces". I was immediately interested. Instantly intrigued. I had to do some research and find what I could about "confusion surfaces".

Before I set my fingers to walking, I considered what just might make a surface confused. After all, the surface of a thing is but the ending of it's insides. Why and how could it be confused? Maybe it had trouble remembering to be inside out or outside in.

So I reversed my thinking, grinding gears as I searched for reverse. Turning it around in my mind, such as it is, I thought, "Does confusion have a surface?" And why would this other mind infer that it had more than one surface by making it plural? And if there was a clue, why then not include it?

Alas, I was at a loss to find any answers on my own.

Google did not help. Several books of science, philosophy and religion did not help. I was left in the wilderness without any of the support I have come to rely on. All I had were my own devices with nowhere to plug them in.

I have sat down now after much pacing and scratching my head. I have placed my problem on this blog for all to see. Call this a plea of sorts. A cry for help. Some kind soul must know what makes a confusion surface. Some mind less befuddled can certainly help a confused guy out.


(329 / 3381)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Freedom Burning

The 25 author meme I did the other day got my google going. Looking for images to put in it, I happened across The Forbidden Library. It is a site that lists books that have been banned or challenged at some time during their existence out here in Real World. I was astounded at the size of the list. I was even more astounded at some of the of the titles and the reasons for pulling them off the shelves. It would seem that every book has the capability to ruffle someones feathers somewhere.

You could expect the usual huge numbers from countries like the USSR and Nazi Germany. After all, they elevated book burning to a level that would make any good PR man blush in envy. What I was more impressed with were the number of titles pulled from the book shelves of America. I am guessing from just my quick run through, the numbers may be in the hundreds. Randal, my go to Librarian guy could probably fill us in much better than I.

My mom was an assistant children's librarian at the big library in Sanford back in the late 1960s. My mom felt that children should be able to read whatever they wanted to provided their mom and dad were on board with it. Right or wrong, this is how I was raised. I was never held back from anything I wanted to read. Not even "Mad" magazine. So imagine her tirades at home after work because she had to keep some titles out of sight. Or worse, deal with requests for certain books and they were not on the shelves because they had been deemed not only not suitable for children nor suitable for adults. One had to purchase them if they wanted to read them in Sanford. She would often take some of my kid books in to read to the kids. After being dressed down in front of the room full of kids she was reading to, she became so frustrated she quit. She was asked to come back. She told them to pound sand. They were not going to change their policy regarding the books deemed unsuitable.

So, this effort to control the messages and information we have at our disposal goes back centuries and millenniums. Many instances are because of religious intolerance, political intolerance, and often just about as stupid a reason as could come Down the pike. Just under "L" in the "Forbidden Site" is Shel Silverstein's "A Light in the Attic", a very excellent and clever childrens book. It was banned in Minot, ND, because it was felt children would think it was okay to break dishes instead of washing them. And just to show that either side of the political aisle can get their panties in a bunch, Laura Ingalls Wilder's, "Little House on the Prairie" was banned in Sturgis, SD for derogatory depictions of Native Americans. Seems those folks from the Dakotas might just be wound a little tighter than they should be. Must be the lack of trees.

When I hear people whine about how we now live in a World of less freedom, I often consider that what we had many years ago was no better. It boils down to which form of control is most important I guess. Controlling the flow of ideas or the fact we have to take off our shoes before we can board an airplane.

But then I realize that for most part people do not even notice or care about such things. As long as their insular worlds are relatively safe, they have food, clothing, and a roof over their heads, the rest of it is so much bullshit. And this is sad to me to think that it takes crisis or catastrophe to shock ourselves into some kind of awareness of the bigger picture.

Freedom is lost not by tyrants taking it away. Freedom is lost because more often than not we leave Freedom outside in the rain without a lock on it. And it just disappears one day.

Keep it 'tween the Ditches..............

(684 / 3052)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sanitized for Your Protection

On my recent vacation from this blog, I revisited one old haunt I vowed to never step foot in again. A sub forum of a cycling forum. I had grown tired of the hate and discontent, weary of the constant baiting, the insults flung just for the sake of flinging them. But I was invited back by a member I respect. Not sure why out of the blue this guy rang me up in the comment box on this blog, but he did.

So I dropped in. Then I dropped into another cycling forum that allowed political opinion. And then another. Finally I visited briefly a politics only forum I used to do battle on.

I am not sure why the government is worried about the Internets. It seems with each passing year, they become more bland and less provocative. At least in the forum world anyway. Many forums seem closed now to any outside view but the one the moderators, owners, forum Napoleons want it to project. It is as if there is a settling out and a clear division of ideas that is happening just like out here in the face to face world. No one wants to discuss different views. They all want to preach to the choir. Even the ones who contend they tolerate differing views often only tolerate them if foul language and insult are kept out of the equation.

I am the first one to admit that coarse language and getting personal is the sign one has lost the debate. There are a myriad of ways to insult that fall well within the parameters of "civilized discussion". And if truth be told, these are my favorites. But sometimes calling someone a fucking idiot can create a sense of satisfaction no civil words can match. Just ask Billy.

What I did notice on my little trip is that more sites have set up PC language filters. And because they cannot tell the difference between calling someone a bitch and someone talking about their female dog, many words get asterisked out that shouldn't. It is down right comical. Some of the language filters are sophisticated enough that they even stymie the attempts to get around them. Try to write "Shit" as "Shite" and every letter but the e is subbed with an *, so it becomes "You piece of ****e." The most egregious example was someone had typed a religious word "kum" in some thread. They meant nothing ugly or sexually descriptive. Yet it came out "Talitha ***". The poster was pointing out off topic the problems of translating the message of God. Apparently the little bytes in the program were having their own problems translating. The fact that he misspelled it did not help either. So what ended up happening is all of us were wondering what three letter found in the Bible would punch a red flag. I thought it was "ass". Regarless, the filter program ended up hindering the coonversation instead of helping.

This movement to protect our sensitive natures from words that are nothing but expressions of emotion is a sad situation in my opinion. Concerns over the children or the nuns, or the preacher just do not equate to me. Sanitizing our conversations is removing the color and texture from the equation. Intelligent people do not live to use cuss words. But they also should not be arbitrarily forbidden from their use. If I find someone cannot keep a civil tongue in their head at least some of the time, I tune them out, turn them off, ignore them. I resent some dumb ass program that is not even human taking that choice away from me.

Next week - All the cuss words I know.


(625 / 2368)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Twenty Five Authors Meme

It has been awhile since I have been tagged. Maybe my natural abhorrence of anything smelling like homework had somehow oozed through with my words and people were afraid I might start whining. This tag thing in the Blog World generally has the blogsters divided into two cliques. There's the cool kids who swap tags and awards every other day and mutually support each other through them. And the cooler kids who are too cool for tags, awards, and other silly nonsense. They stand aloof and do the Garbo thing. "I vahnt to be alone". Damn. It's high school all over again. As the perennial square peg in the round hole I sit outside and know I will never fit in with either group.

No matter. I have been tagged by Dawn on MDI. Dawn is an excellent blogist, blogger, blogette (ew, she won't like that one) - She writes one of the blogs I visit because her mind is fascinating to me. Rough around the edges on the outside, yet very complex and surprising on the inside. She pounds nails and welds. But she cooks up dishes and presents them like Martha Stewart is standing over her shoulder. A very interesting woman I consider a friend. So without the normal piss and moan histrionics, I will follow through now.

It is a "25 authors who have influenced my writing" meme. I would have preferred 5, but I am not going to get off that easy. So neither will you. Unless of course you stop here (Billy) and then your precious time is available to waste somewhere else.

~ Dr Seuss - "The Cat In the Hat" started it all. Actually, "The Little Engine that Could" started it, but I only memorized it by making my parents read it to me night after night. "Cat in the Hat" is the first book I remember that formed words in my mind with letters.

~ Victor Appeleton ll - The name is probably a fake. But whoever wrote the Tom Swift Jr books captured my imagination when I was maybe 7 or 8. This guy knew anything was possible and I believed him. I still have the whole series in the attic. Many months/years of allowances it took to build that collection.

~ Madeleine L'Engle Camp - I received her book "A Wrinkle in Time" under the Christmas tree at age 11. I think this was my first taste of top quality writing aimed at kids that treated us like we had brains. I wore that book out and the rest of the series.

~ Stephen W. Meader - Author of "young adult" books full of adventure in usually a historical context. My love of history and the sea might have started here.

~Willa Cather - Forced to read in school. The woman could capture the feel of a scene, a situation like no one I had ever read. I still re-read "My Antonia" on occasion.

~Jack London - Another author crammed down my throat in school I ended up being a fan of. "To Start a Fire" may be the best short story I ever read. And my favorite novel was "The Star Rover".

~Mark Twain - his folksy style and obvious deeper meanings without doing it in your face made me want to emulate his style. Sadly, there is only one Mark Twain.

~Harper Lee - "To Kill a Mockingbird" - When we lived In Tallahassee, Florida in 1962/63 I was in sixth grade. I was troubled by the sanctioned segregation I found everywhere. My mom handed me this book and told me to read it. Need I say more?

~J.D. Salinger - "Catcher in the Rye" had a profound effect on me. I identified with Holden Caulfield in a big way. A kind of one bonehead to another thing going on there.

~James Michener - "The Fires of Spring" was another coming of age novel and his first I read at just the right time of my life. I knew I would never have the nose to the grindstone ethic he had, but I admired him immensely for his.

~John Steinbeck - Just a damn good novelist. I would finish "East of Eden" or "Tortilla Flat" and just imagine being able to write like that.

~Robert Heinlein - I began reading him along with Tom Swift Jr. His anything was possible sci/fi and political commentary wrapped into his stories maybe helped me to open my mind to more than just Life is living on a quiet shade covered street.

~Isaac Asimov - put some reality into sci/fi that absolutely made me know anything was possible.

~Emily Dickinson - The only poet I have ever really liked. Brevity was her thing and she did it like no other. Lessons I would be well advised to use now.

~Harlan Ellison - his dark sci/fi opened up the idea that in the future, ugliness will also be part of it. "A Boy and His Dog" I consider the best post apocalyptic novel I have read.

~Edgar Rice Burroughs - another author I consumed at an alarming rate as a child. Tarzan was cool. But Pellucidar was cooler. Fantasy and sci/fi does not have to have a point.

~Ken Kesey - His novels put him in the same class as Steinbeck for me. Rich plots and well developed characters that interacted in a real way.

~Dalton Trumbo - "Johnny Got His Gun" Put the finishing touch on my growing hatred of war. Brought me out of the John Wayne "war is noble" mentality. War is never noble. Many of the people who fight in wars do noble things, but war is ugly and evil. It should never be entered into lightly.

~ Anthony Burgess - He probably wrote my single most favorite novel, "A Clockwork Orange". He showed me good writing does not have to make the reader comfortable, it just has to engage them.

~Kurt Vonnegut - His fiction were messages tied up into well told and interesting plots and characters.

~JR Tolkien - Well written stories can have hidden meanings that only become obvious once you get to the end. I read the trilogy as a teenager the first time. His attention to detail rivals Michener's.

~Barbara Tuchman - "The Guns of August" was the first history book that was a a real page turner for me. History does not have to be dull. Her writing proved that.

~O'Henry - Just a clever guy. His stories are always entertaining. He caused me to fall in love with the short story.

~Thoreau - I had to read him him as an adult to appreciate what he was really saying. Helped me to package my own personal philosophy of life.

~Hunter S Thompson - His loose dog style reinforced my love of stream of consciousness writing.

~Joseph Conrad - Forced to Read "Lord Jim" in school, I became a fan. "Heart of Darkness" sealed the deal. I guess my notion of no one is completely perfect or good all the time was helped along by reading him.

With a few notable exceptions, the writers who have affected me and probably affected my writing the most are almost all Americans. I am not sure what to make of this. I do find it difficult to pin down how each has influenced how or what I write about. But I am sure they have. The one constant throughout is I seek to write as well as they did, be as imaginative as they were, and find my own voice like they did. If I succeed even a little in any of the three, I will be paying them the honor I feel they deserve.

So there it is. I thought at first I would have some trouble coming up with twenty five. Now I wish I could add some. But rules are rules.

I would normally follow through with tagging some other people. But having been rejected by several on my last attempt, I will do the easy thing, the classic cop out, and just say if you would like to play, please do. This was a fun one. This one made me think. I even took it seriously. Imagine that.

Keep it 'tween the Ditches

(1372 / 1743)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Took a Vacation

I took a trip. I did not physically go anywhere. But I let my mind step out for a time. I wondered old haunts and visited new ones. I am not sure what I figured to find. Maybe it was just stepping away from this blog for a while that I needed to do. Regardless, I have learned or is it, re-learned a few things over the last so many days.

The spirit of bipartisanship is dead. My calls for it were wasted breath. Had I checked the pulse sooner I would have realized it. The division has been deeply cut. It would appear that the minions, the regular folk of the Right who follow this stuff are indeed getting the kind of representation they want. And while not as vocal, the adherents of the Left are happy with this arrangement. They really do not want to play ball. They want to see the Right squirm and act like bad school children. Payback is a bitch I guess.

So instead of looking for some hope, I found the same old shit. Pissed off people on both sides staring each other down and flinging insults. I even tossed my share. I am human too. And as I sit here and break back into blog mode, I am not uplifted. My search ended in failing to find even a glimmer of hope we just might try to all get on the same bus. At least for now. There is always hope. But with each disappointment, it becomes smaller and less in focus.

Swirling all around this pettiness from both sides, we are dealing with what is probably the worst economic situation in our lives. If ever there was a case of bad timing for the two parties to be this divided, it is now. But there it is. The situation has cemented the animosity of both and not even a recovery will not do much to fix that.

It is indeed good to be home again. I just wish the pictures I took were of boring monuments, churches, and people on the beach. Instead all I have is images of two gangs facing each other with angry fists. The monkeys are not happy.