Friday, August 31, 2012

Believe It or Not

Steven Colbert proudly declares the motto of his super pac is, "Making a better tomorrow, tomorrow!"

Apparently inspired by Colbert, the GOP has officially adopted their motto for this election, "Building a better tomorrow, yesterday!".

It is reported that they were considering, "Building a better tomorrow, a few centuries ago!" Reliable sources indicate that this was rejected as being too factual and accurate even for the Party faithful.

Failing Schools or Failing Society?

From the Huff Post --  Poverty among children in America is shamefully high. According to a UNICEF report, U.S. child poverty rate is 23.1 percent -- higher than any other economically advanced nation except Romania. --

Romania is economically advanced?  In any event, we are only the United States of America, we can't afford to bring more of our children out of poverty like those wealthy nations can.  Yeah, I'm talking to you, Greece and Latvia!  You think you're so much better than us just 'cause you're so rich!

And from the same report:
--  According to a Newday Article, a Standford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond points out, "U.S. 15-year olds in schools with fewer than 10 percent of kids eligible for free or cut-rate lunch "score first in the world in reading, outperforming even the famously excellent Finns."

It is clear the link between environments in which economic struggle is rampant directly impact educational success in the classroom. --

So, our public schools are doing the best job in the world, IF their student population is not impoverished.  Add poverty, and it's all the teachers' fault.  I mean the teachers' unions' fault.  It it weren't for those unions, those children would not be poor.

The clear and predictive link between socioeconomic class and school success has been known and well documented for decades.  It was St. Ronald of Reagan who first began the deceitful meme that our schools were failing due to the incompetence and or laziness of teachers.  It was a lie then.  It is a lie now.

This deceit was, and it remains, popular because it suggests a cheap, quick fix to a problem which is actually difficult, complex, and expensive to solve.  The problem is not our failing schools.  The problem is our failing society.  Getting children out of poverty is the most effective answer.  This would best be attained by creating an economy in which the middle class is growing.

Please note that the middle class began to shrink under the administration of Ronald Reagan, and has been shrinking ever since.  

All I ask is that you take some time to think about the facts.  Put emotion and preconceptions aside for a while and do some serious thinking. Do it for our future, which is to say, do it for America's children.

Facts? What Facts?

From the Huff Post  -- Ryan then noted that Obama, while campaigning for president, promised that a GM plant in Wisconsin would not shut down. "That plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight," Ryan said.

Except Obama didn't promise that. And the plant closed in December 2008 -- while George W. Bush was president.

It was just one of several striking and demonstrably misleading elements of Ryan's much-anticipated acceptance speech. And it comes just days after Romney pollster Neil Newhouse warned, defending the campaign's demonstrably false ads claiming Obama removed work requirements from welfare, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.". --

Or by facts.

Ryan went on to declare that while Obama claims to be concerned with preventing extinctions, he, "...did nothing, not one single thing, to save the dinosaurs!"

Now that's a fact we can take to the bank.  (Romney recommends a Swiss bank.)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Breakthrough Discovery!  Starvation Does NOT Make You Live Longer!

There is at least one human scientist who has put himself on a starvation diet to extend his life span.  His decision was based on research which showed that such a severe caloric restriction extends the lives of lab rats.  Now we discover that:

From the Huff Post --  New research published on Wednesday, however, shows the extreme, emaciating diet doesn't increase lifespan in rhesus monkeys, the closest human relatives to try it in a rigorous, long-running study. While caveats remain, outside experts regarded the findings as definitive, particularly when combined with those from a similar study.

"If there's a way to manipulate the human diet to let us live longer, we haven't figured it out yet and it may not exist," said biologist Steven Austad of the University of Texas Health Science Center's Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, who wrote an analysis of the study in Nature. --

Ooops.  Years of misery and poor nutrition, only to discover that it was pointless

Which brings me to the conclusion that I get to eat any way I want to.  Fast food, get ready to hit the accelerator!  Unnamed person who nags me about my eating habits out of a concern for extending my lifespan, see what happens when you don't wait for more research?  

NOTE:  The last question does not apply to global warming, aka, climate change, or evolution., or gravity, or related matters.

Barshop Institute?  Are they hiring?  I wouldn't mind working there. Sounds like a fun place.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The stimulus that could...(I just can't call it little!)

From the LATimes: --  WASHINGTON — Without the unprecedented stimulus actions by the   federal government triggered by the 2008 financial crisis, the Great   Recession might still be going on, according to a study by Fitch   Ratings -- 

 The report goes on to identify negative effects of the stimulus, but it is clear that these pale in comparison to the negative effects which would have resulted from inaction.  So why do Republican candidates and officials continue to attack these successful actions?  The answer is because they: 

 1.  ...don't believe in reality.  Ideology is real, facts are not.  This gives believers a sense of absolute security in a confused and uncertain world.  Facts are not simple and unchanging. Reality is messy and difficult.  Practicing mindless ideology means never being wrong, never having to change your mind, and never having to say you're sorry.

 2. about the Party more than they care about their country.  This is partly true of the membership of any party, imagine a Democrat saying his party's candidate isn't as good for the country as the Republican would be.  This sometimes happens, as with so called Reagan Democrats, but it is unusual among voters and unheard of among either Party's leadership.  Due to the increasing radicalism of the GOP, Republicans who even might consider voting for the better man have been declared Rinos and are now independents. 

 3.  ...have turned membership in the Republican Party into a religious movement.  It is an article of faith, an unassailable religious doctrine that Democrats are evil by nature.  It follows that nothing done by Democrats can be good.  This is true even when Democrats enact a Republican plan, like Health Care. This extremism will not last.  The GOP will either turn back from extremism, or will go the way of the Whigs, the Mugwumps, and the Know Nothings. 

Do Not Feed The Animals!

From the Huff Post -- Two attendees at the Republican National Convention were thrown out of the convention center in Tampa on Tuesday after throwing nuts at a black CNN camerawoman and saying, "this is how we feed the animals." --

The good news is that RNC officials promptly expelled the offenders.  That is the action which the Tea Party has failed to demonstrate.  Their usual response was to wait until they were criticized, then to complain that the Liberal Media were making it up.   When shown the videos proving it HAD happened, they usually responded with a variation of, "Well, we can't be held accountable for a few extremists!"

In fact, you are responsible if you tolerate or even ignore those extremists.  The RNC took prompt and clear action.  Your organization rarely does so.  Clean  your own yard, or be judged according to its appearance.

Coca-Cola and the "Young Republicans"

Jonathan Martin, from Poitico, referring to the "Young Republicans" like Paul Ryan -- ...these children of the 80's want to dispense for good with New Coke and return to Coca-Cola Classic.--

I can't agree with this assessment.  Yes, Ryan's record is at odds with his current rhetoric, but I am taking him at his word.  He has seen the light and has converted.  If he is not being honest, then I am wrong, but if he is speaking the truth about his current attitudes, and if this is also true of his fellow Young Republicans, they are aiming at a return, not to the 1980's, but to the 1880's.

The Coca-Cola Classic version of Republican conservatism was tolerant, worked well with others, believed in compromise, and was not rigidly doctrinaire.  What these Radical Reactionary Republicans want is is a return to the original formula, Cocaine Coke.  After all, requiring the manufacturer to eliminate the stimulant was regulation; and we all know how regulations strangle free enterprise.  Don't we?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Political Correctness and Black Trench Coat Laws

A Huff Post reports that a well intentioned bill to reduce official use of the term "retarded" is awaiting Governor Brown's signature.  As always, the purpose is to eliminate what has become a pejorative with a value neutral term.  The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wasted his brilliant mind confusing words describing reality with reality itself.  It is easy to do.  It is also a futile, sterile effort.

Changing the term does not change the attitudes of the users of that term.  Consider the familiar history of an equally well intentioned effort. "Crippled" became "handicapped" became "disabled" became "alternatively enabled" and soon will become..what?  Who knows?  All that is clear is that it will change because changing the term just gives the  contemptuous and the hateful a new word to turn into an epithet.

In honesty, I must admit that incorporating the word, "swamp" into the much more inclusive "wetlands" allowed environmentalists to preserve wild areas previously regarded as vile.  However, I regard this as an unusual case; one which proofs the rule

From the article.-- "Mental retardation" was not always a pejorative term. It was introduced in medical texts more than a century ago, replacing words like "imbecile," "moron" and "idiot" that had developed negative connotations. --

I would add that those terms were adopted as value neutral replacements for "mentally defective".  That worked well, didn't it?

What we must do is educate individuals and prevent bullying.  Changing terms is a Black Trench Coat Law.

OK, my term, so I need to explain it.  When a group of bullied students took revenge by murdering their peers at Columbine, the school board was under intense pressure to do SOMETHING to increase student safety NOW!  What could they do?  In terms of an instant cure, little if anything that would be effective.  Yet, terrified parents demanded action.  Since the killers had favored black trench coats, the board banned black trench coats on campus.  That was simply sad.

So the term, "Black Trench Coat Law" refers to any law which has good intentions, but is pointless to the level of complete futility.  I applaud and support the efforts of many to put and end to the bullying of the developmentally delayed...oops, sorry!  That term became pejorative about 30 years ago...  However, I cannot support Black Trench Coat Laws, no matter how much I wish that they would work.

Another Austrian making trouble with confused ideology?  Let's see...Wittgenstein, Austrian Economics, Hitler....I think the Austrians are determined to destroy the world.

Note:  the last comment is a joke, if you took it seriously, you need some help.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Burning! Why it's better than burning witches!

From the Huff Post, a charity group intends to burn copies of Fifty Shades of Grey.  Great!  I had zero interest in this seres.  It seemed to me to be just another mess of  romance fluff. (Think hair ball-- without the hair.)  However, if some group thinks it's bad enough to burn, I feel a moral obligation to at least read it.  Then I can make a judgement.  Note: even literature I despise, such as Mein Kamph or Waiting for Godot or Ulysses, shouldn't be burned.  If you don't like like it, don't read it.

I suppose I can get a cheap used set through Amazon, skim it, then pass it onto someone who LIKES romances...Hmmmmm... I must know someone who likes romances...


A post to my middle daughter:

Family is the most basic and essential element of who and what we are.  Individuals are themselves due to many factors, but the first is their inheritance from their family.  If physically related, the very genes that form your body and personality are shared, and even this is not so, the  most formative elements of our very selves, good or bad, come from our family.

Family can be a joy or a burden, but it is a part of us.  We can accept, embrace, reject or deny our family, but they are always with us and within us.  I often quote Robert Frost's Death of the Hired Man.  -- Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. --  Sometimes even this essential reality is denied, but in doing so, one rejects parts of himself or of herself.  You can keep your family physically away from you, but their influence  and their presence in your soul are permanent.

Ideally, family is our joy and our refuge, our reason for being and our fulfillment.  No family is perfect, but each family is the possession and the personal nation of the individual.

Family is the foundation of our existence, the road to meaning in our lives, the reason to continue to live, the expression of our faith.  Family is the skeleton that gives us form, the heart that circulates our love, the brain that gives us purpose, the soul that makes us human.  Family is why I live and why I will keep on living.  

To deny your family is to deny yourself.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Time capsules

From Huff Post -- Stocks in oil? Historical documents? A small treasure? Speculation over what might be inside a 100-year-old package that's set to be unsealed this Friday in a small town in Norway abounds, according to Verdens Gang, a Norwegian newspaper. --

I bet it contains a stack of pages that all say, "Ha, ha!  Make you look!"

Thoughts on personhood

A link from a post from my friend Nick:

My response:

Someone brilliantly answered the belief that personhood begins at conception by proposing a thought experiment.  Ask such a believer what he or she would do in the following situation:

You are alone in a building, except for a freezer unit containing several hundred frozen human ova which have been fertilized, but which remain in the single cell stage, and a three month old baby.  You receive a warning that a bomb will destroy the building in a few minutes.  You can't carry out both the freezer and the baby.  You must take one or the other.  There will be no time to return to save the one left behind.

Which do you save?

If the ova are fully human, you must save them.  Hundreds of innocent lives will be saved while one innocent life will be lost.  

I doubt even the most radical believer in personhood would actually leave the baby to die and save the fertilized eggs. Of course, extremism IS extreme, so maybe I'm wrong.

I think everyone dislikes, and many hate abortion, but what is the alternative? Do Americans really want a return to the dark days of illegal and amateur efforts to end pregnancy?  It did not save the lives of the unborn, and it often took the mother to her grave. Legal abortion with reasonable restrictions may be disturbing, but it is better than the horrors of the past.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Recent Dream

A message to my four children, sent via dreams.

Sent from my iPad

Message From My Dreamtime

Stil and safe
Reality lost and gone away

In a den of blanket
In a pillow nest
In an armor of warm air

Only here
Only now
Only me myself

And then the shifting of the bed
Behind me, weight
The ending of alone

But safe
Still safe
Stillness, safety, peace

I felt your hair
In gentle touch
Tickle at my face

Your breath
A soft caress
A loving ripple

And then a kiss
Soft brushing of your lips
Against my open cheek

A parents kiss
A child's kiss
I love you kiss

Joy like the sun
Like a cloud cleared sky
Lifting up my soul

Then you shift away
Back away
To leave me in my sleep

To hold the wonder
To lengthen out the love
I reach up

Up to your cheek
But I do not move
I reach unmoving

All happiness 
All security
Yet I will to reach

Effort beyond my strength
Yet loving and affirming
I make my hand to move

Up against your face
Another kiss
Or just a gentle hugging

Cheek hug
Hold me with your face
Sleep while being held

And my hand falls through
Your hair, your head, your flesh
Not there

My face catches it
My hand
My face

A dream

A wistful, hopeful dreaml
Of being loved and cherished
Even in my sleep

I am alone
Held in blanket lair and pillow cave

My greed and need
Too much
I cannot hold the dream

If only I had lain unmoving 
Down and still
Accepting just one kiss


The joy would have remained
Lingered on
Beautiful delusion

Instead there is...
The emptiness
The nonness

There is no kiss
I love you kiss
Parent to child kiss

Given in sleep
To the unaware
Just to feel the love

Kiss I gave
So many times
To all of you

And to my father
On his deathbed
Gentle kiss


Readers, remember that works posted here remain the copyrighted property of the author, me. Thank you!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tune in, Turn on, Fall down?

What strange night I had!  I hesitate to discuss it since it was SO strange, but like Ray Bradbury and his horror tales, putting it down on paper takes away much of its force. It is similar to the belief that if you know an evil spirit's true name, it loses it's power over you.  So I'll cry out, "Rumplestiltskin" and procede.

The heat wave has had it's usual bad effect on me, but August is making up for years of being less intense than July and hit us with three weeks of heat and high humidity which evaporative coolers just can't handle.  

The effects began early yesterday. As so often happens, I woke to find the world was tilted.  As usual, my eyes insisted that the entire room was tilted down to the right by about 40 degrees.  Oddly, this changed when I moved my head.  Normally, moving my line of sight does not alter the tilt.  Yesterday, when I looked to the right, the room was tilted to the right.  WhenI looked straight ahead, the room  was level.  When I looked to the left, the room tiled down in that direction.

It made walking even harder than it it is when my room is tilted one way.  During a regular event, as I move through the house, the tilt varies with gravity as I move along, although it tilts consistently when I am lying down.  Yesterday was even more chaotic.  I stayed upright, but my wrists paid for it as I veered about.

In the heat wave, I needed a shower badly last night.  I put my wrists under even more strain until I gave up and took the shower sitting down.  A wrist brace eased the pain on my left, and I collapsed into bed.

But instead of simply sleeping, I began to drift.  Normally a delight, this time drifting in and out of dream was disturbing.  I had the oddest sensations and dream drifts I can recall, even including a fever dream or two when my temperature tried to poach my brain.  Shadows became strange and troubling.  They glowed a soft blue and moved and shifted in ways I'd never seen before.  I thought that these living shadows should frighten me, but they didn't.

My fingers seemed to fold backwards like a carpenter's ruler, unfold and then refold again--over and over.  Since I was drifting, I could reach over and hold one hand atop the other.  This stopped the weird sensation.  But soon I was adrift again and could see and hear the clicking of my now mechanical fingers as I dreamed.
It all sounds so 60's psychedelic, but I do not now, nor have I ever, used drugs.  I say again, this is the oddest thing which has ever happened to me.  I wondered if I had food poisoning or if there was some pollutant in the air.  The oddity began to fade, until by pre dawn I began a poem for which I have great hopes.  Then I slept.

Today was a difficult day, but not exceptionally so.  I am 63 and this is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me.  I have no explanation and feel an urge to conceal this bizarre experience, but I believe it will be better to go ahead and open myself to criticism by speaking openly about it.  It happened. It  has never happened before.  I do not expect it to ever happen again.

By speaking openly of it, I intend to strip it of its power to disturb me.  Better to say, "Hey, you want to try to top this one?" and laugh about just how odd an experience I can have.  As I say, and as I sincerely mean, it's good to laugh at yourself.  Otherwise, you tend to take yourself way too seriously.

So, please join me in enjoying the joke.  It is evident that I can freak out from the effects of a lengthy heat wave, I bet you have to take drugs to get the same effect.

Lucky me!

My Prodigal Daughter -- An Explanation

I am posting letters to my prodigal daughter.  As you probably know, she gave me an ultimatum 3 years ago.  She demanded that I disown my other children, or lose her and her children.  I refused to choose between my children, telling her I chose everyone.  She said that was not good enough and cut me off from her and my beloved grandchildren.

Since she is the wife of a Christian minister and very vocal in her faith, I am hoping that she will feel less free to attack the father and family who love her if she must do so publicly.

I love her, and ask for believers to pray for her redemption and nonbelievers to meditate upon the weaknesses of humanity.  If you have anything negative to say about her, keep silent.  I will not tolerate it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Letter to My Prodigal Daughter          8-19-12

A Letter to My Prodigal Daughter.              8-19-12

Sorry I missed last Sunday.  The heat wave has been very hard on me.  I struggle every day to get through and to accomplish something that justifies my existence.  I have had some good times with family, but I have been unable to do enough even In this most basic area.  

As you know, I have been in a very slowly, but very steadily deteriorating state of health since I was 6.  This pattern was spread over years when I was younger, but accelerated as I matured.  Then something strange and hopeful happened.  Starting about 6 years ago, I began to very slowly suffer less.  It has  been 6 years since I totally lost days from my life.  I still lose them, but now I know the time has passed, though it seems to pass at an incredible rate.

Not in 6 years have I thought I had one bad night on Monday, only to discover that it was now Thursday, not Tuesday.  Neither have I been forced in those 6 years to crawl to the toilet, carefully watching my hands reach out and touch the floor, because if I even glance away from them, I fall over.  

But the trend toward improvement only lasted a few  years.  The progress froze and then  I began to deteriorate again.  This reversal began when you tried to force me to choose between you and my other children.  I am losing the gains I made.  From the age of 6 to the age of 57, I deteriorated.  Then I amazingly began to improve, reversing a pattern which had held constant for 51 years.  Then you began to wound and injure me.  You have made a good job of it.  I am again on the old path downward into more and more suffering.  

You make a great show of your faith.  So I must ask,  is this what a Christian does?  When did Christ say, "Blessed are the vengeful."?  Where does the Bible, Old or New Testament, allow a daughter to injure her father so harshly?  Did He not say that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit?  Yet the fruit of your actions is suffering and injury.  How is it that such a devout Christian daughter is so cruel?

I love you, and I always will.  I want only peace and joy for you.  I most definitely do not want justice for you.  You have sown the wind, but I pray that you will never reap the whirlwind.  Why do you do harm to me?  Does it please you to know how much you have injured me?  If you have a sense of shame, if you regret your rage, then put it out of your house. Say what you will, put on a fine Christian costume, but your actions are what matters.  Be not a whited sepulcher, but a living testament to love, forgiveness, and obedience.

It is too late to undo the suffering you have already inflicted, but you can stop inflicting more.  You can turn away from harming and turn to healing. You can stop looking like a Christian and start living like one.

I love you.  Please stop hurtling me.  My body already makes my life painful and hard enough you do not need to make things worse.  

Please stop hurting me.



Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Letter to My Prodigal Daughter. 8-5-12

A Letter to My Prodigal Daughter.                                                       8-5-12

Since you have not responded to my pleas for you to stop hurting me by trying to force me to choose between you and my other children, between my grandchildren;  I will try a new path.  Every Sunday, I will write a letter to you.  Each will always bear the same message.  It is that I have never deliberately hurt you or caused you suffering. It is that it is wrong for you to try to force me to make a choice between my children and between my grandchildren.  It is that the only choice I can make is to choose all of you.  It is that you have no right to continue to hurt me and that you should stop doing so.

Since you have not responded to my private pleas, I will publish each letter on my blog in hopes that you will forebear from a public act, where you refuse to do so behind closed doors.

This Sabbath, I send you a poem.  

This is the fruit your actions have borne.  It is not sweet.

Ego sum omnes -- primus

I am the blood upon the altar
The stain upon the stone
Flies cluster thick to feed on me
I feed them with myself

I brown and darken on the rock
I spread my way across the stair
My gift of life is to the sun
And to his mother, time

Atop the empty temple steps
Lie the masks of breath and heart
In the jungle green with life
infested with genetic code

Peace and comfort that I sought
Were cut from me without consent
You the knife to make me bleed
Then the knapper of the flint

I am the rock that will endure
Only I can cut myself
Bits of me shaped into wedge
To make the stone to bleed

I cannot hate myself reborn
Resurrected in the time to come
I can only lie and die
Bled out by my own love

But I cannot die and then be dead
I am Prometheus renewed
I am the altar,  I am the stone
I am the knife, and you the knapper

Temple, altar, blood am I
The victim and the stage
Knife, knapper, priestess, You
Serving strange and thirsty gods

I am support and I am base
I lift you up above the earth
I hold you down below the sky
This is what I do, this is what I am

I am the blood upon the altar
The stain upon the stone
I brown and darken on the rock
I spread my way across the stair

--I remind everyone that the contents of this blog are protected under the 
laws of copyright.  They are the property of the author.--