Sunday, June 29, 2008

Story Telling

I've been back at my story writing again. Here's a link to the latest. It's just for my amusement. Let me know if it amuses you too.

I should note that any story I write here (or there) may or may not (most likely the latter) be complete. So if you find yourself scratching your head and going "huh?" when you finish a story, it's more than likely simply that it's just not finished yet. Then again, there is the distinct possibility that I just did a damn poor job of getting my story told, in which case I am merely deluded in the notion that the story is done.

Friday, June 20, 2008

FISA Evesdropping Bill

No they can't!

Congress can pass all the laws they want to. Our Constitution trumps their mealy-mouthed simpering capitulation to corporate greed, bribes and threats. I will not allow anyone in this illegal trumped up excuse for a government, Republican or Democrat, to take away my Fourth Amendment rights. Over your dead bodies. That is my promise.

No you can't.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Shins - Phantom Limb

Im my early teens, an idiotic Beachboys-loving surfer dude stole my girlfriend. I thought Brian Wilson to be fatuous anyway, but that sealed the deal.

So I'm not sure just why I love this song.

But on the Lighter Side - Singaporean armpit sniffer gets jail and cane

It seems that repressive societies abound in pervisions. This includes "western" societies which have adopted a stiff-necked reserve in their advance of their economic prowess.

Read on...

Ireland - A Microcosm of People's Will

I don't pretend to understand European politics.

The EU (European Union) is attempting to ratify an EU constitution that will provide an EU president and an united military front. I'm certain this is a vastly naive oversimplification, but it the gist of what I have seen reported.

I am not going to attempt to speak to the good or ill of such a plan. However it seems to me that we are finding all around us today, and all over this blighted planet, an attempt to marginalize the voice of the people.

Ireland was the only one of 27 member states to put the concept of this constitution to a national referendum. All of the other 26 nations made, or are in the process of making, decisions without public involvement. "Representative" diplomats are making these decisions on their populaces' behalf.

EU member states who's spokespersons have promised fidelity to this plan are calling for the isolation of Ireland. They are foisting the idea that Ireland is a maverick state and should thus be shunned.

How odd though that the only member state who considered it proper to poll its own populace has become the only viable holdout on this plan (and are now being systematically marginalized). I wonder (as I am sure millions of European citizens are beginning to wonder as well), if this referendum were more universally applied, if the nay vote might resound en masse.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, Dead at 58 - the End of an Era

I don't often tear up at the death of a public figure. Not even at their untimely death. Public figures are larger than life, and when they die, their largess continues to fuel the lives they left behind.

A few years back, I learned of a co-worker's death several days after it occurred. He was on a job site in Ireland and collapsed and died of a sudden massive heart attack. He had been a good friend in what were hard times for me. And my daughter, Brandy, loved him dearly. So when I learned, in an almost casual fashion, that he had died, I was stunned and hurt, and I came very close to tears in a public forum.

The announcement today of Tim Russert's death (as I learned of it while at work listening on headphones to Randi Rhodes) elicited a similar response from me. I'm not sure why. I didn't know Tim. My daughter wasn't his buddy. But it somehow felt the same way.

And it's not just because Tim was a recurrent guest in our living room, on our television. There are many such guests (though mostly they are of the serious sort - more or less - not frivolous celebrities).

Maybe it's because on Sunday mornings, Bonnie watches Meet the Press almost religiously (rather than attending a church service), and I (like the prodigal husband amid the church-going), occasionally sit in as well, and watch and listen to Tim as he serves up his brand of confession.

Maybe that's why I equate his loss with my friend's. Or maybe it's that both were Irish Catholic, and I the great atheist, still find an affinity with Irish Catholics. Don't ask me why.

I will miss you Tim. Bonnie will miss you as well. And to my modest surprise, Brandy knew you too, and she will also miss you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Into the Light

When I wrote the post below, last night, I was in a very dark place. No, I had my office light on; but my heart was dark.

I started out the evening with an unbroken, hour long rant. Poor Bonnie was my audience. When she finally announced that she could take no more and retreated to the bathtub, I proceeded here to continue the rant.

This morning, feeling marginally better about the world, I considered deleting the post I wrote last night. I decided against it because I had already received a comment and I didn't want to rudely wipe out that comment along with my post. And I also decided that I had made some salient points that needed making. I did, however, delete an identical post I placed on my Barack Obama blog.

Upon review, and in a better spirit now as I write this, I realize I said absolutely nothing in the previous post with which I now disagree. It's simply that I was writing in a state of despair last night, and while I think it's healthy for us to get in touch with our inner despair from time to time, we also need to examine things through the eyes of hope. And no, I am not going all Pollyanna on your ass. Hope is not, at least not necessarily, the equivalent of denial.

Pondering this today, I still seriously doubt we will ever regain the place we once held in this world. The key to that is the commercialization of our culture and the stupefying of our citizens. We have been molded as a society into the world's greatest consumers. We exist, the corporate Moguls have decided, to buy, BUY, BUY. And when our personal wealth dries up, as it is doing, it is our purpose to borrow, BORROW, BORROW, so we can continue BUYING.

Well it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that this purchasing sponge of a nation is going to lose its capacity to soak up the crap that is marketed to us. The chickens have already started to come home to roost on our borrowing habits. And we ain't seen nothing yet. Consumer debt in this country is going to bankrupt half the population in the next few years. It's going to get really ugly folks. No question about it. It breaks my heart in so many ways. We're going to experience something our soft lives have ill prepared us for. You think we have poverty in this country now? Boy are you in for a shock.

Enough of the doom and gloom. It's real, but it may have a thin silver lining. I was thinking out loud the other day about how nations like Portugal, Italy and Spain used to practically rule the earth. These days only Italy, among the three, has any world standing at all. And Italy's place in the international community is pretty back-seat for all that. But not a one of these three countries is exactly some terrible poverty-stricken place. They are all relatively quiet and unassuming countries where folks get along (OK, other than the Basques in Spain), where they have national health care systems that provide adequate, if not spectacular, health care for their citizens. They're OK.

The United States started out as an unassuming agrarian society. Throwing off King George's yoke made us big shakes in Europe for a bit, but if you wanted sophisticated world-class society, you generally avoided the States. It really wasn't until the Second World War that the US gained the foothold we have come to assume as ours' ever since. So maybe, after the dust of poverty settles and we have picked ourselves back out of the ashes, we'll just, more or less, end up back where we started.

Hell, as we sift through the debris, we might even discover that old Constitution beneath the dust and ashes. And we may shake it off and re-read it. And who knows, we might even work really hard to educate the whole populace so they understand it this time. And we could become the new Portugal or Spain. We may even become an Italy. And it may all be for the better. We could go back to being farmers and furniture makers and just mind our own business.

And our grandchildren may honor us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Change We Can Fantasize About

I finally got my Obama shirt in the mail yesterday.

I feel for Bonnie. I spent this whole evening haranguing her (and 99 percent of our culture) for our crimes against humanity. Every once in awhile, something snaps in me. I reach some maximum density of a sense-of-atrocity, and I enter into a meltdown. I did that tonight.

No. I guess it's been creeping up for a while. These things do. For instance, I have had my ear firmly placed against the cold (or often hot) train tracks for years now, and I recognized the face of this dollar/oil crisis months ago when it first started to gain public recognition as a new player on the stage. I knew it because its face has been described in detail for a long time if you knew where to look. This daemon is not the newcomer many in our culture imagine it to be.

In fact, our personal bogeyman, Osama Bin Laden, helped portend (and encouraged the hastening on the scene of) this monster. And yes, it will unquestionably be our downfall.

America's greatness was our Constitution and its recognition that all men are created equal. Note that 2/3-type people were not considered men, and certainly, neither were women. We had a partial solution to world peace and prosperity, but we forgot to include half the population along the lines of sex, and another 4/5ths along the lines of race. Our great promise to the world was never meant for more than one in ten.

And that, and the greed of those who saw ripe pickings in our depravity, has spelled our downfall.

We will never be great again.

Mr. Obama has my vote. I truly believe in his honesty and forthrightness. And I honestly accept that his visions, coupled with an active public, are what our country needs. But I don't believe for a moment, I am devastated to realize, that it will be nearly enough to return us to the place of moral authority, and of championing of the downtrodden, that we once held. The world has come to fear and despise us (not necessarily in that order), and they do so rightly.

Germany and Japan regained the world's trust after the second World War, by their nations' public contrition; by a national sense of shame and need for redemption. Germany occasionally makes our modern world nervous when neo-nazism starts to raise its ugly head. We remember too well how that country became evil personified.

Russia has failed to find any similar recompense in the world's eyes. Putin is a product of that country's lack of craving for atonement, not the cause of it.

I cannot see any societal yearning for redemption or sense of shame shaping America. I see pockets of it. I see strong pockets. But I don't see anything even approaching a public mood along those lines. I think Americans have lost the ability to even know that that is in order. We have forgotten our roots. We have forgotten the face of our fathers. Those who wish us to be gone from the earth are well within their rights.


How much longer can we continue to allow the madman in the White House to saber rattle and threaten countries who do not pose the harm he claims they do? This man must be stopped. Now. We will all be to blame if he attacks Iran. STOP HIM NOW.