Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Son Nick on Mein Schiff I

My son Nick singing "This is the Moment" from the musical Jekyl & Hyde. The lyrics are in German as he was performing on board a German cruise ship - Mein Schiff I. The video is not good, but the sound is not bad. His voice is great.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

More Political Crap

Keep in mind that most of the people who will be voting the Republican ticket for President in November will be doing so not because they love or even like Mitt Romney. It will be because they hate Barack Obama.

Also the climate in this country is not currently conducive to liberal positions or progressive thought. It is far more likely that in the foreseeable future we will be governed at pretty much all levels by arch conservatives - social, fiscal and political -  than by anyone with a liberal or progressive bent.

If so, ultimately the pendulum will likely swing back, but in the interim the conservatives will do much damage to the fabric of this country. The US will turn inward and take giant steps backward. We will no longer be regarded as a serious player in world politics or world commerce. We will become nothing more than a belligerent backwater of old ideas, or of no ideas at all. The fundies will be sitting on their hands making dire predictions of the coming judgment, while they wait contentedly for the rapture to sweep them away on the Paradise Express, leaving the rest of us vile sinners to succumb to Satan and eternal hell. Whoopie!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Consequences of a Romney Win in November

Some of us, myself included, take a great deal of joy in dissing the Reps and the Right Wingnuts. However, this is serious business. Romney may well win this thing. Some of the recent polls have demonstrated that Obama's lead has dwindled, and in some cases he is actually running behind Romney. These polls are very mercurial, and often inconsistent, but the overall trend right now is leaning in favor of Romney.

Some shrug and say "Why should I give a damn?" Well, let me tell you.

A Romney White House coupled with a Republican Congress will effectively throw this country back into the Dark Ages. This is not, IMO, a metaphor. We will experience giant steps toward rendering this country a christian theocracy. Virtually everything Obama accomplished during the past 3 plus years will be lost. Healthcare? Gone. DADT reinstated, maybe even worse. DOMA will become a Constitututional Ammendment - one man/one woman marriage will be the law of the land. Abortion and perhaps even contraception will be outlawed on a Federal level. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will disappear and/or become "privatized." Planned Parenthood will be drummed out of existence. Unemployment compensation and welfare will be history. Taxes on the rich and big corporations will be minimized with the burden falling upon the middle class and the poor. Unions will be effectively neutered. More and more people will be disenfranchized - mainly minorities who tend to vote Democratic. Government regulation of virtually everything will be minimized or completely done away with. The EPA, the Dept of Education and many other requlatory agencies will disappear. The rich will get ever so much richer. The numbers of the poor will grow exponentially. All hail conservatism!

Complacency on the part of Dems and Liberals will prove disastrous. If you choose to sit and whine that Obama hasn't been progressive enough, and, therefore, choose to sit on your hands during this election, you will reap the benefits of a far right wing christian based government at all levels that may not get as involved in your business, but will be all over your bedroom, for perhaps many years to come. Enjoy.

Mitt Romney: Liar par excellance

Right now I am very fearful that come November, Romney is going to win this damn election. Anyone who would vote for him would necessarily be a nitwit, but there seems to be no shortage of those.

Romney is a liar. It's not even debatable. Everyone knows it. If his mouth is open, he's lying. But lying is not only accepted from our politicians, it is encouraged, applauded even. Being truthful on the other hand is looked upon with suspicion and often disgust. Back when Obama made his comment about people clinging to their guns and religion, he was right on the money. Hilary Rosen's comment regarding Ann Romney never having worked a day in her life was also accurate. Poorly stated perhaps, but certainly not innacurate. Both were vilified and skewered by pretty much everyone.

So, lessons must be learned. The truth will get you into trouble. Lying will get you into the White House.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Our Country Stepping Back in Time

Both ancient Egypt along with other areas of the Middle East and China had periods of great discovery and invention. But it all stopped with the intervention of religion which brought us hundreds of years of stagnation and ignorance and violent death. In the west, since the days of the Renaissance, we have seen wondrous advancements of all sorts including our brief venture into space beyond low earth orbit. Only in the past couple of decades has China begun to experience a rebirth of curiousity about the world and the universe beyond. China now has more citizens learned in the sciences and math than the U.S. has college graduates. China graduates a half million scientists from its colleges every year. The U.S. graduates a half million lawyers every year. Americans are having a love affair with ignorance. We are stupid and proud of it.

The U.S. is receding. There is no longer a spirit of adventure or a desire for discovery in this country. Instead, we are more and more turning inward and backward. The growing strength and pervasiveness of religion, of whatever stamp, is both a cause and a symptom of our decline. Many turn away from science and its promise, only to embrace a book written 2000 years ago by those who believed the earth to be flat and the center of the universe; a time when only about 1% or 2% of humans were even marginally literate. Millions praise and pray to a jealous, violent and supposedly all powerful phantom for whom there is not one iota of proof of its existence. Are we now entering another dark age?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Here is The Best Part, You Have a Head Start, If You Are Among the Very Young At Heart.

Last evening Jo and I decided to go downtown to eat at Bazbeaux Pizza for dinner. Upon hitting the downtown area we quickly became aware of a lot of people on the streets. Many, for some reason wearing green. What's up with that? I ask. Oh Hell, it's St Patrick's Day. I don't think that fact had slipped Jo's mind, but it had mine (big surprise.)

But, I don't think having that in mind would have prepared us for the hoards of people we encountered. It became even more painfully obvious when we turned off of College Ave. and onto Massachusetts. "Oh shit! We'll never find a place to park. If we do, the wait at Bazbeaux will be forever."

As luck would have it, we did find a place to park only about a block away from the restaurant. We were told upon our arrival at Bazbeaux that the wait would in fact be 35 to 40 minutes. For me 20 minutes is about my limit. But we thought, what the hell. Where else are we going to go? Do we schlepp back to the car and drive back to south side suburbia? So we stuck it out. Glad we did.

Most anyone who has eaten at Bazbeaux will, I think, agree that their food is pretty damn good. But, the point of this little harangue is that while us suburbanites are usually put off by the crowds and the hassle of parking downtown, that it ain't all bad.

Now the parking hassle still holds. The new "privatized" parking meters are a major pain in the ass. And now, for those who don't know, week-ends are not free. You must pay to park up until 9PM What a crock! And, if you don't feed the meter, or don't get back before the time runs out, you will most assuredly find a ticket neatly tucked under your windshield wiper. Twenty bucks!

All that being said, downtown Indy is a rather fun place to be. Of course, most of the week-end revelers are young, but we did spy a few others of our, let's say, more mature ilk. There is such a vibrancy that you just don't get, say at the mall. I remember the days while our kids were in college, and how great it was not only to be with them, but to spend time with their friends as well. Ah youth! Youth is a lot of it, but not all of it. It is, I think, a frame of mind, an attitude toward life. Zeal. I think all too often that energy and optimism gets lost with our preoccupation with our various maladies and other set backs as we age. I always feel energized after being around younger people who haven't suffered so many of the inevitable hard knocks that life dishes out. It may be fleeting, but at least I know it's out there. Hitting Mass Ave. on a warm Saturday nite serves as a welcome reminder.

Monday, March 12, 2012


President Obama and the joint chiefs - or whoever would be appropriate - should meet and put together a strategy to get us out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible. They can't do it overnite, but it probably could be accomplished over say a 6 month period. They should set it in motion and inform Karsai of our intent. The biggest problem would be security, but they just have to do it. There is nothing for us to win there. Karzai and his government are so thoroughly corrupt that nothing good can come from our continued support.

That the country will devolve into chaos is more or less a given. It is likely that the Taliban will regain control of the country within weeks or months, but that is likely inevitable whether we pull out today or 10 years from now. Afghanistan is a piece of shit part of the world being run by people with a 7th century mindset, but armed with 21st century weapons.

Such a tragedy as happened over the week-end was almost inevitable. We have a generation of young people who have been put to the test in war for much too long a time. It is said the perpetrator of the mass murder was in his 4th deployment to a war zone. We are asking far too much of these kids. And to what end?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Who Are the Republicans?

Rush Limbaugh, Judge Richard Cebull of Montana, and now Bill O'Reilly are the definitive face of the Republican party. Limbaugh continued his absolutely dispicable and totally inaccurate charges against 30 year old Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke for the third day running. Judge Cabull sent a racist joke about President Obama via email to his chums. O'Reilly has doubled down on Limbaugh's attacks on Fluke.

No one on the right - none of the current Republican presidential candidates, no Senate or House Republicans, none of the right wing media - have offered anything resembling an apology. As noted above, O'Reilly and many others have turned to the offensive and are now attacking Fluke.

Democrats must come to understand that this is the nature and character of their opposition. By and large most Republicans, at least those in positions of power and influence, are as Neanderthals. (Perhaps I should make apologies to any actual Neanderthals.) They are certifiable knuckledraggers. They revel in their stupidity, hold education in disdain, continue to hold racist attitudes, and relish their mean spirited, adolescent "humor." (Apologies to adolescents.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Our Crumbling Country

I find what is happening in the world, and particularly in this country perplexing. The spectre of the Republican presidential campaign has been the object of both derision and serious concern. It's been hard for me to get my mind around it all. It just seems so hard to fathom. How is it that this country seems to be coming apart at the seams?

Earlier this evening as Jo and I returned home from a little dinner out, I flipped on the TV and surfed through several channels finding nothing of interest until I hit upon AMC. "Grapes of Wrath" was already underway, but only by a few minutes. I put down the remote and settled in. It occurred to me that I had never actually sat and watched it through. Just to get this out of the way, I think it's still a pretty damn good film. It's a bit dated in its presentation, but most of the performances hold up pretty well. As much of the script is comprised of Steinbeck's words, it is decent as well.

More importantly, what takes place in the film, the story of the Joad family displaced from their Oklahoma farm to the California orange groves during the Dust Bowl days of the Great Depression still resonates today. Poverty, or the threat of it, tends to bring out both the best and worst in us. Hard times put a strain on any society, especially one that has enjoyed far better times. The gulf between the haves and the have nots becomes more stark, wider and deeper.

What I'm trying to convey here becomes more difficult. There is also a gulf between the Right and the Left, between progressives and conservatives, and of course, between Republicans and Democrats. These "gulfs" are not necessarily the same, not necessarily parallel. There is some cross over, if you will. Certainly not all on the Right are "haves" and not all on the Left are "have nots." There are poor Republicans and rich Democrats.

But, there is a difference in mindset. The way in which those on the Right look at the world and their fellow human beings is often far different than how those on the Left view them. It may be what actually defines us as Lefties or Righties, as Progressives or Conservatives.

The Republican presidential campaign has been defined by mean spiritedness, first against each other within the party and second against the sitting President and his administration. All of the candidates and their surrogates are placing most of their emphasis on conspiracies and fear mongering. They cannot mention Obama's name without charging him with ineptitude and/or broad charges of his being the evil spawn of satan who is consciously and purposely out to destroy this country. Accompanying these charges is not one iota of proof.

Not since the period leading up to and the years after the Civil War or perhaps going as far back as John Adams and the "Alien and Sedition Act" has there been such hatred spewed against political candidates in the U.S.

That at least some of it is race based is, in my opinion, unquestioned. But it goes farther and deeper than that. It goes back to the widening gulf between the various entities or groups mentioned above that is at the heart of our differences. These differences were perhaps most notably brought to a head during the Civil Rights movement in the 50s and 60s and broadened with the youth movement and its challenge of authority in the 60s and 70s. This difference of mind is starkly portrayed in "Grapes of Wrath." Some may consider that an oversimplification, but Tom Joad's speech near the end of the film pretty much sets out the battle lines.

"I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be everywhere.
Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there.
Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there.
I'll be there in the way guys yell when they're mad.
I'll be there in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they built - I'll be there, too."

Of the remaining Republican presidential candidates still vying for their party's nomination, I find Rick Santorum the most disturbing and, perhaps, the most dangerous to our peace and our freedom. Someone, I don't recall who, recently stated that Santorum has a great mind. Unfortunately, so this person says, it is a 13th century mind. Santorum believes that all public education should be abolished in favor of home schooling and/or religious schools (medrasahs?) He believes that Obama's call for more kids to attend college is an insideous plot to brainwash them into people in Obama's image. Santorum says these kinds of  things at such an alarming rate it is difficult to keep up with them.

I do not for one minute believe that Barack Obama or the Democrats are without serious flaws. They are, afterall, politicians. Nor do I believe they will cure all our ills. But, they do carry on the spirit of Tom Joad moreso than any other viable political group. By and large you do not hear charges of conspiracies or personal character assassinations coming from them. If anything they are far too reluctant to do so. They often allow Republicans to walk all over them. They seem to be learning, but are still all too often slow in the uptake.

Republicans have lost all sight of ethics, dignity and fair play. They have been waging a political and legislative war against women, gays and minorities. They have been passing laws and voting regulations which effectively disenfranchise literally millions of likely Democratic voters, making claims of voter fraud the great majority of which have never been substantiated. Republicans are morally and ethically bankrupt. If they should prevail in November, as Samuel L. Jackson's character said repeatedly in the film "Jurassic Park" "Hold onto your butts."


Monday, February 20, 2012

A Sobering Incident

I had an unsettling experience earlier today. I was out taking comparable photos for an appraisal I'm currently working on. I saw three people tussling with each other in a driveway next to their car. There was a woman perhaps in her 40s, a much older man, probably 80+ and another woman of about his age. I realized that the man and younger woman were apparently wrestling with the older woman, and then I heard her start to scream.

This is one of those moments: Do I turn away and drive on down the road or do I stop and "get involved." Of course there are a lot of reasons to do the former, but I didn't heed my inner coward and did in fact stop.

I opened my door and asked if I could be of help. The younger woman desparately nodded yes, and I got out and approached them. The younger woman, the older couple's daughter I was to learn, and her father were trying with little success to get the older woman to go into the house. She was repeately screaming "No! No! No!" The old fellow was about out of steam, and he nearly fell. I took the old woman's arm and motioned for her hubby let go.

The frightened woman screamed "I know what you're going to do with me when you get me in there." She nearly spat at her husband and turned to me saying that "He wants to get rid of me."

She saw my car with the door left open and tried to make for it. Her daughter and I restrained her and tried to get her to walk to the house, but she was having none of it. Then suddenly she just kind of deflated and moaned "My arms. Oh, my arms." They were no doubt really hurting from being held and her resistance. I felt so bad for her. She was truly frightened, but at last resigned to her what she apparenly believed was to be her fate.

The daughter and I slowly walked her into the home; her father had gone ahead and opened the door. We escorted her inside and steered her to the couch where she finally crumpled and began to cry. I cried myself. She was so utterly defeated.

Of course, she was/is suffering from Alzheimers, or so her daughter told me. She seemed to have quieted down, so I excused myself leaving with the daughter's thanks. I never got their names nor offered them mine.

This encounter shook me up. I'm 65 myself.  Alzheimers is the scourge of the elderly, and in some cases, the not so elderly. It's scary. That woman's frightened eyes and tear stained face are still with me.


Friday, February 17, 2012

The Cure for Aspirin Between the Knees

The recent legislation coming out of the Virginia Legislature mandating women who are seeking an abortion to undergo an invasive and medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound imaging procedure has made it clear that additional "balancing" legislation is necessary to help ensure that women may go through their lives without the necessity of holding an aspirin between their knees.

It is hereby proposed that young men, just prior to entering puberty, must undergo a procedure which will entail the surgical implantation of steel loops anchored to pelvic and leg bone, strategically placed around their genitalia which will then enable the installation of a locking mechanism attached to an encasement that will contain said genitalia to preclude the possibility of their partaking in casual and non-procreative sexual activity. It is recommended that this procedure be made a part of a family ritual or celebration similar to a bris or more appropriately, a bar mitzvah to make it less onerous and frightening to the prepubescent lads.

These encasements will be electronically monitored; all public restrooms and private bathrooms will have installed, by properly trained and licensed contractors, electronic unlocking devices which will allow encased individuals to answer the call to void their bladders and/or bowels, and, if so inclined, to take a periodic shower or bath. As noted these devices will be monitored and each unlocking will be timed a predetermined number of minutes to accommodate these activities prior to the triggering of highly audible warning signals, and/or perhaps intermittent electrical reminder jolts emanating from the implanted loops.

In the event an individual intends to partake in procreative sexual activity, said intention must be made known to a monitoring agency, the Preventive Erotica Quelling Registry or PEQR, designated solely for this purpose. The encased's name and the identity of the intended fellow procreator must be on file and preapproved by said agency at least 30 days in advance of any procreative activity. The date and time for this activity must be preset to allow an agency monitor to activate the unlocking of the encasement. An adequate amount of time will be allotted for these assignations; say, 5 to 7 minutes, to allow for the satisfactory consummation of the activity, at the end of which the above noted audio signals and electric jolts will ensue.

Penalties, including fines and/or possible incarceration for circumventing or attempting circumvention of the encasement device, will be set by a panel to be named later. In severe or repetetive cases, unlocking privileges may be suspended at the discretion of a presiding judge or other adjudicator.

It is understood the encasement may take on more casual popular or trade names, a few suggestions noted include Pickle Jar, Junk Drawer, Jack in the Box, Package Deal, and one which is perhaps a bit in bad taste, Pig in a Blanket. Others will no doubt arise. It is suggested that anyone suffering from erectile dysfunction should not partake of drugs, prescription or otherwise, designed to alleviate this condition while encased.

It should be noted that, should this legislation elevate to a national level, members of any state legislatures and/or Congress will be exempted from encasement during and after their tenure in office. All males reaching puberty prior to its enactment will also be exempted from the provisions of this legislation. No grandfathering will apply.

Other particulars regarding the organization and structure of PEQR, and the exact specifications of the medical procedures and the encasements, applying for exemptions, etc., will follow when somebody figures all that out. It should also be noted that said agency will ultimately be privatized under the aegis of one or more "one percenters" (also exempted).

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