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Wednesday, May 31, 2006
On this day:

"...I Feel Fine..."

It’s comforting to note that our grandchildren will be fortunate enough to witness the end of humanity in their lifetimes. On a selfish level, I probably won’t be around to see it, so that’s a small comfort. On another level, it has been a long time coming, this self-extinction, so the sooner the planet is rid of us, the better. The fact that our foreseeable progeny must be witness to the cumulative effects of our species’ greed and shortsightedness is not all that comforting.

What brings on these typically Tannish notions? Today’s Washington Post hosts an article about Canada’s oil boom, which illustrates how profit and greed overcome reason and caution as they strip mine bitumen-laden sand for fuel oil. The process is quite toxic, it seems, with the corporate stance being: “future technologies will be able to clean up our mess.”

Honestly – our inevitable and arguably imminent collapse will be well-earned. Only time will tell if it will be spectacular or not. Take heart that the children of the oil barons will be able to eat their stockpile of stock certificates when food becomes too tainted and all the water unpalatable.

As an afterthought, maybe America is doing the world a favor by killing off mass amounts of humanity quickly. The slow death of planet-poisoning would be cruel in comparison. For some reason strains of an REM song is drifting across my consciousness…

“…It’s the end of the world as we know it…”

Go on - MEDIT8

Too bad the concept of owning vanity plates for my car is antithetical to Buddhist philosophy. I would get some that read: MEDIT8

Buddhism talks about how the mind is central to our experience; everything we perceive filters through the mind…

(Have I lost you yet? It always amazes me how any mention of Buddhism, in any form glazes the eyes of my theistic friends and relations. Looking into their eyes, I can almost hear their minds shut. However, that’s not what I wanted to write about.)

…Somehow, this obvious truth struck me as a revelation when I first heard it. The teaching then points out how control of the mind, or understanding its workings are important to the mental and physical wellbeing of all. To take the time to watch your own mind work, to note its traps and conditioned responses, to learn how the untamed mind is the “usual suspect” when one is mentally instable – that is the basis for wisdom. From there we can begin to loosen its hold upon us; if you know the trap it there, would you continue to step in it?

Buddhists often mention that the consciousness, or the mind, is like an onion. That it requires peeling before one can view its core. Layer by layer, the practitioner must work from the outer regions inward, cleansing each in turn. Only by removing the outward conditions can we progress; as one predisposition causes another, the unraveling of the structure of the mind’s functioning must be reverse-engineered.

Of course, meditation is the method. Sitting still, without outward distractions highlights the myriad of inner distractions, dialogues we have with ourselves, worries and fantasies that ceaselessly loop throughout our subconscious. We are too used to shouting over our thoughts to notice, they are shouting back. The resulting cacophony can be literally mind-blowing.

Instead sit back, get comfortable. Turn off the lights, or dim them. Turn off your electronics and breathe. Meditation is simple, the basic tool – your breath – is always with you, and so you can do this anywhere. Yet meditation is very profound, ever more so the more one practices. Getting away from the manic motion of modern life is therapeutic, soon you will look for ways to recharge, to calm you mind.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it. Google meditation, read the results, and earnestly try it. You don’t have to tell anyone, it’ll be our secret. Do it for yourself, others will benefit by association. Altruism will emerge naturally. Tame your mind, its been ruling your life for years, isn’t is time to take charge?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
On this day:

Writing Filler on the Writer's Block

Boy its tough changing gears. After a year of Bush bashing, I attempt to expand my subject matter only to encounter writers block. What will we leftist bloggers do if the unthinkable happens – like if we get a Democrat in the White House? That just might put Kos out of business. Certainly After Downing Street’s days are numbered regardless of outcomes.

Wait… Do I hear cheering in the background?

Seriously: What to write when politics is removed from the equation? I could talk about my fabulous kid. You might take that for a day or so. Or write about my cats - ditto. Besides endless omphaloskepsism makes for dwindling audiences, and if I allow myself that vice my readership would fall into the negative numbers. Is that possible?

So here I go, attempting extemporaneous filler in compensation for writers block. Better that than regaling my (one) reader with “What I Did on Memorial Day Weekend.” See? I do care. Because I’ve said most all I can against our current crop of politicians, and because the nation is finally getting the drift of what whiners like me have been up to these past (almost) six years, I try to diversify. It’s almost like a new blog project, an idea that resurfaces time and again.

Maybe I should kick-start IdiotSynchracies. Some would argue that as a more fitting handle for my work, anyway. Hmm…

Sunday, May 28, 2006
On this day:

In Memorandum Redux

It seems we’re supposed to get teary-eyed and maudlin over the Memorial Day holiday. Good Americans are to trot out their dusty flags and their threadbare national pride for display. We’ll open our Sunday papers to read OpEds about how free we are and how this directly relates to our fallen soldiers, and - most importantly – how we plebeians should be grateful for the generations of American warriors we’ve bred. In honor of the fallen, we expect to express our gratefulness by shopping, dirtying up our GrillMasters, guzzling bear and watching baseball – all in the sacred name of America.

Let us not forget this weekend that doing so is a right, a freedom. Our neighbors will expect us to act a certain way, say certain things, not to do so risks ostracism or worse. They might sell our phone number to the NSA. Therefore smile and nod to the fellow at his barbecue beyond your fence line, raise your Budweiser to the great red, white and blue and try to forget how this expression of freedom is tainted by enforcement.

Perhaps this is not the time to tear up this page with a rant about the underlying cultural assumptions pertaining to this holiday. I do wish you a restful weekend, so I refrain. Perhaps another day will suffice. Instead, partly because I’m lazy and wish to play a bit myself, I will re-post last years Memorial Day poem as a placeholder for my ranting. No sense not kicking the dead dog, he won’t mind….

Have a safe holiday.

In Memorandum

Give homage to our precious dead,
All those who do remain.
For policy and rhetoric,
For senseless death, in vain.
For principles and politics,
We send our young to die.
A grieving mother's tear-stained face,
So plainly wonders why.

Send tribute to our newly lost,
Our love, it cannot die.
Kneel beside their fresh-turned graves,
Beneath the perfect sky.
Question all that brings such pain,
That God and Man forfend.
And send a prayer into the void,
Such folly soon will end.

Pay respects to Ideologues,
Who send your youth to die.
Why kiss the Ring of Priviledge,
To kiss their souls goodbye?
The Evil that is on this Earth,
Resides in any man,
Who sends our young to die for him,
As if that is God's plan.

To die in the name of Freedom,
Is viewed as lofty praise.
Is politics superior
To the children that we raise?
At what point will we look about,
To see what is insane:
To kill in the name of Freedom,
Devalues what is gained.

Friday, May 26, 2006
On this day:

Petty Power Trip Backfire

I found myself pondering our concepts of power during the commute to work this morning – I have no idea why. The struggle for power affects us all. It is a direct extension of our self-preferential worldview, in which we do anything to promote our will over others. Survival of the Fittest – not necessarily.

Whether you’re a corporate CEO, a CEO President, or “just” the House Majority Leader, power is the game. These examples are obvious, but little people like me do it too. Rudeness to strangers, road rage, all the petty ways to cheat the system from drifting into the intersection in anticipation of the green light to cutting in line at the grocery as all examples of how we force ourselves upon others to their detriment, examples of power over others.

During this morning’s commute, I saw a person who was not winning his personal power game. What caught my eye in the gray morning dimness was the rhythmic flash of his (or hers - I didn’t see the driver) break lights; every seven seconds (I counted) he tapped his breaks for a bit. Too close to the car in front who was traveling at a comfortable five miles over the speed limit, which serves as the typical speed in Chicagoland, the driver was forced by his own need for road dominance to pump the pedal in frustration. No doubt the driver in front of him remained unaware of his distress. My reaction of bemusement found a voice in my utterance of: “What’s your hurry? You’re only going to work.” Indeed, he turned into a row of light industry a half mile further.

Who benefits from this mindless and idiotic behavior? No one does. The first driver remains oblivious, perhaps his default state, and goes about his day. I and possible the others nearby have our various neutral reactions. The real loser is the break-light man, whose own impatience set the stage for a needlessly stressful commute – at six in the morning – which likely will affect the rest of his day. The kicker is he does this to himself!

Such are the mechanics of our uncontrolled, subconscious desire to dominance. Poor guy, I hope we wises up some day.

Thursday, May 25, 2006
On this day:

Skimming the News - WTF?!?

I’m just now catching up on the latest fiasco in Washington (here, here, and here among others). No doubt you’ve heard by now how Federal agents absconded with documents from the House of Representative office complex and declared them classified, to whisk them off to the inter-dimensional vortex to which only the FBI has the keys.

For once – at least for now – I’m speechless. I can only shake my head as I take in three days of reports on such a blatant infraction of protocol. Is this a crime? I don’t know, but it surely lends me to ask, “What are they hiding?” Rep. Jefferson was a Democrat!

If and when these documents are released, I’m betting that some key pages will be missing. What other reason for the grabbing of them? By the time it’s sorted out, surely some few weeks from now and ample time for tampering of evidence, who would know? It’s damn hard to discern what is not there if one is unaware of its existence initially.

My second reaction, now that my mind is rebooting, is that Bushie doesn’t have to worry about re-election, so the kid gloves are off. Expect his minions to get bolder as the last thousand days of his dictatorship tick away (or is that tick off). Anything goes! It seems that anything will indeed go…

Are you scared yet?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
On this day:

A Tale of Impulse, Attitude and Devolution

Where I turn my car into and out of the parking lot at work there is a large double billboard. Raised only seven feet off the ground, the larger-than-necessary message has been working is subliminal magic. Mostly the message is uninteresting. I not sure what the left half is promoting; some radio station, I think… The right half is promoting the new Coca Cola Blak coffee drink. For the past two seeks I’ve been looking at the five foot lettering remembering a snippet of my wife’s conversation shortly after returning from New York last month (yes, I actually listen to her). She tasted the stuff and liked it. I’m quite the coffee guy, and never have I enjoyed Pepsi, so my subliminals were primed.

As I turn into the lot at the grocery, I park next to a blue Escort with four whip antennas stuck onto the trunk, each one a different length of curlicue. The steering wheel was covered with a faux leatherette cover with embossed and colored dragons on the sides; the rearview mirror suspended a pair of goggles like you would swim with but looking like it had been injected with steroids, upon which was clipped a CB-like handset microphone. What clinched the image for me was the lone bumper sticker: A white band with the symbol of the US Marines beside this caption – “When it absolutely, positively has to be destroyed overnight.” I thought “what kinds of sociopaths are being bred in the military?” leading me to ponder how these people try to re-assimilate themselves into society or if they ever can fit in again.

Inside the store, I gasped at the six dollars being demanded for four (count ‘em) little 8-ounce bottles of this mysterious nectar. I buy them anyway, satisfied that if I don’t like them, my wife does. I shake my head at the car with ‘tude and continue.

Two miles later, I notice two motorcyclists behind me, an overweight black man of about thirty one a rice rocket, and a skinny white guy of slightly less years – or so I guessed, his helmet with its jaw guard obscured his features - riding a vintage Honda. The black guy didn’t wear a helmet, a sight that causes my brain to label him an FOD (future organ donor). The light we awaited changed and the two cyclists abused the gaps between the four-wheeled machines to their advantage. Sometimes I forget that commuting is a sport of daring-do. This heavily traveled road cuts a swath through a forest preserve. At this point, and the helmet-head looks over his shoulder and pops a wheelie at about 55 MPH in thick traffic. He’s showing off to FOD, who wisely refuses the bait. Two more wheelies ensue, the last while he sits on the gas tank with legs splayed, all within a one mile stretch. Four lanes posted at 40 MPH – just a suggestion, as you know – with no dividing curb. A wipe out then would kill him, helmet or no. I’ll let you guess what crossed my mind then.

For those few aware people, there’s plenty of evidence of Devolution exhibited by humanity: My theory? For thousands of years, humanity became stronger through the natural process of survival against odds. For the past ten millennia or so, we have devolved because we’ve mastered our environment, slaughtered the species that occasionally fed on our young, and remade our world in our image. As time progressed traits that would have been culled in a harsher context are instead passed on, sometimes strengthened or mutated into newer quirks and conditions. The cumulative effect is easily discerned through the multiplicity of the modern human experience. In short – we’re doomed!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
On this day:

Crying Wolfish

Like The Boy Who Cried “Wolf”, the Bush who cried ”Democracy” is getting harder and harder to believe. Prince George was in Chicago yesterday, rehearsing his talking points for the National Restaurant Association, proudly preening progress in Iraq. Today, in my irritability, I cry “Bullshit!”

No doubt, this version of the NRA is more interested in the impact of immigration upon their workforce than in anything happening in the Middle East. True to form, our President uses this occasion to pimp his message rather than face the concerns of the people he’s addressing. According to CNN, this is how”Democracy" looks to Mr. Bush:
· A roadside bomb hit an Iraqi police patrol in the Bayaa neighborhood in southwestern Baghdad at 3 p.m. Monday killing three police commandos and wounding three others, Baghdad police said.

· In northern Baghdad, gunmen assassinated Judge Jumma Abed al-Mamouri in the Hurriya neighborhood at 5 p.m. local time Monday, an official said. Al-Mamouri was working at a civil court in Baghdad, the official added.

· In the Zafaraniya neighborhood in southeastern Baghdad, one civilian was killed and two others were wounded when a car bomb exploded around 11:30 a.m., the official said.
· North of the capital, gunmen killed four civilians in separate incidents in Baquba, a police official said.

· In Musayyib, about 70 kilometers south of Baghdad, four Iraqi police were killed when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle, an official with Hilla police said.

· Iraqi police in Baghdad found nine unidentified bodies in various locations around the capital in the past 24 hours. All the victims had been shot in the head and the bodies showed signs of torture.
In another CNN story, Saddam Hussein is caught chortling in court during the testimony of his brother-in-law, who draws parallels between the ethnic cleansing Hussein is on trial for and the cleansing of insurgents in Falluja by US led forces. Wholesale slaughter looks very much the same no matter whom the perpetrator. This reminds me there usually are two sides to any story, something the MSM is lately rediscovering.

I guess the president is right, sort of; there is progress being made.

Sunday, May 21, 2006
On this day:

Who Needs Normal?

“What are you doing this weekend?” my coworker asked. An innocuous comment, social lubricant aimed more to fill the air or to act as a bonding agent. My chiropractor asks: “Do you have any big plans this weekend?” in the same vein, with a hint of bedside manner to foster the illusion that he cares. He does care, inasmuch as his business is involved, and because he’s a kind, well-meaning person. However, I cannot suspend disbelief enough to expect him to remember my response ten minutes later.

To such innocent queries I respond with self-conscious nothings. My coworkers wouldn’t relate to my tendency to do nothing with relish, not planning a list of chores or errands or outings. How could they understand that I play on the computer, write a little for this blog, practice guitar a bit, shun television like the plague it is, do laundry and a few chores, play with the cats, laugh with my wife and daughter, and generally stay off the streets. Even now with the weather finally stable, I only glance at my spider webbed bicycle and return to my computer; I’ll get some sun when neighborhood peer pressure forces me to mow the lawn. To the peripheral people in my life, which is most of them, it’s hard for me to open up; explaining blogging or my passion for hardware and computer gaming – at my age! – would be too much for them. I come off as a bit odd at the best of times, no need to enforce that image.

I used to point people toward this blog. I still carry some business cards - bought online and created with Paint Shop Pro - in my belt pouch, but I refrain from self-promotion more often these days. I’m not ashamed of my ultra-liberal inflammatory writings, I just wish to spare them the discomfort when, upon our next meetings, they squirm a bit should I ask if they like my blog. “Oh, yeah, I’ve read it…” as in past tense, like they’re never going there again. Perhaps they feel obliged to be embarrassed on my behalf?

That’s okay. I’m quite used to my burgeoning oddball status now that I‘ve reached my doddering middle-age. The tendency is to flaunt it, but I still need to function within society – at least until I retire. As I look about in disbelief at what “normal” Americans are into, I shake a pondering head. These virtual pages are filled with my take on that issue…

Too poor to be eccentric, too young to be demented, I fall into the category of mild weirdness. My Buddhist teachings tell me to relax with that, and I do. Buddhism is perhaps another aspect of how little I fit in with my neighbors… In my next life perhaps normality will prevail. I can wait until then.

Saturday, May 20, 2006
On this day:

Faith and Politics

I’m not supposed to write about politics today. I promised my friend, the Allergic Gardener Leucanthemum, to diversify this blog in an attempt at diminishing the shrillness of repeated Bush-bashing. Notwithstanding the joy of doing so, or the ease – as there is so much to ridicule, the monotony is showing up in my writings.

But – and you knew there was a “but” involved here – I come across an article in Washington Post about the re-emergence of the Religious Left (is that an oxymoron?) As I have mentioned a few times over the past year, the political pendulum is reversing its path, and nothing I’ve found lately illustrates this as clearly as the reorganization of progressive and moderate believers in the New American Battlefield of Political Dominance.

I empathize with a passage on the third page of the article, which sums up my thoughts overall:
Some groups on the religious left are clearly seeking to help the Democratic Party. But the relationship is delicate on both sides.
"If I were the Democrats, the last thing I would do is really try to mobilize these folks as a political force . . . because I think some of this is a real unhappiness with the whole business of politicizing religion," said Mark Silk, director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
Perhaps the concept of separation of church and state, so intrinsic to the American dream, is referring to just this sort of political proselytizing. The NeoCons have already set the IRS poking about rival religious groups as to whether their actions in 2004 compromised their right to tax-exempt status. What will happen now? Never mind the fact that the Religious Left have only adopted the tactics the Religious Right have succeeded with for eight years. That is beside the point.

I ask, can there be any good to the marriage of political activism and religion. No matter whose yard you stand in, should those on the other side of the fence wield a holy sword in this political joust?

Friday, May 19, 2006
On this day:

Bringing the War Home and Other Snippets

Now we can start counting the deaths in the War on Immigrants… ONE… Remember the War on Drugs? That one is still going on, I think. Meawhile designer drugs have emerged, the CIA has bee accused of drug trafficking, and still there are drug gangs, and the rest of the symptoms in the inner cities. That war is not going well.

And then there’s the War on Terror. “Nuff said.

Iran seems to be political suicide in these days of declining poll numbers and nervous incumbents, so let’s start a NEW war! (Strains of Randy Newman drift through my mind: “Let’s drop the big one and see what happens…”)


As the flood waters recede in Blue Country, I haven’t heard a peep from the MSM about a federal declaration of emergency relief.. Maybe I missed something. Or maybe the blue-staters don’t want FEMA’s help.


Jimmy Hoffa is making a comeback – and it’s not even Halloween yet. I ask you: does anyone really care? Maybe the President can nominate him for some committee…


Dell computer bought out tres chic computer boutique venor Alienware a while back, which gives it an end run around its Faustian deal with Intel to not sell AMD Processors. Most PC hardware nuts like myself have preferred AMD for years in their boxes, and the gaming aficionados whom Alienware built its business around helped propel the chip makers market share into the mainstream, thus catching the eyes of Dell.

Just as HP can sell AMD in its Compaq line of computers without outwardly flaunting its own deal with Intel, so is Dell making the same moves. Today, Dell announces plans for using the underdog processors (which are arguable a better value) in their server line.

Okay. So I’m a chiphead. My motto? Achieve Total Geekosity! AMD is the best; I won’t build with anything else. Go Dell!

Thursday, May 18, 2006
On this day:

A Shift In Focus

I can't help wondering if the sudden move to draw attention toward our southern border is a smoke screen to remove eyeballs from the real agenda, or from the carnage in Iraq. With the President's poll numbers going south in an election year, perhaps the floundering elephants are trying anything to divert attention from their mistakes, even if that risks making new ones. After all, the new mistakes haven't happed yet, and no polls are adressing them. Yet.

It just might buy them a few months of time if we all forget the recent past. Indeed, the news from Iraq has been missing front pages as of late. Hmm, desperate times, and all that...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
On this day:

Shedding Timber

Two things puzzle me: First, what political expediency drives the new emphasis on immigration? Prince George the Unready has hinted at border policy for years. Now, it’s paramount to wave his magic stick and make the problem go away. Except I’ve noticed that his stick needs recharging – Harry Potter he’s not. Perhaps I’ve become overly skeptical of our poor excuse for leadership, a hyper-jaded paranoia tells me to seek the unspoken catalyst of this sudden change in focus. My Spidey-sense tingles at the news that Our Favorite Shrubbery is looking to compromise on this issue, or any issue; this is plainly out of character.

Second, is our renewed group hugs with Moammar Gaddafi. Never mind his alleged mellowing in his old age, Libya holds the eighth largest oil field on the planet, as well as the dubious distinction of  having one of the world’s most oppressive regimes, according to Freedom House. Obviously, our administrations focus on spreading Democracy is waning.

This is a telling shift from a group characterized by dogmatic narrow mindedness. It truly gives a progressive like me hope (careful there…) to see the “Bring ’em on” boys grasping at straws like this. Or are they watching as their political raft sheds timber? One can only hope.

There I go again…

Monday, May 15, 2006
On this day:

Responding in Kind(ness)

Today I got a nice surprise in the form of a response from a reader at my original web page, the Tannish Page. It’s nice to know that some people are stumbling upon my writings on occasion. Being a tiny fish in the cesspool of the vast internet, I find I enjoy such a rare event.

Below I include the query as well as my reply, edited for anonymity:

Original Message:

name: Jim M.

comment: Tannish,I recently Googled "reflexive rude behavior" and your site was among those delivered. I am struggling with my own episodes of rude, boorish behavior that appear reflexively as a result of certain stimulus. I am usually embarrassed by these events, know they are hurtful and also know that, depending on the environment, can be potentially dangerous. I liked the poem you posted. Any thoughts on how the reflexive action can be delayed long enough to enable cognition to kick in allowing one to remember that there is another street to walk down?Jim

cheers: on

Hi, Jim

Thank you for taking the time to write me. Your question seems an honest one, unlike some I see on the 'net... One can't be too careful.As for an answer, I am not by any stretch an expert, but as you've noticed I have a bit of personal experience with poor behavior.

My advice: meditation. If you're unfamiliar, meditation is the practice of becoming aware of what our minds do during those times we are not in the habit of noticing. For most people, this means most of the time. In my experience, the practice of meditation for a half hour or less almost every day has helped greatly in gaining sensitivity toward countermanding the mental triggers of my worst behavior, and correcting myself before I get out of control. To practice more would greatly accelerate the benefits.

This, it seems, is what you might be seeking. I wish you luck.Tannish

Sunday, May 14, 2006
On this day:

Arise...Women of This Day!

To all Mommies, Grannies, Bubies, Nanas, and aspiring mothers: Wishes for the best of days.

Apart from a celebration of home makers and nurturers, Mothers Day is a celebration of women. Not being one, I go out on a limb by saying motherhood and the potential of childbirth is a central theme in all women’s lives. The mechanics of human reproduction is the domain of the woman, and this day attempts to honor that great responsibility all women must bear. Men would be wise to acknowledge the awesome burden a mother is subject to and lend as much help and support as possible.

Besides all that, Mother’s Day is a call for peace. During the Civil War, Julia Ward Howe, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, recoiled in horror at the carnage of a whole generation of young men. Her response was to promote a Mother’s Day for Peace, which we are celebrating today.
She saw some of the worst effects of the war -- not only the death and disease which killed and maimed the soldiers. She worked with the widows and orphans of soldiers on both sides of the war, and realized that the effects of the war go beyond the killing of soldiers in battle. She also saw the economic devastation of the Civil War, the economic crises that followed the war, the restructuring of the economies of both North and South.

In 1870, Julia Ward Howe took on a new issue and a new cause. Distressed by her experience of the realities of war, determined that peace was one of the two most important causes of the world (the other being equality in its many forms) and seeing war arise again in the world in the Franco-Prussian War, she called in 1870 for women to rise up and oppose war in all its forms. She wanted women to come together across national lines, to recognize what we hold in common above what divides us, and commit to finding peaceful resolutions to conflicts. She issued a Declaration, hoping to gather together women in a congress of action.
How can we celebrate life, as exemplified through motherhood, without demanding an end to bloodshed? How many mothers today will sit in sorrow because their brave soldier children will not be home? How many will cry because our recent wars have killed their offspring, or because their adult children came back from Iraq damaged and disabled? How many mothers are serving overseas that can’t connect with their kids at home: Too many.

Remember today as a Day of Peace. Hug your mother, or cherish her memory, look upon your daughters and see the future mommies they may become. Work for a world there mothers can celebrate their day in a peaceful world with their kids, grandkids and all loved ones. And send a prayer of support to mothers whose day will not be so wonderful.

Friday, May 12, 2006
On this day:

Non-Issue Number Ninety-nine

The Blogocube is buzzing about the NSA and phone call data mining. WaPo is cinflicting itself with two articles: Most American support NSA, which Maven Malkin has run away with; and a tirade about our Favorite Shrubbery doing what he does best – Lying. ABC News confirms WaPo’s findings, whil USAToday tries to play on our fears of Big Brother.

So what else is new?

The Dems are chasing another Red Herring ostensibly acting in the best interests of POTUS but really stoking the few bonfires of extremism which already burn uncontrollably. And the news maching grinds on doing what it does best: sensationalizing. My take: This is yet another non-issue

If you’re rooting for a Democratic sweep this autumn, don’t hold your breath or put money down on it. That kind of upset only happens in fiction, or in a just and beneficent world; ours is neither. But there is hope…

What will take out the republican majority is the Republican majority. In a word – Hubris will be their downfall. It’s already begun. The damage has been noted, and the tally will be counted nest November. Anything between now and then is posturing, therefore nothing to be concerned with. The lines are drawn, the cards dealt, ad nausea, and time will indeed tell.

Thursday, May 11, 2006
On this day:

Pondering the Practicality of Peace

“Peace is unpractical”

These words have ricocheted inside my scull for several weeks, now. In context, I was speaking to my supervisor, who is a nice enough gent to have offered to take me out to breakfast that day. He has a tendency toward pontification, but since his views are thoughtful, I don’t mind. I can’t recall the actual drift of our conversation. It had something to do with an aspect of my new position I was struggling with, something involving human interactions no doubt, and I said, “I’m just looking for some peace.”

I meant it both in relation to workplace interactions and as a metaphysical observation. My boss understood this. Yet his answer, quoted above, threw me. It illuminated just how two white guys, both middle-aged, both from middle class homes, can develop diametrically opposed world views. I thought, “How could he think that?”  Then I started a mental list of how different we were: City-born v. rural bred; the fifteen years age differential; His Baptist College education and my failed inter-City University trials; His All-American sports background, and my wannabe-rock star, burnout-pothead roots. It occurred to me how little we know about the people with which we interact, especially the seemingly random personalities encountered on the job.

Peace is anything but impractical. His thinking so helps me to understand just how our nation got into a war in the first place, not to mention two of them. If a majority of Americans believed as does my boss, then retribution for the twin towers would logically follow, as would any other target our government seemed fit to attack, as long as the move occurred while our collective blood still boiled. That is exactly how things played out, as I recall. War never solves problems; it only creates more. If I remember right, Osama was reacting to how America acted in Afghanistan during the cold war in order to thwart Russia. His hatred for us stemmed from one war, and ultimately resolved into another one. How is that practical? Of course, I’m not condoning his actions, but neither do I overlook America’s part leading up to September 11 or following after.

Aggressive policies don’t work. At best, any form of aggression risks reprisal; at worst, it can create chain reaction of unwanted, unexpected outcomes. Can you say: Polytrauma?

Speaking of unintended consequences, the cold war effectively bankrupts the USSR, causing a resurgence of Democracy in the fractured political landscape. Never did I overhear any pundit of the times expressing how such was the intention of our frosty aggressions. The war in Iraq is likely to bankrupt America unless we can extricate ourselves soon. I believe that to be a similarly unanticipated result. Fiscal responsibility notwithstanding, our president’s falling poll numbers is surely unintended, and just as surely a direct result of this war. I ask any readers – feel free to leave a comment – what positive outcome has resulted from our invasion of Iraq?

Peace, on the other hand, is preferable. Can anyone deny this? Again – leave a comment. When has a lasting peace resulted in negative consequences? To live in harmony with our neighbors down the street and across the ocean, is a common prayer of every religion, a common hope of most of humanity. Why can we not accomplish this? Any nation that can rise from the ashes of the Great Depression and fly to the moon in less than forty years should be able to accomplish a lasting peace if it wanted one.

That last thought gives rise to new territory… I must ponder if America really wants peace. I’ll leave that for another posting. For now, I’ll close with the observation that I would prefer to be impractical if it saves lives.

An American Dynasty in the Making

I swear this planet has somehow slipped into the Twilight Zone, or something. The Washington Post reports Prince George the Destructive is prepping his brainwashed legions for – are you sitting down? - For Jeb Bush to make a run at the presidency.

I’ll let that sink in a bit…

We need this, don’t we? Somehow, we need another Bush in the White House to complete the destruction started by his father, and accelerated by George the Second. In Christian terms, we must be atoning for one helluva mongo sin to be inflicted with a third Bush presidency. I can’t begin to think what we did to deserve that!

To take a different tack, our Karmic debt must be so huge as to require cataclysmic (dare I say Apocalyptic) amounts of suffering to occur to cleanse us. If that is the case, I doubt humanity will survive.

I am not exaggerating!

How can four or (shudder) eight more years of astronomical debts, needless wars, testosterone-inspired foreign policy (Bring ‘Em On!), and rewards for the richest – damn the poor economic theories be good for America? “Let’s just cut education and force unemployable young people to be soldiers, dissolve social security so the old ones die off quick. There’s still lots of targets out there. God Bless Planet America!”

Wednesday, May 10, 2006
On this day:

Dollars and Nonsense

Does anyone comprehend the enormous amounts of money involved in the federal government? Specific program price tags measured in millions, deficit numbers measured in billions, wartime spending measured in trillions… The other day I heard that our national debt is reaching $100,000,000,000,000. That’s 14 zeros, folks: one hundred trillion dollars. Can you wrap your mind around that number?

Today’s Washington Post has the lowdown on the new federal budget as well as graphics for the budget conscious: Spending Categories; Receipts and Outlays; Deficit Projections; and Budget Cuts. Predictable, I am drawn to the budget cuts, as this is easier for my under-educated mind to grasp. As a former victim of Chicago Public Schools, I understand intimately how under-funding public schools can predispose a life for decades. True to course, Education is again trimmed, to the tune of over $4 billion. Hardest hit is the High School program which stands to loose just under half the total educational funding cuts this time around. It’s interesting to note that all of the 2005 fiscal money is being eliminated for the High Schools. Higher education programs have been hit, too.

Here I refrain from a quip about teenagers without either college or employment prospects being eminently suitable for the military. But I didn’t say that…

In the Major Reductions category, the Agriculture Department is taking a pounding. Programs like Rural Business Investments and Rural Firefighter Grants get trimmed. This puts in mind a recent complaint from my rural republican friends about how too much state money is going to projects in Chicago instead of “downstate” (which in Illinois means anywhere else). Looking at the agriculture numbers, I see a Reagan-esque trickle down effect in action. Food is just not in the priorities of our government these days.

Scrolling down the list of DoA reductions, I note the Renewable Energy category is loosing all of 2005’s $23 million. Conservation options get skimmed. The EPA, along with specific programs such as Farmland Protection, Conservation Operations, Wildlife Habitat Incentives, and Forest Service Fire Management get hit.

I could go on all night. The list is incontrovertible evidence of the priorities of an embattled presidency and a nervous congress. The real question is: How much do these numbers reflect your priorities. Lest we forget, the Washington Elite Society is supposed to be invested with our interests in the forefront of their decision making. As the voting season approaches, ask yourself if your interests are being served, or if a change is in the political climate.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
On this day:

How to Annoy a Righty Without Even Trying

I tried to compile a comprehensive list in service to the title of this entry, but there are only two things one needs to do:

Think for ones self.

Express those thought in a public manner.

That’s it! In the convoluted reasoning of the Conservative mind (is that an oxymoron?), comma, anyone not agreeable to the Republican agenda should either (a) become a political activist, or (b) forget the whole thing!

Now, I agree with the A-part. One should get out and canvas – that is if one wants to forgo responsibilities necessary to keeping one’s house, one’s kids in school, one’s job. The nasty thing is that the system we live in is skewed against the average person actively taking part in politics. Especially if that person has come into the whole political-awareness thingy later in life, has made some important and irrevocable decisions which affect how limited resources such as time and money are allocated. If every Joe would be able to affect politics directly, we would have no use for a professional political caste. Indeed, we might actually have a real democracy, which does not favor the incumbent party one bit: they’re not called “Republicans” for nothing…

But I digress.

The other choice, offered to me-and-mine by a good friend (who apparently hates my bloggings), is to emulate an ostrich. Wouldn’t that be convenient for the many-tiered aggregation of chicken-hawkishness who so favor the elimination of all independent thought: Just go away!  Give up without a fight, without a voice; allow the unholy war to swallow your children and spit them out into black plastic bags (my greatest fear is for our misguided leadership to start another war – say, in Iran – and decide to reinstitute the draft just in time for my high-school-aged daughter to be swept up in the insanity and destroyed); forget entirely that the single thing that once made this country great – open political dialogue – is being stifled by the Archie Bunker clones of the neo-conservative, warhappy movement. And most of them are as guilty of armchair, couch-potato politics as I am.

To my good friend, Leucanthemum: I truly grieve that our polarity is influencing our hard-won friendship. However, I’ll be damned if your insistence on my getting some therapy will impress me in any other way than to incite my muse. Thank you for that.

Sunday, May 07, 2006
On this day:

Integrity, Anywhere

Via my (perhaps only) right-minded friend, Leucanthemum, via Instapundit (and many others, it seems), I discover a well-meaning and arguably necessary attempt at decorum for the wild, wild, ‘net: Online Integrity.

A tendency for an “anything goes” attitude has always existed in the blog-o-cube, which during its beginning was perhaps a harmless byproduct of experimentation within the new media. Lately however, real harm can occur as more people of various temperaments respond to the blogs they favor. Some have seen the writing on the monitors and a counterpoint is created to temper the irrational and impulse-impaired within our society.

I heartily endorse any effort to remind people that civilization exists because certain rules governing human interaction is assumed by all. Sometime is it necessary to re-codify these rules in new contexts. I wish them luck.

Tread Cautiously

Confident, cocky, lazy, dead.

This is a term I gleaned from a science fiction series from my favorite authors, Tad Williams. In the novels this was the mantra, if you will, of the baddie. As an expression of a natural progression of human thought, I find it concise and lucid in its simplicity.

This phrase comes to mind as I read an article in the Washington Post regarding the Democrats current air of confidence and their alleged plans if they win back their majority. Seeing as this is the Post, the article is probably a subliminal call to arms for its Republican readership, as in: “Bad things are going to happen if you don’t turn out en masse next November.”

A couple grains of salt may be needed here. First, I am not all sure how confident my party-of-choice is, although I have no illusions about the propensity of some members to talk stupid, tough talk. Second, I am not sure that if the Dems win their prize, I doubt they are cohesive enough to affect any change, given their predilection toward infighting. As for immediate sweeping rollbacks of the Republican agenda – in their collective dreams!

As the leading phrase illustrates: confidence leads to cockiness; cockiness give way to laziness; laziness, in the context of dangerous situations – as this upcoming election surely is to many career politicians of both camps - will lead to death. If I might pretend that anyone in congress would listen to a puny blogger like me, I would give words of advice:

Tread Cautiously…

Friday, May 05, 2006
On this day:

In Search of Muse

It’s finally Friday night, after a grueling work week. I sup with the family before they go out to the high school in support of artistic endeavors. I remain at my monitors scrounging the ‘net for a hint of my muse - as usual.

A couple of weeks have passed since I last clicked on the Blogsnow link on my Firefox  toolbar. Scrolling down the list of today’s hot topics, I ignore references to Michele Malkin’s latest tirade (no, I won’t link to her) on Patrick Kennedy’s traffic accident and subsequent lame excuse, or to comments on the sudden resignation of CIA’s Porter Goss (nice name…), or how Bill Gates wishes he weren’t so rich.

Instead, I rest my weary brain on a film hosted on YouTube based on a story I read in the late and lamented OMNI magazine many years back: They’re Made of Meat. Then I find a rebroadcast of the Pearl Jam mini concert hosted by Dave Letterman on Innertube. Almost an hour of intense rock later, I stumble upon the Blue Marble to find great picture of the only treasure that matters, which too many of us take for granted: Earth. Kind of puts in mind the tune Pearl Jam opened with – Worldwide Suicide.

I didn’t find my muse, though. Or did I?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006
On this day:

Band Wagon Brigade

Illinois is getting on the impeachment bandwagon! State Rep. Karen Yarbrough has, per rules outlined by Thomas Jefferson that allow a state legislature to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president, submitted such a bill to the Illinois Legislature - HJR0125.  17 State Reps are now co-sponsors.

Read the full text.

If you live in Illinois, why not lend your name to this petition sponsored by Illinois coalition for Peace & Justice calling to impeachment. Or maybe write to you stale Senator or Representative urging them to get with the program. If you don’t know them, find out at Project Vote Smart. If you live elsewhere, perhaps you could nudge your state legislature to start their own impeachment vote. Let’s get this wagon rolling!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006
On this day:

Let's Bomb Iran!

More fun that the news today:

From Atom Films comes a remake of a classic, destined to become a classic itself!
You'll be humming it, too. Watch it here.

Monday, May 01, 2006
On this day:

Ticking Off People as the Clock Ticks Down

In light of today’s Immigrant Walkout across the nation, I ponder the legacy of the Bush Administration. I must say, our president is doing so much to ensure a larger voter turn-out in the next election than any other person I can think of…

Kudos to you, sir! The list of people you’ve angered – sometimes repeatedly – is growing at an exponential pace. With less that one thousand days left in office, it is conceivable that you can alienate everyone before you give up the Oval Office without breaking a sweat.

Here’s a list of the people President Bush has angered during his tenure:

  • Education professionals by mandating a testing regimen without adequate funding which punishes the schools and administrators for being unable to meet arbitrary standards because of under funding. Many good teachers and administrators lost their jobs because No Child Left Behind never had money to back up the initiative with comprehensive support across the board.

  • Senior citizens who have believed for their entire working careers that the government would help them in their retirement through Medicare and Medicaid, only to find a confusing and inadequate restructuring of the programs.

  • The entire State of Louisiana.

  • Environmental-minded citizens who believe there should be a clean, healthy place for their children’s children to live, who have been cringing every time an attempt is made to roll back clean air and –water policies in favor of the polluters, or attempts at selling national treasures to the wealthy for vacation home property.

  • Thousands of families tragically touched by death and maiming as a direct result of warfare.

  • Gays, Lesbian, bi-sexual and Trans-gendered people, unduly persecuted because they believe in living differently than others, and because they’re not afraid to express themselves openly.

  • Proponents of abortion.

  • People of non-Christian faiths for creating an exclusionary “Faith-Based Initiative” favoring Christian charities and organizations at the expense of other helpful religious benefactors.

  • People who would rather our armed forces be used to alleviate the suffering of poor Nigerians, instead of  being used to force regime change in an oil-rich nation that doesn’t want our type of government.

  • Indigenous Americans who tried to create a better life for their people by working within the faulty system of government only to be betrayed yet again by greed and callousness.

  • Anyone who calls himself a Democrat, Libertarian, or Progressive, or anyone who believes in accountability in government.

  • Muslims throughout the world.

  • Over 70% of the citizens of New York City who haven’t heard a satisfactory explanation for the September 11 tragedy, who were lied to about the resulting air quality after millions of tons of concrete becoming particulate matter, as well as many throughout the nation who are beginning to suspect foul play on that fateful day.

  • Neither people who believe a family’s private medical decisions should not be used for political purposes, nor become fodder for news outlets worldwide because of a few scheming politicians.

  • Anyone who still holds ethical standards regarding conduct in public offices.

I’m sure the list is longer than this, But my point is made. Feel free to pipe in, my three readers, if I’ve missed something.