29 October 2006

Fooling All of the People Some of the Time

On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles directed the Mercury Theatre on the Air in a dramatization of “War of the Worlds,” based on the H. G. Wells novel. Welles set the events in then-contemporary locations (the landing spot for the Martian invasion, Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, was chosen at random with a New Jersey road map) and dramatized it in the style of a musical program interrupted by news bulletins, complete with eye-witness accounts.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars…”

War of the Worlds and the art of public deception

People are always terrified of what they don't understand. The more foreign and dangerous you can make something sound, the more terrified they will become. For the sake of an imaginary fear our President has ordered the slaughter of thousands, destroyed homes, and taken unto himself powers that should only reside with the people and their representatives in Congress.

In a few days, we get to decide if we want to go on being terrorized or take back the decision making and freedoms that belong to We The People.

21 October 2006

In The Beginning

How did you begin? If you were going to write the story of your life, what would be the first sentence or two? What is the something that would keep the reader going just to see what happened.

My parents are in the picture on the left. The year is 1943. That lump their arms are resting on is me. My autobiography would start:

There is an advantage to being the child of two black sheep. No matter what you do, people are always surprised you turned out as well as you did.

Okay, It's your turn ... start your lives. Questions may be asked by others, feel free to tell as much or as little as you like.

20 October 2006

Tillman Legacy

Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written a powerful, must-read document.

It is Pat's birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice... until we get out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice: Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can't be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few "bad apples" in the military. Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet.

It's interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat. ... Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don't be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that "somehow" was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites. Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat's birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,
Kevin Tillman

17 October 2006

They Signed It

In order of signing
these patriots signed the Constitution of the United States

George Washington Virginia
George Read Delaware
Gunning Bedford, Jr. Delaware
John Dickinson Delaware
Richard Bassett Delaware
Jacob Broom Delaware
James McHenry Maryland
Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Maryland
Daniel Carroll Maryland
John Blair Virginia
James Madison Jr. Virginia
William Blount North Carolina
Richard Dobbs Spaight North Carolina
Hugh Williamson North Carolina
John Rutledge South Carolina
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney South Carolina
Charles Pinckney South Carolina
Pierce Butler South Carolina
William Few Georgia
Abraham Baldwin Georgia
John Langdon New Hampshire
Nicholas Gilman New Hampshire
Nathaniel Gorham Massachusetts
Rufus King Massachusetts
William Samuel Johnson Connecticut
Roger Sherman Connecticut
Alexander Hamilton New York
William Livingston New Jersey
David Brearly New Jersey
William Paterson New Jersey
Jonathan Dayton New Jersey
Benjamin Franklin Pennsylvania
Thomas Mifflin Pennsylvania
Robert Morris Pennsylvania
George Clymer Pennsylvania
Thomas Fitzsimons Pennsylvania
Jared Ingersoll Pennsylvania
James Wilson Pennsylvania
Gouverneur Morris Pennsylvania
On October 17, 2006
George Bush destroyed it

Please add your own expressions to the comments. I will forward them to the first politician I can find who seems to give a damn.

Is a Puzzlement

Awhile back I confessed that I can't stand to leave a question unanswered until the mania passes. Yesterday in preparation for today is a classic example. It started with noting that October 21 is the anniversary of Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson. How you can get from there to the King and I, politics and Budhism is the perfect example a gypsy brain on adrenalin making word associations.

Thinking about the anniversary led to the paintings of William Turner and the argument as to whether Nelson said, Kismet Hardy or Kiss Me Hardy. Either way, Nelson was dead, so the following by Robert Lewis Stevenson was appropriate:

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you ‘grave for me:
Here he lies where he long’d to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

From there you make the leap to the story of why Stevenson died in Samoa, the lyrics to Rule Britania for a sing along at your neighborhood pub, the nature of leadership with Shakespeare's St. Crispin's Day speech which was an entirely different war. From there to another time and another tormented ruler, King Monghut, who was first featured in a somewhat embroidered history by Anna Leonowens to support her children that then became Anna and the King of Siam and finally resulted in "The King and I" with Yul Brynner lamenting a truism on the nature of politics:

A Puzzlement

Shall I join with other nations in alliance?
If allies are weak, am I not best alone?
If allies are strong with power to protect me,
Might they not protect me out of all I own?

Is a danger to be trusting one another,
One will seldom want to do what other wishes;
But unless someday somebody trust somebody
There'll be nothing left on earth excepting fishes!

The curiosity chain is still running to Budha, Samoa, the Battle of Britain, Sink the Bismark ... o never mind, you go do something useful, I'm busy. :-)

15 October 2006

Car Expert Required

Dating family photographs that someone has left behind can be difficult. One of the ways to do this is to analyze items in the picture. In these four cases, there are four automobiles: Two old and two new.

If someone can take a look at these images and give the the make and year of the vehicles it would be a big help.

13 October 2006

Prices To Pay

Dr. Who may be good, but you hardly expect it to be the source of great truths. Last week's show when he had to make it clear to his current companion that she would age, but he wouldn't, said something that has been said often before almost to the point of being an overused cliche, but it said it so simply that it leapt off the screen

Some Things Are Worth Getting Your Heart Broken

What that something might be is different for every human being. It is up to you to decide how high a price you are willing to pay for the emotional decisions of your life. The final line to "The Dance" by Garth Brooks says exactly the same thing:

I could have missed the pain but I'd of had to miss the dance
Leave it to a woman to state the corollary of this universal truth. K. T. Oslin's "Dr. Dr." states the wisely rueful:
How many times can a heart be broken
Before it refuses to mend
Will it give out suddenly with no warning?
Tell me how many loves have I got left?
Today's question. Has your heart been broken? More than once? Will you risk it again or have you run out of love?

11 October 2006

Falling In Love With Love

These photos don't begin to express the magic of LOVE, the newest Cirque du Soleil show at the Mirage in Vegas. From the time it starts until it ends it is non-stop images: Some exciting such as "Revolution", others funny such as Blackbird, and most of the time just beautiful as when you get swept away with "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds".
Throughout the show, the audience is involved at several points from pulling a curtain to cover the audience to the end number where you are on your feet singing "All You Need Is Love".
When you combine those images with Beatles music and the story of the history of their music, the show becomes a very personal experience, particularly for those of a certain age who can mark the moments of their lives with a Beatles song.
I will keep the instructions simple: If you are going to Vegas, beg, borrow, steal, sell the first born, but go see LOVE.

03 October 2006

Playing The Odds

When something as tragic as the shootings of the Amish girls takes place, it is very easy to enter in to a state of fear for yourself or your loved ones. While sympathy for those who have lost so much is in order, don't let these events seduce you into thinking you are in danger.

On average there are approximately 167,000 deaths due to external causes or about 7% of the total deaths in the country. This figure has been out of line for the past few years due to military deaths, but it is a safe number to use for citizens located in the United States. The majority of these are related to automobile, drownings and other accidents.

Non Accidental deaths

About 31,484 are due to suicide;
Undetermined causes account for another 5,072;
Only 17,732 are directly due to assault of some kind including all weapons.

(This statistic includes gang warfare, self defense shootings and criminals killed by police).

No matter how bad the 24 hour a day news stations may make it seem, you really are safe out there.

02 October 2006

So It Won't Happen Again

Usually you have a hope that members of Congress despite the Washington bubble have some small connection to the real world and then something happens that gives you two choices.

They are dumber than dirt
They are truly malevolent and power is more important than what is right.

The latest example is this matter with Congressman Foley and the fact that knowledge of his emails has been known for over a year. The plea by senior members is that the first batch of emails "weren't that bad" and that they "counseled him". For (expletive deleted) sake!!! Information about the profile of a pedophile has been available for years. At the very least, the suspicion was enough for an investigation.
So heads up. The following list is from Tammy L. Ruggles, BSW, MA.

There is no hard and fast profile of a pedophile, but here are some general characteristics:

· Popular with both children and adults.

· Appears to be trustworthy and respectable. Has good standing in the community.

· Prefers the company of children. Feels more comfortable with children than adults. Is mainly attracted to prepubescent boys and girls. Can be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.

· "Grooms" children with quality time, video games, parties, candy, toys, gifts, money.

· Singles out children who seem troubled and in need of attention or affection.

· Often dates or marries women with children that are the age of his preferred victims.

· Rarely forces or coerces a child into sexual contact. Usually through trust and friendship. Physical contact is gradual, from touching, to picking up, to holding on lap, to kissing, etc.

· Derives gratification in a number of ways. For some, looking is enough. For others, taking pictures or watching children undress is enough. Still others require more contact.

· Finds different ways and places to be alone with children.

· Are primarily (but not always) male, masculine, better-educated, more religious than average, in their thirties, and choose jobs allowing them greater access to children.

· Are usually family men, have no criminal record, and deny that they abuse children, even after caught, convicted, incarcerated, and court-ordered into a sex offender program. The marriage is often troubled by sexual dysfunction, and serves as a smokescreen for the pedophile's true preferences and practices.

· Are often, but not always, themselves victims of some form of childhood sexual abuse.

· Even if the pedophile has no children, his home is usually child-friendly, with toys, books, video games, computers, bikes, swing sets, skateboards, rec room, pool, snacks - things to attract children to his home and keep them coming back. Usually the items reflect the preferred age of his victims.

· A female pedophile usually abuses a child when partnered with an adult male pedophile, and is often herself a victim of chronic sexual abuse.

· A pedophile can act independently, or be involved in an organized ring, including the Internet, Some pedophiles recognize that their behavior is criminal, immoral, and unacceptable by society, and operate in secrecy. Some are quite open and militant about their practices and advocate the normalization of pedophilia under the guise of freedom of speech and press.