Friday, December 24, 2004

Every year sometime around the winter solstice, a jolly old elf loads up his new ride with gifts for all the worlds people. Nope, not just the kids, but everyone on the planet. Now there are all kinds of myths about what goes on that night, and many of the worlds adults gang up on the world's children and try to get them to believe, with all their hearts, in something that just ain't so! That's why I'm going to break the code of silence and tell you about what really happens...Sanity Claus comes to all those who have been good this year.

Somewhere in a place far from the evil corrupting influences of Faux News, Sanity Claus studies the state of the world, makes his list, and readies his craft (Sanity don't do the reindeer thing, silly!) for the yearly whirlwind trip across the globe, spreading peace and love and...yes, sanity!

Of course this is a problem for all those parents who've been lying to their kids all these years but Sanity Claus don't care. Sanity Claus spreads the loving message to one and all to tell the truth, take a deep breath, and go on from there.

Now this year, Sanity has these things to tell us, so listen my children because...well, just because all these things are touched by Sanity:

First of all, Christmas itself is a big fib. It's OK though, because originally it was the Winter Solstice festival of a pagan goddess so everyone could know the cold weather would end eventually and you might as well spend some quality time drinking and singing and giving some of your good stuff away, in one form or another. This part still works for Sanity Claus. Have some fun, why don'cha? Call it whatever you like, and don't sweat the small stuff...Sanity don't!

If you give money to a charity that spends the money in Walmart, they will spend the money in Walmart...This is partly good because it keeps the little children in China working in factories instead of brothels near Beijing, but can't we do better than this?

There is only one present that a human can give to everyone else on the planet...Do something nice for the environment. All the other charities are short term solutions, but you can pick one and do something, anyway. It will make you feel good in the short term but you may run out of air...really!

Critical thinking must be taught in school because it will never be taught in church. This is the only real reason for separation of church and state. Sanity thinks it should be enough.

Evolution is a fact. How it happened is the theory. Sanity got nothing nice to say about creation...Ism or Ists. Anybody who is afraid to find out they are wrong, ain't got a place in Sanity's alternative fueled ride.

There is more truth in a bucket of topsoil in the forest, than in all the books man claims were inspired by a divinity, thank god.

It is impossible for a Conservative to even conceptualize peace on earth, good will toward men, or a balanced federal budget. Ask one and see for yourself how wise Sanity is about things like this.

My business is my business until it messes with your business, whereupon it becomes our business, and then we will negotiate. Until that point, Sanity says to stay out of my business. This is the rough concept behind the Freedom of Choice movement. Conservatives think you have no business having your own business, since it is all supposed to be their business, which is the rough concept behind the Pro-life movement...this, of course, is the same concept that lets Conservatives kill people who disagree with them, without having pangs of conscience after they pray for god to have mercy on the poor victim's soul.

It is not OK to torture people. Sanity doesn't know why this is such a hard concept. There are no degrees of torture, by the are either causing pain or you're not. Sanity doesn't think having someone else do it for you gets you off the hook, either.

Your American Flag decal, still won't get you into heaven. Even if it is next to that ribbon thingie on your bumper that is supposed to say you support the troops who are torturing people for America. If you really want to support them, get on your congressman's ass to bring them home. They really aren't accomplishing much over there, now are they?

Only girl reindeer have antlers this time of year. That other guy's sleigh is pulled by women. This isn't necessarily a Sanity thing until you look at it metaphorically and realize that everybody's sleigh is pulled by women. Sanity thinks about this everytime he fires up his ride, 'cause Sanity knows its True, Dat.

So now you know a little bit more about what's fact and what ain't. If that's so, then old Sanity Claus done been part way to your house, but remember that Sanity is a work in progress and there's a bunch of work to be done, yet. Sanity could use some help, so he asks you to light a candle in the dark of someone's mind this season. You can do it by just remembering that:

Nobody's perfect. Love the good in folks, but put your arm around them and tell them they are full of it when they are full of it. Sanity requires it in the long run.

And one other thing:

If you're gonna leave something for old Sanity on Xmas night, a nice single malt Scotch is much better than a glass of milk and a stupid cookie. La Phroig will do nicely and goes well with a rich dark bit of Swiss chocolate although German works too, in Sanity's opinion. Don't trouble yourself with pouring anything into a snifter, or anything, just leave the bottle where it will be noticed, for Sanity's sake.

Peace, and may Sanity come to your house this year!


Here is the best piece on Conservatism I've run across in a long long time.

The short version:

Q: What is conservatism?

A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?

A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

Now go and read the long version. I suggest you print it out and read it in short sittings.

All about Conservativism

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I'll work on posting photos but for now, you have to follow the link.

This fine young corn (and big mac) fed beauty from Kentucky is the latest heroine for free speech. She is suing her high school for refusing to let her in to the school prom because of her dress, and yes, she does look a little like Jenna Bush, if a little heavy on the binge and light on the purge. What do you think?

red dress baby

I'm conflicted on this one. Sure it's a Confederate flag, but speech is free and frankly the flag doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. It is a stupid symbol of a stupid time in America, to some, and a historical symbol of the southern states to others. Too bad it got adopted by racists. Same thing for a wonderful song of my childhood. From memory, here are the words to Dixie:

Well I wish I were in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten,
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

In Dixie Land where I was born in,
early on one frosty mornin'
Look away....

Well I wish I were in Dixie, Hooray, Hooray,
In Dixie Land I'll take my stand,
To live and die in Dixie.
Away, away, away down South in Dixie...

Well scratch that ground and hoe that gravel,
To Dixie Land I'm bound to travel,
Look away...

There's buckwheat cakes and Injun batter,
Makes you fat, a little fatter,
Look away, Look away, Look away,
Dixie Land.


Now I know that these are not the original words to Dixie! There's no way a black minstrel band in a New Orleans Brothel knew about perfect and pluperfect tense, So some editing had occurred before the song got published in my grade school music book.

Even so, I ask you if there is anything in these words that offends anyone? Now let's look at the other song in the great conflict, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, which was also published in my gradeschool music book. Just a few excerpts for brevity's sake. I believe I can make my point:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on.

That, of course was the first verse. We can skip the grammaticly atrocious second verse and take solace in the grace of a loving and forgiving god in the third:

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnish`d rows of steel,
"As ye deal with my contemners, So with you my grace shall deal;"
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel
Since God is marching on.

And in the last verse, the punch line:

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,

So there you have it, an early neo-conservative hit piece set to music. This is why we are in Iraq:

We are good, they are bad, god want's us to kill them!

Oddly, the author, Julia Ward Howe was definitely not a conservative, merely a Yankee.

Here's the deal: I have searched the words attributed to Christ and not one place can I find where he wanted us to kill people for god, no matter what they did. But Julia Ward Howe says very plainly that soldiers for the North were going to be rewarded by god for killing Southerners. She depicts a very pissed off god. A killing god. This illustrates the biggest lie told by conservatives as they hold the banner of Jesus high above their heads as they quote from the old testament. Much of Jesus's teachings contradicted the Old testament. I don't think he liked Mosaic Law, because danged ner everything was a killin' offense. You could get stoned to death for improperly cooking a baby goat, for god's sake. When confronted with an obvious case of a capital offense, Jesus resorted to complcated legal maneuvering to get the perpetrator off with a mere scolding.

Julia, on the other hand says god wants them dead! Kill and be blessed! Good song, eh? Old Testament virtue in action against slavery, but wait just a gol danged minute! Julia sings about dying for god's truth and killing people that are against god's truth, and that war was about killing people who thought it was ok to keep slaves, and guess what:

The Old Testament says it's perfectly fine to keep slaves as long as they are from other countries and not your own.

It wasn't until we got to the new testament that killing and slavery both got called into question, but I diverge from the real point of today's rant:

Somehow in America, it has become bad to sing a song about the South that says nothing bad about any body, says absolutely nothing about hurting anybody, talks only about earning a living by working the ground and enjoying the fruits of one's labor with a good breakfast.

Somehow in America it has become good to sing a song that says Jesus wants us to kill people and maybe die in the process.

Well scratch that groun' an' hoe dat grabble... I don't think so!

I will bet you a buckwheat pancake that the person most likely to sing the Battle Hymn, right now today, is a bigot conservative southern baptist who hasn't the slightest idea that Julia Ward Howe was a Unitarian, which is like being an atheist to a Southern Baptist, and a feminist, which is much worse to a Southern Baptist. How she came to write the Battle Hymn is beyond me, but she did. Her other noteworthy contributions involve earning women the right to vote and pushing for Mother's day to be a national holiday.

So while my head spins at all these contradictions, I come around to a couple of thoughts that coalesce out of the fog caused by eating too much pound cake last night.

If Jaqueline Duty wants to wear her dress at the school prom because she's a bigot, or just a proud southern dumplin, it's OK with me, as long as she's polite and behaves herself.

Speech gotta be free, even stoopid speech. The dress ain't bad, actually, and is rather tastefully done, as racist statements go.

Conservatives ought to be required to write an essay about transposing biblical laws from one testament context to another and exactly which judaic laws Jesus ruled inadmissable, before they can say anything about the Battle Hymn being barred from school because it is a christian hymn and the constitution should be changed to allow it.

If we can listen to the Battle Hymn of the Republic in public, with no outrage, then we should be able to play and sing Dixie. The Battle Hymn has a schmaltzy tune and no banjo part, anyway, and have you ever tried dancing to it? As an anthem for millions of Americans to slay and dismember each other we could have done better.

If both sides had stopped killing each other for a few minutes and joned in singing a few rounds of Dixie instead, Maybe they would have thought about being back home and stopped that whole stupid war. A fantasy of course, but it's a good thought.



Huh? Did I miss this exchange in President Bush's Press conference? I must have dozed off:

QUESTION: I’d like to go back to Secretary Rumsfeld. You talked about the big-picture elements of the secretary’s job, but did you find it offensive that he didn’t take the time to personally sign condolence letters to the families of troops killed in Iraq? And if so, why is that an offense that you’re willing to overlook?

BUSH: Listen, I know how– I know Secretary Rumsfeld’s heart. I know how much he cares for the troops. And I also know this. No one knows what it’s like to be to the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes. No one knows what it’s like to be hated, to be fated to telling only lies. But Secretary Rumsfeld’s dreams– they aren’t as empty as his conscience seems to be. I have heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm’s way. And he’s a good, decent man. He’s a caring fellow.

QUESTION: Exactly how caring can he be, if he’s not even signing condolence letters and he’s never admitted making a single mistake with regard to this fraudulent and obviously worse-than-counterproductive war?

BUSH: Listen– let me finish! and get that wire out of my back, goddammit!– no one knows what it’s like to feel these feelings like Secretary Rumsfeld does. No one bites back as hard on their anger– none of his pain and woe can show through. But, as I said before, the Secretary’s dreams are not as empty as his conscience seems to be. He has hours, only lonely. His love is vengeance that’s never free. And no, I don’t really know what that last sentence means, and as I said before, I’m not going to negotiate with myself about it. Or with you– it wouldn’t be right, it’s not the holiday spirit. Thank you very much.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Boy, my head has been buzzing this morning!

We are in the middle of indoor soccer season and just getting the High School team started up for the season. It's funny how the goals of sports teams can get so screwed up if you aren't careful. Coach's want a winning record, some parents won't be happy until the team is champion of the world, and their kid plays all the time, and then some of us want unrealistic things like:

Our kids playing in a team sport environment, wearing their school colors, working together, getting fit, winning some, losing some, and having fun.

How stoopid is that?

What were we thinking when we signed up to be the booster club folks, eh? Actually, most everybody is a lot of fun and buys in to the mission. There are always challenges.

Last night we were on our way to a soccer game and my son got a call on his cell phone:

"A girl has been shot at the basketball game" was the first report...A freshman girl...Then it was a boy and a girl....then we had names...and then we had the word that they were both shot in the leg and were ok except for, well, being shot in the leg.

Some of you will know the people involved and learn the gory details... turns out the boy had a gun and had it out in the car and it went off, somehow...We all have theories. Having a weapon in a school parking lot is a Federal offense, and this boy is in trouble. I will leave that story line for the future and turn to the one that concerns me.

Yesterday, our youngest son turned sixteen, and was supposed to get his driver's license, but we messed up and did not get his birth certificate out of the safe deposit box in time. He was sooooo mad at us, and rightly so. He has done everything right to deserve the privilege. Our bad!

The plan was for him to get his license and then be allowed to drive himself to the basketball game which was in the next town, only a mile or two from where we would be at the soccer game with his older brother. We messed up and he stayed home by himself to watch tv...on his birthday. We have to make it up, somehow, but think about this:

If everything had gone as planned, he would have gone out on his first night by himself, to that basketball game. Then we would have gotten a call saying a kid had been the game out child was supposed to be at...sure we trust him but???

There would have been one of those moments when a parent's heart stops for just a cosmic instant... Please, not _____!

We can not explain these moments to our children. They don't understand. We didn't. Not until we had our own children did we come to grips with the moments of agony that we must have sent our moms and dads reeling through. Sorry, Mom. I understand now. Even though you've been gone for more than ten years now, I apologize to you in my heart, for those moments I paralyzed yours.

Yesterday one of your grandchildren turned 16. You and he were born on the same date, and I remember calling you on the phone in the delivery room, 16 years ago, to wish you happy birthday and tell you that you had a new grandchild, being unable to speak...and after an awkward moment of silence, holding the phone down to the red face of my newborn son and handing over the duty...letting him squall the most primeval of all birthday songs, the announcement to the world that the next generation of Scarboroughs is here to cause moments of great joy and moments of wrenching agony in their parents hearts.

Happy Birthday, Mom. Things are fine and going right along as things will. Miss you...

Peace.... and love,



Yesterday's entry brought several replies, both in the mail and posted on the blog. If you have thoughts you want to share, why don't you go to the blog site and comment? This group has thoughts worthy of sharing.

Pat writes:
Evolution is a fact. How evolution happens is the theory.
I want the bumper sticker! Preferably with a 'reality' fish eating the so-called 'truth' fish eating the 'Darwin' fish!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

OK, I admit it. I don't understand Creationists. Why do they even care, in the first place? Is their version of religion so tenuous that it requires them to prevent others from asking questions and seeking answers? Apparently so! Creationists have gained control of the Cobb County Board of Education and have decided to place a sticker on science books.

This is what the sticker says:

"Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

The second sentence on the sticker is good advice, and, when applied to the first sentence, oddly enough, or perhaps predictably so, proves it to be a lie! I have never heard anyone, who accepts creationism, accurately define the theory of evolution. So it is in Cobb County, Georgia.

Here's the deal: Evolution is a fact. How evolution happens is the theory.

Darwin's book was called, "On the origin of species" and said absolutely nothing about the origin of living things. When asked about the actual origin of "living things" Darwin said something to the effect of,

"Dammed if I know!" Admitting that the question of how life began was unknown, he proposed to answer the question of how so many different species came to exist. Understanding this exposes the fundamental stupidity of creationists.

What Darwin's book did say was this:

Earth's fossil record appears to be deposited in temporal order, once geological upheaval is accounted for. When trash is thrown on the ground, and then more trash is thrown on the ground, the trash that was thrown on the ground underneath the trash that was thrown on the ground second. In other words, if we pay attention, the fossil record can be viewed as a time line of the history of life on this planet.

As we look at the fossil time line, we can see that the oldest creatures were simple and that there were far fewer types (species) of them than in more recent periods of the record, so:

Speciation tends to increase with time in the fossil record except:

There are times when a large percentage of the complex forms of life in the fossil record stop appearing, like after asteroids hit the earth or great climate change occurs, yet, in following records life once again becomes increasingly complicated and diverse as the fossil record passes through time.

There are natural changes or mutations that occur naturally in most living and observable organisms, whether complex or simple, all produce offspring that differ from the parents in slight ways. (thank goodness!)

Natural selection appears to act as a filter which selects certain organisms for survival over others based on the slight mutational changes that give advantages under certain conditions that arise in the physical world.

Over time, a series of selections for a series of slight changes will result in a significant change from a generationally distant predecessor and the current organism will have become a species that is very distinct when compared to its ancestor.

There you go! Darwin's life work in a nutshell. Seems pretty obvious to me. But some folks don't want this to be true, which is counter to good sense, since it cannot be changed why not learn from it? We might be able to save the world, if we figure it out. We can figure out why the species that have disappeared from the ranks of the living, disappeared from the ranks of the living, and maybe use the info to keep our own particular species from, well, disappearing from the ranks of the living!

Creationists argue that there is little evidence for evolution...this is quite overwhelmingly false, but even considering the possibility that this statement might be true, we can see that the evidence for Creationism is nonexistent.

"Whoa!" I can hear them say, "What about the bible?...God's word?"

This is essentially the claim that God wrote the bible and that there is only one way to look at it. This requires aquiecscence to a particular belief system in order to accept. Well anybody who drives through any town in America will have to accept that essentially, no two sane people anywhere in this country agree on what is said in the bible! If that were even remotely so, there would be only one church...There is more than one church. Here in Roane County, Tennessee, we have nearly 100 different "Baptist" churches alone. They don't agree on much of anything except god bless our troops and that everybody else besides them is wrong and probably hellbound!

Science has no right or wrong except as it applies to methods for determining fact, as opposed to fiction, as opposed to what we can not determine one way or the other. Science is useful in this regard and as such is considered to be an enemy by certain religions. Why? Because some religions claim things that can not be true. Creationism does this, using the bible as evidence that the earth is only somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years old. But...the bible is not in any way evidence, in the scientific sense. The fact of a book is that it exists, not that the words and sentences within it are true or false. The fact that a book exists implies only existence not truth...but the book wil definitely exist and have order. Its atoms will follow the laws of physics with mathematical precision and predictability. The books existance is scientifically valid. Fact! Now here is another fact: The earth exists. The existance of the earth is fact, and like the bible, the earth has been interpreted in many languages, but unlike the bible the earth has actually been interpreted in every language ever spoken by mankind. Some of these interpretations we know to be false...The earth is neither flat, nor is it held upon the back of a giant turtle, as some fairly recent interpretations have held it to be. Nope, science lets us see that these interpretations were false, and science lets all who wish to read it, see that the fossil record proves the earth is far older than 10 thousand years.

The Earth exists. It's pieces obey the mathematically precise and predictable laws of physics. The fossil record within its layers obey the laws...and the fossil record has something to tell us. Some species die out and some don't. The cockroach has been around for a long has the turtle. Primates are pretty young, as far as the fossil record is concerned and may not have much of a long term future. As of this moment, the highest primate on earth seems to be suicidal as a species. Several of its religions claim that the highest primate has only been around for 6000 years and we are all going to die... any second now... get ready! This is what fundamentalist Christianity has become...a death cult. "None of this matters, we're all going to die...any second now!"

Well, here comes science to the rescue...We are very unlikely to die off in any of the next seconds. Science has let us see that it will probably be a slow boil that does us in, doesn't have to happen. We can live as long as the cockroach if we work things right, but we have to get past certain suicidal tendencies of our species. We have to question everything, including what some people claim is inside some books...and unlike the Cobb County Board of Education, I think a sticker that has their second sentence on it would be wisely affixed to all books, not just the science ones.

After all, a book is a method of storing some sort of communication. If you took all the books in the world and could somehow sum up all the information contained in them, it would be less information that that stored in a handful of dirt from the forest floor behind my house. There is a bigger difference than just the amount of information stored in books and a handful of dirt: A handful of dirt from anywhere on earth will contain only facts. Dirt can not lie! A book can. Some of them are honest about their lies, and label themselves "Fiction". They will often contain some truth, too painful to be presented as such.

At any rate, when it comes down to what to believe...I will always believe Dirt.

Dirt is always completely, and brutally, honest. Unlike the Cobb County Board of Education.

http://more Cobb county here



Jesus appears in many religious stories that are separate from what we think of as Christiality. Here is one from the Sufi mystics:

Jesus was asked by a group of his followers to teach them the power of resurrecting the dead. He told them that this was a very powerful and dangerous thing to be able to do. Great wisdom was required to do such a thing and use its power for good. The men begged and begged and said they would be wise and that much good could come of their being able to bring people back from the dead. Jesus looked at the men making this request. "It is for all things to die," he said.

"Yes, but some great tragedies could be undone with this power," said they.

And Jesus taught them the power of undoing death.

The men walked with great joy at their newly received power. Traveling far they passed through a forest and came upon bones lying on the forest floor. Eager to use their new power, the men cried out in sadness for this death, so far into the woods, so lonely! Then they agreed to reverse this death and used their new power to restore the bones to life. In an instant the bones were restored to life and there before the men, stood a tiger... strong, renewed, and hungry! Freshly brought back to among the living, the tiger killed and ate all the men and lay down to sleep after his fine meal.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Allright, this will be "Lightweight Monday" because I'm kinda fighting off a cold and the brain isn't hitting on all seven cylinders today. It was a good weekend with the party season kicking in. The hard part is deciding which event to attend. I have a scale I've invented to help me with the decision called the "Drive Home Factor". I like to get all the way home from these things. Since we live way out, if I get too tired from all the fun at a party, I will have forgotten how much fun it was by the time I've driven beyond a certain distance to get back to my own sanctuarious abode.

To help with this, I have learned that plain old water does just fine as a wine glass filler. This is a tactic from the old days when I was a raft guide. We were way too poor to have enough beer to drink so we would save up and buy kegs for a party. Kegs can go on forever, if you aren't careful. There's no sense in trying to win a staying contest with one. The keg will see the sunrise and you won't, losing at least one day of your precious time to the evil headache gremlins.

There's some kind of social thing involved with having a beverage in your hand as you cruise about being sociable, though, and that can be deleterious to one's evening plans, whatever they may be. The plans of my earlier partying days involved much more adventure than they do now, and getting home and having a good night's sleep has become the mission not impossible of the middle ages. The water in the beer mug has become a tactic of necessity, though the mug has transformed into a wine glass. My hostess of last evening made some kind of social statement to me as she pointed out that the goblet she was offering me was of the "unbreakable" kind. What exactly was she implying? I was home before ten last night, clear headed and smiling but today is still a slow Steve day.

Perhaps the band fruit citrus can save me. Not many things beat curling up next to a wood stove with a navel orange of good flavor and a little paring knife. The first taste of orange juice comes from eating the conical mound of pulp off the small plug I cut out as I performed the navel-ectomy on the orange, leaving a hole through which I will vacuum the liquid contents of my prize. After I have slurped all the juice I can extract that way, I can tear open the skin of the orange and eat the pulp without getting juice all over my face... well almost, anyway. Wiping up is part of the fun, you know!

If you guys didn't buy any band fruit, I'm sorry. There are a few things I won't readily share. Get your own! One should not share one's medicine!

Here's a really fun piece that has popped up in the Republican headlong rush to ban Gay Marriage. Some party pooper has tried to tack on an ammendment that would ban adultery in the same piece of legislation. The great moral leaders that are the Republicans in Congress are suddenly disappearing from their offices as "Seventh Commandment" advocates try to drum up public support for a constitutional ban on Adultery.

Imagine the fun!

I can just see the action going down as Republicans fall all over each other in their press to sign on to this bill. Each one declaring his or her purity in their marriage commitment...or maybe not, as it turns out:

Amendment follies

Sometimes I am surprised by the person chosen by the Nobel committee for its Peace Prize. Of all the titles our world society can bestow upon a citizen, I consider this one to be the most honored. I am also sometimes disappointed by the designee, but not this time. They have chosen an African woman who wishes to point out to the world that mistreating the planet itself is tantamount to killing ourselves slowly. Here is an excerpt but I strongly encourage you to read the entire lecture:

"...Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. This will happen if we see the need to revive our sense of belonging to a larger family of life, with which we have shared our evolutionary process.
In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other."

Wangari Maathai – Nobel Lecture
Nobel Lecture, Oslo, December 10, 2004

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Lyric of the day:

"No hell below us
Above us only sky"

This composer died 24 years ago this week.

H. L. Mencken has a bunch of quotes that shall endure forever. I have a favorite:

"Christians must be fascinating people... I hope to meet one some day."

I don't pass this on in order to piss off the people who think they are Christians, but I guess it's going to happen. In actuality, most people of Protestant denomination hold a combination of beliefs, hybridized between old testament Judaism and the reform religion that Jesus tried to get going. My reading tells me that we have a way to go.

An example that keeps getting pushed in our faces is this ten commandment thing. I watched a one ton truck go by that had the very rock an Alabama judge wanted to force people to view if they had business with his court. Judge Roy Moore claimed the so called ten commandments were the foundation of American Law, and had a version chiseled in a granite graven image and installed in his court. I suspect Judge Moore is a closet anti semite (most fundamentalists are! Talk to one sometime...) but here he goes and puts an adulterated version of Jewish Law in a supposedly christian court. First of all. there are a whole bunch of commandments in the old testament and the ten that are usually refered to, aren't actually in there as Judge Roy out them on his rock.

If you are the least bit skeptical, Exodus makes a great read. If you are a fundie, it will drive you nuts! How do you come to grips with the tenth commandment? Do you even know what it is? You probably think the tenth commandment is something like, "Thy shalt not covet" or something like that involving your neighbor's wives and farm implements. Nope! Moses took a couple of blank rocks up to God and God wrote,

"Don't boil young goats in milk!"

Goat chowder, it turns out, is an abomination in the eyes of God. When my time comes, I suspect I will get to go to sleep for a very long forever. But if I am wrong, I will be able to look god right in the eye and say that I am pretty sure I never stole anything and I'm damned positive I never improperly cooked a goat. I mean I like goat meat, but dang, people, every boy who grew up near Johnson County, Georgia knows danged well that goat is supposed to be barbecued!

I realize that most christians actually never read the christian part of the bible, particularly here in East Tennessee, so I would like to present a short bible lesson from the christian section. It is labelled Mathew, although though Mat the disciple, probably didn't write any of it, but that's another discussion.

So this rich kid comes along and asks Jesus:

"Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?"

Jesus said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. If you want to have eternal life, you must obey his commandments."

"Which ones?" the man asked.

"Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others.

Respect your father and mother. And love others as much as you love yourself."

The young man said, "I have obeyed all of these. What else must I do?"

Jesus replied, "If you want to be perfect, go sell everything you own! Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and be my follower."

Mathew 19:18

Isn't that just like a rich brat? The ten commandments turn out to be pretty confining for a well to do boy about town so he goes and tries to get his homework load reduced by asking "Uh, Jeez, my man! This commandment thing is a bit confusing, seeing as there are around thirty of the things and they sort of contradict each other, and my gosh, I'm gonna get stoned to death for eating the wrong goat recipe?... I mean, come on, can you give me a break here and cut this back a bit?

"Which ones?" he asked the son of god.

"Which ones of these commandments do I have to obey to go to heaven?" he asks, trying to weasel out of getting stoned for wanting as nice an ass as his buddy gets to ride when he tools about the village looking for barbecued goat... "Coveting" you know. Asses are specifically mentioned in the biblical rules up to this point! Although, if you are looking for an out, you lawyers out there can make the point that coveting asses as a bad thing is not actually listed in the first set of ten rules, but was in one of the revisions Moses rounded up after he broke the first set. Very confusing, ambiguous and overly broad, I can hear them arguing.

"Unconstitutional!" they state in perfect harmonious irony!

Much like Roy's rock!

So anyway Jesus gives the guy a new list! See here what this means? Judge Roy and all those other fundies are trying to hornswoggle us on this biblical law thing, and not tell us that Jesus rewrote the things after appellate review.

I don't think the rich kid liked the new version much either:

"If you want to be perfect in God's judgement, sell everything you own and give the money away.

The Bush administration, saying that religion "has played a defining role'' in the nation's history, urged the U.S. Supreme Court to permit Ten Commandments displays in courthouses.

So there you have it! Let's now turn our attention to our President, such a godly man, as he demonstrates his Christianity... By following the commandments of Jesus.

Which ones?

We'll see.



Wednesday, December 08, 2004

"Got a wife in Chino..and one in Tennessee..
First one says she got my child, but it don't look like me.."

The future is bright, especially if you are young physicist, Gerard Liger-Belair! This guy is getting paid to study bubbles in Champagne by French maker Moer & Chandon. It's all about the physics of the fizz. In a related story Physiologists are being paid by the makers of Ibuprofen to NOT find a prevention for hangovers. It's all about the cash flow.

Research grants are pretty amazing. It is wonderful what gets funded...Studies are underway at the University of Chicago and Harvard (well, duh!) involving the evolutionary adaptations of sperm cells' swimming ability when having to cope with a cheating woman. I could work with material like this...but, hey, this is a family blog, right? Well, people, this is where families come from and it turns out all of us in the same family aren't necessarily related to our Dad!

Can you imagine planning out this research project? Can't use people...for obvious reasons. Let's just say that human nature plays havoc with the scientific process of gathering data. I can just see the researcher trying to look couples in the eye and ask them who they been with lately? At least the common vernacular is catching up with reality on the human interaction front...We now have the term,

"Man - Ho!"

to go along with

"That lyin' Bitch!"

Fair is fair, by golly, and equality of the sexes is a never ending quest.

Researchers had to look outside the human species to find a test subject that was faithful, such as it was. They were only able to find one primate that was even close, a lowland gorilla and even that one was only faithful for a particular fertile period. Turns out every primate known has a wandering eye, shall we say, with the lowland gorilla being the most chaste and the Bonobo, our closest living relative, being the most promiscuous. We all know where people fall in the range between those two. So we need a research project to figure this stuff out?

Research team member, Sarah Kingan, calls the discoveries of the project, "Fascinating!" As part of the results of the study, she determined that for between 5 and 10 percent of all offspring, the woman's apparent partner is not the father.

Potential titles for the published study included, "Differences between a Promiscuous and a Monogamous species in primate semen-viscosity genes" and the other popular choice,

"Who's Your Daddy?"

Ooooo, K!


And now we have the new style, the modern consciencious objector...Men and women who are willing to serve their country but not in violation of the constitution. I envision a new bumper sticker:

"W" Didn't go to Viet Nam OR Alabama,

Why do I have to go to Iraq?

..."I was walking to the chow hall with my unit and we were yelling, 'Train to kill, kill we will,' over and over again," recalls Hinzman.

"I kind of snuck a peek around me and saw all my colleagues getting red in the face and hoarse yelling, and at that point, a light went off in my head and I said, 'You know, I made the wrong career decision.'"

...Whether a country lives under freedom or tyranny or whatever else, that's the collective responsibility of the people of that country," says Hinzman.

He later adds that his contract with the military was "to defend the Constitution of the United States, not take part in offensive, preemptive wars."

From CBS of course:

Hero or deserter?

In Afghanistan...bullets flying in an undisciplined hail, screaming death through the air... And with his last breath he shouted, trying to save the lives of his comrades. He lifts his head, realizing the tragedy unfolding, unnecessary, wrong, evil...They were killing each other. Stupid in their fear driven rage.

The basic training chant rising to fever in their brains...

"Trained to kill! Kill we will!"....and kill they did...his brothers...

The last words that came out of Pat Tillman's mouth were,

"Cease Fire! Friendlies!"

Screaming, trying to save his brothers...they shot him dead, his brothers did.




Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Howdy, my fine friends!

Having just recovered from a near death by turkey experience, I find myself plunged headlong, body and stomach, into another period of holiday excesses of food and spirit. In addition to the culinary trials of this season, all of my known children are male and have birthdays in December. I am hit with the double whammy of one young man turning 18 and the other, 16. Let this be fair warning to all who venture out on the highways of East Tennessee! In the next few days, my youngest will become legally able to attack the highways and low-ways of Greater Glen Alice, Tennessee, in a vehicle weighing thousands of pounds and with enough horsepower to attain greater than legal speed. I have warned him of the severe consequences of misbehavior, but we'll have to see what happens.

We do our homework and take our chances, eh? Watch out for him, please?

This time of year has religion everywhere. Too bad! We could just celebrate the cycles of our planet and the seasonal blessings we share. WE have such great capacity for enjoyment, but we rarely use it to the fullest. I have thought that, Of all the directions we could have evolved, all of them require the capacity to enjoy our very existance. Every creature, plant, and lowly fungus must receive reward on some level for surviving to the next instant of time. Otherwise it wouldn't survive for very long, unless, like my Irish grandmother for example, we become able to enjoy ourselves only in misery? Why some folks enjoy a good cry escapes me.

Over the millenia, humans have created mythologies and religions to explain why things suck sometimes. There should be a happier way, but with religion, things get to be blamed on this or that diety and we are off the hook. By the way, just as a point of discussion, consider that a belief system is called a religion if it corresponds to your own, and a mythology if it doesn't.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could set aside our predjudices each year at this time and have honest discussions about religion? Instead, we get all the pomp and circumstance, and watch as religious designees ceremoniously wave around the symbol of an execution by the state. Personally, I think Brother Paul royally screwed up a fairly nice religion when his surrogates supplanted the fish symbol with that of the cross. We went from a symbol of sharing and giving and life... to a symbol of vengence and death. I reject this. I prefer the fish and actually detest the very idea represented by the cross as it is presented in today's fundie churches.

Sorry for those who are offended. If you are offended, incidentally, ask yourself exactly why? By the way, Did you know that "Jesus Christ" is a title and not a name? I don't know what his name was but a literal translation of "jesus" is something like "one who has olive oil in his hair". He was quite the dashing figure in those times and had a pretty good message, too! Too bad the so called religious right has squandered that message. Too bad the rest of us let them gain control of our Nation. We had our chance to lead the whole wide world into a peaceful time like Jesus wanted and we didn't. Perhaps we still can...I hope so, and that is I why I write.

Today, on a point by point basis, our nation"s leadership bears a near total resemblance to the Pharisees of biblical times. Jesus was a victim of torture and execution not an advocate of such vile things as is our President. Even so, there is hope. The followers of the one who had olive oil in his hair were definite underdogs and they came through.

Right now today in America, there are, at a minimum, 57,288,974 people in our country who do not want it going in the direction it is headed. A mere 2.8% more than that voted for Bush. That means that we only have to change the minds of less than 1.5% of the voters to win next time. (Jeff, you pay attention this time) That is a very close election...The closets ever for a war time President. In the mean time we must become the loyal opposition in a big way. America does not exist to serve the President...It is the other way around, and boy does this administration have it backwards.

Fifty Seven million people feeling the same way you do is a lot! The other side does not have that many hungry lions. So folks, This is not the time to give up, but just the opposite.

America, how will you respond?

Peace on Earth, Good will toward mankind?



Thursday, December 02, 2004

It's been fun to read your responses to the lyric and poetry. Most folks who replied got the Stones lyrics with Jagger and Richardson getting the credit for those two, Street Fighting Man" and "Shot away".

I don't think but one person actually got the Steppenwolf song, "Monster". Kelly H, you win the prize, a big warm fuzzy. (You didn't think there was anything of actual value involved , did you? I'm way too cheep for that. ;>)Yeah, several sent in the right answer but I think they had to research it. I had heard it recently on radio 105.3, my new favorite in the Knoxville/East Tennesee area. There is such good music being made...We just have to make them play it for us. Corporate Radio or no corporations, they'll give us what we want or we'll turn them off.

I saw John Kay and Steppenwolf play live, a million years ago at least...OK, late sixties or maybe even early seventies, it all runs together for some reason..Oh, wow, man...the colors!

Well, Not... actually. For some unknown reason I was the designated driver in the sixties. My first experience with acid was watching a bunch of stoned college students try to deal with a friend who was having the trip from hell and as a result it all looked really unattractive to a kid who was trying to hang on to reality in an unreal world to start with. I'll just drive the van for all of us, thank you.

We are going round the same bend today. I worry about my kids trying to make sense of this world. Any thinking person knows that those in power are lying and doing really bad things in the name of America. That is why the song I quoted you yesterday is so relevant even though it is nearly forty years old. Here is the last half of the song by John Kay and Jerry Edmonton. Read it and see if it doesn't hold up a mirror that shows us today in yesterday:

... The spirit was freedom and justice
And its keepers seemed generous and kind
Its leaders were supposed to serve the country
But now they won't pay it no mind
Cause the people grew fat and got lazy
Now their vote is a meaningless joke
They babble about law and order
But it's all just an echo of what they've been told

Yeah, there's a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watching

The cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is strangling the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can't understand
We don't know how to mind our own business
'Cause the whole world's got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who's the winner we can't pay the cost

'Cause there's a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watching

America, where are you now
Don't you care about your sons and daughters
Don't you know we need you now
We can't fight alone against the monster

Here's a link to the whole song. It is an anthem for now!

It is a call to action!


The poetry seems to have woken some of you up. I appreciate your sending me your personal recommendations. Denise reminded me of Richard Brautigan with these bits:

War Horse

He stands alone in a pasture
but nobody can see him.

He has been made invisible
by his own wounds.

I know how he feels.



I was dive-bombing the lower
emotions on a typical yesterday
I had sworn never to do it again.
I guess never's too long a time to stay
out of the cockpit
with the wind screaming down the wings
and the target almost praying itself into your

Brautigan was an example of the emotional wreck I spoke of. Ultimately taking his own life, he left us with such jewels as "On Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork" , "In Watermelon Sugar", and, if you only read one book by him, "Confederate General from Big Sur", in which you will learn that the battle cry "Campbell Soup!" silences the frogs.

You folks know I am a Howard Dean fan. Dean is still very active and intent on reforming the Democaratic Party, labelling it "Rotten with the culture of losing!" Here's a report on Howard's recent speech. I strongly recommend you read it. Randy and Tommy, I mean you two especially!

With republicans wearing god as a lapel pin, even Howard Dean had to speak out:

... Jesus, he declared, was about including the downtrodden, and the Republicans, with their insistence on public displays of religion, resemble nothing more than the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

And now our bible verse for today's study session:

"As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great and waxen rich... they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? (Jeremiah 5:27-29)."

And the first verse of monster in the words of the prophet Steppenwolf saith again,

Chasing the promise of freedom and hope
Came to this country to build a new vision
Far from the reaches of kingdom and pope
Like good Christians, some would burn the witches
Later some got slaves to gather riches

Here is the rest of the lesson, It's not what you think:



I read a lot.

What I do for a living is fairly technical and I spend a fair amount of time looking at numbers and drawing fine lines on a computer screen. Work comes in intensive spurts with times of nothing and then everything. It's probably a good type of work for a slightly compulsive slightly obsessive personality like me, but it fosters a kind of tunnel vision that only other obsessives will understand.

A tunnel is a difficult place to create from within and I have, over the years, developed resources to break my thinking patterns out of the hole I wind up in so often when I work on a project. I think about something else for a while and then go back to the project with fresh eyes and mind. Since there is rarely enough time to let things flow naturally, I have learned to force them.

I am an outdoor type of guy, my clothes very often smell like a campfire, but not often enough. I am a good shot with a rifle. I hike in difficult places. So what do I do to free my mind? I do what a man who tries to consider himself a strong, rugged, individualist must poetry.

I have learned to make Google, the Internet search engine, walk and talk for me. I have a talent for Boolean algebra, the language of Google, and can say "I want you to find me something about 'this' not 'that' in such a way as to find poetry about what ever subject is on my mind at the moment. The best poets are emotional wrecks and, no matter how rough I am feeling, I can read certain writers and think, "Boy, things is tough, right now but they are dang sure better than what this guy was going through." It is the literate equivalent of "The Young and Restless", but the morality play is often more relevant in poetry than soap opera, wringing more emotion per word out of the reader than should be allowed at times. A favorite of mine is Robert Frost. By some accounts he was a difficult person to spend much time around in person, and I have to limit my time around him now to short bursts of intent reading or he will overwhelm my defenses and I will get angry or hurt or something and not just engage in thoughtful reflection of his words. Such is the power of great poets.

Oddly, even those quasi poets, more prone to doggerel than epic, hit the right note from time to time, as I think you will see if you've made it this far.

An excerpt from Frost:

“OH, let’s go up the hill and scare ourselves,
“If it scares you, what will it do to us?”

“Scare you. But if you shrink from being scared,
What would you say to war if it should come?
That’s what for reasons I should like to know—
If you can comfort me by any answer.”

“Oh, but war’s not for children—it’s for men.”

My dears, my dears, you thought that—we all thought it.
So your mistake was ours. Haven’t you heard, though,
About the ships where war has found them out
At sea, about the towns where war has come
Through opening clouds at night with droning speed
Further o’erhead than all but stars and angels,—
And children in the ships and in the towns?
Haven’t you heard what we have lived to learn?
Nothing so new—something we had forgotten:

War is for everyone, for children too.
I wasn’t going to tell you and I mustn’t.

Out here in the woods we like to gather friends for a bonfire in the field. Our last one on Thanksgiving night had the added benefit of a near full moon. We were safe in the field having had rain recently and a fire ring surrounded by large rocks. Robert Frost speaks of a metaphorical fire that is meant to scare, but it gets away and bridges the gap from imagined to actual physical threat. I have run across no better metaphor for our country's situation today. here is the entire poem:

robert frost

And now the writers of doggerel:


Ev'rywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
'Cause summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy

Hey! Think the time is right for a palace revolution
'Cauce where I live the game to play is compromise solution

Hey! Said my name is called disturbance
I'll shout and scream, I'll kill the king, I'll rail at all his servants

Well, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock 'n' roll band
There's no place for a street fighting man

and then...

Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away


The floods is threat'ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I'm gonna fade away

All right, without using a search engine yourselves, tell me who wrote those two pieces of great literature? The first few will be recognized herein, a great honor!..but then this is actually too easy, eh?


I believe that the highest degree of personal growth comes when things are bad. This is a precept of Darwinian theory...

Bad times are a knot hole that only certain entities can pass through.

This is called a "filter" in the textbooks that we don't have too many of here in Tennessee. Anyway, my country is going to be crammed through one of those knotholes, here in a bit. We'll see what makes it through to the other side between now and 2008.

A phenomenon of the recent election is a web site that apologizes to the whole world for the situation in America. We did not do our job and the rest of the world will suffer for a little while until the power of our country is diminished to the point where world events will not hinge on which political party has control over our Military.

It was a close election but it seems to have fallen over the precipice that will give us four more years of anti-environmentalism and war as the tool of first choice in international relations. For this, it is felt by many that we owe the world our apologies and here is the site that has been created. It is a fascinating display of street art as it has become in these times.


And, while we wonder where the real Christians are in America, we are given proof that the ideal of forgiveness still exists in the rest of the world by virtue of this web site:

Some of these are clunky and rough, but some are beautiful and peace giving:


So we are squirming our way through the knothole and what will we get to on the other side? I hope it is a little breathing room...If we don't learn our lesson soon, it will just be another knot hole...only smaller!



Monday, November 29, 2004

I couldn't see through the thicket. I could hear the sound of the buck working a poor little shrub of a tree (a small white pine, as I found out later) to the bone. The bush was whipping back and forth, slapping against its neighbors, giving in to the merciless beating the small deer was delivering. Thinking I was not going to get a good look at that one I settled back, turning to scan the woods, and there it was...Whatever it was. My eyes aren't what they used to be but I knew this was no deer. I tried to make my eyes clear up the sight of this animal, as I squinted, it raised its nose into the air waving it around like a radar dish scanning the olfactory waves coming to it with coded messages. The animal was intent, front legs raised up and resting on one of a clump of downed pines, dealt killing blows by the combination of too many pine beetles with too much food and warm winters and a two year drought. I put the scope of my rifle on the creature and as I moved the cross hairs onto its chest, it focused its attention and we both realized what it was smelling in the air...Me!

Thomas wanted to hunt a new place and I wanted him to have the fun of being a fifteen year old kid whose dad was not explaining the finer details of one of life's little teachable moments. We could just go hunting and get out in the woods together. I have a rifle that I carry when we go off like this...I think it works and I might shoot it one day but that isn't the point of times like this.

As we drove up to our tract of land, there were two pick up trucks unloading ATV's blocking our road. We chatted and they were over acting in their mock surprise that "Anybody owns this land." The old posted signs must be fungal boles that just grow that way on trees. They seemed disappointed when I told them they could ride to the creek but had to park on the main road and walk if they wanted to go anywhere else. Walking around quietly in the forest is sooo yesterday! It doesn't disturb anyone else, or make much noise, or tear up the ground and cause erosion, or burn fossil fuels and stink up the air...How can anybody have fun just being quiet in the forest? Well I personally don't care what you do, but you are not going to do it here on an ATV. Have a nice day.

Thomas drove the truck to the edge of our property and we got out and saw the tracks of a vehicle going around the dead tree we had left to block the road. "We'll probably meet them coming out with a ten point buck strapped in the back," he said.

The vehicle tracks had made a mess churning up the mud in the road, rutting it out. We took our gear and started walking. A hundred yards in we saw the next dead tree we had left blocking the road. Sawed out of the way and tossed in the ditch...The drainage ditch that was supposed to carry rainwater off the road.

We got to the spot where Thomas wanted to set up his tree stand and saw the tire tracks going right by the huge buck rub and straight through the pawed place that he had found when we scouted things out for his hunt. "Oh, great!" he said. "This spot isn't going to work." Then we heard the truck.

Thomas went off in the woods to set up in another place while I walked after the sound of the intruder in the woods. We turned on our radios, just in case, but I really don't worry about dealing with folks, too much. My theory is that people aren't actually bad...Just "sorry".

Walking, I had no trouble catching up to what turned out to be two pickup trucks. I had heard the engines quit and the doors slam so I knew they were going to be around somewhere. I "hallowed" as I walked up to the truck but got no reply. I reached through the open window of the first truck and honked the horn.

That'll bring 'em!

As I honked the horn, a dog in the second truck went ballistic..And so did the woman sitting next to him in the seat that I had not previously noticed. I smiled large and gave her a small wave. She did not look reassured.

Two men came out of the woods with beer in one hand and rifle in the other. I smiled but looked straight at them intently, they smiled and looked straight at me but their eyes were worried, and then we chatted. I've heard all the lame excuses several times now, and frankly there are no excuses. You guys are on somebody else's land, sawing up trees to get past the posted signs, plowing ruts in the roads, getting ready to hunt illegally. Then came the punch line..."Well do you mind if we just camp out for a few days?"

"Now, boys!" I said. "You drove in here right past my telephone number on the sign, and I have to ask myself if you are responsible types who will behave themselves on my land...You could have asked permission and now you want forgiveness and permission. What would you think if you were me?"

Time to be nice and leave...Which they decided to do.

They had gotten themselves in a mess. They just drove in on my road until they couldn't go any further and were stuck. Since they were stuck they were just going to go hunting and leave the woman and the dog in the truck, I guess. Fifteen minutes later they were on their way back out, leaving me a big mess in the road, but then they were gone.

I radioed Thomas, who had him a nice spot in a tree by then, confident that his Dad would take care of everything.

As the sound of the trucks faded, the sounds of the forest took over. I walked deeper into the land on an old road looking for a nice spot to set my chair up and wait for dusk or a gun shot, whichever.

Late fall light can be harsh, and so it was. Something big was splashing in the small creek about a hundred yards away below me. Turkeys cruised the far hill making huge amounts of noise. They are capable of many different sounds but for now their scratching and clucking and croaking was dominating the woods. Some of them took to the trees and it was quiet for a bit.

I heard the deer moving in the thicket, knowing I would probably not see it. I was on the wrong trail, this one being the one that went from over there to over yonder, whereas the deer was on the trail that went from down there to up yonder. I listened and until it went away.

Then, with no sound that I heard, the other creature was there on the road, front feet up on the log to lift its head higher in the air to get a better test of the ominous scent in the woods. It waved its head in the air, "seeing" with its nose.

Deer have a simple place in the ecosystem. They eat plants and run from predators. The only other animals besides predators they need awareness of are rivals and love interests. I am a potential predator. Deer assume that everything is a predator until proven otherwise. A simple existence. Eat, Survive, Reproduce, with emphasis on "Survive".

A predator has a much more complex niche. Only one predator is at the top of the food chain and, today, that would be me! All the other predators may consider themselves down the list, somewhat, and when they cruise the forest, they have to look both ways, up and down the chain. Down for potential food, and up, for potential danger of becoming food or just simply being removed from competition for what food there is. Fear is the dominant emotion of predators. They create it and live with it. The instant my eyes met the eyes of the animal on the log, I imagined the two pronged query in its beastly mind: "Does this thing fear me or do I fear it?"

I had the scope crosshairs squarely on the chest of the coyote. My finger was not on the trigger. In the harsh light of late afternoon, it stood out, suddenly in stark color. As large as a German shepherd but much lighter in musculature, narrow, in a beautiful new fall coat, similar to a shepherd in pattern but with a much better paint job. The dark brown, almost to black, back of the Coyote was outlined in the animal red, rufous border to the dark tan of its chest. We stared at each other for seconds as it asked and answered its own primeval question and loped off, joined instantly by another that I had not seen. Not scared but purposeful in it's bounding gait, it crossed my field of view with its partner, running along the top of the rise with colors flashing in the patches of sunlight, brilliant when illuminated but invisible in shadow, vanishing.

If you walk in the woods, nothing happens beyond the occasional squirrel or bird. If you sit, motionless, for twenty minutes or so, you become aware that the woods are a happening place. Eating and surviving and reproducing, each in its own time are going down all around us. The sun faded, it got cold, and it was time to go home. The coyotes and I were together only for sixty seconds or so. I wonder what it is like to encounter a wolf in the wild, but I may never know. I wonder what it is like to encounter a predator that is a link higher on the food chain, but I may never know that either. What is it like to fear death, not from disease, or another member of our own species, but from something that wants to assimilate our tissues into its own? Is there a certain awareness, alertness, competency, that is taken from us by this absence in our civilized existence?

I think one of the problems with humanity is that we have placed ourselves at the top of the food chain for too long. When this happens, formerly magnificent beasts become like our pets... Servile and dog stupid.



Sunday, November 28, 2004

OK, it is officially the season...We watched "It's a wonderful Life" last night on TV. Funny, Couldn't we all tell exactly who the Republicans were? They were the bad guys, of course...And tell me the love scene didn't get you going? I really mean the "love" scene, of course, there is no "sex" scene in this flick but that's what popped into your head isn't it?

I picked up a couple of really interesting things in my incessant reading this week.

Single celled bacteria have a social life. This is like the comic strip character B.C. yelling, "Clams got legs!" No wonder they've been trying to kill us! Here's the deal:
They work together to make the most of their food source. Well, this is an obvious thing to do for any social animal...only bacteria aren't animals! And they only have one cell and they are very small. Turns out that bacteria have been trying to let us know in all those petri dish experiments that they get together and party on, dude! Reseachers have known for centuries that we can determine the type of bacteria present by putting a bit in a glass dish with a food source and watching to see the growth pattern that develops. Different bacteria grow in different ways, and once there are enough of them we can see the colony with our naked eyes. Most of the time it is just a blue lump or something like that, but now and again we see very organized patterns of growth. At first this was thought to be something like the crystal development in chemicals, organized by atomic charge, but now we know better. The little bugs are talking to one another and getting organized for mutual benefit. They talk by emitting chemical signals that tell the adjacent bacterium where to line up in the colony. It's like one of them says, "Hey frank, why don't you crawl over next to Fred and then James you can get on top and reach the grapes, and we'll all share in the bounty!" This is intentional behavior by a cooperating colony for mutual benefit. It gives me hope that if single celled organisms that aren't even animals can do this...Maybe humans can learn to get along, too!

I thought about this some more and realized that this is going to cause a problem for the PETA folks. They can justify not eating animals because they can always eat plants...but if plants have feelings, too....

Scientists have come up with a weight reduction pill that works and doesn't seem to have long term side effects! Well I'm going to hold off on that last statement. until we know whether it kills the buzz, too! It seems that in studying the effects of marijuana on humans, they found that if they block certain canabinoid receptors, the patients don't get the munchies. Canabinoids are the goodies in pot that gets folks high. They occur naturally in lots of plants but not so massively as in pot. This has all the earmarks of a CIA sponsored study to prevent college students from having a good time, but it did reduce appetite in non-users, too. We'll see about that "No side effects" thing. Maybe that just depends on who's deciding what's a side effect and what's just an "Effect".



Friday, November 26, 2004

Friday morning coming down...oooooh, way much food! Yep, a food hangover, the best kind. I've already had my breakfast. You know, a little "hair of the dog" to ease the pain. In my case it was toasted homemade rolls with cranberry sauce. I looked at the last bit of rum cake but just didn't feel man enough to attack.

Today starts the weeks of penance until the next bout with culinary excesses, or two, or how ever many Xmas gatherings we make it to. After thinking about it, I have come to a grim conclusion...The old body is no longer capable of excercising enough to eat all the brined for four days, slow roasted, turkey the eyes can covet and the stomach can hold without serious consequences. I eat too much at these events and I love it. Let the penance begin.

As it has been since the first flute was joined by voice, We will hear, over and over until the ears cry out, the songs of the season with glorious tune and stupid lyric. Rejoice in every elevator about the land! In one month, it will all be over, and we can turn from such inane poem such as this one, "Merrily on High"

E'en so here below, below,
Let steeple bells be swungen,
And "Io, io, io!"
By priest and people sungen.

Not since I can remember has there been a time when Simon and Garfunkel's version of Silent Night been more appropriate. The oddest thing I ran across is that on the web site that I retrived these lyrics from had an ad at the top. Right above "Christ's Heavenly Love" was:

"Shoot the tank to win!"

Odd when you stop and think about which side actually has the tanks in this war.

I ask all of you to take to your hearts the best and highes wish for the coming season, even as we contemplate the installation of a government bound to subvert this very thought:

Peace on Earth, Good will toward men!

I wish you would read the entire piece by Sid Blumenthal, not in an American paper of course, that shows what a complete ass our President is. At any rate here is a snippet of Presdident Bill Clinton's speech at his library dedication:

..."America has two great dominant strands of political thought; we're represented up here on this stage: conservatism, which at its very best draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which at its very best breaks down barriers that are no longer needed or should never have been erected in the first place." ...

An aide was giving Karl Rove a tour of Clinton's library when this little vignet was observed by several people:

..."You're not such a scary guy," joked his guide. "Yes, I am," Rove replied. Walking away, he muttered deliberately and loudly: "I change constitutions, I put churches in schools ..."

It's going to be a long four years...Read it all, please:


Friedman wants to be Tom Delay. Why? Here's a clip:
But most of all, I want to have the gall to sully American democracy at a time when young American soldiers are fighting in Iraq so we can enjoy a law-based society here and, maybe, extend it to others. Yes, I want to be Tom DeLay. I want to wear a little American flag on my lapel in solidarity with the troops, while I besmirch every value they are dying for.

Delay is a creep of the highest order but he is just the evil piece of scum in this story. What about the chickenshit Republican Representatives who voted for his rule change? Jimmy Duncan, what say you? Even Zach Wamp summoned the courage to vote against it! Duncan has actually acted honorably several times to my knowlege...what happened here?



And some little tidbits of elucidation for those who would rewrite history, (thanks Digby )

And we quote:

". . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."


"... I am not afraid of priests. They have tried upon me all their various batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering. I have contemplated their order from the Magi of the East to the Saints of the West and I have found no difference of character, but of more or less caution, in proportion to their information or ignorance on whom their interested duperies were to be played off. Their sway in New England is indeed formidable. No mind beyond mediocrity dares there to develop itself."


What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."


. . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."


In my secular view of the world, I still think of Jesus as the greatest Liberal of all time. I think of Christian philosophy as espousing forgiveness for all, not just House Majority Leaders. Peace on Earth seems to cover the whole danged planet, not just the homes of the powerful...

And how do you follow the commandment "Love thine enemy as thine own self" with a tank?

Let the righteous answer with all honesty to themselves in this season of love and great joy!

Peace be on you and yours!



Sunday, November 21, 2004

Lucky for you folks, I am going to abandon the connected world for a couple of days. Going paddling! It's Fall, getting chilly and supposed to rain...Perfect! A canoe camping trip with a few of the men, meaning boys with less hair, comes a good time for a break from the real world. I may get back to it by Wednesday.

Hiking is at it's best right now except that it's hunting season. Have to wear a little orange when you walk around the yard these days. Crazy but true. The leaves are about gone and the views have opened up to let us see the changes since last winter. A couple of houses have appeared on the distant ridges but I can't se them from my house which is good. I don't think I can move any deeper into the woods than I live now.

An interesting bit of computer nerd calculation tells us that the most remote place in all of Tennessee is only four miles from a road. I found that hard to believe at first, since we have the Great Smoky Mopuntain National Park here in Tennessee. I had thought it was really remote in places but looking at maps, I guess I have to agree with the computer. Seems sad to me that four miles is as far away as you can get. So pick a direction and start walking and the deepest you can go in the woods is less than two hours after that you're coming out. This is not exactly true but close enough. It is more accurate to say that you cannot define a circle greater than a four mile radius which would not touch at least two roads in the state of Tennessee, but that's too complicated and it's easier to say, "It's too danged built up around here, anymore, and it's going to get a lot worse before it's over, and this time, when we say it's over, it really will be OVER!"

Wild places are disappearing. The assault on Cumberland Island is just one piece of the Bush Administration war on the environment. I don't understand this. The qhole earth is a big organism, in a sense, and if you cut up enough of it's parts, it will die. We don't exactly know which toe or finger or vital organ will be the last staw, but we do know this about last straws...there is one, and we are well on our way to finding it. But all the Republicans will die rich, I suppose.

Republicans aren't very good at money, by the way. You really need to think about it if one of them wants to be YOUR club treasurer. They seem to have no comprehension of what "balanced" means when it applies to a budget. The label "Conservative" is just a propaganda word and means the exact opposite of its dictionary definition. The only balanced budget America has had recently came from the Liberals. Yep, that's true!

Remember "Reinventing Government"?

That was a Clintonian term. It was a budgetary initiative that was voted into being without one single Republican vote in Congress. Tom Delay voted against it. By the end of the Clinton Administration we had a budgetary surplus. WE were paying our bills and taking in a little more money than we were spending. This was a problem for all the Conservatives because it meant that America would have spare change that could be spent on "Liberal" programs. Liberal programs are things like, extra policemen on our streets, Parks for all the people not just the ones living in gated communities, health care, education supplements, community grants for greenways and walking trails, environmental causes like enforcing the laws against polluters, and other things that Conservatives hate.

So the Conservatives decided to destroy America's fiscal sanity so there would be no money to spend on nice things like enough flu vaccinations to go around. Well there are side effects to the combination of greed and stupidity. It is a dangerous game. Now virtually every economist is currently sounding the alarm that America's finances could collapse. The dollar is headed down, having lost thirty percent of it's value since Bush took office. The American economy has not been able to sustain its recovery for several reasons but one big one is that the tax cut money that was supposed to reinvigorate our economy has not been invested in America. Money is pouring into International mutual funds in unprecedented amounts. Got that? Rich people are betting on foreign economies beating America's.

Good work, conservatives! I see that you guys are still hard at it. Since our National dept is at an all time record high, You guys have to borrow some more money from Saudi Arabians and the Chinese, roughly 2 billion dollars per business day, so you have to authorize this with a spending bill in Congress. This is where we can really see what nice guys, conservatives are, and how they have everyones interest at heart not just themselves and their wealthy campaign contributers. Ok, they don't.... the creeps!

There are some doozy little trinkets in the "spending" bill in Congress right now. Under the guise of calling it a budget bill, all sorts of things are being stuffed in. We are trying to hunt down the name of the Congressional staffer that put in a provision that woud allow certain heads of committees (read Tom Delay) to have access to anyone's IRS information. So let's say you are the House Majority Leader and you are about to come under indictment for financial crimes and you want to attack the District Attorney who will most likely put you in jail if this ever gets to trial, do you thin it would be handy to be able to have IRS audits performed on the DA and all his friends and family at a most inopertune time? Hey! Nothing dirty about that, just good clean Corrupt Texas Politics by Mr. Delay. This one looks to have outraged even some Republicans, which takes some doing in the political party that has "Hipocrisy" written into its mission statement.

Of Course there are some other interesting line items. There are cuts to Education spending, cuts to environmental spending, an anti abortion rovision, and then there's this item.

This one hits close to home since the boat in question happened to belong to one of our little group's family for a while:

While the spending bill was one of the most austere in years, it had something for everybody...[including] a potential boon for Bush himself, $2 million for the government to try buying back the presidential yacht Sequoia. The boat was sold three decades ago, though its current owners say the yacht is not for sale.

Frankly, I don't think 2 million will touch it, but it's a start. At a time when we have mothers saving money to buy their son's bayonets and body armour so they'll have it while they are fighting in Iraq, I think it is good that Republicans are willing to spend a little money to get Bush a fancier boat.

Well, as Lyle Lovett said Tonto said to the Lone Ranger, "Kiss my ass, I'm going out to sea!"

So there...I'm gonna take my boat and go paddle for a couple of days with some friends. America will have borrowed another 6 billion dollars from some really unwholesome people by the time I get back.



Thursday, November 18, 2004

Eight forty five on Thursday morning, November 18, 2004.

The twins are eating. They are one and a half years old and looking good . One of them is a little darker in color and slightly bigger but they are both healthy and puppy stupid. Right now they are munching on the freshly planted rye grass as deer are supposed to do but they are twenty feet from the house on the bank beside the back porch. Both our dogs are staring at them but are too lazy to get up off the porch and bark at them. I am feeling like the slacker I am because I left my camera in the car and can't take the picture that would let me share this moment with you visually.

Summer a year ago, we learned the lesson of overpopulation and what it does to our deer. They ate everything, even stuff that wasn't healthy and when blue-tongue disease hit, it killed the stressed out herd back quickly to the idle observer, but to those of us who saw it, youcan't call slow suffocation from the gnat infestation of their air passages quick. We will put one doe in the freezer soon. We select a herd member to take out to hold the deer population to something roughly sustainable and these two are going to be left alone. They keep away from the bigger group that wanders around the farm, for some reason, and I have become attached to them. They aren't particularly afraid of me, and I appreciate that. It is funny how something like these two young animals lift my spirits on grey days, when my thoughts are heavy with ideas like this one:

OK...It is now time to ask the biggest question facing our country:

"What will the next dead American soldier have died for?"

Until we can answer that, maybe we should think about just getting them out of there. There's not much more to gain...Halliburton stock has reached the majic number where Dick Cheney's stock options become valuable so what are we still in there for? We've "Liberated" Fallujah to rubble. Anybody think it's all better now? Was it worth 38 dead Americans?

Yes, my children, it has all come to pass. Tom Delay can remain as House majority leader because his loyal subjects decided to change the rules so that, Indicted for financial crimes, he can still exert his evil influence. Hey, after all, there is no law that has been made to prevent evil that can't be unmade to allow it whnen it applies to the scumbag in power. While you and I have to obey the laws of our land, Republicans apparently don't. Now we will see if they have the gall to repeal the law against treason that will otherwise send Karl Rove to jail.

As their first act in office, the Republicans have lowered the ethical standards of their leaders! How could they be any lower, one might ask? I shudder to tell you that "you aint seen nuthin' yet"!

Here's a fine bit of reading that should help you understand where we sit, today, led by the scum who manipulate the Boy King George:

A Plague of Toadies

Published: November 18, 2004


I went to see the magical "Pericles'' at the Shakespeare Theater the other night.

In ancient Greece, the prince of Tyre tires of all the yes men around him. He chooses to trust the one courtier who intrepidly tells him: "They do abuse the king that flatter him. ... Whereas reproof, obedient and in order, fits kings, as they are men, for they may err.''

Not flatter the king? Listen to dissenting viewpoints? Rulers who admit they've erred?

It's all so B.C. (Before Cheney).

Now, in the 21st-century reign of King George II, flattery is mandatory, dissent is forbidden, and erring without admitting error is the best way to get ahead. President Bush is purging the naysayers who tried to temper crusted-nut-bar Dick Cheney and the neocon crazies on Iraq


Here's an inspiring story of a slacker nerd who beat the world and keeps doing it.


Digby put me on to this web site. It is straight forward news of what is happening in our military. They cover the good and the bad, like the fact that Novemebr is only half over and is the second worst month for the deaths of our soldiers.

Now sing a long with Country Joe, "...and it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?"

Does anybody actually have a clue what we stand to gain by the next dead American?

Peace, goddammit!


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Our food plot is doing a fine job of feeding the overabundance of deer and turkeys on our farm/mountain. Now that I've typed it, I'm having a George Carlin moment on the word "overabundance". This is a liberal's word and really means that we've got too danged many around here for them to get by and be healthy on what the land provides naturally. It's another way of saying people have screwed things up and killed off the puma and red wolves because they were cowards to face the world as it should be. So we make food plots so they won't be so starved that thet eat the underforest bare of the very plantlife needed to sustain them. When the predators are gone, Nature uses disease, food shortages and population crashes by starvation to restore balance. My family hunts selectively and plants extra food in some places while we keep the vast majority of our land wild as we can.

We have a new food plot about 500 yards above the house. So far it has been a great source of entertainment and food for the table. No, we haven't shot anything yet, we are eating our fair share of the greens, kale, mustard, etc. that we planted for the forest beasties. I love to walk through the field and pinch off a few young tender leaves and eat them right there as I watch the woods and admire the stories told by the footprints and scat. The deer and turkey signs are obvious, but the dogs seem more than a little but interested in something else that leaves its scent around the edges of the field. We assume its coyotes but who knows. I have been looking at one of those game cameras that sits in the woods and takes pictures when something moves by, but so far I have resisted. Until I know for sure what it is, it could be anything my imagination can conjure.

There is one animal that several of us have seen but can't identify. We see it several times over a couple of weeks and then it's gone or invisible for a long time. Seasons go by before anybody in the valley mentions it. Dark, rough furred, and fast, disappearing off the side of the road in a jump and shuffle gait. We'll see it near the places where the streams flow close to the road and it seems to always run away uphill. It looks to be larger than a big cat, like a big mink but not as weasel like. The closest thing I can come up with is a Fisher, but those are supposed to be extinct here. All I know is that when the sightings start coming in, you'ld better pen up the chickens. A free range chicken doesn't stand amuch chance around here anyway. I suspect the people who are advertising freerange chickens are lying or at least stretching the definition of "Free".

The food plot has a water hole we call "Lake Thomas". Right now it has an impressive layer of bright green scum coating its surface. I suspect this is due to too much fertilizer running into the water from the field that drains into it. The water starts off a little muddy and slightly green, then, as we get days of sunshine, the water turns deeper and deeper green until the coating of slime appears on the surface. Just when the green is the deepest it all dies suddenly, leaving a muddy brown aftermath. I have witnessed this twice this year in the weeks following fertilizer applications. When you put too much fertilizer into an environment, you almost always get scum of some sort. I see this, as I do most things, as metaphor. Anybody that has ever driven around Washington, D.C. has to know there is too much fertilizer around the halls of Congress, for instance.

Tom Delay is a piece of scum. He is also the Republican House Majority leader and will be indicted soon. His indictment was delayed so that what is about to happen today in the Republican rules committee could take place after the election but before the indictment. This is a most heinous display of why the Republican Party is now in the hands of the immoral and the criminal. Delay is both! He is also a ruthless tyrant who visciously attacks anyone who gets in his way. His popularity in his home state of Texas has dropped considerably. It remains to be seen if Nature will use a population crash to eliminate the excess scum in our Nation. For now, it thrives:

House Republicans plan to change their rules in order to allow members indicted by state prosecutors to remain in a leadership post, a move designed to benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, GOP leaders said today.
The rules change, which leaders said is likely to be adopted Wednesday, comes as House Republicans return to Washington indebted to DeLay for the enhanced majority they won in this month's elections. DeLay led an aggressive redistricting effort in Texas last year that resulted in five Democratic House members retiring or losing reelection. It also triggered the grand jury inquiry into fundraising efforts related to the state legislature's redistricting actions.

Kos has it