Monday, May 31, 2010


I'm sitting at my desk, staring at the message board that comprises part of the "credenza" that adds value and bulk to my workspace. The credenza is the place for my photographs, my latest pictures. Some are not so new.

But here I am. Waiting. For what, I'm not sure.

Good People

There are good people in the world. I haven't necessarily met them, but I hear from them from time to time. And that's a good sign. I heard from one tonight, someone I've never met, but who offered me some advice about dealing with my insomnia. She didn't have to give me any advice, but she did. That was a nice thing to do, knowing little about me and having no reason to care. I wish her well.

Plastic Jesus...One More Time

Here's what you would see if you went to the site where this song is posted. Interesting stuff.

raymondcrooke — July 19, 2009 — The original version of "Plastic Jesus" was an actual radio advertisement in the1940s and 50s for a company that made plastic dashboard statuettes of Jesus and offered them for sale in various states including Texas and West Virginia. This parody is generally attributed to Atlanta songwriter Ernie Marrs, who wrote a number of topical songs that were recorded by Pete Seeger, one example being "The People Are Scratching." Seeger had actually planned to record "Plastic Jesus," but changed his mind after it had already been advertised on a Folkways album. He wrote, possibly in "The Incompleat Folksinger," that he liked the song a lot because it showed how people accept plastic or illusion over substance but he said he decided not to sing the song any more because he thought the reason he enjoyed it might have something to do with his Protestant upbringing, and did not want to offend any Roman Catholics.

Ernie Marrs did record it in the 1960s for "Broadside" Magazine , where it was printed. A shorter version was printed in "Sing Out" (1964).

However this satirical song was around before Marrs adapted (and copyrighted) it. It was actually written by two West Coast musicians, Ed Rush and George Cromarty, who were members of the Goldcoast Singers. Ed Rush traced the song back to an African-American camp-meeting song with lyrics "I don't care if it rains or freezes, leaning on the arms of my Jesus," which was the theme song of a religious radio program broadcast from Baton Rouge in the 1940s. The parody lyrics are based on this line.

Here is how Ed Rush describes it: "As bored teenagers in Fresno, California in the late 50's my friends and I used to sit around on hot summer nights playing with a radio to find distant stations. A favorite was (as I dimly recall) a station with the call letters (maybe) XERB, from Del Rio, Texas. The transmitter was just over the Rio Grande, in Mexico, so that they could engage in some questionable transactions that the FCC might not have approved of. They peddled all sorts of tacky quasi-religious stuff, including plastic statues of Jesus, Mary, etc. These were guaranteed to protect the buyer, especially if he sent cash. One of our favorite programs often featured rousing spiritual anthems, including one song that started, 'I don't care if it rains or freezes, leaning on the arms of Jesus...' Being slightly irreverant teenagers, George and I came up with 'I don't care if it rains or freezes, long as I've got my plastic Jesus...', etc, etc. I clearly recall rolling on the floor with laughter for about an hour". He also notes: "In mid-1963 a Chicago disc jockey played Plastic Jesus several times a day and nearly got fired by his very Catholic boss."

Paul Newman sings this song in Cool Hand Luke as a hymn, as if it was the only thing he knew that had some spiritual words.

This song was heavily debated when it was printed in "Sing Out" and again when it was printed in Broadside, with angry subscribers asking how they could publish something so blasphemous, canceling subscriptions and claiming they would never read the magazine again. Gordon Friesen of "Sing Out" defended the song against charges of being sacrilegious: "'Where does the sacrilege lie really, with the song, or those greedy for profits, who debase the Savior by producing and peddling these cheap little trinkets in his image?'" (Broadside issue 39).

I first heard this song from a friend at school who was instrumental in introducing me to the folk scene and also happened to be an atheist). At the time I also found it offensive until I understood that the target is the sellers of religious kitsch, not religion itself

I Watch Myself Watch Me Listen to Music

And I hear...Hang on Little Tomato...CIA Man...Gasoline...Soak Up the Sun...Castles Made of Sand...Bottom of the World...Four Dead in Ohio...The Baby Elephant Walk...Southern Cross...Teach Your Children Well...Classical Gas...Dang Me...Turning Japanese...Diamonds and Rust...Tennesse Stud...Road to Peace...Like a Rolling Stone...Asshole from El Paso...Won't Back Down...When I Get It Right...Smell of Coffee...The Poet Game...Dejame Vivir...La Flaca...Il Valzer Di Un Giorno...


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Prince Lebanese Grill

We had lunch yesterday at Prince Lebanese Grill. We both liked it. I had spicy chickenn schwarma and my wife had a dish that consisted of tiny cubes of grilled lamb atop a huge plate of hummus. It was expensive (for us) as lunch goes, with the total exceeding $30 for the two of us. A couple sitting near us were eating enormous and delicious-looking gyros; they are on the menu for $3.59 each. Our tea was flavored (cinnamon?), which was unexpected and unappreciated, but it was not terrible (but added to the cost at $1.89 each). All in all, it's a keeper and we'll almost certainly go back to try the gyros, which is one of my favorite things. I may try the babaganouj, next time, as I'm a fan of the stuff. The place is a hole in the wall, operating out of what looks to be an old burger joint. But they've jazzed it up a bit and it has a modicum of "decor" inside. They've even made a decent little alfresco eating area, but no one was eating outside yesterday in 95-degree temperatures.

Prince Lebansese Grill
502 West Randol Mill Rd.
Arlington, TX 817-469-1811
Monday-Saturaday, 11 am - 9 pm
Closed Sunday

Saturday, May 29, 2010

No Capsule Endoscopy for Me, Thank You

I finally talked to my doctor's office (actually, one of many...this time, the gastroenterologist). After I explained that I had not had pain since my "episode" and that I was a pauper and could not afford to pay for the capsule endoscopy nor the doctor's fees, anyway, the nurse agreed to discuss the matter with the doctor. After consultation, the nurse called back and said the doctor was willing to forego the capsule endoscopy, but that if I had any more pain, to call the doctor's office right away.

So, I just saved myself god knows how much money...whatever the amount saved, it was considerable.

There is Fiction in the Space Between

It's late...about 3 am...and I've still not gone to bed. This is unusual for me. I'm listening to Tom Waits and Tanita Tikaram and Loudon Wainwright and Leonard Cohen and Doc Watson and on and on and on. Something's on my mind, but I don't quite know what.

I logged in to Facebook and found one or two people I know still logged in, but they're not people I feel like talking to. I'm in the mood for conversation, but it has to be the right conversation with the right people...and the people I want to talk to are few and far between and the ones who might be willing to have the conversation I want to have are even more scarce.

I wonder if there are other people sitting there tonight, wishing they could talk to someone about something they can't quite put their fingers on? I doubt it. Most people don't need or want to talk about things that I care about.

I'm listening to Tom Waits now...some of his deep blues. The ghost of Friday night is still...for now. And now Tracy Chapman comes up on the headphones. "Telling Stories." Apropos. "There is fiction in the space between."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Runaway Greed

We've made no firm decision yet, but we're leaning toward accepting one of the less expensive foundation repair bids. With the addition of leak detection before and after the repairs, fixes to the sheetrock, painting, replacing cracked tiles, the the like, I'm guessing it's going to be an $8-10K hit. If we have plumbing leaks of one kind or another, it will go up from there.

Such is life. If we tried to sell the place, we'd have to incur the costs of "fix-up" anyway, so we're probably going to stay here awhile. There are plenty of other "fixes" we need to pursue, such as re-rat-proofing the attic, replacing rodent-infested insulation, repairing or replacing rotted exposed wood columns in the front, repainting the exterior that is peeling in sheets, fixing the leaking master bath and guest bath faucets, etc., etc. (the list is literally endless). So, we're probably going to invest in this place as if we were buying another home. Assuming we do that, it will be like having a new home, albeit with lots of evidence it's really not new at all.

All of this puts a huge crimp in our wishes (I won't call them plans) for vacation time and such niceties associated with getting away from work, but I suppose I must pay for whatever evils I have done.

I won't bitch any more than absolutely necessary. I know I'm better off than 90% or more of the earth's population, so I have no legitimate room to complain. But if I could become a sovereign nation and nationalize BP and Halliburton, I'd be better off financially, and I'd have an enormous sense of satisfaction that I'd done my part to protect the world from runaway greed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pissed-Off Progressive

It upsets me that people seem to have an unhealthy need to always "take sides" and rarely are willing to discuss issues. The world is not black and white. Solutions are not liberal or conservative. Approaches to the world can be partisan, but shouldn't always be so. It makes me angry when people lay the problems of the world at the footsteps of "Obama-loving, illegal-immigration-loving, pro-abortion, anti-religion, anti-flag, anti-American, liberals," but it's equally absurd to say the world's problems are the fault of "right-wing, immigrant-hating, anti-abortion, flag-waving religious fanatics."

Both of us (and I include myself in one of those camps far too often) allow ourselves to let opinion and lack of knowledge rule.

And it pisses me off. Maybe I am becoming more conciliatory. Or maybe I just recognize that right is not always wrong and left is not always right.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Closer to the Ground

A PowerPoint presentation was sent to me the other day and it rang all the right chimes in my despondent old body. It calls one's attention to the fact that the problems that we, in the developed world, wail over are nothing, compared to the horrors of daily life for a large percentage of the population of the planet.

Like many people, I could laugh and give thanks to "god" that I was "blessed." Or, I could look at myself and my culture in shame and wish we all could live just a little closer to the ground.

Foundation: Third Bid

$4200, more or less. It depends. The last guy suggests we not do any piers but, instead, put in root barriers between two trees (that he thinks are responsible for the foundation problems) and the house. Then, wait a year and see if the cracks and out-of-square doors self-correct. That would only cost $1900. But we'd have to wait a year or more to see if that solved the problem. If not, it would involve internal piers and maybe more of them. But if we want to just do it, it would be $ various engineering and other fees. I'm thinking about $5K in total.

Now, a decision. But what?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Foundation: Second Bid

$5200-$7100 plus potentially optional piers. Who would have thought foundation bids could be so far apart? Second bid said there might be three additional piers, ranging from $1300 to $1900 for the three, depending on what type of pier I opted to have installed. And this bid included root barriers for two large trees, whereas the $11,800+ first bid did not include them. And the proposed locations of piers differed considerably. The second bid did not include tearing up the tile floor. I prefer the lower price, but what I really want is the best job. That's the real problem...evaluating the bids.

Foundation: First Bid

$11,815. Plus $1600 if two additional piers are required (won't know until they start the project). Will entail drilling piers inside the house, including 2 through some of the 18" ceramic tiles we had installed about 2 years ago. Another bid will be had today. And another tomorrow. I'm going to start selling other people's homes while they're away at work. Maybe I can at least collect some earnest money that I can use to pay for this nightmare.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tribute to BP

Watch this through and through. It gets especially good at about 1:50 in. The person who narrates the training school deserves accolades!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Green Sheet

Green Sheet ads I haven't seen, but would find amusing (I may have a sick sense of humor):

Free to good home: water moccasin/rattlesnake mix. Good with kids.

Wanted: European or Canadians (papers required) to perform yard-work and do house-cleaning. Must be fluent or willing to become fluent.

Fishing camp for sale: Good, deep-water docks, 5 excellent camp-sites, rustic cabin (sleeps 9), working still, 19 banjos, collection of pornographic videos; includes caretaker.

Free to car afficionado: 1957 Chevy, first $9500 takes it.

Gardener: Well-preserved anglo man in his 60s for sale or lease. 40+ years experience in horticulture and tax evasion.

Major Oil Company, deeply discounted for quick sale: Major international oil company for sale. Buyer assumes ownership of out-of-service drilling rig assets and all corporate liability. Purchaser must be available for Congressional hearings this week.

Congressional seat for sale: Experienced Congressman seeks buyer for Congressional seat. Seat includes lucrative revenue stream from established influence peddlers.

Party rentals for every budget: tables, chairs, margarita machines, clowns, center pieces, piñatas, hookers, dancing policemen.

Lost: Iguana (answers to "Toodles") in the vicinity of mile-marker 600, just south of Strasburg, IL, on Route 32. Tatoo on left shoulder reads "For a good time, call an iguana." Reward for return.

Slightly-used doggie chew-toys for sale: Approximately 75,000 slightly-used doggie chew-toys for sale. Entire lot only, will not divide. Excellent opportunity for medium sized city whose entire population cares for dogs.

Nova Dallas?

New carpet is delayed until the foundation issues are resolved. Thanks to comments from brothers, carpet installers, et al, I decided it would be crazy to install new carpets, then have foundation work which probably would require re-stretching carpets (and which might involve people with muddy boots trekking around the house). So, all of the "stuff" we had packed up and moved away to temporary storage will now remain in storage for awhile. Foundation quotes will be gotten on Monday (and perhaps later in the week) and I expect to be stunned by the cost of getting the foundation of this money-pit back into square.

After that's done, we'll address some other attic pests and a need to re-insulate the attic and a need to replace or re-hang some badly out-of-square doors and a need to fix some plumbing and tile problems, and on and on. And then we'll either decide the "fixes" will last long enough to enjoy the house or we'll put the place on the market and get out from under it. I'm truly tired of old-house problems. It would be one thing if I could do the work myself, but I don't have the time, the tools, or sufficient skills. And the repeated foundation problems is the real kicker. I'm just tired of screwing with it. I'd like to build new, someplace I'd like to live. Ah, well, that's a dream of immeasurable proportions.

In the interim, I'll take some happy pills and will try not to let house woes invade my psyche any more than they already have.

But, today, I will nose around the outter edges of my house and will repair and repaint and otherwise fix up little entryways for critters and kudzu. My blogger friend Bev, who's in the midst of working on an old weather-beaten house in Nova Scotia, is no doubt laughing at me for weeping at cracks in my (or my house's) foundation. She, at least, has a place with character and with natural beauty, in Nova Scotia. I have a mid-70s Dallas ranch-style house. So there you go. The comparisons tell the story. Perhaps I should go off in search of Nova Dallas?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hah Hah!

The neighbors probably thought we were moving out today. We hired a company to pack up and move away, to temporary storage, all the contents of our closets, bookcases, night stands, coffee tables, desks, file cabinets, etc. The reason is that we're finally getting our new carpet installed next Monday and Tuesday (if it takes 2 days). The carpet installers will move furniture, but only if it's empty. Hence the "moving day" experience.

After all the crap was hauled away, I was able to look closely in some closets that have long since been buried under loads of unused junk. In one, I discovered a vine growing along the baseboard. I pulled up the carpet and found an enormous amount of spindly vine there. It had somehow entered the house from a crack in the front and had been growing for who knows how long. In the same closet, I found more evidence of foundation problems. And I called foundation repair companies, after I discovered that the warranty on our last foundation repair, done in 1998, lasted 10 years. So, more money down the toilet.

We've decided to refinance our house, taking out a 10 year note on the refinance at 3.99%. That will shave off 8 years, which is what we have left on our 6.5% note. And even though it will cost more, it will save money in the long run. Why we'd want to refinance this money pit is almost beyond me, but I suppose it would be impossible to find a place as nice (except for broken foundations and plants growing under the carpet and along the baseboards) for the same payments.

The discovery of more evidence of foundation issues, coupled with the invasive plants and generally hideous appearance of the closets and the wood trim inside them has convinced me to spend next weekend doing handy-man stuff, such as painting. And, I'll pull carpet from the exterior walls of the house and calk along the sill-plate, where I see evidence of ants and other creatures entering our abode. I'm feeling particularly warm and fuzzy about new houses right about now. I wish someone would send me $1 million in cash so I could indulge my fantasy.

I had a conference call today with a client (while watching someone boxing up all our belongings), during which one of the participants accused me of being irreverent and funny. I enjoyed that little slap. She mentioned an email I had sent, responding to someone who was openly disagreeing with a recommendation I'd made. I had said the writer hadn't understood what I was suggesting...I wasn't suggesting taking legal action against a person who had engaged in fraudulent activity, I was suggesting the person be euthanized. They thought it was funny. They didn't think I was serious. Hah hah!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tea Makes Me Happy

It's almost 7:00 am and I've only been up awhile, just long enough to have made a pot of coffee, done some reading, and read some blogs. I have been awake, off and on, for much longer, but only up since about 6:15. For reasons unknown, I awoke about 2:00 am and again at 3:00 am and yet again at 4:00 am and 5:00 am, remaining awake for at least 20-30 minutes each time. Perhaps a noiseless alarm clock has been secretly implanted in my brain? I'll have to get a brain scan next chance I get to confirm or debunk that theory.

Yesterday, I had a lot of errands on my plate and I intended to do them. I needed to go to the office, I needed to look for paperwork on the last two times we had foundation work done on our house (because we need to get more done), and I needed to take care of a number of other tasks that I just can't get done on weekdays. Need and want, though, competed for my time yesterday and want won.

Mywife and I went seeking a light Italian food lunch at a place called Angelo's in the Lakewood area of Dallas. Unfortunately, we did not bother to confirm that the place serves lunch on Saturday, which we learned it does not. So, we walked across the street to Matt's Rancho Martinez, where we had a decidedly un-light lunch. Matt's is a fixture in Dallas and has another location (I've not been there). This location, though, is the one "everyone" knows about. And it is truly Tex-Mex. Normally, I would have ordered enchiladas or tacos or flautas, but the chicken fried steaks caught my attention.

I went for the "Bob Style" CFS, which is topped with sour cream, chile con queso, and guacamole and is served with rice and beans on the side. My wife opted for a CFS, too, but ordered the Tampiqueno style, which is topped with tomatillo sauce, sour cream, and cheese and also is served with rice and beans.

We were dumbfounded at the food. The CFS were the most tender cuts of meat we've ever eaten in a chicken-fried steak. Rather than the traditional (within the last 15 years, anyway) method of coating the steaks with a heavy batter and deep frying them, Matt's puts a very light coating of spiced flour and pan-fries the meat. Whatever possessed us to order CFS in a Tex-Mex restaurant I'll never know, but I'm glad we did. It was unbelievably good! Of course, I cannot eat again until two months after my next birthday, but these next few months of fasting will have been worth it.

After our life-changing experience with Matt's CFS, we went wandering around with no particular objective in mind. We stopped at Jimmy's Food Store, a place I could have spent hours buying wonderful Italian foods and wines. The lunch we'd just had, though, apparently quenched my desire to buy anything remotely related to food. Jimmy's is a spectacular place, though, that if it only were around the corner from me, would serve as my sole source of food and I would be very, very happy. They serve eat-in or take-out sandwiches there, too, that are to die for. Unbelievably good stuff. Over the last few years, many more people have caught on to Jimmy's, which is good for Jimmy but bad for patrons looking for a place to park within blocks of the place. It used to be easy to get into Jimmy's, but now after 40+ years, it's a foodie vacation spot, populated by large numbers of 30-somethings, plus a fairly good number of geezers who won't be shoved aside by the newbies.

After we got home, I checked my email and found that the Coca-Cola company had actually responded to my plaintive cry for help in finding Gold Peak Tea. When my wife was in the hospital several months ago, having an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator implanted in her chest, I bought tea for her in the hospital cafeteria and we both loved it. I checked and found that it was Gold Peak Tea. More research revealed that it is distributed by Coca Cola. Yet more research revealed that the stores the Gold Peak website claims should carry it do not. So I wrote to them. Lo and behold, they sent me a list of about 8-10 stores (all Albertson's) that they said should carry it. And, sure enough, I went to Albertson's and found it. In the cold case. It's plain, unsweetened tea, but it is kept in the cold case, not with the other bottled teas. I have no idea why it is so good, but it really is the best tea I've ever had. And so I bought a bottle of it for $2.29 and decided it's probably going to have to be our "special celebration tea."

So, what will today bring? I suspect I'll get to do my errands today, but since there's so little weekend left, I'll have to rush and stress to get them all done. Yet another reasons for reversing the poles...5-day weekends, followed by 2-day work-weeks.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Tool for Democracy

There is a nasty disease choking off the supply of good sense and good governance of American society. I believe I have a cure. Let me explain.

Politicians invariably claim themselves to be public servants, enumerating with pride the number of terms they have "served" in public office. I believe that to be true even of politicians who, prior to running for office, swore they were doing so at great personal sacrifice.

Typically, people claim to be entering politics solely because they felt an overwhelming need to retake Washington, the state capitol, the city council, or the school board from the "fat cats" who are in office only for their own personal benefit.

I have come to believe that anyone in public any public office of any kind...cannot be trusted. They lie and the truth is not in them. Even if a person truly enters the fray with noble intentions, he or she quickly contract the disease that affects all people who do so: power-drunkeness, or PD. That is not to say that PD directs their every vote. The smart ones understand that, eventually, the public will cast out those who display end-stage PD at every turn (it may take take decades, but the voting public eventually either catches on or becomes confused at the polls). So, the smart ones work hard at creating plausible, if confusing, reasons for their truly self-serving votes and those votes that serve others who have the capacity to offer the incumbent the pecuniary rewards and power-fixes they so desperately crave.

I, who was a rabid supporter of Barrack Obama, now recognize that he was, and is, power-drunk, as are all of his Democratic cronies. The disloyal opposition, the Republicans, are experiencing fits and starts of power-withdrawal and power-hits, making them even more vile than those across the aisle. But make no mistake: all of them are deep within the clutches of power-drunkeness and there is no cure, at least not for them. But read on; I may have the cure for us. I may have a way to prevent their disease from ruining our lives.

It's too bad that the Tea-Partiers recognized the need to "throw the bums out" earlier than their more progressive peers. TPs can claim ownership of the current anti-incumbent mood, which gives them far more power in the gullible public's mind. Fortunately (or unfortunately, if the public is more far-gone than I hope is the case), the TPs' solution is Replacement Republicans who took governance classes in right-wing Baptist encampments. Even if the current Democratic-controlled Congress reverses poles to become a Republican-controlled Congress, symptoms of PD will remain highly visible and the "throw the bums out" mood will renew itself in short order. (Whether that will be early enough to save the country from implosion is highly questionable, though.)

Regardless, at some point...and it must be in the near-term...the voters must, indeed, "turn the bums out." Every. Single. One. But we must not replace them with clones or with reverse-clones, as we have tended to do. We must establish a mechanism that will ensure the selection of people who possess the necessary skills, intellect, moral compass, and vision to lead our country, and give clear example to the world, to greatness. Notice I said "selection" of leaders and not "election." This is an important distinction.

First, we must establish core principles that will guide us. Fortunately, the Constitution and Bill of Rights are available and have not suffered from over-use, so they are good starting points. A few updates here and there and they should be good to go. Those documents might then be supplemented with some additional guiding principles which more clearly articulate particularly important principles, such as:

The Role of Government: I suggest we clarify what government should and should not do. I have a few ideas of my own about what those roles are.

First, it should be clear that government needs money to operate. To secure that money, government must have taxing authority, but that authority must be clear, straightforward, and guided by the principle that taxes should be maintained as low as possible to pay for the services that should be provided by government. Equally important, those taxes must not be set at artificially low levels so that they do not cover necessary services. A guiding principle should be this: a lean, fair tax structure should be established so that all necessary services will be paid for by taxes, either in the aggregate or by taxes to users. Government should not exist to collect taxes; it should collect taxes to provide services that cannot or should not be provided in the private sector. That having been said, if the government cannot establish a tax structure that is far simpler than the train-wreck we have today, I suggest the entire process be bid out to the private sector. The work-product of a retarded sheep would certainly make more sense to use as the basis of our tax codes than those we use today.

Back to the role of government...

For example, government should provide for roads and other forms of access to transportation. This does not mean the government should buy us cars to use on those roads, nor buy us tickets to use on buses or trains or subways. Government, using our tax money, should build and maintain the necessary infrastructure; we, as citizens, should pay for our own personal use of that infrastructure. Now, as citizens, we have the right to expect that government will use our tax money wisely, so that it will not use our tax dollars to construct new roads when more efficient means of transportation that would do less harm to the environment is more appropriate. Who decides? Our selected leaders, based on the framework we provide for them.

Another role of government is to provide a safety-net to help people who cannot provide for themselves. Our tax dollars, again, should provide the funds necessary for the government to provide food and shelter and basic clothing and medical care for people who cannot provide those necessities for themselves. Note that I said people who cannot provide for themselves. People who simply choose not to work, even though they are able and could get work if they tried, should understand that the government will not provide them with the basics (except medical care); for all other necessities, they are on their own and subject to the mercy of charities. Note, too, that I said government should provide a safety-net for food and shelter and basic clothing and medical care. Not entertainment. Not vacation travel. Not cigarettes and liquor. Not prom dresses and 3-piece suits. I don't suggest that people who are receiving government support should not have entertainment or vacation travel or cigarettes or nice clothes, only that my tax dollars should not provide them. I have no objection if my contributions to charities might be used to help make the less fortunate more comfortable, but my tax dollars ought to be used exclusively to provide necessities.

Another role of government is to provide access to healthcare to all citizens. While our tax dollars should be used to enable government to provide medical care to those who cannot afford to pay for it (with taxes) for themselves, those same dollars should be used to pay for healthcare for the rest of us. Even that percentage of the population that chooses, for whatever reason, not to look out after themselves, should be protected by governmentally-provided medical care.

Clearly, a role of government...the Federal protection against attack. I expect our government to use my tax dollars to provide for a well-equipped military to provide for that protection and to develop and execute a sound policy for good international relations. I do not want my tax dollars used to initiate wars of convenience or to extend wars from prior administrations simply because it would "look bad" to pull out. Sometimes, protection against attack may well include the provision of international aid to countries whose citizens are in need. Many times, protection against attack may include crafting trade policies that are fair, equitable, and mutually beneficial to all parties.

Fundamental Rights
I wonder if the "founding fathers" wouldn't have gone further on the issue of religion had they known then what we know now. The right to adopt any religion one might want should remain, but I think every one of them should come with required warning labels: "Warning: Belief in this religion's tenets and principles is almost certain to invalidate belief in many fundamental human rights. In addition, if you are not already stupid, belief in this religion's tenets and principles will make it so." Seriously, I think it should be articulated, for all the world to see, that Americans are entitled to freedom from religion, in addition to freedom of religion.

Speaking of which, a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion should rest solely between the woman, her partner, and her physician, with no role whatsoever by government. This should be spelled out in a constitutional amendment. While I believe people have the right to object to abortion, their rights should enable them only to try to persuade people to decide against abortion rather than enabling them to stop it. While I personally would rather people who are not prepared to have children use other means of preventing pregnancy instead of relying on abortion, a woman should have the absolute right to choose to have, or not to have, an abortion for her own personal reasons.

I could go on...and on...and on. But I won't. Let me get back to my point.

The Solution
I've already said we should throw the bums out and replace them. And I said we should "select" replacements, versus "elect" them. That's where the unique solution comes into play. After clarifying the role of government and clearly articulating what is and is not reasonable for government to do (i.e., setting parameters, much like one does with a position in a company...the employee is given basic responsibilities and then told about what limits are placed on his or her actions), we have to pick replacements.

Because we already know anyone who wants the job is not someone we'd want to hire, we have to use another tool. And that tool has been used by our government before, but not in the same setting. That tool is conscription. Yes, conscription...the draft. We need to give ourselves the authority to limit individuals' rights in the name of what's best for our country. We should identify people who possess the necessary skills, intellect, traits, character, stamina, and understanding of the jobs to be done and require their service in public office. Like the soldiers who are given no choice but to answer the country's call to service when a draft is in place, our new politicans will have no choice but to serve their country by taking a 2-6 year term in public office or be jailed for contempt of country. Because PD may well be transmitted by exposure to public office in general, it will be incumbent on us to keep a careful watch on our newly-selected leaders and to take quick and decisive action if any of our conscripts show signs of PD (the only known "treatment" is confinement in an "asylum" or immediate and irrevocable return to a life utterly devoid of access to power).

Admittedly, there may be some kinks to work out in my system, but I'm willing to talk about how we can make this work.

It's after 8:30 am and I'm no longer in the mood to discuss this issue, but if you're interested, write and I'll respond when my attitude changes.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Fine Fantasy

I watched a special on PBS about Jim Morrison. Very touching and poignant. It made me wonder, though. What about the people who don't have talent, but who are wracked with guilt and pain and heartache that doesn't play out well for an international audience? What about people who aren't good at selling their ideas and their poetry to the press? What about the people who can't depend on a recording contract to support their self-indulgences?

Screw those people. They weren't born at the right time, with the right silver spoon stuck deeply up their behinds. Just let the fuckers suffer and then die. I know it's not the way "the world" wants it to work, but that's just the way it is. Justice is a fine fantasy.


There's really no point in puffing oneself up and adopting the identity of a stud macho ya-ya. It's bullshit and everyone knows it. People always tend to prefer real people instead of pretend-people. The key to success, then, is how to be real and still be who you are. Because people may not like who you are. And you DO want to be liked, don't you?

The reality is this, though: people may not like you. And it really doesn't matter. It truly, really, honestly doesn't matter. It only matters that you like yourself. What's that you say? What if you don't like yourself? Fuck, I don't know. That's a hard question with no satisfactory answers.

Pretend, I guess.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Just so I'll have a record of it, I've been writing a bit each day. I'm trying to write things that actually get to the bottom of what I'm thinking, though I'm not quite getting there. But I am writing. I wrote a note to a friend that in hindsight probably will seem like jibberish bullshit, but that's OK. Maybe that's what I need to know, that I write bullshit and there's nothing particularly noteworthy apt to flow from my fingers. At least knowing it would be a start so I can devote my attention elsewhere.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Something Else

If I were able to just make enough money to get by...covering mortgage, meals, required expenses, taxes, etc...I think I'd do something completely different. Maybe that would be painting or pottery or peeling potatoes. Just. Not. What. I. Am. Doing. Now. But peeling potatoes does not pay enough to cover my mortgage. So now what?

Monday, May 3, 2010

For awhile, at least, I will try to commit to words some thoughts that matter. I may not always transfer them to this blog, but I will try to articulate something that matters to me.

I need to understand something about myself; how can I have such a horribly bad temper and be such an absolutely miserable son-of-a-bitch, saying things that ought never be uttered to another human being?

How can that same son-of-a-bitch, just hours later, feel overwhelming emotion and empathy for someone else to the point of being in tears?

If I am ever to write what I want to write, I have to understand those two people who live under my skin.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Definitionator is All Wronged-Up

My definitionator is all wronged-up.

It's true. I've noticed lately that, sometimes, when I try to explain or even try to recall what a word means, my explanation/recollection isn't quite right. Sometimes, it's more than not quite right, it's more like my mind has ceased to function. It's as if I were trying to communicate across time, in languages I do not speak, to someone who has no sense of the past or the future and has no comprehension of verbal communications. It just doesn't work.

I could blame my advancing age (or the fact that my age has already advanced). I could blame the chemicals in the food I eat. I could lay responsibility at the feet of my parents for leaving their youngest child with old, worn-out DNA. Or I could accuse my wife of poisoning me with fast-acting memory-debilitating drugs. I could do any one of these things, but I choose not to because I think it's something else. It's really as simple as I said at the outset: my definitionator is all wronged-up.