Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thoughts on Religion

Religion is historically the cause of most of the pain and suffering in this world.
I realize that I will get in trouble for this portion of my ongoing blog but every once in a while it just gets to me. Actually as I get older it is getting to me more and more.
That is not to say that religion is a bad thing just not the religion that humans have used to get themselves and their followers ahead of everyone else.
Religion can be a good thing unless it is taken too far. Unfortunately 'too far' is where we end up taking our religions.
I will not pick on one religion and if it seems that I am doing so I apologize but all of them are to blame for allowing the bloodshed and turmoil throughout history. And what is worse I do not see it ending any time soon.
One of the earliest thoughts I had on this subject came in Junior High School as they used to call today's more politically correct Middle School. My history teacher explained the Papal Wars. Does anyone else find the phrase both oxymoronic and offensive? In order to get converts to the church the Pope sent out his warriors to kill heathens, those who would not convert! And where in our hearts should we place the Spanish inquisition?
Has anything changed? Not really.
Okay the above two examples are no longer in effect and the church is not in the business of outright war anymore. But other religions are or rather the more extreme followers of their religions are. These so-called Jihadists who believe that followers of religions other than their own are to be put to death, even if it means killing themselves to complete that task.
Funny how the leaders of those groups never kill themselves to fulfill their objective. They incite and threaten but in the end they cowardly seek out and brainwash the weak-minded and poor by filling their heads with visions of eternal bliss then glorify the horrendous deeds of these misguided fools with praise and gifts to the families they left behind.
All this in the name of God.
People like these, and I use the term in the loosest possible way give the rest of us reason to believe that there may not even be a God for surely if there were would he or she allow this senseless stupidity to continue? Not any God I would like to believe in!
When I was young I was told that we were all created in God's image and that God loves us as a father or mother loves their children.
So we are all created in Gods image and we are all loved?
Does that mean both men and women?
Does that mean both rich and poor?
Does that mean Arab and Jew?
How about gay and straight?
Black and white? (And any other color.)
And of course does that mean Muslim; Christian; Jew; Hindu and on and on and on and on and ...?
They say that this time of year we are supposed to reflect on our lives and resolve to make them better for the coming year.
Why only now?
Most New Year's resolutions last only a week or two. Does that mean that by the end of next December we will look back on another wasted year filled with hate and murder in God's name?
This is not a good plan.
Somehow we must stop it.
We must do it now.
And we must do so In God's Name.

Monday, December 24, 2007

BABY BOOM OR BUSTED BABY

It seems that I am no longer important in this world or at least that’s what Madison Avenue thinks. You see I happen to be a card carrying member of the Baby Boomers. But as I continue on the path through the second half of my sixth decade I have ceased to be of importance to the advertising world. I no longer exist.

Now in a way I should be happy that I will not be bombarded with bombastic ads repeating ridiculously childish phrases but I cannot help but feel slighted. In fact one particular television commercial leaves me wishing I could drive head on into the makers of the product. And judging by most commercials I see on the boob tube advertisers must think our children are morons.

I am in the prime of my life with my earning power near its peak. But while the government seems to have no qualms about dipping its grubby little fingers into my pocket my money is no longer sought after by big business.

Recently I was contacted by a telemarketer asking if I would be interested in taking part in a focus group to discuss single cup coffee makers. I happen to own the particular brand that was conducting the survey and that excited the caller who coincidently is my cousin. I was to receive $75 for an hour of my time and while that’s not the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me it is not totally unpleasant.

But first I was asked a couple of ‘background questions’ which is an ‘adspeak’ euphemism for weeding out undesirables.

And that’s when it all went south.
“You’re 58?”
“Yeah, why?”
“Are you really? I can’t believe you’re 58!”
“Hello. I’m 58. So what?”
“I’m sorry but you’re too old.”

First off I cannot believe my cousin did not know I was over the hill with one foot in the grave but what really bothered me was I had already spent that money.


She explained that the company running the focus group felt that anyon over 54 was out of focus.

Well focus this! I still buy stuff. And many of my contemporaries do as well. In fact at our age we sometimes buy things for no apparent reason. Maybe an ad made us do it.

And just who do they think can afford to buy their frivolous over-priced products anyway? I bought this particular unit 2 years ago. I was 56. Should I return it? I was too old to know anything about those things. Perhaps my owning one hurts the company’s image.Big business thinks we boomers are set in our ways while ‘Gen Y’ is virgin territory. They may have a point. After all our kids are big spenders learning new tricks every day while we are merely old dogs. But do not write us off. I still watch the Daily Show and the Colbert Report on my I Pod. In fact those shows have me rotflmao. (Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Ass Off)

Pant Suit or Freedom - Politics as Usual

Following the presidential campaigns over the past few weeks I have learned many things. For example, recently John Edwards addressed groups in poverty stricken areas. He attempted to show his concern and willingness to help the poor overcome their plight. He was well received.
Barack Obama has been appealing to a greater and more diverse group of voters than the other candidates, amassing admirable support and campaign dollars. Obviously his message is appealing to them.
Hillary Clinton wore a pant suit the other day and recently showed a bit more cleavage than normal while in congress. She is often referred to as Mrs. Clinton rather than Senator Clinton.
Does anyone sense a problem with these three statements?
Seven years ago many Americans voted for and almost elected a president they felt would be more fun at a picnic serving hot dogs and beer. After being appointed to the job this president seemingly won re-election because he was considered an honest leader unafraid of a fight. He defeated a decorated war veteran who presumable would be no fun at a barbeque.
But throughout all the previous elections and considering all the idiotic reasons why Americans vote for their candidate we seem to have reached a new low. No article or television news report ever deemed it necessary to tell us that George Bush was retaining water or that John Kerry’s pants were too tight. Of course there was a huge flap over John Edwards’ costly haircut and now there is talk about Mitt Romney paying too much for makeup but neither story has nor should it have legs.
And speaking of legs should Hillary show more of hers?
I for one want a president that can lead us out of the current terrible quagmire in Iraq no matter what he or she is wearing.
I for one want a president to restore our constitution to its once great glory whether or not his or her hairdo was expensive.
I for one want a president who can help America once again be the loved and admired leader of the free world. And most importantly I for one hope and pray I am not the only one.

THE NOSE

Someone once said “A rose is a rose is a rose. That which by any other name would smell as sweet.” But what of that which detects the fragrance of the rose? I’m of course referring to the oft maligned oft forgotten nose.

All the fame would seem to belong to the rose, but what would that flower be without the nose to smell it? It would just be another pretty flower with thorns. The nose on the other hand is marvelous and varied. Just think of the many kinds of noses that exist in today’s world. There are: big noses, small noses, fat noses, thin noses, round noses, flat noses, hook noses, upturned noses, pug noses, freckled noses, runny noses, snot noses, peeling noses, stuffed noses, clean noses, broken noses, fixed noses, bloody noses, mustachioed noses, twitchy noses, itchy noses, and the business executive’s constant companion the brown nose.

A rose doesn’t know anything but a nose is wise - the nose knows. Flowers cannot get any work - who would hire them? However everyone has surely heard of a nose job. And for a reporter it is a great asset to have a nose for news.

Also remember all of the things you can do with a nose. You can: blow it, wipe it, scratch it, pick it, dive on it, scrunch it, break it, punch it, rub it, hang your glasses on it, tweak it, look down it, turn it up, fix it, wriggle it, fall flat on it, lead someone by it, and win a race by it.

And suppose that that race you’ve just won by that nose is the Kentucky Derby, do you know what one of your prizes is? A horseshoe shaped ring of ROSES! I tell you there is no justice in the world.

I think that more should be done to glorify the nose. Possibly Pasadena could have an annual tournament of noses parade with prizes such as the Jimmy Durante Award for the largest float with class, or the W. C. Fields Award for the most colorful float, or the Septumus Maximus Award for the most deviated float, and of course the first prize, the Grand Proboscis Award given to the most breathtaking nose of the parade.

How about some books such as “A Nose Grows in Brooklyn” or “The Yellow Nose of Texas.”

In the animal kingdom the nose is very important. The elephant and the anteater would be lost without one. Birds are always proudly displaying their beaks and most animals use theirs to smell danger. The dolphin uses its snout to hit sharks and thereby scare them away. Let’s see you scare a shark away by throwing roses at it.
So take care of your nose and be proud of it. Follow it to a better life. And in closing I hope it is clear that while a nose by any other name would still smell! It is not true that a nose is a nose is a nose.

A WINTER'S LAMENT

I think my nose is running
It's impossible to tell
You see it's frozen solid
And it cannot even smell.

My glasses are all fogged up
Just to see straight would be nice
My eyes are surely tearing
But my tears have turned to ice.

I know that I am moving
Just as sure as the North wind blows
There is no doubt about it
I just cannot feel my toes.

I scratch my head with fingers
That have long since fallen numb
To walk around on days like these
I really must be dumb.

I cannot wait 'til June comes
Ah the Summer will be sweet
Of course you know I'll then bemoan
The awful Summer heat!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Yes the year’s new
But what do we do
With memories of years that have passed?
We all move ahead
Toward the future instead
Of pining and living in the past.

This year will be better
For we all must unfetter
Ourselves from our unwelcome chains
Make the best of the time
To the top we must climb
In the end the reward’s worth the pains.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

INFINITY

Infinity
A Very Short Story
A Very Long Story



1. THE MEETING




Hey! Where did you come from?

Huh?

I said where did you come from?

I, uh, I don’t know. I mean, I have no idea. Who are you?

Me? I’m… uh I’m… Wait I know this. I’m Alan. That’s right, Alan. At least I think that’s my name or at least it should be. I can’t seem to remember. Alan, yeah it just sort of feels right. What about you?

Hmm. Sue! Call me Sue.

Okay, Sue it is. Now Sue?

Yes Alan?

Where did you come from?

Right. It’s funny. I’m not really sure. I seem to remember floating peacefully towards an opening of some kind. It was far away. But then I started to go faster and faster as though I was falling from a great height. But I wasn’t scared or anything. And here’s the really weird thing. When I got through the opening?

Yeah?

Well, when I got through the opening, I saw ME on the other side waiting. I know, you think I’m crazy but

No. I don’t think that at all. I had the same kind of dream.

Alan, I don’t think it was a dream.

Too weird!

And to answer your question, the next thing I remember is being here with you.

Okay, Sue. But that brings me to my next question. Where is here and what are we supposed to do now?

That’s two questions.

Do you have two answers?

I don’t even have one. But I think we should make the best of it. Let’s look around. Maybe we’ll find out something. What do you think?

Me? I think all of this excitement has made me really tired. I’m going to get some rest. We’ll talk about it tomorrow. It is a pleasure to meet you Sue. Good night.

It is a pleasure meeting you Alan, and good night.




2. PROPINQUITY




Ah, this is the life isn’t it?

My, my aren’t we the happy one today? What brought this on?

Well, think about it Sue. We have everything we need right here at our fingertips. We eat when we’re hungry, we sleep when we’re tired, and it’s certainly comfortable here. What more could you ask of life? I ask you, what more could you want?

Do you love me?

Huh?

Do You Love Me?

Well that’s really relevant. You sure know how to change a mood.

I’m serious. Do you love me?

Yeah, I guess so. But…

You guess so? Is that the best you can do?

Hey what do you want from me? You come out of nowhere with a question like that and expect me to have a ready answer.

Great.

Okay, okay. Of course I love you. I mean what do you expect. We’re together all the time. I’m always with you. It’s propinquity!

What the heck is propinquity?

It‘s the love that forms out of being close to someone for a long time.

Oh, so that’s it? You love me because I’m always here?

No that’s not it. Not at all. Look I've stayed with you haven’t I? I mean not once have I left your side.

Very funny.

All right. I mean that’s just how it started but it has grown. I love you now. I really do! I just don’t think about it all the time.

Wonderful. Now you take me for granted.

I give up.




3. THE MEETING




Alan wake up.

What is it?

I don’t know. I just don’t feel good. And I can’t sleep. I keep getting this feeling that I’m not going to be around much longer.

What are you talking about, stop it. You’re giving me the creeps.

Oh come on Alan. You can’t tell me you haven’t been feeling funny recently. I can see it in your face.

All right I have felt a little strange, but it’s just temporary. I had the same feeling a while ago and it went away. It’ll go away again, trust me.

Well right now I am worried. No, I’m downright scared stiff.

Cut it out! I told you that there’s nothing wrong. I won’t let anything happen to you, okay?

Okay. Thanks. You’re probably right, I’m just… What was that?

I don’t know.

Alan, I feel… Help. Something is pulling me. Help!

Sue?

HELP!!!

SUE!

ALAN!

HOLD ON!

I Can’t. Oh God, I can’t. I can’t. Alan. Alan.

Sue.

Goodbye Alan.

Wait – No – Help – NOOOOOOO – SUUUUUUE! Oh no, oh no. Where are you Sue? Where did you go? Oh God no. Where did she go? I can’t believe this is happening. I need my Sue. I want my Sue.
Maybe it’s a dream. Yeah, that’s it, it’s just a dream. I’m going to blink and…Oh God, why? Oh Sue I love you Sue. I do love you.
Whoa, what was that? What the…Stop it. Something’s pulling me now? Let go! Help! Help me!
Where am I going?
Hey I see some light.
Wow is it bright! Hey, turn it off, it hurts my eyes.
Hey, there’s Sue!
Hi Sue.
Sue? It’s me, Alan. What’s wrong? Why are you crying?
SUE!
Why won’t she answer?
Hey, put me down. Let go of me.
Stop it. Don’t hit me.
OW.
That hurt.
Stop.
OW!
Ow, Owaaaaaahhhhhhh, Wahhhhhhhhh, Waaahhhhhhhhhh. Wahhhhhhhh.

The Big Picture - A Primer for the Tax Payer

I work for a living. The company I work for makes a product that while it is not essential to life it is nonetheless useful and desirable. My company makes a profit selling this product and therefore I receive a salary. That salary is taxed at a high rate and every penny of what is left over is then taxed again when it is used to purchase something. And the company from which I purchase that something is also taxed for making their profit. If that money is used to buy a winning lottery ticket the winnings are taxed at an unbelievably high rate.
Senators and other government officials also work for a living. But their company does not produce a product or a profit from which to draw a salary. They are paid in part by my taxes. They are also paid by friends called lobbyists and special interest groups.
In return what they do produce causes more taxes so that they can make more money for themselves and their friends.
Every couple of years these officials must run for re-election. During this time each and every one of them states that they never raise taxes. Many of them say that they never voted for a tax or a tax increase and yet we are being taxed at ridiculously high rates.
There is even an Alternative Minimum Tax or AMT which was started years ago to make sure the very wealthy pay at least some taxes. But many of the wealthy people also have friends who are lobbyists or belong to those special interest groups. Therefore rather than make the wealthy pay their fair share the officials in DC allow the AMT to affect lower and lower income families. This shift downward has passed along a greater burden of the tax code to the middle and lower middle class.
Congress enacts laws. They also amend current laws and decide on government spending. But what they spend is not their money since they produce nothing. The money they spend is OPM or other people’s money, our money.
Therefore it is our money that sent thousands of our children to war and their death against the wrong target. It is our money that funds the oil companies to unheard of record profits. It is our money that pays for illegal wire tapping of American citizens.
Our money even funds the travels and safety expenses of politician’s mistresses as well as their friends and family. It would appear that these wealthy people cannot afford to pay for their own transportation but we all know that is not the case.
Our money helps big business and multi-national corporations send our once better paying jobs overseas to cheaper markets in search of higher profits which are then taxed at lower rates.
Our money helps keep HMOs, who produce an even less desirable product than does our congress make record profits.
And all the while our money is being used by our leaders to decide how we are allowed to live our lives and love our loved ones even down to deciding whether or not some of us are allowed to marry.
What our officials are not using our money for are mundane things such as stopping global warming which may make the world uninhabitable in a few years; finding ways to feed the tremendous number of hungry people in our country, let alone the world; helping our homeless people, many of whom are veterans of the military. Our officials refuse to fund medical research into various ways to heal the sick or stop certain diseases at all, especially if their church tells them not to. These officials have obviously never heard of the separation of church and state.
America has fallen behind the rest of the world in medical research and education. We will continue to fall behind as long as these idiots are in charge.
However we still lead the world in celebrity sightings. Our press rejoices in the reporting of panty-less supposed celebrities or brainless billionaire bimbos. We can rest assured that we will be well informed when a blonde goes missing in the Caribbean. We will also know all the details of the child custody hearings when a wealthy buxom woman dies.
We only have ourselves to blame for allowing our money to be used and abused by a small group of people known as senators and representatives or Presidents and their friends. We work for a living, what the hell do they do?

Friday, December 14, 2007

CITY LIFE

We co-exist, the cars and I
I walk along, they drive on by
Each at quite a different pace
Avoid intruding other’s space

Invisible for most of time
Searching for the life sublime
For peace and comfort we do chase
All slaves we are to our rat race

Working hard because we must
Place our lives in those we trust
One false step one errant word
Collisions caused it’s most absurd

Those cars and people ebb and flow
This way that way all do go
But of our fate are we the master?
To get ahead we must go faster.

In those cars I see me
And in me themselves they see
Wishing for a life that’s cleaner
Where we pray is the grass greener?

My Poor Pluto

As a child I was one of the first in my class to be able to recite the names of the planets in their astronomical order. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and the rest were like friends to me. The textbooks I carried to and from school reinforced my knowledge and gave me comfort. I was at peace with the nine planets of our solar system.
I was whole.

But late last year the so-called wise men of the International Astronomical Society (IAU) ordained that Pluto, the distant dot, that orbiting orb that many still believe was named after a Disney character can no longer be considered a planet. ¹
They coined a new phrase for Pluto, Dwarf Planet! (Actually Pluto would much rather you say Little Planet!)
They justified their universal slight with an explanation that to a layman was as clear as the Crab Nebula on a cloudy night.

Who were these men to tell me that the ninth planet of our Solar System was to be Plutonized?

Think of the children who learned those mnemonics. (My Very Educated Mother Just…)²

And what of Jeane Dixon and her friends? Okay she probably predicted this, but what of the rest of us?
Oh the humanity!

Well those astronomers are not the only ones who can change the course of history. After all we are each and every one of us children of the universe. I for one will not sit idly by while they disrupt my life. I must get a chance to disrupt someone else’s life.
That’s the American way.

So with apologies to Joe Biden I hereby Plutonize Delaware. Your home state is way too small to be considered a state anymore. Oh sure you can boast clothing sales without tax but you more than make up for that by having tolls every fifty feet on your tiny stretch of I-95 that speeds through your state, uh I mean locality.

And don’t you start laughing Rhode Island. You could be next if anyone ever really cared to notice you on their way to Maine!

And what’s up with the penny? Does anyone really care about the one cent piece anymore?
Plutonize it!

And while we’re at it put the nickel on notice as well.

Let’s also Plutonize that ridiculous “point nine” that comes after the price for a gallon of gas at every service station in America. Everyone knows the price is not $3.199 but rather $3.20. What are they trying to hide?

We should have Plutonizing contests to come up with the next insignificant item to be wished away ala Billy Mumy in that classic Twilight Zone episode. ³

And let’s add referendums to the ballot in November so Americans can vote on the best, or worst item if you will to be Plutonized.

What I am trying to say is that I refuse to replace my reference books just because a few stodgy old men sitting in a smoke filled room decided to screw with reality. I think we should plutonize the IAU.

Let’s hold those guys hostage until they give us back our Pluto. Walt would have wanted it that way.

After all, if you don’t think Pluto should be a planet then you don’t know your Venus from Uranus.


FOOTNOTES & LINKS:

1 - Pluto is suddenly a dwarf planet

2 - My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, PLUTO)

3 - It's A Good Life