My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

As Long as You Have Your Health

I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again

Growing up where I did in Massachusetts, my parents had a couple run-ins with James Taylor. For a time we lived near him, but I still don’t care for most of his music. That being said, the words to some of his songs still resonate with me to this day. Even taken out of context, they seem to have a power that makes them live on their own.

A couple weeks ago I spent several days tooling around the area where both Kela and I graduated from high school. When we lived in the area it was fairly well off. Now, with the median household income nearing $100,000 and the median home price closing in on $300,000, it is safe to say that it is quite an affluent area. And it was in one of my retracing of old haunts that I realized how insulated that area is from most of the country. In the middle of a recessions their restaurants overflow, their Bentley and Porsche dealerships flourish and, even in the most deprived areas, they still seem very comfortable by national standards.

Spending time in a city like such as that, I can understand why some people don’t grasp the weight of poverty that smothers so many in this county. I would like to stereotype them as people who think that the poor are those who can’t afford organic food or drive cars with dents in them; that their biggest gift back to the world was that trip to Africa where they traded food and medicine to anyone who would accept Jesus as their lord and savior; or as people who never had to explain to a child why it needed to sleep through their hunger, but that would not be fair. You cannot judge someone by what they have never had the chance to learn. Instead, I fault our ever increasing segregation into socioeconomic classes, devoid of class mobility, and encouraged by companies catering to those specific sects. We have become a society who does not want to be reminded of those we’ve left behind.

From my generation back to the baby boomers, we are at best one generation out and two thoughts away from any true understanding of hardship. For the most part, we don’t go places in this country where they are likely to see it pain, suffering or poverty. Sure we may encounter a homeless mother on the street, but they will never see where and how she and her children live. We no longer understand what poverty means to them.

So maybe a quick reminder is due: Poverty and its outcomes are hunger and the lack of shelter. It’s the knowledge that if you get sick without insurance, it will mean living on the streets. Real poverty is not having access to school, not knowing how to read, not having or being able to find a job, having an all-consuming fear of the future, living one day at a time or losing a child or family member to illness brought about by living conditions. Real poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and an absence of freedom.

When I see people speak up against nationalized health care, I wonder who these people think that this is for. Do they honestly think that people don’t want to work, want to live off of the system and are truly a mass of degenerates who deserve nothing but our scorn? These are real people, stuck within a system that we created and support, and whose numbers are expanding at an extraordinarily fast rate. Every day, former middle-class Americans, previous neighbors of you and I, become part of their numbers. Of course no one knows that because they are forced out of their communities, to places their former neighbors would never visit, to be forgotten and treated as soulless government welfare recipients.

Ted Kennedy died this week. He died before having a chance to see his lifelong goal of health care for all Americans become a reality. And it was during one of the blisteringly long memorandums televised in his honor that Fire and Rain, performed by Boston born James Taylor, was played in the background of rotating stills of Kennedy’s life. Inappropriate as I found the touted connection, the words struck me as poignant.

Even though I’ve lived a life of reasonable comfort and have done what I could to pass that on to others, I have seen true poverty, I have seen politics, organizations and well-meaning individuals fail to save the weakest among us, I know the smell of depravity as it heads toward the inevitable and I have seen death for sheer lack of powerlessness. Still through all that I have seen and experienced, I always thought that when called upon, we as a country would come together, rise up as one and reach out to help those in need, one more time again. Now I’m not so sure.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Entry for August 26, 2009

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Or so he said on his blog

To help with some research for a friend of mine, I've spent the last couple of weeks reading over various blogs in search of a specific pattern that he believes might exist. It was during that time that I realized that never before in the history of man have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few. My hope now is to spur a revival in selective illiteracy to save humanity from having to read the drivel of the rest of humanity. Feel free to start now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Entry for August 10, 2009

Something that I noticed today: TV manufactures don’t want you to buy their products. I’ve come to this conclusion after looking at their ads and noticing that everything displayed on their TVs are things that you could be doing if you weren’t sitting on your ass watching TV.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Pretty Worthless Girl

You are in line in front of me again. I see you everywhere talking on the phone, with a gaggle of other girls, adjusting your bra and skirt. You’re usually smiling at nothing and happy to be you. I can’t blame you, you are very attractive. You have curves that make me play out hopeful scenarios in my head and a face that tells me that, if I just said the right thing, maybe.

Then you speak and it’s like Jessica Simpson being called upon in a college physics class. Legally Blonde in reality - except sometimes you’re brunette or black. That’s when I realize, again, it’s all that you have. Sure some extracurricular activities exist, but they are all forgettable and add nothing. Sugar-free eye candy, a sports car lacking a soul, just a picture of the most beautiful woman in the world.

I’ve had you more times than I care to admit. You are horrible in bed. Unskilled and boring. An effigy to beauty.

I cannot remember why it was that I thought that you would be different this time. That all of your talents would be equal to your shell. Again I realize that I’ve been deceived by advertising and bought the new model because it looked just different enough to renew my hope. Again you were a mythical white deer caught in the headlights. Again you made me long for you and again my victory was empty. No different than the worst of anyone else.

Maybe it’s the height from which I pushed you. Perhaps there is no way for you to have proven your worth. It could be that I tire of you in each of your forms, but I don’t ever remember when the effort was equal to the reward. Again I see you in line in front of me and I’m hoping you are the same.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


For those of you who aren’t sure how politics works behind the scenes, let me take a minute to give you an example of what the average American never sees or hears. This is how current anti-health care reform movement was created and how it is still run today:

Almost all grassroots movements, whether Liberal or Conservative, usually have, at their root, organizations run by heavily sponsored corporate interests that orchestrate the dissemination of information and organize the movement of pawn-like individuals to represent their interests in the most public places possible. If you ever want to find out why the latest grassroots movements came into being or where it is going, simply look at who backs them.

For information on current anti-health reform faction, simply check out Americans for Prosperity website, currently working under the subsidiary of Patients First. Their Director is Art Pope, who has North Carolina Republican Party Headquarters named after him, and whose National Chairman is David Koch, the 19th richest man in the world and the co-owner of the largest private oil company in the US. Their organization perfectly represents the real driving force behind this current anti-health reform drive. Furthermore, their website claims that they are run and comprised by normal, hardworking middle-class people, who just happen to be busing people across the country to cause disruptions at Town Hall meetings, sometimes thousands of miles away from their own homes.

This is what these groups do. They are experts at fake grassroots campaigns that promote corporate interests. Americans for Prosperity is the exact same company that drummed up support for its anti-stimulus rallies earlier this year and organized a national campaign against the notion that global warming exists. It is the same company that paid for Joe the Plumber to travel around the country to protest the Employee Free Choice Act’s pro-labor legislation. This oil industry and Republican Operative millionaires club is, according to the Republican Party Spokesman today, “just regular, average American folks.” I can almost see them now: just sitting around the kitchen table talkin’ about whether or not they can get away with saying that the government has a secret plot to kill old people.

These guys are the pros, this is an industry. Americans are now being bused to these events to stop the discussion and rattle congressman. Sure they are enraged, but it is in part because they are being riled up by over-the-top fabricated conspiracy theories about health care. And they are being directed and orchestrated by the corporate interests that do this for a living and do it very well. Add to this a media company that directly caters to, and is funded by these same special interests, and you have a formidable publicity movement with a very specific goal in mind.

So none of these protests are grassroots in any way. This is about as organic as the McRib. This is how corporate America creates the illusion of a grassroots movement to support their own interests. This is their job, they are professionals at this and this is an industry. To talk about these town hall events as some sort of natural outpouring of average American folks that have concerns about health care is to be willfully blind as to what is really going on. What is really going on is that there are professional PR operatives, generating exploitive, manufactured, strategically deployed disruptions in order to line their own pockets. These PR people get paid a lot of money for doing it and the corporations that pay for it get to kill legislation that would hurt their profits. And the real people, who they launch into these town hall settings, after they’re told that health care reform is some evil socialist plot to kill old people and to mandate sex changes, those real people get angrier and more alienated every day. Ultimately they will get left, like the rest of us, with a health care system that is broken, doesn’t work in the interests of the American people, but does work in the interest of the corporations that profit from the way the system is now.

This is what politics looks like behind your back. Both sides always have and always will do it. What I ask of you is this: don’t give them that power. The biggest secret in Washington is that you, the people, have the final say because it is you, the voters, who decide who stays and who goes. If enough of you tell your Congressman that this type of activity is not how you wish to see your country behave, it will stop. If enough of you say that you don’t want to be told what to believe, it will make a difference. If enough of you finally decide that you have had enough of this manipulative practice, the country may even have a chance to debate this issue in an open and honest setting – devoid of special interest groups, PR firms and lobbyists trying to dictate what you think. That is, if enough of you still think that you matter.

I Am Not Impressed by Your Tattoo

Everyone has a tattoo. Everyone.

Last week, while eating at a small diner in SC, I was talking to a 65 year-old waitress who was overjoyed to show me her new tattoo. It was a small dragon hatching out of its shell and was meant to commemorate the birth of her first grandchild. A week before ,I had to suffer through a muted conversation one aisle over at a book store in Georgia between two female seniors in high school talking about their matching Tinkerbelle tattoos. This has got to stop.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for free expression and the liberty to do whatever it is to your body as you see fit. As long as you are of an age/maturity level to take responsibility for your actions, I’m all for experimenting. That being said, I’m sick of hearing about it. Woo-hoo, you have butterfly tattoo on your ankle. Gee whiz, no one would have ever thought to put a tribal-looking design right above her ass. Ancient Chinese symbols on your back; I bet you’re the first to get those. A bit of barbwire around your bicep? That sure looks tough on your skinny frame.

Look, the reason to get a tattoo used to be because they were slightly rebellious and cool. But now they’re passé. They are the Crocs of self-expression. It’s like telling the world, “Hey, look at me, I would have been cool 10 years ago!” So please, if you get a tattoo, just keep it to yourself. Because the rest of us are bored by your tired self-expression.