Sunday, August 31, 2008

Am I my Brother's Son?

Some students have a way of writing things in a slightly different manner than intended, as demonstrated in the following excerpts from tests and essays of eight graders through college, complied by Richard Lederer, a teacher in St Paul.

The Bible is full of interesting caricatures. In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, Adam and Eve were created by an apple tree. One of their children, Cain, asked, “Am I my brother’s son?”

Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.

The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn’t have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.

Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name.

In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and threw the java.

The Magna Carta provided that no man should be hanged twice for the same offense.

William Tell shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son’s head.

The sun never sets on the British Empire because the British Empire is in the East and the sun sets in the West.

It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood.

Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.

The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday.

Queen Victoria was the longest queen. She sat on a thorn for 63 years. Her death was the final event that ended her reign.

The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the Pilgrims. Many died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.

Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats together. Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent. Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin that he built with his own hands.

Gravity was invented by Isaac Walton. It is chiefly noticeable when apples are falling off the trees.

Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept in the attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present.

Handel was a great composer. He was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large.

Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

The nineteenth century was a time of many inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up.


Quote for the Day – "A virgin forest is a forest where the hand of man has never set foot."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Illusion of Democracy

There are three points of view when it comes to the federal government.

1) Everything is more or less going along just fine. Sure we have some problems but we’ll work them out.

2) It’s too cumbersome and intrusive, taxes are excessive, the national debt is a disgrace, and our foreign policy is long on machismo and short on goodwill. The Democrats and Republicans got us into this mess and probably can’t get us out.

3) If you ignore it, it will go away.

The presidential election will take place in November.

As usual, our so-called democracy gives you two choices.

The Democrats want an extensive, intrusive federal government to engineer social change by redistributing wealth. Higher taxes and more government programs, thereby suffocating the economy and diminishing individual freedom.

The Republicans want a strong, powerful federal government to nurture big business by supporting a vast military-industrial complex. Increased military expenditures and more self-appointed international police action, thereby contributing to global strife and tarnishing our relationship with the rest of the world.

Both of these philosophies are extremely costly. Democrats and Republicans have driven our national debt up to nearly $9 trillion, and it continues to rise. Future generations will bear the burden for this insane federal spending recklessness.

If you’re enthusiastic about one of these two options, by all means stay the course.

But if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to choose the lesser of two evils, perhaps it’s time to unscrew your head back out of the sand and seek an alternative. Even though the media will try to convince you that a vote for anyone other than a Democrat or a Republican is a wasted vote, there are other alternatives.

The election process is meant to give the voters the illusion of a free democracy without actually having one.

The two major candidates for president, one Democrat and one Republican, are basically chosen by a handful of small states (the New Hampshire Primary, the Iowa Caucuses, etc.), then each of the candidates personally selects their respective running mate and potential successor.

To maintain their position of power and control, the two major political parties enacted election laws that have given them a decisive advantage over any emerging alternative philosophies.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress have awarded matching campaign funds to the two major political parties (themselves) while making it difficult for third parties to qualify for them. The candidates of these two parties are automatically placed on ballots in every state, while third party candidates must contend with legal quagmires on a state by state basis to get on ballots.

To anyone with a brain larger than a pinto bean this doesn’t seem like much of a democracy.

To make matter worse, the mass media focuses only on the two major political parties, as if they’re the only two points of view, further diminishing a free democracy.

There aren’t many choices when there are only two alternatives.

This unbalanced, unfair system wasn’t the result of evil intent. But government operates on endless compromise and those in power tend to manipulate the system to favor those in power. And the mass media goes along with it to maintain a positive relationship with those in power in order to obtain access.

Basically, the system is rigged.

The two parties in power have made it difficult for a third party to compete and the mass media has become their ally by promoting an illusion of a democracy, encouraging everyone to participate in the process under the mistaken premise that the public is apathetic rather than disgusted.

So the masses turn out every four years to do their civic duty and vote for the lesser of two evils.

But a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil and an illusion of a democracy is only an illusion.

A two-party system is not a democracy – it’s a closed system tightly controlled by the two parties in power.

Anyone who enthusiastically supports such a system is perpetuating a narrow, unjust form of government.

Every citizen has three choices.

1) You can participate in a rigged system, giving legitimacy to that system, by voting for one of the two major candidates as usual. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for doing your civic duty.

2) You can vote for a third party candidate, sending a message to the two major parties and the mass media that politics as usual is unacceptable. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for having a mind of your own.

3) You can choose to stay at home on Election Day and bang your head against the wall. Be sure to pat yourself on the back so you don’t swallow your gum.

Choose wisely. The fate of eternity is in your hands.


Quote for the Day – "Everybody knows that the boat is leaking.... Everybody knows that the captain lied.... Everybody's got this broken feeling.... Like their father or their dog just died...." Leonard Cohen

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Freedom to Flounder

In 1607, Captain John Smith founded the first permanent English settlement in America, called Jamestown.

Jamestown was named after King James I of England who commissioned the first “authorized” English version of the Bible, commonly known as the King James Version.

The Jamestown Colony was a business venture of the Virginia Company of London, a British firm formed by members of a secret society, including Sir Francis Bacon. The goal of this secret society was to build a New World Order by starting their own "ideal" community from scratch and expanding globally from there.

Sir Francis Bacon was the Grand Commander of the brotherhood order called the Rosicrucians and the founder of English Freemasonry. He's also considered by many historians to have been the true identity of the playwright known as William Shakespeare,

Not long thereafter, a second English Colony was assembled in Plymouth, Massachusetts, by a group of religious dissenters.

Britain had broken from the Catholic Church and formed the Church of England, but these two splinter groups had disdain for this new church. They were the Puritans and the Separatists who decided to journey to American in the pursuit of religious freedom. Collectively, they were known as Pilgrims.

Thus, the Jamestown Colony and the Plymouth Colony had been formed in the new land.

Initially, the first two colonies were each set up as collectives with a communal style of living, based primarily on the philosophy of Plato, where no one owned property and everyone was fed from a common store.

They were the hippie communes of their time – disdainful of authority, seeking freedom of expression, wanting to live in harmony with like-minded others.

It was a utopian scheme, lofty on idealism but short on practicality, that soon floundered. Both colonies suffered great hardships.

The leader of the Plymouth Colony, William Bradford, eventually realized that the lack of incentive was the root of the problem and instituted a system whereby each family was assigned a plot of land they could call their own and reap whatever rewards they could produce.

From then on, the Plymouth Colony flourished.

The leaders of the Jamestown Colony had no such enlightenment. If it weren’t for friendly Indians and the arrival of reinforcements in 1610, they likely would have perished.

This is another example of how the ideals of private property ownership and free enterprise work for the benefit of all.

Collectivism (socialism, communism, totalitarianism, or any large centralized excessive bureaucracy that feeds on productivity and suffocates individuality) will never be as effective as individual freedom simply because there is a lack of incentive to be productive or innovative.

In a free society, ambitious people are free to be rewarded for their efforts and are inclined to prosper, while lazy bums are free to avoid responsibility and are inclined to hang out with other lazy bums.

In a collective society, people have no incentive to be productive. No matter how hard they work, they will only receive an equal share for their efforts. And those who contribute little to the overall communal output will receive an equal share as well. There’s no point in working hard if there’s no reward for working hard.

In a free society, innovation is driven by competition. Rapid improvement leads to success.

In a collective society, there’s no incentive to be innovative. Everyone is merely a cog in a vast human machine, enslaved by a rigid system where decisions require a collective agreement, leading to a stagnant bureaucracy where change will be discouraged.

In a free society, a wide gap tends to exist between the rich and the poor, one of the chief complaints of those who endorse a collective system. But that’s the price of freedom. So be it.

In a collective society, a wide gap tends to exist between the illusion of common good and the reality of common sense. Another wide gap also exists between the ears of those who support the illusion.

Unfortunately, those who feel entitled to the efforts of others will invariably attempt to impose various forms of legalized plunder, such as a “progressive” income tax or an inheritance tax, against those who prosper. But whenever the plunder of successful people takes place, a free society becomes less free.

In a free society, everyone starts on a level playing field and the outcome is determined by effort.

In a collective society, the playing field is rigged because the outcome is determined in advance by a central committee. Such a system will almost certainly flounder.

If I flounder, I’d like it to be my choice.


Quote for the Day – "Get born, keep warm.... Short pants, romance, learn to dance.... Get dressed, get blessed.... Try to be a success.... Don't want to be a bum, you better chew gum.... The pump don't work, cause the vandals took the handles..." Bob Dylan

Saturday, August 23, 2008

College Entrance Exam

In 2001-2006, I taught computer courses at Ozarka College in Melbourne and Ash Flat, Arkansas. If you ignore the compensation factor, it was a rewarding experience.

Another new school year is upon us. Young men and women, with minds of mush, will be heading to college campuses across the country to learn as much as necessary to pass exams, and participate in extracurricular activities such as political activism, sports and binge drinking.

I fondly remember my college years, when the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers actually went to the Rose Bowl and some beatnik folksinger named Bob Zimmerman, who later changed his name to Bob Dylan, was playing in a coffee house near campus.

In those days we actually had to know how to read books, do math without a calculator, do research without a computer, write complete sentences and use a dictionary as a spellchecker.

It seemed like just getting into college back then was quite a struggle. I don’t remember for sure, but as I recall my old college entrance exam went something like this:

HISTORY: Describe the history of iconoclastic secular movements from their origins to the present day, concentrating particularly, but not exclusively, on their social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia and North America. Include quotes in any ancient language except Latin or Greek.

BIOLOGY: Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this form of life had developed 50 million years earlier, with special attention to its probable effect on polar ice caps, migratory patterns of snow geese and abstract art.

PHYSICS: Explain the nature of matter. Include an evaluation of the impact of the development of mathematics on science and proof of the Theory of Relativity using Euclidean geometry.

ECONOMICS: Develop a plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace the possible effects of your plan in the following areas: the Trilateral Commission, film noir, Japanese Baseball, string theory.

SOCIOLOGY: Explain the sociological problems that might accompany the end of the world. Construct an experiment to test your theory.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Define information. Define technology. How do they relate? Why? Create a generic algorithm to optimize all managerial decisions. Program the algorithm in assembler language utilizing a relational database of random binary numbers. Assuming you had a Cray Supercomputer supporting 1024 terminals accessing your algorithm, design a graphic user interface component and code all necessary control programs in Pascal.

PHILOSOPHY: Outline the development of human thought. Estimate its significance. Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.

EPISTEMOLOGY: Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of your position.

ART: Using the three crayons on your desk, accurately recreate Leonardo Da Vinci’s portrait of the Last Supper in the foreground against a background of the Wrath of God depicted in early cubism form.

MUSIC: Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate and perform it with an oboe and a kettle drum.

CHEMISTRY: Assume you had a bottle of canola oil, 3 oz. of cinnamon, a pint of vermouth, a walleyed pike, two paper clips and a roll of duct tape. Design a device that will explode at 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

BOTANY: Set up an experiment to communicate subliminally with a turnip and a kumquat. Describe in detail the esoteric differences between turnips and kumquats, including language barriers and political protocols.

MEDICINE: You have been provided with a box cutter, a teaspoon, some gauze, and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Remove your appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have fifteen minutes.

ENGINEERING: The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed under your desk, along with an instruction manual printed in Swahili. In five minutes, an angry lion will be released into the room. Take whatever action you deem necessary.

ASTRONOMY: Define the Universe. Give three examples.

GENERAL KNOWLEDGE: Describe in detail. Be brief, concise and specific.


Quote for the Day – "College is where you go to get as many bad decisions out of the way as possible before you must deal with the real world." Bret

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Mathematics of Existence

There are three kinds of people -- those who are good at math and those who aren’t.

If you’ve failed to detect a mathematical error in the previous sentence, perhaps you should read no further.

When I enrolled in college many moons ago, I majored in mathematics. I would have preferred majoring in pocket billiards or chasing skirts, but they weren't on the curriculum.

Math was always my best subject, but there's no money in it. I eventually switched to Management of Information Systems (computer science) and embarked on a quest to climb corporate ladders. When I finally realized the purpose in life was to discover the purpose in life, I abandoned all that materialistic nonsense and became a writer/teacher/hermit.

Mathematics contains no ambiguity or hypocrisy . It possesses the truth.

There is a mathematical sequence that can be seen in all of existence. It's called the Phi Ratio, sometimes referred to as the Golden Mean Spiral.

The Phi Ratio is a proportion.

The value of a Phi Ratio is approximated at 1.618033988798948482.... This is a transcendental number in that it literally goes on forever without repeating itself.

Suppose you have a line with a distance of X. If you break X into two segments (X1 & X2) so that the ratio of X to X1 is the same as the ratio of X1 to X2, that ratio is said to be a Phi Ratio.

In the form of equations, it would appear as:

X = X1 + X2
X / X1 = X1 / X2 = 1.6180339…

A medieval mathematician, Leonardo Fibonacci, discovered a specific sequence used by plant life during the growth process. The sequence, known as the Fibonacci Sequence, turned out to be 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, etc.

As was later determined, this sequence has a mathematical formula.

If you start with one and divide by one, then divide the sum of the previous dividend and divisor by the previous dividend, you wind up with the Fibonacci Sequence, the formulation of the Phi Ratio.

Basically, the results keep approaching the transcendental number of the Phi Ratio (approximately 1.6180339...), as follows:

1 / 1 = 1
2 / 1 = 2
3 / 2 = 1.5
5 / 3 = 1.667
8 / 5 = 1.600
13 / 8 = 1.625
21 / 13 = 1.6154
34 / 21 = 1.6190
55 / 34 = 1.6176
89 / 55 = 1.6181
144 / 89 = 1.61798
233 / 144 = 1.61805
377 / 233 = 1.61803

This logarithmic sequence is a primary geometric pattern of the universe. It can be seen in distant spiral galaxies and all forms of life on earth.

The growth of all plant life is based on the Phi Ratio. This growth pattern allows the organism to grow at a constant rate without having to change shape

The bone structure of animal and human life is based on the Phi Ratio. In humans, the first bone in the finger is in Phi Ratio to the second bone, which is in Phi Ratio to the third bone, and so forth. The human hand is in Phi Ratio to the forearm, which is in Phi Ratio to the upper arm. The Phi Ratio is also present in the bones of the feet and the legs.

The Phi Ratio pattern is the basis for the Golden Mean Spiral, which goes on forever without a beginning or an end. The Golden Mean Spiral is an integral part of Sacred Geometry, a study of the evolution of mind, consciousness and spirit.

The great Pyramids of Giza are positioned within a Golden Mean Spiral (Fibonacci Sequence). From aerial photographs, the spiral passes through the exact center of each pyramid.

Just thought you’d like to know.

However, the odds of Leonardo Fibonacci or the Phi Ratio ever popping up in a conversation are about the same as the odds of winning the Kentucky Derby without a horse between your legs.

There are three kinds of people – those who perceive the mathematical precision of a flower, those you appreciate the magical splendor of a flower, and those who are blind.


Quote for the Day – "The highest form of pure thought is in mathematics." Plato

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tourists and Chiggers

There are two annoying creatures that invade my little corner of the world during the summer months – tourists and chiggers.

According to the dictionary, a chigger is a 6-legged mite larva that sucks the blood of vertebrates and causes intense irritation.

This also describes my ex-wife, except she only has two legs.

A harvest mite is one of 30,000 species of mites. It passes through four stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. In the larva stage, it is commonly known as a chigger.

Chiggers are prevalent throughout the southern part of the United States, particularly within a hundred yards of where I call home. They are so tiny I’ve never actually seen one but I have ample evidence they're keeping tabs on me at all times.

Much like my ex-wife, chiggers prefer shade and moist areas. Chiggers live where they are protected by vegetation, such as around shrubs, plants, grass, mulch and overgrown wild areas.

My ex-wife lives in Houston where she is protected by her latest husband, two neurotic cats and a can of mace.

During the winter months, chiggers hang out a few inches below the surface, mostly discussing politics and their plans for the summer.

In the spring, the adults emerge to lay eggs. Shortly thereafter, the eggs hatch into the larva stage to officially become chiggers.

That’s when the fun begins.

Chiggers can detect movement and have the ability to sense a food source from a great distance. Unlike most other mites, they're able to move rapidly and travel a long way to forage for food.

Chiggers have a voracious appetite for flesh, especially the human variety.

They'll crawl all over a person seeking a spot with a tight fit, such as under the socks or under a waistband. At 1/120 inch in diameter, they're even able to squeeze through the mesh of most fabrics.

Once a chigger has found its way to the dinner table, it will puncture the skin, inject saliva and liquefy the flesh, enabling it to suck its meal. The injected saliva also contains a substance that prevents the blood from clotting and temporarily anesthetizes the area so it won’t be detected until after the meal is finished.

After dining on the flesh, the chigger drops off the host.

Later, the host will be left with a red bump, created by digestive fluids, which will cause a very intense itch.

For the chigger, long gone by now, a short period of development follows where the larva molts into a non-parasitic nymph that will soon mature to the adult stage. The entire life cycle takes only 50-70 days.

Like everything else on earth, chiggers serve a purpose. They make us humble knowing we’re nothing more than a dinner platter for another living creature in nature's food chain.

On the positive side, they keep those pesky tourists from moving down here and spoiling the scenery.

Tourists are a lot like chiggers -- they make me itch long after they're gone.

Quote for the Day – "The worst thing about being a tourist is being recognized as a tourist." Bret

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Law of Diminishing Returns

There is a principle in economics called the law of diminishing returns. Basically, events have an apex point where more of a good thing is no longer beneficial.

The law of diminishing returns holds for almost every aspect of life.

For example, little or no food is bad for your health and too much food is also bad for your health. Too little rain can cause a disaster and too much rain can also cause a disaster.

The point of diminishing returns always peaks somewhere between too little and too much.

Having a couple of pets can be a joy for some people. If you have 40 or 50 of them, you have slipped past the point of diminishing returns. You also have an odor problem.

A significant other, such as a girlfriend or boyfriend or life partner, may bring added fulfillment to your life. But if you have more than one significant other, you’re added fulfillment will likely be transformed into added anguish. Thus, the point of diminishing returns for the accumulation of significant others usually peaks at one.

In my case, it usually peaks at zero. Hooking up with the wrong woman is a lot like taunting a wolverine – at some point, things will turn ugly.

There's even a point of diminishing returns when it comes to wealth. It would be nice to have enough money to do everything you desire. But if you become rich beyond the capacity to deal with it, you’ll soon learn not to trust anyone and be forced to hire accountants to keep an eye on your accountants.

The law of diminishing returns works on large scale matters as well.

Costa Rica is the only Central American country that has never had a military. It’s also the only Central American country that has never been invaded by its neighbors or taken over by its military leaders.

A well-regulated militia, as suggested in the US Constitution, should be adequate to protect us from our neighboring countries. Having enough nuclear weapons to kill everyone on the planet several hundred times seems to be beyond the point of diminishing returns. Personally, I don’t feel safer simply because we have missiles pointing at those who have missiles pointing at us.

The lack of a common agreement within a group of people (in the form of government) leads to chaos. You can't have an orderly, secure society without a basic set of reasonable rules. But the formation of government requires constant scrutiny. Those who seek power over others inevitably attempt to control governments, often leading to corruption or brutal totalitarian rule.

On the other hand, too much government is often more destructive than the lack of government. A collectivist society (such as socialism or communism) enslaves everyone into a rigid system of bureaucratic inefficiency.

There must be a reasonable middle ground, where people can be as free as possible without infringing upon the freedom of others.

Agreeing on the point of diminishing returns at a national level is always a tug-of-war between those who desire to be independent and those who feel compelled to impose their will on others. Unfortunately, the more we strive to become a cohesive society, the less individual freedom we are allowed to enjoy.

The national debt of the USA is nearly $9 trillion and worsening daily, yet lawmakers in Washington continue to spend our tax dollars like a bunch of drunken sailors on shore leave. Our country has far exceeded the point of diminishing returns and future generations will be saddled with the mess we have created.

Clearly, moderation is the key to happiness.

This is good news for me. I live such a modest existence I must be one happy hombre.


Quote for the Day – "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves" Edward R. Morrow

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Anyone born between July 23 and August 22 is a Leo. Leos are proud, masterful, dramatic, generous, warm, tireless workers and natural leaders. High on confidence, low on humility and incredibly good-looking.

August 10 is my birthday. The following incidents took place on August 10 in the corresponding year.

1944 – I was born at 2:10 PM on an Army Air Force base in Arkansas. It was a rainy afternoon. Someone jerked me out of my comfortable hiding spot, held me upside down and whacked me on the butt. When I finally realized what had happened, I introduced myself to everyone in the room and inquired about having some lunch.

1945 -- Japan announced its willingness to surrender to the Allies to end their phase of World War II.

1949 – President Harry S. Truman signed a bill establishing the Department of Defense which combined the Armed Forces under the central authority of the Secretary of Defense. The only thing missing was another war.

1950 -- President Harry S. Truman called up the National Guard to active duty to fight in the Korean War.

1962 – Age 18. I'm finally out of high school and free at last. Now all I have to do is figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I soon enrolled at the University of Minnesota with high hopes and no clue about the future.

1965 – Age 21. I'm now legally a man and can legally inhabit the liquor establishments I previously inhabited.

1969 -- Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were murdered in Los Angeles by followers of Charles Manson. The previous evening, actress Sharon Tate and four others were slain in Beverly Hills by the same cult. Manson and his merry band of nitwits wanted to rid the world of those who did not meet their standard of human excellence.

1974 -- President Richard M. Nixon spent his first full day as a civilian after resigning his office the previous afternoon. Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as President and proclaimed, "Our long national nightmare is over." Somehow I didn't quite believe it. Perhaps our long national nightmare had a few more bumps in the road ahead.

1974 – Age 30. One of my co-workers baked me a surprise birthday cake with 30 candles. She was three-quarters Norwegian and one-quarter dingbat. A couple of years later we were married. It lasted five years and two days, during which time I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

1977 – The USA and Panama signed a Panama Canal Zone accord. The same afternoon, postal employee David Berkowitz was arrested in Yonkers, NY, accused of being the "Son of Sam" mass murderer responsible for six killings and the wounding of seven others. The signing of the treaty and arrest of Berkowitz were unrelated.

1991 – Two teenagers killed nine Buddhists in a temple just a few miles down the road from where I lived in Arizona. They weren't overly concerned about maintaining a certain standard of human excellence. They just wanted to steal stuff.

1993 -- President William J. Clinton signed a massive deficit-reduction bill into law. Our national debt has risen every single year since and is nearly $9 trillion. Another job well done by lawmakers in our nation's capitol.

1994 – President Clinton claimed presidential immunity when asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit of sexual harassment by Arkansas employee Paula Jones. It all had something to do with what the word "is" is.

1995 -- Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were charged with 11 counts in the Oklahoma City bombing. McVeigh was later convicted of murder. Nichols was convicted of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter.

2000 – President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, a couple of swell guys, held talks in Baghdad about an upcoming conference on oil. They also shared redneck jokes about George Bush.

2006 – Age 62. I became eligible for Social Security and was still trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

2008 – It was a rainy afternoon. The Russian Army invaded Georgia, the Pakistani military bombed houses near the Afghan border and 38 Warao Indians in Venezuela died after being bitten by rabid vampire bats. I had a piece of cake and took a nap. Life goes on.

Actress Rosanna Arquette, singer Eddie Fisher and President Herbert Hoover were also born on August 10. Not exactly big names, but August has always been a slow month for childbirth.

Leos have large egos which tends to deplete the ozone layer. Thus, supernatural forces of human evolution have minimized August births.

Birthdays are a time for reflection, usually about trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Someday I may actually figure it out. I sure hope it doesn't have anything to do with starting over.


Quote for the Day – "How many Leos does it take to change a light bulb? Leos don't change light bulbs, they get someone else to do it."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Path of Life

August 10 is my birthday. I will accept congratulations, cash or wool socks.

I'm now at an age when birthdays are no longer exciting. It's a lot like Groundhog Day – it's meaningless to the rest of the world, except to the groundhog and those who gather around to make a big deal out of it. It's the one day of the year to remind me that time is moving too fast and I'm moving too slow.

While everyone follows a different path in life, there seems to be a general pattern.

Age 1-3 – You're a mass of human jelly trying to walk across the room without falling on your face.

Age 4-5 – You’re a helpless squirt being cared for by flawless parents who love and protect you.

Age 6-12 – You struggle through grade school, making friends and dodging bullies. Somewhere along the line you discover your parents aren’t exactly perfect and embarrass you with their mere existence.

Age 13-17 – As a teen-ager, you stumble into your niche as one of the in-crowd or a jock or a nerd or a greaser or a nobody. No matter which category you fall into you’re an outcast but you don’t actually realize it unless you’re a nobody. You become rebellious of authority and change your hairstyle accordingly.

Age 18-20 – If you’re lucky, you go on to college and party for four years. If not, you marry your high school sweetheart and begin a life of quiet desperation involving employment, raising a family and maintaining a lawn.

Age 21 – You are now of legal age to consume alcohol, so you discard your fake ID’s.

Age 22-29 – You get a job that’s much less exciting than expected and try real hard not to go insane spending five days a week working for some lame idiot. You don’t think much about the future, except to fantasize about winning the lottery or writing a novel or sailing around the world or becoming a movie star.

Age 30 – Your first real zero year. You sense you’re in a rut and consider doing something drastic, like switch jobs or switch spouses or join the Merchant Marines. Instead, you change your hairstyle.

Age 31-39 – You coast along, fairly optimistic about the future. You’ve acquired a bit of money by now and perhaps have the house and automobile you’ve always wanted.

Age 40 – A bad zero year. You ponder deep thoughts about the meaning of life. Material things seem less important and you wonder what went wrong so you change your hairstyle reflecting your contemplative mood.

Age 41-49 – You switch from a fancy car to a practical car. If you have kids, they are going off on their own to screw up their own lives. You begin to read self-help books, buy a treadmill and eat more yogurt.

Age 50-59 – You put on a few pounds that are now harder to take off than when you were younger. You stop eating yogurt and start eating whatever pleases you the most. The treadmill collects dust in the garage.

Age 60 – Another bad zero year. You have now slipped across the line to become an old codger. You begin to worry about your health and change your hairstyle from stylish to whatever is the most comfortable.

Age 61-79 – You have lots of conversations about medical procedures and read the obituaries daily. Your back goes out more than you do and you change your hairstyle one last time, just for something exciting to do.

Age 80-99 – You smile more often but don’t know why, call everyone “Bub” because it’s easy to pronounce, your favorite exercise is sitting and you now have more hair growing out your ears than on your head.

Age 100+ -- You live in a strange world of young whippersnappers who seem to be from a different planet. You spend much of your time trying to remember things, like your own name and where you put your teeth.


Quote for the Day – "Age only matters if you're a bottle of wine or a block of cheese." Bret

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dog Meat in China

China is hosting the 2008 Olympic Games in August. In an effort not to offend civilized human beings arriving in China for the event, 112 designated Olympic restaurants have been ordered to remove dog meat from restaurant menus until after the civilized human beings have returned to their civilized countries.

The Beijing Catering Trade Association will blacklist those restaurants that fail to cooperate, however they'll make an exception for dog meat "for medicinal purposes."

Dog has been eaten in China for at least 7,000 years. It is sometimes referred to as "fragrant meat" or "Mutton of the earth."

An estimated 300,000 dogs are killed in China annually and processed for meat. Some of it is exported to Korea.

Factory farms import large, docile breeds, particularly St. Bernards, which are then cross-bred with local dogs, and raise them under horrendous conditions, grouped extremely tightly in stacked cages.

Rather than simply killing the dog for processing, they slowly torture it to death over a long period of time, claiming the adrenalin rush gives the meat more flavor.

A dog is a domestic animal whose main purpose in life is to love and please their human companions.

Anyone who would do such a thing to such a wonderful, loving creature should be slowly tortured to death using a baseball bat, a blow torch and a rusty screwdriver. After all, it gives the meat more flavor.

Rather than put an end to such barbaric behavior, the Chinese government merely halts the practice of serving dog meat for a couple of months, then it's back to business as usual. In a country ruled by mindless bureaucrats, the perception of goodness is more important than actually doing the right thing.

It's bad enough that human beings use animals as circus performers or rodeo attractions or game to be hunted or as clothing items or objects of experimentation or stuffed decorative items or whatever. But when a human being is deliberately cruel to an animal, it becomes an earth-shattering event to everyone who understands that animals are defenseless creatures requiring the appreciation and protection of humanity.

When thousands of innocent, lovable dogs are slowly tortured to death, in an unspeakably horrific manner, day after day after day, sanctioned by the culture of a society, we all suffer. It's a cancer on all of humanity and it must not be allowed to continue.

Rather than presenting a false image, China should live up to the bogus perception it has tried to create. Stop pretending to be civilized human beings and actually become civilized human beings.

The truth will set you free.

Quote for the Day – The greatness of a nation and its moral purpose can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Mahatma Gandhi