Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Dark and Stormy Night

Time is fleeting and thoughts are slippery. Sometimes the desire to add meaning to life by splattering sequences of words onto paper is overwhelming. Certain people, often blessed with a robust imagination and a high sense of self-importance, must splatter words onto paper until their brain bleeds or spend their dreary lives wondering what might have been.

It was a dark and stormy night, many moons ago, when I decided to write novels. I had a robust imagination, a high sense of self-importance and nothing better to do at the time.

The first sentence of a novel is extremely important. It must compel the reader to read the second sentence.

I now have four published novels and they're all selling like hotcakes. The first sentences are as follows:

THE DOGMAN OF TOPANGA (romantic suspense/thriller) -- "As soon as I got out of the car, I had the feeling I was being watched."

GOOMBA IN MONTANA (coming-of-age suspense/thriller) -- "I sat on the stool behind the counter, staring out the window, basking in the glory of my placid existence."

A BAD RUN OF FATE (psychological mystery) -- "A magnificent beast wandered into range, a lone buck with a gigantic rack."

THE ELEVENTH SAGE (metaphysical mystery) -- "The next thing I knew, I was in the back of an ambulance."

These may not be the four finest opening lines but they aren't the worst either. Edward George Bulwer-Lytton was a popular novelist in his day. His 1830 novel titled PAUL CLIFFORD begins with the following immortal sentence.

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents -- except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

Since 1982, San Jose State University has perpetuated literary whimsy with the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest whereby contestants construct a single opening sentence to a bad novel. Last year's winning entries include:

ADVENTURE: "The legend about Padre Castillo's gold being buried deep in the Blackwolf Hills had lain untold for centuries and will continue to do so for this story is not about hidden treasure, nor is it set in any mountainous terrain whatsoever."

CHILDREN'S LITERATURE: "Jack planted the magic beans and in one night a giant beanstalk grew all the way from the earth up to the clouds--which sounds like a lie, but it can be done with genetic engineering, and although a few people are against eating gene-engineered foods like those beans it's a high-paying career to think about for when you grow up."

FANTASY: "Gringran Roojner had only gone to see the Great Warlock of Loowith to get his horoscope and he couldn't believe he'd been sent on a quest for the legendary Scromer of Nothleen to ask him for the answer to the Riddle of Shimmererer so that he could give it to the Guardians of Vooroniank, thereby gaining access to the Cave of Zothlianath where he would find the seldom seen Cowering of Groojanc, whose spittle was an absolute necessity in the making of the Warlock's famous pound cake, the kind with raisins."

GENERAL FICTION: "The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's deception, screaming madly, 'You lied!'"

ROMANCE: "Looking up from his plate of escargots, Sean gazed across the table at Sharon and sadly realized that her bubbly personality now reminded him of the bubbles you get when you put salt on a slug and it squirms around and foams all over the place, and her moist lips were also like the slime on a slug but before you salted it, though after all these years Sharon still smelled better than slugs, but that could have been the garlic butter on her escargots."

WESTERN: "This town's not big enough for the two of us," growled Slim Jenkins, "but I think that if we can get the townspeople to agree to issue a bond to annex the Carter Ranch, we can then incorporate and there should be plenty of room for everyone."

By the way, the market for hotcakes isn't exactly booming these days, even on dark and stormy nights.

Writing is not the road to riches, but rather a journey of self-discovery. It gives you the illusion of control, but in reality it controls you.

Anyone can write 80,000 words. The secret is to put them all into the correct order.

Quote for the Day – "A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer." Karl Krause

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and many dark, stormy nights with nothing better to do. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Origin of the Species

Ocean voyages tended to be melancholy undertakings in ancient times. In 1830, the captain of a British naval survey ship, the HMS Beagle, put a bullet in his head during a period of intense gloom.

The following year, Robert FitzRoy, a 23-year-old gentleman of nobility, was given command of the vessel and assigned the formal task of charting coastal waters.

FitzRoy, engaged to be married at the time, was a blue blooded snob who detested conversing with the crew so he invited a friend to accompany him on the voyage in order to have someone of his own background with whom to socialize.

When the friend backed out, FitzRoy persuaded another educated young man, age 22, to take his place, chosen primarily because of the shape of his nose which FitzRoy thought gave him character.

FitzRoy's new dinner companion was named Charles Darwin.

From 1831 to 1836, the HMS Beagle sailed the coastal waters of South America.

FitzRoy and Darwin shared a tiny cabin and soon began to bicker. FitzRoy's passion was to find evidence for a literal, biblical interpretation of creation. Darwin, who had trained for the ministry, slowly evolved into taking a more open-minded view.

During the voyage, Darwin accumulated a vast amount of specimens and fossils. He studied the structure of coral reefs and developed a much-acclaimed theory about their formation. He also discovered a new species of dolphins which he named "Delphinus Fitzroyi" to honor the captain of the ship.

Six years after the voyage, in 1842, Darwin began to put his theory about the survival of the fittest, although he never used that term, in writing. In fact, he believed it wasn't the strongest or most intelligent species that survived, but rather the one most adaptable to change.

Contrary to popular belief, Darwin was perplexed about evolution. He was fascinated by nature and highly reverent of animals.

Two years later, he had completed a 230 page sketch of his ideas. Then he put his notes aside and for the next 15 years busied himself with other matters, including fathering 10 children.

In the autumn of 1859, having renewed interest in his theories, Darwin sent a copy of his manuscript, titled ON THE ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES BY MEANS OF NATURAL SELECTION, to the editor of the respected British journal Quarterly Review who rejected the material and advised Darwin to write a book about pigeons instead.

Darwin's manuscript was published later that year under the title ON THE ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES. It was an instant success, selling all 1,250 copies of the first edition on the first day. It has never been out of print.

Darwin was tormented by his work, aware of the controversy it would cause, and referred to himself as "the Devil's Chaplain." His book instantly became a major topic of discussion among intellectuals. The thrust of Darwin's theory, commonly referred to as evolution, was that human beings may have evolved from primates without the assistance of a divine creator. Needless to say, this viewpoint was hotly contested by the clergy.

In 1860, a meeting was held at the Oxford Zoological Museum to debate Darwin's theories. Over a thousand people were in attendance and hundreds were turned away at the door.

During the presentation, Robert FitzRoy, former captain of the HMS Beagle, stormed into the room, waving a Bible and shouting, "The Book, the Book." Recently named head of the Meteorological Department at Oxford, FitzRoy had been at the conference to present a paper on storms.

Five years later, Fitzroy committed suicide in the same manner his uncle had committed suicide decades earlier, by slitting his own throat. Apparently, the survival of the fittest works in mysterious ways.

Darwin's legacy is still with us. Even today, mankind continues to debate the origin of the species. Some believe in a magical creation orchestrated by a divine presence, some believe we evolved from microbes and apes, and some believe we were delivered by a stork.

There is even significant evidence that the human race was created eons ago by the genetic alteration of early humanoids (Homo erectus) by extraterrestrial entities (Nephilim – those who fell from the heavens, also called Elohim – reptilian serpents or giants), followed by the subsequent interbreeding between these genetically altered Homo sapiens and extraterrestrial entities, whereupon the resulting ET/human hybrids (in human form) then became the rulers of the world (royalty) by promoting those of their hybrid bloodline into positions of power through secret societies (Illuminati).

Personally, I believe I'm the center of the universe and everything else is simply a figment of my mind. Considering the state of the world these days, I obviously have a very morbid imagination.

But it really doesn't matter how we got here, we're here and that's that. The prime objective is to figure out how we're going to survive another day and where we're going when our existence in this dimension has expired.

The origin of the species is a mystery. If you solve the mystery, it's wise to keep it to yourself.

Quote for the Day – "Animals, whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal." Charles Darwin

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where animals are equal (or often superior) to humans. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dung Preference

The Ig Nobel Prize is an award given for "science achievements that first make people laugh and then make them think." The sixteenth annual Ig Nobel Prize event at Harvard University was organized by ANNALS OF IMPROBABLE RESEARCH, a science humor magazine, in cooperation with several Harvard student groups.

The 2006 ceremonies opened on October 5, 2006, with a mini-opera titled "Inertia Makes the World Go Around," starring opera singers Margot Button and Gina Beck, about two sisters, one of whom is at rest and tends to stay at rest, and the other who is in constant motion and tends to remain in motion.

Another pre-award feature was the "24/7 Lectures," an annual delight, where several of the world's top thinkers each explains their subjects twice; first in 24 seconds and again in 7 words.

The prize winners, along with their published research papers and my astute observations, include:

OMITHOLOGY: Howard Stapleton of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales – Electromechanical Teenager Repellant (Tydfil invented an electronic device that makes an annoying noise audible to teenagers but not to adults)

This invention is long overdue. Teenagers can be very annoying, especially in groups, and need to be dispersed. Some drink from the fountain of knowledge, but most only gargle.

NUTRITION: Wasmia Al-Houty of Kuwait University – Dung Preference of the Dung Beetle Scarabaeus Cristatus Fab from Kuwait (an explanation of why dung beetles are finicky eaters)

If dung is the main entree of most of your meals, being finicky makes a lot of sense. Plus, I don't imagine there's much to nibble on in rural Kuwait other than sand or dead Dung Beetles.

ORNITHOLOGY: Ivan R. Schwab of the University of California Davis – Cure for a Headache (a study on why woodpeckers don't get headaches)

Plus, banging your face against a tree helps clear up acne.

ACOUSTICS: D. Lynn Halpern of Brandeis University and Northwestern University – Psychoacoustics of a Chilling Sound (Halpern conducted experiments to learn why people dislike the sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard)

In my experience, fingernails on a blackboard sends a shiver down your spine which also clears up acne.

MATHEMATICS: Nic Svenson of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization – Blink-Free Photos, Guaranteed (a mathematical calculation of the number of photographs it takes to ensure that nobody in a group photo will have their eyes shut)

This mathematician is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot. If you stand close to him, you can probably hear the ocean.

LITERATURE: Daniel Oppenheimer of Princeton University – Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly (unnecessary long words)


MEDICINE: Francis M Fesmire of the University of the Tennessee College of Medicine – Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage (a compilation of medical case reports on an unusual method of stopping hiccups)

By the way, the digit is a finger and the use of a latex glove is highly recommended. Not to be used for recreational purposes which may become addictive.

PHYSICS: Basile Audoly of the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris – Fragmentation of Rods by Cascading Cracks: Why Spaghetti Does Not Break in half (an explanation of why spaghetti often breaks into more than two pieces)

The French invented the croissant, the guillotine and the surrender flag. If they were any more lame they'd have to be watered twice a week.

CHEMISTRY: Antonio Mulet of the University of Valencia in Spain – Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature (findings concerning the melting of cheese)

Conclusion -- when very hot, cheese melts. If you see two people talking and one looks bored, the other one is Mulet.

BIOLOGY: Bart Knols of the Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands – On Human Odour, Malaria Mosquitoes, and Limburger Cheese (a study showing that a female malaria mosquito is equally attracted to the scent of human feet and the scent of Limburger Cheese)

I suspect this would also include the scent of Barney Frank and Hoboken, New Jersey.

Most of the winners attended the ceremony where they each gave a brief speech. To ensure brevity, a little girl would dutifully scream, "Please stop talking – you're boring me." when recipients ran over their allotted time.

People often yell "Please stop talking – you're boring me." at me too; sometimes when I'm not even talking.

Quote for the Day – "If you can't be a muse, be amusing." Woody Paige

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a box of latex gloves. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Friday, April 17, 2009

Islamic Insanity

On April 13, 2009, two young lovers attempting to elope were shot to death by a firing squad during a public execution outside a mosque in southern Afghanistan.

Abdul Aziz, 21, and Gul Pecha, 19, had fled their village, planning to start a new life together. The Taliban, an organization of Islamic extremists, put the young couple on trial for crimes against Islam and executed them shortly thereafter.

"It was a very bad thing for these people to escape from their homes without permission and it is right that they should be punished according to Sharia law," explained Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, spokesman for the Taliban movement..

Welcome to life on Planet Earth in the enlightened year of 2009.

In the year 610 AD, the prophet Muhammed received a divine message from Allah. He was commanded, by Allah, to start a new religion that believed in a single God. Thus, the religion of Islam came into being.

Monotheism is the doctrine or belief that there is only one God. Eventually, Islam would become the third major monotheistic religion in the world, along with Christianity and Judaism. A Muslim is an adherent to Islam.

Over the next 22 years, Muhammed spoke for Allah and the Muslim empire overtook the Arabian Peninsula.

After Muhammed's death, the Muslim empire continued to expand over the centuries.

In the 1500s, Christianity and Judaism accommodated the modern world by conceding the separation of the church and state. Western civilization soon flourished under individual rights, economic freedom and rule of law.

By the 1600s, the Muslims were the greatest military force in the world. They conquered vast territory in the Middle East and Southern Europe, and in the process converted millions to their religious dogma.

By the 1700s, the West achieved military superiority. Soon, the West began repelling Muslim expansionism.

In 1769, Russia defeated the Turks (Ottoman Empire), the first major setback of the Muslim world.

In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte of France led an expedition into Egypt. Over the next century, France seized and occupied Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco; while Britain occupied Aden (modern Yemen) and Egypt.

In 1911, Russia gained control of vast areas of Persia (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran) and Italy annexed the city of Tripoli, leading to the establishment of Libya. By the end of World War I, France and Britain had conquered the entire Muslim empire and occupied various portions of the region as part of their spheres of influence.

While many Muslims gradually adapted to the Western ways of fast-paced modernization and industrialization, others rejected them and yearned for the rigid ideology and traditional laws of the Koran.

Islamic radicalism was born in Egypt in the 1920s. Hassan Al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood, predecessor to modern day Hamas and Al Qaeda, which reverted back to the strict teachings of Muhammad.

The radicals felt Allah was angry with Muslims for straying from their true religious path. They perceived the Western influence to be a prison of the true believers, a punishment by Allah for betraying their religion.

The Muslim Brotherhood soon formed armed cells that attacked the "secular" government and its supporters. Today, this organization has hundreds of branches in over 70 countries worldwide.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Sayyid Qutb of the Muslim Brotherhood invoked Jihad, a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty. He wrote, "The very purpose of this movement is to set human beings free from the yoke of human enslavement and make them serve the One and Only God."

In 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew Iran's regime and established the first modern Islamic Republic.

By 1983, Islamic radicalism spread to Lebanon, torn by bloody internal conflicts, killing 241 U.S. Marines.

In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people.

In 1993, Islamic radicals attacked the World Trade Center.

On September 11, 2001, they finished the job.

This treachery of Muslim expansionism and indoctrination by force has been taking place for 1,400 years.

A radical faction of the Muslim religion has declared Jihad (holy war) on the rest of the world. Their goal is to create a worldwide Islamic paradise. And If it means killing every "non-believer" in sight, so be it.

You cannot negotiate with or surrender to or hide from this type of insanity. These extremists don't want jobs or benefits or concessions of any sort. They're mindless bigots, determined to kill everyone who isn't them.

They lay low and attack mercilessly, indiscriminately murdering innocent men, women and children, often sacrificing their own lives in the process thereby earning a special reward in Islamic heaven.

Defeating such an enemy, small cells of mass murderers on a rampage, won't be easy and it won't end soon.

But madmen are attempting to exterminate us. We have no choice; we must prevail. It's called self-preservation.

Man never does evil so ruthlessly and cheerfully as when he does it for religious conviction.

To kill for a religion is easier than living a morally courageous life.

Quote for the Day – "Come forward as servants of Islam, organize the people economically, socially, educationally and politically, and I am sure that you will be a power that will be accepted by everybody." Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a mind of his own. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Marilyn Monroe -- The Sequel

In April of 2007, I wrote a newspaper column about a woman in Toronto named Sherrie Lea Laird who had been deemed to be the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe by a psychiatrist who specialized in hypnotic regression therapy.

It turned out to be one of the major turning points in my life.

At age 11, Sherrie was wondering about the beauty mark above her lip (similar to Marilyn Monroe) when her aunt began singing, "A kiss on the hand may be quite continental, but diamonds are a girl's best friend." When she asked her aunt about the song, which seemed so familiar, her aunt explained it was sung by Marilyn Monroe in a movie called GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDS.

"It was just like an explosion in my mind," Sherrie declared. Even though she didn't even know what Marilyn Monroe looked like, she began having dreams and flashbacks about Monroe. Afraid to tell anyone about it over the years, she eventually spiraled into alcohol and drugs.

By the 1990s, Sherrie had become a rising pop singer in Toronto, Canada. Her song "No Ordinary Love" had been at the top of the music charts in Canada and Europe. But she was still traumatized by feelings of being haunted by an internal demon.

In 1998, Sherrie discovered Dr. Finkelstein's website and e-mailed him concerning her repressed feelings and anxieties about being possessed by another person.

Dr. Adrian Finkelstein is a graduate of the prestigious Menninger School of Psychiatry, a former chief of the outpatient of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center, a former assistant professor of psychiatry at Chicago's Rush Medical School and served as assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, where he taught past-life regression therapy.

Now in private practice, Dr. Finkelstein has been a pioneer and expert in past-life regression therapy for 30 years, and has performed over 5,000 past-life regressions. He has also created and patented a Past and Present Lives -- Iris Recognition Comparison Test (PPL-IRCT).

Sherrie and Dr. Finkelstein worked together, on and off, for more than eight years.

Soon, Dr. Finkelstein became convinced that Sherrie Lea Laird was the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe.

In addition of many sessions of video-taped past-life regressions in a somnambulistic hypnotic state, other scientific analytic methods were also conducted, including bone structure, voice patterns, handwriting analysis, personality traits, linguistics, eyes, etc.

Under hypnosis, Sherrie revealed a multitude of things about Marilyn Monroe, many of which could not have been known by anyone except those close to Monroe or by Marilyn herself.

"The more evidence I gathered the harder it was to disbelieve." Finkelstein said. "Not only are there physical similarities between Sherrie and Marilyn, the details she was able to provide were just phenomenal."

In June and July of 2005, famous American medium Kevin Ryerson channeled the ancient Egyptian spirit of Ahtun-Re, known for its accurate readings, confirming that Sherrie Lea Laird is indeed the only true linear reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe.

Under hypnosis, Sherrie (in Marilyn Monroe's voice) revealed she had had an affair with both John and Bobby Kennedy. Her relationship with JFK started in 1954 and ended two month's before her death. Her true love was former husband Arthur Miller and she admitted that former husband, Joe DiMaggio, was boring and jealous. She also claimed to have had an affair with Tony Curtis, which was publicly acknowledged by Curtis at a later date.

In a session on Nov. 11, 2005, Sherrie stated that her death was caused by an accidental overdose of drugs she had taken while in a sorrowful mood and had not been murdered as speculated by many conspiracy theorists.

Sherrie was born 11 months after Marilyn Monroe died. Coincidentally, Sherrie's mother had suffered a miscarriage just two months before she became pregnant with Sherrie. Sherrie believes she had also been the miscarried child.

Under hypnosis, Sherrie's 20-year-old daughter, Kezia, surprisingly declared that she was the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe's mother, Gladys. Coincidentally, Kezia had been conceived within days of Marilyn Monroe's mother's death.

Sherrie is a singer – Marilyn Monroe played a singer named Cherie in the movie BUS STOP. They each had an Aunt Anne, have similar bone structures, mannerisms and hand-writing techniques, share the same astrological moon nodes, and so on.

Dr. Finkelstein wrote the book MARILYN MONROE RETURNS – THE HEALING OF A SOUL which was the basis for the Sherrie Lea Laird mystique. He and Sherrie have appeared on many TV shows, including Geraldo Rivera Live, The Scarborough Report, Inside Edition, etc.

These days, Sherrie is the lead singer of a band called Pandamonia – see

The following links about Sherrie Lea Laird and Marilyn Monroe are also very interesting.

In April of 2007, I met Sherrie Lea Laird on the Internet when she responded to my newspaper column. We soon became friends and have corresponded regularly ever since.

Before meeting Sherrie, I was a grumpy loner in the boondocks writing newspaper columns. Since meeting Sherrie, I have become a semi-grumpy semi-loner writing blogs in the boondocks.

It may not seem like much of a difference, but it does to me.

April of 2009 marks my 2-year friendship anniversary with one of the most fabulous people to ever reincarnate onto Planet Earth.

Happy Anniversary, Sher

Truth is beauty.


Quote for the Day – "I won't be satisfied until people want to hear me sing without looking at me." Marilyn Monroe

Quote for the Day -- "Marilyn Monroe is not back because she was famous, she's back because she was human." Sherrie Lea Laird

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where some like it hot. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Noah's Ark and the CIA

For 79 years, Pravda was the official newspaper of the USSR, published by the Communist Party. In 1991, the Communist stranglehold was broken and the newspaper was shut down on orders from Boris Yeltsin. The beleaguered Communists registered their new newspaper, under new ownership, with the same title, Pravda.

New management, as it often does, caused a serious split in the editorial office, whereupon 90% of the original journalists quit their jobs. These journalists quickly established their own version of Pravda, which was subsequently closed due to government pressure.

Thus, in January of 1999, they took their cause to cyberspace, creating Pravda On-Line. While the Pravda newspaper takes the Communist point of view, the on-line version boasts that it prefers a pro-Russia approach forming its policy.

On January 30, 2003, Pravda On-Line published an article titled CIA CONCEALED NOAH'S ARK.

According to the article, the CIA has been collecting evidence of an object hidden in an ice grave on the slope of Mt. Ararat, in eastern Turkey, near the Iranian border. This would obviously coincide with the Biblical account of Noah’s Ark running aground on Mt. Ararat following the Great Flood.

The article went on to state that the CIA recently declassified documents concerning “probable remains of Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat in Turkey.” The CIA archives supposedly contain numerous classified photographic and filmed documents. Former CIA officer Dino Brugioni claims he saw photos in which “three huge curved beams” could be perfectly seen.

In 1992, a declassified letter from Charles P. Aaron, leader of an operation to search for the Ark carried out by the Tsirah Corporation, requested technical assistance from the CIA which he believed had a mechanism capable of seeing through several inches of ice mass. This operation was supported by several US Senators, Congressmen, and the late astronaut James Irvin.

The CIA then studied images of Mt. Ararat and responded, “no ark could be distinctly identified.”

On January 21, 1993, Tsirah Corporation requested the CIA to declassify photographs of Noah’s Ark for usage in a TV program but the Agency flatly refused.

I may have fallen off a turnip truck once or twice in my life, but when the CIA won’t declassify a photograph of an object that doesn’t exist, I smell a rat.

Over a year later, on February 7, 1994, another declassified document, written by the Deputy Director of the CIA Science and Technology Department, states that he had copies of the images of the object found on Mt. Ararat but failed to “convincingly” identify Noah’s Ark. This report ended with the phrase: “At present, no attempts are made to organize additional researches in the region of Ararat Mountain.”

The rat fumes are getting stronger. If no “additional” researches were held, the implication is that some researches had been made earlier.

The actions of the CIA are full of contradictions. I suspect the Pravda On-line (pro-Russian) journalistic integrity is also full of contradictions. The article also mentions “a source” who reported that a secret expedition by the US government found Noah’s Ark and secretly transported it to a US military base.

Although rat fumes can cloud the brain, I seriously doubt if that happened. Then again, the CIA is capable of incredible misbehavior.

Evidently, the CIA did do some research on Noah’s Ark. This in itself is very irritating since Noah’s Ark has little to do with our national security.

If the CIA does have evidence of the existence of Noah’s Ark and has been keeping it a secret, everyone involved should be transferred to Antarctica and put on latrine duty.

The discovery of Noah’s Ark would be one of the most important archeological finds in the history of mankind. To keep such a discovery from humanity would be an incomprehensible blunder.

A democracy cannot exist if the government operates in secret.

Quote for the Day – "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a vague memory of wandering through the land of Nod, east of Eden. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vim and Vigor

Recently, a friend of mine described two playful puppies as being full of vim and vigor. They certainly seemed full of vigor to me, but I couldn’t tell if they were also full of vim, mainly because I didn’t exactly know what vim was.

According to the dictionary, vim is defined as robust energy and enthusiasm.

While this seems simple enough, the more I thought about it, the more complex it became.

Most of my endeavors are done with robust energy, but not necessarily with much enthusiasm. I always put in as much energy into a task as required, but I’m rarely thrilled about it. Work hard, get the job done and move on to more pleasant things, such as relaxing.

On the other hand, my ex-wife was full of enthusiasm, but usually fell short of robust energy. She was always excited about doing things, but rarely followed through to completion.

As far as vim goes, she was low on robust energy and high on enthusiasm, while I was high on robust energy and low on enthusiasm. That’s probably why we made such a good team – combined we had both qualities of vim. She would make plans and I would be responsible for carrying them out.

That’s probably also why we are no longer a team.

Lots of people are full of vim and vigor, especially young kids, middle linebackers and rodeo clowns. But I don’t remember ever personally being completely full of vim, although my ex-wife occasionally told me I was “full of it.”

She never did define “it” but I had a pretty good idea what she meant.

This brought to mind other two-part phrases.

DOWN AND OUT. As a phrase, it means to be at a low point, to hit rock bottom. Obviously, you can be down but not out, which implies you still have a chance to recover. However, if you’re out but not down, it means you’re still on your feet, still functioning yet barely conscious – much like members of Congress.

UP AND DOWN. This means that things are fluctuating. If things are up it’s good and if things are down it’s bad, unless you’re referring to inflation or a wounded moose.

BACK AND FORTH. The same as up and down, except horizontal instead of vertical.

TO AND FRO. The same as back and forth, except sideways.

BETWIXT AND BETWEEN. Since betwixt literally means between, this is a phrase used by people who like to utter as many words as possible to say the same thing – much like members of Congress.

A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. A position you don’t want to be betwixt and between.

SPIT AND POLISH. A phrase meaning extreme smartness of appearance, it originated from the practice of polishing objects, such as shoes, by spitting on them and rubbing them with a cloth. By the way, don’t try this method when washing your loved one's back or any other body part, unless you're from Alabama.

PART AND PARCEL. A phrase used by postal workers to describe parcels that don’t arrive intact.

PURE AND SIMPLE. A phrase used by teen-age boys when describing the type of girl they don’t want to date.

RANT AND RAVE. Rant means to talk in an excited manner and rave means to speak wildly. If you’re having a normal conversation and the phrase applies to you, it probably means you’re Greek or Puerto Rican.

NIP AND TUCK. A nip is a small portion of liquor and a tuck is a folded position. However, the phrase means being close. By the way, too many nips can lead to a full body tuck.

LO AND BEHOLD. Lo is an expression of surprise and behold is used to call attention to something. Thus, the phrase is used to draw attention to something of surprise, such as removing all of your clothes and discovering you're not really in a nudist colony after all. .

LOCK AND LOAD. I spent two years in the U.S. Army in the late 1960s, defending Georgia from North Vietnam. In basic training my drill sergeant, a rather muscular specimen with the IQ of a turnip, once got in my face and demanded that I "Lock and Load" – since I didn't have a clue what he was talking about it became a very disturbing moment.

Quote for the Day – "What if the Hokey Pokey is all it really is about?" Jimmy Buffett

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and wanders to and fro with partial vim. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The War on Prosperity

America is the land of excessive taxation that was founded to avoid excessive taxation.

People who complain about taxes can be divided into two categories – men and women.

Unless you’re an accountant or a dependent, April 15 is a day of dread for most Americans. This is the fateful day when federal income taxes from the previous year are due.

The first income tax was enacted in 1862 to finance the Civil War.

In 1895, the Supreme Court declared the income tax to be a violation of the Constitution.

It took the central government until 1913 to clear all the legal hurdles and pass the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution which made the income tax a permanent institution and an annual national headache.

Today, the average American pays more in taxes than they spend on food, clothing, shelter and transportation combined. To conceal this outrageous fact, taxes are collected from every conceivable direction.

Accounts Receivable Tax, Building Permit Tax, CDL License Tax, Cigarette Tax, Corporate Income Tax, Dog License Tax, Electrical Utility Tax, Federal Income Tax, Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA), Fishing License Tax, Food License Tax, Fuel Permit Tax, Gasoline Tax, Hunting License Tax, Inheritance Tax, Inventory Tax, IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax), IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax), Liquor Tax, licensing tax, Luxury Tax, Marriage License Tax, Medicare Tax, Personal Property Tax, Real Estate Tax, Service charge taxes, Social Security Tax, Road Usage Tax (Truckers), Sales Taxes, Recreational Vehicle Tax, School Tax, State Income Tax, State Unemployment Tax (SUTA), Telephone Federal Excise Tax, Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax, Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax, Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax, Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax, Telephone State and Local Tax, Telephone Usage Charge Tax, Utility Tax, Vehicle License Registration Tax, Vehicle Sales Tax, Watercraft Registration Tax, Well Permit Tax, Workers Compensation Tax.

As part of our War on Global Warming, a phenomenon that probably doesn't even exist, there will soon be a tax on breathing.

Presently, the U.S. federal tax code contains 66,498 pages of rules and regulations.

In 2004, George W. Bush and his merry band of in-your-face cowboy diplomats enacted new tax laws meant to ease the tax burden, albeit ever so slightly. This law took effect in phases over the period of a decade and included 441 changes in the system.

Some of the changes caused a great deal of confusion. For example, there was a line on the tax forms to claim a credit if you received no rebate check, or less than a full rebate check, from that year’s one-time program to give taxpayers up to $300 for individuals and $600 for couples, based on the previous year’s tax expense. In the early tax returns through February of that year, there were already more than two million returns with errors related merely to this one line.

in 2009, Barack Obama and his merry band of tax-and-spend social engineers have proposed sweeping changes to the tax code in an effort to redistribute income across the land. It's basically a War on Prosperity – plunder the earnings of successful people and pass the goodies on to unsuccessful people. Once again, more bells and whistles will be added to the tax code to accommodate this new socialist agenda.

The Obama administration inherited a massive national debt. Their solution is to borrow zillions of dollars from future generations and utilize it to insert more control over the economy. The end result will inevitably be a much larger national debt.

Anyone with a brain larger than a garbanzo bean realizes that you don't get out of debt by going further into debt. Yet the federal government keeps grinding away, creating absurd solutions to problems it creates in the first place by subjugating us further and further under their control.

Anyone who fumbles through a federal income tax instruction booklet quickly realizes the tax code is far more complex than it should be. Even accountants go a bit wacky trying to figure it out.

Perhaps it was designed to confuse and frustrate on purpose, much like the design of my ex-wife. For example: IRS form 8583, Passive Activity Loss Limitation -- “Passive activity income does not include the following: Income for an activity that is not a passive activity.”

Although it proves that Cheech and Chong have many followers among instruction manual writers, it doesn’t really help anyone looking for an actual answer.

The federal income tax is one of the many tools our central government masters use to confiscate our individual wealth in order to cover their outrageous expenses. In their eager attempt to be fair, they compromise beyond reason until any semblance of fairness is lost in the process. And in their misguided attempt to manipulate human behavior, they invariably create numerous unintended consequences, which requires another set of rules and regulations to correct. And on and on it goes. Problems are not resolved, they're expanded.

Since no one can understand the tax code in the first place, it’s probably about as fair as a debate about the origin of the universe between a theoretical physicist and Nancy Pelosi's cat.

The Internal Revenue Service was set up to assist taxpayers. In a recent government study, 37% of taxpayers calling the IRS for information never get their calls answered. Of those who did, 47% were given the wrong answers.

The IRS is on the ball though when it comes to nailing taxpayers. Last year an accountant cost one of his clients a $10,000 penalty because he failed to put sufficient postage on the return to get it delivered in time.

The IRS also operates with the efficiency we have come to expect from our vast central government. Nearly half of the 30 million penalty notices the IRS mails out each year are erroneous. The IRS spent 11 years and 4 billion dollars on a new computer system that doesn’t work. According to the General Accounting Office, the IRS has no clue how 64% of their present budget was spent, some $4.3 billion. Plus the GAO is unable to verify any of the IRS’s financial statements from 1992 to 1996.

There’s an old saying that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Apparently, those who came up with our tax code had a lot of committee meetings.

If you were to stack all the tax publications of the IRS, the stack would be over five feet high and you would probably have a pulled groin.

This country should have a tax system that looks like someone with integrity and common sense actually designed it on purpose.

Quote for the Day – "I'm proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is – I could be just as proud for half the money." Arthur Godfrey

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and 1040 reasons why he dislikes government. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Strange Artifacts

Many strange artifacts have been discovered over the years that don't conform to the current theories of the history of man. An educational website called "About, Inc." lists the 10 most puzzling ancient artifacts.

1) The Grooved Spheres. For several decades, miners in South Africa have been digging up mysterious spheres made of a blue metal. Approximately one inch in diameter, many of them have three parallel grooves circling the equator. Some are entirely solid metal and others are hollowed out with a spongy white substance inside. The origin and purpose of these objects are unknown, and they have been dated to 2.8 billion years old.

2) The Dropa Stones. In 1938, caves were discovered in a mountainous area in China that had apparently been occupied by an unknown ancient culture. Hundreds of stone disks were found on the cave floors. Each disk was about 9 inches in diameter with a circle cut into the center and etched with a spiral groove containing tiny hieroglyphs. Considered to be 10,000 to 12,000 years old, the hieroglyphs tell the story of spaceships from a distant world, piloted by people who called themselves the Dropa, that crash-landed into the mountains.

3) The Ica Stones. In the 1930s, an archeologist discovered more than 1,100 burial stones in the tombs of the ancient Incas in Peru, estimated to be 500 to 1,500 years old. These stones bear various astonishing etchings; including precise depictions of dinosaurs, brontosaurs, triceratops, stegosaurs and pterosaurs.

4) The Antokythera Mechanism. In 1900, off the coast of Antokythera Island near Crete, sponge-divers found a shipwreck containing many marble and bronze statues. They also found some sort of mechanism composed of many gears and wheels. X-rays revealed a very complex, sophisticated system of differential gears. Writing on the casing of the mechanism indicated it was created in 80 B.C. Its origin and purpose are unknown.

5) The Baghdad Battery. Found in the ruins of a Parthian village, this device dates back to between 248 B.C. and 226 B.C. It consists of a 5.5 inch high clay urn containing an oxidized rod inside of a copper cylinder that was held in place by asphalt. Experts concluded the object merely needed to be filled with an acid or alkaline liquid to produce an electrical charge. It was basically an ancient battery, perhaps used to electroplate objects with gold.

6) The Coso Artifact. Some gem collectors found a rock in northern California in 1961 they thought was a geode (a stone having a cavity lined with crystals). Upon cutting it open, they discovered an object inside that seemed to be made of white porcelain, surrounded by a hexagonal casing. X-rays of the object revealed a "man-made" device inside the casing that looked similar to a sparkplug. The rock was estimated to be 500,000 years old.

7) Ancient Model Aircraft. Many artifacts linked to ancient Egyptian and Central American cultures resemble modern-day aircraft. For example, an object (made of gold) found in Central America, estimated to be 1,000 years old, could easily be mistaken for the space shuttle. It even features what appears to be a pilot's seat.

8) Giant Stone Balls of Costa Rica. While clearing an area in the jungle of Costa Rica, workmen found dozens of stone balls, varying in size from as small as a baseball to 8 feet in diameter. Many of them were perfectly spherical and considered to be man-made. Who made them and for what purpose is unknown.

9) Impossible Fossils. Fossils of human handprints have been found in limestone estimated to be 110 million years old. A fossilized human finger was discovered in Canada dating back to 100 million years ago. The fossil of a human footprint was found in a shale deposit in Utah estimated to be 300 million to 600 million years old.

10) Out-of-Place Metal Objects. Metallic tubes were dug out of Cretaceous chalk in France estimated to be 65 million years old. A nail was found embedded in a sandstone block from the Mesozoic Era (some 250 million years ago). In 1885, a block of coal was broken open to reveal a metal cube that appeared to have been created by intelligent beings. In 1912, an iron pot fell out of a large chunk of coal that had been broken apart. And so on.

My family also has a strange artifact. We call him grandpa.

Quote for the Day – "In this world of pettiness and greed, there are incredible ancient puzzlements waiting to be unraveled." Bret

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a collection of strange artifacts, including a rock he found in New Mexico that resembles Alfred Hitchcock. His blogs appear on several websites, including