Saturday, August 29, 2009

Golden Gophers and Flying Queens

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) issued an edict to colleges in 2006 that they were banned from the use of "hostile or abusive" American Indian nicknames, mascots and logos for their sports teams. Schools that fail to comply will be ineligible to participate in bowl games.

At least 18 schools are deemed to have hostile or abusive nicknames, including Illinois Fighting Illini, Florida State Seminoles, Utah Utes, Virginia Wahoos, Central Michigan Chippewas, Mississippi College Choctaws, North Dakota Fighting Sioux, Arkansas State Indians and Southeast Oklahoma State Savages.

Some schools have already changed their nicknames anticipating the new rule. St. John's (New York) went from Redmen to Red Storm, Marquette (Milwaukee) from Warriors to Golden Eagles and Stonehill College (Massachusetts) from Chieftains to Skyhawks.

I went to college at the University of Minnesota. We were the Golden Gophers, named after a small rodent that lives in a hole in the ground. In 2008, the University of Minnesota had tried to schedule a football game with the University of North Dakota, but it was rejected by Minnesota school officials because of the Fighting Sioux nickname that was considered offensive to Native Americans.

Even though the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribes in North Dakota are internally divided on this issue, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education approved to retire the "Fighting Sioux" nickname in May of 2009, with full compliance no later than August 1, 2010.

While colleges scramble to adhere to political correctness regarding American Indians, it probably won't end with college sports. As a concerned citizen who wishes to offend everyone equally, I have a couple of suggestions for pro football teams with American Indian mascots that will not offend the object of the nickname.

Washington Redskins -- Washington Wishy-Washies
Kansas City Chiefs -- Kansas City Canker Sores

However, if we are to be politically correct with the American Indian, we must also be politically correct with nicknames that potentially demean other members of the human race, such as Notre Dame Fighting Irish (not too many Irish on the team) and Purdue Boilermakers (obviously offensive to makers of boilers).

Others include Nebraska Cornhuskers, Oklahoma Cowboys, Callifornia-Santa Barbara Gauchos, Mississippi Rebels, Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, Union College Dutchmen, Hofstra Flying Dutchmen, Wilmington College Quakers, Earlham College Hustlin' Quakers, Cleveland State Vikings, Bethany College Swedes and Lyon College Scots.

Thus, I have a list of suggestions for pro football that will eliminate the human race from being the object of political incorrectness.

Minnesota Vikings – Minnesota Mosquitoes
Houston Texans – Houston Houseplants
Pittsburgh Steelers – Pittsburgh Potbellies
Dallas Cowboys – Dallas Dipsticks
Oakland Raiders – Oakland Oxymorons
Tennessee Titans – Tennessee Tenderfoots
Cleveland Browns – Cleveland Clodhoppers
Green Bay Packers – Green Bay Packages
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tampa Bay Buck Passers
New York Giants – New York Gnats
New Orleans Saints – New Orleans Sissies
New England Patriots – New England Pansies

At least it's not quite as bad as Illinois College Blue Boys, Columbia College Claim Jumpers, California-Long Beach Dirtbags, California-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs and Wayland Baptist Flying Queens.

Perhaps being a Golden Gopher isn't so bad after all. I'd rather be a rodent than a Flying Queen.

Quote for the Day – "Football combines the two worst things about America – violence punctuated by committee meetings." George Will

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 rodents run free. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Orb of Fools

According to an excerpt from Bob Woodward's book, STATE OF DENIAL, President Bush and Karl Rove "shared an array of flatulence jokes." Apparently, the previous leader of the free world likes to cut one loose on occasion.

This may be funny in junior high or at a Yale frat house, but it's a sad commentary on the state of our nation.

In our infinite national wisdom, we sure do a lot of dumb things. For example, it costs 1.7 cents to produce a penny. While not exactly a big deal, it's typical of the stupidity forced upon us by those who make the rules.

We change our time clocks twice a year for daylight savings time, except in Arizona, Hawaii and portions of Indiana, for no logical reason other than Benjamin Franklin thought it might be a good idea in 1773.

California has a population of 37 million and Wyoming has a population of a half a million. Alaska has 663,267 sq. miles and Rhode Island has 1,045 sq. miles. They each have two U.S. Senators representing them. Our political system, including the Electoral College, may have made sense in 1776, but not in 2009.

Some $50 billion is spent annually on a "War on Drugs" to prevent people from enjoying a substance that makes them feel good. Booze and tobacco, which kill millions of people, are legal while less harmful substances (lacking lobbyists) are outlawed. In the process, we lose our most precious freedom, our individual state of mind.

In spite of encouraging free markets, the federal government doles out $17 billion in farm subsidies annually, primarily to wealthy agribusinesses, including millions to farmers for not growing crops. About 8 percent of farmable land, the size of the state of New York, is not utilized for crops because the government pays for it to be idle. Guaranteeing payments for commodities encourages overproduction, driving down market prices, forcing even higher federal subsidies.

The Social Security system is a pending disaster. More people are entering the system, and people are living longer. By 2014, the system will be paying out more than it takes in. Plus, it's all smoke and mirrors. Social Security withholdings aren't set aside for future benefits, but rather go directly into the general tax fund.

Members of the U.S. Congress, who vote for increases in their own salary, earn $165,200 per year and have enough perks to choke a horse. They have no concept of how the average American struggles or the importance of controlling costs because their objective is getting reelected by mandating pork projects to their constituents.

The USA spends more money on military expenditures than all other countries on earth combined. We have a permanent military presence in over 150 countries and consider ourselves to be self-appointed global police force. Much of the rest of the world despises us. Go figure.

We contribute about half of our earnings toward taxes, yet our national debt exceeds $11 trillion and continues to grow daily. Presently, there's $640 billion of U.S. currency in circulation. If we collected and applied every dollar in existence toward the national debt, we'd have to repeat the process 18 times just to get to zero.

Bigger isn't always better and spending oodles of money we don't have is financial suicide for this country.

In our closed two-party political system the only two options each require excessive government, thereby suppressing freedom and undermining personal responsibility. Two costly alternatives isn't much of a choice.

We endured eight years of Clinton, with his tawdry behavior and slick excuses, followed by eight years of Bush, with his in-your-face diplomacy and questionable decisions. Enough is enough already.

Now we are saddled with King Obama, who is under the childish illusion that government's function is to manipulate and control every aspect of finance, commerce and human existence. He lives in a fantasy world, completely oblivious of the unintended consequences of his actions.

When Medicare was first created in 1965, the politicians projected the cost in 1992 would be $3 billion. The actual cost in 1992 was $110 billion. Politicians are big on promises, but grossly lacking in common sense, accounting skills and foresight. In 2009, the Obama public health care plan is projected to cost somewhere in the multiple trillions. The real cost will turn out to be in the gazillions, or whatever the numbers are beyond trillions.

Obama's health care plan will be written by a committee whose head says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it and whose members will be exempt from it, signed by a president who smokes cigarettes, funded by a treasury chief who did not pay his taxes, overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that is broke. What could possibly go wrong?

Being President of the USA is a difficult task, not always appreciated, but the world is a very dangerous, flawed place requiring mature leadership. One of these days, we should consider electing an actual grown-up for the job.

We also need take a deep look at the global elites who really pulls the strings in this world. There are those behind the scenes, a powerful elitist bloodline, who are manipulating global affairs in an attempt to create a New World Order, controlled by the global elites who create it. These forces deliberately create conflict and profit from human misery. Wars and financial meltdowns are manufactured. They create a global crisis that requires a global solution. We fail to recognize the magnitude of our enslavement by those in power because we are being distracted by greed and fear and entertainment and consumption of useless things and manufactured conflict.

Yet in spite of the lack of coherent leadership at the top, we're one of the more advanced societies on the planet. Elsewhere, people are dominated by dictatorial tyrants or prisoners of collectivism. Disease, starvation and genocide are rampant in the third world. In many places, women are subjugated and innocent people are murdered in the name of religion. Many organized religions are simply organized bigotry, promoting superiority of self and hatred of others, worshiping the messenger while ignoring or distorting the message.

We're all stuck on a spinning orb, hurtling through a vast void, destination unknown. The human race has great potential but we are fools. We lust for power and possessions, and demand conformity to our individuality.

On this orb of fools we elect leaders who recklessly squander our wealth, slowly deny us our freedom and encourage us to work, work, work, work so we can keep the great economic engine going at full throttle.

Sooner or later, enough fools are going to figure it out and put an end to it.

Quote for the Day -- "My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it." Barack Obama

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 yearns for sanity to prevail. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Zen of Happiness

Most people live their lives backwards. They attempt to acquire more money and stuff in order to be happy. But the key to happiness is to be fulfilled with what you have, knowing you've got what you deserve.

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery even when lost. It's the feeling you feel when you want to keep feeling it.

The director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Ariz., Dan Baker, PhD, claims that "happiness doesn't mean being in a good mood most of the time or experiencing the emotion of joy. Happiness is a way of life." He also believes happiness is hard work and surrounded by traps.

Baker's definition of happiness is the combined totality of 12 important qualities:

1) Love
2) Optimism
3) Courage
4) A sense of freedom
5) Proactivity (making your own happiness rather than waiting for it to happen to you)
6) Security
7) Health
8) Spirituality
9) Altruism
10) Perspective
11) Humor
12) Purpose

This all makes sense but I would first define happiness by the mistakes people make trying to be happy.

One mistake most people make is assuming money can buy happiness. Not true. First of all, it usually takes a lot of work (long hours and sacrifice) in order to accumulate lots of money -- that's no fun. And if you're born rich, you're probably bored because you don't appreciate the effort it took to become wealthy. Plus, those who strive for wealth never think they have enough. And if you never have enough, you can never be happy.

Money can't buy love – it attracts people who are attracted to money.

Money can't buy a life of leisure – you're too busy making and protecting it.

Money can't buy status – there will always be others with more status.

Money can't buy peace of mind – the more money you have, the more obligations you have.

Money can't buy security – the more money you have, the bigger target you become for thieves, swindlers and hangers-on.

Pleasure seeking is another false avenue for those who seek happiness. This includes travel, socializing, recreation (skiing, scuba, running, cycling, ski diving, racing, golf, bowling, fishing, hunting, gambling, etc.) and other distractions from ordinary everyday life. If you travel elsewhere or do something "exciting" in an attempt to find happiness, you're looking in all the wrong places. Happiness is not elsewhere, it's a state of mind.

Another way people seek happiness is by escaping reality, the perceived cause of unhappiness. This usually involves immersing themselves in some activity to take their minds off their troubles. Overindulgence in any form of activity (television, music, reading, playing games, sex, exercise, hobbies, shopping, housework, etc.) is a subconscious attempt to escape reality. There's nothing wrong with these activities unless done in excess.

Even eating can become a distraction from reality because food is often a substitute for love. People who feel empty inside subconsciously attempt to overcome their emotional emptiness by overindulging in food. When you overindulge in excessive behavior to escape reality it soon becomes an addiction that's hard to break.

Another way to escape reality is through mind-altering legal drugs (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, tranquilizers, anti-depressants, etc.) or illegal drugs (uppers, downers, psychedelics, etc.). But altering your state of mind is only a temporary cure of your woes (reality) rather than addressing the root problem (inability to cope with life).

Reality can be overwhelming at times, but you can't escape it forever. Sooner or later, you've got to face it.

All the distractions (money, pleasure seeking, drugs, etc.) you go through to be happy are only fleeting moments of self-indulgent highs, simply to escape reality. If you're forced to escape reality to be happy, you're living an unfulfilled life (happy on the outside, miserable inside).

If you pursue happiness, you'll never find it.

Basically, happiness is being content regardless of the circumstances. It requires an understanding that suffering is part of life. Without the negative, you can't appreciate the positive. The world is a harsh place and life often doesn't seem fair. You must embrace the suffering and overcome it. Only then can you truly be happy.

Happiness may be surrounded by traps, but it isn't hard work at all. You don't have to go places or do things or escape reality to seek happiness -- it was there within you all the time.

To be find happiness in everything, seek happiness in nothing.

To possess all things, seek to possess nothing.

To be everything, seek to be nothing.

The greatest happiness you can achieve is knowing you do not necessarily need happiness – it's the acceptance and appreciation of the imperfect perfection of the way it is.

Quote for the Day – "To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness." Bertrand Russell

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 embraces the suffering on a regular basis. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Forty Years Ago -- 1969

Forty years ago, 1969, was a typical year of bloody global conflicts, corrupt national leaders and other social misfits. The following events took place that year.

Jan 12 – The New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts, 16-7, to win Super Bowl III.

Jan 20 – New U.S. President Richard Nixon made his first inaugural address to the nation. He stated, "The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker."

Jan 25 – Peace talks begin in Paris between the USA and North Vietnam.

Feb 8 – The last edition of THE SATURDAY EVENING POST was published. The magazine had begun publication in 1869.

Feb 9 – The Boeing 747 made its 1st commercial flight.

Feb 18 – The PLO machine-gunned an Israeli airplane in Switzerland.

Feb 25 – Navy Lt. Bob Kerry, age 25, took part in a SEAL raid of a village in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Of the 20 villagers killed, all were women, children and old men. Kerry received a Bronze Star for the raid. He later strongly regretted his actions. He went on to become governor of Nebraska and a U.S. Senator.

Feb 28 – In a Los Angeles court, Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert Kennedy, requested to be executed.

Mar 1 – Mickey Mantle retired from baseball.

Mar 3 – Sirhan Sirhan testified in court that he killed Robert Kennedy.

Mar 10 – James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to murdering Martin Luther King in Memphis. He later recanted his plea, claiming his lawyer persuaded him to do it even though he was innocent.

Mar 12 – Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman were married in London.

Mar 15 – A border dispute between Russia and China resulted in several hundred deaths.

Mar 18 – President Nixon authorized Operation Menu – a "secret" bombing campaign in Cambodia.

Mar 20 – John Lennon and Yoko Ono were married in Gibraltar.

Mar 28 – The 34th President of the USA, Dwight Eisenhower, died at age 78.

Apr 14 – A tornado killed 660 in Pakistan.

Apr 17 – A jury in Los Angeles found Sirhan Sirhan guilty in the murder of Robert Kennedy.

Apr 23 – Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death for assassinating Robert Kennedy. The sentence was later reduced to life.

Apr 24 – President Nixon orders U.S. troops to secretly invade regions of Cambodia, thought to be a stronghold of the Viet Cong.

Apr 30 – Congress and the press learn of the secret invasion of Cambodia by U.S. troops. Military strength is at an all-time peak in Vietnam, with 550,000 troops, 33,000 have been killed so far.

May 10 – The Battle of Hamburger Hill begins in Vietnam. It will last 11 days. U.S. casualties will be 46 killed and 400 wounded. The North Vietnamese Army will suffer 633 soldiers killed. Ironically, shortly after the battle, U.S. forces abandoned all the ground they had gained and pulled out, setting off a flurry of protests back home.

May 11 – The comedy troupe called Monty Python was formed.

May 13 – Deadly race riots took place in Malaysia.

May 23 – The Who released their rock opera album titled TOMMY.

May 25 – The movie MIDNIGHT COWBOY was released. It is the only film with an "X" rating to ever win an Oscar.

May 27 – Walt Disney World began construction in Orlando.

May 31 -- John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded GIVE PEACE A CHANCE in Montreal.

Jun 3 – The last episode of STAR TREK aired on TV.

Jun 8 – President Nixon met with the President of South Vietnam to inform him that U.S. troop levels were going to be reduced. During a press conference, Nixon called it a policy of "Vietnamization" where South Vietnam would eventually be responsible for their own defense.

Jun 9 – Warren Burger replaced Earl Warren as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Jun 22 – The Cuyahoga River, which was highly polluted, caught fire in Cleveland.

Jun 28 – Eight police officers raided a gay bar in New York City because it had refused to pay an increase in bribery. Some 1,000 patrons clashed with police for 3 days. This incident was considered the birth of the gay rights movement.

Jul 4 – The Zodiac Killer murdered a waitress in Vallejo, California. Her boyfriend survived the attack. Less than an hour later, the Zodiac Killer reported the crime from a pay phone.

Jul 16 – Apollo 11 was launched from Cape Canaveral with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin on board, headed for the moon.

Jul 18 – Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha's Vineyard. His passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, died.

Jul 20 – Astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped out of the landing module and onto the moon while stating, "One small step for man, one giant step for mankind."

Jul 25 – Senator Edward Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident as a result of the Chappaquiddick incident.

Jul 31 – The Zodiac Killer sent a letter and a cipher to three newspapers in the Bay area taking credit for the July 4 murders.

Aug 2 – Bob Dylan made a surprise visit to his high school 10-year reunion in Hibbing, Minnesota.

Aug 8 – Actress Sharon Tate and three guests were brutally murdered in her Beverly Hills Home by followers of Charles Mansion.

Aug 10 – Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were brutally murdered in their Los Angeles home by followers of Charles Mansion.

Aug 15 – In upstate New York, 400,000 people gathered at Max Yasgur's dairy farm for a music festival. It was called Woodstock and featured Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, the Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Canned Heat and Ravi Shankar.

Aug 17 – Hurricane Camille slammed into Louisiana and Mississippi along the Gulf Coast, killing 256 people.

Aug 31 – Former heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano died in a small airplane crash in Iowa.

Sep 2 – The first Internet message was sent & received from BBN Corp to UCLA.

Sep 2 – North Vietnam President Ho Chi Minh died.

Sep 4 – Governor Ronald Reagan of California signed the first no-fault divorce package into law.

Sep 22 – Willie Mays becomes the 2nd man in baseball to hit 600 home runs.

Sep 24 – The Trial of the Chicago 8 began. Defendants included Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Tom Hayden. They were charged with crossing state lines to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Sep 26 – The Beatles released the album ABBY ROAD which immediately went to number one on the charts and stayed there for 11 weeks.

Sep 27 – The Zodiac Killer stabbed two teenager lovers repeatedly at Lake Berryessa, killing the girl.

Oct 2 – Robert Redford purchased 6,000 acres in Provo Canyon, Utah, to develop a community devoted to art and nature.

Oct 11 – The Zodiac Killer shot and killed a SF taxi cab driver, his last known murder.

Oct 13 – President Nixon ordered a "secret" worldwide nuclear alert in an attempt to scare the USSR into forcing concessions from North Vietnam at the peace negotiations in Paris. It didn't work.

Oct 16 – The New York Mets beat the Baltimore Orioles to win the World Series.

Oct 21 – Jack Kerouac, author & king of the Beat Generation, died of alcoholism at age 47.

Nov 9 – A group of 80 Native American Indians occupied Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, formerly a federal prison. They offered $24 in beads and cloth to buy the island, listing reasons why the island was suitable as an Indian reservation.

Nov 10 – The San Francisco Chronicle received a letter from the Zodiac Killer containing detailed plans to blow up a school bus full of children.

Nov 12 – Free-lance reporter Seymour Hersh broke the story of the My Lai Massacre where over a hundred women, children and old men were forced into a ditch in a village in Vietnam and shot to death by a company of U.S. soldiers led by Lt. William Calley.

Nov 15 – Over 250,000 protesters marched on Washington DC against the Vietnam War.

Nov 19 – Apollo 12 astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean landed on the moon.

Nov 26 – President Nixon announced a lottery for Selective Service draftees, based on date of birth.

Dec 6 – The Rolling Stones held an outdoor rock concert in Livermore, California. They hired the Hells Angels for security whereupon the Angels beat several fans, including one person who was stomped & stabbed to death during the show.

Dec 11 – Sieko marketed the first quartz watch.

Dec 14 – The Jackson Five appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Michael Jackson was 11 years old.

Dec 17 – The U.S. Air Force officially closed PROJECT BLUE BOOK by concluding there was no evidence of extraterrestrial activity behind thousands of UFO sightings. We can all rest easy now knowing we are alone in the universe and beyond.

Dec 20 – A recession began in the USA that would last for 11 months.

Dec 28 – Mario Puzo wrote the novel THE GODFATHER.

Dec 30 – Officials at Yellowstone Park attempted to force grizzly bears to return to a wild diet. Unable to quit junk food, 220 bears were shot and killed.

Dec 31 – During the course of President Nixon's secret bombing of Cambodia, the U.S. Air Force dropped 539,129 tons of bombs on Cambodia, killing an estimated 700,000 people, causing a collapse of the agricultural system, which led to a famine and the rise of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.

The number one song in 1969 was AQUARIUS – LET THE SUN SHINE IN performed by the 5th Dimension.

When the moon is in the seventh house...
And Jupiter aligns with Mars...
Then peace will guide the planets...
And love will steer the stars...
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius...
The Age of Aquarius...

Officially, the Age of Aquarius starts on December 21, 2012.

I can hardly wait.

Quote for the Day – "People react to fear, not love." Richard Nixon

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 patiently waits for the Age of Aquarius to commence. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ignoble Awards

The Nobel Prize is a distinguished honor handed out annually by dignitaries in Norway to individuals who contribute mightily to the human experience. The Ignoble Prize is a spurious honor handed out by members of Harvard University to individuals who contribute dubious achievements (mostly in college research projects).

Believe it or not (it's true), some of the past winners, their published research papers and my astute observations (BB) include the following.

Steven Stack of Wayne State University – THE AFFECT OF COUNTRY MUSIC ON SUICIDE (country music listeners are more prone to commit suicide than others)

BB NOTE: People drawn to Rap and Hip-Hop should also consider suicide.

Dan Smith of the University of Illinois – GORILLAS IN OUR MIDST (when people pay close attention to something it's easy to overlook anything else; even a woman in a gorilla suit)

BB NOTE: Try a gorilla in a tweed suit.

Julian Clarke of Howard University – THE SCIENTIFIC VALIDITY OF THE FIVE-SECOND RULE (it's safe to eat food that's been dropped on the floor if it's eaten in less than five seconds)

BB NOTE: My dog goes by the five-day rule.

Robert Mathews of Aston University in England – TUMBLING TOAST, MURPHY'S LAW AND THE FUNDAMENTAL CONSTANTS (toast often falls on the buttered side)

BB NOTE: In my case, it also often lands on the left foot.

Phillip Zimbardo of Stanford University – POLITICIANS' UNIQUELY SIMPLE PERSONALITIES

BB NOTE: No kidding.

T. Yagyu of Kansai Medical University in Osaka, Japan – CHEWING GUM FLAVOR AFFECTS MEASURES OF GLOBAL COMPLEXITY OF MULTICHANNEL EEG (measured people's brainwave patterns while they chewed different flavored gums)

BB NOTE: Someone should examine the brainwave patterns of anyone who would concoct such a study.


BB NOTE: A German experimenting with beer – how unusual.

Karl Kruszelnicki of the University of Sydney – A COMPREHENSIVE SURVEY OF HUMAN BELLY BUTTON LINT

BB NOTE: An Australian with a belly button fetish – how unusual.

David Schmidt of the University of Massachusetts – THE QUESTION OF WHY SHOWER CURTAINS BILLOW INWARDS (unfortunately, the research was able to provide only a partial solution)

BB NOTE: This is obviously a complex, multi-layered problem.

John Richards of Boston University – THE APOSTROPHE PROTECTION SOCIETY (articulating and defending the differences between plural and possessive)

BB NOTE: Another sign that the end of the world is near.

B.S. Srihari of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India – A PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF RHINOTILLEXOMANIA IN AN ADOLESCENT SAMPLE (a medical survey concluding that nose picking is a common activity among adolescents)

BB NOTE: In Alabama, Mississippi and Butte, Montana, it's also a common activity among adults.


BB NOTE: We seem to have that "unskilled & unaware of it" problem in the highest governmental offices in the land. It tends to upset the "aware" masses who are under the impression that government works for them rather than the other way around.

Dr. Paul Bosland of New Mexico State University – THE SPICELESS JALAPENO CHILI PEPPER (created a tasteless spice through breeding techniques).

BB NOTE: Sounds yummy, I can't wait to try it.

Mark Hostetler of the University of Florida – THE GUNK ON YOUR CAR (a scholarly work that helps to identify insect splats found on automobile windshields)

BB NOTE: Once identified, then what? Are some species edible?

Peter Fong of Gettysburg College – INDUCTION AND POTENTIATION OF PARTURITION IN FINGERNAIL CLAMS (experiment that made clams "happier" using Prozac)

BB NOTE: After writing this piece, I plan to conduct the same experiment on myself until this nonsense is completely wiped out of my mind.

Ben Wilson of the University of British Columbia – PACIFIC AND ATLANTIC HERRING PRODUCE BURST BUBBLE SOUNDS (herring communicate by farting)

BB NOTE: I often produce burst bubble sounds during my monthly bath. Sometimes I can play the first 11 notes of the Star Spangled Banner before I run low. My dog communicates the same way, often silently.

College research is very important to society. It gave us black holes, the atomic bomb and silly putty. We can all sleep better at night knowing our institutions of higher learning are busy doing such outstanding work.

I sleep better at night knowing my dog is nearby, communicating silently in his sleep.

Quote for the Day – "There's a lot of knowledge in universities – the freshmen bring a little in, the seniors don't take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates." Abbott Lawrence Lowell

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 often communicates silently to no one in particular. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Act III in Life

This fleeting existence called life is basically a three-act play – introduction, conflict, resolution.

For me, Act III starts on August 10, 2009 – my 65th birthday. I will spend the afternoon listening to all the great music from my past, gracefully graduating from cougar bait to old fart. On August 11, I will be recovering from a massive hangover.

ACT I – Introduction (childhood)

ARKANSAS (1944-45): My father was conscripted into the U.S. Army during World War II. He became an officer and a flight instructor. My mother was part bobcat. I was born on August 10, 1944, on an Army Air Force base in Blytheville and entered this world with much reluctance. I will probably exit this world the same way.

OHIO (1945-46): I had my first birthday in Columbus. I took long naps and burped a lot. I still do.

WISCONSIN (1946-54): After my father was discharged from the service, we moved back to my parent’s hometown of Stevens Point, a college town with its own brewery and one tavern for every nine residents. My father returned to his civilian job as a transmission supervisor at AT&T. In grade school, I learned how to read, write and hustle marbles at recess.

KANSAS (1954-56): My father got a promotion when I was in the middle of fourth grade and we moved to the Kansas City suburbs. Lots of highs and lows. I returned a punt for the game-winning touchdown and someone stole my bike. Everything was flat, including most of the women.

MINNESOTA (1956-64): My father got a promotion after I finished fifth grade and we moved to the Minneapolis suburbs. I went through high school, and two years of college at the University of Minnesota as a math major. Plenty of highs and lows along the way.

FLORIDA (1964-65): I went to college in Miami for a year, majoring in computer science, a new field of technology opening up. I took every computer course they offered during both semesters and all of summer school. Every other waking hour, I would hang out in an Italian pool hall. If you want to learn everything about life, hang out in an Italian pool hall.

ACT II – Conflict (adulthood)

MINNESOTA (1965-66): I arrived back home in Minneapolis on August 10, 1965 -- my 21st birthday. The following morning, I had a massive hangover. I soon found a job as a computer programmer in St. Paul. In April of 1966, I was drafted into the U.S. Army. There was some sort of skirmish taking place in a far-away land called Vietnam and my country needed me to help bring it to a conclusion.

MISSOURI (1966): Basic training in Ft. Leonard Wood. I’m now an employee of the U.S. Army, learning how to do squat thrusts and clean toilets. I’m not a happy camper.

GEORGIA (1966-68): I spent the remainder of my two-year military obligation in the Third Army Data Processing Company at Third Army Headquarters at Ft. McPherson in Atlanta. I was given a Top Secret clearance, issued a desk and two blue pencils, and worked for a civilian employee during night shift, coding documents for computer processing. I shared an apartment off-post with three other draftees – John Ballas from New York City, John Valentino from Chicago and Frank Bernardi from Cleveland. Ballas was a life guard at the post swimming pool, Valentino ran the post gymnasium and Bernardi worked at the post library for a civilian employee. I'm not sure exactly how helpful we were in bringing the Vietnam Conflict to an end, but we had a fairly good time doing it.

MINNESOTA (1968-75): Returned home after my discharge and kissed the ground. Went back to my old job in St. Paul for a few months, then returned to college at the University of Minnesota to get my B.S. in Business and M.S. in Management Information Systems. Got a job in the suburbs as a computer programmer/analyst. Later, I got a better job as a Senior Programmer & Project Leader in downtown Minneapolis. When I hit age 30, I decided I had enough of the cold Minnesota winters.

CALIFORNIA (1975-86): I landed a job as senior systems analyst for a large computer installation, but hated it, so I soon landed another job as a programmer for a small computer software company, which eventually led to becoming Vice President & General Manager. Later, I became an independent contractor (hot-shot programmer for hire). I lived in many different places around Los Angeles, including (in order) a hillside rental house on stilts in the Hollywood Hills (Harrison Ford was one of my actor neighbors), my own house with pool in N. Hollywood, got married, 8 months on a yacht parked in the Pacific Ocean, our own condo in Sherman Oaks, a rental chalet in Topanga, our own house near Toluca Lake, got divorced, garage apartment in Hollywood Hills near Mulholland Drive, a rental house in Topanga, a rental mountaintop cabin above Malibu. I also studied screenwriting under various big-time professionals during this period and wrote 3 screenplays. If you go to L.A. to be discovered, you will soon discover you want to go elsewhere. On my 42nd birthday, I decided I had enough of the Rat Race and headed into the desert wilderness.

ARIZONA (1986-87): I spent 8 months in a 4X4 camper with a dog named Shadow, roaming the California gold country, the Nevada silver mining areas and mostly the desert region of central Arizona. I had lots of gold prospecting equipment with me. I needed to get out in the middle of nowhere, and stare at a campfire. I eventually found a piece of property (6 acres of cactus & nice small home) about 60 miles north of Phoenix and made an offer on the place. While the property was in negotiation and in escrow, I went back to California.

CALIFORNIA (1987): I spent about 5 months in my ex-wife's house in Laguna Niguel, watching the place for her while she was in Boston on business. I did a computer contract in Torrance during this period, making a nice chunk of money to help with my new Arizona property. After much hassle, the Arizona property finally closed and I escaped the land of fruits and nuts once again.

ARIZONA (1987-92): Lived in the desert 60 miles from Phoenix. Most of the time, it was like living about a half a mile from the sun. I prospected the desert on occasion, eventually filing two mining claims. I also did an occasional computer contract for old clients in Los Angeles. Was in L.A. working a short-term contract and happened to finish the contract during the peak Rodney King riots. I drove back to Arizona through an intersection where buildings on three corners were on fire and angry goons were harassing motorists in the streets. It was my last time in California.

ARKANSAS (1992-98): Due to some unforeseen circumstances (destiny), I sold my mining claims and Arizona property, and moved to the Ozark Mountain region in northern Arkansas. I rented a cabin on 400 remote acres that I shared with a dog and a mountain lion. The dog was with me. No TV, no telephone lines. Wrote my 4 novels there on an IBM-compatible 286 using an old version of WordPerfect. No windows, no spell checker, no Internet. It was a peaceful time of seclusion and reflection.

TENNESSEE (1998-99): 10 months in Memphis, doing a Y2K computer contract. I rented a top floor apartment overlooking the Big Muddy (Mississippi River). Memphis is okay if you like cities. I don't like cities. During this period, I found a publisher for my four novels.

ARKANSAS (1999-2009): Moved back to Arkansas and bought a nice mobile home on 8 acres a few miles away from a small redneck town (population 1,400 – the biggest town in the county). No neighbors. Paid cash for the place from the Y2K contract, but still had to make ends meet. Worked on the 2000 U.S. Census. Landed a gig writing a weekly newspaper column (2001-2007) where I won multiple awards. Also landed a gig teaching computer courses at a local college (2001-2006). In 2006, I became eligible for early Social Security. Since the early bird gets the worm, I accepted their fine offer of supplementing my existence until the day I expire.

ACT III – Resolution (unknown)

ARKANSAS (2009-2012): Blue Monday – August 10, 2009. My life starts over once again at age 65. I am now officially an old codger. I will write blogs and tweets, just to maintain my sanity. I will goof around with my dog, grow tomatoes and watch sunsets. And if I'm lucky, one of these days I will figure out what to do with my life.

BEYOND (2012-????): The great astrological age ends on December 21, 2012. Beyond that, the future is unknown.

Ain't life grand.

Quote for the Day – "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." Bill Shakespeare

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 has resolved to resolve irresolvable issues. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Islamic Insanity

Sudan, Africa, is under Sharia (Islamic) law. This is the same regime that imprisoned British school teacher Gillian Gibbons in 2007 for calling the classroom teddy bear "Mohammed."

Until last week, Lubna Hussein, a widow in her late 30s, had been employed by the United Nations on a mission in Sudan as a public information officer.

On a Friday evening in July of 2009, Ms. Hussein arrived at a restaurant in Khartoum to book a wedding for her cousin. While she waited at a table, she sipped on a coke and watched the singer.

Less than an hour later, Ms. Hussein was escorted out of the building, in front of hundreds of people, by the Public Order Police (morality police) and placed under arrest for being a "trouser girl." Even though she was wearing a headscarf and loose Sudanese clothes, she had comitted the gross offense of a female wearing pants in public.

The restaurant is a popular meeting place for the capital's journalists and intellectuals. Ms. Hussein was one of 14 women arrested that evening.

With no legal stipulation as to what indecency means, it's left to the discretion of the individual morality police officers to make an on-the-scene judgment. In spite of their claims of moral superiority, the morality police have a reputation for dishonesty and for demanding sexual favors from the women they arrest.

On the way to the police station, the 14 females were forced to sit on the bed of a pickup truck with policemen sitting on their sides. Most of the other women were in tears.

"So I began to try to calm the girls, telling them this wasn't very serious." Ms. Hussein explained. "The response of the policeman was to snatch my mobile phone, and hit me on the head with his open hand... On the way, I felt so humiliated and downtrodden."

Among the 14 women, 10 were Christian women visiting from the south of Sudan who readily admitted their error and were summarily flogged with 10 lashes each.

Ms. Hussein, who apparently has a large set of brass balls, refused to admit her guilt and demanded her right to go on trial before a judge. Her offense carries a maximum sentence of 40 lashes.

Under international protocol, United Nations employees are immune from prosecution. But Ms. Hussein abruptly quit her job to stand trial and raise awareness of the plight of all women under this regime. She then sent out 500 invitations to her trial, which soon garnered global media coverage.

Shortly before appearing in court for her trial last week, Ms. Hussein declared, " Flogging is not pain, flogging is an insult to humans, women and religions. If the court's decision is that I be flogged, I want this flogging in public."

The judge adjourned the trial until September 7, 2009.He claimed he needed more time to determine if the defendant was immune from prosecution.

Ms. Hussein emerged from court in front of a large throng of supporters backing her cause. Riot police fired teargas into the crowds and beat many of the supporters with batons, including one of Ms. Hussein's lawyers.

Intolerance in the name of religion is intolerable.

Lubna Hussein is my hero of the week.

Keep the flame burning.

Quote for the Day – "Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." Denis Diderot (1713-1784, philosopher)

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 women wear whatever they please. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Junk and Luxury

One of the fastest ways to fail in life is to work so hard your manager will think you're after his job.

In 1976, one year before our semi-blissful marriage of five years and two days, my ex-wife and I went on a sailing adventure in the West Indies. We paid good money to be deckhands on a 248-foot, four-mast schooner; island-hopping the Leeward Islands of St. Martins, St. Barts, St Eustatius, St. Kitts and Nevis for two weeks.

After a few days, we hooked up with a couple from Philadelphia and a couple from Alaska.

One day the six of us were wandering the neighborhood back streets of a town on Nevis. Some of the locals were sitting on the front porches of their modest houses, playing dominoes or watching the tourists pass by.

The couple from Philadelphia (liberals) mentioned how poor everyone seemed and suggested there should be an influx of government money to help everyone out. The couple from Alaska (conservatives) wondered why no one seemed to be working very hard and suggested an influx of private industry to kick-start the economy.

My ex-wife was too busy looking for a shop where she could buy some more useless junk to notice anything.

However, I noticed and wondered if I was the only sane person in the group. Everyone I saw along the street appeared to be perfectly content in their existence. You could see the happiness in the twinkle in their eyes. It was beyond my comprehension why anyone would want to barge in and spoil a perfectly desirable way of life.

Apparently, there's a big difference between liberals and conservatives and relatively sane human beings.

Once upon a time in America, the Europeans had not yet arrived to spoil a perfectly desirable way of life.

There were indigenous folks (Native Americans) scattered throughout the continent, doing just fine until the white man arrived on the eastern shore, stuck a flag in the ground and declared it to be a "discovery."

Some of the indigenous folks had permanent settlements while others were hunter-gatherer nomads.

A hunter-gatherer society consisted of small bands of nomadic people who lived in an area where it was too harsh to allow permanent settlements. They survived by foraging for edible plants and wild animals. Basically, they wandered from one food source to another. Everything they owned, they carried on their backs.

One of the major areas of concentration of hunter-gatherer nomads was the Great Basin Desert area of the southwest (Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, etc.). These societies were part of the Shoshonean bands of Indians (Hopi, Piute, Mono, Comanche, Kawai, Panamint, Chemehuevi and others).

In an article titled THE ART OF NOTHING, Thomas J. Elpel declares, "Hunter-gatherer societies succeeded in working only one or two hours per day, yet in our efforts to reproduce their lifestyle we end up working all day."

Elpel is the director of Hollowtop Outdoor Primitive School in Montana and author of many books on survival.

According to Elpel, the hunter-gatherers "had a lot of time on their hands because they produced almost no material culture." They basically sat around all day doing nothing. This helped conserve energy, an economical imperative so they wouldn't be forced to harvest more food each day to feed themselves.

They also produced no unnecessary material goods, including artwork. Whenever they were forced to move on, they needed to do so with a minimal of effort. They didn't want to be dragging junk or luxury items with them.

In our materialistic culture where the objective always seems to be growth, we love junk and luxury. Often they're the same thing. We work 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, just to stay even. In fact, we're less than even since our national debt is in the multiple trillions and rising. But we're too busy "getting ahead" to notice.

So, you can be a go-getter and spin your wheels in pursuit of junk and luxury; or you can be a do-nothing and observe the folly of the go-getters as they work harder and harder while getting deeper and deeper in debt.

Work is something you do because it's necessary for survival. Work you do beyond that is called a burden.

Instead of continually clamoring for jobs, jobs, jobs, we should make quality of life our common objective. This would include a shorter work-week, less government control, less monetary insanity, less military adventurism, etc.

The corporate world wants everyone working at full capacity to maximize profits. The government wants everyone working at full capacity to maximize tax revenues. Financial institutions want everyone in debt to perpetuate their credit schemes to expand their control of the monetary system. The military-industrial complex wants a world of bloody conflict to justify their costly existence.

A shorter work-week and a less stressful way of life for the masses goes against the greedy ambitions of those who control the puppet strings. Sooner or later, the puppets are going to figure it out.

Endless, mindless growth is a cancer. Happiness comes from being satisfied with what you have, not with yearning for more, more, more.

Quote for the Day -- "Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don't have time for all that." George Carlin

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 possesses some junk but no luxury. His blogs appear on several websites, including