Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Battle of New Orleans

In the early 1800s, New Orleans was populated by French, Spanish, African, Anglo and Creole people, pursuing economic gain and a joyous life.

In 1803, Great Britain became embroiled in the Napoleonic Wars with France.

Since the end of the American Revolution in 1783, the Americans had been irritated by the failure of the British to withdraw from their territory and declared war on the British Empire in June of 1812.

It would later be called "The War of 1812."

In 1812 and 1813, the United States had suffered several defeats.

In August of 1812, General William Hull surrendered Detroit to the British.

In October of 1812, U.S. Forces lost the Battle of Queenston Heights.

In November of 1812, U.S. forces withdrew from Lake Champlain.

In 1813, U.S. Forces were unsuccessful in a standoff at Niagara.

Finally, in October of 1813, British Forces were overtaken by U.S. Forces under the command of William Henry Harrison. The War of 1812 raged on.

In 1814, the Great Britain defeated Napoleon's France and began to transfer a large number of ships and troops to America. The British plan of attack called for operations in three areas -- New York along the Hudson River and Lake Champlain, in Chesapeake Bay (as a diversion), and at New Orleans to block the Mississippi River, considered to be a vital strategic location.

To capture New Orleans, the British Navy sent 50 ships with 10,000 troops.

In the fall of 1814, Major General Andrew Jackson, also know as "Old Hickory," arrived in New Orleans and immediately prepared to defend the Crescent City by forming a militia. One of those who volunteered his services in the militia was Jean Lafitte, a local pirate, and his band of outlaws. In addition to some regular U.S. Army units, Jackson also filled his militia forces with a sizable number of Haitians (former black slaves) and frontiersmen from Tennessee and Kentucky with long rifles.

On January 7, 1815, the Battle of New Orleans would take place on the Plains of Chalmette, an easy one-day march south of New Orleans.

Jackson's Forces consisted of 4,000 men -- the British Forces were more than twice that number.

In 1959, the song of the year at the Grammy Awards was "The Battle of New Orleans" -- written by Jimmy Driftwood and performed by Johnny Horton (1929 - 1960). It was a historical ballad, memorializing this major turning point in American history.

"In 1814 we took a little trip...
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip....
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans...
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans."
(lyrics by Jimmy Driftwood)

On the Chalmette Plantation, Jackson's Forces built a fortified mud rampart about a half mile long. On one side was the Mississippi River and the other side was a cypress swamp. As the portions of the British Force were making their way north, Jackson launched a nighttime surprise attack. This caused the British to delay their advance until they could gather more troops from the ships, allowing Jackson's men more time to fortify their position at Chalmette.

"We looked down the river and we see'd the British come...
And there must have been a hundred of'em beatin' on the drum...
They stepped so high and they made the bugles ring...
We stood by our cotton bales and didn't say a thing."
(lyrics by Jimmy Driftwood)

After the surprise attack, Jackson's ambushers retreated three miles back to the Chalmette fortification and waited to defend their position. The main assault began at dawn on January 8, 1815. British Forces marched toward the rampart. When they were within 100 yards, militia muskets were readied. At 50 yards, some 3,000 long rifles and squirrel guns exploded.

"Old Hickory said we could take 'em by surprise...
If we didn't fire our muskets 'til we looked 'em in the eye...
We held our fire 'til we see'd their faces well....
Then we opened up with squirrel guns and really gave 'em hell."
(lyrics by Jimmy Driftwood)

The rampart fortification was built to form a natural bottleneck whereby the enemy would be forced to charge or retreat. After the first volley of gunfire from the militia, the British charged into a hailstorm of bullets often tripping over those who had fallen before them.

"We fired our cannon 'til the barrel melted down...
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round...
We filled his head with cannon balls, and powdered his behind...
And when we touched the powder off, the gator lost his mind."
(lyrics by Jimmy Driftwood)

Soon, the British gallantry waned.

"Yeah, they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles...
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn't go...
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn't catch 'em...
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico."
lyrics by Jimmy Driftwood)

Ironically, the War of 1812 had officially ended when the Treaty of Ghant had been signed in Europe weeks earlier. It was the last war between the United States and Great Britain, who soon resumed normal trading relations and later became allied in subsequent major conflicts.

American casualties -- 8 killed, 13 wounded.
British casualties -- estimated at 2,000 killed or wounded

Don't mess with the Big Easy.

"We fired our guns and the British kept a'comin...
There wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago...
We fired once more and they began to runnin'...
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico."
(lyrics by Jimmy Driftwood)

Andrew Jackson (1767 - 1845), the commander of American Forces at the Battle of New Orleans, became the seventh President of the United States.

He is the only president in U.S. history to have paid off the national debt.

A hero is someone who understands his personal responsibility in life and acts accordingly.

Quote for the Day -- "Elevate those guns a little lower." Old Hickory

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where hickory nuts don't fall too far from the hickory tree.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Historical Events of December 25

The following events took place on December 25 -- among many Earthlings, this is commonly referred to as Christmas.

336 -- In Rome, the first recorded celebration of Christmas took place. Even though the Catholic Church believed Jesus Christ was born in the spring, they chose December 25 as the official birthday (called Christ's Mass) in order to coincide with the winter solstice and compete with the Pagan practices of worshiping the Sun.

800 -- Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as heir of the Roman emperors.

1066 -- William the Conqueror was crowned King of England.

1621 -- William Bradford, Governor of the new Plymouth Colony outlawed newcomers to America from playing cards. The new country across the ocean was intended to become the Land of the Free. But human nature often compels those in charge to curtail freedom in the name of security or purity.

1642 -- Isaac Newton, scientist, was born in England.

1776 -- General George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack during the Revolutionary War. It was quite cold and the grunts did the rowing. "Government is a force -- like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." George Washington

1799 -- In France, Napoleon's new constitution went into effect, giving him powers to make laws, control finances and conduct relations with foreign powers. He stood 4' 10" and had an urge to conquer the world -- today, such folly is referred to as a Napoleonic Complex. "A Constitution should be short and obscure." Napoleon Bonaparte

1837 -- U.S. Forces defeated the Seminole Indians in the Battle of Okeechobee. On the positive side for the Indians, there would later be a college that would adopt "Seminoles" as the team mascot name.

1868 -- President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all Southerners who participated in the Civil War. "If I am shot at, I want no man to be in the way of the bullet." Andrew Johnson

1899 -- Actor Humphrey Bogart was born in New York City. "You're not a star until they can spell your name in Karachi." Humphrey Bogart

1925 -- Writer Carlos Castaneda was born in South America. "The only thing that is real is the being in you that is going to die." Carlos Castaneda

1926 -- Hirohito became Emperor of Japan.

1941 -- In Lithuania, some 400 Jewish women were killed by police.

1950 -- Scottish nationalists stole the Stone of Scone from the British coronation throne in Westminster Abbey. It was recovered four months later. Scottish people are a rebellious tribe of redheaded brawlers, whose hobbies include stomping on anything offensive, such as the Irish or the British.

1962 -- The Bay of Pigs captives were released (ransom) and vowed to return to topple Fidel Castro.

1977 -- Comedian Charlie Chaplin died in Switzerland. "A day without laughter is a day wasted." Charles Chaplin

1978 -- Vietnam invaded Cambodia, ending the mass genocide referred to as The Killing Fields.

1979 -- Soviet Airborne Forces landed in Afghanistan, joining ground forces in the Soviet War against Afghanistan. Of very little strategic value, Afghanistan is a desolate country with a scattered rural population of rednecks toting AK-47s. It's a bit like Alabama with Camels.

1991 -- Soviet President Mikhail announced his resignation as the leader of the USSR. He was ousted by Boris Yeltsin, who had an affinity for vodka and dancing like a drunken bear.

1993 -- A 59-year-old woman gave birth to twins in London, after being implanted with donated eggs.

1995 -- Singer Dean Martin died in Beverly Hills. "You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on." Dean Martin

1997 -- Comedian Jerry Seinfeld announced plans to discontinue his NBC sitcom at the end of the season. "That's the true spirit of Christmas -- people being helped by people other than me." Jerry Seinfeld

2001 -- In Afghanistan, U.S. Forces celebrated Christmas with touch football and turkey dinners. I played touch football when I was in the U.S. Army in 1966-68. Macho dudes in combat boots generally "touch" with great vigor.

2004 -- President Bush urged Americans to help the neediest among them through volunteerism. "Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called 'walking.'" George Bush

2007 -- Russia's military successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads, a weapon intended to replace older missiles.

2009 -- An attempted bombing on Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit by a Nigerian Man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (age 23) failed. The bomb was sewed into his underwear and his brain was made of saw dust.

2011 -- I got two apples and a lump of coal for Christmas -- it's the thought that counts.

Happy Holidays, Earthlings.

Quote for the Day -- "The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live." George Carlin

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee, and the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Great Successor

Those who are anointed as supreme leaders from birth are rarely tempted to be thoughtful human beings.

Another anointed supreme leader of North Korea has emerged this week to continue the great works of his father and grandfather.

Japan occupied Korea during World War II. When the war ended in 1945, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel with the USSR controlling the north and the USA controlling the south. The Koreans were not consulted.

While the Korean people were happy to be liberated from the Japanese, they objected to foreign rule being imposed over the peninsula. To make matter worse, the Soviets and Americans were unable to agree on a joint trusteeship over Korea. Thus, in 1948, separate governments were established in the north and the south.

Tensions and border skirmishes eventually led to the Korean War in 1950 when the North Korean Army stormed across the 38th parallel in an attempt to reunify the country under their communistic political system.

In 1953, an armistice was signed by North Korea, China and the United Nations thereby ending the conflict. A demilitarized zone was established at the 38th parallel, separating North Korea and South Korea ever since.

North Korea was led by Kim Il-Sung from 1948 until his death in 1994. He had delegated domestic matters to his son, Kim Jong-Il.

In 1997, Kim Jong-Il was named General Secretary (leader) of the Korean Worker's Party.

According to the official North Korean news agency, "The Korean people regard it as their most worthwhile life to uphold Secretary Kim Jong-Il and live in perfect harmony with him. He is the great teacher who teaches them with the noblest political integrity and a tender-hearted benefactor who brings their life into full bloom. As they are in harmonious whole with him, they are enjoying a life based on true conscience and obligation."

Gee whiz, North Korea sounds like a wonderful place to live. It's too bad they had to kill an estimated two million civilians and imprison 200,000 "dissidents" in slave labor camps, where they are tortured, starved, raped and murdered, in order to create a perfectly splendid environment.

In a closed-society, adhering to universal truths and seeking individuality become acts of treason. Such is life in a harmonious whole.

Officially, North Korea is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). However, it's anything but democratic. It's a totalitarian state, dominated by the Korean Worker's Party which embraces Marxism-Leninism.

Elections are held every five years for members of the People's Assembly. To avoid confusion, in every district voters are offered only one candidate.

Kim Jong-Il had been the leader of the DPRK ever since his father died in 1994. He stood 5'2", but wore platform shoes and whipped his hair skyward to make himself appear taller.

While building the fifth-largest military in the world, he ravaged the economy with political mismanagement -- creating famine, fuel shortages, lack of electricity, etc. To make up for it, mass "performances" involving throngs of people participating in parades or choreographed dance routines were introduced to foster national unity.

To generate income, the DPRK encouraged opium cultivation and invested $10 million in an intaglio printing press, the same type used by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which produced $15 million per year in counterfeit U.S. currency. The drugs and counterfeit currency were passed through foreign nations via diplomatic pouches.

As the leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong-Il had amassed a personal fortune of $22 billion. Although his people were dying of starvation, he dined on fresh lobster shipped in from Japan and enjoyed fine cognac. He also loved children's cartoons, especially Daffy Duck, and had one of the largest collections of pornography in the world.

While grooming one of his sons to take his place, he seized and confined all triplets born in the DPRK in special state facilities to be closely monitored because he believed a triplet may someday topple his regime.

Kim Jong-Il was an arrogant, creepy, delusional, paranoid, deranged lunatic. On December 17, 2011, he died of heart failure at age 69.

Soon thereafter, Kim Jong-Il's youngest son, Kim Jong-Un, in his late 20s, was introduced by the official North Korean news agency as their new supreme ruler, calling him "the outstanding leader of our party, army and people" and have named him "the Great Successor."

Perhaps he will also inherit his father's Daffy Duck cartoons and extensive collection of pornography.

When delusional fanatics are at the top, there is no limit to the oppression.

Quote for the Day – "One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution -- one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship." George Orwell

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the only cure for cynicism is counter-cynicism.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quote Quiz

1) “The world is more like it is now than it ever was before.”
A) George Carlin
B) George Bush
C) Arnold Schwarzenegger
D) Dwight D. Eisenhower
E) J.D. Salinger

2) "A boy's best friend is his mother."
A) John Lennon
B) Bugs Bunny
C) Luke Skywalker
D) Norman Bates
E) Jack Nicholson

3) "Solutions are not the answer."
A) Richard Nixon
B) Groucho Marx
C) Vladimir Putin
D) Hillary Clinton
E) Captain Kirk

4) "I'll be back."
A) Sitting Bull
B) Gypsy Rose Lee
C) Frank Sinatra
D) Jane Fonda
E) The Terminator

5) "To improve is to change -- to be perfect is to change often."
A) Greta Garbo
B) Muddy Waters
C) Willie Mosconi
D) Tiger Woods
E) Winston Churchill

6) "Talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much."
A) D.B. Cooper
B) John Wayne
C) Herman Melville
D) Johnny Carson
E) Elmer Fudd

7) "Always take hold of things by the smooth handle."
A) Thomas Jefferson
B) Hank Aaron
C) Erma Bombeck
D) Jasper Lamar Crabbe
E) Daniel Boone

8) "Sometimes I feel like a fire hydrant looking at a pack of dogs."
A) Daffy Duck
B) Joe Namath
C) Bill Clinton
D) Buddy Hackett
E) Lady Gaga

9) "As long as you're going to be thinking anyway, think big."
A) Donald Trump
B) Brittney Spears
C) P.T. Barnum
D) W.C. Fields
E) Madonna

10) "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."
A) Cool Hand Luke
B) Lois Lane
C) Blanche DuBois
D) Batman
E) Boris Karloff

11) "You can't process me with a normal brain."
A) Barack Obama
B) Dan Quayle
C) Bob Dylan
D) Fox Mulder
E) Charlie Sheen

12) "A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me."
A) Mick Jagger
B) Abraham Lincoln
C) Jerry Lewis
D) Jerry Lee Lewis
E) Davy Crockett

13) "Death is not the worst that can happen to men."
A) Jerry Seinfeld
B) Vlad the Impaler
C) Wonder Woman
D) Geronimo
E) Plato

14) "You can't trust anybody with power."
A) The Lone Ranger
B) Newt Gingrich
C) Mahatma Gandhi
D) John the Baptist
E) John Quincy Adams

15) "I'd just like to be treated like a regular customer."
A) Elvis Presley
B) Hulk Hogan
C) Johnny Depp
D) Eleanor Rigby
E) Pee Wee Herman

16) "I have high expectations for the future because the past was highly overrated."
A) Carl Sagan
B) Bart Simpson
C) Barbara Walters
D) Jay Leno
E) Sylvester Stallone

17) "Until you're ready to look foolish, you'll never have the possibility of being great."
A) Oprah Winfrey
B) Sid Caesar
C) Cher
D) Shirley MacLaine
E) Joe Biden

18) "It is better to be alone than in bad company."
A) Minnesota Fats
B) Kim Kardashian
C) Carl Jung
D) George Washington
E) Jeremiah Johnson

19) "The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground."
A) Buddha
B) Johnny B. Goode
C) Doris Day
D) Dr. Phil
E) Rhett Butler

20) "The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have."
A) Vince Lombardi
B) Hugh Hefner
C) Lindsey Lohan
D) Crazy Horse
E) Teddy Roosevelt


ANSWERS: 1-D, 2-D, 3-A, 4-E, 5-E, 6-B, 7-A, 8-C, 9-A, 10-C, 11-E, 12-B, 13-E, 14-B, 15-A, 16-E, 17-C, 18-D, 19-A, 20-A

20 -- You are either a liar or a cheater or incredibly lucky
16-19 -- You need to get a life
10-15 -- Very good
5-10 -- Not bad
4 -- Random answers yield the same results
3-0 -- You are below random (a.k.a. a loser)

Quote for the Day -- "He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he is asked." Voltaire

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where hypothetical questions get hypothetical answers.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spring Break Adventures

When I was a student at the University of Minnesota in 1969, I decided to hitchhike to Miami over spring break.

On a Tuesday morning, I called my friend Scott in Miami and told him I'd be there by the time he got off work on Thursday. He bet me $20 I wouldn't make it in time, adding extra incentive to my idiotic plan.

I packed a small suitcase, made a sign with "MIAMI" on it and had my father he drop me off on a straight stretch of highway 12 just east of the Twin Cities at about noon.

A half hour later, two guys in a beat-up Ford picked me up. We crossed the river into Wisconsin and exited the freeway a couple of miles later at River Falls.

Very few cars entered this particular ramp so I walked back onto the freeway hoping to make it to the next interchange, about a mile away, before the highway patrol grabbed me. As I was marching up the next exit ramp, a truck driver pulled over, picked me up and gave me a ride all the way to the south side of Chicago.

I had intended to head south on highway 41 but the truck driver inadvertently dropped me off one exit too early. I was now stuck in Hammond, Ind., in a predominantly minority area, carrying a suitcase, just as the bars were closing. Incredibly, a local police patrol car pulled up and gave me a ride over to highway 41.

I stood in the rain, along highway 41, in the dark, staring at a deserted road. I had driven to Miami years earlier on highway 41, but now that the interstate freeway system had been completed most of the through traffic went down I-65 instead.

Lucky once again, a truck driver picked me up out of the downpour.

At daylight, I found myself on I-24 near Paducah, Kentucky, far from highway 41. A young girl in a Volkswagen picked me up and gave me a ride two miles down the road. She left me at such a bad location I was forced to walk the two miles back to where I started.

Eventually, a state trooper came by and chased me off the freeway.

I hiked over to a state highway and stood there for a couple of hours. There was a car full of rowdy young punks that had gone back and forth past me many times, always giving me the evil eye. Just as they were about to come by again, a uniformed Army captain in a Triumph convertible pulled up and gave me a ride.

The captain dropped me off at the entrance to Fort Campbell and pointed out where I could catch my next ride, which came along shortly thereafter. I was now seated next to a young man with an open case of beer in the front seat between us. We shared a couple of beers and he dropped me off in the middle of Nashville.

A fellow wearing a neck brace picked me up in Nashville and we made it into Atlanta where we were rear-ended in a freeway pile-up.

After much delay, I drove the injured fellow to his friend's apartment and made it to highway 41 where I caught a ride with a hillbilly in a pickup who talked continuously but I never understood a word he said. At about 4:00 a.m., he dropped me off at a truck stop on a rural road in South Georgia where I eventually got a ride to an on-ramp on I-75 from a trucker who was very reluctant to take on a passenger.

A preacher in a Cadillac pulled up and drove me down to the Boca Raton exit in Florida, trying to convert me all along the way.

Next, I got a ride with hippie couple in a clunker Oldsmobile, but they were short of money to exit the turnpike tollbooth so I gave them two dollars and had them drive me within a block of Scott's place.

I found the key under Scott's mat and let myself in. Before I could open one of his beers, he showed up from work. It had taken me 53 hours to get there and I literally made it by less than 10 minutes to collect the $20 bet.

I was young and adventurous and stupid. I'll never hitchhike again, not even for $20.

The following year, I headed down to Miami in my new Gremlin during spring break. I had a collision with a deer and spent spring break in a motel near Beloit, Wis., waiting for a radiator to be delivered from Milwaukee.

Spring break is for the young at heart and feeble of mind -- if you need a break, take it close to home.

Quote for the Day -- "Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's Party.'" Robin Williams

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where April showers bring mud.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

High School Reunion

I was recently contacted by members of my high school 50th reunion committee, whereby they requested that I write a piece for the reunion booklet.


In 1962, I was a senior at Robbinsdale High School in Minnesota, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. The following events took place that year.

Jan 1 -- The University of Minnesota Gophers beat the UCLA Bruins 21-3 in the Rose Bowl football game in Pasadena, California. The temperature at game time in Pasadena was 72 degrees. The temperature outside our house in Brooklyn Center was 13 below zero. Whatever I was going to do with the rest of my life included outdoor temperatures that would not be prefixed with a minus sign.

Jan 3 -- Pope john XXIII excommunicated Fidel Castro.

Jan 10 -- A volcanic eruption in Peru destroyed 7 villages and killed 3,500 people.

Jan 23 -- Jackie Robinson (1919 - 1972) became the first black man elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Jan 26 -- The USA launched a missile (Ranger 3) to land scientific instruments on the moon. It missed the target by 22,000 miles. Apparently, the target wasn't big enough.

Feb 3 -- President Kennedy banned all trade with Cuba, except for food and medical supplies.

Feb 7 -- President Kennedy ordered a blockade of Cuba.

Feb 10 -- The USA exchanged captured American U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers for a USSR spy held by the USA.

Feb 14 -- First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy conducted a televised tour of the White House.

Feb 18 -- Robert F. Kennedy declared that U.S. troops would stay in Vietnam until communism was defeated. Goody, goody. I would be drafted in April of 1966 to help defeat global communism and spent 8 fun-filled weeks of basic training in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, learning how to stand at attention and clean toilets. There were 7 graduates from Robbinsdale High School in my basic training company, including Eric "Buzzard" Fermstad, David Lamey and one of Pat Digatano's brothers.

Feb 20 -- John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. The flight lasted 4 hours and 56 minutes. "I don't know what you could say about a day in which you have seen four beautiful sunsets." John Glenn

Feb 26 -- The U.S. Supreme Court disallowed racial separation on public transportation.

Feb 28 -- The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a plan to "lure or provoke Castro into an overt hostile reaction against the USA." Paranoia will destroy ya.

Mar 2 -- Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points against the New York Knicks. He was very tall.

Mar 2 -- President Kennedy announced the USA would continue above ground nuclear testing. No big deal. It simply makes a loud noise, vaporizes anything near it and sends a toxic cloud of radioactive debris into the atmosphere. But not to worry -- the prevailing winds blow toward Utah.

Mar 6 -- The USA promised Thailand assistance against communist aggression.

Mar 9 -- The U.S. military Advisors in South Vietnam officially joined the fight against the communists. The prevailing (incorrect) assumption, almost always when it comes to war, was that it would be over soon.

Mar 10 -- The Philadelphia Phillies moved to a motel during spring training in Clearwater, Florida, because their hotel refused to admit black players.

Mar 17 -- The USSR asked the USA to pull out of South Vietnam. Apparently, we declined.

Mar 21 -- A female black bear was ejected from a B-58 bomber over Edwards Air Force Base in California, in a special capsule with parachute, and survived. No big deal -- Doug Deeble, from the RHS Class of 1962, would have done it for free, twice.

Mar 29 -- Jack Parr hosted the NBC TV Tonight Show for the last time, to be followed later by Johnny Carson. Parr was occasionally erratic and highly emotional, much like my ex-wife during full moons. "Looking back, my life seems like one long obstacle race, with me as the chief obstacle." Jack Parr

Apr 9 -- WEST SIDE STORY was named best picture at the 34th Academy Awards. Sophia Loren and Maximilian Schell won the acting awards. In the late 1970s, I studied screenwriting in Hollywood. Ernest Lehman, who wrote WEST SIDE STORY and many other prominent movies, was one of the instructors I was blessed to study under.

Apr 16 -- Walter Cronkite became the new anchorman on the CBS Evening News. "And that's the way it is." Walter Cronkite

Apr 20 -- The New Orleans Citizens Committee gave free one-way rides to blacks to move north. By the way, I write monthly articles for a magazine in the New Orleans area.

Apr 24 -- The first satellite relay transmission of a television signal.

Apr 25 -- The USA performed a nuclear test on Christmas Island. It was one of 105 nuclear test explosions the USA conducted in 1962 and 1963. The residents of Christmas Island, who had been relocated elsewhere, were not pleased.

May 9 -- A laser beam was successfully bounced off the moon for the first time. The residents of the Moon, who were not relocated, were not amused.

May 11 -- The USA sent combat troops to Thailand.

May 15 -- U.S. Marines arrived in Laos.

May 19 -- Marilyn Monroe sang happy birthday to President Kennedy at Madison Square Garden. "It's all make believe, isn't it?" Marilyn Monroe

May 19 -- Stan Musial broke the Nation League record for hits with 3,431.

May 31 -- Adolph Eichmann, Nazi war criminal, was hanged.

Jun 3 -- A CIA memo from a briefing with Attorney General Robert Kennedy revealed that $150,000 was offered to U.S. mobsters to assassinate Fidel Castro. They would have done it for free since Castro closed their Havana gambling casinos.

Jun 6 -- On high school graduation day, 620 highly educated souls received their Robbinsdale High School diplomas on the new football field. The more adventurous ones boarded a passenger train soon thereafter for the annual train trip to Waseca. Those in charge, laughingly referred to as responsible adults, assumed if we were all confined on a moving train it would lesson the trouble we could get into. Many of us, including me, had smuggled a flask of liquid spirits aboard to ease the tension and celebrate our escape from mandatory schooling.

Jun 11 -- Three federal prisoners escaped from Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

Jul 6 -- The USA tested a 104 kiloton nuclear device in Nevada. It blew a hole 1,280 feet wide and 320 feet deep. If the world ever needs instant large holes, give the USA a call.

Jul 10 -- Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested during a demonstration in Georgia. "A man who won't die for something is not fit to live." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jul 18 -- President Kennedy installed an audio taping system in the White House.

Aug 5 -- Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home. It was ruled a suicide (overdose of drugs). "Dreaming about being an actress is more exciting than being one." Marilyn Monroe

Aug 5 -- The USSR set off an atomic bomb as part of a new series of tests.

Aug 10 -- My birthday. I am now 18 years old. I had a piece of chocolate cake and later celebrated with a Lucky Strike. I would give up the cigarettes in a couple of years but still have a chunk of chocolate on birthdays.

Aug 16 -- The Beatles dropped drummer Pete Best and took on Ringo Starr. "Everything government touches turns to crap." Ringo Starr

Sep 1 -- The United Nations announced the world population had now reached 3 billion people. Today it is 7 billion. But that's okay because we're all broke anyway. Turn out the lights, the party's over.

Sep 1 -- In Iran, 10,000 people died in an earthquake.

Sep 10 -- I enter the University of Minnesota, home of the mighty gopher, as a math major, trying to decide between becoming an architect or a mining engineer. Ironically, I become neither. I would spend a couple of future decades as a computer programmer and manager, followed by another couple of decades as a professional bum (wandering adventurer, independent computer contractor, mountaintop hippie, gold prospector, novelist, desert rat, newspaper columnist, college instructor, reclusive hermit, etc.) while trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

Sep 11 -- The Beatles record their first single for EMI, titled "Love Me Do."

Sep 17 -- The U.S. Justice Department filed the first federal suit to end public school segregation.

Sep 24 -- The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the University of Mississippi to admit its first black student, James Meredith.

Sep 25 -- Sonny Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson in the first round of the world heavyweight boxing championship in Chicago.

Oct 4 -- Crayola Crayons changed the name of the color "Flesh" to "Peach."

Oct 16 -- The Cuban missile crisis began. The USSR was sending ships to Cuba (containing ballistic missiles). The USA set up a naval blockade. The standoff lasted 13 days. Part of the undisclosed reason it ended was a private communication between Kennedy and Khrushchev, whereby Kennedy proposed to remove USA missiles in Turkey in exchanged for the USSR removing their missiles from Cuba.

Oct 17 -- The New York Yankees beat the San Francisco Giants in 7 games to win the World Series in baseball.

Oct 20 -- The Chinese Army invaded northeast India during a border war in the Himalayan Mountain region. Some 3,000 Indian soldiers were killed. It lasted about a week.

Oct 25 -- John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in literature. "Any man who puts his intelligence up against a fish and loses had it coming." John Steinbeck

Nov 6 -- Saudi Arabia abolished slavery.

Nov 10 -- A folksinger from Hibbing, Minnesota, named Bob Zimmerman changed his name to Bob Dylan. "All I can do is be me, whoever that is." Bob Dylan

Nov 29 -- France and Great Britain embarked on a joint venture to build a super sonic passenger jet called the Concorde.

Dec 2 -- The first appearance of the Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones) at a London nightclub.

Dec 5 -- President Kennedy, Secretary of Defense McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor discussed plans for stockpiling nuclear weapons to deter the USSR. The USA will have oodles of them, then the USSR will have oodles of them, then the world will be at peace forever. Brilliant idea, pinheads.

Dec 26 -- Eight people from East Berlin escaped to West Berlin by breaking through the gates with an armored plated bus. Live free or die.

Dec 31 -- USA military spending rose to $55 billion in 1962.

The top 10 songs from 1962 were:

1) Stranger on the Shore -- (Acker Bilk)
2) I Can't Stop Loving You -- (Ray Charles)
3) Mashed Potato Time -- (Dee Dee Sharp)
4) Roses Are Red, My Love -- (Bobby Vinton)
5) The Stripper -- (David Rose)
6) Johnny Angel -- (Shelley Fabares)
7) The Loco-Motion -- (Little Eva)
8) Let Me In -- (The Sensations)
9) The Twist -- (Chubby Checker)
10) Soldier Boy -- (The Shirelles)

For most of the Class of 62, it was a year to start life over once again. And for many of us, it wouldn't be the last time we start life over once again either.

If you are still alive, your mission in this life is not finished.

Quote for the Day -- "Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names." John F. Kennedy

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee, and the ghosts of Ron Dickerson and Jerry Anderson.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


On July 4, 1947, an extraterrestrial craft crashed near Roswell, New Mexico.

The wreckage and dead alien bodies were soon transported to Wright-Patterson Air Base in Dayton, Ohio. Cover stories were established with the media and the truth was kept from the public.

Apparently, a lone extraterrestrial (ET) survived the ordeal.

It was the beginning of the Cold War between the USA and the USSR -- paranoia was rampant in high levels of government and the military establishment.

Over the next few months, the federal government created the Atomic Energy Commission, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Council, the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

On September 24, 1947, President Truman created Operation Majestic-12 (MJ-12), a Top Secret intelligence operation that was responsible directly to the President of the United States. This committee of 12 esteemed specialists was commissioned to deal with all matters concerning UFOs and extraterrestrials.

The original 12 members:

1) James V. Forrestal -- became Secretary of Defense in July of 1947. He resigned in March of 1949, a month before he supposedly committed suicide at Bethesda Naval Hospital. One year later, he was replaced by General Walter Bedell Smith (Eisenhower's Chief of Staff and former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow).

2) Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter -- became the first director of the CIA (created in September of 1947). He publically disclosed that UFOs were real and "through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense."

3) General Nathan F. Twining -- commander of the Air Material Command (based at Wright-Patterson Air Base in Ohio). On July 8, 1947, he made a two-day trip to New Mexico due to a sudden important matter. He was responsible for creating Project Sign, a UFO study group.

4) General Hoyt S. Vardenberg -- Air Force Chief of Staff. He ordered the destruction of the original Project Sign reports affirming that UFOs were real.

5) Dr. Vannevay Bush -- a scientist who organized the Office of Scientific Research and Development in 1943, which led to the production of the first atomic bomb.

6) Gordon Gray -- Assistant Secretary of the Army in 1947, promoted to Secretary of the Army in 1949. He became a special assistant on national security affairs to President Truman.

7) Dr. Detlev Bronk -- a biophysicist and physiologist who was a medical advisor to the Atomic Energy Commission and Chairman of the National Research Council.

8) Dr. Jerome Hunsaker -- an aviation designer who was the Chairman of the Departments of Aeronautical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

9) General Robert M. Montegue -- was the base commander at an Atomic Energy Commission facility in New Mexico in 1947.

10) Sidney W. Souers -- a retired rear admiral who was the first Director of the National Security Council in 1947.

11) Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner -- was an electrical engineer who headed a study that created the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group.

12) Dr. Donald Menzel -- an astronomer who was a director of the Harvard College Observatory.

Also in 1947, the Air Force created Project Blue Book to determine if the UFOs were a threat to national security. Project Grudge was another operation performing the same tasks. These programs studied approximately 12,000 reported sightings and determined that 90 percent were either explainable phenomena or hoaxes. The remaining 10 percent were considered legitimate Alien encounters.

Over the next couple of years, the lone surviving ET from the Roswell crash had been in contact with his home planet (called Serpo). Communication (in English) between Serpo and scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory had been established.

In July of 1952, there was a massive UFO flyover of Washington, D.C., on two consecutive weekends -- strange objects on radar, moving at incredible speed, visible sightings of orange discs. Jet fighters were scrambled from Newcastle Air Force Base in Delaware. When the fighters approached, the objects disappeared. When the fighters ran low on fuel and returned to base, the objects reappeared.

Fear and paranoia of an alien invasion caused additional pressure on those involved to maintain a high level of security and secrecy.

In 1953, President Eisenhower created a program called Project Gleem, later called Project Aquarius, to be controlled by the National Security Council and MJ-12. It was funded by the CIA (black budget). Its purpose was to collect intelligence data from UFO sightings, Identified Alien Crafts (IAC) sightings and contacts with Alien Life forms.

Additional contact between ETs and USA authorities occurred -- a meeting was arranged.

On February 20, 1954, President Eisenhower (and others) met with a contingent of ETs at Muroc Air Base (now called Edwards Air Force Base) in the Mohave Desert in California. Eisenhower supposedly had been on a visit to a dentist in Palm Springs. Secrecy was of upmost importance. Five Alien craft had landed. Discussions ensued. The ETs offered technology but wanted certain things in return. Various accounts of the results of this meeting make it difficult to determine the outcome. Some of the USA participants didn't trust the ETs, feeling it was a ploy to gain trust, then perhaps attack.

On February 22, 1954, the USA installed 60 Thor nuclear missiles in Britain.

Life goes on.

Many encounters with extraterrestrial entities have occurred prior to and after July of 1947. These events have been withheld from the public. Advanced technology has been gleaned from these encounters and also withheld from the public, kept within the hidden domain of elite rulers for elite purposes.

Those who rule Planet Earth conduct business in secrecy. Those who seek to expose the truth are ridiculed. And those who follow blindly suffer the consequences.

On September 21, 1987, President Ronald Reagan gave a speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations where he emphasized how drastically our planet would change if we were under a threat from an alien civilization. Perhaps he was preparing us for the day of disclosure.

We dwell on a small planet of an average star (the sun) in an insignificant galaxy (Milky Way) that is merely one of zillions of galaxies, in a far corner of a vast universe, that may be only one of many universes. We are not alone.

The most basic question is not what's best for the planet -- it's who should decide what's best for the planet.

Quote for the Day -- "Our pleasures were simple -- they included survival." Dwight D. Eisenhower

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where ignorance is bliss.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lickety Split

A friend of mine called me the other night asking me to look something up on the Internet for him. He doesn't have a computer, primarily because he's too cheap to buy one and has friends, like me, to pester whenever he needs a favor. Since he helped me start my car back in 1971 he thinks I owe him a life of servitude.

Basically, someone called him a "four flusher" and he didn't know what it meant. So I looked it up for him. It turns out that a four flusher is a person who makes a false claim (one who bluffs). The term was derived from poker where four cards of the same suit are worthless whereas five cards of the same suit is a flush, which will beat three of a kind and a straight. Someone betting with only four cards of the same suit would be bluffing.

The very next evening I received a phone call from a friend who told me the phrase "lickety split" came up in a recent conversation and he was wondering how such a phrase came into existence. This person is not cheap, unlike most of my friends, and owns a computer. But he's a very busy guy and probably didn't want to waste his time on trivial matters so he contacted me to waste my time on trivial matters for him.

In doing so, he also suggested that I should look up the origin of some common expressions, such as "smart as a whip," "a New York minute," "cute as a bug in a rug" and so forth. Instead, I told him his New York minute was up and I had more important things to do, such as take the bull by the horns, reinvent the wheel and catch some Zs.

In my dictionary, "lickety split" means "at great speed."

According to extensive Internet research, "lickety split" was a term used by the Puritans in the 1600s but no one apparently has any insight on how it started.

The term became prominent in the 1830s and 1840s. The earliest known appearance in print was in 1843. Other terms such as "lickety click," lickety cut," "lickety brindle," "lickety smash" and "lickety switch" were also in use at the time meaning the same thing.

Many others terms from the same era also have similar meanings, including "quick as greased lightning," "in a jiffy," "like a house afire," "hell bent for leather" and "immediately if not sooner."

Apparently, everyone was in a hurry back then.

During my Internet explorations, I also learned that "Lickety Split" is:

* A lip gloss that is "fruity, sweet and sassy, and it gives your lips a little kiss of color"
* An alchemy yarn produced and marketed by The Yarn Company of New York City
* An educational game for children, ages 6 and up, made by Gamewright
* A 27' racing sailboat manufactured by Morgan Boat Builders
* A raft trip on the Kern River in California offered by Sierra South Sports
* A night club in Philadelphia
* A rock-and-roll band
* A recipe for lasagna published in BETTER HOMES AND GARDEN
* A company in San Diego that makes balloons
* A card game involving 2 to 4 players fast grabbing from a deck of 60 cards

Jeepers creepers, I now know more about "lickety split" than I ever wanted to know.

Personally I don't like doing things at great speed – I prefer to "take a slow boat to China."

Time to end this nonsense -- 23 skidoo.

Quote for the Day -- "Some guy hit my fender, and I told him, 'be fruitful and multiply' -- but not in those words." Woody Allen

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where silence is golden.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Next Ice Age

Many climate scientists now agree that global warming, primarily cyclical in nature due to fluctuations in solar activity, could trigger a new ice age in the Northern Hemisphere. Some of them believe this potential catastrophic event has already been set in motion.

In March of 2004, NASA reported that views from orbit “clearly show a long-term decline in the perennial Arctic Sea ice.” Scientists at NASA and elsewhere worry that melting ice will dump enough freshwater into the North Atlantic to interfere with ocean currents.

Receding ice cover in the Arctic exposes more of the ocean surface, causing more moisture to evaporate, leading to more rainfall and snowfall in the northern latitudes.

The oceans circulate water in a pattern called the “Great Ocean Conveyer.”

Saltwater is denser (heavier) than freshwater. The surface water needs to sink to drive the Conveyer. Sunken water flows south along the ocean floor toward the equator, while warm surface water from the Tropics flows north to replace the water that sank. An increase of freshwater could prevent the sinking of North Atlantic surface waters, stopping the circulation.

Evidence developed from tree rings and ice cores indicates that the Earth’s climate has shifted abruptly in the past. As the world warmed at the end of the last ice age, melting ice sheets appear to have caused a sudden halt to the Conveyer, creating ice-age-like conditions for the next 1,300 years called the “Younger Dryas.”

Without the warmth the ocean currents deliver, Europe’s average temperature would drop 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Portions of eastern North America would also drop in temperature but not quite as much.

These types of abrupt climate changes could result in massive crop failures, leading to global food shortages.

A secret report commissioned by the Pentagon in 2004, leaked to the press four months later, warns that climate change over the next 20 years (or less) could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.

In what is described as a contingency scenario, the report warns that major European cities will sink beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a frigid climate by 2020. Dwindling food, water and energy supplies throughout the planet will generate global anarchy. The report concludes, “Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life. Once again, warfare would define human life.”

Whether a catastrophic global climate change will occur in the near future is uncertain. If it does happen, it will take two to three years (perhaps as long as a decade) to unfold, a very short period of time in geological history but plenty of time in human existence to prepare for the consequences.

If this scenario occurs, there will be food shortages, followed by a Mad Max reality of civil mayhem.

Be prepared (Boy Scout motto) -- avoid living near the ocean, avoid living in or near a big city, have a reliable source of fresh water and keep plenty of non-perishable food in store. Plus, lots of ammo. In self-survival, anything goes.

We live in precarious times. Man’s inhumanity to man continues to haunt the world and the whims of the universe are mostly beyond our control.

Mother Nature is indifferent to the survival of mankind -- we can only hang on and go along for the ride.

Keep your powder dry and your nose to the wind.

Quote for the Day -- "Instead of working for the survival of the fittest, we should be working for the survival of the wittiest -- then we can all die laughing." Lily Tomlin

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and an imaginary girlfriend named Lois Lane.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dodging Bullets

An emergency phone operator received a call one afternoon from a hunter who was very distraught.

“My hunting partner just passed out and keeled over,” the hunter said in a panic.

The emergency phone operator told him to calm down and check for vital signs.

“He’s not breathing,” the hunter observed. “I think he might be dead.”

“First of all, let’s make sure he’s dead,” the emergency operator said.

There was a short pause, followed by a gunshot.

“Okay, now what?” the hunter asked when he got back on the phone.

While the above joke may be amusing, there’s nothing amusing during hunting season to those of us who live in rural areas and wonder if the next errant bullet is headed our way.

Recently, 12-year-old Lindsey Duffield of Browns Valley, Minn., was riding a white mare named Princess along the driveway of her grandfather’s farm on the edge of town. A shot rang out. A short time later, Lindsey’s leg became moist and cold, soaked with blood. Princess had taken a 12-gauge slug in her shoulder and later died. The hunter had been sitting 200 yards away. He said he thought it was a deer.

Similar incidents happen every year during hunting season. In Minnesota, a 14-year-old girl was killed when a bullet penetrated her house as she was sitting in her bedroom, practicing the violin. A hunter in Wisconsin shot another hunter perched high in a tree stand. In Pennsylvania, a woman was gunned down while sitting on the deck of her cabin, drinking a cup of coffee. When I was a teen-ager, a friend of mine was shot in the back of his head and killed by another hunter in his own party.

I now live in northern Arkansas where some of the “sportsmen” are just as irresponsible. A couple of years ago, a Little Rock man shot a llama in a fenced pasture in the next county, claiming he thought it was a deer. If you can’t tell the difference between a llama and a deer, please stay in the city where you belong.

A few years earlier, some "sportsmen" were driving down my road and shot a neighbor’s dog that was sitting in its own driveway as they passed by.

When I first moved into my present home several years ago, I spotted three hunters approaching my place in my backyard at sunrise. Even though they were less than 40 yards from my back door, they continued walking toward me, each carrying a high-powered rifle. I went outside and told them they couldn’t hunt on my property. They became very indignant and told me the previous owner had allowed them to hunt there. After I told them I didn’t care what arrangement they had with the previous owner, they walked out onto the main road. One of them looked menacingly at me and fired a round into the air before leaving the area. I guess it was his way of saying he was displeased I wouldn’t allow him to wander on my property and fill the air with stray bullets.

The following year, another sportsman (or perhaps the same one) shot up my mailbox. He hit it twice. Apparently, he wanted to make sure it wasn’t really a deer after all.

Later that year, another sportsman (or perhaps the same one) discarded the remains of a deer carcass in the middle of the road at the end of my driveway.

In November of 2004, Chai Soua Vang, 36, a Hmong (Laotian) immigrant from St. Paul, Minn., was sitting in a tree stand on the private property of Bob Crotteau in northern Wisconsin waiting for a deer to wander by.

Eventually, Crotteau and his deer hunting companions arrived at the scene on ATVs. Crotteau verbally admonished Vang for trespassing and demanded that he leave. The previous year, Crotteau had been forced to confront Hmong hunters several times on his posted property and was clearly upset he had to do it again.

Vang, who had been charged with criminal trespass over a similar incident in 2002 on another property in the same vicinity, was apparently upset as well. He opened fire on the hunters, most of whom were unarmed at the time, with his SKS assault rifle.

When it was all over, six hunters were dead and two lay wounded.

Later that day, Vang was arrested without incident by a game warden. When first questioned by local authorities, Vang claimed that one of the two survivors, Terry Willers, did the killings (including murdering his own daughter).

However, investigators quickly ruled that scenario out after examining the scene. Vang then recanted his story and insisted he was fired upon first.

During the trial in September of 2005, the two survivors, Terry Willer and Lauren Hesenbeck, described how Crotteau had verbally confronted Vang about trespassing. When Vang started walking away, he removed the scope from his rifle, turned around and opened fire on the hunters. As some of them scattered, Vang reversed his orange jacket to camouflage, chased them down and shot them in the back.

Vang's courtroom account of the incident was virtually the same, except he testified that Crotteau shouted racial slurs at him, thereby disrespecting him and deserving to die. He also claimed that someone fired a shot at him first. Both Willer and Hesenbeck denied under oath that anyone had fired a shot at Vang.

According to his own testimony, Vang had reloaded three times and fired more than 20 rounds.

Robert Crotteau, 41, construction business owner -- dead (shot once in the back)
Joey Crotteau, 20, construction worker (Robert Crotteau's son) – dead (shot four times in the back)
Denny Drew, 55, car salesman – dead (shot once in the chest)
Allan Laski, 43, lumber yard manager – dead (shot three times in the back)
Marl Roltd, 28, auto mechanic – dead (shot once in the head)
Jessica Willers, 27, nurse (Terry Willer's daughter) – dead (shot twice in the back)
Terry Willer, 47, construction worker – wounded (shot in the neck)
Lauren Hesenbeck, 48, car dealership manager – wounded (shot in the shoulder)

It took the jury only three hours to return six first-degree murder verdicts. Vang was sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole, the maximum penalty available in Wisconsin.

Vang had lived in the United States for more than 20 years, had been hunting since 1992 and had previously been chased off of private property for trespassing. He knew the rules but chose to ignore them.

I have eight acres in Arkansas and previously owned six acres in Arizona. In both places, I've been forced to chase armed intruders (hunters) off my property, even though the property was posted and I lived there.

Inconsiderate hunters put rural property owners in an awkward, dangerous position when they trespass without permission. Irresponsible behavior by idiots toting dangerous weapons with the capacity to launch a bullet a great distance with deadly results is a nightmare for those of us who enjoy living far from the maddening crowd.

Chai Soua Vang will rot and die in prison, probably still demanding to be respected.

But respect is not something you're entitled to – it's something you earn.

Quote for the Day -- "After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral -- When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut." Will Rogers

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and the ghost of Terry Hawkins.

Friday, October 28, 2011

11-Year Walk Around the World

On August 18, 2000, Jean Beliveau celebrated his 45th birthday. His small neon-sign business had gone bankrupt, so he decided to run around the world to try to escape the emotional pain in his life.

"Stupid is as stupid does." Forest Gump

He left his home in Montreal, Canada, and ran all the way to Atlanta, Georgia. At that point, he continued his trek, but at a slower pace, walking instead of running.

Over the next 11 years, Beliveau walked 46,600 miles, across 64 countries.

He started out with $4,000 in his pocket. But as he travelled, his girlfriend continued financial support, sending him about $4,000 each of the 11 years.

Along the way, Beliveau was mugged in South Africa, ate insects in Africa and snakes in China, was escorted by soldiers in the Philippines, spent a night in jail in Ethiopia (for no apparent reason) and went through 53 pairs of shoes.

Occasionally, he slept under bridges and in homeless shelters. But most of the time it was strangers who supplied much of his food and places to sleep.

"It was the poorest people who gave me the most," Beliveau declared. "I knocked on the doors of the privileged, asking them and they refused. Some even threatened me. The poor shared what they had."

Not surprising -- those who lust for luxury and bling-bling usually don't want to share it with others. But those who are content (sufficient) with modest surroundings are often willing to help others in need. It's human nature -- greed is based on fear and the acquisition of possessions becomes of primary self-importance to those who never seem to have enough personal wealth.

At some point along the way, his girlfriend, Luce Archambault, suggested to Beliveau that he could use his adventure to promote non-violence toward children (in support of a United Nations proclamation).

Beliveau returned to square one (Montreal) on October 17, 2011. It would become the longest uninterrupted walk around the world.

Pardon my cynicism, but hiking for 11 years around the entire planet to promote non-violence against children is a lot like masturbating 1,000 times to end world hunger -- it makes no sense and it smacks of self-indulgence.

Accomplishing the task was quite remarkable, but don't spoil it by trying to mold yourself into a hero. You did it because you chose to escape your problems rather than overcome them, not because you had any intention of healing mankind.

During my mid life crisis many moons ago, I once had 22 shots of whiskey to promote world peace -- apparently, it didn't work.

Quote for the Day -- "Everything is within walking distance if you have the time." Steven Wright

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where running away from problems usually creates additional problems.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Alternative 3

In the mid 1970s, there was a phenomenon called "Brain Drain" whereby a significant number of mysterious disappearances and strange deaths among an array of scientists, physicists, astronomers, engineers and others in specifically related fields took place over a short period of time.

In 1977, a British TV production aired an episode called ALTERNATIVE 3 to explain this brain drain phenomenon, purportedly as a "fictional" hoax.

The thrust of the TV episode was that the ruling elite on Planet Earth were concerned about overpopulation and potential earth changes, thereby requiring various alternatives where they could continue their grand lives of opulence and control while the rest of civilization would suffer the adverse consequences.

Alternative 1 consisted of plans to explode nuclear bombs in the atmosphere, primarily to greatly reduce global population. This scheme was soon discarded for a variety of reasons.

Alternative 2 consisted of creating various underground bases to be occupied exclusively by the ruling elite (and required helpers/servants) in the event of a global catastrophe. Some of these bases have already been constructed during the 1950s and 1960s, in secrecy of course.

Alternative 3 was a plan to build bases on the moon and on Mars to be occupied by the ruling elites when Planet Earth becomes uninhabitable due to potential catastrophic events. In doing so, the ruling elites have obtained advanced technology (kept secret from the rest of the world) and have been implementing this plan for several decades by creating bases on the far side of the moon (which is why the USA never went back to the moon after the 1970s -- we were chased out of there by those who occupied the place) and underground on Mars.

In order to give credence to Alternative 3, one must assume that a group of wealthy, powerful people have formed an alliance and hold discussions about how to save themselves from overpopulation on a dying planet.

Not hard to believe at all -- numerous groups exist, known and unknown -- Old Money, secret societies, Rothschilds, Bilderbergers, the CFR, the CFR, Knights of Malta, etc., etc.

After the TV show aired in 1977, British author Leslie Watkins published a book the following year titled ALTERNATIVE 3, which expanded the premise of the scheme and explained that the TV version had been meant to be a hoax.

After publication, Watkins was besieged with letters, confirming the basic concept of Alternative 3. He wrote, "In fact, the amazing mountain of letters from virtually all parts of the world -- including vast numbers from highly intelligent people in positions of authority -- convinced me that I had accidently trespassed into a range of top-secret truths."

Yes, there is a ruling elite that controls the world in secrecy. They control international monetary systems, governments, military-industrial complexes and the mass "mainstream" media. They initiate global conflicts to further their goal of a one-world government (with them in total control) and to increase their wealth. They have been doing this for a very long time, passing the power and authority down through their closed bloodlines.

The ruling elite considers it their right, because of their innate superiority, to control the lives of the masses and will do whatever it takes to maintain their position of power.

The Puppet Masters have alternatives to save themselves from gloom and doom -- the Puppets have alternatives too, if only they would awaken to their plight.

Quote for the Day -- "On a planet that increasingly resembles one huge maximum security prison, the only intelligent choice is to plan a jail break." Robert Anton Wilson

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where dreams are answers to questions one is unable to ask.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Secret Service Observations

The U. S. Secret Service has evolved over the years. These days, it is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. One of their many duties is to protect the President of the United States and his or her immediate family.

Over time and through various sources, Secret Service agents have disclosed that U.S. Presidents sometimes have a public persona and a private persona.

The Secret Service also assigns codenames to U.S. Presidents and members of their family -- Secret Service codenames are in parenthesis.

John F. Kennedy (Lancer) -- A womanizer who had many affairs. He set up an early warning system to be alerted whenever his wife would approach his area.

Lyndon Johnson (Volunteer) -- A highly immoral man. Very crude personality.

Richard Nixon (Searchlight) -- A moral man but also very strange. Extremely paranoid and kept within himself. Had a terrible relationship with his family.

Gerald Ford (Pass Key) -- A gentleman who treated everyone with respect.

Jimmy Carter (Deacon) -- A total phony. For example, he would exit airplanes and helicopters carrying his own suitcase or briefcase. However, the suitcase or briefcase was always empty. It was merely a prop for photo opts to impress the public. He portrayed himself as a pious non-drinker, yet he and his family consumed alcohol often. The Secret Service always has an agent, near the President, carrying the nuclear "football" (a briefcase with the capability of launching a nuclear attack) for extreme emergencies. According to the agents in charge of the devise, Carter was highly irresponsible with the football. Apparently, he didn't think much of it and kept Secret Service agents at a significant distance from him.

Ronald Reagan (Rawhide) -- A moral, honest, gracious man. Treated everyone with respect. Would take time to get to know everyone around him. Unknown to the public, he often carried a firearm with him, and even had a pistol in his briefcase when he met with Soviet leader Gorbachev.

George Herbert Walker Bush (Timberwolf) -- A kind, considerate man. Always took time to make sure the Secret Service agents were comfortable, which included bringing them meals and warm clothing when they were stationed outside in cold weather..

Bill Clinton (Eagle) -- An untrustworthy man who wanted everyone to like him. He considered the Presidency to be one big party. His wife Hillary (Evergreen) treated the Secret Service with open contempt, as if they were there to serve her and her husband. Her personality would dramatically change depending on the presence of cameras. Vice President Al Gore (Sundance) was a self-centered jerk who was overheard by Secret Service agents telling his son that he'd better do well in school or "you will end up like these guys" as he was pointing at the agents.

George W. Bush (Trailblazer) -- Like his father, he was kind and considerate of the Secret Service agents. He and his wife Laura (Tempo) went out of their way to make it comfortable for the agents. Of all the Presidents, Bush was the most prompt and ran the White House like a well-oiled machine. He also had a strict workout regimen and was in good physical condition.

Barack Obama (Renegade) -- He disdains the military and looks down on the Secret Service.

We all have our public persona and our private persona. In public, I am a quiet loner and potential serial killer. In private, I frolic with dogs and talk to trees.

Quote for the Day -- "Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage." H. L. Mencken

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and the haunting spirit of Bonnie Jo Mason.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Discovery of Self

A Libertarian is a person who is concerned with the fundamental protection of individual rights -- minimal government, maximum individual freedom.

The Libertarian political party was formed in 1971 and has been gaining strength ever since. Their party goal states, "As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others."

At the 1977 Libertarian Party Convention, a former Harvard Professor of Psychology spoke about a new concept called the Internet. He explained that it would become a worldwide connected network of computers where people around the world would be able to communicate with one another via messages, photos, videos and information instantaneously. He also predicted this network would cause a revolution against the status quo and that nothing would ever be the same.

The professor's name was Dr. Timothy Leary (1920 - 1996).

"In the information age, you don't teach philosophy -- you perform it. If Aristotle were alive today he'd have a talk show." Timothy Leary

In 1960, Leary traveled to Mexico and sampled some Psilocybin mushrooms, experiencing an altered state of mind consciousness that changed the course of his life. He claimed he learned more about psychology in the five hours after taking the mushrooms than in his 15 years of studying and doing research in psychology.

Returning to his post as a lecturer at Harvard, Leary and other associates began a research program known as the Harvard Psilocybin Project.

Leary argued that psychedelic substances, such as Psilocybin mushrooms and synthetic LSD, would have positive therapeutic effects if utilized in proper dosages under the guidance of a psychologist.

Because of his views about the individual freedom of one's own mind, Leary soon became an enemy of the U.S. government, culminating in various arrests and imprisonment. Apparently, a person's mind is the property of the government and the altering of one's own state of mind is an extreme offense against the prevailing will of those who control the masses.

Controlling the masses is not a new concept.

One of Leary's many observations concerned the concept of monotheism (One God), which he considered to be a primitive religion designed to manipulate human beings into a "hive authority" mentality based upon a hierarchy structure of authority (a pyramid of power and control from the top down).

In an article titled THE INTELLIGENCE AGENTS, Leary wrote, "The First Commandment of all monotheisms is: I am the Lord, thy God. Thou shall have no other Gods before me. All monotheisms are vengeful, aggressive, expansionist, intolerant."

In his view, monotheism hinders mankind from evolving into the discovery of self. Of monotheistic concepts such as sin, hell, devil, evil, eternal damnation, Leary wrote, "All these doctrines are precisely designed to intimidate and crush Individualism."

During the evolution of the soul, once people evolve beyond the Hive Authority concept and begin to think for themselves, they realize everything is connected and they create their own reality -- All is One.

The hive mentality is meant to imprison one within a hierarchy. These hierarchies occur in government, religion, military, secret societies, corporate structures and other pyramids of rank and position. And those at the top of the pyramid of the hive structure go to great lengths to remain in power.

"Think for yourself and question authority." Timothy Leary

When one realizes all Knowledge is Within, one becomes part of the Universal Oneness and is no longer trapped within a hierarchical structure. When All is One, everything is equal in "rank" and value.

Timothy Leary was married 5 times and was the author or co-author of over 20 books. He believed in the concept of inward self-reliance -- Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.

Some people wander through the Valley of the Shadow of Death in quiet desperation -- others ride in on a flaming white steed, spewing lightning bolts of truth, illuminating the dark shadows of power and greed.

Quote for the Day -- "If you think you're free, there is no possible escape." Ram Dass

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the price of freedom is responsibility.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fear and Loathing of Hashing

Over the years, the British have given us cricket, snooker, darts and the American Revolution. Except for the revolution, their contributions to our way of life have been rather boring. Hashing is no exception.

In 1938, a bunch of British Army officers in colonial Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, formed a running club called the Hash House Harriers, named after their meeting place, the Selanger Club, nicknamed the "Hash House."

Their idea of a jolly good time consisted of a mixture of social mingling and athleticism. They devised "Hash House Harrier" runs whereby a lead "hare" (one of the officers) would be given a head start and mark his trail with shreds of paper. The remaining officers ("harriers") would follow the clues, shouting loudly along the way, destination unknown, until they reached the end of the trail where a tub of ice-cold beer awaited them.

The 1938 charter of the original Kuala Lampur Hash House Harriers contained the following goals:

1) To promote physical fitness among our members
2) To get rid of weekend hangovers
3) To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
4) To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel

After World War II, "hashing" spread to the Far East, Australia and New Zealand, and eventually gained popularity in the 1970s. Today, there are thousands of hashing clubs throughout the world, including the USA, each with its own internet website and newsletter. There are also regional and world hashing conventions.

A typical hashing club consists of 20-40 men and women who meet regularly to chase the hare. They follow trails of flour, chalk or paper (biodegradable material) and must deal with woods, hills, streams, cliffs, fences and even storm drains. Hashing in metropolitan areas is generally set up along streets and through alleyways.

In the Hash House Harrier tradition of running and partying, there's always cold brew at the end of the trail.

Basically, hashing is a social event for hoity-toity beer enthusiasts. In other words, it's a beer party, disguised as a sport, where participants work up a thirst by romping through the woods like a pack of crazed basset hounds.

An Internet search of "hashing clubs" will generate many thousands of hits, including various directories of hashing clubs.

However, I couldn't find any hashing clubs in my little corner of the world, but there are probably several good reasons why folks in northern Arkansas aren't into prancing through the countryside to down a beer.

First of all, a romp through some of the local countryside is also a romp through the homeland of many species of irritating creatures, such as spiders, ticks, chiggers and snakes. Having a cold beer at the end of a run sounds fine, but dealing with tiny, blood-sucking critters attached to various parts of your body is no fun at all. Stepping on a water moccasin or cottonmouth snake can potentially be a most unpleasant experience as well.

Northern Arkansas is also the home of some larger critters that attract sportsmen with deadly weapons and running through hunting territory is not a wise move. For example, a hasher with girth could easily be mistaken for a wild boar, a tasty chunk of meat, especially if he or she tends to snort while thrashing through the wild.

Plus, you don't have to work very hard to build up a thirst for a cold beer in this part of the country – all you have to do is step outside, particularly on a hot, humid summer afternoon, and walk out to the mailbox.

We have our own version of hashers around here. They do seem to enjoy their beer, but don't care to do the running leading up to drinking it. Instead, they drive around in pickup trucks, with faulty mufflers so you can always hear them coming from far away in case you need to get out of the way, and drink beer on the move.

And instead of marking a trail with biodegradable material, they toss the empty beer cans out the window. This way, they've created a trail of beer cans in case they need to go back to wherever they came from.

Hashing may be a fine sport for elitists in trendy locales, but in these parts (dry counties) we're forbidden by law from indulging in evil beverages.

Besides, in Redneck Heaven we only run if we're chasing something or something is chasing us.

Quote for the Day -- "What may seem depressing or even tragic to one person may seem like an absolute scream to another person, especially if he has had between four and seven beers." Dave Barry

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where everyone is as old as they feel.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

I remember my fourth grade teacher giving us a glimpse of the future. We were told that things would be so "modernized" that we would have much more free time on our hands than our parents.

My father, like almost everyone else in the 1950’s, was working 40 hours a week. I was relieved to learn that I wouldn’t have to put in that many hours when I was his age.

But it never came true -- more than a half century later, Americans are still stuck in the rut of a 40-hour workweek.

In fact, employed Americans now average more hours per week than they did fifty years ago and have less vacation time than any other industrial nation in the world.

To add to this burden, the average American family pays more in taxes than food, clothing, shelter and transportation combined.

Either we are incapable of being personally responsible for our own welfare or government has gotten vastly out of control.

Nearly 50 percent of our income goes to government. This includes federal & state income tax, social security tax, Medicare tax, real estate property tax, personal property tax, state & county & city sales tax, self-employment tax, gasoline tax, liquor tax, cigarette tax, federal excise tax, import tax, luxury tax, gift tax, inheritance tax, hotel tax, transportation tax, federal & state & county telephone tax, port-of-entry fee, marriage license fee, motor vehicle registration fee, driver’s license fee, watercraft registration fee, hunting & fishing license fee, dog & cat license fee, etc., etc.

We’re stuck at 40 hours per week with nearly 20 of those hours going to government coffers -- this is insane.

The solution to this predicament seems quite simple -- reduce the individual working hours per week, thereby creating openings for those seeking employment

Less hours per worker means more workers needed for the same productive output -- reducing unemployment rates by cutting individual work hours and hiring more people.

Thus, the birth of the 35-hour workweek or the 32-hour workweek or the 30-hour workweek.

For example, a 30-hour workweek could consist of five six-hour days or four seven-and-a-half-hour days or three ten-hour days.

It would give the economy a giant boost because more workers would be required to maintain the same level of productivity. More workers means less unemployment and welfare – more money going into the system, less taken out of the system.

Plus the economy would get a second boost with more production of leisure equipment, more travel, etc. And best of all, we’d have more free time, leading to more peace of mind.

Recent surveys show that most Americans don’t really like their jobs. They’re fed up wasting their lives away so the fat cats on top can get fatter while they get two whole days off each week to rejuvenate themselves so they can start the grind all over again on Monday. They’re working jobs they hate in order to buy things they don’t need. And sooner or later, these things end up owning them.

This is no longer the 1950s -- we don't need to squeeze everyone into a 40-hour per week job. The world has become more efficient. We should be able to cut back on working hours, creating more opportunities for those shut out of the work place, and still maintain a viable lifestyle.

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 intrusion into our lives, living within our national fiscal means, etc.

The government wants everyone working at full capacity to maximize tax revenues, in order to increase the scope of the government. The corporate world wants everyone working at full capacity in order to maximize profits. Financial institutions want everyone in debt to perpetuate their credit schemes in order to expand their control of the monetary system. And those who lust for wealth and power by seeking a one-world government want everyone working like obedient robots in order to gain control of the planet and enslave the world.

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

Nobody, with the possible exception of Hugh Hefner, goes to their grave wishing they had spent more time working at their job.

Those of you wanting to work more than 30 hours per week, I’d be glad to give up some work hours to make you happy. After all, It’s better to give than to receive.

Quote for the Day -- "If you don't want to work you have to work to earn enough money so that you won't have to work." Ogden Nash

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where nothing is work unless you'd rather be doing something else.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Doom of Flight 93 -- 9/11

On September 11, 2001, the USA was under attack by Muslim Extremists whereby four passenger airplanes were hijacked -- two planes slammed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and another one slammed into the Pentagon Building.

The fourth hijacked airplane (Flight 93) was over Pennsylvania, heading toward the White House, but never made it.

One of my fellow University of Minnesota Alumni Association members, Tom Burnett, class of ’86, was aboard Flight 93. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, he became a national hero.

According to his friends and family, Tom was always a take-charge sort of guy. At 6’2” and 205 lbs., he had been the quarterback and leader of his high school football team in Bloomington, Minn. In 2001, at age 38, he was the senior vice president of a medical research company in California.

On September 11, 2001, he was seated in first class on United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco, returning home from a business trip in New York. His wife, Deena, was at home in San Ramon, Calif., preparing breakfast for their three daughters when she received the first of four phone calls from Tom aboard the plane.

In a low voice, Tom told his wife that his plane had been hijacked, someone had been stabbed and that there was a bomb on board. He told Deena to contact the authorities and quickly ended the call.

As Deena was on the phone with the FBI, Tom called a second time to notify her that the hijackers had managed to gain entrance into the cockpit. Deena then told Tom about how some commercial airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Center. Tom peppered her with questions, then hung up.

Other passengers on Flight 93 had also been in contact with loved ones on the ground. Soon the passengers began to realize they were in a serious predicament. One of the flight attendants was talking to her husband on the phone in the kitchen galley as she was filling coffeepots with boiling water to throw at the hijackers.

Tom Burnett made another call to his wife. Deena had just learned that a plane had slammed into the Pentagon and was certain it was her husband’s flight.

As she related the latest incident, Tom’s worst fears had come true. He figured the entire East Coast of America was under attack and wondered aloud if the hijackers really had a bomb. “We’ve got to do something – I’ve got to go,” he announced, then hung up.

All the passengers had been sequestered in the tail end of the plane. Among them:

* Jeremy Glick, 6-1, 220 lb., former NCAA judo champion
* Mark Bingham, 6-5, 200 lb., former rugby player on the national championship team
* Lou Nacke, 5-3, 200 lb., weightlifter with a Superman tattoo
* Rich Guadagno, California Wildlife Enforcement Officer
* Alan Beaven, 6-3, rock climber and Scotland Yard prosecutor
* William Cashman, ex-paratrooper with the 101st Airborne

Tom Burnett made his fourth and final call to Deena. The first thing he wanted to know was if any more structures had been hit. He said he had been talking to other passengers and “we’re going to do something.”

They both reaffirmed their love for each other. Then Deena asked what else she could do.

“Just pray” Tom told her, then marched off to do what had to be done.

At precisely 9:57 AM, the cockpit voice recorder began to pick up the sounds of chaos. One of the passengers can be heard shouting, “Let’s get them!” The hijackers yelled at each other to hold the door. Dishes and trays can be heard crashing about. Lots of confusion. One of the passengers shouted something incoherent. A hijacker responded by crying out, “God is great!”

Then the voice recorder went silent.

Officially, United Flight 93 "crashed" into the countryside of southeastern Pennsylvania.

However, regardless of "official" accounts of the incident, exactly how and why Flight went down remains a mystery.

On December 24, 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was in Iraq giving the troops a pep talk when he went into a diatribe about what the world would be like if the USA hadn't invaded Iraq. The speech was carried live on CNN.

I was watching it while eating breakfast.

Rumsfeld recounted the series of tragedies caused by the terrorists on 9/11 of 2001 – four airplanes hijacked by terrorists, the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, the attack on the Pentagon, and so forth. In his remarks, he included a phrase about the tragedy of the airliner (Flight 93) which included these exact words about how sad it was that we had "shot down the plane over Pennsylvania."

That’s correct – the Secretary of Defense had informed the world that Flight 93 had been shot down over Pennsylvania. I nearly fell out of my chair, but was too busy jotting down the exact quote. It had been portrayed on the mainstream news that the passengers stormed the cockpit of Flight 93 causing it to crash.

The following day, a Pentagon spokesman held a press briefing to explain that the Secretary of Defense must have had a slip of the tongue during the speech.

So I did a bit of research.

From newspaper archives following the 9/11 incidents, multiple sources quoted several residents in and around the crash site near Shanksville, Pa., claiming to have seen a second plane – an unmarked military style jet.

Susan McElwain, 51, lives two miles from the crash site. She witnessed a plane overhead. "It came right over me. It was traveling real fast and low, but barely made a sound, then it disappeared behind some trees. A few seconds later I heard this explosion and saw this fireball rise up over the trees. The plane I saw was heading right to the point where Flight 93 crashed." She described the plane as a white (with no markings) military jet with two rear engines and two upright fins at the side.

Lee Purbaugh, 32, was working on a ridge a half mile away, the only person who saw Flight 93 as it came down. He too spotted a second jet. "It was white and circled the area twice, then flew off."

Tom Spinelli, 28, was working at a marina a mile and a half away. He also saw a white plane. "It was flying around like it was looking for something. I saw it before and after the crash."

Three days after the crash, the local newspaper (Bergen County Record) reported that five witnesses had seen a second plane. Dennis Decker and Rick Cheney, at work when they heard an explosion, ran outside and spotted a "mid-sized white jet, with engines mounted near the tail, flying low. It made a circle then headed out."

Government officials have continually insisted there was never any pursuit of Flight 93.

Earlier that morning on Sept. 11, 2001, two commercial airliners had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.

At 9:24 AM EST, NORAD received notice that American Airlines Flight 77 had been hijacked and was now heading toward Washington DC.

At 9:30 AM, two F-16s were airborne from Hampton, Va., with orders to head for Washington, DC.

At 9:37 AM, American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon.

At 9:28 AM, the FAA learned that Flight 93 had been hijacked near Cleveland.

At 9:35 AM, Flight 93 began making a turn toward the south. At the same time, three F-16s were scrambled with orders to "protect the White House at all cost."

By 9:39 AM, Flight 93 had completed a wide turn and was now aimed at Washington DC.

At 10:03 AM, according to cockpit recordings, several passengers had managed to force their way into the cockpit in an attempt to take back control of Flight 93.

At 10:06 AM, Flight 93 "crashed" in Pennsylvania.

Debris from the wreckage was found scattered over an 8-mile area, including a 1000-pound section of an engine fan found more than a mile from the so-called crash site. This is consistent with an external explosion that separated a half ton section of one of the engines and tore open a portion of the passenger cabin and cargo hold.

Question: How does an airplane that crashes into the ground spread debris over an 8-mile area?

Answer: Duh.

A picture can often be worth a thousand words -- so can a slip of the tongue.

The official government explanation for the series of events of 9/11 simply don’t pass the smell test -- was the madness of 9/11 really the result of 19 crazed dudes with box-cutters or was there a bigger picture?

So many questions, not enough answers.

One thing is for certain, no matter what caused the plane to crash, many of the passengers on Flight 93 were genuine heroes. They rose to the occasion, took the necessary action, fought like hell and went down in a Blaze of Glory.

On September 11, 2011, we honor their courage.

Rest in Peace.

Quote for the Day – “Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing.” George Orwell

Bret Burquest, author of four novels, has recently published THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY (esoteric knowledge) and 1111 HAPPY TRAILS ROAD (humor) -- available on Amazon. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and often has more questions than answers.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friedman on Freedom

Milton Friedman was born in New York City in 1912. His parents were immigrants from Austria. He received a B.A. from Rutgers University, an M.A. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

He lived through the turmoil of World War I, Prohibition, the Great Depression and the rise of fascism.

During World War II, he worked for the U.S. Treasury Department where he became disillusioned with the excesses of government and began to reject conventional economic theory in lieu of his own concepts.

"Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless... Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government... If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there would be a shortage of sand." Milton Friedman

For the remainder of his life, he was one of the world's most prominent champions of individual freedom. He advocated a free market economy in which both parties would benefit in any exchange of goods and services.

"Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself." Milton Friedman

In his book, MONETARY HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, he argued that the Great Depression was caused by government mismanagement of the money supply rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.

"Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government... The power to do good is also the power to do harm... Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned." Milton Friedman

Friedman saw the problem as having unused machinery and unemployed people being keep apart by an attempt to keep prices and wages up, rather than allowing the marketplace to adjust to the prevailing conditions. The government added scores of new projects and agencies, thereby actually prolonging the depression.

"It's a mystery as to why people think Roosevelt's policies pulled us out of the depression." Milton Friedman.

In his 1962 book CAPTALISM AND FREEDOM, Friedman advocated free markets and minimizing the role of government as a means of creating social freedom. In his 1980 PBS TV Series, viewed by millions, he explained how free markets worked. His related book, FREE TO CHOOSE, demonstrated how a free market economy helps to resolve political and social problems. His writings were circulated behind the Iron Curtain before it fell in 1989.

In the 1970s, Friedman advised the communist government of China and the military government of Chile about free market strategy. He was highly criticized for his efforts, yet both countries have become economic miracles. Chile now has the most robust economy in Latin America and China has blossomed into an economic giant.

Friedman never shied away from controversy. He believed in a voucher system that would be used to pay tuition in both public and private schools, and he argued against the U.S. Post Office's legal monopoly on mail. He opposed the minimum wage laws and proposed a negative income tax to replace the existing welfare system.

"The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem... We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes non-work... A society that puts equality of outcome ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom." Milton Friedman

In 2005, Friedman and more than 500 other economists called for discussions regarding the benefits of the legalization of marijuana.

"Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal... Every friend of freedom must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the visions of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence." Milton Friedman

Although philosophically a Libertarian, he was a member of the Republican Party "on the grounds of expediency, not on principle" and considered himself to be a classic liberal, much like Thomas Jefferson.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground... I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them... Most bad government results from too much government." Thomas Jefferson

Milton Friedman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988. Considered the most important economist of the 20th century, he died in November of 2006.

Quote for the Day -- "It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it." Thomas Sowell

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.