Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Old Codgers and Young Whippersnappers

I was an adjunct instructor at Ozarka College In northern Arkansas in 2001 to 2006, where I taught computer classes in the evenings, usually two classes per semester, at facilities in Melbourne and Ash Flat. Every desk had a computer, tied into the main system at the Melbourne campus.

The students generally came in two varieties -- youngsters not far out of high school who had considerable computer skills and older people who wanted to learn about computers so the could make use of their home PCs.

One thing I learned along the way is that a teacher never stops learning. For example, there is a big difference between young whippersnappers (younger generations) and old codgers (older generations).

One semester at the Melbourne facility, there were 18 students in my Microprocessor Applications class. Four of them were older students, in their 40s and 50s. These four students had impeccable attendance records and the four highest overall grades, based on computer projects and tests. The rest of the students were a year or two out of high school. With few exceptions, they had spotty attendance and didn't seem to put forth an effort equal to their older counterparts. By the way, everyone in that particular class was a female student, thus these differences had nothing to do with gender.

One semester at the Ash Fat facility, I had 11 students in my Introduction to Computers class. There were five older students, ages 30 to 75, and six students fresh out of high school. Once again, the five older students had good attendance records and the five highest overall grades, even though they knew less about computers at the outset than the youngsters.

This isn't exactly a scientific survey, but from my point of view old codgers seem to have a strong ethic to succeed while young whippersnappers have a strong yearning to slide through life with the greatest of ease.

Having interviewed and hired people in the past as the Lead Programmer and General Manager of a Computer Software Company, it's been my experience that the best workers are the ones who actually show up and put forth an effort once they get there. A strong work ethic and eager attitude (beyond the false persona of the interview process) were always major requirements when I hired people.

Having finished college is also a must. An employer is more willing to hire someone who has demonstrated they can finish what they started rather than some hotshot who quits in the middle. Being smart is secondary to a good work ethic. And being a class clown only helps if you want to become a comic or a writer.

There seems to be a generation gap throughout society these days. Many young people don't want to take responsibility for their own future. It's as though they expect some outside force, such as an omnipresent government, to control their world so they can just float through life without encountering too many obstacles or making too many decisions.

In a recent poll of 100,000 high school students, only 51% believe newspapers should be allowed to publish content without government approval and 20% feel people should not be allowed to express unpopular views. Apparently fascism is a desirable concept among an alarmingly large percentage of the youth of America.

Obviously, there are real differences between generations.

Young whippersnappers worry about the driver's test – old codgers worry about the vision test.

Old codgers remember where they were when JFK was assassinated – young whippersnappers remember where they were when INVASION OF THE ZOMBIES came out.

Young whippersnappers arrange for their next KEG – old codgers arrange for their next EKG. 

Old codgers move to Arizona because it's warm -- young whippersnappers move to Arizona because it's cool.

Young whippersnappers often have long hair – old codgers often long for hair.

Old codgers fought wars for freedom of speech – young whippersnappers believe in freedom of speech as long as you get government approval first and don't say anything disagreeable.

If you want to get ahead in this world, show up and do the work. If you want to goof off, move to San Francisco. I've been there a few times -- it didn't take very long to get past it, but I still have a little bit of goof-off in reserve.

If you believe in freedom, fight for it. If you want to be a slave, empower those in charge to monitor everyone more closely and suppress unpopular thought, and perhaps build "re-education" centers for those who stray.

Government is dominated by those who yearn to control others. It becomes increasingly powerful by eroding liberty, requiring conformity and demanding obedience.

When you lose your individuality, you lose your soul.

Quote for the Day -- "What a teacher is, is more important than what he teaches." Karl A. Menninger

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where Old Codgers continue to pass skills onto Young Whippersnappers.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Illusion of Time

Time is a very precious commodity -- I often wonder where it has all gone and how much I have left.

I even lose an hour every spring when we switched back to Daylight Savings Time and won’t get it back until fall. Daylight Savings Time was a temporary measure introduced by Congress during World War One to conserve energy. Like most temporary measures heaped upon us by the government, it’s still with us. Perhaps, one of these days, word will drift back to Washington that World War One is over. Be sure to let them knew we won.

There was once a time when there was no such thing as time.  Life on earth proceeded from future to present to past without much dismay.  Then along came some idiot who invented the alarm clock and spoiled it for all of us.

Time was probably invented by a bunch of German scientists, ingenious old geezers with bad haircuts who needed another factor to add to their mathematical equations.

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." Albert Einstein

They started by defining one complete revolution of the earth around the sun as a Year and one complete period of rotation of the earth on its axis as a Day.  Unfortunately, this resulted in 365.24219 Days per Year and caused much confusion among calendar creators.

At that point logic no longer seemed to matter so they split a Day into two equal divisions of 12 periods called Hours.  Then they divided each Hour into 60 increments called Minutes and each Minute into 60 increments called Seconds.

It all seemed to make sense to the German scientists at the time, probably too much schnapps.

Interestingly, the conception of 60 minutes and 60 seconds dates back 6,000 years to Babylon in the ancient Sumerian Empire (present day Iraq).

The Sumerians were the first known people to develop a written language. They also developed the sexagesimal numbering system, based on the number 60. This base 60 system has filtered down to today -- 60 minutes, 60 seconds, 360 degrees in a circle (6 X 60), 24 hours in a day (6 + 6 + 6 + 6), 12 signs of the Zodiac (6 + 6), 12 months of the year (6 + 6), etc.

In our endless search for perfection, the atomic clock at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., has an accuracy of 1 millionth of a second and will gain or lose less than 1 second every 10 million years.  Not to be outdone, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has been given a government grant to design a space clock that will be at least ten times more accurate than previous devices.

Apparently, time is so valuable it must be measured beyond rational comprehension -- it's always comforting to know our tax dollars are going to such worthwhile purposes.

To the young, time is endless.
To the elderly, time is fleeting.
To the ambitious, time is money.
To the suffering, time is agony.
To the philosopher, time is an illusion.
To the physicist, time is a dimension.

There is a time to reap and a time to sow.
And a time to end a topic -- time to go.

Quote for the Day -- "Time flies like an arrow -- fruit flies like a banana." Groucho Marx

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where time you enjoy wasting, is never really wasted.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Circle of Right and Wrong

In 2001, a Chinese jet fighter collided with an American spy airplane over the China Sea, near the Chinese mainland.  Thus an argument ensued.

USA: You have no right to collide with our aircraft and force it to land.
CHINA: You have no right to violate our space.
USA: International law recognizes anything beyond a 12-mile limit as international waters.
CHINA: We recognize a 200-mile limit.
USA: We are within our rights by international law.
CHINA: You are spying on us. This is an act of aggression.
USA: We do it to keep the world safe from the likes of you. Besides you spy on us too.
CHINA: We spy on you because you are attempting to dominate the world.
USA: We are merely trying to keep the peace.
CHINA: You act as though you are the world’s self-appointed police force.
USA: It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.
CHINA: How would you feel if we sent spy planes off your coastline?
USA: We wouldn’t like that at all.
CHINA: You should mind your own business.
USA: We must patrol the globe to keep evil like you contained.
CHINA: You are an evil empire that always has to have your own way.
USA: We are a democracy. It is our obligation to keep tabs on the rest of the world.
CHINA: If you keep secrets from your citizens, you have no democracy.
USA: We must keep secrets so we can always have the upper hand on evil.
CHINA: We must also keep secrets because of evil like you.
USA: No you don’t because we are the good guys.
CHINA: If you are the good guys, why is it nobody likes you?
USA: Britain likes us. So does Israel. Canada seems to like us too.
CHINA: Big deal.
USA: We intend to keep spying on you.
CHINA: Stay out of our air space or there will be another incident.
USA: You have no right to collide with our aircraft and force it to land.
CHINA: You have no right to violate our space.
USA: International law recognizes anything beyond a 12-mile limit as international waters.
CHINA: We recognize a 200-mile limit.
USA: We are within our rights by international law.
CHINA: You are spying on us. This is an act of aggression.
And so on…

The argument continues in an endless circle -- both sides are certain they are right. But in the scheme of things, only one side can be right.

Unless, or course, neither are right.

Quote for the Day -- "The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it." George Bernard Shaw

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where silence is the hardest argument to refute.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to Live a Long Life

The top ten ways to live longer, according to, are as follows:  

1) Don't oversleep – A study in the ARCHIVES OF GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY reported that people who sleep between 6 and 7 hours per night live the longest.

Personally, I sleep about 10 hours per night. That way, I only need to take two naps during the day, plus I spend so much time in bed that I'm not as likely to be run over by a truck.

2) Be optimistic – Researchers at the Mayo Clinic determined that optimists have a 50 percent lower risk of early death compared to pessimists.

I'm a pessimist and proud of it. Optimists have high expectations which are not always met, causing endless disappointment. However, pessimists are never disappointed because they never expect anything to work out. I'd much rather be pleasantly surprised on occasion than disappointed.

3) Have more sex – An April 2004 study in the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION found that sex keeps us healthy, by reducing stress and making us happier.

Apparently, I'm doomed to live a very short life.

4) Get a pet – Studies show that people who own pets, especially dogs, are less stressed, thus live longer. It decreases loneliness, encourages nurturing and stimulates exercise.

I've always had a dog or two hanging out with me. If I didn't have a dog, I'd be stuck with my alter ego and an oak tree for companionship.

5) Get a VAP – Heart disease is the number one killer in the USA. A traditional cholesterol test only detects 50 percent of the people with heart disease. A VAP test has been shown to detect 90 percent of heart disease patients.

Since I'm in the V.A. medical system, I'll just have to live with 1952 technology and take my chances.

6) Be rich – According to the National Center for Health Statistics, those with the highest poverty rates have the worst health status. Higher incomes permit access to increased medical care.

However, I prefer to remain poor because I don't like to pay too many taxes and no one ever tries to borrow money from me.

7) Stop smoking – Just about everyone on this planet knows by now that smoking is bad for your health and frequently leads to premature death.

I started in junior high and quit ten years later. I did it because all the cool dudes did it. And I quit because I realized that the coolest dudes of all were the ones who had minds of their own.

8) Chill out – A study at Johns Hopkins University revealed that men having the highest level of anger in response to stress were over three times more likely to develop premature heart disease than those with lower anger responses, and over six times more likely to have a heart attack by age 55.

I was often stressed and angry in my younger days, until I finally realized suffering was an important part of life and that I should embrace it.

9) Eat antioxidants – Free radicals are unstable chemical compounds that accelerate the aging of our cells and contribute to various degenerative diseases, including atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's and cancer. Antioxidants destroy free radicals. Research shows certain types of beans and berries are the best sources of antioxidants.

I eat berries once in a while but tend not to eat too many beans, particularly in public, for obvious reasons.

10) Marry well -- According to a study in MECHANISMS OF AGING AND DEVELOPMENT, genetics is an important factor because longevity genes can be inherited. Healthy aging is passed down from generation to generation.

My ex-wife married well, both before and after her marriage to me. I wasn't so lucky. In my own family history, all the men die young and all the women live forever. I think it has something to do with nagging.

For me, the results are mixed. I'm a pessimist, I'm not rich, I oversleep, I've never had a VAP test, I probably didn't marry well and I haven't had any sex since we landed on the moon. On the other hand, I have a pet, I don't smoke, I eat antioxidants occasionally and I curb anger with chill-out resolve by recognizing it to be a weakness.

Quote for the Day -- "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work -- I want to achieve it through not dying." Woody Allen

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where life moves at the speed of slow.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Walmart Story

Sam Walton (1918-1992) began his retailing career in 1940 at a JC Penney store in Des Moines, Iowa.

In 1945, a regional retail firm that owned a chain of variety stores offered Walton a Ben Franklin store in Newport, Arkansas. Disagreement over the lease renewal and the inability to find an alternative location forced Walton to open another Ben Franklin franchise in Bentonville, Arkansas. He called it "Walton's Five and Dime."

Walton succeeded by selling items at smaller markups than competitors, thereby increasing sales volume.

In 1962, Walton opened his first WALMART store in Rogers, Arkansas. Over the next five years, WALMART expanded to 24 stores in Arkansas.

By 1968, WALMART opened its first stores outside of Arkansas, in Sikeston, Missouri and Claremore, Oklahoma.

In 1969, the company was incorporated as WALMART Stores, Inc.

And the rest is history.

Today, WALMART is the largest retailer and the second largest corporation in the world, with 8,500 stores operating in 15 countries and serving some 200 million worldwide, including 100 million customers in the USA alone, on a weekly basis.

WALMART is the largest private employer in the USA, employing 2.2 million people worldwide, called "associates." The vast majority of managers started as hourly associates.

In an effort to bring affordable health care to consumers, WALMART initiated a program which offers 331 generic prescription drugs to customers for only $4 per 30-day period. Initially launched in Florida in September of 2006, this program has expanded to a majority of WALMART pharmacies and will continue to grow.

Fiscal year sales in 2012 were approximately $444 billion. WALMART is the largest corporate cash charity donor in the USA. In 2011, the company gave $$958.9 million in charitable contributions, including $872.2 million in the USA.

WALMART is an American success story.

It started from humble beginnings and blossomed through a combination of hard work, enthusiasm, smaller profit margins, quality products at affordable prices, being attentive to customers, an efficient distribution system, no slotting fee for suppliers (as many retailers do), etc.

Another reason for success was the small-town market niche Sam Walton targeted. WALMART stores were developed in rural areas where many of the goods WALMART carried were not available in local markets. These areas tended to be lower in per capita income and welcomed a centralized merchandiser with modest prices.

But with success comes criticism. Urbanites in trendy cities often object to a rural discount store in their area. According to a Zogby election poll in 2000, 76% of voters who shop at WALMART voted for Bush, while 80% of voters who never shopped at WALMART voted for Kerry, reflecting conservative/liberal, rural/urban, income-level cultural biases.

Labor unions can't seem to ignore the success of WALMART either and lust for a piece of the action. Unions continually yearn to expand their suffocating tentacles into large flourishing businesses.

Others oppose global free trade. WALMART imports products from foreign countries, particularly China, and has opened stores in foreign locations. But foreign trade is a win-win situation, as long as it remains fair to all sides. As foreign countries emerge economically, everyone prospers and global tensions subside.

Some people just can't stand to see others succeed -- if you don't like WALMART don't work there and don't shop there, but don't spoil it for the rest of us.

Foreign workers and American consumers are people too.

Quote for the Day -- "There is only one boss -- the customer. And he can fire everybody from the chairman on down simply by spending his money somewhere else." Sam Walton

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where WALMART stores thrive in scattered, small rural communities.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Camel Called Electoral College

There's an old saying that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

The framers of the Constitution were forced to compromise when it came time to define the presidential election process. Some legislators wanted the president to be elected by a purely popular vote of the people and others, not trusting the people to make the correct decision, wanted Congress to elect the president. So, as politicians often do, they compromised and created the Electoral College.

In essence, they created a camel.

According to Article III, section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, the populace doesn't really vote for a candidate, it votes for an elector. Electors are nominated by their state political party (usually a committee). The number of electors for each state is equal to the number of U.S. Senators (2 per state) and U.S. Congressmen (based upon state population) representing each state. Once the electors have been determined, each elector then casts the "official" vote for a candidate.

Most of the time the electors cast their votes for the candidate who received the most votes in their state but they're not legally bound to do so.

There are 538 electoral votes. A candidate needs 270 to win the election. If no candidate receives 270 votes, the president is elected by the House of Representatives whereby each state is allowed only one vote, which means that Rhode Island and California have just one vote each.

This is one ugly camel.

There have been four elections where the candidate who had the most popular votes didn't win the election.

1) In 1824, Andrew Jackson had 38,000 more popular votes than John Quincy Adams but neither had a majority in the Electoral College. The House of Representatives elected Adams.

2) In 1896, Samuel Tilden beat Rutherford B. Hayes by 264,000 votes but Hayes carried five out of the six smallest states to win the Electoral College outcome by one vote.

3) In 1888, Grover Cleveland beat Benjamin Harrison by 95,713 votes but won the Electoral College by 65 votes to win the presidency.

4) In 2000, Al Gore received over 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush but Bush had a total of 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266.

Basically, the Electoral College is a weighted system designed to give heavily populated states more power in elections yet allowing small states to swing an election, thereby giving them a certain amount of clout as well.

 Whether this concept works well is subject to debate. In a recent survey, over two-thirds of Americans wanted to do away with the system and rely strictly on a popular vote. However, that might be easier said than done. Amending the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress.

Unfortunately, many federal lawmakers are reluctant to tamper with the Constitution because they're afraid it will open a whole new can of worms. They're worried that making any changes to the Constitution would open the door for additional changes and don't want to mess with it.

Eliminating the Electoral College would also allow the emergence of additional political alternatives, eroding the influence of the two major political parties. Winning the presidency by popular vote would require a majority (50%) of the vote. Thus many candidates could run for the office and become potential spoilers. The two major candidates would possibly be forced to give some concessions to minority parties to gain their support. But as is true with human nature, especially with politicians, those in power don't want to give up their power.

The Electoral College is a camel bequeathed to us by our founding fathers. The framers of the Constitution were very wise men but this is a new era of communications and technology.

However, what worked in 1776 may not be the most desirable option in the 21st century. It's time for government to catch up with the rest of us.

If we really need a camel, we can always ship one in from Baghdad.

Quote for the Day -- "Nothing is more unreliable than the populace, nothing more obscure than human intentions, nothing more deceptive than the whole electoral system." Marcus Tullius Cicero

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where horses designed by committee are called mules.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Russell Means -- Freedom Fighter

Russell Means (1939 - 2012) was an Oglala Sioux from South Dakota. He perished from Mother Earth on October 22, 2012.

He was an outspoken advocate for the rights of indigenous people in North and South America. He also appeared in many Hollywood films, and was active in the Libertarian party as a nominee to represent the party as a presidential candidate in 1987, coming in second to Congressman Ron Paul..

The following is an October 22, 2012, news release from his family:

Hello our relatives. Our dad and husband, now walks among our ancestors. He began his journey to the spirit world at 4:44 am, with the Morning Star, at his home and ranch in Porcupine. There will be four opportunities for the people to honor his life to be announced at a later date. Thank you for your prayers and continued support. We love you. As our dad and husband would always say, “May the Great Mystery continue to guide and protect the paths of you and your loved ones.”
The wife and children of Russell Means
444 Crazy Horse Drive
Pahin Sinte, Republic of Lakotah

Russell Means has a website at -- I wrote a couple of articles for that site, including the following piece -- Means later added several paragraphs to the article and posted it in the summer of 2009.


Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, wrote a treatise in 1787, titled THE CYCLE OF DEMOCRACY. In it he made the following observation:

“A Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.”

Tyler went on to point out that the average age of the world’s great civilizations has been approximately 200 years and that they seemed to progress through the following sequence:

1) From bondage to spiritual faith
2) From spiritual faith to great courage
3) From courage to liberty
4) From liberty to abundance
5) From abundance to selfishness
6) From selfishness to complacency
7) From complacency to apathy
8) From apathy to dependency
9) From dependency back to bondage

The United States of America was born in 1776 and soon became one of the greatest countries in the history of civilization.

Today, more than 200 years later, the USA is rapidly sliding down the slippery slope of dependency. Government handouts (financial bailouts, welfare, Social Security, Medicare, federal grants, pork projects, etc.) have made us increasingly dependent on the federal government, requiring an excessive amount of taxation to do so.

While local governments are forced to adhere to a fixed budget, the federal government continues to spend more money than it takes in. The national debt 10 years ago was $2 trillion dollars. Our present national debt exceeds $12 trillion and is projected to become increasingly worse over the next several years with no end in sight.

The incoming administration proposes to throw more money at the current financial mess we're in. This will require more borrowing against the future, adding more national debt which will be passed on to future generations.

Even more disturbing, increased involvement by the centralized federal government in our free market system ultimately means more government control in all aspects of out lives, which in turn means less individual freedom.

Professor Tyler was correct. A democracy cannot sustain itself because the voting public does not vote for the best interest of the country, it votes for the best interest of the individual. More for me, less for others.

Human nature includes greed. We have evolved into a credit and consumption society, purchasing things before we can afford them, driven by a programmed lust for endless growth rather than an ethic of common sense.

Voters elect politicians who will bring home the bacon rather than adhere to sound fiscal policy. This inherent greed of the voting public will eventually lead to the downfall of our democracy. Instead of using tax dollars wisely to maintain infrastructure and protect our individual freedom, it’s being used to maintain dependency on the national government and protect the incumbency of politicians.

Our dependency on a large central government will lead us into bondage once again. Our only options will be to grind away at peek production and seek mindless growth, and shovel most of the rewards down the rat hole of a government whose solution to problems is peek production and mindless growth.

We will enslave ourselves by our own greed.

The downfall of our country is inevitable unless a massive amount of people wise up and do something about it, such as insisting our government live within a reasonable budget and keep their meddling to a minimum.

Unfortunately, finding the proper balance is impossible when voters select candidates who promise to give them things by confiscating the earnings of someone else. Serving yourself by collectively plundering others and financing our collective greed by borrowing against the earnings of future generations is morally wrong.

A reliance on government leads to the growth of government, which leads to the dominance of government, which leads to bondage to government.

It's a cycle of inevitability, unless collective wisdom overcomes collective greed.

If our democracy collapses, we have no one to blame but our collective selves.

Quote for the Day -- "The only way you can be free is to know that you are worthwhile as a distinct human being. Otherwise you become what the colonizers have designed, and that is a lemming. Get in line, punch the right keys, and die." Russell Means

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and the Ghost of Black Elk.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Comments by Imaginary Friends

I was watching the first 2012 presidential debate the other night, with several of my imaginary friends who found it quite entertaining, based on some of their comments during the procedure. I jotted a dozen of them down to share with you.

1) "He's not completely useless -- he could be used as a bad example."
2) "I would follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiosity."
3) "He sets low personal standards then fails to achieve them."
4) "Does fairly well when cornered like a rat."
5) "Hard to believe he beat out 1,000,000 other sperm."
6) "His family tree has no branches."
7) "He should go far -- the sooner the better."
8) "Has delusions of adequacy."
9) "When he open his mouth, it's only to change whichever foot was previously there."
10) "Somewhere a village is being deprived an idiot."
11) "He's so dense light bends around him."
12) "If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean."

Yes, most of my imaginary friends are chuckleheads. They observe the folly of non-imaginary humanoids and are not bashful about expressing opinions of the absurdity of those who eagerly seek to be governed (administered, supervised) by other non-imaginary humanoids.

Some quotes by previous U.S. Presidents who seemed to understand the true role of government.

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." George Washington (U.S. President #1)

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide." John Adams (U.S. President #2)

"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." Thomas Jefferson (U.S. President #3)

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." James Madison (U.S. President #4)

"It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty." James Monroe (U.S. President #5)

"You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you make good use of it." John Quincy Adams (U.S. President #6)

"The duty of government is to leave commerce to its own capital and credit as well as all other branches of business, protecting all in their legal pursuits, granting exclusive privileges to none." Andrew Jackson (U.S. President #7)

"The less government interferes with private pursuits, the better the general prosperity." Martin Van Buren (U.S. President #8)

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." Abraham Lincoln (U.S. President #16)

The ever-expanding power and control of the central national government is not rendered harmless by the good intentions those who created it -- a power base attracts those who seek to promote self-interest and control others, therefore the scope of government should always remain limited in order to insure individual freedom.

Quote for the Day -- "Talkers are usually more articulate than doers, since talk is their specialty... The big divide in this country is not between Democrats and Republicans, or women and men, but between talkers and doers." Thomas Sowell

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where imaginary friends occasionally have lively conversations.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Movie Stars in World War II Action

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese Navy perpetrated a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, compelling the USA to enter into the horrific global conflict called World War II.

Many Hollywood movie stars were involved in military action during WWII.

JAMES STEWART (1908-1997) -- Enlisted in 1940 -- commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant after Pearl Harbor attack -- as a licensed pilot he trained other pilots -- appointed squadron commander in 1943 -- flew combat missions over Germany, leading 20 missions and participating in hundreds of other air strikes -- retired as an active member of the Air Force Reserve in the late 1950s as a Brigadier General.

CLARK GABLE (1901-1960) -- Joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 after the death of his wife, Carol Lombard -- assigned to aerial gunnery training -- commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant -- flew in operational missions over Europe in B-17s -- relieved of duty (over-age for combat) in 1944 at the rank of Major.

LEE MARVIN (1924-1987) -- Joined the Marines after being expelled from several prep schools -- was wounded during the Battle of Saipan, during which most of his company of Marines were killed -- wounded during the battle, he received a Purple Heart and was given a medical discharge at the rank of Private First Class.

TYRONE POWER (1914-1958) -- Enlisted in the Marines in 1942 -- having been an accomplished pilot prior to enlistment, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1943 -- he flew cargo into war zones in the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Battle of Okinawa, then flew wounded Marines out of the war zones -- released from duty in 1946 at the rank of Captain.

EARNEST BORGNINE (1917-2012) -- Joined the Navy in 1935 -- discharged in 1941, but re-enlisted after Pearl Harbor -- discharged again in 1945, after a total of 10 years in the Navy, at the rank of Gunner's Mate.

CHARLES BRONSON (1921-2003) -- Enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1943 -- served as an aerial gunner on B-29s -- saw action in Guam, Tinian and Saipan -- was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received in action.

EDDIE ALBERT (1906-2005) -- Prior to WWII, he worked in Mexico as a circus clown and high-wire artist while secretly working for Army Intelligence photographing German U-boats in Mexican Harbors -- enlisted in the Navy in 1942 -- awarded a Bronze Star for his actions during the Invasion of Tarawa in 1943 -- was the pilot of a landing craft that rescued 47 Marines while under heavy enemy fire.

AUDIE MURPHY (1924-1971) -- stood 5' 5" and enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor at age 16 by lying about his age -- became the most decorated soldier in World War II -- 33 medals, including the Congressional Medal of Honor -- his Medal of Honor citation reads as follows: "Second Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire, which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad that was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued his single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way back to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack, which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. 2d Lt. Murphy's indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy's objective."

Many other Hollywood actors were also active on military duty during in World War II, including George C. Scott, Brian Keith, John Russell, Robert Ryan, Charles Durning and others.

December 7, 2011, was the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. My father, Weston K. Burquest, passed on to the Great Beyond the following day, December 8, 2011, at age 92 -- Rest in Peace.

My father was conscripted (drafted) during World War II. He eventually became a flight instructor in the U.S. Army Air Force, training others to become pilots, and was discharged at the end of the war as a First Lieutenant. He was not an actor nor a hero -- just another one of the more than 11 million men who were called upon by their country to defend freedom and were inducted (drafted) into military service in WWII.

Only when the Power of Love overcomes the Love of Power, will there be Peace on Earth.

Quote for the Day -- "In peace, sons bury their fathers -- in war, fathers bury their sons." Herodotus

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where freedom is never free.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Death by Writing

Writing is a very risky business. You have to expose your soul to the world, then look at yourself in the mirror when the world fails to embrace your thoughts.

Ernest Hemingway, American Author (1899 - 1961) -- Committed suicide, shooting himself with his favorite shotgun.

Edgar Allen Poe, American Author (1809 - 1849) -- A drug-addicted drunkard, he was found lying unconscious on a street in Baltimore, wearing someone else's tattered clothes, and died a couple of days later in a hospital where he had remained incoherent as to what had happened to him.

Virginia Woolf, British Author (1882 - 1941) -- Was depressed, filled the pockets of her overcoat with stones and walked into the River Ouse where her body was discovered several days later.

Tennessee Williams, American Playwright (1911 - 1983) -- Choked to death on a bottle cap in a hotel room in New York. Barbiturates were found nearby in the room.

Jerzy Kosinski, Polish-American Author (1933 - 1991) -- Committed suicide by placing a plastic bag over his head and suffocating to death. His suicide note read, "I am going to put myself to sleep now for a bit longer than usual. Call it Eternity."

John O'Brien, American Author (1960 - 1994) -- Committed suicide by gunshot two weeks after the movie rights to his novel, LEAVING LAS VEGAS, were sold.

Anne Sexton, American Poet (1928 - 1974) -- A Pulitzer Prize winning poet who committed suicide after returning home from a luncheon engagement by donning her mother's old fur coat, removing all her rings, drinking a glass of vodka, locking herself in her garage and starting the engine of her car. Death by carbon monoxide poisoning.

John Berryman, American Poet (1914 - 1972) -- Having been hospitalized many times for depression and alcohol detox, he committed suicide by jumping from the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis into the Mississippi River.

Seth Morgan, American Author (1949 - 1990) -- The heir to the Ivory Soap fortune whose fiance at the time of his death was singer Janis Joplin, was arrested for DUI in New Orleans. The next day, he rode his motorcycle into a cement embankment below a New Orleans Bridge, with a high blood-alcohol level and cocaine in his system.

Leo Tolstoy, Russian Author (1828 - 1910) -- Gave away his wealth and abandoned his family to become a spiritual hermit whereupon he soon became ill at a railroad station and died shortly thereafter.

Vachel Lindsay, American Poet (1879 - 1931) -- Depressed by failing health and financial woes, he committed suicide by drinking a bottle of lye. His last words were, "They tried to get me -- I got them first."

Maxwell Bodenheim, American Author (1893 - 1954) -- Known as the King of the Greenwich Village Bohemians, he and his wife were murdered by an insane dishwasher in a room they were sharing a few blocks from the Bowery. Maxwell was shot twice in the chest, while his wife was beaten and stabbed four times in the back. The dishwasher later confessed, "I ought to get a medal. I killed two Communists."

Sergei Yesenin, Russian Poet (1895 - 1925) -- An alcoholic who suffered a mental breakdown and was hospitalized for two months. Two days after his release, he slit his wrist, wrote a farewell poem in his own blood, then hanged himself in his hotel room in Leningrad. The title of his final poem was DO SVIDANIA DRUG MOI which translates to "Goodbye my friend."

Hart Crane, American Poet (1899 - 1932) -- A heavy drinker suffering bouts of depression, he was en route from Mexico to New York on a steamship where he had been beaten after making sexual advances toward a male crew member. He had been drinking heavily and jumped overboard, shouting, "Good-bye everybody" as he fell into the Gulf of Mexico.

Richard Brautigan, American Author (1835 - 1984) -- While living alone in a large house overlooking the Pacific Ocean, he died from a self-inflicted .44 Magnum gunshot wound to the head. He body was not discovered until several weeks later. The suicide note simply read, "Messy, isn't it?"

For some, writing is therapy.

For others, writing is a long good-bye.

Quote for the Day -- "Writing a novel is like making love, but it's also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and Pain." Dean Koontz

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the true Art of Writing is creating something that will be read twice.