Monday, December 27, 2004

The Mailbox

Eddie rolled over and pulled the blanket up around his neck preparing for another two hours of sleep before he had to get up. It was not to be. Before he had closed his eyes again, the shrill piercing sound of the alarm rang in his ears. "Damn, I hate when that happens", thought Eddie as he squinted at the red numbers on the clock: 4:45 a.m.

It was cold in his room, and he could hear the wind howling through the trees. It was light enough to see where he was, but he knew that in December, the sun didn't rise until after seven. He walked over to the window and looked out. To his surprise, there was a blanket of fresh snow on the ground and the sky was clear. A full moon was setting in the west and it made it appear almost like daytime. Really beautiful, he thought. What he wanted to do more than anything else, was to crawl into bed and go back to sleep the restful, peaceful sleep of the gods. "But", he thought to himself, "the mail must go through".

Continue reading story HERE

Thursday, December 16, 2004


I didn't go to Vietnam, although I was drafted in June 1965.
I avoided it by getting married and having a child. But I would not have gone under any circumstances. War is about the stupidest thing human beings can do. Sometimes you're forced into it as a last resort. But the most painful war is the war in which tens of thousands are killed and countless others are maimed or psychologically damaged for life for no good reason. Such a war was Vietnam.

Such a war is Iraq. It's Vietnam all over again in spades. A war for nothing, in which thousands die and tens of thousands are wounded, physically and psychologically.

Did we learn nothing from Vietnam?

From today's New York Times:

"The nation's hard-pressed health care system for veterans is facing a potential deluge of tens of thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq with serious mental health problems brought on by the stress and carnage of war, veterans' advocates and military doctors say.

An Army study shows that about one in six soldiers in Iraq report symptoms of major depression, serious anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, a proportion that some experts believe could eventually climb to one in three, the rate ultimately found in Vietnam veterans. Because about one million American troops have served so far in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon figures, some experts predict that the number eventually requiring mental health treatment could exceed 100,000."

This on top of the thousands who have lost their lives and the tens of thousands who have lost limbs or gone insane. And the families at home. In Vietnam there were wives and girl friends back home. Now there are children who will lose their fathers and even their mothers.

They tell these soldiers that they're fighting to protect America and to destroy the "terrorists" before they can attack us here. They tell them they are "protecting America from the evil-doers". I'm actually glad that a lot of them believe that nonsense. It might help reduce the greater pain of knowing, as many Vietnam veterans do, that this was a horrible and pathetic waste of decent people's lives.

No, I didn't go to Vietnam. And I'm glad of it. I just wish those poor bastards who went to Iraq had made the same decision.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Christmas Tree

When I was a young boy growing up in Levittown, my family did not have a lot of money. Usually we waited until Christmas eve to buy our tree, assuming that since they would be worthless in a few hours, it would be possible to negotiate a good price. Old George had the christmas tree lot on Hempstead Turnpike, across from Times Square Stores. He always had the best looking trees in town, although they were a bit expensive.
My brother and I went there at about 6 o'clock this one Christmas eve with about twenty dollars between us, bound and determined to procure the best tree ever. There wasn't much left, but we found a fine douglas fir, just the right size and shaped as nearly perfect as one could expect. Old George was sitting in his usual spot in the office, right next to an old wood-burning stove. I prepared for combat. "How much for this scraggly old twig", I asked? "We'll take it away for no charge!" George looked up at us two insolent pups and replied "That's one nice looking tree boys, it'll cost you thirty-five dollars". "Thirty-five dollars?" I pleaded, "Why I can buy a better tree down the block for half that price." I should have seen what was coming. "Then go right down the block and buy that tree, because you're not getting this one for a penny less than thirty-five dollars." "But George", I went on, "You're only gonna burn this tree tomorrow morning, because you ain't gonna sell all these trees tonight."
Old George leaned back in his chair and glared at us for a moment. "Well boys, you can just come back here tomorrow morning and watch me burn that tree, cause you ain't gonna get it for one cent less than thirty-five dollars!"

By fate's decree, I now found myself back in the old neighborhood on Christmas eve. I was on my way to my mother's house and thought it might be nice to bring a fresh tree. She lived alone and didn't decorate a tree anymore but I knew the old ornaments were still in her closet. I stopped at the christmas tree lot across from K-Mart, which used to be Times Square Stores. I found a beautiful tree, not too big and nicely shaped. "How much for this tree?' I inquired. The kid who was working in the lot told me to ask the boss, in the office. I walked in, and to my surprise, there was old George. And even older still than I had remembered him. "George" I said "I can't believe that you're still here, after all these years. Do you remember me? I used to live right around here when I was a kid." He did not remember. But I remembered. And we sat for the better part of the next hour discussing old times. He told me about his wife, who had passed on some 5 years ago and about how he was laid off when he was just 52 when Grumman cut back the work force and how the only income he had now was his pension and the yearly proceeds from the christmas trees.
But this would be the last year for him. The land he had leased for over 30 years was being sold to a developer and he could not find another spot. He had no idea what would happen to him. We sat silently for a few minutes, contemplating our collective angst and pondering over the mysteries of living. Finally, I spoke again to him. "Well George, I'm sure everything will work out for you. How much for the tree?" He looked up at me with a look of defeat and resignation. "Well, that's normally a thirty-five dollar tree, but I'm only gonna burn it tomorrow morning, so twenty dollars will be just fine."
I guess that sometimes it's necessary to go a long way out of our way, to come back a few steps correctly.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Whoooo!

Rolling Stone Magazine recently listed the top 500 songs of all time. Now these kinds of lists are usually bogus and there are plenty of songs that don't belong and plenty more that were left out. In fact, it's really kind of ridiculous to try to make such a list at all.
Here are Rolling Stone's Top Ten and my comments:

1. Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan

Don't get me wrong, Bob is one of the greatest sogwriters ever. And I hold him in highest regard. But LARS is simply not a "rock and roll" song.

2. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones

Good choice for number 2. "Brown Sugar" is a better song, however

3. Imagine by John Lennon

Not a "rock and roll" song, but I'll let it slide.

4. What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

Good song, but it doesn't belong in the top ten.

5. Respect by Aretha Franklin

What about Otis Redding? He wrote it, he sang it. What colossal nerve!

6. Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys

"Help Me Rhonda" would have been a better choice.

7. Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry

Goode choice!

8. Hey Jude by The Beatles

They should have called it the top ten songs. This would be appropriately placed.

9. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana


10. What’d I Say by Ray Charles

One of the all time greats.

Here's the list I've been running on my website:

1. Brown Sugar- The Rolling Stones
2. Born To Run- Bruce Springsteen
3. Go Your Own Way- Fleetwood Mac
4. Imagine- John Lennon
5. River Deep, Mountain High- Ike and Tina Turner
6. Like a Rolling Stone- Bob Dylan
7. Horses- Patti Smith Group
8. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction- The Rolling Stones
9. Be My Baby- The Ronettes
10. Bad- U2

But there are so many great songs, how could anyone pick?
What about Pink Floyd?
The Beatles?
Every DooWop record ever made?
And let's not forget The Ramones!!

New Artist: Katie Melua

Born in Georgia, in the former Soviet Union, Katie moved to Northern Ireland when she was 9 years old. Her first album is "Call Off The Search" and has a very pleasant bluesy, jazzy kind of sound. Not only does she write her own music, she's cuter than a speckle-bellied puppy on a red wagon.

Find out more about Katie HERE

Monday, November 29, 2004

In Every Stranger's Eyes

Those of you who know me and have followed my postings around the web are well aware that I never argue with creationists. I never dispute their belief in the truthfulness of the Bible or their interpretation of their religion. I’m not inclined to regard a person as a fool because I don’t understand them or because I don’t accept their version of truth.
I do argue with evolutionists because they presume to represent science. They adopt the mantle of science, which I care greatly about, to give themselves legitimacy in their own eyes and (they hope), in the eyes of others.
I hold to the view that we can understand ourselves better by identifying those traits and characteristics in others that most antagonize us. We meet ourselves every day in department stores, at school, in restaurants and in the pages of books (especially history books), magazines and on television. Each stranger that we meet is a reflection of ourselves, a portal to better self-understanding.
Both evolutionists and creationists would be better served by not torturing those with whom they disagree, for certainly it is the tortured who soon enough turn into torturers. How quickly the worm can turn.

Personally, I always defend science, because it informs us about the physical world better than any other method and it increases our store of knowledge more accurately than the use of pure reason alone.
But a view that assumes that scientific understanding is the *only* kind of understanding that there is obscures and dilutes our insight and our harmony with the world. Science is a tool of the western mind, not all of mankind.
Now I certainly can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, nor can I prove that he does. But I am sure of the fact that the *impression* of God (the archetype?) exists in *every* person. Whether God actually exists is mostly irrelevant. What is important is that large numbers of people believe it.
I also believe that there is a huge advantage available to those who can locate this power, whatever its source, in their own individual self and use it for their benefit. Why should I deprive those who may have found this transforming energy in religion? What purpose does it serve me or them, to ridicule and condemn their beliefs as silly and unscientific as I might think they are?
This doesn’t mean, of course, that I will allow others to impose their beliefs on me. The teaching of religion, while acceptable in church schools, is wholly unacceptable in public schools. Likewise, ideologies of any kind, especially those ostensibly validated by the mantle of science, are likewise unacceptable in public education.
However, since religion is obviously an important part of my fellow citizens’ lives, I have no fear of sharing with them the joy and pleasure that they get from their mythologies, even though I’m a non-believer. I have no problem with a Christmas tree or a menorah in the town square or Christmas carols in the school concert or a moment of silence in a school day. These things do not threaten me, as they apparently threaten others. There’s little enough to feel good about in this uncaring and often cruel world; it seems a bit silly to deny people what comfort they may find, wherever they may find it.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Horned Fishbird

Amazing what you can do with Photoshop!

See 50 more critters HERE

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Christmas Dinner

Sometimes you just have to wonder when the individual paths of mortals come together in such a way as to make one believe that it had all been laid out in some kind of elaborate scheme that was designed to make things right in an often senseless world.
It was December 23, 1998, graduation day at the Marine Corps recruit depot at Parris Island, South Carolina. Like most every Friday, the members of Platoon 1104, 1st Battalion, "D" company were to cease being sub-human life forms and were about to become Marines. The ceremonies would be over by 1800 hours and six of them from the New York area would pile into a car and begin the long trip home. With any luck, they'd be home by Christmas eve, to be with their families. But these were not just any sons any more, they were Marines. They had endured the 13 weeks of relentless pain and suffering that had molded them into the fiercest, meanest most aggressive fighting men that ever lived. They were ready, willing and able to kick some serious butt, should the need arise.
Mavis Jackson lived a little ways off I-95, just south of the North Carolina border on a tiny farm that she and Walter had bought with her mother's insurance . During the summer of '93, Walter was killed when his plow overturned on a hill. Little Walter was only one year old at the time. Mavis tried to keep up the farming, but even in the best of circumstances, it only allowed a meager existence for her and the boy. In '96, Mavis opened a little lunch room on the side of her house and cooked food for the local field hands. Some days, no one at all would come, and Mavis would sadly put the food away for another day.
It was Friday, December 23, 1998, and Mavis Jackson was down by the side of the road putting up a little sign that she had painted on white cardboard- "Christmas Dinner, All You Can Eat! $5.99" Shortly before 7:00 p.m. a car drove by. It slowed down a little way down the road and then turned around and came back, parking in front of Mavis' house. Out of the car piled six hungry Marines.
Now Mavis had prepared one turkey and one ham and some sweet potatoes and collard greens and had baked a pecan pie. Hopefully, it would be sufficient for these boys. After only a little while, it became obvious that she had offered more than she could deliver. The turkey and ham were completely demolished and so were the vegetables and potatoes. Yet these boys still demanded more. Mavis went back to her kitchen in search of more food. Her heart began to sink lower and lower as she emptied her pantry to satisfy the hungry Marines.
By 9:00 O'clock, it appeared that the rampage was finally subsiding. They sat around talking for another half hour while Mavis sat quietly in the front room, contemplating the situation. If nothing else, Mavis Jackson was a woman of her word. She had made a terrible blunder, and now she would pay the price. Perhaps God was punishing her for some unknown transgression. But she had promised "all you can eat" and she had no intention of asking for any extra compensation. As the first Marine approached her, she quietly said to him "that'll by $5.99 sir, just like the sign says." He paid with a ten dollar bill and she gave him back his change- four dollars and a penny. It took a little doing to negotiate the exchange of money, since she didn't have much change, but the boys managed to collect it among themselves and pay her the grand total of $35.94.
The boys left and she heard the car pull away down the road. Mavis pulled the shade down and turned off the porch light. The world had dealt her a cruel blow. But she had no one to blame but herself. She thought about little Walter and her beloved husband and she wept. She had planned on going to the midnight service at church, as she had every past Christmas. But tonight she just didn't think she could. But she must go on. Despair is not becoming of a Christian woman, she thought and she stepped over to the table and began to clear away the dishes. She picked up the first dish, and there under the plate was a hundred dollar bill. She didn't know what to make of it. And then she found another...and another...and another...and another...and another. And there in the middle of the table, handwritten on a piece of paper, a note. And it said....
Merry Christmas, U.S.M.C
And Mavis Jackson put on her hat and went to church and the preacher was speaking these words:
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2

Sunday, November 14, 2004

The $500 Dollar Fence

When I was a teenager, I asked my mother if we could get a dog. After the usual begging and pleading, followed by sworn pledges to take care of it, walk it and feed it, my mother finally agreed.
We went down to the Bide-A-Wee Home for Friendless Animals in Wantagh and adopted a dog. There was no charge except for a $5 license fee. When we got the dog home, problems soon developed and the dog kept running away. I'm not clear on all the details, but my mother ended up getting a chain link fence put around the front yard. It cost somewhere around $500.
Now my father was not involved in these goings on and when he found out about it, he was plenty annoyed. I remember him shouting "you paid $5 for the god damned dog and $500 for a god damned fence to keep him from running away?"
I was thinking about that today as I loaded my new aquarium into the back of Tom's pickup truck. You see, I decided to dabble in the aquarium world and I got this little 20 gallon tank and set it up in my room. I read what I thought I had to know and went down to the fish store to obtain some inhabitants. I picked a regal tang, a clownfish, and a perfectly adorable dog faced puffer.

They seemed to be flourishing and so I went out and got another clown fish and a yellow tang. I figured that was enough. Turns out, it was more than enough. The first clown fish promptly killed the newbie clown. Pretty annoying considering it was a $30 fish. Then a few days later, I woke up and found the puffer swimming on top of the yellow tang. I don't know what happened, but the tang was dead. Another $30 fish.
Then came the topper. It turns out dog faced puffers grow to a pretty large size, and require an aquarium of 75-100 gallons. Mine was only 20. So I figured I would have to get rid of doggie and stick with smaller fish.
But he was so darned cute, and Gail liked him, so here I was, at the aquarium store. Yep, you guessed it. Buying a $500 aquarium for my little $20 puffer fish.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Ignorance Played A Role

Bob Herbert in the New York Times:

I think a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the election's outcome as values. A recent survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush's supporters believe the U.S. has come up with "clear evidence" that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion.

This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.

The survey, and an accompanying report, showed that there's a fair amount of cluelessness in the ranks of the values crowd. The report said, "It is clear that supporters of the president are more likely to have misperceptions than those who oppose him."

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Wilderness by Carl Sandburg

THERE is a wolf in me ... fangs pointed for tearing gashes ...
a red tongue for raw meat ... and the hot lapping of blood--
I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the
wilderness will not let it go.
There is a fox in me ... a silver-gray fox ... I sniff and guess ...
I pick things out of the wind and air ... I nose in the dark night
and take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers ...
I circle and loop and double-cross.
There is a hog in me ... a snout and a belly ...
a machinery for eating and grunting ... a machinery for
sleeping satisfied in the sun--I got this too from the wilderness
and the wilderness will not let it go.
There is a fish in me ... I know I came from saltblue
water-gates ... I scurried with shoals of herring ...
I blew waterspouts with porpoises ... before land was ...
before the water went down ... before Noah ...
before the first chapter of Genesis.
There is a baboon in me ... clambering-clawed ... dog-faced ...
yawping a galoot's hunger ... hairy under the armpits ...
here are the hawk-eyed hankering men ... here are the blond
and blue-eyed women ... here they hide curled asleep waiting ...
ready to snarl and kill ... ready to sing and give milk ... waiting--
I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.
There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird ...
and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams
and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want ...
and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the
dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas
of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes--
And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.
O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under
my bony head, under my red-valve heart--
and I got something else: it is a man-child heart,
a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover:
it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where--
For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and
kill and work: I am a pal of the world:
I came from the wilderness.

Friday, November 05, 2004

But I'll try....

A while ago, when they were building the Shoreham nuclear power plant on Long Island, there was much controversy and rancor. I asked this guy who lived in nearby Miller Place whether he was for or against the plant. His reply surprised me. He said "if my electric bill goes up, I'm against it. If my electric bill goes down, I'm for it."

Just like Phil Ochs said in "Love Me, I'm a Liberal". Ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degrees to the right when it affects you personally.

Stuart Kauffman once said "A free society that allows each individual to seek his or her own selfish ends without deliberately trying to harm anyone else will produce a state in which everyone's interest is optimized without any individual knowing in advance what that state might be." I'm not sure whether I fully accept that, but right now, I'm moving in that direction.

Basically, I'm immune from George W. Bush and his henchmen.

I feel bad for the rest of you, but you have to cope on your own. I'm not going to Iraq to die and neither is anyone else that I care about. Let them have their war, if they want it. I'm not writing any books that will be banned or making any speeches that will be censored. They can't make me go to church, or worship their god, and they can't get inside my head and control what I think. I have a nice house, with plenty of equity, a pension that serves me just fine and a family that fills my idle hours.
I still have the mountains, and the rivers, the lakes and the beach, the flowers and the music. I don't need George W. Bush for anything. And there's nothing that I have that he can take away from me. Even in the Soviet Union, where atheism was the government policy, religious people continued to worship and keep their beliefs alive. People survive under a wide range of unpleasant conditions. When it gets too cold, or too hot, or too dry, bacteria form spores that insulate and protect them until the conditions are right again for growth and reproduction.
So that's what I'm doing. Until the time is right to emerge from the darkness. I'd like to help you all to try and make a better world, but I've already been there and done that. And this is the result. Nothing changes. It's the cycle of life, just as the Dark Ages followed the glory of Greece and Rome and just like the Renaissance followed the Dark Ages. We're not making progress, we're not moving foward at all. It's just an illusion. We are, in fact, going round and round in one huge circle. Crest followed by trough, followed by crest.

I'd like to help you all out, but I've done my part. I'm old and tired. I'm sporulating....

I Couldn't Have Said It Better....

From "Fanatical Apathy" -Adam Felbers

Concession Speech

[Former candidate Felber, flanked by his family and supporters, steps up to the podium in the bright autumn sunlight. Cheers and applause are heard.]

My fellow Americans, the people of this nation have spoken, and spoken with a clear voice. So I am here to offer my concession. [Boos, groans, rending of garments]

I concede that I overestimated the intelligence of the American people. Though the people disagree with the President on almost every issue, you saw fit to vote for him. I never saw that coming. That's really special. And I mean "special" in the sense that we use it to describe those kids who ride the short school bus and find ways to injure themselves while eating pudding with rubber spoons. That kind of special.

I concede that I misjudged the power of hate. That's pretty powerful stuff, and I didn't see it. So let me take a moment to congratulate the President's strategists: Putting the gay marriage amendments on the ballot in various swing states like Ohio... well, that was just genius. Genius. It got people, a certain kind of people, to the polls. The unprecedented number of folks who showed up and cited "moral values" as their biggest issue, those people changed history. The folks who consider same sex marriage a more important issue than war, or terrorism, or the economy... Who'd have thought the election would belong to them? Well, Karl Rove did. Gotta give it up to him for that. [Boos.] Now, now. Credit where it's due.

I concede that I put too much faith in America's youth. With 8 out of 10 of you opposing the President, with your friends and classmates dying daily in a war you disapprove of, with your future being mortgaged to pay for rich old peoples' tax breaks, you somehow managed to sit on your asses and watch the Cartoon Network while aging homophobic hillbillies carried the day. You voted with the exact same anemic percentage that you did in 2000. You suck. Seriously, y'do. [Cheers, applause] Thank you. Thank you very much.

There are some who would say that I sound bitter, that now is the time for healing, to bring the nation together. Let me tell you a little story. Last night, I watched the returns come in with some friends here in Los Angeles. As the night progressed, people began to talk half-seriously about secession, a red state / blue state split. The reasoning was this: We in blue states produce the vast majority of the wealth in this country and pay the most taxes, and you in the red states receive the majority of the money from those taxes while complaining about 'em. We in the blue states are the only ones who've been attacked by foreign terrorists, yet you in the red states are gung ho to fight a war in our name. We in the blue states produce the entertainment that you consume so greedily each day, while you in the red states show open disdain for us and our values. Blue state civilians are the actual victims and targets of the war on terror, while red state civilians are the ones standing behind us and yelling "Oh, yeah!? Bring it on!"

More than 40% of you Bush voters still believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11. I'm impressed by that, truly I am. Your sons and daughters who might die in this war know it's not true, the people in the urban centers where al Qaeda wants to attack know it's not true, but those of you who are at practically no risk believe this easy lie because you can. As part of my concession speech, let me say that I really envy that luxury. I concede that.

Healing? We, the people at risk from terrorists, the people who subsidize you, the people who speak in glowing and respectful terms about the heartland of America while that heartland insults and excoriates us... we wanted some healing. We spoke loud and clear. And you refused to give it to us, largely because of your high moral values. You knew better: America doesn't need its allies, doesn't need to share the burden, doesn't need to unite the world, doesn't need to provide for its future. Hell no. Not when it's got a human shield of pointy-headed, atheistic, unconfrontational breadwinners who are willing to pay the bills and play nice in the vain hope of winning a vote that we can never have. Because we're "morally inferior," I suppose, we are supposed to respect your values while you insult ours. And the big joke here is that for 20 years, we've done just that.

It's not a "ha-ha" funny joke, I realize, but it's a joke all the same.

Being an independent candidate gives me one luxury - as well as conceding the election today, I am also announcing my candidacy for President in 2008. [Wild applause, screams, chants of "Fel-ber! Fel-ber!] Thank you.

And I make this pledge to you today: THIS time, next time, there will be no pandering. This time I will run with all the open and joking contempt for my opponents that our President demonstrated towards the cradle of liberty, the Ivy League intellectuals, the "media elite," and the "white-wine sippers." This time I will not pretend that the simple folk of America know just as much as the people who devote their lives to serving and studying the nation and the world. They don't.

So that's why I'm asking for your vote in 2008, America. I'm talking to you, you ignorant, slack-jawed yokels, you bible-thumping, inbred drones, you redneck, racist, chest-thumping, perennially duped grade-school grads. Vote for me, because I know better, and I truly believe that I can help your smug, sorry asses. Vote Felber in '08! Thank you, and may God, if he does in fact exist, bless each and every one of you.

[Tumultuous cheers, applause, and foot-stomping. PULL BACK to reveal the rest of the stage, the row of cameras, hundreds of unoccupied chairs, and the empty field beyond.]
Posted by Adam Felber

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Leonard Cohen

"Because of a few songs
Wherein I spoke of their mystery,
Women have been
Exceptionally kind
to my old age.
They make a secret place
In their busy lives
And they take me there.
They become naked
In their different ways
and they say,
"Look at me, Leonard
Look at me one last time."
Then they bend over the bed
And cover me up
Like a baby that is shivering."

Leonard Cohen turned 70 on September 21, 2004
He has just released a new album "Dear Heather"
The lyrics above are from the song "Because of"
If you don't know anything about Leonard Cohen, CLICK HERE
Some songs you might know:
Suzanne, So Long Marianne, Bird on a Wire, Hallelujah

New Respect For Eminem

Eminem's new video "Mosh" sends a powerful anti-Bush message.
This guy may end up having more influence than Michael Moore because he's not preaching to the choir, he's energizing those who are not convinced that voting is worth the effort.
Watch the Video HERE

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The American Conservative

Kerry’s the One
By Scott McConnell

The only way Americans will have a presidency in which neoconservatives and the Christian Armageddon set are not holding the reins of power is if Kerry is elected.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Are We Ready? Or What!!!

"Six so-called 'SWAT teams' of lawyers and political operatives will be situated around the country with fueled-up jets awaiting Kerry's orders to speed to a battleground state. The teams have been told to be ready to fly on the evening of the election to begin mounting legal and political fights. Every battleground state will have a SWAT team within an hour of its borders.

"The Kerry campaign has recount office space in every battleground state, with plans so detailed they include the number of staplers and coffee machines needed to mount legal challenges.

"'Right now, we have 10,000 lawyers out in the battleground states on Election Day, and that number is growing by the day,' said Michael Whouley, a Kerry confidant who is running election operations at the Democratic National Committee."

Read Article in SALON

Here's One I Never Saw!

Dylan kissing Mary Travers.

I guess I went to just about every single Peter, Paul and Mary and every single Bob Dylan concert within 50 miles of NYC in the early 60's. At the end of their concert, PP&M would come out to the front of the stage and talk to the people. One lucky night, at the Island Garden Arena in West Hempstead, N.Y. I was talking to Mary and I don't remember what I said to her exactly (probably something really stupid) but she gave me a kiss on the cheek. One of those magic moments for a teenager.

(linked from

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

"A Blind Man In A Room Full of Deaf People"

(Pat) Robertson, in an interview with CNN that aired Tuesday night, said God had told him the war would be messy and a disaster. When he met with Bush in Nashville, Tenn., before the war Bush did not listen to his advice, Robertson said, and believed Saddam Hussein was an evil tyrant who needed to be removed.

"He was just sitting there, like, 'I'm on top of the world,' and I warned him about this war," Robertson said.

"I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you better prepare the American people for casualties.' 'Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties.' 'Well,' I said, 'it's the way it's going to be.' And so, it was messy. The Lord told me it was going to be, A, a disaster and, B, messy."

New Artist

Stunning new painting by a talented young artist:

Leah Nita Rindos

Monday, October 18, 2004


Some time ago, I found myself walking along the beach. As I looked out over the ocean, sunlight sparkled on the gently rolling swells. At one point in my view, the beach, the ocean and the sky seemed to merge into one. There is something compelling about the ocean, and I was a lone water-gazer upon this beach. Mountains have a certain grandeur and likewise canyons and forests. I have seen them all. But the ocean is special, and I always feel the need to venture as close as I can without getting wet. But at some certain point in time, I am always constrained to remove my shoes and socks and place my feet into the swirling waters. It is a holy baptism of life.

On this particular day, as I walked further down the beach, I saw a young boy who looked to be about five or six years old. He had dug a deep hole in the sand just above the water line and was going back and forth with a paper cup, dipping water from the ocean and pouring it into the hole. I watched him for some time and finally asked him what he was doing. He replied that he was going to empty the whole ocean into the hole. Since the water disappeared down the hole each time he poured, he assumed that it would only be a matter of time until his task was accomplished.

When I was a young boy, I looked out into the night sky and marveled at the beauty of the stars. I began to learn about the stars and the planets, and I soon took to the task of counting the number of stars that I could see. I would lie on my back on the beach and divide the heavens into sections, counting each one carefully and adding them up. Twenty, forty, hundred! When I was older, my father bought me a small telescope and I soon realized that there were many more stars than I thought. I learned in school that there were almost 2500 stars that could be seen with the naked eye on a clear night. I soon realized that some of the points of light were not stars at all, but huge galaxies, filled with countless numbers of additional stars. Even today, with our most powerful telescopes, the farther we look, and the better we see, the numbers of stars and galaxies keeps ever increasing. Needless to say, I have given up trying to count the stars in the sky and just as surely, that little boy will someday realize that he has a better chance of getting the whole ocean into that little hole than he does of ever understanding the mysteries of the universe.

Sea Angel

The beauty of nature is sometimes overwhelming:

Sea Angels are actually molluscs, which puts them in the same phylum as snails, slugs and nudibranchs. They have no shells, and are adapted to swimming free in the oceans.
They are jelly-like and mostly transparent and the largest examples are no more than two inches long. They feed on closely related species like sea butterflies and plankton.
Their feeding process is somewhat extraordinary. They have tentacles that grasp their prey when the shell opening is in the right position. They extend "hooks" into the shell opening and remove the body completely from the shell, swallowing it whole.
Read more about sea angels HERE
and HERE

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Liars, Liars, Liars...

WASHINGTON - Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry accused President Bush on Sunday of planning a surprise second-term effort to privatize Social Security and forecast a "disaster for America's middle class."

The Bush campaign response from Ed Gillespie:
Republicans denied the charge as scare tactics with little more than two weeks remaining in a tight election. "It is just flat inaccurate," said GOP chairman Ed Gillespie.

From Sunday's New York Times:
George Bush, quoted by Ron Suskind:
''I'm going to come out strong after my swearing in,'' Bush said, ''with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing of Social Security.'' The victories he expects in November, he said, will give us ''two years, at least, until the next midterm. We have to move quickly, because after that I'll be quacking like a duck.''

"Have you no shame, Sir? At Long last, have you left no sense of shame?

Saturday, October 16, 2004

New York Times endorses John Kerry

New York Times Sunday Oct. 17, 2004

"We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.

Voting for president is a leap of faith. A candidate can explain his positions in minute detail and wind up governing with a hostile Congress that refuses to let him deliver. A disaster can upend the best-laid plans. All citizens can do is mix guesswork and hope, examining what the candidates have done in the past, their apparent priorities and their general character. It's on those three grounds that we enthusiastically endorse John Kerry for president."

Scary Stuff.....

From The New York Times Magazine Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

A Mission From God


Published: October 17, 2004 New York Times Magazine

Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ''if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.'' The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.

''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .

''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''


Friday, October 15, 2004

Jon Stewart Quotes from "Crossfire"

In many ways, it's funny. And I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad.

And I wanted to -- I felt that that wasn't fair and I should come here and tell you that I don't -- it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America.

So I wanted to come here today and say...
Here's just what I wanted to tell you guys.
Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.

See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns.
You're part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks.
but what I'm saying is this. I'm not. I'm here to confront you, because we need help from the media and they're hurting us.
It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.
You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.
STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.


Jon Stewart on "Crossfire"

Jon said what all of us have been wanting to say to these guys for a while now.

"You're hurting America...please stop!"

And I don't think he was just talking about "Crossfire"

The transcript should be available tomorrow at:

Mary Cheney

by Dave Cullen in Salon

"What rips your heart out is when someone close to you denies your sexuality in public. Or shudders at the mention of it, so you can see how desperately they want to.
It may sound like a subtle implication to a straight person -- clearly it does; even the most liberal straight pundits appear oblivious to it -- but a gay person hears it scream out loud and clear. You people still feel there's something to be ashamed of here.
One of the happiest days of my life came when one of the old ladies at my mom's Catholic bridge club mentioned what a nice young husband I'd make. My mother, in her 60s by then, laughed it off. "I don't think that's going to happen," she said. "He's gay."
I was stunned when I heard the story. It had taken her years to get to that point. And it meant everything to me. She didn't care what the bridge ladies thought. She cared more about me.
I doubt very much that Mary Cheney gives a rat's ass if some church lady in Idaho knows she's gay. But her mother cringing at the church lady knowing -- that's gotta hurt like hell."

Alien Abduction and John Mack

John Mack died a few days ago...

"For nearly twelve years I have been working with people in this and other cultures who have reported profound, life changing experiences, through encounters with human-like beings, reaching them apparently from other dimensions. In speaking and writing about these people, I have come to appreciate the problems that readers and audiences have in thinking about matters that seem so far outside of the bounds of reality that have been defined by their education and upbringing.

Although there was in some instances physical evidence that something had happened to my clients—UFOs seen in the vicinity, corroborating observation by others of at least a part of the encounters, unexplained marks on their bodies, etc.—the evidence that I had was largely experiential, i.e. the reports themselves. I could not prove, for example, that my clients had been literally taken by alien beings into space craft. I came to realize that the problem I was facing was not simply a matter of evidence but the persistence of a narrow worldview and of the ways of knowing that sustain it.

The worldview that continues to be more or less dominant in Western society, and those cultures we have influenced, is called variously Newtonian/ Cartesianism, scientific materialism or anthropocentric humanism. It radically separates the objective from the subjective domains. The objective world, matter and energy, is treated as virtually synonymous with reality, and knowledge of it is gained by the scientific method, viz. hypothesis, controlled experiment, measurement and replication. Unless the presence of beings, or any other intelligence including God Himself, can be proven to exist by this method, reports of such encounters can be dismissed out of hand or relegated to the purgatory of the subjective."

Read the entire Essay HERE
"Passport To the Cosmos" HERE
John E Mack Institute HERE

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Purple Hearts

"Most of my friends they were losing it out there. They would do anything to get out of there, do anything. I had one of my guys, he used to tell me -- my wife just had my son, I can't wait to get home and see him. And, you know, he died out there. He sure did and I have to think about that everyday.

Well, uh, shrapnel down the back, shrapnel that came in and hit my head, punctured my lungs. I broke both of my arms. I lost a kidney. My intestines was messed up. They took an artery out of my left leg and put it into this right arm. They pretty much took my life. Pretty much.

I got a bonus in the National Guards for joining the Army. Now I've got to pay the bonus back and it's $2999. If I would have continued and finished my contract I wouldn't have to pay it back. The Guard wants it back. It's on my credit that I owe them that. I'm burning on the inside. I'm burning."

My high school buddies, well two of them just got found in a ditch around there, dead, dead. And the rest of them in jail, cracked out. For real. That's why after high school, I left. I was gone because I knew where my life was headed. Joined the Army. And here I am back here. I would love to go away. I would love to go away. I think that would be better. Because I'm driving in my car, I'm doing nothing. I don't know where it's going to end up. "

Cpl Tyson Johnson III, 22, from Prichard, Alabama, a mechanic with 205 Military Intelligence brigade, was injured in a mortar attack on the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad on September 20, 2003. He suffered massive internal injuries and is 100 percent disabled. This story can also be found in Purple Hearts, a book by Nina Berman, and is available on this website.

John Eisenhower: Why I will vote for Kerry

As son of a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, it is automatically expected by many that I am a Republican. For 50 years, through the election of 2000, I was. With the current administration’s decision to invade Iraq unilaterally, however, I changed my voter registration to independent, and barring some utterly unforeseen development, I intend to vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry.

The fact is that today’s “Republican” Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar. To me, the word “Republican” has always been synonymous with the word “responsibility,” which has meant limiting our governmental obligations to those we can afford in human and financial terms. Today’s whopping budget deficit of some $440 billion does not meet that criterion.

Responsibility used to be observed in foreign affairs. That has meant respect for others. America, though recognized as the leader of the community of nations, has always acted as a part of it, not as a maverick separate from that community and at times insulting towards it. Leadership involves setting a direction and building consensus, not viewing other countries as practically devoid of significance. Recent developments indicate that the current Republican Party leadership has confused confident leadership with hubris and arrogance.

Read the entire article HERE

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Starry Memories

An original poem:

My life was like a canyon
As deep as it was wide
And I, a lonely traveler
Just looking for a place to hide.
My path was filled with darkness
And emptiness ahead.
Night after night, under starry skies
I wished that I was dead.
But then you came into my world
And darkness turned to dawn.
Your essence swept into my life
Helping me to be reborn.
Your specter crept into my dreams
Each and every night.
You wandered in my brain from room to room
Turning on each light.
You'll probably never realize
How much it meant to me
That you were there beside me
Helping me be free.
And you'll probably never realize
The emptiness inside.
That comes to me each night you're
Not sleeping by my side.
But I've still got those memories
That swirl before my eyes.
Of you and I lying peacefully,
Beneath those starry skies.

Why conservatives must not vote for Bush

Read Doonesbury HERE
Then Read the article HERE

Spider Webs

Gail and I were sitting in the kitchen this morning drinking our coffee. Gail looked out the window and saw something unusual in the tree. Upon closer inspection, here's what it was:

A spider web, with lots of gnats caught up in it.

Spider webs are fascinating structures. First of all, the silk is manufactured by silk glands in the spider's abdomen. There are seven different types of silk glands that make different kinds of silk. One kind is used for draglines, which function as bridges or safety lines. Another is used for attachment discs, which attach strands of silk to surfaces. A third kind is swathing silk, which is used to wrap their prey in a cocoon. Females have a special kind of silk to make their egg sac. Other kinds of silk are used to make the strands necessary to create the sticky spirals.

The external silk organs are called spinnerets and the spider can combine the liquid material from different glands into a single thread. Each spinneret is made up of a group of finger-like organs with hundreds of tubes, each with a flexible nozzle. As the spider draws out a thread with its leg or attaches the silk to an object, it is transformed from a liquid to a solid strand of silk.

Modern evolutionary theory teaches us that these highly organized structures evolved by the accumulation of random mutations, acted on by natural selection. These are highly organized, complex systems that are made up of multiple structures and multiple processes that are integrated in such a way that they support each other and they also support the overall function, which is to construct a web to catch food. These kinds of highly organized systems cannot be explained by current evolutionary theory. In fact, they cannot be explained by any kind of mechanism that relies on random, undirected or accidental processes. The construction and assembly of these systems clearly required insight, and insight cannot come from random processes, only from intelligently guided processes.

"A Scientific Case for Intelligent Input"

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

A Message From Michael Moore

Dear Friends,

Enough of the handwringing! Enough of the doomsaying! Do I have to come there and personally calm you down? Stop with all the defeatism, OK? Bush IS a goner -- IF we all just quit our whining and bellyaching and stop shaking like a bunch of nervous ninnies. Geez, this is embarrassing! The Republicans are laughing at us. Do you ever see them cry, "Oh, it's all over! We are finished! Bush can't win! Waaaaaa!"

Hell no. It's never over for them until the last ballot is shredded. They are never finished -- they just keeping moving forward like sharks that never sleep, always pushing, pulling, kicking, blocking, lying.

They are relentless and that is why we secretly admire them -- they just simply never, ever give up. Only 30% of the country calls itself "Republican," yet the Republicans own it all -- the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court and the majority of the governorships. How do you think they've been able to pull that off considering they are a minority? It's because they eat you and me and every other liberal for breakfast and then spend the rest of the day wreaking havoc on the planet.

Read the entire message here

Stolen Honor

The Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a conservative broadcasting company that runs television stations in dozens of major television markets nationwide, has ordered its stations to preempt other programming and air an anti-Kerry program days before Election Day.

The so-called "documentary," called "Stolen Honor," was written, produced, and funded by extreme right-wing activists. Sinclair is using its reach to broadcast a blatantly political -- and false -- message while disguising it as "news."

I'm not worried.

This is more likely to help John Kerry than hurt him. The number of people who still harbor resentment against those of us who protested the Vietnam war has been dwindling and now is confined to only a hard core of apologists for a clearly misguided and divisive war. In addition, this documentary has been available for quite a while on DVD and probably has already been seen by those who want to see it. Kerry supporters will not tune in to watch it, and they will not be swayed into the Bush camp by these lies.
On the other hand, I've been talking to a lot of people and they are ENERGIZED! Web sites are springing up, articles are being written, blogs are on fire with anti-Bush and anti-Sinclair venom. Ordinary people are calling me, jumping out of their skins over this, asking what they can do. The answer is simple. Make George Bush a one-term President and sweep him out of office along with his extreme right-wing religious fundamentalist and neo-conservative clique of scary people.

The Lone Ranger

No, not George Bush...

While we're trippin' down memory lane:

"The Lone Ranger! "Hi Yo Silver!"
A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi Yo Silver!" The Lone Ranger. "Hi Yo Silver, away!" With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains, led the fight for law and order in the early west. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again!

(With the William Tell Overture playing in the background)

On Being An American

by H.L. Mencken

It is one of my firmest and most sacred beliefs, reached after an inquiry extending over a score of years and supported by incessant prayer and meditation, that the Government of the United States, in both its legislative arm and its executive arm, is ignorant, incompetent, corrupt and disgusting- and from this judgement I except no more than twenty living lawmakers and no more than twenty executioners of their laws.
It is a belief no less piously cherished that the administration of justice in the Republic is stupid, dishonest, and against all reason and equity- and from this judgement I except no more than thirty judges, including two upon the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States.
It is another that the foreign policy of the United States- its habitual manner of dealing with other nations, whether friend or foe- is hypocritical, disingenuous, knavish and dishonorable- and from this judgement I consent to no exceptions whatever, either recent or long past.
And it is my fourth (and to avoid too depressing a bill, final) conviction that the American people taken one with another, constitute the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominous mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the Middle Ages, and that they grow more timorous, more sniveling, more poltroonish, more ignominous every day."

In fairness, Mencken undoubtedly was trying to out-Swift Jonathan Swift, with the added benefit of hilarity. After all, Mencken was one of the 2oth century's greatest satirists. In some ways, he was the Don Rickles of his day, lashing out against the American people and their social and political customs in a way that entertained, rather than mortified his victims. But there is a point to satire and his attacks on the absurdities and banalities of American society may not have been far off the mark. Interestingly enough, much of what he said rings as true today as it did when he first wrote this essay in 1922


Christopher Reeve was a nice guy, but he was not Superman.
There was only one Superman, as anyone my age can tell you.

Who can forget those immortal words, repeated hundreds of times on our little 12 inch black and white TV set:

"Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman! Yes it's Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for Truth! Justice! and the American Way!"

A War That Can Never Be Won

John Kerry made the following statement in Sunday's New York Times:

"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' Kerry said. ''As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''

The Bush/Cheney campaign seized upon this immediately, declaring Kerry's position "naive and dangerous, as was Senator Kerry's reluctance earlier this year to call the war on terror an actual war."

The most egregious offense of the Bush campaign was taking these remarks out of context. They know the importance of short, simple, easily understood catch phrases. They also know that most people in this country will never read the entire article (HERE) or attempt to understand what Kerry was saying.

The truth, as most thinking people know, is that terror is a tactic, not a country. You cannot make war on a tactic. There will always be people who rob, steal and murder. Therefore, any "war on crime" can never be won. The best we can hope for is to reduce it to a level where it is under control, and it is not threatening people's lives every day. The same is true of terror. There will always be someone who is willing to put a bomb under someone's car or lob a molotov cocktail into their house to advance their agendas. You can never completely eliminate these kinds of people, the best you can hope for is to control it so that it's not a constant threat. So, the "war on terror", like the "war on crime", is one that will go on forever. So when Bush talks about "winning the war on terror", he is the one being naive. Hopefully the American people will see through this rhetoric and assess the problem in more realistic terms than has Mr. Cheney. I guess he missed the part of Kerry's comment that included the phrase "it's something that you continue to fight".

Later in the article, the author describes Kerry's plan:

"Kerry's view, that the 21st century will be defined by the organized world's struggle against agents of chaos and lawlessness, might be the beginning of a compelling vision. The idea that America and its allies, sharing resources and using the latest technologies, could track the movements of terrorists, seize their bank accounts and carry out targeted military strikes to eliminate them, seems more optimistic and more practical than the notion that the conventional armies of the United States will inevitably have to punish or even invade every Islamic country that might abet radicalism."

Monday, October 11, 2004

Dan Bern

Since music is such an important part of my life, a lot of the material here will address that topic. I often listen to terrific new artists and I realize that so few people hear them or know about them. In New York, there's a radio station WFUV-FM that is about the only station I know of that plays what they refer to as "City Folk". You can go to their website at and get an idea of what they are playing. If you don't live in New York, you can listen to WFUV streaming on the web by clicking HERE

Anyway, one of my latest folk heroes is Dan Bern. For a sample, try this song. It's on his album "New American Language" and the title is "God Said No". (5 Mb mp3). Other samples are on the website.

They're Just CRIMINALS

From the New York Times Sunday Oct. 10, 2004

"One can infer from this that if Kerry were able to speak less guardedly, in a less treacherous atmosphere than a political campaign, he might say, as some of his advisers do, that we are not in an actual war on terror. Wars are fought between states or between factions vying for control of a state; Al Qaeda and its many offspring are neither. If Kerry's foreign-policy frame is correct, then law enforcement probably is the most important, though not the only, strategy you can employ against such forces, who need passports and bank accounts and weapons in order to survive and flourish. Such a theory suggests that, in our grief and fury, we have overrated the military threat posed by Al Qaeda, paradoxically elevating what was essentially a criminal enterprise, albeit a devastatingly sophisticated and global one, into the ideological successor to Hitler and Stalin -- and thus conferring on the jihadists a kind of stature that might actually work in their favor, enabling them to attract more donations and more recruits."

Read The Entire Article from the New York Times HERE

The Great Debate


Be patient till the last.
Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my
cause, and be silent, that you may hear: believe me
for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that
you may believe: censure me in your wisdom, and
awake your senses, that you may the better judge.
If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of
Caesar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love to Caesar
was no less than his. If then that friend demand
why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer:
--Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved
Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and
die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live
all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;
as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was
valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I
slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his
fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his
ambition. Who is here so base that would be a
bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended.
Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If
any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so
vile that will not love his country? If any, speak;
for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.

None, Brutus, none.


Then none have I offended. I have done no more to
Caesar than you shall do to Brutus. The question of
his death is enrolled in the Capitol; his glory not
extenuated, wherein he was worthy, nor his offences
enforced, for which he suffered death.
Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony: who,
though he had no hand in his death, shall receive
the benefit of his dying, a place in the
commonwealth; as which of you shall not? With this
I depart,--that, as I slew my best lover for the
good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself,
when it shall please my country to need my death.

Live, Brutus! live, live!
First Citizen
Bring him with triumph home unto his house.
Second Citizen
Give him a statue with his ancestors.
Third Citizen
Let him be Caesar.


Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

First Citizen
Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.
Second Citizen
If thou consider rightly of the matter,
Caesar has had great wrong.
Third Citizen
Has he, masters?
I fear there will a worse come in his place.
Fourth Citizen
Mark'd ye his words? He would not take the crown;
Therefore 'tis certain he was not ambitious.
First Citizen
If it be found so, some will dear abide it.
Second Citizen
Poor soul! his eyes are red as fire with weeping.
Third Citizen
There's not a nobler man in Rome than Antony.

Read "Julius Caesar HERE

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Simply Beautiful...

Central region of the Trifid Nebula (M20 in the Messier Catalogue) taken by the Gemini North 8-meter Telescope on Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii, June 5, 2002. Located in the constellation of Sagittarius, the beautiful nebula is a much-photographed, dynamic cloud of gas and dust where stars are being born. One of the massive stars at the nebula's center was born approximately 100,000 years ago. The nebula's distance from the Solar System remains in dispute, but it is generally agreed to be somewhere between 2,200 to 9,000 light years away.
Click HERE for complete Gemini Image Catalog

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

I grew up in Levittown, Long Island in the late 50's and early 60's. We had moved there in 1954 from Brooklyn. I went to Island Trees (yes, *that* Island Trees) High School, an almost brand new school district carved out of the potato fields of central Nassau County, adjacent to Levittown. Like most every kid who came to Levittown from Brooklyn, when I became a teenager, I did what was expected of me: I became a hoodlum.
Black leather jackets, garrison belts that our fathers had brought home from the war, motorcycle boots (Georgia Giants were the best) and of course, lots of Vaseline in the hair. I took shop classes, hung out at the candy store and focused my attention on two major areas of life: girls and cars.
But in 1959, something changed. Somehow I got into this English class (it was called "honors") with mostly Jewish kids who carried around copies of "Ulysses" and read the New York Times. On the weekends, they went to jazz clubs or to the movies to see films like "The Seventh Seal" and "The Mouse That Roared". And they all had read "Portrait".
We were assigned a book report to do over Christmas vacation and we could pick any book. I had some books in mind that I thought were "good" that were summarily rejected by the teacher. We didn't have Cliff Notes then, but we had Classic Comics! Finally I asked one of the other fellows what I could read. Someone handed me a copy of "Portrait". I never looked back. All of a sudden, *I* was Dedalus. I read Joyce's words over and over, absorbing their meaning and incorporating them into my own consciousness.
I therefore offer to you, one of my favorite sections, the end of Chapter 4:

"There was a long rivulet in the strand and, as he waded slowly up its course, he wondered at the endless drift of seaweed. Emerald and black and russet and olive, it moved beneath the current, swaying and turning. The water of the rivulet was dark with endless drift and mirrored the high-drifting clouds. The clouds were drifting above him silently and silently the seatangle was drifting below him and the grey warm air was still and a new wild life was singing in his veins.

Where was his boyhood now? Where was the soul that had hung back from her destiny, to brood alone upon the shame of her wounds and in her house of squalor and subterfuge to queen it in faded cerements and in wreaths that withered at the touch? Or where was he?

He was alone. He was unheeded, happy and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the sea-harvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight and gayclad lightclad figures of children and girls and voices childish and girlish in the air.

A girl stood before him in midstream, alone and still, gazing out to sea. She seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird. Her long slender bare legs were delicate as a crane's and pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed had fashioned itself as a sign upon the flesh. Her thighs, fuller and soft-hued as ivory, were bared almost to the hips, where the white fringes of her drawers were like feathering of soft white down. Her slate-blue skirts were kilted boldly about her waist and dovetailed behind her. Her bosom was as a bird's, soft and slight, slight and soft as the breast of some dark-plumaged dove. But her long fair hair was girlish: and girlish, and touched with the wonder of mortal beauty, her face.

She was alone and still, gazing out to sea; and when she felt his presence and the worship of his eyes her eyes turned to him in quiet sufferance of his gaze, without shame or wantonness. Long, long she suffered his gaze and then quietly withdrew her eyes from his and bent them towards the stream, gently stirring the water with her foot hither and thither. The first faint noise of gently moving water broke the silence, low and faint and whispering, faint as the bells of sleep; hither and thither, hither and thither; and a faint flame trembled on her cheek.

-- Heavenly God! cried Stephen's soul, in an outburst of profane joy."

You can read the whole book here.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Jacques Derrida Redux

I wrote:

Jacques Derrida died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can't be sure. The newspaper says: DERRIDA PASSED AWAY. FUNERAL TOMORROW. Which leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday.
The passing of Derrida reminds us once again that "arbitrary", in the sense of presenting itself as irreducible absence, signifies the possibilities inherent in all systems of significance; mental signs of a mixed nature, the symbolic part of which challenges us to transcend all of the apparently incompatible exigencies. Especially the ones that come into existence by development out of icons, or from mixed signs.
But the primary theme in the analysis of cultural desublimation is a self-supporting totality. Any number of theories concerning the bridge between society and reality exist. In a sense, the characteristic theme of his work is the role of the participant as reader. The subject is contextualised into a subsemioticist paradigm of context that includes art as a paradox.

When I was a young boy, my father counseled me to be careful and "believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see".
He went on to explain to me that most of what you hear and see in this world, most all of religion, most all of politics and varying percentages of everything else is pure, unadulterated horsepookey.
In fact, he even ventured a guess as to the percentage: 90% of everything that passes for knowledge, truth or scholarship is total crap.

In Derrida's case, that number is closer to 99%

James Wolcott on the 2nd debate

"For much of last night's debate George Bush looked like a blister about to pop. Loud, mouthy, swaggering, interested only in hearing himself lay down the law, he behaved like a verbally abusive husband. Not a wifebeater but a browbeater with a bar-fighter's grin. It is astonishing and sobering that this dull roar with a one-track mind that runs on tank treads is fighting for reelection instead of facing impeachment; his lies and failures have fed thousands of graves, and filled thousands more hospital beds with bodies and psyches that will never be whole again. And still our mainstream pundits can not, will not see him for what he is."

Read the rest here

Embryonic Stem Cells

There are four different types of stem cells: Embryonic, fetal, umbilical and adult stem cells. Embryonic cells are taken from human embryos, fetal cells are taken from aborted fetal tissue, umbilical cells are taken from umbilical cords, and adult cells are taken from adult tissue.
Stem cells are able to transform into many different types of cells, such as bone, muscle and cartilage cells. Because of this ability, stem cells have potential to treat diseases where different cells in the body are damaged or lost and need to be replaced.
A report in this week's Science supports the incredible potential that this kind of research offers in treating humans.
In certain mouse embryos, severe cardiac defects occur that are invariably lethal. Injecting stem cells (ES) into mutant blastocysts can rescue these organisms from mid-gestational lethality, restoring the mutant cells to normalcy. In addition, some benefit is also derived from injecting these cells into the female mouse peritoneum before conception.
Thus, ES cells have the potential to reverse congenital defects in a mammalian embryo even though the stem cells themselves do not become heart tissue. They secrete certain molecules that signal the heart cells to repair the defects developing in those tissues.

(Science, Vol 306, Issue 5694, 247-252 , 8 October 2004)

It Sure Isn't New York!

upper left: riding horseback down into the Haleakala crater
upper right: Bridge on the Hana Highway
lower left: Banzai Pipeline, North Shore of Oahu
lower right: Gail admires huge Angel Trumpets

"Bubba Eye For the Brahmin Guy"

I like Maureen Dowd. In her column in the New York Times on thursday she talks about John Kerry "playing the Daddy card" by referring to Dubya's father. Clinton did it to "41" in his 1991 debate when he referred to Prescott Bush. This seems to get under their skins a little. But the quip above by Ms. Dowd is simply priceless.

Why I Became A Yankee Fan

When I was a little boy, I lived near Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. You could walk down to Eastern Parkway and then up to Ebbetts Field, the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. My father often bad-mouthed the Yankees, as did other kids in the neighborhood. I was a Dodger fan, true and blue.
When the New York Mets appeared in 1962, it seemed only logical to transfer that allegiance to this new team and continue with my disdain for the Yankees. At first it seemed like a good idea. We won 4 pennants and 2 World Series and while there were a few "ouch!" moments, my loyalty remained strong.
I haven't given up completely on the Mets, but it hasn't been looking very good for the last couple of years. Should I abandon them altogether? I don't think that's possible. I still live with the hope that they can turn the team around and become the team that I would like them to be.
But what of the Yankees? I have been a New Yorker all my life. Why does it have to be one team or the other? Can I not like the Yankees if they're in a pennant race or a World Series? Should I root for Boston or Houston or St. Louis? Can I not have respect and admiration for their accomplishments?
Let's face it, the Yankees are a class act. Every player who puts on the Yankee pinstripes is proud to be a Yankee. The team is run well by a competent owner and dedicated, competent managers. The players know what's expected of them and they do their jobs, often very well. It would be absurd to hope that a team from another city would beat them based on an intra-city rivalry that goes back to 1955.
So, I hold the Yankees in the highest regard and I hope that they win the Championship Series and the World Series. And I still hold out hope that the Mets will rise from the ashes like the Phoenix and maybe regain their credibility and my respect.
Until then...Go Yankees!!!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Why President Bush will lose the election

The Bush/Cheney campaign has made a serious and probably fatal error that will cause them to lose this election.

They gave the people time to think.

Any good con artist knows that to fool someone, you must do it quickly, before they have time to figure out what's going on. If the election had been held in early September, there was a good chance that they might have pulled it off. Listening to President Bush tonight made that point clear. The winds have shifted to the northwest and the smoke is clearing away. And the sad, pitiful truth of the matter is being revealed. It takes people time to internalize these kinds of things, time to see through the smoke, and time to admit they were wrong.

Bush and Cheney gave them that time, and it will be their undoing.

War President

A war President who has never been to war.
How could he possibly understand?

The War Prayer by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.

It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came-next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their faces alight with material dreams-visions of a stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!-then home from the war, bronzed heros, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation -- "God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!"

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was that an ever--merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory -

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there, waiting.

With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal,"Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said

"I come from the Throne-bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import-that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of-except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of His Who hearth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this-keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer-the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it-that part which the pastor, and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory-must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle-be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it-for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause)

"Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits."

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.


startup Oct. 8, 2004