Archive for September, 2006

I Was Born a Ramblin’ Man (where’s the Citgo?)

September 30, 2006

Though I was not ‘born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus rollin’ down highway 41′  and I have virtually lived in the same place for the last 29 years…  I consider myself a drifter.  That is not saying I lack conviction or can’t stay committed to any person, place or thing… it is a state of mind.  There is somethin’ about an open road, the top down on the ol’ convertible and no particular place to go… it just makes you feel alive.  Ofcourse,  gas is cheap in my little scenario of unbridled freedom and wanderlust fulfilled.  I imagine myself toolin’ along a two lane black top as the sun is goin’ down,  thirstin’ for a Big Gulp and some high octane fuel.  Maybe there’s a cute little,  freckled brunette workin’ behind the counter lookin’ for someplace to go… waitin’ for me to come roarin’ up with the radio blastin’… take her away from her oppressive momma and all this misery…

But shucks,  Citgo don’t work here no more!  So it’s back to reality…

When 7-11 announced it was dumpin’ Citgo in favor of an American fuel supplier, I had mixed feelings.  Most of these countries would not be able to suck their oil out of the ground if it were not for American enterprises ‘spanning the globe’ looking for and developing those oil rigs.  In turn, the U.S. has been the largest single consumer of the international effort to keep the oil flowing, it has been that way for years.  Now if you were in business, would you bite the hand that fuels you?

When President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela in view of the entire civilized world called President Bush “the Devil” and claimed he could still “smell the sulfur” the majority of those present at the United Nations  laughed.  When he departed the speaker stand, he got a standing ovation.   Chavez has declared the U.S. is an enemy of Venezuela so now the sides are being drawn up… who stands to be the biggest loser?  It has been documented that Venezuela’s oil production has been decreasing over the past few years due largely to Chavez’ ineptitude as a leader in the world economy.   But that is not what troubles me.

I admire a man standing up for his convictions, and if there is a valid disagreement over one countries policy then by all means it should be addressed… but what did America do to him?  Bolster the economy and make his country rich?  Bad America.  He declares that our government is out to kill him and he needs to prepare his country against aggression but all I see is a bunch of posturing by a little man given too much responsibility and not enough savvy.  He is oppressive in his governmental policy to his own people, a dictator voted into office but opposed to democracy.  But so be it, alienate yourself from your best customer, that is a great business strategy.  We’ll get along…

But that is not what really bothers me. 

Since WWII ended and the United Nations was formed the U.S. has been singled out and  handed the bill.  In an effort to bring countries together under diplomacy and an equal voice in international affairs, the U.S.  has championed their right to an open forum.  Now these countries applaud Chavez ?  Okay.  Let him be your salvation… we withdraw.  If that is all our government has meant to you;  look to him to guide you, feed you, protect you and influence your culture.  He idolizes Castro… look at the progress Cuba has made in the last 50 years, is that the way of your future? 

I say choose now, but also…  if you are truly America’s friend and not just suckin’ up for the benefits… think of the future.  America continues to evolve, Chavez is a flash in the oil pan… if not for that,  he wouldn’t have any influence at all. 

There are road signs up and down the highway, it is hard to predict what lies ahead just over the next hill or around the bend.  Highway 41 runs right through the heart of Ft. Myers, Florida and sometimes it beckons to me, especially when things are not as rosy as I would like them to be.  Sometimes I hear her callin’ to me and I am tempted to chuck it all, pack up my cares and just burn rubber.  I doubt I shall ever lose that sense of freedom even if I never act upon the impulse… but it is knowing I have the option that comforts the drifter mentality in me. 

And that fuels the imagination far better than Hugo’s Citgo…  ya know? 

Advertisements

Life Begins at WD40

September 28, 2006

Simple things we take for granted like safety pins and q-tips, do you ever stop and think about the wonders of science?  It seems whenever I come up with a good idea for something I find it has already been invented, which creates a kind of black hole in my psyche, I mean …  do I get to sue or am I entitled to some compensation or what?  Shoot, this being creative stuff is hard enough the way it is without being out maneuvered by some big corporation who had the ways,  means and think tanks  to develop it first. 

Take for example a slogan I read on a T-shirt in Key West:   “Liver is Evil   It Must Be Punished.”  I was told the guy that originally came up with that clever line was deprived of recognition and royalties because the phrasing was altered from the original:  “The Liver is Evil  It Must Be Punished.”  Now you might not think that it is such a big deal but imagine this;  thousands of T-shirts are sold annually with your concept printed on them and you don’t receive a single dime, bummer.

I go by a church every day, perhaps several in a single day, in fact… there are more churches in my area than you can shake a collection plate at.  I marvel at the catchy, little phrases on their signs out front.  It used to be the sermon of the week was posted there but now you get cool little quips like; “Seven Days Without Prayer Makes One Weak” or “Free Extreme Makeovers, Inquire Inside”and “Ch_ _ ch What’s Missing?  U R”  It makes me wonder if there is a church going, slogan writing person out there that peddles his little banners through-out the church industry.  (Yes, folks… it is an industry, trust me) Now I know for a fact that these antidotes (Life is Fragile, Handle With Prayer) are freely passed from parish to parish, denomination to denomination because I recognize them from religious messages in other areas.  (It is unthinkable to surmise that these brainteasers are stolen)   So I wonder if there is some infringement going on and have they all just agreed to tolerate it?  If it is a mutual understanding in the religious practicing world that these marquees are for their general use… why can’t they tolerate other things as well?  Especially when they all seem to have different interpretations of a single, mutually shared source, i.e. the Bible?   I think it sends a mixed message…  (Looking for a Sign From God?  Here it is!)

Sometimes these little sayings really do have a poignant message like the one I read the other day which goes; 

Yesterday is history   tomorrow is a mystery   today is a gift   that is why it is called “the present”

I liked that one, but I didn’t see it on a sign at some church…  I read it on an invoice I got from one of my suppliers, people I buy goods from for my business.  It has been on my mind for the past two weeks and the wisdom from that little blurb will no doubt stay with me the rest of my life.  I don’t know who made that one up but it’s message couldn’t be simpler or ring more true.

Like I said, my best ideas always seem to be thought of by someone else and claimed as their own long before I get around to thinking of them.  Still… it doesn’t diminish the validity of the statement. 

I know the squeaky wheel gets the inspirational grease, sometimes we have to just keep grinding those mental gears…   I think, therefore I am…  what I am.

Amen.

Lower Gas Prices is a Republican Ploy to Win in November?

September 23, 2006

Okay, I got a phone call from a buddy up north the other day warning me that I’ve become too political. 

I said, “Really?” and he said, “Really!”

and I said, “I don’t think so…” and he said, “Trust me.”

 to which I replied, “I’m not trying to be…” and he retorted, “Well, it sure sounds like it…”

then I acquiesced, “Okay, maybe… a little.” so he rejoined, “You are and you know it!”

while I confirmed, ” I guess if it walks like a duck…” he affirmed, “After a while  you start quackin’  up.”

So I admit that I have mentioned our government and it’s illustrious members on occasion, it is true.  But I do respect the high office and ‘the republic for which it stands…  one nation, (somethin’ somethin’ )  indivisible… with liberty and justice for all… ‘  

But sometimes it is just too tempting to pass up.

It wasn’t long ago when gas prices started going up we blamed it on 9/11 and the war in Iraq,  then it was because we didn’t have enough refineries and Hurricane Katrina, then it was because of the stock markets reaction and the modernization of the people in China (“who don’t hardly have anything…”) then it was because of supply and demand, the approaching  Labor Day week-end,  the beginning of football season,  the Fall Equinox,  the Man in the Moon and a fart in a whirlwind. 

Now that gas prices start coming back down who can you blame? (!)  The Republicans,  of course!  It is a well documented fact that George Bush’s popularity is directly related to gas prices.  If the cost goes up, his approval rating goes down.  So the Republicans have  surmised that if the price of gas goes down around election time, the President won’t seem to be such a liability to their re-elections!  It is that simple. 

 So I have a plan.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if of the 50 states in the union, we held elections every month?  Don’t lump all these campaigns together under one banner in November, that is not conducive to good local input.  If 4 states were to hold their elections in and around their prospective locations, for example: Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, ( whose boundaries and commerce could be directly influenced by the others) then people in Florida, California, Arkansas or New Hampshire (who could care less)  wouldn’t be effected.  Alaska and Hawaii have no bordering states so their elections would be as separate entities.  Each month in these United States,  every two years (for a Congressman) to six years (for a Senator),  the nations attention would be divided by local interests for their prospective areas and the race for the presidency would occur every four years.  If  at any given month some politician headed for the nations capitol were being elected there would be no November “sweeps” .  Interest in government would not be so passive because there would always be a buzz of activity somewhere in America.  That would help keep gas prices lower all year long because the Republicans control gas prices and want to be re-elected.  The Democrats would have to get control of prescription drug prices or the insurance industry as a counter measure.

Of course,  hold that fan mail!  This is just a postcard from the edge so don’t be lickin’ your 39 cent stamps yet, folks.  Our system of government has been around for a long time… longer than gas lines prior to a hurricane so you know a change isn’t going to be coming soon…

but I’d be as happy as a duck in water if we could siphon ourselves off of big oil faster than we’ve gotten rid of the tobacco industry.  (30 years and counting) Can we honestly believe that is going to be happening soon?  Bush talks the walk, but…

 … quack,  quack… AFLACK!  (don’t get me started)

job approval

September 16, 2006

Life sucks and you gotta work.  Is that pretty much how you feel about it, grasshopper? 

I guess I am fortunate in the fact that I enjoy what I do for a living, being strictly blue collar, that is.  I’m not really in tune with the corporate world, I don’t sell time shares or air time… I use tools and generally seem to make a difference in my small field of expertise.  But if I had to do it over again?  here are some jobs that might be really cool.

1) President of the United States.  Where else could you hover around a 38% job approval rating and still get paid?  Pretend you are a plumber… 

“Lets see, George… 62 out of 100 toilets that you supposedly fixed last month didn’t flush,  now the (expletive deleted) is going to hit the fan!”

2) Secretary of Defense.  Where else could you go “oops!” when you get caught mingling your intelligence information to suit your needs and still keep your job?  Pretend you are a carpenter…

“Let’s see, Don…  the blueprint shows that the trusses for this job need to point up and you’ve inverted them!  I’ve never heard of a droop ceiling before but with the circumstances being what they are we’ll just have to stay the course regardless of what the homeowner thinks.”

3) Vice President of the United States.  Where else could you go about your business as usual and still be a vital part of the integral, unbiased realm of commerce?  Pretend you are an air conditioning repairman…

“Gee, Dick… I’ve repeatedly sent you out to fix Miss Jones air conditioner but she says you never show up.  Now my supply house bill says you’ve been purchasing several parts that I haven’t been able to bill because I don’t have a job ticket for them.  Your net worth continues to rise while my company is going broke, how ’bout me going to work for you?” 

4) Secretary of State.  Where else could you travel abroad, make speeches, interpret someone else’s intentions as being noble and for the common good with out any fear of  content or reprisals?  Pretend you are a garbageman (waste management technician)…

“Whoa, Condi! The hopper on your truck has malfunctioned strewing trash up and down the street, people are complaining that their pick up times are inconsistent with the posted schedule, the landfill stinks and is to the point of overflowing!  By the way, nice shoes!” 

5)  News anchor.  Where else could your credibility be based  on popularity rather than accuracy?  Now the story is a sound bite, slanted politically and dressed rehearsed for ratings rather than for genuine news value.  Pretend you are an auto mechanic…

“Wow, Katie!  We’ve been getting a lot of traffic in here lately and it is all because of your charm, personality and good looks!  which is great because we are paying you a bunch of money.  It’s not important that you don’t know what a left handed monkey wrench is, these people love it!  But it seems we’re not doing the high end repairs we used to be getting, guess we’ll just turn ourselves into a swifty lube!” 

Help unwanted.  No inexperience necessary. You need not be president to win.  Some secret assembly required.  No shoes, no shirt, no english.  Inquire without.  Equal opportunity deployment.   

I love my job.  

Sen. Ted Stevens verses the free and open Internet

September 14, 2006

I don’t know about you, but…   I like my Internet the way it is. (fool)  I’ve been enjoying the fruitages of our modern technology for about 10 years now and I only see it improving with age.  Why would ANYBODY want to confine, confuse or control what the public has been enjoying and has generated BILLIONS of dollars into our economy?  Maybe the head of national commerce?  Naw, that don’t make sense… it is already by and large a complete boon to modern industry, why put the brakes on it after such a track record? 

37 years ago a boogie group called Canned Heat came out with a song called, “Same All Over” and the hook was,  “It’s the same all over good people everywhere you go…”  But that doesn’t appear to be true for the glorious state of Alaska.  What might be good for Floridians, Californians, New Yorkers or Iowans may not be good for Alaskans.  Case in point:  access to the Internet.

I sat and listened to Senator Ted Stevens’ (R. Alaska) little tirade on the Internet and his anger over a delayed e-mail (this speech (?) is available in it’s entirety on the web) and I thought, “This would be humorous if it weren’t so darn scary.”  Is this typical of the brain power from the people of Alaska?  Alaska by the way gets about 140% – 180% return on every tax dollar it sends to Washington.  (The highest return of any state in the union, the average is less than half)  After finding that out I stopped and wondered… why?  What valuable commodity does Alaska have that might make the federal government (your servant) so generous to a state with an estimated population (in 2005) of less than 700,000 people?  The answer…(of course) was obvious, they have those cute little penguins!  oh yeah, and that pipeline…

I read a brief history of Sen. Stevens (on his web page) and I have to say I was impressed.  By all accounts he appears to be a credible human being who lived a very distinguished life.  (briefly accounted for on his web page)  The fact that he is third in line to the presidency (which I also read on his web page) proves that he has a lot of power, influence and clout among his fellow Senators.  Sen. Stevens makes the security of the United States a priority beings as he is the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.  (yeah, that was on his web page, too)   When tough issues arise in the Senate, Ted’s motto has always been, “Do what is best for Alaska.”  (ditto)

So ya gotta wonder, when a bill was to introduced that would require the U.S. government to publish online a database of federal spending Sen. Stevens cried “foul” and placed a hold on it.  Was that a threat to national security?  If our government (your servant) has to put into account and make available to it’s citizens a history of monies spent, isn’t that a good thing?  Sen. Stevens says he has questions on the bill, (like how much is going to be revealed about the “penguin state”?… this was not on his web site) but other Senators have noted that those questions would have been answered if he had attended the hearings (he sits on the committee where this bill was considered) prior to blocking it.  (He was also involved in a controversial bridge proposal a year ago, would that have shown up, too?)

So now Sen. Stevens is concerned about Net Neutrality, though he has admitted that he doesn’t know what that is.  He thinks people are getting rich off of the web and causing small time users a hardship.  Frankly, I don’t think so… I get e-mails from all over the world and I haven’t noticed a “slowing down” because of people “loading it like a truck”.  The Internet is supply and demand, we indirectly pay for it using the services for access and the purchasing of products.  The information we get is much faster than television, radio or newspaper and it is constantly updated.  It has opened up a world that only a few short years ago people only dreamed about.  Instant access, communication, education, entertainment and information at our finger tips.  Why is that wrong?  Is the unhindered educating of the public a bad thing?  Ancient rulers used to think so, have we reverted back to tyranny?

There is an old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” that I think applies here.  Granted there are things happening that aren’t always on the up and up, but why punish the masses for the acts of a few?  We average Joes like our freedom of expression.  There is nothing wrong with having the ability to “boldly go” and have the opportunity to explore cyberspace without the watchful eyes of our helpful government.  Protect us, yes… but is this blog and/or it’s contents hurting you, Senator? 

And what is best for Alaska might be more of what the web has to offer, after all… I hear those winter months can be awfully long, cold and dreary.  Why leave Alaskans isolated in terms of technology?  There is a big, bad, beautiful world out there and the people have a right to have access to it.  With all your qualifications and chairmanships, with all your tenure and influence, with all your heart, soul and mind… Senator Stevens, please… don’t spoil it. 

The cat is out of the bag…

Learn more about our 49th state at:  Alaska.com     …while you still can.         (not on his web site… must not be good for Alaska)   I dunno why, ask him!

macaca caca

September 10, 2006

Words slip out.  Sometimes we get caught up in the heat of the moment and say things we later regret.  We might be angry or haughty, we may be taken out of context, we may be baited.  What ever the case, words can cut deep and be painful.  The worst possible thing that can happen is when our words collide with another’s feelings and the bruising is unintentional.  When that happens there are two victims of ill placed verbiage, from the speaker to the hearer.  Of course… apologies are offered and accepted, but the wounds can take forever to heal.  If a person is big enough to say they regret hurt feelings then the one on the receiving end should graciously accept that apology, don’t you think?

On the other hand, I think there is too much emphasis on becoming offended in this new millennium.  Every time I turn around somebody is belly aching about this or that offending them.  I can’t figure out why this has become such an issue with people.  WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?  It is so prevalent in our society it is becoming a paradox.  Becoming offended seems to be in vogue, like who can pick the most things to be offended by?  So much so that I find it offensive. 

When Virginia Senator George Allen called S.R. Sidarth “macaca” last month, (which has been translated as “monkey”) it was meant as a joke and not malicious.  The audience got the intent and laughed.  Sidarth felt uncomfortable because he was the only person “of color” in the audience.  Gee, big surprise!  All he had to do is look around, right?  I guess when it was made so apparent to everyone else it embarrassed him.  When Allen was thrown under the bus for his “off color” remark, he apologized.  (He thought the word had to do with the hairstyle worn by Sidarth)  He even called Sidarth personally and said “he was sorry if Sidarth was offended by anything he said.”  Fair enough? Apology accepted?  Not quite, Sidarth chided Allen for not apologizing for “saying something offensive” rather than “apologizing if Sidarth took offense.”  Hey, there was a large audience that knew how to take a joke, no apology needed for them.  (On the other hand… should they all apologize for laughing?  hmmm…)

If now we have to carefully choose our words of apology to appease those offended and have our intentions scrutinized rather than be accepted in the spirit that they are offered, we are really in trouble.  It is not enough to say we are sorry, we have to be REALLY sorry.  We have to grovel, we have to be contrite, we have to suffer equal if not greater humiliation.

If a woman walks around wearing a push up bra to emphasize her 36 DD cups, why does she act offended if construction workers notice her strut by?  If a young man covers himself with tattoos, body piercings and traipses around with a shaved head, why is he offended if people single him out as “different”?  When a person acts suspiciously at an airport, is he not going to be watched even if it may be “profiling’?  A certain nationality immigrates illegally and demands certain things as their “right”, are they not going to garner resentment?  Some might view the fore mentioned things offensive, so who wins?

Sometimes we cross the line unintentionally, sometimes we reap what we sow, sometimes we act out and out offensively and do not fear or care about the consequences.   And sometimes people are just too thinned skinned  for their own good.  They would complain if they were hung with a new rope, like my Dad used to say.  (He had a high regard for rope makers, by the way.  Just in case there are any reading this.) 

We are too busy scurrying around being “offended” by such trivia and not looking at the big picture!  Drug use is rising, crime is up, people are homeless and without jobs.  There is a war going on, idiots are in office, athletes are over rated and over paid, lawyers are waging war on health care facilities, doctors can’t afford malpractice insurance, our children can’t learn and the entertainment industry is aiding in the dumbing down of our society. 

I find these things more offensive than being called a monkey… but if we aren’t careful, our sensitivities may make a monkey out of us.

Life Lesson #35… Common Courtesy

September 9, 2006

I was moving about my “business as usual” day not really doing anything out of the ordinary when an elderly man knocked on my driver’s side window.  I had just dashed into the post office, grabbed my mail and without a second thought hurriedly  entered my truck to glance over the items for a brief moment before venturing on.  I rolled down my window, thinking in my haste I must have dropped something that the kindly gentleman had retrieved for me.  He was a friendly looking, grandfatherly type, one you knew you could instantly be friends with.

“Howya doin’?” I asked with a grin, ready to thank him for being so alert and kind to me.

“Hey, I just wanted to thank your parents for raising such a well mannered young man.”

“Why, thank you!” I said, stammering… beaming, then offering. “There are so few off us left!”

“Boy, you got that right!”  He said and turned to walk away.

“Take it easy!”  I called back, he just waved behind him and I was rolling out off the parking lot before I could really think of what had just happened.  As I drove on I thought back to what extraordinary act I might have done to warrant such recognition from a total stranger.

As I had approached the post office I might have said good afternoon to someone, which to me is just a way of saying, “hello, how are you?” or “If we meet at the door at the same time, you go first.” or “I’ll slow down so you can walk past so we don’t collide.”  Humans are not equipped with back up alarms, review mirrors, horns, turn signals or 2.5 mile per hr rated bumpers so we have to use the next best thing… our mouths.  And a kind word often gets better results then a harsh one. 

There is a good possibility I could have held the door open for the person behind me using the 5-10 rule, i.e. if a man is within 5 feet behind you hold the door, if the person is a woman make it 10.  My friend Jeff Maynes told me that years ago and it always seemed to garnish a thank you from the participants.  Of course, there is no hard fast rule in distance but you get the idea.  Especially when entering a post office you can just about guarantee somebody is going to be laden with a package or two and appreciate the help.

Now once inside I might have brushed against a person making an exit so instinctively an “excuse me” might have escaped my lips.  People always seem to be in a hurry to leave government buildings so you have to be mindful of that.  Once again a quick “hello” to an approaching person might have avoided the near miss all together but I’m not infallible either. 

I try to say “please” and “thank you” or “I appreciate that” and be sincere in the utterance, I have found it generally doesn’t cost me any more time or money to offer these words and most of the time people will reciprocate in kind.  So when I peek through my mail box hole and see the postal worker on the other side I might say with mock seriousness, “Where did all these bills come from?” or “Hey, they said the check was in the mail!” which I’m sure they hear a million times a day but they know it is just a coded greeting using postal lingo.  I’m very hip in the realm of post office-dom.

I felt bad as I turned on the street and merged with the traffic.  To think that the man that went out of his way to acknowledge my weak attempts at civility may have had to endure rude behavior this day made me sad.  Because it is so rare in our activities these days I actually felt good about doing something that should be as natural as breathing, and I was humbled by his graceousness in pointing it out to me. 

Common courtesy is not all that common in our culture and that is a darn shame.  People that are rude, crass or indifferent will be the first to complain if they get a dose of their own medicine but somehow view these traits in themselves as a sign of strength.  The “I don’t care what you think” or “I don’t need you” attitudes, “I am strong”, “What are you lookin’ at?” or “Get out of my way!” approach to strangers alienates us to what is so desperately needed in our society; and that is …a welcome spirit. 

I regret I didn’t get out and shake that man’s hand, find out more about him or ask how life was treating him.  Our chance meeting at that particular space and time likely will never be repeated because we are so busy these days running around with our little tasks.  I hope he has a kind wife with a warm smile and a laugh to lift the heart.  I’d like to think he has children that have all grown to adulthood and carry the same values he has.  Perhaps he has been blessed with a dozen or so grandchildren that love to come over, eat cookies ‘n’ milk and talk about the good ol’ days.  He deserves it, …and it doesn’t cost any more. 

Like the High Llama of Shangra La once said,  “We live by one rule, …to be kind.”  If only that were true today, common courtesy would be the rule, not the exception.  The witnessing of it would be as normal as breathing and nearly as satisfying. 

Katherine Harris is my kind of man

September 6, 2006

Okay,  before I go any further I just gotta say this;  Katherine Harris is much better looking than Bill Nelson but that is where the similarities end.  She reminds me of the late, great Walter Payton who used to high step his way to the end zone wearing #34 for the Chicago Bears.  Snubbed by endorsers and asked by her party not to run, Harris has succeeded in capturing the Republican nomination for the U. S. Senate race in Florida.  Talk about running through the opposition, Katherine didn’t pay attention to the detractors and scored a touchdown!  But you have to wonder is she going to be able to win over  her opponent in the primary?

Like 49% of the U.S. I was kinda mad at Katherine after the 2000 elections, I felt we got robbed of a fair count in Florida.  My suspicions were not quieted at the finding of Bush’s “guarantee” of winning in Florida, where his kid brother is Governor.  It seemed all too convenient to me and I must say I’ve resented her ever since.  I don’t know that Gore would have been a better president, but now we may never know.  Harris says she was just obeying the law but now I’m not sure…

When I heard of the allegations of illegal campaign contributions and the 10 million dollars she inherited just to squander away on her own campaign fund I thought,  “This chick has got (gonads)!”   Nobody thinks she can do it but her, she must have some pretty darn good reasons to think she HAS to be a U.S. Senator NO MATTER WHAT THE COST!  Then it hit me like a dark pair of sunglasses worn at night.  She was pulling an Elwood Blues!  She’s on a mission from God!

Yep, she told the weekly newspaper of the Florida Baptist State Convention that if the general public didn’t “elect Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin.” Wow!  You gotta wonder if she is perfect in her own mind because doesn’t the Bible say we “all sin and fall short of the glory of God?”  Doesn’t that include Republicans, Senators and even Katherine Harris?  We call Muslims fanatics but now Christians are the only people fit to govern the huddled masses?  Gee, what about one of our basic building blocks of the U.S. Constitution, “a separation of church and state”?  (Which she called a “lie.”)

Years ago when JFK was running for president there was concern over he being a Catholic.  Kennedy assured the public that his religious beliefs were private.  Being a Catholic would not keep him from being fair and open minded when it came to interpreting, dictating and delegating the laws of the land.  Has that famous stance changed now?  We are a government of, by and for the democratic people.  We are not God’s expression of government here on earth like some might have you think.  I believe there is the Kingdom of Heaven where God resides, but I don’t think it is actively pursuing the U.S. Senate race in Florida, nor is it remotely interested in it.  If it were, we wouldn’t be in this mess today.

#34, “Sweetness” set many records on the football gridiron.  Unlike other running backs he was prone to smashing into opponents rather than taking the sidelines.  When he made it to the end zone, he handed off the football to a referee or another player to “spike” the ball.  He was relatively quiet about his greatness and didn’t “showboat” on the field.  So now, Katherine, stop “showboating” on God’s coattails.

Teddy Roosevelt likened the White House to a “bully pulpit” not a “holy pulpit” because it had nothing to do with his religion, only politics.  I think that politics should be outside of the realm of religious interpretation, because lets face it…  when does God get credit for anything  a politician does?  If they have a direct link with God why do they continue to blunder along in office?  Shouldn’t things be getter clearer rather than darker, better rather than worse?

C’mon. Katherine… do what the Bible says,  “Pay Caesars’s things back to Caesar but God’s things back to God.” Doesn’t that very passage declare a separation in itself?  Unless you can prove He endorses you in particular, don’t claim that He sides with your party.   To my knowledge… He hasn’t backed any losers.

Still…  you gotta admire her (gonads),   right?  I think she’d make Walter proud.


I still miss George

September 4, 2006

When I think of becoming a rock star (hey, the possibility still exists) I would hope to model myself after George Harrison.  Oh I know there are much more famous rockers out there and a few that may have had more talent but I don’t think any were as regal as George while not taking himself too seriously.  George always seemed to be the guy next door who suddenly got thrust into the spotlight.  He handled himself gracefully in public, his humility was apparent and real.  I think that is important in celebrities.

Though I didn’t enjoy “Crackerbox Palace” on his 33 1/3 album as much as I would have liked… “All Things Must Pass” is still a favorite of mine. (I always thought the title, “33 1/3”  had to do with LP record speed, but it was actually George’s age when the album was made) For George to have  had to hold all his creative talents in while John and Paul shined must have been very hard to endure, but of-course the pay off came later in his solo career.  Which again displays the character of the man, because publicly George remained quiet about any misgivings he might have held.  That is a rare quality in super stardom.

George was also involved in the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967.  (see the Rock and Roll Conspiracy blog for more on that subject)  It is rumoured that George mingled with the crowd during that time while no one recognized who he was.  After a visit to a troubled area in Asia,  in ’71 he organized the Concert for Bangladesh which was a predecessor for future benefit concerts in the coming decades.  When the business suits threatened to with hold monies because of accounting differences, George went public claiming, “They are hassling over nickles and dimes while people are starving.”  The promised relief finally was delivered.  All this effort before it became vogue.

In his career George was not only involved with the Beatles but also people like Eric Clapton, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan.  Yet he never seemed to be caught up in all the hype that came with being a celebrity.  Even when during his last public appearance (George wasn’t even the featured artist on the program) he was handed a guitar and an audience member called out for him to do “a Beatles song!”  George replied, “I don’t think I know any.”

It is hard to believe it has been 5 years since his death.  Maybe it’s because George was the youngest Beatle, and you expected him to be around awhile, he was so unassuming.  John Lennon once told Paul McCartney publicly that, “George’s songs are as good as ours.”  Which may have been a little bruise to the ego of Paul.  It is well documented that Paul was at odds with George’s guitar style later in their history, so much so that Ringo took a couple of weeks off during the recording of the White Album because of all the tension.  It is suggested that is the reason Eric Clapton appeared on the song, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”  The White Album is the first time songs recorded by the Beatles  had a different artist performing with them.

When the Beatles met George Martin he reported that he wasn’t all taken in by their musical ability, but he appreciated their sense of humour and raw talent.  Deciding to take a chance on the Fab Four he asked them if there was anything he could do to help improve recording conditions and Harrison quipped, “I don’t like your tie!”  A sense of humour had to be paramount in those early days because the Beatles only got one cent for every record sold and that was split four ways. 

By the way, at that last televised gig George did play, “All Things Must Pass.”

32 caliber docudrama

September 3, 2006

I enjoy controversy as much as the next non-conformist.  Sometimes a little heat is a good thing, like; what did they know, how much did they know and when did they know it?  I have no doubt that there are things going on that we don’t know about which may or may not be for our own protection.  On the other hand it may or may not be protecting someone else.  Suffice it to say the American public is probably more suspicious of government than ever before.  I don’t know when cover-ups began but you can bet your bottom dollar it was LONG before Bill Clinton was born.

And that is the rub with me, the blame game that is going on in politics, fingers pointing at W, fingers pointing back at Slick Willie… it is confusing to one who doesn’t believe that any one administration is 100 percent right or wrong.  It is the people that allow these things to go on… we revel in the dark, little tabloid half truths and sensationalism of the entertainment industry and news media.  We seem to have this insatiable appetite for the abnormal, juicy little tidbits of gossip without even caring who gets hurt.  The truth will sort things out later but right now give us all the sordid little details of speculation and social ruin.

And sometimes speculation can be a good thing, like;  what would happen if oil was discovered in my back yard or if I were on Oprah would my book sales go through the roof?  (I think I could write a book if I were to have that type of endorsement.  Oh, I need to write the book first?  Darn!)  Product placement and research can be founded on speculation, even the Stock Market and the Federal Government’s interest rate is based on speculation.  My own blog, “the Rock and Roll Conspiracy” was inspired the same way.

I read a thing about this film about to be shown at some Toronto film festival called “Death of a President” today and at first I thought it was funny, daring, very hip and “on the edge”.  But as I sit down to write this I think I have reconsidered.  I am not a fan of George W. Bush,  I didn’t think Bill Clinton was all that great either.  In fact,  I can’t think of any president in our history that I would consider worthy of worship because of one tiny flaw… they were/are all human.  Prone to the same mistakes in judgement, the same frailties, the same lapse of morality as the rest of us.  We can’t put them on a pedestal that we ourselves cannot be placed on.  Granted they have access to information that we don’t have  They wield power and influence that we’ll never see.  And they’ll go down in history as great Americans, something the rest of us hope for but will not be recognized as outside of our immediate circle of family, friends and associates. 

I don’t think the world would be better off with the assassination of any political figure.  To me that is the cowards way of means and the ramifications generally are not the intended purpose, just a sad consequence that must be played out in its aftermath.  Our society has dealt with these things in the past and we know it is no laughing matter.  When the government was considering taking out Castro back in the sixties, Bobby Kennedy said that Americans should take the high road and not stoop to such barbaric methods, because we stood for something greater then that.  There are some things you just don’t depict, even in parody, art or drama.

Not to say that this film will make someone sit up and say, “Hey, that is a good idea!” or “Wow!  I never thought of that before!”  But I do think it crosses the line of credibility in journalism and art.  Maybe that is the sad state we have come to, disregard for authority and respect for a high office is waning, even amongst our so called “allies”.  I wonder how the English would have reacted to an assassination of Princess Diane docudrama while she was still living and married to Prince Charles?  (the woman was not a saint by any stretch)  But wouldn’t that have been viewed as a sacrilege?  These people are supposed to be our friends.  I wonder…

I sincerely doubt that the More4 (and channel 4, both of England) showing of this “docudrama” will cause a new wave of terrorism.  Like I said, this idea probably has crept into a few fertile minds.  Also the Toronto film festival that wants to show this as a matter of art will not put much of a strain on American-Canadian relationships.  But what if the unthinkable did happen?  We’ve had 4 presidents killed in office, we know the effect it has on the American people and the world.  Do we need it updated for the new millennium?  There is enough violence, despair and mis-information out there now in the real world, some things should be left alone.

I guess freedom of expression does have its limits, I mean the producers of this film are not guilty of doing anything illegal… but they have crossed the line of good taste.  And the Brits say we are uncultured?  Hmmpf! 

I hope the film flops.