Sense from Seattle

Common sense thoughts on life and current affairs by a Seattle area sexagenarian, drawing on personal experience, years of learning as a counselor to thousands of families and an innate passion for informed knowledge, to uniquely express sensible, thoughtful, honest and independent views.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “I” and “J” Topics

Immigrant - One who comes to a place to settle and usually participate in the economy, both as a producer and a consumer, as distinguished from a tourist, one who comes to a place to gawk and consume, but not produce.

Initiation - The act of admitting one into a society by instructing the newcomer on the principles to be followed, starting with the principle that the initiators make fools of the newcomers, who later will be able to perpetuate the process.

Insurance - A way to spread risk ahead of time, that has also developed into a way to subtly define away risks covered. Too many risk pools and large numbers of uninsured people makes for inefficient competition. Particularly for health insurance, a single insurer for universal coverage makes the most sense.

Insurgency - Protest, often violent, against a regime perceived as illegitimate by the oppressors. U. S. History started with our insurgent Founding Fathers coming to consider the British Government as unwelcome occupiers, and now the shoe is on the other foot as American forces are battling insurgents in a nation we invaded and continue to occupy, ironically with the support of only the British.

Intelligence - Perceptive discernment and understanding, yielding accurate knowledge. U. S. experts in intelligence gathering sometimes refer to an extremely high accuracy level as a “slam dunk”, which even if proven to be totally false, in the Bush Administration still qualifies the expert for a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Internet - An unprecedentedly effective way for people to communicate and share. Its highest traffic volume is pornographic, which while it doesn’t say much for our minds, at least saves many trees from being turned into pictures of naked women.

Investment - Application of time, talent and treasure in an enterprise, activity or cause, sometimes with unsatisfactory returns. Continuing to invest with unsatisfactory returns because stopping further investment would disrespect the earlier losses, is a common source of unhappiness known as the “previous investment trap”. In mistaken war adventures like the invasion of Iraq, this trap is often embodied in phrases like “stay the course” and “don’t cut and run”.

Iran - The middle eastern country wherein Americans were held hostage back in the 1970s which, in spite of the notoriety of the hostage taking, Americans continued to confuse with Iraq.

Iraq - The invasion fiasco Bush conned us into and the ensuing death, destruction, chaos and financial waste have achieved a level of notoriety sufficient to end the American confusion of Iraq with Iran.

Islam - A religion in which Mohammed has the last word - actually lots of words - with diverse interpretations.

Israel - The land Israelis say God promised them, which after a long history of bloody conquests, was finally delivered with the political approval, but not consensus, of the world community. Many people are intent on destroying Israel and many others on using it as a geopolitical wedge. If Israel did not have to worry about these two groups, imagine what more its people could contribute to the world.

Jazz - Musical improvisation and integrated individual expression, hot or cool, with Afro-American roots. Jazz encourages sophistication and tranquility, making it an especially worthwhile American product, one appreciated in many places throughout the world, but too little here in the U.S.

Jesus - The culminating character in “the greatest story ever told”, whose name is invoked by a broad spectrum of people ranging from those in dire straits to those merely startled.

Journalists - Investigators, reporters and recorders who profess to work diligently to bring us the truth about what is going on in the world. A few do, while most pose.

Justice - Delivery of what is rightly due, as determined by the deliverer, sometimes to the consternation of the recipient.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “H” Topics

Happiness - A state of contentment reached by decision, south of envy and north of disappointment.

Hazing - Process by which previously chosen people initiate by menace newly chosen people. The Original Hazing in the Garden of Eden seemed innocent enough, but ever since Eve fell for the apple trick, hazing has degenerated.

Health - Our mental and physical condition. In the US today, two enormous industries that have a financial stake in our health are the food industry and the medical industry. The former makes money selling us unhealthy foods and the latter makes money treating our poor health.

Hiking - Walking for the fun of it - even if sometimes it is hard work. Trails in undeveloped areas afford walkers the opportunity to celebrate nature and the environment while getting some healthy exercise

Hillary - Almost in a category by herself. Smarter than Bill and with much less libido, but not in his league for charisma. This heartland born and raised, hard working, conservative dressing, loving mother who stood by her man gives many on the political right apoplexy, the ignorant resenting her intellectual prowess and the intelligentsia fearing her abilities. How will her political biological clock wind down?

History - Defined as learning from knowledge of past facts and events, for many people today history has been reduced to what the controllers of the curriculum and media allow to be seen and heard. But people willing to do some searching, at the library and on the Internet, at least in free nations, can access a vastly broader spectrum of historical materials.

Hitler - If he had never been born, would the Nazis have found a substitute? Has any one person in history ever been responsible for so much human misery?

Home Improvement - Judging by the shows on the Home & Garden Channel, improvement means depersonalizing a home to neutral anonymity, in order to attract buyers who will re-do it in accordance with their own desires. Sort of like some women do when choosing men.

- A scientific word that never became comfortable for non-scientific people to use, especially homophobic ones. None of the usually derogatory substitute words for homosexual include “sex”, possibly because using that word to categotize people by their sexual nature reminds us that we can all be categorized sexually, and homophobic people are not comfortable discussing sexuality. They prefer to call homosexuals a non-sexual name, so they can distinguish themselves by contrast, such as “gay” not being “straight”.

- Though hope can be an unhealthy way of avoiding the present, it can also be a reason to keep living for those facing despondency. But most of the time our expressions of hope are more casual, involving matters that are not that earthshaking. Nevertheless, if we spend too much time casually hoping, then we are not truly living in the present.

Housing - The roof over your head. Some of us think we own our homes, but that is a matter of degree. Non-payment of mortgage installments and property taxes or other unpaid debt reduced to court judgment can result in losing a home. Home ownership in our society is considered a worthwhile goal, but there are still nomadic people by choice in the world today, and many seem quite happy moving their yurts.

- From the Greek word for “throwing beyond”, like a wild pitch. When watching TV, everything other than the scheduled programming is usually hype, and sometimes the programming also deserves that description.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “G” Topics

Gambling - An addiction which captures people who hope that luck will favor them, regardless of whether they believe they deserve it or not. One legitimate reason for governments to conduct lotteries might be to disqualify as voters those who buy lottery tickets. We have had too many public officials elected by voters hoping their vote is a lucky one instead of informing themselves about the candidates, their records and their positions before voting.

Game - A competitive challenge, sometimes from ourselves, sometimes from others and sometimes from the game designer. Some people see life as a challenge from all three.

Garden - Where our mind and spirit contact the earth.

- A volatile fuel, especially for the American political economy when the price is high.

Gates - Though it is only speculation, I cannot help but wonder how the world of computers would be different today if Bill Gates had not been born.

Gays - Well people who cannot be cured.

Geek - A person of deep but narrow ability, usually in a technical area, who is not seen as sexually attractive - even by other geeks.

Gem - Primarily a stone, rare and precious, often capable of being further shaped and polished. Some people are gems, but many are still “in the rough”, due to poverty and lack of education.

Genealogy - Searching for ancestors is a very personal way to increase our knowledge of history and our understanding of how we are connected to the past. What will our descendants learn about us and our times when they do their research?

Genius - This Latin word originally meant the guardian spirit of a person. Every person has abilities and spirits - his or her own genius. Somewhere along the line the word came to be applied exclusively to persons deemed to be of eminent ability and intellect. The rest of us need to reclaim our birthright and celebrate our own genius spirit.

Gerrymander - The political brass-knuckle tactic of the party in power re-drawing district lines to maximize their chances for elections. Tom Delay was the most recent master of this evil. Imagine if the US House of Representatives could be elected without districts, with members of the House representing people, not places. Candidates could then run sincerely on issues and positions they believe in, instead of running based on what polls show a majority of likely voters in one district want. Such a House would be much more representative of the American people than the one we have now.

Ghosts - Ghostly mythology is so powerful that even scientific minded people can get spooked. Someday science might find what happens to the unseen aspects of our being when we die, possibly even lending some credibility to parts of the mythology. One famous religious Ghost was renamed a Spirit

Gift - Only anonymous ones come without strings.

Global - In theory, encompassing all the Earth, as “universal” encompasses all the Universe. In practice, a global corporation is one which out sources production to at least one poorer country, and a universal remote is one that might be capable of performing minimal functions on at least two TVs.

God - The Supreme Being Intelligent Designer to some people. One of a pantheon of gods, or an amalgamation of all existence, to others. Perhaps an unknowable enigma, but often cited as authority in support of a person or cause. Perhaps He did chose George to be US President at this time - to teach us still another lesson about how not to live our lives.

Google - A tremendous search engine with delusions of grandeur, riding a deserved wave of support. Some of its delusions will be realized before the next wave rises to take its place.

Guns - In America, weapons a significant portion of the population idolizes, in spite of all the reasons to the contrary. Many such people expect they will band together and preserve freedom if the government gets too tyrannical, yet they are the same ones who, except regarding guns and taxes, support tyranny over civil liberties.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “F” Topics

Fair - On the good side of the line, as opposed to being on the foul side. Not all games have umpires or referees. Some, like the game of life, may have too many officials following different rule books. In life, the golden rule still seems to work best - do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Family - Families exist in great variety, but politicians who use family as a campaign slogan usually conjure up a stereotype like Father Knows Best from the 1950s.

Fantasy - Not living in the past, present or future, but living instead in a world that does not exist. Indulging fantasy for temporary escapism is harmless enough, but those who live in a permanent fantasy world should not become US Presidents. Ronald Reagan had been a movie actor for so long, he thought the world was a DeMille epic. George W. Bush models himself on Reagan, living in a fantasy world bio-pic in which he sees himself as the star. Bush is not even aware that most Americans have walked out of the theater.

Farts - You have to admit, farts are fun. They always get a laugh in jokes and movies. And they are further proof of intelligent design. Just as man early on learned that pain is a warning sign of injury or illness, Oog knew that when he heard the sound of an Ugg fart, it was time to leave the cave.

Federal - The concept of a unified nation , with parts (in the US, the States) having some powers separate to themselves in addition to those of the national government. State powers prevent national tyranny and provide mini-governments which can try out new ideas that, if successful, might be adopted by the national government. Political parties in the US, most notably Republicans in the last 50 years, campaign on States Rights, but do not hesitate to consolidate the power of the national government when they control it. When there are mini-government successes, they are unfortunately not being considered at the national level.

Financial Planning - Putting together a long range plan to match income with expenses, control spending , save for contingencies and invest for the future is a wise move for individuals, families and businesses, but one too many fail to make. It is an even wiser move for our US Government, but one the Bush Administration has totally disregarded. This administration has instead made huge tax giveaways to the rich, fattened their corporate partners from the public coffers and mortgaged the future of our children and grandchildren.

Flip Flop - Many of the fools who waved flip flop sandals at the 2004 Republican Convention in mockery of John Kerry’s voting dilemma when he early on figured out the George Bush invasion of Iraq was a mistake have now flipped and decided Bush is a flop. As the Bush Administration has been floundering since the 2004 election, the Bush position on many issues has flip flopped faster than the feet of a flamenco dancer.

Flowers - Botanical sex objects sometimes purchased in the supermarket by human males looking to make a sting.

Fraudulent - Based on deceit, such as the Presidency of George W. Bush, as shown by these examples, among others: his dishonest campaign claim to be a “compassionate conservative” and a “uniter not a divider”; his conspiracy with his brother to disenfranchise black voters in Florida; his ongoing attempt to portray himself as a courageous warrior, in spite of his avoidance of Vietnam service and no-show Air National Guard record, and his indecisive cowering in the classroom on 9/11 and subsequent self-defensive circuitous retreat; his continual efforts to mis-label and misrepresent the laws he advocates; his secretive and clandestine attempts to accumulate unprecedented executive power at the expense of Congress and the American people; and his secretive pre-ordained plan to invade Iraq on the first pretense available.

FREE! - The most effective word in advertising. The idea of getting something for nothing seems irresistible. And the word “free” conveys that idea, even though it is often accompanied by other words in smaller typeface, such as “buy one and get the second one FREE!”

- Certainly more than “just another word for nothing left to lose”, freedom can only best be celebrated by those who have experienced living without it. Freedom in some matters is more important than others. Living as a slave on a Southern plantation in 1840, as generations of your ancestors had done before you and just as you expected many generations of your descendants would do after you is much different from the days before free right turns were allowed at red lights.

- An end product of the labor of trees and shrubs. The strange fruit hanging from the tree in the Billie Holiday song were black men being lynched. Years back, fruit was a derogatory word for a homosexual male, perhaps because he might be dressed as brightly as the items in the produce market, or maybe because he was considered like the females who labor to bear the human fruit.

Future - The hope and prayer of many people having trouble coping with the present. Buddha taught that we should live in the present. It can be interesting and useful to note how often we express hope, particularly when we do so as a way of deprecating our present situation.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “E” Topics

Economics - From the Greek for managing a household. In the days before equal rights for women gained favor in the US, Home Economics was a college major considered appropriate for and limited to women. Currently disdained, I suggest such a course be mandatory for college Frosh of both sexes. In fact, it should be mandatory for high school Frosh.

Education - From the Latin, meaning to lead out, as if to lead away from ignorance into knowledge. If ignorance is an island surrounded by a sea of knowledge, then educators are captains of the ship called “curriculum”. A good way to explore the sea is to take voyages in different ships and also build and skipper your own raft. The saddest thing is to just remain on the island and never get your feet wet.

- A way for the citizenry to make decisions when there is no practical way to reach consensus. Elections usually result in big- headed winners and sore losers unable to work together, whereas consensus builds unity and maximizes the prospect of people working together.

Electoral College - The US Constitutional embodiment of the 18th Century concept that, however hallowed, the average citizen is not smart enough to elect national executives. While that concept might arguably still be true in the 21st Century, the College is an anachronism that should probably be replaced to avoid a repeat of the 2000 election.

- An incredible phenomenon who became a self-parody during his life and an apotheosized parody after his death.

Embarrassed - This word has changed meaning over the last fifty years. It originally meant to be confused or perplexed or be unable to resolve something - such as being financially embarrassed.. It has since acquired a meaning more like I learned to remember it as a kid - as in being “pantsed” - having someone sneak up behind you and pull down your pants - em bare assed. The Bush Administration has managed to maintain both meanings for the US, the embarrassment of our national debt and trade deficit, and the feeling that we stand before the world with our pants down.

- What one does done with time. When done for money, it becomes an economic indicator. When done for love, it becomes a spiritual indicator. When done for both, it becomes an unfortunately rare experience.

Energy - The unharnessed power of children at play, which if it could be tapped would make fossil fuels obsolete. In the meantime, energy is considered by management as a resource, or as Enron tried to make it, a commodity. Management seems to have forgotten that those energetic children grow into adults who become workers, and their power of play, less dynamic than when they were children, but more informed, adds an extra dimension of value to employees.

Entitlement - Historically, rights and privileges of the titled ones, the noble ruling elite, received through the government by taxing persons of low or modest income. Republicans use the term “entitlement” to denigrate demands and expectations of unworthy persons of low or modest income, received through the government from taxation. With Republicans in power, passing tax giveaways to the rich, the real entitlements are still the historical ones.

Environment - That which surrounds us and of which we are a part. The air, water, flora and fauna can take care of themselves if we humans work with them, rather than against them. Whenever we abuse the environment, we end up suffering too. Whenever we protect the environment, we are protecting ourselves.

- A very high standard of conduct to maintain integrity and to protect others. When set by self-policing, such as by the US Congress, the standard is considerably lower.

Ethnic - Traditionally meaning a pagan or heathen, as opposed to a Judeo-Christian. In the US now, a non-WASP. Ethnicity makes people more interesting than our US Presidents, all of whom have been WASP, except JFK. I wonder when we will have another non-WASP President. Remember, Hilary is a WASP too.

Evolution - The reality that things change, not necessarily incompatible with the mythology of a supernatural creator, unless you accept the bible as a literal truth greater than reality. If you believe in God, then it should be easier to believe in the evolving universe He created than in the literal truth of selected and edited writings by a handful of men who did not purport to be writing scientific journals.

Experts - People who have acquired much knowledge and experience in a particular area, so that their opinions in their area of expertise are considered more valuable than those of non-experts. Though most experts may agree on the answer to a particular question involving their expertise, persons seeking a different answer and willing to pay for it, such as the Bush Administration when it finds itself on the wrong side of prevailing scientific opinion, can usually find or create an expert who will give them the answer they want.

Extradition - The long established legal practice of the authorities in a place to which an accused criminal has fled, returning that person to stand trial at the place where the crime was allegedly committed. The Bush administration has turned the concept on its head, arresting people in the place where an alleged crime occurred , and then removing them to various other places where they are held in secret and tortured, without the benefit of the rule of law.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Republicans and Taxes

Republicans and taxes. These two words go together like peas and pods. I may rightly be accused of simplifying issues, but sense is simple. Proponents of nonsense complicate matters in order to confuse. Sometimes they follow the complications with their own false simplification and offer it as a relief from the very complications they fabricated.

The fundamental philosophy of the Republican party is very simple - what is good for the wealthy is good for America. Republicans believe taxes are bad for the wealthy and therefore bad for America. The first thing Republicans do when they gain power, as Bush did when he took office, is cut taxes. The last thing they do as they are about to be removed from power, as the Republican Congress is doing now, is to cut taxes.

If Republicans had their full way, there would be no taxes. Government would be eliminated in favor of private contractors - the wealthy - paid by user fees from the rest of us. Government is by its nature socialist, intended to spread both the societal benefits and the societal burdens. Determining how these are spread is the purpose of government. Democrats sincerely work to make those determinations as best possible. Republicans almost always work in one direction - cutting taxes.

Our government is in more debt than at any time in history. Gas prices are at an all time high. We are engaged in the most expensive war in 30 years. Thousands of our troops are being killed and wounded. In spite of controlling Congress and the White House, Republicans are now so unpopular with the American people that they cannot get anything done. Oh, except for their fundamental reason for being - cutting taxes. Never mind that if you were in the biggest debt you ever experienced, you would not give up your current job for one that paid less. That is not logic Republicans understand. So did they cut the gasoline tax to ease gas prices, and did they eliminate all taxes on our troops in harm’s way? No. What the Republicans did was extend tax cuts to the wealthy, with the wealthiest one tenth of one per cent of the population receiving 43% of the benefit, and now they are prepared to eliminate the estate tax, benefitting only net estates of $2,000,000 or larger.

Republicans used to mock the Democrats as "tax and spend liberals". Spending without taxing is the modern Republican miracle. How do they do it. Again it is simple. They mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren for the benefit of the wealthy.

Passing Thoughts on Some “D” Topics

Death - Portal to the answer of a fundamental human question.

Defense - In competitions such as law trials and some sporting events, it may be somewhat easy to distinguish the line between defense and offense. But in many other areas of life the line is blurred. In the national security area, George W. Bush, obliterated the line with his misrepresented pre-emptive invasion of Iraq.

Democracy - An act of faith in the ability of many misinformed and uninformed voters to participate in electing worthwhile representatives, aided by large numbers of potential voters who do not participate. My step-father never registered to vote and my mother rightly told him he therefore had no right to complain about the actions of those elected. When voters realize they were misinformed or uninformed about the person they elected, as many have now done regarding Bush, they should resolve to be better informed for the next election or to be a non-participant.

Democrats - In the US, the political party with values and goals which should legitimately appeal to the vast majority of voters, but which continues to struggle to overcome the shameful, but effective, tactics employed by those who have taken over the Republican party and are using it for purposes different from what they are telling the voters.

Demonstrations - Democracy in the streets. When extensive, sincere, diverse and peaceful, they can have a powerful effect on government, especially when most of the demonstrators are voters.
Demonstrations which include many non-voters, such as the marches for black voting rights and the current immigration marches, must work indirectly by influencing the attitude of voters who are not demonstrating. The demonstrations against the WTO in Seattle a few years ago were sincere and diverse and included mostly voters, but they were marred by the actions of a few anarchists and the over reactions of the Seattle Police. The WTO meetings were part of a quasi-secret program of multi-national corporations to use governments as vehicles to facilitate global profiteering, and as such were a particularly difficult target for demonstrators.

Development - Method by which those that have purport to share with those that don’t. Those that have almost always end up getting more, while those that don’t have often get burned. A cynic might say this proves it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Dignitary - A person invited to share the stage with a candidate running for election.

- A worthy character trait which should prevent a dignitary from sharing the stage with an unworthy electoral candidate.

Diplomacy - The art of seeking consensus, by means other than the use or threat of violence. Arguably the best diplomats should be those least capable of wreaking violence and most susceptible to being victims. Power to bring violence would seem to undermine diplomatic credence. But the weak may lack the necessary prestige to influence others. Powerful yet humane military generals sometimes make excellent diplomats, such as George Marshall after WWII. Colin Powell had the potential, but made the mistake of agreeing to work for George W. Bush.

Disability - That condition which distinguishes human beings from the divine, some distinctions being more apparent than others.

- The great fear of war mongers and defense contractors, e.g. Bush and Cheney.

Discretion - The better part of valor said Shakespeare. A good way to avoid unnecessary conflict. One of the many qualities totally lacking in George W. Bush.

- Mechanics who work on the human machine. Some act like auto mechanics, but many others apply the extra skills required to work with machines that have feelings.

- The only form of involuntary servitude currently allowed in the US, erroneously construed by the Supreme Court as not in violation of the 13th Amendment. The Bush Administration has so far managed to avoid using the draft, through a combination of misuse of the reserve and national guard, jingoistic appeals to supposed patriotism, and marketing of enlistment benefits to poor people and aliens. Those too young to know the Vietnam War era firsthand might begin to understand what it was like by imagining the Iraq War being fought for ten years, mostly by young American boys who were forced into military service against their will and who died at a rate of two dozen for each one now being killed in Iraq.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “C” Topics

Camera - Tool for capturing the present by using in the past and viewing in the future.

Capitalism - Invention of the first human who figured out how to make a living letting someone else do the work.

Career - The course one follows in living life, whether by choice, chance or necessity.

Catholics - Followers of Saints Peter and Paul as guided by the Pope.

- People who attract attention and then try to hide from a lot of it. Like non-celebrity, it has its pros and cons.

Charity - Giving in love and/or for a tax deduction and business promotion.

Cheney - Remember after the 2000 VP debate when many people asked why couldn’t those two be the ones running for President? I’ll save Lieberman for “L”. As for Cheney, those who have known him long say even they are surprised by what he has turned into.

Chores - Unwelcome burdens, until you are too unhealthy to do them.

Christianity - Catholics and their insurgents.

Citizen - In the US, a person entitled to vote in elections, unlike corporations, which cannot vote but can buy the votes of the people elected by the citizens.

Civil War - An uninformative oxymoron, intended to describe fighting between people of the same nation.

Clintons - An ex-President, a would be President and Chelsea.

Coffee - An addictive media used by Starbucks and other brewers to deliver high priced, unhealthy and almost irresistible concoctions.

College - A crash course exposure to higher level learning, unimpeded by common sense. Unfortunately, some college graduates still seem to be unimpeded.

Color - The fantastic light between no light and all light, varied by the physical makeup of the object from which the light is reflected.

- Sending and receiving messages, with varying degrees of success.

- Increasingly clever machines built on the simplest of principles. Long overdue for a more accurately descriptive name.

Consensus - An agreement with which everyone can live. Wars and elections supposedly can be won, but only consensus can win true peace.

Conservative - In the US now, a person with narrow views devaluing personal liberty except in financial matters. Classic conservatives are moribund if not already extinct.

- Looking out for the rights and the pocketbooks of consumers, though sometimes forgetting that consumption is not always a necessity.

Copyright - Restricting the free flow of ideas, supposedly to encourage originators, as opposed to copyleft, which not only encourages originators but also the free flow of ideas.

- A Frankenstein assembled by Dr. Capitalist, way overdue for an extreme makeover.

Corrupt - Working wrong. When it is a computer file, it is accidental. When it is a person, it is on purpose.

Counseling - Objective guidance provided by a trained third party to help the recipient make wise decisions in a sane manner. The only candidate for President or Vice-President of the US ever to have received personal counseling and be certified as sane, Thomas Eagleton, was forced to withdraw his nomination in disgrace for having sought the help. We prefer to take our chances on the sanity of our elected executives.

Creation - God’s way to show forth his goodness and to have companionship for the rest of eternity. The Bible says God put this all together in 7 days, but I don’t remember if it said how many days of eternity had passed before God got bored being alone. I suppose if you are the only being that exists and you are eternal, you have no need for a concept of time. As for the Intelligence of the Design, I would recommend if He ever does it again, he leave the serpent and apple out of it. Being born and raised in the Garden of Eden seems like a better upbringing for an eternal companion than this earthly program [likely followed by an extensive stay in purgatory - hopefully nowhere worse].

Credentials - Proof of who one is and of what that person should be capable. However, while identity may be absolute, capability is often relative.

Crime - Something the majority doesn’t want the minority to do and is willing to punish them for doing. When a member of the majority commits the crime (Rush Limbaugh for example), they often develop a different perspective.

Criticism - Expressed disagreement with what another does, sometimes with suggestions on how it could have been done better and occasionally with the suggestion it should never have been done in the first place(for example trying to make a Bush a President).

- What is to be studied, chosen by people other than the students.

Cynic - A snarly person [see Cheney above].

Friday, May 12, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “B” Topics

Bible-A highly edited human compilation of selected middle eastern stories, which is promoted as the inspired guidance of a divine supernatural creator.

Birds-Airplanes can only wish.

Blacks-One of many names given to people with African ancestry. The struggle to find a comfortable name for these people is one of the legacies of slavery.

Blake-The surname 15 or 20 relatives and I bear is not hereditary. It was assumed from a step-grandfather. The abandoned hereditary name is Thompson

Blogs-A mixed blag. Some blah and some blam.

Bonds-Not the ballooned ballplayer, but one of many methods by which rich people enhance their wealth at the expense of those who cannot pay as they go.

Books-Rent the first Fahrenheit - 451, to see an attempt at a world without books. Computers and the Internet are great, but e-books should not endanger real ones. I never use my computer in the bathroom.

Boondoggles-Leather craft decorations wholesomely made by cowboys and boy scouts. When made by the unemployed for pay during the Depression, these items became an unwholesome name for government waste. Better to put the unemployed on the street corner selling something edible or useful, like apples and pencils.

Borrowing-The Bard had Polonius give much good advice in Hamlet, including “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

Bread-I bake my own, except for sourdough, which I may try to make one day.

Buddha-As good as Jesus, with even more practical advice and without the cryptic supernatural stuff.

Bushes-Shrubs and lousy Presidents.

Business-A way to make money by working and often by putting other people to work. Unfortunately, the quality of the work and the success of the business are not always correlated.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “A” Topics

Abortion More questions than answers.

Activism My brother proudly told me he participated in the 8 mile long march in support of immigrants in 93 degree Las Vegas heat. Immigrants are reminding us we need to march to take back our role in government.

Addiction The ones we are most reluctant to mention are the worst. When Bush said “America is addicted to oil”, it was part of a con job. Which addictions is he most reluctant to mention?

Advertising Manipulative or informative?

Afghanistan The silent mess.

Africa The mother we ignore.

African-American We are all hyphenated Americans. Most, including descendants of the African slaves and some with indigenous Indian ancestry, have more than one hyphen.

Agriculture In less than a century, America unfortunately went from a nation of family farms to a nation of corporate agri-business.

Alito Seems he is making the Right happy.

Anarchy Like democracy, comes in many forms and degrees. Take Iraq for example.

Apple Computers I have always felt like a Mac man operating in a Microsoft mold. Half my kids have gone to Apple and I may break the mold on my next purchase.

Arithmetic Undeservedly scary reputation, at least in the USA.

Art Modifying natural reality for its own purpose? What is your definition?

Asia So much history the West has failed to consider.

Assassination Sometimes the act of a fanatic and sometimes a political tactic. About 1 in 10 American Presidents dies by assassination and many other attempts fail. Assassination has been a part of American foreign policy many times, sometimes overt and sometimes covert.

Atmosphere Space exploration should make us marvel at the Earth’s atmosphere, whether evolved or created, or both. Why do we foolishly abuse it?

Attachment The root of all suffering as the Buddha taught.

Australia Unique in evolutionary history. But as reported by the Australian tourist to the London vaudevillian, they do not walk upside down.

Automobiles Replacements for horses and bicycles, with unexpected consequences we have continued to unexpect for 100 years.

Absent without Leave

For the past several weeks I have published a Sense piece on Tuesday. Yesterday I was absent without leave. Remember when readers said I published too often and too lengthy? I don’t expect to go back to that style, but I do want to publish more often than once a week. Research, link and photo gathering and concise editing all take time, and the tailspinning Bush administration has been providing news at a breathtaking pace. I cannot be a one man news source, but I can continue to offer my sense of how some current developments fit into the bigger picture.

The Complete Index to Sense articles, accessible from the sidebar at the left, lists articles by topic, whenever you feel like revisiting an area of interest. Also, it seems the blog search box at the top of this page now works properly. You can enter search text and then hit the “search this blog” button to find past articles containing the search term.

For the next month or so I am going to try to publish more frequently. What I have in mind is offering some brief comments in passing, on topics from A to Z, one letter at a time. I may also intersperse other non-alpha articles from time to time. As always, feel free to add your comments. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Three Dollar Gas

The American public says the high price of gas is their number one concern. They seem to want somebody to do something about it, but they are not sure who needs to do what. Here is a glimpse at their thought process.

“Perhaps President Bush could - no, forget that; I don’t believe anything that idiot says, and I do recall now that he still thinks of himself as an oilman, Harkening [pun intended] back to the days when he dumped his stock on some poor suckers before his oil company , Arbusto, went ‘el busto’ “.

“Maybe Congress will step up and take on the President and the oil companies to get the price down. But these Republicans have had total power over our government for six years and all they have done is suck up to Bush and f___ up the country. Their idea about giving us a $100 rebate reminds me of the scam they pulled by telling us everyone was going to get a tax refund averaging $1,000 per family, and I got $100 while fat cat Republican donors got $100,000. Come to think of it, a lot of those donors who got the big tax refunds are probably the same people who are making money on this gas gouging, so this Republican Congress is not going to cross them.”

“Let me think. Who speaks for the consumer public on these matters? When our government is not responsive to watching out for our pocketbooks, who looks out for us? Well there are groups that criticize and complain, but I can’t think of any group that organizes and takes action. I heard some talk about a grass roots boycott of Exxon because of the $400 million dollar retirement bonus they gave their CEO, but I realize that idea isn’t going anywhere. I know there are only about five oil companies and they are so secure in their joint control of the market that they don’t even advertise to compete with each other. In fact, they don’t even compete - they all charge the same gouge.”

“So I guess I have to look out for number one -me. Let me do some quick math. I drive an Explorer 15,000 miles a year and average 15mpg at three bucks a gallon. If gas was back at two dollars, which seems more fair, I would be paying $2,000 a year instead of $3,000, so I feel I am being ripped about $1,000 a year. I knew that $100 rebate was a joke. Make it $1,000 and I might call it even. But really, it is not the oil companies who would pay the rebate, it would be the taxpayers - I would be paying myself a rebate and Exxon would still be gouging me.”

“If I can’t lick ‘em, maybe I should join ‘em. I could buy some Exxon stock and get enough dividends to make up for the $1,000 gouge. But wait, I forgot about the other ways the gouge costs me money, such as businesses having to raise prices because of the extra fuel costs they incur. That’s too complicated for me, so I’ll just buy enough stock to get my $1,000 back in dividends. The last dividend Exxon paid was 32 cents a share, so I will need to buy about 3,000 shares, and the stock is selling at about $64, so ... I would need to spend $192,000! If I had that kind of money to invest, I wouldn’t be complaining about three dollar gas.”

“I could make changes in my driving, maybe go to an Escape hybrid. That would reduce the gas gouge from $1,000 to $500. That’s not enough to switch now, but I‘ll keep it in mind for my next car. I could drive less, and I will consider that, but for now, I feel most of my driving is necessary.”

“Having gone through this mental exercise, I realize that when the market allows gouging and the government won’t do anything about it, then it is time to change the government. In fact, this Republican dominated government has done so much to mess up our country, that I am going to vote for a Democratic Congress in November and then in 2008 I’ll vote again for a Democratic Congress and a Democrat for President. The last time the Democrats truly dominated our Government, in the 1960s, we got some pretty good deals, like Medicare and Civil Rights protections. Forty years has been too long for the Democrats not to have a chance to show us what they can do for America.”