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.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “Q” and “R” Topics

Quail - Bird confused with a man in the brain of Vice President Cheney.

Quayle - Vice President easily confused with the brain of a bird.

Queen - Wife of a King. However, if the Queen is a married ruler, then she is the wife of a Prince. If she has a son, he is also a Prince, if he was fathered by the man who is now King. Some Queens, but not all, used to be Princesses. A King can marry someone other than a Princess, thereby making her a Queen. A King outranks a Queen, but an Ace outranks them both - as does a Joker if they have been made wild.

Queer - From a Low German word for something or someone a little unsatisfactorily different from the ordinary. Much used as an adjective in England. Also used for a while in America as a noun for male homosexual, which seems to have killed the use of the word here, until it was resurrected by the Fab Five of the Queer Eye TV show. “Gay” also now seems to be moribund for any purpose other than homosexual labeling. Therefore, if you are sick of hearing a particular word and would like to try killing it, start using it as a noun for homosexuals. Any nominees?

- Some people say there is no such thing as a stupid one. Yogi Berra said, “If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer”.

Race - Division of people by some physically identifying means to link them with a particular ethnic ancestry, traditionally done by genealogical methods and now being enhanced by DNA matching with databases presumed to be racially identifiable. Particularly in America, many racial heritages are mixed. A significant number of African Americans have some degree of white ancestry. Some Americans who think they are all white could be surprised by solid genealogical research or DNA testing. While I value knowledge of personal heritage, I question the use of race as a factor in government policy making, preferring instead to see socio-economic factors used. However, because racial prejudice is a fundamental reality, I continue to support anti-discrimination laws and believe in their diligent enforcement.

Radio - Part of a progressive development of devices for communicating between people, once considered so novel that the 1930 US census asked whether households owned one. Now mostly used in automobile commutes to communicate facts already known - traffic is a mess and you are stuck in it.

Railroads - Practical and efficient way to move passengers and freight, overwhelmingly replaced in the US by personal automobiles and long haul trucks.

Rape - Terrorism by males against females, without any war against it, because men are the ones who lead wars.

Rapture - The final cut in which some people will be taken to heavenly reward, apparently those who buy the right books and profess the right nonsense.

Real Estate - Parcels of land on our round planet, typically measured in squares and rectangles. The French philosopher Rousseau, as a precursor to the French Revolution said, “The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said ‘This is mine,’ and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society.”

- Putting force behind the “we’re not gonna take it” mentality to fight the power that rules without consensus. Sometimes the unyielding position of the rebels is so wrong in principle that no consensus is possible, as when the US slave States started the War of Rebellion by wrongly insisting that the Constitution allowed them to secede from the Union and that slavery was not inherently immoral.

Recycle - Removal of items from the garbage discard process for re-use in some form, in order to save some costs and help save the environment, and to remind people that wasting resources is not good.

Reform - Term of perversion used by Republicans in general, and the Bush Administration in particular, to fool voters. Because of this abuse, I recommend we reform the law-labeling process by outlawing the use of the word “Reform” in the title of any bill. I propose to call my recommendation the “Reform Ending All Reforms” bill - also to be known by its acronym, “REAR”.

- Displaced persons who have been forced by circumstances to be someplace other than the place they would like to be. In the US for example, those forced from New Orleans by Katrina and all the working people who dislike their jobs.

Rehabilitation - To put back together or make better. One of the purposes of incarceration of criminals which is too often disregarded.

Religion - The answer to the meaning of life, or the opiate of the people? Depending on the person, probably a little of both.

Rendition - CIA version of rapture, without the heavenly reward.

Representative - One who takes action on behalf of others, such as elected officials who exercise their duties on behalf of the people who elected them, or sometimes on behalf of the people who paid to get them elected.

Republican - An American politician who believes the three most important things a government should do are: cut taxes, cut taxes and cut taxes.

Respect - Treating everything and everybody as worthwhile. In the Latin it literally meant to look behind or look back at again. The hardest people to respect are those who disrespect others.

Responsibility - Meeting the duties that come with what one has. The more one has, the more duties one owes. We all have responsibility for ourselves, but some people have talents and resources that should be used to help others in addition to helping themselves.

- Another of the purposes for incarceration of criminals. Some prisoners who can be rehabilitated are restrained for too long. Others, who never seem to make rehabilitative progress, are sometimes released too soon.

Retirement - When I retired, my Aunt gave me a card that said, “You’re retired. Now when someone says, ‘Have a nice day’, you’ve got a chance.”

Revolution - A dramatic change, like the overthrow of the British colonial government by the American colonists. Contrasted with the dramatic change in Iraq brought about by the American invasion and occupation - a fiasco, not a revolution.

Rhetoric - The art of discourse - the use of words. A subject no longer taught in most schools, which probably explains why people are so easily confused and misled.

Rich - Having a lot. If there is a poverty level below which people do not have enough to get by, should not there also be a rich level, above which people are agreed to have more than they will ever need? And should not people above the rich level have a responsibility to allow their excess to be used to lift those who are below the poverty level?

Ritual - Repetitive words or acts which can have a soothing value, be of no particular consequence or just be an annoying waste of time. We might all be surprised by the number of rituals in which we participate daily. Some day, keep a log of your ritualistic participation and see how many are soothing, how many inconsequential and how many annoying. Then enjoy the first, disregard the second and scrap the third.

- Chief Justice who, though certainly a conservative, seems initially to be a definite improvement over his predecessor in the manner in which he manages the Court. However, though very capable and well meaning, it does not at this point seem like Roberts will be able to elevate the Court’s discourse and decision making to a higher level, which would set a good example for the executive and legislative branches, the media, the political parties and the public.

Romance - Most notably the paperback novels with covers showing Fabio types with a hand on the outside of a female thigh. Some movies are romances, and a few are pretty good. The novels are written for women. The movies are made for both sexes. Real life romance has little chance of competing with fiction and film, except for the occasions when a man indulges a woman’s fantasies - most often done to get into her pantasies.

- Part of the former “evil empire”. We always called the old USSR “Russia” and now have learned that Russia was only one of many nations ready to let the USSR dissolve. Soviet Communism was abandoned because visionaries like Gorbachev saw it was not worth the effort of trying to sustain it. Most people behind the Wall, growing up in a society without levels for poverty and wealth, did not like the meager one size fits all “comrade economic level”. When the Wall came down, they did not rush first for the freedoms offered at the churches and libraries; they opted instead for the supermarkets and clothing stores.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “P” Topics

Paintings - Graphic artistic expressions using various paint media and techniques. Some artists have talent for expression and some for technique. The best have both.

Panacea - A cure all. The mother [or should it be father?]of all cure alls [or is it cures all?] was the Intelligent Designer using Adam and the Garden of Eden to cure ID’s blahs. It may not have exactly worked out according to the Design, but designs that backfire usually provide more interest than boredom.

Paper - The next best literary invention after writing. Stone tablets meant for some heavy bathroom reading, and I wouldn’t want to wipe with one.

Parents - Blame them until you become one. "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." ~ Mark Twain

Partners - Misused by internet hosts to describe sales pitches from merchants who give hosts kickbacks. The best advice I have heard on how to get along with a true partner is to figure that your partner is getting a better deal out of the partnership than you are, but that the deal you are getting is better than what you would have without the partnership. Unfortunately, some partners (e.g. in a marriage) are always looking for another partner with a better deal.

Past - Over and done, but not forgotten, though sometimes aspects of it should be.

Patent - A limited public franchise intended to encourage individuals to invent and to allow them reasonable time to make economic gain. Patents have now morphed into something more akin to corporate welfare.

Patriotism - Love of country. Not only a passion to defend it from invasion, but also a commitment to preserving its laws and institutions from misguided defenders.

- Public Broadcasting System television programming has come a long way since my kids were encouraged to watch boring documentaries and told they were worthwhile because they were “educational”. PBS has produced some of the most interesting, enjoyable and enlightening shows on TV.

Peace - More than a lack of war. A fervent dedication to valuing love and life more than hatred and destruction.

Personality - That which makes you you and me me.

Pessimism - Belief that glasses will break, whether full, half full or empty, and that one day there won’t be any water.

Philanthropy - Rich people giving some part of their wealth to causes or institutions they consider worthwhile. When the giver acquired the wealth by avaricious means, the gift is usually made in part to assuage the consequences in the afterlife and to improve on the postmortem legacy of the giver.

Phones - Formerly devices used in private places to communicate with others a distance away, now too often devices used in public places which annoy those nearby who are not otherwise involved in the communication.

Photos - Images captured by chemical or electronic processes. As with paintings, expression and technique may be involved; but with “point and shoot” photos, sometimes neither seems to be.

Poetry - Intense use of the power and beauty of words.

Politics - Should be the art and science of elected officials adopting and executing public policies for the benefit of the general population. Too often instead it is the business of doing and saying whatever it takes to get elected so that public policy can be used for the benefit of persons who made campaign contributions and promised future favors.

Pollsters - Originally political science statistical people who devised, administered and reported to the public results of opinion surveys regarding political candidates and policies. Some pollsters have now become advisors and advocates to politicians on how to get the public to do what the politicians and their contributors want.

Pope - Almost always an older Italian man, wearing a unique hat of ancient style. Roman Catholics believe his designated pronouncements on religious matters are infallible - unless they seriously disagree with him.

- The flesh of swine. Also the price taxpayers incur to subsidize re-election campaigns of incumbents.

Pornography - An overwhelmingly male substitute for egalitarian intimacy, love and affection, typically disregarding people as individuals and treating them as objects to control and dominate. Men are capable of higher levels of human sexual relationships, but the sheer amount of pornography being produced and disseminated shows that there is much money to be made in pandering to lower level instincts. Prohibition is not likely to dent porn, because those making the money can blunt prohibition. What is needed is for men to learn to respect real women and for men and women to work together to form a shared love life.

Poverty - Lacking income and wealth above a designated level determined by the political process to be the line of deficiency. We can also set a personal line for wealth deficiency. Some people of little means do not feel impoverished, while some of high means complain they are not as rich as they used to be or as rich as someone else. Spiritual poverty can also be devastating, and is not as easy an area for drawing a political deficiency line, so personal line drawing in the spiritual area is even more important that in the material.

Prescription Drugs - Government regulated dangerous products intended to help with serious health problems, if the person in need of help can afford to pay the corporate welfare being guaranteed by government patent protection.

Present - Now, a time we too often seem to prefer avoiding.

Prisons - As mattock wielding redneck Georgia governor Lester Maddox famously stated, “We can’t have better prisons ‘til we have better prisoners”.

Privacy - My own business, time and place, where people, corporations and governments do not belong unless I agree to let them. Some progress has been made in protecting privacy, such as the national “do not call” list, but we are continuing to learn of more secret Bush Administration invasions, supposed ly only to catch terrorists, but also having a potentially chilling effect on dissenters from Bush policies.

- A person who exercises experienced skill in performing a task, always trying to produce the best result possible. Judging the quality of the result produced by members of the “learned professions” is usually more difficult than assessing the work of skilled crafts persons.

Progressive - To me politically, a progressive is one who believes people are basically worthwhile and deserving of nurturing and encouragement, and that government should continue to progress in that direction. Progressives are long range optimists.

Prohibition - Legally preventing people from having something - or at least trying to prevent people from having something by making it criminal to have it or to provide it to them. Federal prohibition of alcohol is generally considered to have been such a failure that it was scrapped and replaced with less intrusive regulations. So-called “recreational” drug use does not seem to be quite as prevalent or accepted in American society as alcohol consumption, so Federal prohibition of such drugs still prevails.

Prostitute - From the Latin for standing in front of a statue, which is apparently where sexual business was contracted in Rome. Having sex for money, not love. If expanded to include doing anything for money instead of love, then there are a lot of prostitutes of both sexes in the morning commute.

Psychotherapy - Process by which people are helped to lead a healthier and happier life, if the helper does a professional job and if the people being helped fully co-operate.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “O” Topics

Oatmeal - Healthy [organic available] and inexpensive [buy it in bulk] breakfast cereal that can be enhanced with cinnamon, dried apple chips, raisins or Craisins and chopped walnuts and which sticks to your ribs. My most frequent breakfast.

Obscenity - Justice Potter Stewart once wrote in a US Supreme Court opinion that defining obscenity was difficult, but “I know it when I see it”. Could that have been his excuse for burning the midnight oil viewing pornography? I prefer the approach of Justices William Douglas and Hugo Black, who believed essentially that freedom of speech means nothing is legally obscene.

Oceans - Covering 3/4 of the surface of the earth and dominating the planet ecologically, the oceans deserve much more respectful exploration and research than they receive. Space travel may seem more exciting, but the oceans of the earth are of more vital importance.

Oil - Who would have thought this dirty liquid would become so precious? It could be made as unessential as precious gems, and it possesses none of their inherent charms.

Old - An easy adjective to facilitate the grasp of relativity. In human beings, old is considered as more than 15 years greater than the person doing the considering, though as we get older, some of us increase the range.

Opinions - Someone said opinions “are like assholes - everyone has one”. Someone else added, “And nobody wants to look at the other person’s.”

Optimism - Seeing a half full glass instead of a half empty one - or a dirty one, or cracked one, or any other less than perfect perceptions of that proverbial glass. I admit to being a bit of a pessimist in the short run, but an optimist long term. Glasses might break, but there will always be water.

Organic - A once esoteric description of more healthy food, of interest only to a few eccentrics, now in the process of being watered down in meaning and converted to a mass marketing ploy. Sincere co-operation between food producers and government regulators could make organic standards meaningful for the general public, but mass retailers like Wal-Mart are becoming players in the process, increasing the likelihood that merchandising will trump health.

Osama bin Laden - The man whose supposed number twos keep getting killed and quickly replaced. The chief criminal of 9/11 who was barely chased by the George W. Bush administration, which chose instead to go after Saddam Hussein and Iraqi oil. Also known in the Bush Administration as “Osama been Forgotten”.

Outsourcing - Euphemism for what Ross Perot in 1992 more colorfully and correctly labeled “a loud sucking sound”.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Some Political Updating

Tom DeLay left Congress with a sneer instead of a tear. I don’t think anybody who cares about Congress doing a good job for America will miss him.

Karl Rove seems to have escaped indictment in the CIA agent identity leak investigation. He has already been demoted in the Bush Administration, from lap dog in the White House back to attack dog on the campaign trail. His defense of memory lapse echoes Richard Nixon in the Watergate aftermath, “I was not lying. I said things that later seemed to be untrue.”

Bill Frist seems to be the most ineffectual Senate Majority leader in recent history. Dennis Hastert may be the most hard nosed and least charismatic Speaker of the House since - oops what about Newt Gingrich, the jerk who is trying to rise from his disgrace a la Nixon? The Republicans are getting a deserved bad rap for the Congress they control. This fall’s election will determine whether control of either or both chambers changes, somewhat of an uphill battle for Democrats, but one with definite possibilities.

Bush made his second Iraq visit the other day, staying almost twice as long as his Thanksgiving visit in 2003 - 6 hours instead of 3. Fear for his safety was so great that only his half dozen personal insiders in the US and no Iraqis knew about the trip until his plane had landed. He then proceeded to advise the Iraqis on what he knows best - how to lose money in the oil business but still end up with a profit - it helps to have family and friends in high places.

Bush came to Seattle yesterday for a fund raiser for Congressman Reichert. This first term Republican, who represents my district of east side suburbia, is trying to frame himself as a moderate, but his voting record is at least 85% aligned with Bush and he apparently welcomed GW’s support. I hope that support is enough to enable a Democrat to take the seat.

Bush declared a huge Pacific Ocean area a National Monument, raising eyebrows of environmentalists and ire of environmental exploiters. In fact, the area has been on the protective track since the Clinton Administration, and is so remote to be of little current use for exploration. I expect it was done to have something for the positive side of the Bush legacy on the environment, though it cannot begin to balance the environmental harm he has caused.

John Kerry is starting to awaken like an old volcano. Hillary is planting her feet every so firmly on both sides of the center line in the middle of the road. Al Gore is working to convince interviewers of what he says he has learned - that he makes a good government executive but a bad national candidate. One effective campaigner, John Edwards, seems to be in oblivion. With George W. Bush equaling or exceeding the longevity record for lame ducks, the Democrats are getting a lot of time to develop prospects, but it seems too early to focus on anyone new.

Passing Thoughts on Some “N” Topics

Natural - We seem to recognize that nature is inherently good - to a point. Once the point is reached, we want to improve on nature. But location of the point is often a matter of opinion, as is whether some of our improvements are really for the better.

Negotiation - Latin for carrying on business. Working out a mutually agreeable deal. This higher level capability of human beings is too often abandoned in favor of the lower level use of violence. As Herb Cohen wrote in “You Can Negotiate Anything”, negotiation is the use of information and power to affect behavior within a web of tension. Yes, you can and should negotiate with terrorists.

Neon - This gas is ubiquitously used in glass tubes for advertising displays and occasionally used for exciting art.

Netflix - A great way to catch up on old movies missed or to be re-visited, sleeper movies discovered and obscure movies to explore. This company is way ahead of people who say it is behind the times. When the Netflix style snail mailing of movies does finally get replaced in like quantity by Internet downloading, I expect Netflix will be a huge player in the new approach.

New York Times - All the news that’s fit to print. A gold standard of American journalism. A favorite negative target of false conservatives. Remember when George W. Bush, not realizing the mike was on, pointed out to Dick Cheney a NYT reporter in a campaign crowd and referred to him as an “a**hole”?

News - It used to be the who, what, when, where, why and how from the NorthEastWestSouth. Now it is lots of ads, self-promos and soft features, mixed with repeating other sources and sporadic investigative work. On 24/7 cable news it is often the most recent sex crime ad nauseam, and on local TV news it is usually the most recent crime of any kind, however minor. The “where” seems of most interest to the news recipient, a possum road kill on the corner generating more attention than a suicide bombing in the middle east.

No Child Left Behind - It sounded good and brought Teddy Kennedy and GW Bush into the same photo op, but the genesis seems muddled. The actual impacts seem to include: major Federal intervention into local school control; directing teaching efforts away from traditional subjects to focus on passing standard tests; and threatening the viability of general public education. Maybe those are three strikes that should rule NCLB out.

No - A small but powerful word said too often by those who shouldn’t and too seldom by those who should.

Nobel Prize - The zenith of prestige for the fields included, topped by the Peace Prize. The list of Peace Laureates since 1901 includes 15 years with Americans named, but only one in the last 33 years - Jimmy Carter in 2002.

Noble - Guys who could not quite rise to King, but who were able to rise above the peons. In England the nobles got pissed at the King and made him sign the Magna Carta, an admission that he wasn’t the boss of everything. In Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths are: 1. Life is suffering; 2. The origin of suffering is attachment; 3. The cessation of suffering is attainable; and 4. There is a path to the end of suffering. The rational approach of Buddhism has much appeal, but most people in the West are attuned the mythology and faith apart from reason of Christianity.

NPR - National Public Radio continues to deliver exceptionally worthwhile programming freely accessible from your FM tuner at home, work or in your car, and also over the Internet live and by archives.

Nuclear - Or as George says, “Nukaler”. George’s idol, Ronald Reagan, speaking of nuclear weapons, said, “This kind of weapon can’t help but have an effect on the population as a whole”.
Some capabilities are so awesome, and the consequences of misuse so catastrophic, that they should not be developed.

Numbers - Did the cave man talk first or count first. Babies seem to babble before they keep score, but when they are hungry, they multi-task.

Numerology - The non-science of using numerical facts and calculations to explain and predict a person’s life. Mathematicians and numerologists are probably mutually exclusive groups.

Nylon - A synthetic replacement for silk. A technological improvement, continuing to evolve in some areas such as stockings for women, though many men do not consider no nonsense pantyhose an improvement over seamed hosiery fastened with garters.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “M” Topics

Magazines - From the Arab word for storehouse or granary. In print form, periodical publications whose subscription renewal solicitations start arriving before the first issue is received.

- Desiring a bad outcome for innocent people for no direct cause. Sometimes, the outcome is focused on one who might deserve it, but the realization of the result is bound to injure innocent bystanders. When the means is suicide bombing, we say injuring innocent bystanders is evil. When the means is aerial bombing, we call such injuries collateral damage.

Management - The Chief to the Indians, both being essential to the Tribe. The best Chiefs treat the Indians fairly, listening to their input and then deciding and explaining the decision. But while Chiefs serve at the will of the Indians, corporate managers are controlled by corporate executives.

Masturbation - From the Latin word for masturbation, verifying the practice has been around a while. Here’s a Biblical question: Was there masturbation before Eve ate the apple?

Materialism - Over-valuing that which can be experienced with the physical senses, as distinguished from the spiritual. Locating the tipping point can be tricky, but it helps to remember it almost always is located more toward the spiritual than where we are now.

- Often an evasion or postponement of commitment. Sometimes a genuine intention to remain open to the best possibility. Occasionally rejected outright by those who don’t believe in never saying never.

- An Admiral’s son who becomes a prisoner of war is quite unique, certainly more so than a supposed maverick Republican politician who becomes a brown noser.

Memory - The contents of the internal CD on which our experiences are recorded, and later often either not played back or played with too much distortion. Experienced counselors sometimes are able to facilitate more accurate playback.

Merit Pay - Usually a fraud perpetrated by non-union employers to browbeat their more timid employees into accepting low pay, and to fool the bold ones into believing they are being paid a premium. The scheme requires that pay scales not be published and relies on the employees not discussing their pay, the timid being too ashamed and the bold being too self-interested. Employer success with this hoax means all employees are underpaid, though some slightly less than others.

- I remember years ago driving on the east side of Lake Washington and seeing two buildings occupied by computer related businesses - Microrim and Microsoft - and wondering how the public would ever be able to tell one from the other.

Middle Class - Between the haves and the have nots are those who almost have. With mortgaged equities and accumulations insured against risk, these people in the middle are essential for a free economy to work well, because their aspirations to become haves are strong enough to make them do the hard work economies require and because they are willing to spend much of their earnings as consumers. Many of the haves were born in that class and lack middle class experience, so they ignorantly work to acquire more at the expense of the middle class, thereby jeopardizing the economy.

Mohammed - Eighth Century warrior who delivered, or some would say invented, Islam.

- Money is not the problem; the LOVE of money is. Bill Gates is the richest person in the world, but he does not seem to be a money lover. He loves success in the economic marketplace, and the money comes incidentally. Even show offs like Donald Trump love the showing off , power and speculative risk more than the money itself. The purest money lovers are people we don’t see, the misers who love their money so much they cannot stand to part with any of it, even to enjoy the benefits of ordinary expenditures,

Movies - Arguably the most unique, comprehensive and fastest born art form. Expensive to produce and often diluted by collaboration, it is wonderful that some excellent movies have been made and not surprising that many more of poor quality have been produced.

Music - Mathematically based manipulation of crafted instruments according to precise designs executed with skilled craftsmanship and artistic style. Though appreciation of the outcome is subjective, some results are obviously glorious and others crappy.

Mutual Funds - Businesses that manage portfolios of stock and bond investments, selling portfolio shares to those of us unable or unwilling to manage our own. One of the few business areas where managers can be objectively compared with one another, thereby documenting the great variations of managerial ability. When people continue to invest in mutual funds that perennially underperform their peers, it is testimony to the marketing ability of the fund management, in spite of the fact the managers have no market ability.

Myth - Something we know may not be true but which we nevertheless allow ourselves to possibly believe.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Passing Thoughts on Some “K” and “L” Topics

Kids - The hope for the future in the eyes of some. The fear of the future in the eyes of others. Instead of slaughtering the children of enemies, we should be teaching our children to befriend them. But it is hard to teach our children something we don’t seem to understand and appreciate.

Kings - Early successful con men and their male descendants.

Kobe - Super talent and a solid work ethic, without a true team spirit, don’t win championships.

Kudzu - It seemed like a good idea to somebody at the time.

Labor - The foolishly discounted means of production in this time of corrupt, incompetent and overpaid high level management, unprincipled and speculative capitalism, and narrow minded abuse of scarce natural resources.

Languages - An intelligently designed way to create communication problems between people. Other examples of such design include Eve, rhetoric, advertising and Republicans.

Laws - Rules for living written by God and those who claim to be his messengers. God started with ten and the messengers have expanded the collection to include millions.

Layoff - Previously, a slowdown in production in which workers took time off until production increases brought them back to work. Replaced now by mergers, downsizing, technology and outsourcing.

Lending - A business practice wherein one makes profits by charging borrowers more to use the money of someone else than the lender pays the people who make the money available. The goal of the lender is to make the gap, and hence the profit, as great as possible.

Liberal - A once usefully descriptive word which has become highjacked and perverted by devious right wing extremists and their sycophants.

Libertarian - Perhaps a desirable lifestyle preference for some, but minimal government would in fact be a terrible way to run a country. Many people are not capable of living soundly without governmental protections. Libertarians are sincere enough not to follow the false conservatives, but libertarians are of such small numbers that they are not a factor in our elections.

Libraries - Treasure troves of tomes. Public libraries are socialism at its best - we tax ourselves to buy materials to lend ourselves without charge.

Lieberman - Unrealized by most at the time, Joe Lieberman was not an asset to the Gore ticket in 2000. Someone from Florida, perhaps Senator Bob Graham, could have delivered that State, and the Presidency, to the Democrats.

Lies - Violations of one of the original ten laws, many of which violations have become allowed under subsequent laws written by the claimed messengers of the original lawgiver.

Lobbyists - Some are modestly paid, above board spokespersons for principled viewpoints held by wide segments of the public. They gather helpful information to present to public policy makers for use in making decisions. Others are highly paid, somewhat secretive, political prostitutes who attempt to seduce public policy makers into becoming their customers. It shouldn’t be that hard to tell the one from the other, but many of our policy makers pretend to have trouble differentiating.

Lockout - A contract negotiation tactic used by an employer, preventing workers from doing their jobs and being paid. Locked out workers might picket, protesting the lockout and demanding a fair contract. The public usually sees picketers as an indicator that a labor union is striking, voluntarily withholding their labor, as a union negotiating tactic, when in fact many times employers have first locked out the workers. Employers sometimes use lockouts to try to destroy unions, while ostensibly trying to negotiate a contract with the union representing the workers. Unions do not try to destroy employers, but employers often try to destroy unions. The next time you see workers picketing, check to learn if it is a lockout rather than a strike.

Log Rolling - The political practice of exchanging political favors, such as legislator A agreeing to vote for the bill of legislator B in exchange for B’s vote on A’s bill. In the log rolling events I have seen, one or both lumberjacks ends up in the water, so it does not seem like a good way to pass legislation.

Lottery - State sponsored vice. Some States are also in the alcohol sales business. So far the only State sponsored prostitutes are the ones who get elected after selling themselves to special interest groups.

Love - Poets and philosophers may explore its levels and meanings artistically and spiritually. How much we give is our choice. That given is sometimes not accepted. How much we receive is not fully within our control, so it is best to accept all we are given. The children’s song is true: “Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.”

Luck - A lazy substitute for reason, sense and hard work. Good fortune not directly emanating from on high, but rather by happenstance. Occasionally submitting something of no particular importance to luck is not a problem, but entrusting important decisions to chance is foolish.

Internet - Combat Zone

We have had a houseful of company for the past week, which is part of the reason Sense postings have slowed, as we have been enjoying their visit. But I have also been sidetracked by a consequence of my own lack of foresight in letting some of our younger guests access the Internet without my supervision. A particularly invasive advertising spyware has been embedded on my computer and I am working on its elimination.

One volunteer who helps people remove spyware says the Internet is a Combat Zone. Unfortunately, he is correct. In the eight years I have been accessing the Internet, I have successfully avoided becoming a victim. But success comes at a price, constantly having to wade through, consider, install and contend with an ever increasing myriad of advice, offers, upgrades and new protections. Until the current problem, I have not fully appreciated the time and effort needed to stay safe on the Web. I am now keeping a log of my time spent enjoying the Internet and my time spent trying to maintain my security in the Combat Zone.

Adversity often provides an opportunity to re-think. The Internet has become a big part of my life. Is it too big a part? How has it been good and how bad? If I spent less Internet time, what would be a good way to use the time saved? You may expect to hear more on this, and as always, any comments from readers on your views and experiences is welcomed.