Friday, January 30, 2009


Spurned lover ambushes
ex-girlfriend, tries to cut out
breast implants he paid for.

It would seem fair to say that 2008 was not a good year for the U.S., what with business failures, home foreclosures, rampant unemployment, losses on Wall Street, inflation, a runaway national debt, and so forth. However, Exxon reported an unprecedented 42 + billion in profits, and Wall Street handed out more than 18 billion (of taxpayer money) in bonuses to failed managers such. This latter, in particular, has raised quite an outrage. I must say, however, this does have a quality of “I’m shocked, shocked, to learn there has been gambling and hanky panky on Wall Street.” This has been going on for years and huge bonuses have been common for years, so why all the sudden outrage. I suppose it has to do with the unprecedented bailouts (I guess as long as it was just the suckers’ money it was okay).

The Republicans, in a somewhat surprising vote after six ballots, elected a black man as head of the party. I’m not certain what to make of this rather astounding feat. I suspect nothing can really be made of it. A dying party with no clear focus, no chance of capturing the black vote, out of power, making a fool of itself, so why not elect one of the half dozen or so blacks who claim to be Republicans. What, after all, do they have to lose by it? Appointing (and virtually destroying) Colin Powell and the hopelessly inept Condi Rice did them no good at all. Limbaugh, fat clown of the airwaves, is whispering the leader of the party will be Sarah Palin. See, the right wing really does have a death wish.

Fidel Castro has a blog. On it he recently demanded that Guantanamo should be returned to Cuba (it is, you know, rightfully Cuba’s). I say, “no,” not until after we’ve used it for Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rove/Rice//Perle/Yoo et al. Rove, it appears, is going to refuse once again to answer a subpoena, claiming executive privilege from the Bush years. I cannot believe he can get away with this, but, of course, they may try eventually for their own Supreme Court to help them out once again. In the meantime I sincerely hope he will spend some time in jail where he certainly belongs.

It appears that everything will shut down for the Super Bowl, with both Biden and Obama hosting parties for it, and of course most everyone else watching. Perhaps they should proclaim a national holiday. This is such serious business that McCain turned down his invitation to the White House on the grounds that the party would interfere with his concentration on the game (I am not making this up). Would this be a prime time for another terrorist attack? Think of the coverage they would get! I guess we should all be pleased that since the 1/1000th of a second glimpse we once had of Janet Jackson itty bitty titty they have really cleaned up the halftime entertainment. A good thing, too, that was such a disgrace.

Unless the U.S. abandons its overbearing and patronizing attitude toward Iran do not look for many improvements on that front.

Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Canadian geese mate in the second year of life and are monogamous.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Drunken Wyoming man arrested
for riding white horse slowly
down highway during blizzard.

Rush Limbaugh wants Obama and his administration (liberals, in Rush’s view) to fail. The Republicans seem to have decided to try to make sure that they do fail. Apparently Limbaugh is becoming one of the leaders of the Republican party. One Congressman who had the temerity to criticize Limbaugh later had to recant and apologize to him. Can a Congressman fall any lower than that? I don’t see how. Is this the way U.S. politics is supposed to work? Our country is in big trouble, as everyone knows, Obama and his administration are charged with trying to get us out of this trouble as soon and practicable as possible. Republicans want him to fail. Should the Republicans not be responsible for helping him? Is it not un-American to try to insure that he fails when trying to save the country from this economic meltdown? I suppose it depends upon what one thinks is American. I tend to believe that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is also a land of opportunity in which everyone should have a chance to have a job and at least a bit of security. I believe workers should have the right to fight for these rights if need be. Not Republicans, who fiercely oppose labor unions. To me that is un-American. I believe we should have universal health care. Not Republicans, who believe only those wealthy enough to afford it should have it. I believe we should have free public education with quality schools and teachers. Not Republicans, many of whom would seem to prefer we had no schools at all. I believe it is the responsibility of government to help citizens in need. Not Republicans who could care less if they starve on the streets of our cities in the midst of decay. I believe in Social Security for the elderly. Not so Republicans who would abolish it entirely if they could. I also believe women should have a choice in how their bodies are used. Not Republicans who think such decisions should be left to a congress of old men. I think women should receive equal pay for equal work. Not so Republicans who begrudge pay to anyone for their labor at all. I have concluded after all these many years that Republicans, far from being compassionate conservatives, are basically racist elitists who lack even basic empathy for ordinary people. In all of these respects I think they are in my opinion decidedly un-American. While they should be hanging their collective heads in shame after what they have done to our country in the past eight years, they seem to think we should listen to them and take them seriously when they promote their same failed ideas over and over again, parroting them with such a single mindedness one has to wonder if there are even sane. If it is not clear by now they have no understanding of bipartisanship, and no inclination whatsoever for it, you have not been paying attention.

Obama has gone far enough, even too far, to get these small smooth-brained cretins to do the right thing. He should just move ahead without them and let them disappear into the dust of history where they and their failed ideas belong. History will treat them no better than their idiot ex-president.

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.

H. L. Mencken

Honore de Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Culture of the Absurd

Unlicensed owner/chef improperly
prepares Blowfish testicles,
sickens seven in Tokyo restaurant.

It’s happening. The Culture of the Absurd is at last running headfirst into concrete reality. Although entirely predictable for many years it can no longer be ignored or denied. I am not speaking here of the current economic crisis. This current crisis obviously is demanding all attention at the moment, but viewed in a broader perspective is little more than the canary in a coal mine. The brutal fact is, our culture, based as it has been on unconscionable waste and a totally unsustainable way of life, is being forced to slow down, change or die. We have based our way of life on decisions and practices that are simply absurd. To sustain this thesis would require a very large book, perhaps even several volumes, but consider just a few of the decisions we made about our life style that have brought us to this undeniable but inevitable position.

It would be hard to argue that the invention of the internal combustion engine was necessarily a bad thing, although there were people like Tolkien and even Churchill who have thought so. It is not hard to argue, however, that we have seriously abused that remarkable invention. The decision to reduce our dependence on railroads in favor of trucks, in retrospect at least, was absurd. It has resulted in an incredible waste of resources and was silly in the extreme. Now we are in the position of having to consider renewed emphasis on rail, both for carrying freight and passengers. We should have done this long ago. In fact, we should never have stopped in the first place. What is even more absurd is the fact that we also elected to use the automobile as our standard mode of transportation. It is absurd that single individuals, even pairs of individuals, should need an automobile to conduct their generally petty everyday needs. That such vehicles should be large and require many gallons of fuel to travel relatively short distances is absurd. We should have opted for a fine public transportation system with buses and trains as most European nations have done. Not only do these vehicles shamelessly waste natural resources, they also contribute to environmental and health problems. This is especially true of vehicles such as ATV’s, personal watercraft, snowmobiles, and etc. Insofar as the Chinese are trying to emulate our lifestyle they are every bit as absurd as we have been and continue to be.

Our reliance on built-in obsolescence in order to keep our manufacturers in business and economy growing is equally absurd. Again, we could have opted to manufacture quality products that would be serviceable, durable, and last, but for the most part we did not. Our items are inexpensive, to be sure, but not really, when you consider they have to be so often replaced. How many toasters or televisions have you seen repaired lately? Our housing reflects this trend as well. Many people in Europe are living quite comfortably in buildings that are two, three hundred years old, and even older in some cases. These buildings were built to last and periodically brought up to date. It is not at all uncommon for houses in the U.S. to be torn down and replaced every 30 to 50 years. In some areas it is not uncommon for perfectly good homes to be torn down and replaced by something bigger and better. And bigger is a problem. The size of homes here is dictated much more by how much money someone has than by the size of the family to reside there. Large homes bring prestige to the owner even though it involves a terrible waste. Building stimulates the economy, but it also wastes natural resources. An economy so dependent upon obsolescence is absurd.

We built dams across our rivers with little or no regard for the salmon or other fish that had been there for centuries. The dams could easily have been built to accommodate the fish, but they weren’t. Only now, when it may well be too late in some cases, is attention being paid to this terrible and absurd mistake. A few dams have been removed and if salmon runs are to survive many more may have to be removed. This could have been avoided but it wasn’t. Indeed, all of our fisheries, like the great codfishing grounds, could have been saved with just a modicum of common sense, but they were allowed to be seriously overfished, just as most of the ocean has. Our record of uncontrolled greed, looking back, is hard to believe. But we are continuing to do the same at the moment. Many species have disappeared and more disappear every year. The forests of the world are disappearing at an alarming rate. Our country which comprises only a small fraction of the world’s population consumes far more than its share of natural resources year after year. Consumerism is encouraged to the point of absurdity. There are women in the U.S. that shop every day. That is what they do, simply shop. The credo is shop ‘til you drop,” and “he who has the most toys wins.” This is absurd. It is part of a whole culture of the absurd. Our military/industrial/political complex is absurd as is our system of health care and corporate farms. I could continue, there are hundreds of other examples of the absurdity of American culture. I said before, and now I say again, “There is something wrong with a culture that requires so much storage” (Morialekafa 8-27-06).

First autumn morning:
the mirror I stare into
shows my father's face.

Murakami, Kijo

TILT:It has been estimated there may have been five billion Passenger Pigeons in the U.S. when Europeans arrived. “Martha,” believed to have been the last surviving one, died on September 1, 1914.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I toldja so, Obama

Elderly man trips on electrical cord
falls on sofa. Sofa tips over trapping him.
He survives two days on whiskey.

Well, President Obama, I toldja so. I knew that your attempt at bipartisanship, however commendable in principle, would not be reciprocated by the Republicans and would be largely a waste of precious time. If you truly wish to accomplish anything you will just have to proceed a without them (except, perhaps, for a precious few). By refusing to sign on to your stimulus package, unless you agree to their demands that you include the very same tax breaks they already employed to bring our economy to its current state of pathology, they have maneuvered you into a no-win situation. If you refuse to include their idiotic demands and ultimately fail, they will say that is why you failed. If you do include their demands and succeed they will claim that is why you have succeeded. Of course if you include their demands and still fail they will claim you just didn’t do it right, or you didn’t include all of their demands, or you didn’t do it when the wind was from the north, or it’s all Bill Clinton’s fault. In any case please, sir, pay no attention to these 20th century nitwits, they will stop at nothing to bring you down, something they learned from their guru, Karl Rove. And just look where it’s got him – begging you for help. Is there anyone who believes Rove should not be compelled to testify under oath, except, of course, for Republicans, who know they are guilty and fear being found out? Used to having their way, and having simple one track minds, they will never agree to anything you wish to do without dragging their feet, obfuscating, and delaying until they make your life miserable. You said it yourself, “I won.” You don’t need any Republican support and it is not worth your while to try to appease them in any way. Do the right thing, spare any that are relatively innocent, and prosecute those guilty of collaborating in war and other crimes. You are obliged by our Constitution to do just that, and you must do it even though I know that because of your other problems you would rather not.

And another thing, President Obama, as much as I admire you, and as hard as I worked to get you elected, and as pleased as I am by what you have done in one short week in office, there are a couple of things I think you may have all wrong. First, Afghanistan. We have nothing to gain in Afghanistan and everything to lose. If you do not graciously get our troops out of that (sort of) country soon, and especially if you send more troops, it will become your Vietnam. There is nothing we can “win” there and a great deal to lose. Similarly, I am very upset with what I take to be your uncritical support for Israel no matter how despicably they act. I see that you have signed some agreement to prevent Hamas from receiving any arms. Are you also going to cut off arms to Israel? Not that it would make much difference at this point, as they are already heavily armed with U.S. gifts of money and hardware. Do you intend to just stand by and observe their attempted genocide of the Palestinians? Do you acknowledge that Palestinians are human and deserve to be treated fairly? Or do you subscribe to that peculiar American view that fair is fair, but not when it comes to the Palestinians? I see that today you held out a sort of olive branch to Muslims. I think that is great. But do you believe they should have anything to say about the Israeli/Palestinian problem? And how about Iran? Do you think the Iranians have any national interest in what goes on amongst their neighbors, or are they merely sponsors of terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah? Should Hamas and Hezbollah have anything to say about what happens to the Palestinians? Is Abbas alone to speak for the Palestinians? I think it is wonderful that you wish to bring about a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian problem, and that you have appointed the very capable Mitchell as an envoy. I do wish you success and I sincerely hope you will constantly keep in mind that Palestinians are humans and deserve to be treated as such.

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.
Oscar Wilde

Grizzly bears can run up to 40 miles an hour. They run slower downhill than uphill.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

From loyal opposition to treason

Old man visiting parents’
gravesite crushed to death
by falling tombstone.

Well, the imbecilic Rush Limbaugh has finally blurted out the truth, spilled the beans, coughed it up, spit it out, gave it away. Consider what he said about Obama: “I know what his plans are…I don’t want them to succeed…I hope he fails.” This is nothing short of outright treason, and unfortunately we cannot assume that this braying jackass is speaking only for himself as he represents millions of his dittohead followers in at least the right wing, if not the entirety, of the Republican party. Similarly, you cannot assume he is speaking only of Barack Obama, as Obama is obviously the representative of the Democratic party, which now constitutes the majority government of the United States. Thus Limbaugh is calling for nothing less than the destruction of our current governmental body. That is, to me at least, treason. This signals to me a drastic change in U.S. politics, beginning, I believe, during the Clinton administration, and involving a dramatic change in the two party system we have always followed until recently. It has to do with no less than the Republican party changing from a legitimate political party (and a loyal opposition) into a kind of criminal conspiracy that I have previously referred to as the Brafia (a kind of Bush/Republican crime syndicate).
In all democratic systems there has been the concept of “the loyal opposition.” This refers to the party or parties that are currently out of power but who nonetheless accept the legitimacy of the party in power and the system in which they exist. When they disagree with the policies of the party in power they attempt to influence them within reasonable, well-established and commonly understood methods. They do not attempt to bring down the party in power by illegitimate means. I believe this changed for the first time during the Clinton administration. When Clinton outsmarted them and they could not bring him and his administration down using legal means they resorted to what I have previously termed “roviation” (roviate v. to smear, slime, malign, denigrate, and attempt to destroy an opponent through the use of innuendo, rumor, slander, outright lies and any other despicable means available” Morialekafa 9-18-05). This was not done out of love of country or patriotism but, rather, to seize power for their own personal and party motives. These motives had nothing to do with the welfare of our country or its citizens. It had to do with raiding the taxpayers and the U.S. Treasury to transfer wealth from those sources to their corporate and wealthy supporters. They did this by creating unnecessary “wars” and taking advantage of natural calamities so they could award no-bid and cost-plus contracts indiscriminately. Under the tutelage of the evil twins, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney they shamelessly and relentlessly attempted to change our two party system to a single party dictatorship, and came perilously close to succeeding. Along the way they ignored our Constitution and International treaties as “just goddamn pieces of paper,” and left a wake of unconscionable and unnecessary war crimes in the form of murder, torture, theft, misery, arson and bloodshed to what will be the never-ending shame of our country.
Unhappily, even though this criminal conspiracy is now finally out of office, the nightmare years of the 21st century they created will be with us for quite some time to come. What they have done will not be easily undone. The monumental tasks confronting Obama are nothing less than trying to restore our national honor, reduce our staggering national debt, rebuild our decaying infrastructure, bring an honorable end to two lost “wars,” restore some semblance of balance between the middle class and the obscenely wealthy elite, deal with the problems of global warming and energy independence, attempt to solve the virtually intractable Israeli/Palestinian problem, and many, many more. Rush Limbaugh, and those he represents want to see him fail. If Obama fails, our government fails. If wishing for our government to fail is not treason, what is?

For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use being anything else.
Sir Winston Churchill

The Alaskan population of muskoxen was wiped out in the late 19th or early 20th century and had to be restored by Fish and Game.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Give it up, Obama

Elderly lawyer drives through safety
cones, hits worker, continues driving
with worker on hood of Mercedes.

While I find it commendable that President Obama would like to create bipartisanship in our government, it appears to me to be a lost cause. I see no evidence whatsoever of any serious attempt by Republicans to act honorably in a bipartisan manner. Not only did they hold up some of Obama’s nominations for no good reason, they are insisting that his 850 billion dollar stimulus plan must contain substantial tax cuts. Rather than spending money on infrastructure and on the middle class, while at the same time going another 850 billion in debt, they want more tax cuts? To put it frankly, this is madness, and if Obama gives in to them on this he will already have failed miserably in his attempt to resurrect our dying economy. The Republican answer to anything and everything has always been tax cuts and we know full well what this policy has produced in the past eight years – deficits as far as the eye can see that will be lasting for a long time to come. One can only laugh hysterically at someone like Boehner criticizing Obama’s spending after the deficits his party ran up recently. That Republicans think they have anything of worth to offer Obama is little more than Alice in Wonderland thinking at this point. So I say, give it up, Obama, reconcile yourself to the sad fact that trying to work with a band of simple-minded, one-track minds is neither worthwhile nor necessary. Let them stay locked into the 20th century while the rest of us move on.
I must say I am very pleased with everything Obama has done so far (except for the stupid tax breaks). My hope is actually turning into optimism for the first time in years. But there are so many things he could do that would delight me no end. He could, for example, end the failed and miserable “war on drugs,” make them legal, and put the issue back in the hands of the medical profession rather than leaving it in the hands of politicians. He could create a single-payer universal health system (any kind of universal health care would be great at this point in time). He could start a serious investigation of the war crimes of Bush/Cheney and hold them accountable for the first time. He could end our ridiculous non-relationship with Cuba. But of course he has his hands full at the moment with the economy, the two failing wars, the genocidal Israelis, and the Republican more or less meaningless adversarial tactics, to say nothing of the incessant insane ramblings of the far right lunatics like Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and others who will never offer him any respect or credit no matter what he does.
Somewhere today I saw something that suggested that Dirk Kempthorne (he of the $235,000 bathroom) might run for President in 2012 (Perhaps if his only competition was the delightful and always entertaining Sarah Palin?). I guess he could boast that his Rubber Dodo Award (look it up) makes Palin’s objections to listing the Polar Bear pale into insignificance. Perhaps they could run together as a team, they seem to share a genuine dislike of all animal species other than their own.


hazy autumn moon
the sound of chestnuts dropping
from an empty sky
I gather your belongings
into boxes for the poor

Margaret Chula

An adult male wolverine can have a home territory of as much as 240 square miles.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama moving quickly

Six-year-old German girl found
in train station with five-year-old
boyfriend, eloping to Africa.

Wolves were re-introduced into Idaho several years ago. Many residents, including the Governor, now want them eliminated because they eat elk and deer. What did they think they would eat – potatoes? I would bet that automobiles and trains kill far more deer, elk, and moose every year than do wolves. Let’s eliminate them.
George Mitchell has been chosen as a special enjoy to the Middle East to try to bring about peace in that troubled area. He is a great choice, especially after his incredible success in bringing about an end to the Irish problem that had been festering for 800 years. He told a marvelous anecdote today that had to do with a speech he once made in Damascus: During his speech he mentioned that the Irish problem had been settled after 800 years, trying to emphasize that anything is possible. After his speech an elderly man (I don’t know if he was a Jew or an Arab) approached him and asked, “How long did you say, 800 years?” Mitchell allowed as to, yes, that was what he said. The old man then said, “Such a recent problem, no wonder you could solve it.” That should be a reminder of just how difficult a settlement is going to be, if, indeed, it is going to be.
Holbrook was selected to be our representative in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, another first-rate appointment. But he, too, faces an almost impossible situation. Hilary was widely cheered when she showed up at the State Department. It was as if the employees there were waiting to be liberated. Obama is certainly not wasting any time in getting started on problems that have been ignored and festering badly for the past eight years. Bush/Cheney had such a singleness of purpose (to spend every waking moment enriching their corporate and wealthy friends) they just didn’t seem to care about anything else. The greatest criminal conspiracy in history and so far they have pulled it off without a hitch. Hopefully, justice will catch up with them. If not, the U.S. will never recover its former position among the nations of the world.
The Republicans have “lost it” so badly they now have recourse only to petty obstructionism that has no purpose other than grandstanding and trying to get a bit of publicity. They held up Hillary’s appointment for a day only for Cornyn to show off, and now Spector is holding up Holder’s appointment for a week for the same petty reason. They also delayed the Geithner appointment. Pathetic. But let’s hope they stay just that, pathetic, for a very long time, those, that is, who can stay out of jail.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Robert Frost

The poet and anarchist, Jean N. A. Rimbaud, did his best work as a teen, and gave up writing further poems before he turned 21.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't close Guantanamo!

Man drives loaner car on river ice in
search of lost dog, locks himself out,
watches exhaust heat ice and car disappear.

Don’t close Guantanamo! But by all means remove all the current prisoners and put them in places where they can have fair trials in a legitimate legal system, instead of the illegal and unconstitutional kangaroo courts in Guantanamo without even the benefit of habeas corpus. Guantanamo should be kept open, however, as it would be the perfect facility for Bush/Cheney and their band of criminals. According to what we have been told by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others, it is almost as if it was designed for white collar criminals. Remember the wonderful tropical climate, the gourmet food, the kindly guards, the comfortable cells, and otherwise pleasant conditions we were assured were to be found there. Bush/Cheney and the others could luxuriate there, we wouldn’t even have to charge them with any particular crime, and sentences could be infinite if necessary. This would afford us an opportunity, using their own “enhanced interrogation techniques” (which are not torture, they assured us) to find out what they did with all the billions they filched from the taxpayers, the means they employed, the corporations and companies involved, and so on. No doubt the much vaunted secrecy of the Bush/Cheney administration would crumble under interrogation and we could learn of crimes of which we were probably completely unaware had even happened. It seems to me that incarcerating them at Guantanamo would make perfect sense as on the one hand the facility already exists, thus saving much needed funds, and it would also keep the prisoners from being potentially attacked by angry prisoners already in our Federal and State prisons (that are already seriously overcrowded). Besides, Guantanamo is close to the U.S. but at the same time far enough away to discourage too many visitors. We could allow them to have lawyers, but only after the first few weeks or months. Phone calls and mail, if allowed, would need to be monitored and censored. I should think this is a near perfect solution for something that desperately needs to be done, and truly fitting. Maybe we could even learn which one was responsible for the essentially free pass the male prostitute, Gannon/Guckert, was allowed into the White House, a mystery that was never solved (Morialekafa never forgets).
Along these same lines, why do you think Bush did not pardon anyone who was complicit in any of these many crimes, not even Libby? My guess (and it is not much more than that) is that to pardon them would be an admission of guilt that Bush/Cheney want to avoid. I believe they are gambling that Obama and the democrats will not attempt to prosecute them at all (I wonder if Obama has made any kind of deal), and if they do, they will argue that whatever they did, they did for patriotism and defense of country. They clearly know that Obama has monumental problems to face and would prefer not to have to investigate and prosecute. They also know the democrats do not want to appear vindictive. Personally, I think Obama is legally obliged under our Constitution to investigate and prosecute if necessary (and I cannot believe it would not be necessary). If they are ultimately prosecuted I doubt any defense will work for them. I wouldn’t waste any time worrying about what republicans think of it, as it is entirely necessary whether vindictive or not. It also appears that the U.N. itself could take action against war criminals independently of the U.S. Furthermore, many countries, like Germany, France, etc. could also arrest these war criminals should they set foot in their countries. An Israeli General barely avoided arrest in London for war crimes, for example. This, along with what I perceive to be growing sentiment here for investigation and prosecution, leads me to believe this will become unavoidable (unless the U.S., under Obama, wants to admit to aiding, abetting, and defending known war criminals, which seems highly unlikely).

When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.'
Theodore Roosevelt

The eating of raw camel liver has been linked to the bubonic plague.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On ignorance and stupidity

Last night I wrote in my blog that I did not understand how anyone in Idaho could possibly believe that Obama’s election would mean the end of the world. My wife, who is smarter than I am (but only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), said it was because I failed to understand that those people actually believe what they have been told by Bush/Cheney and their friends in the MSM. That is, things like Iraq has been a resounding success and now there is a thriving democracy, Afghanistan likewise, the economic meltdown is not the fault of Republicans who did everything they could to avoid it, and so on. My response was to ask, “How could anyone be that stupid?” “They are,” she said.
This has led me to reflect on the difference between ignorance and stupidity. Many years ago I had the experience of living for several months with a group of extremely “primitive” people in the Highlands of New Guinea. I never had any occasion to believe these people were stupid, but they were extremely ignorant. How could they not have been? They had no newspapers, magazines, books, radios, televisions, or the internet. They had no means of communicating with anyone more than a very few miles away, people who were essentially like themselves. They certainly thought about things and even employed perfectly logical thought. One example comes readily to mind. One morning my interpreter, who I thought was exceptionally bright and thoughtful, came to me and announced, quite seriously, “White women don’t menstruate.” Being by then accustomed to his occasional outbursts, I merely asked, “Why do you think that?” “No man would ever sleep with a menstruating woman,” he insisted. “White men (in town several miles away) sleep with their wives, so they don’t menstruate.” This is, of course, perfectly logical, given his premise I’m not certain he even believed me when I told him otherwise. In any case, it is clear there is a difference between ignorance and stupidity.
But there is, I submit, also a difference between ignorance and willful ignorance. The people I knew in New Guinea had no choice but to be ignorant. There was nothing they could do about it. Unfortunately, that is not true of people in the United States. Many of the people here in Idaho who believe things like, “Obama is a Muslim,” or “Obama wasn’t even born in the U.S.,” or Iraq is a functioning democracy,” or “Bush inherited a recession,” or Obama means the end of the world, and so on, could easily learn otherwise if they chose to do so. But they don’t. Many of these people, I know from experience, do not read at all. If they listen to the radio they listen to Rush Limbaugh only. If they watch TV they watch only Fox news. The little bits of misinformation they have they pass back and forth to each other. They make no real attempt to learn or know anything else. They are, in short, willfully ignorant. To me, such willful ignorance, which does not prevent them from proclaiming utter disaster at the hands of democrats, also means they are stupid. They have the means to find the truth, or at very least both sides of an argument, but they deliberately choose not to do so, and go on year after year voting even against their own best interests. Stupid is as stupid does.

There is no nonsense so gross that society will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every weapon of communal stupidity.
Robertson Davies

Edgar Allen Poe was the first serious American writer to try to earn a living by writing alone.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The end of the world?

I understand that Bush is leaving office with a 22% positive rating. Dick the Slimy is leaving with a 13% positive rating. Those have to be records for the absolutely worst President and Vice-President ever. The eight years of Bush/Cheney have been a nightmare. Two lost wars, an economy in freefall, terrible unemployment, an unprecedented national debt, a probable depression, a failed war on drugs, Katrina, and, in fact, failure as far as the eye can see. They have not one positive thing to have done for either the nation or its ordinary citizens.

And yet, here in our little town, we overhear daily expressions of fear. Many people here are convinced that things are going to be terrible under the new administration. That everything is going to fail and, to listen to some, it is indeed almost the end of the world. I confess to be at a loss to understand this. These are not people who are among the obscenely rich that have benefitted from the Bush/Cheney rape of the taxpayers. They are for the most part just ordinary people who work for a living, farming, logging, teaching, etc. Of course they are all Republicans so I guess part of their fear is simply of democrats. Democrats, they seem to believe, are going to take away their guns, convert our nation into a socialist state (or even worse, communism), allow gays to marry, actively promote abortion, and on and on. In short, they are ignorant people who basically know nothing they haven't heard from their idols Rush, Hannity, and such. Much of it is just plain racism. If you listen you just hear nigger this and nigger that and so on. I find it quite incredible. We have just had eight years during which time their own class has been under siege, wages have declined, people have lost their savings and pensions, out military has been savaged, our veterans neglected, our unions busted, and more and more people without health insurance or jobs. In spite of this they seem to think things will get worse under Obama. Not just worse, disastrously worse. And many of these same people expressed dissatisfaction with Bush/Cheney and I know some of them refused to vote at all. I am at a loss to explain this. I do think that if they had their way it would truly be the end of the world. This represents a level of ignorance so abysmal I think it might be characterized as pathological (I don't know if there is such a concept as pathological ignorance but there ought to be).

I have never found, in a long experience of politics, that criticism is ever inhibited by ignorance.
Harold Macmillan

Playing cards were known in China as early as the 9th century.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Please be advised that my journey to the west, and part 8 that should have appeared today, will be delayed for a time. My regular computer refuses to work at all so nothing on it can be accessed. I have no idea at the moment how long it will be inoperative. I guess it needs to be degrungified, or worse. Enjoy the inauguration. Long live Barack Obama!!

There's no nut like a gun nut. According to the Spokesman Review, gun sales in the Northwest have substantially increased since Obama was elected. Much of this is probably due to gun dealers who encourage rumors that Obama will take our guns away. I don't believe this, nor do I believe any substantial changes will occur vis-a-vis gun ownership. I cannot help but wonder how many of these people buying guns already own guns. Taking guns away from the millions upon millions upon millions of gun owners in the U.S., in addition to being totally impractical, would be more difficult than taking away their first-born children. Remember Morialekafa's mantra - Do not panic! We have our first black and white President. The world is not coming to an end. I'm certain Obama has much more important things on his mind than taking away our small arms. If you were not fearful of Bush/Cheney, who clearly did not have your best interests in mind, I don't believe you should fear Obama, who apparently does. This increase in gun sales was claimed previously but apparently turned out to be false. Are sales up dramatically all over the U.S., or primarily only in the Northwest? Precisely, who is it that are buying these guns? I am suspicious of these claims. Remember, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. There are also unsubstantiated rumors. Personally, I don't care how many rifles and pistols are being sold, there are so many already I can't imagine it will make much difference.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Life in the Land of Plenty

I have a problem that has haunted me for a very long time. It has two major parts: (1) why was I born where and when I was, and (2) how guilty should I feel about living in the land of plenty. The first part of this is not too difficult to understand, although the understanding is so rudimentary as to not be very satisfying. That is, I didn’t have any control over where I was born or when, so why should I be concerned about it. But it has concerned me ever since I was a small boy. I was born in America, the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth, as well as one that I should be rightly very proud of as it does offer free speech and other freedoms denied to many of the other peoples on earth. But I cannot get over the fact that I was born here and now, and not somewhere else where things are so much worse. Why, that is, was I not born a poor Indian, or perhaps an Arab, or maybe an Australian Aborigine? Of all the places and cultures on earth how is it that I, among a relatively small elite population, was so lucky, when so many others were born into poverty and misery? I have always wondered about this ever since I can remember. I do not feel guilty about it as I realize I had nothing to do with it. But who or what did have something to do with it? Was my birth merely a random act in a completely random universe? Was there some supernatural power overseeing my birth? Is my current being a reward (or punishment) for some previous condition that I cannot remember? I know I will never know the answer to this, and I know there is nothing I can do about it. It just is.
Unfortunately, my rudimentary understanding of the first part of the problem does not help me with the second part. I had nothing to do with part one, and could not have had anything to do with it, but that is not the case with part two. It was a visit to our Supermarket today that reminded me again of the complexity of this second part. Ours is a quite small supermarket as such places go. Even so, I am always stunned when I walk the aisles and observe the commodities for sale there. One of the things that I marvel at, which I have written about previously, is a bin or case or whatever you call it, where there are frozen, pre-formed potatoes of all kinds. This case is a full 30 or more feet long and about 3 feet wide, and is dedicated to nothing but frozen potatoes. There must be easily 25 or 30 different types, probably more (see Morialekafa 4-14-05). On one opposite wall runs a store length freezer section that features various frozen dinners and ice creams. There must be 20 or 30 varieties of frozen pizzas, and also that many or more varieties of ice cream. A similar store length freezer on the other side of the frozen potato bin contains frozen already prepared dinners. There seem to be dozens upon dozens of these, not only representing different types of meals, but also the same meals by different companies. Virtually the entire store is dedicated to this kind of diversity. There are two huge aisles of nothing but snacks: crackers, chips, pretzels, cookies, toasts, nuts, dips, popcorns, crunchy things of all kinds. Even this pales into insignificance when compared with the aisles of breakfast foods. Pet foods, too, take up two large rows of space, cat and dog foods almost as far as the eye can see. The really large bags of dog and cat food occupy a special aisle of their own. Diversity seems to be the rule. Even toilet paper and paper towels come in many different varieties. Indeed, virtually any item you might think of comes in many more than just one type. I will not even comment on what you find in the canned food sections of this modern day emporium. Or even worse, what exists in the way of toothpaste, shaving creams, hair spray, deodorants, and such things. We are certainly offered a choice. You cannot even send your children to the store to buy a loaf of bread, or a roll of toilet paper, or even a box of crackers or some shampoo, without precise specifications clearly spelled out as to exactly what make and type you desire. Thank goodness for cell phones. Anyway, why should this bother me? Like the first part of the problem, it’s basically out of my hands, there is little or nothing I can do about it. But it still bothers me dreadfully. First of all, I think of the starving Palestinians in Gaza, or starving children around the world, and I think it is decidedly unfair that we should have so much while most of the world has so little. Even though there is little or nothing I can do about it, I still feel guilty. But what bothers me equally is simply that I think it is absurd. I have no idea how one might decide how many different kinds of frozen potatoes there should be, but the idea that there are frozen potatoes at all strikes me as absurd, and the fact that there are so many different types strikes me as doubly absurd. I simply do not believe that in order to live happily and healthy we really need all these frozen potatoes, nor do I believe it is necessary to have so many different varieties of toilet paper. I guess we can just chalk this up to a consumer-driven society gone mad. I try to restrict my shopping to the end of the market where they still sell real food: potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, celery, fruit, meat and fish, stuff like that. It’s basically all I can understand.

Friday, January 16, 2009

War crimes and cats

Elderly woman driver
hits scooter rider, drives off
to keep hair appointment.

Is the die cast? It would seem to me that now that Bush/Cheney have admitted to condoning waterboarding, and waterboarding, according to our new Attorney General-to-be is torture, and torture is against U.S. law as well as International law, we will have no choice but to prosecute them, and some others, for war crimes. Would it not be completely unacceptable in the eyes of the world not to do so? What excuse could we possibly offer for such a failure? I don’t think explaining that we’re just too busy with other things is going to cut it. I doubt that claiming it is too expensive will work either. The way things are developing it looks like Obama and Holder are going to be compelled to prosecute, even if they might prefer not to do so for whatever reasons. Personally, I think prosecution is obviously the right course, and it certainly will be well-deserved. I hope I live long enough to see these criminals in prison where they belong.

Bush/Cheney have three days left before leaving office. They could do further irreparable damage in that amount of time, but what about pardons? So far Bush has not pardoned anyone we might have expected him to pardon. Some have said he might attempt to pardon himself along with others involved in the torturing and other crimes. I don’t know how he could do that as it would violate all common sense and logic to have a system whereby a President could pardon those he directed to commit crimes he was involved in as well as absolving himself from responsibility. I suppose he might try something like this, knowing that at the very least it would tie itself up in the courts so long he would be probably dead and gone before it was settled. Our justice system doesn’t seem to work very well, or very fast, when it comes to serious white collar crimes. If you have enough money, and can hire enough lawyers, you can keep a case alive virtually forever, and sometimes win even though you are admittedly and obviously guilty. Will Eric Holder be able to restore justice to the Department of Justice? Let us hope so.

Changing the subject entirely, let me say a few words about cats. We currently have four of these strange creatures here at Sandhill. I say “we” even though I am a pretty much an unwilling participant. It’s not that I don’t like cats, or find them interesting, I just would prefer not to have any. But that aside, let me describe these four strange creatures. Our oldest, Ceci, is a calico that was found when very small and left in a parking lot. The woman that found her took her home but her other cats didn’t like her so she gave her to us. Ceci is now about 13 years old. We have two all gray cats, sisters, that have been raised together since birth. They are now about 3 or 4 years old. One of them, Claire, is twice the size of her sister, Kate (I have no idea why). These three were getting along well until recently when Midnight showed up about six months ago. Midnight is now about 1 year old. We did not seek out this almost all black animal, he just showed up in our house, coming in uninvited through the cat door in the basement. He had obviously tried out at two of our neighbors houses but finally settled on ours (my wife is a real sucker for cats). Now we have a sort of cat chaos, even though we spent good bucks getting him fixed. The problem is he is too young to know how to behave. He wants to play with the other cats, but they don’t want to play with him. They don’t like him. He’s big and he sometimes chases both Claire and Ceci. He never hurts them, but he sometimes corners them and then just stands there not knowing what else to do. Ceci, especially, reacts like a hysterical old lady and starts screaming the moment she sees him, even if he doesn’t chase her. Claire also screams but not so much. Kate, however, by far the smallest of all, has his number. When he approaches her she chases him away and he does run from her. It is quite amazing how this littlest one can dominate all the others. Ceci is a grouch and does not like to be picked up, although she will let my wife pet her at times. Claire and Kate are affectionate enough when outside, but not in the house. Neither one likes to be picked up although you can briefly pet them otherwise. Midnight is the only one that is truly affectionate and will allow himself to loll in your arms or on your lap and cannot be petted enough. He is just a big dumb brute of a cat, Ceci and Claire are fat and relatively inactive, Kate is slim and elegant and fears absolutely nothing. She seems to have the metabolism of a hummingbird. They are all spoiled and rip up the furniture which has now badly deteriorated. I refuse to buy new until we rid ourselves of the cats. My wife will never agree to this so we just put up with our shredded furniture and the chaos. Someone said that “a house without a cat, is like life without sunshine.” I believe I might prefer the darkness. Such is life here at Sandhill. My son is away at University, the rest of us just slowly grow old together.

Cats and monkeys; monkeys and cats; all human life is there.
Henry James

Gerald Brenan, to spite his father who wanted him to attend Sandhurst, set off with a friend to walk to China. They only made it to Bosnia where they ran out of money.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


When daughter refuses to
let father see grandaughter
he hires hitman to beat her.

At a little after 3:00 p.m today a U.S. Airways plane with 155 passengers aboard, with an exceptionally skilled and experienced pilot in charge, made a remarkable emergency landing in the Hudson River. One woman suffered two broken legs, all others were rescued safely with either minor or no injuries. It was quite remarkable. If you are blind, deaf, and had no human communication at all today, you probably still know about this. But if by some weird chance you didn’t, I suggest you read the above over at least a thousand times and you will then appreciate the MSM coverage of this event. I was especially disappointed with Keith Olberman, who spent most of his hour on this, and then with Rachel Maddow who also spent way too much time repeating the same story. From the crash until now this constitutes the news of the day. The Israeli/Palestinian bloodbath in Gaza is already being forgotten (covered up?). Where does the MSM get the idea that every plane crash, car chase, or idiotic starlet must have 24/7 coverage until the next one comes along. What do they think, there might be one person somewhere at the bottom of a well in the mountains of Idaho surrounded by grizzly bears and wolves, to say nothing of FBI agents, that might miss out on hearing about it?

Oh, yeah, the Moron-who-was-never-really-in-charge-or-interested-in-being-President made his farewell address. This, thankfully, received very little coverage. He did not mention Gaza. I guess there weren’t too many people interested in listening to his outrageous lies and claims. I never really know whether he knows he is just blatantly lying or if, in fact, he is that out of touch with reality. Soon this fake President, with his fake “ranch,” and his fake compassionate conservatism, and his fake cowboy act, will ride off into the sunset into what future I do not know. Personally, I hope it will contain an orange jump suit or some elegant prison stripes.

Along these lines, there was a very significant development today. Eric Holder, who is to be our new Attorney General, said unequivocally that waterboarding is torture. Now anyone who is even near sane has known that for a very long time. But Bush/Cheney have admitted to condoning it, which means they have admitted to a war crime. Neither Gonzales nor Mukasey were willing to say it was a war crime, thus aiding and abetting war criminals. But if Holder has said it was torture, and if torture is a war crime, and if the Constitution insists that such crimes be prosecuted, well…take it from there. I guess this does not necessarily mean that Obama will go ahead with investigating and prosecuting, but it certainly appears to be a step in the right direction.

A similar positive step (I think and hope) is that the Senate agreed to turn over the next 350 billion of “bailout money” to Obama. Now if Obama uses it wisely, instead of just turning it over with to restrictions to the financial institutions as Bush did, perhaps the beginning of a real turnaround may proceed. I don’t suppose there is any chance we might recover any of the billions upon billions that were given to Bush/Cheney corporate cronies in no-bid contracts and cost-plus scams, but talk of a windfall profits tax on the petrogiants rings a bell with me. Let’s have it. With that, the decriminalization of pot, abandonment of the war on drugs, and drastic reductions in the military budget, we ought to at least begin to recover from the past eight years of unremitting theft, lies, distortions, and stonewalling.


Beautiful stranger
beside me on the train –
what is it about me
that keeps her filing her nails
for nearly fifty miles?

Tom Hartman

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals want to rename fish “sea kittens” to discourage people from eating them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Life in France - Book +

I have just finished reading My Life in France by Julia Child (with Alex Prud’homme). What a delight! It is truly an example of “Remembrences of Things Past,” being an account of her life in France (and Germany, Norway, and the U.S. too, at least for a bit). A wonderful and engaging account of how this 6’ 2” young American woman from Pasadena arrived in Paris, speaking no French, and not knowing how to cook, and went on to become the greatest representative of French cooking in the United States, published a best-selling cookbook, and also pioneered cooking shows on television. It speaks to her love of France and the French, as well as their famous cuisine, her happy and productive fifty year marriage to her artist husband, and the unbelievable labor of love that went into her famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And there are descriptions of the fabulous meals she cooked and was served, as well as the fine wines they drank, and the friendships they formed over the years with a wide variety of people, mostly well-known chefs and gourmands. A genuine liberal Democrat, she was unfortunately at odds with her ultra-conservative father all her life, especially over the McCarthy witch hunts. The book is well-written, honest and direct, and true to Julia Child, not in the least bit pompous or patronizing. If you have any interest in Julia Child, French cooking, and/or Paris and France in the 1940’s and 50’s, you should certainly read this fine book.

While I would not characterize the book itself as nostalgic, one cannot come away from it without a great deal of nostalgia. It is impossible to believe that her experiences in France, or the France of that time itself, could ever be replicated. What is past is past and can never be the same, however much we might wish it to be. One other observation (this is not meant to be a criticism) has to do with liberals in general. My experience over the years has led me to believe that as liberals wish to identify with those less fortunate than themselves they often understate the means at their disposal. In this case, I find it hard to believe that Julia and her husband could have eaten and drank, and in general done what they did, with the limited means she sometimes claims they had. This does not in the least distract from the charms of the book.

I guess we won’t have to keep grasping at straws much longer. After the inauguration we will begin to get a much better picture of what to expect out of the Obama administration. At the moment all we get are hints that things might actually change. For example, reading between the lines one might have the impression that Obama is not going to continue to pursue the Bush line with respect to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Hillary today actually mentioned “the suffering Palestinians,” and Obama himself in the past has expressed similar sentiments. Does this mean the Palestinians might actually begin to get fair treatment from the U.S.? Also, although it is impossible to tell whether Obama will actually investigate and pursue the crimes of Bush/Cheney, there are subtle hints that he might. He has said he will definitely close Guantanamo, but it is hard to tell how soon this will be completed. Even our ridiculous relationship with Cuba may change for the better. There is also a suggestion that our hopelessly silly and lost “war on drugs” may change for the better. Now there are also hints that he may be going to change our strategy in Afghanistan. While it appears that he still plans on sending more troops there, it is now being reported this is to be a temporary move while we rethink out plans for that troubled land. So here we are, desperately grasping at the smallest straws, left wondering what will really happen after next Tuesday, and hoping desperately for the changes we have been led to expect. But I guess after waiting these long, terrible, miserable, disgusting eight years, we can wait another week for our hoped for deliverance.

I guess we also got more than a hint of how cooperative the Republicans are going to be today. Obama has requested the 350 billion dollars remaining in the bailout money and the Republicans are going to vote against it. So Bush/Cheney were allowed to throw a 350 billion dollar bone to the Financial Industry, with no accountability, but Obama is supposed to turn the economy around with no funds. I wonder how long it will be before it dawns on Obama that trying to cooperate with Republicans is no more effective than baying at the moon.

“Ike was just not inspiring: I got nothing but a hollow feeling from his utterances, as if Pluto the dog were suddenly making human noises.”
Julia Child

In 1440 Johannes Gutenberg perfected his method of printing using moveable metal type, thus making possible the mass production of books. Bi Sheng, in China, had invented moveable clay type in 1041.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Israeli Death Wish

Chinese woman, 107, seeks first
husband, as her surviving relatives
are too old to care for her.

As the United States Congress, along with their Israeli “pals,” have now revealed themselves as a group of genocidal maniacs, the nation of Israel is almost surely doomed. No, not next year, or perhaps even for many years, but it will not ultimately survive. Try as they might, with all of their state-of-the-art U.S. supplied weaponry, even including their use of illegal phosphorous bombs, they will not be able to kill all the Arabs, not even all the Palestinians. No matter how the current genocidal program in Gaza ends, it will not be the end. The Israeli fat lady has not yet sung, but she will eventually, and it will be over. The Israeli death wish will come true, even with the help of its only friend trying to protect it.

The only realistic solution to the Israeli/Palestinian problem would have to be a two state situation, with both states living side-by-side in peace. I believe that is no longer possible. Even if there were to be two states they could never live in peace. Not now, not after this latest Israeli attempt at genocide, an attempt so blatant there is no longer even a pretense of anything else. For the Israelis, the Palestinians are non-humans and must be either totally eliminated or at least reduced to a population so emasculated, starving, and helpless they will have no alternative but to abjectly surrender and accept the reservation life that will be their fate. Even if this were to happen it is unlikely the Arab world, along with the Iranians, would ever forgive and forget. The Israelis have sealed their own fate. What will eventually become of them I do not know. Perhaps like the Flying Dutchman, they will be sentenced to roam the world until they find someone who loves them. After their current Gaza adventure this will not be easy.

The only alternative to the two state solution would be a one state solution, where Israelis and Palestinians share the same territory and the same government. But with the demographics what they are, the Israelis would be overwhelmed in just a short time by the Arabs. They could perhaps try for a time to continue the present apartheid situation, but like South Africa and other colonial attempts it would ultimately fail. Both Israel and the U.S. seem incapable of understanding that colonialism is dead. The rest of the world has moved on, given up their colonies and their empires to the judgment of history. We are presently witnessing the inevitable end of the American empire, as well as the failure of Israel to succeed in its attempt in Palestine. Thus, it seems to me that whatever happens in Gaza in the next few days or weeks, will not matter much in the long run. At best it is merely the penultimate attempt to maintain a dying chapter in human affairs. It may linger on painfully and hopelessly for a time, but is inevitably doomed. What might happen next is perhaps too potentially horrible to speculate about, but I guess the peoples of the world will either learn to live in peace or the earth itself may once again revert to some more primordial condition. Why do I worry or speculate about such things that are not going to affect me? I don’t know. It seems to be part of my own peculiar human condition.

There seems to be considerable excitement now on the internet that Obama will abandon the Bush/Cheney approach to the Israeli/Palestinian problem (which seems to have varied between either benign neglect or enthusiastic support for Israel) and become more actively engaged. As above, I fear this may be too little and too late. While I admire Obama and hope for the best, I do not believe he can walk on water or leap tall buildings at a single bound. History seems to move on inexorably, inevitably, and independently of human will, even though Great Men do sometimes influence it. Indeed, greatness is perhaps measured by the amount of influence involved. If ever we needed a Great Man it is now.

“Une maison sans chat, c’est la vie sans soleil!” (A house without a cat is like life without sunshine).
Therese Asche

The Alhambra, completed in the late 1300's, was the official residence of the Moors when they controlled Spain. The translation of Alhambra is the "red fortress."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Journey to the West (7)

Here is another brief contribution to my "sort of memoir."

My father must have bought the first house about the time I was born. It was virtually downtown, being only a block from the business district and across the street from the Elks Club and the Post Office. We must have lived there until I was about two. I have no memories of living there but there are photographs that attest to it. The house was fairly large, frame (as were most of the houses in our town), with bedrooms upstairs. My father decided to rent it and bought a duplex two doors away where we moved. We rented the downstairs of the duplex and lived upstairs. It was a kind of strange place. There was a very narrow, dark set of stairs that led to our home. We lived in two stories, the first of which consisted of a large kitchen, small bathroom with only a tub, two bedrooms, and a large screened in porch. This was screened with something I think was called cellotex (a kind of plastic screening that did not allow air to penetrate). On this porch was my mother’s piano, our ice box, and a few places to sit. We did not have a refrigerator until I was a teenager. The iceman would come once a week, climbing up the steep back stairs with a twenty-five pound block of ice on his shoulder. The milkman delivered milk up the same narrow stairway, milk that came in bottles that he left on the little porch we had, where in cold weather the frozen cream would rise up out of the bottles. Wood and presto- logs were also kept on the small porch, with a small hatchet to break them up. There was no central heating, merely a large wood cook stove in the kitchen that heated water and warmed the one floor where we spent most of our time. As I recall, we rarely bathed more than once a week, and we had no telephone. We slept upstairs in a third floor attic, my parents each had their own double bed on one side of the chimney and I had a similar bed on the other side. There was a large walk-in closet where my father kept his guns locked in an ugly home-made box and we kept our clothing. I remember it as being warm and comfortable. As it was also at the time of the Lindberg kidnapping I also remember being frightened at night at imaginary figures created by an old-fashioned chest of drawers with upright arms that supported a mirror where my father hung his neckties.

For a time we had a boarder named Alma. She was very Swedish. I do not think this was a financial arrangement as Alma was a friend of the family, working as a waitress, who needed a place to stay. After she left we never had another boarder. She was quite nice except for the one time I walked in on her in the bathtub. I thought it was her own fault for not locking the door, but children rarely get the best of an argument with adults. When I was still small my mother would get up in the morning, start a fire, and when it began to warm up she would stand me up on a stool and dress me for the day. She also used to warm the cold toilet seat for me. I was pretty spoiled in that way. In the winter when I came in with freezing hands and feet she would sit me with my feet in the oven and rub my hands. I never doubted that my parents loved me, although I later sometimes came to doubt why they should.

There was a small backyard, probably not much bigger than forty feet by forty. Along one side was a woodshed and a boardwalk that led to a tumbling-down garage. There was no grass in this yard, just dirt. But I often played there with a little pedal car and other toys. Virtually no one tried to garden in our town as the soil was not fertile and there was little room. Our next-door Italian neighbors, the Costellos, had a tiny garden where they grew mostly herbs. I remember Mrs. Costello offering me food from time to time, like red peppers in oil and such. As I thought all red peppers were hot I always refused her. She must have thought I was crazy. She had one son, Martin, who was three or four years older than me. He used to tinker a lot with an old Model A Ford, make lead soldiers, and snorkel in his bathtub. He was always nice to me although we did not play together. His father was said to be mean and often beat him for even minor offenses. My parents were horrified as they did not believe in corporal punishment for children.

I was fortunate in having playmates that were almost exactly my age living within just a few hundred feet of me. Billy Zent lived across the alley, and Norman Letchet lived in our rental house. Bill had an older brother, Clifford, a year older, who also played with us. In those early days we mostly played Cowboys and Indians, Robin Hood, Cops and Robbers, as those were what we saw weekly in the movies. We went faithfully every Saturday where there were serials to be followed and lots of “B” pictures to enjoy. Once a year there was “Pals Day,” where two of us could attend for only ten cents (ten cents was the going fee for movies in those happy days). Ice cream cones were a nickel, hamburgers were a dime or fifteen cents. We had two movie theatres, one somewhat better than the other, but both offering pretty much the same fare. I recall when seeing Frankenstein for the first time I hid under the seat with my sheepskin coat over my head. I never liked horror films, or anything grotesque in any way, including Halloween, a quirk of character that is with me to the present day.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Is everyone crazy? Or is it just me? What is going on in Gaza is just plain “sick.” And the fact that the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly in support of the Israeli attacks on the innocent people of Gaza is every bit as sick as the behavior of the Israelis. There is no excuse for this mass slaughter, and don’t give me the crap about Israelis having the right to defend themselves. Of course they have such a right. Everyone does. But not everyone overreacts so egregiously as to engage in the bloody and deliberate slaughter of women and children. These deaths are not just accidental, just collateral damage. The Israelis are out to rid themselves of the Palestinians no matter what anyone thinks. And due to the immorality of the U.S. involvement in this holocaust they will likely get away with it. I cannot possibly describe my rage and disgust at this inhuman, racist, murderous behavior that is being carried out in full view of the entire world, nor can I possibly express my shame over the involvement of my country in this bloodbath. There is no excuse for what our Congress did with this vote. Either they are totally uninformed as to the history of the conflict, or they are blatant racists, or both. Do you believe for one moment that if the people in Gaza were Western-Europeans the world would tolerate this? I am quite certain they would not. But these victims are Palestinians, Arabs, non-humans in the eyes of the Israeli military, just as all others who have been destroyed were first defined as non-humans. That this is the Israeli attitude toward them has been obvious for years and there is no way it can be denied. For our Congress to sanction this is to admit they share in this view of the Palestinians. What the Israelis are doing is an obvious and outrageous war crime, every bit as bad as the holocaust, although granted on a smaller scale. There is no justification for it, and it cannot be explained as anything other than an attempt at genocide. If they cannot kill them all, the Israelis will decimate them to the point where they will be so defeated they will agree to the reservations the Israelis have in mind for them. You can forget a two state solution. The Israelis have now made that quite probably impossible. And as they will never agree to a single state that would inevitably have a much larger Arab population, there is no solution to the problem except continued violence until one or the other ceases to exist. And as the Israelis, thanks to us, have overwhelming military superiority, it’s not hard to guess at the outcome - unless the U.S. and the rest of the world come to their senses immediately and force the Israelis to give up their unfair and unwarranted treatment of these helpless people. What is happening in Gaza is not a “war,” it’s a hate crime.

There is a lot of other crazy stuff going on. For example, I had the misfortune to overhear a tiny portion of Bush’s speech about his father’s aircraft carrier. Basically all I heard before I could reach the control was Bush the Little talking about “integrity and honor.” What the hell does he know about either of those things? And why is he still allowed out in public when he obviously belongs in jail?

Then I heard an ad about something called “Lend America.” Supposedly there are billions available for people to finance or refinance their homes. I gather that this program allows one to finance up to 97 & ¾ percent of the value, and, and, and, there is no minimum credit score necessary. I thought that was how we got in this mess in the first place.

If this isn’t enough, think about Blagovich. If that isn’t crazy enough, think about Sarah Palin who claims if she had run as a Democrat she would have been treated with kid gloves. Then there is the U.S. Senate versus Illinois. The Senate won’t accept him without a signature from the Illinois Secretary, but the Illinois Supreme Court says the Secretary’s signature is not required. And now Yoo and Bolton (of all people) think the Executive should not have so much power. Dick the Slimy, when asked why the Supreme Court has ruled against him and Bush so often, simply said, “the Court is wrong.” See, crazy. And perhaps the craziest of all, in my opinion, is Obama’s belief that he will be able to work cooperatively with Republicans. If he tries to do that he will achieve none of the things he has said he wishes to do, and while he is trying to cooperate they will be scheming in every way possible to bring him down. If the past eight or ten years are looked at carefully one can only conclude that the Republicans gave up the right to call themselves a political party when they joined Bush/Cheney to become a criminal conspiracy, the Brafia.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The pressure mounts

Foraging moose calf (375 lbs.)
accidentally falls through Spokane
window into basement bedroom.

Much to my great pleasure the pressure is mounting for an investigation into the war crimes of Bush/Cheney and others. John Dean and Jonathan Turley, both keen legal minds, observed today on different programs that if the U.S. does not itself investigate allegations against these war criminals it is quite likely the case that some other nation will eventually insist on doing so, which would, of course, be a major embarrassment for our country. Bugliosi, too, has suggested Bush could be tried and probably convicted of murder. It now appears to me that however much Obama and Biden want to consider this something in the past, and do not wish to have to deal with it, they will most probably have to do so at some point (hopefully sooner rather than later as it will continue to hang over their administration until something is done). Nothing would make me happier than to see these monstrous torturers and murderers have to pay some price for their unforgivable horrible deeds. I have little doubt that if they were held accountable the world would rejoice. Maybe even Israel could be curbed (but as they haven’t been for more than 50 years, probably not). For me this comes down to a very basic question; is there justice and accountability in human affairs or not. In this case there is not – as yet.

In the movie, The Maltese Falcon, one of the policemen says, “Sam, I sure hope you know what you’re doing.” That is exactly how I feel when I think about Obama’s cabinet and other choices. I am certainly of two minds about some of them, but I have to admit I do have the feeling that Obama does, in fact, know what he is doing. He seems to have selected them with certainty, even though in some cases there are rather serious questions about their previous positions. Dennis Ross and John Brennan are good cases in point, but, then, so are Biden and Hillary, for that matter. Eric Holder has some baggage, as well. The only one I find no trouble with whatsoever is Leon Panetta, the CIA clearly needs someone from the outside to shape it up after the past eight years. Panetta would seem to have the necessary skills and authority to do so. Along these same lines, I keep telling myself that whatever Obama said about certain things during the campaign, and while waiting to be inaugurated, will not necessarily be precisely what he does after becoming President. I know that critics have been saying he may not do what he indicated he would do, like pulling our troops out in 16 months, or raising taxes on the wealthy, or unconditionally supporting Israel, or negotiating with Iran, and so forth. No doubt there will be pressures and constraints he will have to deal with, but there are things that I hope he will do: give more support to the Palestinians, raise taxes on the wealthy, get our troops out of Iraq as quickly as possible, find a way out of the Afghanistan mess, engage in diplomacy with Iran and others, including Hamas and Hezbollah, get us a universal health care program, prosecute war criminals, and restore our economy and stature in the international community. This sounds like a job for Superman. It is. Superman doesn’t usually need any help. Obama will need all the help he can get. I believe there is a Kenyan God named Asa, who has to do with mercy, help, and overcoming the impossible. Let us hope he will smile on Barack Obama.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics. They will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We've been asked to pause for a reality check; we've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.
Barack Obama

Julia Child was 6’ 2” tall when she arrived in Paris for the first time. She could neither speak French or cook.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Angry his friend is
being bounced, Alaska
man urinates on bouncer.

If Christians and Muslims worship the same God, do they all agree that Israelis have a Divine Right to Gaza? Somehow I wouldn’t think so. I confess to little understanding of all the gods, goddesses, angels, spirits, ghosts, and whatever other so-called supernaturals are claimed to exist. These various beliefs do seem to cause an inordinate amount of trouble.

Of course I don’t seem to understand much of anything that is going on at the moment. Take ads for automobiles and trucks, for example. Everyone, or at least some people, or perhaps only me, are supposedly concerned about getting vehicles that have much better mileage. As I don’t watch much TV, and thus don’t see many ads, I can’t claim to have much of a sample. But I have yet to see an ad for a car or truck that boasts of how many miles per gallon – other, of course, that a whole lot of them that boast of 24 miles to the gallon (my wife’s Honda beats that by far, so what’s so great about 24 mpg). All the ads I ever see are all still about horsepower (332 horsepower seems to be sort of “in” at the moment, or they are about power. They never are about small size, less horsepower, slower speeds (like, realistically, who needs a car that will go 100 or more miles per hour). What is said to be desirable by those who are concerned about this seems to have no relation to what is being built and marketed. This bailout of the auto industry is supposed to change this, but now that the price of oil is down again, don’t bet on it. You certainly don’t seem to be able to depend upon Americans to do anything sensible.

Another thing that confuses me is politics (of course politics have always puzzled me). For example, Obama wants a bipartisan plan to save us from disaster. Republicans say they will work with him. But then I see where they only want to work with him if he will do what they want him to do, because they fear if he is too successful in saving us from our pending disaster, they will quite likely be out of power for another 20 years as they were after FDR. In other words, staying in power is more important to them than saving the country. I understand that politics is supposed to be the art of compromise (it certainly hasn’t been that for the past eight years), but I believe there are some things that cannot easily or meaningfully be compromised. For example, I do not believe there could be any compromise over whether water is privatized or not. Water is too fundamental to life, too basic to our existence, to be allowed to be controlled privately. Air, likewise. Power, also. If people want a free market economy let it be restricted to things like cosmetics, fashion, tobacco, liquor, professional sports, and things like that. Absolute necessities cannot be compromised (I would include health care also). Goering apparently said, “When I hear the word culture I reach for my revolver.” That is precisely the way I feel about the word privatization.

Still another thing I cannot understand is International Law. I mean, I understand there is International Law, and I also understand more or less what it purports to regulate. It is supposed to regulate aggression toward others, as well as what is or is not permissible during hostilities. But it doesn’t. Israel has ignored International Law ever since its beginning in 1948, and no matter how often it has been condemned for violations, they still pay no attention to the law. I understand there is a difference between the formal, codified, and written law, and what is referred to as the “living law.” That is, there are things that are done that might technically violate the formal law, but are at the same time regarded as relatively commonplace and understood violations that are tolerated. So are we to believe that Israel is engaged in the living law, while the rest of the world is more compelled to observe the formal law? I don’t think so because the Israeli violations are by no means commonplace and understood by most people. We have a similar situation here in the U.S. Bush/Cheney have repeatedly violated both our own laws and International law and to date have gone completely unpunished. Does this mean they are using the living law while the rest of us are hung up on the formal laws of our nation and the world? I don’t think so. Anyway, as I don’t understand gods, goddesses, angels, or mpg’s and laws, I shall watch the football game. It’s relatively simple and straightforward.


If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.
Bertrand Russell


The Ancient One, known as Unkulunkulu, is the Zulu creator. He came from the reeds and from them he brought forth the people and the cattle. He created everything that is: mountains, streams, snakes, etc. He taught the Zulu how to hunt, how to make fire, and how to grow food.

From Wikepedia

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Divine Right

Doctor sues ex-wife for payment
for kidney he donated her
while they were married.

At this very moment a number of Israeli settler/vultures, most of whom were previously forcibly removed from Gaza, are waiting on the border to re-enter and re-claim (re-steal) land. Their rationale for this, “Divine Right.” That’s it. Remember the concept of Divine Right of Kings, whereby Kings were allowed to do most anything because they were believed to be sanctioned by God. In this case these Israeli bandits believe they have a Divine Right to Palestinian lands because God gave it to them. Whose God? Their God, of course. I don’t know what Allah might think about it, or any other God for that matter. It is a clever idea, however. In my case, for example, my God, “Big Juju,” has recently told me (I communicate with him ever Saturday morning at precisely 8:00 a.m.) that in a previously incarnation long ago I was an American Indian living on the land that is now under the Washington Monument. He has instructed me to take it back, partly because he cannot stand phallic symbols and I should destroy the monument. I told him I only have a pick and shovel whereas those that control the Monument have armies and tanks and cannons and helicopter gunships and F-16 Fighter jets and nuclear bombs and stuff like that. Big Juju said that doesn’t matter, I should keep on trying to re-capture it because it is the right thing to do. But the more I try, the more of my tribe gets killed and injured. We are also humiliated whenever we try to approach too close to this American icon. I have been throwing garbage cans full of garbage at them but it doesn’t work very well. Geez, I wish I had some real weapons, but more than that, I wish I had someone to help me. My people are starving and without medical attention or electricity and water and other necessities, but everyone just tells me it’s all my own fault. At least the “Mandate from Heaven” (a sort of Asian version of Divine Right) assumed a benevolent power would be in charge. And here I thought the concept of Divine Right went out with the bow and arrow as the chief weapon of warfare, or perhaps the side saddle..

How petty can you get? Barack Obama and his family were denied the use of Blair House, the usual residence of the President-elect and family, while waiting for the inauguration, on the grounds that it was booked. Blair House has 119 rooms. The only person booked is apparently the ex Prime-Minister of Australia who nobody even likes (except Bush who is going to give him a medal). So the Obamas, our next President and First Lady, are forced to stay in a hotel, that, I guess, was considered unsuitable for such an honored dignitary as the visiting Australian ex-Prime Minister. If that was not enough of a petty snub, Laura Bush has just revealed a whole new set of White House dishes, two weeks before she will be leaving the White House. I suppose she was honestly concerned about Michelle’s taste (they are colored, you know). These people are small, small, small.

It looks almost certain that Blagojevich will win! Roland Burris will almost surely be seated as the junior Senator from Illinois. Harry Reid and the rest of the Democrats will be seen as having egg on their face for some time to come, and are now stumbling and fumbling their way to a solution to a problem of their own making (of course Blagojevich, clever devil that he is, helped). Al Franken’s win is still being held up by the hypocritical Coleman who does not want to be the one defeated by both a professional wrestler and a comedian. I notice on MSNBC they have resurrected an old video clip of Franken imitating Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. I guess they think this will somehow make Franken look less Senatorial. Actually, it was a terrific imitation by a talented guy, and at least Franken was a comedian before he became a Senator, unlike most of the others who apparently waited until after they were elected to become comedians.

Would someone, anyone, please explain to me how it is possible to spend $236,000 remodeling a bathroom. I know it was paneled, and had a freezer (?) and a shower, and whatever else a bathroom presumably has, but, really, $236,000? What kind of baths does Dirk Kempthorne take? I can only assume they are not telling us that the fixtures were all of solid gold, but I was certainly relieved to learn that the towels were not monogrammed. I guess Dirk was trying to bring his Washington, D.C. office up to the standards he was used to back here in good ol’ Idaho. Is this just another example of Divine Right?

This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.
Will Rogers

Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948 as a result of the previous British Mandate on Palestine.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Hate and Indifference

Four-year-old grabs shotgun,
shoots his teenage babysitter
for stepping on his foot.

Hate and indifference. I assume that is what must be involved in the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I mean, really, nothing else makes sense. Why would Hamas keep sending ineffective rockets into Israel when they must know they are only going to bring about an unpleasant Israeli response? And why would Israel overreact so terribly, killing hundreds of Israelis, including women and children, when the Hamas rockets killed at most half a dozen Israelis over several weeks? The Israelis must know that they will become (again) an international pariah (except for the U.S. which supports even their worst atrocities unconditionally). What both sides are doing makes no sense whatsoever, neither militarily or politically. Thus I conclude that both sides are driven primarily by hate. The Palestinians hate the Israelis, perhaps for good reason. Israel was created on Palestinian land and displaced thousands of Palestinians from their homes, and subsequently have taken over more of their land illegally. Not only that, for forty years the Israelis have subjected Palestinians to daily humiliations and reduced them to abject poverty. The Israelis hate the Palestinians because…because…well, because they are Arabs, I guess. Israelis, and their supporters, have made no secret of the fact that they consider Arabs to be decidedly inferior (if they didn’t believe this they could not hate them so much – this has been true in all colonial situations). Personally, I think there may be a deeper reason for the Israeli hatred of the Palestinians; they really hate themselves for what they are doing to them but project this self-hatred onto the Palestinians who simply refuse to go away. As long as any Palestinians survive they are a constant reminder of the Israeli’s shame.

Of course most everyone here in the U.S. says that the problem is simply that Hamas sends rockets into Israel and that no country could stand for such a thing, so therefore Israel has a right to defend itself. This is such a simple-minded explanation for a deep historical problem that I have to wonder if these supporters have any brains at all. They never seem to mention the forty years of brutal occupation, the theft of land, the destruction of Palestinian homes and farms and orchards, the humiliations imposed at Israeli checkpoints, the cutting off of medical supplies and food, and on and on. No, it’s simple, if only Hamas would stop the rockets everything would be fine. Actually, if only the Palestinians would all die or disappear everything would be fine from the Israeli point of view. They are slowly trying to insure that this latter will happen. With the continued uncritical and immoral support from the U.S. perhaps eventually it will.

This, of course, does not explain the apparent indifference on the part of the rest of the world. The U.S. is not indifferent as we are actively supporting these war crimes. But supposedly the rest of the world, especially the European nations, are outraged at the Israeli behavior. And there is talk of meetings to discuss what might be done to bring about a ceasefire. But this is apparently mainly just talk, as no action has been taken and the Israelis are in the tenth day of their bloodbath, the equivalent of shooting defenseless people in a pen (or, as is often said, shooting fish in a barrel). I have heard it said that the Israelis are very careful about killing civilians (bullshit). I have heard that Israel has always been a moral force in the region (bullshit). I have heard the Palestinians called barbarians (bullshit). I have heard repeated so often it is sickening that it is all the fault of Hamas (bullshit), I have heard repeatedly how badly Israel wants peace (bullshit), and I have concluded that there is no truth in anyone who speaks about this atrocious situation. I think the West is indifferent, frankly because the Palestinians are Arabs. I think the Arabs do not want Hamas around because they threatened their own status quo (in this sense they cannot be said to be truly indifferent). Thus, at the moment the whole situation is being drive by irrational hatreds of long standing (that are now being exacerbated even further) and the relative indifference of the world to human suffering and misery (as long as it is not their own). It should make one ashamed to claim membership in the human species.

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings.
Helen Keller
It has recently been claimed that early ancestral humans may have used fire as long as 1.5 million years ago.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Journey to the West (6)

I cannot believe this is January of 2009 and I am living here in this remote corner of the country. My journey to the west draws closer to its conclusion each year. Before I should continue with the journey itself I should say something about my family background.

Both of my parents were from Norwegian stock. My father was born in Ottertail County, Minnesota, in 1897. He was one of 12 (or perhaps 13) children. His parents were solid middle class farmers who owned their own farm, including a small lake, and were reasonably prosperous. However, the farm could not support so many children so the children were forced to move on. My father only went to school to the fourth grade. By the time he was about 15 he was working in a lumberyard in Minneapolis (I believe it was Minneapolis, it could have been another city). He worked about 12 hours a day stacking lumber and doing manual labor. He was living in a boarding house. His only recreation was playing cards with some of the other boarders. As he invariably lost money he finally refused to play with them, at which point they took him into their confidences and he, too, became a professional gambler, which he remained for the rest of his life. In those days there was a gullible public and it was relatively easy to make a living just playing cards. For a time he rode the trains between Minneapolis and New York gambling with whomever he could entice into a game. He did well and began to dress in tailor-made suits, silk shirts, and ties with a diamond stickpin. He was a handsome man with dark curly hair in those days and was often called “Curly.” During WW I he enlisted in the army. He was sent to the Northwest to cut Spruce as that is what was used to make airplanes at that time. At war’s end he was discharged and found that it was not as easy to find prey as it had been. By this time there had been a number of articles warning people about playing with strangers and etc. So he started working in gambling halls as a dealer and eventually a floorman. He went where the money was in those days, Butte Montana, and Wallace, Idaho, thriving mining communities where gambling and prostitution and such flourished. At the time I entered elementary school he was a dealer and floorman in a cigar store that had gambling tables in the back room. I was told that when asked what my father did I should say he was a clerk in a cigar store. Having seen him at times sitting behind a green baize table with large piles of silver dollars in the middle I was well aware of the deception. But I could hardly have gone through my childhood trying to explain that my father was a gambler. He was good at what he did and in that environment was comfortable and did well. But as he had only a fourth grade education he suffered from some feelings of inferiority. For example, when offered employment in Reno, where he would have to wear a tuxedo and mingle with a higher class of people, he refused because he felt he would be out of place.

My mother was also from a Norwegian farm family. Unlike my father she attended the University of Washington where she took a two-year degree in music. She was a pianist and a vocalist and played for a time in an all-girl trio that traveled, among other places, to Alaska. Unfortunately, she seriously injured one of her hands in an automobile accident and was unable to pursue her career in music. She became a waitress where she met my father. Although they were a somewhat unlikely couple they married and lived together more or less peacefully. Unfortunately, again, my mother became deaf at about the time she bore me. I do not recall her deafness being a terrible problem, but it was at times a bit of an embarrassment. But ours was a small town, everyone knew her and understood she was deaf, and she managed quite well as a housewife and had many friends. Being well-educated she had higher aspirations for me than most of the other mothers did for their children, hence the ridiculous short pants and ties she had me wear when starting the first grade. Anyway, I always knew that my parents loved me and I felt secure and well-cared for. We were not wealthy by any means, but we always had good food, clothing, and a roof over our heads.

One of the consequences of my being the child of such an odd couple was that my religious training was virtually nonexistent. We lived in the upstairs of a duplex only three doors from a church on the corner. I believe it was an Episcopalian church. As my father was a gambler he felt it would be hypocritical, or at least unseemly, to attend church. As my mother was deaf she did not attend. Actually, I think they used these conditions as an excuse, and neither one of them were really interested in church. But, trying to be good and conscientious parents they sent me to Sunday School. I would be dressed up and sent off to the corner to attend. The first couple of times I actually did attend but nothing made any sense to me whatsoever. I didn’t know what anyone was talking about, I hated the hymns and the sermons, and even the sandbox in the basement held no charm for me. I soon learned that if I just went to the front door, got a copy of the handout, I could then run off and play for an hour before returning home. My parents were not stupid, they quickly learned of my deception, and that ended my religious training.