Thursday, March 31, 2016

Land of the free

America. Land of the free. Free to destroy the economy with no personal consequences. Free to use drugs in affluent white neighborhoods with no consequences. Free to abuse your body with expectations of government health care. Free to have a gun with no consequences if a child gets hold of it. Free to run up big credit card bills and mortgages on big houses and expect to be bailed out.

You get the idea. Freedom with no accountability.

But aren't we also free to act with integrity. To assume responsibility for our choices. To act for the common good. How much do we talk about that in the land of the free?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ask Mr. Manliness

Dear Mr. Manliness,
I want to become a manly writer of manly things. But right now I have only a boring little life. I was thinking about taking up bull fighting, cage fighting, demolition derby or Xtreme biking. Which do you think I should try?
--Longing to be a  man

Dear Longing to be a man,
Any of those would would certainly work. But my favorites are underwater demolition and underwear modeling.
--Mr. Manliness

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Black, white and gray

There is no important issue facing a leader in the contemporary world that is not gray, nuanced, complex and without consequences. This of course requires an educated populace willing to think through these problems on their own.

Not the black-and-whiters. There are no grays. There are no answers but theirs. There are consequences to be concerned with. This is how Donald Trump thinks and how he speaks to his followers.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Dear Mr. Manliness

Dear Mr. Manliness,
I recently shot a moose, but I am not sure that makes me enough of a man. I am thinking about going after a rhino. What do you think?
--Lovin' the NRA

Dear Lovin' the NRA,
Only dickheads shoot rhinos. They are an endangered species. Try shooting a half dozen morbidly obese Americans. That would help evolution more.
--Mr. Manliness

Dear Mr. Manliness,
I've stared to wear Calvin Klein thong underwear to help me fee more secure with women, but I keep thinking they are staring at me behind my back. What should I do?
--Thong Thing

Dear Thong Thing,
When men who wear regular underwear and bend over, these days they display their buttcracks with varying degrees of sexual success. However, thongs cling tightly in the same situation and present mixed messages, often hilarious. Change the underwear fast.
--Mr. Manliness

Dear Mr. Manliness,
In gatherings of men, they mostly want to talk about sports and home improvement projects. I'm more interested in Higgs bosons and Italian leather shoes. Am I gay or just a nerd?

Dear Conflicted,
Both. Obviously.
--Mr. Manliness

Dear Mr. Manliness,
I have always been insecure about my manliness. Is there an international standard measuring and comparing the size of the erect penis.
--Holding my own

Dear Holding my own,
Funny you should ask. Recent research has determined that erections depend on several variables: context, body temperature, light, ambient air temperature, blood pressure and whether the erection is natural or part of a doping regimen. In July, 2016 in Paris, an international conference will convene to consider this research and derive an international standard. Results are anticipated in January, 2017.
--Mr. Manliness

Sunday, March 27, 2016


The meaning of the Resurrection is not in the guarantee of life after death or in the assurance of the human dream of immortality.

The meaning is in the belief that we can rise again from life's little crucifixions as fuller and more loving human beings.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


In the Northern regions the seasons are a cycle of death to life to death to life. Endless loops bring darkness then hope then darkness then hope. Spring, in its warmth, flowering and greening, is that hope. The message is to be patient for the renewal of life.

In tropical regions, the seasons collapse. Life and death move in tandem, always hope, always loss. The message is to live, to live to outrace death.

This is nature preaching its evolutionary tale.

Friday, March 25, 2016


We Christians can get wrapped up in crosses, daffodils, penance, colored eggs and the Easter bunny. But, to me, Easter has meaning in its symbols and metaphors. Easter's meaning is rooted in deeper human urges that find form in ancient rituals and mythologies.

Sacrifice: The goat, the lamb, the virgin, the god are gifts exchanged between us and God signifying mutual need and dependence, knowledge that we do not ultimate control of our lives but we have faith.

Resurrection: Though we may not know what form it takes, death gives way to life just as life gives way to death. The cycle of nature's renewal is apparent and is a sign of hope for us when hope is really all we have.

The meal: The meal itself is a ritual full of meaning. All are fed at the levels of body, community and spirit, bonded in the communal meal.

Humanness: What is the meaning of all of this for us as humans beyond the meaning for us as Christians? Gethsemane, the washing of the feet, the judgment before Pilate. The deepest humanity is not earned easily. Humility, integrity, personal strength and answering the call are are worthy.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Angry at the government

It is often reported that Americans are angry at their government and want a change. There is good reason for that. But...

How many of them vote regularly?

How many of them know who their elected representatives are and contact them regularly?

How many of them pay their taxes faithfully?

How many of them vote for projects that focus on the common good?

How many of them volunteer their time to make their communities better?

How many of them depend on government support for disabilities, Social Security, Medicare, Medicare, WIC, fair housing, flood insurance and more?

We are a government of the people. The government is us.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Sheep. That's what we are to mass media. But they are not the Good Shepard. They are the ones leading us to slaughter.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

More artists?

No. We don't need more artists. We need more people who value artists.

Monday, March 21, 2016


I watched interview with President Obama during which Lester Holt asked him if he thought Cuba was moving too slowly on his initiative to improve relations. In this case as with other international cases, it is assumed that the other is the culprit.

In America, we have forgotten about the years in which Cuba was as US colony, a place where the US government wielded its bully power to protect American business interests and Mafia investments, keeping the poor extremely poor, supporting dictatorships, intervening in Cuban affairs and ultimately driving Cuba to Communism.

America has been recalcitrant in its 50 year embargo, punishing this small island nation while it deals with states like China and Vietnam. Cuba should be cautious of the dangers of American wealth and greed. It's hard to imagine David and Goliath turning out here as it did in the Bible.

The Cuban people struggle with issues of food and poverty and poor infrastructure. But the poor are not dirt poor as they were under Batista. Education is free and the Cuban people have a higher literacy rate that in the United States.

The sadly inevitable thing is that these problems cannot be solved people-to-people. It's the job of the governments, who up to this point have been the stubborn protectors of their own self interests.

Go to Cuba. See for yourself. Fall in love.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March madness

Tens of thousands of fans spend a great deal of money to attend March Madness games. How many of them donate equivalent amounts of money to the academic departments that educated them?
That's March madness.

No faculty member, not even a Nobel Prize winner, makes a salary comparable to the basketball coach. That's March madness.

The basketball coach can hug his players and pat them on their asses. He can ask for additional perks for the players and expect to get them. If a faculty member would ask for additional money, there is none. And a hug and a pat on the ass, it's straight to sexual harassment. That's March madness.

Though I may be a prick about this, it certainly pricks my sensibilities.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Picturing God

Ever try picturing God? Of course, we have the handsome Anglo-Saxon God who just happened to emerge from the Middle East at the time of the common era. Or we have the stern father God sitting enthroned in heaven. But those don't work so well anymore.

If God doesn't exist, it's clear we humans need to make him/her exist. And it's clear an image helps. But how to achieve this? In the past we've turned to artists. Theirs are the images we hold onto now.

But artists don't seem much interested in this job. And there aren't many clients asking illustrators for images of God.

I've asked myself this question multiple times and come up with some interesting answers. Try it for yourself when you're just sitting around daydreaming.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Trimp tidbit

Donald Trump had a gold wash basin installed on his plane. I wonder if his throne was gold also.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Donald the dealmaker

When Donald Trump makes his deals, he makes them to make money. He has the professional help to weedle through the system. He uses the bankruptcy laws (and who makes those laws?) to come out with a profit for himself and the hell with those who lose their jobs. If he makes money by consigning work overseas, he does it.

These deals are complex to understand and are full of nuanced grays to match his nuanced denials. Can dealmaker who traffics in ego and moneymaking, who deals for his own best interests, make deals for the general good? Deals that involve compromise?

So when he claims he can get a few senators together and make a deal in 10 minutes, how can any sensible person believe this?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Searching for God?

Some searching for God in false ways travel in parallel universes, incapable of touch or dialogue, living out their own apocalyptic battles.

Those who are truly searching for God travel in parallel, though sometimes meandering, paths moving to that single, elusive point on the distant horizon.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

At the beach

A little crab emerges from his hole, travels a few feet and heads into the next hole.
The shadow of a sea bird skims across the sand.
A young man spends a half hour trying to decide to dive into the icy water.
A girl with her feet in the surf checks her cell phone.
A dog plays in the water.
Shells sparkle in the sun.
Sandpipers peck at the sand.
A couple jogs along the beach.
An elderly couple sit beneath their beach umbrella.
Many people read in the shade they make.
My feet are dug into the sand.

Monday, March 14, 2016

super saturation

Once in chemistry class, we did an experiment in super saturation. One crystal was dropped into a super saturated solution and instantaneously crystals in excess fell out.

Donald Trump is that crystal. And we see what has fallen out--for the good and the bad.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


In the 50's we bought things mostly because we needed them. We expected them to last, and we treated them that way.

In the 80's we bought things because we desired them. They were marketed to us and we bit. Then we waited for the next fad.

Today we've been well-conditioned. We lust after things. We must have them. Things control us.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


It often said that Donald Trump is not a politician. Maybe not by trade.

Politicians lie to maintain power. Wealthy businessmen lie to maintain wealth.

In our society money is power and power is money.

Integrity is priceless but has no cash value.

Even as I write this it seems so cynical. How often is its validity played out.

Friday, March 11, 2016

If the inevitable is inevitable

For  many, the inevitable presidential contest will be Trump vs. Clinton. If this is the case, it will represent a critical juncture in modern American government.

Hillary Clinton has a resume that no other candidate can come close to. She has behind-the-scenes experience as an activist First Lady, Senate experience, State Department experience on the world stage, campaign experience, connections, and the chance to be the first female President of the United States. She's been tested. She has class, and she is savvy.

But she also carries the baggage of this same experience. The emails, past scandals, public failures, past decisions and policies which she must own. She represents the good and the bad of a life in public service. She is the candidate of minority voters.

Donald Trump has no resume of substantive value for the job of President. He has consistently demonstrated himself to be rude, crude and sophomoric in his behavior. He brushes off criticism with half-truths and falsehoods. He has offered no policies of significance to be scrutinized. He has no public service record to be held to.

Trump is the perfect candidate for the sound bite approach to news coverage. He'd rather reach those who watch Inside Edition or Entertainment Tonight than the PBS Newshour. He doesn't represent the mature statesman or the dedicated public servant. He's the billionaire who's as common and thuggish as the worst of us. He's the candidate of disgruntled and racist white America. And he scares the hell out of democratic world leaders who fear the consequences of a Trump presidency.

What America is is on the line here.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Imagine a world of 5 billion people, all living out their beliefs in the Abrahamic religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. What kind of world should that produce? What kind of world did the great teachers imagine?

Now look at the world we have. What happened?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016



Sump pump

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Simple answers

All of the major problems we face today are so complicated with so many shades of gray and so many facets and so many perspectives and so many players. Experts go head to head with competing solutions. Where are we with race, immigration, global warming, poverty, violence and more.
Our educational system has not prepared us to thoughtfully responsive to big issues in useful ways.

If there are no simple answers, perhaps we can go back to basics for simple guides. Love one another. Do no harm.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Donald Trump, the mirror

Put aside any legitimate fears of Trump's ascendancy. Put aside his bluster, bullying and generally adolescent behavior. Put aside his massaging of the truth. Look at Donald Trump as mirror.

Through him we have seen the ineptitude of the media in making the "debates" substantive and informative. Through him we have seen how enamored the media is of titillation, mudslinging and election fluff.

Through him we have seen the angry face of America and the frustration with government. Through him we have seen blindingly stupid xenophobia and religious hatred.

Through him we have seen Americans who feel left out and who want their government to work for them, no matter the agent and no matter the cost.

Look in that Trump mirror and we have to see us as the agents of  change.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Donald Trump: the first 100 days

Donald Trump becomes the first president to drive the inauguration route in a solid gold limo.
He gives gold pated coins with his image on them to all at the inaugural balls.

Trump refuses to ride on Air Force One since it does not have gold bathroom fixtures like his personal jet does.

Trump turns the White House bowling alley into a casino.

On a prod from Putin, Trump challenge all heads of state at the G8 Summit to go bare chested.
Angele Merkel declines.

Ivana Trump proposes legislation that would allow all poor women to choose between vouchers for food stamps and vouchers for botox treatments.

No disabled people are invited to the first State of the Union address for fear President Trump might make fun of them.

President Trump and VP Christie hold first cabinet meeting. Attending are Rubio and Cruz. No one else would agree to serve in the cabinet. They share stories of whom they most despise.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Visually illiterate

Watch music videos, car commercials, commercials for medications, action movies, fashion ads, the body language of news reporters, the clothing and makeup of celebrities. We live large portions of our lives staring at screens. We absorb this stuff and act on it. We live in a visual world. Written language is less and less a component of our daily lives, our intellectual lives.

We are seduced, educated, manipulated and entertained by visual media. We become consumers, voyeurs and celebrities on the social media of others.

But intentionally or by default, we are visually illiterate. In the absence of any real understanding of or education in the visual language, we are left to our own devices to interpret the visual messages we get. We don’t know how to deconstruct the images that come to us. We can’t figure out how they were constructed, why they were constructed and what the motives behind them are. That has political, social, cultural and economic consequences for all of us.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Stupid people

Stupid people wear me down.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The rise of the Donald

I ask myself what could account for so many Americans choosing to support a candidate like Donald Trump. I ask myself, not what this says about Trump, but what it says about America. These are some of the answers I get.

The Republicans, in pretending to "speak for the American people," have been obstructionist, rigid and pessimistic. They have failed their constituents and helped make Congress an institution despised by most Americans.

The Republican presidential candidates failed to break Trump's facade and expose the real Donald Trump. They descended to his level and were not able to present themselves as a viable and truly presidential candidates.

Donald Trump knows how to manage the media. He's egotistical, sly, unprincipled and a reality TV star.

The American public has been fed information in sound bites for so long, they no longer have the patience for or the critical thinking skills to do their due diligence in such an important election.

The news media have too often given up the opportunity to do the right thing in order to do the ratings thing. They lost control of the debates and reported on the juicy mudslinging instead of fact-checking and solid commentary. (It took a comedy show, The Daily Show, to show tape of Donald Trump actually meeting and talking to David Duke.)

And the American educational system; that's another story entirely.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Trump presidency

Hallmarks of a Trump presidency:

Trump and Putin arm wrestle, bare chested, for who gets Ukraine.

All laws making bullying punishable are rescinded.

Those who voted for Trump stage mass suicides.

Those who didn't vote for Trump emigrate to Europe or Canada.

All Muslims are rounded up and shipped to Guantanamo.

To consolidate support, all Republicans are given free memberships to all Trump sports and entertainment properties. And all Republicans accept.

A white supremacist is appointed to the Supreme Court.

The bankruptcy laws are expanded to protect wealthy individuals and businesses.

Mrs. Trump, as first lady, takes on the cause of designer jewelry and spike heels for all poor women.

Chris Christie becomes Vice-President and then President upon Trumps's assassination.

Trump replaces the White House bowing alley with a casino open only to white men.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


If you set yourself the task of making sense of the world--giving it meaning--why not do that as a gift to all?