Saturday, September 30, 2017


Love, integrity, responsibility, compassion and all those important virtues don’t mean anything unless they are lived out in action. But the modern techniques of image, branding, marketing, reputation management and the like distract us from attending to those virtues in our leaders. It’s simply hard to break through the wall of noise.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Personal responsibility

Do a flip. Take a fall. You don’t have to get yourself up on your own and keep yourself going. There’s always a safety net ready to catch you. At least that seems to be the message today. Go into debt, over buy in a new house, drive drunk, don’t take care of your own health, cheat on your taxes, all that stuff. There’s always a way out: bankruptcy, a good lawyer, a government program. Something. Something other than personal responsibility.
I’ve lived through a time when personal responsibility was basically it. You were essentially on your own. No safety nets. That was a test of adulthood.
These days government is not us. It’s them. And this takes responsibility off of our shoulders one more time.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Then and now

If you’ve been watching Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War,” you begin to realize that then is, at root, now. While the culture is different, we are still fed the stew of corruption, brutality, heroism, ego, arrogance, ignorance, white elders sending young men and women to their deaths or the ruin of their lives, poor care for returning veterans, the besmirching of America’s global image and more.
Efforts to cover up America’s failures, to deny them, to hide from them only set us up to fail again. Our Constitution and the government built on it don’t need to be protected from failure. Rather its strength is in its ability to hold our country together despite the struggles we face.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Rights and responsibilities

It’s time to shift discussion and media coverage from gestures to activism and from first amendment issues to responsibilities as Americans and as human beings. The former can get people hyped up and talking. But the latter are what make positive change happen. 
It can be much easier to assert rights than to live out beliefs in daily actions. Look at the examples of the brave men and women who have served to protect those rights for all of us and especially for those asserting those rights now.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Four Haikus for a Wensleydale Sheep

Four Haikus for a Wensleydale Sheep
From Dishley Leicester ram
And Teeswater ewe came you
The striking founding sire.
Praised by the British
Livestock Commission, great size
Long ringlets of wool.
Blue on head and ears
Garbed in lustrous wool, bold carriage
Heavy muscled hind.
Females, heavy-milking
Prolific, hardy-breeding ones
Even rams can dream.

Monday, September 25, 2017

NFL gestures

The recent and varied gestures by athletes before the American flag and the national anthem are unquestionably expressions of First Amendment rights. But media attention to the gestures, the race of the athletes and the stance of the NFL and the President are all, in the end, empty if they don’t focus on the significant issues that provoked these expressions. The First Amendment and patriotism can be discussed ad nauseum, but that really just dances around the hard problems that must be identified and addressed.
We have no problem with the national anthem being sung in a wide variety of styles. We don’t pause reverently after the anthem at games. We just scream and yell for the fun to begin. We don’t complain that the flag is being used around national holidays to sell everything from cars to furniture to fast food. We don’t think it’s unpatriotic for people to wear the flag on their asses or wrap themselves in it for slick photo shoots.
So let’s not get whipped into a frenzy about these gestures unless we are willing to honestly confront the issues behind them.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I'm a happy guy

I’m a happy guy, by and large. My wife and I have never paid interest on a credit card bill. We own our own home, paid the mortgage ahead of time. We pay for new cars with cash, as we do with lots of other purchases. We both worked jobs with modest incomes. We travel, and we’re generous. I’m a happy guy.
Well I was until I discovered that while I’ve tried to stay out of debt, my government has put me and every other citizen in debt to the tune of $42, 503.98.
Remember those early mortgage payments where the interest was the bulk of them and the principal was a pittance. I guess that’s the case when the government buys a plane or a tank or a taller fence around the White House or more security cameras or more toilet paper for the Congressional Office Building.
Can I expect that one day China will send me a foreclosure notice or a conglomerate of billionaires will auction off all of my belongings or a giant hedge fund take my pension?
The ratio of national debt to the gross domestic product in the US is 105.8%. Not comforting. Maybe this is for sure the time in life to follow the example of government and start spending beyond my means. What do you think?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The committed teacher

If you’re a committed teacher, this is what happens. You dispense information. For some students it’s soon gone and gone forever. For others, the information sticks and starts to form little clusters and patterns. Then when you identify these patterns as knowledge, the students realize what happened and begin to create knowledge on their own. Some hang onto their knowledge, make it work for them, but use it to build a comfortable box to live in. Others shake, knead, probe and wrestle with the knowledge until they discover wisdom. Some sit on the wisdom as if they’ve reached the mountaintop. The few realize that wisdom is useless without the courage to put it to work.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Trump vs. your kids

Compare the behavior of Donald Trump to that of your 5 year old, your 12 year old, your 17 year old and your 30 year old. Do we need to go any higher that 30? How do these comparisons work out?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Trump's UN speech

What does Donald Trump’s America First really mean? We are first among the nice countries in prison population and gun violence. We’ve got to be up there in drug use and poverty. And don’t forget obesity. We’ve got big problems with infrastructure and we’re moving backwards on climate issues.
And what does he mean by sovereignty? Sovereignty is at the root of countless wars and countless examples of colonialism and its evils. What North Korea is doing right now is an example of sovereignty.
How are we to interpret America First in a world that is irreversibly connected by business, travel, the Internet, trade, defense, treaties and pacts? Are we to demonstrate our pride by creating a big 4th of July military show of the kind we’ve disparaged in Russia, China and North Korea.
Too much of his U.N. speech was un-thought-out egoistic bombast. Trump thinks he is America. America First is just a clanging marketing slogan empty of any genuine meaning.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Guns, violence and race

A recent look at the Internet provides these statistics on gun homicides in 2015:
229 blacks were killed by whites
500 whites were killed by blacks
2380 blacks were killed by blacks
2574 whites were killed by whites
36 unarmed blacks were killed by police
31 unarmed whites were killed by police.
These statistics can be reconfigured based on different interpretations of the nature of the crime or on percentages of the population or other such interpretations.
There is no question of the systemic injustices toward blacks, and all efforts to remedy this are important.
But the real issue is violence in America and our appetite for it in media, entertainment and video games. This is fed directly by the insane obsession with guns and the rabid and rigid NRA. America is on average 25 times more violent than other industrialized countries. Concealed carry laws allow guns in parks, bars, churches and schools. There’s a gun for every American citizen, many easily purchased on the streets. Too many lawmakers in the pocket of the NRA, and its ability to deliver voters on command. And a Supreme Court that conveniently ignores the militia clause of the 2nd Amendment. (What are the responsibilities of a gun owner under the militia clause.)
So even if we bring justice to the issues of race and homicide, we will still have the issue of a violent America and its obsession with guns. Let’s start there.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Love and paradise

It’s probably true that there are about as many acts of malevolence in the world at any given time as there are acts of compassion. This sadly is the human condition. Human institutions of all kinds are constructed to try to sway the balance one way or the other. The Garden of Eden was not paradise because of love, but because blind obedience. While the misbehavior of Adam and Eve lost us paradise, it actually gave us something better to chase after—love of the world and pleasure in achieving it. Love is a human invention continually in flux and continually transforming itself over time.

Who knows if love conquers all. What we do know is that evil is self-consuming and self-destructive and that love heals. Love directs us to the elusive. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017


If you’re looking for a cause for your 5K race, you’d better act soon. Most major and minor illnesses are already taken.
Here are some options that are still available:
--Incontinence (“That we may never leak again”)
--Warts (“Killer of perfect flesh”)
--Toenail fungus (“Step up against toe shame”)
--Eyelid rejuvenation (“Eyelids are the shades of the windows of the soul”)
--Flatulence (“Everyone deserves a fart-free life”)

Saturday, September 16, 2017


In the end, making art is not a selfish act, but rather a cultural act. It is not a commodity, but a gift. Making art transforms the artist, makes the artist, into an agent of cultural change and a responsible cultural force. Art becomes the light that illuminates what’s unjust, what’s profound, what’s beautiful and even what’s sacred in the world.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Funeral decisions

Some tough funeral decisions for the contemporary man:
--Should I get a body waxing, a manicure and nails painted for the coffin viewing?
--Should I get buried in the red Corvette or atop the Harley?
--Should I get my penis stuffed and mounted for the wife?
--Should the mistress give one of the eulogies?
--Should I have my beer can collection in the coffin?
--Should I get cremated and have my ashes scatted on the golf course?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Excerpt: 100 Lives (condensed)

Face it. She was born trailer trash. Kitsch city. No kind of learning ever interested her. From high school on she dressed like a prostitute, but was really quite selective in who she went to bed with. If it was shiny, red, yellow or soft to the touch, it was part of her wardrobe. Shoes were her passion, a passion she supported by her job as a welder. She aged gracefully, and assiduously avoided acquiring any taste. She died on her own terms in her own home. Shortly before she died, she allowed St. Vincent de Paul to pillage her house for anything they could use.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

An excerpt from my soon to be published book, 100 Lives (condensed0

An excerpt from my soon-to-be-published book, 100 Lives (condensed).
Born on the 4th of July. Must have been a beautiful baby. Too young to really fall in love. Makin’ whoopee. Goin’ with him someday soon. The bells are ringing for me and my gal. D-I-V-O-R-C-E. I’ve got a crush on you. Love is lovelier the second time around. Body and soul. D-I-V-O-R-C-E. Alone again, naturally. Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. Love is just around the corner. Everything’s coming up roses. Someone to watch over me. I did it my way.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ask yourself this

Ask yourself this. How many times in a day do you encounter spin, half-truths, misleading ads, seductive and manipulative marketing, outright lies, deception, celebrity sales pitches and media distortions? And the perpetrators are politicians, corporate marketing, online websites, social media, fringe groups, religious organizations and news organizations. No wonder honesty and integrity are so hard to find. And no question that education and critical thinking are essential.

Monday, September 11, 2017


No one can enjoy life fully without the capacity to recognize genuine beauty.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Scenes from an artist's life

Scenes from an artist’s life:
--The artist has matured so that his work becomes of some value. But no one wants to pay for it. So he gives it away to friends. He dies, which noticeably increases the interest in his work. His friends sell it off for a little extra pocket money while he rots in his grave.
--The artist has a home emergency when his furnace goes out. He asks his neighbor, an HVAC repairman, to come over for a look. It gets fixed. The artist says, “Next time you have an art emergency, be sure to call me.”
--Your friends know you’re an artist. They show how much they value that by asking you to help pick colors for their bedroom or to do a portrait of their dog.
--The artist has a piece selected into the Museum collection. Great for the resume. But she knows that work will never again see the light of day.
--The arts program has a rock guitarist, a movie actress and the artist. The venue is filled. After the guitarist and actress speak, the hall almost empties.

Saturday, September 9, 2017


--Texas has one of the harshest anti-immigration laws in the country. They would love to have the border wall. But the devastation of Harvey now requires the hiring of countless immigrants for help in recovery efforts. People are bringing them sandwiches and drinks. Let’s see what will happen in a year or so.
--Ted Cruz voted against relief money for hurricane Sandy in New York. A different tune and different expectations for of his colleagues for Harvey.
--It is legal to carry knives, machetes and spears in public in Texas. Must be preparation for an anticipated Viking raid.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Ohio Proficiency Test

Ohio Science Proficiency Test: Botany
17. Which of the following is true about the flax plant:
(a) It is one of the first plants domesticated by Stone
Age man.
(b) Mummies were wrapped in linen made from it.
(c) Early colonists grew it for home use.
(d) One of its products is used in some of the greatest paintings ever made.
(e) None of the above.
(f) All of the above.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Hemp and the Founding Fathers

The North American Industrial Hemp Council tells us that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp and that Benjamin Franklin owned a mill that produced hemp paper. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. Today, to grow hemp, the DEA requires a field secured by a fence, razor wire, dog guards and lights.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Read the newspapers. Maintaining personal integrity is damn hard work.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

How do I hate thee

Is this what we've come to?
How do I hate thee. Let me count the ways. I hate thee to the depth and breadth and height this poison can reach, when stripping humanity from others. For the ends of being and my own dumb arrogance. I hate thee to the level of every day's Most unreasonable need, by sun and candle-light. I hate thee freely, as men strive to kill the beliefs of their fellow men.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Suri alpaca

The top ten reasons to love the Suri alpaca
10. They are herd-oriented.
9. They are clean.
8. They are intelligent.
7. They are gentle.
6. They have three stomachs.
5. They love water.
4. They are rare.
3. They have been domesticated for 6000 years.
2. They were revered by the Incas.
1. They birth only in the morning.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

some stats /NY Times / Sunday, Sept.3

NYTimes / some stats / Sunday, Sept. 3
--There are 20 registered lobbyists for every Congressman.
(But who lobbies for you and me?)
--The NCAA allows up to 10 assistant coaches per football team.
(And the payroll is…?)
--The average apartment rent in Manhattan is $4109,
but ultraluxury apartments average $23, 789.
(Manhattan is the place to be…for some.)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Today's sermon

“My dear friends in Christ, today’s sermon concerns dryer lint. It is most egalitarian. Free of prejudice, it merges the roughest of jeans, the most intimate of panties, the hard-working dish cloth, the sweatiest socks, the uniforms of the soldier and the nurse, and the garments of young and old. It’s soft and flexible and blends all colors. It can be recycled into paper and once (and this is true, my dear friends) was transformed into a sculpture of the Blessed Mother and Child. So even from our navels cometh a message from the Lord.”