Random Thoughts 2005
NOTE: The following discussions contain some strong opinions. If you don't want to read controversial, personal opinions, please do not read on. I do not like "knee-jerk" liberal or conservative philosophies. I try to be open-minded, but certainly have my own biases. I hate "political correctness" and tend to overreact against those who practice it. - Bill McArthur
Two big items of news today:
For each of these items I wondered why it was news; don't all politicians take bribes? What do lobbyists do if not bribe government officials? Does anyone think that a lobbyist works her expensive persuasion by means of well reasoned rhetoric? I found an interesting discussion of lobbying here. Our society is full of lying and cheating; why is some of it newsworthy? Remember Diogenes? He's still out there carrying his lantern.
It's ironic that over 2000 Americans have died in order to export democracy to Iraq, but I didn't vote in the election just past in New Jersey. There is so much corruption in New Jersey politics at every level that there isn't any way to vote for a candidate that isn't in it for herself. Let's not export Jersey democracy anywhere, OK?
George Bush is really trying to piss us off now with his nomination of "Scalito" to the Supreme Court. While it is true that Supreme Court justices can surprise their appointers (think Earl Warren), we don't really need another radical right winger on the court. I think that we need a scholar with no ideaological straight jacket to inform the court with the wisdom that should be its hallmark.
I feel duped, having spent 65 years believing that my heritage was the Greek and Roman gods and Christianity when, in fact, my heritage is the Celtic gods and their natural religion. I am trying to rectify the situation through reading and rejection of Christianity, but I have a long way to go to capture my past. Since the Catholic Church is doing a great job pissing everyone off, and since the other Christian Churches insist on tithes (off the top, please), maybe the Celts will be studied and revived. I'll be posting more on this topic in the future.
It is such a joy to watch a baby develop! My wife and I have been helping out with Rachel, one of our four granddaughters. She is fascinating to observe as she tries to fathom all of the complications of the world that she sees as an eight month old. You have to spend as much time as you can with a baby because each of the many phases comes and goes rapidly. As I tell my friends with children, "Don't blink, because they'll be grown up and gone before you know it." We feel blessed with our children and grandchildren. Life would be unthinkable without them.
The New Jersey gubernatorial race is typical Jersey. Two rich guys spending personal millions, accusing each other of supporting the status quo of corruption in the state. These shrewd guys are not wasting their money, they are investing it. Expect the corruption to continue as usual no matter who is elected. We are so used to bad government and political corruption here in NJ that we're not even embarrassed about it - pretty sad.
Some of my favorite things (in no particular order):
My friend Bill Hynes has observed that there are far more horses's asses than horses. It seems that a majority of them can be found in Washington, DC. There is absolutely no way to get any objective information from that place. Everything is politically filtered and spun. Mark Twain would hate it and love to write about it. My newest candidates for gargling with New Orleans floodwater are Nancy Pelosi and Tom DeLay.
The grand jury investigating sexual abuse and cover-up within the Catholic Church in Philadelphia has just published its findings, and they are horrible. I have already given up on the Catholic Church as I've documented elsewhere, but I'm still outraged. What to do about it? Don't give them any money! Don't play bingo at Catholic churches and don't contribute to any collections. Nothing else will faze them.
I viewed the movie "Crash" on DVD last night. It wasn't a comfortable film to watch, but it contained an important lesson: we should always deal with people as individuals, rather than members of a group. When we remove the trappings of race, religion, social class, politics, and age from ourselves and others, we discover the basic humanity underneath and we can get along. This is very hard to do.
Along with many others, I'm thinking about 09/11/01 today. As a teenager growing up in the Philly suburbs, I was a frequent visitor to Manhattan. During the summer of 2001, I paddled a kayak around the island of Manhattan, enjoying a unique view. On Saturday, 09/09/01, I joined my wife and some friends for a day in Manhattan's theater district. The main lesson of 9/11 might be to live life fully and enthusiastically today because tomorrow might bring a shocking change of circumstances; never take things for granted.
The other thing I'm thinking about today is the massive need for Red Cross Volunteers. I took the online pre-volunteer course and learned a lot about what the Red Cross does throughout the world. I volunteered with the local chapter to give them a website, but should I do more?
Today's quiz: which of the following is the most important qualification for being FEMA's director?
The answer is below.
Yesterday at our gym, we heard an announcement that Michael Moore was encouraging people to buy supplies and send them to the Gulf Coast. I think that Michael Moore and Pat Robertson should be forced to gargle with New Orleans floodwater. The facts are clear, please contribute money, not goods. The relief agencies can't deal with the goods, but they can definitely use the money.
It is sickening to see Hillary, GW, and all of the other denizens of Washington, DC playing politics with the Katrina disaster. Meanwhile, CNN spent the morning showing the workings of a Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge. I wish that I had a filter on the TV to eliminate the political babblings; the sounds of silence would be golden.
Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground has posted a lengthy explanation of the origins of the New Orleans situation as an appendix to his Blog.
It's great to wave goodbye to the hordes of summer tourists at the Jersey Shore. I spend the winter being a tourist in various places, so I don't have anything against tourists, but we just need a quiet break.
The people helping in the Katrina Disaster are doing an amazing job, especially the medical personnel at the New Orleans Airport. They were equipped to process 250 people per hour and actually processed 800 people hourly. How many of us are willing and able to give 320%? Two stories that I haven't heard told are:
1. What will become of those that fled from Katrina and thought that they were going to temporarily stay somewhere else? We are only hearing about those that have been rescued, not those who evacuated. Can they turn themselves into FEMA and gain sanctuary?
2. What happened to the dogs and cats of New Orleans? I'm not a pet guy, but I'm wondering.
My wife and I viewed "The Constant Gardener" last night. We both loved the movie and highly recommend it.
Gasoline prices are skyrocketing locally (Cape May, NJ). Hopefully, we will all remember the price gougers and boycott them later.
The situation in New Orleans needs a completely military operation and martial law to sort things out. Only the military has the command and control structure necessary for coordination and communication.
The great state of Texas is showing great spirit by stepping up and offering real help to refugees.
Plan? We don't need no stinking plan! But that's what we seem to have gotten, a really stinking, lousy plan for the disaster on the Gulf Coast. At every level of government, there are comprehensive "Emergency Preparedness Plans", presumably written by political appointees. The single worst aspect of the situation seems to be the breakdown in communications. I was a communications chief when I served in the Army years ago, so I understand the importance of information flow. A governmental official was on T. V. this morning complaining that cell phones aren't working. Didn't they know that cell towers would be down and electricity would be out? What happened to C. B. radios? Yesterday, the New Orleans mayor was complaining because radio batteries had gone dead. Where was the planning in that? Each unit should have extra rechargeable batteries and a plan to recharge them for the long haul. Didn't they know that people would pillage, murder, and rape when law enforcement couldn't be as vigilant?
We made an online contribution to the Red Cross this morning to help with the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina. During the last couple of winters we spent some time along the Gulf coast, staying in Biloxi and New Orleans twice. Hearing and seeing on T. V. the horrendous conditions there is heartbreaking. I'd like to know what else I can do to help. I think that the U.S. Navy could facilitate the evacuation of the flooded New Orleans by constructing a couple of combat ports on Lake Pontchartrain and using troop transports.
A lot of uncertainty in the news today: the accusation of Lance Armstrong by a French newspaper, a huge hurricane aiming at a wide swath of Gulf coast, deadlines looming and debate lingering in the Iraq constitution matter, and some mysterious new developments in the Natalee case in Aruba. Sometimes I think that Mark Twain had the right idea about the news - ignore it.
I thought of a more entertaining way to deal with the news of the day by combining stories. For example, here are 3 separate stories:
1. Susanna Goihman, a Venezuelan national, surrendered today in the hit-run death of Kayla Peter on June 19.
2. Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson's suggested that American operatives should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez because his country is becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."
3. Aruba's prime minister believes that authorities made mistakes at the start of the investigation of the Natalee Holloway case, a government spokesman said Monday. Arubans are happy to share their theories of her being kidnapped by slavers.
Here is a fanciful combination:
I was sorry to see "Six Feet Under" end, but I was very happy with the creativity of the ending episode.
I had been noticing that CNN.com hasn't reported on anything to do with the Natalee case in Aruba ever since some media outlets have decided that it isn't politically correct to report on pretty white girls who are missing. Bob Costas lost all respect that I had for him when he fell victim to that sentiment by refusing a Larry King show with Natalee on the agenda.
I'm sure I annoy people at times. My "right-of-way" rule (whatever I'm doing or wherever I am, I have the right of way) undoubtedly annoys those with lesser rights. I am particularly annoyed by:
When I served in the U.S. Army from 1961-1964, with a year in Thailand, I was quite a patriot. My wife Cathy and I were in Spain when President Bush decided to invade Iraq. It was very hard to be patriotic during the rest of our stay there and even back in the U.S. since then. The war seemed foolhardy at its inception and seems to get worse every day.
I don't want to die in a nursing home. 'Nuff said.
Ever wonder why the U.S. so faithfully supports Israel? I found a good discussion here.
Organized religion is the root of all evil.