Holy Cowsky, How did it get to be the end of the year? B’lee dat? As we age every year seems faster and I personally feel like I should use every waking moment before it is lost. Yes, certainly this is a compulsion, but it’s a good one. Einstein had at least a partial explanation for the relative time phenomenon, but it’s too complex for me to dwell on. Watch Big Bang Theory. At some point Dr. Sheldon Cooper will s’plain it to us. My conclusion: time flies: There it is. With the end of the year hovering, this seems a good time to reflect and I’m doing this in a couple of sections.
THINGS I THINK I KNOW AND FEEL RELATIVELY SURE OF:
1.We all die.
2. Shakespeare wrote his stuff.
2. Oswald acted alone.
3. The Wright Brothers built their flying craft without government subsidies.
4. Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker.
5. Roosevelt did not know about Pearl Harbor before it happened.
6. The holocaust was real, denials of this are bullshit, and politically and/or or religiously driven.
7. The Apollo moon landing was real, not something staged in a studio.
8. Social security is neither.
9. Arab spring was looked more like Arab fall to me.
11. I love the magnetic, overwhelming terroir or our state (sense of place).
STUFF I WONDER ABOUT:
1. Yo, if It’s EYE-ran and EYE-rack, then it also must be EYEN-deeana, and EYE-linois. And Nam did not and does not rhyme with ham unless you are a fool.
2. If god is both omniscient and omnipotent, it seems to follow, based on human performance, that he /she/it knowingly made junk: Namely, us.
3. We support our troops seems to me to be pure lip service that means “I’m glad it was you and not my kid.” It also means putting a pathetic plastic ribbon decal on your vehicle and having that pass as your badge of patriotism. It does not mean welcome home and here’s a job for a job well done. Vets ages 20-24 are averaging 30 percent unemployment this year, which is 2X the rate for non-vets in the same age group. Somebody want to explain this to us? Could it be we really care primarily about Numero Uno and vets only when it’s convenient or sounds good? Huh.
4. Until Hitler came along, the salute to our American flag was the same as the Nazi Heil Hitler lifted- arm. With the advent of the Nazis we changed this to a hand over the heart.
5. As a veteran, I feel no requirement or compulsion to demonstrate my “loyalty” by holding my hand over my heart. You want others to think you’re a patriot, go ahead, but until you serve, the gesture is meaningless. The same is true of the Pledge of Allegiance
6. Churches do not pay taxes, but they use public facilities and services. Does this make churches state-supported?
7. NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND seems to be more like NO CHILD’S BEHIND WILL BE LEFT when government is done intervening in education, if it ever is. By the way, how many of our politicians have public school educations, or have their kids in public schools, viz private institutions? If your kids are in expensive, exclusive private schools, why are you making decisions about public schools?
8. Political correctness exists in all of our political extremes, and in some way is our national sport For a country allegedly believing in the First Amendment our behaviors often suggest otherwise. Under the First Amendment you have to the right to speak your mind, but this also means others have the same right and may offend you. So it goes. In terms of political correctness, is “White House” an inherently racist term?
9. I feel fairly certain that Christianity was not founded on the idea that everyone should be come prosperous and rich, or that becoming prosperous and rich is a sign of god’s favor. I suspect many ministers and preachers who believe this baloney use their connections to assure that they become both. I have heard of people who select their churches by driving through church parking lots to see which congregations have the most luxury automobiles. If I had a character doing this in a novel or short story, would you believe it?
10. Computers are the future? No reservations? An airplane model that crashes 1 percent of the time is a public menace and likely to be banned from further use. But a computer that crashes 1 percent of the time is considered acceptable. What about computers that perform critical tasks in aircraft systems and fail 1 per cent of the time.?
11. Has anyone else noticed how the overall quality of fresh vegetables seems to be sinking in our stores? The gauge of aluminum in pop cans is now as thin as aluminum foil. Manufacturers are cutting every corner possible to keep making profits.
12. Has anyone ever talked about our national testing of students for science and math in real terms? As I understand it our special ed kids are tested right along with all of our students. But in n countries we’re compared to, their elites are compared to all of our kids. If I’m wrong about this, show me. Do we honestly believe that if American student math and science scores go up, that American business will brings jobs back to the US? Bullshit. These jobs were shipped abroad because labor was cheaper. Unless our workers will work for the same wages, this ain’t gonna happen. Open your eyes. For publicly held companies, profit comes first. Employees are expenses, not assets.
13. Why does the United States allow direct to consumer prescription drug advertising. it adds hundreds of millions to prices as the advertising costs get passed through to consumers. This is a terrible practice and totally out of control. Yet it continues.
14. If drone designers leave the U.S. for other countries, is this a drone drain?
15. You’ve heard the aphorism, “No news is good news.” Does this explain why newspapers are disappearing. We as a country and so called democracy are going to pay big time for this development.
16. My sense is that most people do not read to learn; they read to re-inforce what they already know and believe. Most people do not want their beliefs challenged by anyone.
17. I recently heard North Korea as a “hereditary communist dictatorship.” What the hell does that mean?
18. Are charter schools synonymous with educational failure and how many are cleverly designed scams?
19. Many years ago George Romney (Mitt’s daddy) got knocked out of the Presidential race in mid-1967 because of flip-flopping his views on the Vietnam war. At first he supported it and then when political winds changed, he opposed it and when asked to explain this shift, he claimed the military had “brainwashed him,” his run was over. George was a fine man, but he wanted the job too much. Republican George put in the state’s first income tax and was responsible for massive increases in the size of state government. Mitt’s the same animal. Why do some people think we need a businessman in the White House? Didn’t the subprime and all that baloney come from businessmen? What we need is a leader, not a manager. We elect a President to do what he or she thinks is right to the best of their ability, not to reflect opinion polls and make decisions based on what we citizens might think is needed. Our problem is that we are forced to choose not from leaders, but from logothetes.
20. When the political season kicks into full gear in 2012 we may look back on this year as Magne Quies, the great quiet.
21. In Medieval times whenever a man fought against prevailing orthodoxies, the tendency was for the powers that be and society to outlaw the man because of his beliefs. Have we changed all that much? Or is it simply Autre temps, autre moeurs, “other times, other cusrtoms?”
22. Great quote from Teddy Roosevelt: “I believe…that human rights are supreme over all other rights; that wealth should be servant, not the master of the people.” He was a republican. In this day and age he’d be politically lynched.
23. Roosevelt also said, “A poet can do much more for his country than the proprietor of a nail factory.” Obviously we no longer share this view as the arts and music are being dropped from school curricula.
24. Sometimes it seems to me we have huge numbers of people who have no idea of the difference between electrocution and elocution.
25. Washington D.C. is filled with what Brits used to call carpet knights, those who crawl around on their knees seeking favors.
26. I’m thinking a new website called Greedybrats.com might make a fine addition for next Christmas. Oh wait, I just looked and somebody already has that domain name. Oh well.
27. The Civil War (choose your own name for it) was about slavery, not state’s rights. Ask yourself this: If there had been no slavery, would the south still have succeeded, and would there have been a war?
28. It was said that investment bankers were about the only species that bored Teddy Roosevelt.
29. Occupy Wall Street. No clue what these people want and I keep asking myself can a move succeed without a leader? I believe there were leaders widely known in Tunisian and Egypt, their identities just not revealed publicly. Are you in the 99 Percent? I certainly am and always have been.
30. In my latest novel, Force of Blood I talked about the attempt to smuggle a Michigan deer to Texas. Look up the Jan 2012 Texas Monthly, story called The Bucks Stop Here,” and you’ll learn a whole lot more about such things, deer hunting in Texas being second only to Football, this deer fever sometimes referred to as “hornography” down there and buckular dystrophy up here.
31. People kid me about names in my books, but odd names are everywhere. I just ran across this one, Dr. Electron Kebebew, who is one of the highest paid federal employees and is an endocrinologist oncologist surgeon at the National Institutes of Health. Really. Or what about the “inventory clerk” at PETA who changed his name from Dan Carran to CircusesHurtAnimals.Com. How does one distinguish fanaticism from enthusiasm? Names some researches claim can set a child up for the future with certain expectations. Probably I like to play with names for this reason. But let me share Dr. Kebebew’s story: Born in Ethiopia, he was the youngest of five kids named: Positron, Neutron, Deutron, and Proton. The doctor told one interviewer that with a name like Electron, people notice you and have expectations for you but by and large “my name has been a positive influence.” Hey, my name’s Joe. I get this!
32. Next year some people will be worrying about the Mayan Calendar predicting the world’s end on December 21, 2012, Winter Solstace. This prediction was first found on a stone tablet in the sixties in Tortuguero in Tobasco State in Mexico. It predicts a solar shift, Venus transit, and violent earthquakes. Technically this describes the world as resetting to zero. No idea what that actually means. Should we be worried? I don’t know, but let’s take into account the following:
Historians and archaeologists tell us the Mayans practiced human sacrifice, cutting out hearts while victims lived and burning the organs. Oddly their leaders also suffered and bled for the gods undergoing blood-letting and self-torture. According to one account, “The higher one’s position, the more blood was expected. Blood was drawn by jabbing spines through the ear or penis, or by drawing a thorn-studded cord through the tongue; it was then spattered on paper or otherwise collected as an offering to the gods.” Sheesh. It may be that this will be the fifth destruction of the world. The Sixth rejuvenation remains to be seen. Reports suggest that” to Mayans, science and religion were one and the same. The Maya developed an impressive system of mathematics and astronomy, which was intimately related to religious rituals. Their mathematical achievements included positional notation and the use of zero; in astronomy, they accurately calculated a solar year, compiled precise tables of positions for the Moon and Venus, and were able to predict solar eclipses.
The Maya were obsessed with time; to understand and predict various cycles of time allowed them to adapt to and best make use of their natural world. Mayan cosmology had it that the world had been created five times and destroyed four times. On a more temporal scale, the various days of the year were considered appropriate to specific activities, while some were entirely unlucky.” I guess next December 21 falls into this column.
Mayan science and religion the one and same? Other Mayan religious rituals included dancing, competition, ball games, dramatic performances, and prayer to the gods. Wait, does this sound a lot like modern American life? Just kidding. Mostly.
33. Both liberals and conservatives own firearms and hunt. Why do we keep assuming that liberals want to disarm all citizens, including themselves? Just asking.
My plans for the new year? Sit tight while snow falls. Red Jacket, my novel set in the Keweenaw in 1913 during the copper strike and Italian Hall tragedy has been accepted for publication. A collection of short stories entitled Horseblankets: Stories of Michigan Woods Cops is being evaluated by the publisher, and I am at about 55,000 words (target 100,000) on manuscript called Killing A Cold One, which is Woods Cop 9. Also helping a friend with a story called Off Wing, a memoir, and soon, after writing is done, I hope to get back to a couple of months of painting. No idea when any of this stuff will be published, so don’t waste energy on keystrokes. When we have a date we’ll put it on the website.
Okay, my mind wandereth aimlessly. Happy New Year and good Health to you and yours from Jambe Longue (she’s doing great), Shanahan, and Your Truly. Special greetings to my Conservation Officer friends, retired and active, my old lacrosse teammates at MSU and all my 46 ARS colleagues from USAF days. Dudes, Keep Pressing On. Over.