The Swamp

15 02 2017

Dropping in crocodiles and asking them to drink as much as they can is not a viable plan to “drain the swamp.”

What does Putin have on Trump?

20 01 2017

With all of the sniffling during the debates, whatever dirty laundry Putin has on Trump will probably involve cocaine.

Because Trump seems so completely in Putin’s pocket, the blackmail video must be of a criminal act.  After all, the man is proud of his crass nature, and wouldn’t hesitate to admit to any lesser action.

Trump has bragged about being able to shoot someone and get away with it, so let’s assume it involves a killing.

Trump’s description of his own actions labels him as a sexual predator, and he’s expressed an abnormal physical interest in his own daughter, so let’s add that to the mix.

Because he likes to go overboard with everything he does, it’s got to be well beyond garden variety wrongdoing.

So, my money is on Putin having video of Trump doing lines of coke off the body of an underage prostitute, who looks strangely like his own daughter, after he used her to make his own snuff film.  There you have it.  It explains everything.

Old Man in the Cafeteria

4 01 2017

An old man just dropped his papers.  The young black woman in the absurd fur hat had just told him “No.”  In his nervousness, he spilled all that he was carrying.  She wouldn’t help him pick up his papers any more than she would grant his request.  She stands, shoulders straight, face forward, and watches him, her eyes cast downward – impassive and uncaring.

What was his request?  Something minor.  For someone who has been here as long as he has – since the Reagan administration – it had to be something minor.  He knows better than to ask for anything that will require much more than a nod of her head.

The old man stoops to pick up his papers.  He’s shaking, but I don’t know if it’s from age or the confrontation of the moment.  His legal papers, a jumble of typewritten pages, handwritten notes, and official envelopes, contain his proof – proof of how he has been wronged – proof of how the system has failed him.  I know this because I have a pile of papers just like his with its official court seals and signatures of attorneys who can afford me no more of their time.

He carries his jumbled pile to a nearby table where he takes pains to straighten it and remove the filth from the cafeteria floor.  He returns the papers to a folder crafted from a box which once held a dozen cans of grape soda – trash pressed into service to contain and protect his most cherished possession:  his hope.

A judge destroyed his life one day.  A judge took away his future and condemned him to age behind walls, to die slowly outside the view of his friends and relatives.

This is nothing new.  Every prisoner here knows this.  Every man here has been through the process.  Plead guilty to a crime you may not have committed, or exercise your “Right to a trial,” lose to an opponent with unlimited resources, and be punished four or five times worse for having the audacity to say, “I didn’t do that!”

This is justice in America:

  • Prosecutors who wield more power than judges and use the threat of extreme sentences to force the innocent to confession;
  • Judges who follow guidelines set by a congress eager not to appear “soft on crime;”
  • Defense attorneys who are as cowed by the system as the defendants and can only help by showing you where to sign your confession;
  • Corporations who profit from our policy of mass incarceration by supplying goods to the prisons, or even the prisons themselves;
  • Guards who supply drugs, cigarettes, and favors to inmates with the resources to make it happen, or who use their authority to express their hatred or racism.

The old man will try again.  He’ll approach someone else when another month of his dwindling reserve of life has passed and the sting of the disinterested woman is gone.

Thirty, forty years eventually passes and then the old man will be cast onto the street, his family gone, friends disbursed.  He’ll have no money and may even owe a huge fine.  Too frail and elderly to work, he’ll find a bridge to keep the rain from his blankets.


25 11 2016

Congratulations America.

In your pursuit of ever less qualified candidates, less than half of you have elected a man wholly unworthy of the honor.

The last idiot the right selected was described as “Someone I’d like to have a beer with.”  This guy is someone that the rednecks fantasize will buy them a beer…  in a gilded stein.

The remainder of the country fantasizes that we’ll find him floating face down in a vat of bitter imported dark lager… or maybe vodka.

We are now one step closer to President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho.

Big Bang Theory?

2 05 2013

I’ve long been troubled by the Big Bang Theory.  It seems implausible that the entire universe erupted from a singularity – infinite heat and density – overcoming its own gravity to form all that exists.  Aside from concerns about the physics of stuffing literally everything into a space that Planck himself would’ve described as ‘Teensy,’ I’ve got a handful of other bits that bug me.

First is the recurring issue of incredibly old stars.  Every few news cycles more stars are being discovered that appear to have come into being about the same time that the universe was just getting off the ground.  In some cases, the stars have been so old that it seems astrophysicists wind up rewriting their calculations to ensure that their new found glowing gaseous eggs don’t predate the chicken from which they came.

The second concern is with our apparent placement within the visible universe.  As Galileo pointed out, it is the height of arrogance to assume that you occupy a special place at the center of everything.  I mean, what are the odds that we would find ourselves so close to the center of all creation when so much of creation isn’t the center?  Doesn’t it seem like there should be a thinning in one particular direction of the night sky’s freckling with countless galaxies?  If the density let up just a little somewhere, that might indicate that we were closer to an ‘edge.’  Instead in any direction we look, the background of galaxies is more or less constant as is the cosmic microwave radiation which is hailed as proof of the universe’s Krakatoa.

The third problem for me is the expansion of the universe… or rather with the fact that the expansion seems to be speeding up rather than slowing down or remaining the same.  This one is a problem that should bother anyone who ever took high school physics.  Things don’t accelerate unless acted on by some force – be it gravity or the engine connected to your gas pedal.  So, why (or how) is the universe speeding up?

Now, I’m certainly not qualified to answer any of these questions.  Perhaps I’m not even bright enough to understand the problem at hand.  I don’t have training in astrophysics, or even regular physics for that matter.  I have no special mathematical background that would even cause someone to bother to sample my opinion on the subject.

What I do have is an IDEA…  a particularly itchy one that I just can’t scratch.

We’ve all been told that the vacuum of space isn’t truly empty, that it is in fact boiling over with the constant activity of the quantum foam.  Virtual particles are continually popping in and out of existence.  For the sake of argument, let’s assume that on very rare occasions one of these virtual particles is, through some disturbance, parted from its antiparticle enough that the two don’t immediately cancel each other out and return to the foam.  Instead, the particles go from being virtual to actual.  Obviously, this would be an incredibly rare event, but in the vastness of space, perhaps it happens often enough for actual measurable quantities of matter to appear albeit spread very thin.

Now suppose that space is entirely a function of the presence of matter.  Without a ‘thing’ there is no space for it to occupy.  We already know that the presence of matter – massive bodies – warps space.  What if the very existence of space depends on the matter that lies within?  If new matter were created, would it create new space?  If new matter were being created all the time in the vastness of intergalactic space, wouldn’t that cause the space between galaxies to grow?  If so, wouldn’t the galaxies furthest from us appear to move away faster simply because there is more space between us in which to create even more new space?

Within the tracts of newly created space, perhaps the presence of matter causes virtual particle pairs to more often make the transition to actual particles.  If so, then over huge time scales enough matter might form that it begins to be affected by its own gravity and new galaxies are born.

Under my proposal, every point in all of creation would appear to be the center point and every galaxy would appear to move away from it with those furthest away moving the fastest.  Old stars aren’t a problem because the universe need not have a singular spectacular beginning.  Instead it is infinite and in continuous creation.

Peggy and Ed

2 01 2013

PeggyAndEdThank you both for showing me:

How it should be
How we should treat one another
How to make a place in the world without taking the place of another
How important knowledge is
How to love
How to lose
How to forgive

Thank you for allowing me to share in your lives.

I’m so glad you are together again with one another, Misty, Max, Tai and Snoopy.

My father died last Friday

5 10 2012

I’ve worked for a card company for 27 years.  I’ve seen so many cards and captions over the years that I don’t really notice individual cards any more.  Instead, I see trends and patterns: “For a Special Aunt.”  Aunts seem to be special more frequently than uncles who are often “Fantastic” or “Great.”  Great is applied to uncles often enough that I sometimes wonder if the writers are aware that “Great” can also mean very large.

In my first thirteen years of employment here, I spent countless hours opening packages of cards and putting them on display.  I will never know how many Father’s Day or birthday for dad sections I’ve set.  Each year at Father’s Day, when other families were planning barbeques or camping trips, I would mull over the captions, searching for a card that said what I felt towards my father.  Over and over again, I saw the same captions repeated:

“Dad, you mean the world to me.”
“Dad, thank you for everything.”
“Dad, I love you.”

None of these would work for me.  These weren’t words that could be applied to the relationship with my father. So, if he got a card at all, it would be from the humor section:

“Dad, when they made you, they threw out the mold…  But, I see some of it has grown back.”
“Dad, we’ve had our fair share of problems with laziness and irresponsibility… But, enough about my brother.”
“Dad, how would you like a new car on your birthday?  I can mow the lawn while you go buy it.”

You see, I hadn’t spoken with my father very much for over a decade.  Dad was a critical man.  It seemed nothing I did was ever good enough.  I remember when he asked me to add a quart of oil to his car.  Some weeks later, he found oil in the radiator.  Immediately, I was deemed the culprit – too stupid to know which lid to open for the lubricant.  Later, when he found water mixed into the crank case, he determined that either I was an especially enterprising breed of idiot, or the little diesel engine had a cracked head.  No apology ever came, and my name was never completely removed from the suspect list.

Over the years, one thing that has been noticeably absent from my life has been the feeling that I had my father’s approval.

He had a temper like a gas leak in a concrete building.  He would explode and return to normal so quickly that the walls wouldn’t even have a chance to warm from the heat of the flame.  But, these outbursts terrified a little redheaded boy who didn’t know where they came from or why.  So, while still very young, I made a very conscious decision to “Not-be-like-my-father.”  I picked out that one characteristic, that one aspect of his personality, and let it define him.  “That anger” was the essence of who my father was in my eyes.

Those damn cards again:

“Dad, you mean the world to me.”
“Dad, thank you for everything.”
“Dad, I love you.”

No.  These trite greeting card phrases, written by strangers, didn’t cover whatever the hell it was that we had.

About three years ago, I found myself going through a divorce.  How had I gotten there?  What had I done wrong?  I started to ask questions about my parent’s divorce.  For the first time in years, I picked up the phone and called my father.  I can scarcely imagine what it was like for him to get that call.  His forty something adult son finally calls, after years of silence, in tears over the loss of a family he had never met.

I asked my questions and he tried to answer.  After all these years he could still identify with my pain.  We spoke several more times and he was always patient and willing to listen.  I began to remember that my father had always been willing to help anyone who asked.  If you waited for him to volunteer, the help might never come, or if it did, it would be wrapped up with some grumbles; but if you asked for his help… If you simply asked… My father would bend over backwards with a smile.  How had I forgotten that?

As my divorce drug on, I spoke with other people who knew my dad.  A picture emerged of the man that was different from the one I had carried with such a firm grip all those years.  This man who had always been critical of every movement I made was, whenever speaking to others, fiercely proud of his son.  My car cleaning attempts might be labeled “hit and miss” for my benefit, but for conversations outside my earshot we had restored the thing to “Near factory spec.”

This new picture was filling in like the colors of the Rocky Mountains at day-break.

The one thing that I had wanted for so long, his approval, had always been there.  He just could never bring himself to say it to me.  I’m sure this is something he got from Grandpa before he passed it along to my brother and me.  This toxic secret-family-recipe was one of many my ex-wife and I poured into our doomed marriage.

Last year dad collapsed.  The interior lining of his aorta sloughed off inside the pipe (he always hated plumbing) bringing him closer to death than most of us will ever get without completing the journey.  I am so happy that I took the opportunity to see him then.  Here was the man I once saw as the strongest person in the world, a man who could crush my hand like a stale cracker, a man whose arms were bigger around than my legs, a man who I witnessed, when his ultra-light airplane failed him, fall from the sky with no more damage than a big bruise and a stream of expletives.  I saw this man so weakened he was unable to clear his own throat, so delirious from drugs and damage to his frame, that he didn’t remember months of his existence.  Yet, even in the middle of all that, while barely conscious, he was doing his damndest to make everyone laugh.

That humor, a trait I had forgotten, was too afraid to see, or hadn’t been on display until later in life, that’s a gift from my father that I would be happy to receive.

It turns out that in spite of my best attempts to “Not-be-like-my-father” I wound up like him in many ways that I’m only now beginning to discover.

It’s just that I didn’t come to realize until moments before it was too late that he had so much good in him, so many amiable features that I do want for myself and for my son.

After all this time, what can I say to my father?  What handful of words could possibly come to represent this twisted nightmare road that we’ve taken together?

“Dad, you mean the world to me.”
“Dad, thank you for everything.”
“Dad, I love you.”

September 21st, 2012