Sunday, December 28, 2008

Comments on 2008

It’s in the news, it’s on everyone’s mind, but no one says it. This was the WORST Christmas season in memory. For Americans, this season was overwhelming sad. The sadness was truly palpable.

As if it were something over which to exude pride, an announcement in the paper read, more children than ever received some or all of their Christmas gifts from charity donations. Parents cry tears of gratitude, laced with despair and depression for their inability to make a living in the richest country in the world.

News writers declared earlier this month that it’s only a previous taboo to let go or lay off workers through the holiday season. It’s okay now. Oh really?

Would someone please explain how is it okay auto companies get the money and close the plants, at Christmas no less?

Where’s the relief for the families facing or going through foreclosure? The continuing and overwhelming numbers of families loosing everything is shameful. Banks got their money. Billions! But families are still being put out on the street. Where are those relief dollars going? The banks won’t tell, won’t tell? Won’t Tell? Won’t Account?

Love the drop in gas prices! But where’s the rebate check from being (please choose the words you like best) overcharged, extorted, extracted, obtained under duress, ripped off, for how many years?? Was it six or seven years of mostly rising, gouging prices? And let’s remember how rich they all were at 75 cents a gallon.

The crowning glory, even the elite have realized there’s a problem because their profits have gone down. They’re a bit slow on that epiphany. How many years slow could be debated. But the hysterical part is that the economists still don’t get it. Do institutions of higher education only suck the common sense or the complete brain out of these people’s heads?

To be a truly great economist the qualifications must read: blathering idiot able to keep a straight face in front of a camera while spewing nonsensical rot to take the focus off the real and simple solutions by making everything seem complicated through a series of algebraic equations which any sensible seventh grader will tell you has no applicability in real life past figuring marginally useful information, miles per gallon, etc.

An economist quoted in today’s paper actually said that it was the worker’s fault the plants had to close but it should have closed 15 or 20 years ago because those workers were just getting paid too much money. Is he being sarcastic? No, the fellow really believes it.

Contrary to economist’s beliefs, workers are customers until they’re unemployed. Just a guess but it’s doubtful that any of the people laid off will buy a new car in 2009. Hooray, lower sales next year! Squeezing your workers… customers… workers… customers… workers… out of existence, just doesn’t make for large profits. And, if you keep it up long enough there are no profits at all.

As we come to the beginning of 2009, let’s hope the privileged have a moment of clarity: get rid of all their advisors that have gotten them into this mess, talk to some real sensible people and get things back on track.

Accountability is only required of those who have the ability to make the change, the rest just live with the consequences of things out of their control.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine

As of late, Thomas Paine has become the center of some controversy within some of the post/groups to which I belong.

Regardless of how many times I notice that people speak before they understand, offer opinions based on hear-say rather than facts, it still amazes me. The writings of Thomas Paine are not for the primary reader. There is also a need to place the man and his writings in place and time.

Thomas Paine had a great faith in the goodness of humanity despite the treatment he received from friends after the publications of his works.

Priviledged as I am from time to time to come across a book that not only is enjoyable to read but also filled with information, I am pleased to review "The elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine.

The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine: an interactive adaptation for all ages by Mark Wilensky is a delightfully thorough examination of writer and revolutionary through his works interpreted to context.

The American Rebellion was a unique occurrence in the history of human kind. The stage was set with the ingredients of independence along with the force of ingenuity and resources that encouraged a brand of men in a new land without the bonds of economic or governmental oppressive control that allows for a brief moment the shining light of liberty and freedom.

Thomas Paine was a exceptional man who when finding himself alone after his wife and child died, set out for a new life leaving England behind and the New World ahead. In the New World, he reasoned that men so far from the benefits of Old World Society must seek to govern themselves using the resources given them in the new land for a new country, rather than supporting the old monarchy with its whims of personality dictated by a personage. Paine didn’t view monarchs as having the blessings of God but rather were rather the feeble yet powerful descendents of bullies and thieves.

Wilensky updates the language to today’s linguistic cadence and explains the unavoidable arcane words which Paine specific chose in his philosophical manifestos. It is a most readable text.

You may wish to read from this book to a class or workshop, or read along with your child as you explore the Revolutionary Times and the great men who set our country free from an unjust and oppressive government that taxed the people beyond justification and sought to invade their privacy and control their lives. Paine’s arguments are set out so logically even the British understood the American cause was just.

The second half of the book provides fun exercises to reinforce the lessons and play with the types of cartoon propaganda used in the 18th Century to persuade the general population to a particular opinion. This book has the potential to encourage youth to become fiercely American in a way similar to that of the Revolutionaries that founded this great country.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Book Review: The Life and Legend: Doc Holliday

The Life and Legend: Doc Holliday by Gary Roberts. NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.

A most enjoyable read, The Life and Legend: Doc Holliday begins with background of the man who was probably best known as Wyatt Earp’s friend. Doc, named John Henry Holliday came from a Georgian family who moved Westward after the War. Their trials greatly impacted the young boy to the depths of his soul. Clearly, he cared deeply for his family and personal honor. Clearly, he wanted to be successful in his career as a dentist. Clearly, this man was dealt a formidable blow with the diagnosis of consumption (tuberculosis). It changed the direction of his life toward becoming an American Legend.

Doc Holliday does not have the column space of Wyatt Earp, but the man was as much responsible for the OK Corral as was the famous lawman turned entrepreneur. What there is known about Doc Holliday comes often from a side bar to the famous Kansas City lawman, or as a story handed down within a family both proud and ashamed of their connection with Doc. Holliday’s wife or girl, depending on who you believe, recorded her memories about the man she loved… and hated. All these bits of information, pieced into a cohesive story tells about the man and the myth.

The relationships created and broken in the Western territories shaped the Southwest into what it is today. 19th century factions of merchant ranchers fighting for land rights and cattle across the US/Mexico boarder set the stage for the most fascinating and romantic period of Western history. At no other time was there the opportunity for men to become what they might. The possibility of hitting it rich in the mines or making a reputation for oneself had never before, nor perhaps since, been so open for courageous men to seize the moment. However, life in the West may not have worked out as well as one might have hoped. Doc was one of these characters.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Review: Affectionately Yours, Screwtape

Probably best enjoyed after reading C.S. Lewis’ book, Screwtape Letters, this DVD Affectionately Yours, Screwtape: The Devil and C.S. Lewis may be viewed as a 5 part study guide or as a documentary.

Discussions on the DVD include such difficult and theological questions as good and evil, or good versus evil, and how free will is given to each person. Of course, the reference point is the Screwtape Letters and Lewis’ perspective on the World.

CS Lewis, a most beloved author wrestles with the temptation dilemma and all the ways perhaps a devil might try to engage and command an individual into sin. Initial presuppositions include who is Satan through the Bible and other historical texts and art, as well as how demons might be arranged in a hierarchy not unlike today’s corporations. The letters from a higher demon to his demon nephew/employee are revealing in the subtle ways in which temptation bombards the unaware and how even a good person may succumb to sin in minute increments.

Everyday spiritual battles are the essence of the Screwtape Letters as is the question for everyone who wishes to guard their soul from sin’s temptations.

Screwtape Letters is among my all time favorite books. I read the C.S. Lewis book for the first time about twenty years ago. Before reviewing this DVD, I revisited the experience before watching this DVD. The DVD revealed some of the author’s personal history, of which I was previously unaware. This information gave greater depth to the book and Lewis’ perspective and intentions for the Screwtape Letters. The DVD is thoroughly enjoyable, easy to watch and may be used as a study guide or as a documentary. I would highly recommend reading the book first so that one may understand all the references in the DVD.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Four Christmases

Vince Vaughn & Reese Witherspoon are absolutely hysterical in Four Christmases, if you're not from a dysfunctional family, otherwise, there are "moments of clarity" waiting for you between the laughs.

The story of a couple who both come from divorced families and have decided not to inflict their issues on each other, so they never go home for Christmas... until, by chance the freak fog keeps them from boarding a plane and they are filmed by the News Crew at the Airport... Now, it's Home for Christmas... all four homes!

Hang on to your cell phone and your therapist's number just in case you discover some hidden source of emotional pain... and laugh about it too!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


All the ingredients for a good movie... story line, good actors, appropriate locations and a bit of unreality.

The romantic story about a teen girl who moves in with her father, after her mother's remarriage. Bella falls head over heels in crush with a dishy teen-looking vampire who's been in high school for 90 years.

Suspend reality and the premise is amusing.

The vampire on an animal blood, rather than human blood diet likens himself and his companions to vegetarians. Of course, Bella orders a Garden Burger at the diner. So the two relate...

While sitting in the movie theatre with an ample number of teens. I'm pleased to note that there are as many romantic young men as women, giving me hope for the future.

Their parents, however, are busy stressing that this may not be a good movie because kids like it, which is more a comment on the parent than the teens.
One woman said she was worried her kids will want to be vampires... P-please...

It seems that most teenagers that watch a romantic vampire movies don't turn into vampires but may end up with romantic tendencies...

Of movies in the last decade... this one rates in the 90s.... very enjoyable, paced well, good characters, good story... looking forward to the sequel.