Saturday, December 31, 2011

Proofrock twits and tires that roll

(with tentative apologies to T.S. Eliot)

Let us drive, then, you and I
when the morning spills out from suburban sky,
let us drive and let us now commute
from suburban grass to urban loot.
Let us crawl on shrubbish cul-de-sacs
where networked souls run tribal tracks
to lead us to an underwhelming question:
Just don't ask us why it is
that engines purr and tired wheels whiz
while red lights come and green lights go
twitting tweets of decaprio.

The gray exhaust that rubs its back
upon our concrete ribbon track
slithers down and wanders up
through traffic jam with coffee cup;
we measure out our days in pixel spoons
with idling fumes and idol tunes,
while texting out the urgent news
that paris is yearning, wall street has a short fuse.
On the cells girls come, and women go
tweeting of bieber and decaprio.

And indeed there is time at the traffic light
before red turns green and tweet turns trite,
to wonder "Do I dare?" and "How's my hair?"
To think of debts but not to care--
and would it have been worth it after all
to call my prince, so cute, so tall?
while johny boy in the middle lane
dreams of bustin out and raisin cane.
But they all grow old, and faces fold;
they shall eat their pastries rolled.

We have lingered in the intersections of the game,
with idling pipes and spirits lame;
we wait to crawl, mutating paws
o'er ancient seas with neo-claws.
Throughout our sprawl and tyrannies of the urgent
lurk restless souls that stir, insurgent.
But we do grow old, we grow less bold;
we shall wear our courage rolled,
while on the freeways we come and go
dreaming of Jeanie and Michelangelo.

Glass Chimera

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Two Trees

I took just a few bites of it--
a few chapters--
and already I knew too much,
more than I can handle now.
To know the truth
if it is the truth
(for who can you believe?)
To know that terrible truth,
to hear the dark pinochet ricochet
even now
thirty years later--
that the so-called chicago boys
put those chile storm troopers up to it?
This knowledge is to terrible for me,
if it is knowledge,
And that sinister suharto shock
heard round the world
Am I supposed to feel
like responsible for this mess?
like I can do somethin about it?
Am I supposed to go out
and clean up all that shit
thats going down?
still going down?
Take up the jacobin club?
--start down that lenin road
that leads to the stalin road
the mao path--
cultural revolution, because of classified wikileaks
because of class-war hijinks
what kinda revolution do they have in mind
when the mob turns impatient
starts to turn
to occupy what? the human condition!
a fruit stand in Tunis?
a flaming vision of hell on utube.
There's no end to that burning.

A plague upon your houses!
There must be a better way
than pissin in the ocean
or in the park.
There must be a better way
than jerkin' cia strings
and coup d'etat blings.

I can eat no more from this tree now.

I just need to find something else
because all my yankee hope
was sunk into that american dream
and if that dream of hard work bootstraps and get ahead of the game
turns nightmare behind the ugly scenes
with shock doctrine and torture,
i just cant...

I know now why the other tree
Its not too late for the other tree
the one that brings life
not guilt.
I'm not responsible for this stuff.

Come out of it my people.
Because of what Jesus did
I will eat from the other tree.
That's a better choice than Abraham had,
and sure the hell better than Mohamet
or Mao.
That's my story and I'm stickin to it.
Merry Christmas from the Garden,
Gethsemane, that is.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Equality, divinely inspired

About 27 centuries ago, a prophet named Isaiah lived in the Jewish home-city, Jerusalem. He spoke presciently to his countrymen about the dire condition and future direction of their waning theocracy. Among the many figurative utterances that Isaiah spoke to his people during those turbulent times was this cataclysmic declaration:

"Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain."

Two and a half millenia later, the composer George Frideric Handel appropriated this mountainous prophecy for the the introductory elements of his classic musical oratorio, The Messiah.

In any venue where the piece is performed, Handel's masterpiece of Messianic fervor begins with a dynamic, stringed baroque overture. Then, in clear, declarative recitative, the bold tenor voice announces that Jerusalem's warfare is done, divine absolution is on the way, and now is the time to "make straight in the desert a highway for our God."

Since a highway requires some earth-moving preparatory work, the tenor's exposition continues with Isaiah's earth-shaking analogy that I mentioned above:

"Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain."

But there is much more going on here in the scriptural proclamation than a proposal for highway construction. Isaiah was enunciating a foundational principle of Jewish identity, and later Christian hope: Justice. And not just any old legal notion of justice, but a divinely-appointed equality among God's people that is achieved when their societal field is providentially leveled and everyone has opportunity to live bountifully.

Now, what I'm wondering is: Will this God-sanctioned hope for justice on earth be accomplished through the Almighty's sovereign mandate upon his people, or do we, as God's people (if you count yourself among that group as I do) need to get busy and make the righteous vision happen?

If Isaiah's echoing, metaphorical call to level the playing field resonates in your soul-- if you can glean from his prophetic vision a possibility that someday the lowly will be raised up, and the high and mighty humbled--if you can catch a glimpse of a coming kingdom in which mercy and grace obliterates oppression and injustice--then you may someday be singing that Hallelujah chorus with Isaiah and Handel in the Messiah's grand finale.

I Hope to see you there.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Spirit in the Wild Wood: Part Two of Witnesses

Spirit in the Wild Wood: Part Two of Witnesses


Trouble I'm scared
of what gonna happen
Just give me democracy
I want it now
not aristocracy
cant handle no meritocracy
gotta slide to mediocrity
gotta save my middle classity
keep my couch potata rutabaga raava
dis the inequality
cant balance the frugality
cant handle no fragility
cant locate my ability
dam the ram idolotry
I'm crying for veracity
but findin volatility
Just give me liberty
or give me debt--
debtitudinal longitudinal polarizational globalizational hesitational
notional value unfathomable oceanal
need seratonin give me oxytocin
with comfort lotion potion notion ocean
no emphatic static
no radical shmadicals
to hell with chaos pathos loss and dross.
I see a cross.
Forgive them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Nature of the Beast

Since I am a 1973 grad of Louisiana State University, which has a football team presently destined to, once again, soon earn the title of National Champion, I'm thinking about the LSU Tigers.

That legendary squad of coonass athletes, for as long as my sixty years will allow me to remember, has been a hallowed institution in my original hometown, Baton Rouge. The great gridiron squad, and the venerable institution of higher learning from which it had sprung, represented for my daddy, my mama, me, my brother, nieces, nephews and sisters (all alumni), and every other crawfish-chompin citoyen in the bayou state, the paragon of football excellence. And the team carried that elevated status even before the rest of football nation ever acknowledged our unique mastery of the game by bowing to tigerly domination that had manifested in ages past, such as in 1958, along with contemporary victories as exhibited in this present season and, and no doubt, the striped future.

And since I was thinking about them thar tigers (as we say in the Appalachian mountains where I now live), I decided to open up your awareness to a plotly development from my second novel, Glass Chimera, because the scene involves a Tiger, which is the mascot at LSU.

Remembering that I spent freshman year in North Stadium dormitory, right there in the Death Valley stadium of old, and across an oak-lined street from Mike the Tiger's cage, I post herewith this uncommon incident from chapter 6 of Glass Chimera. It depicts, long story short, a tiger who is hanging out in the untigerly environment of a New Orleans boulevard (don't ask), and feeling a little bit out of place:...

“Ha. She’s having second thoughts about the escape, wondering if it was the right decision.” They chuckled.

“She’s definitely out of her comfort zone,” said Nao.

“And yet she seems so utterly comfortable,” Robby observed. “What’s strange is. . .she could make one hell of a ruckus if she wanted to. She could turn this place upside down with confusion if she chose to.” He thought for a moment. “I wonder what her genetic inclinations are. I wonder if the years of captivity have conditioned her beyond her wild, natural response to what could be a dangerous setting.”

“The human world, a dangerous setting,” said Rosa, with a hint of irony.

“Definitely dangerous for her, if she’s not in a cage.”

Case in point.

The sedated, somewhat surreal stillness of Napolean Avenue at that moment was interrupted by the sudden, though stealthy, approach of a stalker, skilled in this sort of thing. Gray/white/black camouflage occluded his purposed arrival upon the scene. He had a rifle in his arms, and it was poised in the ready position. Not yet aiming, but ready. The hunter, whoever he was, was looking steadily at the cat. He was speaking to her in his mind. He knew her mind. He had hunted her in the far reaches of the savannah, in Africa. Not her, however. But one like her. He knew about wild animals. He knew what they were capable of.

He knew about wild animals.

Calcutta took notice of her stalker’s arrival by rising from the position of rest that she had assumed, rousing from her uninvited survey of the boulevard below, with its manufactured menagerie of streetlight-streaked mechanical beasts having paws of rubber and snouts of chrome.

She growled. She is, after all, a tiger. And she didn’t like this one bit. Her instinct was demanding a response. She howled. She’s savage, not tech-savvy, not aware of the power of projectiles and triggers.

She leaped.

If this encounter bites into your curiosity at all, you'll have to read the book to find out what happens before and after it. Otherwise, I'll leave you with this declaration:

Go Tigers!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Schumpeter's "creative destruction"!

Several centuries ago, capitalism germinated out of the decomposing European feudalism that preceded it.
Because capitalism became so prolific in its unprecedented capacity for creating wealth, it was simultaneously destructive of the pokey old way of doing things in the feudal world.
Creative destruction is not just an operative dynamism of capitalism's beginnings; it is a working principle by which wealth-generating capitalist enterprises compete with each other. Just as any team on an athletic field strives to build up its own score while destroying the opponent's defenses, so does the successful capitalist enterprise hone its productivity and efficiency in order to build its own market share, while at the same time destroying its competitors' efforts to do the same thing...

while expanding more, more, and more, until what began as free-market entrepreneurial wealth creation has morphed into monopolistic constriction that stifles new enterprise.

Ironically, the creative dynamism of capitalism's modus operandi is the very same thing that ultimately sets the stage for its own obsolescence and...demise.
Will Capitalism, in the long run, work itself out of a job, and gobble up fledgling entrepreneurs to the point of snuffing out the very entrepreneurial spirit that give birth to it? Might capitalism shoot itself in the foot, and maybe even, by its own "creative destruction," someday destroys itself?

Suffocate itself with layers and layers of derivatives and credit default swaps? Maybe, or maybe not. We shall see, perhaps in our generation.

Joseph A. Schumpeter, a Moravian/American economist of the 20th century, very cleverly coined a phrase, "creative destruction," to identify this fatalistic tendency of capitalism. Here are a few quotes that I pondered from his 1942 book, Can Capitalism Survive?, which is part of a larger treatise, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.

~"It is true that the facts of industrial concentration do not quite live up to the ideas the public is being taught to entertain about it."

~"The capitalist process pushes into the background all those institutions, the institutions of property and free contracting in particular, that expressed the needs and ways of the truly 'private' economic activity."

~"The capitalist process, by substituting a mere parcel of shares for the walls of and the machines of a factory, takes the life out of the idea of property. It loosens the grip that once was so strong--the grip in the sense of the legal right and the actual ability to do as one pleases with one's own."

~"Unlike any othe type of society, capitalism inevitably, and by virtue of the very logic of its civilization, creates, educates and subsidizes a vested interest in social unrest."

Tonight, Monday night, I was considering these points from Joseph Schumpeter's seventy-years-ago observation, and how he thought that capitalism's ruthless opportunism might ultimately become its demise. Then the ravenic trepidations of another writer, one who had lived a century before Joseph Schumpeter, crossed my mind, and...

"while I nodded, nearly napping,
suddenly there came a tapping,
as of someone gently rapping,
rapping at my chamber door..."

quoth the Capital, More, more, more!

How much more is there?

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shades of things to come

"It might have been seventy million years ago that a large asteroid hit the earth somewhere near Cancun. And it might have been that the big space-tossed boulder would have thrown such a cloud of dust and disturbance into the earth’s atmosphere that it probably altered the pecking order of biological kingdoms for thousands or even millions of years thereafter.

Earth shaking events. They happen.

It might have been that the severe rearrangement of earth’s biomes had put a major crimp on the old dinosaurs. Maybe they became like DOS after Microsoft, just slipping down into the dark hidden recesses of the new program, relegated to subterranean, hydrocarbon pools of potential energy, their giant-generating introns and exons having been unraveled and liquefied like the assets of international corpuses and cartels that would later profit from their demise. It might have been that the superbad, supermad totally-rad reptile kings and queens of the jungle could no longer compete with the smaller, sleeker, smarter, uppity mammals who were in the ascendancy and currently favored by the committee for Natural Selection. It might have happened that way. And maybe the superbad supermad totally rad reptile kings and queens of the jungle found themselves faltering, over the next few eons, losing their command of the playing field, becoming more and more baffled at their waning ability to throw their weight around any more, until finally they just, maybe, gave up the ghost and conceded their diminished reptile role to those miniscule, dust-lickin’ mutated cousins who would later distill all that serpentine angst and alienation into a venomous infusion of death—inflictible on those new-kid-on-the-block mammals who were ruining the neighborhood. Equipped with the ugliest, hissingest triangulated head that God ever allowed on a breathin’ creature, these slitherin’ peabrains could nevertheless still proudly carry on, simply by opening their mouths, the dominance and intimidation of their ancestors. Speak of the devil……

“Watch out for the damn snake!” yelled Simon."

from chapter 19 of Glass Chimera

And this just in, Cen0zoically speaking...from Ezekiel, at the River Chebar, among the diasporas:

" Thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you about, and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords--"

"...Persia, Ethiopia, and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet, Gomer with all its troops..."

Stay tuned for more planetary updates on the continuing crisis of Darwinian survival of the fittest on the third rock from the sun.
CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Michael's trouble and Naomi's hope

This is an eye-opener, although parts of it may disturb you. But Americans can not operate a democratic republic with heads in the sand.
Whether you''re with them or against them, the Occupyers are now fanning out a spectrum of ideological strategies, and our nation will be changed as a result. The societal inequalities they protest will not be easily disposed of. We must consider and analyze their complaints if our nation is to get over the polarizing hurdles that now obstruct our governing urgencies.

Although law enforcement agencies in cities throughout our nation have undertaken, for the most part appropriately, some restrictive measures to contain the Occupy campers, these people are not going away. They live among us, as does the Tea Party whose signs were raised before them.
To glean some understanding of where this thing is headed, I recommend a listen to this one-hour panel discussion:

The New School/New York City meeting of minds was sponsored by The Nation magazine, and recorded at the above link for Democracy Now!. Michael Moore and Naomi Klein are positioned, as it were, at the two bookends of the discussion, with three other well-spoken panelists between them. The troublesome film-maker's controversial presence is appropriately seated on the left. Naomi's seasoned optimism later provides a constructive balance on the other end of the table.

Compare Michael's grudge to Naomi's hope.
On one end of unfolding Occupy Wherever drama, Michael Moore says, with an odd excitement in his voice, he'd like to overhear the fearful trepidations now being uttered nightly in the bedrooms of the 1%.
On the other end, Naomi Klein admonishes the Occupyers to move beyond the "outrage phase" to a new phase of hope.
Which way will the Occupy movement move?
The way of the American revolution, or the way of the French revolution?
The way of constructive democracy, or the way of a vindictive reign of terror?

Michael Moore is a genius of video programming, and he certainly expresses in his work a powerful advocacy for underpriveleged people, but he does have some problems, mostly that he presents everything in good vs evil terms. But ourmaterial world, including capitalism, is constituted in shades of gray everywhere you look, whether you're facing left or facing right. Here are just a few of the key phrases that indicate his judgemental attitude:

~ the "beginning of the end of an evil system"
~ deficit/debt ceiling as a "distraction", as if fiscal responsibility were not a real issue
~ "they (the 1%) created this...all the pain and suffering," as if pain and suffering had not existed before corporatocracy
Michael Moore prefaces his caustic assessments somewhat with a hopeful observation that the Occupy movement has "aleviated despair in this country" and "killed apathy." This is true. But here is what's worrisome about Michael Moore:

Toward the end of the program, he mentions the inspiration that he imbibes when contemplating that a mere two people, Marx and Engels, occupied unbroken ideological ground over a century ago. Unfortunately for the world at large, what Marx and Engels could not foresee was the onslaught of oppressive state power, through the cruel manipulations of Stalin, Mao and others, that would later be perpetrated in the name of their theoretical wealth and power redistributions. Someone should remind Michael Moore and his comrades just how the Stalin and Mao movements turned out after their early revolutionary phases. Contemporary protesters would do well to remember the words of one of their patron saints, John Lennon, who sang, "...but if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow." While that Beatlish warning may be politically incorrect in China, it surely applies here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In contrast to Michael Moore's hyper-critical inputs, Naomi Klein got her turn, later, at the other end of the 5-member panel. Her well-prepared spiel included a listing of positive changes, "a track record of developing alternatives" that have manifested in practical applications since the Seattle WTO protests in 1999:

~ solutions to the ecological crisis becoming solutions to the economic crisis
~ green co-ops, as in Cleveland
~ farmers' markets
~ community-supported agriculture
~ community renewable energy
~ localizing economies
~ devolving power to community levels, decentralization

These last two or three are the ironically dubious components of an evolving Occupy agenda, insofar as this: the federal/statist interventions required for implementing egalitarian measures are inherently contrary to decentralizing reforms, unless the federal actions are at some point withdrawn or minimized. How likely is that?

The happiest item on Naomi Klein's constructive list was her mention of the 14 bicycle-powered generators being used to fulfill electrical needs at Occupy Wall Street. This happened after the police had removed their gas-powered generators, which was a blessing in disguise since the campers needed some incentives to overcome their own fossil-fuel dependencies. I'll commend them for investing some innovative sweat equity to capitalize their dream of green energy.

At moderator Richard Kim's direction, Naomi Klein addressed directly the issue of federal/state involvement. (I know for a fact, this is the biggest objection that arises from our conservative factions, especially since government programs are funded by taxes.) Naomi tempers the session's wonky explorations with an appropriate admonition: "State power can be just as alienating, as corrupt as corporate power."

And there's the rub, America. As a wise creature of the forest once said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Glass half-Full

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Papa gave us a shovel

you gave us a shovel so we could dig a well.
you gave us seeds to plant, and hands to excel.
you gave us some tools so we that can build.
you gave us a bowl and a cup that's filled.
you gave us a deed on an acre or two.
you gave us a smile and a list whats to do.
Oh Daughter,
we help you and give you our love.
Oh Son,
we give you our life from above.

Oh Land of the free,
you gave us opportunity.
Oh Home of the brave,
you gave us freedom to save.
Oh friends and ye neighbors,
thanks for this and for that.
O almighty God,
thanks for this turkey so fat.

Glass half-Full

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rascals, Scoundrels, and Settlers

Rascals rock the boat. Scoundrels would sink it, but Settlers stabilize it.

The boat, in this case, is the USS America.

The Rascals have sensed that something is rotten in Denver, or in Dallas or Detroit, or in anyTown USA. This is certainly true. But hey….they don't know what to do about it. And since their unemployed, or underemployed, or uneducated or unsettled condition renders the rascals relatively impotent to reshape the world according their tender sense of injustice, they take to the streets in protest. I can relate to it. I was out in the streets when we were in VietNam. Getting out there to make a stand seems like a cathartic something to do; it is exciting, with all the comraderie and the shared suffering-- until the nearby residents, shopkeepers, and civic leaders start upping the ante on the physical consequences of Occupation. Then the cops hype their heretofore patient vigilance into riot-gear insensibility.

Behind the scenes, chronic malcontents would manipulate the wandering rascals, maneuvering their newfound funk toward some kind of revolution, as yet unfocused. Maybe its Lennon's revolution, or Lenin's, or Marx's, or Stephen Lerner's, Naomi’s, or David’s, who knows.

There is a lot to be upset about, for sure. The rascals are enraged about the greedy corporations, mad at the mediocre politicians, intimidated by the police, yeah yeah. They screw you, yeah yeah yeah. A witch's brew of issues boil up here: the destabilizing consequences of competing globalized economies, inequality, outsourcing, bailouts for the 1%, outlandish executive bonuses, unpayable student loans, epidemic foreclosures, environmental degradation, polluted groundwaters, obsessive plastic lifestyles, plastic garbage in the Pacific, filthy pipelines, fracking, fricking...

It is true that we Americans need to be roused, before it is too late, out of our hydrocarbon/carbohydrate stupor, part of which is our self-immolating oil addiction. Our petrochemical habit is a dependency that has economically castrated this formerly-great nation's independence, and greased us down into a red-light slow-idle energy complacency, comfortably numbed by an obsessive compulsion for visual and audial stimulation.

Up on Capitol Hill-- where the WallStreet lobbying 1% conduct their dissonant orchestrations of unfunded mediocrity, the politicians pontificate about a lot of smokescreen issues. For instance, the so-called Solyndra-gate.

This is political grandstanding is dangerous. Their disengenuous inquisitions distract us from some imminent good news: New American job-creating possibilities are actually being worked on, even as we speak, if the government does not obstruct.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, somewhere in America a few enterprising business people have, believe it or not, quietly settled into the tasks of doing what needs to be done.

… like, heating up technologies to elevate us out self-destructive oil addiction.

Yesterday, while up on a roof clearing gutters, I heard on the radio about two trailblazing west coast solar-tech producers. Although Solar World and Solaria are not the the only two companies breaking new industrial ground, they are quietly settling us into a homesteading path that leads to real solar-tech cost-reduction productivity. Very soon (if not already), these manufacturers will, with a little help from their many power-hungry friends (US consumers), mass-produce photovoltaic roof- panels on an unprecedented scale. Affordability for John and Jane Doe will be the outcome.

I tuned into the ear-opening update about Solar World and Solaria yesterday while listening to NPR's ScienceFriday. As it happened, Ira Flatow's enquiry to the companies' respective spokesmen, Gordon Binser and Dan Shugar, focused largely on a side issue; the issue was what Gordon Binser calls "illegally subsidized" Chinese dumping of artificially cheapened solar panels. But the entirety of thieir podcast discussion reveals far more than a cordial dispute between two industry leaders about trade strategies. A half-hour listen draws us into a persuasive force field of updated solar capabilities. For instance, according to Dan Shugar and Gordon Binser:

~100,000 people are employed in US solar industry today. That's more folks than are working in coal mines, and more than in steel mills.

~The industry grew by 69% last year.

~5000 companies are involved in solar technology here today.

~Labor expense is only 10% of the cost of solar panels. So the issue of Chinese (or developing nations) competition is not as difficult as we might at first think.

~The relative fragility of glass panels reinforces the logic of domestic production and distribution.

~Actual production levels of rooftop electricity are approaching (or already at) a scale that is competitive with other power-generating sources such as nuclear and coal.

~Last year, the solar industry in USA installed, operated and delivered 17 Gigawatts of electricity, the equivalent of 17 nuclear power plants in the middle of a day.

~In the summertime, there is a direct, favorable correlation between solar energy supply and the peak power demand occasioned by widespread air-conditioning.

~When smartly integrated, individual home installations (or institutional ones) can be connected to our existing power infrastructure (with modifications) to inject electricity into the cumulative power grid. Thus, consumers can become net PRODUCERS of electrical power at certain times of the day, thus lowering their electric bills.

~As demand for solar installations has grown, the cost-reduction curve has followed the same pattern of cell phones, computers, and dvd players. Bet you didn't know that, huh?

~Solar World has over 1000 employees in Oregon, and has been making photovoltaic panels for over 35 years.

~In Germany, there are some peak-demand times when 40% of contributed electrical input is being generated by solar panels.

I was quite impressed with all these statistics, both yesterday as I heard Dan and Gordon list them for Ira on the radio, and this morning when I replayed the ScienceFriday podcast.

So hey! In the turbidity of all this stir-crazy Occupy controversy, and right in the middle of the bad banking news and European woes, here we find some very real, very timely good news about newfound American industrial innovation, and developing job opportunities on the dark-cloud horizon, maybe even on your community’s own rooftops.

What Dan and Gordon communicated to Ira really comes down to this: the time for cost-effective solar design and application is no longer future. It is now. This is one sector of manufacturing that the Chinese will not be able to dominate, because our automated capabilities can effectively competetive with developing-world low-wage production expense (which is only 10% of a solar panels cost).

And everybody needs a little sustainable wattage.

So, all you angst-ridden discontented shivering souls out there--

Before you Occupy the frigid streets and possibly get thereby injured, infected or arrested, think about a productive alternative:

Occupy, for an hour or two while you fill out the application, the human resources foyer of your local appropriate technology producer. If you don't find one locally, maybe you'd become the entrepreneur-installer to heat up this movement in your community. Perhaps you'd be the first one in your community to capitalize on this work--work that really needs to be done if America is going to continue to Occupy its Can-do legacy. The time to Occupy energy independence is now.

Think about it. Like Ira mused yesterday: we Americans invented the light bulb; we invented the energy-generating solar roof panel.

What’s the next thing (or process, or service) we need to invent to light our way out of this oil-pit we’ve dug ourselves into?

Glass half-Full

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why I am a Republocrat

The other night Pat and I were enjoying a meal in our home with a couple of dear friends. Our after-dinner conversation turned to heartfelt expressions about past, present and future. In the midst of some shared recollections about previous phases of our life, I wondered aloud about how this idealistic young McGovernite college kid could now find myself, at age sixty, running with a bunch of Republicans.
Then last night, Pat asked me why I am uncomfortable being a Republican. I found myself unable to offer an answer. But today, after some mulling the question over, I collected a few thoughts.

I am in fact not a Republican at heart, although I am registered to vote that way. But that’s because I’m not a dam Democrat either, and wouldn’t want to be caught dead anywhere near their gov’ment-take-all way of doing things.

Here is why:
I believe in the power, proven in our American history, of a free people to do great works. I believe in the limitless possibilities of a free people who, with their individual liberties constitutionally assured, can do what needs to be done, and prosper while performing it, both individually and collectively.
I believe in free enterprise, free markets, free trade, the invisible hand, Main Street, and God.
I believe human life, from its earliest inception , is worthy to receive the protection of the law.

These days, although I empathize with the opportunity-challenged. underemployed Occupy wall street 99% crowd, I also have no complaint with the so-called 1% gathering as much wealth as they can accumulate. The rich cats can only squander so much of the gravy before spreading some of that prosperity around as expenditures and investments, whereby the rest of us 99% can catch a little of the action.
Philosophically, I do not favor the practice of governmental income redistribution, and I surely do not want to see government take over everything-- not health care, not business, not philanthropy, not any of that stuff that good citizens ought to be doing from the abundance of their own hard-earned resources.

Now perhaps you can see why I am not a Democrat, and here’s why I am not really a Republican either.
Beginning about 200 years ago our pioneering American spirit began to focus on settling and developing the north American continent. Figuratively speaking, yankee industry, southern agronomy, widespread entrepreneurship and nascent capitalism took on the challenges of capitalizing and developing this exceptional experiment in democratic/republican nationhood that we call the United States of America.
Led by wealth-seeking industrialists and prosperity-seeking workers, we built in short order an amazing infrastructure of railroads, electricity grids, highways, airways and communication networks. Thousands, yea I say unto thee millions, of folks got in on the action and got a slice of the copious wealth. We were in high cotton for 150 years or so, in spite of a depression or recession or two.
But now we’ve gotten lazy. And I’m not just talking about couch-potato consumers. Now, American business, unwilling to take on the risks—and the sweat and the toil and the uncertainty—of capitalizing the upgraded prerequisite infrastructure for 21st-century prosperity, dithers with profit-obsessive derivatives and credit default swap schemes, instead of venturing out into the new frontiers of what really needs to be done.
The infamous, phantasmic Wall Street, whatever that is, refuses to capitalize for us a way out of the self-destructive oil addiction rut in which we find ourselves cluelessly bogged down. I can’t blame the Dems for taking a stab at these dependencies when our famous free enterprise entities won’t, or can't, take a chance on it. So the self-appointed prophets and the planners and the socialists and the gov’ment do-gooders and the democrats and the intellectual elites want to take on the burdens of what unbridled industry used to do. Maybe they’ve overregulated the captains of industry into neutralized industrial impotence, I don’t know, but now it seems that the Dems want the government to initiate everything. Meanwhile, the Repubs are still dreaming in lala land about bonuses, unfettered capitalism and tax shelters.

If I could, I would cast out both the demonDemo bureaucrats and the corporatublican devils.
What has happened to our business leadership in this country? Have they abdicated the wealth-generating mantle of industrial innovation?
President Reagan, patron saint of the Repubs, said that government IS the problem. But now, thirty years later, that’s only half the picture. We’ve got a new problem: business.
Business is the problem—not enough of it. Why has business shrunk from the profit-possibility challenges of the 21st century? Why have the capitalists conceded the venture-risking function to government? Why? Because there’s not enough money to be made, and too much risk and expense required to do the work that needs to be done. Call uncle Sam, even if he’s broke busted and his mother can’t be trusted. He''ll take the risk; he's got a pump-priming Fed to back him up.
Where are the Rockefellers, Carnegies, Edisons, Fords, Morgans and Watsons of our era? For that matter, where is the Gates, or Jobs, of the next generation?

In Congressional hearings today... Solyndra? Hey, I don’t care about the rhetorical politicized blameshifting and fault-finding. Solyndra was attempting to do the work that needs to be done, before wily Chinese competition cut them out of the emerging solar collector market. Where’s the company that will, Henry Ford-like, put a solar collector on every roof by capitalizing mass-produced affordability in that sector? Where’s the UAW that’s willing to cut a deal so that every half-prosperous American can afford to put an electric vehicle in their garage? Where's the bold corporation that will take a chance on new-tech American bullet trains?
It almost appears that American business, labor and industry has outlived its usefulness. How can that great trail-blazing entrepreneurial thrust of ages gone by be recovered, and recycled?
Don’t get me started; I’m a Republocrat, and dam proud of it.

Glass Chimera

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dam infidels at it again

Wouldn't you know it. The people of ancient Israel had a great little kingdom going, with the legendary King David establishing for them an impressive niche among the kingdoms of the earth, and then his venerable son Solomon consolidating their collective labor and wisdom into a golden age of excellence. But then Solomon died, and his sons Rehoboam and Jeroboam couldn't work together, so Jeroboam took some rebels and they struck out on their own to establish a renegade kingdom of Israel at Samaria.
Those dam infidels.
Solomon's golden age kingdom was eventually ground into dust by Assyrian and Babylonian conquerors. Jewish kingdom was extinguished, but their worship of Y_h, and identity as a people chosen to document God's work, survived. After their banishment from Jerusalem, captivity in Bablyon, and eventual return of some Hebrew exiles to Jerusalem, the Jewish people managed to maintain a unique culture and precious heritage, in spite of later Greek hegemony and Roman domination. Almost a thousand years after Solomon, Messiah finally came, suffered Roman crucifixion, but then triumphed by rising from the dead. Jesus' disciples, most notably the upstarts Peter and Paul, forsook Jewish tradition to start a new spiritual work on earth, which became Christianity and spread like wildfire through the Mediterranean world.
Those dam infidels.
After centuries of steady growth, suffering bloody persecutions from heathen Roman emperors, Christianity proliferated in spite of the bloody business of feeding them to the lions and such. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, so we Christians like to say, although I'm not necessarily volunteering for that role. But then 300 years after Christ, one noble emperor Constantine finally got the light bulb turned on his head and became a Christian. If you can't kill them, join them, I guess. As lucid as he was, Constantine got the bright idea to require all Roman citizens to be Christians, thus merging the public function of governance with the private practice of worshipping a risen Saviour. It was an idea that looked good on tablets (not ipads though), but it later turned out to be a mistake, although the organizing strategy worked tolerably well for a millenium or so, until Europe-based Christendom ended up splitting in two--Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox.
Those dam infidels again.
Meanwhile back in the mother lands, in 7th-century AD Palestine and Arabia, Mohammed got to looking around and realizing that mankind had a real problem. Even so-called righteous people such as Christians and Jews couldn't seem to be good and properly serve God, and they had irrepressible reprehensible tendencies toward idolotry and debauchery. So Mohammed took it upon himself a la Allah to straighten the human race out by starting a new religion, which would prove to be more forceful and therefore more effective in its conquest of us unruly humans. So Mohammed and his subsequent imams set out to conquer the world for Allah.
Those dam infidels.
Mohammed and his band of believers did manage to compel a lot of people to their way of worshipping. However, after he died, the surviving leaders of Islam could not agree on who would be the successor, so there were bloody disagreements among them. After a few years, one faction's acknowledged spiritual leader was recognized as legitimate imam to take up Mohammed's authority. But by the time some Muslim agreement was reached, the other faction had already recognized three imams. Thus did the first Caliph of the Shi'a become known also as the fourth Caliph of the Sunni. These inceptive infightings resulted eventually in two major branches of Islam. Since the split happened quite early in Islamic history (about 656 AD, just 24 years after Mohammed's death), the results produced two major branches of Islam--Sunni and Shi'a. This is not unlike the Christian Catholic/Orthodox legacy of two major dogmatic strains.
Those dam infidels again.
Fast forward a thousand years or so, and pan back to Europe, where we've got a a Protestant reformation brewing in the northern regions. Eventually Christendom manifests its inability to achieve consensus by morphing to a religion with hundreds, or thousands, of denominations.
Those dam infidels again, and again.
By and by, our perpetual trail of tears and blood gets dammed up into a global reservoir of apostate tragedy. Those dam infidels have been at each other's throats for millenia. It gets discouraging, not to mention all the oriental religions--Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Zoroastrian, and God only knows how many.
An overview of history makes it appear that we humans will never agree on religion. We'll be disputing about who God is and what he's up to, or if he even exists, until such time as we just blow ourselves to kingdom come.
I believe if God were really among us, he would take a real beating for this refusal to whip us into submission.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Reinstate Glass-Steagall Act

If Republicans want to see some electoral success next year, they should be willing to accept some moderately appropriate accountability for the disgraced financial industry. A good start would be to muster Republican support for reinstatement of the the Glass-Steagall Act.

Not only does this proprietary wall between commercial banking and investment banking need to be rebuilt, but it also makes good political sense. This concession would politically neutralize the mutinous Occupy crowd and the Dems such as Elizabeth Warren who are slowly gathering poliical strength from that grassroots movement.

Make reinstatement of Glass-Steagall a plank in the Republican platform before next summer's convention.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Elements of Life, simplified

Hydrogen initiates life; oxygen proliferates it; carbon gives life something to hold onto.
While helium laughs at the universe, nitrogen fertilizes it.

Sodium makes living things interact; calcium lends them some structure.
Neon, colorful and spritely, excites life, while cousin chlorine cleans up the messes.

Iron puts life to work; silicon makes it smart.
Nickel enables commerce; silver makes the life shine; gold makes it rich.

Uranium steps up the power exponentially, but then it requires maintenance in perpetuity.

Heat it up, and the whole life experiment becomes volatile; anything can happen, and probably will.
Drop in a little arsenic, and life bites the dust. Pay attention.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Working Principle of Jubilee

In ancient Israel, the land was understood to be a posession of God, with its owners being stewards, or caretakers. When a parcel was sold by one Israelite to another, its transferrence was considered a lease of the land's use--that is to say, a sale of future crops therein--not an absolute ownership, since that domain was reserved to the Creator alone.

In order that the people of God might establish a manageable economy, their Creator mandated a fifty year cycle--a system of seven revolving seven-year periods, plus one extra year, later called the (50th) year of "jubilee." By this revolving arrangement the natural inclination of human productivity toward inflation would be neutralized with a built-in systematic deflation. A sale of land in year 1 of the cycle would obstensibly be worth 49 times its value in year 49, since 49 prospective crops were understood to be the virtual substance of the transaction.

Furthermore, the working out of this economy also required that existing debts among Israelites be cancelled every seven years, and also that indentured servants or slaves be freed in that same seventh (sabbath) year. In the 50th year, at the end of the cycle, the land itself was returned to its original family of ownership of fifty years ago.

By this means, incentives for upward mobility of productive people were woven into the economy, and periodic debt forgiveness eliminated accruals of huge, unsurmountable debt among the working people. Accumulations of vast landed estates and monopolistic entities were also prevented, if the system was working as the Creator had designed it.

In this way, the followers of God were set up to prosper, both individually, familially, and collectively, according to the respective levels of their own chosen productivity and stewardship. And a constant deliverance of the poverty-stricken (unemployed) persons from a poorhouse fate would preclude a permanant underclass.

In real time, it didn't exactly work out that way, but the theoretical principles of Sabbaths, Jubilee, systematic deflation (not as bad as it sounds), and debt forgiveness might be worth considering in light of our presently hyper-leveraged circumstances.

The principle of regular sabbath renewals goes back to God's original creative work as it is figuratively documented in Genesis. God revealed himself to humans as a Creator. A definitive part of that creative process included rest and introspective recovery for the sake of developmentally corrective alignment.

If you care to learn more about this divine economy, and perhaps to consider its applications to modern existence, read Leviticus 25 and Deutoronomy 15, in the Bible.

Glass half-Full

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Ghost

That Occupying spirit face, it hauntifies my mind--
a smirky mask with painted smile upon its face of ghastly white.
Oh! what a ghostly site.
With black-lined clownish bizarrity
it mocks authority,
and conjures up signs of somethin happnin here;
what it is aint exactly clear.

Now the windmills of my mind crank out shadowy spectres from long ago:
the port huron statement and
four dead in ohio.
I see the ghost of My Lai massacre;
it stalks my g-generation like a smear--
blood on our hands from the tip of an agent-orange-spiked spear.
Out damned spot!
Have you come to splotch us again?
Out, I say, with the dire trespass of dow jones culpability
and exploding napalm fire like some howling banshee.
As puff the magic dragon who used to frolic in autumn mists
so our innocence has spiraled up in smoky days,
with unwelcome images from a Gulf of Tonkin haze.
Deja vu
I feel this wallstreet visitation is a spectre of impending trouble:
calling into question all the blood guilt ever known by man, double
and all the carnage ever splattered on to span
upon a waste and wanton land;
Who's responsible for this?
And my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars
shall bitterly begin

with these Occupying rebels
whose consensual zeal would snuff out the wallstreet conniption fit
of capitalism's big collateralized debt obligation zit,
as if the heart of depraved man could be improved upon a bit.
Oh shit!
This protest, in its collective sensibility,
is presumed more pristine
than corporate culpability,
with its globalized guile and leveraged guilt.
Does their urgent cry for egalité
cloak some fateful guillotine strategé?
A reign of terror from the tyrrany of the ninety-nine
to thrash out the fattened one-percent piggy kine?
Will this produce a future gulag or a forced labor camp,
a cultural revolution led by a raging tramp?
Who's responsible for this?
this fermenting mobbish contagion
transgression upon our convulsing nation.
It renders ashen white our neo-wallstreet mask
and calls us to blot out the bloody task
of human business.
Out! damned spot, we cry unto the whispering wind.
lay on us no more collateral damage to offend.
And ask not for whom that damned bell tolls;
now it peels again and again unto our restless souls.

Our ancestral refugees left ghoulish tales from long ago and far away
of the dachau and the auschwitz and the hitlerian birkenau.
And we hear ghastly tales from the so-called other side
of how they perished in stalin's gulag, and in the mao's "cultural revolution" millions died.
By their calculated rearrangements of the classified human chain,
they bound our bloody attempts to declassify into some ghoulish arbitrary game,
where the shedding of guilty blood, for the intent to make everything right
became an instant reply of human cruelty, sprinkled with bloody fright.

Now we the piggy capitalists, have we crossed that same damned line?
Have our reckless swapping one-percent cast unbearable load upon the ninety-nine?
Do you Occupyers now propose to judge their fatcat games
with social restructurings to expunge their selfish shames?
Good luck with that;
it'll be a cold day in hell
when we know for whom that bell
Our capitalist souls?

Glass Chimera

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gift of Soul, and so on...

If you think people evolved from lower life forms, then please understand that this creative work was revealed long ago--before science was invented-- when it was written very simply that "the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground."

And if you think that hominids such as Neanderthals or Cro-magnons lived on earth before Adam and Eve, then please wrap your mind around the fact that at a certain selected point in time, the Creator-- the One who had written the double-helixed codes of life itself--touched a man and gave him an essential gift--something very new and unprecedented. God placed within the man, Adam, a gift that would forever define the quality and direction of human life.

We call it soul. From that point on, men and women became less like the animals, more like God.

"God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

This gift of soul set men and women apart from other life forms, as its metamorphosing wonder formed within them self-consciousness and God-awareness. This had never been possible in the animal existence.

The soul-enabled path of higher development now available to us through God's shared creative work led ultimately to a new requirement--the need for law.
Through Moses, Law was given, so that we might civilize the world and live peaceably and productively within it.

The subsequent progress that sprung up through law-enabled civilization-- and its incessant entropy toward downfall-- led ultimately to a new epiphany--the need for Spirit, and not just any spirit, but a holy and righteous Spirit.

Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the holy Spirit was given. Are you ready for this?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Judah and Israel

Settling back into the Appalachian homing crib now, after a west coast week turnaround, I'm puzzling about the few days I spent observing the Occupyers at Seattle and Vancouver.

Yesterday I get an RSS email from Phyllis Chesler pronouncing the Occupy movement antisemitic.Whoa!

She presents some convincing evidence in her 5-page posting, with video quips of two Occupy LA protesters whose statements about bankers reveal some authentically deliberate Jew-bashing, and there's a lengthy, detailed sign about the old bogey Illuminati/Freemason conspiracy, whch was a dark strain of allegedly hidden connections that I had investigated briefly about 33 years ago.

So I get to hypertexting around on the net, and sure'nuff, there's more to this Occupy movement than meets the all-seeing eye. More evidence shows up on Jeff Dunetz' yidwithlid blog:
Yid with Lid wrote:
"The MSM (mainstream media) worked very hard to brand the Tea Party Movement as Racist, but it wasn't. They are working just as hard to ignore the blatant Antisemitism and libelous demonization of Israel coming out of the Occupy Wall Street protests, and they are. It is not just a few nuts within the Occupy Wall Street Movement who are bashing Israel and Jews, it is the leadership and founders."

A few more clicks mouses us around to a different point of view, the other side of the shekel, from Dave Weigel at Slate:
Weigel wrote:
"There is a problem: The movement isn't anti-Semitic. It started in New York. Its ideological hero is Naomi Klein. This is a movement studded with liberal Jews! Here's one video that's gotten less play than the one of the irate anti-Semitic dipshit with the "Nazi bankers" sign: The Kol Nidre in New York, at the Occupy camp."

If Naomi Klein is such a formidable player in this Occupying wave, and she is Jewish, then how can the movement itself be antisemitic? Furthermore, If you view the 3-minute video (Kol Nidre, above) that Weigel posted, in which a large group of obviously Jewish dancers joyously stepped into Yom Kippur, it is obvious that the Hebraic delegation is unitimidated about putting their best feet forward in the Occupy WallStreet festivities.

So we see one group of Jews who are out to change the world with their involvement in, among many other leftist movements, Occupy WallStreet etc; its the J-Street apologist contingent, the old socialist/labor cadre, the Yid liberal strain whose purpose is to confront the slings and arrows of world injustice and equality, and by opposing end those evils.

And we see another group of Jewish people, including the grand old man of anti-defamation exposé Elie Wiesel, who have detected (accurately) within that same broad Occupy movement, an insidious strain of nascent nazis nestled nefariously in the shadows of the sign-wielding rabble. Yes, the Jew-haters are in there; they lurk among thousands of protesters.

So is the Occupy WallStreet movement antisemitic? Yes and no.That makes it like just about any other political movement in this melting-pot that we call America.
The Judah-apologist school of Judaism and the Israel-defensive school are strange bedfellows nestled within the same religious/ethnic heritage; one is reformative and communitarian, the other is orthodox and conservative. Oy vey. What else is new? It's been this way since Rehoboam and Jeroboam.

The tension that exists between these two camps of Judaism, as represented by the activist Golda Meir strain and the prosperous Alan Greenspan strain, is as old as the Judean hills, and they have lived with it long enough to convince the world that they are here to stay. Either way, they're not going away. Thank G_d.

The contemporary quarrel between liberal and conservative branches of political Judaism is reconcilable when surveyed through this proverbial wisdom from Yid with Lid:

"Jewish tradition respects economic success, so long as it is obtained honestly, and proper respect is shown for the social responsibility that comes with it. That social responsibility is a personal duty and a job for the community led by its religious leaders, but not for the government."

Last link. Over two millenia ago, the prophet Zechariah posted this on his website:

"...I took for myself two staffs, the one I called Favor and the other I called Union...I took my staff Favor and cut it in pieces, to break my covenant which I had made with all the peoples...then I cut in pieces my second staff Union, to break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel."

And its been that way ever since. But hey! Mazel tov and L’chaim!.
But if you want to see what occupation really looks like in the here and now, look at this pic I snapped at Occupy Jerusalem six years ago:

Glass half-Full

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Organizing the 9%

As much as the Occupy movement would aspire to represent 99% of the people, they can claim to persuasively echo the opinions and active strategies of...maybe 9%.

Although far more than nine percent of people have become disgruntled because Congress bails out the corporate cronies, and although far more than nine percent of folks are frustrated with ecological disasters and abuses that have been mismanaged through gov/corp collusion, and although far more than 9.1% of the people feel as if their labor and resources are being jerked around by the soulless machinations of greedy, outsourcing corporations, there are really only about nine percent of We the People who are willing to be associated with and directed by Occupation activists.

However, if the Occupyers could manage somehow to effectively represent, say, a mere 9% of the people, that is nine times as many as the 1% whose bank accounts they are trying to siphon. But their first major hurdle in that wealth redistribution quasi-socialist quest would be to get organized. That is no simple task, as I recently witnessed firsthand. In fact this whole movement will be a marathon of dedicated organizing if it is ever going to amount to anything besides a series of sign-wielding collective walks in the park.

At the stone staircase of the Vancouver Art Museum on Saturday and Sunday, I watched as a core group of intense activists initiated in their city what has become the Occupy movement's "achieving consensus" process. It is a tedious sequence of speaker/crowd interactivity that appears, from my observer perspective, laboious and perhaps somewhat self-defeating.

Nevertheless, the agenda-writing nucleus of organizers seemed quite intent on building consensus from their small activist cadre outward amongst the gathering legion of discontents. They wanted it done a certain way, at the risk of appearing, to an instant-breakfast world, disorganized.

The use of amplified sound through use of a microphone was a point of subtle contention among two factions of the the leader group. It took a few hours on Saturday morning as well as Sunday to work out the kinks. A speaker-call / crowd-repeat procedure that must have originated with the wallstreet cadre had already become dogma for some of the agenda-setting core, while other initiators among them obviously preferred the pragmatically loud use of the microphone. Technological enhancement uncovers undesirable bourgeois luxuries. Such subtle concessions to capitalist convenience can easily lead to domination of the gathered crowd by gifted orators, or "showboaters" as one humble speaker referred to them. Amplified rhetoric can enable, theoretically, opportunitstic demogogs to manipulate the assembled masses. Thus can the ideal of egalitarian democracy be undermined by silver-tongued soapboxers. Not good.

I observed with interest as a purist group within the agenda-setting core labored tediously to lay a foundation of simple unamplified call/response democratic consensus building. It was, let's face it, primitive, although I could surmise the solid ideologic basis for it. Over the course of two disjointed hours, however, the pragmatic faction was able to procedurally insert selective use of the microphone into the nascent consensus process. This distant listener thought the microphone use lent a definite improvement to their presentations.

By and by, the Vancouver Occupy agenda-setters were able to establish a sequence of procedures by which their two-hundred-or-so core of gathered faithful (while hundreds more of curious bystanders watched) could voice some procedural decisions about where this thing was headed. Past mid-afternoon on Sunday, I don't know what Occupy Vancouver did, but their inception was fascination for this detached observer.

I departed the scene several hours later, thinking it would be a long time before this movement accomplishes anything substantial. Leaderless democracy, which appears to be the gold standard among this movement's initiators, initially produces apparent chaos. At least that's the way it seemed to me as I witnessed the Occupy Vancouver public inception. What fundamental organization may have been established beneath that irresolute exterior, only time will tell.

After a dusky train ride with wife and son back to Seattle, I returned on nippy Monday morning, with journalistic curiosity, to the Occupy site in Westlake Park, downtown. Previously, I had witnessed parts of the Wednesday and Thursday daytime sessions there. The Seattle crowd seemed, to me, much scruffier and streetish than the intense Vancouverites. A rag-tag band of pierced, tattood occupyers hung out where the podium had been last week. They were meagerly holding on to this public square, insofar as it was possible amidst the gently ominous peripheral police presence. While most lingerers were milling around in apparent aimless expectation, an ameobic bundle of them languished near the low stone platform that had been the focal site of last week's rallying excitement. A pervasive attitude of don't let this magic moment slip away hung in the air like contraband smoke.

A plethora of handmade signs was constant, hundreds of them, in both Vancouver and Seattle, many of them quite clever. By mid-afternoon on Monday, I saw from my Starbucks perch a bearded Seattle protester with a large, neatly lettered green on white that read: PROSECUTE BANKSTERS. It was a distilled message that indicated what might become an actual judgemental plank of the emerging Occupy platform. This was the goal that I had heard a week or two ago, spoken by Michael Moore in an NPR interview.

Such an indictment would materialize only through a very long, drawn out campaign by the Occupyers.

Canadian columnist Conrad Black wrote insightfully in last Saturday's National Post:
"Assessing blame is complicated. This (the wallstreet meltdown of '08 and its economic fallout) was not a case where an easily identifiable group committed monstrously illegal acts in the manner of Bernard Madoff....financiers cannot be prosecuted for mere acts of stupidity. There have been prosecutions, most of them unsuccessful, and the whole retrubitive effort has been mired in the name-calling between the financial and political communities."

My present uptake from all this observation is that the derivatives-wielding wallstreet 1% better clean up their act before the radical rabble 9%, claiming to speak for the 99, decides to ditch the consensus process and take matters into their own revolutionary hands.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wealth Distribution

Karl Marx said religion is the opiate of the people. He must have noticed that its believers were generally more prone to forgive the wicked than to overthrow them. But Marx had formed his theories long before the narcoticizing power of the televesion age, which neutralizes the masses with affordable luxury and meaningless pop culture . You can't organize a dictatorship of the proletariat among a herd of virtual contented cows.

What the revolutionaries really need to redistribute bourgeois wealth is a herd of boshevik bulls who can throw their weight around in the delicately stratified china shop of societal order. But the problem for revolutionaries in north America has always been that the bulls--the real movers and shakers-- sided early on with the capitalists, and they all ended up on wallstreet building productive companies and prosperous portfolios, instead of revolutions.

Although the revolutionaries are loath to admit it, the capitalist system has actually distributed wealth quite broadly and plentifully during the last hundred and twenty years or so.

That wave of growing prosperity, unprecedented in world history, has not been distributed equally. Broadly and plentifully, yes, but not equally. This is nothing new; wealth accumulation has never in human history been egalitarian. And it never will be, no matter what the professor says, no matter what the Occupy speaker in the public square says.

While the bulls have been kicking up gold dust on wall street for a couple of centuries, mom and pop were setting up shop down on main street catching a piece of the action. That's how it has been in north America.

The fact that the system now fails to deliver goods and services at levels previously enjoyed is undeniable. Suddenly, in the space of a few years, there doesn't seem to be enough wealth to go around. But we the people are not powerless. I prefer to believe we can act, individually and collectively, in love and kindness, and yes--in peace and self-control-- toward every person, and every group of persons we meet.

Many millenia ago, a fearless speaker spoke about a coming Messiah. Isaiah prophecied that the promised one would "judge the needy with righteousness. With justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his mouth he will slay the wicked."

I, a Christian believer, am willing to await Messiah's decision on these matters of justice, instead of taking matters into my own sinfully selfish hands. That position renders me as "religious" in the eyes of a secularly evolving world.

Now I've keyed up enough here for one Sunday morning session at Starbucks. I'll take a walk, one block along Georgia Street to the art museum, where the Occupy Vancouver crowd gathers. Let's see what those who claim to speak for the 99 have to say about the one.

Glass Chimera

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I am the 50%

Our hard times polarize us, but I am the 50%.
Pat and I deplaned this afternoon at Sea-Tac airport, caught the rail to downtown Seattle. We ascended the stairs from Westlake Station up to street level, and walked, as chance would have it, into Occupy Seattle. Imagine that. I saw a crowd of people there and heard some speeches.

America used to be a young democratic republic, starting 235 years ago when those upstart colonials convened in Philadelphia and cut the tether that George III had used to keep us bound in unrepresented taxation.
But now we are aging, becoming every day more and more like our European forebears, taking upon ourselves those classic ideological divisions of left and right. With hard times upon us, its not really about democrats and republicans any more. Its about socialists and libertarians, and everything in between. Just let me say: I am the 50%(ile).

Being a baby boomer, happenstancing today upon the Occupy crowd at Seattle, I caught a whiff of, and recognized, the old 60s counterculture zeitgeist. I remember it from back in college days, but of course it is different now. The spirit of anti-war anti-establishment discontent is the same, but the issues are different; the costumes are different. Whereas we were flower children back in the day, all about peace and love, these days the mood is edgy and punky, and definitely socialist. A little more threatening, or maybe thats because I'm older, and more comfortable, and Christian.

The first speaker was actually a rather pleasant surprise. A young fellow named Michael started out his message speaking of Moses and delivering his people from slavery in Egypt. I can relate. I do not want want to diminish the passionately eloquent appeal about very real economic issues that he made to the hundreds of mostly young occupiers gathered there. He was encouraging the people to get involved with the movement.

But what this old guy (me) appreciated at the end of Michael's speech was his exhortation to keep it peaceful. I appreciated that, although Michael said much more about what's happening now than just work in the system and be non-violent.

Not all the speakers were as peacefully oriented.

I am, btw, a person whose worldview is defined by the original non-violent resister, Jesus. Athough Y'shu haMeshciach was much more than that, since he was also the redeemer of all mankind, or the redeemer of, all those mankind who are inclined to receive his redemptive, resurrected grace.

Anyway, once the Occupy rally got cranked up, and they got the microphone going, I'm just old-fashioned enough to appreciate speakers who can be heard and have something to say, which is better than the un-amplified call and response drill that I had earlier seen on the news of Occupy Wherever a few days ago.
Bottom line about the speakers: We are definitely dealing with a brave new paradigm here, of socialism vs. conservatism in America. And so I say it again: I am the (of) the 50th percentile. I'll walk the middle road as long as I can, even though after every speaker a young very attractive Latina got on the mic, and she would lead, exuberatly, the crowd, in chants about the gathered ones being the "99%.

In spite of the anti-establishment mood, one young man encouraged the gathered protesters to work toward passage of a new Glass-Steagall Act in Congress. I was impressed with the constructivity of that. I think the basic message there is let the bankers and the wall street crowd eat their own losses, instead of hitting up the taxpayers for the bill, based on the "too big to fail" bluster. Yeah, right. I never did appreciate that midnight deal that Hank Paulsen talked the Congress into bailing out the banks back in '08. I would think even some Tea Partiers out there would find common ground on that.
In a way, I guess that's what got this whole thing going, that bank bailout in '08. Its what the Republicans call crony capitalism, as opposed to true capitalism, which is what mom and pop used to do on main street, not wall street, back in the day, before Disney co-opted Main Street as a theme park in Orlando and Anaheim.

Next, and olf guy, Joe, older than me, went up to the mic and spoke of his dad and mom raising him in the socialist movement in New York City back in the 30s. This fellow had later gone on to a career in the movies. He worked with Ronald Reagan in the movies, in the movie Hellcats of the Navy. He spoke glowingly of Reagan , and how friendly and charismatic Reagan was (surprise! at Occupy Seattle) but said that Reagan had changed and gone over to the other side, to follow "the money" instead of his heart.
Joe also spoke about F.D. Roosevelt--who has taken on a kind of sainthood in this retro-new-deal environment in which we are now finding ourselves. According to Joe, Franklin sent his wife Eleanor out to scope out the country, shortly after he was elected. She went all over the country and talked to a lot of folks, came back and, according to Joe, reported to her husband FDR that the communists would be taking on a bunch of support among workers during those hard times if something wasn't done to relieve the desperation and unemployment and poverty that was so rampant during that time, the "Great" Depression. And that's where the New Deal came from.

Sounds familiar doesn't it. Our present President is in the same predicament, and that's why this whole Occupy thing is going down now.
And I'm thinking of John Lennon, the working class hero who's dead, but really it reminds me of Ringo, in his post-Beatle role. He did a commercial in which he told some young lady "this is not your father's Oldsmobile."
This is not your father's politics either. This is something new and different. America, get ready. The times they are a polarizin'. And I'm just praying there's no Kent State thing that's gonna happen.
These Occupiers may the 99%, and the Republicans may be the 1%.
As for me and my house, we are the 50%ile, and proud of it. As we southerners used to say: Well, shut my mouth.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Turkey is, as Mr. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says, "in the middle of everything."
It truly is--geographically, religionally, and culturally--at the crossroads of the world, where every thing meets, at some time or another, every other thing. These days it seems that mediating position encompasses, more relevantly than ever, the political realm.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald's Oct 8 article on Prime Minister Erdogan, when the Turkish leader was in Cairo last month he challenged his Muslim neighbors: "''The Turkish state is in its core, a state of freedoms and secularism. The world is changing to a system where the will of the people will rule - why should the Europeans and the Americans be the only ones to live with dignity? Aren't Egyptians and Somalians also entitled to a life of dignity?''

This unique approach to governance is not new in today's Muslim world. It arises predictably from the heart of modern Turkey, which had been established as a purposefully secular government when the "Young Turks" took over in 1908. Their revolution overturned the authority of Abdulhamid II; the Sultan's removal from power precipitated a final demise of the withering Ottoman empire. From that political takeover, and then through the trauma of World War I which followed a few years later, restive nationalists emerged in a surge of Turkish military confidence. But they were called immediately to another struggle--to extricate their fledgling state from postwar Allied ethnic partitioning. The Young Turks managed to focus their movement in a strong way that united a diversity of ethnic groups. By the time the Republic was established in 1924, one unmistakably popular soldier arose as the definitive leader of the Turkish people: Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

His story, which had begun in 1880 at Salonica, across the Aegean on the Macedonian coast, is a fascinating one. I have been reading about it in M.Sukru Hanioglu's biographical book, Ataturk.

Kemal Ataturk, more than any other person, steered the young-old nation's identity, during the 1920s and '30s, toward democracy and secular objectivity; it is a favorable precedent that survives to this day. Perhaps in our time the Turks will, from this perspective, guide the Muslim world to a position of moderate exchange with the democratic world, instead of taking a jihadist anti-Israel turn.

So very rich is the history of their homeland, which is known also by the name of its central plateau, Anatolia. To begin with, Noah's Ark settled on Turkish earth as the flood waters receded several millenia ago. Its pitch-covered frame is said to be nestled somewhere in the crags of antiquity up on Mt. Ararat.

More recently I am informed, through enquiries into my Christian heritage, that Turkey ("Asia" of the New Testament writers) was the birthplace of apostle Paul (of Tarsus, on the east Mediterranean coast). It's no wonder that the dyed-in-the-wool Phariseic Jew had such a burden to proclaim the good news of Jesus' resurrection among the Gentiles. He had grown up among them. In Antioch (now Antakya), across the Iskenderun Corfezi bay from Tarsus, "Christians" were first called by that name.

Over to the west, in the Lydia region which slopes down to the Aegean, the sites of nascent Christian identity are found. This is the area where believers in Jesus took their earliest solo flights from the Judaic runway back in Jerusalem. The "seven churches" to whom Jesus addresses his salutory letters in Revelation are here in Turkey. They are the churches that Paul and others had established in Ephesus, Smyrna (Izmir), Pergamum (Bergama), Thyatira (now Akhisar), Sardis, Philadelphia (now Alasehir), and Laodicea (now Denizli).

Since that churchly inception nineteen hundred years ago, the dizzying experience of peoples of Anatolia has included administration by four military empires: Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. This last empire originated in Turkey itself, in the central plateau, Anatolia. The Ottoman empire began in the thirteenth century C.E. and spanned six centuries of time until its end after World War I. The Armistice of Mudros 1918 Oct 30 "marked the end not only of the Ottoman participation in the Great War, but effectively also (the end) of one of the longest-lasting empires in history."(M. Sukru Hanioglu, p.86)

Here are a few more notable facts about Turkey:
~ Troy, the ancient fortress city besieged by the Greeks and conquered under the shadow of the infamously deceptive "Trojan horse," (See Homer's Iliad) is on the northwestern Aegean coast.
~ When Emperor Constantine left Rome in 330 C.E., he relocated the empire in what is now Turkey, on the Bosporus strait waterway between Black Sea and Mediteranean; The ancient city there--Byzantium--he renamed Constantinople, after himself. From 395-1453, it was the seat of the Byzantine empire, and was ecclesiastical center of the Orthodox Christian Church.
~ The Ottoman Turks took Constantinople in 1453, and it became known as Istanbul, which was the seat of the Ottoman empire until after WWI, when the capital of the new Republic of Turkey was moved to Ankara, in the Anatolian heartland.
~ The six-century-long Ottoman empire encompassed the Arab world and beyond, with its zenith during the 16th-century under Suleiman II, after assuming the Moslem caliphate in 1517. The northward thrust of the empire extended as far as Austria, but was defeated by the rising Hapsburg dynasty near Vienna in 1683. This European repulsion is considered by many to have been the deliverance of European Christendom from Moslem dominance, and thus a turning point in history.

I'm glad the Austro-Hungarians were able to turn the Moslems around before they got to Vienna, so that Europe, and my ancestors, retained a Christian heritage. Over on the other end of the Continent, my Francish namesake Roland had been instrumental in turning the Mohammedans back from Spain about six hundred years earlier.

Here and now, in the 21st-century, I wish the Turkish people and their Prime Minister well. May God's blessings be upon them. And I hope they can convince the rest of the Muslim world not to force Israel, whom Mr. Erdogan calls "the West's spoiled child" from their ancient Jewish homeland.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pandemic bailout blues

Michael Shulman posted some seriously insightful analysis on Seeking Alpha today, and it set me to thinking. But before I tell you about my molehill thoughts, I'll tell you about his mountainous observations. He wrote:

"If Greece defaults – they will, next year – most European banks, including the Germans, will take a huge hit on their balance sheets and will need to raise capital, which will not be available from private investors so they will need to be bailed out. This will anger taxpayers more than bailing out those wayward Greeks. So, to date, the politicians have put off the inevitable, more money for the banks."

Sound familiar?
This is just the sort of bailout with which our government set its regrettable precedent back in 2008, after the Lehman/BearStearns/AIG et al collapse and/or we'll-never-know-how near collapse. Although our present Treasury Secretary, Mr. Geithner, implies this week that European debt problems could lead to negative repercussions here in the good ole USA , in fact we are merely facing the boomeranged consequences that we ourselves set in motion (haha) with our frantic escape from shredded red-ink bank balance sheets, through taxpayer-fueled faux liquidity, three years ago.

Today in the USA, all those angst-ridden "occupy wall street" people out in the streets, along with their democratic sympathisizers and labor union manipulators--they're clueless about the fundamental issues here--the long-wave cycle of economic expansion/contraction and the inevitable conflicts of wage differentiation between developED and developING naions. They're failing to appreciate their own heretofore high-flying lifestyles , which have been enabled by fat-n-happy debt-fueled free-lunch bubblebath corporate-couched, union-padded opulent prosperity.

And so, now that the party's over and the punch bowl has run dry, they're out in the streets, pawns in the game instead of being free-will mainstreet initiators, wanting to pull down the "greedy capitalist" powers that be, mainly because they have nothing else to do since they're unemployed, or horror of horrors, underemployed. They've had all they can take of the Would you like the combo with that BigMac, sir? blahblah.

This month, the Occupiers will be be further empowered by news from across the pond, angsty tidings from their wobbly European comrades who are now being given an excuse to take to the streets. After all, the Europeans, especially les Francais, are old hands at this. The Germans and French doppelganging crowd will be charged up because their resources are being diverted to bail out the too-big-to-fail bourgeois financiers who have carried the Greeks, who've been retiring early and consuming ambrosia and soaking up euro-drachmas in their Mediterranean sunshine.

What's lamentable is that in the midst of all this, Steve Jobs passes on to that great apple grotto in the sky. Now, due to the thick veil of media mourning and igadget reminiscing, we'll be caught up into the cloud and never know what kind of deal really will have gone down this coming weekend. Since the neutrinos in Cern have been clocked at a speed faster than the speed of light, Steve's visionary past will eclipse our hyper-leveraged future, even as his foresight had earlier overshadowed Microsoft's (and everybody else's) present debt-fogged windows on the world.

Soon we'll have another Western ideology identity struggle on our hands. But this time it won't be between Apple and Microsoft; it won't pit Ford against Chevy. This time, the battle will be waged between the liberté egalité fraternité mob and the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness militia.

I'm headin'for the hills; actually, I'm already there.

Glass Chimera

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Uganda has come a long way since Idi Amin.

The nation of Uganda has come a long way on the path to civilization since the dark days of Idi Amin's regime. Although that dictator had attempted, back in the '70s, to impose his blood-shedding will upon his fellow Ugandans, his murderous manipulations were foiled by the neighboring Tanzanians. They ran Idi and his gang of thugs out of Africa when he tried to export his cruel program across their border in 1979. Thank God they put a stop to his campaigns of killing.

This is the first thing I think about when Uganda is mentioned, because I'm a sixtyish baby-boomer who has kept, through the years, an eye on world news, and I remember this about Uganda: the murderous dictator, Idi Amin, who had been assisted by the Libya dictator, Qadhafi, and how he killed hundreds of thousands of his people just for the sake of...for the sake of ...whatever it is that tyrants are trying to do when they set their killing machines into motion.

But these days, Uganda is, thank God, a very different place. Just a month or two ago, my daughter Kim visited that nation and its capital city, Kampala. She was working there--assisting in, and reporting on, the Operation Christmas Child gift distribution. Kim, trained at UNC School of Journalism, was able to utilize some of her documentary skills, as you will see from these photos, which are accompanied by her report upon the Samaritan's Purse work there.

Yes, Kim's facebook update about this situation in a formerly war-torn Uganda brings good news. And I received that news with a kind of deja vu, because it reminded me of when my other journalist daughter, Katie, had sent similarly upbeat reports from Vietnam a few years ago. Katie and her team of world-tromping Christian companions had been welcomed with open arms, in that country of Vietnam, which had been torn to bloody hell during the civil war of the '60s and '70s in which we had a dismal role.

Now these days...well, we live in dark days--hard times--in which the ominous clouds of depression and unrest seem to grow heavier every day upon our lowering prospects for peace and prosperity. But somewhere in the world today, children are joyful because the love of Christ is being extended to them. Uganda is such a place (who'd have thought it?), thanks to the persistently beneficial work of Samaraitan's Purse, and other Christian outfits who reach out to underpriveleged folks everywhere.

I'm so happy that my Kim is an integral link in that worldwide network of mercy and provision. God bless 'em.

Glass half-Full

Monday, October 3, 2011

An amicable encounter of worldviews

Every weekday at noon I take an hour break from work to eat a sandwich and some little carrots. During that time, the availability of two NPR-affiliate stations affords me a radio choice between two excellent news analysis programs: Boston WBUR's Robin Young, who hosts Here & Now, or Philly's WHYY presentation of Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross.

Today I chose to listen to Terry's interview with evangelical Christian leader C. Peter Wagner, and I'm glad I did.

I am a Christian who happens to live in the USA, which is a nation that cherishes freedom of speech, and respects a multiplicity of opinions. Although I frequently discern a gulf of difference between Terry Gross' worldview and mine, I have often admired the sensitivity and skill with which she conducts interviews. Terry chooses her interviewees from a wide array of philosophically diverse personalities. including some persons who are markedly different from herself. This was one of them.

At no time has Terry's respectful sensitivity been better demonstrated than it was today in her conversation with Peter Wagner.
Mr. Wagner represents a charismatic Christian subculture with which I have some common history and familiarity. Terry Gross represents a free-thinking secularist intellectual culture that is, in many ways, antithetical to Peter Wagner's.
The inquistive exchange between their two gentle souls today was an example of civility that is sorely lacking in today's cacophany of combative discourse.
I'll not say much more about their discussion. You can listen on the link above. I will, however, quote from Mr. Wagner's final comment to Terry, which was "I really congratulate you for the good research you've done."
In other words, Terry took the time to explore what fundamentalist preacher Wagner really stood for, instead of forming her interview strategy on caricaturized stereotypes or political exaggerations. The result was exquisitely instructive, and an example of the exploratory enquiry that public media should aspire to.

As for Mr. Wagner, this apostle, who was chosen to represent the so-called dominion theology movement of contemporary Christendom... I commend his unique optimism, founded upon a love-centered faith that is rarely seen these days. At one point he said to Terry: "I think the world is going to get better and better...He (Jesus) will return to a very strong world...reflecting the kingdom of God-- not the miserable world we live in today."
Amen, brother.

Glass half-Full

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Turning the religious world upside down

A young, whippersnappin' religious zealot thought he was doing his people a favor by ridding their religion of heretics. But then a strange thing happened while he was on the way to Damascus. Under the influence of a direct encounter with God, Saul was blinded by the light, fell off his horse, and ended up doing a complete dogmatic turnaround. Ultimately he became a masterful defender of the fledgling Christian faith that he had previously persecuted with such ferocity.

God soon directed Saul--not back to Jerusalem, the center of the Judaic universe--but to the unlikely city of Damascus, and to untamed Arabia, of all places, to receive direct instruction about what really needed to be done in the world of human religion. God, after commanding the impetuous disciple to change his name name to Paul, imparted to him over the next three years a vision of the new spiritual movement that would change the world.

Paul's revolutionary message pertained to a once-and-and-for-all atonement for human sin, which had recently been accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. This tomb-breaking work of Jesus was a veil-ripping feat, and its spiritually revolutionary power had rendered obsolete the ancient Abrahamic practice of animal sacrifice.

Proclaiming such news would prove to be no easy task, as Paul's subsequent life later demonstrated; he suffered dearly for having accepted the assignment. As have many spiritual reformers before and since, he paid a heavy price for having taken on his mission to turn upside down the religious establishment of his day. Even his comrade-in-alms, Peter, had to be lead kicking and screaming down the newly-blazed path of spiritual liberty, away from dogmatic bondage.

Amos, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and other prophets of old had trod the same difficult way. Paul's work was not the first of such tribulative, misunderstood reform labors; nor would his job be the last, by any means. After he had midwifed the birth of Christian belief from inside the bloody womb of Mosaic tradition, many other persecuted reformers would follow historically in his footsteps--Waldo in 12th-century Italy, Hus in 14th-century Czechoslavakia , Luther in 16th-century Germany, Wilberforce in 19th-century England with abolitionists in enslaved America, Nee in 20th-century China, Bonheoffer in Nazi-occupied Germany, and God only knows those prophetic reformers yet to come.

Christians, like any other sincerely religious people, are perpetually confronted with the necessity of casting off the bondage of unproductive legalism, and destructive error.

Back at the inception of Christianity, Paul's world-shattering message had been to propel the way of holiness beyond Judaism. Take it to the gentiles, said he, and onward to the the world at large. As later history unfolded, his earthshaking opus panned out quite successfully. Faith in Jesus has traveled around the world, transcending a multiplicity of religious mountains. Perhaps the next Paul-type reformer will be that persuasive one whose voice who can penetrate the hardest mosqueleum of today's grave world. His prophetic call to eternal life in Christ will speak softly into the ears of millions of souls who daily prostrate themselves beneath the heavy shari'a pillars of Islam.

More potent than twitter, more pervasive than facebook, and fresher than any Arab spring, is the peace of Jesus. His power is discovered in a message of freedom, proclaimed originally by a Jew, formerly dogma-driven, whose first assignment from Messiah was to go to Damascus, and then to the Arabian desert for three years to get his life straightened out.

Maybe he will go there again, in some way or another. Selah.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The American

The American invents things, develops new technologies, seeks efficiency, strives for productivity, turns a profit, pays taxes, lives and dies.

The American wants to be self-reliant, but expects there are times when seeking the help of others is necessary. Independence is a state to be sought after, but when in the course of human events in becomes necessary to link with others in order to get the job done, then so be it. He doesn’'t want to ask what others can do for him, preferring instead to ask, "How can we help you today?"

The American takes personal responsibility seriously. She works hard, but takes some time off now and then. He generally knows what he wants, but realizes you get what you can until what you want is within reach.

The American collaborates with others to build bridges. Sometimes she discovers deep down inside a destructive impulse to burn those bridges. Maybe she herself has been burned, with injustice or abuse. But what good can come of being vindictive? To forgive is divine. To move on is necessary.

An American gets a transfer, or switches jobs when it just ain't happenin'

He plans ahead, but expects the unexpected. If something can go wrong, it will. He'll cross that bridge when he comes to it. She sees obstacles ahead, but doesn't obsess about them; they are understood to be part of the landscape. Trouble comes with the territory.

Yet is he faithful, and knows when to persist, and when enduring humiliation is a chasm that must be crossed. She perseveres through thick and thin.

The American may occasionally use objectionable language, but he learns that inserting the f-word, the n-word, and a few other ill-advised utterances can prove self-defeating. A tactful propriety may prove more productive, and even political correctness has some value now and then. Euphemism can be fun, but speaking truth plainly when others are occupied with beating around the bush can prove quite expedient. Cut to the chase.

The American speaks correction to a bully, a thief, or a drunk.

Most of the time, he is kind, but every now and then a little means streak comes out, and must be checked.

She’ll cut you some slack, but understands there comes a time to take it back, for your own good, of course.

The American is neighborly, but he doesn't pry into other people's business.

She is tolerant, peace-loving. He defends the weak instead of exploiting them.

She minds her own business, but persists in making appropriate inquiries; he sees that some folks want to be left alone.

The American wants to discern the difference between a means to an end, and an end itself.

She tries to save money, like grandma used to do. He wants to work hard for everything he has, but sometimes just an afternoon of NCAA basketball will contribute miles of inspiration that neutralizes exhaustion. With potato chips and a beer or two.

He doesn't do pie in sky, nevertheless understands the power of dreams.

She appreciates the liberty of being casual, but enjoys spiffing up when it is time for cuttin' a shine.

He takes a shower every Saturday evening whether he needs it or not.

The American turns on his hot water spigot, his car ignition, her electric light, but takes it for granted. It may not always be so easy.

Playing by the rules is a prerequisite for order and for decency, but there are some times when practicality, or fair play, requires that the rules to be set aside. Wisdom is knowing the difference.

The American respects law, but has been known to occasionally scoot under the changing red, on a bad day.

On a good day, which is most of them, he’ll wait his turn.

The American avoids talking about religion or politics. If you believe that, I've got some swamp land in Arizona I'll sell ya. De Tocqueville can tell you more about that.

The American is a democrat, or a republican, but that third-party possibility is always in the back of his mind; it could happen, although when's the last time it did? 1840? Who knows? Wikipedia?

The American is liberal, maybe even a socialist, but possibly a conservative, perhaps a libertarian, but not a communist, although those who wish to stand beneath that banner have liberty to do so. But they are barking up the wrong tree, or spinning their muddy wheels.

It's a free country.

The American votes, and likes to keep up with what's going on in the world, and to form an opinion of her own, although it is not so different from everybody else’s as she might think. Hey, everybody has an opinion, but what’s it worth?

What’s it to ya?

Through each American--through her, through him--government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth, if that citizen is willing to do her part, and pull his weight. The American says keep up the good work, and keep on keepin' on.

Last one out, turn off the lights.

Btw, Are you an American?

Glass half-Full