Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kick the can down the cliff

"Kick the can off the cliff;
swipe your card cuz what's the diff?
Find a hole and dump your load;
Kick your bucket down the road."
Get your kicks.

This is what cousin vinny said
before he odeed and woke up dead.
Then he sent a postcard from hell;
what he said I'll never tell.
Well maybe.

He said he'd just as soon take a dive;
to preserve his image of cook and jive,
but then his jig was up too soon;
he cooked it up in a dirty spoon.
Y'know what I'm sayin?

It all started back on the road,
when jack left home and kissed a toad,
but then it pricked us in the back
and sank our mission in lake kerooac.

That beat all I ever seen,
to shuck the buck and shoot up the dream;
'til along came a slicker hack;
he sat on a candlestick, that newer jack.
Far out!

"Steal this book. Question everything.
Forget the picket fence; have a fling.
One pill makes you larger; one makes you small."
Now the folks who paid the bills
won't do anything at all.

Kick the can down the cliff.
Snort some plastic and take a whiff.
We be high, but now we broke
since we went upstairs and had a smoke.

I read the news today oh boy
lady gogo got a new toy,
and some whacko shot us, news at eleven:
forget about heaven.
Happy new year.

Glass Chimera

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Star

There was this unique star,
And these wise men were expecting it,
and so when they saw the star,
they followed it,
expecting something good.
But when they arrived,
the news of their enquiry fell into the wrong hands,
and some terrible things happened.
But it wasn't their fault.
And furthermore,
not everything that happened
was terrible.
There was some glorious stuff going on too
in spite of the evil.
There is a lesson in this.
Even wise men
will generate unintended consequences
in this world.
But the star of hope still shines.
And the woman with child
is still to be treasured
and protected
in this precious life
no matter what happens
no matter who goes crazy and kills people.

Glass half-Full

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Ticket to Handel

Comfort ye, my people.

They say that
George Frederick Handel wrote his best known musical oratorio in London during the space of two or three weeks. That's hard for me to comprehend, especially after experiencing the Messiah's immense musical scope and spiritual conviction in Charlotte last Wednesday night. The North Carolina Symphony and Oratorio Singers of Charlotte performed, while I, stunned with constant amazement, watched and listened, along with my wife Pat, and daughter Kim, who had so thoughtfully gifted our tickets. There's mine, up at the top of the blog.

"I have waited all my life for this," I told Kim, as we were ascending that grand stairway at the Blumenthal.

It's true.

After Handel's symphonic overture, the opening words, lifted from our ancient prophet Isaiah, sounded forth from the mouth of the tenor: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God."

Glass half-Full

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Recovery as Idol

My present reading (for novel research) of William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich has revealed a surprising, though very disturbing truth--mainly this:

Under Hitler's hyperactive dictatorial leadership, Germany achieved, during the mid-1930s, what appeared to be a miraculous economic recovery. By 1933 Hitler had deceived his way into being elected as Chancellor of Germany. From that year 1933, to 1937, unemployment in Germany plummeted downward--from six million unemployed to one million unemployed.

In only four years!

How did Hitler and the Nazis pull off this amazing turnaround? They put people to work building up their war economy. But it was a bellicose accomplishment that would later prove to be their tragic undoing.

Furthermore, on page 262 of the Simon & Schuster edition, Shirer includes this statistic: "The heavy industries, chief beneficiaries of rearmament, increased their (profits) from 2 percent in the boom year of 1926 to 6 1/2 percent in 1938, the last full year of peace" (before Hitler launched his mad plan to enslave Europe, ed.).

And this: ". . .most firms reinvested in their own businesses the undistributed profits, which rose from 175 million marks in 1932 to five billion marks in 1938. . ."

But then consider where that impressive recovery eventually took them--to an agonizing, ill-fated national destruction a few years later.

This history lesson, courtesy of Mr. Shirer's prodigious research--and his first-hand witnessing of life in Nazi Germany during that pivotal time-- should serve as a warning to us.

Do not make of economic recovery an idol. Much more important is the retention-- among a free and inquisitive nation of people such as we are-- the retention of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, for all of us. To that list I would add: the general preservation among us of a decent respect for the rights of all persons and people groups.

Do not make of economic recovery an idol. Freedom and dignity is much more valuable.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Friday, November 30, 2012

Video daughter eclipses text-dinosaur dad

Imagine this:

shoes backpack soldier with trumpet long wall with man and shadow head in leaves trumpet soldier thoughtful girl bride and groom dance wavy man saves drowning child traveling light runner on road art in progress mobile pix silly girls silly people man with tent man on porch tent on porch? man in suit pleasant lady man with smoke implements peeping pop child's play with dad, neighbor drop-in embarrassment true princess king of pink old-school type, times three, cafe makes four foundations of childhood dancing with child happy kid happy child yellow beret man with world in mind film crew exuberant leap mule wagon at sunrise or donkey cart at sunset bride gets ready clown guy tie tie dancer print job old style type hands tied block print coffee roastin' music sawman of seattle bride y groom goodbye girl

That's a lot of free-style poetic imagery for your Friday-evening imagination to comprehend. Maybe this would be easier, and it only takes a minute fifty-seven:

Glass half-Full

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In the Moment

In the moment of inspiration,
in that potent encounter with
the creating inclination of the universe,
in that moment, say,
as Beethoven listened at his piano
while stark moonlight shine through
the frosty window,
and struck upon his keys--
his dark tones and light strokes
a sonata of exquisite beauty and
tender moonlit passion;

Or in that vibration
when the musician touches his bow
to strings;

Or when the artist brushes paint on blank

Or when the writer flings his words
on electrons of exquisite power--
in that moment,
do you
attribute it to the withering I, me, my?
or to the source of all creation
as Handel did,
or Bach.

As for me and mine,
in that precious moment
we are so small
and trembling, that we draw back the curtain
to peek
beyond data-folding neo-cortex,
beyond eternity's veil.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A type of Beast

The setting for my new novel, Smoke, now being written, is London. The year is 1937. The main guy in the story, a young American named Philip Marlowe, has met a tailor, Itmar Greeneglass, who has provided Philip with some disturbing information about what is happening across the Channel, in Nazi Germany.

Research for this writing project has directed me to William L. Shirer's classic research opus, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

On page 213 of the Simon & Schuster edition, Mr. Shirer wrote:

"On January 26, 1934, four days before Hitler was to meet the Reichstag on the first anniversary of his accession to power, announcement was made of the signing of a ten-year nonaggression pact between Germany and Poland."

But on September 1, 1939, Hitler's armies invaded Poland. So much for peace treaties with a liar.

Four days after the announcement of that peace-pact, which the furious Feuhrer later disregarded, he addressed the German Reichstag on January 30, 1934. William Shirer writes, concerning that speech, that Adolf Hitler:

"…could look back on a year of achievement without parallel in German history. Within twelve months he had overthrown the Weimar Republic, substituted his personal dictatorship for its democracy, destroyed all the political parties but his own, smashed the state governments and their parliaments and unified and defederalized the Reich, wiped out the labor unions, stamped out democratic associations of any kind, driven the Jews out of public and professional life, abolished freedom of speech and the press, stifled the independence of the courts and 'co-ordinated' under Nazi rule the political, economic, cultural and social life of an ancient and cultivated people."

That little dictator was quite a demon to have done all that in his first year. And the fact that the political leaders of the free world failed to realize what the beast was up to-- is no testimony to the validity of diplomatic processes.

As you probably know, the whole dam world would be suffering for decades to come, because of Hitler's bloody absconding of the German government, and the world war which resulted from it.

I hope this never happens again, which is why I write about it, so that others may recognize the historical signs of such iniquity ever rising again from the muck of human depravity.

Remain vigilant, all ye lovers of freedom and decency. Be alert, like the deer that panteth for water at the brook. Never again!

Glass half-Full

Monday, November 19, 2012

Listening to Rodrigo's masterpiece

You may enjoy listening to this:

Many years ago, while I was taking guitar lessons at the tender age of 14, my teacher recommended I attend a concert by the renown flamenco artist, Carlos Montoya. Hearing his music that night changed my life.

I spent many years obsessed with the guitar. But these days, the instrument is on a back burner, as I work on writing a novel, my third. The book's tale begins on May 12, 1937 in London, on the day that George VI was crowned King of the United Kingdom.

But the story, as it has developed through my study of the volatile historical events of that time, gravitates to a place of passion, a land of expressive music, art and precious human blood--a nation on the other side of the English Channel--Spain. During the late 1930's, that nation was torn in a terrible civil war.

During the last few weeks, my novel's historical focus has landed the characters, Philip, Itmar, and Mark, in a dockside diner in London, where they are talking about Spain, and the terrible, bloody events that were happening there in May of 1937.

A week or so ago, while my mind and the keyboard were hovering around this scene written on page 100 or so, I happened to be listening to my favorite radio station, WDAV. As chance or Providence would have it, Joaquin Rodrigo's musical masterpiece, Concerto de Aranjuez went out across the airwaves and landed upon my brain.

This evocative, tender music, written by SeƱor Rodrigo in 1939 at the end of the Spanish civil war, expresses passionately the essence of that unique place. You may enjoy the eleven minutes that listening to it occupies in time.

CR, with the novel, Smoke, in progress

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Cliff, oh the cliff!

This winter situation is covered with frost,

and summer's plenty is all but lost.

Our nation's budget's been tempest-tossed,

with funds and revenues far beneath our cost.

Just how we got here, my mind is miffed,

while our budget-crunchers stretch and sift.

Many years now, our spenders squander; our deficits drift

with a fiscal load too heavy to lift.

Whether we plunge or lunge, Congress has a tiff,

because revenues are lethargic and taxes are stiff.

If we cut out this or don't collect that, and now, what's more--what if?;

You see our fiscal sense, long ago, hath plunged over this cliff.

Just how far we fall

is impossible to call.

Winter and spring will squall, and summer will stall;

we'll find ourselves at another cliff next fall.

What else is new? You question me. I'll ask you.

You say it's false and I say it's true:

our debts are too many; our funds are too few.

Who knew? But I'm not to blame. Surely it's you!

Glass Chimera

Friday, November 9, 2012

The inconvenient truth

If scientists throughout the world have developed a consensus that excessive carbon emissions in our atmosphere have had, are having, and will continue to have significant effects on human development, then I am inclined to accept their reports.

Ever since my college days in the early 1970s, I have been generally concerned with the cumulative effects of human waste products. Back then, the issue in my mind was more about sulfur dioxide, particulates, and radioactive emissions.

Since, however, excessive carbon has been exposed as the major bogeyman substance to be minimized and strategically restricted, then we shall have to make the necessary adjustments, won't we?

It does seem ironic to me that carbon, being the worst ubiquitous molecular culprit, also happens to be the elemental building block of life itself. This little twist of chemical paradox is almost Shakespearean in its dramatic heaviness, Oedipal in its implications, and Calvinistic in its deterministic entropy.

For many long years, I have been thinking about this. In this layman's analysis, I notice from my study of basic earth sciences that our planet's geologic development has taken many twists and turns, with numerous changes, over a long time. We know there was an Ice Age somewhere back in time. Thank God we're not stuck in that slushy era.

Climate change is nothing new under the sun, and its significant effects can be readily inferred through paleological investigation. It is commonly known, for instance, that the dinosaurs became extinct as a result of climate change that took place during and after the Cretacious Era of earth's development. The prominent theory seems to be that a large object from space--an asteroid or meteor or whatever you call it--struck the earth in the Yucatan area of Mexico, the impact of which threw tons of dusty earth elements into the air that radically changed our atmosphere and environment. The dinosaurs couldn't go with the flow or make the necessary adjustments and so they were phased out in the cruel logic of earthly meteorological fatalism. Survival of the fittest, as the ne0-Darwinians might say, though they are so terribly misunderstood.

So we understand that climate change is built into the planetary system. Nothing earth-shaking there. Well maybe an earthquake or two, but that's nobody's fault.

Climate change is happening, and probably, as is generally understood, warming the planet, and yes Virginia, our despicable human race is probably playing a role in these negatory effects. But our responsibility in this is not total, and our thoughtless warming practices may be but a drop in the cosmological bucket.

I feel it is probably too late now to make any significant legislative and/or judicial restrictions that would amount to hill of carboniferous beans on a planetary level. Let's face it, flatulence happens.

Nevertheless we, as a human race, can collectively try to do something to minimize the effects of this problem. But here's the deal:

Changes in human thinking and habits need to be voluntary, implemented through the consent of the governed.

Education is, and will continue to be, the primary and most effective strategy for working toward fair strategies to neutralize human-generated climate change--Not totalitarian restriction of human rights, and not draconian cessation of private property rights.

This human rights-based strategy would require that the educators and inventors of the world get busy--not the bossy bureaucrats. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Glass Chimera

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Order minus Chaos = Passion

As I was listening to WDAV today, an airy figment of Telemann music traveled through the radio and struck my ears. As it happened, the music plucked upon my very soul and, there I was, unexpectedly in the middle of the day, transported for a few minutes, back into the 18th century.

Not literally, of course, but in my mind. My thoughts escaped this present world of work and woe, and took refuge in an age long gone, a era of reason and order, long before the rude disruptions of world wars, global warmings and worldwide economic warnings.

Although there has always been an element of disarray and chaos in human activity, our hindsight view of the 1700s encompasses a world where composers like Telemann or Bach or Handel or Antonio Vivaldi could be seated at a musical instrument and, through intense toil and otherworldly inspiration, impose cryptic inked symbols onto a paper manuscript and thereby draw some amazingly expressive order out of the vast cosmos, by constructing a great work of music.

My all-time favorite is Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Here's the winter movement of it:

Now, a few hours beyond that midday moment, the workday is over; the radio-induced flight of fancy has passed, and I sit at home sharing with you that time-travel moment--a sudden glimpse into 18th-century passion.

And I hope to remind us all that, out there in the midst of human noise and haste and confusion, someone somewhere has expressed passionate order by drawing it out of troublesome chaos. That happened three hundred years ago, and somewhere on earth, even now, some person or persons are deriving creative sense from the hopeless nonsense of our present world.

It's a little bit like touching that moment when Logos spoke electromagnetic light into existence from the dark void.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Just say no.

Is this what we want for the next generation of Americans?:

No. We do not encourage this endorsement, nor the amoral framework in which it is presented.

Vote for Mitt Romney on November 6.

Carey Rowland, author with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dust of the ground, Elements of the earth

In his best-selling book, the Torah, which was later expanded to become the Bible, Moses wrote that God formed man from the dust of the ground.

In his best-selling book, the Origin of Species, which was later expanded to become a basis for evolutionary science, Darwin posited that man descended through natural selection from the elements of the earth.

What's the difference between these two traditions?

Mainly, the difference is that word "God."

Either way you look at it, mankind has a pretty muddy past, and probably a muddled future. However, if you accept the inclusion of "God" in your cosmology, your chances of getting cleaned up are probably better.

Glass half-Full

Friday, October 19, 2012


The air

thick with vapor and cool,

hangs its heavy curtain

of grey afternoon.

In the misty distance

a dog barks and

someone drops an iron something,

a tire iron or a tossed-down summer tool.

The sound of it

wrangles through dense mist,

strangely louder than was summer's lawny din.

Now its time again for refuge

from boney cold, to hearthy den

and bookish cerebral explorations

of the mind and soul, because

summer striving is spent.

The world gathers up its harvest

of gold and crimson profundity

in foggy shrouds of reflective glory.

Across the creek

a burly squirrel stirs

crisp oak leaves,

and the earth

nips off another season of gone green,

drops it down, brown upon the ground.

Next block over

a child yelps some cacophony

of late afternoon frivolity,

and mama calls.

I will go home now, for I remember this.

Glass Chimera

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mr. Anderson's Idea

In the USA, our biggest hurdle that obstructs a path toward innovative prosperity is this: we don't manufacture nearly as many "things" as we once did. Everyone knows that in the globalized economy, any widget or value-added "thing" that can be made less expensively in a developing nation will be bought by distributors and sold on the world market before our American-made stuff is bought. This is because we yankees are comparatively rich and affluent and well-paid, and by the time our manufactured products roll off the end of the line, they are too costly to compete in world markets.

Beginning a hundred and fifty or so years ago, we were cranking up a highly energized production economy that was unprecedented in the history of the world. The British, who had actually invented the industrial revolution, were a few steps ahead of us. But they did not have the benefit of a vast, undeveloped continent, and so we passed them in volume and productivity.

So, for a solid hundred and twenty years or, we Americans were going like gangbusters supplying the world with fancy new mechanized goods. We were setting the standards and benchmarks for new industrial development on such a massive scale that we thought the rest of the world would never catch up.

Well guess what. The rest of the world has now caught up. And furthermore, their newfound economies of scale, and their lean and hungry looks, have enabled the developing nations to surpass us in efficiency and in sales.

Therefore the great American industrial machine is no longer cranking out goods, widgets and whoopfizz things to supply the whole world. The world is supplying itself according to the old dictates of supply, demand, and efficiency. And we are just one bully on that manufacturing hill instead of being, as we once were, the king of the hill.

So what do we do now?

Chris Anderson has spotlighted for us an innovative technological strategy by which we may find a new path of development. Furthermore, it is squarely in the tradition innovative entrepreneurship that made this country great. And he has written a book about it:

Because I have been wondering about this problem for a few years now, I was astounded this morning at the timely profundity of his first chapter. It just seems to me that he has hit on exactly what needs to happen next in our quest for a strategy to revitalize diminishing American manufacture capacities. So here are, without further ado, several quotes:

"America and most of the rest of the West is in the midst of a job crisis… …manufacturing, the big employer of the twentieth century(and the path to the middle class for entire generations), is no longer creating net new jobs in the West. Although factory output is still rising in such countries as the United States and Germany, factory jobs as a percentage of the overall workforce are at all-time lows. This is due partly to automation and partly to global competition driving out smaller factories."

But guess what. There is hope for "smaller factories," and small companies, because of the democratizing effects of the internet web. The developing internet infrastructure of our age is functionally the same as the railroads web that our great-great grandparents built from coast to coast. Their double-tracked steel web ultimately enabled our unprecedented, expansive prosperity, the end of which we now observe in languid perplexity.

My thought is that we've got to find a profitably productive way out of this deadend track, and it won't be accomplished in selling MBSs and CDOs and CDSs in HFT to each other while trying to buy the dips and sell the peaks. No, it ill not. And I think Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine is onto something, a light at the end of the tunnel, as it were, a beam of light shining through the dark clouds of post-industrial obsolescence and capitalist decadence.

Continuing quotes from Mr. Anderson's Makers: The New Industrial Revolution:

"Automation is here to stay--it's the only way large-scale manufacturing can work in rich countries…But what can change is the role of the smaller companies. Just as startups are the driver of innovation in the technology world, and the underground is the driver of new culture, so, too, can the energy and creativity of entrepreneurs and individual innovators reinvent manufacturing, and create jobs along the way."

Now just how, exactly, will this magic bullet of creative entrepreneuship be shot forth?

Are you skeptical of Mr. Anderson's fresh optimism? I was too, as I have generally been for a few years now, ever since about September of '08, until I started reading about his idea. And, as we say in the publishing business, you'll have to read the book to find out what it is! Ha

But hey, I'll give you a hint of what the new approach to design/manufacturing on a massive micro-scale is all about. It has to do with design, and 3-D printing, and the electronic transportability thereof.

3-D printing, at your fingertips, no less! You may laugh. I daresay there were a few laughing at the likes of Edison and Bell and Ford, back in, oh, 1880 or so. And there were a few, no doubt, who laughed at Jobs and Gates and Bezos long about 1980.

Nevertheless, all skeptics aside, there will be some among us who laugh all the way to the bank. Will you be one of them?

Glass half-Full

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Trying to understand complicated stuff

Give me a good, old fashioned rest period any day.

That is to say: a dot, at the end of a sentence, so my overworked brain can rest before going on.

Just give me, please, a momentary neuron break so my cognitive brain cells can catch up to what my eyes are gathering.

For I am a tired, weary reader, among the huddled, online masses yearning to be free from confusion.

I have noticed, you see, a certain confusing tendency these days among bloggers, authors, journalists, commenters and other keyboard-tapping idea-flingers. This lamentable tendency is a neglect of periods. People nowadays whack out lengthy run-on phrases and clauses, strung together without the little dots that give us pause. And yea, I say unto thee, sometimes they do it even without commas!

This trend confuses me when I am reading and trying to understand messages that people have posted on the ubiquitous little backlit screens that you see everywhere.

It especially baffles me when I'm reading comments that are whacked out by opinionated internet denizens as they respond to the polarizing rhetoric of other internet denizens about the controversial issues of our day like politics religion and how much money should be printed and whether parents should be given choice for their children's schools and how Congress should spend our tax money and whether Mitt's comment about the 47% was appropriate and how the President does or does not use a telemprompter and the price of labor in China and the price of tea in Berkeley and the the price of education in Chicago and Milton Friedman's influence and Paul Krugman's dogma and and so forth and so on.

Rampant ideas, I say. Ideas are running rampant, without punctuation to separate, sharpen, and clarify them.

Yesterday I was reading a book, an actual, long, chapter by chapter book, although not a printed one. It was my on my Kindle.

There I was reading Sheila Bair's excellent, very informative book, Bull by the Horns, when, in chapter 9, I came across this sentence:

"But probably the biggest problem related to a fairly technical provision of bankruptcy law that gave all of Lehman's derivative counterparties the right to cancel their contracts and liquidate any collateral Lehman had posted with them."

This problem that Ms. Bair is describing is a troublesome one with which our bankers and lawyers were dealing, back in the fall of 2008.

And it is complicated, but I do think it is important that we citizens of this free republic understand the problem.

So I decided to demonstrate, using that sentence as an example, how multi-layered explanations can be made simpler, and thus easier to understand. The first principle is: write shorter sentences.

See if my version isn't a little a little easier to comprehend:

But probably the biggest problem related to a fairly technical provision of bankruptcy law. That provision gave to all of Lehman's derivative counterparties the right to cancel their contracts, and to liquidate any collateral Lehman had posted with them.

Notice the period after the word law. This period helps me, the reader, for two reasons. One reason is that it gives my brain a little neuron break before engaging the next sentence, which is long, multi-layered, and laced with two-dollar words like derivative and counterparties. The second reason that the period helps me is: it clarifies the function of the verb related.

The inquisitive mind wants to know, you see, whether that word related will prove to be the predicate of the sentence, or if it is being set up as a participle in a subordinate clause to modify the noun problem. However, my re-written version simplifies the reader's dilemma by inserting a period, thus ending the sentence after the word law. This shortening effect enables the reader to solve his/her syntactical dilemma early on, instead of having the related question suspended all the way through such dense verbiage as derivatives, counter parties, contracts, collateral and so forth.

Another simplification I added to Ms. Bair's original text was an insertion of the preposition to, in front of the phrase all of Lehman's derivative counterparties. This identifies all (of Lehman's derivative counterparties) as an indirect object instead of a direct object in the sentence. The counterparties are receiving something, that something being the right to cancel their contracts. And that right is more easily understand now as the direct object (whatever is being received) in the sentence. Furthermore, a second right that the counterparties receive is the right of liquidation. So my version inserts the preposition to a second times, rendering to liquidate.

I am not criticizing Sheila Bair's writing style, nor her book, which I highly recommend. We citizens of a free, democratic republic should be informed about the problems that so easily inflict widespread financial cataclysm upon us. Ms. Bair's unique perspective as Director of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation during the tumultuous years 2006-2011 is quite an eye-opener.

To further reinforce this last point, I leave you with this passage from Bull by the Horns, from the first page of Sheila's chapter 9, which she named Bailing out the Boneheads:

"Lehman's balance sheet was nontransparent to the market, primarily because of accounting rules that allowed Lehman to hold complex mortgage-related investments at valuations that bore no reality to their true worth."

And therein lies the real problem of trying to understand complicated stuff.

Glass half-Full

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Toxic ARMs in 2007

Sheila Bair served as Director of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) during the financially tumultuous years 2006 through 2011. She has written a book about her experience during that time of cataclysmic economic events. In Bull By The Horns, the former FDIC director gives an account of her strategy to assemble a group of financial heavy-hitters who had generated, securitized, and traded billions of dollars of low-quality home mortgages that were, in 2006-7, beginning to default in large numbers. In 2007, Sheila rounded up some subprime mortgage brokers, their money-lenders who had financed the mortgages, and representatives of the larger banks who serviced the loans after those loans had been tranched into complex Wall Street securities.

The escalating problem in 2007 centered on a large group of unqualified home-buyers who had bought into Adjustable Rate Mortgages. These mortgages began with a reasonably low interest rate with manageable monthly payments that were typically in effect for two years. But after those first two years of each mortgage, the interest rate had been contracted to balloon into a higher rate, which would enable the financiers to maintain an even greater profitable advantage. But the po' folks who were trying to pay off their new houses could not handle their newly adjusted, higher monthly payments. This turned out to be the weakest link in a chain of financial dealings that later broke in September of 2008, thereby inflicting on our economy the so-called Great Recession.

This passage from chapter 6 of Sheila Bair's book is somewhat long for a blog, but it helped me to understand what was happening behind the scenes during that time of mounting catastrophe, back in 2007. Sheila Bair writes:

"I decided that the best thing to do would be to get all stakeholders in a room together and try to hash out some type of agreement to start modifying subprime hybrid ARMs. Delinquencies on subprime hybrid ARMs were increasing quickly, and nearly half a trillion dollars' worth of such loans were scheduled to reset (to the higher interest rate, ed.) in 2007 and 2008. The answer seemed obvious: eliminate the reset and simply extend the starter rate. In other words, convert the loan into a thirty-year fixed-rate mortgage, keeping the monthly payment the same as it had been during the starter period. We thought that investors--even Triple-A investors--should support such a step. We weren't really proposing that their payments be reduced, just that they give up a payment increase that they had never had a realistic expectation of receiving. As previously discussed, hybrid ARMs were designed to force refinancings after two to three years, not to be paid at the higher rate for the life of the loan. Our data confirmed that the debt-to-income ratios on these loans were extremely high. Indeed, more than 90 percent of hybrid ARMs were refinanced at the end of the starter period. The number of borrowers who continued paying after reset was miniscule. Without some relief, subprime borrowers would default on a large scale, generating heavy losses for all bondholders, as well as the broader housing market."

As you may surmise from the subsequent implosion of our financial system in the fall of 2008, Ms. Bair's strategy of getting the mortgage players together to solve their problems hardly made a dent in the immensely complicated vortex of failing subprime mortgages. This foundational shifting sand of widespread defaults ultimately initiated a near-collapse of our financial resources and the banks who administered those funds.

Ms. Bair's attempt to guide the lenders and securitizers into corrective collaboration was a nice try, though. Surely it was a valiant effort by an exemplary, far-sighted public servant who is worthy of our respect. In the long run, however, her finger in the dyke of preventive regulation could not prevent the flood of insolvency that later debilitated our banks.

Reading her book, and particularly the above account, I was reminded of an old parable spoken long ago. In the gospel of Mark, chapter 16, we find these words from Jesus Christ:

"There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions.

And he called him and said to him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give and accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.'

The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do, since my boss is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.'

And he summoned each one of his boss's debtors, and he began saying to the first, 'How much do you owe my boss?'

And he said, ' A hundred measures of oil.' And he said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.'

Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe? And he said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill and write eighty.'

And his boss praised the unrighteous manager because he acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.

" And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.'"

Unfortunately, our modern money managers did not similarly cut the Mortgage Backed Securities losses before exponential toxicity invaded the entire financial system. But such calamity is the story of the human race. What else is new?

Glass Chimera

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Peak oil heat meets poet Frost

Some say we will run out of oil;
some say we'll not.
With what I've seen of human toil,
I hope we do conserve our oil;
'though it's likely we'll burn all we've got.
Now I have seen enough of greed
to know in scarcity big wars are fought,
'cause we'll waste more than we need,
'til we have naught.

Glass Chimera

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Ragged and the Fine

"When I left my home and my family

I was no more than a boy, in the company of strangers,

in the quiet of a railway station, running scared,

laying low, seeking out the poor quarters

where the ragged people go, looking for the places

only they would know."

Today in SanFran on the bus

I learned the meaning of Paul's words

when the ragged people climbed aboard.

Yesterday I had walked up Mission and,

crossing 16th, crossing 17th,

seeing the poorer quarters

where the ragged people go--

now I know.

Forty years later, now I know.


I am not one of them. I am

not one of the ragged people.

No, heaven forbid, no no.

My crowd congregates out on the Embarcadero

where the ragged tourists go

looking only for the places we are trained to know.

Meanwhile, up on the hill

and a few miles from here

there's the Haight Ashbury

where my generation was told to go

Life mag told us to go

don'tcha know

But how's that working out for ya now?

Here here and now now.

My g-g-generation, so merry

went up on Haight Ashbury

where Ben&Jerry now serve raspberry.

Meanwhile back at the tranches,

over at the downtown bank branches

the makers and shakers program their chances

to do the dowjones nasdaq dances

while down below

the ragged people come and go

looking for michelangelo

or maybe just angelo,

or maybe just so and so

in the places only they would know

in San Francisco.

See Dick go. See Jane go.

Go go go

to San Francisco

and the silicon valley

ee eye ee eye oh.

It's all good don'tcha know

as the people come and go

to San Francisco.

Glass half-Full

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Use your imagination

to neutralize obfuscation.

Don't let overload information

mislead you into info-saturation.

Refuse to allow knowledge intoxication

entice you down the path of faithless obduration.

Don't permit double-minded speculation

to cut you asunder with its bifurcation.

Text me if you have a desperation confrontation;

we'll have a little mustard seed convocation.


Glass half-Full

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Redefining our Unalienable Rights

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness," and. . .?a regular paycheck.

Yesterday, Mother Jones magazine unveiled a recording of Mitt Romney's now infamous statement about the "the 47%" of us who pay no income taxes. In so doing, the magazine hath dragged into public scrutiny the bedrock issue of this presidential campaign, and indeed the fundamental issue of our time: the redefinition of our "unalienable rights."

In the November election, if you vote for Mr. Romney and the Republicans, you are supporting a choice to leave the paycheck (what Eugene McCarthy called in the late '60s "guaranteed income") within the realm of private responsibility. But if you vote for Mr. Obama and the Democrats, your ballot effectually adds electoral support to the idea (and governmental program) that those unalienable rights (set forth by Mr. Jefferson and the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776) should now be expanded include. . .a paycheck!

This controversy is nothing new. It has been eighty years in the making, ever since Mr. Roosevelt took office in 1933, and Lyndon Johnson later addended the Great Society to Roosevelt's old New Deal.

Now in 2012, in spite of Mr. Romney's alleged waffling on the issues, he does manage to, with a little help from the opposing lefties, actually identify the real question that defines our two opposing political eccentricities. He may turn out to be a good president for this reason. His centrism forces us to deal with the real issues of our age.

Thank you, Mr. Romney for raising this controversy, and thanks also to Mother Jones magazine for fulfilling their fourth estate responsibility to illuminate the issue by bringing it into the sunshine of public discourse.

As for me, I am a Republican, and will vote accordingly. I want to do everything possible to sustain personal responsibility among our citizenry, instead of government dependency.

But if this election does not turn out well for the GOP, I suppose I'll just have to get with the program, won't I?

Because I am a bleeding heart conservative; and that inclusion of the "Creator" word in Mr. Jefferson's definitive declaration means a lot to me. In my theological universe, our Creator is that One whose Son once told a young rich guy to go and sell everything he had and give to the poor.

A pretty convincing scriptural precedent.

Therefore it seems to me there is something favorable to be said for the powers that be entitling at least a minimum level of life support for all our people.

Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and a regular paycheck. We'll see, come November 6, what the People's decision is on this question.

Glass half-Full

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Two-edged Sword

In the annals of human history, the invention of the sword is surely a turning point; it's importance ranks right up at the top of the list, along with the first use of that most laudable invention of all, the wheel.

I suppose the first application of a sharpened implement was used by prehistoric humans for gathering and preparing food. But I'm sure it wasn't long before some irate or jealous neanderthal discovered its advantageous wielding for more nefarious purposes, such as murder or maiming.

If you're not into the neanderthal explanation, think of this bipolar principle of homo sapiens behavior in terms of Cain and Abel.

Love it or hate it, this sharp implement has been used for many millennia to advance the various purposes of our species, and its power has much to do with our ascendancy over the lesser species of the animal kingdom.

In human relations, the damned thing has been swung forever, by men, to inflict injury, pain, destruction, and death, on other men. On the other hand, the same weapon has long been applied by the nobler ones among us to defend the weak and the innocent against such atrocities, thus administering a thing that we call justice.

In the ascent of human ethics and society, "the sword" became, over time, something more than an implement or a weapon. It became an idea, a two-edged concept. On one edge of the sword is crime cruel atrocity; on the other is justice and defense.

Looking at history, we see undeniable evidence for the frequent use of both edges of "the sword", the good side and the bad.

It reflects the dual nature of Man. On one side we are rotten to the core; on the other we are redeemed, and noble.

The sword has been used for thousand of years to enforce and extend various religious movements and agendas.

Very controversial in the ancient history of the Middle East is the use of the sword by Joshua and his Israeli tribes to subdue the Canaanites, on behalf of J'…h. Several thousand years later, Mohammed swept across the middle east crescent with his band of conquering Muslims, asserting righteousness with the sword in the name of Allah.

That little skirmish is still at center of all our international politics here on planet earth.

Jewish tradition proclaims that Moses gave us Law, so that men could live with each other having at least some semblance of societal order; since that strategy wasn't exactly working out as planned, Mohammed came along thousands of years later, to enforce the correction needed to establish righteousness upon the earth.

Neither of these has worked as effectively, to quell the belligerent manipulations of mankind, as their founders might have intended.

In the midst of these two sword-swinging religious traditions, and between them historically, there came Jesus, who grew up in a town called Nazareth, which is somewhere between Damascus and Jerusalem. This Jesus, whom I regard as Messiah, and deliverer of mankind from its evil nature, did not wield the sword, as Joshua and Mohammed had done. Instead, he laid the weapon thing down and preached peace and forgiveness, which is considered foolish and naive in this present arrangement of the world. But in the kingdom of God, which is our fortunate destiny as earth-dwellers, his good news receives more favorable reception.

When his right-hand-man, Peter, drew the sword in retaliation against the oppressive, arrestive Roman sword, Jesus instructed Peter to put the thing away. Their were higher principles at work in those events than the impetuous power of the sword could impose.

This Jesus is the one about whom I wrote a song in 1979, when the Iranian revolutionaries took our embassy and hostages in Teheran. About ten years ago, some friends of mine gathered in our hometown, Boone, North Carolina, USA, to help me in recording it. I hope you have a few minutes to give it a listen and consider the message therein.

Glass half-Full

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Time for the fiscal cliff plunge?

Back in the 1930s, the United Kingdom was the declining economic power of that age, as the United States is today. During those turbulent early '30s, the Brits were having some trouble balancing their accounts, and they didn't have enough gold reserves to back up the money demands being made on their financial system. So they forsook the gold standard as a means of backing up their currency, the pound.

About that time, as this 21st-century yeoman internet-reader (me) hath been able to ascertain, the Brit economist John Maynard Keynes figured out that, even though the currency was no longer backed up with gold, folks were still passing money around and doing business as if nothing had changed. This discovery became, by and by, the basis for all monetary activity throughout the world for the last eighty years or so.

Money is money, whether there's a vault full of somewhere in England or in Fort Knox or anywhere else in the monetized world. That's the point. We're still passing the stuff around as if it had real value, even though there's no gold backing it up. People love spending it, and the love getting it. Perhaps they always will, even when money becomes mere electrons.

Now we are running out of money again, so the financial markets and the stock markets are obsessing about whether the Fed will bail out our money system yet again, for the third time, since the big thrill roller coaster ride of 2008.

This morning, I encountered an article online by a fellow, Joseph Stuber, who seems to actually know what he's talking about, and can explain the current ramifications of this money dynamic better than I can:

Mr. Stuber mentions, right off the bat, one morsel of truth that John Maynard Keynes left behind; it is this statement:

"The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."

That's basically what happened in '29.

These days, the whizzbangs who run the markets will work hard milking profits out of the system for as long as they can.

In fact, every stock trader will wheel and deal and play chicken with their suckerish counterparties right up until the time that the whole money machine runs out of fuel (imagined value), in hopes that he will be able to exit the game before the house falls and somebody else is left holding the bag of severely devalued assets.

Some of the perceived value of this market pertains to what Congress and the Fed will do, or not do, to retain the integrity of our currency and, therefore, the value our entire economy.

Mr. Stuber offers two possible scenarios of what may happen when Congress attempts to (or pretends to) deal with the fiscal cliff that awaits us, come January. The so-called fiscal cliff is the deficit debacle that Congress shelved for a year so they wouldn't have to contend with its difficult choices before the election.

My layman's rendering of Mr Stuber's two scenarios (extreme paraphrasing) goes something like this:

If Congress make a deal, like they did last year, to extend the expiring "Bush" tax cuts, then we will muddle through the next year or two just as we have been doing. High unemployment will become the new paradigm, a semi-permanent steady state of dysfunction and financial misery for sizable segments of our population, and nothing much will change, or maybe, who knows? it will all get worse.

If Congress doesn't make a deal, and the tax cuts expire, and the so-called "automatic" austere cuts of last year's sequestration deal are put into effect, then the long-awaited economic correction that we've been forestalling since fall of '08 will, at last, take its toll on our high-on-the-hog standards of living, and it will not be pretty, and recovery will probably not roll into effect until, say, 2017, or so, when our overvalued economy tumbles to a new (lower) foundation for true growth to get a foothold.

Someone should mention this to Mr. Romney before he makes as many vain promises as his predecessor did.

We shall what happens on Nov. 6.

And we shall see what happens when Congress re-convenes after the election.

In Charlotte on Labor Day, I heard Chris Matthews mention that the Dow, which was at around 8000 when President Obama took office, is now hovering around 13,000. Chris' implication was that the President must be doing a good job, or the Wall Street crowd would have pulled their rug out.

Perhaps that is true. I think that Mr. Obama has done as well as can be expected of any Democrat, under the circumstances that were passed to him.

But the question arises: what has the level of bubblish value in our stock markets got to do with anything that is happening in the streets and factories and households of our country?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or the apartment, as the case may be, what about you, Mr. America, Ms. America? What will you do this week to pitch it and help solve the problem?

Glass half-Full

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Growth is good, or bad?

When I was a young man, I found this seed inside myself, and I wanted to plant it, but I didn't know how. I didn't know what to do, so I cast my seed on the ground; I flung it all around.

Then I met my woman, and she received my seed from me and made it into something beautiful--another human being.

And this was good.

Then we made another one, and another one after that.

And these were good.

Life is good, yes?

So we discovered, my woman and I, that working and loving together, we could make the world a livelier place, by bringing new life into it, children, who would grow, and bloom like beautiful, tender flowers, and then grow up to make the world a better place.

Growth is good, yes?

And considering all the stuff we bought along the way, we did our share to contribute to GDP. And considering all the stuff our kids bought and built along the way, they did their share to contribute to GDP.

GDP is good, n'est ce pas?

Now along comes my g-generation and makes an announcement to the world. My g-generation announces that, along with all that great prosperity-building GDP--all that good, coveted, economic growth that keeps everybody fat n happy, or lean and mean as some prefer, there is something else coming out of it all--something that is bad, not good, spewing forth from every exhaust pipe and every flue and chimney, from every power plant and from every rhetorical mouth and every bipolar human heart and indeed from every anus that requires wiping on the planet:


Carbon, which is at the core of every living thing. Carbon, which we send up through the chimney as waste, or spread on the ground to make our roads, or put in our steel to make it stronger. Carbon, that we use to write messages to each other, or to connect our marvelous social networks together. Carbon, which, in its purest, most dazzling form, we cut into a precious gem, and place it on the ring finger to signify fidelity and fertility and creativity and all that is good in this life.

Carbon is good, n'est ce pas?

It is as good as life itself.

Life is good, no?

Yes. Life is good. It is for us; how about you? Life is so good that I rejoiced at the revelation of its unique DNA identity-- its miraculous beauty, when my errant seed found its destined place of fertility and joy, deep within the love of my woman.

As for the GDP thing--and how good or bad that is--that may change as more men choose to cast their miracles into dark crevices of carboniferous death.

Glass half-Full

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Demo Dems and Repo Reps

Dems do.

The streets are filled with a cry of distress

and joyful shouting nonetheless,

with tribal stomps in perfect time,

and fervent movement, hiphop rhyme.

Plus The other side of this Demmie greenback:

it shows woodstock gentsia and academic hack

media egos, celebrity stars, and the freakish fringe;

their redistributionist binges make Repubos cringe.

Repubs don't.

Out in the field we see a church picnic

with measured grace, and mortared brick;

we hear careful words that divide the time

with calculated results and holy rhyme.

Plus the other side of their grand old meeting:

country club set, with scripted greeting,

credit swappers, debit daubers, practice productivity,

while Demmies make jokes about their activity.

Americans will.

Meanwhile back at the ranch

above the streets and below the tranche,

what's that I hear rising from the ground?

a suite of swelling symphonic sound?

a veritable rhapsody of virtual agreement

with taxes deducted and fiscal appeasement!

What if Washington's cadres just crossed the cold Delaware,

while the King's drowsy troops weren't aware?

I have a dream; I know you do too.

Surely there's resource for me, and for you.

Let's keep our dream dreaming, but tweak it more functional,

making work our policy, and kindness more unctual;

'cause the river we're crossing is deep and its wide,

with estuarial currents and roaring riptide.

As we stand here unsure, squinting out at the brink,

let's bale out the flood, so our damned ship don't sink.

Glass half-Full

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Not your father's parade, booby

Americans do love a parade. We revel gloriously, don't we, in their ambient festivity. We get excited, turning into regular yankee doodle dandies, when we hear the brass band Sousa strains wafting on a summer breeze from the other end of Main Street.

It's Labor Day! Surely that's what this parade was all about today in Charlotte.

Not exactly. Absent from this Labor Day parade were the marching bands with their brass flashing in the sunshine. No Sousa phrases of Stars and Stripes Forever were floating on this uptown Charlotte breeze. We heard no clarinets proclaiming harmonies to complement their sassy trumpet cousins; we felt no sultry saxes. Gone were the young girls spinning their batons and tossing them high into the air to celebrate Americanity, as sequins sparkle and children harken.

No. That Main Street thing was so old school. It was like, Ozzie and Harriet, for crying out loud. I'm here to tell ya that somewhere between Ozzie and Harriet and Ozzy Osborne we got all turned around. Everything now is whoop-fizz, wooby-shooby hip-flip city, not to mention protest. Well, I just did mention it: protest.

That's why today's parade in Charlotte was a horse of a different color, or flag of a different color. What used to be red, white, and blue flapping on the summer breeze is now a kind of shredded rag of tattered and torn ideological fabric, flapping on the sound-bite hot air. What we got now is what the talking media heads have termed fragmentation.

Down there in Tampa you had the red stripes. Now, here in Charlotte, just before the Democrats meet, all the blue stripes have come out in full force.

But this new color-coding of political stripes is backwards. You know that don't you? I mean, back in the day, communists were "reds," and American patriots were true "blue." How did this get turned around?

If you don't believe me, check out that old '70s movie, Reds, starring Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton as a couple of yankee Soviet-sympathizers supporting the Bolsheviks when the revolutionaries killed the czar and his family in Russia in 1917. Now them was reds, the kind of reds that the John Birchers used to dis when they grumbled, back in the '50s, better dead than red!

But here we are now, in 2012, in Charlotte, across the street from Bank of America corporate headquarters, for crying out loud, in this so-called (in the new newspeak) redstate because of it bein' in the bible belt, and in this red city because of all the republican bankers, and here comes this band of rag-tag bunch of occupiers from every blue state and blue neighborhood in this here nation.

But them's reds if I ever saw one. I mean, the first sign I saw said: Capitalism is holding back the human race.!

I fear this is not your father's parade, booby. I'm thoroughly confused. Furthermore, the Code Pink contingent passing by has totally intensified my redwhiteandblue colors schizoshmizz.

Actually, that Capitalism is sign was the second sign I saw. The first one said: Vote now Jail bank execs Jail oil execs.

And these are definitely signs of the times. They were preceded by no traditional drum and bugle corps. Instead we had a lone drummer at the fore (behind the myriad of police escorts, of course.) He looked like ZZTop. They made him stop beating the drum when the ragtag Occupy Wall Street South ensemble stopped in from of Bank of America headquarters to let the world know exactly why they had come here, by making speeeches and flashing their signs and strutting their stuff.

These days, we fragmented Americans are like birds of a different feather, strutting the stuff. These here are the wispy-wing'ed fringes of the blue flock. I suppose if you went to a Tea Party gathering a while back, you'd have gotten a view of what they're calling the red flock. Tea Partiers don't strut, however; they tend to sit in lawn chairs that they themselves brought from their back porches at home.

These Occupiers, I don't think they have back porches, but more likely, fire escapes.

The last time I saw a parade like this was in the streets of Florence, Italy, several years ago.

There were some similarities with that Italian procession and what we see today approaching the DNC arena. You could just feel, back in the old country, that those old ideological lines had been drawn long ago. The onlookers just kind of yawn, like oh here comes another socialist parade; it must be Friday. The paraders themselves were very organized, not like this bunch I'm looking at now. And those Europeans are more obviously labor-centered, not like here where the unions are just kind of hovering around the perimeter, waiting for their opportunity to organize the occupiers when they run out of steam.

And these fledgeling protest movements in the USA, they're like only a hundred and twenty years old or so, still young and whippersnappin', not like those European ones that seem so mature and classifiable and with their own political parties and stuff.

And I need to mention before I go that the ratio of protesters to police to onlookers was, from my sidewalk perch, something like 1:1:1. Not very efficient, from a banking city's spreadsheet standpoint.

The long, steady stream of fire trucks at the end made it seem a little like the old days-style parade, with hints of orderly garnish, and an official finish, as the coffee-slurpers might say here at Starbucks where I'm now knocking this little ditty out.

And guess what, Labor Day is tomorrow, not today. What was I thinking?

Glass half-Full

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Are you a communitarian or a communist?

Are you a
communitarian or a communist
are you a
socialite or a socialist
are you an
idealist or and ideologue
are you a
pacifist or a passivist
are you a
worrier or a warrior
Are you a
doer or a thinker, a
tinker or a tanker, a
flanker or a banker
are you a
mover or a shaker, a
butcher or a baker
are you a candlestick maker
are you a maker
or a taker
a stinker or a winker
a teetotaler or a drinker
are you a blinker
surely you're not a stinker
maybe you a smoker
maybe you a joker
the ayes have it
the eyes have it
the ears hear it
here here
there there
where where
are you fair
do you care
do you share
are you communitarian or
or either?
Come on now. Make up your mind.
Be kind.

Glass Chimera

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Washington beltway blinders

We all have blinders on, of some kind or other. We cannot discern what our individual or cliquish blind-spots really are, because they are, you know, blind spots. Today I have understood, more completely, the myopia of the "inside-the-Washington-beltway" crowd and its politically-obsessed culture. Americans out in the heartland do not view our national agenda the same way that Washington insiders see it.

I greatly appreciate Diane Rehm, and her very informative roundtable discussions, which are broadcast through NPR from WAMU in Washington. Almost every day, I gain helpful perspective and insight while listening to her wonkish guests as they analyze timely topics. I enjoy the show.

But this morning was a rude awakening when I compared her selected panel's discussion to what I had seen and heard the previous night night on CNN's straight-on, commentary-free, online live coverage of the speakers at the Republican convention.

Tuesday night's convention session was the night of speeches by, among many notable presenters, Ann Romney and Chris Christie. I was deeply moved by watching/ hearing the personal messages of each and every uniquely passionate speaker. Their collective, carefully-coordinated message of personal responsibility and energetic small business exuberance is absolutely what our lethargic, government-dependent society needs to hear.

But on the next day-- this Wednesday morning-- Mr. Elving, Mr. Rothenberg, and Mr Cilizza displayed, in their morning-after commentary, a perfect example of the jaded inside-the-Washington-beltway mentality. It is an habitual mindset that offers precious little comprehension of the real problems with which our citizenry grapple every day.

The panelists' beltway tunnel vision limits their banter to an obsessive superficiality, centered on who is catching the most of the political limelight. The so-called "horse-race" of party luminaries is their focus, instead of actual comprehension and reporting on what message is being conveyed.

So I will tell you, in case you missed it, what the Republicans said, very convincingly and collaboratively, on Tuesday night:

We Americans do not define ourselves in terms of our relationship with a government that has "built" the USA. The government has not "built it." Rather, We the People of the United States, have built it, and every thing in "it." The government is the servant of all, not the master. Our identity is tied deeply to our own initiative. Our sustainability is intimately linked to own resolve to accept, and master, the challenges of our age. Thus do we invent, design, define, perform and manufacture products/ services necessary to meet the demands of American excellence and prosperity.

And most important of all: God bless America.

Glass half-Full

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We Built It

We built it.

We are still building it.

We will build it: United States of America

Glass half-Full

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Show me a Man with Courage

. . .And I'll show you Todd Akin.

Show me a man who is willing to let the people of his home state render a verdict on his leadership potential;

show me a man who refuses to be bullied by power-obsessed politicians of both parties;

show me a man who is not intimidated by manipulative nitpicking media wonks;

show me a man who is humble enough to publicly apologize;

show me a man who is a little bit naive, a man who still has, like me and thee, a few lessons to learn;

show me a man who can gracefully accept those lessons while serving the people of his constituency;

Show me a state of people who will elect a Senator who rejects the dodgy, sound-bite-spurting equivocation of most politicians,

and I'll show you Missouri, home of Harry Truman and Todd Akin.

O Missouri! show us a man of courage!

And another thing while I've got you here. . .

Show me a man that's got a good woman


and I'll show you a man who loves his woman instead of rape crimes.

Glass half-Full

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Who's got the Work?

In the predictable dialectic of American politics, the federal outcome is a burgeoning synthesis of the two parties.
Republicans like to trickle wealth down from the top, while Democrats prefer to spread it broadly from the bottom up. I think the GOP strategy is more consistent with the habitual, historical inclinations of the human race, and is therefore probably more effective. Whereas the Demo approach requires more social engineering and bureaucratic effluence.
Affluence vs. effluence is what we're talking about here in America.
Whether the statist Dems win the day in November, or the individualist Repubs gain the advantage, there is only so much that either administration can do to make an impact on the way things happen.
Our great ship of State is so massive that it just about takes three or four years to get the thing directed in a different direction from where it was headed before all the elocutionary hoopla.
So whether the Repubs or the Dems prevail in November, I'll work along with the victors, and try to do what's best for me and mine, by whatever resources are sent down the pike, or up it, as the case may be.
I of plan to vote for Romney/Ryan, because I want to see our great vessel veer toward less interference for people who are trying to earn a living in this difficult economy. The sad state in which we find our great economic machine is, by the way, nobody's fault. It is what it is, a function of both our collective genius and habitual dysfunction.
I want to see in the days ahead an official encouragement for those of us who are inclined toward less, not more, dependence on the obese nanny state. This is what I think we need just now.
Nevertheless, We the people will choose in November which way this barge lollygags through the next four years. After the dust settles, what's most important is that we pull together as Americans to get this beached barge back out into the channel of commerce. It could be that the very survival of our nation depends mightily on us working together, with emphasis on that word: working.
What is "working" anyway?
Working means you and me finding finding something that needs to be done and doing it, or finding something that you can do well, and doing it, whether or not you are being paid what you think you are worth, because times are hard.
Therefore I say, to all ye citizens of this great United States of America, certainly don't forget to vote. But more importantly, find something to do that will benefit you, your family, or your community. If you are unemployed, or if you are underemployed, you will do yourself and all the rest of us a big favor by doing something productive today, instead of languishing on the couch with a video or a six-pack or a jagged little pill.
You got to go out and git it; it ain't gon' come to you, as my friend Stacey says. Don't wait for the government of anyone else to lay it at your doorstep. Stay busy, and together we'll get this thing up and running again.
There's only so much the politicians and the corporatists can do for you. Really, when you get right down to it, the future of this nation depends on you, and me.
So get busy.
Glass half-Full

Thursday, August 9, 2012

To the neo-nazis and other hatists

Listen to this:

"Blessed are the gentle; for they shall inherit the earth."

"Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called sons of God."

On this basis, the followers of Jesus, such as I am, can know with surety that our Redeemer will never endorse-- nor will his faithful disciples ever rightfully defend --the murderous acts of neo-nazis and other hateful pretenders who, being deceived by the devil, claim allegiance to some mythical, self-appointed "white Christian nation."

For the Lord of our created life has redeemed: homo sapiens of every tribe, of every language-group, of every ethnicity and every nation.

So therefore we, gentle, peacemaking followers of Christ, say-- as our Lord spoke when He taught us:

"Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted."

This blessing goes to the Sikhs in Wisconsin who mourn their slain loved ones.

This Christian mourns with you.

Know that our God will judge those who claim to speak or act in his name, but do not know Him.

Glass half-Full

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ghosts of Civil War, Spain 1936

My current study of history during the years 1936-1938 has revealed an alarming similarity between the Spanish Civil War of that era and the present civil war in Syria today.

During the 1930s, the nation of Spain was dragging itself out of its deep, dark past, into the perilous, polarizing politics of 20th-century Europe. But the two main ideological forces of that era were not content to let Spain work its own bloody identity crisis out.

International Communists, propelled by Bolshevik revolutionaries in Russia, and led by Josef Stalin, were strategizing for control of Europe; their struggle was directed primarily against the Fascist/Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler in Germany and Benito Mussolini in Italy.

Neither of these two ideological poles were content to let Spain work out its own destiny. Rather, both the Communists and the Fascist/Nazis strove to manipulate and control Spanish political/cultural factions.

In 1936, as General Franco's armies mounted rightist insurrections against the leftist Popular Front government, Mussolini, the Italian dictator, began providing serious military support for Franco and the Spanish fascists. This provoked Stalin and the Moscow communists to bolster the Spanish government in Madrid with armaments to resist Franco's military campaigns.

As military capabilities and clashes became bloodier and more atrocious in Spain, the mercantile-minded democratic nations found themselves having to make unpleasantly complicated decisions about how to neutralize the two warring sides of Spanish bloodletting.

So Britain, United States, and France found themselves, inconveniently having to take a stand one way or the other.

The solution they arrived at, in August of 1936, was a non-intervention pact, designed to prevent further transferral of armaments into bloody Spain.

This did not work, because Hitler and Mussolini violated the non-intervention agreement by continuing to supply weapons, and even soldiers, to the fascists in Spain. Consequently, Largo Caballero, Prime Minister and leader of the Popular Front government of Spain, was required to cultivate more radical leftist, specifically Russian Communist, support in order to sustain the Spanish government against General Franco's fascist insurgency.

In the midst of all this contention, both political and military, neither side was merciful. Slaughters and atrocities were happening at various hot skirmish points across the countryside and cities of Spain.

Douglas Little, in his 1985 book, Malevolent Neutrality, (Cornell University Press), wrote on page 248:

"Ironically, the British and American arms embargoes had ensured the very thing they were designed to prevent: the expansion of Soviet influence in Spain."

Business and political leaders in Britain and U.S., noticing the leftward drift of Caballero's Madrid government, unwittingly facilitated the surreptitious Fascist/Nazi domination of Franco's militarism in Spain. The Spanish Civil War, as it subsequently erupted during autumn of 1936 and onward, became a training ground for Mussolini's fascisti ground troops, and Hitler's luftwaffe air force.

As it turns out then, history demonstrates that military neutrality can prove disastrous in the convoluted treacheries of world politics.

In Syria today, rebels are storming the gates of Damascus and Aleppo, fighting to overthrow the oppressive regime of Bashar al-Assad.

But the insurrection boot is, this time, on the other foot. We democratic nations want to believe that the rebels represent possibilities for future democracy and popular government. But do we know this?

We don't know. We don't know for sure. Meanwhile, the two principal bully-states (bullies toward their own citizens) of the civilized world, Russian and China, refuse to permit international support for the Syrian rebels against the al-Assad regine, itself an oppressive bully-state.

It could be that this armed struggle in Syria is, as I heard a caller say recently on a radio talk show, "the Spanish Civil War of our age," in which the political/military forces, striving to align themselves, establish a deadly framework for larger eruptions of militarism yet to come.

If it is true that ignorance of history dooms us to repeating history's mistakes, then we may be stumbling toward another vicious tarbaby of world war. On the other hand, maybe the supposed awareness of strategic options that arise from history's lessons is nothing more than a naive fallacy.

I don't know whether historical intelligence can be truly beneficial for mankind or not, but then I, like most folks, am not in a position to do much about it anyway.

However, I am writing a novel, Smoke, that pertains to these issues as they existed in our world in 1937. And I hope that history does not repeat itself.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Occupying Chick Fil-A

It was a defensive strategy, a collaborative act of popular protective custody.

Yesterday in my hometown, Boone, North Carolina, hundreds, possibly thousands of people ate chicken at Chick Fil-A.

We gathered and ate there in defense of:

~Dan Cathy's constitutional right to exercise freedom of speech by expressing his opinions

~Marriage, a sacred right and institutional rite acknowledged since the dawn of civilization as a union between one man and one woman.

~Children, lots of children, and their privilege to receive moral instruction from their own God-given parents

~The reasonable privilege of a private company to prosper by marketing a popular product in a free country

~The constitutional right of the people to peaceably assemble.

And peaceable it was. I noticed this while enjoying lunch there yesterday, August 1, 2012.

The gregarious crowd reminded me a herd of cows-- contented, spotted cows. Moving patiently in long lines, we spoke amicably. I think I even heard a moo or two. We waited with hungry expectation and shared tasty food. A jovial ambiance of procreative celebration prevailed in the order lines, the packed dining room, the crowded parking lot and drive-through outside, and the half-mile or so of stopped traffic on the highway. The place was about the same later in the day when Pat and had dinner there after work, but without the stacked traffic.

This collective mood was quite different than I had experienced at Occupy Seattle and Occupy Vancouver last fall. The Occupiers, as an identifiable group, are not like cows at all; they are more like hawks, with an edgy, confrontational air about them that demands social justice, and yearns for enforced equality.

My belief is that it takes both kinds to occupy and sustain a healthy, free nation. To each his own, as the sage hath said. And to each identity group their own way of expressing what they believe to be necessary and true, as long as they are peaceably assembled.

I suppose the ambient difference between these two movements is like the difference between being well-fed and happy, or forever carrying (as Shakespeare's Cassius) the lean and hungry look, which pleads for enforced equality and demands social justice.

Now for the Chick Fil-A set, the statement is: let us marry, have children, and eat chicken joyously.

And let the LGBTQs have their civil unions.

Don't mess with marriage. That's the message.

Glass half-Full

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tappin' the laptop rap

While we nodded, nearly napping, suddenly

There came a tapping, rapping on my laptop door:

Let us build a free nation, they said in 1776,

Let us mortar it with liberty; we'll use this vast continent for bricks.

So then came our great exploration, on horses, on wagons, then on rails,

in a century of expansion, steeped in sweat, and debt, with bundles of tall tales.

'T'was an age of corn and wheat, a time of tobacco and great toil,

boiling in a cauldron of soil and coal and oil.

On farms and orchards swelled our sweet fruits of sweat labor;

in pastures and ranches our blooms of prosperity's favor.

Iron horse came a roaring over trestle and prairie

through a land ripe with harvest, rich with mineral and dairy.

We were milking the dream, skimming the cream,

moving on muscles and running on steam,

Across the tracks and over the roads, here rode the passengers, there the heavy loads;

extracting the mother lodes, knocking up white picket abodes.

Sodbustin', soon with internal combustion, we rode, driving cattle and pigs with our pokes,

we volks and them blokes, all manner of folks with their yokes, ever now 'n then tellin jokes,

we came casting off troubles, heaving the rubbles, and wielding our worn steel shovels,

we went building our houses, our stations and shacks, and nailing up mansions and hovels.

we're blazin' trails with ole Dan'l and Davy, eatin' biscuits and gravy, 'bibing a wee nip o' liquor,

through sagebrush the saga and ragtime the raga with bustin' raw rigor and unlimited vigor.

Let us build a rich nation! Let us form companies;

Let us develop, and envelope, opportunities.

We'll raise capital, and stock it and sell it, until all the shares are sold.

Let us hammer out a Great Northern Railway, on tracks of steel, burning Appalachian coal;

We'll wrangle our way to the West, dear partner; we'll wildcat our wells while we roll.

Out of raw earth we summon a Standard Oil, a USSteel, and a B&O;

Across the wide prairies we'll fence ranches and dairies, with windmills and farms, high and low.

Let's sign up the hires and string up the wires, tapping Morse signals all the while as we go,

Till we've rolled and we've tolled and we've bought and we've sold all the long way to San Francisco.


Mr. Edison says let's turn on the light; Mr. Bell says oh yes, and hello

Mr. Morgan proffers finance and wealth, while Mr. Ford cranks up our engines to go.

Summon the lawyers for incorporation, in big divisions, with a company town.

Call Wilbur; tell Orville: let's drum up some capital, and get this great work off the ground!

Pack me a sack of groceries, will ya, from the corner at the A&P,

and buy us some trinkets and widgets and blinkets from the dime store, or the big new Kresge.

Here in our houses with spouses, in our homes with our loans, we'll make and we'll do and we'll prosper;

now we've adorned Lady Liberty with a fashion outfit, and fed her and bled her, and yet we've not lost her.

And 'though the folks in the old country drag us into their wars,

we'll not lose sight of our stripes, nor dim our bright stars.

Let us run our great machines on American dreams!

Drive our Chevys to the levees for beer and ice creams.

Punch us an IBM card and we'll flip out the bucks, at Kmart and Walmart and Radio Shack.

Bring in this Microsoft, this Apple, this modem and fax. Hey, buy me some Windows and Cracker Jacks.

Truck in the autos; pump in the gas; toss me a loan and float me a boat.

Fling wide the fridge! Bring me some chips; hook me up with the tube. Where's the remote?

Sign me up for a card; don't make it too hard.

Just give me some credit; you won't need to vet it. Approve my home loan; I'm ready to get it.

You know it don't matter I'm makin' half what I used to; I'm presently performing some credit jujitsu.

But our great yankee contraption having now been built,

and the boomer consumers all leveraged to the hilt,

the guys down on WallStreet were feeling the pinch.

With fewer and fewer equity opps, they're no longer a cinch.

Traders squinting for spreads, on margins and bets,

our great growth machine slows, then it sputters and spets.

So let us whip up some synthetic collateralized debt obligations! they said

We'll bundle those low-grade mortgages in convoluted configurations, and we'll follow the Fed.

Let's slice em and dice and twice em and thrice em

to pump up a million, trade up a billion, swap up a trillion, maybe gazillion.

Slap me some MBS, shoot me some CDOs and credit default swaps;

those sub primes are hot, triple-A, so S&P say, too complicated for regulatin' by SEC cops.

So our great American ranches morphed to securitized tranches.

Maybe we shouldn't have let the big players get in with bank branches.

Was this trouble-- that real estate bubble, our last great Kapital hoorah?

Is this all we got left--this bubblin' Booyah?

Have we bought for too long on the troughs, have we sold out too short on the peaks?

Are we so severely crippled by our insider leaks?

Have we reached the end of this long leveraging line? With our great capitalist expansion now running out of time?

Has our American Dream Machine run out of steam? Has it sputtered in the gutter of avaricial schemes?

Say it aint so, entrepreneurial Joe!

Quoth the Trader, "Nevermo."

Now that's a rap, on my laptop tap.

Glass Chimera

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Celebratin Dadahood

To father a child is awesome.

You can't just grab the kid and toss 'im.

To raise that child is a heavy duty--

gotta provide some food and some booty

Yeah, it be a responsibility weight:

you gotta make an impact on his fate.

But raisin him up has benefits:

Satisfaction 'stead of cracky fits and chasin tits

Yeah to love and care for mama be a joyous thing

make a man rap and hip and hop and sing.

Love is where its at I say

it really the best and only way

My Man Sneeze--he be a friend o mine--laid down his rappin hiphop track

about his dada, his life, his son, his escape from whack


Ain't no sob.

When a man realize he brought another soul into the world

by getting it on wi his precious girl

what a revelation to find that beautiful pearl

it make a man wanna change his world.

Yeah Sneeze say, yeah so Jah say:

(and I hear today)

"…wish I could be a makin up for the time I missed."

(gotta be better way than the rock and fist)

"…the ------ wasn't meant for us."

(thats right you know we gotta get beyond the fuss)

Yeah Sneeze say, so Jah say:

(and I hear today:)

"Mysiah (my son) need to be in clothes;

thats why I'm in the zone--try and open up some bigger holes."

(I say yeah the son gotta be taken care of

and Sneeze make a way for the boy to get out of

a way mo better that what his dada had

a way to make dada and son be glad.)

Tha's a rap and tha's a wrap,

aint no flap

and he told the world that

and I told the world what.

Glass half-Full

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Let Us Make

Let us make love.

Let us make children.

Let us feed our children.

Let us do work to support them.

Let us teach them.

Let us make places where children can romp on grass.

Let them run and jump and romp and stomp.

Let them build treehouses.

Let them grow.

Let them learn.

Let us learn.

Let us try.

Let us fail. Let us repair and recover.

Let us do.

Let us do what is right.

Let us make stuff.

Let us make goods.

Let us craft.

Let us think.

Let us prosper.

Let us profit.

Let us do business.

Let us excel. Let us hope.

Let us cope.

Let us worship God.

Let us take care for one another.

Let us give.

Let us breathe.

Let us laugh.

Let us sing.

Let us speak.

Let us preach, teach, and reach as far as we can.

Let us keep a world where men and women can choose to do what is right.

Let us ride. Let us glide. Let us confide.

Let us hide every now and then.

Let us go; let us stay.

Let us pray.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Spare change?

Flip a nickel; turn a dime.

Let's spend our money one more time.

And when it passes twice again around,

we hear its jingle-jangle sound.

We go to town.

Spend a dollar; pass a buck.

Buy another pickup truck.

Pump some gas and drive a mile,

shine it up and drive in style

for a while.

Scan my plastic; pass my card;

software data, currency hard.

At end of month the bill comes due.

I'll pay a lot and then a few.

What's it to you?

Build a country; churn the economy.

Fuel the industry; grow some agronomy.

Dems want gov to do it all;

Repubs want private sector out of the stall.

That's all.

Not quite.

Tea Parties cry don't tread on me

while Occupyers want everything made free.

Get outa my way vs. soak it to the one percent:

two polarizing passions that won't relent.

But uh oh; it's time to pay the rent.

It happens every month; it comes around every year,

with principal and interest so steep, so dear.

At midnight our stimulus turns into a pumpkin.

But I'm no bumpkin: I'll spend a dollar; I'll turn a buck;

'though our limo has morphed to a clunky pumpkin truck.

We've stayed too long at the ball.

That's all.

Glass Chimera

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Come Saturday morning, in Boone

On this sunny Saturday morning I hopped on the Vespa to ride the two or three miles into Boone and do coffee with my dear old friend, Terry. An old song blew into my mind while I was whizzing along: Come Saturday Morning, by the Sandpipers.

"Come Saturday morning, I'm going away with my friend;

we'll Saturday spend till the end of the day…"

While we did not spend the whole day together, Terry and I did take about an hour and a half to drink coffee, solve the problems of our little world, and reminisce. He had blogged earlier in the week about an emotional, even tearful, moment he had had pertaining to this mid-life thing that we're experiencing now in our '60s.

I had commented that we should get together, come Saturday morning, and explore our two perspectives to glean some wisdom. I suggested we meet at a donut shop recently opened by an old friend of ours; but Terry said he is not doing wheat these days, so we met at 8 at the Earth Fare.

We spent some precious time discussing the ins and outs and ups and downs of living life according to our own expressions and goals, as opposed to living in order to accommodate the demands of everybody else, such as peer group, employer, society at large, etc. This dilemma is something that we 60ish folks understand completely, especially because our g-g-generation had spent our prime youth years IN the 1960s, if you know what I mean, where we had both discovered that the free love thing wasn't going to work out so well. Consequently, we had both become Jesus freaks, still are, and had each faithfully loved wife and raised our now-grown children during the last 30+ years.

After we had solved the problems of our little world, or at least gained some friendly perspective on the prospects, Terry went his way and I went mine.

Feeling adventurous, with the sunshine and Saturday and whatnot, I cruised the Vespa on up the hill to our local Farmers' Market to pick up my weekly loaf of bread from my bread man, Bruce. This would save him the side trip of delivering the rye loaf to my front door, which he often does.

Earlier in the week I had experienced some fears about the future of free enterprise in America. But no more. One fifteen-minute stroll through the Farmers' Market was all it took to restore my confidence in small business in America. Blooming forth from all directions, from all booths, from the many tents and stalls, were: the healthiest veggies you've ever seen, all locally grown, squash, spinach, kale, broccoli, spices, herbs, you-name-it, and then the arty stuff: pottery, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, flower arrangements; Terry's wife Sandi was selling her colorful Appalachian grape-vine baskets. She was weaving one right there, as hundreds of curious shoppers lollygagged around us. There was music in the air: hammer dulcimer player zinging out his tunes, old-time group plunking out the ancient but ever-livening traditional fiddle-standupbass-guitar melodies, and hundreds of smiling folks buying stuff, ambling in the mountains sunshine.

I found Bruce and Brandi's Owl Creek Breadworks tent and picked up my ciabatta, paid them for the month. Their daughter Madison handed me a garlic bagel. It looked so delicious I bit right into it then and there. Moving right along, I passed down into the shady grove amphitheater where the thespian troupe was rehearsing for tonight's outdoor drama, Horn in the West.

And I'm like, all is well here, nothing wrong with small business in America. There seems be plenty of vigor (as President Kennedy had called it) exuding from every nook and cranny, every holler and glade, especially in the midst of our keep-on-the-sunny-side Blue Ridge mountain morning heritage.

Well, maybe there was one little thing wrong with it. The downside of this experience came when I was negotiating the traffic jam that surrounded the place as I was leaving. I hated to think of all those little fossil-fuel emissions slithering from their respective exhaust pipes into the bright Saturday sky. My fantasy about having a Disney-style monorail running right through our little town jumped into my mind for a moment, but then it vanished in a whiff of cerebral smoke.

I leapt again onto the Vespa express and headed for our quaint downtown to drop a book at the ASU library.

Not much traffic in downtown, vehicular or pedestrian, compared to the crowded Farmers' Market vicinity. We need to get something going here town-wise, to even out the enterprise factor. Maybe some of those vendors at the market would do well here in the downtown where there's more space to get around. Unfortunately, the expense of real estate in the central business district is high. But that's neither here nor there.

Still feeling adventurous, I headed out Blowing Rock road to Josiah's shop, the Local Lion, for another java and one of his unique 1930s-style donuts. By this time I'm thinking maybe I'd be over-caffeinated and over-carbohydrated to do such a thing. Lately I've heard a lot of folks, including my friend Terry with whom I had started this trek, trash-talkin the carbs. But hey, I'm a bread-man, always was, always will be. Jesus said "I am the bread of life." If he was willing to make himself a bread metaphor, and to have the wheat stuff passed around every Sunday in his name, that's good enough for me. I can hang with carbs, because my job as a maintenance guy keeps me hopping all week long, and burning those little carbohydrates off like spilt coffee on a woodstove.

So I dropped into the Local Lion and did that coffee and donut thing. I talked to Riley, who was there enjoying the goodies with his two young children and his wife. Thank God he was there, and here in this life, to even do such a thing. Riley spent the better part of a half-hour answering my numerous questions about his 2004 and 2009 tours of duty in Iraq.

And lastly, there at the Local Lion I happened upon a copy of The Journey, a local magazine published by another old friend, Ben. And so I was able to embellish my Saturday morning travels and contemplations with an accounting of his interview with our late, great, local hero and musical legend, Doc Watson.

Then I hopped on the Vespa, came home and wrote this, after Saturday morning had come and gone. It was a good one.

Glass half-Full