Mixed up world

Don’t you just love the days when I post like I do today? Lots of posts, first technology than politics than tech than politics? What I need is something gentle and reflective, to sweeten what is a relatively bold and saucy collection of writings.

I haven’t been out this week on walks or taking photographs, but did get some film back from the lab with previous trips to the Botanical Gardens. Though I know you’re all deadly tired of reflective pools and such, there are a couple of images from the group that provide a different viewpoint than previous submissions.

I’m also thinking of following Molly’s example with my own Request for Marriage Proposal (RFMP). But I want somebody rich. And old. Who will help me keep Burningbird going in the manner to which we’ve become accustomed.

What say you lonely older guys? Grow ever older with me…the best is yet to be. I may not be young and nubile, but at least I don’t wear rhinestones. I won’t make you clean your feet when we come in from a walk, but you’re on your own when it comes to cleaning the footprints. And I’ll never say to you, “Why don’t you…”

“One must never enter into the relation of marriage. Husband and wife promise to love one another for eternity. This is all fine, but it does not mean very much. . . . Such being the case with marriage, it is not surprising that the attempt should be made in so many ways to bolster it up with moral supports. . . . When two beings fall in love with one another and begin to suspect that they were made for each other, it is time to have the courage to break it off; for by going on they have everything to lose and nothing to gain.”


… I believe a kiss comes nearer the idea when a man kisses a girl than when a girl kisses a man. When in the course of years there has come about an indifference in this relation, then the kiss has lost its significance. This is true about the domestic kiss of marriage with which married people, apparently in lieu of a napkin, dab each other’s lips as the man mutters the ceremonial thanks, “That was swell, Mother.”


“If it is ridiculous to kiss an ugly girl, it also is ridiculous to kiss a pretty one, and the notion that doing a thing one way is any justification for laughing at a person who does it another way is nothing more than superciliousness and a complot, which does not, however, avail to set such a snob outside the category of the ridiculous, which is determined by the consideration that nobody can say what it means to kiss, although it is assumed to mean that the lovers desire to belong to one another for all eternity, yea, what is still more amusing, it is supposed to give them assurance of this.”


Healthcare Political


Another thing that Bush talked about yesterday was how it was ‘junk lawsuits’ that are driving the cost of medical care up so high that health insurance costs have grown beyond what the average person can afford. If it weren’t for the fact that people sued doctors and hospitals, why everyone would have access to health care now.

That’s good to know. My Dad fell yesterday and broke his hip and has to have it operated on today, not something that’s lightly done when you’re 93 almost 94 years old. Luckily he has medical insurance to cover most of the costs of this, because his assisted living expenses are eating up his savings. Not to mention all the drugs the doctors keep giving him, though most don’t do a bit of good.

But I want to assure President Bush that if Dad dies during treatment, we won’t hold the hospital responsible and sue them. In turn, will he then get the health insurance premiums lowered in this state so that I can afford to get coverage? It would be nice not to be worried about getting sick. And if I am sick, it would be nice to know I could go into the doctor without being financially ruined by the trip.

But I’m a little lost on the mapping between limiting malpractice suits and available, affordable health care for all. Could he spend a little more time on that one?

Watching Bush yesterday, among that crowd of just plain folk, I thought that he came off rather charming. Likeable even. You know, I don’t think President Bush is evil. I think he grew up in an environment where people are supposed to take care of themselves and their friends and family, not have the government do it. I think he was taught that when people have a run of bad luck, it’s up to them to make the best of whatever situation they’re in. He grew up believing that every little boy or girl, well, maybe just every little boy, could be president someday. After all, just look at him? His Daddy was President, and now he’s president. Things work out, his brother will be president in four years. That’s the way these things work.

I think growing up he looked out on his father’s horse ranch and he saw wide open skies and plenty of green, so he didn’t understand why people talk about Texas being one of the worst polluted states in the country. He listened to his Daddy’s friends as they talked about how this country is rich with oil and Nature, she’s a tough old broad and isn’t going to be hurt by a little drilling.

He was raised in Texas where you just don’t step on another’s man’s shoes, boy, unless you’re willing to pay the consequences. Al-Queda stepped on our shoes, but Saddam was going to, he just knew this – why can’t most of us make this connection? And now that we’ve found out that Saddam really wasn’t much of a threat to us, well, the President said recently that sometimes people make mistakes. The Democrats chortled over that one.

His approval ratings shot up three points after that quiet bit of reflection. To the people here abouts, it takes a real man to admit he can make a mistake.

My own Dad didn’t grow up in a rich family, but he was brought up to believe that family takes care of family, and people don’t ask for help if they find themselves down on their luck. They make their own luck. Of course, it’s a lot tougher when your family isn’t rich, but that just makes the victory that much sweeter.

Dad also thinks that anyone that goes to live in a tree to protect it from being cut down is a nut, and those women who bare their pink bras to protest the war are silly, and pretentious. As for Iraq, well, he thinks it’s the Iraqi’s problem that they can’t see what a great opportunity they now have, and continue to fight among themselves. After all, government can’t do everything for them, either. Shame about our boys, though. And those nice foreign workers. The terrorists, they kill because they like to kill. They enjoy killing, and nothing we do will change this.

As for the cost, well everyone knows war is good for the economy. Look what WWII did for us?

If my Dad survives to November, which is iffy right now, and is capable of making cognitive decisions at the time, he’ll vote for Bush. I think that the President will appreciate that.



President Bush was in Missouri yesterday, in Sedalia. That’s a friendly part of this state to Bush – solidly red.

He looked good during his talk, dressed in one of those cotton work shirts he tends to favor. Looked just like the people he was talking to. He said that in the next four years he plans on reforming the tax filing process, to make it simpler. Yeah, that’s something that we’re all worried about now – our taxes being too complicated.

He also focused a lot on the economy, and how tax cuts have helped and how people are doing better now than they were a few years back. I guess it was too bad, then, that Ford picked this day to announce it was laying off upwards of 800 employees at one its plants in the St. Louis area–another layoff in a series of layoffs that have hit this state since 2002.

But that President, he sure looks good in a cotton work shirt. Looks just like one of us.


But not all is silent

In a piece in The Australian about the tragedy at Breslan, Mark Steyn wrote:

I remember a couple of days after September 11 writing in some column or other that weepy candlelight vigils were a cop-out: the issue wasn’t whether you were sad about the dead people but whether you wanted to do something about it. Three years on, that’s still the difference. We can all get upset about dead children, but unless you’re giving honest thought to what was responsible for the slaughter your tasteful elegies are no use.

Taking a moment to mourn is taking a moment to acknowledge the grief and loss. It’s taking a moment to reflect on what might have been if these children had not been horribly wasted. It is an act re-affirming that human life has value. If we push this aside in order to rush that much more quickly to revenge and retribution, then all we’re doing is perpetuating what’s been started by the terrorists in the first place: that belief that individual human life has little meaning now.

There are those that kill because of a quirk in their mind; others are made that way by being being part of an event, to protect or take, to stand, or march. Of the latter, some may like to kill; most are forced to kill and do so reluctantly. But there are those for whom killing means nothing; it brings no sadistic delight, nor thoughtful regret because whatever love and value for life that was in them was stripped away, over time, until they are as indifferent to the act of killing as they are to the act of life.

I don’t have insight into the terrorists who entered the school in Breslan, but I have to believe that they were the latter type of killer–indifferent to lives, their own or others. The sadistic killer wants to inflict but not experience, and the reluctant killer could not shoot a child in the back as they run away. I truly believe this is so.

If these people were indifferent killers, they weren’t born that way. At some time in their past, they were like the children who they killed, with the same needs to have security, love, affection, and the same right to be safe. What changed for them over time, we won’t know because I doubt will learn much about them individually; we’ve labeled them ‘terrorists’ and that seems to be enough.

To Steyn and to a growing number of people, including an uncomfortably large number of webloggers, all that we need to know about these people is that they are Muslim, and that is explanation. What is it that he says?

The good news is that the carnage in Beslan was so shocking it prompted a brief appearance by that rare bird, the moderate Muslim. Abdulrahman al-Rashed, the general manager of al-Arabiya Television, wrote a column in Asharq al-Awsat headlined, “The Painful Truth: All The World’s Terrorists Are Muslims!” “Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture,” he wrote. This is true. But, as with Nicolson’s prettified prose in London, the question remains: So what? What are you going to do about it? If you want your religion to be more than a diseased death cult, you’re going to have to take a stand.

Moderate Muslims are no more rare than moderate Christians or moderate Jews or moderate Hindus. Every religion is capable of sustaining hate and feelings of persecution long enough and strongly enough to strip the life away from soulless soldiers who kill as easily as they put pepper on their eggs. It takes events to crystalize and concentrate the extremists and then when they act, the rest look on and point and cry out, ‘There are no moderates in this religion!”

But have we forgotten the plight of the Bosnian Muslims so soon, after their own children were raped and tortured and killed by Orthodox Christian Serbs? This was less than ten years ago – how can we have forgotten?

Or can we forget Christian turning against Christian in Ireland?

Here in the United States, have we forgotten Timothy McVeigh and those who bomb abortion clinics, or kill those who are different colors or beliefs, or who are gay, all the while holding up a cross? Does anyone remember four little black girls who were killed by a bomb as they sang in a church not all that long ago? Not many places safer than a church. Not even a school.

You say, but these were isolated incidents, not part of a global conspiracy. Frankly, I find all religions to be a conspiracy; a conspiracy aimed at robbing people of their intellect and their empathy.



A person who goes by the name of Ripper has been dropping an odd sort of comment spam here and there. He finds whatever post is supportive of Kerry or not supportive of Bush and writes in comments the fact that he or she, when doing a search on the site, doesn’t find the word “Breslan”. I think the assumption is that those who don’t support Bush won’t mention this event, because that will remind people what an ‘effective’ leader he is in the fight against terrorism. Or some such thing.

Let’s leave aside, for now, my amazement that some view Bush as a leader in the fight against Islamic terrorism, when such terrorism has actually increased rather than decreased during his tenure. Let’s ignore, for now, that the only decisive move he’s made among supposedly Islamic countries is invade Iraq –one of many, yes many, primarily Islamic countries not interested in sending terrorists against us. Instead let’s focus on Breslan.

What can be said other than it is inconceivable that anyone would want to go into a school and just start killing children. Unfortunately, we have experienced this ourselves in this country when disturbed young men have entered our schools and killed classmates and teachers, so we can share with Russia the pain of losing children to senseless violence–made more difficult because it occurred in a place normally seen as safe and secure (because, unfortunately, children are lost to senseless violence all too often in warfare, though usually in their homes or in the streets).

But my first reaction to this event is that there is nothing meaningful that I can say–my words won’t be heard or give comfort to the families, nor do I have any insight into why people would do such a thing. I remember reading or hearing once, long ago, and I’ve now forgotten the context, that certain native American people believe that one cries and rents the air with anguish when the loss is small, the hurt brief; but when the pain is beyond what can be imagined, one stays silent.