Monday, November 29, 2010

Unemployed? Here's an idea.

Letter to the Duke of Milan Applying for a Position

Having, most illustrious lord, seen and considered the experiments of all those who pose as masters in the art of inventing instruments of war, and finding that their inventions differ in no way from those in common use, I am emboldened, without prejudice to anyone, to solicit an appointment of acquainting your Excellency with certain of my secrets.

1. I can construct bridges which are very light and strong and very portable, with which to pursue and defeat the enemy; and others more solid, which resist fire or assault, yet are easily removed and placed in position; and I can also burn and destroy those of the enemy.

2. In case of a siege I can cut off water from the trenches and make pontoons and scaling ladders and other similar contrivances.

3. If by reason of the elevation or the strength of its position a place cannot be bombarded, I can demolish every fortress if its foundations have not been set on stone.

4. I can also make a kind of cannon which is light and easy of transport, with which to hurl small stones like hail, and of which the smoke causes great terror to the enemy, so that they suffer heavy loss and confusion.

5. I can noiselessly construct to any prescribed point subterranean passages either straight or winding, passing if necessary underneath trenches or a river.

6. I can make armoured wagons carrying artillery, which shall break through the most serried ranks of the enemy, and so open a safe passage for his infantry.

7. If occasion should arise, I can construct cannon and mortars and light ordnance in shape both ornamental and useful and different from those in common use.

8. When it is impossible to use cannon I can supply in their stead catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other instruments of admirable efficiency not in general use—I short, as the occasion requires I can supply infinite means of attack and defense.

9. And if the fight should take place upon the sea I can construct many engines most suitable either for attack or defense and ships which can resist the fire of the heaviest cannon, and powders or weapons.

10. In time of peace, I believe that I can give you as complete satisfaction as anyone else in the construction of buildings both public and private, and in conducting water from one place to another.
I can further execute sculpture in marble, bronze or clay, also in painting I can do as much as anyone else, whoever he may be.

Moreover, I would undertake the commission of the bronze horse, which shall endue with immortal glory and eternal honour the auspicious memory of your father and of the illustrious house of Sforza.—

And if any of the aforesaid things should seem to anyone impossible or impracticable, I offer myself as ready to make trial of them in your park or in whatever place shall please your Excellency, to whom I commend myself with all possible humility.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Da Vinci got the job and kept it for sixteen years, until the French invaded the city and captured his employer. Leonardo da Vinci died in France, prematurely old, at the age of sixty-seven, in 1519. Though hailed by the later centuries as a “universal genius,” he felt that his “greatest schemes in science remained unrealized” and that “his quest for perfection in art” was unsuccessful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What great American commercial corporate enterprises are keeping our families fed?

Tax cuts and mis-guided conservative political philosophy and values are not keeping our economic ship afloat.

Republicans know this and tea-party electeds wouldn't believe it unless one of their American idols admitted it first.


You know what sickens me? You do Ya lying namby pamby Jackwagon!

Ex-worst president hawking his "truth-telling" memoir book.

David Corn writes in Mother Jones
In discussing the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush notes, "That was a massive blow to our credibility—my credibility—that would shake the confidence of the American people." He then adds: "No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn't find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do."



It wasn't funny then and it sure as  hell hasn't gotten funny since. More from David Corn:
... Then Bush displayed a photo of himself looking for something out a window in the Oval Office. His narration: "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." 
The audience laughed. But the joke wasn't done. After a few more slides, there was a shot of Bush looking under furniture in the Oval Office. 
"Nope," he said. "No weapons over there." More laughter. Then another picture of Bush searching in his office: "Maybe under here." Laughter again.
Bush was actually joking about the missing weapons of mass destruction. He was making fun of the reason he had cited for sending Americans to war and to death, turning it into a running gag. His smile was wide and his eyes seemed bright, as the audience laughed.  
Say what you will according to party and philosophical political savvy (or lack of it) ... lies got us there ... as my wife Lietta published for years in her original blog , thousands of members of America's families were Dying to Preserve the Lies.

More from Corn's Mother Earth opinion:
...In yet another act reminiscent of Soviet-style revisionism, Bush in his book does not mention this dinner and his performance there. If he indeed felt ill whenever he pondered the missing WMDs—as he insists in his memoirs—how could he turn this into a crass punchline? 
Asking that question provides the answer. He is fibbing in his book. 
Moreover, this small episode is proof of a larger truth: Bush's chronicle is not a serious accounting of his years as the decider. As for the hundreds of thousands of readers who shelled out $35.00 for the book, expecting the former president to level with them, the joke is on them.
It is precisely for this reason that if we must learn from history to avoid repeating our most tragic mistakes and errors of judgement ... we need to be honest and above the political bickering of who has the cleanest bathwater ... who has the purest of hearts ... and who loves their country above consuming, money and entertainment the most.

We need to recognize this man for what he said and did ... what he was and what obviously he is today ... regardless of his flawed and plagarized  historical play of truth versus fiction.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I apologize for ever having been a Prudential Insurance Agent

Americans dying in foreign wars in order for blood suckers like Prudential and friends to make big profits holding on to death benefits, investing them and never telling the surviving family members that the sooner they take control of their money, the sooner it will actually be put into an account that they own.

There is nothing entirely laudable about this practice and no reason for Veteran Affairs to even allow an insurance or investment company a legal control that can be exploited for profit.

Prudential & Met Life making big bucks off dying soldiers - who sure as hell died for something other than this

Six months later, opening the checkbook, she tries to buy a bed. The check is dishonored. On Armed Forces Day, she tries to buy a camera. The check is dishonored.
The money isn’t sitting in a bank. It’s sitting in Prudential Financial’s investment account. Prudential handles life insurance for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The money is earning investment income for Prudential. It is paying Cindy 1% interest and other families 0.5%. It is earning Prudential 4.8 to 5.69%.
... Retained-asset accounts are standard operating procedure. Not just for Prudential: MetLife says To help you through what can be a very difficult, emotional and confusing time, we created a settlement option, the Total Control Account Money Market Option. It is guaranteed by MetLife.
It is not in a bank. It is in Metlife’s corporate investment account. All guarantees are subject to the financial strength and claims-paying ability of MetLife. 
... Gerry is former president of MetLife Marketing. He also invented retained-asset accounts back in 1984. He says that MetLife makes $100-300 million a year on death benefit investment returns. 
... Over at the Department of Veteran Affairs, Stephen thought that the money went into a bank. Maybe I didn’t ask enough questions he says. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The little man should watch what he proudly admits to ... or never leave home again

The 43rd president is a war criminal as is his sidekick Qail-Shooter Cheney.

Prosecution of both of them is something human dignity and social justice demand. Were it in my power I'd extradite the two of them in a moment's notice. They did not serve their country well  .... nor with honor.

Unless the 43rd president of the United States has been grievously misrepresented, he has admitted to authorising and sponsoring the use of torture. Asked whether he approved of “waterboarding” in three specific cases, he told his interviewer that “damn right” he did, and that this practice had saved lives in America and Britain. It is hard to overstate the enormity of this admission.

... I can’t think of any other American president, in my lifetime, who would have spoken in this way. Mr Bush should have remembered the words of the great Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, who said in 1863 that “military necessity does not admit of cruelty”. Damn right.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Were Founding Fathers deists, evangelicals or something else? Perhaps all of the above … with occult beliefs thrown in

 

Mitch Horowitz throws this monkey wrench into the discussion of how religious, how pious and how devout the original American Christians and their secular-minded co-patriots were.

Occult America is the name of his book which hits the nail on the head in terms of no absolute defining belief or morality as the original basis for founding America and authoring whatever the Dream is supposed to be.

An earlier but equally informative examination of occult and magical thinking in the early decades of America’s history was written by Michael Quinn whose honesty and quality scholarship got him booted out of the Mormon Church.

Early Mormonism and the Magic World View is an exhaustive recounting of the role of 19th-century folk magic  and lore that was part and parcel of how early Americans in general saw the world and those who united with Joseph Smith and became part of the Mormon experience. 

The obvious conclusion is that those who asserted the strongest early impact on religion in this country were not the authors of what social conservatives consider the secular society so harmful to America’s core values.

Nor were the founders the authors of the judgmental and authoritarian Christianity the most outspoken religious activists proclaim today.

The real truth lies inside the radical extreme opinions of our modern and currently popular atheist bomb throwers of the Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens ilk as the equally explosive grenades flying out of the reactionary Christian right with it’s imperialistic claims about the one truth and a born-again experience over which those particular biblical literalists claim proprietorship.

Books that survey occult and magical thinking are not mere entertainment, but necessary to understand both historical as well as contemporary religious or spiritual mindsets.

Alan Watts wrote more than 50 years ago that without mysticism Christianity would devolve into a mindless fundamentalism.

He was right.

Read both books if you date. The devil is not in the details nor will note-taking angels report you to that judgmental god that is not real.

But you might come out of the experience more the wiser.

About One Special Veteran

Atop one of the bookshelves in another room in my home sits the triangularly-folded American Flag given me at the gravesite of my father back in 1993.

Dad's death came upon us quite suddenly. We had long anticipated his passing as the years wore on - our unspoken suspicion that it would be liver failure that would get him.


We were right.


When our fears were realized things happened quickly. From  the time of diagnosis to the grave site was six or seven weeks in February and March, 1993 when I drove the 800 miles to Idaho so we four adult children could meet with his Doctor. Then a drive back to Idaho a few weeks later in March for his funeral.

As the oldest son I was allowed to speak at Dad's service in the church in the small town where I grew up - a village from which Dad rarely strayed over most of his life. The longest time away was his service in the war.

I remember standing at the podium in that funeral service and looking into faces of folks old and young whom I'd seen in that church practically every week for the first 19 years of my life.
I recall assuring all the devout and not-so-devout  who had come to the service that although my Dad had not been a church-goer, was not temple-endowed (an LDS thing) nor temple-married, none of that mattered to God. There was joy in heaven when Dad showed up.

I grew up in a house Dad paid $47 a month to purchase in a town four blocks wide and four blocks long that sheltered less than 500 souls.

My earliest memories of Dad working are at the gas station he ran in the late 40's and early 50's. Then he became a John Deere farm-implement salesman all over the Southeastern corner of Idaho.

Dad did alright selling tractors cause lots of farmers knew him as the singer and sax player in a three-man combo that played every Friday and Saturday night for 20 years from the Wyoming line to Pocatello.

That was my Dad as I grew up knowing him.

I didn't know what he did in the war until one night when I was playing on a kids' Morse code toy connected by a long wire to the neighbor kid next door. Dad got a big grin, went into a closet and pulled out a large chrome or silver electronic Morse-code device that was much more than push down on a cheap plastic tab.

After plugging it in he laid his arm on the table so that the end piece fit between his thumb and first finger and began moving his wrist back and forth causing the metal key to touch connectors on each side at the other end. They emitted a beeping sound. Dih-dih-dih, dah-dah-dah and all that.

He folded up the newspaper and although he hadn't touched the device to my knowledge since the late 40's he proceeded immediately to "send."

He tapped out an entire Salt Lake Tribune newspaper article at an incredible speed that sounded like it might be as fast or faster than I could have read it aloud.  

That was his duty - among other things - that he did in the war while stationed on the Aleutian Islands . He sent, received and monitored radio transmissions out over the Pacific.
He didn't talk about it.

So far as we knew he had no apparent combat scars and never had to fire a weapon in anger at anybody. There were a couple of photo albums of Dad in training in Missouri and Wisconsin followed by pages of Aleutian shots - mostly quonset-hut barracks.

But Lietta and I watched a show in the past year about how back then Japan took one of those Aleutian Islands and the Americans had to fight like hell to throw them back out.
Those were the years Dad was there but I never heard him talk about those events and to this day none of us know whether he participated in battle.

When I was growing up Dad belonged to the American Legion - which meant very little to me until the day I was called to the High School office and was told that I had been selected to go to the Idaho Boys State (a summertime mini-legislature at the State Capitol.)

My mother said it was because among boys my age  eligible to go, it was my Dad's active membership in the American Legion that gave me an edge.

No, he didn't talk much about what he did in the war.

My younger brother and I are also Veterans who in the 1960's enlisted within six weeks of each other. We both held Security Clearances and neither of us talked at all about what we did back then.

We were Cold Warriors, but Dad's was Hot.

None of us talked about it casually ... ever.

You served, you paid attention to your duties and kept most of it to yourself.

We learned to be just like Dad. 

In the words of singer Dan Folgelberg, when it came to serving, Dad was the leader of our Band.

In his later years we all had become somewhat estranged from Dad because of his drinking and deliberate quest to be alone all the time.

My mother divorced Dad when I was in my early thirties and living in Texas.

Dad didn't move far away from that $47-a-month house. I remember visiting him when I was in my late 30's and he was living in an apartment 16 miles from where he had raised me.

The room was mostly dark, the curtains drawn and the television was always on. I knew he had the TV schedule for all three network channels memorized. He once told me he was ready for us to leave cause one of "his shows" was about to come on.

There was no bookshelf in his living room - just a night stand next to his lazy-boy. There were a couple of photograph albums full of pictures taken in the late 30's, 40's and early 50's. There was also a thick and heavy remembrance book about World War II.

I have that book and those albums on the same bookshelf where the tri-corner Flag sits atop it on the highest shelf.

After the funeral we drove less than a mile to the town cemetery. It was cold and the wind was blowing  but there was a fine group of family and friends who watched as his flag-draped casket was off-loaded from the mortuary limousine and in short order lowered into the ground.

I don't remember who retrieved the flag from that casket but when he gave that Flag to an American Veteran's son, the son finally cried.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Politics … to eschew or not to eschew: Arthur comes out of the closet.

eschew:  –verb (used with object) … to abstain or keep away from; shun; avoid: … to eschew evil.

I know  … I know … recently I have declared myself to have become an eschewer of political activism.

However … in view of recent catastrophic failures on the part of the two biggie parties alongside the success of the Joe Pesci third or “tea” party contenders … my upcoming retirement in 2011 may very well devolve to a case of “you gotta eat and I gotta eat.”

So come  08/31/11 when I stop mumbling excuses for the state and federal welfare system, things for my wife and me will be what passes for Medicare and VA benefits for me and nothing for my beautiful sweetheart until she finally grows old and reaches SS eligibility. My out of pocket COBRA expense for Lietta looks to be about half my state retirement.

So I’m going to need another source of income and if history is any sign of future trends, the refusal of Americans to buy the quality printed or downloaded literature of the sharpest intellectual knife in the Bay Center drawer leaves me no choice.

I thought about applying for a job as a bartender at the local tavern but my brother Randy talked me out of it.

In his own experience you end up having to drink as much or more than your customers to stay popular and attract the big spenders to your establishment.

Since alcohol aggravates my gout (that’s arthritis to you red meat, turkey and seafood eaters who also drink fermented pleasures and remain in denial as to why your toe hurts,) I can’t be the bartender guy I was looking forward to being … you know - the guy in a pony tail, suspenders and a plaid shirt who says “What’ll ya have?” to every fisherman, oyster farmer and tourist who comes through the door.

The local fisheries won’t hire me cause I’m too old (age discrimination maybe?) and the owners ain’t convinced I could hit anything driving a boat or walking around the shoreline in waders when the tide is out.

That leaves politics I guess.

I was going to see if I could be appointed Bay Center Tavern Beer Sign Monitor but the city mothers gave that job to a Native American who is also a Veteran and has no history of political partisanship.

Then I thought  I might run for County Lug Nut Inspector but there’d be too much travel involved and overnight absences from my beloved.

So, since the previous owner of my house was at one time one of the 3 county commissioners … and because I was asked by several local supporters to think about running against incumbent Mr. Keino in his next re-election …  I considered it. 

But what if some woman runs against me and Keino … given the recent history in Pac County where two women easily ousted the incumbent  commissioner this year? Then you combine that the lack of success of the state’s most prominent Republican in winning out over the little women incumbents he’s tried 3 times to whup and failed, I get nervous.

So maybe my best bet is to set up an exploratory committee to look at running as a Republican in the next election, get elected governor and replace the current bureaucrats who obviously were brought in as hired guns to …

to …

oh heck, who knows why she appointed those foreign outsiders including the DSHS secretary who commutes to work from Wisconsin?

So I’m coming out of the closet today and announcing an exploratory committee to consider my joining the Republican money takers, I mean, party, and run against the Democrats in 2012 for governor.

I mean, going back to 2004 the only republican they could find who fit the mold as a Wall Street money attractor, BIAW stooge and national Republican marionette was Dino Rossi. So, I might as well pull up to the trough and put my mouth where the money is.

Now I know you’re thinking … “aw he’s just being silly,” but hear me out.

If I follow the carefully laid out plan that state Republicans, the BIAW and those  pretend – conservative think-tankers had for our state,

I’d be able to put a bunch of homeless and disabled citizens out on the street,

release a few trouble-making perverts from prison wearing “Impeach Obama!” t-shirts as the state Republicans have been agitating about for the past three elections

and throw in busting the union and lowering all state employment to minimum-wage scale.

Wall street couldn’t help but come slobbering (I mean with mouths watering) in my direction to run against Murray or Cantwell. My age wouldn’t matter given the precedent set by Mr. McCain who won re-election this year even though he’s the last living American to have heard the Gettysburg Address in person.

As the wife of a U.S. senator, Lietta would not need Obamacare so she could politicize her words against my political foes with total disdain and devoted loyalty a good wife should evince (sorry to those who can’t use “evince” in a sentence.)

So if you’re looking for a ground-level opportunity here it is, 15 feet above sea-level on the Willapa Bay.

I’m looking for ideas for slogans, logos, catch phrases and disinformation issues from which to launch a serious Republican candidacy.

As I’ve stated before, had Dino Rossi been the incumbent this year instead of Patty Murray,  even a mediocre tea-party candidate would have knocked him out of the primary …

… se we don’t need to worry as to whether or not initially the state and national republican party embrace me as their guy.

When the only viable party candidateto me is Harvy Hoehandle from Elk Snout, Washington, they’ll come around to me with their hats and the money pouches in their hands.

I’ll be able to pay my bills and buy a brand new in-America-made Toyota.

Think of my candidacy in the following tradition:

”Vote RUGER! Never too late to change horses in mid-stream or while cleaning out the barn!”

Doofusness; The incumbent sitting Lame Duck American President

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