Exercising my right of Free Speech and also your right to leave this site if you disagree.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Open Question of Faith

I want to pose an open question on faith to world at large.

What do you believe and why?
I know that is too general. What I am looking for is an understanding of what makes people tick. What is convincing and why? So, if you are atheist, agnostic, christian, muslim, hindu, et cetera, why do you believe what you do?

Note: Because X book says so does not cut it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some Random Scenes... Thing That Occur To Me

If rage has a color, true rage, it would not be red or crimson. It would be the pale and hollow white of a blood drained face. Bright reds are angry colors, passionate colors. Rage pumps itself full of blood to the point of bursting and then bleeds out to an anemic pallor. Anger causes violence. Rage levels mountains. Rage burns villages and leaves the bodies of the dead on pig poles to rot.

The spirits of the dead were queuing up outside of the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin, jockeying for position. I turned to the old man next to me as we watched the scrum. "Does it really do them any good?" I asked. "This flap at the Chapel I mean, does this guy really have any special abilities?"
The old man was silent for a few minutes. He took his time answering, long enough to make me think that he hadn't heard me or was ignoring me. I had just met him but already this habit of slow response was wearing on my nerves. I had been following the pilgrim souls as they made their way to the chapel and the old man had been standing near an olive tree in the piazza watching the crowd form. I approached him and attempted a conversation that was more or less one sided.
"No", he finally said. "He has no special abilities unless you count simple minded concupiscence as a talent."
"Why are so many people, both living and dead flocking here?" I asked. There were as many living souls in and around the Chapel as there were dead. I could see them milling about through the smoked glass veil that separates the worlds.
"Did you ever play a lottery when you were alive?" He asked.
"Yes, on occasion. It was a laugh. I never really hoped to win. Why, what does this have to do with the Chapel?"
The old man shifted his eyes to me for a few seconds, long enough to covey pity or contempt. "Why don't you go ask one of them? You followed them here; surely you must have... faith." He spoke the last word in much the same way one might say cockroach or maggot.
I was silent for a bit as I watched a spirit with a red head scarf work its way into the crowd. "I followed out of hope not faith." I said. "They say that one of the priests here speaks to the dead and gives comfort to the living. I just wanted to... hoped that... it was true."
"As for the lottery thing, I assume that you are telling me not to put my hopes on a long shot." I added.
The old man touched the end of his nose with a bent and gnarled finger and inclined his head. Then he gestured toward the Chapel just as a cheer went up from the spirits and the living fell to their knees and fumbled rosaries.
"What is happening?" I asked. "I can't see." I craned my neck to see over the sea of spirits but it was no good. I was too far back and even climbing on to the low wall surrounding a fountain did nothing for my perspective.
The old man chuckled and muttered, "Behold the Oracle speaketh."
I listened as silence fell through the crowd. One man was speaking, a living man standing on the dais in the Chapel. He spoke slowly in sepulchral tones. The living listened in rapt attention. Some prayed, some wept. As the solemnity of the living grew, so did the agitation of the dead. The agitation was turning to anger as the spirits close enough to hear relayed the words through the crowd.
"What is happening?" I asked. "Why are they so angry?"
"They are getting exactly what they should have expected." The old man turned and walked slowly toward a side ally leading away from the piazza. I stood rooted listening for a few minutes and then hurried after the old man.
"I need to know what is happening. Why should they expect to be angered? Or do you mean that they should not be angry because they should have known something wasn't going their way? I don't understand. All they want is to talk to the priest. Won't he talk to them?"
The old man stopped. He turned halfway and looked me up and down. "You do know that you can't talk to the living. You have tried. You have tried a great deal. It can't be done. But you can talk to me." He continued on his way down the alley. I followed in silence.
I had tried. I had tried for three years straight, watching as my family mourned, then accepted and then moved on. I tried as my pictures got relegated to albums and my children forgot my face. I tried as my wife dated and remarried. The frustration. The anger. The pure rage I felt at being separated with no means to communicate. That is why I followed the pilgrims. That is why I was here. Eventually I stopped accosting strangers and demanding answers. I had only recently despaired to ever watch in silence.

One day as I sat in the middle of a busy roadway, letting the cars and trucks momentarily smear and distort me as they blew through, imagining that I could actually feel it, I heard a rumor. A group of the wandering dead were standing on the sidewalk planning a trip to see a mystic priest who could talk to the dead.
I followed, not believing anymore than I believed in such things when I was alive. I didn't associate with the pilgrims or engage with them at all. I just followed, half way around the world to Southern Italy. Now here in this place I could hear those pilgrims chanting and howling their fury as I walked after the old man.

The old man veered into a public house, made his way to a back corner and settled himself comfortably into a booth already occupied by a living couple. The young woman shivered as the old man passed through her. Her lover instinctively wrapped his coat around her and ordered another drink. I took up the seat opposite sitting in the young man. I matched the man's position for a moment and fixed the old man with a double exposed stare. "I always hate to do this. Occupying the same space as someone else. It creeps me out."
The old man chuckled, "You won't have to for long."
He was right. The couple soon hurried away casting furtive looks over their shoulders at the corner booth. I remained silent for a few moments before asking again what angered the crowd. The old man considered me for bit and finally said. "You really don't know do you?"
I made an exasperated and somewhat rude gesture at the old man who slowly and deliberately said, "You can't talk to the living."
"I know that. You said that already."
"But you can talk to me."
"You said that too. What do you mean? Of course I can talk to you, you are dead."
The old man touched the end of his nose as to indicate a correct response.
"Are you going to explain yourself?" I asked. "OK, I can't talk to the living because I am dead. I can talk to you because you are dead. The pilgrims want to talk to the living but they can't. Are the just mad because he is a fraud?"
"That man is no fraud." The old man said sharply.
"OK, What is it then? He refused to talk to them. He would only talk to a few?"
"No, not exactly. It’s like this; some of the living are open to... possession by spirits. They have to initiate it or be responsive to it."
"So you mean to tell me that if I could find one of these people, I could climb inside and talk to the living that way?" I cut a longing look back at the door and the noise of the crowd.
"Hold your damn horses." The old man snapped. "It ain't that simple. If it was every spirit on this side would be walking around wearing an idiot suite. Don't you see? There are a lot of simple minded, easily manipulated people in the world and a lot of unhappy souls on this side. If you could just find a responsive mind and climb in, chances are you would find that someone beat you to it. Anyway, the universe would be lot more messed up even than it is. People can't keep their mouths shut. Not even the dead. You get possessed bodies running right and left and next thing you know someone has let on about something they couldn't possibly have know about and then it gets out that there actually is an afterlife and spirits and all that. That happens and religion falls apart, governments fall, all hell breaks loose. A lot of very powerful people on both sides get pissed off that happens." “He sighed.”No, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but you got the gist. The old boy is possessed by someone from this side."
“Who? How?”
“Who? No idea. How? I lost interest a long time ago. There are some prices a man like me won’t pay. Now I just wait.”
“For what?”
“Whatever comes. Whatever comes.”

I crept to the edge of the curtain that gives privacy to the small cell. The elderly priest paced back and forth with the agitated energy of a child waiting for something. The priest took a decanter from a shelf and poured water on the floor one, two, three times then extinguished the lone candle. Cued by something I could not see in the gloom, the priest stopped and drew an intricate pattern in the air before him. Suddenly the priest collapsed like a bundle of loose sticks leaving a spirit standing in his place. The spirit adjusted its red head scarf and disappeared through the back wall of the cell. I watched as the priest awoke, crawled onto his narrow bed, pulled his knees up to his chest and wept. He was pleading prayers to the Virgin to protect him and forgive him when I finally left him to his misery.
...This is part of something I have been writing at for a while. Don't know why really...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Zealot By Any Philosophy

A zealot by any philosophy is still a zealot. This is a point usually missed by the zealot.

Over the last weekend, I attended a family reunion for the Thanksgiving holiday. The bulk of my father's family are extremely religious. The stripes of religiosity vary but the overall taint is the same. Extreme views abound. I find myself being more and more uncomfortable around extremists no matter what they espouse.

Maybe I am missing something but I have trouble drawing a distinction between the kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out fundamentalist Christian and the strap on twenty pounds of dynamite and meet the virgins Islamic nutter. They both scare me. Thankfully the Christians, at this point in history, have not started putting their guns and ammo to use.

But there is always tomorrow.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

With all apologies to Allen Ginsgerg

America you don're really want to go to war.
America it's them bad Muslims.
Them Muslims them Muslims and them Arabmen. And them Muslims.
The Muslims wants to eat us alive. The Muslims's power mad. He wants to take our morals from out our schools.
Him wants to grab Lady Liberty. Her needs a Qur'an Reader's Digest. her wants our auto plants in the desert. Him big evil terrorist running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes American kids read Qur'an. Him need big green backs.
Hah. Her cut off all our heads. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Here I Go Again Opening a Can of Worms

First the disclaimer for anyone prone to jumping to conclusions and extrapolating: I am not trying to extol or excoriate any faith. I am trying to make a specific point, that is it.
Background: Ann Coulter made some remarks that were typical of Ann Coulter. Here is the transcript--
Slash-and-burn columnist Ann Coulter shocked a cable TV talk-show audience Monday when she declared that Jews need to be "perfected" by becoming Christians, and that America would be better off if everyone were Christian.
Coulter made the remarkable statements during an often heated appearance to promote her new book on advertising guru Donny Deutsch's CNBC show "The Big Idea."
In response to a question from Deutsch asking Coulter if "it would be better if we were all Christian," the controversial columnist responded: "Yes."
"We should all be Christian?" Deutsch repeated.
"Yes," Coulter responded, asking Deutsch, who is Jewish, if he would like to "come to church with me."
Deutsch, pressing Coulter further, asked, "We should just throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians?" She responded: "Yeah."
Coulter deflected Deutsch's assertion that her comments were anti-Semitic, matter-of-factly telling the show's obviously upset host, "That is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews."
The commentary:
OK, I am not directly commenting on the remarks of Coulter. I am commenting here on the reaction to Coulter. Particularly that of Michael Savage. I am not a Michael Savage fan but I have never thought ill of him either. I just figured that he was another talk show host, interchangeable with any other one. Then I heard him going off on callers over the Ann Coulter thing. Several people called in to defend Coulter. They argued that her remarks reflect the Christian belief that Christ fulfilled the prophecies of the old testament and thus from the Christian perspective Judaism is obsolete. I am paraphrasing but that was the main point the callers made. Savage just exploded, shouted them down. Insulted them and called them "gutter dragging anti-Semites", "bigots"and many other vile names.
Now this is what I find interesting about the whole exchange. There seems to be a strange trend in modern discourse where no one understands what it means to believe. If someone believes, truly believes that god A is the only god. Then there cannot be any possibility within there belief for god B. Therefore, if another person believes in god B, the believer in god A has to (in accordance with his own belief) believe that the believer in god B is wrong. There is no way around it. To sanction the belief in god B is to invalidate the belief in god A. This is not bigotry, it is simply belief. The believer in god A can respect the believer in god B and accept their right to believe in god B but they cannot accept belief in god B as valid.
In the scenario above, if Coulter believes that Christ is the messiah of the Old Testament then she is completely correct within her belief to think that all Jews who reject him as messiah are wrong and hope for their conversion. To think otherwise would be contrary to her own belief and thus invalidate her belief.
Savages remarks and accusations were far more bigoted than Coulter's. One man who called in said that Coulter was hoping that the Jews would be "completed" by conversion. Savage started shouting that he was saying that Jews were only 1/3 or a 1/5 complete spiritual beings because they were not Christians. This is absurd. If a Christian takes his faith seriously then he has to believe that anyone who isn't a Christian is incomplete, is wrong. The same goes for any other religious system. Believing that someone is wrong is not bigotry.
I don't expect any better of people than this miserable failure to think and debate. It would be nice however if the people with the public forums would stop and think before they react. If you follow Savage's logic its wrong to believe anything that is exclusionary of what anyone else believes. Therefore you have to believe everything, but since beliefs are mutually exclusive you must believe in nothing. You cannot believe in nothing, even pure science leaves gaps that must be filled in with conjecture and the scientist has faith in his conjectures.
It all comes back to the fact that no one seems to understand what it means to believe, to respect and to tolerate.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Principia Discordia

Background: Principia Discordia is one of the funniest tongue-in-cheek false religious books around. It purports to be the holy book of Eris, Greek Goddess of Chaos (Discordia to the Romans).


Impending Political Stupidity

It looks as though our fearless leader is poised to commit an act of almost astounding political stupidity.
The president has made his latest request for unimaginable amounts of money to fund the war. This is no surprise by now but hidden in the funding bill is a request for 80 plus million to retrofit B2 stealth bombers to carry the MOP (Massive Ordnance Penetrator (no I am not joking)). The justification for this is "an urgent operational need by theatre commanders". Why is this significant?
The MOP is a deep bunker buster, the largest ever developed. Why do we want such a thing? Well with 160000 men on the ground and untold amounts of equipment in theatre we certainly don't need it in Iraq. We have access to every inch of the country with what ever form of penetration we desire.
The only logical deduction is a planned attack on Iran.
This is political madness. I keep hearing people say that it need to be done and that the president won't leave office with Iran poised to have nuclear weapons; that he can't trust the next president to handle it. Think about that. Really think about it.
First point, does it need to be done? No!
Iran is run by a mad man. This is fact. He is a religious nut but he does not have total control. He is subject to the Imams. The population of Iran is not primarily radical. They are close to revolt. Attacking them will inflame nationalism and deteriorate the internal revolutionary feelings.
People say that if he gets the bomb he will attack Israel with it. No he won't. If you think that Israel is in danger from a Muslim country having the bomb you know nothing of Islam or the region. First, Pakistan is a Muslim country with the bomb. No attack on Israel. Secondly, the third most holy site in all Islam is on the temple mount in Jerusalem. 12th Imam or not, if Ahmadinejad bombed Israel he would have to hire non-Muslim mercenaries. Not going to happen. Thirdly, any nuclear attack on Israel would kill untold numbers of Palestinians. The Palestinian issue (no matter what you think about it) is one of the largest and most galvanising issues in the Muslim world. No Muslim leader is going to openly attack Israel with nuclear weapons.
It is also said that he would sell a nuke to the highest bidder or give it to terrorist to smuggle it into the US. Ok, lets look at that idea. Every non nuclear state in the world looks at nuclear weapons power as the key to the city. The master stroke that makes them piss with the big boys. Do you think that we would be dealing with India as an equal it didn't have nukes, Pakistan? If Iran gets a nuke, they will parade it in the streets like the Soviets did and let the world know they have it. They will demand recognition from the UN, WTF etc and legitimize themselves right out of the terror business. As far selling goes, the previous statement answers that.
Giving a nuke to terrorists, if they have multiple warheads is a possibility but it would have to be delivered manually and there are security measures that could better protect the potential targets (the US) than air strikes on Iran.
Second point: Can the President afford to trust his successor? This is a slap in the face to our political system. One thing that separates us from other nations is that we have always transferred power peacefully no matter the internal turmoil. A deliberate act of preemption based on a lack of trust in a successor (a lack of trust in the voting wisdom of the American people) would deal a terrible blow to this system. It would be devastating to American political stability. We have to trust in our system and let it play out.
Ultimately, an attack on Iran would prove to be an even bigger policy blunder that the Iraq war.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bending the Mind Into Pretzels

This article is on one of my favorite theoretical subjects.
Now the problem with articles like this is that they get me thinking about what such theories imply, that reality is much weirder than we generally think.
Going off on a tangent... What if the 3 physical dimensions that we are familiar with are like the shadow mentioned in the article? OK, not exactly like they mentioned. Not lacking definition or depth. What if the 3 physical dimensions are a shadow? What do I mean?
When you look at a shadow cast by any object, you only get an impression of its reality, not its entire reality. The details are missing. There are lots of things in the world that it seems we are missing details on. One of those areas is evolution. No one with a rational mind contests the fact that things change and evolution happens. The problem comes in when you extrapolate the observable micro-evolution to the entire fossil record. If we insist on maintaining consistent time-tables, there is a mathematical problem with fitting all of the changes into the estimated age of the earth. We either have to say that evolution occurs in rapid spurts from time to time for unknown reason (which is the prevailing assertion) or we have to say that there is something wrong with the theory.
What if its neither? What if there is an entire dimensional element of nature that we are not taking into consideration and that many of the controlling influences are in this other dimension. The reality that we see and feel is being cast like a shadow from that reality.
A shadow might not be the best analogy because altering a shadow by altering the angle of light or the surface texture on which it is cast does not alter the object casting it. In the reality model I am suggesting, alterations to the shadow reality (this reality) would necessarily affect the casting reality as they would be interconnected.
Ultimately it adds a level of responsibility to life if there is a hidden dimensional realm that affects and is affected by our actions. The stresses we apply to the natural environment could spark changes in species in the hidden realm that would ultimately manifest here as shadows.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Humans As Gas

There is a popular basic science demonstration where you pump gas into a flask. In low volumes, the gas fills the entire flask in a uniform distribution. Same situation in high volumes. As you increase the volume of gas the individual gas particles begin to move less and less.
This makes an obvious though valuable analogy to human societies. The more bodies added in a limited space, the less freedom afforded to each body. As populations increase, regulations and intrusions upon the individual increase. Simple matter of bumping into your neighbor.

Short Story in a Lovecraftian Mode

Outside of a small Massachusetts industrial town among the rolling hills and vales of the Essex River valley is a shabby non-descript and thoroughly haunted house. This house, a small single storey pile with asbestos siding and sagging roof lines, occupies the corner of a major highway and a narrow and barely used alleyway. There is nothing about the property to attract the attention of the passer by. It lacks the scale and grandeur of the large colonials or Victorians one expects in the realm of hauntings and it utterly fails at being surrounded by cemeteries, churches or abandon insane asylums. In fact, the only thing close to this house that could possibly elicit even mild curiosity is an abandon barn of the Dutch style.

My experience with this house came about due to a young boy’s natural need for self-reliance. I was about fourteen I would guess. I could do the math but it is not relevant to the story at hand. It was early spring as I recall, that time of year when its warm enough that the snows of winter have gone and the north east is bursting with new life so powerful that you expect the grass to rip through the road ways and break up the foundations of houses. The world feels so alive that just breathing in the heady air produces a cloying madness. It was in this fevered time of year, longing for independence and the spending money independence required that I sought employment with the local widows and house wives cutting back the ever encroaching tide of grass.

The owner of the house in question was an ancient of eastern European extraction; one of those women whose age is unknowable and whose life and motives are inscrutable to a young boy. I only knew her as ‘that old woman who lives over the way’. I was employed to cut the grass through an unknown chain of communication involving my mother grandmother and probably half of the women in the parish; the result being that a fourteen year old boy with a head full of spring, eager to earn spending money, was dispatched to the seemingly ordinary house to perform an ordinary task.

The results, as I will disclose were anything but ordinary.

I arrived at the house early when the morning air still bit and the dew lay thick on the grass. Spider webs woven the night before and silvered with fine dew drops gleamed upon the lawn. I was annoyed by the wetness of the grass, knowing full well that it was too wet to cut but I set about preparing for the task regardless. The old woman kept an aged and battered push mower in her basement, a poorly lit stone-walled edifice accessed via two heavy metal doors set against the front edge of the foundation. Lifting these heavy door to reveal hand-laid stone stairs that must have pre-dated the house by at least fifty years, I descended to the basement. It occurred to me later that the house must have been built on an existing foundation from some earlier house; probably one of the many grand colonials built here in the years after the hardships of settlement had given way to affluence.

The basement was hopelessly cluttered and in the poor light it was impossible to immediately collect the needed mower, gas can, trimmers et cetera. Had I been any but a fourteen year old youth on a mission, I probably would have noticed that all of the copious clutter was concentrated in the first few yards of the room as though for years, people had merely dropped their burdens and hurried from the room with no attempt to straighten. The net result of this arrangement was a clear arc with the rear left corner of the basement as the center point of a large circle three quarters of which lay invisible beyond the walls. I may have also noticed that the circle was oddly clean compared to the rest of the basement. Even the spiders and the ever-present white mold fungus avoided this area. I however saw nothing odd about any of this. I only saw the mess keeping me from immediately moving the mower buried beneath six months of hastily dropped items.

What I did notice, and attributed to my annoyance about having to shift a bunch of junk to get the mower, was that my mood, almost euphoric upon arrival, fell and turned dark as I worked. I was only down in the basement a few minutes fetching the mower and various items but by the time I returned to the yard my mood was all anger and bitter rage. The old woman, now sitting on her porch only barked her course smoke ruined laugh at me when I demonstrated my mood with inappropriate language directed at the hard-starting mower. The laugh, a guttural cackle caught me up short and sobered me but did not lift my mood. I turned to look at her but she just lit a cigarette and stared out across the highway and its constant flowing river of traffic.

I mowed the lawn despite the over wet grass, returning to the basement twice for supplies. Each time I returned I became more agitated and angry. I was particularly frustrated in my attempt to cut the grass around the left rear of the house. The grass grew in this region with a special tenacity. The stalks grew thick and course with an almost wood like quality, sending me back to the basement for an old fashioned swing stick.

At the end of my ordeal with the grass, I made to return the mower to its place in the basement. In my haste I knocked several of the piled boxes over into the place where the mower belonged. To clear the area I climbed over the lowest point in the debris intending to move behind the mess and clear the spot for the mower. It was upon stepping over the debris that I first registered the completely clear area in the rear corner. My anger being near boiling point, I threw furious insults at the air and moved forward intending to throw the fallen boxes into the back corner. It was in the fractional second that my foot touched down on the clear stone inside the arc that it happened.
I was no longer in a basement. I stood in a large parlor of the sort one would expect to find in a stately New England home of the late nineteenth century. The room had large pane glass windows with dark wood trim and green brocade drapes embroidered and trimmed with gold. The wallpaper was a horrid green paisley arranged in vertical stripes and crowned with gold and black on green border. The furnishings were typical late Victorian claw and ball foot chairs and settee. Off white lace doilies adorned the furnishings. Light shone soft and yellow from two oil lamps and from the sunset past the paned windows, reflecting off the pools of blood on the floor. The curtains, wallpaper and furnishings displayed the glistening red black stains of recent arterial lettings.

The body of a woman most gruesomely murdered hung crucified in front of the fire place, wrists spiked to the mantle with long iron nails. The hammer used to commit this outrage still lay at her feet. Deep slashes at her neck gave explanation to the sanguine gouts adorning the walls.

The victims entrails had been loosed by a cruel slash and lay piled at her feet. The knife, a long kitchen blade used for slicing meat had, after working its fell artistry upon the woman, been thrust through her chest with such force as to bury it in the wood behind. Her head, unnaturally aloft for one in her condition stared with wide eyes across the room.

I took in the details of the horror of the envisioned room in a fractional second much as one punched in the stomach convulsively sucks in air. As I staggered back in terror my foot lifted from the floor and I was back in the cold dark basement. My anger forgotten, displaced by a horror and revulsion the likes of which I had never known, I fled the basement and the property. I ran in a blind panic. The old woman laughed her barking laugh again and again as I ran stumbling across the road and away. Her laughter still rang in my ears when I arrived home and locked myself in my bedroom.

My story does not end here as I wish it did. My grim experience with the house was not through. The old woman telephoned my mother to complain that I had not put her mower away properly and I was ordered back to complete the job. All of my protestations fell on deaf ears. The old woman’s place in the parish and my family’s long standing in the community proved a wall un-breachable by the protests of a fourteen year old boy. My mother threatened to make me cut her grass for free all summer if I did not put the mower away and my father, too impatient after long work days to suffer the terrified complaints of a mere boy proved that fourteen was not too big to whip. In the end, with all arguments exhausted, I was cornered into returning. Two days had elapsed and in that time I had convinced myself that my experience had been less that it was; the work of a fevered imagination or momentary madness.

With the new found courage of a stinging backside and the cool rational mind of one determined to root out one’s own weakness, I headed into the basement. Upon entering I stopped and examined the room marking the exactness of the arc of clear floor. Determined not to have a repeat performance of my previous flight, I retraced my steps over the obstructing debris and stopped at the edge of the clear area. Steeling myself, I stepped forward. Once again I found myself in the blood splattered green room. Terror stricken, I wrenched my foot back and stopped myself in mid turn toward the door. I had to clear the area if the mower was going back inside and my still raw backside said it was. Slowly turning, I planted my foot back inside the arc while throwing my weight forward, thus forcing myself to take a full step into the clear corner. The green room flashed around me and I took in the ghastly scene in all its detail. My stomach turned at the metallic odor of blood and viscera but I held my ground. I began walking to my right along what I knew to be the edge of the arc. About two paces on, I felt more than heard movement. Whipping around to face the fireplace and its wretched occupant, I saw it. The dead woman turned her blank staring face to me and cried out a single word. “Run.”

I didn’t have to be told twice. The mower be damned. I nearly broke a knee stumbling up the stone stairs and threw myself gasping and sobbing on the grass. As I regained my breath all I could hear over my drumming hear beats was the old woman laughing.

Terrified and humiliated I ran around the house to the left. I intended to head down hill away from the house and take refuge in a patch of woods that I frequented in those days but as I rounded the house I noticed something that stopped me dead in my tracks.
The thick tufted grass around the rear corner of the building, where I had resorted to a swing stick, formed three quarters of a circle; the last quarter being clear floor inside the basement.

I stood there staring for a few minutes and then I acted. I don’t know to this day what made me do it. Maybe it was spring fever blended with fear, anger and humiliation but I turn around and marched right back past the terrible laughter and back down the steps.
Reaching into the mass of debris to the right of the door I extracted a shovel and a long iron bar. With hastily selected tools I headed back around to the back corner of the house. With a manic effort I began digging, clearing a way through the deep course grass.

Once into the dirt below I dug with a fury and speed I am surprised that my fourteen year old body was able to achieve. About three feet down the earth turned cold and hard and showed signs of frost though the snows of winter were long gone. With the change in soil, my anger returned with a fury and I abandoned the shovel. I turned to the iron bar to loosen the earth. I drove the bar down with both arms into the ground again and again and again. On one such thrust the bar broke into some hidden void deep in the earth and dropped a full foot where it stuck fast with a squeaking thump like an axe going into punky rotted wood. I pulled and wrenched but the bar would not come free. I was twisting the bar with all my strength when I noticed then that the earth was turning black about the bar and the grass was wilting and turning from its lush green to brown before my eyes. The old woman’s laughter that was still audible as I dug turned to screams, the anguished shrieks of the torture victim. I ran. Without looking back, I ran. Oh God I ran.

Two days later my mother mentioned over dinner that the old woman who lived across the way had died. She said that a police man had stopped to check on her because he had noticed her basement doors standing open. She was dead in her chair on the porch.
My mother said that she had apparently suffered a heart attack.
Although she looked meaningfully at me when the told about the open basement doors, she never asked my about the mower.

My family moved away from that town and state before the year was out and I never looked back. Some things are best left buried in the past. And some things should be buried deeper than they are.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Break out the sandwich board signs, grab your bull horns and then lose interest and wander off.

I really shouldn't listen to the news in the morning (or in the evening) but I just can't seem to help it. I have to know what is going on. I am an avowed news addict. I trawl the Internet and read news wires and blogs from around the world. I like to think that I am well informed. In fact it has been a long time since I actually listened to a news report and didn't know about all of the stories before hand.

This is the problem.

I know what is going on so well from different angles that by the time I here the broadcast news I can see all of the bias the omissions the outright lies. My blood pressures shoots up and I am glad that I am alone in the car or I would wilt the children's ears and cost myself thousands in therapy bills.

I am exaggerating of course but it really has become absurd how certain broadcasts slant things to there own political desires. For example, the President is threatening to VETO the expansion of the SCHIP program. Though he seems determined to imitate a hamster with Downs Syndrome most of the time, he has this one right. If anyone actually took the time to read the bill, it is an obvious and absurd expansion of entitlement. I'll explain. SCHIP is a health insurance program started for the children of the poor. Sounds good. Sounds noble. But now the congress wants to expand it to include children in household that make up to 80K a years and they are defining children as anyone under 25. Its absurd. If you look at the politicians who are promoting it loudly, you realize that they are the ones who want to nationalize health-care under one plan or another. Its a classic case of political types trying to sneak in in increments what the voters reject wholesale.

Anyway, I bring this up because I was listening to NPRs Morning Addiction. I love Morning Addition and The World and all their shows. They have much greater subject base and wide view point on many subjects, so it really irritates me when they do things like this. They kept saying over and over that President Bush was about to veto a "popular children's health insurance program". Every quote they brought in on the subject was from proponents of the bill; including a quote from Harry Reid on how he didn't know how the President "could sleep at night if he doesn't sign this bill." It was all completely biased. Anyone who relies on them for news coverage, and there are many who do, would come away thinking that the President was and Ogre who wanted to hurt poor children. The reality is that for once he got something right, he wants to keep the program as it is and prevent it from becoming another step toward central planning.

OK, I'll get off the soap box now and wander away with the sullen realization that there is nothing to be done about it. People will insist on seeing issues through their own narrow biases.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Random Prattles About the Deline of Human Kind

My enthusiasm for people is not at an all time high. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of people. I would love to be able to embrace the enlightenment era outlook of man being a noble a progressing creature with limitless possibilities but the more I see of the reality... well let's just say that it is less than heartening.

If you go into any random restaurant, what are your chances of finding an ignorant and uncaring individual behind the counter? People just don't care enough even about themselves to attain a proficiency at assembling a hamburger. Chimps and even lower primates can be taught to stack simple layers evenly for a reward. These creatures do it consistently and well. Why then can't your average human?

It has been stated by those who track such things that the average American IQ is 90-94. Drop a few points to 75 and you have Forrest Gump. If this is correct and we can assume that it is, and we can assume that this number is a mean average arrived at through normal means then we can easily see the problem. The doctors, lawyers, engineers, artists, inventors etc are running around 135-145 and up in IQ. No they don't make up a huge percentage of the populace (well lawyers seem to) but enough to make the math pretty obvious. If the average IQ is 90-94 and a chunk of the population is much higher, the actual IQs you are having to interface with are much more Gumpish.

It becomes obvious why the elusive hamburger cannot be assembled correctly. Combine pure simple stupidity with the insipid dunning by "children's television" , the entitlement mentality the seems pandemic (everything down to the big screen TV is a basic human right), and the surgically implanted chip on the shoulder carried by every "group" (ethnic, national, religious, sexual, etc, etc) and what do you get?

You get modern America, the land of Miss Teen South Carolina who "personally believe(s) that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some ... people out there in our nation don't have maps and uh, I believe that our, ah, education like such as in South Africa, and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., or should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for."

Really makes you proud...

I think its safe to say that this one will not be skewing the IQ average in a favorable direction. I wonder if she can assemble a hamburger... Except that with her face and... other attributes... she won't have to. We just have to worry about her voting.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Restaurant Nightmares Abound

I have an unfortunate tendency to go out to eat. I have an undeserving and unearned tenderness for the restaurant industry. The industry never pays me back. I always have this strange desire to get what I pay for and I think that I am paying for a good meal. What I invariably get is either a completely taste neutral or downright vile concoction that wouldn’t pass muster in the first semester of culinary community college in Arkansas. The food at your average American restaurant is bloody awful.

As if insult needed to be added to injury, the service is even worse than the food. You arrive with the false expectation of service from people who are supposedly in a service profession (except that they are not in the profession, they are too good for it and are just biding their time before they make it in there real career of acting, singing, dancing, synchronized swimming, or going on the pro yodeling circuit) but what you get, at best, is tacit acknowledgment of your very presence. (At worst they just ignore you. I have gotten up and left without so much as an acknowledgment after 20 minutes) The service when and if it comes is grudging and performed with the rankest of slack-jawed indifference. The miscreant youth who kill time waiting tables or working the counter at fast food joints are too haughty and too drugged out to be able to actually serve the customer.

I can’t help but think that at the heart of the problem is that American society has raised an entire generation or two that think that service is beneath them. We have an economy now that is based heavily on service sector jobs but no one wants to actually perform service. Everyone want to be served and pampered and be given free pedicures with their order but they don’t want to do the same for anyone else.

I know that this slack-assed nature reaches into every industry but I see it most often and most glaringly in the food services. So far gone is the concept or even glimmer of excellence in performing one’s job that it is hard to even find a hamburger that is assembled correctly. How hard is it to grasp the concept of bun, meat, condiments, bun and to line them up? Not too hard. A chimp can be trained to do it, but then a chimp doesn’t think it’s entitled to the treat its trainer gives it. It is just grateful to get it.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Misenthropic Rant

OK, maybe I am a jerk in my own right and maybe I am "touched" in the head but it really gets under my skin when people let little insignificant things get under their skin. (Stone me for contradictions of nature...)
What I mean is how one will inevitably have a co-worker who is a shining exemplar of incompetence, and on some level knows this about themselves, but will try endlessly to justify their existence by being an anal retentive adherent to every soul squelching minutia of process.

One will inevitably arrive on this person's radar by means of a minor (actual of imagined) infraction of some fractional gnat's ass of a regulation. Said individual will inevitably make a big deal out of that which is not and when you, the sane person, places the incident into its proper context, the neurotic self-doubting whipped pup will recoil in horror and slink off to their therapist or local gun dealer with much whining and tooth gnashing.

It really makes me crazy having to navigate the corridors of other people's lunacy.


About Me

I am a husband and a father of two. I work as a network administrator. I am interested in religion and philosophy, though mostly from an external perspective.