Sunday, September 30, 2012

What does "undecided" mean?

I've been reading some reasonably credible political analysis that indicates there are only relatively few folks among us who claim at this late hour to be "undecided" about the presidential campaign, who say they're not sure about voting for President Obama or Romney.

It seems the academic pollsters have believed since last December that less than 5 per cent of the "likely voters" are "undecided." [Leave aside for the moment all of the good reasons to pay almost no attention to political polls, let's just talk about this more or less undisputed, persistent, non-partisan poll result...].

Since last winter, the small number of undecideds hasn't changed much, although it seems that only about half of that small number have been undecided since last year.

The other half keeps changing:  some "undecided" folks make up their minds, some of the "decideds" abandon their conviction and move into the "I'm not sure" camp...

I just hope that "undecided" isn't a euphemism for "I'm not going to bother to vote"......

I realize that "not voting" is an option, but it's not a realistic choice: only a tiny fraction of Americans live in circumstances in which the winner on Nov. 6 really won't make any difference to them...

....I'm not in that group, and, unless I miss my guess, you aren't either....

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Watch the debate on Wednesday

You really do owe it to yourself to watch the debate this coming Wednesday night between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

OK, OK, it's not going to be a "real" debate.

It's been a long, long time since Lincoln and Douglas crossed swords in the hinterlands of Illinois, for a celebrated series of debates that went something like this: two men with strong voices and strong hearts stood up in the middle of crowds of thousands of people, and talked earnestly and fervently for several hours about serious issues of the day.....

....and apparently the crowds basically stood there and listened, the history books are not filled with anecdotes of beastly heckling and disruptions....

So, it's not going to be a "real debate," and I guess the moderator most likely will ask the usual series of lackluster,  provocative questions, and the crowd will be a bit unruly, and mostly the candidates will be delivering "talking points".......

But it's a rare chance to hear the candidates live, maybe we'll learn something, and we owe it to ourselves to be informed...

Make a space in your life and watch the debate.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A call for free-range presidential debates…

An item on caught my eye, but not in a good way….see this piece by James Hohmann, he's thinking like a TV marketing guy instead of a political analyst, he thinks moderator Jim Lehrer's job in next week's first presidential debate is to "make some news."

Here's the whole quote: Lehrer should " make two of the most scripted and steady debaters in politics break stride and make some news when they face off in Denver."

I think that's dumb and destructive.

I think the purpose of the debates should be for President Obama and Romney to do the talking, and for voters to do the learning.

In fact, I think the "moderator questions the candidates" setup is one of the big things that's wrong with the debate format, and with political news coverage in general. I don't think the point should be to try to provoke a "gotcha" moment that will make a great video clip on the so-called "analysis" segment that will follow the debate, and will be shown endlessly for days afterward...

I think Lehrer should do this: Smile at the audience, tell the candidates they're on their own, flip a coin to see who talks first, activate that guy's microphone for 2 minutes, then shut it off and activate the other guy's mike for 2 minutes, then shut it off and……you get the picture....

Bill Moyers on media....

The day the news died

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Immigration: yet another bottom line…

Item:  in Georgia, "growers of seven perishable, hand-picked crops such as blackberries and peppers have already lost an estimated $150 million" this season because they couldn't find enough workers to pick them, after the state enacted an anti-illegal immigrant law in July 2011. See this recent report on by Craig Regelbrugge, VP for Government Relations, American Nursery and Landscape Association.

Before the law was passed, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated there were 425,000 illegal immigrants in Georgia. I wonder how many there are now?

I wonder how many Georgians missed their freshly-picked blackberries?

I wonder how many small Georgian farmers went out of business?

Item:  ditto in California, where some crops weren't picked this year because no workers showed up to pick them.

a different bottom line on immigration...

Immigration: one of the bottom lines

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Amzanig, huh?

Give this a try:

I cdnuol't blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. Ttah's the phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mind. Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the first and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig, huh?


Monday, September 24, 2012

The wisdom of Bill Moyers

"Our media and political system
       has turned into a mutual protection racket."

Bill Moyers (b. 1934)
Journalist, media critic

I basically disagree with Bill's statement above, I think it's a cute wrap-up of a boatload of criticisms of news media and politicians, but it really fails to reflect the intense competition among different elements of the media and the political parties and political partisans. Another thing: Moyers didn't include the baleful influence and power of very wealthy persons who are partisan ideologues and who are trying to buy a presidential election this year.

I agree with his sentiment in this respect: the individual, influential media channels that transparently support specific political ideologies and specific candidates are devastating our democracy. Think Fox News, Rachel Maddow's channel, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, you add your own suspects to the list….

If you are a fanatic devotee of one of these media heavyweights, or if you just casually but consistently prefer one over the other, then I invite you to think of all the reasons why you resist watching the "other" channels that spew out the "other side" of the story……repeat after me: they're biased, they lie, they twist and filter the truth, they shamelessly flack a perniciously narrow and discredited point of view, they're evil tools of the Devil……

But that's exactly what the advocates of the "other" channels are saying about your favorites.

Doesn't that bother you a little bit?

Who's getting the straight story?

Is anybody getting the story straight?

What's happening now...

Better political news coverage.....

Have the news media quit on us?

How to improve political news....

Changing nature of political coverage?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's real, what's happening now…

But too many folks aren't handling the whole truth.

Too many folks are talking about only narrow slices of reality, and they don't see or they don't understand the big picture….too many of them can't do either…too many of them are fuzzy about their own self-interest, and so they invest their private, public and political energy in concerns that unfortunately aren't really relevant for them.

Too many folks today have a relentless ignorance of the context of current events and human affairs, they forget that we don't live in the 18th century or the 19th century.....Adam Smith and the so-called Founding Fathers and American business and political icons of the past had no experience of our current situation and couldn't possibly have imagined the social, economic and financial conditions we face today --- invoking their "wisdom" really doesn't help much now....

Take a few minutes to reflect on what you're sounding off about right now….are you on track? Are you truly tuned in to your own self-interest, now and for the long term?

Just sayin'….

Political news coverage needs improvement

The wisdom of Plato...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dogs and stuff….…

I have it on good authority that it costs about $15,000 to raise a medium-size dog to the age of 10. That's about $4 a day. If you have a medium-size dog, now you know, or maybe you already knew…..if you don't have one of those pooches, maybe now you know why…

The other thing I noticed was an historical reference to Coca-Cola.

Coke was invented in 1886 in Georgia, originally it was what 19th century Americans called a "patent medicine," meaning it wasn't really a medicine at all….the inventor, one John Pemberton, claimed Coke could cure morphine addiction, dyspepsia, neurasthenia, headache, and, oh yeah, impotence. I don't know what euphemism was used for "impotence" in 1886, but I'm guessing lots of older guys had headaches or something wherever Coke was sold….

Modern Coke in a 12-ounce can has 39 grams of carbohydrates, the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar. That's the reason you should lay off the 32-ounce Big Gulps, think 27 teaspoons….

Mr. Pemberton called his carbonated elixir "Coca-Cola" because the original recipe included quite a few coca leaves (yup, that's right, cocaine) and the caffeine-rich kola nut.

The Coca-Cola company stopped adding the cocaine in 1903. I wonder what consumers thought about the "new Coke" in 1904?

Michael Pollan: "Eat food......"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Look! Romney has no clothes!

Here it is, the whole video clip from Mother Jones, giving you Romney The Candidate, perhaps at his most candid, talking to big donors when he thought he was talking in private, saying nasty things about "the 47 percent" of Americans who, according to Romney, are "victims" who won't take responsibility for their own lives, and stuff like that…..Romney said they're all in President Obama's camp.

And here's the thing: Romney didn't think this through very well, because one way or another, it's a pretty good bet that Romney was talking about you.

The clip is longer than most reality shows, but it's a lot more interesting and it should give you lots to think about as you consider (or perhaps, re-consider) who you're going to vote for in the presidential election on Nov. 6.

Are Romney supporters in the 47 per cent?

First take on Romney dishing to his donors.....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The "47%"—how many are "Romney people"?

Turns out that Romney may have been beating up on a lot of his own supporters when he said those nasty things about "the 47 percent."

You recall that Romney—when he thought he was talking privately to big donors—said that "47 percent of Americans" think they're "victims," think they're dependent on government, won't take responsibility for their own lives, are solidly in President Obama's corner, etc. etc.

Turns out that many of these same folks are older Americans with lower incomes…and a recent New York Times/CBS News Poll shows that our fellow Americans who are over 65 are supporting Romney over President Obama by a 15-point margin.

Catherine Rampell, blogging on, points out that Romney may have been picking on the wrong "victims." I guess most partisan rants aren't too well thought out in advance…What a way to run an airline, huh?

I wonder how many of those over-65, low income folks are reconsidering who they're going to vote for on Nov. 6? Maybe some of them are feeling angry and betrayed….

Maybe they'll just go ahead and take some responsibility for their own lives, and cast a thoughtful vote that is really in their own self-interest…..

8 of the top 10 states with "no federal income tax payers" are Republican states...

Romney dishing the dirt to donors

Romney/Ryan changing their tunes....

Romney: what he didn't say...

President Obama: what he didn't say...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The wisdom of Edgar Allan Poe...(part 2)

"Words have no power to impress the mind
        without the exquisite horror of their reality."
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

My trusty personal advisor reminds me that Poe had a very reflective frame of mind, think "The Raven," that macabre nightmare he reduced to words in 1845.

I think it would most plausibly be a writer who would talk about words the way Poe does in the epigram above….words of course serve the purpose of communication, but they are more than a medium, they are a tool, the messenger of love, even a weapon at times….

Certainly we know enough "horrors of reality" to understand that words have meaning, but they are symbols….let's make sure we deliberately envision the reality when we speak of it, especially if it's terrible, like poverty and global climate change, and more especially if it's wonderful, like your grandchild's smile of recognition…

Now you're talkin' !

...and by the way, my personal advisor adds:

"...and then there are times when words are purposefully used to create non-reality, to conjure a world gone by, a new future world, an alien world...words joined end-to-end, lumped in a paragraph, paragraphs become pages, pages become books..."

Other wisdom of Mr. Poe

The wisdom of Chief Joseph

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romney, dishing to his big donors….

If you're planning to vote for President Obama, you probably felt like a lump sometime in the last couple weeks, because Mitt Romney lumped you in with all the other "victims" who are supporting the president during a candid speech, to wealthy donors, that Romney thought was private. It's an eye-opener, Romney said you're one of the ones who "don't take personal responsibility and care for their lives." See it and hear it here on

If you're planning to vote for Romney, you should watch the MotherJones clip to get an earful about the private thinking of the man. You should probably double-check to make sure you're not in the "47%" that he's talking about.

If you're really not sure yet who you're going to vote for, you should watch the MotherJones clip to get an earful about the private thinking of the man. And reflect on it—do you want to vote for the candidate who has this withering view of half the voters in America? Maybe you're one of them….

What Romney didn't say at the GOP convention:

A comment on the Republican convention...

What President Obama didn't say at his convention:

Monday, September 17, 2012

The day the news died….

Remember that Don McLean tune about "Miss American Pie" and "the day the music died"?

The part about "the music died" keeps remembering me when I scan the political headlines on websites like and and  and and, well, you name it…..the news has died.

Today it's again flamingly obvious that substantial reporting about the candidates' policies, programs and philosophies has pretty much ended.

The news media and the cable TV talking heads now seem to be fully obsessed with campaign tactics, poll results, endlessly dubious speculation about "what [name of candidate] has to do to win" and gotcha headlines like this morning's top-of-the-page item on Huff Post: a great big candid pix of Romney in his campaign plane, with his mouth wide open, and a headline that says "Uh Oh"…..

"Uh Oh" indeed.

The media are in full "horse race" mode, bringing us interminable useless details about whose ad campaign is revving up, and Pelosi's wistful optimism about regaining control of the House, and "Romney camp facing test from Obama's ground game," you'll have to read that one to try to figure out what it may mean….

Seems like the full range of reporting consists of the media, the pundits, the wonks and the blogosphere trying to figure out RIGHT NOW who's going to win on Nov. 6.

I don't think that's their job.

I think they should be digging in, deeper and deeper, to assess and explain what the candidates have done and what they intend to do if elected.

I think they should be putting out more and more information that will help each of us make the choice—President Obama or Romney—instead of trying to guess who the winner will be.

It's our job to figure out who's going to win.

What is the news media's job?

Rx for news media coverage....

Political news coverage, is it changing?

It's not a horse race

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Another problem with that organic food research…

You probably read about that recent new study on organic foods: it said that organic foods more or less have the same nutrition as regular food that contains pesticides.

The study pretty much forgot to mention the pesticide part. And the news media that jumped all over the study forgot to mention the pesticide part, too, pretty much…

That was a problem with the report from Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute.

And now and have uncovered another problem with the report:

The Freeman Spogli Institute gets major funding from Cargill, Inc., a $100-billion-plus international agriculture giant that, you guessed it, doesn't produce organic food. Cargill makes its money from the other kind. It also produces meat and eggs. Think "feed lots" and "chickens in cages."

And another little problem: a co-author of the Stanford organic food study is Dr. Ingram Olkin, Professor Emeritus in statistics at Stanford. Olkin previously has done work for the tobacco industry’s Council for Tobacco Research…don't count on using his work to back up your local anti-smoking campaign.

Corporate interests with big money involved have their story to tell you about organic food.

But you don't have to believe them.

….I just love the taste of "no pesticide" in my locally-grown, organic strawberries…

Friday, September 14, 2012

The wisdom of Winona LaDuke

"If you're working on something you plan to finish in your lifetime,
          you're not thinking big enough."
Winona LaDuke (b. 1959)
Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) Indian, environmentalist, economist
Executive Director of Honor The Earth and White Earth Land Recovery Project

Winona LaDuke doesn't think of cleaning out the garage when she thinks of big projects.

One of her current projects is organizing an effort to buy back some of the 750,000-plus acres of land her tribe has lost from its original land grant in an 1867 treaty. So far the White Earth Land project has recovered 1,200 acres. It's a start.

She lives on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota. She has graduate degrees in rural economic development from Harvard and Antioch. A few days ago she was harvesting wild rice on a lake on the reservation.

Yesterday she was the Cohen Keynote speaker at the annual fall convocation of Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. In the current academic year, the college is doing a campus-wide investigation of "Sustainability" as its IN FOCUS theme. IN FOCUS is an innovative program to promote in-depth examination of complex issues from multidisciplinary perspectives.

More from Winona on sustainability:

"Consume less."
"Change is going to happen. Who controls the change?"
"We are the ancestors of those to come."

We're cooking the planet.....

Global climate change is real.....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

This used to be the news media's job…

An item in the New York Times Sunday Review opinion section mentioned in passing that "fact-checking" seems to be a specialty job description for the Washington Post Fact-Checker and a couple other similar online sites…

The point is that news media in general don't seem to be doing too much fact-checking these days, thus a couple enterprising sites have stepped up to do the dirty work.

Sadly, this seems to be true. And devastating.

Haven't we heard all our lives that the news media are the "public watchdog"? It has been the hallmark, time-honored role for newspapers and the news media….but if that was ever true, it is no more. Too much media content is simply reporting what the "newsmakers" say, or trumpeting the latest gaffe or gotcha…

Are the smooth-talking pols stretching the truth? Somebody should fact-check 'em!

Too many dissimulating candidates telling lies? Somebody should fact-check 'em!

Sick of hearing the equivocating regulators and agency chiefs? Somebody should fact-check 'em!

It's not enough. Recently a polling director for the Romney campaign disdainfully said "we're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."

But voters like you and me can demand more fact-checking 'til the cows come home.

Why aren't we seeing more of the "Pinocchio" stuff in the morning paper and on the 24-hour news channels?

Are you satisfied with nothing more than "balanced reporting" of the lies from both sides?

What does Romney really mean?

What Romney forgot to say....

Musing on the Republican convention...

What President Obama forgot to say......

Waiting for someone to tell the truth

Who's watching the watchdogs? Part 2

Who's watching the watchdogs? Part 1

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No, no, what I really mean is…..

Metamorphosis. Ryan is becoming a "Romney." Romney is spectacularly changing his mind again. Kafka might understand this a little better than I can.

Ryan has repeatedly spouted Romney's party line since being chosen as the running mate. The political positions that make Ryan what he is apparently are baggage, not convictions, because Ryan has thrown them off the bus.

And in the last week both Romney and Ryan have gone flamingly public with none-too-subtle changes in the nominee's very familiar, if undetailed, policy positions.

Romney is dialing back on things he's been saying in the campaign to appeal to the rightest wing of the Republican party. I guess he's trying to appeal to other people now…or maybe he just can't help himself any more…

Suddenly it's not "Repeal Obamacare on Day One," instead Romney is carefully saying that he'll keep some provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Of course he will—there are many provisions of the health care reform law that most Americans like a lot.

Suddenly Romney/Ryan have stopped saying "No way!" to the bizarrely provocative proposition of "$1 in new revenue (higher taxes) for every $10 in federal spending cuts." Of course they are—most people understand that our personal and corporate tax structures are wildly unfair and riddled with loopholes.

Suddenly Ryan says individual states can legalize medical marijuana, although he's personally opposed. Huh? Ryan saying something nice about marijuana? Lots of Republican squirming over that one….

Suddenly Romney is explicitly claiming "I won't cut taxes for the rich." That's not exactly a hint that he wants to RAISE taxes for the upper classes and the very wealthy, but it's a lot different from his previous mantra about "lowering the tax burden on the job creators"…..

So. Metamorphosis. Shape-shifting. I personally don't use the word "flip-flopper" but you can if you want to…

What is Romney's real position on ANYTHING?

The thing is, when is he going to do the right thing and give us details on exactly HOW he wants to be president?

What Romney didn't say at the convention....

Couple thoughts about the Republican convention

What President Obama didn't say at the convention...

Monday, September 10, 2012

The wisdom of Carl Sandburg

"I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way."
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
Poet, writer, editor

Anyone worthy of being described by H. L. Mencken as "indubitably an American in every pulse-beat" is someone you really want to know, at least a little bit….

Sandburg's celebrated biography of Abraham Lincoln was my first exposure to Old Abe, I loved it, I re-read it a couple times. It was also my first exposure to Sandburg.

His poetry is grand, grandly eloquent, eloquently simple….Sandburg said the city of Chicago is "Hog Butcher for the World/Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat/Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler,/Stormy, Husky, Brawling, City of the Big Shoulders."

You don't just casually write lines like that….

Sandburg also wrote children's stories—Rootabaga Stories and others—I'm not really familiar with those.

His epigram, above, about being an idealist is a problem for me. I usually don't write about "quotes" that don't really resonate for me, this one seems a bit aimless. I don't see much of a connection between the first sentence and the second sentence.

I guess my real reluctance is that I believe in idealism. I think I am an idealist about my own life in many ways although I hasten to claim that I am realist about many of the other 7 billion folks on the planet….and, at least fairly often, I think I know where I'm going.

So I offer this alternative bit of wisdom from Carl Sandburg:

"Man is born with rainbows in his heart and you'll never read him unless you consider rainbows."

This one resonates…..

The wisdom of Abraham Lincoln

....more from Old Abe

What L. P. Hartley said....

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Don't toss the leftovers…

America, the land of plenty. You bet. Actually, the land of too much.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says 40% of food in the U.S. never ends up in anyone's stomach. The average family of four wastes a lot of food every year, up to $2,275 worth.

And a lot of food is left in the fields on farms, spoils in transit, or hangs around past the "sell by" date in supermarkets.

It takes a lot of resources to grow, raise and catch all the food we like to eat, including the food we don't eat. The huge food waste accounts for 25% of fresh water usage. Almost 25% of methane gas production—which harms the atmosphere—comes from food scraps in landfills.

And super-size portions in restaurants?….I don't know about you, but it's been quite a while since I cleaned my plate in a restaurant.

We're throwing away 50% more food than we did 40 years ago.

Think about asking for a child portion next time you go out to eat.

Think about making leftovers a more essential part of your lifestyle.

You're not excused yet......
Common Dreams on food waste
Michael Pollan: "Eat food....."

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The wisdom of Anonymous

"Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you -
         not because they are nice, but because you are."
Author Unknown

Got this one from one of my personal advisers.

I like it, on two levels:

No. 1. It feels right to me, I think I pretty much act like this.

No. 2. I think current game theory, and psychology of motivation and reward, broadly suggest that "being nice" is a good first choice, an optimal first response, a good start in many situations….you can always be nasty later, and if necessary, even nastier if there's no other option.

My adviser agrees, saying "If I don't like your story, I'll say so, but I can do it politely."

It seems like a winner.

A different take from A. Lincoln

Friday, September 7, 2012

President Obama: What he didn't say….

Hey, I'm going to vote for President Obama again. I was convinced before I listened to his acceptance speech last night, and I'm still convinced, more so….

I'm not going to try to convince you about President Obama, you make your own decision based on your own self-interest and how you perceive the best interests of our nation.

There was a lot President Obama didn't say when he accepted the Democratic nomination.

I honor him for loving his family. He made it plain at the outset, and then he moved on to the business of America and his vision for more changes to make life better for us all.

But he didn't say that "business experience" is what we need in government…you think about the managers and bosses and business leaders you know, are they accumulating experience that's preparing them for the White House?

He didn't mention that the Republicans in Congress, and quite a few Democrats, have callously failed again and again and again to do the right things for America and Americans in the past four years. Instead, they put politics and their own re-election interests above the common good and the best interests of the millions who have suffered in the financial meltdown of the last five years.

He didn't say that the way to continue or start fixing our national problems—employment, education, health care, finance/banking malpractice, deteriorating infrastructure, man-made climate change, Social Security/Medicare, you can extend the list—is to cut the government services that we all want, cut government payroll and give more tax breaks to businesses and the very wealthy Americans among us...because it's not true.

He didn't say that some Americans won't vote for him because he's black.

He didn't explicitly say that if you voted for him in 2008, especially if going to the polls four years ago was an unfamiliar experience for you, you absolutely owe it to yourself to vote this year for President Obama or Mitt Romney.

Vote for four more years for President Obama, or bring in the new guy.

If you voted for President Obama four years ago, there is no compelling argument that you should skip this election, there is no level of disappointment, there is no combination of changes in your life or your thinking, there is no public or private reason you can think of that makes it smart for you to say "I'm not going to bother voting this time."

That's a choice, and it's the choice that hurts you most.

Vote for the candidate of your choice. Change your future.

Better news coverage.....

Thoughts about the Republican convention....


We need to pay more taxes

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to improve political news coverage….

I figured out how to feel better about the quality of the political news coverage and journalistic insights we're getting for the Republican and Democratic campaigns.

I'm just gonna lower my expectations.

So here's a start on my List Of Things I Want To Know About The Democratic Convention:

Did the Republicans have more chairs on the floor at their bash in Tampa?
Which convention has the best balloon choreography?
Did we (meaning the Dems) have more prime time speakers than the Repubs?
Overall, who's winning the "Silly Hat Award"?

Send me your burning questions, I'll add to the list and challenge Wolf Blitzer and Rachel Maddow and Gregg Jarrett and the others to step up, and dig in…

Is political coverage changing?
What Romney forgot to say....
Thoughts about the Republican convention....

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The wisdom of Ray Bradbury

"I'm not a futurist.  People ask me to predict the future,
         when all I want to do is prevent it."
Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

Fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction…he wrote everything

He wrote every day of his adult life, and he wrote some good stuff. If you didn't read Bradbury stories when you were younger, well, you were the kind of person who didn't read Bradbury…..

My all-time fave is All Summer In A Day, and Fahrenheit 451 is a book that everyone should read at least once, I suspect even folks who aren't big fans of reading will experience a sinister thrill from it….

Anyway, I like Ray's quip above….it's a great insight into the fantastic power we have: to prevent the future---or at least some parts of it.

Think about your children and your grandchildren----now think about some parts of the future that you want to prevent.

Let's get on it. "Think big. Act small. Start now."

The wisdom of Nora Ephron
...Mark Twain chimes in....
Don't forget Franz Kafka....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Is political coverage changing?....

This comment is a little half-baked, it's tentative, anyway, here goes….seems to me that the nature of political news coverage has changed in the last 10 days.

At least the online news coverage….I don't watch TV so I can't speak for the cable TV talking heads.

A few days before the Republican convention started, I started to feel like the online news sites—Politico, The Hill, Washington Post site, Los Angeles Times site,, the other dot.coms, etc.—had become more passive, less substantial, less interested in coverage of policies and platforms.

It seemed like the news sites and pundits were shifting their M.O., starting to focus more on campaign tactics, which candidate's surrogate is speaking where, who's speaking on which night at the GOP convention, Romney's "likeability," and my absolute least favorite topic: "what [fill in candidate's name] has to do to win."

It seems like the news media apparatus is blindly waiting for the campaigns to just do stuff, so it can be reported. It seems like the media and the talking heads are simply reporting the partisan "talking points" put out by the two campaigns. It seems like there's more focus on covering the so-called "gaffes" and trying to provoke the "howler" responses with deliberate "gotcha" questions. It seems like it's not journalism, it's more like whisper down the alley….

Case in point: the distastefully unending reporting and analysis of Clint Eastwood's "Outer Limits" performance at the Republic convention. That was a trivial, unfortunate sideshow, but it's become a main event.

But not for me.

What Romney didn't say.....

First take on Republican convention....

Why vote for incumbents?

Monday, September 3, 2012

The wisdom of Buffy Sainte-Marie

"Must I go bound, and you so free?
 Must I love one who doesn't love me?
 Must I be born with so little art,
      as to love the one who would break my heart?"

Buffy Sainte-Marie (b. 1941)
Canadian Cree singer-songwriter, activist, educator, fantastic person

This snippet is an abiding example of Buffy uncovering the hurt that feels so good….

I started loving Buffy's music in the '60s, when even her eccentric style and songs were included under the broad rubric of "folk music." There's a lot to learn from Buffy's music, and you can keep on learning as you listen over the years, as I have done…

Think "Circle Game," "Maple Sugar Boy," "Welcome, Welcome, Emigrante," "Universal Soldier," "Pineywood Hills," "Los Pescadores," "Broke Down Girl," and, of course, "Must I Go Bound?"......

There is yearning in Buffy's music and in her politics and in her life…I saw her perform a year ago, she's 70 years old, still beautiful, still athletic, still sincere, still in your face, still yearning, still teaching, and still 100% Cree Indian…

...more on los emigrados...

The wisdom of Ian and Sylvia....

Switch gears, try Rafael Sabatini

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My goose can diss your pit bull…..

The "attack goose" concept isn't well known outside a small circle of specialized breeders and savvy owners who don't mind stretching the envelope…

Here you see evidence of a satisfied owner who is using his highly-trained goose to ensure that a certain door is reserved for his own, exclusive use….

Caution: these geese eat only raw meat, but owners report that small portions are sufficient, and for the first several weeks or even months after you purchase your attack goose, the neighborhood fauna will pretty much keep your animal satisfied if you permit it to hunt at night.

To learn more about how to acquire your AGC-registered attack goose, call 1-555-YER-DUCK.

p.s. the phone number is an inside joke, ask the operator at It's Not Your Daddy's Goose, Inc., for an explanation…

...on being hooptiously drangled...

Kit Carson said it....

18th century advice about oysters...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Romney: What he didn't say….

Hey, I'm going to vote for President Obama again. Romney didn't convince me, there was no chance that would happen…

I'm not going to try to convince you about Romney, you make your own decision based on your own self-interest and how you perceive the best interests of our nation.

There was a lot Romney didn't say when he accepted the Republican nomination.

I honor him for loving his family. He talked about family a lot. He allocated only about 200 words in his 37-minute speech to statements of his proposed policies.

I acknowledge his success at Bain. Some other people and companies affected by Bain's operations weren't so successful. Anyway, I look at the performance of top business leaders in the last half dozen years and I'm pretty sure that "business experience" isn't a no-brainer, slam-dunk qualification to be president, it's more like a screaming no-no….you think about the managers and bosses and business leaders you know, are they accumulating experience that's preparing them for the White House?

As far as I could tell, the only new thing Romney said Thursday night was "repeal and replace Obamacare," instead of his former party-line "replace Obamacare on Day One."

Here's what Romney didn't say Thursday night:

He didn't say how—not even a hint—he would achieve his short list of politically-correct promises about jobs, energy, education, trade, balanced budget…..

He didn't say how he will balance the needs and desires of the Tea Party folks with the needs and desires of the rest of us.

He didn't say how he would take steps to slow down the human-caused degradation of our planet and our environment, and he forgot to mention that the children and grandchildren in all our families are going to have to live on this planet for the rest of their lives.

He didn't say why it's a good idea to extend tax breaks for the very wealthy instead of asking them to pay more of their fair share for the government services that all of us want.

He didn't say how he would do health care reform any better than we've done it so far.

What's on Romney's mind? Your guess is as good as mine….

A previous thought about the convention...

A previous thought about Gov. Christie....

That's right, more taxes....

E. J. Dionne on "the real Romney"