Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin


I love the NCAA basketball tournament. Despite the obvious corruption, both financial and of the academic standards of our leading universities, the tournament itself is a study in human grit, and the best that is in these players.

Stanford, Kentucky, and Gonzaga eliminated. A lot of upsets this round. Unfortunately, Duke is still involved, but you can’t have everything.

Pitt is still in there (wahoo!) after a couple of great games.

What is amazing is the look of determination, emotion, and joy in the players and those around them. It must be wonderful to be that emotionally involved in something. I hope the day never comes for these people to realize that none of this, or anything else, really matters.

Last week

I haven’t posted here in a while, mostly because the week has been so overwhelming. First, my mother, niece and nephew came to visit for a few days. It seems my niece, age six, really wanted to see the liberty bell, and being the Philadelphia relative, I was most able to fulfill this request:

liberty bell

My brother was to join us, but weather dealt his schedule a blow, and he didn’t make it. Needless to say, I was anxious to see my mother and find out how she was doing. She didn’t say much, and wore long sleeves the entire time, so I don’t feel as though I got much more information, but at least she seems be doing well, though even more tired than usual. I’m worried that the mental strain, as well as the physical abuse from my mentally ill sister in law, are taking a toll that will be difficult to rectify.

This alone has been overwhelming – I’m falling farther behind in my duties for the quaker meeting, as well as for the scouts. Work has taken a turn for the worse, if that is even possible. The customer who has been paying for my time while not giving us any work has decided they only need three bored people instead of four, so I am the odd man out, and not only have nothing to do, but no one willing to pay for me to do nothing. I hope we will find more work, but I don’t really know if my company will survive the year, let alone keep me employed.

With the administration’s trickle-down economic failure, combined with industry’s desire to spend any trickle-down effects in India rather than at home, I don’t know what will be available for a 50 year old computer programmer. I’m sure that means nothing to the demi-gods of haliburton, the Bush-league leaders of the country, and their friends, but it does to me.

In general, I’m feeling beat-down, and pessimistic about the future.

On the upside, I’ve brewed some damn fine beers lately. I’ve finely found a yeast, and the techniques, to make Flander’s Red and Oud Bruin style ales, so there is at least a little hope for me.

Powell justifies war

From CNN:

No stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction have been found despite an intensive search — and the former chief U.S. inspector David Kay said in January that such stockpiles were unlikely to turn up.

But U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that the accomplishments of the past year justified the invasion.

“Schools are being rebuilt, hospitals are being rebuilt, the infrastructure’s coming back up, the oil is starting to flow,” Powell told ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re going to jump-start the economy as fast as we can with the money that Congress has provided.”

Fascinating. It is worth in excess of 100 billion dollars, 566 American lives, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 Iraqi lives, to jumpstart the Iraqi economy. I’m sure there are a dozen or so countries in Africa who need America to bankrupt itself to jumpstart their economies, though they would probably prefer we fund the aids research and build the schools and hospitals without blowing everything up first.

random thoughts

I feel the need to post here, for my own mental health, but don’t feel as though I have anything specific, or even mildly amusing, to say….

There are very few people who read these notes – they are primarily for myself. Those who do read, I know, are mostly college age. I remember when I was college age – I tended to think of older adults in two ways, either old folks who had no clue, or had “sold out” as we used to say, or paradoxically, as the “grown-ups” who somehow knew so much more, or were in posession of some secrets or experience that made it all make sense.

Sorry, both are wrong. I still understand and believe the principles I believed in, perhaps tempered by a little experience. Unfortunately, I have no magic clue as to how to make those principles a reality. I am just as confused, and just as insecure, sadly, as I was 30 years ago. Problems still overwhelm me, and I am faced with issues with which I have no idea how to deal. I struggle on, hoping for an epiphany, dealing with what life throws at me as best I can, and other than when I bend over to pick something up, not feeling much different than what I felt like three decades ago. The one thing I have experienced, which college age people have not, is the overpowering love and hope for your offspring. This is an incredibly powerful force and emotion, which no one can possibly understand until they look into the eyes of a newborn, and know they are responsible for them for all time.

For that reason only, I will gladly continue in a job which I feel demeans me. I will trade off my own personal satisfaction for experiences for youth, and feel it a good bargain. To anyone who might be reading these notes, I wish you this experience. You are not whole until you realize in your own mind that someone, or for that matter everyone, supersedes you.

Abuse of my mother

I just received pictures of the bruises my 75 year old mother received from being assaulted by my estranged sister in law. You can view them in the “More Text” link below, but I caution you they are very upsetting.

I am appalled not only that someone could do this, or that that person could then blame it on the victim, or they are allowed contact with their children after doing this in front of them, but that they are allowed to keep a nursing license in the state of Florida. Is someone who could do this someone you would want caring for your helpless loved ones, especially if they were aged?


Karma Discontinuities

I believe there are fundamental discontinuties in the universe, which cause no specific harm in themselves, but which, if corrected, would allow good karma to flow like electricity through a super-conductor.

An example of this is how soft and pleasant a dog’s head and ears are, a human naturally wants to rub and stroke them. The dog has no problem with this, and even enjoys it, but would be so much more ecstatic if you would just continuously rub his tummy.


There is so much going on that I don’t know how to react sometimes.

On the personal front, the good news is that Tom is home from school for spring break. We all are terribly glad to see him, and his brothers just light up having him home. It makes the family seem so much more complete to have him here.

The bad news, however, is that my brother’s estranged wife has apparently assaulted my 75 year old mother, attempting to force her way into his house by pushing her around, and grabbing her around the neck. It doesn’t take a lot to harm a 75 year old woman with bad knees. In addition, she did this in front of her children… I would wonder what kind of a mother or person could do this, but she has never seemed to be an adult – In my opinion her emotional development arrested somewhere around the 16 year old self-centered phase. I can’t help but worry about the safety of my mother, and niece and nephew, with this neurotic nutcase around them.

On the national level, I continue to be amazed by the teflon coating on our current president, AKA the Texas Souffle. The label of “liberal media” is so clearly inaccurate, as the media is controlled by the same rich cadre and corporations that so clearly support Bush. (And they should, after all he has given them out of the taxpayers pocket.) To whit:

• Air Force 1 transcripts are subpoenaed in the investigation of whether the administration deliberately exposed a CIA agent who’s husband criticised them, and the media says: NOTHING

• The administration is implicated in illegal wire tapping of the Secretary General of the UN, and the media says: NOTHING

• The RNC (not the justice department, mind you) threatens 240 television stations not to run certain anti-bush ads by, and the media doesn’t even support their own, and says: NOTHING

• Bush promises not to use the 9/11 tragedy for political purposes, but his very first ads show it as a background to highlight his leadership. What leadership? He was flying around the country staying away from any danger, when those firefighters were saving lives. Now he plans a million-dollar fundraiser at the site of the tragedy.

• Bush wants to amend the constitution to restrict liberties and create second-class citizens, (nevermind that same-sex marriages have been recognized in several European countries for many years, without the disintegration of society), and there is no uproar from the media, or the so-called conservatives who want to keep government out of people’s lives.

Oh well, another week, another bewildering traipse through a surreal society.

Mad World

Somehow I woke up with this song in my head –

All around me are familiar faces,
worn out places, worn out faces,
Bright and early for their daily races,
going nowhere, going nowhere,
And their tears are filling up their glasses,
no expression, no expression,
Hide my head, I want to drown my sorrow,
no tomorrow, no tomorrow,
And I find it kind of funny,
I find it kind of sad,
The dreams in which I’m dying
are the best I’ve every had.
I find it hard to tell you,
cause I find it hard to take,
when people run in circles,
it’s a very, very
Mad World mad world mad world mad world

“Mad World” – Michael Andrews

President Quayle

“More Muslims have died at the hands of killers than — I say more Muslims — a lot of Muslims have died — I don’t know the exact count — at Istanbul. Look at these different places around the world where there’s been tremendous death and destruction because killers kill.”

–George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 2004

George W. Bush – the President Quayle we never got.