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Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Silly Season: The Insanity of Campaigning in America

First - Great Quotations about American Elections:

"An election cannot give a country a firm sense of direction if it has two or more national parties which merely have different names, but are as alike in their principals and aims as two peas in the same pod." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

"There isn't any finer folks living than a Republican that votes the Democratic ticket." - Will Rogers

"The Republicans have their splits right after election and Democrats have theirs just before an election." - Will Rogers

"My opponent called me a cream puff. Well, I rushed out and got the baker's union to endorse me." - Claiborne Pell

"Maybe a nation that consumes as much booze and dope as we do and has our kind of divorce statistics should pipe down about character issues. Either that or just go ahead and determine the presidency with three-legged races and pie-eating contests. It would make better TV." - P.J. O'Rourke

"A new poll showed that if the election was held today, people would be confused because it is normally held in November." -Kevin Nealon

"Vote early & vote often." - William Porcher Miles

"If God had wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates." - Jay Leno

"I have just received the following wire from my generous Daddy. It says, Dear Jack: Don't buy a single vote more than is necessary. I'll be damned if I am going to pay for a landslide." - John F. Kennedy

"I never vote for anyone. I always vote against." - W. C. Fields

"Get the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything." - Frank Dane

"We have a presidential election coming up. And I think the big problem, of course, is that someone will win." - Barry Crimmins

"You don't have to fool all the people all of the time; you just have to fool enough to get elected." - Gerald Barzan

In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing. - Autobiography of Mark Twain

I Can't Afford to Pay My Satellite Bill and It's Probably a Good Thing. Here's ten reasons why:

  1. It saves me money - about $70 per month which I spend on snacks mostly.
  2. My high blood pressure probably couldn't take watching Barak Obama give his acceptance speech standing in front of a Greek temple while 75,000 temporarily brain dead sycophants chant, nubile women faint and Chris Matthews rubs his tingling legs....
  3. I don't have to watch the press swoon (see Chris Matthews tingly legs).
  4. It forces me to watch downloadable TV shows and streaming video off the Internet (can't afford to turn that off) and hey, there's some really good stuff on there - I got an S-VHS cord running out of the back of my computer into the TV and the blurry picture isn't all that bad since I grew up with rabbit ears and a 10 inch black & white screen anyway so this is luxury of the highest order.
  5. I am no longer tempted to throw heavy objects through my TV screen while watching the 6 o'clock news and propoganda shows. I can take my news in smaller doses and listen to Paul Harvey & Glenn Beck all the time if I want to.
  6. Using my computer to watch TV shows means I can't play computer games while watching TV, so I have to sit down with my Sweet Baboo and watch it together which has had a surprising impact on certain neglected spousal interactive recreational pursuits.
  7. I'm getting better at gin rummy.
  8. I've become a better cook since I have more time for it.
  9. I've discovered that The NASA channel is free and still comes on the satellite system even if you don't pay and it puts me right to sleep when I'm restless late at night.
  10. I'm spending more money on eBay lately and I'm told that spending money is good for the economy, so I can feel good about that.
So, this political season, consider buying a satellite system and just don't hook up for the service - stick to the free stuff and what you can download off the Internet. There are some great movies if you don't mind the Mexican subtitles and the guy who walks in front of the projector once in a while.....

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Night on Bald-Faced Mountain

So I'm out chopping wood with Dale Martin who had been condemned to chop up some dead fall trees with me. I say condemned because it was 102 degrees in the shade and we were cutting up logs in the sun with axes (we weren't allowed to have chain saws - something about safety). 

Instead we were swinging big double-bladed axes. I finally got to where I couldn't see anything for the sweat pouring down into my eyes and I decided to move over and work on a big deadfall tree that was lying in a convenient patch of shade. I spit on my hands and hoisted the ax with every intent of cutting this one in half in under ten strokes.

I was getting pretty good at wood chopping. There was a 75 year old man who used to wander over from his property next door and jaw with the staff. He used to laugh at out ax work, till one day we challenged him that "If you can do better..."

This old geezer picked up that heavy double bladed monster and proceeded to take down the tree we'd been sweating over for 45 minutes in probably 3 strokes, maybe 4. Whole tree just laid down at his feet like it had surrendered. He liked me, so he showed me some lumberjackin' techniques and I got pretty good at it.

My first swing bit deeply into the dried oak - so deeply I had to jerk it around pretty hard to get it out. On the second mighty thwack, I heard a new noise like an angry weed whacker. I looked down between my feet and saw I had kicked the leaves off a half dollar sized hole in the ground. Extracting the ax, I looked closer. Little yellow and black things began popping out of the hole.

Bald-faced hornets. I knew them right away because they liked to buzz the swimmers down at the swimming dock. I'd always just batted them away, but they seemed unhappy and I decided that would not likely be the best course of action. Then I remembered the advice my mother once gave me.

"Stand real still and don't act afraid and they won't sting you."

Okay, you trust your mama when you're young. "Ouch"

That was probably one that got started before I "Ouch" froze.

I mean, my mom grew up on a farm "Yow".

Okay, maybe if I "Oweeee" hold my breath.

I saw Dale standing across the clearing looking over at me in wide-eyed astonishment. Then, he abruptly broke and ran. He said later that it looked like one of those cartoons where the black cloud of bees swarms all over Elmer Fudd or something.

By now I had begun to suspect that mom was not a competent entomologist - so far as the subject of bald-faced hornets went anyway. "Ouch" Apparently, I deduced, putting my great brain to use for something besides a pincushion, that if you stand perfectly still astride a nest of angry bald-faced hornets you only succeed in giving them an easier target to hit. "Yikes!"

Exit stage left. Dale said it looked like the part in the cartoon where the cloud of bees string out in pursuit of the aforementioned Mr. Fudd. I led them a merry chase through the briars and the brambles for more than a quarter mile to the swimming dock. Folks in the swimming area looked up startled to see a crazed lumberjack still carrying a double-bladed ax in one hand, burst out of the woods, throw down the ax and run shrieking like a girl down the dock pursued by a mysterious black cloud. The lumberjack flung himself off the end of the dock into deep water and disappeared in a great big splash. The cloud circled for more than a minute before dissipating.

When I ran out of air, I surfaced underneath the wooden dock (if you can call it surfacing when you have to purse your lips and suck air from the 2 inches of air pocket under the dock. Waves from the passing ski boat made remaining under the dock problematic, so I eventually surfaced, some 30 feet from where I had gone in. One of the lifeguards was diligently fishing around for my body with a shepherd's crook and they had the kids out for a buddy check.

"I'm okay," I croaked as I crawled out onto the dock to take stock of my injuries - nine bald-faced hornet stings in all ranging from my head to my toes. They sent me to the nurse.

The nurse that year was a former nursing home attendant who put bandages on us. The real nurse worked days and wouldn't be back at camp till after 3:00. In the meantime, Mrs. C, the amateur nurse, decided I was the perfect guinea pig for some medical experiments.

She tried every home remedy and quack cure for bee stings you can imagine on me except for one. I absolutely refused to pee on my foot. She would later tell me that if I had only tried the "peeing thing", I might not have had my later troubles. Other than that, she tried everything else that any quack, old wife or patent medicine salesman had ever recommended. We tried hot and cold fomentations which she got confused after a while and I wound up with half of the fomentations being hot and the other half ice cold. I felt like South America. She put tubes of vile potions on me and dabbed me with foul ointments made from fish innards and bull thistle.

She even tried chewing tobacco (I have no idea where she got that - probably from one of the 10-12 year old campers that were there that week). She tried to get me to chew it for her. Not sure who finally volunteered and I really don't want to know. She even poured bleach on one of the stings.

After an hour of her ministrations, I was pronounced healed and she sent me to lifesaving class with Sam Miller. This was the perfect thing to do after injecting small doses of poison under my skin using a cloud of bald-faced hornets as hypodermics. Sam's idea of a warmup for class consisted of swimming 10 laps with a concrete block on your chest. I did a very fine job of circulating the poison throughout my bloodstream.

Around 4:30 I began to have mild stomach cramps. I ate supper and went back to the bunkhouse where my buddy Mark found me curled in a fetal position screaming "Please dear God, take me to heaven now!" They carried me back to "the nurse".

She gave me some pain medication - Darvon I think - it was all the rage back then. Didn't make a dent!

Finally, she came over and put a hand on my shoulder and asked softly, "Have you had a BM today?"

I explained with what I though was remarkable tact and which she thought was babbling from the depths of delirium that I had indeed had myself a good poop that morning and THAT WEREN'T THE PROBLEM. She ignored my answer as coming from someone who was clearly out of his mind. After all, I had received the latest in insect sting therapy earlier, so the hornet poison could not possibly be the problem she reasoned.

She decided to confer with our maintenance guy, a 60 year old returned missionary from India! Together, they decided that a cup and a half of Milk of Magnesia would just about do the trick and had poured it up for me when the real nurse (the missionary's wife) showed up and saved me from spending the next three years on the toilet.

"She asked me what had happened. I explained about the hornets. She counted the nine stings and pulled out a hypodermic syringe. A stiff dose of Benadryl in the arm and I was able to unfold in about 10 minutes. I kissed her feet and casting an evil eye in the direction of "the nurse" and "the missionary" staggered down to the boat dock where the moon was already shining, the young people were singing softly as the guitars and banjos softly played. Couples were lip-locked in the shadows.

Even a near death experience wasn't going to keep me from the moonlight.

I''m just sayin''

Tom King

Friday, August 01, 2008

Oh, There's Water on Mars

Martian water? Scientists are excited.
College students? Not so much!
And the Wacko's Are Unhappy About It!

Somewhere on the college campuses of America, College Students are learning a particularly insidious form of collective self-loathing.

Check these quotes:
  • "200 years from now we are going to be messing up that planet just like we did this one...and looking back at us like we look a cave men."
  •  "The mysteries of space should be left untouched. Mankind has already destroyed earth why should we destroy other planets? "
  • "So we make a mess of this planet and look for another to mess up. I feel this money would be better spent on improving this planet."
  • "The funding of expensive space missions will only result in the eventual destruction of the moon, mars etc for our own benefit, and conducted as usual, with little or no consideration for the associated environment."
I love the ones about how if we just spent the money from space exploration on building houses and giving lots of stuff to poor people, all the world's ills would be solved. The self-loathing is palpable in all their comments.

  NEWSFLASH: The world's problems wouldn't be solved by paying off the poor. And it certainly wouldn't protect elitist college students, who fully expect to be a part of the upper classes once they get out of university and start flashing around that degree in art history - not in the least from the wrath of the unwashed masses should they ever get tired of being poor and start taking stuff away from wealthy, entitled, elitist university graduates.

Jesus, Himself, the world's number one proponent of charity to the poor, the widows, the lame (1st century for "disabled") and the orphans, said "The poor you will have with you always." When are people going to figure out that you can't throw money at poverty and cure it? Poverty goes away when people work - everybody, not just a handful of rich people from whom you can extract money on behalf of those who don't work via extortion or taxation.

In the Garden of Eden, the first thing God did was give Adam and Eve some chores. - "Here ya' go guys. I need you to take care of the animals and the plants." So what's the first thing they did? Eve went off and sulked because one of her friends (a skinny fellow that hung out in trees) told her God had all the money and power and didn't want her to have any. So the first sin was originally inspired by class envy!!! How about that? Still using the same old argument. "You have it all and it's NOT FAIR!!"

Still the same old solution that Cain came up with too: Take it from someone who has it and knows how to use it and give it to those who don't want to be troubled with all that education and work and planning and experience. As a result of that "progressive" philosophy, the whole Earth is now a big screwed up mess with more inequity than is imaginable - people cheating to get ahead, powerful corrupt leaders laying waste to their people while they prop themselves up on silk pillows to watch the dancing girls, crooked corporate robber barons manipulating the system to make piles of money they don't need and can never spend in a lifetime.

And into this impossibly corrupt morass, these guys want to inject the comparatively trifling sums we spend on space research. How much do you actually think will get to "the poor" and how much will be siphoned off by the evil folks whose supervision has resulted in the whole mess in the first place?

Folks who write drivel about "ruining the other planets" don't care about that. Many of them are pretty well-to-do already. They come from good schools, make good money, pamper themselves a lot. They just don't want to feel guilty about it, so, I guess they figure that if they just make noises about how the government ought to take care of poverty by shuffling a little money around from things they don't care much about anyway it'll help them to feel better about being so well off themselves.

Voila! Guilt all gone. "Let's go clubbing tonight!"

Heaven forbid that one of these dim bulbs actually get out and do some actual work on helping the poor. Why should they quit their cushy job and go out and start a company that hires actual people to work for them and maybe forgo buying that Porsche and plow the money back into health insurance for their workers? Oh, and don't actually do anything like donate money to famine relief programs or sponsor a child through a nonprofit agency or pay some poor kid's way through college.

Nope, just loudly gripe about money being "wasted" exploring space and whine about how we (meaning somebody else, not the whiner) are going to just ruin Mars and your conscience is clear! How easy is that.

Here's the problem with that.

Here's a picture of Mars:

I don't think you've got too much there to mess up! It ain't a park. It ain't overrun with anything living. It's a big red rock. Maybe we can do something to fix the place up, but how do you ruin a frozen, empty waste. Don't give me a bunch of nonsense about how we need to avoid "polluting" Mars.

If you guys want to clean up the planet, start doing it! You might find a way to shred and reuse some of those Evian water bottles for something useful. Or how about a cheaper solar electricity panel?Oops! I'm sorry, we shouldn't be using any of that evil space research based technology, should we? Never mind.

How about let's all unplug and go off the grid. Get back to nature. Cook over an open fire (forget the carbon that releases - it's NATURAL CARBON). We could use horses for transportation (forget the exploitation of horses and the titanic job of scooping up their poop from the roads).We could all just go back to eating whatever we find growing raw out there and run around naked and be NATURAL. How about that!!!

Well, I got news for you, Bub! YOU DO NOT WANT TO SEE ME NAKED!

I'm just sayin'