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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Who Gave You Permission to Help That Man?


Someone asked me something like that once. We were trying to find rides for seniors and people with disabilities who can't drive so they can get to the doctor, to the grocery store and to church. He was a development director for one of the largest charities in town. What he really wanted to know was whether we had the okay of the local good old boy network BEFORE we started looking into the problem.

"Who gave you permission to start a transportation initiative?" he asked.

The answer: Nobody did!

So, without permission, in 7 years we tripled the funding for rural transportation for seniors. We forced the rural transit provider to drop discriminative practices. We engaged private sector transportation providers to help get folks with disabilities get to and from jobs. We stopped predatory "coyote" drivers from exploiting the families of farm workers in small rural colonia's and helped the women get an affordable ride to town to buy groceries. We did so without raising taxes by so much as a nickel.

For our troubles, I got a nasty letter from the executive director of the local Council of Governments. The director of the state Transit Association called me "anti-transit".

I figure we must have done something right if we upset so many good old boys!

There has been a lot of rhetoric in recent years about an old African proverb. "It takes a village to raise a child."

Somehow, folks of a certain political persuasion have come to believe that Washington, DC is just the village to do that.

I'm not sure on what planet the federal government is considered a village, but it is surely not in this solar system. The proverb is dead on, though. I know from experience. I grew up in such a village.

Back when I was 12, If I had been seen throwing rocks at a street light in Keene, Texas by any one of the town's mothers or grandmothers, word would have reached my Mom before I could have made it home at a dead run. Mom would have met me on the porch, her arms crossed and tapping her foot in a way that boded no good for me.

There is no power on Earth for getting things done effectively and humanely like that of a small community. That's the village those old Africans were talking about. Local communities, united together to fix their own problems - that's what the proverb means. They aren't talking about vast unwieldy social programs.

Virtual Village began as a dream to help people working in small to mid-sized nonprofits in rural and small towns, local neighborhoods and communities. The idea was to help inexperienced, but passionate local leaders successfully network, write grants, create new programs and solve problems in their own communities.

They don't need a mandate from Washington. They don't need the okay of whatever good old boy political network runs things in their state. What they need is help figuring out how to do what needs doing.

We call it "doing good without permission".

You'd be surprised how many government bureaucrats we've aggravated so far.

As we built the website, however, the economy suddenly came crashing down around everyone's ears. Foundations cut their giving for new projects. Some closed entirely. The feds cut the deduction for philanthropic giving, seizing control of dollars that once flowed freely to charities and channeling them through government programs. Our small, local charities need help more than ever.

I was driving through the country yesterday and saw a crude sign in front of a tiny country church advertising a "Soup Kitchen". It wasn't sophisticated. It wasn't politically correct. Yet struggling rural seniors were getting a hot meal. The church started the soup kitchen because Meals on Wheels and food bank programs have been having getting food out into the rural areas and there were a lot of older people out here in the sticks that need a hot meal every day. So neighbors pitched in and are helping their grandmas and grandpas and struggling families that have been laid off, have lost jobs or businesses or who have had the family wage-earner die suddenly. By the time a government program could have been put together, isolated seniors could have been starving. They didn't because their neighbors acted quickly and solved a problem with the resources they have.

They'd like to keep it going permanently, but they don't know how.

The Food Stamp folks have long complained that church food pantries were cutting into their business. A couple of years ago they actually started a marketing campaign to bring people back to the Food Stamp program that were being fed by little church food pantries. Now, the Food Banks that supply those church based pantry programs are suddenly finding it harder and harder to get the food supplies they once did as the federal government tries to centralize all anti-hunger programs under government control.

Small to mid-sized charities also face stiff competition for increasingly limited Foundation grants. Big charities with fat development budgets and marketing resources dominate the competition for what grants and other funding remains out there. Local charities are having to do more, with less money and they're doing it with organizations that don't have the aggressive development resources they need to find funding to keep their doors open.

Virtual-Village is a vitally needed on-line tool that can help the hundreds of thousands of small church and community-based organizations that have sprung up to meet needs in our towns and neighborhoods that were not anticipated up in Washington's central planning.

We're here to help the people who create and run local charities. We're here to show them how to reduce travel costs, to access information they need to do their jobs and to help build collaborative networks using 21st century telecommunications and Internet based tools. These wonderful people solve a myriad of problems that exist in our home towns that nobody in Washington has ever thought of, much less designed a "program" for.

These are tough times.

Please go to this link ( http://virtual-village.org ) and visit the site. Small charities can't afford expensive development officers, much less afford an extensive development and fund-raising program. Yet, Foundations and government funding sources increasingly require more and more networking, interagency cooperation and program coordination before they'll give money to local charities. This is an expensive and time consuming task, something most nonprofits can't afford. Virtual Village can help by bringing the collaborative networking process down onto our own desktops.

You can help the little nonprofits and faith-based ministries survive in this era of crumbling economies. Contribute now. We need your time, your talent and your money. Any one or all three!

We need just $25,000 to finish adding all the new tools the site needs to be fully functioning. A commercial for a used car dealer can cost more than that to make.

Just go to the Virtual Village homepage and click on the 'donate' button. Help us finish building the website and adding the tools our friends will need to survive the coming lean years.

The community you help may be your own!

I've given 6 weeks pay so far. Can you give lunch money? It's easy. Follow the easy to use Paypal "Donate" link on the home page. Just a couple of minutes and you can strike a blow in support of all those little guys out there helping your communities.

  • They aren't making government salaries.
  • They don't have government health benefits.
  • They spend on average less than 8% of their entire budgets on admin costs.
  • Many go without pay altogether.
  • Millions of volunteers work with them.
  • Tens of millions are given a hand up.
  • Tens of millions of lives are changed.
  • We can help them do even better.

Join us, won't you.

We don't have to ask the government for permission to help the homeless, to shelter a battered wife and her kids, to feed an elderly person or to help someone who's fallen on hard times to get back on his feet.

Why should we have to ask someone in Washington whether the widow next door deserves to have a couple of neighbors mow her grass or paint her porch for her?

Why should our neighbor have to file stacks of humiliating paperwork when all he needs is a couple of bags of groceries and a ride to work for a few weeks till he gets on his feet?

Help Virtual Village help our community do-gooders to, well, to do good!

Thanks for your support,

Tom King

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chairman Lee and the Dawn of the New World Order

Another brilliant blog by my old friend and liberal sparring partner, Che' Gorilla, that I thought I should share with you.

Tom
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There's a great Tom Paxton song from the 80's called "I'm Gonna Change My Name to Chrysler."

It ought to be the anthem for the latest stroke of brilliance by our exceptionally brilliant new president as he brings to a successful conclusion, the U.S. governments efforts to rescue the floundering auto giant and prevent it from going the way of Studebaker, Hudson, Nash and AMC.

It started in 1979 with President Carter's 1.5 billion dollars in loan guarantees to Chrysler. This plan, under the brilliant leadership of Chairman Lee, paved the way for the US government to become, for the first time in our history, a quasi-partner in an American car company. Chairman Lee and the company, of course, gratefully returned the benefit to the economy by cutting it's white and blue collar workforce by nearly half, and draining tax dollars from the two remaining fiscally healthy US auto companies, Ford and GM to support Chrysler which cut R&D costs and shuffled paper losses around to make it look like they were making a profit.

This brilliant bit of tactical measured information dissemination, led Americans to believe that even an out of touch, mismanaged car company like Chrysler could make a profit and led to a burst of economic growth. That, together with essential higher taxation after the disastrous Reagan tax cuts of the 80's, helped further strengthen American economy and its worldwide dominance in auto manufacturing. This brilliant government information dissemination policy as exercised under the very brilliant President Clinton is, I am certain, responsible for the current confidence of American consumers in the US auto industry.

Sadly, however, the evil Republican machine under the vote stealing George W. Bush removed the government supports keeping the auto industry healthy and once again, after 8 years of failed policies, the auto industry needed a bailout. The Democrat Congressional mandate of 2006, once again allowed the government to resume its proper place in US industry, not only as a micro-managing regulator of car design and working conditions, but of financial management and marketing. Under President Obama, the government has moved with astonishing speed to snatch the management of floundering car companies from greedy corporate executives and, beginning with Chrysler, to buy a controlling interest in US auto industries for the government and then to hand control of these key American industries into the capable hands of the benevolent leadership of the loyal worker's unions which are, of course, best equipped to bring honest and ethical management practices to the company that will replace the desperately corrupt greedy corporate bloodsucker polices of those who seized power during the 8 years of failed policies under Bush and Cheney and Halliburton.

Now, all will be well, as the machinery of socialist............, I mean, enlightened, government controlled central planners will lead the American auto industry to produce the kind of automobiles we need and not just the kinds we want.

Gone will be the gas sucking pickups, SUV's and muscle cars that have corrupted American youth and families. Soon everyone will be traveling by public transit OR in tiny fuel-efficient box-like alternate fuel vehicles paying fuel taxes at such high rates that virtually every social program we can imagine will be possible.

Soon, under the wise guidance of brilliant thinkers chosen by our beloved president, Americans will no longer have to strive to get ahead, they will be able to go home at the end of a hard 30 hour week and watch their information dissemination screens and eat healthy food made from efficiently recycled human waste products and make their exit from the workforce and the health care system after a fair and just length of time as determined by federal length of life committees. (This will be known as the Eat S.... and Die Policy). All will belong to a single proletariat class where no one need envy any other. The media will no longer present disturbing images; only scenes of happy workers contributing to the maintenance of the state and children singing that wonderful "Yes We Can" song in tribute to our glorious leader.

Oh, it makes my heart glad to think of the inevitable joy of serving the state. I shall name my next grandchild "Chrysler" in honor of the car company which led the way to socialist bliss, that is if I ever have any more grandchildren, which is unlikely since my children are all White Anglo Saxon Protestants and therefore likely to be evil conservatives who are, of course, unworthy to reproduce.

I look forward to the day when everyone like me is erased from the face of the Earth and replaced by a sturdy peasant stock, suitable for laboring in the fields and mines and factories of the new Amerika!

Viva Obama!

I am so happy, I could just soil myself.

Che' Gorilla

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Those Other Burdens......


If you ever sat in Sunday School (or in my case, Sabbath School), you probably heard a preacher tell you to lay down your burdens. "Just ask God to forgive your sins and you just lay them down at Jesus' feet and all your burdens will be gone."

Sounds good.

The only problem with those instructions is that people don't carry just one type of "sin" burden. It's all well and good to lay down your own misdeeds and get them forgiven, but what about all those sins that were done against you! Betcha you forgot to lay those down when you laid down your own crimes and misdeeds.

If so, it's not surprising. Most of us have a much easier time accepting forgiveness for our own mistakes than we do in forgiving the sins of others, especially when the one who sinned against you either "got away with it" or "never asked you to forgive them".

And that's a real sticking point for some of us.

"Well, how can I forgive him when he doesn't think he needs to be forgiven?" you ask patting your foot in exasperation. "So and So really hurt me with that gossip. My mother spanked me totally without justification cause it was really my sister who did it and she still won't admit it!!"

The really sad thing is that too many otherwise intelligent Christians simply box up all that wrongdoing and tote it around on their backs all the live long day. It's usually not hard to get them started on the contents of the box either. They seem to get a perverse sort of relief out of setting down their box and dragging out the sins-committed-against-them for a quick public viewing. It's like there is a little red button on their bellies and if you push it, all the sins-committed-against-them for their entire lifetime come spilling out of the box. Some people carry that burden of sins-committed-against-them for so long, the recitation takes on a rigid quality, like an old phonograph record that's been played over and over till it's almost worn out.

How miserable is that to be so tied to the sins of others that it spoils your own joy? What's the solution? Elementary.

Forgive AND FORGET ABOUT IT.

"But, they've never asked for my forgiveness and they have to do that before I can forgive them."

Really? Want to show me that in the scriptures (go ahead, check out the KJV, NEB, NKJV, The Jerusalem Bible, the Torah and the Koran too if you want)?

From the cross, Jesus said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do!"

Anybody see any Roman soldiers hanging about the foot of the cross to say "I'm sorry"? No? When God sent his son to save us, he'd already forgiven us. All we had to do was accept it.

"AHA!" you say. "So when they ACCEPT it, I forgive them!"

Nice try, but no cigar. The forgiveness is already extended to us. It's a done deal. Bought and paid for! Take it if you want.

If we emulate God, then, we should forgive those who wrong us, even before they seek forgiveness; right now, as soon as possible. If they ask for it, we've already given it and they accept it as their own. No conditions. No, "Let me think about it." Just say, "Oh, that's already done," turn around, take it off the shelf, and hand it to them already wrapped up with a bow.

There's a good reason for doing it that way.

The beauty of all this unconditional forgiveness, is that a sin-against-me, that I have forgiven AND FORGOTTEN, no longer has any power to make me miserable. It no longer defines me. It no longer makes me into a bitter, angry someone that I don't want to be in the first place.

And it doesn't work to say you've forgiven the sins-done-against-you, if you place them back in the box and carry them around on your back all day so you can take them out and obsess over them again should the mood strike you.

Just dump the box!

All of it.

Put it where the sun don't shine!

The deepest hole you can find....

"Oh, but isn't it bad to just let them get away with it? Isn't it shameful for me to let them think there are no consequences for their actions?

In a word, "NO!"

God doesn't ask us to be smarter than evil, nasty people who may have pulled one over on us. He doesn't demand that we see it coming. Sins committed against you do not accrue to your account, they accrue to the account of those who actually commit the sins. You are not to blame because someone mistreats you, lies to you, betrays you or swindles you out of your life savings. You are not shamed if someone "gets you". We are lambs among wolves and God knows that. You put first aid cream and a bandage on a wolf bite, you don't spank the sheep for getting bitten.

You cannot carry around that box of sins-that-were-committed against you and expect to ever be fully happy. The box needs to be buried or burned and forgotten. Never speak of them again for they are forgiven. God provides a good example of how to do that when he forgives your 'sins-against-Him' by casting them into the depths of the sea and forgetting them.

When you ask God to forgive your sins, He says, "Already done!" In your case, when someone who has harmed you says, "I'm sorry," if you've pitched the box-'o-sins already, then you too can say, "Already done. I don't even remember it anymore."

And when that box of sins-against-you is well and truly tossed away and forgotten, it no longer has any power to make you miserable and unhappy.

Now that's laying down your burdens the way they ought to be laid down.

I'm just sayin'

Tom

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beware the Penguins!


Someone whose advice I respect suggested that if you want to be a writer, you should WRITE!


That seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how many would-be writers ignore that bit of advice. I suppose they hope someone will bump into them at the mall and go, "Hey, can you write? I really need someone who can write the great American novel for me. I'll give you a million dollars in advance!"

Of course, that's not very likely and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to happen. I seems that being a successful writer requires some hard work and something else that is foreign to many of us who would like to live the writer's lifestyle.

I'm speaking of self-promotion. Publicity is the lifeblood of a successful writer. Getting your name up front is the name of the game in the publishing biz, or so they tell me. Emily Dickinson called it "telling your name the live long day, to an admiring bog." Of course, Emily locked her work in a drawer and wasn't published till after she was safely dead. Someone more aggressive than poor Emily found her poems and sent them to a publisher. While a successful method of self-promotion, the die-and-be-discovered method leaves a lot to be desired and is not terribly effective anyway.
You wouldn't know it just looking at me or my work, but I am a shy person and self-promotion is always painful to me.  I'm awkward at it and when I do screw up the courage to push my own "brand", I come off like one of those pathetic geeks with delusions of grandeur they make fun of in those movies about cool teenagers in love. Heck, my own kids make fun of my pathetic efforts at self-promotion.

I am the Napoleon Dynamite of the American literary scene. I've written a book that has a huge potential audience, but I think I went with the wrong publisher (which wasn't hard since they were the only ones to offer to publish it). So, to make the book fly, guess who gets to push the marketing of it?

The shy guy!

My writing mentor suggested that if you want to be a writer, you need to discipline yourself to write a minimum of 500 words a day. I have been doing that for about 5 years now. As a result, I've got a couple of other books done (one co-authored with my Sweet Baboo). Several are almost done and others are in various stages of completion. I've got a magazine article that was accepted, but may never be published. I've written hundreds of thousands of words on my various weblogs, a poetry site, dozens of forums and a cooperative book writing site, not to mention an old journal and tons of uncatalogued bits that are sitting around in my computer of file cabinet.

What's missing for me, I suppose, is the ability to be aggressive in behalf of my own cause. Over my career in education and in the nonprofit sector, I've fought for so many causes for others, I can't begin to count them. Where I fail is in being able to fight effectively for my own cause. That I've never been very good at. I once wrote a successful federal grant for one million dollars. I think I made 4 months salary out of it (and I worked 40 additional hours a week for 4 months to get that). I got almost nothing for my 6 months of solo work on the grant. I walked away and gave the organization to people with disabilities who are still running it as a self-help independent living program.

I can't tell you how many people have asked me, "Are they paying you to do that?" and then looked at me like I'd just landed from Mars when I explained that I'd volunteered to do whatever it was I was doing for nothing. I'm always embarrassed to submit an invoice for services rendered. Lots of people (who drive nicer cars than mine) have no problem with that at all.

In the movie Madagascar, there are these insane penguins. The penguins have the kind of aggressive streak I wish I had, but probably never will. They probably don't have any trouble submitting a bill. They may roll in like gangbusters and then proceed to wreck the place, screwing up whatever it is they're doing in the process, but nobody fails to notice them and I bet they collect a paycheck. They have that whole "purpose driven life" thing going.

I don't think I'll ever have that - at least not the kind that gets you a career as a writer. I'm trying to learn the art of self-promotion, but I probably am going to look like a self-conscious penguin doing it.

Jesus says the meek shall inherit the Earth. Boy I hope so, cause I sure could use the cash!

I'm just sayin'

Tom


* Note:  Since writing this blog I've written and sold close to 1000 stories to various web-based publications. For these stories I was seriously underpaid. I put up with it because I am still a shy person and am continually surprised when someone actually proposes to give me money for what I do. Publishers love shy people when they can get their claws into them. - Tom King, 2/15/2012
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*That by the way was my 500 words for today.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Anybody Miss Paul Harvey?


Boy I do. I kind of wish they'd kept his broadcast going. Some of the replacement guys were pretty good. Paul Jr. even sounded like him. It looks like they simply folded up the tents when he died. It's too bad, because I miss his newscasts like I miss the old Reader's Digest (the new one's been taken over by people who no longer have anything in common with me - I don't even finish them anymore no matter how long they sit on the back of the toilet).

I kind of wonder, though, how Paul Harvey would get started now. There's not much of a place on radio for Paul's daily news broadcast and his "Rest of the Story" pieces. They don't fit neatly into the daily schedules. Talk show hosts don't much like you to take chunks of their time.

I think someone like that may eventually arise from off the Internet some day. If somebody with a consistently good 15 or 20 minute news and comment pod cast were to come up with a way to automatically send you their podcast every day directly to your computer, that might work. I'd fire up the Windows Media Player once a day to listen to something like that.

Maybe I'll do that. It might be fun. Get some sponsors eventually. Who knows.

I'd have to work on my sign off.

This is Tom King reporting from deep in America's heartland.

Have a good one!
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Friday, May 15, 2009

Poor Michael Savage!

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I was cooking supper up in the kitchen last night. The kitchen is upstairs in this house. I think it was designed for lakeside parties - it's an odd design. Anyway, I forgot to bring up a book on tape, so I flipped on the radio.

The first thing I hear is Michael Savage whining about how none of the big 3 talk show hosts are supporting him since England banned him from the country along with a flock of assorted terrorists, murders and other nasty people.

Don't get me wrong, it was a rotten, politically motivated thing to do, but the British Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, chose her target well. Michael's big complaint is that no one in the conservative community wants to rally behind him in a big way. It's apparent that he thinks he should be the cause celebre' and that he's angry because Rush, Sean, Bill and Glenn aren't sufficiently upset about his unfair banning from the UK.

Well, he's wrong when he says they've totally ignored the issue. I've heard it mentioned on at least two of the three shows and I really haven't had time to listen to them much lately anyway, so I could easily have missed it. It doesn't surprise me, though, that Michael Savage is not the flavor of the hour however.

When Harry Reid and a bunch of Democrat senators wrote a letter that threatened Clear Channel, the network that distributes Limbaugh's radio show - a clear threat to free speech - Savage dismissed it as "No big deal". He consistently misquotes and mischaracterizes his fellow talk show hosts' words and opinions. He seems to believe his is the only true gospel and everyone else is a phoney. And he's not shy about saying so either.

If you can bear to listen to his show, you've no doubt heard him lament that no one wants to support him in his hour of need when the British government is threatening his right to travel to Britain and insult everyone over there.

Savage was an easy target.

The poor man is, of all the right wing talkers, the most obnoxious! It's little wonder few people in the conservative media want to stroke his poor head and feel sorry for him, even though what's being done to him by the Brits is outrageous. There's hardly a conservative talking head that Savage hasn't belittled, berated or taken to task. He won't even speak the names of the Big 3 on his program. He calls them dismissive nicknames like "The Golfer", "The Leprechaun" and such and flings epithets like 'sellout' and 'fraud' at them, accusing conservative media of every crime from being closet liberals to having bad breath. He uses the tactics of the left to try and deliver what he fervently believes is the true gospel of conservatism - The Book of Savage.

It's little wonder he can't get very many interviews. It's kind of like the reluctance you feel to go to the rescue of that yappy little dog of your Aunt Bertha's. You know that evil, hairless little beast that nips at your heels whenever you come to visit. Were he to get waylaid by a pit bull, you'd hesitate to go to his rescue. You know you would. You'd first have to deal with the feeling that he had it coming. I mean you would shoo away the pit bull eventually, but maybe you'd let him get a taste of his own medicine first.

Savage is a contradiction. He can tell lovely and heart breaking stories about family and loved ones and sound rational and reasoned, then he turns around and starts snarling like one of those schizophrenics with the conspiracy thing going. He consistently bites the conservative hand that feeds him, that opened doors for him to do what he does.

He's also a tireless self-promoter and has a wondrously irritating habit of referring to himself in the third person as though he can't quite get enough of hearing his own name, which is actually not Michael Savage. It's Michael Weiner! Maybe he hopes to erase the old name by repeating the new one enough time to blot the old one out.

Enough already, Michael Savage. Michael Savage is a doctor for crying out loud. Michael Savage should buy Michael Savage a personal pronoun once in a while. Michael Savage can afford it. Michael Savage is articulate enough otherwise.

I defy you to listen to his radio program for more than 60 seconds without hearing Michael Savage say Michael Savage's own name, first and last, at least once. Ten minutes and you'll hear Michael Savage tout some book Michael Savage has self-published or a homeopathic remedy Michael Savage has discovered that's been suppressed by evil doctors.

Michael Savage is often dead right in his political take, but Michael Savage can also be dead wrong! There is little kindness in Michael Savage for those who disagree even slightly with Michael Savage and woe to anyone with better ratings. Michael Savage calls them schmucks, idiots and a colorful litany of other dismissive and hateful names. Tom King finds that a useless tactic in civilized discussion and it makes people dislike Michael Savage unless they agree 100% with everything Michael Savage says. Tom King almost put his picture up with this blog entry, but since Tom King is partially disagreeing with Michael Savage here, Tom King decided to avoid a lawsuit and posted this entry unadorned.

Okay, that's enough of that. Blood is starting to shoot out my eyes......

Savage can deliver a rational and reasonable argument, but he has little ability to tolerate other opinions long enough to really hear them. It's little wonder the other guys aren't in a hurry to defend this guy. I suspect they are rather enjoying his discomfiture.

Of the other big talk show guys, my own preferences run in order of politeness. Beck is the one who gets all worked up the most, but he also listens the most to callers who disagree. Rush and Sean can listen if they want to, but they don't always want to. They shout down liberals as effectively as liberals shout down conservatives. Beck, on the other hand, will just sit there and let them talk while he shakes his head and weeps. I like that in a political pundit.

Of course, people don't listen to radio talk shows to hear both sides of the argument. They pretty much want to hear their side. In the case of radio talk shows, that's pretty much the conservative side. Conservatives hear the other side everywhere else in the media. Like Rush says, "I am equal time."

Unfortunately for Savage he comes off kind of like some needy, but ridiculously spoiled brat who is used to getting his way and who thinks if he stamps his feet hard enough and screams, everybody ought to come get him out of the mess he's pretty much gotten himself into by painting such a big target on his own chest that it made it hard for the British Home Office to miss.

We've gotten so used to Savage's self-serving paranoia, that we tend to tune it out. We might fight to the death to preserve Savage's right to say what he says, but forgive us if we're not in that big a hurry to run toward the guns when it was Michael Savage that dared them to shoot at Michael Savage in the first place!

Besides, Michael Savage said that Michael Savage doesn't even like England. Michael Savage hates the food, Michael Savage hates the people and Michael Savage thinks they're all schmucks over there in England!

So, why, exactly, should we care if Britain doesn't want Michael Savage to come for a visit?

For that matter why would Glenn, Rush, Sean, Bill or Mark want to interview Michael Savage anyway, if Michael Savage thinks they're all such frauds and sellouts in the first place!

Me, I'd let him swing in the breeze a bit.

Tom King is just sayin'

Just Tom King's opinion.....

Tom King
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Hip Shot Charity and Tom's Diet

Nonprofit organizations are in trouble lately. With the shrinking economy, people have gotten to where they toss those fundraising letters without even looking. Let's face it, we all hate to say "No!"

Well, not all of us hate to. There are some real curmudgeons out there who get a kick out of it, but most of us like to help where we can. We feel guilty if we don't and sometimes it makes us mad when friends get involved in a fundraising campaign because it makes us feel obligated to give something substantial. After all they are our friends and we don't want them to think we're cheap. If we toss the letters without reading them, we can reduce some of the guilt we feel at not sending something and say truthfully, "No I didn't see the letter," if asked about it later.

So what do we do when the economy takes a nose dive and we can no longer pony up for the thousand dollar table at the annual Cattle Baron's ball?

Do what I do. Skip lunch!

It's my new diet/charitable giving plan. I'm on a carb restricted diet to try and lose about a hundred pounds worth of such lunches. So now, if someone asks me for a donation and I like the cause, I just give 'em my lunch money. Even if they say they don't, they'll take cash. Stick it in the envelope and send it right back. It may not be a lot, but cumulatively, it does add up. I already give more of my income percentage wise than President Obama in an election year, so why not pad my stats a little more and de-pad my derriere (not that there's too much hope of that since my behind seems unnaturally resistant to dieting)?

This has the double benefit of not only insuring I don't have to feel guilty about turning down charities, but it also help reduce my consumption of carb-restricted salads. I know you can eat all you want of them, but why? As a pretty much vegetarian by preference, I hate eating a lot of meat anyway (which is supposed to be one of the attractions of this kind of diet). So, for me, veggies unadorned and salads without croutons or crackers is pretty much it in the way of guilt-free snack foods. After a while, you just can't bear it any more and you just quit eating and decide to give your lunch to charity, which is, I think, the secret to this diet anyway. You just get too discouraged to eat!

Look, the economy could stand to lose some fat and so could I, but that's no reason I can't do some good while slowly starving myself into an unnatural thinness.

I say unnatural because last night I watched a movie in which a chubby little dentist claimed to weigh 185 pounds. Heck, my left leg weighs more than that! I didn't look as fat as he did when I weighed a good 50 pounds more than he claims to. Either I've got lead desposits in my bones or somebody's scales really are off.

At 185 pounds, I look like I just got out of Auschwitz or something. And no matter what I do, my behind is enormous!

How is that fair?

Oh, well, enough of my whining. Send your low carb treats to me at "Dieting Makes Me Cranky", 20755 Bay Shore Drive, Flint, TX 75762. Cash is accepted, but I am liable to eat it - if only for the salt content!

I'm just sayin'

Tom King

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Now They Tell Me My Dog Don't Love Me!


The Chicago Tribune says dogs don't love us. They cite some so-called expert that says dogs only like us for the Pup-a-Roni snacks. The Trib says they don't miss us when we're gone and that their affection can be had for a plate of hamburger.

Here's the article.

You can read it if you want, but I think it's a lot of humbug!

Okay, I get it. We're all kidding ourselves and nobody really loves us and we're naive to think so.

Man! You people at the Tribune are really depressing and I for one refuse to accept it. I mean these guys are from Chicago, the home of Barak Obama, the man for whom "Hope and Change" is about a massive government takeover, eternal debt and being able to tell us all what's best for us and making us like it. What do you expect? Dogs are far too much like conservatives. It makes sense the Trib would do a hit piece on them - trying to undermine our confidence in man's best friend.

Okay, I know that a dog doesn't exactly have free will which is something of a pre-requisite for true love, but what they have sure is a good facsimile of the genuine article. Dogs are designed with an innate instinct to belong to a family (or pack if you want to be all stuffy and scientific). They are fiercely loyal to the pack. Our dog was absolutely a part of our family.

Eric Zorn argues a dog can be bought off if you wave a chunk of meat in front of its nose. Well, you can run a naked lady past a group of old married men and instinct will probably make 'em look. That doesn't mean they are disloyal or don't love their wives. Love is about choosing who you go home and crawl in bed with every night, not about the odd distraction. You can steal a dog, feed him well and give him a comfortable bed for the night, but if that dog is bonded to his family, he'll hike 500 miles across the wilderness to find his way home to them. It happens and how do you explain that? I don't think Lassie would do that kind of thing because she was looking for a hamburger.

All I know is this. Our beagle Suzy was my friend and she was always happy to see me. In a cold cruel world, that means a lot. If I was in trouble with everyone else in the house, Suzy was still on my side! She may not have had exactly what a psychologist would define as love for me, but it was well enough like love to suit me and I certainly loved her well enough for the both of us. She used to cry if I left her behind when I went sailing. She loved to stand on the front of the trampoline on my catamaran with the breeze flapping those big old ears. Man I miss that dog!

I wonder if that's not why God went through all the trouble of creating us humans with the power to choose. Free will has caused a world of trouble since we picked it up in the Garden of Eden. You have to wonder sometimes, though, "Is all of this misery we're going through in the crucible that is life on Earth really going to be worth it in the end?"

I'm betting it will be. Humans give their lives up all the time for those they love, for causes they love and believe in. People live their very lives for the sake of those they we love and don't count the effort wasted. Our ability to choose to unselfishly love others is incredible and powerful.

Maybe that's why Christ was willing to give up His life to save us. Maybe God wanted there to be creatures in His universe that have the power to actually love Him by choice and not just to appear to love simply because they don't have the ability to do anything else. Maybe God loved us that much that he decided all the trouble was well worth it. Seems so to me!

As to dogs, I suspect God will send Suzy back to us in heaven and the new Earth. Her whole family loved her and were with her when she died. We blew through every box of Kleenex in Dr. Spence's exam room. If I were God I certainly wouldn't want someone I loved to lose a creature they loved that much, even if that creature only seemed to love them back. I don't think He would do that to us.

Cats, I don't know about.......

I'm just sayin'

Tom

*Okay, I was kidding about the cat thing. Don't write me a bunch of nasty letters. I'm sure Bootsy really does love you and that she's just being playful when she rips up the sofa if you forget to fill up her bowl with kitty chow.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Dom Deluise - His Secret Identity


Dom Deluise is gone. That's just not right. I'm really going to miss him popping up in strange places on TV and in movies. Last time I saw him was on an episode of Stargate SG-1 as a lovable, if dangerous alien. His son, Peter, was one of the regular writers and directors for the series. He brought his father's touch for comedy to one of my favorite sci-fi series. I was so glad he finally brought the old man on as a guest star. He was great!

By all accounts Dom Deluise was tough to work with for film directors. He wasn't demanding like James Dean or Marlon Brando. He wasn't temperamental like Joane Crawford or Liz Taylor.

What he was, was fall down on the floor funny. If you ever see a film with Dom Deluise in it, you always wanted to stay for the blooper real. In the Cannonball run films he played a timid character named Victor who coped with bullies in the real world by transforming into his alter ego, CAPTAIN CHAOS!

"Dum, Dum, DAAAAAAH!"

Dom Deluise was 'Captain Chaos' - the crazy man whose antics made men spurt coffee from their nostrils and forced actresses to return to their trailers to change their panties. Orderly film sets dissolved into chaos around him.

I had a son like him. He was large like Deluise and had a nack for making people spit root beer on each other and choke on pizza. He was the funnybone of the family and the after dinner entertainment. He had a gift. Three years ago he died. Whenever we lose someone like him the world is so much the poorer.

We need to laugh that hard once in a while - more often than we probably do. Dom Deluise's passing was doubly poignant for me this week. I found myself feeling very sad after I heard the reports of his passing. I liked him, but I kept wondering why his death bothered me so much. Then I looked up at the picture on the wall beside my desk of a grinning giant giving me the "thumb's up". Then, I realized who I'd been reminded me of.

Micah joking with mission trip crew

I hope you have someone in your family - a crazy uncle or a certifiable brother-in-law who dissolves family gatherings into proxisms of laughter. Hug them once in a while to let them know how much they mean to you.

I should have written a fan letter to Dom Deluise. He never knew how much I loved his work and I wish he had. I wish I'd told Micah how funny I thought he was. Maybe, when I sprayed Dr. Pepper on the cat that time, maybe he kinda guessed I was a fan.

I hope so.

Tom

Monday, May 04, 2009

E-Books in Our Schools?


The Texas legislature is debating whether to begin deploying electronic instead of paper textbooks in Texas public schools. Proponents say it saves paper and storage and in the long run will be less expensive. Opponents say, it's a dangerous innovation and if it was good enough for grandma.....

Oh, and what if the lights went out. Then where would you be.

In the dark!

And you can't read a paper textbook in the dark either.

Now I like electronic learning. The great thing about e-books is that you can go so far beyond traditional printed texts as far as the depth of material you can offer. With printed text, the publisher must weigh the cost in paper and ink of every photograph they put into the text. And forget about video or audio materials. With an e-book, however, you can click on a hyperlink and see Neil Armstrong step onto the moon. You can listen to Ronald Reagan challenge Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall!". You can watch our grandfathers storm the beaches at Normandy, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. It's so easy to go to the source.

Amerigo Vespucci's map can be scanned and available at the click of a link. Want a copy for the kids to pass around, hit the "print" button. Want to hear FDR's "Day that Will Live in Infamy" speech. Click on a button. The teacher can even plug into a projector and put it up on the screen without having to check out the DuKane projector and buy a $200 filmstrip.

It's absurd to limit our kids to a two page summary chapter on the Civil War, written by a leftist historian and then picked over by a paranoid textbook committee that is devoted to making the text politically correct (never mind about the truth). That's why our country is in the shape it's in these days. You can't read the tepid pablum that passes for textbooks any more - not and remain conscious at any rate! How much better to have e-books that link to the original source material, that show original maps, film of the actual events, photos, artifacts and the original words of the players in history, literature, art, math, science and economics.

How cool would it be if our smart kids could go off exploring on a subject that interests them instead of being tied down to memorizing a few watered down facts and figures and dates? Imagine kids not being bored to death by what they were studying.

An e-book is a whole library on the subject at hand and is not hindered by the cost of paper and ink or the limitations of the written word. An e-book publisher doesn't have to decide whether a picture should be printed in black and white or color, large or small. Bytes and pixels cost the same in black and white or color. The cost of including the vast amount of free written records, historical materials, visual and audio records is negligible when stored on a disk or hard drive or server compared to what it would cost to duplicate even a fraction of that information in a printed volume. An encyclopedia set that my parents took two years to pay for when I was a kid, can be had for less than $20 today at Best Buy on a shiny silver disk!

Now I confess to being an information junky. I read whole encyclopedias cover to cover when I was a kid. Not every kid is like that, but many are. Why don't we give them a challenge too while we're stuffing information into the unwilling and oppositional kids that don't have an interest in learning. With e-books, a kid can go just as far as he or she wants. With e-books, it's not hard to give them the enrichment materials they will devour if they have it.

The great danger of making this promiscuous lot of learning available to our kids is that we might accidentally teach our kids to think for themselves - and you know what trouble that caused back in colonial times. I mean, first Ben Franklin started newspapers, then he regularized the postal system and then there were all those libraries and next thing you know, the tea was in the harbor and the British had a revolution on their hands.

I kinda think it's time for another revolution in this country. But, we're not going to see that happen if we keep spoon feeding our kids with the intellectual pablum being dosed out in today's printed textbooks.

Imagine if our kids could read the words of the founding fathers for themselves instead of a summary of what some progressive socialist textbook writer would like to believe they said. Wouldn't that turn the world upside down as one English King name George lamented.

What's even more cool about e-books is that there's so much material in them that there's no way on God's green earth that any gang of progressives on a textbook committee could possibly read all the stuff in all those e-books! There's bound to be some original thought slip through, especially if they include original video and audio of the actual events and people responsible for all that history, literature, mathematics and science we're asking them to learn. If we give them the opportunity to sit at the feet of some of history's great teachers and hear them in their own words, then there might be hope for this generations of our kids and grand kids yet.

Then, two years from now, instead of buying new textbooks, you just download the update! Quick, clean and no trees have to die and maybe we could use the money for something else like better cafeteria food!

Just one man's opinion....

Tom King

.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

What If There is No Devil?


A dear friend asked recently, "What if there is no devil?"

Usually people who are discouraged and depressed ask, "What if there is no God?" They ask this question because they don't want to feel without any hope at all. They don't want to have bet their lives that there is a God, gone to church all those years only to find out God is a fraud like all the really smart people said He was.

When you ask, "Is there a devil?" that question comes from somewhere else. I suspect my friend truly does believe there is a God and is rather mad at Him. He probably means something more like, "What if God is just arbitrary and mean. What if we want to blame all the terrible stuff that happens in the world on Satan and it really is all God's fault?"

On the face of it, my friend has good reason to think God is picking on him. He had a truly awful childhood. His mother made him believe she hated him and wanted to give him away. Worse, she convinced him he was the only one of her children she despised. Turns out, she told his brother the same things.

His attempt to serve God turned out badly. Again he was rejected by people he trusted and loved. Then his best friend and companion committed suicide, leaving him alone to face deep pain and unhappiness for the rest of his life.

He told me once that he imagines a small child standing before God's judgment seat - a child representing the untold millions of God's children throughout history who have been murdered, tortured, tormented and brutalized.

"We did not ask for this?" the child says.

"You gave us no choice about whether we wanted to be here or not."

"It is you who should be on trial here, not me!"

It is a poignant scene and I understand where it comes from, but the reasoning behind it is flawed. It assumes God never asked such a question. It assumes God is not on trial here.

Actually, I believe such a scene as my friend pictured has taken place already. Well, not exactly already. My verb tense is all wrong, but there is no tense in the English language for when this scene takes place that makes complete sense to a creature bound by the limits of time and space as we are.

If you accept that God is not bound by time and space; that he, in fact, is infinite and exists beyond time and space, not just able to move backward and forward in time (as I believe the angels are - but that's a discussion for another essay), then God must encompass both space and time at once. When He creates, He creates the past, the present and the future all at once. It explains why He is called the Alpha and Omega. It explains the confusing business about the Trinity. To us He appears to be three beings and yet we are told He is one. God is who he is in whatever dimension of space and time he dwells. Physicists believe there are many dimensions in the universe. It may be (and, of course, this is only speculation) that Christ is God manifest in the 3 dimensions we know, the Holy Spirit in 4 and God the Father in 5 and beyond. It would explain a lot of things.

C.S. Lewis drew an analogy once that helped me tremendously. He described a line upon a sheet of paper on someone's desk. We are a dot along the line, moving from left to right, past to future in the flow of time. God exists not only on the line, but also on the paper, and in the entire room. God sees the beginning and the end of the line all at the same time. He made the line all at once. He did not create the Earth as if it were a bowling ball that He rolled off down the lane to see whether he might knock over some pins with it.

What I believe God did was create the entire line - the whole path of the cosmic bowling ball, if you will. As God creates the beginning, He also creates the end. Though to us the great judgment may happen at the end of time to us, in effect, God already has met you as you exist at the end of the world. To God tomorrow is the same as yesterday. He sees them both.

God, in a sense, has already asked you the question, my friend demanded that He ask. God simply asks it at the end of time when we have all the facts. He actually can ask, "Do you want to have your time on Earth my child?" For God the question will mean something.
"Do you want what I am offering you?" asks God. Whatever your answer might be, God already knows it from your own lips.

Maybe you think now that you would rather never have existed at all, but then, you do not have the information you will have when you stand before God and review your life. Perhaps you saved a life you never knew you had saved. Perhaps you eased someone's burden, but never knew how grateful they were for your help.

Maybe someone loved you more than you ever knew. Just maybe, someone found God and was able to live forever because of your witness. Maybe you yourself have rejected eternal life, but still were able to make a difference for someone. Maybe you chose to live your life, no matter how selfish and evil, just to do that one good thing - as a way to make up for your wickedness in some small way. I like to think that given all the information, I'd choose to do the right thing, even if it were hard.

I believe God is just. I believe we will all be satisfied with His judgment, even if not all will be happy. I remember a time being punished for something I had done wrong as a child. I knew the consequences of my actions were just and I accepted them. I think it will be much the same for all who stand before God one day whether they are redeemed or have chosen to go their own way. I believe every one will know that He is just!

We cannot fairly judge God because we cannot see the alpha and omega as He sees. We cannot know the beginning the middle and the end as He knows it until we have lived it. We cannot love as completely as He loves because we can never know another as he knows us. We cannot be as completely fair as God is fair to us because we cannot grasp all the factors that make up even our own lives, much less that of any other person. God, however, knows the why and wherefore of everything. We live bound by the strictures of time and space and yet we think we can understand a God for whom no such limitations exist. It's little wonder some of us are so frustrated.

The great challenge of faith is to recognize that we cannot second guess God. Instead, all we can do is trust that He is who He says He is. My friend's child analogy is quite appropriate. We are like children standing before a parent, stamping our feet and demanding to know things we cannot understand until we have grown up.

I have to trust that when we do grow up finally, that we'll choose to live the life we had here. I am told that all things work together for them that love God and are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28). I am told we will throw down our crowns at Jesus' feet and shout "Praise God, heaven is cheap enough!" I used to not fully understand why we'd do that, but as I grow older, it's becoming clearer.

And if there is no devil or no God, then what is the difference my friend if I believe in Him or not? It makes no difference to you. So what if I trust Him to be fair? If you believe He's selfish and evil, unfair or nonexistent, then live your life and die and be done with it. What's the difference? If God does exist, then he apparently doesn't force you to do anything you don't want to. I haven't seen many folks struck down by lightning bolts for being disobedient lately.

But what about hell? Well, in my Bible it says when you're dead, you apparently sleep. Jesus called it that. He said God gives eternal life, but at the same time he also gives eternal death to those that choose that. Solomon said, "The living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything. Eccl. 9:5" Eternal torment is a Greek idea that was added on later.

So if a merciful God lets those who choose to disbelieve in Him go to their eternal rest, then it's the same thing as you'd get if God really didn't exist. So, be content. Everyone has a choice. God is good. He loves you whether you love Him or not. If you want to be with Him, you get to be with Him. If you don't, you get to run you life without Him and que' sera, sera!

I hope to see you all upon the Sea of Glass. If you choose not to join us, then rest well. Me, I'm looking forward to eternal life. I have way more stuff I want to do than I could ever get done in 70 or 80 years here.

Tom


LOU COSTELLO BUYS A COMPUTER


















IF Abbott and Costello were still around today their famous sketch "Who's on first?" might have turned out something like this...

Written by Tom King
(c) 2004, 2009 Flint, TX

ABBOTT: Super Duper Computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.
ABBOTT: Mac?
COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.
ABBOTT: Your computer?
COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.
ABBOTT: Mac?
COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.
ABBOTT: What about Windows?
COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?
ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?
COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look in the windows?
ABBOTT: Wallpaper.
COSTELLO: What if I don't like wallpaper?
ABBOTT: Just change it.
COSTELLO: Isn't that expensive?
ABBOTT: No, it's free with Windows.
COSTELLO: I have to buy the Windows to get the wallpaper.
ABBOTT: It's free if you buy the computer.
COSTELLO: They give you windows for your office if you buy a computer.
ABBOTT: Certainly!
COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.
ABBOTT: Software for Windows?
COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What have you got?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?
ABBOTT: I just did.
COSTELLO: You just did what?
ABBOTT: Recommend something.
COSTELLO: You recommended something?
ABBOTT: Yes.
COSTELLO: For my office?
ABBOTT: Yes.
COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!
ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.
COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, lets just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?
ABBOTT: Word.
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: Word in Office.
COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?
ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".
COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?
ABBOTT: Yes, you want Real.
COSTELLO: Sure I may want to watch a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need!
ABBOTT: Real.
COSTELLO: Well, I don’t want a fake one!
ABBOTT: Of course.
COSTELLO: So what do I get?
ABBOTT: Real Player.
COSTELLO: Yes, I want a Real Player.
ABBOTT: And you’ll have one
COSTELLO: A Real Player?
ABBOTT: Certainly.
COSTELLO: OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?
ABBOTT: You click the blue "r".
COSTELLO: I click the blue what?
ABBOTT: The blue "r".
COSTELLO: The blue “r” what?
ABBOTT: Just the blue “r”
COSTELLO: The blue “r” what?
ABBOTT: The blue “r” nothing.
COSTELLO: If the blue “r” nothing, how do I watch the movie?
ABBOTT: You click the blue “r”
COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w?
ABBOTT: The blue "r" is the Real Player and the blue "W" is Word.
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: But there's three words in "office for windows"!
ABBOTT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world.
COSTELLO: What is?
ABBOTT: Word.
COSTELLO: Word?
ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other Words left. Word pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.
COSTELLO: Word?
ABBOTT: Woooord, dude!
COSTELLO: I don’t know what you’re talking about! What about bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?
ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer
COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?
ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.
COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?
ABBOTT: One copy.
COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?
ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy money.
COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?
ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT!

A FEW DAYS LATER . . .

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?
ABBOTT: Click on "START"..
COSTELLO: Now don't you start that again....
ABBOTT: But I thought you wanted to "STOP"
COSTELLO: That's right. This thing has been on for 3 days and I can't find the "STOP" button.
ABBOTT: Click on "START"
COSTELLO: I don't wanna start!
ABBOTT: But you have to click on "START".
COSTELLO: Why do I have to click on "START"?
ABBOTT: So you can stop.....
COSTELLO: So I have to click on "START" to "STOP"
ABBOTT: That's so you can log off.
COSTELLO: I click "START" and then I log off.
ABBOTT: That's right, you log off.
COSTELLO: I log off
ABBOTT: That's right, now go ahead and log off.
COSTELLO; What if I don't have a log. I DON'T EVEN HAVE A FIREPLACE!!!!!
ABBOTT: No, you don't need a log. You just want to get the computer out of Windows
COSTELLO: Which ones?
ABBOTT: Which what?
COSTELLO: Which Windows?
ABBOTT: The only Windows you've got.
COSTELLO: So it doesn't matter which Windows?
ABBOTT: You just want to get out of Windows.

(sound of wood and metal scraping followed by breaking glass)

ABBOTT: Lou, what was that?
COSTELLO: Oh, I threw the computer out the front windows!
ABBOTT: You what?!!!
COSTELLO: You said it didn't matter which windows, so the front windows was closer than the back ones....


*I wrote the original version of this in 2004.  In 2005 it went viral, but after the death of my son in 2006, I lost track of things and didn't realize it was floating around the Internet unattributed till just yesterday (October 2009).  I want to thank everyone who graciously added attribution and a link to my website to the piece. A couple of funny film versions are now on the Internet and I hope they'll drop me a byline so at least I can claim the piece on my resume'.  Having written a couple of other unattributed viral pieces, I'm more careful these days to put my by-line on things.

Friday, May 01, 2009

A Modest Proposal to Change the World


Pete Seeger is 90. Good for him! You know it's possible to appreciate a person for their character even if you disagree with their politics. Many of us want the same things, we just disagree on how to get there. I love Pete Seeger's music and his great love for people and music and the world he lives in. The man is humble, sweet and utterly harmless.

The tragedy is that whatever your belief system, left, right or middlin', there are those who would co-opt your attempts to solve problems in the name of grabbing power for themselves. For every Pete Seeger there's a Joe Stalin. For every Ted Nugent there's a Sadaam Hussein!

It's too bad it's not up to people like Pete and Ted and most of the folks I've met on the Banjo Hangout, on Facebook and Virtual-Village.org (with a couple of notable evil power-mad exceptions). Pretty much anything we tried to make things better would work because we're all nice people. The problem is, they'd never put Pete or Ted or most of the folks on my friends lists in charge. The guys who seize power are almost inevitably people who crave power (and get kicked off my friends lists).

I'm terribly conservative and absolutely love Pete's music and I agree with what he wants to do. I want the rivers to be clean and people who mess up the world should clean up after themselves. I want hungry people to have food and for war to end. I can sing "If I Had a Hammer" and agree with every word.

That's why music is such a wonderful thing. If we really wanted to unite this country, we should look to folk musicians for an example of how to dialogue.

You make a big circle, everyone gets out their instruments and when it's your turn, someone will point to you and say "take it".

Everyone in Congress should be required to play a musical instrument well enough to carry a 60 second break. Take the desks out of the House and Senate and replace them with stools and mike stands.

Instead of banging a gavel the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate should tap the podium with a baton and go, "Uno, dos, tres, quatro......!" and then start that head bobbing thing.

CSPAN would at least be a lot more entertaining......

.