Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Friend's Poem on the Economy (Ha. Ha?)

No I didn't write this but I wish I did. A self-described octogenarian, friend of mine who lives in Columbia did. An ex-DJ, ex-radio broadcast news reporter, wrote it. John Wrisley, a fracking genius though he doesn't know it; funny, friendly, concise, and a voluminous writer and blogger.
It just doesn't get any better than this!

We'll Find Our Way Back

The great middle class has been knocked on its ass
And doesn't know what to do.
The bubbles have burst, and, expecting the worst,
They are bidding their fortunes adieu.

There's no room for mirth when we see our net worth
Drop eighteen percent or more.
We're poorer today than we were yesterday,
And the pain is too harsh to ignore.

401(k)s in a swoon, pension plans out of tune,
Add up to a great tale of woe.
Whom shall we blame? Who'll bear the shame?
Who is it made off with our dough?

When stock prices dropped, and real estate flopped,
Where did all the wealth go?
Did some son-of-a-bitch get filthy rich
While we became burdened with woe?

There's been hanky panky by young Doctor Bernanke,
And tricks by Tim Geithner to boot.
Look behind scenes to see what it means.
Lets trace the distress to its root.

In days of old, true money was gold -
Four-hundred-eighty grains to the ounce.
A unit of measure that one could treasure,
And keep honest tabs on accounts.

A means of exchange, gold helped to arrange
The commercial affairs of mankind.
It brightened the world as its value unfurled;
As trade 'round the globe intertwined.

But it was tough, there was never enough
Of the bright shiny metal called "gold."
"It's holding us back. Please cut us some slack,"
Said the bankers from inside their stronghold.

"Let us use paper and we'll cut you a caper
That will turn this old world on its ear!"
Mistaking paper for wealth, the entire commonwealth
Was convinced it had nothing to fear.

The game worked many years, and amid the loud cheers
We were taught to get "rich" on the cuff.
We loaded up debt and we're paying it yet -
Now the future looks exceedingly tough.

It doesn't seem fair to be forced to foreswear
Those freewheeling days of the boom.
But an irritation brought on by inflation
Leaves us little but gloom.

The boys in D.C. behave outrageously
As they pretend to know what to do.
What really rancors is their gifts to the bankers.
The last one they'll help will be YOU.

And they're not really helping, despite all the yelping!
They're just piling up trillions in debt.
We hear all the blab, but who'll pay that great tab?
It'll be all our kids, you can bet.

As depression bites deep, we may wake from our sleep
And learn from the lessons of old.
We'll find lunches aren't free, and - doubtlessly,
We'll find our way back to gold.

~John Wrisley, March 28th, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Back, Succubi!

"The sky is falling!! The Sky is falling!"
"I lost everything and had to declare bankruptcy - but I'm still gonna party and go out and enjoy life."
"I don't make him spend money on me. Gee, how could I STOP him? (giggle giggle) Oh, looky, I got what I wanted - again!" Tee. Hee.

"I'll let you know if I survive the surgery two weeks from now."

"DO you SEE who's getting a bailout this time?? Isn't it outrageous?? Aren't you upset?"

"Join the "National Tea Party" movement, the "We Surround Them" movement, the "News with Views" subscription group, and get the word out!"

Yawn. Go. AWAY.

For 25 years I tried to educate people, help people, and tell people what was going to happen. They dissed me. They insisted I was wrong. They smiled indulgently. They sneered and criticized voiciferously. Now suddenly they want my SYMPATHY?

What a bunch of drama queens.

If you could read and write and do simple math you had to know what was going down. Now your heroes have feet of clay? And now you 'discover' the ones who wrote the exceptions in the bailouts got campaign contributions from the very ones they 'saved'? And now the hopeyfeeleychangers are either scuttling back into their burrows or still stridently insisting that their Saviour will save us all? And now you think is the time for everyone to rally round and fight?

Go play with yourselves. Talking to you is an exercise in futility, and listening to your screeching and endless meeeeeeeism is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Go wank, as the British say. Waste your seed and your panting useless sweating efforts on your all-too-brief self-satisfaction. Again.

I do admit that it is sometimes fun to watch those who have been making excuses for ten years or more, continue to get defensive and make the identical excuses over and over again. They should tape them so all they have to do is play them endlessly on their voicemails, post them on their facebook pages, a litany of self-excuse and self-pity and self-righteous indignation. All you have to do is prick them a tad bit with a tiny needle, and off they go again, hysterically insistent. It's like tormenting a chihuahua. You know he's going to growl and posture in exactly the same way, teeth bared and bouncing, every time - and that's what makes it so damned funny. Look, there he goes again! Bark, Peppy, Bark! Nothing changes.

But I am tired of the repetitive plaintive whines for attention, the constant emotional manipulation of the stupid by the stupid. You deserve each other. Go bark at each other for eternity, trapped in your senseless and noisy hell.

Join you? Help you? Care about you? I don't even like you. And you are nothing like me - and never will be. Dream on. Don't try to validate your simpering incompetence and pathetic misunderstanding of yourselves by asking me to be a part of it. Don't whine that you "Didn't know, had no idea!" Yes you did. But in your own mind, you told yourself it couldn't, shouldn't be true. You lied to yourself, to me, to everyone around you, and now you want my indulgence, my attention, my help, my participation?

HA. Simper, whimper, and whine your way out of this one, this time, all by yourself. Your eyes are not opened even yet to all the damage you have caused by your own ignorance, selfishness, greed, and prating. Stop grabbing for me, trying to read me like braille, trying to find the sympathetic bumps you can use to try to manipulate me to your side. Go find someone else to suck the life from. Back, succubi!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Heritage - An Excuse to Party?

I'm Irish. And I have never been to St. Patrick's Day in Savannah. Never went to the parade, never stayed on River Street during that time, never drank green beer.

Of course I'm Irish, and of course I like to drink. I've been to Irish pubs, especially when they've had Irish performers, and sat and drank and sang the 'auld' songs. Irish folks are moody; sometimes happy, sometimes in deep depression or anger - but they sing. They sing anyway, in spite of, or because of. When my father used to get depressed, he was the epitome of the Irish - mournful, sad, soul-searching. He taught me that depressions were normal, even healthy; that you make up your mind to feel that way until you don't, any more. He taught me my Irish history when I was very young, as well as our family history - none of it written down, all by word of mouth. He took me to where the family lived, and their brogue was so thick still you could cut it with a knife. Every time we visited the family for a week, for six weeks later I had a distinct accent!

Juxtapose that against the hysteria and phoniness of what happens every year in Savannah, and you can see why I couldn't care less about socializing with the people who get drunk and pee in the streets, who think that green beer and green fountains are Irish, who have never tasted corned beef and cabbage or shepherd's pie.

Tonight I'll go to my friend's little pub and have corned beef and cabbage and a quiet, neighborhood party. We might sing the songs - or we might not. But we will have good and peaceful camaraderie. The children of all ages will be there - as they usually are - shooting pool, talking, playing pinball and throwing darts, hanging with their parents and friends, respectful and friendly, just like good Irish children are. Why does anyone desperately need an excuse to get drunk, fall down, fight, drool, or be a part of a huge uncaring crowd that has no reverence for St. Patrick and no idea of what he really did for Ireland? No concept of what it is to be Irish, to have family that fled tyranny and slavery and starvation for a better life? Who have no idea of why the Irish work or play so hard, or sing so boisterously, or with such deep and tearful emotion? No, thanks. I know who and what I am, and that's all I need to know - or to be around.

Monday, March 16, 2009

An Inspiration? Hardly...

I was talking with my son a few months back, and he was telling me how much I had influenced him; strong work ethic, planning, setting goals and working for them, being creative and thoughtful, firm and decisive, without bullshit or artifice. Always being who I was, and be damned to those who didn't like it. This has, he said, influenced him to not only run his acting troupe, but to plant and can vegetables every year, to keep going upward in his job, to further his education, and to do the things he loves to do. He has become an instructor for "Leave No Trace", a group that protects the environment by, not yammering after others to wear leaves and go off grid, but by responsibly, individually, quietly, noticing and caring for their own individual environments.

Just this weekend my daughter said that she never felt that she could live up to me; I was so firm, so decisive, never scared, always doing research then making common-sense decisions. Never caring what others thought, but following my own path, doing what I felt was right, damn the torpedoes full speed ahead. She always felt like she couldn't even approximate all I had done and even all I still intended to do. This from a young lady who worked full time since she was 14, was valedictorian of her high school, and went on to graduate summa cum laude from college as a biologist. Who didn't quit, who worked three jobs and ate Ramen noodles to put herself through college - and still found the time to work a potter's wheel and play on the basketball team.

Somehow I've never thought of myself as an inspiration to others. I just did what I thought was right; made the choices that felt right, and told others what I thought. Very few people saw me tossing and turning at night, knew that I felt that frisson of fear deep in my gut, knew that I would sit down and make lists, all the time, with "Good" and "Bad" checkoff columns. When I got sick, I didn't sit and whine or make a big deal about it - I was embarrassed because I had so many things to do and I didn't like my body rebelling and not permitting me to do them. So I simply went on ahead, as hard and as fast as I could, making fun of myself and my illness, belittling it and making it seem less than it was. Mostly because it pissed me off - limits of any sort piss me off.

I don't know what to do with compliments or gratitude. Honestly, my father raised me to be suspicious of them; the flattery of others was always suspect. Usually it had an underlying purpose and a reason other than to make someone feel good. I find it so weird that people are impressed by what I do as a matter of course or a matter of conscience.

But it is nice to hear from your own children that they were positively influenced. A lot of parents wait their whole lives to hear that. Some never do. I just wonder that the people closest to me never saw the angst, the late nights up pacing, the constant worry that I HAD to accomplish, HAD to do all I did... and did it, much of the time, with a clamped-down feeling in my gut. It wasn't easy. Not a single step. And not being positive, every step of the way, didn't help at all. But being able to recover from downfalls, to spring back fully formed and girded, snarling and ready for the next step, was an imperative. I'm glad my children have that rebound. And I'm glad that they know now that each step was NOT assured and was NOT as easy and as effortless as it appeared. But when you want things, you do things. And if those things don't work, you step back, take a good and reasoned look - and do them differently. If they learned nothing else from me, I hope that they learned - resilience.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Difference

Want and need.

Some people "need" a new coat or new shoes, when they have a closetful. Some need a sushi fix, or a doughnut fix, or a white chocolate mocha latte. Some people need to get out of the house every night or at least every weekend.

Some people I know need to feel loved, need to feel - something, anything at all. They'll go to Disney World or the movies or a new bar or a new restaurant, desperately looking for their fulfillment. They'll squeal when they see people whom they've seen all week as if they haven't seen them in months. They'll sit and gaggle and gossip and giggle, ooohing and ahhhing over everything, pointing out people to other people. The guys will sit and talk about the game (whichever one was on this week) or about their women or their friends. And the evenings pass in hazy recollections and giggling unremarkable incomprehensibility. But they NEED to do that every weekend.

I have friends who need to leave the quiet certainty of their homes to go to other cities and towns, to meet other people, to shop in other places. I have friends who will drive 250 miles one way just to shop somewhere. They need to get away, they need to do and go and see.

Even friends on the edge of bankruptcy need to keep their heads up and their chins up and make people think that they are just fine. They spend what little money they have left to gad out and about, pretending to others and to themselves that things are not as bad as they seem.

A long time ago I read a fictional book about terrorists blowing up the Stock Market - as well as destroying it via an internet virus. All of the information was destroyed and would have to be rebuilt from the archives - which could take months. One very smart man stood up and said, "Look, the Stock Market is purely fantasy anyway. We can put up arbitrary numbers and no one is going to check them; they won't be able to. So we'll just say that we had a minor glitch but the problem is fixed already, and we will run the tape just as if there was never any interruption." In the fictional book it worked. Somehow, knowing what I know about politics and the gullibility of the American public, I think that it would work in real life too. People would rather believe desperately that everything is fine Fine FINE than to face the truth and deal with it.

So many people, so bent on the superficality of life, bent on having everything they need, need, need, not ever stopping to reason and think and plan or at least look at what they are doing, where they are going. So many people who cannot be honest with themselves, much less others, who prate on and on about their latest purchases or their latest trips or their latest entertainment. So many people talking about what they need, what they have to have, what they are determined to have, even if their pocketbooks and their common sense dictate otherwise. So many people, demanding that their lives reflect the high drama of movie sets, desperately needing the Sturm und Drang of shrieks instead of smiles, heights of joy and depths of tragic sorrow and pain, needing the rapid slides from one to the other, needing more and more excitement and furor as their lives go slowly to hell. Having no real beliefs, no foundation, no basis for their thoughts and hopes and needs and dreams, as well as no plans or goals for themselves, they must manufacture the uproar in their lives to feel alive, important, and valuable.

Yes, it is all to easy to fool the sheeple, who have to buy the latest Shamwow or Snuggie to prove to themselves that they are on the cutting edge, that they matter, that they are important.

How pathetic they truly are, they have simply no idea.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Stone Carvings

I have been all over the lower 48, from Washington, DC to Seattle, Washington, from Orlando through Nawlins and San Antone to Albuquerque. The West is one of my favorite places; clean air, skies that have no glaze of humidity and through which you can see for miles. Dark and brooding thunderstorms that spring up at a moment's notice and shatter the air with thunder and crackling lightning and bursts of sharp rain and even sharper hail - and then a rapid clearing and a fresh washed scent. Snow that seems to melt away before it gets dirty and muddy and fouled with scraped-up trash and car sediment.

But I had never seen the Badlands, or Mount Rushmore, before last year. Odd, because I am all about history and impressive nature. These two historical monuments, one blatantly man-made and the other a massive formation of nature, deeply impressed me. I know, it isn't endless streams of gaudy fun like so many people need to survive their boredom. But standing on a massive cutaway edge, looking down at the sedimentary rock that looks like a layered cake cut by a giant hand, takes my breath away, impresses me more than I can say.
Look at the colors of the sedimentary rock here, slashed away by a Great Cataclysm of what they assume was the lava flow of some volcanic activity that dumped tons of ash elsewhere in the Badlands Park. Imagine traveling thousands of miles over wide open prairies, and then suddenly having to figure out how to get over this with oxen and wagons. To go around would have taken them hundreds of miles and days out of their way - not good when a winter was coming for which they were unprepared and unsheltered. The Badlands hid not only Indians but rustlers and criminals of the day, so making the choice to go into these bare and fearsome canyons hald a lot of peril, both natural and man-made.

Here you can see how quickly a storm can come up; look at those amazing thunderheads. Yet we had no rain where we were; the rain fell 50 miles north from us.
Here is a deposit of some of that volcanic ash. It has been carved by wind and rain into interesting shapes. It looks hard as rock, but if you pick it up it blows away into dusty ash.

A hundred miles west of the Badlands is Mt. Rushmore. You can take a 100 pictures of it and they all seem to look alike. But what you usually can't see in all of those pictures is that the shadows from the changing position of the sun alter the expressions of the carved faces. In some, they look wise and pompous.
In others, there is a shadow of a smile or frown on one or two of the stone faces. We were there before "the season" - over Easter Weekend at the end of March. Tourist season doesn't start there til the first of May, when there are lots of things for the kiddies and those ennui-infected tourists to do. When we were there it was chilly and not very crowded, and almost everything was closed, except the monument itself.

Stone carvings, old and new, manmade and nature made. All amazing, all different, and all expressions of voluptuous passions and profound elemental drives. Yes, the West is amazing - for those with eyes to see and hearts to hear. The peace and stillness belies the endless movement, the restlessness, the drive to do something, to move, to live, to become something else. The very earth here goads one to become bigger than s/he is. Maybe that's what those who say that the West frightens them with its big and open spaces really mean - that they are afraid of all of this wild and rampant power, afraid to tap into it, afraid to try to become and create all that they can. Afraid of the endless silence that forces them to see who and what they really are; without the endless chitchattering of voices and moods and liars and cheats and advertising filling their ears, their hearts, with the superfluous, the empty, the mindless and purposeless nattering.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Yes, my Conspiracy Theorist friends are ranting still, more voiciferously than ever; this proves that, and they were right all along, see see see?

Well, of course they were - and are. So what? Even Newsweek declared two weeks ago that "we are socialist" - like THAT was any big surprise. What was that Ben Franklin said? Ah, yes - "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." Ben Franklin - April 17, 1787.

Virtuous - clean living, honest, full of integrity, never straying from a positive and forward looking life. Ol' Ben wrote, in his 20's, 13 steps toward a more virtuous life, and strove to emulate them throughout. But what I have seen in the past 30 years is people who think that "virtuous" means screaming in others' faces, lying behind their backs, and justifying their vicious, self-promoting, and self-seeking actions based on their belief in one god or the other. Be it the god of the skies, the god of the earth, the god of mammon or government - their behavior is all excused by their god. They point their fingers at others' violations, ignoring the mote in their own eyes. God help someone who tries to live an honest life; they will drag him or her down in lies and disrepute. The most honest and decent folks I know have been dragged through the mud and filth of lies and jealousy and hate. Either join them in their shrieking, animalistic behavior - or suffer the consequences of same. Those are the choices these self-righteous and non-virtuous people offer.

Not me. I step back. I step away. I deny them. I refute them. I choose - to go where my heart leads and my mind can think, where my dreams can be fulfilled, where I can live without their usury, their grasping demanding power plays. I choose. I choose not to shriek, not to be a part of the endless joyful sadomasochistic agony they have built for themselves. Let their fingernails scrape on the rocks of the Hell they have built for themselves. Let them batter themselves to death on the hatred they manufacture for each other.

I have no need of, no desire for, a master - nor to be one. And that is the one thing that no one ever seemed to grasp about me - that power means nothing to me. Life is too short to live without joy, without laughter, without the simple pleasures of sweat and production, sharing and caring for those whom we love. Power is the crutch of the insecure, the desperate, the poisoned souls who can find no joy in themselves, but must seek it in the domination and direction of others. Too bad they never realize how pathetic they are.