Thursday, December 01, 2011 - Dan Culberson
NO, VIRGINIA, THERE IS NO GOD
NOW, hear me out.
Every December many newspapers resurrect an 1897 editorial from the old NEW YORK SUN in which Francis P. Church answered the famous question from 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon.
Perhaps Virginia is grown up enough now to ask a larger, more serious question: "Please tell me the truth: Is there a God?"
Virginia, forgive us. When you were young, adults thought you needed to be protected from your fears, and we believed it would be better if you continued to believe in Santa Claus, when all reason and logic told you there was no jolly old elf.
Remember, we cannot prove a negative hypothesis. We cannot logically prove that something does NOT exist. So, just as we cannot prove thatSanta Claus does not exist, we cannot prove that God does not exist. But just as Santa Claus is a myth created for the comfort and joy of little children to give them hope against a cold, dark Christmas night, perhaps God is another myth created for the comfort of a little band of people to give them courage against a cold, dark unknown world.
No, Virginia, all deductions and reason tell us there is no God. We have grown old and wise enough now that in our hearts we know we can no longer lay the blames of the world on someone else. We can recognize the heartbreak and tragedy that occur when something horrible or absurd results from someone acting in the name of God. Let's face reality: Mankind created God in our own image to do our bidding, and surely the world has suffered enough from all the wars and atrocities that have occurred because people believed they alone knew the meaning of God.
Not believe in God? Yes, we do face the danger of losing a reason to be kind and do good without a belief in God. But we can rely on intelligence and common sense in order to be kind and do good, not some ancient commandment on a tablet handed down through a self-proclaimed intermediary. We are no longer frightened savages huddled in a cave around a fire, we are no longer children afraid of growing up and needing the comfort of the belief in something larger than ourselves, smarter than ourselves, more grandiose than ourselves.
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" makes good sense, no matter who tells us to do it. "Do unto others exactly as they did unto you" is only a short-term correction of bad activity, and it can lead to less intelligent people killing themselves all off so that we are again left with a small band of frightened savages huddled in a cave around a fire, instead of a globe-filled, worldwide band of humanity loving and helping each other for our HUMANITY, still staring at the stars in wonder.
If God does exist, why are there so many different religions and versions of God like so many Santa Clauses at every public mall? Would God be so vain, so HUMAN, to watch such widespread pain and suffering that occurs in the name of religion?
Why do some believe only they have the authority to speak for God? Be suspicious of anyone claiming to speak on behalf of God, because that means we are again being treated like children. But we are grown up now, and our parents are dead.
Yes, what about Heaven? Of course death is frightening. After the joy of life, the idea of absolute, spine-chilling, subzero NOTHING is frightening to us all. But a false hope of an afterlife is as perverse as the false hope of a jolly little man squeezing down our chimneys with good cheer and presents for us all.
And what about angels and that tunnel of light at death? Well, we know how powerful our own imaginations can be, we know how "real" our dreams can be. Perhaps our minds make us dream at the moment of death to help us through that last experience of all, and just as we sometimes dream about something we heard about, read about or actually experienced, our interrupted last dream could be as common as dreams of flying or being naked in a crowd.
No God! Yes, the idea is frightening. It means we are finally responsible for our own actions, our own destiny. But it also means we have that much more responsibility to be kind and to do good while we are here.
(Dan Culberson, the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of THE SEARCHER [ISBN: 978-1-4415-2009-8 (Hardcover), 978-1-4415-2008-1 (Softcover)], PLASTIC MAN: A Novel of the Sixties [ISBN: 978-1-4363-2027-6 (Hardcover), 978-1-4363-2026-9 (Softcover)] and AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8], was named a Boulder Pacesetter in 1985 by the DAILY CAMERA the first year of that program and has been a film reviewer since 1972; his blog is at http://culberson.blogspot.com/ and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.)
Wednesday, November 02, 2011 - Dan Culberson
Grumblings from the Floor
ANOTHER MODEST PROPOSALNOW, hear me out.I think it is agreed by all parties that this abortion problem is a nasty business. Tempers have flared, curses have been shouted and people have been killed, not to mention both innocent and guilty bystanders swept by their emotions to commit unnatural acts in the name of decency and the "right thing to do"--and I'm just talking about OUTSIDE the clinics.Ever since Jan. 23, 1973, and the sexual peak of Baby Boomers everywhere, no solution proposed so far is going to satisfy everyone, because both sides currently have valid arguments. The pro-choice proponents believe that a woman has the right to do what she wants to her body and she can choose to prevent an unwanted child just as readily as she can choose to prevent an unwanted tumor, although certainly with more emotional involvement.The pro-life proponents (or, by extension, the anti-choice people) believe that the "state," the government, society, other people or even God has the right if not the duty to do what it wants in order to prevent people from living a life of free will.Hasn't anyone else recognized that this argument was angrily conducted centuries ago with great acrimony, hard feelings and probably lost lives and that therefore society is moving backwards?Well, Ladies, Gentlemen and Others, I have a solution to the problem as plain as your own backyard or living-room easy chair: namely, our pets.The idea came to me when I acquired a kitten from the Humane Society and afterwards watched a disgusting, predestination-disguised, anti-choice commercial that was crude in its production values, but just as slick in
its manipulative techniques as any Madison Avenue, truth-mangling, morality-bending, self-aggrandizing advertisement.When I bought the kitten, I was pressured into having it neutered. I was amazed that both the Humane Society and my veterinarian were so cavalier about a practice that is nothing more than a subversive act that eventually should put them both out of work.Of course! Neither the Humane Society nor all the veterinarians would be so naive as to work toward putting themselves out of business, so something noble must be behind their desire to have a world full of aging, non-procreating pets.And therein lies the solution to the problem of pro-choice, pro-life, anti-choice, anti-life, free-will, predestination, pro-abortion, anti-abortion dilemma: Whenever a child is born or whenever a child is adopted, neuter it. Snip-snip.Only then can we cease this senseless anger, fighting, demonstrating and killing that is pitting sister against sister, brother against brother and family against family over a matter that should be between a woman and her conscience."What?" you say? "That would be silly!" you say? "Not to mention stupid and inhuman!" you say?Not if we call it "humane." The time-honored tradition of society and Madison Avenue is to use language to sway thinking. Therefore, we simply call the act of desexing all children at birth and adoption the "Humane
Solution," and all our worries about unwanted children, the agonizing of abortion and the morality of the way we live others' lives is over. Snip-snip."Wait a minute!" you say. "If all children are prevented from having children of their own, then how does that affect future generations?" Now, I don't want to sound callous or unfeeling, but another time-honored tradition of society and government is to answer "That's their problem." I am sure that pro-choice advocates, pro-life advocates and busybodies everywhere are more concerned with the immediate problem: how to prevent unwanted children and how to prevent women from destroying society by doing what they want to their own bodies.Otherwise, we need only look at our own backyards and living-room easy chairs again. The practice and pressure of neutering our pets certainly hasn't created a shortage of pets. The unnatural but humane act of forcing our will upon the nature of pet procreation hasn't caused us any sleepless nights, and those pets are coming from somewhere.Perhaps it's as simple as "Nature always finds a way."Now, to head off any accusations that I have a personal interest in my proposal, I have no other motive than the public good of society by relieving the suffering of women, satisfying the desires of the religious and giving some short-term business to doctors. I have no children by which I can get a single penny, the youngest being 42 years
old, and I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV.(Dan Culberson, the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of THE SEARCHER [ISBN: 978-1-4415-2009-8 (Hardcover), 978-1-4415-2008-1 (Softcover)], PLASTIC MAN: A Novel of the Sixties [ISBN: 978-1-4363-2027-6 (Hardcover), 978-1-4363-2026-9 (Softcover)] and AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8], was named a Boulder Pacesetter in 1985 by the DAILY CAMERA the first year of that program and has been a film reviewer since 1972; his blog is at http://culberson.blogspot.com/ and he can be contacted at email@example.com by e-mail.)
Saturday, April 30, 2011 - Dan Culberson
CULBERSON'S CHALLENGENOW, hear me out.
Rational thinkers need a corollary with which to counter Pascal's Wager, which essentially is "Either God exists or doesn't exist, but if so and I believe in God, I will go to Heaven instead of Hell after I die; if God doesn't exist, I have lost nothing."
That's not believing; that just saying you believe.
By that reasoning, then you might as well follow the teachings of your chosen "God." Otherwise, you are admitting that your "God" is so weak as to be fooled by a lip-service believer and lets anyone into Heaven just for half-hearted belief, not for good deeds. That's not a God. That's a bored security guard.
Blaise Pascal lived from 1623 to 1662 in France, and he was a brilliant scientist, mathematician and writer who also invented a calculating machine at 18. In 1654 he had a "mystical experience" and converted to Jansenism, a doctrine of the sect of Roman Catholics in opposition to the Jesuits.
In other words, Pascal himself had doubts about what he had been taught growing up as a Roman Catholic, and if that isn't enough to make his so-called "wager" suspect, consider that he also wrote "Men blaspheme what they do not know" and "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction," both in his LETTRES PROVINCIALES [1656-1657].
So, for all you people with such weak religious belief that you take the easy way out to literally "save your soul" or with such weak intelligence that you cannot decide for yourselves what to believe, here is Culberson's Challenge:
Assume there is no "God." Then, priests, cardinals, the Pope, preachers, ministers and all other self-appointed spokespeople for "God" are either liars or deluded into ignoring the empirical evidence of science and mistakenly believing that God exists.
Either way, they are not to be trusted, and as the growing evidence of widespread sexual misconduct mounts, that would seem to be the case.
Now assume there is a God who created us and all the so-called reality around us: the planets, the solar system, the stars, the universe and the "world." Then we are all merely figments of God's own imagination and therefore do not exist outside of that imagination.
However, if we are figments of God's imagination, if we are manufactured "real" creatures in God's own image, or if we are truly independent sentient beings with or without free will, what would eternity in either Heaven or Hell mean? We would eventually become used to our existence in either one and inured to the pain that supposedly awaits us in the one and bored in the other of those futures.
And name one other thing in nature that lasts forever without wearing out, running down, burning up or simply dying.
Therefore, I propose that neither future of "eternity" is anything to aspire to, and consequently believing in the existence of "God" is of no benefit whatsoever while we are alive, just as not believing in Santa Claus when we were children didn't change whether we got Christmas presents from our parents.
Thus, I challenge you either to give up your belief in a supreme being who supposedly created you and controls you and the world, or else to continue your disbelief in such a mythology, because either way, you lose nothing.
Of course, there are some misguided fools who will not accept this challenge and say, "Better safe than sorry," which is merely religious belief by slogans and sayings.
This thinking is the basis for all religious belief, and it is the most dangerous aspect of believing in a "God," because it leads to this sort of logic:
"There must be a God, because everybody says there is. Therefore, I can lead my life believing in God and do anything I want to, because if I ever do anything that God doesn't want me to do, God will stop me. Therefore, I can do anything I want until God stops me, including trying to convince as many other people I can that God exists, because there is 'strength in numbers,' and the more people who believe in God increases the chances that God does exist."
If you accept this challenge and choose to live without a belief in God, your life on earth will be much less complicated and frustrating and stressful, and it will be much more rewarding, enjoyable and definitely
free of self-imposed religious pressure.
"God" loses. You win.
(C) Copyright 2002 Dan Culberson All rights reserved
(Dan Culberson, the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of THE SEARCHER [ISBN:978-1-4415-2009-8 (Hardcover), 978-1-4415-2008-1 (Softcover)], PLASTIC MAN: A Novel of the Sixties [ISBN: 978-1-4363-2027-6 (Hardcover), 978-1-4363-2026-9 (Softcover)] and AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8], was named a Boulder Pacesetter in 1985 by the DAILY CAMERA the first year of that program and has been a film reviewer since 1972; he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.)
Friday, April 01, 2011 - Dan Culberson
THEORY OF THE BINARY ANIMAL
NOW, hear me out.
Have you ever been swept over by an overwhelming desire to do something and yet you also knew deep down that so-called "Society" would disapprove if you did it?
I'm not talking about that failed Sixties mantra of "If it feels good, do it," which probably became popular in the Seventies, anyway, when most things normally associated with the Sixties actually occurred. I'm also not talking about that popular commercial slogan of the Nineties, "Just do it," either, because I deplore the fact that society has been taken over by commercialism and greed and there are some people who are always "on the make" trying to either save money or make money by everything that people do.
That is why I am hesitant to reveal my Theory of the Binary Animal, because that class of people I refer to as "the greedy bastards" will try to exploit it to their advantage and make money from it, although that behavior, too, fits my theory.
You see, I am what I would call a "unianimal," someone at one with himself who feels comfortable with his biological self and at peace with Society in general, who no longer feels an overwhelming desire to grab all I can, acquire all I can, consume all I can.
Which brings me to the Theory of the Binary Animal.
I believe that a cognitive dissonance--that is, a psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously-- has permeated Society because of an unwillingness or inability to recognize that humans are driven by two subconscious forces, that they are, in fact, Binary Animals. I also believe that many of our social problems would be resolved if Society accepted that fact and figured out how to live with the phenomenon instead of trying to suppress one or the other of those forces.
First of all, we are biological animals. Regardless of your belief of how we got here, you have to admit that we are like the so-called "lower" animals in that we are driven by biological needs that must be satisfied. We have to breathe. We have to replenish our bodies with food and water. We have to protect ourselves from the elements with comfortable shelter. We have to procreate. (Well, each individual doesn't HAVE to, but the species does in order to continue the species.) Those are the biological forces driving us.
Second of all, we are social animals. Somewhere and sometime along the line, the biological animals that we are discovered that life became easier and those biological needs were satisfied more easily if a large number of individuals grouped together and worked together as a larger unit to satisfy the biological needs of the individuals. Thus, society came about and social desires were invented that must also be satisfied, even though some of the social desires conflict with some of the biological needs. We must not kill members of our own group. We must not harm children. We must not take what is not ours. We must suppress the needs of the individual for the so-called "greater good" of the desires of Society. Those are the social forces driving us, and notice how for the most part they are prohibitions and not approvals.
Thus was religion formed, the foremost social force of them all and one whose rules follow the prohibition pattern.
So, rather than get agitated when a biological need of an individual comes into conflict with a social desire of society--which only prolongs the cognitive dissonance--we should recognize the two forces at work on the Binary Animals that we are and not be so judgmental (which, of course, is a social invention).
We want to breathe clean air? Biological.
Manufacturers want to foul the environment in order to produce goods? Social.
We want to eat and drink as much as we can? Biological.
People should eat and drink in moderation and keep their bodies fit for society's approval? Social.
We want to own a nice home in which to live? Biological.People want to own the biggest, nicest home on the block and another vacation getaway, as well? Social.
Young kids want to have sex? Biological.People should wait until they are married or until they are old enough to handle the responsibility of children? Social.
Older men want to have sex with younger women? Biological.
Men should marry women their own age? Social.Needs? Biological.
Rules? Social.Recognize both driving forces and live easier.
(Dan Culberson, the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE and BOULDER
HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of THE SEARCHER [ISBN:
978-1-4415-2009-8 (Hardcover), 978-1-4415-2008-1 (Softcover)], PLASTIC
MAN: A Novel of the Sixties [ISBN: 978-1-4363-2027-6 (Hardcover),
978-1-4363-2026-9 (Softcover)] and AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN:
1-4134-7653-8], was named a Boulder Pacesetter in 1985 by the DAILY
CAMERA the first year of that program and has been a film reviewer since
1972; he can be contacted at email@example.com by e-mail.)
Thursday, December 02, 2010 - Dan Culberson
THE MORNING AFTER
Now, hear me out.
The human species is an odd animal who seems to be obsessed with not only needing to know the reason for why events happen, but also needs topredict what is going to happen next.
And those people whose predictions come true--which usually amount to nothing more than guesses for what they WANT to occur--love to brag afterwards about their predictions being correct, as if having guessed
correctly makes them better or wiser than other people, whereas it logically means only that they were lucky in one instance.
This quirk of human nature is expressed no more prominently than after an election, when every writer, political pundit, television commentator, comedian and person on the street has an opinion about why the results turned out the way they did, what they mean and what is going to happen next because of them.According to the Associated Press and Voter News Service, only 38.0% of eligible voters voted in the November 1998 election, down from 49.0% who voted in the 1996 presidential election. (In Boulder County, more than 52% voted that year.) Only 2/5 of the people who could vote did so, and yet the morning after the election--in some cases the night of the election and in other cases before the polls had even closed--political prognosticators and elucidators were Johnny and Jennifer on the Spot in our faces telling us that because the Republicans didn't do--or weren't or didn't seem to be doing--as well as the prognosticators had predicted beforehand, this meant that "the people" were demonstrating they weren't interested in the presidential sex scandal, didn't support an impeachment, and were telling Congress to get on with the business the people had elected them to do.
"No, it doesn't!" I yell back at my TV set.
It MEANS simply that 3/5 of eligible voters didn't vote.
Perhaps SOME of those nonvoters didn't vote because they were trying to make a statement about current and past political, sexual and private events in Washington; perhaps some Republican voters switched their votes to an all-Democrat selection because of those same feelings, but I firmly believe that most voters voted exactly how they would have voted anyway, except, perhaps, for some unaffiliated voters who seem to have trouble making up their minds to begin with. I can imagine a few declared fence-sitters thinking, "I am disgusted with the President and therefore the entire Democratic party, and so I am not going to vote for any Democrats at all, including those who are running unopposed." I can just as easily imagine some other fence-sitters thinking the opposite: "I am disgusted with the way the President has been treated, I believe the Republicans are wrong to keep going after him and therefore I am going to vote a straight Democratic ticket as a means of protest."
However, I cannot believe that the majority of the 38.0% of the eligible voters fall into that last category, and therefore I cannot believe the post-election elucidators who in effect said "That is why what happened, happened." It was as if I were back in college taking an English literature honors course again, listening to some crusty old professor tell the students with conviction the exact reasons Faulkner wrote every word, chose every punctuation mark, decided on every sentence length and selected every weather condition in THE SOUND AND THE FURY. It makes for interesting discussion, but unless we have Faulkner's own words telling us he made those choices, it probably didn't happen that way.
And the political elucidators are trying to explain the motives of millions of voters who don't even represent the majority of U.S. citizens, not even just one author.You have heard of "self-fulfilling prophecies"? I call this post-election elucidation fanaticism "myopic hindsight."The only thing I know of that can be certain the morning after is a hangover, and in my experience you don't want to talk about it.So, let us put this past election behind us. Pigs is pigs, it was whatit was and just as Popeye says "I yam what I yam," we can all say, "We won some, we lost some."
If we believe in the democratic process, let us strive to bring those eligible-voter percentages back up to at least 62.8%, what it was in 1960 and the highest it had been in the previous 38 years for any election.That would give the morning-after elucidators some less myopic hindsight.
Dan Culberson, the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of THE SEARCHER [ISBN: 978-1-4415-2009-8 (Hardcover), 78-1-4415-2008-1 (Softcover)], PLASTIC MAN: A Novel of the Sixties [ISBN: 978-1-4363-2027-6 (Hardcover), 978-1-4363-2026-9 (Softcover)] and AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8], was named a Boulder Pacesetter in 1985 by the DAILY CAMERA the first year of that program and has been a film reviewer since 1972; he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.
Thursday, April 01, 2010 - Dan Culberson
Now, hear me out.
We have all heard the expression, "the blind leading the blind," but where did it originate, and what does it mean? Interestingly enough, it comes from the Bible, Matthew 15:14, "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
Even more interesting is that Jesus himself supposedly said it to his disciples in reference to the Pharisees, upon learning that the Pharisees had been offended when they had earlier heard Jesus say, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man."
And, again, according to Matthew, Chapter 15, Jesus said THIS when "scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem" complained to him that his disciples were going against "the tradition of the elders" by not washing their hands before eating!
In other words, Jesus was telling the Pharisees that cleanliness while eating food wasn't as important as what a person believed and SAID, and then he told his disciples that anyone who was offended by that was no better than a blind person leading another blind person, because they were both going to fall into a ditch.
Now, the Pharisees were "a Jewish sect of the intertestamental period noted for strict observance of rites and ceremonies of the written law and for insistence of the validity of their own oral traditions concerning the law." So, if we are to believe what we read, here we have a group of strict constructionists (or, possibly "pedants") who complain that the disciples of Jesus don't wash their hands before eating, and Jesus rationalizes his disciples' behavior by coming up with a cockamamy bit of misdirection, saying that eating with dirty hands isn't as important as what you believe and say. And then he tops THAT off by calling the complainers "blind," and anyone who follows them is also blind, and they will both come to an unfortunate end.
Whoa! I think we might be onto something here.
Now, the Pharisees have always been portrayed as the "bad guys" in Sunday School and church sermons. But, strictly speaking (pun intended), they are no worse than the Religious Right and other religious fundamentalists who insist on strict interpretation and adherence to their religious teachings, are they? And Jesus himself called them the
blind leaders of the blind, all doomed to end up in a ditch, metaphorically speaking.
Sure, he was saying this simply to justify why his own followers had unclean eating habits (slobs, perhaps?), but wasn't Jesus himself "noted for strict observance of rites and ceremonies" of his OWN "written law and for insistence of the validity of [his own and Daddy's] oral traditions concerning the law"? In other words, disregarding his own cleanliness when he ate (Wouldn't "followers" pick up the habits of the one they followed?), Jesus himself could be labeled a "Pharisee" by his own teachings, could be called "a blind leader of the blind" and could himself be at the head of a column of a long line heading straight for "the ditch." The only thing in his favor is what he believes and what he says.
However, who is to judge the validity of what Jesus believed and said? Why, Jesus HIMSELF and his followers! Self-fulfilling prophecies if ever there were any!
The one truth we CAN glean from this examination, however, is that blind followers of a blind leader will likely come to no good end.
So, now let us switch from a literal meaning of "blind" to a figurative one: "not based on reason, evidence or knowledge," an example of which is "blind faith."
Do you see where this is going?
The Bible itself teaches that one should not "blindly" follow anyone who cannot prove with reason, evidence or other facts other than the leader's say-so why that leader SHOULD be followed. Followers who do so either do not or cannot think for themselves. In other words, they are dumb.
Now, leaders of dumb people MIGHT be smart. It is possible they might know that they are charlatans leading a mass of fools for whatever purpose, but in that case the leaders wouldn't be "blind."
Look around you.
Think for yourself.Who are you "following"?
Think about religion. Think about history. Think about politics.
Does Jonestown come to mind? Waco?Does Vietnam come to mind? Watergate?
Do not fall victim to "The dumb leading the dumb."
(Dan Culberson, the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE, THE AIO NEWSLETTER and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of THE SEARCHER [ISBN: 978-1-4415-2009-8 (Hardcover), 978-1-4415-2008-1 (Softcover)], PLASTIC MAN: A Novel of the Sixties [ISBN: 978-1-4363-
2027-6 (Hardcover), 978-1-4363-2026-9 (Softcover)] and AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8], was named a Boulder Pacesetter in 1985 by the DAILY CAMERA the first year of that program and has been a film
reviewer since 1972; he can be contacted at email@example.com by e-mail.)
Sunday, November 01, 2009 - Dan Culberson
RETIRING EXHAUSTED PATTERNS
Now, hear me out.Anthropologists talk about "patterns," which, according to Alfred L. Kroeber (1876-1960), long recognized as the dean of American anthropology, are "those arrangements or systems of internal relationship which give to any culture its coherence or plan, and keep it from being a mere accumulation of random bits."In addition, there is a "universal pattern," more or less a general outline that fits all cultures, which, also according to Kroeber in ANTHROPOLOGY: CULTURE PATTERNS AND PROCESSES, consists of Speech, Material Traits, Art, Knowledge ("mythological" as well as "scientific"), Religion, Society, Property, Government and War.Anthropologists also talk about "exhausted" patterns, or patterns that have outlived their usefulness or become modified to the point of absurdity, so that they no longer have a viability in the culture, in which case society then rejects that pattern, such as the horse-and-buggy mode of transportation or the gaudy, chrome-filled, tail-finned American automobiles of the Fifties.In some cases, exhausted patterns are retired outright, such as when in 1819 the Polynesians of Hawaii abolished their religion voluntarily.
Starting in 1778 when Captain Cook discovered the islands and followed
by other explorers, traders and whalers, the Hawaiians saw how the
Europeans repeatedly violated the Hawaiians' religious taboos without
being punished by the native gods, such as the taboo against women
eating certain foods like bananas and coconuts or the taboo against
women and men eating together.In other cases, exhausted patterns linger on in the society, becoming objects of sport or games, such as hunting animals with bow and arrows.Now is the time to abolish three patterns that have outlived their usefulness--and thus have become exhausted--in modern American society.We no longer need to talk about the Baby Boomer generation, those pariahs of society born between 1946 and 1964, who were the pig moving through the snake's belly of population. The 76 million babies born after their fathers came home from World War II and during the resulting years of prosperity became the objects of pride, interest and envy of other Americans, and then they became the object of scorn, the butt of jokes and the blame for the Excessive Eighties and accused of causing what's wrong with society today.Well, the oldest Boomers are 63 now and the youngest 45, and although those are good years for being an adult, the birth rates have stayed relatively steady since they were born, and they are no longer a pig moving through a snake's belly, but more realistically just the first evidence of a very overweight reptile.In other words, as a group they are no longer significant, and so why don't we stop giving them more importance than they deserve and stop talking about them as a group?The second exhausted pattern that needs to be retired is party politics and the two-party system. In today's world with instant communication and digital technology, political candidates no longer need the support of a party "machine" behind them in order to win elections.Sure, it is good to join forces with politicians of similar philosophy and like-minded goals, but we don't need the labels and therefore the assumptions of how votes will turn out in Congress, nor the divisiveness, backstabbing and outright lies that are rampant in
campaigns these days.Get rid of political ads and get rid of campaign contributions. They besmirch the candidates, belittle the public and prove that political offices are all up for sale to the highest bidder.And finally, the exhausted pattern of organized religion needs to be retired as soon as possible before it destroys our society and all culture. Religion outlived its usefulness when it stopped contributing to culture in the form of architecture and art and when missionaries were no longer needed to bring civilization to primitive societies.There are 9,900 religions in the world today, and what good do they do except to give their followers futile hope for a life after death, false reason to feel superior to believers of a different religion and blind excuse to kill other human beings and to commit wanton destruction in the name of an imaginary god by superstitious fools?People are free to believe anything they want, but when they join together to believe they are doing their god's will by killing nonbelievers or, even worse, that humanity will be better off when Armageddon arrives and they try to bring it on, then it is time to
follow the intelligence of the Hawaiians in 1819.Dan Culberson, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, December 01, 2008 - Dan Culberson
Now, hear me out.I believe that one of the most misquoted quotations is "Those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it."The thought is noble, but the quote is bogus, because the correct wording is "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," which comes from THE LIFE OF REASON [1905-1906], vol. I, Reason in
Common Sense, by George Santayana (1863-1952). The correct quotation is more sweeping and puts a larger responsibility on the audience, because the past is "everything (of significance) that happened before now," whereas history is merely "a chronological record of significant events usu. with an explanation of their causes." In other words, the past is everything that can and cannot be remembered, but history is only that portion of the past that was recorded for posterity.I always enjoyed history in school, and I'll always remember the day I was surprised when I read in my history textbook about events that had occurred after I had been born. That surprised me, because I had always
assumed that history by definition had to do with dead old guys who also probably wore funny clothes and probably spoke funny English or a completely different language.No more. I can take solace in the quotation by Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) that "All history is modern history," from OPUS POSTHUMOUS , Adagia, or I can just make up my own quote and say "We cannot control what the generations that follow will remember about us or record as history, and so it behooves us to act responsibly and with dignity."No, that is too pompous. Put it this way: "Don't make a fool of yourself, or else you'll go down in the funny books instead of the history books."This thought was brought home dramatically when I first saw a documentary called "1968: The Year That Shaped a Generation," which covered the opposition to the Vietnam War, the killings of Martin Luther
King and Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 campaign for the White House, particularly the Democratic convention in Chicago. Just thinking about those events still makes me emotional, and I can remember watching the convention on television in the safety of my home in Boulder while political activists with the confidence of their convictions were risking everything both inside and outside the convention hall and
making history at the same time. Now, perhaps one could make a case that the older we get, the closer history creeps up on us, or perhaps some people are simply lucky or unlucky enough to either lead or create dramatic lives that place them in events where history is happening.We all have the power to do that with our votes. Great politicians are created and allowed to be created with simple votes, with single votes. To paraphrase Everett Dirksen (1896-1969), the former senator from
Illinois, "A vote here, a vote there, and pretty soon you're talking about real history."Most of us will never do anything great. Most of us will never be remembered by anyone except for a few generations of our own families and a few friends from our own generation, but that doesn't make us bad people. If history is about great people, great people are also elevated on the shoulders of everyday people, you and me.And we never know when events we participate in might become signiificant enough to become history. As the demonstrators shouted in 1968 in Chicago, "The whole world is watching."Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900), better known simply as Oscar Wilde, wrote an aphorism, "Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it," to which I would add "or woman." But the
important point is we all have the capacity to do something significant enough that it can be remembered by future generations as history and that can be read in future history books, whether or not written by great men or women.And whether or not we like it, whether or not we want to, we can all make history with every single vote we cast. We should always remember that and never squander our votes, because we just might be squandering future history, to coin an oxymoron.Georg Wilheim Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) wrote "What experience and history teach is this--that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it" in PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY , introduction.Hegel was wrong. I learn from history every day.(Dan Culberson, the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE, THE AIO NEWSLETTER and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of PLASTIC MAN: A Novel of the Sixties [ISBN: 978-1-4363-2027-6 (Hardcover), 978-1-4363-2026-9 (Softcover)] and AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8], was named a Boulder Pacesetter by the DAILY CAMERA the first year of that program, 1985, and he has been a film reviewer since 1972; he can be contacted at email@example.com by e-mail.)
Tuesday, June 03, 2008 - Dan Culberson
COME BACK, MARIO!
Now, hear me out.
Political correctness (or "PC" to the cognoscente, who know that PC also stands for "personal computer") is being polite--up to a point.
No, make that up to way too many points, because political correctness is also way too many other inflammatory things.
Political correctness is subversive prejudice of the highest order, because it pressures people to say and write acceptable terms according to the wishes of a specific group of people, and as Confucius (551-479 B.C.) said, "Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue." (THE CONFUCIAN ANALECTS, bk. 1:3)
Confucius also said, "What the superior man seeks is in himself. What the mean man seeks is in others." (IBID. 15:20) (Of course, if Confucius were around today, he might be pressured into saying "What the superior man or woman seeks is in himself or herself. What the average man or woman seeks is in others.")
Political correctness is blatant censorship, because it pressures people to say and write "acceptable" things instead of what they believe.
Political correctness is self-serving peer pressure, because it concerns itself more with the beliefs of a group than with the beliefs of an individual.
Political correctness is mealymouthed backstabbing, because it treats minorities and disadvantaged groups with condescending disrespect.
Political correctness is nonintelligent, nonthinking logic of the worst kind, because it puts more importance on words and symbols than it does on thoughts and reason.
Political correctness is a creeping cancer on a freethinking society, because it metastasizes openly with each new acceptance and success.
Political correctness is revisionist history of a nature worse than any practiced at the height of communism, because it is not sanctioned by any political body, but rather approved by views of the moment.
Political correctness is rampant regression, because it tries to negate and prevent any new thinking and ideas.
Political correctness is kneejerk, lunatic-fringe, bleeding-heart liberalism without the liberalism, because it is neither generous nor tolerant, but is in fact narrow in opinion and judgment.
Political correctness should be stamped out now, because it tries to apply an adhesive bandage to a sucking chest wound of behavior rather than allowing bad ideas to die from their own inanity.
Political correctness should be ridiculed for the danger of shaping public opinion by terminology instead of public discourse, because people who concentrate on using politically correct terminology are either smug, self-serving, narrow-minded nonthinkers or frightened, insecure, ineffective nonthinkers.
Political correctness tries to make language objective--what is by nature subjective, because we all know by experience, reading and watching old TV shows that language changes, and there is no sense trying to establish by PC decree what is an acceptable term and what is not.
Political correctness is nothing more than avoiding hurt feelings of disenfranchised minorities and smug feelings of Dudley and Denise Do-Gooders with nothing better to do.
"Political correctness"--if you say it enough times it becomes distasteful, and maybe it will go away like other self-serving, condescending terms, such as "gigolo" and "floozie."
"Political correctness," "politically correct" and "PC" when it means these two terms should be wiped off the face of the language, because it is anti-evolution, anti-change and anti-growth, the very things that allowed humanity to reach the position it holds today.
Political correctness is also anti-humor, and who among us--PC or otherwise--can argue that humor is not good for us? Who among us from any group cannot remember when at least one term we know to be politically INcorrect is the very term used to make sense in a joke we used to laugh at in years gone by?
So, who decides what terms are politically correct and what terms aren't? Is there a secret PC Police somewhere that compiles lists, much like the Thought Police in Orwell's 1984?
What happened to the childhood taunt of "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me"? That was true before, and it should be true today. If it isn't, then the crybabies and wimps have taken over, and progress is lost.
What happened to the Free Speech movement of the Sixties and the protests and Baby Boomer sit-ins with their nonnegotiable demands to the establishment administrations of their right to speak out freely about certain issues?
Have we all now become crybabies and wimps? Is the PC movement a backlash against the excesses of the Embarrassing Sixties?
If it is, then we need another Mario Savio.
(Dan Culberson, the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE, THE AIO NEWSLETTER and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of PLASTIC MAN: A Novel of the Sixties [ISBN: 978-1-4363-2027-6 (Hardcover), 978-1-4363-2026-9 (Softcover)] and AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK
[ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8], was named a Boulder Pacesetter by the DAILY CAMERA the first year of that program, 1985, and he has been a film reviewer since 1972; he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org by
Friday, February 08, 2008 - Dan Culberson
CHILDREN SHOULD AGAIN BE SEEN AND NOT HEARD
Now, hear me out.
We are in danger of destroying society the same way we have destroyed culture, and that is by becoming so obsessed and fascinated with youth and young people and children that all else and the interests and desires of all other, mature people will be ignored and discarded.
When I was growing up in the Fifties, a common expression I heard all the time from my elders was "Children should be seen and not heard." What it meant was that young people--or more specifically, one's own offspring--were permitted to participate in adult activities, but they should not speak, make noise or draw attention to themselves, because they should not interrupt what the adults were doing, probably because their immature and uneducated thoughts were of no importance anyway.
So, what happened between then and now, when children and youth get ALL the attention in our society? What made manufacturers--most noticeably Hollywood manufacturers of films and television--shift their marketing campaigns to target JUST that "holy" demographic of youth between the ages of 14 and 24? What made politicians convinced that "child molesters" and pedophiles are the worst criminals on the face of the earth and now have the fewest rights and privileges of all citizens, much less of all previously convicted criminals? And what convinced priests, preachers and other religious fanatics to direct all their energy and to do everything in their powers to "protect the children," to prevent abortions and to prohibit further stem-cell research, all in the name of respecting and protecting the "innocent" babies and potential babies?
I'll tell you what happened: Baby Boomers.
The largest generation up until that time came on the scene, and by the sheer powers of their numbers, reportedly 76 million in the U.S.
alone, they began to get all the attention of their elders, they began to be spoiled and showered with unreasonable praise from their parents and they began to be heard as well as seen.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am not BLAMING Baby Boomers for the state of society today. As I have written elsewhere ("Our booming was not your dooming," THE COLORADO DAILY, 1996), if anyone should be blamed for how this pampered generation turned out then and is acting now, it should be their PARENTS and GRANDPARENTS. It should be the War Generation and the Depression Generation, those people born between 1928 and 1946 for the parents and between 1910 and 1928 for the grandparents, who are undoubtedly the worst when it comes to spoiling children.
These figures are based on using the traditional 18 years of 1946 to
1964 for the births of Baby Boomers and working backwards in 18-year intervals to include their parents and grandparents, 18 being the traditional number of years between generations.
So, let us not waste our time and energy placing the blame on anyone or on any generation, but rather let us correct and reverse the situation before we allow it to destroy civilization.
Thinking back to your own "wild youth," teenage years and growing up, do YOU feel comfortable with letting today's youth run the country, establish society's rules and determine the accepted morals?
I think not.
Teenagers are by nature childish. Preteens are not "little adults"; they are practically BABIES. "Adolescent" by definition means "emotionally or intellectually immature."
Consider your own children. At what age, if any, would you have felt comfortable and confident that THEY could have "run" your family, set the rules, paid the bills and then added to the family's population by having babies of their own?
To put it harshly, the inmates are running the asylum today. The children are not only being seen too prominently, but they are also shouting. Music, fashion, movies, all entertainment and our very laws themselves are all directed toward the comfort, security and safety of children, whose only contribution to society is that they spend their parents' money on their own whims before they replace the parents.
The Baby Boomer generation is not quite yet running the country, but "Watch this space."
William Jefferson Clinton was the first Baby Boomer president, and look what happened. George Walker Bush was the second Baby Boomer president, and look what happened next. What state will the country be in (no pun intended) and what condition will society be in by the time the first Generation-X president takes office?
Will the official slogan of the country be changed to "I Want My MTV Back"?
(Dan Culberson is the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE, THE AIO NEWSLETTER and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8] and the soon-to-be published PLASTIC MAN: A Novel of the Sixties, and can be contacted at email@example.com by e-mail.)
Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - Dan Culberson
ADVANCING PERSONAL AGENDAS
Now, hear me out.
MAD CITY (1997) is one of those curious movies that become a touchstone for everyone, because it pushes the hot button of the "noble" idea of "the role of the press" when television news departments are more concerned about ratings than about the ethics of what they do, but because the movie tells two stories about two different people, don't listen to what anyone advancing a personal agenda has to say about it; decide for yourself what it says about society, the TV industry or entertainment in general.
Some people (i.e., movie critics) said it doesn't show anything new and compared it to earlier movies no one today has seen except for film critics or historians.
That comes from show-offs eager to draw attention to their own knowledge of film and people who didn't like it and are grasping for any reason to explain why. That complaint is also ludicrous now that Hollywood has run out of ideas and practically every other new release is either a remake or simply a re-release.
Some people (i.e., people in the TV industry) were offended that one of their own (i.e., themselves) is criticized in the form of Max Brackett, the TV news reporter played by Dustin Hoffman who does some unethical things in the movie that no TV reporter would ever admit to having done, but all reporters have probably done in one form or another.
Well, that comes from people for whom criticism of journalism is a real hot button, people who can't take criticism or else people who didn't see the movie, stay to the end or understand the change in Hoffman's character.
And some people (i.e., almost everyone) who have a difficult time separating the bearer of bad news from the bad news itself criticized the movie, because it shows our modern-day messengers in a particularly bad light.
Well, those feelings go back at least as far as the classic Greek tragedies, when a messenger in a play was taken offstage and
actually killed--in the play, not in real life. See how easy it is to confuse reality with drama? Apparently, people want to lash out when they hear bad news, and the messenger happens to be the closest one around, but that doesn't mean the messenger CAUSED the bad news.
However, hardly anyone mentions Sam Baily, the laid-off security guard played by John Travolta who takes drastic action he probably learned from watching TV and is the catalyst for the whole story. Baily represents a lot of people today who have been dealt a bad hand through no fault of their own and who feel helpless and frustrated about what to do next.
But did you hear anyone complaining that Travolta's character is unrealistic or unsympathetic or that he doesn't represent the
majority of hard-working, laid-off museum security guards? No, because people used this movie to advance their own agendas, just as people in the movie do.
The two men are thrown together when Brackett goes to the local museum to report an uninteresting story about budget cutbacks and Baily shows up to try to get his job back. Unfortunately, Baily brings a shotgun and a bag of dynamite to get his boss's attention, the gun goes off accidentally and wounds the guard who didn't get laid off, Baily panics and seals off the museum with Brackett and a classroom of kids inside and then there is what the TV industry likes to call "a hostage situation."
Baily didn't plan this to happen, he just wants his job back and he starts asking Brackett for advice. In other words, a major story falls into Brackett's lap, and he can control it to his own advantage. What would you do?
So, where do you stand on the Entertainment Age--old question? Does the media just give what the public wants, or is the public gullible and malleable enough that it accepts and demands more of what the media gives them?
In the Sixties, respectable newspapers compromised their ethics in order to compete with television. Today, TV news compromises its ethics in order to compete with tabloid newspapers and tabloid TV. And the tabloids compete with fiction--print, television and films; and everybody is compromising everything in order to sell their "product," all in the name of Greed.
MAD CITY is just one more step in the downward spiral of everyone advancing personal agendas all in the name of Greed, and I enjoyed it.
Dan Culberson is the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE, THE AIO NEWSLETTER and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK, and can be contacted at
firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.
Sunday, May 13, 2007 - Dan Culberson
NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME
Now, hear me out.
When I was a boy growing up, we had a saying that we would use whenever a playground bully taunted us: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."
Whatever happened to that sentiment, which is nothing more than a practical use of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
That is quite a mouthful to say that the Founding Fathers gave us the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom to petition.
In my lifetime, however, those freedoms have been slowly eroding away, and I blame the Baby Boomers in the Sixties and Seventies for it.
Those 76 million people who were born between 1946 and 1964 came of age and realized their collective power in the Sixties and Seventies. They protested against the Establishment and changed the stodgy, conformist ways of the Fifties. They protested against the Government and take credit for ending the war in Vietnam.
They exercised their rights to free speech, freedom of assembly and freedom to petition, but not always peaceably. That wasn't always their fault, either, but the instigation of the Establishment and the "Pigs," which policemen were called back then.
Also in the Seventies they changed the workplace and made it more sensitive. More handicapped people were hired by Big Business, but more intolerance to free speech arrived. I once had a manager who proclaimed, "If one person has a problem, we all have a problem."
In other words, the notion emerged that everyone truly was equal; that years, decades and even centuries of wrongs had to be righted; and that it had to be done immediately. Variations on the following chant were popular motivation:
"What do we want?" "Justice!" "When do we want it?" "Now!"
Unfortunately, this was also about the time when thoughts and assumed intentions began to be punished.
The trial of the Chicago Eight began in 1969, in which the defendents Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale and Lee Weiner were essentially charged with PLANNING to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. However, the Government chose to ignore the findings of the National Commission on Violence that the Chicago police were largely responsible for those riots.
This way of thinking lay the groundwork for so-called "hate crimes," for which extra punishment is awarded because the judge and jury believe they are mind readers and can tell WHY the defendant or perpetrator committed a crime. Thought Police, anyone? Calling Eric Arthur Blair, otherwise known as George Orwell.
And, if thought crimes come, can political correctness be far behind?
Political correctness, which more properly should be called "social correctness," is no longer in my vocabulary except as a term of empty derision, such as "God, mom and apple pie."
Political correctness is nothing more than avoiding assumed hurt feelings of disenfranchised minorities and accommodating the smug sensibilities of Dudley and Doris Do-Gooders with nothing better to do.
Political correctness--if you say it enough times, it will become distasteful and maybe go away with other self-serving insensitive terms such as "boy" and "girl."
"Wait a minute!" you say? "'Boy' and 'girl' are perfectly good words that serve a useful purpose!" you say?
That is correct, but we all know that in a certain context, those innocent words that mean "a male child from birth to puberty" and "a female child" can cause people to be offended without any act whatsoever having taken place.
The context is ignored, and only the word is deemed offensive. That way, lies the end of humor. That way, lies the end of free speech. That way, lies judging people for their thoughts and not for their deeds.
And how do you know what anyone is thinking, especially on such flimsy evidence as only one word or a few taken out of context?
You don't, unless you are a mind reader. Or "God."
Just as we can agree that you are not God, we can also agree that so-called "mind readers" are charlatans and out to trick us.
The Founding Fathers gave us "free speech." Don't destroy that gift from those gods.
(Dan Culberson is the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE, THE AIO NEWSLETTER and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8], and can be contacted at email@example.com by e-mail.)
Thursday, April 05, 2007 - Unknown
from April 2007 Touchstone
Found on the Internet
WHO'S RUNNING THIS COUNTRY AND WHAT ARE THEY READING?
1. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL is read by the people who run the country.
2. THE WASHINGTON POST is read by people who think they run the country.
3. THE NEW YORK TIMES is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
4. USA TODAY is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand THE NEW YORK TIMES. They do, however, like the statistics shown in pie charts.
5. THE LOS ANGELES TIMES is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country--if they could find the time--and if they didn't have to leave southern California to do it.
6. THE BOSTON GLOBE is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.
7. The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS is read by people who aren't too sure who is running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
8. The NEW YORK POST is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
9. The MIAMI HERALD is read by people who are running another country, but need the baseball scores.
10. The SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE is read by people who aren't sure there is a country or that anyone is running it, but, if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped, minority, gay, feminist, atheists or dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.
11. The NATIONAL ENQUIRER is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
12. None of these is read by the guy who is running the country into the ground.
Thursday, February 08, 2007 - Dan Culberson
My Cold, Dead Fingers
Now, hear me out.
Does it have to take an English major to explain the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution and put to rest this unjustifiable crutch of the right-wing, gun-toting fanatics and their other conservative supporters?
For those of you who don't remember, Amendment II states "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Even for those of you who DO remember, Amendment II states "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
That is what it says word for word, comma for comma, capitalization for capitalization. Notice that the subject is "Militia," the verb is "shall not be infringed," and the SENTENCE becomes "A well regulated Militia shall not be infringed."
"What about the bits between commas?" you say? Those are two appositional phrases, and an apposition is "a grammatical construction in which a noun or pronoun is followed by another that explains it."
The subject, a noun (See how it works?), is followed by "being necessary to the security of a free State," AND it is followed by "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" in order to explain "a well regulated Militia," the subject of the sentence.
The subject CANNOT be "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms," because you cannot put a single comma between the subject and the verb of a sentence. You cannot write "The dog, ran around the yard." You CAN write "The dog, being frightened by the gunfire, ran around the yard," because now we have two commas separating the subject and the verb, and you can also write "The dog, being frightened by the gunfire, the pet of the neighbor, ran around the yard."
That sentence is NOT "The pet of the neighbor, ran around the yard,"
because that would be ungrammatical, just as "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" is ungrammatical and therefore NOT the sentence that makes up Amendment II.
"The right of the people to keep and bear Arms" is an apposition that explains the subject, "a well regulated Militia," just as the other apposition, "being necessary to the security of a free State,"
does. It is a "Militia" that is "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms," which is necessary to the security of a free State and which shall not be infringed.
In other words, the citizens of the United States have the right to keep and bear Arms in "a well regulated Militia," NOT to stockpile weapons at home and to carry a gun around with them in some Old West mentality.
And what did the sheriff in the Old West do to maintain order? Do the words "Check your guns at the door" strike a familiar note? That didn't mean "Inspect your guns to ensure that they are in proper working order." That meant "Turn your guns in at the door. It's too dangerous for you to carry guns here."
Now, the POSSIBILITY of everyone having a concealed weapon MIGHT deter a few criminal acts, but the PROBABILITY that hotheads and teenagers carrying a weapon could use it in a moment of unbridled emotion is far greater.
Sir William Blackstone (1723-80), a British jurist and Oxford instructor who was the first at a British university to teach English law as opposed to Roman law (See how those appositions work?), wrote in his great work COMMENTARIES ON THE LAWS OF ENGLAND (1765-69), "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer."
I believe it is better that ten crimes be committed than one innocent victim be killed by a convenient handgun.
Luke Woodham, a teenager in Pearl, Mississippi, who is spending the rest of his life in prison for murdering his mother and two fellow students in October 1997 when he was 16, kept a map on his bedroom wall with the slogan "One Nation Under My Gun." Do we want our immature, impressionable children growing up and believing this heinous claim?
We used to see so-called Amendment II supporters brag "I'll give up my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers."
After a moment of rage, I don't want those cold, dead fingers to be mine.
(Dan Culberson is the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE, THE AIO NEWSLETTER and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8], and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.)
Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - Dan Culberson
Now, hear me out.
What do the following statements have in common?
"I'll tell you the truth." "Believe me." And "Have I ever lied to you?"
All three of these statements depend on the listener to believe in the veracity of the speaker.
Mark Twain (which wasn't his real name) is usually credited with the statement, "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."
However, what Twain actually wrote was, "Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and
force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.'"
I have not been able to verify that Disraeli (either Benjamin, the former prime minister of Great Britain, or his father Isaac, the British author) ever wrote the statement that Twain attributes to him. No matter. If people believe Twain wrote it (which he did, although attributing its origin to someone else), that is all that counts. Truth lies (no pun intended) (no, all puns intended) in the eyes of the beholders, or the ears of the bewilderd, or the minds of the believers.
And for all we know, Twain might have been deceiving his readers intentionally or unintentionally when he attributed the statement to Disraeli, intentionally if he believed attributing it to someone else gave more weight to his statement or unintentionally if he believed wrongly that Disraeli had actually written that witty comment on statistics.
Our society inundates us with lies, which the dictionary defines as "an untrue statement made with intent to deceive."
Society also inundates us with true statements made with the intent to deceive. Does the word "advertising" strike a familiar note?
Or, as Twain also wrote, "Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising."
Whenever I see a commercial on TV, my first reaction is that it is trying to deceive me. You might call that cynicism, but I call it my natural reaction to too many years of hearing about "four out of five doctors," "new and improved" and "fast, FAST, *FAST* relief!" without any supporting evidence.
Or, as Twain also wrote as well, "There are people who think that honesty is always the best policy. This is a superstition; there are times when the appearance of it is worth six of it."
What do you think Twain would have made of the 1999 ruling from the Colorado Court of Appeals that political candidates can say just about anything they want about another candidate and not get sued, "because voters won't take it literally anyway"? In other words, we are now supposed to assume that politicians are trying to pull the wool over our eyes, and it is up to us to figure out when a political candidate is telling the truth and when one is simply using constitutionally protected speech "in the political arena"
where statements can't always be taken seriously.
Twain might have dusted off a previous witticism and said, "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." That would be his cynical response.
Or he might have dusted off another one and responded, "Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it."
Now, at first glance you might react with enthusiastic agreement about the value of truth. However, on second glance at the second sentence, is Twain being cynical and witty, or is he being honest and truthful? Why should we be frugal with the truth? Why shouldn't we be truthful, and expect others--especially politicians--to be truthful, on every occasion?
We are not children who at times need to be protected from the truth by adults who believe it is in our best interest to be shielded from the truth.
WE CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH! (Thank you very much, Mr. Nicholson.)
Let Twain be heard again: "It is not worth while to strain one's self to tell the truth to people who habitually discount everything you tell them, whether it is true or not."
Cynical, yes, but turn it around to put the emphasis on the audience, and it can come out as, "It is not worthwhile and certainly not in our best interests to elect a politician who habitually deceives us with false or misleading statements, whether we like the candidate or not."
If we expect lies, we'll get lies.
Demand the truth and clean up dirty politics.
(Dan Culberson is the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE, THE AIO NEWSLETTER and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8], and can be contacted at email@example.com by e-mail.)
Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - Dan Culberson (from: November Touchstone)
Grumblings from the Floor
THE MORNING AFTER
Now, hear me out.The human species is an odd animal who seems to be obsessed with not only needing to know the reason for why events happen, but also needs to predict what is going to happen next.And those people whose predictions come true--which usually amount to nothing more than guesses for what they
WANT to occur--love to brag afterwards about their predictions being correct, as if having guessed correctly makes them better or wiser than other people, whereas it logically means only that they were lucky in one instance.This quirk of human nature is expressed no more prominently than after an election, when every writer, political pundit, television commentator, comedian and person on the street has an opinion about why the results turned out the way they did, what they mean and what is going to happen next because of them.According to the Associated Press and Voter News Service, only 38.0% of eligible voters voted in the November 1998 elections, down from 49.0% who voted in the 1996 presidential election. (In Boulder County, more than 52% voted that year.) Only 2/5 of the people who could vote did so, and yet the morning after the election--in some
cases the night of the election and in other cases before the polls had even closed--political prognosticators and elucidators were Johnny and Jennifer on the Spot in our faces telling us that because the Republicans didn't do--or weren't or didn't seem to be doing--as well as the prognosticators had predicted beforehand, this meant that "the people" were demonstrating they weren't interested in the presidential sex scandal, didn't support an impeachment and were telling Congress to get on with the business the people had elected them to do."No, it doesn't!" I yelled back at my TV set.It MEANS simply that 3/5 of eligible voters didn't vote.Perhaps SOME of those nonvoters didn't vote because they were trying to make a statement about current and past political, sexual and private events in Washington, perhaps some Republican voters switched their votes to an
all-Democrat selection because of those same feelings, but I firmly believe that most voters voted exactly how they would have voted anyway, except, perhaps, for some unaffiliated voters who seem to have trouble making up their minds to begin with. I can imagine a few declared fence-sitters thinking, "I am disgusted with the President and therefore the entire Democratic party, and so I am not going to vote for any Democrats at all, including those who are running unopposed." I can just as easily imagine some other fence-sitters thinking the opposite: "I am disgusted with the way the President has been treated, I believe the Republicans are wrong to keep going after him and therefore I am going to vote a straight Democratic ticket as a means of protest."
However, I cannot believe that the majority of the 38.0% of the eligible voters fall into that last category, and therefore I cannot believe the post-election elucidators who in effect said, "That is why what happened happened." It was as if I were back in college taking an English literature honors course again, listening to some crusty old professor tell the students with conviction the exact reasons Faulkner wrote every word, chose every punctuation mark, decided on every sentence length and selected every weather condition in THE SOUND AND THE FURY. It makes for interesting discussion, but unless we have Faulkner's own words telling us he made those choices, it probably didn't happen that way.And the political elucidators are trying to explain the motives of millions of voters who don't even represent the majority of U.S. citizens, not even just one author.You have heard of "self-fulfilling prophecies"? I call this post-election elucidation fanaticism "myopic hindsight."
The only thing I know of that can be certain the morning after is a hangover, and in my experience you don't want to talk about it.
So, let us put this past election behind us. Pigs is pigs, it was what it was and just as Popeye says, "I yam what I yam,"we can all say, "We won some, we lost some."If we believe in the democratic process, let us strive to bring those eligible-voter percentages back up to at least 2.8%, what it was in 1960 and the highest it has been in the past 46 years for any election.
That would give the morning-after elucidators some less myopic hindsight.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006 - Dan Culberson
BLACK HOLES, WHITE HEAT, AND OTHER LOST CAUSES
Now, hear me out.
In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven's Gate religious cult committed mass suicide because of their religious beliefs. Today we can feel superior and smug, because we know that they believed they were just leaving their earthly "vessels" and were going to board a spaceship that they believed was trailing behind the Hale-Bopp comet, where their true "selves" would be whisked away to eternal life and happiness.
There was no scientific evidence or proof that there was such a spaceship, only the word of a charismatic preacher who changed his name and his message when it suited him and a misidentified star in one photo of the comet. Moreover, there were no firsthand reports from any people who had successfully left their bodies, been magically transported to the spaceship and either returned to tell us about life after their death or transmitted a telepathic, television or radio message back to Earth telling us about their successful voyage after death.
Why not? Were those souls so selfish in their success that they chose or were told not to communicate? Or were they misguided fools with such empty lives on Earth that they were willing to kill themselves based solely on the word of someone they allowed to be their leader?
The comparison with Christianity is too obvious to examine in depth, but like the Heaven's Gaters, Christians believe that they, too, have a soul that is the true essence of being, and after death their soul is magically transported to a stationary "spaceship" somewhere above us in the heavens called Heaven, where they, their souls or their true "selves" will experience eternal life and happiness.
There is no scientific evidence or proof for this belief. It is all based on the faith of the believers and the word of one charismatic preacher who is known only by writings, as well as countless other preachers who made a good living by leading the flocks of sheep who have foolishly and misguidedly believed those preachers and allowed themselves to be led.
Just a simple, logical examination of this theory begins to expose holes in it. If Heaven is "above" us, then it must be an enormous place, considering that no matter where we stand on Earth it is still above us. No problem. Perhaps Heaven is simply our galaxy itself, surrounding the Earth and our tiny solar system with enormous size. (This could also explain why Heaven isn't full yet, considering the huge numbers of souls that have been magically transported there since the beginning of humanity.)
Another simple and obvious comparison is what happened in the Sixties and Seventies. Young Baby Boomers were convinced by charismatic and uncharismatic leaders alike to leave their lives as they knew it at home and be transported to a place called Vietnam, where many of them lost their lives in sober reality.
We don't know if the souls of those sorry soldiers left their bloody vessels and were magically transported anywhere, but, if so, their final destination couldn't have been a spaceship following Hale- Bopp, because that religious cult hadn't been invented yet.
Therefore, if true, their souls or "true selves" had to have gone to a place that had been identified, either Heaven (or Hell, depending on how well they had conducted their lives on Earth or on what they
"believed") or some other unknown, unnamed and undiscovered or uninvented place for eternal life and happiness.
I believe those poor Christian and non-Christian soldiers didn't have a soul, but if they did, I will choose to believe that their souls preceded all of us and were magically transported to the black hole that some scientists say is at the center of our galaxy.
Here is a thought: Suppose there is a black hole at the center of every galaxy. Suppose that instead of one Big Bang that created the entire universe of 50 billion galaxies there were 50 billion lesser bangs that created each galaxy, and after each galaxy falls in on itself into its own black hole, another big bang creates it again.
In other words, suppose that all religions and all cults and all wars are just like galaxies, and when they reach their critical mass of size, logical thinking or absurdity, they collapse into their own black hole of existence, only to be re-created, reformed and reconstituted by another charismatic or uncharismatic leader to get foolish, misguided followers to do their fighting, whether it be political, patriotic or peculiar.
(Dan Culberson is the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE, THE AIO NEWSLETTER and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters, as well as the author of AN ATHEIST'S HANDBOOK [ISBN: 1-4134-7653-8], and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.)
Sunday, July 30, 2006 - Dan Culberson
Grumblings from the Floor
DRIVE THAT COMPUTER!
Now, hear me out.
Much has been made about--and many words have been written about-- the so-called "Information Superhighway."
Well, it wasn't named "superhighway" for nothing, and I'll tell you why.
Contrary to the popular misconception of people unfamiliar with computers and the Internet--such as parents afraid that their children are going to see dirty pictures and politicians afraid that those parents won't vote for them in the next election unless they enact silly, useless laws designed to prevent those offspring from seeing dirty pictures--getting on the Internet with a computer is not like turning on your TV set and watching whatever happens to be showing. It's like getting in your automobile and taking the trouble to drive someplace to see what is going on.
Think automobile, not TV set.
Of course, for those people who associate TV sets with difficult- to-master VCRs, this analogy might come as a relief and a revelation. They might not be able to program their VCR to record Oprah or their favorite nostalgic Sixties sitcom while they are away, but they can certainly get in their family car and drive someplace in order to see some entertainment or (can you believe
it?) gather some knowledge.
Think of a computer as the family automobile. It's nothing more than a piece of hardware that is manufactured by different companies to a certain set of standard specifications that also comes with various options for the customer's satisfaction, just like automatic transmission, air conditioning and AM-FM radio.
Now, think of computer programs as nothing more than gasoline in the automobile, oil in the engine and your ability and desire to drive someplace in order to do something.
You can drive around town to do your shopping using city streets and stopping at lights or you can get on the highway and travel to another city to see a concert or to visit grandma. Depending on what you do and how you get there, your expenses will vary. Depending on what you drive, how fast you drive and how many accidents you avoid, the time it takes you to get there or even your success in getting there will vary.
Think of the Internet as nothing more than a series of city streets and highways that connect and interconnect every village, town and city on every continent of the planet. Think of your computer as a personal automobile that can travel at the speed of light to get you where you want to go.
However, you need to know where you want to go and what you want to do after you get there. Naturally, you can use guide books (or "search engines") to give you an idea of where to go and what to do.
And think of all the available information (or Websites on the World Wide Web) as all the museums, all the shopping centers and all the seedy gin joints in all the cities of the world.
Does anyone force you against your will to walk into a strip club featuring teenage hookers in Bangkok? No. You first have to travel there, find the club and then walk in through the front door. However, your speed-of-light computer automobile allows you to make the trip from Denver to Bangkok easier and faster.
Does anyone force your children to walk into the Louvre in Paris? Well, maybe you did on your family vacation, but what about when your kids are up in their rooms taking a break from playing computer games or chatting with their friends across town or across the country or, these days, across the world? No. They first have to borrow the keys, fire up the family computer car and drive to Paris, stopping along the way to pick up a hamburger and fries in New York City.
Now, think back to when you were a kid. What are the chances that you would visit the Louvre to look at oil on canvas painted by some old dead men if you were on your own and had the family automobile? What are the chances you would go to Bangkok to look at naked women or naked men if you were capable of it and your parents had no idea what you were doing up in your room?
Now, what success do you believe those old dead men in Washington have of keeping your children from going to Bangkok or of shutting down that Bangkok strip club?
What chance do you have?
Monday, October 03, 2005 - Dan Culberson
A SLOW DANCE OF DEATH
Now, hear me out.
Unless we learn to control our selfishness, self-indulgence and short-term egocentrism, we are going to realize too late that we are committing mass suicide, and there won't be enough Dr. Kervorkians around to assist us.
I'm talking about killing other people because they don't believe the way we do, killing others because they don't look the way we do and killing animals either for sport or just because they get in our way.
I'm talking about killing ourselves in a slow Dance of Death.
The Dance of Death is an allegorical representation of the inevitability of death for all people of every age and class. Scholars believe it originated in 13th century France, which took two forms: the "danse macabre," in which the dead lead themselves in the dance, and the personification of Death having a solemn dialogue
with his victims and then leading them in a processional dance to their graves.Baby Boomers surely remember their coming-of-age experience in college where one of their rites of passage was discovering "art films," foreign films in black-and-white with hard-to-read subtitles, which weren't made to entertain so much as to inform and which caused many meaningful discussions afterwards with friends.One of the most memorable of such films was THE SEVENTH SEAL, by Ingmar Bergman. Who can forget the last scene, in which after playing chess with the Knight, Death leads his six victims in the Dance of Death across the horizon away from the dawn toward the dark lands?Well, our chess game is almost over, dawn is approaching and unless we come to our senses we should be preparing either for a vigorous dance macabre or for Death personified to lead us away from the dawn.
Specifically, I'm concerned that humanity doesn't seem to realize we are all one species trying to scrabble a meaningful existence on a finite planet with finite resources, and whenever we kill another person we set in motion an exponential force of revenge that ultimately can result in a planet-wide Dance of Death.
Obversely, if we keep disregarding that all organisms developed in an intricate planetary system of coexistence and codependence, if we keep killing animals and rain forests into extinction for whatever personal interests, if we keep destroying the only viable planet we have to live on, we set in motion an involutional force of suicide
that ultimately will result in a slow Dance of Death of the Earth and every living thing on it.In other words, we should stop killing our neighbors because they don't believe what we believe, we should stop killing strangers because they have something we want and we should stop killing animals, trees and the land itself because we can profit in our short lifetimes from their deaths.Of course, some say "Old Mother Earth has survived this long; she can survive whatever we mere mortals do to her." Tell that to your children, who have to continue to live in the messes we make.Some say "What difference does it make if Alaska kills wolves, if Colorado kills prairie dogs, if India kills tigers; there will always be something to replace them." Tell that to the ghosts of the dodo birds, the passenger pigeons or the condors, bison and elephants who didn't survive.Of course, there are some who believe that everything has a purpose, that wars and plagues are just Mother Earth's way of preventing overpopulation, that killing species to extinction is just another example of survival of the fittest. Keep that in mind when you look down the barrel of a gun in the hands of an angry neighbor or
stranger. Keep that in mind when your children no longer have water to drink, air to breathe or nonpolluted land to live on.You don't have to be religious to believe that "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" makes good sense. You don't have to be a conservationist to believe that destroying anything out of existence is a dangerous and likely fatal gamble to take with the lives of everything on this planet.You don't have to be a dodo to discover that even though Death waits for us all at the end of the chess game, the smarter we are and the more we know about the game of Life, the longer we can prolong it for everybody and every thing so that we all don't perform the Dance of Death together.
Dan Culberson is the editor of TOUCHSTONE, THE BOOMERPHILE, THE AIO NEWSLETTER and BOULDER HERETIC newsletters and can be contacted at email@example.com by e-mail.I>
Thursday, August 04, 2005 - Mark Anderson
Don't Occupy the Border, Please
Perhaps I should preface this commentary by ballyhooing my credentials as a former member of the blame-immigrants-first lobby. I served on Pat Buchanan's Minnesota state steering committee for his 2000 campaign. When Pat's campaign stops landed him in Minnesota, I either chauffeured him or stood right behind him during his closed-to-anybody-but-the-media press conferences. In fact, Pat sipped ice water that was placed behind the podium by this very commentator.
Given the maturation of the police state at warp speed over the last few years, I have felt it necessary to redact my position on border policing. Not only do I now disagree with the populist arguments of social and economic reasons for policing the border, I also disagree with any arguments that invoke "national security" as a reason to police the border.
As bad as Clinton was, even I - as a Buchananite - never had the acumen to anticipate that there might be an esoteric meaning behind a border control program. But fast forward a few years and we now have things such as the CAPPS II program and no-fly lists. Such luminaries as Markus Wolf and Yevgeni Primakov have found their way inside of the apparatus of the U.S. government. In other words: our greatest threat is politicians, not immigrants.
Travel restrictions are the hallmark of repressive regimes. Given the way in which corruption and subterfuge have been oozing out of Washington, D.C., lately, any effort to "beef up" border "security" should be confronted with resistance. The East Germans were told that they needed a wall to keep "fascist capitalists" out. But don't forget that wall was also used to trap East Germans in. The track record of the U.S. government gives me no reason to believe things would be any different here.
Suppose a military draft begins tomorrow, and you become prime meat for conscription. Where would you go if you decided to leave the country? With the federal takeover of airline "security," your chances of catching an international flight would be close to zero. Canada? Maybe not, thanks to the "Smart Border Declaration." Border "security" would dovetail nicely with a military draft. Having a "Berlin Wall of North America" would curtail your ability to leave the country by automobile.
I was infantry in the Marine Corps, and I served in a boat company - i.e., India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. We did training packages at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, riding around in the zodiacs. Perhaps my training will come in handy, even though I never did go through coxswain school.
I don't understand why an organization that augments the federal government would choose to call itself the "Minuteman" Project. Next thing you know, people will start organizing themselves to help collect taxes on behalf of the IRS in the name of "liberty." But even worse is the hysteria that has been generated, which could provide the impetus for the politicians to send many more federal agents into the border areas, or even expand the wall along the border.
Border control is a corollary of military conscription. When I heard Bush say that he wanted to track people leaving the country, I was hearing: "We want to draft your kids, and we will ensure they can't escape." Is this alarmist? Maybe. But the politicians have nobody but themselves to blame for this wariness. Regardless of what you believe the economic and social impact of immigration is, if you are antiwar and anti-draft, you should at least catechize the issue with this foresight.
After reconsidering the issue, I think I would rather leave the border unmolested by politicians and federal agents. An occupied border could not only be used to keep immigrants out, but it could also be used to trap us in. It is that prospect which scares me much more than voluntary and peaceful exchange with non-federal citizens, and I now feel ashamed that I once belonged to the blame-immigrants-first lobby.
Friday, April 30, 2004 - Dan Culberson
THE GRAY OF BLACK AND WHITE
Now, hear me out.
THE FOG OF WAR is so terrific a documentary that everyone should see it--especially those who remember the Vietnam War and anyone who has concerns about what the U.S. is doing today, including the very people in the government who are making those decisions.
Yes, the film won an Academy Award for Best Documentary of 2003; however, its excellence is not just in form, but also especially in content.
The film is by the esteemed documentary filmmaker Errol Morris and is the result of 23 hours of interviews with Robert Strange McNamara, best known for having been Secretary of Defense under President Kennedy and President Johnson and thus considered the "architect" of the Vietnam War.
However, you might be surprised to learn that McNamara's whole life seems to have been connected to war, and the subtitle of the film could very well be "The Black Art of War" instead of "Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara."
McNamara's earliest memory is of the celebration at the end of World War I, the sadly and incorrectly named "War to End All Wars."
During World War II, McNamara served under Curtis LeMay and actually helped plan the firebombing of Japanese cities which killed one million civilians even before the two atomic bombs that came later.
And then in October 1962, General LeMay was serving under Secretary McNamara and pushed for "nuking" Cuba to solve that crisis, which undoubtedly would have caused all-out war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and very likely could have ended in the nuclear destruction of the planet.
In a chilling demonstration, McNamara shows how close we came to that end.
McNamara begins by stating, "The conventional wisdom is don't make the same mistake twice." The way many people see it, especially those who see this film and considering what is going on in the world today, we have failed to remember the past and are condemned to repeating it.
McNamara claims that war is so complex, it is beyond the capability of the human mind to comprehend all the variables. That is not true.
War is the "gray" that results when nations try to solve problems that they see as "black and white."
Here are McNamara's 11 "lessons":
Number 11: "You can't change human nature." This implies that as human beings, we all have a common "nature," but that doesn't prevent us from killing each other, especially in war.
Number 10: "Never say never." This one is rather silly, because it negates itself.
Number 9: "In order to do good, you might have to engage in evil."
This implies that we can identify "good" and "evil" outside a religious context, but more important, it follows the conservative way of thinking that the end justifies the means, and "That way lies Watergate!"
Number 8: "Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning." Implied, but not stated, is "and change your actions accordingly." The U.S. might have changed its reasoning about the Iraq war, but we certainly haven't changed doing anything about it.
Number 7: "Belief and seeing are both often wrong." This is even more true when it is religious belief.
Number 6: "Get the data." This is just another way of saying "Know the facts."
Number 5: "Proportionality should be a guideline in war." However, if war is the last resort of a conflict, which does the greater
harm: a slow conclusion or a swift conclusion?
Number 4: "Maximize efficiency." If leaders don't know this one intuitively, they shouldn't be leaders. "Even the dullest of minds is champion of the obvious."
Number 3: "There is something beyond one's self." This one is fine as long as it refers to the greater good for the greater number of people and not to a religious "Supreme Being."
Number 2: "Rationality will not save us." Perhaps not, but irrationality has a much greater chance of destroying us, and I doubt if a majority of people prefer that choice.
And the Number 1 Lesson from the Life of Robert S. McNamara:
"Empathize with your enemy." Again, the implication here should be "and change your actions accordingly," although this could be stated as "Know your enemy," and if that happens to be you, "Know yourself."
If either you or your "enemy" is a religious fanatic, then perhaps all is lost, nothing good can come from war and nothing can be accomplished.
THE FOG OF WAR is a chilling reminder of the gray of black and white.
Friday, April 09, 2004 - Frosty Wooldridge
When President Bush Won't Enforce the Law and his Brother Breaks It
Tom Brokaw admitted this week for the first time ever on network television that our southern borders are being invaded. In excess of 2,000 illegal aliens pour across the Mexican border daily. The running total stands at 13 million and climbing. Illegal aliens overwhelm our health care, schools, language and infrastructure. From California to Florida, an illegal alien invasion disrupts the foundation of America’s stability.
The last four presidents have done nothing to discourage or stop the invasion. Who benefits? Major corporations make huge profits via cheap labor and more consumption at the expense of the American taxpayer. But what is happening is a complete breakdown of the rule of law by our elected officials.
Bush swore on the Bible to uphold the Constitution of the United States. His brother, Jeb, Governor of Florida, gave a solemn oath to uphold the laws of Florida and the United States. Neither brother is doing his job. Brother Bush I won’t uphold our immigration laws and brother Bush II is breaking federal laws.
This week, Jeb Bush endorsed an illegal alien driver’s license bill, SB 1360. Never mind that he is in violation of federal law: A person (including a group of persons, business, organization, or local government) commits a federal felony when she or he: assists an illegal alien she/he should reasonably know is illegally in the U.S. or who lacks employment authorization, by transporting, sheltering, or assisting him or her to obtain employment, or encourages that illegal alien to remain in the U.S. by referring him or her or an employer or by acting as employer or agent for an employer in any way, or knowingly assists illegal aliens due to personal convictions. Section 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii).
Jeb Bush is ‘knowingly’ assisting illegal aliens who have broken federal laws by breaking into our country. What does he not understand about the word ‘illegal’? Instead of supporting the laws on the books whereby he should be calling Tom Ridge’s excellent Homeland Security agents, brother Bush II wants to give illegals driver’s licenses. Does Jeb not understand that two of the WTC bombers obtained driver’s licenses from Virginia? Even worse, this bill 1360 is being submarined with other bills. Jeb Bush is misleading Floridians.
What Bush endorses are people who have broken our laws to gain entry into the United States. One of his cohorts, Florida Senator Rudy Garcia, wants to give these federal felons a legal document so they can become citizens. What about the millions of would-be immigrants who are standing in line abiding by the rule-of-law to enter the United States and become citizens? What Garcia is advocating is anarchy. You can’t rob a bank and then deposit your money to gain interest. You can’t break into our country and become a citizen. You need to go back home and do it lawfully.
At least one man, Senator Mike Hairdopolos R-Melbourne said, “Undocumented people have basically cut in line.” He wouldn’t mind giving driver’s licenses to people with legal documents. Why was his one of the few dissenting votes? He is the Chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. He couldn’t afford to vote to break the law!
Where does that leave the American citizen and Floridian who plays by the rules? Who voted on the laws? Who obeys the laws? Was Jeb Bush voted into office by illegal aliens? Was his oath of office meant to serve them and not Americans? How many times can you bend, break and manipulate the rule-of-law until it no longer sustains this country?
After you answer those questions, try these on for size. How long and how many illegal aliens can this country absorb before our systems breakdown? How many people can Florida take before it runs out of water? How about police protection for the growing gang activity? How many Floridians want another five million people driving, building, adding malls, clogging highways and polluting the air, water and land?
Frosty Wooldridge, teacher and author, has bicycled 100,000 miles on six continents to see overpopulation up close and ugly. Next book in June: ‘IMMIGRATION’S UNARMED INVASION—DEADLY CONSEQUENCES’
Friday, April 02, 2004 - Dan Culberson
Greed is Such a Nasty Word....And With Reason(from April 2004 Touchstone)
Now, hear me out.
Far be it from me to join the hue and cry of the latest conservative --and assuredly Republican--attack on the idea that the Entertainment Industry creates a bad influence on our nation's youth, but perhaps one of the most influential, and therefore worst, movies made in the past 17 years has been the 1987 WALL STREET.
You know the one I am talking about: Directed and co-written by Oliver Stone, starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen, and a modern-day morality tale about a young hotshot stockbroker who in essence sells his soul to become a success.
However, forget the ending. Forget what happens to the characters and even the overall intended message of the theme, plot, climax and conclusion. Forget, even, that Stone was sued by the relatives of a woman who was shot March 8, 1995, during the robbery of a convenience store where she worked in Ponchatoula, LA, because the plaintiffs claimed that Stone's 1994 NATURAL BORN KILLERS influenced the couple who committed the crime.
Forget everything except for one speech in WALL STREET by Douglas, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Wall Street corporate raider Gordon Gekko. In fact, forget the speech and concentrate on only one line that Gekko delivers:
"Greed ... for want of a better word, is good."
We will never be able to prove that this line of dialogue, this speech, this movie had an undue influence on our society's future because of a similarly unprovable influence on our youth, young hotshot stockbrokers or even crusty old politicians and other powerbrokers, but who among you is willing to take the position that greed is not at the root of what is most wrong with our society and politics today?
What prompts successful achievers to work even harder to make more money than they need or can even spend in their lifetimes? What prompts professional sports figures to spurn the team and their loyal fans that created their success in order to play for another team in another city in another state? (Jerry Seinfeld has an appropriate comment about the rampant results of unrestricted free
agency: "You're not rooting for a team; you're rooting for
laundry.") And what prompts young idealistic politicians to sell out their ideals, dreams and good intentions once they have been elected to office?
I will tell you what: Greed.
To make my case more simple: Greed is for money, money is power and, as John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton (1834-1902) put it in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton on April 5, 1887, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Of course, anyone can claim (or, more likely, "protest too much," to make another literary reference) that politicians can do no good if they are not in office, and therefore they HAVE to do whatever is necessary in order to get reelected, but does anyone believe that once you start accepting "free" money from someone, some corporation or some industry that you will NOT be influenced by the source of that money?
And does anyone believe that a wealthy individual or corporation or industry of wealthy corporations is NOT interested in obtaining more money and contrariwise has the best interests of the common people in mind and not personal wealth or its stockholders?
I think not.
"That way lies corruption!" should be the rallying cry of all concerned voters and the defense of all politicians when faced with the tempting seduction of "no strings attached" reelection contributions in the form of "soft money," political-action- committee (PAC) contributions and any money from a source that the politicians know to be less than honorable.
And what did a past Colorado Republican-controlled Congress do to prove all this? Overturn the voter wishes of campaign-finance reform passed already in 1996 by increasing the amount of contributions that politicians may receive for conducting their reelection campaigns.
Do you believe that most Republicans are conservative, that the interests of most Republicans lie in favor of Big Business and that the interests of Big Business are obtaining more money, more power and therefore more influence that is NOT in the interests of the common people, the people who are the backbone of the Democratic Party?
Commit this rallying cry to memory: "That way lies corruption!"
Once again: "That way lies corruption!"
Again: "That way lies corruption!"
Anyone who does NOT support campaign-finance reform is in danger of being labeled a (expletive-deleted) Republican.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003 - Frosty Wooldridge
US Commits National Suicide
Each day, we hear ‘body count’ reports of our soldiers killed in Iraq.
Inside our nation, we hear more body counts from job losses, infectious diseases spreading among our citizens, gang wars erupting in our cities killing our friends as well as drug smugglers killing our national park rangers like Kris Eggle. The ABC’s of America’s accelerating national suicide mount with every newscast. Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw stare into the cameras without a hint of emotion as they report the quickening of this crisis in America.
Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall.
Vandals invaded Rome by marching over the Romans’ superb road systems.
Today, extremist Muslims used our own airliners in an opening salvo by hitting our World Trade Towers. You can bet terrorist cells in America scheme the next attack—perhaps a twin engine plane loaded with C-4 plastic explosives being flown into an NFL football game. Another plane could fly into the Hoover Dam at the same time.
But even more sobering is what Toynbee said about how nations fall: "An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit national suicide."Today, America is committing immigration suicide. Much like the Romans, illegal aliens pour across U.S. borders at the rate of 2,200 per day.
Another 4,100 legal immigrants step foot on American soil, 24/7 from 100 different countries. That equals 2.3 million annually. They’re pouring in so fast, our schools, infrastructure and language can not cope with their sheer numbers. Already at over ten million illegals, our congress, president and corporations sit in their insulated and isolated ‘luxury’ box seats in Washington, DC, while average Americans suffer the ‘body counts’.
What are the signs showing this horrendous hemorrhaging of America’s national sovereignty? Every American in every state is affected. For one, our congress and president serve foreign constituents more than US citizens with H-1B and L-1 visas that have given, in the last decade, one million jobs to foreigners in India, China and Brazil. Our wages, standards of living and quality of life are being depressed. In 1965, we had 72 immigration lawyers. Today, we have 8,000 immigration lawyers serving illegal aliens by making sure every means possible is used to block deportation. Congress has done nothing to stop the flow of illegals since 9/11. Citizens in California overwhelming pass Proposition 187 to stop giving schools, food, medical care and aid to illegal aliens. It was overturned by political elites. Outsourcing and off-shoring by our corporations shuttles millions of Americans into unemployment lines. Our national language is undermined by our own leaders who are forcing us to deal with 100 languages in our schools by millions of people who have no intention of assimilating into America as citizens. What they are forming is a massive crisis of Balkanization that grows by the hour. We’re being forced into toleration of people, traditions and cultures that are at odds with America’s basic heartland values.
The ABC’s of national suicide continue with escalating rates of disease from thousands of cases of leprosy, tuberculosis, hepatitis and Chagas Disease—brought into the USA by illegal aliens who avoided health screening. Not one of us can sit down at a restaurant in American today without wondering if we’re going to be the unlucky recipient of an infectious disease such as found at a Taco Bell in Denver last fall or Chi-Chi Restaurants in Pennsylvania or the hepatitis in Atlanta. These diseases are killing us.
If you live in the growing enclave of 300,000 Middle Easterners in Detroit, Michigan, you will not hear English and you are only tolerated.
‘Little Kabul’ in Freemont, California might as well be a foreign city.
NOTHING about it is American anymore. Manhattan Island, New York is being over run by Russians who acre creating their own ‘Leningrad’ on our soil.
Anyone who has visited Los Angles will not understand or be understood by eight out of ten inhabitants. Why? Because three million illegal aliens reside in California and if you are an American, they really don’t like you.
What is happening to America is a form of civil war being visited upon us by our own elected elite. Our own leaders are plotting average American citizens against this wave of illegal and legal immigrants. At current rates of this incursion, more than 115 million immigrants will be added to America in a short 50 years. The new Globalism is another form of Marxism. It reduces a citizen by economic gunpoint of sheer numbers.
On the education front, a republic can not exist without an educated population with a similar moral and ethical foundation—and the same language. We are losing all four aspects of this vital factor in America.
A nation that does not think and speak together can not and will not stand together. Multiculturalism is an experiment and we are the guinea pigs. Unfortunately, the experiment has already failed in dozens of other countries down through time.
The middle class of America is being destroyed by this experiment. As our jobs vanish, our language is trashed, our neighborhoods invaded, our schools manipulated and our standards reduced by this influx from the Third World, we too, are reduced to living like they exist in India. By the time this experiment is in full swing, you will be lucky to obtain a minimum wage job at Wall Mart or Home Depot. You too, will learn what it’s like to live in China. I’ve been there. It is beyond depressing and spiritually exhausting to live at the lowest rung of subsistence and be at the mercy of the government for your very existence.
If the middle class continues to sit back with a remote in hand, one by one, each in his or her time, will become a part of the American Body Count of national suicide. It’s time for another Boston Tea Party. You can be a part of the party by going to the following web sites. It’s your country and your children’s future.
Frosty Wooldridge (firstname.lastname@example.org), web site:
(www.frostywooldridge.com) is a teacher and author who has bicycled 100,000 miles on six continents to see overpopulation up close and ugly.
His latest book is: ‘STRIKE THREE! TAKE YOUR BASE’. It shows a path for teens gasping for emotional stability after their loss of a parent through death or divorce. For more information to take action at the national level, you may go to www.numbersusa.com or write the author for local web sites to take local action in your state. Next book: ‘INCURSION INTO AMERICA: HOW MASS ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION ADVERSELY AFFECTS AMERICAN CITIZENS AND COMMUNITIES’. If you have been affected by illegal immigration, write as much of your story as you like and submit it to the author for inclusion into the book. All names and places will remain private.
Sunday, November 30, 2003 - Dan Culberson
Forgiveness: When Hell Freezes Over Or.......
Now, hear me out.
Have you ever forgiven someone for some perceived indiscretion, and do you remember how good you felt?
Do you remember the feeling of love that flowed through your body?
Now, have you ever refused to forgive someone for whatever indiscretion, and do you remember how you felt then, assuming you were thinking at all?
Do you remember the superiority you felt and how you believed that person should be punished for whatever act committed against you?
Do you remember the feeling of hatred that flowed through your body?
If the purpose of punishment is to teach people a lesson so they won't commit the same indiscretion again, what is the purpose of forgiveness? Surely, it doesn't mean "What you did was wrong, but I forgive you, because it doesn't matter anymore."
If we believe things matter at some point in life, but don't matter at all later in life, then how can we believe anything matters?
Anyone who has raised children ought to know you can teach lessons much more readily and easily with love, understanding and forgiveness than you can with hate, superiority and punishment.
Back in the Embarrassing Sixties, remember how young protesters were criticized, spat upon and sent to jail for wearing clothing that resembled the American flag? Have you noticed the jackets of the U.S. athletes at all the Winter Olympics? Have you seen ads for similar clothing that proclaims "patriotic apparel capturing the spirit of the U.S.A." ... "proudly displaying the 'Stars and Stripes'"?
Do you remember Colorado congressman Phil Pankey (R-Littleton) "wrapped in an American flag made into a jacket" when the Colorado House once approved a law about U.S. flags?
What happened over 40 years? Does something that mattered back then no longer matter today? No, because the Sixties protesters were just as adamantly showing their "patriotic spirit," except that their views differed from those of the "Establishment" and they were punished with extreme hatred.
Now that the Establishment considers wearing the flag to be patriotic, does that mean the earlier protesters were right? Does it mean they just grew up and carried their patriotic views with them into middle age? Or does it mean that things that mattered in the past don't necessarily matter in the present?
Many of those Baby Boomer protesters of the past have been forgiven now, specifically the ones who left their country and moved to Canada. Those who broke the law, committed crimes against society in support of their views and went underground have not. Apparently, they still have to be taught a lesson so they won't do it again or so others won't emulate them.
Some of those protesters couldn't escape, got drafted into the Army and went to Vietnam to kill people in he name of "patriotic duty."
In other words, in the Sixties it wasn't patriotic to protest war, support peace and encourage love. It was patriotic to support war, protest peace and encourage hate.
Remember "My country, right or wrong"? Remember "America: Love it or Leave it!"? How many of you support those views today?
Officially, we have even forgiven Vietnam.
We forgive women for cutting off the penises of their husbands. We forgive them for these "preemptive strikes," because they say they were afraid of being beaten or raped.
We forgive countries, but we don't forgive soldiers.
A 70-year-old Colorado man who was a German soldier in WWII, who lived in the U.S. since 1956 and who married an American woman just days before the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had started
deportation proceedings against him relinquished the idea of fighting for his rights and decided to return to Germany before being deported.
What lesson was he being taught? Why was he being punished? What crime had he committed?
He didn't protest the war his country was fighting. He didn't run away to another country to escape the draft. He didn't predict the future.
Peter Mueller survived. Unfortunately, his Establishment assigned him to be a guard at a concentration camp, and we discovered this 50 years later.
What was he supposed to do? Refuse? Desert? Shoot his superiors?
"I was only following orders" isn't allowed as a defense. However, in the military you are forced to follow orders. If not, in wartime you can be shot.
So, who are the criminals? Who needs to be punished?
The protesters against war during the time of war, or the ones who peacefully follow orders and afterwards are punished during peacetime?
Monday, November 10, 2003 - Frosty Wooldridge
Editor's Note: There is an Immigration Forum at Hyde Park.
ILLEGAL ALIENS SPREADING DISEASES ACROSS THE USA
If you travel into the Third World such as Mexico, Central and South America, you will notice that while visiting a bathroom there is a box for used toilet paper in the corner and no soap or paper towels at the lavatory. The sewage systems can not handle toilet paper so it is a habit to throw it in the box provided which is open to flies and cockroaches.
Additionally, for most Third World people, washing hands is non existent.
Today, in California, Florida, Georgia and spreading to other states across the nation, recent arrivals are so accustomed to throwing their used toilet paper into boxes, they throw it into trashcans. Whether they work at the counter or chopping tomatoes, they often do not wash their hands. Thousands carry head lice, leprosy, tuberculosis and hepatitis A, B, and C.
Annually, an estimated 800,000 illegal aliens cross America’s southern borders while avoiding a health screening. They are not stopped or vaccinated for a host of diseases they’re bringing into America. Who is at risk? Everyone, but especially our school children when they come in contact with in-excess of three million illegal alien school children daily. What can those three million kids unknowingly transfer to our kids?
Tuberculosis, five years ago, was almost non-existent in the USA. Last week, a school in Sebewaing, Michigan reported 30 children and four teachers had tested positive for tuberculosis infections. Michigan supports a large Latin illegal alien population that migrated from Mexico. In the past four years, 16,000 cases of multi drug resistant (MDR) TB, which was formerly endemic ONLY to Mexico, crossed over the borders inside the bodies of illegal aliens. These adults and their children have spread out across the country to work in fast foods and harvesting. Another outbreak occurred in Austin, Minnesota where eight police officers tested positive for tuberculosis. A similar outbreak occurred in Portland, Maine last week with 28 testing positive for tuberculosis.
On November 6, 2003, at a local restaurant chain, Chi-Chi’s in Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania, illegal aliens ‘served’ up plates of infectious hepatitis A to their patrons. Over 3,000 had to receive the painful gammaglobulin shots while two Americans died. Health officials reported, "Workers may have contaminated food by failure to follow basic hygiene in cleaning hands after using the bathroom." The employees were not health screened by the restaurant chain.
Another distressing disease, leprosy, long feared from Biblical times, totaled 900 cases in the USA in the past 40 years. In the past three years, according to a report from the NY Times in February, 2003, leprosy has infected over 7,000 people in the United States. It was brought in by illegal immigrants from India, Brazil, Mexico and the Caribbean. Leprosy spreads by infected illegal aliens working in fast food, dish washing and hotels.
Chagas Disease is brought directly from Mexico and Latin America where it has infected over 18,000,000 people. The T-Cruzi protozoan destroys heart tissue and other organs. "One can contract it by eating uncooked food contaminated with infective feces of the Vinchuca Bug. It crosses over the border in the bodies of an average of 2,200 illegal aliens daily.
Whether it’s dengue fever, now in Florida, Hemmorhagic Fever coming up from Texas border towns or E-coli intestinal parasites arriving with illegal aliens from Mexico daily, every American citizen is under a form of ‘Bio Terrorism’. Tom Ridge of Homeland Security presents Americans with color coded ‘alert’ levels from Al Queda, but what he doesn’t protect us from is a mounting invasion from an ‘unarmed army’ of disease carrying illegals who are becoming just as deadly as 9/11.
What can you do as a citizen? The first and most powerful defense for America would be a five-year moratorium on all immigration so this country can regain its collective breath. Our hospitals, schools and social services are being overwhelmed by an average of 2.3 million legal, illegal immigrants and their offspring each year. Too often, individual Americans neglect to exercise their citizenship. You must demand that each restaurant that you visit hire only legal American, health-screened employees. You must demand your schools examine and process every illegal alien child for head lice, TB and leprosy on a regular basis. You must press your senators, congressmen and president to put troops on our border with Mexico to stop illegal aliens from crossing. You must insist that anyone hiring illegal aliens be fined and imprisoned. Remember the Boston Tea Party? The Alamo? When their leaders did not act in their behalf, average citizens acted in defense of their country. It’s time, once again, for American citizens to stand up for our country, our way of life and our kids.
Finally, you need to visit your schools, write your papers, call your TV stations, talk on radio stations and city councils to bring a discussion, debate and action as to why corporations, industry and government continue flooding our country with millions of illegal aliens who carry these deadly diseases. It’s your country, your kids and the future of this democracy that are at stake.
Source for TB in Michigan: www.clickondetroit.com, 11/4/03, THUMB SCHOOLS REPORT 34 TUBERCULOSIS INFECTIONS’.
Source for hepatitis in PA: www.post-gazette.com, ll/6/03, HEPATITIS OUTBREAK IN BEAVER TRIGGERS SHOTS FOR NEARLY 3,000.
Source for TB in Maine: www.news.maintoday.com 11/6/03, HEALTH OFFICIALS FIGHT TB OUTBREAK Source for leprosy: LERNER, NY TIMES, 2/20/03, LEPROSY ON THE RISE IN US
Source: Hemmoragic Fever, Dengue Fever, Head lice, www.fairus.org Frosty Wooldridge (email@example.com) is a teacher and author who has bicycled 100,000 miles on six continents to see overpopulation up close and ugly. His latest book is: ‘STRIKE THREE! TAKE YOUR BASE’. This book is about baseball, moms, dads, teens and the early loss of a parent through death or divorce. It shows a path for teens gasping for emotional stability after their loss. For more information to take action at the national level, you may go to www.numbersusa.com or write the author for local web sites to take local action in your state. This is your country and your kids’ future.
Thursday, October 09, 2003 - Shane Elson
On the Australian Left, Carers are slaves to the current government
A few years ago I was at a disability conference and during one of the coffee breaks I got into conversation with another bloke. I'll call him Bill.
Bill was in his seventies and a widower. He told me his story with tears in his eyes. His wife passed away a few years prior to my meeting him and since then he had taken over the fulltime care for his 40 year old daughter. She was born with a severe intellectual disability and had physical disabilities as well. She could not be left unsupervised for extended periods, had fits of violence, was overweight and suffered from a range of medical conditions that required constant vigilance.
Bill was tired. He told me that until he retired he had never known the life his wife had lived as, until then, she had to bear the full load of caring for their daughter (not to mention their other children). Bill was alone and his own mortality was staring him in the face. I can still see the tears in his eyes as he asked me, "What will happen when I'm gone?" What could I say? What can we say to all the Bills and Bettys who care for their loved ones as they negotiate the world we have allowed to emerge around us?
In September this year our Prime Miniature, John Howard, attended the National Carers Conference in Canberra. He delivered the opening address and said, in part, "I want to address some remarks to the Government's approach to the enormous contributions that Carers make to the stability of our community. Social stability and social cohesion
and caring for people is an integral part of Australian society".
I found this to be an extraordinary turn of phrase. I'll repeat it. "Social stability and social cohesion and caring for people is an integral part of Australian society".
What Howard does here is turn the emphasis away from notions of collective responsibility for those who are less fortunate than ourselves and turn it back on the individuals unfortunate enough to have to care full time for their loved ones. He says to Carers, you make an enormous contribution but that is what we expect from you as members of a stable, cohesive society. Howard has said to those who look after the most vulnerable and needy, as good Australians, it is your duty to care for your loved ones.
This is nothing new and is nothing less than what we should expect from a Liberal Prime Minister, a man steeped in the principle that individualism and striving to provide the greatest return for your energy will form the basis on which collective action will emerge to benefit everyone. In Howard's limited and blinkered view of social processes, he ascribes success to individual drive and motivations and social processes as governed by the 'invisible hand' of mutual exchange unhindered by government or other interventions. In short, if left to our own devices, society will become better and all will benefit. I wonder what benefits Bill has received over the last 40 years or so?
Jean Tops, the President of the Gippsland Carers Association said on her return from the conference that, "The conference heard research that full-time unpaid Carers were 60% more likely to suffer one of more than 50 debilitating illness' such as depression, heart attack and stroke than the general community."
In short, the reward carers can expect from our present systems of government, be it under Liberal or Labor, is a shortened life expectancy and a lower quality of life all the while worrying over the ongoing care of their loved one after they are no longer able to support them.
There are 600,000 families in Australia who care for at least one member with a disability and who are not able to access adequate care for their loved one which means that the family (in most cases the mother) is the primary carer. These carers don't work a 38 hour week with sick pay, holiday pay, superannuation or other perks. They work 365 days a year, on call 24 hours a day for the measly sum of $43 per week in Carer's Allowance.
The recent announcement that the Australian Federal Budget would be in surplus to the tune of $7 billion would be turned into a budget deficit of over $20 billion if full time, unpaid family carers took the drastic action of 'dumping' their loved ones in care (if it was available in the first place).
As Jean Tops says, "This (or any) Budget surplus is only possible on the backs of the 'unpaid slave labour' of more than 600,000 full-time 'unpaid Carers' of people with profound dependent disabilities who would otherwise be in aged care nursing home beds or in supported accommodation in the 'one-size-fits all' disability group home system".
So how do we respond with the Carers to John Howard's call to remember that "Social stability and social cohesion and caring for people is an integral part of Australian society"? How do we enter into the life of the Bills and Bettys who, while aging themselves, are faced with the terrible knowledge that when they do pass away, their loved one will be left to the devices of the state?
Under Howard's scheme it would be other family members who would take up the caring role. Brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts, Howard would trumpet, need to remember that if they want to be responsible members of Australian society they should take up the slack in the system. But I ask you, how would you feel if one day an adult with profound and multiple disabilities was thrust upon you and you had to rearrange your lifestyle to suit them? Would you do it?
Heres some startling statistics to help you understand where Howard and Costello got at least part of their budget surplus from.
Over 3.6 million Australians (or 19% of the population) have a disability with handicap. Of this group 2.3 million have their primary care provided by an unpaid family carer including the provision of accommodation. Over 71% of all these carers are women and 78% of all primary carers are of workforce age (18-64). Unpaid families provide over 91% of all accommodation support for people with disabilities and while our government spent $3.7 billion on Aged Care accommodation in the '99-'00 budget they provided only $1.2 billion for disability accommodation.
Jean Tops responds to these figures by saying, "At the present time there is no avenue for unpaid family Carers to seek remedy under Human Rights, Equal Opportunity or Disability Legislation because Australia currently has no Carer Recognition or Entitlement Legislation. This grossly discriminatory situation has created a society that tolerates family members being treated as 'unpaid slave labourers' without any rights."
I would respond to Mrs. Tops by saying, that is exactly what Mr. Howard wants because if you and other unpaid family carers were to stand up and fight for equal rights for both yourselves and your loved ones who need care, you would be threatening the social stability and social cohesion of Australian society. As long as the systems under which we are forced to live offer no respite or opportunity to even think about the possibilities of a different way of organising our social and economic relations, then Howard and his ruling class mates (of all political shades) will continue to regard carers as nothing more than slaves.
How was Howard and Costello's budget surplus won? In part by ensuring that Bill is not able to take time off and fight for his rights. However, there is another possibility here.
We should not allow Bill to remain voiceless. One day it may be our turn to take on the caring roll. God forbid it should happen but a decline into dementia or other psychological change, a car accident, a work injury, or a careless jump into a s wimming pool could result in anyone of us or our loved ones suddenly being transformed from an able bodied, self reliant and self sufficient individual into a dependent, disabled burden on our families. Sure, we say, if that would happen I could never regard my child or parent as a burden so its wrong to think that.
I'm sure Bill doesn't think his daughter is a burden. I'm sure he loves her and I'm sure he and his late wife know her, perhaps, better than they knew each o ther. So no, the disabled family member may not become a burden in the sense of wanting to abandon them. But I challenge you to ask anyone who has a family member with a disability and who will answer from the bottom of their heart, whether they don't have times when they ask "what if?"
Its all these "what ifs" that John Howard and the ruling elites deny when they say we should do our duty for the good of the community. Mutual obligation, under a pure interpretation of liberal philosophy, flowed both ways. For the thousands of Bills and Bettys out there, the tap of compassion has been turned off while the elites celebrate on the backs of those whose hearts are constantly breaking as they quietly, lovingly, tenderly care for the person whose life depends on them.
A young boy with a disabled brother once told his mother about a dream he had. In the dream he had a fireworks rocket and when it exploded in the air the falling sparks took away everyone's disabilities. I guess the question that arises out of this story and what troubles me is whether it is socially responsible to deny two boys and their family
the right to enjoy a better quality of life because those in power want to maintain a stable and cohesive but repressive and unjust social system - at any cost.
The possibility that arises out of all this is one in which we, the able bodied who are not tied down with the 365 day a year job of providing constant are, become the conduit for the voices of all the Bills and Bettys who ask, “What will happen when I'm gone?" and to use our resources, that are not sucked up in the carer role, to advocate for those who ask "what if?" We don't need to say anything. The Bills and Bettys do not need more words. They do not need more letters or advice. What they really need is action. What we need to do is to work towards throwing out the systems we currently have, that treat carers as unpaid slave labour, and replace them with ones that can provide a better chance for the Bills and Bettys to enjoy their declining years and to remove the burden
from all those little boys who dream of exploding rockets and brothers who can play in their back yards with them.
Figures used in this article were sourced from the Gippsland Carers Association and Carers Victoria.
PO Box 780
Morwell VIC 3840 AUS
-61-413 597 828
Shane is the Australian producer and distributor of Alternative Radio.
Visit the web site www.alternativeradio.org
Tuesday, October 07, 2003 - Shane Elson
"Plastic or Paper?"
in Australia, as elsewhere, the symbolism is important......
I was listening to the local talk back radio while they had a conversation on the use or non-use of plastic bags in shops and how there was a 10c levy on them. There were the obligatory 'how dare they charge me' and the 'save the whales' callers. But one caller caught my attention and made me stop and think about my own experience. This caller related how the supermarkets are not geared up for anything else other than plastic bags.
Having worked during my teenage years as a packer in the local supermarket in my hometown I began to think about this notion of customer service and the ubiquitous plastic bag.
When I worked in the supermarket, the customer would take the items out of their trolley and slide them down the polished wooded bench where the 'checkout chick' (and they always were then) would check them off. The packer would, with a skillful flourish, crack open the large brown paper bag and begin the task of carefully packing in the goods.
All the while a subtle three way conversation was going on. The check out girl and the customer would be chatting about whatever, while us young blokes doing the packing would be worrying about Mrs. Jones and how she doesn't like the Fish Fingers in the same bag as the soap - and boy would she let you know it if you did put them in together. The process was very labour intensive and part of the packer's job was to carry the groceries to the car if asked.
Sometimes, the customers would even give you their car keys and tell you they would pick them up later after they had their hair done.
There was a camaraderie around the check out. No flash touch screens, no real rush. Although I'll qualify that with the fact that every year the supermarket had the 'checkout games' in which teams of checkout chicks and their packers would do battle to see who could pack the fastest. But not only did you have to pack the fastest, you had to observe the 'Mrs. Jones protocols'. This meant no soap and fish fingers in the same bag. Soft items on top, fruit and meat separate and the tub of ice cream so it wouldn't leak.
Nowadays it's all about 'through put' and 'price consistency' and 'efficiency' and 'customer service'. The check outs are designed as ergonomic control rooms where the customer places the goods on the conveyor belt at one end and back into their trolley, complete with plastic wrappers, at the other. There's not a lot of need to chat and even less time to do so. The whole idea is to keep the flow of cash running into the till and the humble plastic shopping bag is the retailer's greatest ally in this task.
So when my partner and I started using calico bags, assembled on her sewing machine and double stitched all the way round, we began to change not only some of our own habits but also, hopefully the habits of some of those around us. I didn't realise until I heard the caller today but we have joined the legion who are attempting to break the cycle of rushing.
Because the calico bag doesn't work in the fast paced, high volume, high through-put, large capacity shopping mall check out, we are part of a group who are subtly taking back the social spaces of the check-out. My first inkling that something was changing was when, one evening, the lady behind us, watching the pile of goods grow at the end of the conveyor belt as I methodically packed in the tins, bottles and packets, began to look at her watch every two seconds. Shifting from foot to foot, she was growing more and more impatient. From the depths of my mind her actions recalled in me a response I'll call the Mr. Phillips Syndrome.
You know him. He's the one who always rushes.
He never says 'hello' and he counts his change before leaving the check out. While the Mr. Phillips of my check out days was probably long gone, my reaction to this behavior was predictable. I slowed down a little and upped my engagement with the young man operating the till.
Now, I'll admit that probably wasn't the nicest thing to do, but it did give me a small moment of glee to realise that in the busy world of keeping the dollar circulating I could actually influence the profit margins of a large multinational and at the same time, give this obviously weary lady a moment of respite from her endless rushing about.
The plastic bag represents the rush and clutter of our society. It has reshaped the social spaces of our shopping centre exits and taken away from us some of the skills of engaging. As a packer I can recall the summer holiday makers, strangers who I'd never seen before and for whom I would invent fantastic stories, the regulars who always had something to say and the Mrs. Jones' and Mr. Phillips' of my town. All these people passed through the store and
through the little part of it I occupied and, for the most part, we engaged. Sure, we weren't allowed to dilly dally, but there was the opportunity to chat.
'Customer satisfaction' was not reduced to how many options there were, but to how good the conversation, which was part of the service, was.
The caller on the radio this morning reminded me of all those times when I've heard the term 'customer service' and how it has become the catch cry for training us in certain practices designed to either make us spend more, or
to reduce costs. It's not 'customer service' it's training us in the service of wealth capture. However, its not only our financial wealth, it's the wealth of social interactions that exist within our communities that are slowly choked
out of those spaces in which we have the greatest opportunity to find out about others.
The caller prompted me to think about the plastic bags that choke our water ways, kill our marine life, clog up our drains and blow over our gardens as a metaphor for the way so many of our daily habits have been trained by the capitalist imperative. The desire to 'create wealth' (whatever that means) and accumulate tokens of our success drive many of us overlook the simple things.
Being a recent convert to the calico bag, perhaps my perspective is a little blurred. However, a much longer engagement with social issues make me think that the plastic bag is a good metaphor for the way our society is shaped.
It comes to us (until recently) free of charge. It speeds up the time we do boring tasks (no need to converse with the pimply teenager at the check out). It makes it easier to get around (no arms full of loose items). It can be multi-tasked (bin liner, doggy doo scoop, garden peg marker) and, when it's finished with, thrown away, forgotten or made someone else's problem. The plastic bag chokes our social interactions, kills our ability to slow down, clogs up our cupboards with empties, and blows over the gardens we so lovingly tend.
While there is a place for them - and I would rather see biodegradable plastic bags than the heavy brown paper ones I used to pack - plastic bags represent a rally call to those of us who want to take back our social spaces and engage with our communities. And I haven't mentioned how the plastic bag has also become a status item, those large ones with the 'brand' name of the shop on them. Always oversize, made of heavy duty plastic with reinforced handles,
these plastic bags do more than just destroy the environment, they take away for our society, not add to it, because they remind us of the economic divisions that exist between us. The 'haves' shop 'here' while the have nots shop 'there'.
While I'm not calling for some 60's / 70's style nostalgia trip or a return to the good old bad old days, I'm asking for a short moment of reflection on what the plastic bag has done not only for us, but also to us. It's made life easier to some extent, but what did it take away in the process?
PO Box 780
Morwell VIC 3840 AUS
-61-413 597 828
Shane is the Australian producer and distributor of Alternative Radio. Visit the web site www.alternativeradio.org
Sunday, September 28, 2003 - Unknown (stolen from TouchStone; thanks, Dan!)
Okay, okay, he conflates Afghanistan and Iraq, drags in North Korea, slips into hyperbole, and most of this could just as easily be said about, oh, Kosovo and yet……..and yet…..
The Vietnam II Preflight Check
By: Author Unknown (but if you know or are the original author please come forward and take a bow!)
1. Cabal of oldsters who won't listen to outside advice? Check.
2. No understanding of ethnicity's of the many locals? Check.
3. National boundaries drawn in Europe, not by the locals? Check.
4. Unshakable faith in our superior technology? Check.
5. France secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
6. Russia secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
7. China secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
8. Enemy supply lines unknown? Check.
9. Sec of Def pushing a conflict the Joint Chiefs never wanted? Check.
10. Fear we'll look bad if we back down now? Check.
11. Corrupt corporate Texan in the White House? Check.
12. Land war in Asia? Check.
13. Right-wing unhappy with outcome of previous war? Check.
14. Enemy easily moves in/out of neighboring countries? Check.
15. Soldiers about to be exposed to our own chemicals? Check.
16. Daily guerrilla attacks that cannot be stopped? Check.
17. Anti-Americanism up sharply in Europe? Check.
18. B-52 bombers? Check.
19. Helicopters that clog up on the local dust? Check.
20. Infighting among the branches of the military? Check.
21. Locals that cheer us by day, hate us by night? Check.
22. Local experts ignored? Check.
23. Local politicians ignored? Check.
24. Local conflicts since before the USA has been a country? Check.
25. Much confusion over who and where the enemy is? Check.
26. Against advice, Prez won't use taxes to pay for war? Check.
27. Blue water navy ships operating in brown water? Check.
28. Use of nukes hinted at if things don't go our way? Check.
29. War unpopular at home? Check.
30. No plan in place to end involvement? Check.
Vietnam II, you are cleared to taxi.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - Mark Boslough Letter to the Albuquerque Journal
Monday, September 22, 2003
Letters to the Editor
Who are Real Eco-Terrorists?
AUTOMOBILE DEALERS are so upset by graffiti on their $70,000 Land Rovers that they have asked the FBI to investigate. The president of their association is calling it an act of "domestic terrorism." The story even made headlines in "Eco-terror Watch," the newsletter of an organization called "Stop Eco-Violence!"
How did political tag artists get elevated to the status of al-Qaida, diverting strained investigative resources? My guess is that it all started when Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., wrote letters to the League of Conservation Voters, World Wildlife Fund and other environmental groups asking them to "publicly disavow the actions of eco-terrorist
Coming shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, McInnis' letter said, "While the attacks of eco-vigilantes have not yet reached the magnitude of what America experienced over the last several weeks, their tactics are no less deplorable, their methods of pursuing political change no less appalling, and their use of fear and terror no less repugnant."
Taking him at his word, I visited McInnis' Washington office last March and showed photographs to his staff of politically-motivated graffiti that had been scrawled on signs and spray painted across rocks on my family's Colorado property.
I showed snapshots of the seedling trees that were killed by vandals who use our land for off-road recreation. I showed copies of e-mailed threats to drive off-road vehicles across a wetland we are restoring. I even showed pictures of the vigilantes themselves, winching a boulder off our private drive.
After taking the law into their own hands, the posse had posted photos on their organization's Web site.
The graffiti on our property did not refer to a fictional monkeywrencher, but to "R.S. 2477," the repealed law that off-road clubs think gives them access to private property. ... The political motivation was not eco-protection, but eco-exploitation. And the value of our property is less than the cost of a Land Rover.
I've not heard back from McInnis, who has not so much as disavowed the actions of these groups. The FBI is not investigating.
This double standard reveals an unfortunate anti-environmental bias within our government.
Thursday, August 07, 2003 - Clint Talbott
Talbott, an editor at the Daily Camera, weighs in on the Barking Dog Issue. Thought about reprinting it here, given that it's on the WEB anyway, but decided 'better not' given the success of my other judgments on legal issues involving me over the last decade.
Sunday, August 03, 2003 - from Dark Cloud
Sherri Tippi, who contributed to the Barking Dog debate, has a nice piece in the Daily Camera about her.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - Mark Boslough
Mark Boslough has a letter to Congress and additional postion papers on his new site:
Friday, July 04, 2003 - Mark Boslough
Letter to Daily Camera July 3, 2003
Law opens bad can of worms
Many mountain landowners, like James Hester (Open Forum, June 11), mistakenly think that RS-2477 is a law that simply protects their access across public land. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.
If Hester succeeds at using RS-2477 to gain an easement, he will have also created a public road that is open to any dirt bike, ATV or monster truck. And if the road is older than his mining claim, he will end up with a motorized recreation area on his own property!
Extreme off-road clubs are already attempting to use RS-2477 to seize private property without due process or just compensation. They simply look on a map, see a road, and assume RS-2477.
For example, my family owns land that was patented in 1878. According to Vernon Brandt, an official representative of the Mile-Hi Jeep Club, he has a right to use our stream bed for motorized recreation. His theory is that sometime before 1878, there must have been a road from our mine down the creek into the South St. Vrain Canyon and onward to Lyons. Never mind the fact that Lyons did not exist in 1878, let alone a road in the canyon!
But the Mile-Hi Jeep Club doesn't let the facts get in the way of their theory. Club members are so sure that a road existed there 125 years ago that they formed a vigilante group to re-open it. Notably, they do not seem sure enough to file a lawsuit and let a judge decide.
It us just a matter of time before caravans of mud-running off-roaders graduate from harassing small landowners like me and my neighbors, and start forcing their way onto alleged RS-2477 roads through ski areas, golf courses, and gated subdivisions. When that happens I expect the Bush administration will do an about-face.
MARK BOSLOUGH, Albuquerque, N.M.
Sunday, June 22, 2003 - Greg Mackey
This from Denver Post, June 22, 2003
Access should be for all
Re: "Want access? Walk," The Open Forum, June 15.
Letter-writer Mark Boslough is mixing fact and fiction. He will make up whatever sounds good to cover his closure of a public road (County Road 87).
I represent Mile Hi Jeep Club. We have never driven through his meadows or messed with any equipment of his. We and other recreationists sought access to a road that has been traveled since 1900. (There is a court case from 1903 showing this fact.) Just because he has land alongside a road, he thinks that makes it his road.
Mile Hi isn't a bunch of "extreme recreationists." The majority of the people in the club (120-plus members) drive near-stock vehicles and like to get together and enjoy family activities. We spend hundreds of hours a year working with the Forest Service to clean and repair roads and trails. We help pay for Forest Service people to do projects.
Generally speaking, we practice "tread lightly" rules, help others both on and off the trails, and only push when we have been pushed into a corner. Very few of us drive "super-modified" rigs.
Just to set the record straight, we did not file a lawsuit against Mr. Boslough. We did give money to help the landowner above Boslough to regain access to his land. We're for equal access for all - not just hikers.
Thursday, June 19, 2003 - from Dark Cloud
I have been directed to this site to see photos of the Mile High Jeep Club's antics regarding Barking Dog and other escapades. The site is here.
The anonymous emailer, who apparently doesn't know we have an anonymous-friendly forum for just this sort of thing that does not require my presence, takes pains to point out the following:
Mother's Day '99 was on Barking Dog. Jeeps are shown in the stream or entering it.
The Rubicon outing is offered as an indication of the deep respect held by jeepers for the environment. The photo 'mud shielded' is suggested as a fun shot.
I have no idea if these photos are of illegal activity or not. Don't know of many natural mud wallows in the high country like the ones shown, though.
Saturday, December 14, 2002 - Max Greenlee
An Email from Barking Dog area landowner Max Greenlee; please note there is a new forum for this discussion and all replies to this and future documentation should go there. Thank you. - ed.
The effort to reestablish a road for vehicular traffic in Long Gulch (?barking dog trail) will cause an unnecessary degradation. I am not qualified to comment on the legal aspects of this controversy but I do feel strongly about the deterioration this change would bring. I have been familiar with this area for over 40 years as my family has owned property that lies in the upper end of this drainage. There has been considerable mining activity in previous years in this region and many old roads used to service the mines can still be identified. It is possible to force a 4 wheel drive car along these roads often leaving varying amounts of damage. The riparian areas such as Long Gulch are especially vulnerable since the vestiges of the remaining roadway are adjacent to the streambed or actually in it. Long Gulch does carry a flowing stream at times. Of course motorized traffic inevitably brings with it a certain amount of noise pollution which disturbs an area that currently has a healthy environment for a variety of wildlife. Recreational 4 wheeling is a great sport and has its place but it does take a toll on fragile areas such as this one. I hope that Long Gulch can escape what I think is an unnecessary and violent change in character which had been virtually undisturbed for many years. Max Greenlee
Friday, December 13, 2002 - Dark Cloud
Attention! The Boulder Lout now has a message board just set up, and there is a forum ready to go on Barking Dog. RATHER than involving me in any way, people can now post what they wish, graphics included, whole nine yards. If things get really nasty, let me know. I've been told jeepers don't feel safe unless surrounded by their own in their own enclave, but I don't know. We'll see, I guess.
Thursday, December 12, 2002 - Vernon Brandt
mark and maya in the past have claimed "wetland" for the area. they do not understand "wetland" but for the others that do this is further proof that there is no way that the area qualifieshttp://www.co.boulder.co.us/health/pdf/table13.pdf
Attn: There are new articles on this. The front page of The Boulder Lout under Boslough, Brandt, and Barking Dog has them. Some replies that have graphics NEED to go there. And because of an error I made I can only put up one Guest Writer a day, which I'll see if I can change. Editor
Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - Dark Cloud
1830 hours, here's Vernon. It sure doesn't look like the same road, if you trace them over the numbered boxes.
Vernon Brandt is sending over some maps (Finally! And you all thought the midnight phone threats wouldn't pay off....) later today, and I'll try to get them up today. Apparently, these are absolute refutation to Mark Boslough's position, or part of it. We'll see. In any case, check back today or tomorrow if this is of interest.
Please, I'd still like some exposition to go with it. This, so folks don't have to go back and forth between eleven web sites (and keep them on mine....).
Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - Dark Cloud
As of 1800 hours, a new piece of evidence has been added to the pile. There will, I am told, be more as the days wear on, so if you're following this deal, check back.
AGAIN! I sincerely promise that anyone with informed contrary views will be posted here. This has been awfully one sided so far, and at this point, I'd like to hear some representative from the other side put their argument before the public.
There are no Perry Mason moments in civil court (and damned few in criminal, ever...), and there is no harm but maybe no advantage to putting the evidence here. Boslough has seemingly been upfront about it all, at least with me. It would be good to see the alleged evidence from the other side. Does anyone really want another pointless lawsuit? If the jeepers put a lot of eggs into this basket (although there does not appear to be large groups around this flag, for all the bluster) and they lose, they'll have united a lot of landowners against them. Of course, if they win it could still be the case. But why amass a lot of debt and durable bad feeling if the evidence does not support an action, one way or the other? Boslough appears to have the evidence in his favor.
Monday, December 09, 2002 - Dark Cloud
Mark Boslough has offered a reply to the latest article. You can read it here. He offers up a map in defense of his position and challenges others to offer theirs so that the public can judge. Seems fair enough, eh? I'll post any reply, preferably with a map to buttress the claim.
Apparently there are issues with Netscape and Mozilla, but the map is there in MS Explorer. Have no understanding of this, but 99% of the world uses IE, so it'll rest there.
Still annoyed about the Broncos.
Sunday, December 08, 2002 - Dark Cloud
Vernon Brandt wanted me to be aware of this article, to which I provide a link absent an offer by the author. This is the closest yet to a rebuttal to Mark Boslough.
In putting this up I discovered I had erased my previous entry today, which was requesting said rebuttals and complaining about - let me reflect - complaining about vicious emails, complaints I am biased, and so forth and so on. I'm annoyed the Broncos played like they live with their mothers today, so deal with it.
Friday, October 11, 2002 - Dark Cloud
Guest Writer articles, aside from the Barking Boslough Affair, are now in the main camp. Check story listing under graphic.
Monday, October 07, 2002 - Dark Cloud
See BLOGaBoulder today for link to contrary opinions on the Barking Dog, Jeep vs. landowners controversy.
Saturday, October 05, 2002 - Dr. Maya Elrick
This piece by Dr. Elrick, wife of past contributor Mark Boslough, is in regards to the on-going Barking Dog controversy, which is concerned with some land west of Boulder and conflicts with some four-wheel drive clubs out of Denver. Elrick is a professor at the University of New Mexico.
I would like to reinforce the points that my husband, Mark Boslough, made in his recent commentary. I want to emphasize the fact that he is not the only landowner near the Barking Dog Trail who has experienced the abuse of off-road vehicle trespassers, nor is he the only landowner that was involved in the closing of Barking Dog trail to off-road vehicle use.
My family owns land that Barking Dog Trail crosses. We have owned that property for nearly a half a century. We have sold of some parts of our land and purchased others, including 18 patented mining claims (about 150 acres) through which Balarat Creek flows downstream from our original land. When I was a young girl in the early 1960s we used to go down to the creek and pick wild raspberries. I remember a stream that was lush with vegetation. I never witnessed anything like the caravans of off-road vehicles that, in the 1990s, slashed through the streambed and tore up the plants that lined the riparian wetland along our creek.
Off-road vehicle trespassing along Balarat Creek became a serious problem when motorized recreationists discovered it and started making new roads and driving into our ranch from Barking Dog Trail. The off-roaders cut down trees without permission, and repeatedly tore down one of our ranch gates. Our caretakers caught motorcyclists attempting to cut through our meadow on more than one occasion. Recently, Jeeps created a new road up a steep hill. The intersection of this newly created road with Barking Dog Trail is inside our ranch, and our fence was actually torn down by someone. Now their new road has eroded so deeply that (ironically) Barking Dog Trail is nearly impassible at this point. Sediments from this deeply eroded gully are now washing down Balarat Creek toward the South St. Vrain.
One of our neighbors, John Ramey, is a real-estate developer whose hobby is mining. He became so exasperated with the trespassing and vandalism to his mining equipment that he erected a gate at the end of County Road 87 in a desperate attempt to keep vehicles out. Our caretakers watched as a group of off-road motorists tore it down. Now he is forced to keep his mining equipment on our land safely behind our fence, so it is not vulnerable to further vandalism by trespassers on Barking Dog Trail.
In June of 1999, I confronted a group of off-road recreationists trespassing on our land where it is crossed by Barking Dog Trail (near where their new road has created the severe erosion problems). They were part of an organized group. I don't remember if it was the Mile-High Jeep Club, but our property was posted, and they ignored our signs. I instructed them to turn around and go back from the direction the entered our property. They refused.
The Mile-Hi Jeep Club may do trail clean-up projects when it gives them favorable media attention, but in nearly half a century, they have never offered to clean up the trash, illegal campfire rings, vehicle parts, or other damage done to our land by off-road recreationists. They have made no effort whatsoever to contact us. I had never even heard of this club before several of its members vandalized our property.
Two years ago, the landowners in our area successfully rose up against this onslaught and asked the county commissioners to close access to Barking Dog Trail by allowing an official gate to be erected at the end of County Road 87. Our neighbors supported this action overwhelmingly.
Here are some quotes from the letters written to the County Commissioners by our neighbors. This is part of the documented public record available to anyone, so I will name names:
John Geier (who bought 200 acres of my family's land in 1965) wrote that, "We have had trouble over the years with trespassers, hunters and motorcycle riders."
Paul Warren (whose family has owned a mineral patent crossed by Barking Dog Trail since the 1920's) supported the closure of the road, but said "If this is not to happen, some other means of controlling the off road vehicle traffic in this area would be another option!"
Max Greenlee (another 2nd-generation land owner whose property is traversed by Balarat Creek and the extension of Barking Dog Trail wrote, "...the off-road traffic is increasing and our property is subjected to illegal motorcycle and ATV use. The areas around this
section of road have had vegetation stripped with consequential increases in erosion due to all the new motorcycle and ATV trails that crisscross the area. Based on these observations, I am in full support of the effort to get this section of roadway closed to the currently abusive uses."
The Boulder County Commissioners hearing to close the road was held in the year 2000, and was attended by four representatives from the Cal-Wood Conservation Education Resource Center, our next-door neighbors, whose goal is "to develop, foster, and promote environmental conservation education with the goal of improving the quality of life for future generations and encouraging the wise use of natural resources." They spoke very eloquently and strongly for shutting down off-road activity in the area.
In an effort to reverse the Commissioners’ decision, the Mile-Hi Jeep Club and the Colorado OHV Coalition (COHVCO) initiated a campaign of misinformation. On Sept. 27, 2001 the Commissioners voted to keep another road near Jamestown closed to vehicles. In an attempt to stir up its members against the Commissioners and landowners in our area, COHVCO fabricated its own version of the Sept. 27 Commissioners’ meeting, which had nothing to do with County Road 87 or access to Barking Dog Trail. One COHVCO board member has even gone so far as to tell a newspaper that we only own 3 mining claims. The facts of ownership can be obtained by anyone, simply by visiting the courthouse.
Off-roaders are also attempting to use the trail by force, through bullying and intimidation. They have threatened to try to get my husband fired, and have posted a photograph of me along with personal information on the web. They have interfered with our attempts to thin our trees to reduce the fire hazard. They have accused us of vandalizing our own land because we have done this expensive and time-consuming forest stewardship work that benefits everyone. They have ripped out the young saplings we planted to stabilize the soils they had torn up with their vehicles. This just makes it harder for us to control erosion that their off-road driving has caused.
But we will not be intimidated. We recognize that one Jeep club’s contempt for private property and land ownership does not reflect the majority. We are keeping Barking Dog Trail open to people and wildlife. But it is closed to motorized vehicles. The closure was a community effort, community supported, and much needed.
Sunday, September 22, 2002 - Dark Cloud
We'll have a new Guest Writer the last week of September. I am happy that it has taken off as it has. I have met Mr. Cohen (he was a Trustee of the Town of Nederland), but I have never met or spoken to Mark Boslough (that I know of).
I'd be happy to publish a rebuttal to the facts of the Boslough situation, be there any. I am hoping that the legion of broken wrists that could normally be utilized to pick up a phone will heal by Monday, the facts obtained, apologies one way or the other made. If it is a public road, Mr. Boslough ought to buy a round for the people who broke their pans on that stretch of public highway so essentially related to the First Amendment, the Fourth, the Magna Carta, All That Is Good, and various manhoods at issue. He should then duck walk behind a jeep singing "I'm a little teapot..." for a distance not to exceed fifteen miles.
If it was a private road, then an apology of more than cursory nature should occur to those guilty of multiple trespass. I am not motivated to pick up the phone - Dark Endeavors only offers a forum and emotionally could not give a flying fungo bat one way or the other - but if it is a private road on private land, our eyes are sorrowfully drawn to those posted communications that claim nameless individuals - Hot Shots, 'friends' - who assured them, who simply knew, that the road was public.
Regarding the reputation of the various off road clubs for sober responsibility on the lands they use, I am clueless. However, I offer an analogy.
Once in a while on University Hill here in Boulder, the various Fraternities and Sororities get together and clean up the entire sordid neighborhood. Favorable press attention is given to young folks clearing out rotton mattresses, picking up trash and beer bottles (if the weather is warm and the girls are in shorts and T shirts, very favorable press attention....), smiling earnestly for the camera and emoting for the ages on the need for working together, community, the Hill as 'family,' until readers suffer diabetic reactions. It is never brought up that this annual orgy of good work is generally correspondent to a summons, or eviction notices, trials for disorderly conduct, public intoxication, and rioting. Further, the people get credit for cleaning it up but do not get shafted for creating the squalor in the first place, directly or indirectly. They very often did not themselves create the artistic grafitti of vomit, broken glass, and wet upholstery, but they all know who did and created no peer pressure to engender civil behavior or repentence or compensation to the victims. They technically have a legitimate gripe about 'everyone' being punished for the actions of a few but the eight hours of work hardly compensates for the hundreds of hours of sleepless nights they inflict on their neighbors while dropping property values and endangering innocent parties.
I cannot judge, I do not know anything beyond what's been posted, but somehow I would think a certain amount of validation of these trails ought to be done by the Clubs beforehand. Mr. Boslough has apparently been a jeeper since the early 70's and is a Republican to boot - hardly an Eco-Weinie, or someone trying to find something, anything, that allows him to feel superior to other people. He owns the land, pays the taxes, and doesn't want people to trespass on it plus give him a hard time for defending it. For all the professed attributes of the Club members, I didn't hear a single apology. Not one.
Saturday, September 21, 2002 - Update to the Ethics of the Mile-Hi Jeep Club
Regarding the Hoo-Hah at the Boslough property, The Mile-Hi Jeep Club has modified their web site to indicate that they cleaned up after themselves. But they haven't, as yet, modified another version that they have elsewhere.
Here's the one they modified sometime since it was posted:
and here's the one with the original text:
http://members.tripod.com/HoboJeepers/jun99.htmNote the original says:
"Jon at the creek crossing Trail Repair"
And the new version says:
"Jon creek crossing, then trail repair & cleanup* time
*Note: the small hole (size of pen) was quickly plugged, and ANY oil lost was removed along with it's soil."
Gee, why the changes in text?
Meanwhile, from Mr. Boslough:
An Open Letter:
Members of the Barking Dog Shovel Brigade:Harold Ogden, Mile-Hi Jeep Club.
Vernon Brandt, Mile-Hi Jeep Club.
Eric Steenburn, Trailridge Runners 4WD Club.
Pat Steenburn, Trailridge Runners 4WD Club (Club officer)
Gene King, Director, COHVCO
1999 Mile-Hi Jeep Club Jeeper of the Year
1999 United Four Wheel Drive Association's
Environmental Jeeper of the Year
The following quotes are confirmation of the version of the story as stated in the op-ed. Phone numbers are provided for
"THE MAJORITY OF THE ROAD, AS WELL AS THE SPECIFIC POINT WHERE THE ROAD IS BLOCKED, IS LOCATED ON PRIVATE PROPERTY, WHICH BELONGS TO MARK BOSLOUGH."
Boulder County Sheriff's Department case report 20000626. (available from Boulder County Sheriff: 303-441-4444)
"WE HAVE SEARCHED OUR STATUS RECORDS AND FIND NO EVIDENCE OF A FORMAL PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY GRANTED TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ACROSS THE PRIVATE LANDS THIS ROUTE CROSSES."
Letter from Christine Walsh, Boulder District Ranger, Sept.7, 2000. (Boulder Ranger District: 303-541-2500)
"MR. ROGAKIS [BOULDER COUNTY ROAD INFORMATION SPECIALIST] HAS INDICATED THAT HE FOUND NO INFORMATION SUGGESTING THAT BOULDER COUNTY EVER CONSIDERED THIS ROAD TO BE PUBLIC, OR THAT IT HAD ANY INTEREST IN THE ROAD."
Letter from Leslie Lacy, Boulder County Attorney, Dec. 24, 2001.
(Boulder County Transportation: 303-441-3900, Boulder County Attorney:
"THE COMMISSIONERS HAVE HELD NUMEROUS PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE CLOSURE OF THE FAR NORTH END OF COUNTY ROAD 87 AND THEY HAVE INDICATED THAT THEY DO NOT INTEND TO REOPEN THE ROAD TO MOTORIZED VEHICLES."
Letter from the Board of County Commissioners, Boulder County, Jan. 14, 2002.
(Boulder County Commission: 303-441 3500).
Thursday, September 19, 2002 - Mr. Boslough strikes a nerve
Some annoyed folks with the guest article by Mark Boslough about four wheelers on his land. I've received several vaguely threatening emails and Mr. Boslough has offered up two links which he says provides proof of his story, and that he has more evidence. Myself, it's simply a question of what lies in the courthouse. Is the land his or not, is the road now public or not? One hopes the four wheelers assured themselves of this information before putting evidence of what could be a crime on the web.
Here are the links:
In answer to various nitwits:
1. The Boulder Lout is not a place where people whine. It's where I whine.
2. Any well written piece in argument with Mr. Boslough might very well be put on site, absent the vitriolic attacks that are currently of more than passing interest to the odd libel attorney....
3. Whoever castigates someone's position for five lines probably shouldn't rhetorically inquire in the last line if any of it is true. D'oh!
4. From the photographs, most of the four wheelers could use the exercise of walking a bit more anyway.
Sunday, September 08, 2002 - Mark Boslough
Fewer roads, fewer fires
Today's author says not building new forest roads, and limiting access on existing ones, could help prevent catastrophic forest fires - by keeping careless fire starters out of the woods.
Author Mark Boslough, an Albuquerque scientist, grew up in Boulder County, Colorado. He is a member of REP America (Republicans for Environmental Protection).
"This land is your land, this land is my land," Woody Guthrie, 1952. "This is our land," Jarbridge Shovel Brigade Official Web Site, 2002.
On Sept. 1, 1846, my great-grandfather's great-grandfather camped in a place that is now the outskirts of Elko, Nevada. The night was dark and quiet. There were no roads for hundreds of miles. There were no ranches, no timber companies, no towns, no subdivisions, and no vacation houses to protect from wildfire. When the forests caught fire, as they had for millennia, nobody cared. The natural cycle was in balance. Things have changed since then.
Today, only the most inaccessible fragments of our national forests are wild, unmarred by roads and other intrusions. The wild, roadless areas are special, spectacular places, where forests tend to be healthy and fires need not be suppressed. Wildlife is protected by isolation, and people can visit for solitude and rejuvenation.
Without protection, however, roads and development will eventually swallow up the last remaining wild forests. Unfortunately, there is a dangerous and growing movement spawned by the timber and motorized recreation industries to grab this public treasure for their own gain. Allowing them to do so will push these prized forests to the front burner, exposing them to the ravages of human-caused, catastrophic wildfires like those that have singed the West this summer.
One of the uglier manifestations of this movement is the "Jarbridge Shovel Brigade," of Elko County. This vigilante group was formed to seize the control of public lands in northern Nevada, lands owned by all Americans. In 1995, a road to the Jarbridge Wilderness Area washed out. To protect the nearby Jarbridge River and its endangered bull trout fishery from soil erosion, the U.S. Forest Service decided to keep the streamside road closed to motor vehicles. The road was blocked off with large boulders. This did not sit well with some locals, who organized a work party to defy federal protection of our public land and take the law into their own hands. On July 4, 2000, they converged on the site, removed the boulders, and built their own unauthorized road.
The philosophy of the Shovel Brigade movement seems to be this: Anywhere vehicles have ever been driven can be maintained as a public highway by vigilantes, regardless of environmental harm or federal protective rulings to the contrary. These groups do not limit their aggressive intrusions to public lands. They also invade lands owned by private individuals who don't want motorized trespassers on their property. I learned this firsthand when I attempted to prevent motorized use of a creek bed on my family's property in Boulder County, Colorado. When the oldest parts of our property went into private ownership, the entire area was roadless. Old maps show only a single-track footpath along Balarat Creek. But to some off-road enthusiasts, a hiking trail on any property, public or private, is theirs for the taking. In helping themselves, they have caused erosion, destroyed vegetation and created new spur roads.
With 300 acres of trees that needed to be thinned to reduce the fire hazard, I hired a professional forester to draft a forest stewardship plan. One of the primary recommendations of his report was to stop the unauthorized recreational use before undertaking forest stand improvements. If trees were cut and underbrush removed without putting up gates and fences, he reasoned, the land would be much more vulnerable to motorized trespassers. In 1999, I posted "no motorized vehicles" signs along our creek land. That spring, a group of 15 vehicles from the Denver-based Mile-Hi Jeep Club ignored my signs and drove through. The club's web site even reported that one vehicle dumped a crankcase load of oil into our creek. So that summer I did what the Forest Service did in Elko County. I blocked the trail. This was unacceptable to some members of the Mile-Hi Jeep Club, who organized a "Barking Dog Shovel Brigade" to remove my boulder and work on an amateur road construction project on private land they had no right to enter.
Unlike the Forest Service, I didn't let the matter go. I brought in a truckload of boulders. Two years later, the "road" has reverted to a hiking trail for my neighbors and the surrounding community. The streamside wildflowers, grasses, willows, and aspen trees that were crushed under the off-road tires are growing back. The Mile-Hi Jeep Club's oil slick is gone, and I have picked up much of the trash and vehicle parts. More importantly, the threat of human-cause wildfire has been greatly reduced. When I blocked the trail to off-road vehicles, I removed at least a dozen unauthorized fire rings. Few illegal campfires have appeared since then. After the Shovel Brigade removed my barrier, somebody built a celebratory bonfire. This summer has brought the worst drought the mountain West has experienced in a century, but off-road recreation has continued unabated in the tinder-dry forest near my family's property.
In July, only a few miles to the north, two men in a Jeep CJ7 drove off a road onto toasty dry grass. It was quickly ignited by their hot catalytic converter. Before it was contained, the resulting Big Elk fire consumed 4,413 acres of forest, forced the evacuation of 250 homes, cost $2 million, and tragically claimed two lives in the crash of a slurry bomber used to fight the blaze. "I keep wondering why it is that we can't close off more of the backcountry roads and the places where people are coming in and being careless with fires," observed Paul McDaniel, who had to flee when the fire threatened his neighborhood. This seems like a no-brainer; a practical idea so obviously beneficial, it is almost beyond discussion. Compared to roadless wild forests, fire-prone areas that are crisscrossed with roads are exposed to fire by human-borne matches, tossed cigarettes, exhaust sparks, fireworks and unattended campfires, not to mention arsonists.
As you know, the worst of the fires this summer actually were physically set by people. The Forest Service estimates that 90 percent of wildfires in national forests are human-caused. A common-sense way to prevent forest fires is to limit motorized access into the woods, especially during the fire season. But renegade shovel brigades and Jeep clubs seem to have no respect for rules that protect forest resources or private property. When other motorists follow their example and fail to obey road closures, the results can be catastrophic. Take the recent huge fire in Arizona. The blaze was not started by a hiker, as off-road vehicle groups have gleefully claimed. The Chediski fire broke out after a pickup truck driver got lost in a maze of forest roads on the Fort Apache Reservation and subsequently ran out of gas. In desperation, his stranded passenger set a signal fire that got out of control, merged with the Rodeo fire, burned almost half a million acres, destroyed nearly 500 homes and cabins, and forced the evacuation of 300,000 people.
Forests with open roads will always be more vulnerable than those without roads. Someone who tossed a cigarette or other burning object into a roadside ditch started the Missionary Ridge fire near Durango. That fire destroyed 56 homes and more than 70,000 acres, costing more than $40 million. Areas with roads in our national forests require active management to reduce their unnaturally high fire hazards and help restore them to health, but thinning also makes them more vulnerable to damage from motorized intruders. That's one of the reasons thinning projects need a comprehensive environmental review, so that we don't inadvertently increase the fire risk with a rushed job due to political pressure. By reasonably limiting access in forests already criss-crossed with roads, we can reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires. In the wild and roadless areas of our national forests, nature can be left to its own devices, which will keep forests healthy, reduce wildfire hazards, and save taxpayers the expense of road construction and upkeep - not to mention the cost of fighting the resultant wildfires. By preserving roadless areas, the federal government can protect our last remaining wild forests for all Americans.