2017 Posts


GE is a Broken Stock
Two Loves Challenged
Myth Reality
Is This Our Future?
Killing The NASA Messenger
Blue Light Special
Myth Versus Reality
The Two-Headed Monster
Levitating Levity
Solar in Seattle
Soul Speak
Solar Solace
When Laughter Ends
When Is Wrong Wrong?
The Dark Ages Recometh


GE is a Broken Stock                              December 24, 2017


My financial advisor said that recently. He’s right. Taking a close look at GE, one comes face to face with what has derailed many companies in the past three decades. Over the last seventy years (sadly, well within my lifetime), technology has exploded like a miniature version of the Big Bang that created our present universe. GE played a leadership role in that in a variety of fields ranging from light bulbs to appliances to large paper making machines to jet engines to turbines to power generation stations and so on.

But in the last thirty years that changed. The appliance division was sold, their finance division was caught up in the 2007 banking fraud, I have yet to see an LED light bulb with a GE logo. How did this happen?

Prior to the advent of tech upstarts like Microsoft, CEO’s earned a salary like the rest of us. Granted it was a healthy one and often augmented by bonuses. Stock options were rare if they existed at all. The goal was to strive for long-term company health, which meant substantial investment in research, development and workforce capability. Technological advances fueled growth and profitability.

Then, CEO’s (led in fact by one at GE) shifted the focus to stock performance. This required short term profits which meant emphasizing marketing existing products and cutting costs. Research and development dollars were slashed. By the time he left GE with an obscene retirement package, he had proudly eliminated over 100,000 jobs. Yes, he built stock value through multiple splits to an all-time high when he departed. But in the process, the company’s long-term potential was gutted. The stock now trades at 25% of that high and recently GE slashed its traditional high dividend.

Of course, GE is just one of many examples of corporations that are selling their soul for short term payback to investors. Many are not interested in company growth other than stock value. Otherwise, they would not be sitting on cash reserves in the trillions of dollars. Though most pay zero to 4% tax on their revenue, they want even that reduced by tax cuts. When the Bush administration cut corporate taxes, many used the windfall to buy back their own stock and drive the price up. That’s why the current tax bill is such a scam. There will be no long-term economic growth, only deficit growth and to combat that, punishing cuts in things we need. Anyone who advocates trickle down economics needs to refresh their understanding of the meaning of trickle. In reality, the trickle will be little more than a drip—with a torrent heading in the other direction.


Two Loves Challenged                              November 26, 2017


This third book in the Two Loves series was intended to be the last so here Delbert and Sylvia are flying off into the sunset. At first, I thought it would be hard to find enough for them to do but adventures kept showing up.

I’ve heard the comment that Sylvia fades into the background in Two Loves Sought and can see why that opinion is justified. Well, she comes roaring back in this volume. In fact, she and Cynthia share the spotlight. Cynthia graduates from medical school in Chapter 2 and decides to spend her intern year in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. With Delbert’s increasing independence, Sylvia went back to college and became a Public Health Nurse, ready to challenge the needs of isolated villages on Vancouver Island and further up the coast. They might not seem so isolated today but they certainly were in the 1960’s.

Delbert’s flying boat plays a central role throughout the book and Delbert remains a significant part of the action, which moves from lower Vancouver Island to the northern end, fanning out from Campbell River. I spent many summers in that region during my college years so that experience contributed to the book’s authenticity. It also gives me a chance to brag once more about the 53 pound Tyee I caught one year.Salmon

Oh yes, the book is now released in print and Kindle format. Visit my website (icon at right) to take a peek and better yet, indulge in a good read. Though, if you didn’t read the first two volumes, it would be more entertaining to start with Two Loves Lost.

Myth Reality                               November 12, 2017

This is a test. Only if you are an independent thinker will you read to the end.

Over the past thirty odd years, the conservative media and politicians have created a mythical world that far too many people accept as real. The Weekly Sift lists key elements of this myth as follows:

  • Tax cuts pay for themselves by creating economic growth.
  • Government spending is mostly waste, so it can be slashed without hurting anybody.
  • Climate change isn’t happening, or if it is, burning fossil fuels has nothing to do with it.
  • When the rich make money, everybody makes money.
  • The free market can solve all problems, including providing healthcare to the poor.
  • White Christians are the primary victims of discrimination.
  • The uninsured can get all the medical treatment they need in emergency rooms.
  • Elections at all levels are tainted by massive voter fraud, as millions of illegal immigrants cast ballots.
  • Big business wants what’s best for America, so there’s no need to stop them from polluting our air and water, or from making products that kill their workers or customers.

The propaganda machine promoted this myth long before 2016. Trump merely latched onto it and added his own brand of divisive poison to stir up more disgruntled voters. Unfortunately, those living in this fantasy world shun facts and remain divorced from reality. No rational discussion is possible on any issue that questions these beliefs.

The Republican establishment could safely promote this myth while they were not in power. But now that they control all branches of government, fantasy is meeting reality. That’s why they could not undo the health care and very likely will fail in their attempt change tax law to make the rich richer. So far, no significant legislation has been enacted. Only presidential directives have succeeded in tearing down much of the progress made since World War II. The blood of thousands of Americans massacred is now firmly on their hands. No longer can they enjoy the role of simply blocking moves that contradict the myth or undermine its mythical promises of a glorious future.

Anything they do to further their fantasy will come back to haunt them as the adverse results become visible. Absurd benefit claims from tax cuts for corporations and the rich will not materialize. Instead more money is siphoned off and a bone thrown to the Middle Class on income tax will be swamped by the cost to individuals of cuts needed to prevent massive debt increases. There is no free lunch or money tree in the real world. Sooner or later Republican base voters must come to grips with that reality. In the end, the myth creators will be the myth busters.

Congratulations if you are still reading. Most conservatives will have left before now.

The question that interests me is how can intelligent, caring, even thoughtful, people continue to blindly back the myth? Much of the German public knew millions of Jews were being massacred. They knew what the stench of crematorium smoke meant. Soldiers knew they were machine gunning down helpless humans in front of burial trenches. How could they finger friends and neighbors to send them to their death? The same scenario played out between Serbs and Muslims in Kosovo.

Brain researchers seem to have the answer. Our brains are biased toward looking for consensus with other humans. When found, there is an overpowering urge for most people to join it. Why? Probably evolution taught us (and many other species) that numbers were important for survival. Success comes from supporting the “common good”, whether it is to ward off threats or gain useful benefits. The Houston flood gave evidence of this when racial and religious differences melted away and humans rescued humans.

The genocides mentioned above are examples of the same brain behavior when propaganda convinces people that abominable behavior is the consensus. The conservative myth relies on this brain behavior as well. By doggedly drumming the myth on Fox News, in right wing talk shows, etc., a large voting base has become convinced it is reality. Only widespread evidence of its fallacies and counter propaganda can bring the real reality back. Fortunately, the factual news so often branded as fake and the efforts of spokespersons like Bernie Sanders and comedians like Noah, Myers and Colbert now enjoy growing success as myth busters.



Is This Our Future?                                         October 26, 2017


I am one of those who believe the Civil War never ended, only the battles ceased. The chasms between Unionists and Confederates, between non-racists and racists, between Progressives and Conservatives yawn wider than ever. Is reconciliation possible? Not too likely when the polarization is more emotional than rational.

The division is fueled by a tiny portion of the population who have discovered that their goals are achievable by buying politicians and media outlets. The success of negative campaigns, Fox network and social media blitzes prompts them to expand the purchase of local TV stations and newspapers. Russian support was just the icing on the cake in 2016. If one wonders how on earth intelligent people can turn a blind eye to the corruption, exploitation and destruction this administration is embarked upon, we need only look at the power of propaganda very little different from what the Nazi’s used over 75 years ago.

Millions here and around the world were shocked in 2016. An electoral college system designed for horse and buggy days overturned the popular vote. A collection of smaller states gave senate control to ultra conservatives. Propaganda and PAC money powered congressional votes. After one heady Women’s March that circled the globe, we seem to have retreated into a wait for 2018 mode.

While I’m optimistic that enough voters will see through the conservative myths and want to turn us back onto a saner, more economical, humane course, what if instead we get more of the same? And again in 2020? If that happens, perhaps the cartoon above is in fact the answer.

Killing The NASA Messenger                     October 15, 2017

In the ongoing program of systematic destruction of everything America stands for, the “America Great Again” fiasco has cancelled NASA funds for anything which might counter the illusion that climate change deniers promote. This includes satellites that are allowed to collect data looking away from Earth but funding to collect and analyze data collects in the direction of Earth has been cut. Before our Big Brother administration has it removed from public access, check out NASA findings on https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence  They are summarized below beginning with this fundamental chart of carbon dioxide levels.


The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat. The abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marks the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization.

The current warming trend is significant because it is predominantly the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and it is proceeding at an unprecedented rate.

Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances enable scientists to collect many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals serious climate change. Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in carbon dioxide levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient evidence reveals that the Earth is warming roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery.

Sea level rise
Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century. It is estimated that disappearance of polar ice caps will raise the ocean level to the Statue of Liberty’s elbow.

Global temperature rise
The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other man-made emissions. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.

Warming oceans
The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 2,300 feet showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969. We see the effect in stronger and more frequent hurricanes brewed each year.

Shrinking ice sheets
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 36 to 60 cubic miles of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 36 cubic miles of ice between 2002 and 2005.

Declining Arctic sea ice
Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades.

Glacial retreat
Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.

Extreme events
The number of record high temperature events in the United States has increased, while the number of record low temperature events has decreased, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed increased intense rainfall events and floods. And on the other end of the spectrum, severe droughts and massive fires.

Ocean acidification
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean water has increased by about 30 percent. It is caused by absorption of increased carbon dioxide in the air, an increase of about 2 billion tons per year.

Decreased snow cover
Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier.

These are the factors behind the rise in disasters we now see each year. The evidence is as clear as that which proved the earth is round

Unfortunately, deniers prefer to believe what other deniers claim rather than facts. It’s the same phenomenon that led otherwise sane people in Germany and Kosovo to murder their neighbors and previous family friends.


Encore???                                                         August 17, 2017


Are we there again? Responsible Germans turned a blind eye to the unfolding events. It’s easy to understand how average individuals would shy away from confrontation once the Brown Shirts began their rampage.  How many of us would put our life on the line like the girl in Charlottesville this week? Did she even think she was doing that?

America is burning. Democracy is being systematically destroyed. Is that what our Republican congress wants? Do they think they were elected for that purpose? No matter how absurd these questions seem, events now give them credence. “It can’t happen here” is now the absurd position.

The obvious solution is impeachment. There is no question the grounds exist: paranoiac narcissism, immorality, conflict of interest, money laundering, Russian collusion if not treason—well beyond any minimum requirement. We can’t wait for another election, which may not come.

A second solution might be to admit the cultural divide cannot be bridged and dissolve the Union into separate countries much like what happened to the USSR. In Ickee Mushta, I included the argument (made by others before me) that the Civil War never ended, only the battles did. Yes, there are people in the north who would align with the Confederacy and others in the south would oppose it. Considerable migration would likely occur. But if differences cannot be reconciled, perhaps…


Blue Light Special                                    August 3, 2017

Twenty-two years ago, I acquired a melanoma on my back. Detected in time, it was surgically removed and the surgeon said they got it all. Anything similar in future would be totally unrelated. I was quite proud of the slashing scar across my back and even claimed on occasion it was caused by Xerba, the Amazon warrior.

Regardless, my friendly dermatologist insisted on a complete body scan each year with a facial scan halfway in between. I only had a problem with that once when she brought in three female med students for a show and tell. I was a little embarrassed by the show part.

Each time she brought in a liquid nitrogen gun which left me with blistering pock marks for a few days. This year, however, she said she wanted to use a new more effective treatment on my face. The procedure involved dabbing a chemical all over my face, waiting an hour, then spending another hour under an intensive blue light. The chemical was absorbed by the precancer cells and the blue light activated it to burn them off. Worked well though the hour under the light seemed to go on forever.

A month later, she was so impressed with the treatment, she wanted to repeat it once more. When I complained about the hour exposure, she offered an alternative of applying the chemical in the afternoon, letting it gestate overnight and spending fifteen minutes under the light in the morning. Sounded preferable.

But it wasn’t. Those seventeen (as it turned out) minutes were spent in almost unbearable pain which I managed to survive. I was to avoid sunlight for a day or so and apply ice packs all that day. Unfortunately, my drive straight home was interrupted for twenty minutes by a traffic accident. I was not in direct sunlight so it should be okay. However, the stinging continued until evening despite ice packs. The other factor: shaving is not allowed for five days. You may get a kick out of the Before and After selfies:

As you can see, I’m admirably equipped for a career as a pan-handling wino, if only I can find an unoccupied street corner.

OOP’s, This picture scared the hell out of a friend who’s dermatologists wanted to try the procedure. This picture was taken on day five, the one below on day nine. The other confession I must add is that the Before photo was taken about five years before and is scheduled to be used for evermore at present.

In a nutshell, the one hour/one hour is a very tolerable procedure. Just stay clear of the overnight/fifteen minute version. Guess my career as a panhandler was short-lived.



Myth Versus Reality                                        July 20, 2017

GOPThis is reality under the current administration and Republican controlled government.

Their Myth: Make America Great Again

Cutting corporate and rich individuals’ taxes will create jobs (wrong, the extra revenue is hoarded instead).

Government is wasteful and out of control (undermining government permits lifting regulations that protect us and allows exploitation by corporations).

Closing borders and banning immigration will save American jobs and prevent violence (our economy benefits from immigration and our violence is almost all home-grown).

Their Reality: Make Americans Grovel Again

The Two-Headed Monster                           June 16, 2017

Americans are in the grip of a two-headed monster, one orange, one purple.

We’re all too familiar with the orange one, led by a paranoiac narcissist with delusions of grandeur and recently even of divinity. His kind and his little gang of cohorts are typical of dictators seen often today and in years past. Those that rise in nations whose populations never knew the power of elections, such as Russia and North Korea, are often able to prolong their rule. A country proves much harder to take over when elections have prevailed, though it’s not impossible. Usually, the dictatorship is short lived. However, immense death, suffering and destruction can be wrought before the crash as Hitler showed in six short years.

Evidence is growing to indicate that our orange monster is nearing the end of his reign. Though there has been considerable damage both domestically and globally, it is still reversible. We can recover. Or can we?

That brings us to the purple headed monster. Purple? It seems like an appropriate color for our financial royalty, the one percent that owns as much as ninety percent of us combined. Don’t look for that one in a thousand person in your peer group. He/she lives in a vastly different segment of society. But while the orange monster struts and rants to distract us, the purple one is going about the destruction of democracy and additional impoverishment of most Americans to further line its pockets. To it, we are the “masses”, something to deny health care, to drive down wages, to outsource jobs, to reduce lifespans by years or even decades through pollution of land, sea and air. Some reading this will say this guy’s a “commie”. No, he’s an ex-conservative who chooses to retain a measure of social responsibility.

How did the purple monster gain power? Contrary to what the very rich would have us believe, one does not approach or become a billionaire through hard work or entrepreneurship. At most, those attributes can get one started by providing a nest egg on which to build. How one hatches that nest egg is the key. Two avenues come to mind. The first is through real estate, whether it be land development, slum lording, casinos or other investments of this nature. The second is through corporate stock options, bonuses and buyouts.

Roughly thirty years ago, American corporate management turned away from long range health strategies to short-term profit. A good bottom line drove up market value (stock price). That justified extravagant bonuses, severance packages and most important, stock options. An annual influx of stock options means that an executive can use a small number of recent ones to augment income if necessary and let the bulk accumulate value without taxation. It makes sense to use some of this wealth to develop tax loopholes and to purchase politicians who will further the wealthy’s cause. Here we are today with a Republican party infested with these puppets of the purple monster.

This is why, as we watch the destruction of the orange monster, it is so important for voters to realize 2018 may be our last chance to slay the purple one and save democracy in America and do our part in saving the planet for humanity.

Levitating Levity                                June 3, 2017

Okay, I’ve blogged environmental awareness – no response. I’ve blogged political responsibility – no reaction. Guess we need something to lift us out of the desperate straits in which we are immersed.

When the need for a laugh arises, I think of my departed buddy Jerry Jones. Jerry had an infectious laugh, no, an infectious cackle. Two episodes come to mind. The first was when Jerry and TR (Tom Richards, we know had a name he was too embarrassed to divulge so we call him TR and wonder what it could be year after year) were driving south of Kingston on the Olympic Peninsula. They were looking for a golf course nearby where we were scheduled to play within an hour or so. Spying a man walking along the highway towards town, Jerry said, “Ask that local. He’ll know where it is”. When they pulled alongside, their jaws dropped. I was that local. My car gave up the ghost half an hour earlier and I was hoofing it back to the ferry dock. Jerry could never suppress a cackle when he thought about the odds of running into me wandering along that Gog forsaken road at eight in the morning. And I didn’t know where the hell the golf course was either.

Another time, after a four-day tournament in Reno, we all headed back to the airport in four different vans. When my group checked in and was headed towards the gate, we heard Jerry’s unique cackle coming from a bar. On entering, there was Jerry and Jack Dunbabin doubled up in laughter.

When they finally became coherent again, Jerry said, “Jack was asking if I knew what happened to…uh…you know, old what’s his name…the guy with Alzheimer’s.”

That story never ceased to generate a laugh every time it came up, even when I related it at a memorial service for Jerry. Jerry was also famous for giving putts longer than anyone else dared. To this day, there are “gimme’s” and there are “Jones gimme’s”, two distinctly different things.

Jerry’s exploits are legendary but they all have two things in common, they never disrespected anyone and they always uplifted our spirits. He was a wonderful source of levitating levity.

Solar in Seattle                                            May 15, 2017

For many years, the conventional wisdom was to forget solar power in Seattle—too many cloudy and rainy days. I bought it until articles appeared recently claiming panels would still generate electricity under marginal conditions. And, they claimed, the abundance of solar power during the summer would more than offset the winter months. So, we bought in this Spring.

Facing a larger than average number of cloudy days per year, we opted for the highest performance panels from industry leader SunPower and sized the array to handle our current consumption plus what might be expected with the Tesla we hope to receive next year. Weather in Seattle has been dismal this year with record rainfalls. Despite this, we are generating far more power than we use, 883 KWH produced, 403 KWH used for the first month (KWH is kilo-watt hours).


Even on a cloudy day, the system generates about 15 KWH and on a clear day it soars to 60 KWH. In a few years, the panels will pay for themselves but that is secondary to the satisfaction derived from being an energy contributor rather than consumer. And from saving a miner or two from death by coal dust.

What could be better than living on a planet powered only by the sun that spawned it, whether it be solar, wind, hydro, tidal or geothermal? When I was a teenager, it was said that we would burn up all the oil and coal within 200 years so we needed to develop alternatives. Discovery of vast new deposits pushed the date out to the point people stopped worrying about it. We would always find more. But the end of fossil fuels remains. And now a more serious specter has reared its ugly head, atmospheric pollution leading to catastrophic climate changes.

A perverse government hell bent on destroying the fabric of our country wants to lead us down that death spiral. They will fail, perhaps by an awakened public throwing them out of office but if not, simply because renewable energy has become more economical than fossil fuel power generation. Electric cars are more economical than gas guzzlers. Some people’s attitudes shift slowly but the shift is inevitable. If not sooner, an aging enlightened youth will overpower them.

Problems remain to be solved however. Solar systems are ideally suited to dealing with air conditioning demands in desert climates but useless at nights even with a full moon. We need a mass energy storage technique. Hydro power to fill in the gaps is an answer in some regions but not all. Perhaps more important, power utilities must re-invent themselves as companies which fill in these shortfalls rather than the sole suppliers of energy.

Nevertheless, the future belongs to renewable energy, solar power in Seattle proves that.

Soul Speak                                                 April 21, 2017

A long-time friend who manages the mop on my noggin said something with a profound sound: “A person’s appearance is the artwork of their soul”.

It gave rise to questions. Do sloppy people have messy souls? The fastidious, prim ones? Blowhards, bloated ones? Most important, what is a soul anyway?

Miriam Webster’s masterpiece says the soul is “an entity which is regarded as being the immortal or spiritual part of the person and which, though having no physical or material reality, is credited with the functions of thinking and willing, and hence determining all behavior”.

I have trouble with entities that have no physical or material reality. They appear created for things that can’t be explained or observed. But perhaps there is a more physical explanation that lies in the high-speed portion of our brains. It’s the part that processes all sensory inputs and controls all muscle activity, at a volume and rate unmatched by almost every computer in the world. We are conscious of only a miniscule piece of its activity, only what it considers important enough to feed to the low speed computer we use to organize its messages and give it direction.

If you doubt this, think of all the data coming from an eyeball at a rate only recently mimicked by HD TV. Now double it to accommodate a second eye and add the processing needed to blend the two together, adjust colors to, for example, make oranges orange in all lights, fill in blanks for people like me with macular degeneration, and even scan for things requiring a response. An example of this last factor might be a speck hurtling toward an eye. It is detected, analyzed to be a threat and signals are sent to blink the eye, all without any conscious interference. All muscle activity, including facial expression, is controlled by this high-speed processor. Our conscious mind only gives general directions such as raise my right arm or walk forward. When golfers talk about training muscle memory, they are really teaching this processor what sequence of muscle controls are desired for the swing.

While two people laboriously decipher sentences and create responses, their high-speed brains are communicating at blinding speed. We like to call it body language but that’s simplistic. A two-way communication occurs and the two part with an impression or understanding of each other’s intent, feeling and integrity that goes well beyond the words spoken. Part of the communication involves the give and take between the two arising from the conscious speech and actions. Part of it is driven by each person’s appearance which brings us back to what causes us to adopt our appearance?

I think much of it is shaped by external influences and experiences. Our sub-conscious brain is developing and modifying a “muscle memory” pattern from early childhood to deathbed. It affects both permanent and transitory facial expressions, gestures and reactions. In some, it takes the form of conformity, in others, individuality, et cetera. Still, it’s hard to claim our appearance and behavior are solely driven by environment. It seems there must be a genetic ingredient or perhaps a variation in brain development at work. Whatever, it’s beyond me…so I’ll just call it soul speak.

Solar Solace                                        March 17,  2017


The Union Hill Power Station is online!!

Yesterday it produced over 33,000 watt hours on a scattered cloud day, far more than we consumed. Over the course of a year, it’s predicted to produce at least 30% more power than we will use. We sized it to handle the additional charging load of the Tesla Model 3 I have on order, with energy to spare for the grid.

A cold-hearted economist would cast a jaundiced eye at the ten-year payback period. By current trends, ten years may well prove conservative. Regardless, there’s a warm feeling generated by the thought of giving back all this free energy to the grid or, more precisely, saving them from producing the energy we consume. And at a time when the forces of evil are intent on destruction of our environment, it’s satisfying to look at the investment as a “stick it in your ear” passive protest.

So, what’s next? Our daughter cleared an area of young alders and planted the first eight fruit trees. We are building a fancy greenhouse which, along with an outside garden, should provide a significant portion of our botanical diet. The Tesla will radically reduce our gas consumption. Now we need to work on the natural gas usage.

Some of you may think this sounds like we have become eco-zealots. No. In fact, we are loath to give up any creature comforts. These changes will give us better tasting food, free us from the nuisance of gassing up and provide a productive form of exercise, a less stressful existence one might regard as solar solace.

When Laughter Ends                               March 5, 2017


A little tongue in cheek, you say? Yes and no. An extreme narcissist can be laughed at to a point. Self-aggrandizing claims become so absurd one can only laugh at the bloated buffoon and the spineless groupies who trade adulation for a pat on the back. It’s a symbiotic arrangement. But laughter’s tears turn to fears when the narcissist crosses the line from empathetic to sociopathic, when their need for adulation transitions into a need for power.

History is full of these social monsters: Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Fernando Marco, Mao Tse Tung,  Slobodan Milošević, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Putin to name a few. Most of them die prematurely or are exiled. But not before they murder or have murdered countless people innocent of any crime. The only preventative is to stop them before they seize power.

They usually emerge when major segments of the population are, or feel, downtrodden. Promising a better future (which is never delivered), they grab power by subduing opposition. Once, on a business trip to Chile during the Allende dictatorship, while eating lunch at a restaurant with an airline counterpart, I causally asked what he thought of Allende. The look of horror on his suddenly ashen face was astounding. He quickly signaled me to say no more. He had a physical fear of the ears in the wall. It drove home just how oppressive these monsters become.

So what, you say. It could never happen here. Then why are news media who report facts labelled fake? Why are there calls to suppress them? Why is curtailment of anti-administration investigations advocated and likely sustained by Congress? Why is society being destabilized by rescinding rules and rights put in place to allow everyone to enjoy what the Constitution promises? Why are there threats of defunding rebellious states and vague references to the use of our military within our borders?

With Congress and Senate dragged along for the sake of achieving Republican goals, it’s not clear that we can muddle through to the next scheduled election. What does it take to convince them that the orange tsunami must be stopped now? Our best bet is that he will stop himself as corruption and treasonous collusion with Russia are finally revealed in indisputable fact

When Is Wrong Wrong?                            February 25, 2017

Always, according to my late mother. Evermore, my even later father would chime in. Those were the days when integrity had value, words mattered and decent behavior was expected. Sure, some were deceitful at times, some disingenuous, some completely untrustworthy. They were few and generally lived in various levels of disgrace in public eyes.

What happened to that? How did we reach today’s world in which a president can lie through his teeth, live in a delusionary world of his own, and spit venom at anyone who takes issue with his monumental crap (couldn’t think of an appropriate more learned word)? How do we arrive at a state in which large numbers of people are ready to believe the absurdities he spews out? Any objective observer can see his words and tweets are usually offensive and just plain wrong but only a few brave souls call him out.

It’s wrong when he claims throngs came to his inauguration and self-praising rallies when videos prove the opposite; wrong when he doubles down with a fake crowd photograph; wrong when he claims the weather was very different from reality. But these are simply sad evidence of his mental problem, his sociopathic narcissism. Far more dangerous is his impetuous, intolerant tendency to attack critics and the media; his blatant conflict of interests, domestic and international; his attempts to pressure intelligence and investigative agencies into ignoring his complicity with Russia; his global faux pas and destabilizing comments; his attempts to persecute minorities; his degradation of the judicial branch and his apparent preference of a Hitler style dictatorship over our constitutional democracy. His growing effort to suppress opponents, the media and internet should strike fear in the hearts of everyone.

In 2014, I wrote Ickee Mushta, which foretold how the government turned out after the 2016 election. Fortunately, I resisted an urge to create an imaginary president because the illegitimate one we have, living in a delusionary world, could never have been imagined. It’s tempting to write a sequel in which Ickee returns to his birth name, John McEwan, and rises to lead our country out of this mess. What holds me back is the hope that impeachment will occur before its completion. Still, looking at what that would leave us with, it’s apparent that only another election can right the ship.

In the meantime, we can only hope that enough brave people will stand up and declare wrong IS wrong!

The Dark Ages Recometh                              January 3, 2017

So what if “recometh” is not a real word. Nothing real matters anymore. Not when it looks like:

–       The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is a global warming denier.

–       The national security advisor leaked classified information.

–       The Secretary of Defense is a hawk considered a loose cannon by military leaders.

–       The Secretary of State has conflict of interest ties to Russia.

Why go on with this litany of miserable misfits who defy reality and civilization itself? They are simply one more piece of the tragedy that lurks in our future thanks to the deranged narcissistic Putin Puppet with conflicts of interest all over the globe. He thumbs his nose at the Constitution he violates and thus far has had to answer to no one. Instead, he gloats in an undemocratic victory, delights in calling his opponents enemies and losers, brags about undoing all the progress made in recent years and revels in humiliating anyone against him.

Face it, America, we are NOT a democracy. We now walk in the footsteps of Nazi Germany. The pieces are almost in place to suppress dissention. The fodder for racist aggression is identified. A fear of speaking out is germinating. When the next election period arrives will there be a viable opposition? Will there even be an election?

Can we stop this regression? Is it inevitable that blossoming civilizations breed a counter movement which destroys them? Germany is simply a recent anomaly? The golden ages of China, Persia, Greece, Rome, Mongolia and Scotland all say no. Certainly, there are many more less familiar examples.

The other day, one of my Arizona golfing acquaintances said, “What do you think it would take to get California to secede from the Union? Wouldn’t that be great?”

I felt like a stranger in a strange land as I thought to myself how good that would be, providing we in Washington and Oregon could join them. The American chasm is so enormous. He welcomes the destruction of all that has been accomplished over the last fifty years. I long for an oasis that preserves and builds on it. Let’s call our new country Pacifica, West America or Pacific America, anything but a state in a false democracy moving toward fascism.

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