Thursday, December 23, 2010


It will soon be Christmas Day, and the months of hoopla surrounding the season, starting with the first sign of decorations in the stores in September, then Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the ringing of the bells and stringing of lights, and the constant media bombardment telling you how your kids won't love you unless you buy them this, or that Christmas is "under attack," will finally end. Peace will reign... until New Year's Eve.

While Christmas is a Christian holiday, it has more to do with the season that it has to do with the birth of Jesus. He, Son of God, and Savior of Mankind, was born, lived, and died, and the Biblical accounts give us no firm dates as to when this all transpired. December 25th was picked arbitrarily, to co-opt the pagan solstice celebrations, and to unify the disparate celebrations of the time into a coherent message that promoted Christian value, to give the Roman Catholic church strength in the eyes of the world. So, from its very beginning, the day has been less about the man it celebrates, and more about the people who celebrate it. That the trend should continue to this very day, and widen and expand to turn an otherwise "holy" day into a glorified shopping spree, is a sign that the message got confused with the messenger.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

We Are Them, They Are Us

It does not matter, ultimately, what I say, or how correct I believe my beliefs to be. It does not matter what facts I have considered, what obfuscations I have overcome, what logic I have applied; though I can say I have done all those things, considered, weighed, rejected, and analyzed until my conclusions became clear to me, those conclusions are mine. Whatever clarity I believe I have brought to the world, it is subject to my predilections and the mental framework in which I operate. I can only hope, in outlining and explaining my point of view, that I can convince others of the correctness on my conclusions. As a scientist, I know that even though I subject myself and my hypotheses to rigorous standards, my conclusions may seem correct on the surface, but may ultimately be flawed. Such is the way of learning and growth of knowledge.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Ever Don't Ask Don't Tell

The day has come, our will was done -- "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the execrable Clinton-era legislation that turned homosexual soldiers into closeted criminals is no more. Today, December 18th, 2010, a blow was struck for the equality of all Americans, in fact and not just in principle. A lame duck Congress proved it still had more fight left in it, and did the honorable thing, by voting for repeal.

While some time will be required yet for full implementation, at this moment, the bill's passage is a seminal statement for our time. For any American who believes in freedom and democracy, and is willing to lay down their life to defend it, there is no criterion that can prevent them now save physical or mental inability to perform the duties of a soldier in the American armed forces. There shall no longer be discrimination based on gender, race, religion, orientation; those days are over.

There is still work to be done to allow our LGBT brothers and sisters to take their full place in American society, but that time is fast approaching. The forces of intolerance have been dealt a serious blow, and now more shall rain down upon them, as the words of our Founding Fathers reach full realization. From this day forth, let freedom ring for each and every American -- allow all their inalienable rights.

Tis The Season

Winter has always been a season that casts stark relief on human life. In many places on the globe, deciduous trees have shed their leaves, leaving only the evergreens to maintain silent vigil in snow blanketed forests. Ice encrusts streams and lakes and even rivers, hiding the once warm and gentle waters under crystal armor. The rolling hills and valleys, once verdant, are now stark and white, and life, while still around, hides from the bitter cold. It is as if the Earth is taking a rest, catching its breath, preparing and plotting for the year to come.

It is no wonder that humankind, over the centuries, regarded Winter as a magical and holy time of year. For it marked the calm before the storm, the riot of growth and life and beauty that would come with melting snow and ice. Given the cold and bleak landscape, is it any wonder that people found reason to celebrate? Lighting fires, sharing food and company, giving thanks for another good year and praying for an even better year to come. Winter was, and is, the time of hope; celebration, cheer, and charity are its children.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

If I Were A Rich Man

If I were a rich man I would...

...become an unpaid teacher, to shape and mold future minds and help them become the best they can be.

...not allow any person in my town go to bed hungry.

...invest in companies with pro-social and pro-environment products/services.

...encourage people to become involved in local and state politics, to take back control from the machines and monied interests.

...start an organization dedicated to teaching girls that math, science, and engineering can be interesting and fun.

...contribute money directly to research organizations looking at means for curing cancer, AIDS, and autism, as well as other human maladies.

...provide funding to allow the continued exploration of the Solar System.

...give every African family a mosquito net. a legal service that would serve the interests of those who could not afford legal counsel but have need of it several houses a month for needy families, mortgage-free, solar-paneled, and super-insulated.

...create jobs wherever and however I could.

...donate money to the United Nations to help fund its social programs. my taxes plus a little extra.

...not keep a penny more than I actually needed to.

If I were a rich man.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wages Of Sin

The negotiation that took place earlier this week, which President Obama attended in good faith, and agreed to in principle, a sign of the possible rebirth of bipartisanship, has turned out to be ruse, a ploy designed to force the issue of reinstating the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Good as their word, despite the President's assurances, with sand running through the hourglass, the Republicans will not relent, stifling and snuffing out any bill that is not the tax cut provision.

The Republicans have collected their 30 pieces of silver. The high priests command that none shall have their bread until the priests have collected their due, and have sent their faithful servants out to ensure it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


He would have been seventy this year, no doubt still spry and feisty, still concerned with the ills of the world, doing what he could to change them. Sadly, today, December 8th, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of his death. I speak of none other than John Lennon, a pioneer in music and another proponent of social conscience, felled this day by an assassin's bullet.

There is not much I can say that has not already been said of him and about him. I can only say that his fire still glows within many of us, as we look around at a world still plagued by poverty, disease, cruelty, war, and injustice. He accepted that some would think him a radical, a hippie, a freak, a rabble-rouser, and he was fine with that, choosing to turn his energies to making the world aware of the things that should concern us all, and caring little what anyone thought. It was his vision and his determination, that showed many of us the way, teaching us that you did not have to be a rich and successful music maker to do your part for social change, you only had to care about something, anything, but most of all, you had to care about people.

It is always easier, after the fact, to criticize, critique, and condemn, and many still see the things he did as somehow self-serving, but no man, no person, can be considered perfect, and we all must live with our foibles. His foibles just happened to be on display for the world to see. If he did not always put things tactfully, if he rubbed us the wrong way, if we thought what he said occasionally bordered on the egotistical, at least he got us to listen, and perhaps hear something that would make us think. He never seemed to tire of putting issues before us, dragging them from the dark places where we would prefer they stayed hidden. Unorthodox, maybe, but his words and his music set a tone, which said, in essence, "Look, this thing isn't going to fix itself -- we need to do something about it."

We will never know how much more he would have accomplished, and we can feel only sorrow at the loss of his talent, his passion, and his love. Let us not remember him this day in sorrow; let us, instead, remember the beautiful gifts he left us, the legacy that remains even to this day, and the nourishment he gave our souls. Bless you, John Lennon, wherever you may be, and thank you.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Endangered Species

It has been endangered for a long time, a rare bird whose presence at once heralded the birth of a nation, but was hunted into near extinction. It has fled from its normal regions, to hide in dark nooks and crannies, trying to eke out a poor existence and somehow maintain itself until the day the environment changes. That bird is bipartisanship.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Help Honor Love And Foster Compassion

Again, I ask of you, gentle reader, to help do something, but this time, instead of trying to move a political mountain, I want you to be moved by love in order to help someone I know with a dilemma. For there is a woman who loves her cat more than anything, and no, it's not in the "crazy cat lady" way, but in the way that I wish we humans could learn to do to all other humans and the nature we inhabit. Her cat is sick, needs an operation she cannot afford, and is desperate to see him well again. This cat has helped her through trying times, and now she is trying to return the favor, that he might be there for her again. It is as pure an expression of love as you will find in this cynical age we live in.

Now, some of you may be thinking, "Aren't there better causes to put my money towards?" The answer depends on how you define "better." There are certainly many worthy causes in this world that demand our attention during the holidays: world hunger, AIDS, poverty, natural disaster. Given the economy and how pinched many a wallet or purse is, to ask for money is excruciatingly painful, because so many of us find ourselves short at the end of the day. Still, we try to do what we can: a dollar here, a quarter there, whatever we can spare. It is far more than some who are much better off will part with.

I ask you to give to this because it shows the ineffable quality of true love that is so sorely lacking in an age where we are only concerned with the foibles of the famous. Here is a woman, who wants nothing more than to help her long-time companion, an animal that has given her comfort and strength through some of the worst times imaginable, including no less than Hurricane Katrina. If this comes to pass and she gets her most fervent wish, it is a sign that all hope for humanity is not lost, and that compassion still reigns in many a beating heart.

I do not ask you to give all you have, nor take food from the mouths of children, or to short those worthy causes you would normally support. I only ask that you help someone I know, and kindle more of the true spirit of giving and love the world needs. Whatever you can spare, no matter how little, I would appreciate it. Below is the link to the page where donations can be made. And thank you.

Nicholas's surgery

UPDATE: As of today, 12/6/2010 @ 4 pm EST, the fund has raised $512 dollars. Thank you to all those who have donated, and to those who haven't, scrape up whatever you can, or pass this on to others who would care to help in a cause such as this.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

There's A Party Going On And On And On...

During the most recent election, you know the one that was a "mandate" from the people, the Republicans rolled out their "Pledge to America," which read suspiciously like every talking point they've used since 1994, and was short on actual details and long on partisan bluster. They promised to go to Washington, D.C. and turn things around, fighting for deficit reduction, smaller government, and the repeal of the Health Care Law, among other things. They were going to work for the people, because the people had spoken, and they didn't like the direction the country is going in. Strangely, they neglected to mention that it was a Republican administration that had put the country on this course in the first place, and that captain had rowed away, leaving the current one with a ship with a mighty gash in the side, taking on water. In the end, some Americans, spoke, and because of the apathy of other Americans, the Republicans got half a loaf and turned it into a feast... sort of.

You see, the party of fiscal conservatism, that stood on the rock and howled at stimulus spending, big bailouts, and health care reform, has been selling America a rotten bill of goods. You see, they are determined not to spend another penny of Federal money -- unless it happens to be going to their friends in Corporate America or those who feed off it for their riches. Rather than ensuring that everyone making two hundred fifty thousand dollars a year or less gets to keep their tax cut handed them by President Bush, they are insisting that their rich friends get their fair share, too. Of course, there's the several hundred billion dollar hole in the budget that will create, but hey, that's just a trivial annoyance.