Who and What is the Happy Warrior

The Happy Warrior is the title of a poem... and yes, I love this poem. I do not wish to be mischaracterized, for the most part poetry is not my bag. I am not an afficionado of literature nor am I a metro-sexual (I despise that term) but a dear friend introduced me to this masterpiece of prose several years ago... it has provided no end of inspiration. The Happy Warrior by William Wordsworth outlines the qualities of a magnificent soul. I aspire to possess even one or two characteristics that "every man in arms should wish to be."

This blog is a representation, in conversational form, of my voyage to wrap my arms around the world in which Mr. Worsdworth's warrior finds happiness.

(Standing disclaimer: Luckily tests of spelling accuracy ended in 4th grade otherwise I would still be in Elementary School. Be forewarned, spelling errors ahead. I subscribe to the wisdom of a great man who said, "I have utmost disdain for a man who can only spell a word one way." -Benjamin Franklin)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wacky Wicke Wednesday

Family is the source of my greatest blessings and the root of my most effluent thanks. In the spirit of Wacky Wednesday, here are some wacky (wierd or otherwise silly) pictures of the family:

Three eyed (and droopy) Griffin

Rug rats have a tendency to get muddy

The only thing better than the movie poster is the movie.

Yes, it is Mrs. Wicke wearing hose on her head with a party cap... don't ask.

Darwin in a gorilla suit with a present... another don't ask.

Skinning the Thanksgiving squirrel (no joking)

Thanks be to Heaven for children's laughter, for a spouse's friendship, for parents who worked hard to raise me correctly, for siblings who shaped me and for a thousand sweet memories with all my family.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Essential Need for Gratitude

We live in the most affluent, technologically advanced and generally comfortable times in the history of the world. The conditions and quality of our lives are not only marginally better than our ancestors but exponentially better. Granted, the modern world brings with it a cadre of unique challenges that were unknown to previous generations including stress, pace of life, demand for educational accomplishment and the like. I do not know how these particular challenges compare to the threat of being eaten by a pack of wolves or the likelihood of dying from the plague at the ripe old age of thirty-one or even the constant pain of a mouth full of rotting teeth…. I think I’ll take the current age.

With the tremendous blessings of our day we have, somehow, also evolved into a society noted for our narcissism, ingratitude, gluttony and apathy. I do not wish to bore you with the volumes of academic studies providing STRONG evidence of these conditions but certainly we can all look around (as well as inwardly) and see ample display of what I speak. Affluence –the desire of individuals and societies-- ironically has an ugly complexion.

There is, however, an antidote that can fix much of this. If genuinely felt and frequently revived it can turn everything around, it can sweeten our lives and multiply our happiness, our relationships and our self appraisal. What is this cure? It is gratitude. Our national effort toward this cure take place in a few days under the title “Thanksgiving”.

Most likely you are familiar with this quote but it captures exactly the spirit and need of Thanksgiving. It was true during the dark days of the Civil War nearly 150 years ago and it is still true during the current days of financial and moral troubles. It seems we are never entirely free of difficulties -a universal condition of life- but we can always choose to be grateful and experience the benefits of thankfulness. Abraham Lincoln implored,

"We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness or our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
-institution of a National Fast Day
(A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 5:3366)

Happy Thanksgiving! Now go out and give some thanks to God, to your spouse, to parents to children, to all who bless your lives and even to pure strangers.

Thank you for taking a moment to read and God bless you.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It is Done: Soccer 2008

This past Saturday we celebrated the holiday before the holiday and was marked by joyful exuberance. soccer season may have come to an end but we are considering it a beginning. The past four months have been extremely revelatory.

We are more enlightened parents and have no hesitation admitting that our two favorite players are not destined for soccer greatness. No, it has become pretty clear that Logan and Griffin should pursue almost anything but Soccer. And to be quite honest, this is not a bad thing. There are plenty of other sports or activities toward which they appear to have natural abilities: swimming, wrestling, gymnastics, piano, and modern dance all come to mind.... BUT NOT soccer.

Lest you think I am overcritical or exaggerating for dramatic effect, I implore you to watch this video. Griffin is wearing #7 but is more easily identified as the player who is lathargically trailing the field of play as if he has no interest in actually kicking the ball.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

God and Griffin

I have no problem with God's omniscience. The fact that he knows all things including the way each of us will act in a certain situation does not bother me or somehow infringe on my freedom of choice. For some people, God's ability to know how they will act before they make a choice is very disturbing; they feel as if their agency is somehow diminished or that they are nothing more than a puppet to some divine game master. God's knowing, however, does not infringe on our free and independent exercise of choice. I heard it put in this way: God's omnipotence and perfect foreknowledge is very different than making some particular event happen in very much the same way that a skilled weatherman while able to forecast does not CAUSE certain weather to happen. God knows through ages of experience, how his children will act and react to certain situations.

This logic makes perfect sense to me and resonates with my soul. What is more, I'm now experiencing a lower-level of this paternal forcasting. Enter: Griffin. He came into my office the other morning with a bottle of Elmer's Glue in his hand. Immiately I probed for the appropriateness of the situation trying to cut off any disaster before it happened.

"Mom gave it to me," he explained.

A reasonable answer I thought and decided to let this scenario play out. It had been months since he was banned from scissors and this might be a good time to allow some redemption. I asked what he wanted to do with it. "Glue some paper." he responded without any hesitation. Again, an acceptable answer -much better than "give Roxy (our dog) a bath with it" or "glue sisters Webkinz". I decided that I was OK with this and knowing (the parental foreknowledge coming into play) the scenario that would unfold even with materials as benign as "paper", I offered some instruction, "You know Griffin, you only need a little glue to stick paper together."

Now Griffin is blessed with a mind that is ten yards ahead of any given moment... in our five years experience with this little soul both Laurel and I are keenly aware of this. Hence the reason why I repeated four more times the warning regarding the quantity of glue needed. In a stroke of parenting genius I even took conscious pains to phrase the caution in several ways so that he was sure to understand. After receiving verbal confirmation that he understood what I was saying, I sent him off on his errand with two pieces of copy paper. I will admit that I felt somewhat smug in my efforts to ward off a potential mess before it happened although somewhere in the repressed recesses of my mind I knew what scenario was bound to eventuate.

Probably half an hour later Mrs. Wicke called for Griffin to get his shoes on in preparation for school. He had been uncharacteristically quiet for some time but I knew he was in the play room making his Elmer's Masterpiece. Mrs. Wicke's voice reminded me of his activities and peaked my curiousity. I walked down the hall wondering if my cautions and superior parenting resulted in the perfectly glued art project... I'll let you judge.

The irony is that Griffin probably thought he was being quite conservative with the volume of glue. While I might have the beginning of God's ability to forsee, I clearly lack his skill at clear communication... something for me to work on.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wacky Wednesday Vol. 6

The irony of this piece is almost too much... the reporter seems to be prefacing a newspiece on "violent crime" and then it turns into something of an autobiography-documentary. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Truth (it really does exist out there)

I love to ponder truth and life. The hot tub on an early morning or late night is my favorite place and times for such indulgence (Mrs. Wicke has a great story to tell -since she is the story teller in our family- about my choice of contexts for enlightenment). I glean truth largely (no, almost entirey) from the writings of others. Considering the blatant lies, skillful charades and proliferation of half-truths in this world, identifying and adopting truth is an essential pursuit. Here are a variety of thoughts I've written in my "Truth" Journal:

-The height of your self-esteem is bound by the level of your selfishness.

-Self-worth is an eternal constant.

-Self-esteem is a function of what a person accomplishes through hard work (physical or mental), diligence and honor: by what we do. Self-worth is a function of who and what we are (our divine nature). The latter is fixed, the former is fluid.

-Good works or righteous living or honorable decisions are always rewarded by like consequences. These consequences may be immediate or delayed (or a mixture of both). They will return at least in a 1 to 1 proportional measure. This is just as true for the inverse: for evil works, selfishness and dishonorable actions.

-The end or destination a person arrives at is in consequence of his or her traveling the path to that end. For example: if happiness is your goal, you must walk that road. You cannot walk the way of greed, selfishness and pride to arrive at happiness, they do not lead to happiness, but to their own end. Happiness has its own criteria and cannot be replaced by others. This is true for every quality, trait or accomplishment.

-The means employed toward some end will be inherent to the continuance, maintenance and functioning of that end.

-All physical, mental, spiritual and/or emotional beings are either moving along a spectrum of growth or decay.

-Every action no matter how small or large moves us in a direction either toward God or away from Him. We are never static. We either support evil or oppose it in everything we do, say or think.

-Every individual is categorically responsible for their own actions, thoughts, emotions, words, and behavior and they cannot give that responsibility away nor assign it to another (although a favorite past-time in this life is to try and pawn it off on others).

-Deception, lying or hiding from truth are inherently unraveling in nature. A lie, for example is impossible to hide, it will (by its very nature) come to light and make itself manifest. It is impossible to hide anything that is untrue because the construction, operation and basis of this world is truth. Lies must die, they cannot eternally exist.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you have further insight to offer? Please share. More to come later.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Technological Discontent

OK, here's the deal (yes, this is a pet-peeve post). We moved into a new home just over four years ago. Everything was new except for the dirt in the yard which if the geologists are correct is probably in the neighborhood of 4-6 million years old. Arizona used to be the bottom of a gigantic sea sometime at the turn of the Cretaceous. Our appliances on the other hand were all manufactured in a significantly more modern era. You might think that our Whirlpool "Gold" dishwasher would provide at least ten years of superior functionality... it is not even a normal Whirlpool; it is a Whirpool "Gold".

As you can probably surmise, our state of the art appliance finally died last Monday. It was with a conflicted heart that I declared it dead on Monday evening... you see it had been suffering for the last three months. Sometime in the middle of July we noticed a gradually increasing noise being generated from the underside of the dishwasher. The hum grew into a loud caucaphony and reached decible levels that it was impossible to carry on a conversation in the kitchen. Family and friends would ask if we had heavy equipment running in the back yard if we started the dishwasher after dinner. No joking. We finally had to use the timed delay start and shedule dish washing to commence sometime between 1 and 3 AM. So it was with some relief that we finally pulled the plug on Whirlpool Gold. The tragedy was that it was such a young machine.

The ordeal, as situations like these often do, caused me to contemplate the lifespan of technology and our current situation. I finally received an answer to one of my long pondered questions: what is fair to expect of products and technology in our modern era. Here is what I came to grips with. I call it my "If we can send a man to the moon-then we can certainly make a ________ (you fill in the blank with a product of your choosing) that should last ten years" theory. The basic premise of my theory is pretty much explained in the name. For crying out loud, if we were able to build a machine that took mankind to the moon and brought him back again in 1969 then why can't we build a quality dishwasher in 2008? Why does the automatic sliding door on my Toyota Sienna break and cost me $1,800 to replace? Why can't we make a leaf blower/vaccum that lasts more than two seasons? Is there an engineer or quality control supervisor who can answer my question?

So for better or for worse I'm introducing a new quality standard. I'm comparing everything I buy to this baseline of expected performance: If-we-can-send-a-man-to-the-moon-in-1969-surely-we-can-make-a-decent-_______________! Stand up and demand it. I have it on good authority that this is a right to which all humans are entitled. Where is my dishwasher rebate? After spending $650 on a new Kenmore I need a bailout.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Small Freedoms and Big Changes

You can tell a lot from very small indicators. The best measure of a person’s love, for example, is illustrated in the small things they do -speaking kindly, small acts of service (making the bed, a note expressing thanks, a 30 second phone call just because, picking up milk, small manners/courtesies, etc.). Generally speaking, a mother’s day is filled with a thousand small acts of love for her children. Quite literally, she sweats the small stuff… and I would contend that it is exactly as it should be.

We can contrast the “little things” against the “big things” especially in their meaning and impact. The big things, while dramatic, do not carry the depth or illustrate the importance of the more frequent and more subdued little things. Consider a father who does not spend time doing the daily little things with his children and wife –reading at bed time, wrestling around, helping with the laundry, kind words, eating dinner together- but rather executes a yearly trip to Hawaii. Which better illustrates his love? If given a choice, which would his wife and his children choose: the big thing or the small things?

The importance and prominence of the small things has application in relationships, in religious observance, in micro affairs, in macro matters (ie. the economy, political reality, social trends) –I suggest that it is practically a law of nature and applies to all aspects of life. Take for instance the seminal, singular achievement of sending a man to the moon. While at first this might look like a big achiement it was actually preceeded by a million small decisions, tasks, calculations, processes, indicators. How important were these small steps? If any ONE of them was imprecise or errant, the large event, the great thing (landing on the moon) would have been impossible. It is the little things, whether it be in a family, in engineering or in political life that makes the difference.

Our political landscape –our freedoms- are currently undergoing small, almost imperceptible transformation. As the classic metaphor goes, we are frogs in a pot of water where the temperature is slowly increasing by fractions of a degree -small changes. Perhaps you have heard of some of these small changes (the beauty of small change is that it can be rationalized as trivial, non-consequential and countered as silly obsession with meaningless minutia) taking place in California. As much as I hate to admit it: as California goes, so goes the nation. Consider these small changes to your freedoms:

1. California has outlawed homemade treats for bake sales at schools. Why? In the name of almighty Health. Yes, I have capitalized the “H” on health because it is the new god of our generation. All things bow to the importance of health. The state cannot control the fat and sugar content in home produced brownies so it has decided, in a step to protect its helpless citizens, to ban (outlaw, make illegal, criminalize) home made items at bake sales. One small change to your freedom.
2. California is forbidding the construction of homes with fireplaces. Why? In the name of the second member of the secular holy trinity: the environment. In a move to cut down air pollution and stave off global warming (no matter that there is strong evidence of global cooling) the state of California is mandating the features of your home. This statute displays the complete lack of trust the government has for its citizens. To make sure you do not make a fire to warm your home they will simply take out the fireplace so there is no choice in the matter. To be fair, the state will allow gas heated homes and besides this is such a small thing. When the state starts controlling your thermostat that will be something else.
3. The state of California is pursuing the authority to control thermostats and mandate the “acceptable” temperature for homes and buildings. Really? The most educated generation ever is not smart enough to be trusted with the FREEDOM to set their own thermostat… we need the government to do this? So you don’t think I am making this up, here is the New York Time’s story (1/11/08):
Next year in California, state regulators are likely to have the emergency power to control individual thermostats, sending temperatures up or down through a radio-controlled device that will be required in new or substantially modified houses and buildings to manage electricity shortages.. The proposed rules are contained in a document circulated by the California Energy Commission, which for more than three decades has set state energy efficiency standards for home appliances, like water heaters, air conditioners and refrigerators. The changes would allow utilities to adjust customers’ preset temperatures when the price of electricity is soaring. Customers could override the utilities’ suggested temperatures. But in emergencies, the utilities could override customers’ wishes.
But this is such a little thing and it is for a good reason (curiously, exactly what freedoms are stripped and what changes are made in the name of something evil? It is all done in the name of some good: health, equality, environmentalism, love, fairness, security, financial stability)… Yes it is a little erosion of freedom; a small manifestation of the power government has to control even the most minute of details within the walls of your own home. Danger Will Robinson, danger!
4. As the epitome of quality public education, the State of California is denying a parent’s right to home-school their child. So long freedoms! This has tremendous implication for parents who do not agree with the content of the public school (i.e. liberal, revisionist, politically correct) curriculum. Another news report (SF Chronicle, 3/7/08):
“A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution…
The appeals court said state law has been clear since at least 1953, when another appellate court rejected a challenge by homeschooling parents to California’s compulsory education statutes. Those statutes require children ages 6 to 18 to attend a full-time day school, either public or private, or to be instructed by a tutor who holds a state credential for the child’s grade level.
California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. “Parents have a legal duty to see to their children’s schooling under the provisions of these laws.”
Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.
“A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare,” the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.”

Make no mistake there is a battle currently being waged against our freedoms. At stake are a hundred small things (like dodgeball, tag, appropriate words, text books, fatty foods, redistribution of wealth, minimum wage, changing the definition of words, etc.) that will contribute to a wholesale restructuring of our republic and our personal freedoms. Who is ultimately responsible for this? YOU and I! Probably the single greatest small change we’ve allowed to take place in our society is the disassociation of the concept of rights with the concept of responsiblilty. Every right has a corresponding responsibility. If we are a nation that will continue to enjoy personal freedoms there are personal responsibilities we must also exercise. One of them is to stand up and fight for our freedoms. Government is, by its nature, a power assuming monster. It will usurp our freedoms, one small freedom at a time. Small changes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wacky Wednesday Five

I hope my Wacky Wednesday installment provides some levity and laughter in the middle of the workweek... just when we most need it. For all of you who, at one time or another, have made an idiot of yourself: at least it was not on national television while you were trying to establish yourself (and your product) as reputable. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank you Dad, Bernie and Eddie (Veteran's Day Tribute)

I've been a patriotic civilian all my life... the closest I came to experiencing the military was two years of ROTC in college. I determined that my inquisitive and questioning sociological mind was not a good fit for military service (although now I am not so certain that the two are mutually exclusive.)

Now I am old enough and sufficiently observant to happily admit the great debt that I, along with every other American citizen, owe to those who put their lives on the line for my freedom. The men and women who served in the military display one of the greatest values in life: we should live for something bigger than ourselves. Unfortunately some people in our narcissistic age never learn this in a whole lifetime.

So with woefully inadequate words I offer my simple but heartfelt gratitude: THANK YOU! And because anonymous, general thanks is too often substituted for what could be a meaningful gesture, I want to pay tribute to three specific veterans. These are men from my own family who have accomplished something I never will in my life. They served their country to the extent that they were willing to go wherever, whenever and even give up their lives so that I and my children could live free. Thank you!

Dad (aka "the Colonel"), I salute you.

Bernie (my older brother), I salute you.

Eddie (my brother-in-law), I salute you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mr. Wicke Goes to Washington

A little more than ten years ago Mrs. Wicke and I were fortunate enough to take a whirlwind trip to the east coast where we found and fell in love with such places as Baltimore, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, New York City and Washington D.C. We visited all these in the short span of ten days. For many reasons (including driving through Manhattan to return our rental car and riding in a taxi driven by a man who hated his job and saw little downside if his life ended in a firey automobile accident) it was a trip we will never forget.

Gettysburg was deeply moving, a real bonus because it was not even on our pre-trip agenda. But the most remarkable realization, for me at least, was the profound spirit of Washington D.C. We found ourselves in our nation’s capital at the height
of the Monica Lewinsky affair (pun intended). One night we even watched a live national news reporter broadcast the latest developments on the steps of some government building. Surely those of you old enough can remember this lewd and low chapter in our national legacy. Remember the President who wagged his finger at us and told us a bold faced lie. Remember the man who tried to fool us all with his

elitist parsing of words, “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is”. If only we could be as intellectually advanced to comprehend the sophisticated meaning of verbs like “is” and “change”. Although if we combine Clinton with Obama we have something that is somewhat insightful: It depends on what the meaning of change is. Wow, who knew that two Democrats mixed into one actually makes a valid point.

I’m sorry I could not pass that up.

Back to Washington D.C. Because of my despair over the whole perverted particulars that stained our country’s highest office (again, pun intended), I was particularly dispirited regarding our national identity, our government and the moral void that defined our cultural leadership. This was the behavior that marked the height of civilization? This is what the lofty ideas of sacred honor, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness had degenerated to?

This was my politico-emotional state as Mrs. Wicke and I walked onto the national mall and experienced the miracle. In a day and a half we visited with Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Jefferson and lifted our eyes as the Washington Monument pointed heavenward. Yes, it was a religious experience. We read names on the Vietnam Memorial and were transfixed by the beauty of the Library of Congress. The Supreme Court possessed its own sense of power both outside and in. A kind Congressional aide took us through the underground tunnels and gave us a personal tour of the Capital building. We walked on the floor where great men stood and formulated plans to face great challenges.

Somewhere between Mr. Lincoln’s memorial and the Capital rotunda I realized that I was part of something much larger than I had ever supposed. This was not the government of Bill Clinton, it was not a nation of people who lived only in 1998. The United States of America was so much more than one man or one generation. I realized that we stood on the shoulders of giants. The troubled country of the present had deep roots which had survived many strong winds and lean times. It would not fall by the selfish exploits of one man, by the woeful mismanagement of another or by the destructive political policies of a third. The Constitution, the love of liberty, the precedence of freedom and the blood of thousands of citizen soldiers is stronger than any one president or Congress or Supreme Court decision. It was such a glorious diminutive feeling. My sense of nothingness enlarged my vision and my soul. The consuming issue of President Clinton faded away like darkness before the rising sun. Ahhh, sweet perspective!

Our trip to Washington D.C. was refreshing and invigorating. Without trying to sound too dramatic, I felt politically born again. It gave me hope that was not based in a man or in the issues of any one era. I am just now realizing that I do not have the words to describe what the visit did to soothe my soul… I guess you will just have to go there yourself.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We lost, now what?

I hate losing. I don’t care if it is a board game or a flag football contest: I hate it. I especially hate to lose at things in which I feel there is a moral principle at stake. Anyone who has read my earlier blog posts knows how deeply I feel about our nation’s political situation… As you can imagine I am now working very hard to suppress all those negative emotions that accompany losing. May I share some thoughts in retrospect of the Obama presidential victory:

Be civil: The genius of America and of democracy in general is the imperative of the rule of law. Over 50% of our countrymen voted for Mr. Obama in a free and fair election. That decision MUST be respected. It does our country no good to undermine the president-elect before he has even begun to act in the office (this includes calls for impeachment: such proclamations are damaging in that they weaken our stand if true grounds for impeachment ever arise). Democrats and progressives did this country no service in their vitriol and hatred of George W. Bush. For eight years they were consumed with a drunken vendetta causing wounds that will not easily heal. Now, conservatives must not adopt the same pigheaded defiance. There will be fundamental issues where we will take a stand and hills upon which we may defend or die in trying but to remove civility from our public debate is to ruin civilization.

Extend the benefit of the doubt: There is no question that I am filled with a spirit of trepidation over the unknown political leaning and leftist precedent of President-elect Obama. All the reservations and outright objections I’ve previously voiced are still effectual BUT since he will be our country’s chief executive I hope only the best for him. I pray that his vision of America resembles what our founders envisioned. I hope all my concerns are proved wrong. I hope he reaches across the political divide and genuinely works with conservatives. I hope my estimation of his socialist tendencies and policies were ill founded. No one hopes more than I that he proves me wrong. But since no one really knows what form or specific features his “change” will take, I have no choice but to wait and see. In the meantime I think the only option is to extend the benefit of the doubt. If he pursues a socialist agenda we will have plenty of opportunity to fight. For now, let’s just wait and let the real Mr. Obama come out. Perhaps we will be pleasantly surprised.

Celebrate a true social accomplishment: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Viktor Frankl are three of my heroes and teachers. Each contributed profoundly to the struggle for racial equality and human decency. The election of a black man to the highest political office in the United States is an accomplishment to be celebrated. To me the color of his skin was largely irrelevant as a reason to vote for or against him -plain and simply, I disagree with his political philosophy, platform and stated policies. I can still, however, rejoice in this seminal cultural accomplishment. I hope it dispels what I consider to be the largest social fallacy of our day: that America is steeped in racism and bigotry. I can provide significant evidence that the US is one of the most welcoming, generous, non-racist nations on the earth. I hope that this accomplishment tones down the race-bating and false accusations that are too frequently promulgated by groups and individuals who have much to benefit from fanning the embers of racial discord.

Be your best selves: while I believe racism is one of the largest non-issues in our society I am not na├»ve to the despicable supremacist views of a handful of idiots to be found at all extremes. I hope all decent people will reject the organized efforts and spontaneous instances from whatever corners of the political spectrum they might come. I’ve heard of race based jokes perpetuated over the Internet; I’m familiar with intellectuals already dismissing or downplaying the importance of this event and claiming that the white, male-based power structure still inflicts its malicious oppression; I’m deafly afraid some wacko might violently attempt to spoil this cultural achievement. We are better than all of this. As Viktor Frankl wisely observed, “there are only two races, the decent and the indecent.” For us it will take our best selves to prove to those who would like to continue promoting the tired old black versus white division of our country.

Visit Washington DC: sound crazy? This will restore your optimism in our country like few other things will … more on this to come.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wacky Wednesday IV: Why?

Why is one of the most powerful words in language. It is the catalyst for learning and the antidote for ignorance, apathy and the resultant social problems. But Wacky Wednesday is about ligher things (and heaven knows we've been consumed with very serious issues lately) so I will save my elucidation on the virtues of "why?" for another time. Here are some thoughts that will leave you wondering, why. As in, why does anyone care?

Happy Wacky Wednesday:

· The sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." uses every letter in the alphabet. (Developed by Western Union to Test communications)
· The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is "uncopyrightable".
· 'Stewardesses' is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.
· No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple.
· "I am." is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
· In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere.
· Average life span of a major league baseball: 7 pitches.
· A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.
· The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of yore when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.
· The airplane Buddy Holly died in was the "American Pie." (Thus the name of the Don McLean song.)
· Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history. Spades - King David; Clubs - Alexander the Great; Hearts-Charlemagne; and Diamonds - Julius Caesar.
· 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
· Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down - hence the expression "to get fired."
· Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.
· Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt.
· The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law that stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
· An ostrich's eye is bigger that it's brain.
· The longest recorded flight of a chicken is thirteen seconds.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I believe Barak Obama... and you should too

I believe people. I believe what they say. I pay close attention especially to those with whom I disagree. I believe you must listen carefully to the opposition. I believe Osama bin Laden when he says his goal is to attack America and the West and to kill as many of us as possible. I believe Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he says he wants to wipe Israel off the map (and if he secured nuclear weapons he would not hesitate to pursue that end). I cannot disagree more sharply, but I believe PETA believes what they say: that the slaughter of chickens is comparable to the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust. I believe that type of philosophy and rhetoric is dangerous.

Now I don’t want to draw moral parallels between the three examples cited above and the current Democratic candidates for president and vice-president, but I do want to suggest that we better listen to what they have said. I do not believe they are lieing (well, Mr. Obama at least, Mr. Biden is more adept as a politician.... case and point: defending the traditional definition of marriage but proclaiming on Ellen's show that he would vote against Prop. 8). There is one thing we had better all give sober consideration to: I believe Mr. Obama when he says, we are one week away from fundamentally changing the United States of America.

Fundamentally changing the United States? That is what he said and that is what he means.
Enough said Mr. Obama, I believe you. While the United States of America has some problems I do not believe we come close to the necessity of “fundamental” changes. I believe the foundation upon which this country is based is profoundly sound and to tamper with it is to risk unwarranted peril. I believe rather than going in some uncharted, unproven direction we should return to the Judeo-Christian values upon which this country was established. I believe in E Pluribus Unum. I believe in the citizens of this country much more than I believe in the government of this country. I believe in individual responsibility, in individual initiative and in private business. I believe a God fearing nation is infinitely better than a Godless nation. I believe in separation of business and state as much as I believe in separation of church and state. Neither religion nor business should be formally established within the machinery of the government. To nationalize health care or any other industry is as dangerous to the free exercise of the citizens as is the nationalization of a particular religion.

Make no mistake, Barak Obama believes his campaign slogans. He wants to change this country at its most fundamental level (not my words, these are his). His entire life is evidence of the direction he wants to take it. He has the most socialist, leftist voting record in the US Senate. His personal affiliates frequently proclaim the same need to alter or repair a problematic America of which we have little to be proud. He believes in legitimate governmental seizure and spreading of wealth. He believes the government should pay for students to attend college. He believes in a more restrained military and diplomatic appeasement. He believes our national standard of living is incompatible with the rest of the world.

I believe Barak Obama has told us exactly what he means to do and I fear that if he is elected he will do exactly what he promised.