Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Simple Question.....

In the sixties I was treated to such wondrous visions of the future. Plastic tubes running thru the skies shuttled people between super skyscrapers. Cars were freed from the bonds of gravity and zipped hither and fro, more personal skycraft than what traps us now in traffic jams. Every household had it's own personal robotic maid, butler, housekeeper, family friend. Cancer and other diseases were long forgotten. Vacations spots were off-world. And by now the headlines should have been detailing the terra-forming of Mars.

What in the hell happened? The only difference I see between the sixties and now is a damn sight more people suffering from the same old tragedies. Wars rage on. Starvation actually happens. We can't even build a decent space station, forget getting to Mars. And presidents keep trying to be kings.

I sit here at this amazing instrument we call the personal computer and it is the only thing I can say that the future delivered, albeit that we still type our will via the keyboard and get somewhat modest results, considering the potential of this machine. This Imac should be running my whole household, from answering the phone to calling the kids to maintaining a secure perimeter. It COULD do all those things, but only if I was a brilliant computer nerd with unlimited financial resources. I should be TALKING to this thing, and it should be talking back, telling me what's going on with the homestead when I come home from work, which incidentally should have been a truly rewarding, uplifting career that insured my material comfort while providing me with a sense of true accomplishment. My healthcare needs by now should have been a given, instead of this shaky employer assisted safety net I now rely on, which I could lose at any moment. This is all the future, and frankly, it sucks.

My generation was the one that stood up and said, "This ain't right, man, and we're gonna change it!" Yea, right. Peace and love. Flower power. What a crock. Most of us grew up and became the problem. We all discovered what a lovely color green was. For every one of us who literally paid in blood for advances in social justice, there were three others who sucked up to the man and got theirs. We created Walmart, McDonalds, Microsoft, Enron, and other examples of institutional sin, and the new hippies are dispirited, angry skinheads who write songs of angst, utterly empty sex, and silliness.

The uptight, Ozzy and Hariett generation, now properly thought of as the greatest generation, went to war against the greatest evil the world had ever known, then came home and put the pedal to the metal, making this the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth. Their children, compared to any generation before it, had it made, and actually had the time and resources to notice that not all was well with this new world and had the gall to speak up about it. Thanks to them, we got music you could actually feel, the courage to declare that ALL men were created equal, that women were more than baby factories, and that the earth was not really one big toxic dumping ground. I was there. I understood the whole dynamic because I was immersed in it. Then I grew up, got a few grey hairs of my own, and suddenly I'm in the bazaro world.

One, and I do say one, of the greatest presidents of my generation was impeached for getting caught getting blow-jobs in the oval office. Republicans actually took over my government. A new word was invented: homeless. The planet is heating up and even arctic permafrost is melting. There is Dupont Teflon in my bloodstream. The average automobile gets maybe 18 miles per gallon, and sure as hell doesn't fly, even tho they can exceed the speed limit by a factor of at least two. My president wasn't actually elected by popular vote, he lied (just like Clinton) to get us into a war, and now acts more like an emperor than a president. Red China, and yes, folks, China is still Red, owns a large chuck of the United States. And I have basically one choice of store to shop at; Walmart.

So, it's a fairly simple question, my friends......what in the hell happened?

You tell me.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Disorder in the House

If you have been involved in the painful process of clicking on that link you bookmarked entitled "Madness, Musings, and Melancholy" lately, then I feel for you. The quality of this blog has deteriorated to an all time low, and it's time for a change. Thus, I, THE Michael, have decided to do a little housecleaning around here and have fired the entire staff.

In order to find talent worthy of a blog of this calibre, I enlisted the services of some of the finest head-hunting firms the world over. Once I came to grips with the fact none of them were ever going to return my e-mails or phone calls, I decided I would hire from in-house. The hell with them. So, after much soul searching, intensive interviews, and in-depth background checks, I finally came up with three promising candidates; Me, Myself, and the equally talented, I.

Now I had to figure out the best positions to place these three remarkably adequate personalities. It was a toss-up as to who was going to get the position of Senior Editor, as both Me and Myself were equally up for the challenge, but Myself finally made the cut after a hard bout of thumb wrestling. Do you have any idea how challenging it is for Me to thumb-wrestle with Myself?

That left the positions of Writer and Producer to the final candidates. I am rather partial to producing, and since Me didn't object, I slid right into that job. Which left Me to tend to the Writing. Although I love to write, I can't run this whole show and do both jobs at the same time with any flair, so I was happy to leave the writing to Me.

So I sat all three down to discuss exactly how we were going to upgrade the image and quality of this blog. I suggested that we need more flash and less substance, since all the really popular blogs were quite colorful, with lot's of graphics and gifs. But, Me objected, stating rather forcefully that it was the truly talented writers who were getting all the real hits of any substance. Myself decided as Senior Editor that Me had made a stronger argument, especially since overall, none of us seemed to be all that talented in the flash department anyway.

It was Me who raised his hands and asked what we were expected to write about that was going to attract any more readers than we already had. After a period of painful silence and puzzled expressions, Myself suggested that we draw on our personal experiences, since they were somewhat unique and therefore potentially more interesting. "Yea, right!", snorted I, "Witchcraft, goats, and septic systems are REALLY going to draw in the readers.......no wonder this blog was going down the drain......pun intended!" "You have any better ideas, I would love to hear them." says Me.

Another period of painful silence followed and no grand ideas were forthcoming. That's when it hit me that this new team seemed to be no more talented than the one I'd just handed the pink slips to. With a sigh of resignation I sent all three of them immediately to a lush tropical resort with the implication that they'd be back on the streets if they didn't come back with some revolutionary ideas on getting this blog back on it's feet.

So there you have it, my faithful readers. If this blog doesn't get drastically better pretty soon, you can blame it all on Me, Myself, and I.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Ahhhhhhh.........wouldn't it be wonderful if no one had a complaint in the world. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the ratio of good to bad news in the newspapers was more like 15 to 1? Wouldn't it be wonderful if senators fell asleep on the floor of congress due to the lack of necessity to pass endless bills, since we finally fine tuned everything and it's all running smoothly? Wouldn't it be wonderful if the terms "genocide", "famine", "epidemic", "hunger", and that all time favorite, "terrorism", were hardly ever heard? Wouldn't it be wonderful if teachers and policemen and firefighters got paid what they were worth and Corporate CEO's made what THEY were actually worth? Wouldn't it?

Well, that ain't the way it is. Far from it. We are no closer to solving these age-old problems than when they first became ensconced in our cultures. Yes, it seems that all of us are very good at bitching and moaning about all these failures, but considering that most of us have very little control in the greater scheme of things, I think we are doing our jobs quite well, thank you very much! It's not our fault that those who DO have some influence in these areas seem to have no real motivation to take a serious effort at solving these problems. Considering that many of the problems that plague the common man actually profits those in power, is it any wonder that nothing ever seems to change? In one fell swoop, George Dubya could start an initiative rivaling the moon shot to ramp up production of solar, wind, and other alternative technologies that exist right now and put a serious dent in our energy crisis, weaning us off imported oil altogether and alternately adding a great boost to our economy with the jobs alone. If we are going to continue to build cookie-cutter subdivisions, imagine the power that could be generated and pumped into the grid if every one of them had mandated solar cell roofs. Imagine if the codes required genuinely effective insulation in every household. The cost? Give me a break! Economics of scale would drastically reduce that impact, as would tax credits, and so what if some rich bastard gets an off-the grid capable mansion instead of gold-plated bathroom fixtures? We could give him a tax break on cheese to go with THAT whine. But, since Dubya is an oil man at heart who was groomed by Haliburton to run for president, all that would be personal suicide, so don't hold your breath.

So what good is bitching and moaning? It keeps the pressure on. It informs your friends, your neighbors, your own family that even tho the sky might not be falling, it's getting awful shaky up there. How can anyone get off their fat asses and even NOTICE that things are as bad as they really are if everybody pulls together like good conservative, patriotic Americans and keep their eyes wide shut? The squeaky wheel gets the grease, my friends, but we need a damn sight more than grease, we need serious attention to these problems by the people we elect.

Some of us in the blogging community have fallen victim to the idea that complaining about things is akin to a character flaw. Some of us feel that it is effecting our ability to love life and appreciate the good things we have. First off, I believe it IS imperative that we embrace all those good things in our lives, to enjoy whatever good fortune we feel we have, and not allow the overall state of things to get us down, for there lies hopelessness and despair. All I think is necessary in order to find peace with ourselves is to not allow our comforts to blind us to the injustice and tragedy that exists all around us. If we ramp up the noise level, we can drown out the denials, and perhaps get the message across that as long as this administration continues down this mad path, down that path to personal destruction goes all of us, and we have no intention of going quietly.

Sometimes I get into a funk, and nothing comes to mind that seems worthy of a post. Sometimes I feel that all I have to report is an ongoing crisis. But, when I sit here and think about it, I also have great things to say. I have met some wonderful people thanks to blogger. I look forward to their bent on their world and their view of the world around them. I have a wife. Not just any old wife, but one who has stuck with me thru thick and thin, and let me tell you, it's been thinner more often than thicker all throughout our 13 years of marriage. She's not everything I could want in a woman, but, if she was anyone other than my Gail, I would have been single again in no time at all, not by MY choosing. I am certainly no catch. But we have become a team, and considering the difficulty of our own personal olympics, I'd say we'd take gold against most any others in the same circumstances. My job, remuneration wise, sucks. If I were to measure my self worth by the respect given me by my employers, I would have no choice but to blow my brains out, that's just how valued I feel. But my nurses, and my patients, remind me daily that things might not have been as good for any of them had I not been there. I suppose that has to count for something.

So, if you feel that bitching, moaning, or complaining is a deficit when it comes to blogging, I suggest you reevaluate that belief and ask yourself if what you're bitching about needs to be said. If it does, then dammit, say it! We are all listening. Maybe, by some miracle, someone in a position to do something about it might be listening too. You neeeeeeeever know...........

Friday, February 17, 2006

Under pressure........

Life is lively around Pendragon Hold today. The wife is wondering around the house banging on things. She wants to incorporate rhythm instruments into our ceremonies. I have this drum my friend Joe gave me. He gave it to me because it doesn't really sound that hot, no matter how I hit it. I'm allowing that I don't know the nuances of drumming, which is probably a better explanation. So, we are on the lookout for things that sound cool when you hit them. Seems like a perfectly pagan way of doing things.

I'm amazed at how centered I am right now, considering the pressures I have been under lately. Juggling money is like juggling razor blades, no mater how you do it, things are gonna get bloody. Sometimes I feel positively anemic. There are other pressures which have nothing to do with money. Now that I'm fifty, it seems I'm no where near as horny as I used to be. There's a doctor at work who claims my testosterone level is to low, and he's taken blood samples to prove it to me. I really don't doubt him. Chances are I'll be smearing testosterone gel on myself, and I get this feeling it's going to be a two-edged sword. Sure, the wife's likely to get some reward out of this, and that's all well and good, but you that know me know that I have a mouth that likes to motor. Having my natural male aggressiveness enhanced is likely to loosen up my tendency to speak first and think about what I'm saying later.....much too later. Combine this with bosses who are all women, and I think you understand the peril I am embarking on here.

Meantime, the wife is having her bad knee lubricated. Five weeks of injections of this stuff made from chicken feathers and physical therapy, to ease the pain and hold off the day when a new knee joint needs to be installed. I wish the goatmobile could be fixed so easily. When are they going to sell health insurance for cars? Not that I could have afforded it.

A friend has offered us a vacation, all but free of charge. the "all but" is that we can't get there. We haven't seen anything resembling a vacation since the ark settled on the mountaintop. But you know something? Sometimes the offer alone, untaken, is worth a trip to Disneyland. It felt good just imagining it. If he doesn't know how much I appreciated the gesture, I hope he does now.

The wife is as nature-concious as I am, but sometimes her modern sensibilities get in the way. Contemplating the disaster that this septic system has become, I was looking into composting toilets. These things are amazing, in that they require no plumbing, are vented in such a way as to make odors no problem, and give you rich compost back, instead of depositing all that crap in a concrete tank that ultimately needs to be pumped out anyway. She's really leery of the idea of human waste, that it's a disease ridden thing that just needs to go away, sight unseen. Hell, human waste from humans who aren't inflicted with terrible diseases to begin with is no worse than goat dung, which we use in our garden. I could divert the grey water from the washer and sinks to the shade garden, which would be great in the summer time when we tend to get long dry stretches without rain. This idea that marriage is a democracy sometimes puts a kink into common sense solutions.

The murder rate in Jacksonville has ramped up these past few years. The common thread seems to be young black men getting "disrespected", usually by other young black men, and repaying the favor with extreme prejudice. Plenty of other excuses abound, such as poverty and lack of hope, but guess what? I've had my share of less than stellar financial health lately, with plenty of disrespect from my employers, and I could easily give up hope that things will ever get better, but somehow I have yet to feel the need to go postal. Instilling fear in others does not earn one respect. It only earns you enemies. These kids must be taking their cue from our government.

With some of our best bloggers taking extended vacations, a kind of chill has run thru our little community. Well, neither rain, nor shine, nor gloom of night, shall stay this blogger from his appointed rounds. A hurricane might, but gloom of night? Naw! The following are things that might slow me down. Hurricane. Direct hit by tornado. My electric being shut off. My computer melting down. My connection going down. Thermonuclear war. Pandemic. Suicide. My wife getting her fill of my blogging. A visit by the NSA. Short of all that, you can count on THE Michael. Whether or not that's a good thing remains in your stead.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

They were Bloggers once........

All good things must come to an end. That almost implies that if it's bad, you're stuck with it forever. Death and taxes so far have held to that implication with great success so far. One thing that seems to hold equally true in life is the "phases" we all go thru, those different periods in our lives when something holds our interest for a certain duration, and then we drop it and move onto something different. No matter how dedicated, or fanatical we may become in certain endeavors, it seems that ultimately boredom will set in and doom that particular undertaking to that "what was I thinking" period that we like to file away and forget. Disco is one of those fleeting moments in many people's lives that became a religion for the moment, an embarrassment in retrospect. Of course, yours truly will never admit to having fallen victim to that particular little fling, but I was there in the midst of it, it happened, you guys all loved it, be honest and admit it. No, don't defend it, don't tell me how wonderful it all was, how much fun it was and how fulfilling it was, just admit to it and move on. You punk rockers, wipe that smug smile off your face; that was a travesty as well.

Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. I don't have a leg to stand on here. I flew model rockets. I flew these things in serious competition, and set records. As an adult. I could defend having done it, having spent the money, the time, the gas money driving to championships, having been President of the NASA Houston chapter of the National Association of Rocketry, and yes, lobbing eggs into the sky to see if they could be recovered unbroken. What WAS I thinking? Who knows, I was relatively young, and I did relatively dumb things in my youth. If I had to do it all over again, would I? I wish I could answer that. It was friggin fun at the time!

For a period after my first divorce and my second marriage, I was a karaoke fanatic. Just like those clueless individuals who show up at the American Idol auditions and cause us real physical pain, I somehow got this idea that I could actually carry a tune. I got so addicted to it I was going out every damn night, getting up on that stage every chance I could trying out new songs. Well, maybe the more they drank, the better I sounded, but whatever the truth of the matter was, it was their own damn faults........they clapped, they cheered, complete strangers would stop me in a store aisle and ask me if I was that singer at Attitudes. Having listened to recordings of my singing, I have to ask the question; What in the HELL were THEY thinking? Still, fame is fame. Even if it's better described as infamy.

I have done many things I am proud of to this very day. I served my country onboard a nuclear fast attack submarine, during an invisible war that not much people knew anything about. I lived in Alaska when it was still cold, and hiked a fair number of miles in the middle of Denali National Park, and watched as North America's tallest mountain stood in all it's majesty on a clear summer day.

I rode cheap taxi's thru the streets of Lisbon, Portugal, and spent a few memorable nights with very beautiful lady who didn't speak English, but spoke another language quite well. I snorkeled in La Jolla Bay and the clear waters of St Thomas, Virgin Islands, and drove a van on the wrong side of the road, which isn't easy when all your instincts are shouting at you to get to the right. It watched a movie at an outdoor theatre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and was so happy to only be visiting. I survived a monster hurricane as a child and learned first hand just how pitiful mankind can be at the mercy of nature. And I watched as Ed Sullivan introduced the Fab Four to America in all their black-and-white glory on a grainy little television set.

Nowadays, as I struggle with life by the side of my loving wife, about the only obsession I have left to me is this blog. If times weren't so tough, I imagine I would be doing other things, like taking vacations to places I haven't seen before, building furniture of my own design in a woodshop, perhaps hang gliding off a mountainside, because I would be living in the mountains, not on this god-forsaken acre of sand in hot and humid Florida. But, I'm not, and I'm not sure I ever will. So, for now, for the cost of an internet connection and my still active imagination, I take trips thru the universe on this Imac, via this thing called Madness, Musings, and Melancholy. It may not be much, but it's mine.

I have watched in dismay as several of the best minds I have tapped into drop off the scope, heading off in new directions, their lives either having taken a turn for the worse, or the better. Those that have found something better to do with their spare time, well, I do not blame them for their good fortune. I wish them the best. I suspect in due time, this blog will for some reason or another, good or bad, fall by the wayside and THE Michael will become just another one of those "things" you did during that period of your life when there seemed to be nothing better to do. I hope I'm not remembered that way, exactly. I hope I am missed. Like I'm missing Shandi and Terri right now.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Overwealming Choices

I had some time to burn waiting to pick up the wife from work and spent it at the nearby Books-a-Million. Good Bob, I think they have a hell of a lot more than a million books in that store. In my youth, when bookstores were much smaller, it was so much easier to find something of interest. The number of publishers and authors were no where near as numerous as they are now. Now, the choices have become overwhelming, and I can't seem to see one tree for the forest.

Had I even the spare mollah to blow on a good book, where to begin? Well, you narrow it down according to interests. Problem is, I have plenty of interests. Fiction or non-fiction? I've always been a rabid sci-fi fan. OK then, I wonder over to fiction area, encompassing at least half the store. Narrow that down to science fiction......still three or four aisle. To much. How about genre; you have fantasy, space, horror, you name it. I'm really having a hard time now. How about familiar authors? Much to my horror, most of them seem to have been overshadowed by all the new ones I never heard of. Well, the cover art sometimes helps. Christ.......it's ALL good! How about a series? No help there; I never saw so many damn series before!

The hell with it. Maybe come payday I spring for the latest Stephen King. I trust him to make my hard earned money well spent.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm sooooooooo Special!

I am so overjoyed to know that I am such an honest, trustworthy person that even foreigners who possibly couldn't know me personally are willing to entrust me with millions of dollars. I recieved this in my e-mail (funny, but the junk mail filters never seem to catch this stuff) and I'm sharing it with you to PROVE once and for all that THE Michael is so renowned throughout the world that complete strangers trust in him........



I am Dr.Erik Madu. an accountant with the FIRST BOND BANK OF NIG. PLC
and I need your assistance in remmitting a huge ammount of money to
your bank account this money which originally belongs to Mr. Charles
Fredrick a national of your country who until his death was an employee
with Shell Oil Company in Nigeria,he died in Plane Crash with
members of his families 5 years ago,since then we have made several
enquiries to your embassy to locate any of the extended relatives and
this has proved unsuccessful.

After several unsuccessful attempts I decided to track his name over
the Internet to locate any member of his family. I have contacted you
to assist in repatriating the money leftbehind by Mr.Charles Fredrick
declares it unserviceable.

Note that after final discusions with one of my superior in the TELEX
DEPARTMENT we arrived at contacting you as the next of kin to claim
this fund into your nominated bank account before the account is
declared confiscated,note also that this transfer will be concluded
within the next (7) seven official working days.

I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin to the deceased
so that the $15million dollars can be remmitted to youur account and
then we can share the money,25% to you and 70% for us, while 5%
willtake care of all expenses that might be incured on the course of the
transfer. All I require is your honest co-operation to enable us see
this deal through.

I advise that you send across to me your contact address,direct phone
and fax number for prompt communication, and Iguarantee you that this
transaction will be executed under a legitimate atmosphere that will
protect you from any breach of transaction / law.

What I really appreciate about this letter is the pains this person went too to write in a manner that I can understand. His failure to use spellcheck tells me of his sincerity, and his somewhat odd sentence structure bemoans his sad state of mind, having to find a way to properly dispose of all this money.

All I have to do now is create an equally sincere reply, in which I will ask him if he likes cocoa. I learned that from Tim. Or was it Lights? I forget.

Monday, February 06, 2006

In case you're interested.......

The latest post to "Welcome to Summerland" is now available for your thought provoking pleasure. Enjoy, and please, stop by and throw in your own two cents worth, adjusted for inflation.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Superbowl Stoned

I'm watching this pathetic excuse for a concert at Superbowl halftime. The sound, of course, is awful! Mick Jagger and his ambulatory Stones and the fans are certainly having fun, it seems, but it's still painful to listen to. Not that I'm sure you could have ever claimed he did to begin with, but Mick's not singing, he's sorta shouting out lyrics. If the band had been auditioning for a spot in any average battle of the bands, I think any judge would have told them "come back when you learn how to play". It's amazing what this band got away with by virtue of the recording studio.

I never was a big fan of the Stones from day one. Yes, they produced some halfway decent classics, again, thanks to technology, but what pisses me off are bands that get lucky with a song or two on the charts, then slack off for decades on ill-earned fame, while many a technically and artistically superior band has never been able to enjoy such icon status. But then, to be fair, I never got the Dead, either, so that pretty much disqualifies me as a music critic, I suppose.

So far I haven't seen a commercial that I think will find legendary status in the annals of commercial history. The razor commercial was the epitome of one-upmanship stupidity I have ever seen. I half expected to hear "and the 12th blade bites into the carotid artery.....". If you honestly think your face has gotten any smoother after the third blade, they really have you hoodwinked.

The second half is starting now and I'm not going to comment much about the game except I think any team that can't ever seem to beat the Jaguars shouldn't even be in the Superbowl. Sorry reason to root for the Seahawks I know, but I'm so fed up with football I really don't care that much who wins. I wouldn't mind getting that kind of money for losing.

I'll suffer thru the rest of the game, hoping I see a commercial that can equal the "1984" spot that Apple aired during that Superbowl. THAT, my friends, was commercial genius!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Freedom of Speech versus Freedom of Stupidity

So now Europe, particularly the Dutch, have gone and done a stupid. The media decided some cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed imploring Muslims to stop blowing themselves up, he was running out of virgins, would be pretty funny, and would make a salient point. What it did was piss off the entire Middle East. It was crass enough that they printed these cartoons once, which could be blamed on bad judgment, something us white people have plenty of, but then they decided to do it again, in the name of free speech, AFTER the Muslim world objected rather loudly. Well, my Dutch friends, freedom of speech is one thing, and I respect that, but rubbing it in after having made your point makes it obvious you don't know to quit when you're already behind. Moderate Muslims, if there truly are such creatures, can take a joke as well as anyone, but there's a limit to how much insensitivity any race, creed, or otherwise can put up with before they really get hot under the collar. And I don't blame them one bit. I myself insult the president on a regular basis, but even I observe a line that isn't necessary to cross. And that applies to everyone I have issues with. Make a point about what you think their shortcomings are, and go no further, for you don't know these people, and aside from the issues you disagree with, they might just be pretty decent people, no different in many ways than yourself.

Moderate Muslims try very hard to distance themselves from the hateful fundamentalist rhetoric that their brethren preach, and it pains them that their version of Jesus is blamed for how his words and deeds are twisted to suit those that sow the seeds of hate in the name of Allah. However, we here in the West seem to have no appreciation whatsoever for their efforts, and only make it hard for them to promote moderation when it comes to their religion. It's the same with many Christians; their own brethren paint them all with a coat of shame they would prefer not wear.

I personally believe that Islam faces the same problems as Judea-Christianity when it comes to rationality and the way these faiths are practiced in reality. Even the Hindu's, who most people think of as the perfect example of a non-violent sect, can get downright bloodthirsty when their faith gets insulted. When whole nationalities of people join together on one exclusive path to their God, you cross that path at your own peril. If you see a pit bull tied up in someone's yard, you only prove what a fucking dickweed you are if you go and poke at that pit bull because you've been told they have less than stellar personalities.

Like I said, I believe that freedom of speech is one of the most precious rights any person can enjoy. But as with any rights, especially those you take for granted, there comes at least some measure of responsibility. I might be wrong here, but I don't think there's any constitution that's been drafted in this world that specifically guarantees anyone the right to be a dickweed.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

To %&)()*(*%% or not to )&&_)**%%(, that is the question.........

I've decided to become a writing critic and review my own style of writing. In comparison to others I have read, I see how different I come across, not so much in adherence to proper english and prose, but in my out and out bluntness. I pretty much write the way I think, although I do tend to attempt to dress it up a bit. I guess you could say it's pretty much the way Kerry speaks versus Bush, only Bush isn't allowed to let loose with as many expletives as he might do in private conversations. So when I use such terms as "asshole", "ignoramus", "fucking idiot", and the like, these are not words I would use in mixed company, but would feel free to spout with close friends and family in the relative safety and dominion of my own space. The fact that I "lower" myself to using these expletives in my posts might be considered lowbrow by some, but I like to think of it as being real. The more educated the author, the less you will tend to see of four letter words, and that is not a good or bad thing, depending on how they give emphasis to and lend weight to the particular points they are trying to make. Now, I agree, that writing this way, or even speaking such, to the point that every other word is a curse word, is rather juvenile, and can grate on the reader who is not used to it. I have left many a blog behind that made use of the "F' word with reckless abandon, as it seems the author knows no other way to express himself. I use it simply because I use those words when the emphasis needs to be heavy, and it seems effective when used in that fashion. I am not a course and profane person. But I am passionate. I am opinionated. I prefer to state my convictions in no uncertain terms. If the four letter words serve no purpose I prefer not to use them. But I will. Thus, when I say that not only is George Bush an idiot, but a FUCKING idiot, I am making a point that requires the impact, the passion, the conviction of the expletive to get my point across.

One advantage I would like to think my writing style imparts is that it is not laborious to read. At least I don't THINK it is; I could be wrong. Some blogs I suffer to enjoy, for the authors choose to demonstrate their verbosity in a rather extreme and unnecessary manner. It would pain me to have to actually have a discussion with them in person if they actually choose to speak this way. It's not that I would not be capable of understanding them, but it would take twice as long for them to get across the simplest concept, and by then I might well be asleep. I believe creative and flowery eloquence belongs in the realm of story telling, rather than idea-sharing. That's why nobody believes a thing that comes out of a politicians mouth; for all the information you'd expect them to impart, it comes across as a story rather than direct and honest communication.

If you were to eavesdrop on a group of average teenagers talking, every third word would be an expletive, and there's a reason for that. Expletives are a form of rebellion, of gaining independence, of impressing others, at least in the mind of the juvenile. However, despite all the psychological reasons you might be inclined to come up with, the most basic reason is that teenagers actually lack the vocabulary to fill in the blanks, something they will pick up as they venture out into the world and be forced to communicate with others in a more benign and polite fashion. You will notice a juveniles' language laziness most often when they use their cell phones and computers to text message each other, relying on the most abbreviated codes they can come up with to talk to each other, and even then, these discussions will contain precious little actual content of any value whatsoever. In their world, it's talking with their friends that matters most, not actually saying anything.

So, with my limited formal education and my advanced years, I am left with utilizing the language in a manner that best suits my need to communicate what I'm about and the things that matter to me. Hopefully, my passion in doing so does not paint what I wish to get across with false emotions, because you, the reader, do not see my facial expression or my body language, important factors in accurate communications. I think we need to be grateful that our leaders have not adopted e-mail or instant messenger for diplomacy purposes, for I honestly think that would have started a major conflict by now. Then again, Ichat AV, Apple's video chat system, with it's excellent visual and audio capabilities, would work great in a pinch to call up the Chinese premier and convince him it's not really a good idea to lob a missile our way.
So, anyway, that's my explanation for THE Michael's course style of writing, and I'm sticking to it. It won't earn me a Pulitzer, but you'll certainly get my drift.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

At the risk of sounding irate...........

I, and I think many Americans, have come to the conclusion that the entity known to us as the corporation, or rather the elite club of back scratching good old boys who run them known as "the board", is the most corrupt, immoral, and damaging spawn of capitalism this country has yet to produce. A board of directors of a corporation is supposedly charged with the responsibility of running the company in a profitable, socially constructive manner, giving equal attention to customers, workers, and investors. What we have ended up with is a mechanism for those with the proper connections to share cash cows with each other, sticking it to investors, employees, and customers alike, while enriching themselves with obscene salaries and bonuses, supposedly because their expertise in running these monsters is well worth getting paid more than 300% of the base wage of the lowest paid employees in the corporation. Amazingly, these boards will award their buddies running this companies outlandish salaries and bonuses even when the company is going down the tubes. Enron was just one example of the lengths these people will go to to drown themselves in cash while screwing over their employees and customers. Why, how, can this happen? Think about it. Who is running this country? A collection of the same breed of people. In the name of freedom and democracy and everything else this country used to stand for, our country is becoming a Corporate "Democracy" owned and operated by a new breed of politician that intends to do to this country what the corporations have been doing to the American worker. And at the risk of sounding both judgmental and confrontational, my friends, if you don't know what's happened to the average American over the last 6 years, then it's only because your head's been so far up your own ass you're way past kissing it.

Those of you who think you've been basking in the benefits of free trade, "less" government, "lower" taxes, etc, are only standing in line waiting to have your ass handed to you by the powers that be. The trade deficit with China is one example of something gone terribly awry. We buy billions of dollars of goods from China; China buys a mere fraction of stuff from us. They make everything; we don't want to pay an American worker anything to make anything. Walmart is selling us tons of stuff made in China for practically nothing, making Sam Walton and his family tons of money and leaving their employees with little or no health coverage and pathetic wages. Walmart even dictates to it's suppliers how much they they can charge for their products, profitability for that company be damned. They can always get that product from some third world country who pay their workers less than a tenth of what minimum wage workers make here. Perhaps you work in an industry, perhaps information technology, thinking your career is safe. Think again. There's an Indian across the ocean who will do your job, albeit with an accent, for less than half of your salary. And your boss is well aware of it, and is planning accordingly.

OK, you retort, I sure know how to bitch and moan, but what would I do about it? Well, my friend, you and I as individuals can do absolutely nothing about this. However, just as unionization took advantage of the power of numbers to force the old companies to start treating their employees with some measure of humanity, so can the American people. Stop avoiding political discussions with your friends, coworkers and family. Start educating those you know who just aren't getting it. Stop being a part of the problem by being a good little sheep in your own organization, never saying a word when the company starts screwing everybody, hoping that you alone, being special, will keep your job with your pathetic loyalty. Call your congressman, conservative, democrat, whatever, and scream bloody murder, demanding he do his job serving YOU and your fellow americans instead of his special interests. If you have two bozos running for office in your district that you know are just two good old boys who will just give you more of the same, write "none of the above" on your ballot when you go to the polls. And quite blaming the unions for all these problems. Those unions are responsible for you having anything you DO have, and they are fighting tooth and nail to protect their members from further assaults on their livelihoods. And start electing people who can promise you they will accept nothing but their salaries for doing their job, and watch them after they are elected. A man who does his job can get re-elected without having to raise millions from special interests. You put him there, you can damn well KEEP him there. Spend a few pennies more for things you can find somewhere other than Walmart, maybe giving up something you damn well know you don't need in order to do so. When you do go to Walmart, start asking the managers every time you go where the items are that are made in America. Grit your teeth and buy cars that make sense, instead of a huge gas guzzler just to impress your friends and neighbors. When you go to a hospital, or some other business, and your receive caring, competent care and service, write a letter to the President of that business, telling them the employees did so and so for you, and what did HE do? Stop taking your frustrations out on retail employees when they are understaffed and can't help you fast enough. If the service is that bad, tell the management that if they can't staff their business well enough to serve you, you will take your business elsewhere. When you call customer service, if you detect an accent other than American, demand to speak to an American. Every time you fly on an airline, write a letter demanding to know why the seats were so close together you felt like you were in a cattle car, and remind them there are buses. Start making some damn NOISE, people, because it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, not quiet compliance with crap because "that's just the way it is".

My friends, none of these things happen in a vacuum. Many of you blame the "liberal media" for painting such a bad picture of people getting caught in scandal after scandal. Maybe it's time to realize that ducks are ducks because they look, waddle, and quack like them. If the asshole that happens to get caught with his hand in the till happens to be a republican, don't blame the "liberal media" for the crime, blame the damn criminal. Same thing with democrats. We know damn well they have their share of greedy bastards. It doesn't matter WHAT party these creatures are affiliated with, unethical and downright criminal behavior is unacceptable from a public servant PERIOD.

George Bush's ratings are at an all time low, but what amazes me is that a sizable percentage of Americans still think he's done a great job. THOSE people, my fellow Americans, have perception issues, and will smile and slap each other on their backs for being such good. loyal, patriotic, conservative Americans while this whole country goes down in flames. That is, if you who honestly think you have any grey matter left in your skulls let them. Remember, it was true then, and it's truer now than ever; "We shall all hang together, or we shall all hang separately."