Afghanistan

Afghanistan-the land in which Doctor Watson served and was wounded by a Jezail bullet- efore he met and was befriended by Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories were written in the late 19th century. Various retellings are placed in the early 21st century without creating any literate anomalies.

Trying to understand Afghanistan is a complicated issue. I will share my perspective, but I will try to be as brief as possible. However, being brief means bypassing a lot of facts. We’re at the point that America has invested more than enough to allow the Afghans to manage their own affairs, but that is not yet happening.

I served in Southwest Asia. I had troops in Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, and Kuwait, and tried to make sure that I spent time with as many of my people as possible wherever they were stationed. I got to see Afghanistan, up close and personal. For the record, the Afghans I met were warm, friendly, and gracious. They were wonderful hosts, sharing many things with us—as an affecianado, I proclaim their bread as the finest in the world.

In attempting to let the Afghans govern themselves there are complicating issues:

  1. Afghanistan is not a country in the same way that we define a country. Individuals identify with their families, with the extended family being part of a tribe. Tribes often live in proximity, such as in a single village. What happens in their village is important; what happens in Kabul or Kandahar, etc. is not. Therefore, there is not a national identity as we understand it.
  2. As with many others in that part of the world, they are Muslims, but with somewhat of a different style. They’re use of Inshallah—“If God Wills It”—is a bit different. If someone has a winter coat and it’s spring, he may trade the coat for something else. He does not think of needing it next winter. If he needs a coat next winter, Inshallah—God will provide.
  3. When renting an apartment, applying for a license or an account, or whatever, paying the agent to expedite the process is not viewed as a bribe; instead, it is viewed in the same way Americans view tips. Before you feel too smug, much of the rest of the civilized world views the American practice of tipping as, well, bribery.
  4. When American Special Forces first arrived in Afghanistan, they used the local militias as allies against the Taliban. These militias were organized, they were well armed, and they were effective. Eventually, Hamad Karzai created a coalition to enable him to form a government and be appointed (not elected) president. He recruited the most powerful men, who just happened to be the warlords who headed the various militias. As a result of the coalition, many warlords became provincial governors, cabinet ministers, and other powerful officials.

After I retired and hung up my uniform, I worked as an analyst for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While there, we conducted a study on corruption in Afghanistan. If you want to read some fascinating issues, check out https://www.sigar.mil. SIGAR is the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

America provided money and materials without monitoring what it was used for. Much of it was not used as intended. Today, Swiss banks are holding much more wealth than they did before America tried to rebuild Afghanistan.

To keep this short, I skipped over so much. Joint Forces Quarterly published an article that we wrote about some of the Afghanistan issues. It can be accessed at https://ndupress.ndu.edu/JFQ/Joint-Force-Quarterly-75/Article/577577/dealing-with-corruption-hard-lessons-learned-in-afghanistan/

Those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it. In any case, I wish the Afghan people well and ask God to generously bless them.

Thoughts About Blessings

I was reminded of an old joke the other day. You’ve probably heard it, but bear with me—there is a point.

A hurricane hit Louisiana and a man crawled up onto his roof as the floodwaters rose. A neighbor came by in his boat filled with other neighbors.

“Boudreaux!” he called, “There’s room in here for one more! I can even bring the boat in close enough so you can just step off the roof, into the boat without getting wet!”

“Thanks, but I have faith that God will provide!” The neighbor, not wanting to offend either Boudreaux or God waved, “As you wish. Hope to see you soon!” opened up the throttle a bit and sailed away.

About an hour later, another boat operated by the volunteer “Cajun Navy” came alongside the house.

“C’mon down!” one of them called, “We have more bad weather headed this way. You need to leave, now!”

“Thanks, but I’m good,” Boudreaux replied. “God will provide what I need!” The boat turned, and with a wave its pilot headed north to look for others who needed help.

A couple of hours later, a National Guard helicopter hovered over him and lowered a harness to haul him up. Boudreaux waved them off. Even though they couldn’t hear him over the roar of the helicopter, once again Boudreaux proclaimed his faith.

The weather got worse. The water crested over the top of the roof, which didn’t matter because Boudreaux had already been blown off the roof into the raging waters and he drowned. He approached the pearly gates of Heaven with a dour look on his face.

“I was sure that you would rescue me!” he said to God.

“I sent two boats and a helicopter,” God replied. “What more did you expect?”

God does much of his work through other people. Moses was about 85 years old with a speech impediment, happily herding goats when God sent him to stand up to the Pharaoh, the most powerful leader in Africa and Asia, and lead the Jews out of Egypt. God showed the way, but Moses did the actual leading.

When the multitudes following Jesus were hungry, Jesus asked the disciples to find what food was available. After He blessed the loaves and fishes, it was the disciples who distributed food among the followers. The crowd was probably more impressed with those distributing the food than Jesus’ blessing it.

St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians pointed out that different people have different gifts, but those gifts are to benefit others. Some speak in tongues while others can interpret such speech. Some drive boats or fly helicopters to evacuate people in need. Some study diseases to try to figure out how to fight them. Others treat people with diseases or instruct them in ways to avoid or minimize the effects of disease.

I’ve challenged myself, and with your permission, I’d like to challenge you. In today’s crazy world, what is your gift? Are you using it to help others?

People of Faith

Sometimes it is quite surprising as to what you can learn from people of faith. You’ll usually learn something, but not always what you expect.

On the news this morning, a commentator related his encounter with two families. He asked the first family why they did not wear masks.

“Our faith will protect us,” was their reply.

He then asked another family why they DID wear masks.

“Our faith teaches us to not hurt others.”

Business 2021

Although I have two degrees in business and 40 plus years of experience, there are many, many things that businesses do that befuddle me. Whole industries make massive mistakes that eventually prove fatal. Other companies then make the exact same mistakes. It seems that no one ever learns. I realize things are different with yet another wave of COVID-19 deaths, but not all of this can be chalked up to the pandemic.

I recently read an interesting article, “Why Did America Give Up on Mass Transit? (Don’t Blame Cars.)” that provides a prime example. I suggest that you read the article if you’re a student of business–not just those of you who are studying business in an academic setting, but anyone who engages in business. My synopsis does not do it justice, but, hopefully will pique your curiosity.

America once had an efficient and effective mass transit system, which both enabled and limited geographic dispersion. After the Second World War, inspired by the German Autobahn, the federal government funded the interstate highway system. At the time, it was perceived and justified as a defense measure to move troops from one place to another quickly. In addition, stretches of the highways were constructed in a straight line without obstructions so they could be used as air strips if military air bases were destroyed.

In the meantime, mass transit systems did not receive such generous funding. Even though the train and trolley car companies were well entrenched, they did not, as opposed to could not, successfully compete. Their response was abysmal. Essentially like wagon trains in the Old West, they pulled the streetcars into a circle and hunkered down.

Instead of improving service to be more competitive, they hunkered down and cut expenses. Then they cut expenses more.

There is an old saying in business. “If you let marketing run the company, you’ll go into bankruptcy, reorganize, and come out as a profitable enterprise. If you let accounting run the company, the company will stay in the black until the very last stick of furniture is auctioned off and the doors locked.”

What if the industry had improved service to make mass transit more appealing? In an ideal world, would you rather fight rush hour traffic, or would you prefer to sit in a comfortable train car? Unfortunately, in those cities that do have a more-or-less successful mass transit system, the comfort is still lacking. Instead, mass transit rush hour means being packed like sardines so that your nose is in another rider’s armpit (or vice versa). They could have done better and done so in more markets. They still can.

Today, we’re seeing the same thing in other industries. Newspapers are cutting expenses (staff) and printing papers that rely on news services rather than reporters. Those few dogged souls who still subscribe get to read the same stories they read online yesterday. Today you need a magnifying glass to read the funnies–soon you’ll need a scanning electron microscope. The only reasonable amount of space is for obituaries (which are paid for by the bereaved).

Then there are retailers, who have pretty much handed everything over to Amazon and slunk away with their tails between their legs. Actually, they might be in a better position than they think. I’ve heard many people complain about Amazon, how Jeff Bezos treats Amazon employees, and some very cutting comments about greed.

What’s next? We’ve already got teleworking, online pharmacies and virtual doctors’ appointments, church services and dating apps. Soon it will be possible for people to spend their entire lives without face-to-face encounters with others. The first time they’ll leave home is when the undertaker picks up their body for disposal.

More’s the pity.

The Wisdom of Rainn Wilson

A ton of acting roles from Dwight Schrute on The Office to Lahnk on Galaxy Quest as well as an inspirational philosopher.

Forsooth:

RainnWilson
The metamorphosis of Jesus Christ from a humble servant of the abject poor to a symbol that stands for gun rights, prosperity theology, anti- science, limited government (that neglects the destitute) and fierce nationalism is truly the strangest transformation in human history.

Of course there’s always the chance that Jesus didn’t change–We did.

If so, we may have a lot of explaining to do.

Korean Priorities

South Korea: We'll Kill Kim Jong Un If We Have to

It’s very difficult to find anything in the news that is either uplifting or just plain fun. After much searching, I finally found something worth sharing.

The Wall Street Journal reports that North Korea is willing to reopen negotiations under certain conditions. It’s important to emphasize this is North Korea, which refers to itself as “Korea” as opposed to South Korea, which refers to itself as “The Republic of Samsung.”

What does North Korea want? While they have an autocratic government, they are often pragmatic. They want sanctions relaxed.

Their main priorities are changes to allow them to import fuel, fine suits, and premium liquor.

As you may have seen, Kim Jung Un, the North Korean leader has recently lost a lot of weight, raising questions as to the state of his health. Some are concerned that this is evidence that he has some underlying health crisis. I believe that he may not have serious health problems.

Kim Jung Un may, in fact, have adopted a more healthy lifestyle with a better diet and regular workouts in his private gym. This is how he lost the weight.

Now that he’s buff (relatively speaking), he wants to get some spiffy new suits that don’t look like oversized bags. He then plans to fuel up the limo, cruise Pyongyang, pick up chicks, and ply them with (premium) liquor.

New Post

It’s been a very, very, very long week. Many crazy things have happened.

However, among all the craziness, there are things that are wonderful. Many don’t reach the headlines, but this one did.

Thank you and God bless everyone who helped.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/30/app-news-section/videos-of-the-week-mobile-july-30/index.html

Viral Blog

Viruses are strange, which is what makes them so dangerous.

First, experts describe them as “organisms at the edge of life” because they share some characteristics with living organisms, but lack others. They do not reproduce on their own. Simplistically, they invade a living cell and force the cell to produce hundreds or thousands of copies of the virus based on the virus’s RNA or DNA.

And they mutate.

One way to think about mutation is to compare it to copying a photograph. The first copy may look reasonably good, although when you place the original and the copy you may notice some differences. If you make a copy of the copy and then repeat, each generation looks less like the original. A similar thing occurs with viruses. That’s why each year the pharmaceutical companies need to prepare a different vaccine in preparation for the flu season. Much of the time, their projections are accurate, but some times the influenza strain that predominates is totally different from what they expected.

Another bad thing about viruses is that the treatment options are limited. Some medical professionals say that if they treat the patient, the patient will be better in a week. If they don’t, the patient will be better in seven days. There is an element of truth to that.

The COVID-19 virus has mutated into a more virulent form. People who have been vaccinated may carry the virus, usually with mild or no symptoms. Although they may not feel sick, they not only carry the virus, but also shed it, potentially infecting those who have not been vaccinated. This includes children too young for the vaccine and those who are immunocompromised, such as those who have received an organ transplant, those who have an autoimmune disease, and those who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. This is why masks are once again recommended, even for those who have been vaccinated.

Masks would not be necessary if the virus hadn’t mutated.

The COVID-19 virus, like all viruses, cannot reproduce itself. In most cases it needs an unvaccinated host and useS the hosts cells to reproduce. As long as there are a sufficient number of unvaccinated people it will continue to replicate and, inevitably mutate. We currently know of two mutations, identified as delta and lambda.

Some people point out that there was confusing guidance in the past, decreasing their confidence in current medical advice. When COVID-19 first appeared, it was often referred to as a novel disease, meaning there was little or nothing known about it because it was new. This meant that scientists were forced to try something and see if it worked. If it didn’t work, try something else. Science is a process, not a collection of facts.

Among the ways that viruses can be spread are by droplets or aerosols from a cough, sneeze, or even just talking. Prior to COVID-19, it was widely believed that anything larger than 5 microns could not be spread by aerosol, only droplets. Droplets have a limited range of about six feet, after which they drop and settle on surfaces. Given that the coronavirus is larger than 5 microns, the advice was to maintain the six-foot social distance, clean surfaces, and wash hands frequently. This was a reasonable approach until it was proven that the 5-micron rule was invalid, after which the use of masks was seen as the best protection.

So today, the advice is to get the vaccine to protect yourself and to deny the virus a breeding ground. Wearing a mask provides you with another level of protection and helps protect those around you.

It’s confusing, but as we got more data, it altered our response. It’s inevitable that we will collect even more data, which may alter our response once again. Following the advice is far, far better than experiencing COVID. Trust me on this.

Wannabe Famous??

After paying careful attention to the media, I believe I have finally cracked the code. I have read hundreds of articles in various “news” sources. Here are my conclusions:

  1. The easiest way, of course, is to be born to famous parents. If possible, to famous parents who had famous parents. Children of the famous attract paparazzi and sycophants before they switch from breast milk to creamed peas.
  2. Having rich parents always helps, even if they’re not famous per se. It takes a bit more work, but it is possible. Paris Hilton now says that her earlier activities were all an act and, with all the money she has, that tells you something.
  3. Lacking the foresight for picking proper ancestors, becoming famous will take more work, but is still quite possible. The best plan is to do something incredibly stupid. Contrary to what you may have heard, it does NOT have to be criminal, although criminal acts do tend to garner headlines. If it bleeds, it leads.
  4. Creating and promoting fake remedies is as old as America itself. The 21st century Medicine Shows do not have the entertainment value of Dr. Brouhaha’s Hell Oil Tonic sold from a horse drawn wagon, but don’t despair. Look at the following that hydroxychloroquine and injectable bleach managed in only a few short weeks.
  5. Lavish use of Facebook and Twitter will help you build credibility. Have several accounts with which to quote or forward your own ideas so it looks like you have a following.
  6. And, finally–run for Congress.

Pluralses

Common octopus on seabed
By albert kok – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2795257

Others, such as Alan Sherman, who was was parodying songs while Weird Al Yankovich was just beginning accordion lessons have contemplated the mysteries of pluralizing words. I generally accept the weirdness of English in general without too much difficulties, but there are some idiosyncracies that must be challenged.

I’ve resigned myself to the pluralization of fish. If it’s all one species, the plural is fish. If there are more than one species, it’s fishes. So, if you had 1,000 salmon, you have 1,000 fish. If you have 999 salmon, but one tuna, then you have fishes. You’d think that there would be some defined tipping point. In either case, the average fisherman would focus on the one-thousand first fish that got away. It put all the others to shame.

I’ve always been fascinated by the octopus and even had one as a pet for a while. We got along fine, so while I had him, I never brought up the following, lest it embarrass or offend him.

Octopus is a Latin word derived from a Greek word, but a Latin word, nevertheless. I am an alumnus of several universities (much to their embarrassment). When I am with old classmates, we are alumni, the plural of alumnus. My wife, on the other hand, is an alumna for which the plural is alumnae unless there are males in attendance, in which case together they are alumni. (Chauvinistic Romans!)

So, alumnus, alumni. Octopus, octopuses. Why not octopi?

All of this creates a significant dilemna. Did the Beatles song refer to a single Octopoda, as in “An Octopus’s Garden” or several who were sharing a garden, as in “An Octopuses’ Garden”?

Ringo, feel free to reply and resolve this issue.

A Rough, Common Workmam

In the Old Testament, God selected prophets, judges, and when pushed, kings. He was represented as a vengeful God, who was an expert on smiting those who offended Him, often including their family, friends, village or nation in His righteous retribution. People didn’t get His message. God decided that to get through to us he’d have to try something totally different, so he sent his Son.

Jesus, to the dismay of many, was not there to take names and kick sinners to the ground. He was no king like Saul, David, or Solomon. He was probably not even a craftsman in a well stocked workshop. It is more likely that He was a tekton–a day laborer who performed hard construction work outside in the sun, wherever work could be found. If so, he was probably muscular with rough, callused hands and sun-weathered skin.

The people with whom He worked were not sophisticated. No doubt, they all smelled of sweat, including Jesus. They likely used language that was crude, as those close to the earth do. His coworkers would not fit in polite society. When Jesus chose fishermen to be his followers, it was probably a social step up–after all, they were in business for themselves and had property, such as boats, nets, and tackle.

This rough, common workman, took us in a different direction. Instead of focusing on vengeance, He focused on its opposite–forgiveness and encouraged us to do the same. His forgiveness was complete even for those who were responsible for his death.

When his disciples asked Him how to pray, He taught them a prayer that includes the most difficult demand.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Foreshadowing

Just like Nostradamus, one of the great philosophers of the 20th century prophetically wrote, foretelling today’s reality. Pete Townsend, lead guitarist for The Who wrote Substitute back in the mid-1960’s.

The lyrics explain how nothing is as it appears:

I’m a substitute for another guy
I look pretty tall but my heels are high
The simple things you see are all complicated
I look pretty young, but I’m just backdated, yeah

I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth . . .

Interestingly, in 1966, one line- “I look all white but my dad was black” had to be modified in the version released in the United States. You’d think that in the 55 years since, we’d have sorted all that out. Not quite.

So, today, we have all kinds of people claiming all sorts of things. Skeptics and cynics believe that such are questionable.

Or are they?

All I can add to the discussion is another verse:

And now you dare to look me in the eye
Those crocodile tears are what you cry
It’s a genuine problem, you won’t try
To work it out at all you just pass it by, pass it by

Great song. I’m not sure the reality is quite as zippy as the song.

COVID-19 – Take Two

I apologize if this sounds brutal or uncaring, but I believe it is a legitimate subject. I am speaking, of course, of the future impact of COVID-19, now that we have at least two variants in addition to the original virus.

The scientists predict that the mutated virus will not only infect unprotected people, but in the process will continue to mutate, potentially leading to more deadly strains.

Some people cannot be vaccinated due to a variety of medical issues, such as those who are immunosuppressed. Those who have had an organ transplant are given medications to reduce the chance of rejection of the transplanted organ. People who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy are also immunosuppressed, as are people with other medical conditions. Fortunately, this is not a huge segment of the population.

Those who have chosen not to be vaccinated, on the other hand, are a much larger group, and are clustered in rural areas. There are six states with less than 35 percent of their population vaccinated that are believed to be at higher risk. Currently, these include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wyoming.

It is feared that the unvaccinated could act as a virus incubator resulting in additional, potentially more contagious and more lethal strains of the virus. In a worst case scenario, this could lead to a repeat of the significant restrictions we saw earlier.

From a scientific point of view, the results will be interesting. It would have been better to examine the results in petri dishes in an isolated laboratory. In that case, the petri dishes would be sterilized and disposed of as biohazardous waste. Instead, we may once again see people in body bags stored in refrigerated trucks.

Independence Day

Writing the Declaration of Independence, 1776, an idealized depiction of (left to right) Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson working on the Declaration was widely reprinted (by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1900). Courtesy Wikipedia.

Independence Day, the fourth of July, is celebrated as the birthday of the United States. It was not, as some believe, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. Given that this was a congress-the Continental Congress, the precursor to the United States Congress-it is no surprise that things took longer than expected.

Richard Henry Lee of Virginia had proposed a resolution for independence, which was finally adopted without opposition, on July 2, 1776. John Adams believed that the second of July would be the day celebrated. However, even though the resolution had been passed, the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was not approved until two days later with copies printed and distributed.

Although the language of the Declaration of Independence was approved on 4 July, there is historical debate as to when the document was actually singed. The best information is that about three-quarters of the members of Congress signed it on that date. Others are believed to have signed it after 2 August. This included several who had not yet been elected to Congress on 4 July 1776. In any case, once the Declaration was passed on 2 July,, it was official.

I would ask you to read the last sentence of this marvelous document.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


How many members of Congress today would commit so completely to our nation?

Pets, Cats, and Attitudes

Courtesy Wikimedia

We have a veritable menagerie here—a dog, two cats, and a parrot.

When asked if I am a dog person or a cat person, I paraphrase Mark Twain, saying I am neither refined nor unrefined. I am the type of person who keeps a parrot.

Mind you, every one of the animals both demand and receive a lot of attention. It’s true that from their perspective it is woefully inadequate, but we go out of our way to make sure that they are spoiled well past the point of rotten.

All the mammals want to play and the laser pointer is one of their favorites. The bird is the loudest and isn’t interested in the pointer. Feed her a peanut and she’s happy.

The dog likes the pointer, but also loves chasing a soccer ball around the yard or a smaller ball in the house. Around 4:00 pm he starts demanding that someone play with him. Lately it seems as if he’s trying to form words to better explain what he wants. The clearest word he can say is, “Aroooh!” I assume it means, “Play with me,” but that’s just a guess.

The cats, on the other hand, have provided me with an epiphany. As we all were taught, cats were perceived as deities for the Egyptians. Many of their gods were portrayed with cat-like heads. Why did they believe that cats were god-like?

When you stop to think about it, it’s easy. Cats’ behavior basically says, “I am here. Feed me. Adore me. Feed me. Don’t bother me when I’m trying to nap. Feed me. And, for heaven’s sake, keep my litter box clean.”

In between feedings, they are wont to ignore their humans.

I believe that the Egyptians merely took the path of least resistance to get the cats to stop bugging them.

The Good Old Days and the NRA

I’m what they used to call, “long in the tooth” or a “grey beard.” I still have my own teeth, thank you, and if I grew a beard, it would indeed be grey. How do I know? Because the hair I have left on my head is grey and I’m damn glad to still have some, at least.

I’ve read many of the “back when” blogs. Yes, I drank from the garden hose. I rode my bike without a helmet–after all, helmets back then were for only soldiers, football players, and jet pilots. I still relate to the years when a gallon of gasoline sold for 36.9 cents a gallon.

Now that we’ve established that I’m ancient, there’s one important thing that I remember. This memory was triggered by a recent letter I received from the National Rifle Association. In bold letters on the front was printed, “NOTICE OF GUN CONFISCATION.”

Of course, there has been no gun confiscation.

The content inside was a plea for donations to the NRA. They used fear to get people’s attention.

I was a member of the NRA for many years. I remember the NRA differently. When I was a teenager, NRA instructors taught gun safety and marksmanship. Where was the shooting range? It was in the basement of my Catholic elementary school. That was where NRA instructors taught me gun safety and marksmanship. To this day, I treat every firearm as loaded. I am always aware as to where my muzzle is pointed and ensure it is pointed in a safe direction. I keep my finger out of the trigger guard. I only point a weapon at something I intend to shoot.

To me, using a gun to settle a dispute only occured on television.

As a parent, I have taken each of my children to the range and taught them gun safety and how to target shoot. Guns had no fascination for them either. They were taught that if a friend asked, “Do you want to see my parents’ gun?” they were to come straight home, immediately.

In the past five generations, we have never had a gun incident and the NRA was actually part of the solution.

As they say, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. Today, with their fear tactics, the NRA is no longer part of the solution.

Blogs are Hard

I have written over 70 blogs that I never finished. Most were thoughts that I really wanted to share, but I couldn’t because of my day job. Mind you, I never disagreed with the requirements of my day job, but I will soon retire and no longer be quite so constrained.

Ask any writer if writing is a challenge. If they tell you it’s not, they’re either lying or Stephen King. (Great first name, Mr. King.)

Having over 70 good ideas that I couldn’t publish says something. That’s as many sidelined blogs as years I will celebrate in September. However, soon, I will be able to be more honest.

I hope you don’t hate me if I am honest.

History Rhymes

Maybe you’ve noticed, or perhaps you haven’t, that I am behind in my blogging. I could blame it on Post-Covid Syndrome, which is still wreaking havoc with me. However, the truth is, it’s difficult to write in an environment that is just so nasty.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m seeking wisdom, one source to which I turn includes American Musicals. Even though Tom Lehrer has called them a dead art form that is suitable for academic treatment, I find that they often provide hope.

West Side Story, for example, provides drama, humor, romance, and the inevitable tragic end—after all, it’s a 20th century take on Romeo and Juliet. In the original version, the two gangs, the Sharks and the Jets are squaring off for a fight, but instead of beating the snot out of one another, they break into song and dance, and all to Leonard Bernstein’s music.

But today, I turn to 1776, the musical based on the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. The first musical number introduces John Adams by the rest of the delegates singing, “Sit down, John! [For God’s sake John, sit down!].

John leaves, and sings a plea to the Almighty. The words may be as applicable today as they would have been during the Revolution.

I do believe you’ve laid a curse on
North America
A curse that we here now rehearse in
Philadelphia

A second flood, a simple famine
Plagues of locusts everywhere
Or a cataclysmic earthquake
I’d accept with some despair

But no, you sent us Congress
Good God, sir, was that fair?

Oh, yeah!?!!

We have become a divided and divisive society. No matter what the topic, it seems that at least one side takes their viewpoint as a religious crusade or jihad. The other side, they seem to opine are all degenerate idiots who engage in pagan rituals at the dinner table.

Here’s an example, based on the question “Is Drinking Non-Homogenized Milk Healthier Than Drinking Homogenized Milk?” from Brittanica Procon.org.

Pro – Robert Cohen, Executive Director of the Dairy Education Board, wrote in his article “Homogenized Milk: Rocket Fuel for Cancer,” accessed Nov. 28, 2007 on the Health 101 website:    “Homogenization is the worst thing that dairymen did to milk. Simple proteins rarely survive digestion in a balanced world. . . .”

Con – Laura Paajanen, Division of Nutrition at the University of Helsinki, and Tuula Tuure, Researcher at Vailo Ltd., et al., wrote in their 2003 article, “No Difference in Symptoms During Challenges with Homogenized and Unhomogenized Cow’s Milk in Subjects with Subjective Hypersensitivity to Homogenized Milk,” published in the Journal of Dairy Research.

The term “Rocket Fuel for Cancer” is, of course, a well-known scientific term. It is believed to have been first used in 1676 by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, the scientist who discovered bacteria. Van Leeuwenhoek spent the rest of his life desperately trying to find what “rocket fuel” was.  His search was unsuccessful and he died in debtors’ prison, having spent every penny (or was it pfennig?) on the search

I say, if you want to fight, find something that strikes at the heart. For example, did you know every day of the week is named after a pagan god?

Sunday – Named after Sol, the Roman and Norse god of the sun

Monday – Named in honor of Mani, Norse goddess of the moon

Tuesday – Tiw, the Incan god of single combat

Wednesday – Wodin, also known as Odin, Norse god and father of Thor.

Thursday – Like father like son, Thor, the God of thunder, lighting, and strength

Friday – Frige’s day—Frige was the Norse goddess of love and SEX!!! Did you hear me, SEX! She was known in Rome as Venus.

Saturday – Saturnus, Roman god of plenty, wealth, and agriculture

And just to add fuel to the fire, guess which kind of milk they all preferred????????

Does This Look Odd?

Donald Trump et al. standing in front of a crowd

The Interior Department Inspector General decided that the US Park Police acted appropriately last year when they cleared protesters from Lafayette Park. They cleared the area just before the president was photographed, holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Church.

Here’s the link to the article [LINK].

Whether you agree or disagree, there’s one thing I find confusing about the picture from the article (reproduced above). Notice all armed, uniformed police officers, some wearing riot gear. Did you spot it?

Standard procedure for providing protective services is to always face in the direction of possible threats. If there’s a crowd, face toward the crowd. If the VIP is boarding the plane, don’t watch the VIP go up the stairs–look for threats. In order to head off danger, they must always watch the directions from which a threat may come.

Makes sense.

So why are all of the police facing Trump?