Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas poems


A foot of snow on the ground,
Twinkling lights on houses all ‘round;
Subzero temps appear here to stay,
The sun slinks south, shortening the day.

The evidence is unmistakable,
While the mood is unshakable;
Another Christmas time is finally here,
Time to strive to be of good cheer.

Some may exchange presents,
Others prefer to remain absent…
But one thing remains for sure,
The Christmas message remains pure.

Seasonal music holds us in thrall,
Even if we stay home from the malls;
Time to give the best presents of all,
Love, hope, peace and goodwill for all.


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What will we find in our stockings tomorrow?
Ipods and flatscreens and digicams galore?
How much do gift givers’ credit cards borrow?
We do not have enough gadgets but want more!

Not like the long-passed days of yore,
With wooden toys or fragrant honey cakes,
Storybooks full of charming Victorian lore,
Plum pudding like only our Mother makes.

Still we can imagine the pastoral scenery,
Sleigh bells, pine trees, singing and mirth;
Old St. Nick squirming down the chimney,
To deliver his gifts despite his huge girth.
Chuckling and grateful for the offered snack,
Delivers wishes and magic from his huge sack.

Merry Christmas 2009


Thursday, December 03, 2009

The way I see it


Given the fact that we already have many troops on the ground in Afghanistan, fighting a difficult, dirty campaign against the Taliban,

And given that our generals keep saying that with some more help they can wrap this thing up, and given that Pres. Obama allowed time for extensive debate and input before committing himself, and the nation, to action,

And especially given the statement that “We go in hard, and then get the heck out!”

Therefore, I support the additional troop deployment to Afghanistan. But in a couple of years, if we are sinking deeper and deeper, and they are crying for more and more bodies, I will be singing a very different tune. We have been at this for way too long already. We only have so many bodies to expend on this godforsaken piece of dry rock - may as well be fighting a battle for a piece of Mars or something. It doesn’t make sense, but then a lot of these wars never seem to make sense.

Lets go in and give it one last, big effort. And then, please, for the sake of humanity, let’s get the hell out. While we still have an economy left.

Monday, November 30, 2009

75 billion dollars a year for a war.
19 billion dollars a year for space exploration,

We should reverse those numbers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A real Space Race


Here is something to consider doing. A group of contestants could get together at a point in near-earth space, say perhaps in Geosynchronous Orbit. Then, they race a specially-prepared vehicle to a predetermined point further out. A starting point might be the orbital boundary of the Moon, asy around 240,000 miles out. Later races could go further, of course, maybe even out to the orbit of Mars. Contestants could be nations, coalitions of nations, business groups or nonprofits, whomever wishes to enter. Satellites positioned along the may and at the destination point could determine the winner. Top speed wins the trophy, but there could be other awards as time went on.

This would generate more public excitement over space exploration in general, and give propulsion technology a real boost. With space tourism set to begin soon, this could give any poetntial near-earth guests something to watch, if only over remote monitors. The excitement would be contagious, and would help celebrate humanity's ultimate evolutionary path out into space and off of our beautiful blue cradle.

Want to race, anyone?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Guantanamo North


There is this huge Federal prison sitting there, in Illinois, mostly unoccupied. Our president wants to close the Guantanamo Prison, as he should: it is an embarrasment to us. The obvious choice to me would be to use this sprawling facility in Illinois, which is otherwise going to waste.

Of course you have the usual Republicans wanting to cause problems for the President. These are the same hypocrites who voted to extend Medicare benefits, and now are trying to kill any kind of public-option healthcare. Their mantra seems to be, anything goes for my district, otherwise, no way. But all that aside.

We should move the terrorists and conspirators, all those charged, to the Illinois facility. All the better, to keep closer tabs on them. If need be, keep them locked down 24 x 7 in a cell. At least they are closer at hand. They won’t be a threat if we keep them closely guarded. The other Supermax prison in Colorado has never had an escape.

Then, we can close Guantanamo prison, and close an unfortunate chapter in our history. War is ugly, and the American people were (rightly) out for blood and consequences back on 9/12/2001 . But today is a different day. We can ratchet things down a notch, move the remaining prisoners to Illinois, get these trials over with, and administer final justice. And then move on.

We are a much more alert nation now when it comes to terrorism in general. And the more energy self-sufficient we become, the less involved we need to become altogether in places like the Middle East. This will also reduce our risk exposure to terror plots. Lets do it. Thanks for reading.



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A little ranting about a lot of things...tongue in cheek


It appears that now NASA has decided that China has a good enough space program after all, and the time is ripe for cooperation. That wasn't what I heard a couple short years ago.
Glad that President Obama made his Asian trip. There is nothing wrong with showing respect to Asian leaders, especially when they hold so many of our dollars and bonds. We work best when we work together anyways, right?
Happy Holidays to everyone. I don't care if you believe in Christmas, Kwanzaa, Santa Claus, Kermit the Frog, or whatever. I believe in wishing people Happy Holidays. So, like I said...
Somewhere in the distant past, it was inculcated into Fraternity brats that drinking potentially lethal amounts of alcohol, and forcing your undergrads to do the same, was a mark of distinction and pride. So they poisoned countless kids, and ruined many lives, introducing Alcoholism to the college curricula of the United States of America. We have been suffering ever since. Idiots.
Alternative Energy is finally beginning to take off here in the USA. Wind farms are sprouting up all over, solar is gaining ground, And a variety of electric cars are coming on-line. While Detroit is still hawking way too many large, gas guzzling trucks, at least an equal amount of fuel-efficient vehicles are being made available. Finally, something good. And, the beginning of the next bubble. Better get in on the ground floor of this, could be good.
Now China and the US are putting on the best buddies act, smiling for the cameras and all. I hope we don't do something stupid like bomb another embassy of theirs, screwing it all up again. Never underestimate the human capacity for pulling failure from the seeds of success.
Ex-Pres Carter said he could have destroyed Iran, but did not do so for fear of killing 20,000 Iranians. (did he mean 20,000 US servicemen too?) How nice of him to say so - in 2009;-)
The housing market is taking off again, helped in part by generous tax credits. That is one bubble we don't need to repeat again, thank you very much. I can hear the boys over at Goldman licking their chops and smacking their lips already. the ETF's are launching once again. Look out below - it's more brown stuff from the boys in charge, hitting the working class right in the face - as usual. Thanks for reading.




Monday, November 09, 2009


This is a more serious post, not poetry or fiction
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The Fall of the Wall


It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. So much has happened, though, that it should not be a real surprise. Our own ups and downs. The boom of the Internet and dot-coms, followed by the bust, the Millennium scare-fest, and most significantly, Nine-Eleven and the subsequent war on terror. Now a host of problems beset us. We find ourselves mired in an everlasting war half-a-world away again. Economic troubles have people losing jobs, or frightened of losing them. We are locked in polarizing partisan battles over things like healthcare and gay marriage.

Twenty years ago, events surprised and pleased us. A downtrodden people, sick of an oppressive communist system, revolted. Actually it started even earlier, in Poland, with the Solidarity movement. The Poles revolted, and the tanks did not roll. This seemed to be the beginning of the end for a Communist monolith that had appeared invincible. By the time the wall fell, even in China there were seeds of revolution. The people had spoken, and they chose economic and political freedom over oppression. It was a stunning, good feeling to see these peoples free themselves, and the seemingly mighty Soviet Union accede, and then disintegrate. To me, it seemed like a dream, after living with the spectre of a Communist giant all of my life.

And then when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, the wrong was righted in a swift and stunning way, mostly by American military prowess. It was all amazing to behold at that time. (One of the last vestiges of Soviet power, the T-72 tank, was no match for our Abrams M-1s. We made short work of them, surprising even ourselves.)

Personally, I quickly came back down to Earth. Just making a living preoccupied most of my time and thoughts. Our economic system over here had its problems, and when Bill Clinton got elected in 1992, one of the mantras was, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Meaning, of course, foreign policy triumphs did not put bread on the table back here in the U.S. Life and work ground on. Another recession. Then, the dot-com boom, and everything was fine again for awhile. And et cetera.

Whatever happens now, we must remind ourselves: We faced down an opponent for forty-plus years, and managed to prevail. So our present difficulties can surely be resolved, one way or another. No one religious or political dogma should rule forever. We should never forget nor surrender our freedoms - Freedom of religion, Freedom of assembly in protest, right to bear arms, and all the other rights and responsibilities outlined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. With all of the hassles, problems and difficulties, we are still lucky to live Here in the USA. It is difficult to remember at times (for me, at least), but true nonetheless. Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Headlines


Doctor opens fire on fellow soldiers;
Twelve killed, 31 injured! Police
Tase Pregnant mother, brutally beat
Three defenseless children, maiming
Dismembered bodies found in residence,
Mild-mannered man never suspected!

Accounting irregularities scandal rocks
State shaken by film office scandal,
Political activist charged with embezzling
5.9 Million from her employer. Former
Ottumwa man is witness to Ft. Hood Carnage.

Bank robber foiled foils attempts gets away
Steals car runs over baby charged with default.
Man kills wife kills son kills daughter kills dog
Kills babysitter kills houseguest rapes two or three…
Human winnowing continues effectively. They
Will never catch on; Our mission will be a success.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween in the 21st Century


Where used to roam demons and vampires,
Sprites, ghouls and ghosts of all types;
In former times we feared what might transpire,
If we ventured out on those dark, moonless nights.

Now we board gleaming electronic chariots,
Whizz to and fro like so many minor gods;
Impervious, casting our cellular-signal lariats,
Thrilling to artificial spooks or fake zombie bods.

However larger demons loom just beyond our vision,
Major disruptions foreshadowed by present events;
Wars around the world, dwindling petroleum provisions,
Economic downturn, corrosive corruption hard to prevent.
The things we dread this modern Halloween night,
Different though they be, can still give us a real fright!

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time passes like colored clouds of experience,
Floating steadily overhead, offer a swift glance;
They move onward, leaving incoherence,
It leaves one a bit dazed, left in a trance.

Here we are well into a new century,
Onetime protesting youth now combats
Ailments of advancing years aplenty.
1960’s idealists are now aging into irrelevance…

However the younger vanguards have arrived,
Generation Xers and Yers are taking responsibility;
The wars, shortages and problems they have survived
Induce conservativism to survive economic fragility.
Here is hoping their sense of moral outrage
Will not destroy our freedoms in this new age.
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Monday, October 12, 2009

From Bricks to Chips - some ruminations on high-tech


I recall those not-so-long-ago times, back in 1995 or so. I had a nice desktop Ambra PC, with a 50 mhz 486 processor. Think it had 8 megabytes of RAM memory. 14.4 dial-up modem. The harddrive was not even a gigabyte, I believe around 540 megs. With this I used Windows 3.11 to learn about the intricacies of AOL, the online world, and later, the Internet as it was back then. It all seemed so amazing. Times change, of course.

Today the average cellphone seems to have a processor at least ten times as powerful. For example, the Apple Iphone is said to have a microprocessor running at 660 MHZ. Not to mention a second baseband MP used as a resource by the main. A PC around 1995 vintage usually ran at 50 to 66 MHZ, using I-486 or compatible microprocessors. This makes a handheld device capable of surfing the web, and storing Gigabytes, ten times faster than the desktops common 15 years ago. Not surprising in the microprocessor techie world - they call it Moore’s law. Every time the limits of Moore’s law, or a doubling of capacity every 18 months, is approached, someone comes up with a hack or fix or workaround to keep things moving and shrinking.

In my humble opinion, cellphones are already too small. Too small to store a respectable battery, too small for human fingers to press the keys, too small for a decent-sized antenna. There should be some kind of logical limit for people to use these things. Of course, when someone figures out how to implant the neccesary hardware right into our skulls, things like battery and data entry won’t be a concern. They will run on our bodily currents (millivolts and milliamps) and be voice or thought-activated. Makes me wonder how we will be driving by then. But maybe the cars will drive themselves, or we won’t be driving at all. Fascinating, as Mr. Spock used to say.

It all is a far cry from the days of iron, ink and paper. You remember those days? IBM or Univac punchcards? Continuous forms printer output? The chain-driven behemoths like the IBM 1403 N-1 printer that spat out all those figures and programs and checks? Ah, yes. All that ink from the ribbons. The paper dust from punchcards and forms, and all those hulking iron frames and shapes, some with rapidly spinning tapes and disk platters inside. Another world. In some remote corners, these things are still running, or at least their successors are. Crunching our insurance policies and bank accounts. But the little miracles we chat and text on are a far cry from the old days. Makes me wonder if anyone here in the US will be able to design and build a computer fifty years from now, or they will all be cranked out by some automated factory in Africa. Or maybe someone will implant them directly into our brains. One never knows. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Afghanistan quagmire


So we are considering sending an extra 40,000 troops into the Afghan mess. In my humble opinion, we should think about the relative cost of committing so many more American lives to this. Another brushfire war in another distant country for another police action. Sure, 9/11 happened - that was a long time and a lot of dead foreign fighters ago. It is time to get serious about wrapping this business up once and for all.

The Dollar is plummeting. Our economy is in a shambles. Our people are hurting, our reputation souring. The Afghan and Iraqi occupations remind me a lot of the Japanese in the 1920’s. They occupied large swaths of foreign lands, including the Koreas, Indochina, part of China. By the time the US entered WWII, Japan had been an occupying power for over a decade. Now, it seems, the US is a long-term occupying power in many countries. This has got to end. We cannot support a world army like this without bankrupting ourselves; We seem to be well on our way to doing so. Trillions of debt, and for what? A feeling of “security” ?

Therefore, my suggestion would be this. If all of the hotheads will not be satisfied until we send more troops, then we should follow the “Powell Doctrine” . Send in 80 to 100,000 troops. Blanket the country, root out and kill as many Taliban and Al-Queda as possible. And then leave. Set a target time for six to nine months total. Where to get the troops? From Iraq, of course. They could move from Iraq to Afghanistan and then come home.

We could monitor the situation from our embassy in Kabul, perhaps keeping a very small garrison there after the mass of troops leave (1,000 total). Either follow the Powell Doctrine, overwhelming force, get in and get out. Or just pull out. Either way would be better than this slow, dragged-out Vietnam II.

I can see bankrupting the country if we are truly threatened. But we have severely crippled both the Taliban and Al-Queda. There is no need to keep dragging this out. I think we have made our point. Time for one last push, and then lets get the hell out. And soon!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

[first in a series of Janitorial postings and musings]

Cafeteria Trash


Sometime in 2006: On a typical afternoon, I go and fetch a large, wheeled cart with an angled front end, almost like a plastic dumpster on wheels. Time to get the cafeteria trash, including the kitchen barrels. I go into the kitchen first, and they have a large pile of boxes. So I break down the boxes, flattening them, and putting them in the bottom of the cart. After that, I begin emptying the large trash containers. One bag is so full, mostly of liquids, that it is all I can do to pull it out, and lift it onto the growing pile in the cart. Why do they fill it so full? I hear muted, sarcastic comments from the kitchen workers. Ignoring them, I get the rest of the trash, put new liners in the barrels, and then move on. Next stop - the cafeteria containers. I empty the two smaller ones by the vending machines. Then, I check the ones inside the wood-grain receptacles. Soon, my cart is full over the top.

Ignoring stares, and trying to dodge people, stay out of their way. I maneuver my stinking load of trash back to the freight elevator, to empty it all into the basement dumpsters. Soon, I get it emptied. Just in time for quitting time. Ending another humbling day taking care of the refuse of others.

The thoughts tumbled in my head, and I mostly ignored them. Why am I doing this? How did I get here? How can I escape it? I try and tell myself, I’m lucky to have a job, especially a day job. It has benefits. Centrally located downtown. I put myself here, so I might as well get used to it. and, occasionally, some real resentment. That sanctimonious little bitch (referring to one of several women who can really irritate me).. She has no idea what I go through. I would like to at the very least least hurt her bad. But I know I won’t do this, the cost is too great. Besides, it could be worse. So I go home and forget the bad parts, glad it is over. And then go to bed, get up and do it all over again. It is what it is.


(I'll intersperse these with other writes to keep things moving along)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Every day when I go to work, I wonder what will happen. Will my customers be happy? Will they all be angry, so I have to creep around like a mouse and try not to offend anyone?

Will there be a crisis so that I must drop what I am doing, and rush over to a different building and mop up a water spill, or even urine or vomit? Every day I go into my job as a Day Porter, and risk the unknowable happening. Most days things turn out just peachy. Once in awhile, things really turn to crap.

Of course, that is why I have a steady paycheck, and some benefits and perks.

But up until now I've refrained from writing much about my work in blogs or stories or poetry. Until today. I realized that I was passing up a rich lode of material. So now, it is time to "tear down that wall" in the words of a famous president. To let loose the words of war on dirt and dust. Reveal the deepest intricacies of lifting a over-filled trash bag out of a Brute barrel that is reluctant to release it. Show and tell the best way to mop a floor. (Use your wrists and arms; it is easier on your back.) Tell the inner feelings of that cleaning beast that plods along through all your offices.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Just joking. But you may be surprised how mundane and boring some of those thoughts are. Some of them anyways. More on this in the days and weeks ahead. As always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Atomic/molecular assembly of habitats - one layman's idea.


Up until now, we have gotten our natural resources, and materials we use for day-to-day living, from our surroundings. We pump crude out of the ground, and refine and purify it. We modify it to a thousand uses, including powering our cars. We grow food crops, and process the resulting plant matter into foods and various other products, like sugar and ethanol. We breed cattle, and use every part of the slaughtered animals, including hooves and horns, to produce things like fertilizer, vitamins, and pharmaceuticals. To sum up, we have become extremely clever at modifying nature’s bounty to give ourselves a high standard of living.

Perhaps now, at this apex of our development, it is time to consider taking the next step. That is, the step of figuring out how to reduce common materials to the basic atomic structure, either by incineration or by some other means. And then, to synthesize new materials out of the building blocks of atoms and molecules. If such a method could be discovered, entire habitats could be constructed out of these basic building blocks.

This would make the colonization of space a relatively simple matter. Simply harness the energy of the sun to create a giant furnace or whatever. Utilize large quantities of space rocks and dust, and manufacture whatever one needs in the way of habitats. This is the way to go, for sure.

There are news articles out about carbon-derived materials like Fullerene and Graphene. These offer new possibilities for storing and transmitting data and energy. So we have the technical sophistication to create some of these marvelous new materials. OK. So, what about creating common materials out of unrelated items, such as rock and dust, by first reducing the chaff or garbage to a stream of atoms, and then reassembling them? Certain atoms are lighter than others. Helium is lighter than oxygen, which is lighter than gold, and etc. So first one would have to send out a stream of pure atoms. And then derive a way to sort down the atoms according to weight. If several different atoms are fired out of some imaginary nozzle, the lighter ones would seem to travel further than the heavier ones. It seems a fairly simple matter to “sort” atoms.

With all of our giant linear accelerators and atom-smashers, it seems logical. Instead of colliding atoms to derive their inner secrets, how about if someone took the time to find out how to sort differing atoms by weight, size, and or electric charge? And therefore, advanced the cause of assembly of our raw materials of living out of nothing but atoms. The implication is huge. We could theoretically move into space, and live on any kinds of materials we find around us.

If we can decode the human genome, land on the Moon, and do a host of other amazing things, then we can figure out how to sort atoms and molecules. Sort them, accumulate them, and build anything we want out of anything there is. The possibility is enticing, and certainly worthy of study, in my humble opinion.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Something amazing is happening here. A wonderful viral infection called "Peace" is spreading over the land. With the Obama administration having the guts and foresight to scrap a stupid plan to site ten interceptor missiles in Poland, a top Russian general has said that they will also scrap a plan to site some missiles near Poland on their side of the fence.

See what happens when one offers an olive branch instead of a sword-point! I don't know nor do I care about all of the given reasons for scrapping the missile plan. Plain and simple, when one offers a peaceful concession within reason, it can really work wonders. The warmongering critics in congress can get on some battle fatigues and go over to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban if they don't approve.

Thank you, President Obama, for ratcheting world tensions down a major notch! Well done.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hidden Iowa Jewel


Trudging and trampling along grassy pathway,
I see the telltale sign: Ring of trees shielding
Something very special indeed. About
A mile long and a mile wide…

A hidden jewel of a lake!
Calm surface reflecting riots of color,
Fall grasses turning purplish sienna;
Leaves coloring across rows of trees,
All standing guard against any wayward
Farmer careless enough to till these fields.

Stand and observe it, a voice tells me:
Take it all in! The colors, the calmness
Of the waters, broken only by minute
Creatures within. Some larger fish
Break the water occasionally,
Perhaps chasing the small shadows,
Tadpoles dart to and fro underwater.

I inhale it’s essences, then finally move on.
This lake is too precious to be disturbed by anyone.



Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Space program is going to run out of steam, it appears. This would be a shame. Even though we need to cut the federal budget deficit somehow, eliminating our human-crewed space program is not the way to do it. It is an easy target, because the benefits are not readily apparent, and opponents howl about supposed cost excesses. But there is more here than meets the eye.

We have a huge investment in the International Space Station. We need to, at the very least, continue to tend this complex. Promises have been made to many international partners. We should not just break them. Do we just throw away $100 billion? Not a good idea. Our prestige and leadership are on the line.

Up until now, we have managed to maintain a technically advanced space program, even discovering something new on occasion, such as ways to combat body mass atrophy while in orbit for lengthy stays. (Of course, our unmanned probes also return a lot of good information.) If we abandon our Shuttle and any other human-crewed initiatives, we are abandoning one of the last things we excel at as a nation. In my opinion, this will lower our image even further internationally, and possibly contribute to a further drop in the value of a dollar. We could be seen as a shortsighted second-rate country, only concerned with needs right in front of our nose, nothing further out. It would be better to keep funding a modest human-crewed presence if only to forestall the loss in image, and concurrent real loss in potential outcomes economically or even militarily.

Speaking of which. Our military budget is many, many times what NASA takes. We have troops deployed around the globe. Since when do we have to control every little brushfire around the world. Might we not cut back on this a little, and apply the funds to a peaceful, world-inspiring endeavor like an international mission to Mars? This would be money spent on international cooperation, and the advancement of peaceful uses of science. Money invested in the betterment of humanity, instead of the destruction of same. Any sane person can surely see the logic in this.

Another value the Space Program has is inspiration of the citizenry. It is awe-inspiring and hope-engendering to see us participating in the human movement out into the Solar System and beyond. I don't care if it was started by a prior, Republican administration. It is an inspiration to the human race. To cut it out in favor of a short-sighted political gain would be the utmost foolishness.

Our young people deserve better things to look forward to than endless warfare with terrorists, and scratching for a living. At least give them the twinkling of a chance at reaching the stars. It is the least we can do for the future of our race, no matter how miserable we are in the present time.

Please support a human-crewed space program. Your kids or nices/nephews may thank you for it one day. If not, their children surely will. Thanks for reading.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Downtrodden Peoples


Whether it be blacks in the US
Reduced to slavery, then virtual servitude;
A century-long struggle towards civil rights
Inner city hardened, cruelty to each other --
Eventually a final integration of sorts...

Or, native Americans herded into reservations,
Institutions for reprogramming with a new culture.
Drinking, lethargy, no motivation, no hope...

Or, Indian lower-caste slumdogs, untouchables,
Reduced to a life of crime, servitude, considered
lower life forms by those "above" them


Or any one of a number of other downtrodden cultures,
Going back to the enslavement of Jews by Egyptians in
Ancient times, and beyond.

We are so good at making victims of a portion of humanity!
All in the name of profit. The benefits of this are
slim and none; perhaps we should strive for a final
Integration of all disadvantaged groups of people.
The Human Race would shed an ugly carapace,
Reach a new level of enlightenment enhancing all.
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Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Good news


President Obama and some of the positive things he has done.

. Most recently, he hosted the ‘beer summit’ with the police officer and professor. This demonstrated to me creative thinking and a way to strike a common chord, to sit down and discuss differences with people. This is not your fathers stodgy presidency, but a contemporary and dynamic one.

- He promoted a cash rebate program that directly helped out poor working people, enabling many to trade in their old wrecks and get into a new vehicle. A direct benefit to the American people, as well as a stimulus to the auto companies.

- Health care reform. Nearly everyone with a major disease has been through the nightmare of getting treatments approved (and often rejected) by the big insurance companies. Nearly every other major civilized country in the world, including most of Europe, have adopted some kind of government healthcare. Their citizens are healthier, and their life expectancy is better than ours. We already are given care on the basis of wealth only, and are worse off for this. It has got to change. Obama is showing the courage to confront this growing problem. Most other politicians have ducked the issue, as they do any difficult, complex issue. Sound bites are easier than dealing with reality. Pres. Obama is confronting reality.

- The Space Program. Obama has designated a commission to get feedback from people for and against it, to honor the wishes and desires of the American people. Like it or not, he has thrown it all open for public discussion.

- Energy and the enviornment. The Obama administration has shown much more enthusiasm , backed up by federal dollars, to support deployment of alternative energy technologies, from Ethanol to Wind to Solar and Geothermal. The EERE/DOE alone has seen huge funding increases, and the USDA also for their farm-oriented alternative energy programs. This will help make the US more militarily and financially secure, as well as help the environment. All Bush ever seemed to do was help his buddies in the oil industry.

- International relations. He offered to “hit the reset button” on Russian-American relations, and in one stroke lessened intertantional tensions. More creative problem-solving there. He has improved America’s image around the world. Now we are seen not as a rogue, cowboy nation but once again as a mature, civilized nation prepared to honor international commitments.

I could go on, but the main point is this: While the fringe elements rant and rave about origins of birth and so on, this mainstream President is out there doing the heavy lifting, fighting the good fight, and improving things for this country and for the entire world. I say to hell with the liars and troublemakers: I support my president 110%. Thanks for reading.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This contains no sex or violence


Just watering the flowers in the yard,
Pulling weeds left and right, nursing
A bee sting on my right knuckle,
What I get for flooding their nest.

My cat grooms herself for the 57th
Time today, as I rest my tired
Calves and knees, recently worn
From my latest gardening bout.

Nearby, kids shriek meaningless
Noises, a dog barks, a train clanks.
Hum of air conditioners. Silence.
Indoors, everyone is having supper,
Or preparing to, or finishing up.

Typical weekday evening.
Their bedroom dramas remain
Hidden, so any sex or violence
Will be left to speculation. For
Me, this night and write are tame.
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(hope your night is more exciting than this)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dirty minded?




Perhaps while at work,
Or socializing among relatives;
Maybe at my favored house of worship,
Probably while doing my grocery shopping.
Most times it is apropos to keep my thoughts
Clean and pristine, definitely out of the gutter.

However;
Once or twice a year I have to clean them out!
The gutters, that is. And try as I might, I just
Cannot keep my mind out of the gutter then.
It is the one time in life it seems allowable
(While my hands scoop out sticks and detrius)
Well, maybe besides learning to bowl.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Support our troops - one hypothetical story


“My name is Sgt Smith. I have seen more excitement in my twenty-five years than many will probably see in a lifetime. I’ve just returned from a tour in Afganistan, after also serving two tours in Iraq. I joined the Army Reserves thinking it would be a good way to pay for college. But after all of this grief, I think I would have rather borrowed the money instead.

Don’t get me wrong. It was an honor to serve my country, to help my fellow soldiers, to train inexperienced youth and make them soldiers, even as I made myself a better soldier; to save their lives on occasion. It is a good feeling to make a country civilized and democratic, even if our values are so different than theirs. I’m sure if there is some kind of cosmic scale, it has to be tilted in favor of the good we have achieved in Iraq and Afganistan.

But I have been cursed, spit on, shot at or even bombed by many of these same citizens in both countries. I have been led to question the wisdom of these extended duty tours internally. Are they really better off adopting a system that many of them neither want nor, apparently, need? Were they not happier before we showed up to muddy the waters? It is too late for such questions. We are here, and we must get them walking on their own again before we withdraw.

But I am one man, and, until recently, property of the US government. I had to follow orders and execute policies handed down by my superiors. I have done so, to the best of my abilities. And now, here I am, home again . Back on American streets. Some are grateful, many indifferent. I am still wound up, nervous, full of nightmarish images from a thousand firefights. I need support, a job, patience, medical assistance, counseling. A strong helping hand from my fellow service members would also be a substantial help. I need your support. Won’t you lend me your hand and your heart? Thanks. Formidable as I may seem, I am still human, and value a caring soul as much as anyone.”

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The above is an imagined internal dialogue. I am not a soldier, have never served. But it occurred to me today that these men and women are facing a group of angry, skilled killers that are set on killing as many Americans as they can. The only thing standing between the group that would make a group of cons in the penitentiary look tame by comparison, and you and I, are our military forces. Soldiers that are barely 21 in many cases. They must face angry foreigners who want to kill them, and us. And go out and face them day after day. This is a sobering thought. We owe these young men and women gratitude and support. They certainly have mine.

Sequined glove waves goodbye


No thirty-stop world tour this fall,
No more hectic public appearances;
Multitudes of fans still in thrall
Obtained their wristband clearances.

They will throng the Staples Center,
Paying mournful last respects
To their musical emotional mentor.
(In finality death collects all debts.)

One bright happenstance of all this grief?
Media spotlight shifted from odd behaviors
Of the artist to his legacy, to fans relief.
Bequest of songs his reputations’ savior
In the end his creations will move through time,
Long after critics reputations and lives unwind.

Good-bye Michael Jackson.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Appearances


I shut the vacuum cleaner off, coil the cord,
All wrapped up, my periodic cleaning done;
Now set for more noise and discord,
Upcoming week full of work and fun.

Dishes and counter, floor and stove,
Trash has been emptied, dusting complete;
Front room detrius removed, I strove
To stack books and papers nice and neat.

Come Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday too,
Gradual confusion and chaos will take hold;
Good efforts undone by my bachelors' zoo,
Lifestyle and friends, fresh dramas to unfold.
Even though I live free of much responsibility,
Still struggle to maintain a patina of respectability.



(c) 2009 Michael S. Wilson

Monday, June 01, 2009

Government Motors

Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC,
The new GM is coming to town;
Will it work? Remains to be seen,
Will their sales go up? Unemployment go down?

From eight brands to four the new design,
Getting back to basics, starting a new chapter.
Twentieth-century business failure to resign,
Replaced by lean new automotive predator.

Optimism aside, market realities rule the day.
While the giant struggles to reinvent its brands,
Nimble competitors grab market share, hold sway...
Like Custer, this could be General Motors' last stand!
Hope is that taxpayer billions, union concessions will finally
Turn around this Titanic, despite the warning signs in reality.


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I really hope they do suceed, but we shall see.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

WAR POETRY


Humvee jounces along dusty desert roads,
Coating soldiers with granular fury;
Radio static punctuates dry shimmering air,
Humming emanates from an Ipod.

What will disturb the scene this time?
Nondescript roadside bulk lighting up the day?
Mortar rounds thudding the ground all around?
Perhaps a rocket or two exploding nearby?
Or simply small arms automatic weapons fire,
Peppering their vehicle and their bodies.

Hapless survivors call in air strikes,
More Afghan civilians get killed.
The macabre, gruesome show just goes on.

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Memorial Day Wishes


I remember him as a precocious 13-year old,
Building rabbit traps outdoors,
Planning a trip to Outer Space,
Perfecting the art of computer hacks,
Dominating on the soccer team.

How soon he became a soldier,
Living in Alaska, duty time spent
Shivering in the arctic cold.
Another leap forward, now
He is in Afghanistan,
Doing only God knows what.

Memories of youthful grin and cheerful demeanor,
And a wish I don't see him come home in a bag.


'nuff said.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Hundred Days


One hundred days is roughly three and a third months,
Time enough for diet and exercise, losing around 20 LBS.

Time to start and finish a small novel, or screenplay.
Time to write 100 poems. Or more, if so inclined.

Time to travel across the continental US on horseback.
Time to sail to Europe and back, on a sailboat.

Time to reach the Moon and back, several times over.
Time to make it halfway to Mars, at closest approach.

Time for an ambitious new president to set in motion
Many changes and programs, trying to nudge History
Enough to save the United States of America from ruin.


(prompted by a poetry contest on 100 days).

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Neurocannular implants


Someone should try and experiment with direct, brain-to-computer interfaces. I understand the Japanese are doing some work in this area. But today I was thinking about the possibility of inserting thin probes into different regions of an animal (or human) brain, and simply listening, seeing if there is any kind of attempt at synchronization, or just what kind of things are percieved by the human, and the computer involved. Experiments could be done with perception of signals of various sorts, including numbers and calculations. This could lead to some amazing advances in medicine. Paraplegics could more easily control their wheelchairs and so forth.

Perhpas volunteers could be found, and every precaution taken to keep the tests safe and comfortable. The resulting knowledge could bring about a lot of benefits. Just musing here.
DON’T ARREST ME FOR THIS

Some people fondle children;
That is gross, to say the least.
Some people make kids fondle them…
That is downright pathetic.

Some people take kids clothing off,
Photographing them in the nude.
That is terrible.
Some people force the kids to have sex,
That is despicable.

Yet some teenagers experiment with each other,
Discovering their new-found sexuality.
And that, in my opinion, is okay.
Things as they should be,
Part of growing up.
End the hysteria.
Just one opinion.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sameness

Gloomy overcast sky moves in,
Dimming down the color of nature;
grass, weeds, tree bark, vines,
Blend into sameness on a cool grey day.

Trudging on sand, the same color as dirt,
Avoiding stumps and trunks camoflauged
By gloom, my feet and ankles still find some
They eyes had missed spotting, too late.

Time spent communing with nature,
Finally abandoned for comforts of home,
While it was good to get fresh air, perhaps
It is best to await warmer weather.
A bold move to seek out natures nurture,
Dulled by weather, may be better later on.


It was a good day for a walk, after a big Easter meal.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Data storage media concerns.

Concern has been voiced lately about the fact that media of all kinds degrades after ten or twenty years, and thus the information is lost. This is a matter of some concern. However, it should be noted that the Internet itself is a data storage medium. One that changes over the years as new methods of storage are attached, and old ones drop off.
For instance, when the Internet first gained its legs, there were only mainframes, using cards, tape drives and large, fixed-head and removable disk drives. As the Internet grew, smaller computers, servers and terminals were attached and connected. The connections themselves have gone from copper T-1 lines and such to multimode fibers carrying OC-192 and larger capacities.

Thus, the Internet has become a thing that improves, enhances itself over time. It seems to be in the economic interests of most everyone connected to "keep it alive and growing".
One essential component of any large network, or network of networks, is some kind of cache capability. If only to store tables of IP numbers, or DNS names on routers. And, as long as some interested parties continue posting articles to ask.com or Wikipedia or any one of a multitude of blogs, there will exist a sea of information, electronically stored on whatever future storage devices exist. As long as the Internet exists, an ocean of information will be there to accompany it!

So, we may lose bits and pieces here and there, but we should be able to hold onto most valuable recorded knowledge, even as we keep expanding it. As long as we keep the Internet alive.

As for the artistic paper artwork, books, that sort of thing, we will either have to seal it away, or risk eventual degredation. Just an opinion, albeit optimistic. Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The new rebellion of youth.


The young of today, including some now in middle school, will have a new mantra to chant, a new call to action, a new rallying cry. While the youth of the last fifty years have indulged themselves in chemical adventures and intoxications, the youth of today and the near-future will have an even stronger pull.

Like the young in a previous century, they will want to escape the common drudgery of the usual. They will want to go where adventure and excitement await, as well as a possible chance to stake their own claim. They will want to go into space.

The sheer vastness of resources in our Solar system alone is staggering. Thousands of multi-ton asteroids and comets. Entire moons orbiting Saturn, Neptune, Uranus. Objects lying beyond the orbit of Pluto, some as yet undiscovered. All awaiting an individual or group bold, daring enough to claim them. More and more nations are lining up to join the ranks of astronaut-launchers. Technology is continuing its slow but inexorable progress. It will not be long before we have routine, cheap access to low Earth Orbit and beyond. And then the young will be itching to go, to get away from the common, peas-and-mashed-potatoes existence of Earth, and move out there to the greater beyond.

And, since there will always be cost constraints to space development – the luddites are persistent and vocal – robotics will play a very important role in all of this. Autonomous activity by robotic-type vehicles has already been validated by the Mars rovers, and the distant science probes like Cassini and New Horizons. A few more improvements, and we can have task groups of robots constructing living habitats on a number of moons and asteroids. The young will insist, indeed, demand it. It is time to move on and move outward.

And then the real boom will begin. An economic expansion that will make every other one up until now pale into insignificance. The only question is, will we (in the US) join the party, or will we be left behind? So far, we have kept in the Space game. Here is hoping that we stay in it in a major way. Or risk having our youth going overseas to hitch a ride to the stars. In much the same way that space tourists must hitch a ride on a Soyuz to go to the ISS. Something to think about, anyways.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

1040 online

Dreaded time to do my taxes again,
Keep putting it off, it looms ever larger
Now the day of reckoning can begin,
Finishing early seems ever smarter.
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Online website promises ease,
I log on and delve into the morass;
Itemized deductions, if you please,
Give me bigger refunds at last.
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Once I plant myself and attack the task,
Large, looming beast cut down to size;
Finish federal and state 1040s at last,
View figures displayed: My refund surprise!
Every year we are faced with this chore,
What a pleasant treat to get back more.
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Sonnet on that dreaded time of year (or not, if you get a nice refund!)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The 70's no more


The other day at work I was pondering and ruminating on what the 1970's were like. Having seen an article somewhere about the differences between then and now added to my thoughts. Life as a common civilian, working person. We did not have CD's. I had a secondhand black and white TV in my apartment. No cable, although cable was available at the time. No personal computer. Those were for hobbyists who could write their own programs, sometimes in assembler language using toggle switches. TRS-80's had not progressed much. I had a gas-guzzler, boxy old dodge. Power, sure. Efficient, no way. No CD player, no cassette player. AM radio only. Since I did not know any different, it was not an issue for me.

But with all of the advances we have made since then, perhaps it is time to pause our ceaseless drumbeat of gloom-and-doom panic and layoffs and cutbacks. What is wrong with us? We are the most pampered civilization on Earth in many ways. We multitask out of necessity, since we are trying to use and enjoy our multitudinous entertainment outlets, trying to get it all in. Our cell phones, PDA's I pods and Ithis and I-thats. We have so much available to us on the Internet it is staggering, especially compared to what we had before. There was no Google. We had to go find a book to look things up, or ask someone, or travel to the library. The way we used to live was almost like another epoch. Everything was an order of magnitude slower. Compared to 1979, we are really in the fast lane, on another level.

Information, entertainment and communications are at our fingertips in a way that might have been forecast, but still not entirely imagined back then. Life seemed slower back then because it was. I did not have to go through an hour of emails every day at home to keep up. I didn't have to finish up DVDs so they could be returned to friends or my online movie service. I didn't have to fumble with CD's in the car, because all I had was AM radio, and lucky to have that.

So here we are, in this speeded-up infoverse, enjoying entertainment options galore. Trouble is, many of us work in these industries, and many of us are leveraged up to the hilt. There are flaws in the information economic model, where we all work in information industries. Too much is being produced overseas. Not sure of the answer here, except that we need to bring more production back here, and workers must do their part, too, by working.

As workers and business owners and managers, all of us. Panic is not the way to go. Obviously our economy is retrenching because of the real estate debacle. But it seems to me we should take heart. We have come a long way here in the USA. Our wind energy production is soaring. We are producing ethanol. Other energy alternatives are coming online. We are not beholden to the Middle East for all of our oil, we buy a lot from Canada. Things are changing, and they are improving. The stimulus bill will help, especially as it funds things like high-speed rail lines, upgrading government buildings for energy efficiency, and more funding for solar power projects. Our mommas and daddies did not raise fools here. We are getting a clue.

We can trudge through some sludge, and then get going and get rolling. We are Americans, we have been through adversity before. We'll get through this, and be even stronger for it all. My feeling anyway, FWIW.
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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Public Pique


The news reports on rising public pique,
Resentment and anger over excessive salaries;
An impoverished public determined to seek
Answers to the continuing income disparities.

Laid-off workers are sick and tired of excuses,
While pampered executives party and play;
Time to demand an explanation for the abuses,
Accountability and punishment without delay.

The politicians and bosses will not get the message,
Until enough of us join our voices together;
They need to stop taking, start repairing wreckage
Of this economy, under assault seemingly forever.


Until top management lowers their reality screens,
Sees the cumulative effect of decades of excess,
We will never be able to restore our economic sheen,
Enable all the built-in inequities to be addressed.

President Obama made a good beginning,
Applying limits to executive compensation;
The poor and laid-off deserve to start winning
Justice and equality via official dispensation.

For too long now, the elite have lived apart,
Moving in circles unaffected by the economy
They have savaged. Maybe we can all start
To bring about more responsibility, even equality!


(Prompted by an article in the Des Moines Register).

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Links to my two books of poetry and short stories:

Falling Leaves, Rising Heat:

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

From my Backyard to the Edge of the Galaxy:



Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Thank you for taking a look at these!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Clerihews

Clerihew - four-line humorous verses, named after the 19th century poet who invented the form. Below are some whimsical lines - enjoy.

Ex-pres George W. Bush,
Helicopter left with a whoosh,
Many people said, "Good riddance!"
Left our economy with a pittance.

Barak Obama just elected,
Planning for statues to be erected,
Sure hope this one, humble man
Can come up with a good plan.
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Frisky cat paces floor yowling,
Bored with her small space for prowling;
So I open the kitchen door,
Push her outside, my ears ache no more.
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India love story sweeps the big screen,
Pretty soon everyone has seen
Two young, starry-eyed lovers,
Everywhere but under the covers!
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Cold temps permeate my house and my body,
Over coats, space heaters and perhaps a hot toddy,
Something has to succeed in keeping me warm,
So I can keep putting out verse in good form.
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Thank you for reading these clerihew today,
Hopefully they brought good cheer to your day.
For sure we will all hear tomorrow,
Of the trillions our treasury will borrow!
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Peace and out.

Friday, January 16, 2009

US Airways flight 1549

155 people were fortunate the other day,
Escaping disaster, and landing on a river;
Bird strikes nearly put them all in graves.
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Flight 1549 was only minutes underway,
Outdoor temps enough to make them shiver;
155 people were fortunate the other day.
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A sudden disaster caused unforseen delay,
Pilot Sullenberger reacted without a quiver;
Bird strikes nearly put them all in graves.
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Splashdown in the Hudson, a daring display,
A safe landing "Sully" did ultimately deliver;
155 people were fortunate the other day.
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Collecting themselves, passengers began to pray,
One hard bump, then they were in the river;
Bird strikes nearly put them all in graves.
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Missed a bridge narrowly as the plane fell away,
In more ways than one, water is a life giver;
155 people were fortunate the other day,
Bird strikes nearly put them all in graves.
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A villanelle on the plane crash and miraculous landing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Income Redistribution
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The Buffets and Gates and Soros' too,
All feeding massive cash to countries overseas;
Billionaires taking US consumers loot,
Redistributing it to a world not appeased.
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This has gone on for decades unrestrained,
Moving wealth created here to poor peoples;
Funding development of lands untamed,
Dictators and warlords looting their people.
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Time to stop the fleecing of Americans here,
End the practice of moving money overseas;
To me it has become increasingly clear,
Grinding poverty is US consumers' new disease.
Give our money back to us, who gave it to you,
Give us our country, our future, hope itself too.
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(Sonnet on the new reality in America).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Time to lose the resentment?
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So used to sulking angrily around,
Oppressed by that Republican presidency;
Frustrations, grudges and worries abound,
Because you-know-who had residency.
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Blaming was easy for eight whole years,
No matter what, it must be George's fault!
Opposition party kept stoking our fears,
Wall street SOB's kept filling their vaults.
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But now a new day is a'dawning,
Democratic administration has arrived.
Unlock our faces from perpetual frowning,
Optimism should be more than contrived.
Now it is our turn to shoulder the responsibilities,
Tackle problems with agility, avoid fanatic proclivities

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