Saturday, August 30, 2008

Politics is amazing. It’s much like the entertainment business. Obama’a performance on the last night of the convention was like a giant half-time show at the Super Bowl. McCain is right, Obam is like a rock star. I was also reminded of a Billy Graham Crusade. All we needed was for folks to come forward at the end of his sermon. It was a good speech and he had a great message. It remains to be seen as to how much he can really do after being elected. Following him is a lot like a religious conversion. Folks are all heated up at the time of the revival but often fall back to their old ways after the emotions have cooled.

The latest big news was John McCain’s choice for Vice-President. Hardly anyone has heard of Sarah Palin. I thought Obama was inexperienced but Palin takes the prize. She has been governor of Alaska since 2006 and prior to this she was mayor of a small town in Alaska. It’s real shaky picking someone with that background to back a 72-year-old man as leader of the world’s greatest power. Just think, she is a heartbeat away from the presidency. I’m sure she was picked in hopes of getting Hillary’s followers. The state of Alaska has about as much political clout as Salado. I wonder if she can even pronounce the name of Iran’s president. The possibility of having her in the oval office is scary. Her main qualification is that she was president of PTA. That should give her all the experience necessary for dealing with Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and the like. She is also the mother of five children and one is a Downs Syndrome. Maybe she will have at least 30 minutes a day for the job of Vice-President or President after bedtime stories and prayers.

McCain should have picked one of the girls on the Chinese gymnastic team. They already possess one of the greatest attributes of a politician; they can lie. Obama says he is going to cut taxes for 95% of Americans. Do we really believe that? It’s really hard for me to have confidence in anyone.

There is still nobody to represent me. I’m thinking of starting my own country on the porch. I have two daughters-in-law who have had extensive experience in the PTA and have served as presidents of the organization. One has even been a Cub Scout den mother. My daughter has been the leader of a Girl Scout troop for several years and should, at least, be Secretary of State. My partner will also qualify for an important position since she was a Cub Scout leader and secretary of the PTA when our children were in school. My partner could even qualify to be dictator since she has had absolute authority in our family for years. We are ready and qualified to take over and handle such problems as the economy, the war on terrorism, global warming and the energy crisis. We can put a lot of people to work just doing yard work and cleaning the house. The first thing we plan to do as a country is apply for aid from the USA. The new administration of that country should be willing to hand out the money they will have from taxing the rich. We should be in pretty good shape for a big loan and don’t even have to worry about paying it back. We may be lucky and even have Jimmy Carter bring a big truck-load of money to the house. I will even allow him to speak on the front porch since they didn’t permit him to say anything at the Democratic National Convention. All of this is going to be great and a lot of fun. We don’t even have to worry about our leaders not having a Harvard MBA or Law Degree to run our little country on the porch. The PTA is great training experience. We can even train our army by having them shot the deer.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Olympics are about over and China has won more Gold Medals than the US. Overall the US has the most medals counting gold, silver and bronze. Russian is in third place and I suspect they invaded Georgia because they were hacked off and wanted to get world attention for something.

Michael Phelps was the hero of the Olympics with winning 8 Gold Medals. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt was also a hero and is now the fastest man in the world. I was happy that our basketball team claimed the gold. The most controversial win was by the Chinese baby gymnastic team. You are supposed to be 16 to compete in the Olympics but these girls looked like they are just out of diapers. Age is a difficult thing to determine. Some of our Hollywood stars who were performing in the 40s and 50s are still 39 years of age. It may be required to get an X-Ray of the hands and wrist to evaluate the bone age before an athlete can qualify for the Olympics.

One of the interesting things about the Gold Medal is that it isn’t made of solid gold. It’s just gold plated. Since they were issued in China it may be they are only a piece of tin painted with a cheap gold paint containing lead. I hope none of the Chinese baby winners put the medal in their mouth, as babies are prone to do; they may develop lead poisoning.

One of the only true gold medals is the US Congressional Medal, which is the highest civilian medal and is issued by the President. A lot of famous Americans have received this medal. The Nobel Prize is a solid gold medal plus the money. The Congressional Medal of Honor for a military accomplishment is not solid gold. It really doesn’t matter that the medal is not made of solid gold. It’s just the idea of being first. In Michael Phelp’s case, those 8 gold medals will translate into several million dollars, so it doesn’t matter what they are made of. In some of the countries the medals may be traded for food.

With the conclusion of the Olympics, the TV on the porch will be off for a while. I don’t think I can stand to watch the political conventions for the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The chief of police in Belton announced his retirement this week. I think the city manger and other officials in Belton should go to Beijing to recruit a new police chief and additional patrolman. The officers in China should be familiar with the strong-arm tactics now being used in Belton. The recent uprising related to Tibet and the experience in handling the Olympics should have provided the Chinese recruits good training for the job in Belton.

Pictured above is a couple of Chinese cops giving a signal to turn right or is it left. It actually means full speed straight ahead. That is another way of reducing their overpopulation problem. There are many others just waiting in line to get a job as a cop or anything else. The greatest job opportunity in China is now as a painter in a toy factor. These folks are in high demand to apply poisonous paint to toys being shipped to the US.

It’s a good time for the Belton officials to visit Beijing. They can take in the Olympics. There is really not much to see other than the Great Wall and the Panda bears because everything else is mask by the thick smog in that country. Pictured above is a member of the Chinese Olympic swim team. Age is no problem with their athletes. Some of the best members of their gymnastics team are toddlers and boy can they tumble and handle themselves on the bars. While in China the Belton folks can also pick up a car load of infant girls for adoption to save them from execution by the government.

China is a great country. They are becoming the world power to contend with. They now own most of the banks in the US and could shut us down in a moments notice. I think Russia is really jealous of China and the US. Russia is now in third place with the Olympic medals so they have flexed their muscle by invading Georgia. It’s like beating their chest and letting out a big yell from the Russian bear. All this international politics is interesting. It makes about as much sense as the stock market.

My partner and I frequently have our meals on the porch. Tonight I think we will eat a bowl of rice on the porch to celebrate China’s emerging dominance with everything in the world. I just noticed that the dishes we will be using for our meal have “Made In China” stamped on the bottom. Just hope they are not covered with a lethal dose of lead.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My recent blog about the Belton Police was perhaps a bit hard on these public servants, but it’s tough to forgive them for letting my poor demented neighbor go when he was stopped for a minor traffic violation. They had been alerted to his disappearance several hours before, and had a complete description of him and his vehicle. The poor confused man could have driven off the road in some remote place and died. We were all lucky.

The police have a tough job except, perhaps, for the one in my small hometown when I was a kid. We only had one policeman. I’m not sure he ever arrested anyone and I don’t recall him even turning the siren on in his patrol car. He did have a uniform and carried a gun. He drove around in the car, and that was probably enough of a deterrent to make everyone behave. The sheriff and a couple of his deputies did most of the tough work in those days. There wasn’t that much for them to do. Narcotics weren’t a problem. The only addict we had was Paregoric Slim who was completely harmless. None of the schools or businesses required police protection. The teachers at school were permitted to paddle and served as their own police force. To my knowledge there were no burglaries. No one even locked the doors in those days.

We did have some great outlaws in my time. I was born the same year that the famous Bonnie and Clyde were killed. I think they made several visits to my hometown. One of the kids in my class was even kin to Clyde and he was a celebrity. Bonnie and Clyde only robbed small businesses and service stations but killed a few cops along the way. They were finally ambushed and gunned down by Texas and Louisiana lawmen on a remote road in Louisiana. The Texas Ranger, Frank Harner, was the guy who tracked them down.

Bonnie and Clyde were real celebrities. About 20,000 people attended Bonnie’s funeral. Even John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd send flowers for Clyde’s service that was also attended by thousands. Later a movie was made about these two, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. I still have nightmares about a carnival exhibit I was allowed to view when I was a kid. The exhibit was the wax figures of the famous duo, riddled with bullet holes and covered in blood. I have thought about that exhibit a lot through the years and it is probably one of the reasons I didn’t pursue a life of crime. Maybe that’s why my mother let me view that piece of horror. It cost a dime to see the exhibit but it was well worth the expense.

Today, I fell pretty safe on the porch, thanks to our Salado Police. I think we have two of them now and they even have a police car and a pickup with sirens and Police written on the door. They serve as a backup to my Daisy air rifle that I have loaded and ready to pop the deer or anything else which dares violate my sanctuary.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I have always been a big supporter of the police because they put their lives on the line to protect us. We are in a time when we sure need more protection. Even though I try and have great respect for the cops I’m afraid of them and suspect that many are bullies and enjoy their position of authority. The Russian comedian, Yakov Smirnoff, said one of the reasons he loves America more than Russian is that here our police at least fire a warning shot.

There have always been corrupt police and stories of abuse. Some of the people arrested need to be abused or even shot on the spot. However, the police in our area are becoming more abusive and seem to be warming up for the time when we become a totalitarian state under Obama. They will now arrest someone for the slightest infraction of the law. The cops in Nolanville are notorious for their speed traps. Just the other day, in a city south of Austin, a cop pulled over a speeding vehicle in route to a vet’s office to save the owners choking dog. The dog died and the cop remarked that it was only a dog and they could purchase another one.

The latest story of abuse is the action taken by a Belton cop directing traffic around an accident scene. The most prominent and law biding citizen of Belton was the victim. The victim has even served as city judge. Not a good one to be victimized. As the victim approached the accident the cop apparently gave a confusing signal and the victim thought he had been signaled to turn south. The cop shouted and called him “idiot.” The victim pulled over and stopped to inquire what the cop had intended him to do. The cop accused the victim of interfering with the duties of a police officer and immediately handcuffed him. This cop has to be incredibly immature, stupid or a plain bully. It’s probably a combination of all three. Maybe he is practicing to be like Smirnoff’s Russian police. Shoot or handcuff first, then ask questions.

From my previous experience with the Belton police, I suspect that the main problem is stupid. My neighbor who was an Alzheimer’s patient escaped one day and left in his car. He was found two days later in a West Texas town. I gave the Belton police a complete description of the individual and car at 4:30 PM. About a month later his wife received a summons for a ticket the poor man had received for going 40 mph in a 30 mph zone at 9:00 PM the day of his disappearance. The police had him in their hands and let him go. When notified of their stupid mistake the charge was quickly dropped.

These examples are another good reason to stay in my fortress of solitude on the porch. Police are now added to my list of meat-heads and other undesirables. The list has really been growing. It started with politicians and trial lawyers but is now several pages long.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Maybe there is a little justice after all. The Osteens came out clean in the recent ridiculous trial and false accusation about an assault of an airline attendant. The charges were absurd and the jury recognized it. The jury ruled in favor of the Osteen’s and agreed that no assault ever occurred. The attendant was making up a story to bring down some celebrities and cash in on the deal. It’s hard to believe an attorney would accept such a case. All the witnesses around the so-called incident claimed that no assault occurred. The whole affair was a colossal waste of time and money and was as much the fault of the trial attorney as the deranged plaintiff.

It’s still a few months before Christmas, but a Christmas Greeting by Mark Twain is appropriate for this fiasco. I have modified the last sentence a bit. Mark Twain felt the same about the inventor of the telephone as I do about trial lawyers.

“It is my heart-warm and world-embracing Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage (every man and brother of us all throughout the whole earth), may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss, except for trial attorneys. ”

I now hope that Joel Osteen can get back to preaching and smiling. I do wish he could tone down his life style a bit because it doesn’t set a good example for all us poor Christians. I can’t imagine Jesus flying first class to Vail, Colorado. Jesus wasn’t into skiing and the like. I don’t think he even watched the Super Bowl. Osteen’s high life style also makes him a setup for nuts who want to cash in on his good thing. People love to persecute Christians. The first one was even crucified.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The world my grandkids are growing up in is sure different from the one I knew. They have many more exciting activities and the world today moves with breath taking speed. My world was much slower paced with little in the way of structured activity and no television. I grew up in a small town and was content to play imaginary war games, read the comics, see western movies and observe some of the characters who frequented the streets of my little town. The small towns are now boarded up, and we live in suburbs without sidewalks, porches or streets that lend themselves to the observation of other folks. We now pass people so rapidly in the malls that we hardly notice the eccentricities of others; plus, the kind of folks I’m talking about don’t frequent the malls.

The characters of my hometown were not like the street people of today. There were some who would probably be like today’s homeless but the environment of my time made it different for them. There was a guy we called Paregoric Slim who wandered the streets and would fit into that category. Years ago the drug paregoric, which is an opiate, could be purchased over the counter in small quantities. It was used for colic in babies. Paregoric Slim was addicted to the stuff and used it to satisfy his habit like a shot of morphine. He was a master mechanic but chose to just wander the streets most of the time. It was interesting to watch him and imagine what his world was like. I knew I didn’t want to be part of it. This was in a time before I knew about such things as drugs and addiction, but if kids could observe Paregoric Slim today, maybe drugs wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

Then there was a black lady we called “Black Joe.” She wore an old tattered long black dress and wore a stocking over her hair for a hat. She carried a burlap feed sack over her back filled with her belongs. My mother told me it was filled with little boys who didn’t behave. Seeing Black Joe on the street was enough to put me on the best behavior. I’m sure she was harmless, but my mother used the threat of Black Joe very effectively.

We had another black fellow named Henry. He carried a broom and constantly swept the streets. He apparently had no home and he could be seen in the middle of the night just sweeping the streets. The owner of the grocery store where I worked let us provide him with out of date bread and lunchmeat. I think that was Henry’s only source of food. He wore a long overcoat all year long, even in the hot days of summer. Henry was a benign creature who was harmless but gave a little character to our town and sure kept the street clean without pay.

One of my favorites was a young man named Billy Carr. He was mentally retarded and his larger than normal head indicated that he was an arrested hydrocephalic. He carried his head back in an extended position and constantly rotated it in an apparent attempt to improve the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around his troubled brain. Billy ran errands for the principal of the school, who was my cousin, and was an angel for helping disadvantaged kids. Everyone loved Billy, and even though he spoke with an unintelligible tongue, he had a winning personality. Billy frequently walked the streets and just stood on the street corner. Many years after leaving my hometown, when the stores were boarded and the streets deserted, I took a nostalgic drive through the once busy town square. There on the street corner was the lone figure of man leaning against a street sign just staring into space with a smile on his face. It was Billy, an old man, turning his head. Like me, he seemed to be searching for that lost time of our youth.

All those people are dead now. While in a pensive mood on the porch, I still think about them. I hope they have gone to a better place. Some may question their purpose in life and if it was all for naught, but in a strange sort of way they helped enrich my life. A few teachers and close personal friends have had the greatest impact on my life. I have had conversations with two presidents, done medical procedures on a former first lady and was involved in the care of the King of Jordon. I have known several senators and congressman as well as numerous physicians and various scholars, but the eccentric and disadvantaged folks in my hometown are just as memorable and meaningful to me as the more distinguished group. I even wish my grandkids could have known this street full of folks who were seemingly misfits; but to me, gave character and even substance to a place I still call home. The painting above even gives a deeper meaning to the lives of these outcast from our society.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I have been going to church since I was a child and have heard hundreds of sermons. I know the underlying message of most of these sermons, which is salvation through belief in Jesus Christ. I must admit that of all these sermons, it is rare for me to be able to follow the preacher through the entire message. On the other hand, I have attended many medical and scientific lectures and most of these are presented in a logical format that is relatively easy to follow and understand.

I think after all these years I am finally catching on to the technique used by most preachers. Their method of delivery dawned on me after rereading William Faulkner for the hundredth time. Faulkner’s writing method in his novel “The Sound and the Fury” is something called stream of consciousness. This is a technique employed by several famous writers. James Joyce used it in “Ulysses” and Virginia Woolf used it in “Mrs. Dalloway.” Hermann Hesse, William Styron, T.S. Eliot and Marcel Proust also made use of this technique in their writing.

With the stream of consciousness the writer takes the reader into the mind of the one telling the story. There is no chronological, logical progression of the story. The teller of the story randomly skips around on a subject and may be describing an event in one sentence and the next sentence may tell about something unrelated that occurred at another time. It follows the thought process of the storyteller and is connected to their sensory reactions to external occurrences. Our minds work like that in our thought process every day and that is what these writers are trying to capture.

That’s the way it is with most sermons. The preacher jumps around and tells you whatever comes to their mind. I guess their emotions are just heated up with the spirit and anything may come out of their mouth whether it has anything to do with the subject or not. Sometimes it may even be babble and folks called that speaking in tongues. Today, I heard a seminary professor who is supposed to be a scholarly individual and his deliver was no different than some of the totally unschooled preachers I have heard who were just “called” and can barely read or write. You have to be somewhat of an intellect to understand the writers who use the stream of consciousness technique. I really don’t fit into that category, so that is probably why they are not my favorite authors. I am more of an Elmer Kelton and Robert E. Howard fan who also loves history and just about everything else that is written in a logical pattern. My lack of intellect and difficultly in following the stream of consciousness technique is probably the reason I get bored in church with most of the sermons and usually think about something else. Often times I find myself just praying and remembering that the real reason I am in church is to worship God even if I don’t understand what the preacher is saying.

As I have said before, the most reverent and worshipful place for me is on the porch. I wish the preachers would issue some “Cliff Notes” for their sermons, they have helped me a lot to understand “The Sound and the Fury.”

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The news is picking up again. There is some pretty exciting stuff. John Edwards, former vice-presidential candidate and more recently a presidential hopeful in the primaries, has been fooling around. He has admitted to an extramarital affair and the woman says she has had a baby and Edwards is the father. I know his wife, who has cancer and minus a breast, must have great respect for this sleazebag. As I have said before, the contents of the brain liquefy and drain to the organ of reproduction to render the individual senseless and deprived of any judgment. Edwards fits the mold of the usual trial lawyer. He made his millions off of medical malpractice suits. I’m just happy that we have been spared of having him as president and having one of his sexual flings in the oval office during a terrorist attack.

The other interesting event that also involves lawyers is the trial of Victoria Osteen wife of the famous preacher Joel Osteen. They are co-pastors of a mega-church, where over 40,000 attend each week and they also have a huge television following. Victoria is accused of assaulting an airline attendant. She was flying first class and detected a wet spot on her seat. She ask the airline attendant to cleanup the spot and didn’t get a response. Victoria apparently freaked out and made a scene and in the process is said to have struck the attendant. The attendant is now suing, claiming that she has post-traumatic stress syndrome and hemorrhoids. I can buy the hemorrhoids because it’s obvious she is an ass. The attendant wants 10% of Victoria’s wealth, which must be a considerable amount. For something this ridiculous to even come to court is a joke on the legal system. Again, a sleazeball lawyer has to be behind the whole thing and lucked out to have a screwball client and a celebrity as a victim. Victoria’s only mistake was expecting anything in the way of service from an airline.

Lawyers have to be a big part of what is wrong with our government. Most of the politicians are lawyers. They have only their interest in mind and how they can put it to someone else. One of the main reasons to strive for heaven in the afterlife is so that you won’t have to keep company with the lawyers who are sure to fill the other place.

I love to have company on the porch but I will allow only a couple of lawyers I have known and very few doctors. The visitors I welcome most are family, teachers, small business people, retired folks and a few dogs.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

We have finally reached the bottom of the barrel for news. A few days ago John McCain had an ad, which stated that Obama was nothing more than a rock superstar or a celebrity like Paris Hilton or Britney Spears. Today, Paris Hilton issued a rebuttal to the McCain remarks. She thanked him for the endorsement and said she must be running for president. She said she is ready to lead, and she is not from the olden days like the wrinkly white hair guy and she doesn’t promise change like the other guy. She said, “I’m hot.” She said McCain was so old he was from a time when people thought it was a sin to dance. Is this the same Paris Hilton who found Jesus during her short time in jail and also read the Bible? She is supposed to have turned over a new leaf in her life. Her statements were made as she was partying with her boy friend in Denmark. Maybe she is on a mission trip to that country and trying to save souls.

In other exciting news, McCain is laughing at Obama for his remarks about inflating our tires as a solution to the energy crisis. Obama is responding with one-liner put downs of McCain. Obama has now flip-flopped on his position regarding off shore drilling. He is now for it. The conclusion I have reached from the shallow rhetoric on both sides is that I’m not going to vote in November. I may pull the lever for my state representative candidate and then I will hastily retreat to the porch.

The other big news centers around Brett Favre and whether he will play for the Packers or retire. Who cares? I don’t care if they abolish the entire Packer team. It’s too cold to play football there anyway. I don’t even care about the Cowboys anymore. I’m sick of the Jerry Jones Pizza commercials. Can you imagine Tom Landry doing those commercials or something that low. Football has no class anymore.

Even the Olympics will be minor news this year. You can’t see the games because of the thick smog in Beijing. Since the games will be coming from China I really can’t trust the results coming out of that country. I’m also a little worried about our players because they might be poisoned by the food or by all the lead paint that covers everything in that country.

Again, the safest place for me is on the porch thinking about the good old days. It’s probably best that there is nothing newsworthy. The energy crisis, gas prices, the economy, stock market, recession, inflation, low value of the dollar, terrorism and those sorts of things have become so common place they no longer make exciting news. So, it’s back to good old stuff like the exploits of Paris Hilton.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I recently learned that there is a remake of one of my favorite movies coming out this year. “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” has been remade and will be released later this year. The old version made in the 50’s is one of my all time favorite movies and is a science fiction classic. I have a copy of the movie and have seen it multiple times.

The movie is about a spaceman who lands his ship on the National Mall next to the Washington Monument. He has this giant robot named Gort. Gort demonstrates his power by burning the weapons out of the hands of soldiers and melting a couple of tanks. Gort responds to signals from a flashlight and the words, ”Klaatu barata nikto.” He has come in peace to warn us that we need to cool it and keep all our war like tendencies confined to our planet. He says that the robots are the police of our universe and if we go outside our planet making trouble then they will destroy us and reduce us to a burned out cinder. The spaceman wants to speak to our world leaders and give them the message, but of course the first thing we do is shoot him. He escapes and pulls of a big event to get everyone’s attention. He makes all electrical activity in the world stop for about an hour. He then takes off and leaves the rest to our imagination as to whether we heed his warning.

I have often wondered what would happen if a spaceman did make an appearance and gave us a warning to behave or else. I suspect nothing would happen. We have already had similar events to get our attention. The atomic bomb on Hiroshima was a good example, but we continue to make wars even though we have the ability to annihilate ourselves. The Bible is full of stories about miracles and even these have failed to get the attention of most folks.

Another problem with the spaceman coming and pulling off an attention-getting event is that there would be a large number of folks who wouldn’t even know what was going on. They say that about 15 percent of Americans don’t know the name of the president. A recent survey in Texas showed that over 50% of Texans don’t know that LBJ was from our state, 75% cannot tell you the city where the Alamo is located and 98% cannot tell you three men who died in the Alamo. Only about 1% of Texans know the day we celebrate Texas Independence. So, how can we expect them to pay attention to a spaceman when they haven’t yet learned that JFK was assassinated or that the World Trade Towers in New York came down from a terrorist attack. The one thing that most people know how to do is get their welfare checks and how to reproduce. Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton would have a better chance of getting a message across that a spaceman with a cataclysmic event.

As for me, I’m just going to sit on the porch and wait for the new movie. That’s one I am going to see. The one from the 50s is going to be hard to beat. I’m sure there will be a lot more special effects but the old black and white version will always be my favorite.