Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Story of a Struggle

A friend sent me a beautiful Email the other day filled with pretty pictures of butterflies and accompanied by a story about a man who spotted a butterfly attempting to force its way out of a small opening in its cocoon.  There was lovely and uplifting music in the background.

 
With the intention of helping the creature, he took a small scissors and cut the cocoon enabling the butterfly to emerge with ease.  He waited for the butterfly, now on the ground, to flap its wings and fly away. It never did and most certainly died.  The man did not know that the lengthy and arduous effort the butterfly expends in struggling to force its way out of the cocoon squeezes its bodily fluids into its wings, and once out of the cocoon, enables the butterfly to be ready to fly.  In relieving the butterfly from this “struggle,” as well-meaning as the man was, he actually caused its death.  The butterfly needed to go through its struggle in order to survive.

The Email then went on to moralize about the importance of struggle, stating that “struggle” sometimes is exactly what we need in our lives.  It implies that it strengthens a person and that anything worth having is worth struggling for.  I see the logic of this but when I think of the people who are unemployed in this country today, the homeless, the people who are already “struggling” to make ends meet, pay their bills, clothe their kids and put food on the table, I cannot think of their struggles as being ennobling in any manner.  People are not butterflies.


This is very subtle stuff, but exposure to it might result in recipients of the Email feeling that unemployment benefits, Medicaid, aid to dependent children and such other aspects of our country’s social and economic safety net are unnecessary and a waste of government money.  They might even feel that like the butterfly, the people who are dependent on such benefits can actually benefit by struggling even harder than they are already struggling. I disagree.  The homeless gentleman in the picture above, taken on the streets of Boston, probably does too.  If the Email  I received happens to reach you, don’t be fooled by pretty pictures of butterflies. 
Jack Lippman

Friday, April 22, 2011

The President's Birth Certificate

(Please take the time to check out the URLs I mention in this posting.  Don't just take my word for it.  I also recommend that you do a Google search using the words Obama Birth Certificate and read some of the material to which your search will lead you.)


Before getting too far into the question of the President’s birth certificate, please look off to the right where the “Blog Archives” are listed and click on “February” and then on the posting entitled “Truth - Whatever you want it to be.”  That posting, written at the time of President’s Day, 2011, points out that totally false information can be massaged and twisted until it actually has a degree of credibility sufficient to make a gullible person believe it to be true.  The “fact” in question that I was writing about at that time was whether or not Alexander Hamilton was once President of the United States.  Please read it.

So it is with the question of whether or not Barack Obama was actually born in the United States.  If he were not, his presidency is illegitimate.  Some on the far right bring up the question of why the President’s actual birth certificate has never been produced and also question a lot of other things about his background that they feel have not been adequately documented.  Between the lines, it comes through that these folks believe that the President is a “ringer” who was not born in the United States, did not go to the schools he purports to have attended and actually is some sort of “Manchurian Candidate” foisted off on the nation by some sinister forces.  Most of their arguments are as specious as those who believe that Alexander Hamilton was once President.  They produce no evidence whatsoever, but hang their hat on the failure of the President to provide the additional evidence they are asking for.  This kind of thing is all over the internet.  It started at the time the President was elected in 2008 and continues today.   


A good place to start looking for it is at the World Net Daily web site (www.wnd.com) which is filled with anti-Obama material, mostly in a sub-section entitled "ObamaWatchCentral." The stories on this site remind me of the magazines on sale at supermarket check-out counters.  A site which attempts to address the issue more factually is www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html.   


From the reading I have done on the internet, my feeling is that the Certification of Live Birth (reproduced the other day on this blog) issued by the State of Hawaii indeed documents the fact that an actual Birth Certificate filled out in 1961 is on file somewhere in the State’s archives.  It may be a piece of crumbling paper or more likely on a roll of microfilm, but there is no reason to believe that it doesn’t exist.  Some critics of the President would have you believe he actually was born in Kenya and subsequently set up “phony” records in Hawaii years later. (I have seen a fraudulent  Kenyan birth certificate documenting the President’s birth there which a search on www.snopes.com  deems as false. Use the words “Obama Kenyan Birth Certificate” when you do your search on snopes.com.)  They make similar inferences about his academic credentials.  Also, if he was not born in Hawaii, the birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser cannot be explained unless that newspaper’s archives were also subsequently altered.   Apparently, a significant number of Americans are willing to accept these arguments.  Others, such as Donald Trump, are satisfied merely to seek right wing support by continuing to ask the President for further documentation.


It is my feeling that the President is not hiding anything.  What he is unwilling to do is deal with accusers who come from the very bottom of the journalistic and political barrels and prefer to believe what they want to believe despite evidence to the contrary.  Giving in to their requests for further information about his birth, and academic history for that matter, would lower the President to their level and provide them with unwarranted credibility.  There are legitimate Republicans who do not buy into the questioning of the President’s place of birth and are embarrassed by the demands of those who doubt his legitimacy.  It is my opinion that this latter group will destroy the Republican Party as we know it. If the State of Hawaii is willing to go on the line, and through their Certification of Live Birth form, certify that Barack Obama was born there, and that is adequate to get a passport or drivers license, it is good enough for me.    
Jack Lippman


                                 *****        *****        *****        ***** 


Who's looking at Us? 

During the past seven days this blog was accessed by 58 visitors.  Forty-three were from the United States, 5 from Russia, 5 from Singapore, 2 from Iran and one each from Hungary, India and Israel.  Wow!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fountain Pens and Numbskulls

Before I get into the meat of today's posting, please note that I have changed the title of the blog to make it clear that it is yours as well as mine.  Please, then, make use of it.  Poetry, political views, short stories,  essays, book and restaurant reviews, and even photographs are welcome.   From all of you!  Okay?  And now, let's get on with this posting!


                                         *****          *****          *****

I saw a TV commercial the other day.  I guess it was a failure because for the life of me, I cannot remember what was being advertised.   In it, two men were dueling, one with a sword, the other unarmed.  The weaponless guy was approached by a delivery man who gave him a small package and offered him a pen with which he signed for it.  Quickly opening it, he took out a small pistol with which he shot his opponent who was lunging at him with his sword.  The ad illustrated the old adage that “the pen is mightier than the sword” implying that what a pen produces, words (in the ad, a signature), can lead to the defeat of otherwise superior weaponry.

In the “old days,” we used fountain pens which we filled with ink, usually Parker “Quink” or the less expensive Waterman’s Blue-Black.  The pens themselves were Esterbrooks, Schaeffers, Parkers, Eversharps or some inexpensive nameless brand or possibly a Waterman which usually leaked ink onto your fingers.  I remember using a maroon Eversharp for years, and I still maintain a loyalty to its manufacturer, Eversharp-Schick, by using their razors today.  But fountain pens disappeared when Reynolds-International (“writes high in the sky in a plane”) introduced ball point pens shortly after World War II.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that back in elementary school days, there used to be an inkwell in the upper right hand corner of every desk and we used wooden pens into which a metallic pen point had been inserted.  After every few sentences written, the pen had to be dipped into the inkwell.  These were the pens which “fountain” pens replaced.

But getting back to the point (the one I was about to make, not the one at the end of a pen), we don’t write with pens much anymore.  Increasingly, we do our writing at a computer keyboard, as I am now doing.  So, is it too much of a stretch to change the old adage to “the computer keyboard is mightier than the sword” or more precisely, “the computer is mightier than the sword.”?

Of course, a sword or a gun for that matter can kill a person … but its effect is limited to that one person.  An Email sent via the internet to 50 people, with a request that each of them pass it on to others, who in turn will do the same, can quickly reach thousands of people.  Sometimes the Email may be innocuous but often, it may carry a potent political, social or economic message, which may or may not be true.

I receive an Email every few years which starts out with pictures of General Eisenhower visiting freed inmates of concentration camps at the end of WW II.  The implied message is that we should never forget what happened during the Holocaust.  The Email then jumps to point out that Holocaust studies have actually been banned right here in the United States at the University of Kentucky.  Of the thousands of recipients of these Emails, few bother to question their facts and accept the fact that we are forgetting the Holocaust and at least one major American university, its study has been banned.

The facts (according to www.snopes.com where all such stories should be checked out) are that a few years ago, a teacher in a school in an English city decided to drop the Holocaust from what  he was teaching to his mostly Muslim "inner-city" social studies class.  When the government found out about this, they reinstated the original curriculum immediately.  Of course, this was too late to prevent newspapers from carrying stories with the headline “Holocaust Studies Banned in UK.”  This is a correct headline since the classroom where they were “banned” (a slight exaggeration) was indeed in the United Kingdom, but it didn’t tell the full story of what happened and of the reinstatement of the curriculum.  The headline was then picked up in the United States by numbskulls who didn’t know what UK stood for, and probably being basketball fans, assumed it meant the University of Kentucky.  And that’s how incorrect information is spread via the internet.   Ultimately that university’s President had to issue a formal statement debunking the story.  I expect to again receive that same Email in the future, and when I do, I will point out the truth to the sender, as I have done in the past to its prior senders.  What bothers me is that the sender probably sent it to 50 other people besides me, many of whom probably passed it on to others, and the person who sent it on to me was also probably part of a group of perhaps 50 recipients of the erroneous Email, all of whom passed it on as well.  How do you stop something like this?

And speaking of the Holocaust, Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day, falls on May 1 this year.  I have received at least three lengthy Emails urging me to observe this holiday this year on April 20, and to pass the information on to everyone I know. One of these was actually from a Rabbi whose High Holiday services I have attended in the past.  The numbskull who started this Email, possibly the same one who didn’t know what UK stood for in the Email discussed above, was unaware that the holiday’s date on our calendar varies from year to year,  The observance of Yom Hashoah takes place every year on the 27th day of the month of Nissan on the Hebrew calendar, as fixed by the Knesset in Israel some years ago.  This year, as I have pointed out, that Hebrew calendar date falls on May 1 of our calendar.  Two years ago, however, it fell on April 20.  Mr. Numbskull apparently took a 2009 Email and just changed the year to 2011 leaving the date as April 20.  I expect thousands of American Jews to show up at synagogues on that date, looking for an observance which won’t occur.for ten more days.  I suggest they bring a sandwich or two with them and a thermos of tea.   How do you stop something like this?


Really though, Emails like this don’t do very much harm.  But they illustrate the very wide distribution which the passing on of incorrect information can involve.  When the subject is more serious, such as questioning whether the President of the United States was born in this country and is holding office illegitimately, it becomes more important.  Emails like that can affect our country's future, since the unspoken aim of such communications is to unseat President Obama.  
 
I will be addressing that subject in greater detail in future postings, but for the time being, here is a copy of Barack Obama’s "Certification of Live Birth" for your review as well as a reproduction of his birth announcement printed a few days later in the Honolulu Advertiser.  There is a lot of false information on the internet concerning these items which many people, including Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, believe or at least choose not to question.  Future postings on this blog will leave you better informed than either of these two potential Republican Presidential candidates, but that really isn't saying very much.


(This is not an original birth certificate, but a "certification" by the State of Hawaii that one exists in their files, which I believe were converted to microfilm some years ago.  It is accepted for passports, drivers' licenses and such items, and is embossed  with a State seal.)




(This announcement from the Honolulu Advertiser was not placed by the family.  It is from a listing which the State, when they recorded a birth, automatically published in the local papers.)


Jack Lippman

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's Up (or Down) in Washington?

I apologize for the length of this posting.  But important things sometimes take more than just a few words to say.  Some may feel that these views are extreme, but I do not.  Certainly, they are no more extreme than the views of those "on the other side," such as those contained in Congressman Paul Ryan's budget proposals.  Agree with what I say, or disagree with it, but please, spend a few minutes and read it.
Jack Lippman


Let's Start Out by Using your Imagination

Imagine that somewhere here in this country there is a single group that periodically gets together in a wood panelled conference room to discuss what they can do to make certain that:

(1) individuals, families and institutions with great wealth will continue to have that wealth and to assure that it will continue to grow in a limitless manner,  

(2) corporations and other businesses will be able to operate in as unregulated manner as possible furthering the unlimited and continuing maximization of their profits for owners and shareholders and 

(3)  money held by banks and other financial institutions will be readily available to help further these aforementioned goals and generate its own growth as well.

First let me assure you that there is no such group. 

There are, however, a good number of individuals and organizations which strongly believe in striving to attain some or all of these objectives.  The mechanism for doing so is in Washington, DC, and to a similar extent in our state capitals, where our laws are passed.  People with these objectives would be foolish if they did not support legislators whose positions are favorable to them.  

Some of these people sincerely believe that attaining these goals is in the very best interest of the nation, its economy and of all of its citizens whose livelihood depends on that economy.  Others may mouth such words but actually are really acting out of selfish motives and still others, without any altruistic pretense whatsoever, do so out of greed, pure and simple.  And all of them make very large contributions to legislators (or organizations which support legislators) whom they believe will vote to further their objectives.  Seeing where the money is, and without money legislators do not get elected, many legislators will take positions which in varying degrees are favorable to the goals cited above.

So while there is no single group which gets together and plans strategies to attain these goals, the individuals and organizations who favor them, when taken collectively, add up to what amounts to a “bloc” which for all intents and purposes, behaves the same as if it were a formally constituted  organization.

The Missing Factor – the American People

The one factor absent from these goals is the effect attaining them will have on the American people.  True believers in “supply side” or “trickle down” economic theory will say, as is attributed to Calvin Coolidge, “What’s good for business is good for America.”  Hence, they have no worry about how these goals will affect most working Americans.  They will supposedly do well in a flourishing business climate.  When the wealthy retain their wealth and invest it, and businesses make great profits, they claim that job expansion occurs and everyone is supposed to benefit. History, however, has repeatedly proven these ideas to be wrong, as illustrated by the Great Depression following years of “supply side” economics.  Unfortunately, people are not so altruistic in regard to the wealth they possess as one would hope.  Great wealth tends to adhere to those individuals and businesses or corporations which possess it.  The wealth does not get pumped back into the economy to be shared by all as the advocates of “trickle down” economics would have us believe.  

(The alternative to “supply side” economics is government investment in the country, as illustrated by FDR’s New Deal.  This means spending, a dirty word to many since to in order to spend, the government must tax. The phrase “tax and spend,” which merely describes what governments do, has been given disparaging overtones by opponents of government who feel as Thomas Paine must have when he wrote, “That government which governs least, governs best.”  I don’t know how true that is in today’s socio-economic setting, however. Despite this, when the government spends, the nation’s economic pump is primed.  The most recent example of this was the government’s successful “stimulus” programs which bailed out the auto companies and some financial institutions.  This “Keynesian” approach works while the “supply side” trickle down approach always fails to accomplish anything but make the rich richer and transfer the burden to the working class.)

To attain the goals of the “group” or “bloc” or whatever you choose to call it, well-funded legislators will try to keep taxes as low as possible, so that the wealthy, corporations and other businesses will not, via the leveling effect of taxation, have to “spread their wealth.”  This means slashing government spending on anything other than supporting our armed forces, which enables the “slashers” to appear to be patriotic, when in actuality, they are engaged in dismantling the government, piece by piece.  Spending for education, the environment, health care, scientific research, unemployment benefits, welfare, employee pensions, social security, regulatory agencies, the arts, etc. are in their eyes drains on the government and to varying degrees, detract from their three goals listed above.  

Unless you are among the deluded minority which still believes in the discredited theory of “supply side” economics, it is clear that such tax reduction and slashing of government programs are not in the interest of most Americans.  They are the ones who benefit most from the programs which the spending slashers are attacking.  How then, can support for cutting taxes and slashing spending be cultivated among the nation’s population to a degree sufficient to elect legislators who will work for goals which are not in the best interest of the American people?  That is the problem the aforementioned “group” or “bloc” or whatever you want to call it faces.  And here is how they deal with it. 

Catering to Fears

Most people have concerns within them which influence their behavior.  These often take the form of fears and may include:

  1. The idea that socialism or communism will take over our country and take away our freedoms.
  2. Fear that their religious (and/or moral) beliefs will be attacked by our government.
  3. Resentment that others are getting “for free” what they worked hard to attain.
  4. Fear that the country is going broke.
There are other “fears” and concerns that we can talk about, but for the sake of brevity, let’s stick with these.  In order to get Americans to vote for things which are not in their personal interest, a candidate has to find out what enough of the voters to make a difference in the results of an election are afraid of and cater to those fears.
 
Let’s start with fear of communism or socialism.  In “communism,” the means of production and distribution of almost everything in a nation’s economy is in the hands of an omnipotent and ruthless government (Example: today’s North Korea).  Socialism works the same way, but is more responsive to the will of the people, and may be limited to just certain areas of the economy (Example: Sweden).  The idea that is planted by the tax cutters and the spending slashers is that government involvement in almost any activity smacks of socialism or communism.  Those of us who grew up during the Cold War were taught that these were twin evil ideologies. Ronald Reagan excoriated the USSR as the “Evil Empire” and that idea is still imbued in our culture to this day.   Of course, we do business with communists every day in Vietnam and China, and the state-run capitalism of Communist China is the biggest supplier of goods sold in America today, and the biggest purchaser of our debts, but that doesn’t stop politicians from implying that government involvement in almost anything is a step on the road to the twin evil ideologies of socialism and communism.  This is the seed that is planted.  (Readers of this blog may recall earlier postings concerning economist Frederich Hayek whose book, The Road to Serfdom, takes this position and influenced Ronald Reagan’s thinking.)

When the government attempts to do things like regulating environmental safety or tries to get health care for everyone, the red paint of socialism is sprayed on it by those who want to ignite the fears of voters.  In this manner we are given an excuse to fear government spending for these kinds of things.  Add to this the mythical image of lazy bureaucrats sitting in government offices, loafing their way to retirement, and that is the icing on the cake.

Social and Moral Fears

The First Amendment to our Constitution prevents the Congress from passing any law “respecting the establishment of religion.”  This creates a wall between church and state.  But this does not prevent individuals from believing whatever they want to believe about such issues as abortion, homosexuality and same sex marriage.  When government becomes involved with these beliefs, however, and provides funding for Planned Parenthood or legislates rights for gays and lesbians, for example, some individuals fear that their personal religious and moral beliefs which may not favor such activities are being attacked by the government and hence, are violations of the First Amendment.  A candidate can cater to this particular fear and in a close election, it can mean the difference between winning or losing.

The “Have-Nots”

Government at the state as well as the Federal level provides many benefits for people whose earnings are near or below the “poverty” line.  These involve Medicaid benefits, welfare payments, food stamps and similar items which are paid for out of taxpayer dollars.  Some people resent their tax money being used in this manner.  We have all heard many stories about “welfare queens” collecting benefits in several states simultaneously, food stamp users driving away from supermarkets in Cadillac Escalades, individuals preferring unemployment benefits to looking for a job and similar abuses. If enough of an electorate feels others are getting “for free” what they have worked hard for, resentment arises which can be used by a candidate to attack these programs, spending for which, and the tax revenues to pay for them, are his or her real targets. It is undeniable that there is a racial component to this fear as well.

Household Management

Because it is clear that the government is spending more than it takes in via taxes, some people compare that with the way they manage their household.   Just as a hard-pressed family will struggle to meet expenses, cutting corners, going the “hamburger helper” route at the dinner table, they feel that our government must do the same.  But it really isn’t the same.  While a family may have “maxed out” all of its credit cards and have no financial resources remaining, the government has alternatives such as the projection of savings over many years, the issuance of bonds, control over interest rates and over monetary policy which a family doesn’t have.  We have had a national debt since the Revolutionary War which hasn’t gone away.  Nations have ways of dealing with such debt that individuals and families do not.  It’s like comparing apples with oranges. This however, does not stop purveyors of gloom and doom from convincing voters that practically all government spending must cease because the country is broke.  Guess who this makes happy.

Gun Control

There are other areas where the government can be painted as the bad guy.  Gun control is one.  Some Americans so distrust government that they fear any attempt to regulate their possession of weapons is intended to take away their right to use their weapons against a government which turns tyrannical.  Such a right, of course, does not exist.  But it is another “fear” which can swing a voter.

Armed with knowledge of these fears, candidates who have pledged to slash government spending and to cut taxes in order to attain the goals of the wealthy, businesses, corporations and the financial community have been able to convince Americans to vote for them, even though their positions may be directed against the well-being of those very voters casting ballots for them,  skillfully manipulated by the kind of fears mentioned above.

Add to this the influence of right-wing media, including TV, talk radio and the internet, where half-baked ideas are given undeserved credibility and it is easy to see why many Americans elect Representatives who act for the benefit of the wealthy, businesses and financial institutions and not for the benefit of their constituents.

What’s Going on Right Now

With all of this in mind, let’s look at America today.  Stated simply, government services cost more than the revenues produced by our system of taxation. The Republican approach is to slash these government services which, based on its present revenues, they feel the country can no longer afford.  Raising taxes to enable the country to pay for these services is something not to be expected from Republicans.  On top of this,  continuing the Bush tax cuts until 2012, an act with which the Democrats cooperated last year, did not help..  This was part of the compromise which enabled to Affordable Health Care Act to be passed, but the battle should have been joined at that point and the tax cuts rescinded then instead of making it part of next year's battles.

Until we elect a new Congress in 2012, along with a President as well, conflict will continue between those who want government spending slashed and taxes kept at a low level, ignoring the welfare of the majority of the American people, and those who want essential government services to continue at their present level. During this period, people will suffer and the rich will get richer.

The solution to this problem is two-fold.  

(1)  The government, despite examples which those on the right will always dig up, does not waste money.  It is managed very economically. The services it provides, particularly Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, are essential and should not be cut.  It would be far more costly to individual Americans if these services were provided by the private sector, a concept which many Republicans support.  This is because many GOP representatives, whose souls have been bought whether they know it or not, are blinded by their own party’s lies, especially the fairy tale about “trickle down” supply-side economics.  Finally and most importantly, taxes on the wealthy and on business and corporate profits must be raised significantly, even to wartime levels, in order to meet the cost of these services and to reduce the debt resulting from years of spending more than was taken in as revenue.  Many corporations, through creative accounting and overseas operations, pay no taxes whatsoever. The burden should not be on the backs of the working men and women in the form of reduced or eliminated government services, but rather, on the wealthy.  They can afford it.

  “… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  FDR – March 1933

(2)  The American public must be awakened to the way they are being manipulated by candidates who use their fears to get them to back programs which are inimical to their own well-being.  We should listen to the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who, 78 years ago, told America that “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Today, Americans must hearken back to those wonderful words of his First Inaugural Address and learn to ignore their ill-founded fears as described above and, on each and every Election Day, vote for what’s good for themselves, and not for the interests of the wealthy, businesses, corporations and financial institutions, and to vote to “convert retreat into advance.”  This is not the time for "retreat" which is what the budget slashers are demanding of working Americans.    

 I hope this blog posting has proved to be helpful..  As always, your comments, pro or con, are invited.

Feel free to copy and paste this into an Email and forward it to others and at the same time, suggest to them that they follow www.jackspotpourri.com on a regular basis.  It would be nice if 1,000,000 voters get to view this message.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Fishy Story and a Look Ahead to Yom Hashoah

Well, this time we finally have a trio of contributors to our blog.  Reuben Starkman submits a "fishy" story he penned a few years ago and Ruth Horowitz submits a poem about the Holocaust.  This year, Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) is observed on Sunday, May 1, which corresponds with the 27th day of Nissan on the Hebrew calendar.  Ruth will be presenting this poem as part of a Yom Hashoah program at her synagogue.  Finally, Libby Klein joins us with a poem of love.

                                                    *****     *****     *****


                                                             Never Forget
                                                            Ruth M. Horowitz

                                                       When the smoke cleared,
                                                       When the ovens cooled,
                                                       When the gates opened,
                                                       We vowed we would
                                                        Never forget!

                                                       When the graves were uncovered,
                                                       When the skeletons were seen,
                                                       When the stretchers were carried out,
                                                       We vowed we would
                                                       Never forget!

                                                      When the stories were told,
                                                      When we cried hot tears,
                                                      When we held the survivors,
                                                      We vowed we would
                                                      Never forget!

                                                      When the last of them is gone,
                                                      When we stop telling their story,
                                                      When the years cloud the horror,
                                                      And it becomes history,
                                                      Who will remember?


                                                 *****     ******     *****


                                              A Trbute To My Husband

                                                          Libby Klein
 
                                                                             
                                        I did not see him, but he saw me.
                                        Youth had its ways and its ecstasy.
                                        How could I have known, 

                                        At that place and time,
                                        That young man would soon be mine?
                                        We journeyed through life, had more to learn.
                                        Along came our children and life took a turn.
                                        How quickly they grew, made us so proud.
                                        They gave us our grand-children, now we're a crowd.
                                        Our blessings are many, the tears shed were few,
                                        The joy of our lives are a tribute to you


                                  

                                                       *****     *****     *****


Before we get to Reuben Starkman's "fish" story, let me remind you that contributors should send their work as an attachment to their Email to riart1@aol.com or include it within the body of that Email.  Reuben's story was submitted as a page from News & Views where it appeared several years ago and had to be scanned into the blog.  As you can see, my skills at scanning are minimal, so please, only send me text attachments or put it into the body of your Email.  JPG attachments are okay if they are just pictures.  Reuben's story stretched the limits of my techie expertise.   But put on a sweater and slicker and enjoy his story. 










Friday, April 1, 2011

Thunder, Jewelry and a Poem that Rhymes

I'm still looking for material to include in the blog from all of you out there.  Just Email it to me and I'll copy and paste it into the blog.  Don't expect me to be your editor, though . I know you can do it!  But for now, be content with three short items from me.  (Note that I've changed the name of the blog to include you guys.)

A reader of the blog commented to me that my poems don't rhyme.  Well, they don't have to, but this time around I wrote one that does rhyme, just to show that I can. And here it is.


Free Verse

Some say free verse which does not rhyme
Does not require quite so much time
To write as poems whose lines I’ve found
Must each end up with the same sound.

Adm’ral Dewey took Manila,
His ice cream choice was vanilla.
The jockey mounted on the horse,
The dot-dash code we know is Morse.

Poems still can have effects sublime
Even though they fail to rhyme
So long as each word that you hear,
Is pleasing to the list’ner’s ear.

But there are games the poet plays,
He counts syllables in each phrase,
Giving his words a solid beat,
Without a rhyme it still sounds neat.
    
*****     *****     *****


Kenneth Jay Lane’s Fabulous Fakes

For those of you, particularly the ladies here in South Florida, there’s an exhibition at the Norton Art Museum in West Palm Beach that should not be missed.  It’s about the work of Kenneth Jay Lane, a stalwart of the fashion world who is widely credited with making costume jewelry as glamorous as real pieces costing millions.  The Norton exhibit features hundreds of his creations for the likes of the Duchess of Windsor, Jacqueline Onassis and Barbara Bush. The exhibit runs until May 1 and, even if you have never ever set foot in a museum, don’t miss it, particularly if you like to hang around in jewelry stores. 

And while you’re there, there’s always a lot of great art to see at the Norton.  Besides their acclaimed permanent collection (don’t miss Psyche and Cupid, attributed to Reubens), they are currently showing a large collection of Egyptian treasures on loan from the Brooklyn Museum and an exhibit of very modern art which attempts to blow your mind in the same manner that the minds of the artists had to have been blown to produce this kind of stuff in the first place!  But you don’t have to meet someone at two in the morning to get a bag of something to inspire you, as these artists obviously had to do. You merely have to visit the show, which is called “Altered States” (and they don't mean Maine or Texas).  Need I say more?

     *****     *****     *****

Sound of Thunder

Most of you have probably heard of, if not read, Ray Bradbury’s 1952 science fiction short story, Sound of Thunder, probably the most widely circulated piece of that genre ever written.  In it, men travel back in time on a hunting expedition and are offered the opportunity to kill dinosaurs, but only carefully selected ones which the “tour guides” know are about to die of natural causes anyway.  The hunters are cautioned not to step off the walkway along which they have been guided because if they did so, they would be stepping back into a pre-historic time where they unknowingly might do damage which could affect the future.  One hunter panics, veers off of the walkway crushing a butterfly with his boot, an act which so alters evolution that when the group returns to the present time, everything is slightly different, words are spelled a little differently, the world seems harsher and most importantly, the potential despot who was about to lose a Presidential election wins it.  If this whets your appetite, read the story.

I relate this because every time I visit our nearby nature preserves and refuges (Green Cay, Wakodahatchee, Loxahatchee or Gumbo Limbo) which permit you to walk through their flora and fauna on elevated wooden walkways, I am reminded of the walkways in Bradbury’s story.  For example, as you walk along the Green Cay walkways (particularly toward sunset), your surroundings cannot be very different than those surrounding the hunters in Sound of Thunder on that day when one of them stepped off of the walkway and killed a butterfly.