Who’s Cheating? And Who

Just finished reading

Joel Peterson’s The Allure of Cheating – And Why It Doesn’t Pay Off

He made some really great points, though it made me wonder, does anyone ever take the podium, the medal, the cover page, or whatever, without a little “hand of god”? Is the choice finally: “Cheat, and try to not get caught”, or “Accept that you will never beat out the cheaters for the highest awards”?

I am a very competitive person, but insist on playing “straight ball.” I rarely beat the “hook or crook” guys. I have come to deal with this in the same way I explained to my 10 year when some of his younger friends were using the little ramp to bowl with. I said, “you know, they may have a higher final score, and we certainly don’t want to discourage them or insult them, but you have to know, the ones of you who actually throw the bowling ball instead of drop it down a ramp are really playing a different game.”

Of course a 7 year old using an aid to bowl with is a lot more understandable than watching your fellow grown up get the bonus, the award or whatever when you know they are dirty. Still, I think we have to consider ourselves to be playing in the “fair league, even if the “cheaters league” play the same game and keeps the same scores. Though caution must be exercised to not blame cheating every time we come in 2nd or 3rd place. Sometimes, we get beat by a really good and/or really lucky guy who is also playing straight.

In the end, we all can only compete with the optimum self. Of course, improving that self is a worthy goal. And I have found, on the rare occasion I can beat all comers, playing fair, the podium seems taller, the award shines brighter than it would if we knew we were forever at risk of being exposed as a fake!

What do you think this is, the Post Office?

You know, all my life I heard how terrible and inefficient and rude govt employees were. I was always directed to look at the post office anytime anyone suggested that we let the govt run or regulate anything. Better to let private industry do it. They have a profit motive, They have competition, so they will give better service for less money and in less time.

Maybe it was a lie in 1965, or 1975, or maybe it was the truth. I seem to remember waiting a long time at post offices when I was a kid. I also remember great customer service at the bank, the five and dime, the clothing store, but I don’t know if I can trust a 40-50 year old memory.

What I do know now is if I call on a local building dept, most of the time, I get people who will go a mile beyond their call of duty to help. If I go to the post office, the line moves fast, they are always polite and helpful.

Even the IRS, a few years ago, I worked for a company that did not with my taxes, and at the end of the year, I owed the govt money. I didn’t have much money come tax time, so I filed but didn’t pay, well, a few months later I got a scary looking default judgment or some sort of thing that made me think I might get free room and board if I didnt pay up. I called them right away, and they set up a convenient repayment plan, and then I got behind on the repayment plan (remember, I wasn’t making much money) and I got another scary looking letter. I called again, and they said, oh, next time, just call and let us know you are going to have to skip, and we will restructure the repayment.

About the same time I was struggling to pay my house, car, phone and power bills. Not only did I usually have to wait a lot longer to get thru to a human being, I found all the for profits were a lot less willing to work out a payment plan, and if they did, it usually had such a high penalty it was hardly worth it.

These days my finances are much better, for which I am very grateful! I do not find myself on the begging end for special consideration. I still have to deal with corporate “customer service” for my phone service or refunds, or even adding a new service or buying a new product or whatever. I find that I am in large part now, a customer service person, and I try very hard to always be polite, act quickly to solve my client’s problems, in short to offer the best customer service possible, not only because I am a nice guy, but because I strongly believe that good customer service is a great sales tool!

What I don’t understand, is almost every business I deal with in the private sector is worse than dealing with any govt agency I have ever had to deal with. If you are a manager or an employee in sales, service or in any way function to add to your company’s bottom line by interacting with the public, you would do well to be as kind and considerate and as helpful as the Post Office, or the IRS!

Peace, Love and Kill all the Muslims (the sad crazy mixed up world view of many American Christians)

The following was written in reply to a dear friends explanation to his sister, who had heard the Quran was evil and the root for why ALL Muslims were evil. He pointed out that the Quran is basically a rewriting of the Bible.

I have read the Quran, and have to say i was disappointed to find some of the worst of the Old Testament intact in it, especially the criminally insane part about taking your child up on a mountain to kill him…. yes, the Quran is basically the preacher’s notes on the bible, as he (the Prophet) felt god/Allah was revealing His truth to him.

I find people are good or evil, independent of their faith. either using it as an excuse to promote ignorance and hate or to share love and kindness. I can tell you, the latter does more to promote an understanding of “your God” than any of the first.

When we were all at God’s Bible School (1810 Young St Cincinnati OH), back in the late 1970s, my brother and i worked for while at a Gulf gas station at Reading and Mellish. There was a car load of Black Muslims that came by selling fried chicken dinners as part of their fundraising. it seems like we might have ordered a plate or two along the way, but usually, we were too broke to buy a 3-4 dollar plate, yet they would always stop and be kind to us, in fact, looking back, i think of all the native Cincinnatians we met, they were the nicest, most decent folk of the bunch.

Later in life, when Muslim became equated with “Crazy Evil Bastards” in America, i could never buy into that, because i knew some Muslims, who befriended a couple of white boys who were vigorously Christian. They didnt hate on us, they didnt condemn our faith, they certainly were not interested in killing us. As black folks, and especially as Black Muslims, they were certainly on the receiving end of a lot of crap in the VERY racist town of Cincinnati (I LOVE Cincin, but i am white guy), and yet, they showed love and compassion. They nor any Muslim will never convert me, because i am an atheist, but when i hear anti Muslim crap, I will always stand against it. (even when it is by someone like Bill Maher, who I generally like, but will boycott from now on, due to his bigotry)

Crazy jihadist Muslims run the gamut from between Holiness folks of my youth and the Westboro Baptists, but to say that the jihadists are what Muslim is, to say the religion is evil because of the teachings of the Quran is to say only folks nuttier than the bigoted Holiness folks we grew up with are Christian, and that Christians are evil because of the teachings of the Bible!!!!as the new agers who are trying to be Buddhist say, “Namaste” ( the crazy mixed up good person of some faith or no faith, in me, greets the crazy mixed up good person of some faith or no faith in you!)

On Writing, Part Infinity

A friend of mine, an editor, who is heavily invested in the concept of proper word use and punctuation, recently posted this quote on facebook, or more likely shared it from someone else’s post:

Russell Baker Quote

So I gave it a little thought and felt obliged to respond thusly:

uhhh well i do write like i talk in one long runon sentence until i finish my thought or more likely my entire story hardly taking a breath and i could go a long ways between breaths as i have really powerful lungs which reminds me of a story from my youth when we would go swimming in a place called countyhole a cold limestone creek that cut deep and ran long under a thick shade until it came to an old iron bridge with wooden planks only some of the planks were missing and the trees fell back and there the water was cloudy maybe from the limestone maybe from runoff from the nearby gravel pit maybe from a hogfarm a mile or two upstream which we hoped not though more than once one of us would come home with an earache but you dont want to hear that story because we were talking about the proper use of punctuation and how we use it every day in the spoken word and i start making marks in the air and pretty soon i am thinking about morse code and wondering if i can remember it though remember is the wrong word for even though i read it and and studied it a bit nearly fifty years ago i never learned it andthenirealizedwhenispeakinotonlydontmakedotsanddashesidontusespacesbecausepunctuationisafigmentasystemofisolatingofsegratgatingoftheoldevilthewhiterulingclassmakinggamestolockoutothertheothertheonesnotacceptedtheoneswhodonotknowthegamesoiswipemyhandacrosstheskyand throwallthemarksintoasmolderingheap

Waving the Flag

Somehow, my Modern Poetry class stumbled onto a poem that challenges the Pledge of Allegiance at about the time we celebrated Veteran’s Day.

My biggest issue, besides the type of Americanism that uses patriotism as an excuse to terrorize anyone who doesn’t say the pledge, doesn’t cover their heart or place their hand above their eyes in salute is any form of patriotism that doesn’t say “I am proud to be an American”, but instead really says, “my country is better, righter and more moral than your country”, is troubling to me

So far, in my life, I have never met a “patriot” who considered all humans of equal value, so to my mind, patriotism is racism and bigotry. If you would defend America against charges that it is racist, that it is gender biased, that it was built on slavery and by stealing land from the native peoples, by drawing a line in the sand, sand it had NO right to, and running the natives out, if you would defend America against charges that it has built its empire by exploiting other countries and other humans around the globe,

you are not a patriot, you are an evil liar.

if by patriot, you mean you are proud of the good things we have done, in spite of the horrors we have perpetuated, and you want to fight to make America a more moral, humane and equal place, and restore the rights of natives and the children of slaves, if you are determined to see that women are treated equally, that people of LGBT orientations are given the same rights as the rest of us, then yeah, I will wave a flag for feeding the hungry, for educating the poor, for opening our borders to the immigrants who want to be part of the American dream, especially the native Americans who just want to “come home” to a land that was their ancestors for thousands of years before the Europeans every showed up. If you want to make America a country where no one every goes to bed hungry, homeless or without healthcare, then HAND ME A DAMN FLAG!!!!

Liposuction (for the brain)

Most of us go through life, going to school, getting a job, paying bills, raising a family, then getting old, finding a hobby, and dying. We mostly do this without bumping into “movements”.  Somewhere I took a turn on the path of life and I seem to run into things that boggle my mind. maybe it started with Jackson Pollock, then on to the guy I can never remember who simply painted canvases a color. As many of you know, I am a poet, and as some of you know, I have been taking a Modern Poetry class. Poets have more movements, and talk about them more than a senior center (don’t even pretend you don’t know what im talking about!).

A few weeks ago I learned about Acrostics

which is saying something with the capital letters at the front of a poem. I wrote this, as an example:

It’s only Poetry


Why do people



The slightest


Tawdry word they

Hear spoken or

Even written on the


Fairest of pages

Ugly words

Cannot change nor

Keep the beauty



The poem nor

Slight the art


Of being creative

Nothing stands

Long before the gods of art. not




Or even

Efforts of

The ruling class

Religious leaders and certainly not


Now we have moved on to:

The term “mesostic” was coined by Norman O. Brown to describe the acrostic-like letter structures that John Cage used when writing short occasional prose-poems. These commemorative pieces were free verse structured by using an index of letters taken from the name of the dedicatee as a spine.

             a utility aMong 
                 is theiR
                      thEy produce it mid-air
             to avoid coLliding.
                      . . .
                the sounDs
                of the bUgle
         were out of my Control,
                       tHough without
                    my hAving
                        Made the effort
they wouldn't have been Produced.

– from 36 mesostics re and not re Marcel Duchamp (1970)

While studying for a writing assignment I clicked on a link to lipograms: http://everything2.com/title/Lipogram

which is the art of writing around a missing letter or collection of letters.

I was “inspired” to try something a little different. Mine almost looks like text-speak:

I wondr at th naming of a writing styl that rqui no rduction on the part of th ditor, but shars th lack of a lttr or two with lipograms. The diffrnc is that lipograms writ around missing lttrs, whras this form simply dlts the lttr post writing. In this cas the lttr “” has bn rmovd.

What We Need is Smaller Government, Right?

Why don’t we compare our govt to the govt of countries who do things we like? Like the Scandinavian countries, France, the UK, Germany, I wonder what their govt employee to population ratio is compared to the US? Unfortunately, there doesn’t seems to be any readily accessible data on this, that I can find. if you have a source, please add it in the comments and of course, include the source.

I am betting we already have a pretty small govt. If anything, we need a larger govt to offer more services, to protect us from large corps that over work us, under pay us, destroy our jobs and the environment at the same time. we need better funding for PUBLIC roads bridges, hospitals and schools. As you can see in the graph at this site, we are at least already pretty small compared to the Reagan/bush/bush eras I don’t see ANY redeeming qualities in Libertarianism.

When I was in my early twenties, I found the simplicity of Libertarian thought to be great. I loved the black and white of everything, but shortly, I realized it was an inherently racist group. It had no mechanism to correct previous wrongs. it blamed the poor for being poor, even though the system had spent at least a thousand years, maybe tens of thousands of years making sure the poor generally stayed poor while protecting the wealthy against the scourges of time and circumstance.

Libertarianism is behind the stupidity of a couple of years ago when President Obama rightly said “You didn’t make that.” Every rich person and every small businessman in America benefits from public roads, public safety uniform building codes, banking codes, contract law, public education and to the extent it still exists our public healthcare system. some directly like the crook who is our current governor, but all indirectly. without the above things, a businessman would be at the mercy of the already rich for access to funds, for safe transport of product, etc.

And no, govt does not need to run more like a business, and god knows we have seen that govt should not BE a business. Govt is society doing what needs to be done to make us stronger, economically, socially, and militarily. when we invest in doing things that build a better stronger country in the long run, they should not meet the test of a business, which usually is, “can we make a profit this quarter?” so no, we do not need a smaller govt, and no, we do not need to get the govt “off our backs.” We need more responsible business people who understand their debt to their customers and their employees, people who do not look at those two classes as “marks” to be exploited, but as patrons who are the reason they exist.

Somehow the empty platitude that corporations are here first and foremost to return a profit to the stockholders has fallen from the lips of everyone, it seems. think about it, the purpose of any business is to serve the public, if it does that well, it should earn a profit for its trouble. if it rips off customers, if it exploits workers, if it destroys the environment, it should not only not make a profit, it should be liquidated.

I am a firm believer that all companies should be employee owned. if front line employees are not expendable pieces, they can help a company stay close to the customer, they can safeguard the interests of the corporation while better serving the public that a corporation should serve. the whole concept of modern American corporations seem like a system designed to destroy society, and remember, America is not a business, it is a society.

there are a million things we need to do, a million wrongs we need to right, but none of them involve cutting govt.