Of Pedophiles, Polygamists and Tattooed Girls

January 30th, 2012

Check out my latest Bookbrowse.com blog entry.


Confessions of a Banned Book Reader

November 15th, 2011

My first monthly blog for BookBrowse.com has gone live. Check it out.



September 29th, 2011

Creamy roasted red and green pepper soup with grilled pumpernickel croutons and queso fresca,

Vengeance is…

July 23rd, 2011

A character in a book I read recently remarked that vengeance is a powerful, maybe even essential, evolutionary force. No less a force, he said, than the one that compels humans to eat or procreate. It is why those who are the most vengeful survive, he said.

His comments have been rattling around in my brain for weeks. My first reaction was to try to dismiss them as nothing more than a device to advance the plot of the novel. After all, this was a work of fiction and this character and his speeches meshed flawlessly with one of the story’s themes. Even so, ideas — even disturbing ones — are most effectively conveyed through our storytellers. And make no mistake, for me this is a truly disturbing idea. Not only did his theory paint a depressingly bleak picture of human nature but it also portended a human race where kindness and empathy slowly, over time, would become obsolete. The concept haunts me. I began to imagine what might happen if evolution, that insensate governess of all things biological, actually favors vengeance over empathy. What if humanity’s, well, very humanity were to disappear, bred out of the species like tails? What might such a world be like?

I saw a world driven by vengeance as a world where ever-increasing numbers of people are exploited by the most vengeful few. I saw a world comprised of nations ruled either by despots or by puppet governments beholden to a handful of greedy, vengeful operators. I saw a world where those same governments and their operators whipped up a persistent state of fear within those nations. Humans are easy prey for fear. As benign a thing as an unknown “other” can incite fear. Thus it would be incredibly easy to simply cycle between threats from those ubiquitous “others,” or threats of terrorist attacks, or threats of economic collapse. Name it. Nothing fans the flames of vengeance and anger so much as fear. I saw a world where the majority of the human race can be kept in a constant, artificial state of fear, anger and vengeance. Scary? Sure. But in the end the worst characteristic by far of that world would be if someone were to nurture a worldwide pernicious fear of what chaos might ensue if there were too much tolerance. As long as humans can be made to fear tolerance and empathy those characteristics would indeed devolve. Then what would that world look like?

Maybe I need to listen to more music, and read less.

Just Curious

July 20th, 2011

When a business sells shares of itself (commonly called stocks) it is an “investment.” When the US Government sells shares of itself (commonly called bonds) people refer to it as “debt?” Don’t they both have to be paid? What really is the difference? Other than an arbitrary label, that is?

Just curious.

Deficit. Schmeficit.

June 6th, 2011

Here’s my question: What happens when the wealthy won’t or don’t have to pay taxes and the rest of a country’s citizens can’t pay taxes because they are either unemployed or underemployed?


May 17th, 2011

A low carbohydrate diet seems to make good sense. However I can’t help but think that the human race wanted pasta so bad that they gave up their roaming ways, settled down long enough to grow wheat and then go through the laborious process of grinding it into flour. Come on. That’s a lot of effort! Even they knew that meatballs are just not as good as when they’re paired with a heaping bowl of pasta.

Random Thought

March 7th, 2011

Today’s random thought: Why does it surprise anyone when newly-elected officials appear to hate people when they campaigned on an anti-government platform? In a country where government is “by the people” that means that they hate people.

Guns & Smokes

January 19th, 2011

The state of Arizona is missing out on such an obvious and very rich source of income I can’t believe legislators haven’t already thought of it. Taxes on guns and ammunition! It’s not gun control, it’s simply recouping the societal cost of gun ownership. No one can deny that guns come with a huge cost to society. From the cost of incarcerating people who use guns in the commission of a crime to the medical costs for people killed or injured by guns, the price tag is astronomical. Sure, people have a right to own guns. They also have a right to smoke cigarettes. Both take a heavy toll on society, so why not tax guns to the same extent we tax smokes? And do you know how cheap a gun license is? Way too cheap.

Of course, you can’t tax illegal guns. But if the price of a legal weapon is high enough illegal gun dealers can raise their prices (just cheaper than legal weapons) thus shutting out buyers who can’t afford guns. Small time crooks would have to resort to knives.

Come on, legislature! Balance the budget by taxing guns and ammo.

And the Winner is…

July 29th, 2010

The entire mess over SB1070 and the dilemma of what to do about illegal immigrants reminds me of Shirley Jackson’s controversial short story, The Lottery. The story is about a town where the citizens have been manipulated into believing that their lottery is a good thing, that it is fair. And everyone gets very excited about the annual practice of stoning the lottery “winner” to death. This year America’s lottery “winners” are illegal immigrants.

It is astonishing that so many people who support SB1070 can’t see that they are being manipulated. These otherwise rational people apparently don’t have the ability to perceive that they are being played. But I wonder, why can’t they see that individuals seeking either election/re-election or increased viewer ratings are manipulating information and appealing to primal fears simply because they know it works? Why can’t they see through the false outrage of people whose only allegiance is to their own vested interest — public office or higher poll ratings?

Don’t they realize that laws like SB1070 endanger the freedom of their fellow Americans as much, if not more, than they threaten illegal immigrants? Why are SB1070 supporters so willing to throw their fellow Americans – who may look or “act” foreign – under the bus? For the sake of…what? So that they may feel superior? So that they may feel entitled to the “specialness” of their citizenship? How special is a citizenship that would forfeit the rights of that citizenship to another citizen in the name of “cracking down” on illegitimate interlopers? Worse, how special is a citizenry that would allow themselves to be manipulated just so they can persecute a scapegoat?

How is this not nauseatingly just like Jackson’s ominous parable?