Tuesday, May 20, 2008



Grammar is not my strong point. Never was. For instance, I can’t look at a paragraph and tell you where prepositional phrases are or even what a preposition is. I know what a verb and noun are; I know what a subject is. But I know how to craft words into sentences that “sound nice”. Proper punctuation is also beyond me, but if I re-read what I have written I can “feel” if there are too many comas or if sentences are choppy and need a colon or semi colon, though I don’t know WHY they are used in the manner that feels right.

I’m the musician who cannot write his own notes; the guitar tutor who cannot make his own music. Often when the song is writ, it sounds too familiar. This example, I think is a good analogy to how I write. The words feel “right”, the structure looks “good”. I have files of poetry on yellowed pages, partial stories tossed in boxes lost in storage. I must have written volumes worth of love letters. And while I also mostly taught myself to read and write music and play keyboards and even the guitar, I fancy myself a wordsmith.

Both music and words have power, but this is about the words. Words are at the start and end of wars. Words win your lover’s heart or break it. They can shame a person or heal sadness. It was with words that our forefathers drew the blueprint for the most powerful, free nation in the world’s history. Mercy is imparted with words and so too is forgiveness. Comedy, tragedy, parable, knowledge; words can invoke all of these. Shifting sands in desert winds, pulsing tides of oceans; Cosmological mysteries and astronomical wonders can be painted as well with words as with the brush strokes of a painter.

In recent years, the power of words has diminished.

The vocabulary used by our fore fathers is all but lost. Even our current president can scarcely string together a coherent sentence and he even has paid “experts” to do most of the work for him. The poetry of music has been reduced to long, rhythmic progressions of profanities and trendy slang. Sometimes it seems our language is only a step or two away from being reduced to grunts and hand motions.

A person with a confident grasp of an extensive vocabulary can still demand respect and be very successful in life. I hope the digression of words doesn’t go much further. Once we lose knowledge of the power of words we will lose knowledge of a great many other things. Could we write the Constitution today if the Revolutionary War was only just occurring?

Monday, May 19, 2008



How quickly can society advance? Can knowledge keep up with technology? What can we afford to leave behind and forget to reach our goals more efficiently?

Morals are open to debate, they are inefficient and bog down progress; they are costly. The Constitution of the United States of America is filled with laws steeped in morals. For the sake of progress the Fore Fathers are being silenced.

Progress = profit.

The more quickly progress can be attained, the faster our gratification can be realized.

If a few people die on the job, their deaths are an acceptable cost to so long as productivity output has not been significantly affected; the work force is designed to quickly fill gaps in production lines where needed. It is better to allow lower-class workforce participants to succumb to illness or legal prosecution rather than the upper echelons of a corporation because of the ease of replacement. The corporate chairmen are able to push progression ever faster while the average worker has little influence over economical and societal events.

It makes sense that the elite in society can provide for themselves and are sustained by the highest medical treatments in the world while the average worker who becomes ill will be allowed to suffer. The elite cannot be so easily replaced as the worker. The elite have knowledge and influence, power to control events, and easy access to world governments. The worker on the other hand has nothing substantial in comparison; debt, sickness, and complaints. The worker is apt to debate morals, the elite would rather make laws.

Laws circumvent the moral debate. While there are instances where laws have caused some debate, it is largely accurate to say that laws are preferred for lack of discussion. Gun control is a very good example that illustrates the issue. Between federal, state, and local jurisdictions, there are several thousand individually different laws to circumvent the very simple moral that people should not kill each other. The moral taken by itself allows for endless debate; maybe there is a time to kill, perhaps only certain people should be allowed to do the killing; what if certain people need to die? Then there is the question of how and where killing should be done; should people be allowed to use guns to kill with? What about defending a home? Perhaps anyone can kill, but only certain people should do so with guns. Should every home be armed with guns or only certain qualifying people?

The debate can go on and on, slowing any progress that might be influenced by the discussion.

The thousands of laws speed up the process tremendously. By law, a person knows if they can have a gun and where they can use it. By law, a person knows whom they can use a gun against and when to do so. There is no debate. The law answers all questions. The law speeds up all discourse about a subject or ideal so that a society can move on.

The speed at which a society can progress is currently only slowed by the development process of technology. Acceleration of technological development has been increasing for decades at the loss of many simple morals in favor of so many laws even the law makers require entire rooms full of legal books.

We have lost much in the name of progress, seemingly for little gain. Much of our modern technology is only the acceleration of progress; faster communications, faster transportation, and faster labor. In the United States of America we are now seeing some of the cost of this progress.

Our infrastructure has suffered tremendously, education is failing at all levels, and the family construct is fractured.

Is there a goal to this mad rush for progress? How much longer can we endure this reckless, breakneck pace? How much more are we willing to give up for it?

Thursday, May 15, 2008



In 1957 Russia launched the world’s first satellite into orbit around the Earth. In 1969, America landed the first humans on the Moon. In 1990 the Hubble space telescope was positioned into Earth’s orbit in the upper atmosphere after initial plans began as early as 1946 when an astronomer named Lyman Spitzer wrote a paper discussing the advantages of an extraterrestrial observatory. In 2004 America sent and successfully landed two robotic, remote-controlled rovers to Mars which are still functioning at the time of this writing, (2008).

From the moment America decided that we were going to put men on the Moon, it only took about 10yrs. Much of the technology had to be crafted from scratch, we barely had turned off ENIAC for the last time in 1955, transistors were just beginning to appear in computers, and the idea of a computer storing programs was still a spiffy goal to achieve. And yet, we did it. In that time we also created the internet, GPS, the floppy disk, and 35lbs two-way radios were still being lugged around in back-packs. Yet we still put a man on the Moon in less than 10yrs of deciding to do so.

So what went wrong?

Between 1969 and 1972, only six manned Moon landings occurred. It took about 20yrs after the first landing to get a telescope into orbit. Thankfully someone got the bright idea to attach a camera and transmitting package to some wheels or we might not have been able to confirm that Mars is indeed a red planet, but that endeavor took the entirety of America’s “space age” to implement. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that we finally have something happening in space that’s worth paying some attention to. But really, so what if they find some microbes in some dark, wet place on Mars? What is that going to do for us? Is it going to fix the impending green house here on Earth? Is it going to put an end to the Evolution vs. Creation debate? How about the natural elements we’ve begun to run short on, is life on Mars going to replenish billions of year’s worth of elemental resources?


I love the images of the Hubble observatory, but eight years of pretty space pictures hasn’t positively answered any of the above questions either. But now that it’s there, the least we could do is make sure it’s working properly for as long as it takes for a suitable replacement to take its place. The upcoming observatory that only sees in the infrared is not a suitable replacement. Fortunately, NASA intends to give the Hubble one more service mission to replace the failing gyros and apply some upgrades before retiring the Space Shuttle fleet in 2010; which leads me to the crux of my issue.

What went wrong?

How did America’s only means to space flight become the deprecat death trap that it is? How did we go over 30yrs without constructing an orbital or moon-based manufacturing infrastructure? Sure, there would have been problems, but this is America, we overcome problems when we are confronted with them. A manufacturing infrastructure outside of the Earth’s gravity well has several benefits: launching of satellites and space craft at only a fraction of the fuel cost, construction of much larger satellites with far more capability, and a stepping stone to more resources. America was the number one nation on the Earth because of its heroic solutions to insurmountable tasks. We’ve let insurance companies and political nannies turn every life-threatening endeavor into a zero tolerance taboo.

Thank you for the Hubble space telescope and the Mars rovers, they at least remind us that there’s more to see out there. But it’s time to put some risk back into our lives, time shut up the entertainment heroes and open the door to more inspirational ones.

Friday, May 9, 2008



These days, everyone is looking for free stuff; free energy, free healthcare, free food, free sex….the list goes on. Yet, everyone knows and agrees that nothing is actually free. People are stealing man-hole covers to sell the metal, they are stripping abandoned homes of copper pipes and have even gone so far as to steal the fittings off of fire hydrants. In the middle of winter every year, someone freezes to death because their gas or electricity was turned off. Even your organs are not safe these days; if you go on a leisurely walk you could return home missing a kidney.

Cars are sinking into house-sized pot holes on the highways, bridges are collapsing, sewers are leaking into fresh-water rivers. The disruption of ecosystems is causing plants and animals to go extinct. We are running out of all sorts of stuff, individual elements from the periodic table are dwindling fast: copper, zinc, and other lesser-known elements that are necessary for environmentally-friendly (green) technologies. Even elements used in computers and solar panels are evaporating.

Sick people are being removed from hospitals and dropped onto streets blocks away for lack of insurance; some are dying because their provider has refused to pay for expensive treatment. Swat teams are breaking down the doors of innocent people and sometimes someone gets shot, even killed. Children are being labeled sex-offenders if they send nude photos to each other on their cell phones, getting expelled for playing cops-and-robbers as early as 10yrs old, and God help the parent who has a child removed by child welfare services over a misunderstanding.

Far too many wars are being fought on the U.S.A. soil: we have a war on drugs, war on pollution, war on religion, war on parents, war on “domestic terror”; everyone seems to be after someone for something. Scald yourself with hot coffee from a drive-through? Sue them! Trip on a broken sidewalk on a commercial property? Sue them! Bitten by dog in home you were about to rob? Sue them! This trend of suing anyone over anything is a war on common sense.

It’s no wonder we have an obesity problem in America; if you can survive your daily transit to and from work, if you can make it through your work day and not lose your self control, then you’ve survived yet another day, why bother with anything else? You’ve got your own battle to fight, anyone else’s problem is theirs alone.

Nothing is free, and least of all freedom. In a nation with a population that is indebted, incarcerated, impoverished, and sickly; freedom is hard to come by. Politicians have bred a nation of ignorance and apathy and confusion. People who have some knowledge of what to do, are scared or powerless or can’t agree on the best “fix”. Some say the police state that we have become is our just reward for tolerating political corruption. It’s difficult to argue that point. We can point fingers at the politicians all day long, but at the end of the day, WE put them there.

Nothing is free. Thomas Jefferson said that every once in awhile the patriots have to rise up in arms and shake down the government, put them in their place. He knew freedom could not last forever, it’s not free, it needs to be maintained. Maintenance of our freedom is a dangerous job, it requires brave patriots. Freedom requires the blood of those patriots, there is no safe way to go about it. Freedom demands blood in the streets. It’s a messy job, but someone has to do it.