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  • Time Portends: A Halloween Sonnet

    I humbly submit this iambic sonnet, dear reader, in celebration of All Hallows’ Eve and with respectful homage to the Bard, long dead, but whose spirit and language lives within us.

    Time Portends: A Halloween Sonnet

    Though gloomy and grave it may be to say,
    No choice the end brings, surely we concede;
    We are all merely tenants of the day,
    The rent we pay, for we don’t hold the deed.
     
    May we remain as young, the virile, strong;
    Yet worn and faded photos do remind,
    For every person, summer’s not for long;
    Despite warm doubts, cold terms severely bind.
     
    It all sounds dismal, murky, and too bleak;
    Life’s prime torment, do we endure alone?
    Or can a sober truth we bravely seek,
    To know our lease will be inscribed on stone?
     
    There’s freedom in accepting time portends,
    Our lives demand untimely, certain, ends.
     

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  • Pale Blue Bully

    It started with a shove.  A much older kid, who I didn’t know, began shoving me.  I was about six or seven at the time and walking home alone from elementary school.  It was a beautiful day with the sun high overhead.  Because it was sunny and warm, no one was wearing any coats or jackets.  I was making my way along the sidewalk when unexpectedly I came upon a large group of older kids.  They must have been middle school students who attended the junior high.  But why were they here?  Had they just stepped off of a bus together?  Had they been left out of school early for some reason?

    I didn’t have a chance to think about this too much, however, because I was quickly surrounded by them.  Trying to find my way through the forest of their lanky legs and torsos, I bounced between and around them until I finally bumped into a wall.  The wall was a tall, dark-haired boy wearing a collared dress shirt that was pale blue.  He seemed very annoyed with me for some reason and would not let me pass.  Then the shoving started. (more…)

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  • Election 2012: Ohio, Jobs, and Shale Gas

    When the 2012 presidential election is over and America has its next president, voters will be able to point to those things that tipped the scale in the winner’s favor.  Some of these things may be the usual political or social issues now receiving the most attention such as Mitt Romney’s recent pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate.  Other factors, having their own momentum and not so easily controlled by politicians, will also have a significant impact.  One of these factors may turn out to be the shale gas deposits found deep beneath eastern Ohio.  The intersection of electoral mathematics, job creation, and energy, may make shale gas development in Ohio a deciding factor in the upcoming presidential election. (more…)

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  • An Easy Compromise

    The Republican Party has never really been against spending so much as they simply don’t like taxes; and the Democratic Party has never really been for taxes so much as they simply like spending.  The easy compromise has always been that everyone gets what they want – Republicans get to cut taxes and Democrats get to spend.  What has been the consequence?  Mostly, it has led to the political reward to incumbents of repeated reelection.  This is why we have a more than fourteen trillion dollar debt.  Like most things involving politics, we as voters have the debt that we deserve.

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  • Our Bed of Credit

    Credit is an abstract concept that is difficult to understand.  Like the multi-dimensional reality we live in, we can only truly grasp those dimensions that we can actually see and feel.  Credit, like the fifth dimension, is always going to be an abstraction that remains elusive.  We may get the general idea, but the actual reality and all its implications are always going to challenge our perception.  It is upon credit, however, that the development of civilization has depended.

    Without credit everything shrinks: wealth, material well-being, education, health, security, and most all other opportunities.  Access to funds that can be invested now, but paid back over time is a key factor in increasing living standards around the world.  Modern society itself could not exist without a cushion of credit – a colossal air mattress keeping us above the cold, hard ground of a more brutal existence.  It’s pumped up by confidence and our hope in the future.  The trick has always been to keep a reasonable amount of air in the mattress appropriately correlated to the actual physical economy.

    Since we all depend on the integrity of our collective system of credit, we all have an interest in how it’s managed.  This means ensuring that those who get paid to pump air in don’t simply inflate for their own profits and burst the mattress.  This also means that in correcting for over inflation too much air doesn’t get sucked out too quickly bringing us crashing back down to earth.  We aren’t literally sleeping together, but we do share a bed of sorts; and it’s made of credit.  Even if we sometimes resent our bedmates, especially those that trash the mattress, we always have to remember the importance of the bed.

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  • Facing Reality: Doing More to Protect Children from Pedophiles

    As the initial disbelief and outrage over the accusations against Jerry Sandusky give way to high-profile court cases, there is an uncomfortable truth that continues to remain below the surface – we are simply not doing enough to protect children from pedophiles.  Although the scandal in the Catholic Church elevated the topic of sexual abuse in the public conscience, the reality of pedophiles remains something many people would prefer not to think about too closely.  The current scandal involving Sandusky has refocused our attention on the issue, but it may do little to diminish the overall prevalence of sexual abuse unless we face the problem more directly and with a lasting commitment.  What is needed is a complete transformation in the way we as a society think about and take action against the sexual abuse of children.

    Given that approximately one in four women and one in seven men were sexually abused as children and that children today are facing these same startling statistics, we are clearly not doing enough to stop pedophiles.  There are over half a million registered sex offenders in the US and the majority of these have sexually molested children.  These are known offenders.  It is estimated, however, that there are millions more who continue to specifically target children with impunity.  It sounds alarmist, but unfortunately the number of victims, who often remain silent out of shame and fear, sadly supports these estimates.  This isn’t simply an institutional problem of the Catholic Church or Penn State University; it is a pervasive social problem in America and throughout the world. (more…)

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  • Loose End, Rough Justice

    Although Muammar Qaddafi will never face trial and be forced to answer for his many crimes, his recent violent end brought finality to decades of terror and murder.  It was certainly long overdue.  Although the synergy between NATO airpower and the courageous efforts of the Libyan people was at times uncoordinated and even chaotic, it eventually was able to overcome and destroy Qaddafi and his regime.  France and other NATO allies of the US took lead roles in hitting Qaddafi in the only way that made a difference – with force.  Twenty-five years obviously changed a lot, because the last time the US tried to deal with Qaddafi using force the US had to act alone. (more…)

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  • Health Care Hypocrisy

    The single factor that seemed to contribute the most to the Democrats defeat in Congress, the one thing that animated the highest animosity and energized the vote in opposition, was Health Care Reform.  Now members of the Tea Party and many Republicans in Congress are vowing to “gut it”.  If this is how conservatives plan to use their recently gained political capital, they will fall into the same trap as Democrats.  After spending so much time and so many resources debating health care, not just recently, but over decades, Congress is poised to again squander their opportunities debating its undoing.  The fundamental issue doesn’t even have anything to do with closely held beliefs, but with the most base of all things – political power. (more…)

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  • Love of Country

    When it comes to love of country, the only question that matters is this: What kind of love will it be?  Will it be a love based on truth and understanding?  Will it be a love that has depth and meaning?  Or will it be a superficial and fragile love that can not withstand even a whisper of reality?  To love one’s country despite a clear-eyed view of its shortcomings is the mark of a true patriot.  Nothing is achieved through blind admiration – except a stagnation that gives way to an increasingly desperate defense of false nostalgia.  There are those who believe that pointing out the hypocrisy in America’s past and present makes one a traitor, while those who cheer America “right or wrong” are somehow noble.  But willful ignorance or outright denial of the facts is certainly no virtue; and it is contrary to fulfilling the beliefs written in the US Constitution. (more…)

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  • A Lack of Civility

    In the 1960’s air travel was an elegant affair.  My grandmother tells me how she wore not only a dress, but also a hat and white gloves to travel by plane.  She was received in swanky lounges and attended to throughout the entire experience.  From the time she entered the airport until she arrived at her destination, she was treated like a discriminating customer – someone the airlines respected and wanted to impress.

    Maybe it’s partly nostalgia, because my grandmother was also handed a pack of smokes before her flight, which was not so pleasant for non-smokers; but in general air travel used to be more civilized.  Now we are treated like a burden, a nameless lump that has to be fed, watered, and transported.  Many who fly regularly have become resigned to the minor humilities and major inconveniences of air travel.  Along with this resignation, passenger’s attitudes and behaviors have also deteriorated.  When people expect bad service they tend to act accordingly, which can range from mild irritation to open hostility. (more…)

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