April 17,2005

Psuedo Patrician Non-Humanitarians

I’ve been really mulling this one over for a while.

Things have come to a pass. I have questions about why certain political choices are being made,and the voices I am hearing from media outlets are almost exclusive liberal voices.

I am trying to follow the tangled thread. Here are some of the things that concern me:

Health Care
Cost of Living
Whether jobs will be available
How much stuff costs
Being fair to everyone
Taking good care of natural resources

These seem really basic to life enjoyment. I have to live, I have to pay for stuff, I have to have a job to pay for said stuff. I think that we have to be fair to everyone, because it’s the right thing to do. Plus, if we aren’t fair, they will exact revenge.

And we have to take care of natural resources, like the EARTH for a big example, because I have to look at it when I am not working or shopping for stuff. And I like the earth. It’s where I keep my stuff (okay, that’s a quote from The Tick).

If we take care of the stuff that keeps my list of concerns taken care of, we’re doing okay.

Alright. So who pays for Health care to keep me living? In the USA, insurance companies do. That’s really really convoluted. I mean, at one point in history, Doctors used to take their knowledge and think of a way to cure the person, and then they would take money or some trade item from the person they were treating. That was the end of that.

Now, getting your tonsils out takes huge statistical charts and indexes to pay for. Whoa. That’s strange and weird. But that’s really what we are living with.

The people that pay the insurance companies to pay the bills for our medical needs are:
the employers, i.e. Large Corporations

Mostly, that’s true. Some individuals can pay the premiums themselves, if they want. The governmentactsd as a safety net, that picks up the slack sometimes for those who don’t have an employer to pay.

That’s how we do it in the US. In Europe, the government picks up the tab for the whole bill. It’s called socialized medicine. And socialized medicine has a whole host of problems, such as lowered quality of care and restaints on compensation for the professionals who are therefore unmotivated to innovate and invent such needed things as new cures.
Socialized medicine is not the best way to do it. But neither is our way. Both of us are figuring out what to do next.

But things being the way they are, Large corporations are the biggest customers of the health insurance companies who control the health care in america.

So, when you are dealing with health care, it’s really a lot about large corporate interests.

Large corporate interests = the Republican party

right? well, maybe.

But the democrats are the ones who are always bringing up health care concerns. And they are full of speeches about how new programs can be funded by new taxes that will be paid for by big business or ‘the rich.’

But, if the democrats expect to milk the corporate cow, it would seem to require checking that the cow is well fed. If we learned nothing from the stock crash of 2000 it’s that businesses are quite apt to fail.

Interestingly, the democrats are for ‘equality’ too. That is what they seem to talk about a lot. I hear a lot about people being underpriviliged. Or people being minorities or poor. Sometimes, they even talk about people being oppressed.

These are pretty big words. The conservatives tend to say things like “Idiots” and “Morons” about the liberals. Not very helpful, just to oversimplify into name-calling.

But the liberals voices seem to forget where their bread is buttered. I have listened for a long time, and I can see that their basic idea is to take money from rich people and from big business in the form of taxes and redistribute it (through government branches) to ‘the less fortunate’.

That bothers me. This country has a high regard for independence, and we seem to be setting up a structure whereby people become dependent on the government, that thing that NO ONE, conservative or liberal, trusts.

It seems to be better to take obtacles out of people’s way and let them do what they feel like doing.

I like the idea of compassion that the democrats supposedly espouse. I’d like to be a democrat and help out where help is needed.

But this constant talk of ‘the less fortunate’ seems to place those speaking on a superior plane than the others. Sure, they may be speaking about compassion, but there are ways of giving help without stripping the recipients of their dignity. But the speechers raise themselves by referring to others in a one-down position. It’s as if they are attempting to become patrician by designating all others as plebian. But it is smoke and mirror. We do hold to the truth that all people are created equal.

It is non-humanitarian to create a system of whereby people become dependent for their basic needs. That’s infanticizing the ‘less fortunate.’

So, I have a bad taste in my mouth for these psuedo patrician non-humanitarian democrats. I know there may be plenty of truly compassionate charitable people who work hard to help the less fortunate, but the loudest voices in the democratic party (at least those around me in liberal LA) are terrible examples.

March 25, 2005

Do or Do not. There is no try

When I was about 14, I fell in love with satin pajamas. Actually, I fell in love with the idea of satin pajamas.

I didn’t see them anywhere, I just thought about how pretty and nice they would be.

Buying them was not within my reach. You have to understand, we did not place the purchasing of new clothing from stores within our grasp. It was part of how we dealt with being poorl; just don’t even entertain the idea of wanting something you can’t have. Buying new clothes was outside of what we could do, so why think about it?

This was before I was able to make my own money, so I didn’t even think about finding out what it would cost new. If we wanted clothing that didn’t appear in the hand-me-down closet that our church kept, we would have to make it.

I found the satin on sale, a beautiful champagne color, and then I found the pattern. I worked hard on it. I’d never made a shirt with a yoke, and many other things.

It took a long time, but time was the only thing I had too much of. In the middle of it, I was talking to an excellent seamstress from our church about the double french seams I was trying to do.

“Don’t you think that satin is a very difficult fabric to work with?”

The idea had never once passed through my mind. Difficult? This was the only way to get the pretty pajamas that I wanted. It was not a matter of difficult. It was a matter of possible.

I am very binary that way. Can it be done? Yes or No? Difficult is not on the map. Not for me. And not for most of my family, come to think of it.

Consequently, I tend to bite off a lot. Then drive myself into the ground trying to do it.

Then again, I also manage to do some amazing things.

I am staggering right now under the difficulty of writing the book that I am trying to write. Sure, when I first thought of it, I just thought of the whole. I thought of the finished product, some vague notion of this story.

Now, I am in the details of it. I am staggered with the enormity of the subject. I tell everyone “It’s a book contrasting the religious tyranny in America with the political tyranny of Russia, and it tracks how the main character comes away from her tyrannical religious upbringing at the same time that Russia is trying to come out from it’s political tyranny.”

Honestly, I think even Shakespeare would have been a bit staggered with that subject matter. YES, it’s true. It really happened. No way could I write this if I hadn’t lived it. It is too big to make up. I believe that it would be a very good book to have in the world, to show up how that kind of thing happens, and that it happens to all of us.

But wow. This is a huge project. And ME, I have to make it the first book I write. No baby steps for me. I have to start with Mt. Everest.

Man on man.

Well, some day, somehow, it will be done. I kind of feel like I am halfway up this mountain, and it’s too late to turn back now. But I just realized how hard it is, and that I might not be up to the task.

But someway or another it will have to get done.

HOOO boy

January 22 2005

Apostate to his own intelligence

One who has abandoned one’s religious faith, a political party, one’s principles, or a cause.

A couple years ago I observed a sort of behavioral tendency in one individual, and it’s amazing how the same pattern carries through in many different people I’ve met.

I call it being apostate to your own intelligence.
Apostate is a word with religious implications, and since I come from a very religious background it seems natural to me. I understand it to mean someone who deliberately turns away from God, knowing and understanding that God is God and still turning away from Him.

Of course the same principle applies to other things. For example, a person could knowingly and with full understanding turn away from the smart thing to do.

Here’s where I first saw it:

I met this man , let’s call him Joe, through a friend. When I met Joe, he was cleaning carpets to feed his wife and children.

My friend said, “Joe has a degree in industrial engineering.”

“Good heavens! Why would he want to be a carpet cleaner if he could be an engineer? What happened?”

A few years prior, there had been an infestation of Multi-level marketing in the area. Ponzi’s dream lives on, and it became the dream of Joe. He bought into the product line, bought into the pre-packaged marketing material. He contacted all his friends and spent time trying to recruit them beneath his level on the Ponzi pyramid.

As is easy to guess, this diligent effort did not result in the millions, or at least hundreds of thousands, that the marketing materials implied.

Here comes the point of decision. Joe started this endeavor to make money. He wasn’t making money. Logic would indicate that he abandon this method of making money and find a different method that produced the desired result-money.

But Joe did not choose to do this. He decided that there was a reason he wasn’t making money. It must be because he had not comitted to the plan. He needed to quit his job and do this new job full-time.

He chose to continue on with his original choice, affirming the first decision with a second one.

Now, he’s stepped away from logic and begun to act on faith. Why would he, an engineer, a man of science, choose to act against his own logic? Let’s follow him further.

Joe quit his job as an industrial engineer. He began to sell the MLM products full time, on the belief that the products and the system were reliable and the problem lay in his dedication to them. He fully believed that he would be able to support his family on the money he would be certain to recieve with his new commitment to the plan.

It wasn’t long before his new plan had consequences. His wife and kids had to leave their home and live with her mother because there was no money to pay the bills.

And here came the second point of decision. Should Joe give up his MLM dreams and go back to work as an engineer? There were definitely jobs available. Or should he pursue his MLM career further?

Yep, ol’ Joe believed. He chose to find a supplemental job, one that wouldn’t get in the way of his real job, selling the MLM product.

He took up a franchise to start cleaning carpets. It didn’t pay enough for his family to leave Grandma’s house. As a matter of fact, Joe had to live with friends to get back on his feet.

This is a true story. This man was a fool. He consistenly chose the same stupid decision.

What the hell was he thinking? He must have thought that something other than reason or logic (also known as reality) was more important to him.

What could be more important than reality? And what sorts of things fall outside the boundaries of logic and reality?

I have two answers:
1. Self Image
2. Being percieved as being right

Maybe they are just two aspects of the same thing. When Joe chose to join the MLM program, he had a certain image of himself. Rich, successful, prosperous, admired, whatever. That was who he was going to be.

When he came to his first point of decision, he could abandon that first image and admit that he was wrong. This course of action would have made it possible to find another way to gain the rewards he was looking for.

But he didn’t want to admit he was wrong. He didn’t want to crack the image he had of himself, the one he thought he was portraying to others, that was so attractive.

He affirmed his first decision, and chose to act against logic. This was only the first real time he acted against logic. It might have worked, that scheme. But once he tried it, he could empirically know that it didn’t work.

He chose to ignore the reality of the situation, and embrace his inner vision of himself, and shore up the image he assumed he projected to others. That he was a guy that knew what he was doing.

He didn’t see that others were not impressed with him. That he looked a fool.

Just because he had found a way to superimpose his self-image over reality did not mean that anyone else was fooled. It only showed up his foolishness more starkly.

Now, I have seen a number of people decide that they have a story about themselves, they have an image, that is more important than reality. They can take the weight of their supposed position or importance and try to flatten the reality of the situation.

This only shows up the contrast between the truth of the situation and the ridiculous story they are putting forth.

True importance, such that would make a person worth of respect, comes from acting and speaking in accordance with reality.

Which is to say, respect is earned not owed.

And to turn away from Truth towards self-gratification (also known as fear) will only hasten what you fear.

December 27, 2004

Bobo the Clown

I spent this Christmas in the Inland Empire. I’ve spent a lot of time there, because Chris’s mom lives in Upland. Most of the time I’ve spent there, the entertainment options have pretty much been going to malls.

But isn’t that what L.A. is supposed to be about? Not the best feature in my opinion, but when in Rome…

In the spirit of the season, on the 26th, I woke up early and bought a paper so we could scope the ads and see what was on sale. I knew we would go shopping because Chris’s family tradition is to return most of the presents recieved the day before.

But I saw the Book Review section, so I had to look. On the last page there was a review: Bohemian Manifesto by Laren Stover. The reviewer tells us, “She wore a ‘yellow thrift-ship hat and a fuchsia jacket I found in a trash can on Christopher Street” to her first job interview.”
It goes on,” ‘Bohmians…create new work and change paradigms.’ When Starbucks and the Gap move into the neighborhood, ‘Bohemians move out.'”

Oh, yeah. Thrift store shopping and treasures from the trash. That’s my background. I write a lot about growing up in Alaska, because Alaska is so weird. But the truth is, we were wierd even for Alaskans. It finally clicked for me. That’s why this guy at work jokes about me being engulfed in clouds of Patchouli (a scent I enjoy, but do not own). It’s the idea of patchouli that surrounds my way of life. Mom and Dad were definitely Bohemians.

I talked this over with Chris. He said, “What does Bohemian mean anyway?”

It’s a way of life. It’s being dedicated to the meaning of things, of ideas as more important than the moment. That the idea, of art, of social activism, or something, is more important than living the life of a philistine.

In fact, avoiding the life of the cushy bourgeouis philistine type of life is quite possibly the idea that a boho is trying to follow. Being open-minded and ready for new experiences that life has to offer…That’s basic bohemianism.

Chris; “What’s wrong with a middle class life?”

Me; “Chris, I’ve told you this before. It’s exactly that kind of question that almost make me leave you when we were first getting to know each other.”

Chris walked into my life, with his wonderbread dedication to name brand foods-it must be Coke, it must be Nabisco, it must be Kraft, or it is unacceptable.

He loves Disney.
He loves beef.

He will not eat at a Thai food restaurant, an Indian restaurant or any other type of ethnic food. When we eat out, it’s three choices: Italian, Mexican, or American cuisine.

All of which are basically American foods.

He wanted to go to Hawaii, not Europe.

These are against the grain of my bohemian lifestyle, my upbringing. My father and I used to peruse the foreign food section at the grocery store, marvelling at all the interesting foods and languages written on the packages.

I have never aspired to go to Hawaii. Hawaii is not old enough.

“Don’t you want to see architecture and art and history in Europe? I’ve never wanted to go to Hawaii.”

He answered: “But it’s pretty. You will like the flowers.”

And you know what? he was right. It was pretty.

But having to buy BRAND NAMES for him still rubs me the wrong way. Corporate clones! I don’t want to have anything to do with that!

It was a huge struggle. I seriously considered that we might have nothing in common. If our very philosophical basis was opposed, then we were doomed.

He challenged me: “Why are we so different?”

Saying that he liked Kraft and Nabisco seemed not enough of a reason.

I wrestled. Would I be giving up my ideals to be with this man? What kind of open minded student of life would I be if I were tied to bourgeous boychik?

My ideals. I had to be open minded.

And that was the point. I had to be open-minded. Was I really living my philosophy if I was judging Chris based on outward appearances and not on his heart?

Chris liked Coke because much of his grandmother’s retirement fund was Coke stock. He always thought of his grandfather and his grandmother when he bought the 24-pack of Coke.

And he loves his family, and he loves me. He doesn’t worry so much about my philosophy (which is admittedly a little vague), he is deeply concerned with whether or not I am happy.

True, he does not enjoy my open mike poetry readings. He doesn’t want to go to the parties with my artsy friends. But he meets me when I come back with a kiss, and often makes me a cup of tea while I tell him all about it.

No, he is not open-minded about trying the new sushi bar. But he was more open-minded about my hippy-dippy ways than I was being about his white-bread background.

And, as it happens, he makes me very happy. So…Different cultures, even when they live next door to each other, have things to teach one another.

October 27, 2004

“In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was God”

Great quote for writers to remember, huh? Gives us delusions of grandeur.

But there is great power in words-even in just one work. In his book Creativity, author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about how just asking the question is incredibly useful. HitchHiker’s Guide taught us that. “Are you sure you’re asking the right question?” Finding a new way of looking at a problem can get you a lot closer to solving it.

And this morning I found a word I’d been looking for:

This is a twisted and long thread of thought. Bear with me.

Funny I didn’t think of it earlier. This is the presidential election season, after all. Kerry is busy talking about how he has a plan, and President Bush is talking about how people in the Middle East are now free and not under tyranny.

Tyranny is a nicely flexible word. It can refer to a whole country, or it can refer to just one person.

You know, my professor of classical literature told us that the original meaning for tyranny was just a King. It is a Greek word, and it was the real name for Oedipus Rex (Rex being pushed in later, because Tyrant had a bad name). I’ve written about Oedipus before, actually. This just adds to the soup of what I’ve been thinking about.

The Founding Fathers, those instigators, knew that Tyranny was a cooperative endeavor. ‘Tax our tea, will ya? I don’t THINK so…’
Over the side it goes, and those new world colonists showed they were not going to cooperate with the percieved tyranny of England’s taxes. The American Revolutionaries pulled in their powers and refused to cooperate with tyranny.

It’s kind of funny, because the things they were complaining about seem so insignificant when we take a look around at the sorts of tyranny we’ve become used to now. Too much taxes! Give me a break! How does that even get on the same page as getting stoned to death on the streets for flashing an elbow?

And yet, these things start small.

That’s the problem. They start small. Some leader, some person given the power to rule over people, makes a small move that’s not right, and people accomodate.


They go along to get along. I mean really, you can’t argue over everything. What’s a little tax? What’s a little religious zealousness? It’s for the greater good.

Until it takes over. And then you have tyranny.

The founding fathers were big readers. They were into the whole enlightenment, Thomas Paine, Plato’s Republic, humanism and all that.

They came to an understanding of how politics work. They were attuned to it, so that they weren’t letting the ol’ monarch get away with anything. Nope, not even a little tax. And they thought and conversed and read and argued and came up with a GENIUS bunch of documents that were meant to protect our freedom.

And the big basis of this protection was that the power was distributed. They wanted people to be able to hold on to their power and not be compelled to cooperate with tyranny. The message was, ‘if you fall into tyranny, it’s your own fault! The keys to your freedom are in your own hands.’

And this is so much a part of who americans are, that we don’t even think about it. We have had this policy, don’t get involved in other people’s business. Other countries can hold a revolution if they want change. We did. The keys to their freedom are in their own hands.

Sometimes we get impatience, and the CIA plays dirty. They ‘assist’ the revolutionaries of a country with overthrowing a government they don’t like. But we do believe that it’s up to the people to take the reins for their own government.

That’s why we like democratic governments. Democracy for everyone!

But not everyone comes to democracy from the same angle.

Let’s go back to a more recent revolution. The Russian one, less than one hundred years ago, had a whole different philosophy. Communism, which I’ve also written about before.

The communists, of whom the US of A became terrified , had a desire for democracy and a very strong emphasis on being ‘for the people’. But they took it another way.

There were a set of smarty-pants, well-read, rich, idealistic and politically active men who started the whole thing and foisted it upon everyone else. Just like America so far.

But they really clung to the ideology. It was all about the ideology. This particular political philosophy happened after the advent of psychology. It was kind of an organized “power of positive thinking” in some ways.

Their idea was that if they could just educate the masses in the principles of this great ideology of equality and wonderfulness.

And maybe that’s where it went wrong. It got kind of messy when people tried to guide…FORCE…other people into actions for their own good.

The 20th century was a lot about that. A lot about ideological movements. There was the Russian revolution. Early in the 20th century. That happened during world war 1, which had it’s own sets of ideological movements on all sides. I have been thinking about that one a lot, too.

Then world war 2 happened. There was the National Socialist movement…Also known as the Nazis…Boy, they were a set of idealists. Scary scary. And ever after, we use them as examples of the ultimate bad dudes. But it was ideas that gave them power. All those people in the concentration camps were there because of a large cooperation of tyranny. The force of all the collective people going along to get along, going along because of the greater good was crushing.

Did the word holocaust exists before world war two? Maybe it had a meaning like Tyrant had during Oedipus’s time. No real meaning. The Nazis filled out the word like no one else.

Alright. But the Nazis burned out, basically. After world war 2, we were left with only the communists to fear. The communists, starting their political will to power in Russia…Which oozed over into places that had not been Russia…The Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Roumania. They were not Russia, but they were assimilated into the blank sweep of map known as the USSR.

And the communists were not done. There was Eastern Europe. They began licking their lips and swallowing chunks of Europe like cake. Germany, Poland, Chekoslovakia.

It was scary scary. I could go on with all kinds of examples, but history is not my forte, and I’ll probably be inaccurate.

The thing I am remembering, thinking about now is Milan Kundera. He wrote the Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I’ve talked about before.

I just recently finished another of his books, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. This blows me up, just like the last one.

He’s talking about how his country was taken over by the Communists. He’s talkign about Czechoslovakia, and what people choose to remember. How political powers, whichever one was in power, would revise the history, erase people from photos and memories.

I remember another book that was about American revisionist history. I don’t know if anyone else would see it that way, but I did. It deals with America’s bugaboos, race, slavery and class status. And all the people in the story seem to remember things differently. The hero is left trying to sort out what ‘really’ happened.

What the heck happened? That’s the question Kundera was dealing with. What the heck happened to my beautiful ideas? what the heck happened to my beautiful country? When did this tyranny take over? How did we allow it?

And wasn’t Oedipus also thinking this? What the heck happened? How did this horror come to pass?

We never meant for this. And at last we get to the heart of this:

I also walk with my head in my hands. What the heck happened here?

I am trying to write a memoir. It is the story of how my life was when I was 18 and 19. It is a story of


Religious tyranny. It’s a story of how certain people were given power and control, and how other people cooperated. It’s a story of how I struggled to break free.

It’s also a story of how I went to Russia, landing in Yakutsk, on the same day that the Soviet Union dissolved.

So, these are two parallel stories. Me, breaking free of American religious tyranny, and Russia, breaking free of Communist Soviet tyranny.

Now that I have the word, tyranny, I feel like I can better express the story.

I understand Kundera, with his grief and his confusion, ‘What happened?’ He struggled with his country, he struggled with the fate of his country. I struggle too. I have spent my life wondering ‘What happened? How did my family, my church, come to this?’

It is not simple. It is not normal. Tyranny is not a phase of life. There were things that happened that should not have happened. And I, as a teenager, was left grasping at straws and struggling with the why.

I looked high and low for something to explain what happened. Why did my parents make the choices they did? Why did the pastor do the things he did?

How did my brother come to the conclusion that he was could no longer make his own decisions, but always had to go to the pastor for direction in everything?

What was that about?

My first word for it was “spiritual abuse” This made sense.

But it was bigger than that. I kept looking. After time I found another word:
Mind Control

More and more, the behaviors I had seen were coming into focus. And researching mind control led directly into a new field:

And that word, cult, has satisfied me for a very long time. As I thought about it, sifting through my experiences and memories, it fits.

And as I gained courage to talk more about it with others, I began to see that these methods, these patterns, were far more universal than I thought.

And eventually, I looked over to my right and saw some nasty methods and patterns coming from the man I was married to.

It’s not that uncommon, I guess. I hate to think of myself as a victim demographic, but it’s common for abuse to go on and not be identified by the person recieving it.

It’s little things. ‘He couldn’t have meant to do that.’ But nothing wins an argument like slamming your opponent against the wall. And he probably felt a lot more in control, a lot smarter when he told me that I didn’t know anything.

It wasn’t until I began to understand how spiritual abuse, mind control and cults work that I could at last recognize what was happening at home, and be empowered to leave. Boy, it was not easy, let me tell you that!

But those three words didn’t cover what was happening in my home. They call it wife beating, emotional abuse. But it was so much of a piece with all the others.

And none of those words covered what was happening in Russia, under the communists. I thought of Totalitarianism. Yeah…

And then came the taliban, who chilled my bones. That’s back to spiritual abuse and totalitarianism.

Until today, when I finally found the word, the oldest word of them all.

Tyranny. That covers all the bases. It even covers things not in my listed experiences. It doesn’t take two to do this tango. There are ways that one person can be a tyrant to themself.

We already know that tyranny requires cooperation.

I do not have many answers. I’m thrilled today, just to have a question. Here’s the question:
What does it take to resist tyranny? How do we not cooperate with the forces of evil (cue George W. here) or the forces of misguided good intentions that push us into the arms of tyranny?

I don’t know exactly how. I think that having a strong sense of right and wrong, and an attitude of mercy is the only place I know to start.

Tyranny is bad anywhere you find it. It must be resisted.

And I still don’t have full answers. But I have to keep trying.

october 18,2004

So, I am thinking about this attitude I am seeing among the political parties. Republicans are the traditionally conservatives. Democrats are the compassionate liberals.

So they say.

I feel compassionate. I feel liberal. But why don’t I feel very much affinity for the Democrats? I feel like I should like them more than I do.

Democrats are against war, right? So am I. But I still feel there are times when it is necessary. Those times should be determined with careful consideration. I think force is justified in certain thoughtful circumstances. Yet, I am not hearing as much thought from the anti-war protestors as I need to be intellectually satisfied.

And even more than war, which is a once in a while activity, I am concerned about people who are oppressed. People who may not have had the opportunities that everyone deserves. The litany: women, minorities, etc.

And the democrats are the ones supposedly for the underdog. The party for women, the party for the minorities, that’s what they think they are.

And yet, something about it is sounding funny to me. It’s a little too canned. Political correctness is getting stale. Affirmative action, women’s rights, all those things may or may not be sincere. The question is, are they working?

This is feeling wrong to me. Is the goal truly to have an equal playing field or not? What is the exit strategy to the war on civil rights? Is there a reason why we want to have a set of underpriviledged people to help?

Okay. It’s hard for me to understand. I just don’t get it. Where I grew up…I don’t know. Maybe everyone was underpriviledged. It just felt very equal.

So here’s the thing that gets me thinking. I look around at the neighborhoods here in Los Angeles. I started thing when I wanted to become a home owner. Which areas have good schools? Which ones will keep their value?

Chris grew up in Claremont. Claremont is one of the snootiest ordinary places I have ever seen. These people have a sense of how superior they are. I didn’t get it. They talk about the surrounding areas, Laverne and San Dimas and Upland and Rancho Cucamunga and Pomona.

The voice changes. When they talk about the different cities. But it’s not just the people from Claremont. Everyone who is from LA talks about cities with different tones of voice. And the tone of voice depends on the person talking. Baldwin Park is not a scary place to a brown person. And Long Beach and Inglewood is comfortable to an African American.

But to a jewish friend, Silver Lake can be scary, depending on where you get out of the car. But then, maybe she worries too much.

I find this confusing, and I am not really sure what to thing of these different tones of voices. What are all these people talking about? Are they just being prejudiced?

I found a website talks about it. What are we really talking about, when the tone of voice changes? Bottom line is crime.

Chris grew up in Claremont. In 2002, Claremont had no homicides. Next door, the city over, San Dimas, had 0 homicides. One city over from there, Pomona, had 18 people killed.

What the hell just happened here? Why does Pomona kill people? Why does San Dimas live peacefully and Pomona not?

Chris told me that there were a lot of Hispanic gangs in Pomona. THe houses are a lot cheaper in Pomona. Pomona had 448 incidents of robberies and 805 incidents of aggravated assaults. What is going on?

I do not think that Hispanic people are more inclined to violence and killing. I think that people do the things that make sense to them.

Somehow, San Dimas and Claremont have a society where killing people does not make sense. Why does killing people make sense to the people in Pomona?

Have the police come to expect that assault and robbery and murder happen in Pomona and not in San Dimas? What the heck are the police doing over there?

And Pomona is not the worst. Long Beach had 67 homicides, and Compton had 52. What the heck are the police doing?

Why is this an accepted thing? Why does Compton kill people? Why does Pomona kill people?

I can’t tell you. I don’t know. But I do not believe it has anything to do with a person’s ethnicity. I know it has to do with what those residents believe, the story they tell themselves about what is necessary to get through life.

And what story are the liberal types telling?
“You’re going to need help. You’re pathetic.”

I reject that condescion. I don’t believe in liberality that disempowers.

You know what I think? I think that this whole thing is a lot more about economics than almost anything else. Having money is having independence, it’s having choices.

But money comes from hard work. Protestant work ethic, “he who shall not work shall not eat.”

Handing out money for disempowered people does not empower them. Getting anything for free does not make a person better on the inside. Hard work and challenges are what make people grow, you grow to meet the challenges you face.

So, I am not impressed with the flavor of compassion I am hearing from liberals. If a helping hand is required, and I do not reject the idea of a helping hand, let’s give one that allows for decency. Let’s find ways of letting people exercise their own power, their own dignity growing.

THe problem is large, but so are most that are worth solving. I can’t help thinking, what does San Dimas know that Pomona doesn’t?

October 14, 2004

“Equal Pay for Equal Work”

Listening to the debates tonight, I heard Kerry say, “women are earning 76 cents on the dollar compared to men.” This is shocking! I wasn’t sure it was true.

Wireless to the rescue. I looked it up. I don’t see women so much in that role. Unless the guys were making way more money than I thought, I figured it was not quite the story.

But I looked it up. It seems to have some figures behind it. Man, I was hoping that we’d gotten a little further than that.

But this story puts a little thought into the figures. According to her, when you take some important factors into consideration, the wage gap is more like 98%.

Whoo hoo! and Ms. McElroy makes some very good points. I’ve thought about this, in these terms, for quite some time. Leaving aside the prejudicial and sexism stereotypes, what is the major difference between a man and a woman? A woman is the one who bears the children. It takes nine months for gestation. And it takes some time to get over the process of shoving this little person out of your body.

After that, mothers may want to take time out of their career to spend time with the child. A choice that she can make. That is, the lucky ones who have the economic room to not work, or work less for a while. Many women make the choice to have less responsibilities in their career, so that they can be available to pay attention to their child.

This does not diminish a woman’s capacity to perform any of the duties her career may have demanded. The fact is, a choice like that, one that takes a woman out of the running, off the rat race and into the baby track, has wage consequences.

If a man took several months or years out of the prime career growth time of his life to do another project, it is fully expected that he would not be able to walk away with no ground lost. It doesn’t work like that.

And a women should not expect that she can hit pause and step right back in where she left off. That wouldn’t be fair.

If we were to embrace the capacity that women bring to the table, it would be wise to find ways to change the culture of the workplace. Why do we have to work 24-7? Geez.

It would be good to have a jobs that allow for a balance and a challenge. We need that, so that the children don’t get left behind.

But it seems like women are not being left behind so much anymore, and for that I rejoice.

is it so wrong…?

..to love my own words so very much…?

I am thoroughly enjoying my own parade of the best of the wonderblog. And I haven’t even gotten up to 2006 yet.

As I look through these entries, I am discovering that I actually have a style. I have worked very hard to “find my voice” with my other writing, the stuff that doesn’t get posted here. Yes, there is a lot of that. My poems, my book, etc. have gotten MUCH editing and re-working to get the tone I’m looking for.

I love this blog, and I am really glad I’ve had it. But for the most part, I’ve considered it a scratch pad. just for scribbles.

The internet has it’s own taste.

It loves smut, celebrity gossip and the like. Politics, oh yeah. People can read about the news and that forever.

And the internet loves nerdiness and GADGETS.

none of which is me.

I guess I’m underground even for the internet. I have a style, now that I stop to look at it. Perhaps I should spend a little time trying to craft it and see if I can find an audience now that I’ve got my groove…

but, as anyone that’s ever gone out dancing with me knows, my groove needs no audience. It’s good to groove, even if you are the only one on the dance floor.

October 4, 2004

From Earth to the MOon

So, I got to watch some TV this weekend. THey were showing this miniseries about how we got to the moon.

It was eerie. All these suited men with glasses going, “I don’t know if this is possible. It might not be possible…But we have to do it.”

And they proceeded to screw it up for the rest of us forever.

HOW many times have I faced that same dillemma in my IT jobs?

Management “we want this”
Me “I don’t think we can do that. I dont’ think it’s possible.”
Managment “Have it ready by next tuesday”

Impossible doesn’t mean impossible anymore. Not for americans.

Of course, we wouldn’t have all these cool toys and stuff to have the jobs we do if it weren’t for NASA. I, of course, worked at NASA for a year intership to learn to do what I do.

So I should be grateful.

But man…we just can’t give no for an answer anymore. Not since we’ve sent a person to the moon.

August 27,2004


How many fools does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Fools always travel in ships.

There are the fools of Gotham.
There are Shakesperean fools.

There are people who are surrounded by fools.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.


Today, I have the phrase for me:

I am a sad fool.

I cannot escape my own ignorance. I can choose many actions, and all of them seem foolish to me. No choice appears to be a wise one. There are times when this is so, situations when you cannot come out like a hero.

Not everyone is the hero. The rest of us are Rosencrantz and Gildenstern, bit parts, left confused and out of the major action.

I love that play, “Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are dead.” It brings up all kind of questions about what the HECK we are trying to accomplish in this big wide world that has big important things happening that WE CANNOT AFFECT very much.

Then there’s Billy Joel’s song “We didn’t Start the Fire.” We are left with the result of a history which, through hindsight, we would not have chosen.

And it doesn’t matter. Remember the Jeff Goldblum character in Jurrasic Park? Chaos theory…Just one drop of water can move across a person’s skin in different ways, moved by invisible, imperceptible pulls and tugs.

Choice is so powerful! That’s what Tony Robbins says! That’s what Viktor Frankl says.

And it is still not quite powerful enough. It is certainly not all-powerful.

So I, like King Lear, can rage against the storm and affirm the choices I have made. But that doesn’t mean they were right. And it doesn’t mean they affect as much as I want them to.

But that doesn’t excuse me from trying and trying. And trying and trying.

And that is what makes me a sad fool. Sad, as in pathetic. What hope, what importance have I, in the scheme of human history?

Just as much as anyone else. Maybe. And that isn’t very much.

But at the same time, it’s everything.

Every day is the day to get up, in spite of what seems to be futility. That drop of water might be affected by my striving, by my will.

And yet, it’s good for me to know that my choices are not that powerful. That I should be humble, knowing that I am a pathetic slob trying to make something of myself and leave a little scratch on the planet that makes it better, not worse.

And it’s good for me to know that I am a fool, so I can laugh at my foolishness, and have patience with the pitiful effects of my scratching.

For we know, from the beginning, what good does pride do anyone? never has. So, I’ll be the hopelessly hopeful. I’ll be the optimistic pessimist. And I’ll laugh and my sad foolishness, and in laughing, I’ll find the strength to keep on.