Saturday, January 17, 2009

The light at the end of the tunnel ...


Coming down to the last days of eight years of nightmare.

We see our new President, taking a train to the inauguration, eschewing the trappings of the elite, with his wife and children, and his Vice President, waving to the people along the tracks, just as Abraham Lincoln did 148 years ago.

What a relief.

Whatever Barack Obama is able to accomplish as President of the United States, at least we can say he started out well. This is the best a President can do: provide a role model for human behavior, an example to the 300 million people of this country, someone for everyone to look up to and feel hope.

The Dark Ages are over.

There is much to be undone, much to be accounted for, much to be made right, and new challenges to be met. Humility, honesty, and hope are the ways to begin.

We don't need a god to bless America. We need an American public to embrace this new President and keep him ever mindful of his responsibility to the American people, to all the people of the world and to all life on Earth. Barack Obama can't do it alone. We must work together.

Yes we can.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

On writing ... well ...

In addition to fiddling about with this blog thing, I'm trying to write a novel. I've written essays quite a bit, short pieces, some of them satisfying, others less than. Writing a book length piece is something else entirely.

Ed Abbey said it takes your whole life to write a novel. What he didn't tell us was it takes all of your life RIGHT NOW! And there are other things demanding rapt attention: work, relationships, bicycles to ride, wood to chop, waves to count, clouds to gaze at, women to appreciate (one in particular).

I'm too slovenly to dedicate the early morning hours to writing, wake up at 5 am and pound on this poor innocent keyboard till dawn seeps in around the curtains. Nor do I burn the candle at both ends of the day and work doggedly late into the night, ruining my health, consuming single malt whiskey in a mad attempt to free the muse.

I find I can't shut myself off in a high mountain fire watch tower, a picturesque writer's cabin out behind the house, a starving artist's garret overlooking the Champs Ellysée. I'm too cowardly to demand a properly ascetic writer's isolation.

And then there's reading, another incessant demand that must be assuaged. I find that if I don't keep the pipeline stuffed at the incoming end, the outflow shrinks to a meaningless dribble. The same applies to travel, broadening the mind through physical experience, stoking the fires of the creative boiler that drives the pistons of imagination.

It just takes time, and there's only so much of the stuff, drat it all anyway. Not enough to go around to all the worthy causes deserving attention. Who invented this time thing, anyway. Don't they know time is only an illusion? As someone wise once said, it's the only illusion we've got.

So I work at it, slowly, sometimes satisfying, other times frustrating. The experience of writing a long narrative is something in itself, something beyond mere telling of a story. It will write itself in its own time ... if I live that long.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Swords into plowshares


"They" say (whoever "they" are) that we have to keep manufacturing military weapons, ammunition and vehicles because local economies are dependent on the business ... or, other nations depend on our weapons systems for their defense ... or, we're keeping the world safe for hypocrisy ... or something.

At the beginning of World War II, manufacturers of cars and other complicated things changes their production lines to make tanks, and guns, and warplanes and ships for the war effort. All very patriotic. Millions were made, but it was for the war, so it was OK. Hitler was marching our way and Japan was lurking just over the horizon.

No such excuses now. The Soviet Union is gone. China is facing its own economic and pollution problems. Korea is rattling a pretty puny sword. Where's a self-respecting empire to find a suitable adversary or two? Where are the enemies when the economy really needs 'em?

Now the auto industry is turning turtle, waving their little wheels in the air. Every corporate CEO has their hand out for a handout, hiding the other hand, full of greenbacks, behind their back. Seems they can't make enough money making and trying to sell us four-wheeled behemoths that get ten miles per gallon.

If the government of the United States must engage in socialism and bail out the corporations that have been paying their expenses all these years, why not start a World War II sized corporate makeover and change the factories to make useful things, say, solar panels, electric cars, wind generators, garden tools, bicycles, sturdy comfortable shoes, energy efficient appliances, TeeVees that turn completely off when you flip the remote, battery chargers that turn off when not in use, good wind-up clocks and watches that don't take batteries, comfortable trains that run on solid level tracks on-time, stop pollution and clean up the neighborhood while you're at it.

The possibilities are endless. Let the corporations earn their keep and deserve our support by providing real things we really need, not war toys that are destroyed as fast as possible so the Pentagon can order more.

And, oh, by the way, would the last person to leave the military-industrial complex please turn out the light at the end of the tunnel?