Friday, August 18, 2017

Along the Road





Along the Road
© 2016 Rolland G. Smith






Bachelor buttons and Queen Anne’s lace
Astride the ways to every place.
Crocheted in white, the doily blooms
Beside the lanky Bachelor plumes.
Both thrive where few would like to be
Along the road for all to see.
A gift of grace for passersby,
Their whites and blues reflect the sky.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

It makes you wonder...

Somethings just make me wonder.

I just received a check from Verizon Wireless. It was apparently what I was owed from a surcharge judgment by New York State.



They spent 47-cents to mail me a 2-cent distribution.

Whatever happened to common sense?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Trump's News Conference

After yesterday disastrous news conference in New York, by the President of the United States. I am ashamed at what I heard. Thus leadership still occupies my thoughts today.

From time to time we need to assess whether our leaders in business, and politics and even the leader in ourselves, measure to the definition.

Leadership is the ability to enthuse, to inspire, to create, and to accomplish goals for the greater good.

Some seek leadership, some are promoted to it, some are elected to it, and some have it thrust upon them. There is gentle leadership, ego leadership, benevolent leadership, partisan leadership, dictatorial leadership and inspiring leadership. Whichever one is chosen by any individual it is based on character and character is the outward quality of one's inner being.

Character is a visible piece of the heart that others see when action is required. The heart of Donald Trump was exposed to his detriment and the shame of America.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What are we?

What should the America of today and the future require from its leaders. What are the non-partisan qualities of leadership we must demand and encourage in the actions and intellect of those we choose to lead?

To answer these questions we must each ask ourselves, what is in our own heart. Are we a nation of individuals where everyone is out for himself or herself, or do we still collectively embody the endemic truth and enthusiasm of democracy?

What so many fail to acknowledge is that on a spiritual level we are all ONE. We all come from the same SOURCE. The question each of us must answer is, are we willing to be the evidence of it?

America began as a nation with a noble destiny to show a divergent and burgeoning world that freedom, coupled with democracy, is a noble path to greatness and from that greatness comes benevolent power and global success.

On a subliminal level, America is also a profound chemistry to the alchemy of oneness, but the oneness is not the greatness of America. The diversity within the oneness is our greatness and the miracle of our republic.

Today, individual and collective fear abounds in our daily lives. Recent leadership sees fear as a mechanism for partisan control. Plain and simple, it is the wrong way to govern.

America was not founded on fear. She was founded on inspiration, the desire for individual and collective freedom, neighbor helping a neighbor and a belief that personal prayer is a graceful right of liberty.

The foundation of America is layer after layer of noble ideals, sacrifice, hard work, and a shared vision. Fear is something we embrace when we think we have something to lose, when in fact fear holds nothing but emptiness and want. Courage, the antithesis of fear, holds the abundance we seek and the future for which we hope.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Little things start wars

The North Korean bravado, between them and us reminds me of the Falklands Conflict in 1982; stupid little things get out of hand and end with lives being lost.

Back then there was a 39-year-old scrap dealer by the name of Constantine Davidoff, an Argentinean, who wishes today he could take back an innocent action.

Davidoff heard about three abandoned whaling stations on the British owned Georgia islands. It was a chance to make some salvage money with scrap parts. In December of 81, Davidoff, and seven crewmen got permission from the British to inspect the stations. In March he started salvage operations. His Argentinian salvage men raised a blue and white Argentine flag over the salvage operations.

The flag was spotted by a group of British researchers camped about 5 miles away. They got their British dander up about an Argentinian flag flying on British territory and got on their radio and called London.

Word spread and in the British Falkland Islands 800 miles to the west, a group of patriotic islanders broke into the Argentinean National Airlines office in Port Stanley, put up the British flag and wrote, on the wall '"Tit for tat."

More words were exchanged. Argentina complained. The British Government protested and said that the Davidoff crew landed illegally. They didn't, but distance and time and inter-department bureaucracy didn't get permits to the right people at the right time.

Argentina said the Davidoff Salvage crew had a right to be there. Britain responded by sending in an Ice Patrol Boat. Argentina then sent a navy ship to protect the crew from forcible removal. More meetings were held between the British and Argentina. Words became angry. Ownership rights were stated and demanded, and days later the Argentinians invaded, and the Falkland’s war began. You know the rest.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Nature and Children

When I was a youngster, my mother would say, “Go outside and play.” And I would, with all the other kids in the neighborhood. We learned a lot about nature and ourselves playing outside. For one thing, we quickly learned to recognize poison ivy.

A few years ago, I was asked to join the advisory board of Children and Nature Network (C&NN). It is a still growing organization created by author Richard Louv and administered for a long time by my good friend Dr. Cheryl Charles. Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, became a best-seller as people realized we have a generation of children so connected to electronics that they are losing their connection to nature. As Louv writes, “We are fast approaching a generation of children where no child will have played outdoors.”

Nature is more than the flora and fauna we observe each day. Nature is a shared spirit of being with all things. Through nature, we learn the everything is cyclical, that life begins and life passes, that every life is in the balance with all other life forms, and each one helps the other fulfill its intrinsic purpose.

I have near-by neighbors that farm and teach their children that nature has her purpose. They live out the philosophy that we are part of nature, and when we abuse her, we abuse ourselves.

Spending time outdoors both in solitude and at play is an important education for children. The outdoors encourages an inner connection to nature, and if you stay there for a little while in meditation, you will see and feel all the natural connections as pulses of soothing and loving light. You will connect to the chlorophyll of plants and trees, the flights of insects and birds, the awareness of mammals, and especially the knowing of the earth herself.

In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, the Duke in the forest of Arden says: “…there are tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Nature's Grace

Nature’s beauty happens when it is least expected. I was visiting a dear and long-time friend, and as we sat on the porch at the end of a busy and perfect day, the universe unfolded into an explosion of scenic beauty.



I often wonder about sunrises and sunsets. They seem to emulate the grace and light of life’s births and life’s passings.

An esoteric teacher once said to me that for many of us, when we pass, we begin to laugh. This sunset amplifies his truth.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Threats!

The verbal rhetoric of two bullies is endangering the tender peace of our world.

The powerful words of President Trump to match the threats of North Korea’s sociopathic leader positions America into an untenable path of fire and fury rather than the options of difficult talk.

Yes, talk! Each side has postured itself into a belligerent position. This is not just between two egotistical leaders; it is now between the new way of global cooperation and equality and the old way of war.

It must not happen. The world needs to be done with devastation.  The consequence will be near annihilation for millions and millions of innocent people.

A news report today said that North Korea has a weapon similar in destructive power as the one dropped on Hiroshima.

To make the bomb that hit Hiroshima, according to author Eric Schlosser, the US used 141 pounds of Uranium, basically all of the processed Uranium that was then in existence.

In his book Command and Control, when the bomb exploded most of the enriched uranium was blown apart before the bomb reached the “supercritical” phase. He says, in the end, the huge explosion was caused by just 0.7g of Uranium. As Schlosser notes, that material weighed less than a dollar bill, and it killed 80,000 people.

Can you imagine if all 141 pound of Uranium had reached the critical stage?  Don’t imagine, expect the modern day equivalent, even from North Korea, to be far more refined and sophisticated.

We don’t need posturing bullies in the world today; we need statesmen and stateswomen, diplomats, and diplomacy to defuse this worsening confrontation.  This situation is global, not just America and North Korea. Pray, my friends that the little minds of humankind can morph into a cosmic understanding that we are all ONE.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Oneida, New York

It isn’t often we get a chance in our later years to go back to a place and people of our youth. I had that experience over the past weekend.

I grew up in a post-war time and in a bucolic place. It was a small city in central New York. At that time, it had industry to employ its citizens. It had a railroad that ran through it that separated the north and south side of the city. Trains stopped daily. It had, like most eastern cities, its wealthy, its middle class and its poor.

It had a small movie theatre where I changed the marque twice a week, and I was paid five-dollars and free movies. Not bad for a teenager in the 1950’s.

I went back to visit at the invitation of an old friend. The friend was wonderfully the same but educated with the maturity of time and the wisdom of age. My town, however, was no more. The industry was gone. The railroad was gone and the downtown buildings I once thought of as elegant were in the troughs of deterioration; even two of my school buildings were gone.

Architecture and elegance of place are a lot like our bodies. Time takes its toll on all things, flesh and fa├žades are not impervious to the ravages of time.

What I did notice was that the city had moved outward. The elegant homes were now where farms used to be, and my small city was being dissolved and absorbed by bigger cities nearby.

Maybe someday gentrification will change my Oneida. If not, my memory will hold until I pass.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Uncle Sam's letter to Emma Lazarus

The Office of Uncle Sam
Symbol of the United States of America

August 2, 2017

My Dear Ms. Lazarus,

I trust this letter will reach you on the other side of being.

I regret to inform you of a recent proposal by the current administration of United States of America.

It has to do with your area of expertise - immigration. I won’t get into the details of the plan right now, but suffice it to say that no longer will the Mother of Exiles welcome the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Our long-standing national policy may change if the proposal becomes the law of the land.

We have a new colossus in the White House. There are many who think he can and will change the status quo because of his uncanny approach to what was organized and established government. Some of his hopes and wishes have merit, but the suggested implementation of many proposals is suspect under the rule of law and the historic tradition of this land we call America.

If you have the time would you please inform Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Adams, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Franklin,  The other framers of our sacred constitution have been told by other contacts in this office. Also please copy Mr. Lincoln and Mr. King for there are other implications that they should know about.

Until this issue is adjudicated, would you please extinguish the lamp you lit beside the golden door.

Sincerely yours,

Uncle Sam




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The memory of an old hike

It was a hike a few years ago, but now it seems like a lot longer.  It wasn't just hard walking, it was climbing and clinging and grabbing as I ascended a steep nearly verticle path.

It was an intermittent misty and rainy day with a cool ambiance that more refreshed than chilled. Fog drifted up the climbing ledges in gossamer wafts of white and gray as the rain coated and washed the ascending trail into a slippery challenge. Granite boulders, some the size of houses, festooned the path as I crawled, slid and climbed through rocky cuts, tiny cave like openings and up and down in rough rocky cuts and chimney climbs.

I loved the purity of the climb. The rain kept all other hikers, but one, from the slippery rocks and pine needle puddles and so it was just nature and me. Pristine and primal with occasional surprising vistas of the cliffs and lake below bursting through framed granite and conifer sculptures.

It was renewing and inspiring, and an experience filled with a fragrant ceremony for the eastern mountain laurel was in full bloom. Each pink and white blossom celebrated, not only with the mist of the day but with seeming appreciation of just being the beauty it was.

I met a weasel who acknowledged my encroachment upon his home and path and a tiny wild Finch who stayed much longer than expected singing on a branch not more than two feet away from my still and silent watch.

It was a glorious day.

When I got home and read the newspaper headlines I wondered, what are we doing to ourselves?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A small gift with a large impact.

I received a gift several days ago from new friends in Vermont. Their names are Caitlin and Peter Adair. They live at a small retreat center called Sanctuary in Westminster West, Vermont. Check them out if you choose. www.sanctuaryvermont.com.

Peter’s gift was a calendar he produced where each month honors the earth and its sacredness. One of the beginning quotes of the calendar comes from a Uvavnuk, woman shaman of the Igloolik Inuit recorded in the early 1920’s by Knud Rasmussen.

The quote is entitled Song of Ecstasy.

I include it in this morning blog because the words are truth and truth moves mountains and feelings.

“Song of Ecstasy

    I think over again
My small adventures
    My fears
Those small ones that seemed so big
    For all of the vital things
I had to get and to reach
And yet there is only one great thing
To live and see the great day that dawns
    And the light that fills the world.”

I love this truth. It fits every morning of the year where we awake and we appreciate. Let not the dramas in Washington distract us from our inner knowing and let us trust the core of unconditional love.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Ah, the old days.

Yesterday I bought the paper edition of the New York Times. I hadn’t done that in a few years since I usually read it online. I remember buying the daily edition in 1970 for 15 cents. Yesterday’s Sunday edition was six bucks.

It's about the same with everything else. I remember when I could get a short beer for ten cents. Cigarettes were 25 cents a pack. Coke was a nickel and so too was a cup of coffee back when I was a teenager. The local paper in the town where I grew up cost 5 cents.

I almost didn’t buy the Times when I saw the printed price. I could afford it, my hesitancy was the principle of the price, but I wanted to read and hold the paper pages like I used to. Once home, I sat on the porch, a cup of coffee at my side, and I flipped through all the sections. I didn’t read all the articles, but who does? I did stop to read a story in the business section about a Vermont Electric company empowering their customers to get on the solar grid. That’s the future I thought.

There is something about holding a physical newspaper that flipping through the screen pages on my computer misses. Somehow the tactile experience of touch gives more credence to the words. It shouldn’t, but it does.

It’s the same thing with a book. I have a Kindle, but holding a book in my hands brings a comfort denied a finger swipe.

It’s probably an atavistic holdover from my youth. I may go back to the old days.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sound

Sound is one of those beneficial healing components in each of our lives.

Yes, it can be grating too, but that's called noise.  I'd like to talk about sound's positive nature.

Have you ever listened to the staccato opiate of Borodin’s masterpiece of the Polovtsian Dances?

How about the Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto, generally known as the Emperor Concerto. These are excellent examples of the melodic and healing qualities of sound.

Nature too is filled with instantaneous healing sounds. The Wind is one. It has two sides, but the calmer components we name with descriptive sounds; breeze, puffs and even Zephyr.

The gentle patter of rain is another. But the sound of running water is the softest and comforting. Sitting by a meandering mountain stream is not only mesmerizing, but it is also cathartic to the negative energy within the body and mind. The ocean sets up a rhythmic din that connects the soul to the universe, to the music of the spheres and the DNA of life.

Water is the sustainer of life. It is no wonder that it’s sound soothes, heals and enthuses joy.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Questions, perhaps unanswerable

There is an advertisement on television for some drug that may extend your life if you need it in the treatment of a specific disease. The list of its side effects was extensive and seemingly debilitating.

I understand the desire to want to live long, to be with family and friends, to get one’s affairs in order, but the list of downside effects on this disease was to me questionable.

Here are my questions. If we, as we profess to believe in the practice of our various religions, believe in a better place after this life, why would we want to stay in this density and medical difficulty for what could be a short time or even a year’s time?

Why not go home with peace, with willingness, with an appreciation for the gift of life that continues in another form?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Truth is Tough

We don’t think too much about integrity these days. Integrity is assumed to be a learned and an ingrained condition of adulthood. It is not. It is something that we acquire as we get older and something at which we have to work at or weigh consciously with every thought. It is more than that.

 It is a sacred component of our being.

Maybe it’s time for us to remember what we learned as children before the adult ego began its attempt to subvert the truth of the heart. We were told to tell the truth, don’t lie, play fair, share, say you’re sorry and be responsible.

It seems today that selective truth or half-truths are acceptable to get what one wants or not get what one doesn’t want. Bribery, lying, insinuation and all forms of corporate or governmental corruption come to mind.

Integrity has a lot of brother and sister principles in its immediate family: morality, ethics, virtue, justice, prudence, and even honor. The unique commonality about all of these things is that they are comprised of unenforceable values by which we choose to live.

It’s the choice that makes it tough, isn’t it?

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Weekend!

How was your weekend?

Mine was informative, interesting, peaceful, bucolic and wrapped in friendship.

I traveled to Vermont to participate in a discussion on the use and dangers of nuclear power and the disturbing dismantling of the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.

Arnie Gundersen, the noted nuclear scientist, was the guest of honor and his talk was informative, eloquent, cogent, and worrisome. I commend all readers to his website, www.Fairewinds.org.

The next day, as if in a needed cosmic balance of mind-things. I was able to spend quality time with nature where the soul appreciates our interconnection.

I attended a garden tour in Westminster West, Vermont. One was a private tour of a garden and a home called Sanctuary. It should also be called Shangri La because of its spiritual radiation of peace and its grotto gardens of tranquility.

The other gardens were part of a formal tour of elegant, mature, magnificent and quality growth of hands hard work, visionary plantings and loving cooperation with the nature spirits we so often ignore.

These profound weekend experiences were coupled with the comforting hospitality and friendship of my hostess. I am a lucky man.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

California Infernos

There is nothing anyone can do to change it, to stop it. We can fight it, and the fire fighters do so with skill, daring, courage and a danger to themselves, but still, it chews the dry brush into a soft ash.

Lightning starts most of them. The drought to hurts and so does an ill wind called Santa Ana or Chinook or other local names. It flows quickly from the mountain tops and reminds us of our vulnerability. The tears of loss and smiles of safety on the same face parallel our conflict and appreciation of nature.

The stories of neighbor helping neighbor, confirm our desire for community. There are hundreds of stories not only of crushing flames and charred places, but stories of hopes and wishes shattered dreams and shock.

In times of such destruction, values change rapidly. The acquired stuff of daily living is no match for the loss of a treasured family picture or the ache of not knowing if a pet survived.

There is never a quick end to tragedy. No easy answers to the wailed questions of why and no relief when cries have run out of tears.

It is not possible to hold each hand of so many so hurting from these fires. All we can do, in this human family, is to be aware and to care. There is something powerful in that, and it heals.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Congress?

The obstreperous of Washington continue to be obstinate, egotistic, and alleged representatives of what was once a country of compromise. The greatness of our democracy is its ability to come together, to reason, to legislate for the common good and the good of the whole.

Each side is playing with the lives of citizens. The idiocy of brinkmanship ended when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Each member of Congress should look at their back yard for the pork they authorize to ensure their reelection. Yes, we need to raise revenue on all economic strata, and it needs to be done with civility and fairness.

To some of Congress, compromise is a sign of weakness and a betrayal of the ad hoc groups that put them there. In their zeal, few realize that the foundation of beneficial legislation is cemented with courtesy, not confrontation and with compromise, not conflict.

The absolutists of all political philosophies cannot see a future beyond their own beliefs and are seemingly willing to play with the stability of the country because they will not be affected by any of their actions.

Congress is immune. It has its financial security. It has its health system. It has its perks and pleasures, and it has become an elite club of spoiled rich bureaucrats.

America’s future is being fractionalized, and there are no statesmen or stateswomen in Congress to counter the iconic, the myopic and the temporarily powerful.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

John McCain

Bravo to Senator John McCain!

He suggested last night that republicans should work with democrats in passing a bipartisan health bill.

Finally someone has had the courage to break the partisan deadlock.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Health Bill

Ah, It’s Monday, again and again, Congress is delaying a vote on the health care bill. The votes are not there. Senator McCain is recovering from surgery, so the vote will be delayed until he gets back to Washington.

Skullduggery seems to be the operative word to get this bill passed.

Check this; some are calling it the Polar Payoff. To get Alaska’s Republican senator to vote for the bill, the newly written legislation sends multi-millions more to Alaska. It seems that the bill’s provisions only apply to Alaska to get the money.

How about this one, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has included a provision that would allow insurance companies to offer a simplified plan that would require ill people to pay more than healthy ones.

Whatever happened to representative government? Are we so calloused against the indigent, the poor, the weak, the elderly, the needy that we cannot see a way to help?

Do we care more for bombers, weapons, defeating our fears, then we do for hungry children, the elderly and the ill?

Look, we are all going to die of something someday, but does it have to be accelerated by congress?




Thursday, July 13, 2017

The bane of Noice

Noise! You know the kind that spills onto your sanity and disturbs your inner peace because it grates upon the divine din of your connection to the Universe. What triggered this was a walk with my spiritual advisor, a nine pound Yorkie and Shih Tzu mix. We were both listening to the welcoming warble of nature when an overbearing truck shattered the tranquility of a peaceful walk.

 She cringed, and I turned my hearing aids down.

The world today is filled with noise. It used to be filled with melody and the music of nature. It used to have harmony and tonal pleasantries, with the profound interstitial presence of quiet. It now has the unfiltered and the unadulterated noise of shouts, argument, discords, and the screeches of contentious life, punctuated by the grind of motors, horns and mechanical equipment.

I’m not sure how noise usurped the thing we once called “peace of mind,” but it did, and we suffer its loss with every fleeting moment of quiet that instantaneously reminds us of our natural state.

Occasionally, I get to re-experience the calm that comes from quiet. Meditation often leads to that experience. It is an excellent calming balm that holds me in a moment of peace.

I know there is more, I just must stay quiet long enough to get there.

Global Civility

I’ve been wondering lately if the world has been flooded by some alien ray that eliminated civility from humankind.

I look at the contention stories permeating the global and even the local press in all regions of the world.

Wouldn’t you think that all people alive today would have some experience of or observation of hate, prejudice, violence or anger and not like it or want in or near their lives?

The poor attack the poor because they see what they don’t like in others in themselves and can see no way out of what they don’t like.

The rich belittle the rich because others have more or less than themselves and they live under the illusion that success, security, and safety is having more.

Democrats criticize Republicans because that’s what those out of power do even though partisanship relinquishes their elected responsibility to seek the greater good for the whole.

Religions contend with other beliefs saying my way is the only way to worship the one God of All That Is.

The old besmirch the young because that’s not the way they did it and they can’t remember their youthful enthusiasm for the zest of life.

The Young disrespect the elderly because they see their passage in the old and cannot accept vulnerability and decay.

Race diminishes race because few understand the sacredness of culture, traditions, and family is the same for all.

This stuff has been going on since the beginning of humankind.

Perhaps it is just remembering what civility is and then practicing it because it is the right thing to do.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

McConnell's Gambit

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is a shrewd politician. He has now said he will extend the Senate’s legislative session by two weeks into their scheduled August recess. His purpose is to get the Senate to pass the Health Care Bill.

In my opinion, his real purpose is to pressure reluctant Senators to vote for the bill so they can get home to SCHEDULED family vacations, events and personal time, so precious for many national politicians. Those of us who are parents know you don’t want to disappoint or break a promise to the kids.

It’s a cruel way to try to get your way.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Congressional Term Limits

There are always new reasons why people don’t trust what politicians say.



Back in 2012 when Markwayne Mullin was running for an Oklahoma House seat, he promised his voters he would serve no more than six years in Congress. He further amplified his words by signing the U.S. term limits pledge and promised to co-sponsor and vote for term limits legislation in the House.

The other day Mullin announced he would seek a 4th term in 2018.

Without realizing it, Congressman Mullin has become the poster child of why we need term limits.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Same Old - Same old..

Here it is Monday morning and a new work week begins. We’ve finished with our Independence celebration week. We’ve had the President return from his travels in Europe, Poland, Germany and the G-20 summit, his meeting with Russia’s Putin and a few awkward moments in the limelight.

For those who support Mr. Trump, there will be accolades and ribbons for his demeanor and actions. For those who don’t like him, there will be criticism. Politically nothing has changed. Congress, returning from the 4th of July recess, is working to replace Obamacare. The Republicans don’t have enough votes to do it alone, so some are suggesting that working with the Democrats might be a way to get a compromise bill passed. Other Republicans think that is a bad idea.

So, nothing has changed. Contention is the rule, the method, the modality, the prevailing model for the House and Senate to legislate.

One side or the other is not alone to blame. They all are suspect, they all are not working in the best and greater interests of a diverse American people. Governing takes courage. Legislating is sacrifice and compromise. It’s hard work.

Contention was also the rule during the continental congress in Philadelphia, but they, in their divine guidance and founding wisdom, found a way to compromise and we got our Constitution, our Bill of Rights and our system of government. A Republic! A nation governed by the rule of law.

Is 21st-century mankind so different? I suspect what we are missing is divine guidance.




Friday, July 7, 2017

Spies - nothing new!

People have been spying on people since the biblical times. I wonder why we are so surprised when a country or a company detects that an individual or a group of individuals are soliciting information for another country or company.

Every country does it to someone. We are in the information age and information can give one an advantage in diplomacy, in politics, in business, in war, in manufacturing and even in sports by learning the signals of an opposing team via binoculars.

The notable spies of history: Nathan Hale, Belle Boyd, Mata Hari, Alger Hiss, the Cambridge Spies – Burgess, Blunt, Maclean and Philby, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Aldrich Ames, Giacomo Casanova, Klaus Fuchs, Major John Andre, and Richard Sorge.

Some specifics from the People’s Almanac:

"Moses ordered Joshua to lead a band of 11 spies into the land of Canaan.

In 334 B.C. Alexander the Great intercepted the outgoing mail from his soldiers and spying on them.

In 878 A.D. England’s King Alfred the Great disguised as a wandering poet-singer sang through the Danish military camps and got enough information to defeat the Danes at Edington."

During the “cold war,” it was a touch more dramatic to catch a spy in either the United States or in the then Soviet Union. Not so today.

In Many ways, spies are disguised soldiers. They gather and disseminate information for the advantage of their country. It is barbarically interesting that because spies do not wear the uniform of their country, they can be summarily executed. Fortunately, businesses do not have the right to terminate a life. There are probably some company individuals who would like that option to keep their proprietary information intact.

Spying not much different from voyeurism, Peeping Toms, table listening or eavesdropping. The information may be less threatening to national security, but it is spying nonetheless.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Nuclear Dilemma

I have a friend who is currently in Japan gleaning information for a book on the effects of the Atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki toward the end of the World War II. I had hoped to be there, but it didn't work out this time.

I have another friend who has invited me to participate in a community discussion in Vermont on what individual communities can do to lessen the nuclear risk in their communities and subsequently the communities of the world. I will attend.

The opponents of nuclear power in Japan call themselves the Hydrangea Revolution. Tens of thousands rally against the restarting of nuclear power plants in Japan. So far it hasn't worked for the government of Japan has authorized the re-starting some nuclear power facilities.

The Hydrangea flower is composed of many tiny flowers to create a large blossom that appears as beauty and fragrance in the collective of its totality. Its components are tiny, but the effect is large.

It is a lesson for the human collective. We are ineffectual alone, but we are powerful as a collective. There are other metaphors of equal meaning, but this will suffice.

Perhaps the effect could be global if we continue to spread to the world’s people that the danger at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant is a continual poison to the Pacific Ocean and the earth. Those in power, both in Japan and in the rest of the world continue to ignore the danger for whatever reason.

Albert Einstein once said, “the splitting of the atom has changed everything, except man’s way of thinking, and so we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.”

He was no doubt talking about the bomb, but there is little difference between radiation from a bomb and radiation from an accident or a natural catastrophe that exposed lethal radiation. Did we not learn from Chernobyl and Three Mile Island?

My friend, Akio Matsumura has been trying to call attention to this potential danger for many years.

One of his blogs put it this way:

 “People are demonstrating against the system of secrecy and backroom influence that steers Tokyo and the rest of the country. TEPCO has influence over policy makers, media circles, and elite scientists. Together these three groups hold enough power, influence, and expertise to say what goes for truth in Japan, even if it is not what is correct. Because of this collusion, freedom of speech has waned in Japan. We Japanese traditionally hope more to save face than speak out against an issue. But now we see that inaction begets oppression. And thus people are speaking out.”

Akio concludes his blog with this statement, and I agree. “ It is time for each member of the media to ask basic questions of the Japanese government and its companies and shed light on the true situation there.”

It is time for all of us to ask those questions of our leaders. Let us all be the human flower of many blossoms, not the wilted collective that deemed itself powerless against perceived authority.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Memory of Walter

I was at a 4th of July party yestrday and someone mention Walter Cronkite.

I first met Mr. Cronkite in Vietnam in 1968. He was there on his quintessential visit that led him to declare to a nationwide audience that the war could not be won. The disclosure led President Lyndon Johnson to say to staffers that "if I've lost Cronkite, I have lost the nation"

I was a CBS affiliate reporter assigned to Vietnam in January and February of 1968. My cameraman and I were headquartered in the Hotel Caravelle in Saigon, and from there we would hitch rides with military units to interview and tell the stories of local servicemen and women fighting and serving in the various theaters of battle throughout the country.

One night after several days in the field we came back to the hotel in Saigon to ship our film back to the states through the courier pouches of our network, CBS. We were having dinner at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant; a couple of tables away sat Walter and his producer Ernie Leiser.

I waited until they finished dinner and I hesitatingly walked over to Mr. Cronkite’s table to introduce myself. Walter was gracious, courteous, inquisitive and offered help in the filing of our stories.

He thought for a moment and said to me, “didn’t you recently do a story we ran on CBS news about a train wreck and explosion in Indiana.”

I said yes. I was thrilled. Mr. Cronkite remembered.

Go ahead two years and circumstances found me reporting for the CBS Owned and Operated Station in New York. Walter’s office was in the same building.

I would see and talk to him in the hallway, and occasionally we’d ask him for a comment or interview on journalism or the passing of a colleague. He was always accommodating.

Eventually, we both left CBS.

Several years ago I was working on an independent documentary about the Nuremberg war crime trials. I called Walter’s office to request an interview with him since he was a UPI pool reporter covering the trials in 1945. Through his secretary, he agreed to the interview.

A few days later I arrived at his office at the CBS headquarters in New York, Walter got out of his chair, shuffled over to me for his step was then frail, put both arms on my shoulders as he stood in front of me and said: “Old friend, how are you?”

Great men exist, and I was fortunate to know one and admire one.

“That’s the way it is.”


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The 4th of July

Today is the 4th of July. A day we celebrate our independence from the Crown of England.

Today is a day to be American. Today is a time to drop the other names we have adopted and become and are often un-American for labels tend to distance our hearts from the one-ness we are.

We need to drop the labels of liberal, conservative, right and left, democrat and republican and become again what we once were, patriots laboring in the creation of a nation. America is not yet done in being that shining example of what can be when all are represented equally.

America is an amalgam of beliefs. Being an American means tolerance for all opinions, courtesy of listening, facts in a debate, compromise on the issues of national importance and always putting the country ahead of partisan wants and doled local pork that benefits only a few to the detriment of the greater good.

If we truly want to celebrate our nation, our independence, we must do so every day. First, we need to give thanks for what we have created and then we need to get back to the founding basics: honor, integrity, dignity and truth.

Being a democracy is not easy. We have to work at it. All of us from the President on down.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Early summer, early life.

It’s very early summer, just a few days into the season. The humidity is up where I live now, and so is the temperature. Perhaps it is a harbinger of the coming hot August days, but today my mind wanders to this time of year, this kind of summer when I was a child.

Like now, school would be just out or almost out for the summer and endless days of play were in the offing. I’ll keep these thoughts to my 12th year. I had just completed the 6th grade. Summer would be spent camping with the Boy Scouts, playing ball in vacant lots, catching fireflies at dusk, staying up late, sleeping in and playing numerous outdoor games with neighborhood friends and playmates.

In July, were two weeks of my Dad’s vacation. We spent it in a sparse housekeeping cabin on a lake in the Adirondacks. It was a one-bedroom cabin, and I’d sleep on a porch cot in my sleeping bag piled with several blankets. It gets cold in the mountains even in summer.

I loved the sounds of night listening from the screened porch feeling safe, but I especially loved the waking light and sounds and smells of morning; fresh cold air from out under the covers, chirping birds, scampering chipmunks and squirrels leaving trails in the lawn dew.

I learned a number of things during those summers’ weeks especially a profound appreciation of nature. My folks took the same cabin around the same time for a few years. The man and woman who owned the cabin lived in a main house on the premises. I became friends with the man. He was older than my parents, and his kids had moved away. He was a strong, rugged and kindly man with a perennial smile that didn’t show teeth, just his heart. He knew how to do everything: plumbing, electrical, carpentry, painting, fix a car, repair a canoe, or fix a boat motor.

I’d watch him in his workshop, and he’d ask me to help. Sometimes he’d have to run an errand or two into town, and I’d go with him in his old pick-up truck; somehow we’d always stopped for ice cream. Occasionally we’d head out to some dirt back road to cut fresh fir branches to weave into a wire mesh lean-to ceiling. Guests would sit in the lean-to at night, smell the balsam and watch logs crackling in the fireplace and listen to loons calling to each other in the lake distance.

I learned all the old camp songs sitting around that lean-to. There were old Irish melodies, college songs, and a few bawdy rhymes that my Mother probably wished I hadn’t heard at that age.

But back to my older friend. One day he handed me a single shot 22 caliber. rifle and taught me how to safely handle it. Handing me a box of 22 shorts he said to take the trail and go to a small pond about a half-mile away and do some plinking. He gave me a couple of soda cans to take with me. He must have asked my parents permission before he handed me the rifle because they said it was OK and to be careful.

My Dad didn’t have a gun in the house, so this was my first experience with a real firearm except that I had a BB gun and the same rules applied.

I didn’t learn responsibility that day. My parents always talked about its importance. I learned trust and what a powerful gift it is. I will never forget that man and what he taught me by being my friend.





Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A tale of two rights of choice

It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. Thank you, Mr. Dickens, for the paraphrase. It seems there are some sensible members of Congress who have stepped up and said, “hold on, no vote on the health care bill until there are some changes.”

Bravo to them and woe to us. The proverbial question is why can’t a representative government come up with a plan that is fair to all citizens. The answer for me is that when you are locked into a political ideology where your absolute is the only “right,” then you are obstructing the innate fairness of democracy.

I keep reminding Congress that democracy is compromise, along with its sub-categories of civility, and compassion. Democracy is balancing need and want. Democracy knows that the majority is not always right, but acknowledges the self-righting process of life and living and believing the internal guidance of spirit will eventually correct any wrong. History has proven that time and time again.

Most of us forget that real “life and living” is apolitical. “life and living” involve neighbors and friends and family, all of whom want the comforts of life and some of whom need help getting there. That is what compassion is. That is what all religions teach and what few followers grasp as a daily ethic.

If we can forget and forgive the dogmas of the world for just a moment, we will transcend our consciousness into the grace of the heart. Once there no lack is unmet.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Somebody has to say it...

For decades…yea, even the past century the American people have had the fourth estate covering their backs. A free press is a bulwark against a secret government.

Mr. Trump’s castigation of the press; his constant attack is undermining the legacy and admonition of Thomas Jefferson that a free press is necessary to democracy and for our republic to survive.

All tyrants attempt to control the media. It is the only way for the skullduggery of political shenanigans to succeed. Mr. Trump is not a tyrant, yet, but his actions indicate that that is a modality he probably would prefer. Under his aegis press briefings have gone from daily briefings to no cameras only a recording of audio and no visual accountability to the public.

I am also deeply disturbed at the Republican majority in Congress. I understand the need for fiscal responsibility. I understand the need to lessen the deficit and curtail some rampant entitlements. I also acknowledge the Congressional Budget Office non-partisan calculation that, if passed in its current form, 22 million more American’s will lose insurance coverage under the  Senate Healthcare proposal, while the wealthy will reap major profits with tax cuts.

Something is wrong folks! If we are a country “of the people, for the people and by the people” then why are 22-million or more people getting screwed by the elitists in Congress. That is not representative government. It is an oligarchy.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Cusp


I feel like I am living on the cusp of history. I was born in late 1941, and then, though very young, but not unaware, I understood the concept of “lack,” and the rationing of World War II. I remember my parents and grandmother talking about the shortages of essentials, and then the excitement my grandmother had when she could buy nylon stockings.

I grew up in the 1950’s, as the nuclear age began post-Hiroshima, a peaceful time at the end of the war and the beginning of the  Eisenhower Presidency, early television programing, rock and roll, tail fins on cars and bucket seats and sock hops.

I matured in the sixties, witnessing global travel, global awarenesss of interdependence and the advancement of the cold war and the space age beginning with Sputnik in 1957. The Korean War was just ending, and Vietnam was beginning with the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu. The assassination of JFK was monumental as was the landing of a man on the moon, LBJ’s Great Society, and color television.

The seventies was a time for me advancing my journalist career; savoring and questioning the experience of covering the White House and Capitol Hill and covering the actions and issues of another war’s end, Watergate, Nixon’s presidency, the civil rights movement and a man on the moon.

The 80’s and 90’s were just as professionally adventurous coupled with the worry that the millennium computers would crash.

One of the definitions of the word “cusp” is the point which marks the beginning of change.

I was born on December 6th, 1941, the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Certainly a “cusp” in this definition and it’s not over yet.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Time-Out

A dear friend inquired about me since she had not seen new postings for several days.

I responded that I was taking a break from the chaos of America and focusing on beauty and peace. It is the Zen of non-attachment that filters the negative from daily conversations.

My professional training has been to observe, discern, inquire, write and report. In the December of my life, those awareness skills are heightened, and my conclusions are both sad and worrisome.

The political contention I observe in common America is infectious. It is fraying to the family fabric to the point of alienation, and it is assaulting the harmony of friendships.

I propose three steps to normalcy.

Our leaders, no matter who they are, must be far more cautious in the promulgation of fear and far more willing to listen and to be civil with sincerity and compassion.

All of us need a time out. Spend some time in nature and its inherent peace. Let the opiate of a flower’s fragrance sooth conflicting tensions. Let the caress of summer breezes bring joy to your heart. Look at the glory of sunset and know that all endings lead to a bright beginning.

And finally, acknowledge your spirituality. It is your life-force. Know that you are more than you think you are, and so is everyone else. There is no one path to God. All paths lead to the Divine. Red blood and salty tears are the same for all people, so too is laughter and smiles and the ability to love.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Alexandria!

What happened in Alexandria yesterday marks the beginning of limited access to our Congressional representatives.

The delusional idiot who opened fire on Congress members practicing for a charity ballgame stunted the freedom of all Americans.

To think that killing innocent representatives of our collective government will change things in Congress is absurd. It will change things, yes, but not to the betterment of freedom and free access to those we need to talk to on a constant basis.

Whatever the motives were for this soul to think his action would alter history to conform to his illusion; he was wrong. He did alter history but to the detriment of freedom and liberty.

The world, unfortunately, is filled with lunatics, and anarchists who see the comfort of normality as inimical to their vision of life. They are the disruptors, the disturbers, the would-be dictators of social and moral society.

Is there a way to stop them? No! Is there a way to impede them? Probably not! So, what do we do?

One suggestion is to stop the bickering, the contention, the conflict within our government and return to the camaraderie, the courtesy, and the common sense that existed in our legislative halls for over two centuries.

Conflict invites encourages and inflames the perceived powerless of our society.






Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flag Day 2017

Today is Flag Day.  I mention this every year because I think it's important. Of all the national things that we each hold sacred, our flag is at the top. If we each still believe in the ideals of this republic then our flag is the standard bearer of our beliefs and even though we are busy, and it's a weekday, and the kids have homework, and they need to get to soccer practice, we ought to remember this day.

There was a time in our history when our flag was empty of experience. It had the symbolism of a united people and the expectation of greatness, but we were a young country, and as yet we had little collective history.

The United States wasn’t even a year old when Continental Congress adopted the flag design on June 14th, 1777. But now, centuries later we remember that our flag is much more than red and white cloth stripes and symbolic stars in blue.

It’s everything that’s ever happened to this country and everything we’ve ever done. It’s victory and defeat. It’s protests and pageantry. It’s honor with humility and shame with remorse. It’s living and dying for principle. It's every soldier, sailor, airman and service member who ever served.

A nation is not its flag. The flag is the collective body and history of the nation. It’s not only the rights we are constitutionally guaranteed, but it’s also the personal human rights we embrace and grant to others through courtesy and compassion and character.

Above all the flag is our waving and Clarion symbol for the entire world to see our courage, our liberty, our freedom and our belief in the God we trust.

Monday, June 12, 2017

It's getting hot...

Good Day All,

It was hot here yesterday, 92 at my place.

Today should be even warmer.

Here's something I wrote when it was winter.

 I looked it up and re-read it to see if I could feel a little cooler. Here it is from wintertime.

“This day is a draining, shivering cold. There is a frigid thunk to the wind chimes on the porch, not the usual resonate ring of atoms in easy motion. The chime sound is tight, quick and solid as if it is too hard and too stiff for even the ring to move beyond its source. Everything has a stillness about it except the wind, and it too shivers as it seeks the elusive warmth of icy friction”.

Then I remembered something I read in Readers Digest when I was a teenager. It was something like this: "The pond shivered itself to ice." What a great image.

I will read this several times today to see if I get cooler.

Stay cool.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Deja Vu

I thought after America went through the Watergate fiasco that it would never happen again in my lifetime. Then lives were disgraced, people went to jail, and the President resigned.

Former FBI Director Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee and his subsequent allegations, under oath, set me into the proverbial mind-set of Deja Vu, (all over again) as Yogi Berra used to say.

All justice wheels move slowly, grinding away the chaff from the kernels of truth so we (the public) will have to wait and see what emerges from the special prosecutor.

If there is another lesson in all of this political skulduggery besides the kindergarten one of, “tell the truth.” It is a growing certainty that “truth” always seems to find a way through the cracks of denial or obfuscation. The only hindrance is time.

The sooner we as individuals, and as a collection of global societies, realize truth contains no pain or suspicion but equalizes each of us into the fairness of life and opportunity. When each of us embraces the truth, in all aspects of our lives, as our ethic, we will have trust in the world, and Lord knows what that could lead too.





Thursday, June 8, 2017

The 1st Congressional inquiry

It’s not new for Congress to investigate issues that stimulate public inquiry.

The first congressional committee inquiry was formed to look into what was called St. Clair’s Defeat.

In November 1791, General Arthur St. Clair led a contingent of nine-hundred troops into the Ohio frontier. They were ambushed by local Indians, and most were killed or wounded. A House committee wanted to know who was to blame.

Like the committees of today, they asked for documents about the failed mission of St. Clair.

President George Washington was asked for his papers about the Ohio expedition, and he wondered if he had the right to refuse. He and his cabinet debated the issue. They decided that he should submit documents that were for the public good, but refuse any that would injure the public.

What that did was establish the principle of executive privilege.

President Washington did eventually give the requested documents to Congress.

To finish the story, Congress concluded that the blame lay with the War and Treasury departments. St. Clair was exonerated.

Not much has changed in Washington over the centuries, except maybe the lack of civility.



 
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