Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Food For Thought

I spent many years in the restaurant business. I think every state requires all establishments that serve food & beverages to post this type of sign in their restrooms. Straight to the point, isn't it? Let's assume these employees are healthy, it is still absolutely practical and proper advice and and it just makes common sense. After all, who wants to put bacteria and germs into their mouths from someone else's, well, you know, "down there"? Even if they don't pee on themselves or whatever. I know, this is a yucky topic and you don't want to think about it. I'll come to the point.

Think about this. When in the bedroom, that simple little rule remains on the other side of closed doors. We do things to each other we wouldn't do any other time except when we're in a state of passion. Without going into detail, mouths are capable of performing some amazing and wonderful things. In relationships, again, assuming both consenting parties are physically healthy, we don't seem to get sick from what we do. And we're not always two minutes fresh from the shower. We might have just returned from that restaurant or bar. We might have just met that night.

Why is that? Does lust kill germs?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Who stunk up the UN?

Here's a letter I wrote to the local paper. Feel free to copy it and send it to your own newspaper.

To the editor:

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela called President Bush the devil. I don't think most Americans appreciated that, no matter what side of the fence one straddles. To acknowledge his remark and clear the air, so to speak, President Bush, through diplomatic channels, of course, should send Chavez a case of Beano to let him know what we think of his gas and to help rectify the smell of sulphur that seems to follow him around.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Golf Wars

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are professional golfers. On the golf course, they are fierce opponents, focused on one thing: victory. Off the course, they are good friends, well, maybe not that close. They have many faithful fans who follow them religiously, to a fault, although I don't think of golf fans as being in the same league as the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, where fans have been known to bloody a few noses and break a few bones. Off season, the players probably go out to eat together. Well, not all of them, but friendships among their legions have been broken over a silly game.

Tiger Woods is African American, Chinese, Native American, Thai, and Caucasian. Maybe more. Because of his dark skin, there are elements yet lurking that will never root for him. He needs to go back to Africa to play golf, some say. What difference does it make that most of his bloodline is of Thai descent? Why should anyone care about his ethnicity, what religion he is, if any, or which side of the bed he gets out of in the morning?

Twenty-some years ago my late friend, Larry Maddox, observed, "Wouldn't it be nice if there was no such thing as different races." I wondered what he meant by it. "Think about it, Dave," he said. "If all races were thrown into a giant blender and out poured one - not black, not white, not yellow, not red, but a mixture of all of us, wouldn't the world rid itself of racism?" That was a very deep thought, but Larry was a philosopher at heart. He was a copywriter at an ad agency I worked for, with a degree in journalism. I wholeheartedly agreed and that impression has never left me. Sometimes, I wish religions were the same way.

I remember the old Hollywood stereotypes. The (then called) colored people were often depicted as docile, subservient and scared to death of ghosts. The mere sight of one would turn them white. Why white? Partially because of this, prejudice prevails. Hatred still runs deep. This country does not stand alone. There's plenty of room in the whole wide world. Unfortunately, it's standing room only. All races play the race card, just like all religions play the religion card. Unfortunately, some more than others and there seems to be an awful lot of misguided stereotyping when it comes to races and religions.

If we span the course of human existence, how many wars have been fought over racism and religion? Where would we begin? Recorded history does not go back far enough to answer where and when it all began. Anthropologists can't even explain the demise of the Neanderthal. After nearly 200,000 years of existence, they suddenly disappeared. Early modern humans are suspected of being responsible. Was it over race or which tribe had the better and stronger sun god? Who's to say? There is some speculation that trade wars existed back then (see and select economists and archeologists suspect that bands of early humans interacted with each other and inter-group trading emerged and that might have played a role in the Neanderthal's extinction. I'm sure they fought over territory.

I'm afraid territorial wars will never go away. It is one thing inherent in all of us to protect our space - or what we perceive as our space. (You can add your own spite-filled opinion on the Israel/Palestine problem here. Go argue with someone else.) An example of this, and I love to explain this scenario to all who banter with me on philosophy and religion, is a very simple one. Here in America, we celebrate a holiday called Thanksgiving. It is intended to give thanks to the bountiful blessings we have. It is a love feast where close relatives and friends gather at the table. Hugs abound. We hold hands and give thanks to our respective god and to each other. Then, dinner is served. Everyone has their own placemat, their own "territory" so to speak. I like to take my drinking glass and place it somewhere on the edge of my neighbor's placemat. I have just infringed on their space. Do you have any idea what happens next? Some people don't react, but inside the brain they are all too aware of it. They seek no confrontation, yet they feel awkwardly uncomfortable. Others may just move it back to my side. Some may say something like, "Hey, get that glass off my space." There are probably others, although it's never happened to me, who might curse and throw the glass back at me. Do you get my point? No matter what, territory plays a crucial role. In this case, this private area is perceived as belonging to them, even though they're eating at Aunt Tessie's house. The property is not theirs to begin with. What began as a day filled with love and thanksgiving may end in a fiasco, with brothers and sisters and whole family members taking sides and flinging pumpkin pie at each other. If families and close friends are capable of doing this on such a small, unimportant scale, imagine what countries and cultures are capable of doing to each other when disputed borders are at stake and they are lobbing bombs instead.

Cultural and political wars are most often ideologically driven, sometimes with a smattering of religion thrown in, as in the case of "Kulturkampf" or literally, culture struggle. Then, the 19th century chancellor of Germany, Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince von Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg, and the German Protestant government attacked the legal rights of Catholics. Why aren't Catholics protesting today over something that happened a mere hundred and some years ago, burning and murdering Germans like some religions are still doing? Some just can't let go of the old, stale past and primitive ways.

Certainly, the entire world is aware of what is going on today with how quick radical extremists are to slice the head off common sense in the name of their god. It's as if God intended mankind to destroy itself. Rather prehistoric thinking, isn't it? As extremists kill in the name of God, are they actually doing it in the name of their religion or are they basing these crude and barbaric forms of torture and death on ideological, self-serving twists of their particular "faith" that stem from their rather undeveloped minds? Undeveloped in the sense that they hold no regard for human life and dignity, not even their own. Ask your leaders if they would do the same for you.

Look at religious figures everywhere. Somewhere along the way, throughout history, haven't many, to a large extent, been responsible for tearing the world apart? Haven't plenty of them taken foreign lands and rendered the inhabitants under their control in one way or another in the name of God?

In order to dominate a region, a leader or conqueror must have a strong cultural and political base. What do China and Iran have culturally and politically in common other than disdain for the United States? Why would Iran, an Islamic Republic, ally itself with an atheist government for any reason other than trade and money, with the stronger one supplying arms and the weaker one supplying oil? Ideologically, they are as far apart as they are with us. On the other hand, aren't we, God fearing people, doing the same thing? Perhaps, religion doesn't play as important a role after all. Perhaps, those violent religious fanatics have it all wrong when invoking God, sometimes with their cleric's blessings, to spread their brand of hatred and death. God, give me genocide. I'm sorry, but you cannot convert the dead. Why do religious and political leaders mention God at all levels and on many of the world's stages? They all seem to have God on their side. The one true God. In war, the victor gives praise to the Almighty. The loser prays for help. Read your history. Many times, it's the same God.

Imagine no religion, John Lennon said. Nothing to kill or die for. He might have been on to something.

Back to Tiger. I'm voting for him in every election. After all, he represents more of the world's races and religions than you or I could ever imagine, but, only if he picks Phil Mickelson as his running mate. The likelihood of that happening is like either one of them going to church on Sunday or the rest of the world giving peace a chance.

Friday, September 15, 2006

For Dessert, I'd like a Slice of Peace Pie

There is a blog I stumbled upon I thought was pretty interesting. It is called Desert Peace and it's about a Muslim living in Israel who wishes for true peace in the world. His son wrote a response to my initial comment and I didn't see it until today. The post is titled, "Hatred ... 5 Years Later" and I urge you to read it and all of the comments to get the gist of what I wrote and why I did. These are not voices of radicals or jihadists, but the political cartoon certainly caught my attention. I believe that an open dialogue is a great way to express all views. So does he. This is my comment back to his son. The author is now on vacation and it is in moderation awaiting his return.

crazycomposer -

You are correct about the Electoral College and the Supreme Court. Although not a perfect system, it has worked for the most part for over 200 years. I agree with you that we cast so much "do as I say, not as I do" edicts around the world and this has been a real problem for me and many, many others. The thing I take issue with in this matter is that a lot of people around the world discredit us. They speak of only the misery we create and never about the good we do. We are the most benevolent nation on earth, from both a personal and governmental standpoint. It's disheartening to hear so much grief from so many of the mouths we feed. It hurts when monies we donate are corruptly used by rogue sovereign governments to purchase weapons that will eventually be used against us instead of helping their own people who need it the most. Of course, we supplied weapons to bin Laden to fight the Soviet Union. Now he turns those same guns on us, and I believe it was Stalin who said that America will sell us the rope to hang them. No country and/or government is without fault. Yours, mine or anyone elses. To that, I quote, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Fundamentalism, for the most part, is not a good thing. Not the way it has evolved, anyway. Again, I pretty much agree with you, but what about religious leaders such as Billy Graham? He is a fundamentalist Christian who preaches non-violence and of human suffering. There are leaders of all faiths who espouse very similar doctrines, yet they too, could be considered fundamentalists. Not all blow themselves up or bomb abortion clinics. Many Islamic clerics teach laws that were written centuries ago and that takes fundamentalism to an extreme. Rules a thousand years old might not apply in today's cultures, yet at the same time, most of these same clerics do not send messages of hate and violence. My point here is that fundamentalism in and of itself is not inherently bad or evil. The fringe elements of humanity that step into the realm of extremism for their own personal gains are what destroy the goodness in religion. I ask you, where are the moderate voices of Islam? I sense you and your father are amongst them and I am hearing your voices, but where are the rest? When suicide bombers attack, when Israeli buses are blasted into oblivion, killing innocent children, where is the condemnation from Muslim leaders? Why do governmental heads remain silent? Who pays for the explosives they strap on their bodies? I condemn the bombing of abortion clinics. Religious leaders in America condemn these acts, too. The president on down to local officials cry out for the arrest and punishment of such criminals. We do not harbor them.

Sure, there's plenty of violence in the streets of America. There are drive-by shootings and gangs of low-life thugs. Many came from foreign lands, though. The Mafia, for example, took root in Italy long before it migrated here. There are the Russian and Chinese Mafias, too. Where do you think they originated? The only reason they are here is because we are internationally perceived as the "land of opportunity." Perhaps, we should be more like some of the Middle Eastern countries that, according to Islamic law, lop off hands and heads to curtail crime, but wouldn't we then be looked upon as barbaric? It's a no win situation for us. We are a nation of freedoms and rights and these thugs know that. They are back out on the streets the next day. What should we do?

Here, we are also free to worship in the manner of our choice. You don't even have to believe in any form of god. That's OK, too. There are Muslims and Jews living side by side. There are mosques and synagogues side by side. These people do not blow themselves up in the name of religion. Catholics and Protestants do not kill each other in the name of Christianity. Can Shi'ites and Sunnis say the same thing? Would I feel just as comfortable and safe as a Christian living in Iran? It is an Islamic Republic. Might I add more on the subject of fundamentalism? It is a nation based on the 1979 Constitution called the "Qanun-e Asasi" ("Fundamental Law"). We pride ourselves in the separation of church and state. How would you feel as a Muslim living here if we were a staunch Christian Republic? Can you tell me there are no Islamic countries in the Middle East practically run by fundamentalist religious leaders brandishing guns that are sanctioned and protected by their respective governments?

Territorial and religious wars have been the backbone of all corners of the earth long before these united states ever existed. We cannot be blamed for all the ills of the world. Somewhere along the way, others must admit fault and render good old fashioned, fundamental discipline upon themselves for a change.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

Rick Rescorla - A True American Hero

Rick Rescorla was born in England. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1963 and retired as a colonel in 1990. Rick was a bonafide hero of the Vietnam war. In 1965, at the Ia Drang Valley battles, Lt. Gen. Hal Moore described him as "the best platoon leader I ever saw." Rescorla's men nicknamed him "Hard Core" for his bravery in battle. His heroism was documented and highlighted in the 2002 movie "We Were Soldiers" from the book "We Were Soldiers Once... and Young" co-written by Gen. Moore.

Since 1985, he worked
in corporate security, subsequently becoming Vice President of Security for Morgan-Stanley/Dean-Witter, the largest tenant in the World Trade Center. After the 1993 attack, he trained all employees to evacuate the building. He maintained a structured, quarterly drill carried out by all staff to orderly get out. He is the man who predicted 9/11. Please see The Richard C. Rescorla Memorial Foundation.

On that fateful day, he safely evacuated all
2,800 Morgan-Stanley/Dean-Witter employees but himself and a few of his security staff. After doing his job, he returned to rescue others still inside. These were not even his people. They were all his people. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains have not been recovered. He leaves a wife and two children. This man is widely recognized as being solely responsible for saving over 3,000 lives. Is it of any importance that he became an American citizen after Vietnam?

This is but one hero who perished that fateful day, but what a man he was and what a soul he has that will and should live forever in the hearts and minds of all who cherish freedom. All over the world.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ma & Pa

These are my parents. My sister took this picture at Brio Tuscan Grille in Winter Park, Florida, the day before Father's Day.