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Rumilluminations Sept. 2009
By: Esther Powell
Posted on: Tue, September 01 2009 - 12:29 pm


September 30, 2009                                      Valparaiso, IN

For some reason the phrase "dunce monger" came to my mind this evening.

Jay Leno is a dunce monger, with his Jaywalking Allstars.  Last night it was Real Housewives of Orange County participants.

No wonder the one time I tried to watch that show out of the idlest of curiosity, I didn't last for two minutes!

The most ignorant of the housewives was also the most obstreperous, challenging the necessity of knowing the answers to difficult questions like, "When did Columbus discover America?"  (Believe me, this was not a pro-Native American response on her part!)

But Jay Leno is a dunce monger for fun and for the education of those of us who used to laugh at the theoretical cigar-smoking Cadillac driver who says, "If you're so smart, how come you're not rich?" 

Now we know the answer:  there is in many circles an inverse relation between knowing anything and being rich.

But the worst, scariest dunce mongers are those who are gathering together the stupid for political clout or the cause of revolution (or secession.)

Those are the dunce mongers I fear.

We might do better with a proletariat of robots than an irrational revolutionary "army" raised by dunce mongers!

September 29, 2009                                Valparaiso, IN

I remember watching cartoons on Saturday mornings.  My favorite was Mighty Mouse.

Now my mother watches cartoons for hours almost every day and excuses herself by saying, "I figure I'm doing what I didn't get to do as a child!"

Well, news, news, neither did her children.

I find myself really irritated by cartoons.  What are we allowing TV to teach our children?

For instance, a few days ago a cartoon authority figure asked the toon children a question.  Several characters answered it wrongly.  Then the teacher said, "You all got it wrong!  The right answer is ...."

Great teaching!  Implant four wrong answers into that quick-thinking, soak-everything-up-like-a-sponge brain - before the child hears the correct one!  No wonder our kids are confused (if indeed they are.)  (Well, that would confuse me!)

Not to mention the extreme authoritarian message.  "None of you little ones has a thing to teach me.  You're all wrong!"

And a lot of these obnoxious creations are aired on public TV!

Have you watched cartoons lately?

Maybe you should - you might get an education!

Seriously!  Ha ha ha ha ha!

September 28, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

We manipulate things - why don't we pedipulate?

Why do we call emotional manipulation "mani"pulation?

Why don't we call it verbipulation or mentipulation?

If a person is puling is he easily manipulated?

Is this related to being pulled around?  Pulled apart?

I could look it up, but Autumn has fallen with a vengeance.

It's windy, chilly, and night has fallen.

After 7:00 in the evening, I only play!

September 27, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

People!  We don't have to hew to things that our parents taught us thirty or forty years ago!

Sure, a lot of stuff they taught us was good.  Wisdom that has been handed down for generations and blah blah blah.

But how old were they when you were three?  Twenty-five?  Thirty?

They were mere babes in the woods themselves!

They probably don't believe in a lot of that stuff anymore themselves.

For a while I used to give my mom a hard time when she didn't follow advice she gave me (in the form of orders!) when I was a child.

I would taunt her with, "My mommy taught me to do" such-and-such, whatever it was.

Well, guess what?  She's changed.  And that is her right.

And it's your right to change, too.  If your parents were bigoted and narrow-minded when they were young, you don't have to emulate their twenty-three-year-old behavior.

You can grow and change!

They probably have!

September 26, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

Today my Mom and I played hooky from the Saturday Stumper crossword puzzle and went for a drive.

We went south and east of Valparaiso, to relatively flat land, through corn and soybean fields.  One field with rows that looked like corn but shorter with big seed plumes the shape of candleflames looked new to me.  I didn't remember learning about that crop.  But a voice in my head said, "sorghum" and I was pretty sure that it was correct.  I began to think maybe I hade seen it before, long ago....

Sure enough.  Just now I looked at a lot of sorghum pictures.  That was sorghum!  (Probably sorghum bicolor, a common commercial crop, I read.)

At one point Mom said, "I would there were a wood where I would go."

Yay!  Wordplay!  "That was good!" I said.  But of course I wanted more "w" words in there.

 "I would there were a wood where we were wont to wander!" was my favorite of the variations we came up with.  (Well, to tell the truth, I changed it a little just now!)

Since Mom was giving me a message in an indirect kind of way, we aimed North where we were more likely to encounter the kind of shadowy tree-lined road that seems to make my mom happiest.

Too late!  Hunger struck and heading back west and north, we did not really encounter any thick woods, although we passed one field with an ornamental border of purple morning-glories its whole length.

Oh, well.  It was kind of a cool, cloudy morning anyway.  We wouldn't have experienced the same kind of entry into moist cool green shade that you experience when the weather is 95 degrees and sunny!

September 25, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

Well, summer is over for sure.  It took me two plantings of basil before the plants took, and cool days and nights delayed its growth once I got it potted up into bigger pots and put outside.

Never again, I thought, would I buy a mix of basil seeds.  I blamed the various requirements of the seedlings for my uneven success.

It has been trying to bloom for weeks, and I have been picking off buds, trying to keep ahead of its seeding.  I have added random little leaves to my salads.  Those different flavors are really tasty!

Today, observing that my basil was already beginning to yellow, I gave up and harvested it, hoping to have enough for at least one recipe.

I had enough for two!  The mixture turned out to be very exciting.  Licorice basil, lemon basil, purple basil and Jane Doe basils made a fantastic combo - a light and flavorful mix.  (Admittedly, the licorice basil succumbed more to fall weather than the others.  If there had been more leaves of the licorice, maybe the flavor would have been too strong.  Sounds like an experiment for next summer, though.)

Forgive me if I am repeating myself, but you might want to try avoiding wheat flour by eating pesto on spaghetti squash.

Simply cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and cook it in boiling water until done (maybe twenty minutes?)  Tease out some of the strands of squash, slap in a couple heaping tablespoons of your home-grown, home-made pesto and voila!

You have a squash bowl of antipasta pesto!

Hmmm... next year maybe I'll try to grow my own spaghetti squash! 

September 24, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

The other night we heard a strange descending cry, followed by a soft du-du-du-du.  At first I heard only the initial louder cry and it took me a while to decide it was a bird.

An owl, I decided.

Maybe that is the famous screech owl cry, I thought.

Yesterday we got on the internet and listened to owls.  The screech owl is quite definitely what we heard.  It wasn't much of a screech, though.  It sounded more like the descending quavering stereotypical ghost "oooo" - a wail more than a screech.

The cry of a barn owl is definitely screechy!

Makes you wonder if people put two and two together and got negative four.

I don't ever remember hearing a screech owl before, although when I was in college I saw three perching in a row on a low (nine feet, maybe) branch of a tree.

We heard a saw-whet owl on the computer, also.  It has a repetitious series of cries.

Kind of made me wonder how the saw-whet owl got its name.

September 23, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

My partner said to me the other day, after hearing some Republican Congressman begin a sentence, "The American people don't want..." that that made him angry.

"Don't tell me what I want and don't want," he groused.

I didn't argue.  I felt exactly the same way.

I did make the point that President Obama might have the right to speak for the American people on certain subjects that were major parts of his platform.  After all, he won, and thus could be considered to be speaking for the majority.

But some congressman from whatever state doesn't have the right to talk about what the American people want (or don't want) unless he has several polls to back him up.

Even then, his opinion is suspect.  Who ran the polls?  Were they truly representative?  If he is going on the basis of questionnaires, who wrote those up and sent them out?

No, let Congressmen limit their blanket statements to their own constituencies.

Some people like and need cotton, some prefer wool, and others want down comforters.

If you are from a Southern State, please speak only for the cotton-lovers.

September 22, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

I think it is high time we stop dividing our educational system between college prep (e.g. should I say academic?) and technological training.

We should either add courses that really explain the science behind everyday technology, or ensure that common practical applications are a part of science courses.

I'm not suggesting that everybody needs to learn how to repair a copy machine or a vacuum cleaner.

But too many of us use too many objects, such as cars, microwaves, TVs and cell phones without an appreciation of the science of their operational utility.  Not a clue!

Don't you think this should be part of everyday education like the three R's?

Not doing so is like trying to teach biology to kids who don't know that carrots grow in the ground!

Don't laugh!  There are evidently lots of kids these days who don't know where carrots come from.

Well, except that they come off trucks!

Basic technology should be part of primary or at least secondary education.

Don't you think?

I think if a kid is smart enough to use a microwave, he's smart enough to learn a little about wave theory, and what different frequencies of waves are like!

September 21, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

Read some interesting cognitive psychologically related findings about animals online yesterday (article about a guy named Hare featured on Yahoo news.  I think the link was to Time Magazine.)

Anyway, there was a lot of really surprising stuff.  It would be good to see more.  I hope he writes a book!

The point that I find most interesting, though, was about sharing.  Evidently apes have more trouble sharing than humans do, even when there is enough food for all.  If there is some excuse for fighting about it, they will.

Hare says that the reason human beings have made so much progress is because they don't get "freaked out" by the idea of sharing.

I love it! 

Tea-baggers!  Share your tea-bags!  Make tea, not trouble!

September 20, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

Don't name your kid Joy.  If you do, she'll try so hard to live up to her name that she'll make everyone else miserable.

If you are hairy, don't name your kid Harry!

Sarah reminds me of sirrah!  "I love you, sirrah!" just isn't convincing.

If you want to be a Mary (or even, more humbly, Merry) don't marry!

Blythe is a myth.

There's a reason most people don't name their sons John anymore.  Well, on second thought, I can think of at least two!

If you are in the UK, don't name your son Lou!  On second thought, just don't name a kid Lou, wherever you be!  The UK is still everywhere!

Fanny is so fraught you better forget it!  (As a name, as a name!)

The name Brittany (note the etymological relation to Brittania) can be spelled so many different ways that it will be cursed by a whole generation (or four) of clerks.  Let it die!

What's in a name?  Memory, association, and meaning.

Scary territory!  (Oh, by the way, Terra means "earth" in Latin... just in case you were contemplating....)     

September 19, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

Saw and enjoyed Jay Leno last night.  Laughed a lot.

Then, after the news, watched some of insecure O'Brien and found ourselves watching what appeared to be a Jewish fundraiser, with a dog puppet named Triumph.  It was all very funny, I guess, but I am left wondering what I missed.

Did I miss Conan's phrase that gave us the overview?  Have I missed all the shows that would have made the skit comprehensible to me?  Have I missed the glorious history of the puppet dog Triumph on some kiddy puppet show?  Is Triumph a regular guest on the Conan O'Brien show?

Or am I of some old generation that is not used to just responding to the two-second bite of whatever is before me?

Is there an upcoming generation that does not feel the need to have some kind of overview of what is happening around them?

Or am I some kind of old fogey that doesn't "get" what is happening around me?

I fear - the latter!

September 18, 2009                             Valparaiso, IN

I wish the President wouldn't link a public health care option with individual responsibility.

Young people who don't want to get insurance are just being realistic.

Maybe they should have to pay into health care for all, and maybe they will.  But don't call them irresponsible for not having health insurance!

What about people who have health insurance and pursue high-risk endeavors like skiing or smoking or eating themselves sick?

The minute you start talking about individual responsibility the waters get very murky indeed.

For the government to talk about our collective responsibility (if not our national pride!) is another matter.  We spend a ton of money on health care and we get a lousy product for it.  This is not the fault of our young people - or our uninsured populace, for that matter.

This is partly lifestyle choices, partly inefficiency, and partly criminality.

Don't blame me for Medicare fraud or criminally stupid behavior of those who do things like drinking themselves into the need for a liver transplant!

I wonder what lifetime medical expenses of the average person are.

I bet my entire lifetime expenditure on eye, medical and dental care doesn't come close to the cost of one serious skiing accident!

I'm not saying outlaw high-risk endeavors.  I'm saying it all gets too complicated.  Let's all pay for everything!

(In one way or another we pay, anyway.  Even if it is working at low-level jobs for a lifetime with lousy remuneration and no health insurance so other people have enough money to contribute more.)

By the way, kudos to Rachel Maddow for her analysis of public health care conditions (especially for women and infants) in states like South Carolina (ha! I almost typed Sour Carolina!  Ha!)

September 17, 2009                              Valparaiso, IN

Plush blush publishing my mushrooming crush, I rush through a lush hush to sit on my cushy tush where toilets flush.

Think I could be a romance novelist?  It might be fun.

I don't read romance novels as a rule.  Do they have a romantic comic genre yet?  Well, come to think of it, some Nora Ephron, Carrie Fisher and Peter DeVries might fit in that category.

Hmmm... it's been too long since I read anything like that.

Strong pong lingered long among the thong-garbed throng.  Gongs elongated songs sounded by bong-pronged tongues.

Er, what is that you say?  What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Oh, come on.  Do I have to do all the work?   


September 16, 2009                              anywhere, U.S.A

Well, it's nice to have Jay Leno back, especially at an earlier hour than before!  I hoped his show would not have changed too much, and it hasn't.

Of course, some critics wanted him to come up with something completely new, and they are complaining.

Why?  A lot of what made the present Tonight Show what it is evolved while Jay Leno was emcee-ing it.  It works - people love it.

Want a brand-new format?  Who knows, maybe Jay has something up his sleeve.  Maybe he is thinking evolution rather than revolution.

Has it changed my viewing habits?

Sure.  Now I have to try harder to catch Keith Olbermann the first time 'round in the evening.

Otherwise, no.  My goal is still to try to make it through the monologue after the news.

After that, it depends on the guests.

Same with Leno, though.  Michael Moore as a guest was the kind I used to stay up for.  Someone less my cup of tea might find me reading in front of the TV set - or worse yet, snoozing!

I've heard that every hour you sleep before midnight is worth two.

An interesting idea.  Maybe now I can test it.

September 15, 2009                                Valparaiso, IN

I went on a little walk today.  Went down a little side street with little houses.

Every mailbox was different, I swear.  They had flowers around them, or stones.  One had a basket around the post!  It looked empty from where I was across the street.

Three or four people were working in their yards.  At a house where an elderly gentleman was weeding or planting (I didn't see what - I'm only so snoopy!) a little dog barked from the doorway.  He sounded conscientious, as if he were taking pains to pronounce perfect "Arf!"s.  (They sounded more like "Ard!  Ard")

Across another street at the end of the block another larger dog was trying equally hard to say, "Woof!"  It sounded more like, "Wood!"  Why does dog language have so many impossible "F"s in it, anyway?  We know dogs can't say a good "F."  Look at their mouths!

Why am I imagining dogs are trying so hard to behave well?

Is it because people are behaving so badly?

Am I turning into one of those people who love animals best?


Only at a distance!

September 14, 2009                                Valparaiso, IN

We saw a movie DVD a while back called Cold Comfort Farm.  Delicious!

After I wrote my piece yesterday calling our bike rides "fun," I remembered the heroine trying to refine her relatives, telling one of them not to describe an experience as "fun."

"Not 'fun' - 'diverting', or 'amusing'."

I imagined substituting the word "fun" in my rave about our rides with the words "diverting" or "amusing".

Not possible.  Those two words sound like a response to something in the nature of entertainment or an intellectual puzzle.

Try as I might, I can't imagine our bike rides as anything so tame (mundane as they were!) as something that could be called a "diversion".

Get on a bike, pedal up and down hills, escape the predations of careless automobile drivers and barking dogs, feel the wind on your skin - it's a very visceral experience.

Amusing?  Like watching a clown?  Diverting?  Like playing a crossword puzzle?

Hell, no!  Riding a bike is much more than that.  It's just plain old FUN!

Oh, well.  What can I say?

I'm just an American plebe!


September 13, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

Today and yesterday - two days in a row - we took bike rides through the countryside around Valparaiso.  The weather has been magnificent:  not a moment of being too hot or too cold.

We discovered a path which said, "No motorized vehicles allowed."  There was no sign saying it was private property.  We pedalled in.

It was an enchanted green bower!  We rode through the green tunnel of summer-love!

Sure, we ended up getting a little lost in the woods, bumping over roots and dodging tree-trunks.  I admit we ended up walking our bikes past someone's chickens and lifting them over a fence to get out of there.

Next time we'll turn around before we get a chance to get lost.

But it sure was fun!

September 12, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

The movie we saw yesterday got me to thinking about the tendency we have to want to recreate the good parts of the past.

I have had boyfriends try to recreate the good times they had with other women when they were with me.  Doomed to disappointment, unless it is an unselfish desire to share a cool experience.  Still doomed to disappointment probably, because conditions are different - internally and externally.

In the movie a young woman tries to recreate a good part of her childhood with her little girl.

Well, hell, maybe in the movie it works.  (That is, in the make-believe world of the movie after the movie ends, ha ha you know what I mean.  We all enter into it to a certain extent!)

In real life maybe it works, too.  I guess that is what tradition is all about:  an attempt to keep a good or sacred experience alive through repetition.

But basically, I think it really reflects a lack of creativity, or perhaps worse, a stifling of the possible creativity of others more appropriate to the present time.

And what was a wonderful experience for one generation may not be felt that way by others!

Too much weight of tradition can create an internal vacuum that can turn into a destructive black hole.


Well, okay, public tradition and ceremony is one thing, I guess.  But at least live your personal life in the moment! 

September 11, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

"...idea for your website..."

Every once in a while I get an email containing these words and they are all basically the same.

All written by someone who has obviously either not even read my website or is inaccessible to what I'm trying to do with it.

I have an idea for your business!  Give someone individual attention and recognition for what they are trying to accomplish!  Maybe you'll grab their attention that way!

Otherwise, your messages are all the same.

No hook!

Crook, maybe!  But I'm not a lost sheep.

Except by Christian standards, maybe.

Baaa, baaa, bah! 

September 10, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

....let me see.

Terrorists attacked us almost 10 years ago, so we got into "wars" with two countries.

If twenty American terrorists were to attack another country, would that country wage war against us?  Or would they ask us to get our law enforcement agencies to go after the terrorists?

...let me see.  Insurance companies make profits from premiums paid in return for medical care when needed.  Lots of money! But a sizeable portion of our citizens don't want illegal aliens to be able to join (pay into) a public option.

Let's look at the illegal alien issue.

1.)  They pay taxes.  That's a plus!  Money for the Federal Government.

2.)  If they don't have insurance and have to go to the hospital, the hospitals have to treat them with or without remuneration.  (True also of uninsured me, by the way.)  That's a minus.

3.)  If they would be allowed to obtain insurance through a public option, they would, like everyone else, pay premiums.  That's a plus.

Why do people want not to have one of the plusses?

Oh, I know it's not on the table (in the proposed health law) anyway.  But why not?

The only conclusion I can draw is that there are a good many citizens out there with very small noses.

They're willing to cut them off to spite their faces!  Which are turned in glee towards war!  Money for war!  Not for health!

Oh, yes....I see... but I sure don't understand!

September 9, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

Yesterday while my partner and I were riding our bikes to the fitness center, we saw tons of good stuff on the street waiting for trash pickup.

We couldn't pick it up riding our bicycles, and somehow later we forgot about it or didn't feel like picking it up in the car.  Did we really need it?  Where would we put it, anyway?

Today it occurred to me.  Cities are picking up this stuff, anyway.  Why don't cities and towns have garage sales?  It would be another source of income for them - at least partially defray the cost of "trash" pickup.

If we can't get citizens to take the trouble to get their good stuff to charitable organizations, how about selling it and keeping the money instead?

I can't stand the idea of all that perfectly usable stuff going to a landfill.  Wouldn't it be fun to have a city-wide garage sale to go to? 

September 8, 2009                            Valparaiso, IN

How is marriage like war?  Well, the battle of the sexes, of course, but I'm not thinking about that.

Marriage and war are both a lot easier to get into than they are to get out of.  Sons and daughters make it even more complicated - in the case of marriage, by their births;  in the case of wars, by their deaths.

We should be veeerrry careful about getting into either of them, in my opinion!

September 7, 2009                                    Valparaiso, IN

Fifty years ago, when I was a public school student, tomorrow would have been the first day of school.  There were no TVs in our Valparaiso schools then.  I never thought that the world of TV and school would intersect.

If someone had brought out a TV and made us listen to the President, if anything I would have thought of him as another kind of teacher - another authority figure if you will.  But - the President!

I think our teachers would have thought it was really cool that he was speaking to us, the kids.  After all, in the big scheme of things we seemed pretty insignificant.

When the U.S. elected a black/white President, yay!  Battle won!  Something proved!

Oh, I am so naive.

Now President Obama, on the eve of a big welcoming speech to our students, is being accorded less respect than your average school janitor.  (They mingle with your children in much closer ways, parents.  Do you know what they are up to?)

I am truly shocked that our citizenry is willing to diminish the office of the President of the United States in order to try to insult and diminish the person who holds it.

The office is supposed to bring out the best in people.  I am ashamed that this year it seems to be bringing out the worst of and in The People.

Shame on you if you keep your kids home from school in protest!

What are you teaching your children?

I sincerely hope that come Wednesday, this will have turned out to be a tempest in a teabag! 

September 6, 2009                                     Valparaiso, IN

The zebra finch is kinda driving me crazy sometimes.  He's very vocal.  Now my partner (who pays more attention to their social structure than I do) tells me the zebra tries to sing the song of the society finch who used to be the dominant bird in the cage.

The displaced head honcho sulks around thinking, "That idiot!  First he takes over, and now he's trying to copy my song!  And he can't sing for shit!"

Not only does Zebra sound like a baby toy, he does lousy impressions!

What bothers me almost worse than listening to that finch squawk, is the inkling that there might be a lesson in it for me!

Hmm... gonna shake that thought off with a bike ride!

September 5, 2009                                     Valparaiso, IN

The REM song with the lyrics "... That's me in the spotlight Losing my religion Trying to keep up with you..." reminded me of the way I used to feel sometimes when I was very young.

When I think back, the idea of being an atheist was really alien.  I went to church; I went to Sunday school.  That faith and way of spending time was just part of life.

Anything that challenged that thinking, like reading some of Jack London's books, was traumatic.

Therefore I am disturbed at the tendency of Christian communities to want to control their offsprings' educational environment not just through grade school or high school, but all the way up into their adult college years.

Young people really should not be taught that all people who do not believe the way they do are evil.

It sets them up to over-react in all kinds of situations that they are bound to encounter in the world.  They might end up becoming the evil ones in the eyes of society!

A corollary to this control is the feeling that some people seem to have that the public schools are responsible for teaching values to our children.  Sure, in reading all kinds of authors, a person does get exposed to all sorts of different and conflicting values.  That is inherent in education (sorry, those of you who would control everything, including your children's minds!)

But I don't want public school teachers telling my children what is right and wrong, except in the ethics of classroom and study.  That is the parents' job!

September 4, 2009                                      Valparaiso, IN

This morning my mom and I did the crossword puzzle in the newspaper.  Friday's is a little trickier than the puzzles earlier in the week.  I don't think either of us could have easily solved it alone.

It made me realize the challenges inherent in formulating and passing the health care bill.  Such a complex problem!  It is going to need a lot of smart brains to work it out.

Then I imagined in working on the crossword puzzle, that one of us simply refused to think about it and participate.  And that there were four or five people running in and out of the room, threatening to take away their support and gifts if we solved the puzzle, or trying to get us to stop trying.

I think it might be safe to say that the puzzle we solved this morning would be at most half done.

Considering everything involved, it will be a miracle to get the health care bill.

Let's hope for a miracle!

September 3, 2009                                    Valparaiso, IN

Last night walking toward the pro public health option candlelight vigil we saw a column of citizens walking up Franklin Street towards us, saying "Left right left!", and I thought, "Oh no."

Now, admittedly I have heard and done left right left marching:  "I left my wife and forty-nine children at home in the kitchen in starving condition without any gingerbread left," for one.  My old favorite.

But somehow I knew instantly (oh, true confessions, they were also carrying big flags!) that these folks were not part of the demonstration I was going to.

I should have known.

What I couldn't have known was that there would be so many of the anti-s (bussed in from all over Northern Indiana, our organizer told us.)  I felt a little intimidated in my bright orange T-shirt listing what we want from this health insurance bill.

What I still can't understand is why there were so many white heads among those on the other side of the street.  They are on Medicare!  It just is not rational.

Our numbers grew during the next hour.  The one hundred candles purchased by the organizers were not enough to supply every one in the crowd, even though some of us brought them from home.  When we chanted, "Yes we can!" the folks on the other side responded, "No you can't!" 

I ran into a local ornithologist who responded to my report of seeing saw-whet owls with a "No way!" which she was willing to moderate to a "highly unlikely."  Just thought I should report that maybe they were screech owls.

At the end of the demonstration we sang "Amazing Grace" and those across the street booed that!  Go figure.

Time to break it up. A representative of the sheriff's department got on the mike and thanked us all for our mutual respect (my response to that:  ha! well okay, lack of physical violence!) and praised the U.S.A. for the fact that we could participate in such free speech and public demonstrations.

Amen to that!  Which still didn't stop me from gratefully accepting a ride home so I didn't have to pass through that hostile crowd in my radical bright orange T-shirt to get home safely!

September 2, 2009                                      Valparaiso, IN

Last night I dreamed about a big room that someone was afraid to go into.  It turned out that there was reason to be afraid - something horrible had gone on in that space.

In my dream I said, "Oh yes, I remember once I lived in a place which had an area like that - all boarded up and scary.  Maybe something happened there that was awful like this."

In my dream I thought I was awake.  I thought, "This would be a good subject for Rumilluminations."

Then I woke up.  My good idea was only a dream.

But I'm writing about it anyway.

Look into scary places!  Maybe you can be a hero!

September 1, 2009                                     Valparaiso, IN

I hope our country isn't going down.

Almost seriously.

A vocal minority in Texas wants to secede.

Are these people insane?  The only people in this country who should be thinking a bloody war is preferable to life as they have it are people imprisoned in sweat shops and illegally, and their war should have the support of our society.  No government toppling necessary!

Even most prisoners in penitentiaries would rather have life as usual than what happened in the Penitentiary of Santa Fe in the mid-1980's, although I am the first to admit I shouldn't be speaking for them!

People in this country who think revolution would make them better off are just incomprehensible to me.

But I really don't seriously believe that the secessionists can bring the whole country down.

What worries me is that the powers that be are becoming so ossified that nothing can move them.

In civil law there is something called Respondat Superior which says an employer has to be responsible for what his employees do.

Why shouldn't that be true in criminal law and especially in military law, with its emphasis on obedience - at least if the superior in question is in truth responsible?

If we let our leaders get away with proven torture and murder, maybe this country deserves to come down.

Almost seriously. 

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