Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The lifecycle of a name

When I was born, my folks called me Al.

As far back as I can remember, everyone else called me Alan.

That is, until teenage years. Then we learned it was cool to call each other by our last names. I became Burks.

Then I became an employee and started to write memos. The precursor of email. Oh, what ever happened to typing pools and triplicate and real cc's? As a matter of fact, why does the digital world still use cc?

Anyway, one day I signed a memo with my initials like I had seen a boss do. So, I became AB. Overnight.

Then I had kids. Daddy, Poppy. Now they call me Old Fart, Pops, or when they need money, Dad.

The kids' friends called me Mr. Burks. Then as they got to know me better, it became Mr. B. Until recently. Now they are all grown up at 28 and whatever, so they have taken to calling me Alan. I think it makes them feel all grown up.

Makes me feel younger being on a first name basis with these flatbellies.

In the next phase, when I become a total curmudgeon, I suspect Grumpy Old Al will come into vogue. Fine with me.

As long as nobody calls me Al Zheimer's, it will all be good.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Overseas Contigency Operation Update

I recently re-connected with a friend from elementary and high school via Facebook.

He has been a Navy SEAL for years. He is now in Afghanistan.

He says word hasn't reached the Taliban that this is no longer a Global War on Terror.

Thanks, bud


You taught us so much.

“Take care of my guys”.

Petey, we have had 4/2 Stryker Cavalry Regiment surrounded by your love for 16 months. We have had Gage in our/your care since he has been at Walter Reed. He is home now.

Because of you, we have been able to send 4 tons of care packages to men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. The simple stuff, like you told us. The stuff they miss from home.

Beyond Palehorse troop, there was a store opened in your name in the Green Zone in Baghdad. Less than a mile from where you were killed. Friends and neighbors from around the world sent money and love to supply a store where fellow soldiers could shop for free.

“Your guys” meant 17 men to you. Your wish to help has now reached thousands of soldiers.

“I want to foment change in this world”.

Well, that is happening too. We are sending school supplies into Iraq to make friends with the kids, just like you and your buds did. And, soccer balls. By the thousands.

By your presence there and the thousands like you, the people of Iraq will know that Americans care. That we wish them freedom from oppression, freedom from poverty, freedom to live as best as they can.

Thanks for leading from the front.

We will follow you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The tyranny of knowing it all, and the freedom of not

We were made like Genesis said.

We evolved.

Are those the only two valid points of view?

Freeman Dyson is one of the smartest men ever, well, created or evolved.

Mr. Dyson is a physicist, mathematician, non-denominational Christian, and a British born American.

Mr. Dyson is best known for demonstrating in 1949 the equivalence of the formulations of quantum electrodynamics. I have no idea what that means. But, scientists do. And they acclaim him for his work.

Mr. Dyson is also known as a heretic. That’s because he does not swallow “global warming” whole hog.

He is among signatories of a letter to the UN criticizing the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The letter includes the statements, "The average rate of warming of 0.1 to 0. 2 degrees Celsius per decade recorded by satellites during the late 20th century falls within known natural rates of warming and cooling over the last 10,000 years" and "there has been no net global warming since 1998". Both statements have been criticized as inconsistent with the data. And Mr.Dyson could care less.

Mr. Dyson is still kicking at 84. God love him. He challenges the know-it alls.

“Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the big universe outside, trying to understand why we are here. The two windows give different views, but they look out at the same universe. Both views are one-sided, neither is complete. Both leave out essential features of the real world. And both are worthy of respect.

Trouble arises when either science or religion claims universal jurisdiction, when either religious or scientific dogma claims to be infallible. Religious creationists and scientific materialists are equally dogmatic and insensitive. By their arrogance they bring both science and religion into disrepute. The media exaggerate their numbers and importance. The media rarely mention the fact that the great majority of religious people belong to moderate denominations that treat science with respect, or the fact that the great majority of scientists treat religion with respect so long as religion does not claim jurisdiction over scientific questions.”

Mr. Dyson, I look forward to the day when we are in Heaven together and we finally understand it all.

What's Swedish for tough love?

Sweden just told Saab, their major domestic automobile manufacturer, that there will be no government bailout.

One of the main reasons is that Saab is partly owned by General Motors. Sweden doesn’t want to bailout GM. And that’s partly because sales of Saab have been diminishing for years under GM ownership.

"Under G.M.'s ownership, they denuded the intellectual content behind the brand," said Peter Wells, who teaches at Cardiff Business School in Wales and specializes in the automotive industry. "Its products are not exciting enough, and Saab doesn't have a strong brand identity anymore." The same can be said of all of G.M.

This move has surprised many as Sweden has had a left-leaning government for years that nationalized banks and bailed out other industries.

Now the government is right leaning, and has said, "We are very disappointed in G.M., but we are not prepared to risk taxpayers' money. This is not a game of Monopoly."

How refreshing.

Saab is as much an international symbol of Sweden as GM is of the U.S. And the Swedish government has put on their big boy pants and said, “No”.

The Swedish labor unions are stunned. They view it as their entitlement to work at Saab.

There is a lesson here for us. The government is not here to bail you out of stupidity.

P.J. O’Rourke said it beautifully.

“I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat.

God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle aged male, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God's heavenly country club.

Santa Claus is another matter. He's cute. He's nonthreatening. He's always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who's been naughty and who's been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without the thought of quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he's famously generous to the poor.

Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus.”

Monday, March 23, 2009

GWOT Ends !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Did you hear?

GWOT is over.

No, not the military action. The words.

The U.S. government has decided that Global War on Terror just doesn’t work anymore.

Don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions. This started under Bush.

Donald Rumsfeld and company tried to replace it with Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. GSAVE. Oh, jeez.

The new administration also needs a new copywriter.

"Recently, in a LtGen [John] Bergman, USMC, statement for the 25 March [congressional] hearing, OMB required that the following change be made before going to the Hill," Dave Riedel, of the Office of Security Review, wrote in an e-mail.

"OMB says: 'This Administration prefers to avoid using the term "Long War" or "Global War on Terror" [GWOT]. Please use "Overseas Contingency Operation.'"

Riedel asked recipients to "Please pass on to your speech writers and try to catch this change before the statements make it to OMB."

Overseas Contigency Operation. That stirs the soul doesn’t it?

So, is there a new military ribbon for OCO? Cause you get one now if you served in GWOT.

What about the folks that have been in GWOT and are now in OCO? GWOTOCO?

Why don’t you knuckleheads in Washington try this.

It is easier to name something when you know what the mission is. Like, Nike is named after the goddess of victory to remind Nike wearers that victory is the objective. Google is a play on the word googol. It refers to the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros. Google’s use of the term reflects the company’s mission to organize the immense, seemingly infinite amount of information available on the web.

President Obama said last night that we don’t have a strategic plan for Afghanistan, but we hope to have one soon. However, he did sign an order for an additional 17,000 troops plus support personnel into Afghanistan immediately.

President Obama, how could you do that if you don’t have a plan? If you don’t know what the mission is? If you don’t have a name for it?

You rightfully scorched your predecessor over Iraq for lack of a plan. Looks like the Ivy League has produced another military genius.

“On behalf of a grieving nation, I pass along my personal condolences for the loss of your daughter in Afghanistan during Overseas Contigency Operation.” Is that really what you will write to some poor family in the next week or two?

No one wants to say this, but this is a religious war. Some in Islam use the Koran to justify killing anyone that doesn’t agree with their point of view. The non-Muslim world obviously disagrees. And supposedly, so do many Muslims.

So, let’s implement a global,interfaith, research, diplomatic, educational, intelligence, and military campaign. Let’s end this once and for all.

Call it Operation Friends United to Clarify the Koran.

Call it Operation F.U.C.K.

Men will never look better

Guys, look at the clothes you have on.

The owner of the company that made them, the person that designed them, the textile company that made the fabric, and the retailer that sold them to you all have one thing in common.

They all knew Stan Gellers.

Stan passed away on Saturday at 83.

Stan was a journalist whose beat was men’s clothing. He covered the industry literally from head to toe for over 50 years. His last column was November 24, 2008.

This means he saw lapels get wide, then narrow, then wide, then narrow. Same with ties. He knew Ralph Lauren when Ralph’s last name was Lipshitz. He reported the leisure suit, Carnaby Street, dungarees to fashion denim, casual Friday, and the introduction of a new retailer called Walmart.

Stan knew his craft of reporting. He knew his beat. He knew everybody who was anybody in men’s clothing. He was a new designer’s best friend. He was more instrumental in matchmaking alliances in the men’s clothing business than Studio 54.

Stan could not be bullshitted, because he had seen everything. He knew the difference in shit and shinola. He knew good fabric from crap. He knew good tailoring from hack. He knew a big idea when he heard it. He loved his work.

He was the sand in the oyster that produced pearls. He chastised stupid. He smirked at boring. He lambasted poor taste. He encouraged the industry to do new, better, more. And he did it all as a professional and a gentleman.

Stan first reported for the Daily News Record, when there was enough news and advertising for a daily report on menswear. The Daily News Record eventually came to be known as DNR, especially when it went to three days a week, then one. And now, it is gone.

The end of DNR, his eventual “forced retirement”, and his death all came within a few months. There has to be a connection.

One is cautioned about using the word never. But there will never be another Stan. There is no platform for one. This means that the industry he loved has lost its biggest cheerleader, critic and provocateur for improvement. The men’s clothing industry has lost a giant, and he never designed or sold a piece.

I entered the men’s clothing industry from the advertising industry. Which means I didn’t grow up with “wool in my nose”.

My first encounter with Stan didn’t last long. He called me to learn what I had in mind for new suits at Haggar. I talked for 15 seconds, he told me I was an idiot and hung up on me.

But I was fortunate. Stan gave me another chance. As harsh as he could be, he was open to new ways of thinking. We began a great business relationship in 1993.

Stan liked lunch. At nice restaurants in New York. And I, like many in the industry, bought him many. I always came away with new information. New people to contact. New ideas to think about. And I was supposed to be supplying the reporter with news.

Stan became a dear friend because he became mine first. He allowed me into the menswear club with his endorsement. We would come to have long chats about life, family, friends, food, you name it.

He called me when Pete was killed. He cried with me.

Today, Stan, I cry for you. I miss you, my friend.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Taxman and the Waxman

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

-The Beatles

"Sure, if you will just lie back, I will pour hot wax on your crotch and rip out your pubic hair by the roots. But no checks or credit cards. That will be $50 cash. In advance."

Just typing those words I scrunch everything. Ouch. Aaaaggghhh. As a man, the only feeling that comes to mind is when I slid off the front of the banana seat on my Stingray bike and had my 10 year old maleness meet the cold steel of that cross bar.

"Oh, you want all of the hair gone? Including the tender ones attached to your pee-pee and your taint? Sure. That will be $100."

I think I just did a kegel.

The state of New Jersey had a busy day on Friday. In the morning, they announced they would be suspending genital waxing in the interest of public health. Seems some women had developed health issues due to what’s known as the Brazilian process.

By the end of the day, the state had reversed course and was not banning the procedure.

And I think we know the reason why. As in most things in this world, follow the money.

Seems the good folks in New Jersey spend a lot of dough getting down to the nub.

Linda Orsuto, who owns 800 West Salon & Spa in (wouldn’t you know it) Cherry Hill, a Philadelphia suburb, said she was relieved. Orsuto estimated that bikini waxing brought in about $90,000 last year. That's a substantial amount of business for her salon, which performed about 1,800 treatments - most of which were Brazilian-style.

No sales, no sales tax. The pols in New Jersey know a good thing when they see it.

Can’t wait for the Congressional hearings to start. Washington loves sin taxes. Alcohol. Tobacco. Gambling.

Since it’s Brazilian, maybe there is a sin tax and an import tax.

Go get ‘em Congress. Rep. Henry Waxman is Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. This is a great one for you to sink your teeth into.

Rep. Waxman represents Los Angeles. The recent hot Hollywood look in hair down there is the "Tiffany Box," where the bikini area is waxed into a small square, bleached out and dyed powder blue like the jewelry store gift boxes.

Now you got sin tax, import tax, and luxury tax to work on. Congress, here’s your chance to grab America by the short hairs before it’s all gone.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chewing our own cud

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
P. J. O'Rourke

We, the United States of America, own 80% of AIG. And we can't control them. We can't stop them from burning thru money like a trophy wife on crack. Whaaaaaatttttt?

The Congress calls the bad boys to Washington so Barney Frank can rant and rave. Did anybody do due dligence before we became the majority owner? These bonuses and such aren't new. They were there in the corporate documents if anybody cared to read them. Heck, most bills, especially the budget bills, the trillion dollar stimulus bills, don't get read. So who had time to study AIG.

The U.S. government is so good at profit and loss. In 1990, when the Mustang Ranch, a legal brothel in Nevada, couldn't pay its tax bill, it was seized by the IRS. If you can't make money selling sex and booze you should just stay home. But our geniuses just closed it down. So we got nothing back. And the business just moved a few miles away and started over. We got screwed without a condom or a kiss.

So what do you think the boys at AIG are planning? Might suggest they are renting space across the street to start over. They sure as heck don't want to work for the U.S. government. Maybe they will call the new one BIG. Bastards Insurance Group.

And now, we are going to buy $1 trillion of our own treasury bonds. Because China, who is the largest owner, has just told us they were tapping the brakes on further investment. And since we couldn't find any other suckers, we showed 'em. So we bought them ourselves.

Let's see. So we just spent $1 trillion we don't have to buy bonds that we will have to pay ourselves interest on with money we don't have.

If it's that easy, why don't the banks that don't have any money just lend themselves some more? Oh, they don't have the printing press.

So your money (meaning cash) just got less valuable cause we are printing more to pay the bills we can't pay. Which means inflation is coming.

I can see it now. Obama on the Jimmy Fallon show with a Whip Inflation Now button.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness

Staff Sergeant Kerry Bell of Inglewood, California died this week.

He was stationed at Fort Lee, New Jersey. He was playing basketball, fell ill, and passed away.

I know nothing about SSG Kerry Bell other than he was in the Army and his family lost their son, brother, cousin, loved one this week.

I stood the flag line with the Patriot Guard today to honor him and his family.

No doubt, SSG Bell was a baller. He had served his country and his family. He was doing what he loved. He died in service to our country while playing bball with his buds.

While we watch the young studs of UConn, UNC, Syracuse, etc., let's remember SSG Bell. And the thousands like him. Young male and female athletes that have chosen the uniform of the U.S.A.

Rest, SSG Bell. Your job is done. We will remember you. And we thank you for serving us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The New And Improved Iraq

Reporter's Notebook By TERRY MCCARTHY
BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 16, 2009

For Americans, getting in the car and driving wherever you want is something pretty much taken for granted, but not in Iraq, where for years the roads have been plagued with roadside bombs, unofficial checkpoints run by death squads and a whole cast of bandits and kidnappers.

ABC News poll finds many positive changes in Iraqi neighborhoods.

But this year we felt things had changed, and so we got in our cars and drove from Baghdad to Kerbala, a major Shiite pilgrimage city 65 miles south of the capital.

We were not entirely sure how safe it would be when we set out, but after driving through some of the 24 checkpoints on the road, we quickly relaxed. We stopped to talk to people on the way, and none seemed at all anxious about security or were amazed that foreigners would be driving on the highway.

When we got to Kerbala -- four hours later, after passing through all those checkpoints -- we met a friend for lunch as casually as if there had never been a war at all.

It was the most remarkable evidence we found that things have really changed in Iraq, a country where 84 percent of the people now say they feel safe in their neighborhoods, according to the latest ABC News/BBC/NHK poll. That's double what it was two years ago, and 60 percent of people expect things to improve further next year.

When we walked around the streets of Baghdad and other cities and towns we visited, it felt as if a dark cloud of fear that Iraqis had been living under for the past few years had been lifted.

Certainly there are still some bombings and attacks in Iraq, but they no longer condition peoples' lives the way they did. More Iraqis now say that the economy, rather than security, is their greatest concern.

In the southern port city of Basra we found a hospital where 8 percent of the patients are coming from overseas -- Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Dubai -- an extraordinary turnaround. Since last year, when the militias were chased out of Basra, shipping has increased by 300 percent at the port.

In the north we found many Christian families who had fled the violence in Baghdad over the past few years -- they have settled in old Christian towns near the Turkish border. But some of these Christians are already thinking of returning to Baghdad, as they see security has improved.

The large majority of Iraqis seem to have realized that change can come about peacefully, not by violence. After the fourth round of elections passed off without any serious incidents, 64 percent of Iraqis now say democracy is the best system of government, turning away from previous preferences for strongman rule or an Islamic state.

The country still has many problems -- apart from lingering outbreaks of violence, there are still shortages of electricity and water, and corruption is rampant. But after six years of war, Iraq is finally starting to move toward a life that feels normal.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How I Narrowly Averted World War III

Well, with some help from Brian.

In fact, had it not been for Brian, we would have never been so close to Armageddon.

So I’m in Toronto this past weekend. The kind of place those of us who work for “the company” like to go. Lots of internationals. Lots of intrigue.

My close associate, whom we shall forever call Brian, because his name is Brian, met me for lunch. Bistro 990. Very chic. Steak frites for me.

We cross the wide boulevard to go back to the hotel where Brian has parked his unassuming looking “company vehicle”.

Mysteriously, parked just behind Brian’s car was a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. Champagne in color. I recall Brian saying he didn’t care for the shade. (Those Canuckleheads. They’re almost Euro they’re so snotty.)

The Rolls had a license plate that read HAKIM 3. Not to be confused with HAKIM 1 or HAKIM 2. Which exist. All owned by the same man. A man who controls most of the eyeglass business in Canada.

Brian finds the hotel valet, a very senior and very courteous man. Brian hands him his parking ticket, and the valet hands Brian the keys to the Rolls.

The affair had begun. A terrible downward spiraling series of events were possibly about to begin.

Brian and I gave each other that knowing glance. This was clearly a test. Or a trap.

In younger days with “the company”, we wouldn’t have thought anything and would have jumped in the Rolls for a joyride.

In those younger days, we probably would have had a more liquid lunch. Eight feet tall and invisible, we would have been drinking Courvoisier and smoking cigars in HAKIM 3.

On Monday in Toronto, the Tamil population of Toronto had a downtown protest of over 40,000 people. There to protest the treatment of Tamils by Sri Lankans.

So, undoubtedly, we would have careened around a corner on two wheels and taken out a number of the Tamil Tiger supporters in their bright red t-shirts.

At this time, the police would have taken notice. As would the news media.

Brian and I would have jumped from the car and fled into the swarming crowd to allow our escape.

The media would show a Rolls Royce with HAKIM 3 license plates plowed into a group of Tamils in Toronto.

The Tamils would assume this was a sign from al Qaeda that their protest wasn’t going to steal their world stage. So the Tigers back home would have started killing more Muslims. So the Muslim world would unite to wipe out the Tamils, who are supported by a significant number of folks in India.

Mr. Hakim, the owner of the car, is Iranian by birth. This would have been identified by the media and the Iranians would have assumed it was a setup to make them look bad so they would launch nuclear Big Ahmed towards somebody. Probably Israel. So Israeli and U.S. war machines launch into action.

But further media investigation would reveal that Mr. Hakim escaped Iran during the Islamic Revolution and is a devout Catholic. So Rome would have sent secret messages to the Knights Templar with immediate worldwide repercussions.

But thankfully, with my quick thinking and Brian’s years of experience, we prevented all of it. Brian exchanged the keys and took me to the airport with no drama.

Oh, “the company”? A global powerhouse. Haggar Clothing.

In my pants you crazy Canadians.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Operation Iraqi Children

Our soldiers in Iraq have discovered that the school system there is in total disarray.

They have also discovered that when they deliver school supplies to teachers, parents and school kids, our soldiers tend not to get shot at in those villages.

Operation Iraqi Children is working on this issue. http://www.operationiraqichildren.org/

In April, American Airlines will be donating a plane and crew to fly a load of supplies for O.I.C. to the Middle East.

In addition, American has invited the Peter Burks Unsung Hero Fund to participate. We will be shipping soldier care packages, school supplies, soccer balls and love on this flight.

To date we have shipped four tons into Iraq and Afghanistan. We have learned that the only way to ship is across the counter at the local post office. We have dominated the counter at a few in Texas in the past year. We have also learned it is expensive to ship. By the good graces of American Airlines, we can ship for free.

If you would like to participate, the simplest way is to go to www.peterburks.com and donate via Paypal. We will buy the supplies and get them packed and on the plane.

This mess in Iraq is long from over. Young men and women are still dying in combat. Iraq is making some progress, but it is still fragile.

Let's show the troops that they are not forgotten and let's help change the Iraqi perception of Americans by offering help to their children.

And many thanks to Operation Iraqi Children and American Airlines for their big hearts.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mr. President, did you blink or wink?

No more earmarks. Except for this one exception.

Mr. President, you lost alot of credibility on this one.

All you had to say was no.

And you didn't. Or couldn't. Or wouldn't.

You didn't say no to the Republican or the Democratic spendthrifts.

Your pet doberman, Raul Emmanuel, said this was "last year's business."

Oh, really. The money will be spent in the future. You had the chance this week to sign or veto the bill. And you signed it. In private. Nobody wanted the photo op.

The bill contains 8,816 earmarks worth $7.6 billion , according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Notable among them are $155.9 million worth of projects that six members of the Obama administration who were members of Congress last year, when the bill was originally written, inserted into the bill.

Top among them was Vice President Joe Biden . As a senator from Delaware , Biden added 56 earmarks that cost a total of $52.1 million , including $13.7 million for the Intracoastal Waterway from the Delaware River to the Chesapeake Bay and $190,000 to help build a children's museum in Wilmington .


— White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who as a House member from Illinois added 16 earmarks worth about $8.3 million , including money for a Chicago planetarium and suburban children's museum.

— Interior Secretary Ken Salazar , formerly a Democratic senator from Colorado , $44.6 million .

— Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood , formerly a Republican congressman from Illinois , $26.5 million .

— Labor Secretary Hilda Solis , formerly a Democratic House member from California , $15.5 million .

— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton , formerly a Democratic senator from New York , $6.7 million .

Mr. President, you lied to us. You let us down. This was a chance for real change. And you blew it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm a gay married man

Proposition 8 is so inane. It is a semantic battle.

The entire proposition reads:

Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized
in California.

What does “marriage” mean? What does “valid” and “recognized” mean?

This argument is going to take awhile, so bear with me.

I am a Christian. Born again. The only kind there is.

The Bible lists at least 600 sins.

Being a homosexual isn’t one of them. Having homosexual sex is.

So are at least 600 other things, including:

-Laziness (guilty)

-Drunkenness (guilty)

-Lusting after another’s wife (guilty. have you shopped at Ralph’s in Manhattan Beach?)

-Lying (“I never lied to you. I always told you some version of the truth.”)

-Gambling (guilty)

-Hearkening to the voice of your wife instead of God (so guilty)

-Laying up treasures on earth (I did until one really bad investment)

-Smoking (guilty, but only with morning coffee)

-Worrying (oh kill me now)

-Vain babblings (blogging isn’t specifically mentioned)

And my marriage is recognized in all 50 states.

Although our Constitution is unmistakably based on Christian thinking and principles, Christianity is not the state religion. And the Bible is not the Constitution.

So, homosexuals want to “marry”.

“Marriage” is nothing more than a voluntary commitment between two people that their relationship will be pre-eminent over all other human relationships.

It is a promise. A vow. A covenant. It isn’t anyone’s business but those two folks if they want to be committed to one another forever. And no law can or will make that commitment any more or less valid. If Tommy Lee and Pam Anderson are allowed to marry, where is the moral bar?

In the Bible, “marriage” is described as being between one man and one woman. That is because the primary purpose of “marriage” is for procreation and the establishment of the center of civilization, the nuclear family. The Bible goes on to provide instruction for husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children. There is no instruction provided for other arrangements.

So, the Christian church can’t be true to itself and bless or recognize homosexual marriages. And as far as I can tell, neither can Islam or Judaism.

In the Bible, there is no prescribed marriage ceremony. There are no prescribed vows. (The wedding vows we know by heart originated in the Common Book of Prayer, commissioned by that faithful, loving, honorable husband, Henry VIII.)

In fact, the church didn’t get involved until several hundred years A.D. when a priest was asked to bless a “marriage”. Then the church figured out it was a great marketing strategy and the wedding chapel was invented. Meaning that the covenant between Adam and Eve and Abraham and Sarah and jillions of others were valid and recognized before the religious establishment ever got involved.

But, the government can recognize these relationships if the people support it and want it to happen.

Now, once you get the government involved, you are talking a much more complicated situation. Basically, it is contract law. If you want the government involved in your personal life, get “married”. Each state has its own laws. Each state has its own ways of taxing you for the privilege. And, each state has laws if you want to end that contract. The federal government has absolutely no business being involved, except of course they demand to take their “fair” share of your combined income. And of your assets when you croak.

Domestic partnerships and “common law marriage” have been around since Genesis. Most states and companies and organizations now recognize both and offer benefits to those in such relationships. Especially in California.

So, if two people of the same sex want to get “married”, have at it. Just remember, consummating that “marriage” would be a sin.

I, on the other hand, am now declaring myself as being in a domestic life partnership with a woman. And this makes me happy. Or, in other words, I’m gay.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Planning Ahead

Medical scientists are telling me that it is possible I may croak in the next 100 years. I think they are full of it.

Should I be wrong, here's the program.

Pluck my heart out and bury it next to Pete.

Have my body cremated and the ashes scattered between the hedges.

The FUNeral shall be at Poodie's Hilltop Bar outside Austin.

Dr. Les Smith shall preside and say, "He was all that and a bag of chips."

Have Joe Diffie sing "Prop me up beside the jukebox when I die".

I am working on epitaphs for a Formica headstone, and here are the current contenders:

he never wore crocs

voted for W and i'm still ashamed

i still have yellow fever

it's colder than nancy pelosi's heart down here

only his hairdresser knows for sure

he never made that sideways smiley face thing

i can see up your pant leg and you lied to me

call me at 214-213-6478

i'm hungry and i'm bored


you're still two down

i can't find my keys

there ain't 72 black-eyed virgins up here

hunker down dawgs

got you last

I promise to get this finalized in due time.

Seen a new mosque in your neighborhood?

Frisco, Texas.

Fayetteville, Georgia.

Malmo, Sweden.

This is not happening due to a group of local, indigenous congregants wanting a place to meet.

This is part of a global plan.

Radical Islam is spreading because they want it to and global political correctness is too stupid to stop it.

Malmo, Sweden has one of the highest percentage Muslim populations of any European city. And none of them are born in Sweden. Hmmmm. How did that happen?

Sweden has a porous immigration system and lavish welfare benefits. It literally pays to move to Sweden. Sweden has thought money was buying off Muslim discontent.

Now, Sweden finds credible evidence that training of terrorists is taking place in Sweden. Bosnian authorities arrested a Muslim Swede in Sarajevo in October for possession of explosives.

So far, there have been no major terrorist acitivities against the people or government of Sweden. Why should there be? Why bite the hand that feeds them?

"France has a tradition of revolt and demonstration against the state," says Jonathan Friedman, professor of social anthropology at the University of Lund. "But in Sweden it's almost as if the state has sided with the immigrants against the Swedish working class."

Sound familiar?

This is all part of the plan for world Islamic revolution. Look around. Their preparation for the big war is taking place in a neighborhood near you.

Friday, March 6, 2009

For love of the game

Jerry Sacharski died this week.

His selfless, ingenious act of love over 60 years ago has impacted as many lives in this country as anyone.

Jerry Sacharski invented T-ball.

In the mid-50's, Jerry helped run the summer baseball program in Albion, Michigan.

"We had all these little guys coming out for summer baseball five years ago," Sacharski told United Press International in 1960, "and just couldn't send them home."

Ever tried to hit a moving round ball with a round bat? At 5 or 6 years old? Or 20 years old? It may be the most difficult athletic feat to accomplish.

Or tried to teach a kid to throw it over the plate? (Rick Ankiel was a major league pitcher and couldn't do it. He is now an outfielder, but that's another story.)

So Jerry, because he loved kids and baseball, fashioned a T out of garden hose and baling wire. And devised a form of baseball that anyone could play.

How many boys and girls have benefitted from this huge heart?

T-ball is such a rite of passage. For kids, parents, and umpires. It is the first organized sport for so many.

Which makes it so much fun. Pure innocence of kids. They don't know which way is first base. They don't know you're not supposed to chase the butterflies. They don't know they're not supposed to run to mommy when the ball gives them a boo-boo. Nobody strikes out. Everybody hits. Nobody cares if there is a score.

First time parents and coaches are another story. I once saw a fistfight break out between a coach and the father of one of the 5 year olds. During a game. Because the kid wasn't playing the position the father wanted.

My oldest kids both umped T-ball for exactly one season. Not a bad gig for 14 year olds. $10 for about 45 minutes of safe and out. Except for the screaming coaches and parents. Both kids said never again.

But anyway, T-ball opened up playing baseball to millions of kids. Kodak owes Jerry a kabillion for all the photos generated. Chuck E. Cheese owes another kabillion for the after game parties.

Rest in peace, gentle giant. Thanks for showing us what love can do.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The DaVinci Kid

One of my favorite stories written by one of my favorite writers about some of my favorite people.

By Blake Kimzey

If you like stories that involve a church sanctuary, Down Syndrome, Pete, and farting, this story is for you:

So we'd been reading The DaVinci Code. You remember the book. This boob, Dan Brown, raised a question about the divinity of Jesus and, through the plotting of the novel, suggests that Jesus left behind a bloodline. I knew it was Fiction. So did Pete and Danielle. But the book made us stop and think for a moment about the idea that maybe Jesus had a wife, a kid, a house, and a patchwork of sod banded by a white picket fence and was living the American Dream. And the rest of the nation for a period of months wondered about this possibility and needed a lot of Today Show interviews and Op-Ed pieces in The Christian Science Monitor to sort it all out.

So me, Pete, Danielle, and Heather go to Northwest Bible Church to hear a panel of Dallas Theological Seminary experts refute the entire book. Like any good church function, there are plenty of generic refreshments provided. So the four of us mulled around the lobby for a bit, eating cheese cubes from Albertson's and sipping small Dixie cups of flat Cola and making snarky comments about how seriously everyone is taking The DaVinci Code. Everyone there is white, most are wearing some form of Khaki, and everyone seems a little embarrassed that this book has rattled them enough to attend a DaVinci Code lecture series.

After we'd all had our fill of off-brand Oreo's, we filed into the sanctuary and sat in the back, where we could snicker and make eyes with each other as needed. Predictably enough, the DTS Bible Nerds put holes in The DaVinci Code within the first few minutes and start getting granular, talking about the Dead Sea Scrolls and other Biblical-era writings that were left out of the Bible for one reason or another. The DTS guys are all wearing tweed, maybe in a nod to the Dan Brown's author photo, maybe not. What they're saying is interesting and it all starts to feel a little Indiana Jonesy, all this ancient fact checking that in the end produces a pretty solid time line of events. We're feeling good about following Jesus and start to feel reassured that he didn't leave a bloodline.

About ten minutes into the talk this sweet kid with Down Syndrome, maybe 14 or 15 years old, with a fistful of cheese cubes and a face streaked with some sort of chip residue, sits down next to Pete. When I say sits down next to Pete I mean wedges his stout little body between Pete and the nine inches before the end of the pew so that he basically has one buttcheek on Pete's thigh and one cheek off. The kid looks at Pete and smiles real big, broadcasting a mouthful of cheese and saliva that had probably been hanging out in his mouth for the last five minutes and desperately needed to be swallowed.

But Pete's no misanthrope so he doesn't move or glance at the kid in a "Guy?" get off of my thigh kind of look. But Pete does look at me with a "Guy?" look on his face and then down the row at Danielle and Heather with the same "Guy?" look. Were all looking at the kid and thinking "Guy?" and the kid is looking back at us like, "Hey, I'd give you some of this cheese if it weren't so effing good and in such short supply."

At this point we're all starting to mouth-breathe with laughs because this kid is making fast friends with Pete, still sitting on Pete's thigh and eating dairy like it doesn't have to be rationed at all because there are still a couple trays of cheese in the lobby and probably some chips too. Another minute passes. More PowerPoint slides bloom into focus on the giant screen at the front of the sanctuary. Then the kid points at the stage and in an outside-voice declares, "That's my dad, that guy is my dad!"

Pete, ever the camp counselor, whispers back at the kid, "That's cool." A couple people sitting in front of us glance back in our direction with looks meant to scold us into silence and to non-verbally convey the following generic statement: "Can it, the DTS guy is getting to the meat and potatoes of this whole Dan-Brown-Jesus deal."

So we can it. Then all of the sudden the kid lifts up the buttcheek that is on Pete's thigh and rattles out a come-to-Jesus-loud fart that seems to vibrate every church pew in the sanctuary. It was a heroic fart that had to tickle Pete because the initial shockwave bounced off of Pete's thigh before perfuming the entire sanctuary. And the best part, aside from Pete getting farted on and the sheer thunder-like quality of The Fart, is that this kid doesn't even seem to notice he's just passed gas. He simply lowers his buttcheek down so that it is once again resting somewhat warmly on Pete's thigh. In go a couple more cheese cubes into the kids' mouth and he looks like he's feeling like a million bucks.

In the seconds immediately following The Fart we were holding in our laughter and trying to expel any smelly air from our persons by breathing heavily out of our nostrils, pushing the air out with incredible force. Anyone who has smelled an adolescent boy's dairy fart knows the gravity of the situation.

Pete is tearing up by this point and trying to pinch the bridge of his nose to somehow contain his laughter. His face is red and he can't breathe. At first none of us can look at the kid but then gradually each of us glance at him and the kid has no clue he has just disrupted his dad's presentation with A Nuke. Pete can't believe he's just been farted on. Neither can any of us, and our laughter starts to grow louder and people all around the sanctuary start to look back at us and then the people nearest to us, who are scowling, start to crinkle their noses at The Fart and its amazing dairy quality. Some people are even sniffing at the air in an investigative manner as if this very smell should be bottled somehow and studied for its pungency.

I look at Pete and his cheeks are streaked with tears and he's looking at me like "Guy?" and I'm looking at him like "Guy?" and we know this is a story we'll tell for the rest of our lives. The kid is still sitting on Pete's thigh, finishing up his remaining cheese cubes, and down front, the kid's dad is tearing Dan Brown a new one.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Omega Iota Lambda

Rush was over and the brothers at Omega Iota Lambda had some decisions to make.

Being the power frat of all power frats, the men knew exactly who they wanted and who they didn’t.

They were powerful, smart, sloppy, arrogant, rich, kick-ass s.o.b.'s and proud of it. Nobody messed with this bunch.

But they had two problems.

First, West Texas University had a new provost and she didn’t much care for the group. In fact, after their last party in which they managed to foul the entire local water system, she had campaigned to get them shut down.

Second, they had a nabob who was a legacy that wanted in. Big Dawg hated him from the time he saw him. “The piss ant was a cheerleader in high school. Doesn’t know sic ‘em from come here. He ain’t our type and never will be.”

“Look”, said The Genius, who was the incoming president of the fraternity. “I met with the provost bitch and she’s serious. This piss ant has big time connections. I know he ain’t quality, but we can use him to get thru this. His daddy wants him in. And his daddy can keep us alive. I say he gets a bid.”

“All hat and no cattle”, said Shotgun. “He comes in here like he already belongs and he ain’t done jack. Pinches one of those girls from Dallas majoring in MRS on the ass last night at the bar. Her boyfriend wanted to fight whoever did it. That little douche was shitfaced and pointed at me like I did it. Had to apologize to her and the boyfriend. He’s blackballed.”

The Genius mustered all his moxie and told ‘em, “If he’s not in, we’re done. Not a threat, a promise. We’re in that much trouble. He’s that connected and protected. Look, I know he’s a total poser, but we can ride him like a prom date and the party goes on forever.”

And thus, the cheerleader got his bid.

The West Texas University chapter of O. I. L. had found their patsy. And the party rages on.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Harsh reality TV

What was the first reality TV show?

COPS? Real World? American Idol?

Try Queen for a Day.

From 1956-1964 thousands of women submitted their sad stories to producers, hoping to get picked as one of four contestants. The greater the tear jerk factor, the better the odds. The studio audience picked the winner. The best (or maybe the worst) story would earn you the title Queen for a Day with some prizes, a chance to wear a fake robe and crown, and have emcee Jack Bailey hand you some red roses while your pitifulness was exploited for all to see. It was one of the highest rated shows on the air.

Now we have evolved to things like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Applicants send in their sad stories to see if they can be chosen to win a bodacious new house.

Like, the Harper family in Lake City, Georgia. Their lot in life was so bad that the septic tank was leaking into their house. Poof, the Extreme team picks them and builds them a 5300 square foot spread. For free.

Well, then the Harper's took out a $450,000 loan against their new free house. To start a construction business. (If you know how to run a construction business, shouldn't you know how to fix a septic tank?) That's right. They got a free house, then mortgaged it up.

And, now, oops. They can't pay the mortgage because Mr. Harper is unemployed. The house is being foreclosed on today on the steps of the Clayton County Courthouse.

Makes you feel so good about everyone involved, doesn't it? The Harpers. Us for watching. The television producers who made us cry so they could sell $250,000 commercial time. The banker that loaned Mr. Harper the money on the house. And I would bet, AIG who insured the derivative the mortgage turned into.

Isn't this the story of the housing crisis? Folks took on debt they couldn't afford to repay. Banks were happy to take advantage of them because Freddie and Fannie were there to back them up. AIG was there to insure nobody lost any money.

Mr. President, in the inimitable words of Ron White, you can't fix stupid. And for many of the folks in or soon to be in foreclosure, stupid is as stupid does.

The Harpers aren't the only recipients of Extreme Makeover free homes that are now being foreclosed on.

So Mr. President, if a free house won't prevent folks from being foreclosed on, how does a renegotiated interest rate or (and this I want to see) a renegotiated mortgage amount under the threat of bankruptcy solve anything?

We are already paying for the suckers who blew thru money that didn't exist. So, now we are going to do it again?

It is ugly out there. Because greed and stupidity made it that way. Let it go. Let it burn. Then let's start over.

Henrietta Hughes, come on down. You can't fix her problem by having someone give her a house to live in. (By the way, your team apparently vetted Henrietta about as well as your HHS picks. She and her son have a few skeletons in the closet and some land in Florida in their name they need to explain.)

Since when is a house an entitlement?

I will never forget the day my mom called me into the room while she was screaming at the television. Queen for a Day was on. The winner was thanking the host for the money they had given her because it would allow her to buy her baby a crib.

"Well, where is the poor baby sleeping now?", asked Jack.

"In the box our new television came in", replied Mrs. Stupid.

Mom, I'm glad you're not here to watch this.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Read before looking at the U.S. budget

At a little after noon on Friday, August 6th, Marcie Chang,
anchorwoman on TV 8's "Newsbusters" evening news show, picked up her
envelope at the pay window on the studio's fifth floor, bought a ham-salad
sandwich and a cup of coffee from the lunch wagon in the hall, and took
the elevator back to her office on the tenth floor. Sitting down at her
desk, she tore open the envelope, which contained the first payment of the
lucrative new contract that the station had offered her in the spring.
She took one look at the check and collapsed. She was dead before her
face hit the desk top. A few minutes later, TV reporter Kerri Corcoran, a
colleague and friend, came into Marcie's office, saw her, looked at the
check she still held in her hand, and crumpled, lifeless, to the floor.
The same fate met the receptionist who came to Marcie's office to find out
why she wasn't answering her phone, and the building security guard, who
was summoned by the cleaning woman after she had noticed the pile of

Nor was that the end. In quick succession, three police officers, a
fireman, a newspaper reporter, and a pathologist from Mount Sinai were
added to the death list. Alarmed public-health officials called on the
Institute for Catastrophe Control, in Princeton. With grim
predicatability, two of the institute's top scientists soon showed the
seriousness of the challenge when they, too, were felled. Within
forty-eight hours, scientists from the institute who had taken over the
case were fairly certain that the fatal agent was the check that Marcie
had picked up that Wednesday afternoon. They examined it through heavily
tinted safety glasses, in sections, with no one scientist viewing the
entire check. Within another forty-eight hours, Dr. Leo Wiedenthal,
director of the institute, knew what he had on his hands. In a statement
released to the press, he said that there was no evidence of a supertoxin
or highly contagious disease on the fatal paycheck. Rather, he said,
"Marcie Chang and the eleven other victims almost certainly died as a
result of what they saw on the check. Through a computer error, Marcie's
check was made out to an extremely high number. Apparently, the computer
made Marcie's check out to the sum of one killion dollars. The killion,
as every mathematician knows, is a number so big that it kills you."

Since the days of Archimedes, man has known that numbers could attain
great size. The Greeks could count up to a million, and the Romans, in
their turn, made it to a billion and a trillion. Then man had to wait
almost fifteen centures, until the gilded arms of the Renaissance had
flung open the shutters of the Dark Ages, before he could move on to a
billion trillion, a million billion trillion, and, finally, a zillion. In
1702, Sir Isaac Newton, father of the theory of universal gravitation,
experimented with numbers as high as a million billion trillion zillion,
at one point even getting up to a baziliion. These experiments convinced
him of the theoretical possibility of the existence of the killion. He
stopped his experiments abruptly when, as the numbers approached one
killion, he found himself becoming very sick. The German mathematicion
Karl Friedrich Gauss, hearing about Newton's discovery from someone he met
at a party, was so upset by the thought of a killion that he made up his
own numbers, called Gaussian numbers. These were numbers that could get
big, but not that big. Unfortunately, Gauss's brave attempt to develop a
risk-free numerical system wound up on the scrap heap of failed theories.
In the early twentieth century, Albert Einstein made some calculations
that brought him right to the very threshold of the killion. But here
even Einstein halted. Probably the smartest scientist who ever lived,
Einstein also had a great, abiding affection for live. After the
invention of the computer, it was Einstein who insisted that each one be
equipped with a governor that would shut it off automatically if it ever
approached a killion. Were it not for Einstein's farsightedness, the dawn
of the computer age might have had frightening consequences for mankind.

So what went wrong in the affair of Marcie Chang's deadly paycheck?
Why did the network computer, running a routine payroll program, make an
error that no computer had ever made before. To understand this question,
it is important to understand how a computer works. People unfamiliar
with computers sometimes find it helpful to think of them as fairly
goodsized, complicated things. Computers range in size from as small as a
hotel ice bucket to as large as an entertainment complex like New Jersey's
Meadowlands, including the parking lot. Inside, a computer will have a
short red wire hooked to a terminal at one end and to another terminal at
the other end. Then there will be a blue wire also hooked to terminals at
either end, and then a green wire, and then a yellow wire, and then an
orange wire, then a pink wire, and so on.

This particular computer was so big that when expert technicians
began to disassemble it to find out what was the matter with it, they soon
had more wires, terminals, and other parts lying around than they knew
what to do with. The technicians spread the parts all over the floor of
an unused equipment shed, and finally they found one that they identified
as the governor--the little safety device that could trace its lineage
back to Einstein's terrifying vision on the rainy February afternoon in
Munich so many years ago. When the examined it closely, they discovered
the problem. It was completely covered with gray stuff, kind of similar
to the gray stuff that collects on rotary hot-dot grills. There was so
much gray stuff that the little armature that was supposed to fit into a
V-shaped grove on this other armature couldn't fit in at all. No one knew
where the gray stuff could have come from, so there was nowhere to fix the
blame. That did not change the fact that a small amount of gray stuff
you could blow from your palm with one light breath had cost twelve human

In the aftermath of the tragedy, many people asked, "How can such
tragedies be prevented in the future?" Well, you could give your paycheck
to the bank teller every week without looking at it--taking such risks is
what bank tellers are paid for. But then you would never know how much
money you had. You could move to a country where people have never heard
of computers. But that might be awfully far away, and it might be years
before you felt comfortable there. You could vacuum computers at least
three times a week to remove any foreign matter. But, on the other hand,
what if that didn't work?

One hard, indisputable truth remains: There is nothing anybody can
do about a killion. It is not a person, or a product, or an institution,
and so need answer to no one. It will always be out there, in the far
range of mathematics, where space bends and parallel lines converge, and I
don't know what all. In the end, the best you can really do is hope that
if the killion gets anyone, the person it gets won't be you.
-- Ian Frazier

From the "New Yorker",
September 6, 1982

He saw it coming

"Society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a "super-industrial society". This change will overwhelm people, the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaving them disconnected and suffering from "shattering stress and disorientation". One of the components of such shock is information overload."

These thoughts were written in 1970. 39 freakin' years ago. Before the fax. Before FedEx. Before Xerox. Before the PC. Before cell phones and PDAs. Before cable and satellite TV. Before video conferencing. Before the internet. Before outsourcing. Before Tivo.

Alvin Toffler published a book in 1970 called Future Shock. And guess what. Now is the future he was writing about.

He forecast the acceleration of daily life, the decline of the nuclear family, the spread of loneliness and rise of religion. Toffler also anticipated cloning, virtual reality, niche markets, work-at-home, product customization, the "de-massification" of the mass media, and the threat of terrorism.

Forget Nostradamus. Alvin Toffler is a futurist you can track. He is still alive, still writing, still predicting with his wife Heidi who is also a futurist.

I did a book report on Future Shock as a senior in high school. I had to present it to the PTA. I remember my overall reaction to the book. "It makes me tired just reading it. I will need to figure out how to escape and find a place to relax."

I still feel the same way. There is no escape from work, if you have it. Your employer plugs you into a 24/7 umbilical cord that sucks the life out of you. By the time you figure out how to work your phone, it is outdated. Your work may well be in three different time zones, including one on the other side of the world.

We hate to admit it, but we are disoriented, overwhelmed, and scrambling to keep up.

Here is some good news from Mr. Toffler. "Society needs people who take care of the elderly and who know how to be compassionate and honest. Society needs people who work in hospitals. Society needs all kinds of skills that are not just cognitive; they're emotional, they're affectional. You can't run the society on data and computers alone." Maybe there is a place for me.

Why didn't we listen, Mr. Toffler? Not that we could have changed anything. But maybe we could have been better prepared.

Instead of only studying history, why don't we spend more time studying the future?

And by the way, Mr. Toffler, can you give me the winning numbers in this week's Powerball?