Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The right to bear arms and those crazy Masons

This is yet another look into those wedge issues that politicians pull out of their hats when real issues aren't working out so well.

There are a sizable number of people who suspect that many of the founding fathers were Masons. Because of the secrecy often associated with the Masons there is no way to be sure but it seems they might be right.

If there is one thing we know about Masons others than we don’t know a damn thing about them it’s that what we do know isn’t what it appears to be. This is because Masons in general are secretive, untrusting and above all conspirators unlike any conspirators the world or Oliver Stone has ever dreamed up.
Not legal tender or even a piece of legal tender

They talked in riddles and codes and nothing was what it appeared to be. There was nothing a Mason enjoyed more than “hiding something in plain sight” or on the dollar bill.

So I think we have to be very careful when we go around quoting the forefathers because we never can know for sure if they mean what they say, say what they mean or even if they were talking to us at all or not sending some coded message to some alien or space traveler.

Take the Second Amendment—please!<

Monday, February 27, 2012

School Prayer

In Hell on Earth, a love story, Hank wrote about everything. He even wrote Hell on Earth, a love story but he also wrote features for newspapers and letters to the editor and essays on every topic imaginable. I know where he’s coming from. I’ve done the same thing and now that wedge issues are again gaining prominence I decided to pull out an old editorial. The nice thing about wedge issues is they’re always there when you want them.

Here are my thoughts on school prayer. I don’t think it makes much difference, one way or the other. I definitely don’t think a moment of prayer, a moment of silence, a moment of meditation or for that matter a bicentennial minute will cause any harm to any student. I also can’t see it doing any real good. Those younger than 40 will have to ask heir parents what a bicentennial minute was.

The real winners—and winning these wedge issues are what these issues are always all about, pray tell—will be the adults who succeed in establishing a moment of silence or the adults who succeed in squashing a moment of silence. This is most definitely an adult thing and there is nothing really wrong with that, if it keeps them out of trouble, so long as everyone concedes that it has nothing to do with the kids.

I do question, though, the people who wrote the law. What’s with, “forbidding distractive displays?” Or more specifically, since when has making the sign of the cross, when praying, been a distractive display? Would bowing your head be a distractive display? Would closing your eyes qualify? How about closing one eye? Okay, maybe that would be distracting. But I don’t see the need for any further restrictions once you’ve declared that the moment be a moment of silence.

Actually, there is a lot to be gained from having a moment of silence without any other restrictions. If some kids stand, and some kids cross, and some kids bow, and some kids clinch their fists, then the lesson to be learned will be this: We’re all different and you better get used to it. Certainly, learning to be tolerant of others should be one of the most important lessons we learn in school.

When these kids finally put their school days behind them and move on into the work world the first thing they will learn is that the workroom floor or office will be made up of Christians and non-Christians. The Christians will be Catholics, Baptists, Methodists or any one of a number of other denominations; the non-Christians will be Muslims, Buddhists, and Jews; and there will be atheist, too. And just like in school there will be those who don’t have a clue.

And if that isn't enough variety there will be whites, blacks, Hispanics, and others; tall people and short people; skinny and fat, lazy and industrious. There’ll be polite men and obnoxious women, loud mouths and people who never talk.

And there will be people who never stop talking.

That is when everyone will pray for a moment of silence.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Planet of the Apes (three is enough)

In Hell on Earth, a love story I talk quite a bit about the Tiki Girls, which I discovered about twenty minutes after I signed in at the 19th Artillery Group at Fort MacArthur.

Cecil and I were spending another night in our second home, The Tiki Girls, making mindless conversation with the local fishermen, playing pool with the young toughs and old men, and having deep debates, which neither would remember in the morning. As Walter Cronkite would have said, it was a night like every other night and we were still there.

We first started going to the Tiki because of the barmaids. Rene was the first one. I met her the first day I was in San Pedro, a month before Cecil ever got there. It was 100° and she was sitting on the bar with her feet in the sink with the cold water running on them. After Rene, there was Linda, then Betsy and well, there really wasn’t anyone after them. In fact, a lot of the time, the Tiki didn’t even have barmaids; just some guy working the bar. That's how it was this particular night.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Abraham Lincoln School - Part Two, The Kid's Summer Talent Show

The escapades of Hank Johnson in Hell on Earth, a love story, begin for the most part with him going off to college because that is where he made most of the mistakes affecting his sentence. Before that, he was a pretty average kid doing pretty run-of-the-mill stuff. Earlier, in Abraham Lincoln Playground – Part One, I wrote about our activities when we weren’t being supervised. In Part Two, I take a look at some of the more structured activities.
The Abraham Lincoln summer school program consisted mostly of craft activities that involved making and painting plaster of Paris plaques.
We did the fruits—apples and pears, the presidents—Washington and Lincoln, and the historic events—the Last Supper. We did these and then we would do them again. And when we weren’t doing those we did ashtrays, which you could never have too many of back in the days when both parents smoked from dawn to dusk without ever giving a moments thought to cancer or the dangers of secondary smoke.

I’m sure we did other activities but none come to mind. What does come to mind is the way each summer’s summer school program ended. It was the great, open-to-all-comers, free for all, Abraham Lincoln Summer School Program Kid’s Talent Show. A kid’s talent show in the 50’s meant you’d be lucky to find a parent in the building.

There were three categories—song, dance and other—and musical accompaniment was probably limited to a piano.

Generally I didn’t enter the talent show, preferring instead to sit in the audience and toss wisecracks at those brave enough to perform, but one year was different.