NOTHING HAPPENS!

Whatever is going on with this question about statues, likely has nothing to do with the actual statues or the people immortalized by them.

Whether the statues are of horses asses (and lots of them have horses in them) or of persons deemed worthy of being revered, they are all mostly stone, steel, brass or other materials longer lasting than the people could ever be themselves.

I personally cannot imagine wanting a statue of Mussolini or Rommel in my back yard, but having such a statue in itself means no more than the meaning we place on it.

If these objects incite persons to do bad things, there are laws in place to punish those scofflaws.

Statues can be reminders of how great the persons were or what crooks or horses’ asses they were.  Most probably do both things–depending on the viewer.

Regardless of who the statue portrays, not a single one is likely without sin, and birds shit on them all indiscriminately as they stand in the hot sun, rain, sleet and snow.

We should all be as birds and not take them so seriously.

The stories people create around statues is both an opportunity for discovery and awareness, but they can also exacerbate discord as they bump up against other people’s stories.

It is the stories that are the problem, not the statues.

History can teach, but only if we are willing to be students.

Guess what happens when you walk by a statue and ignore it?

Nothing happens.

Sometimes it is important to ignore ignorant people as well.

 

Charles Buell

OK, I really mean it this time. Where the heck did I leave my marbles?!!

A “Wiki-Life”–what would your wiki-life say about you?

With the help of Wikipedia and my own sketchy memory, I have embarked on a little adventure to highlight some of the events from my 70 years of life that have somehow stuck with me, or that in revisiting the years on Wikipedia have “moved me” to discuss them here.

In light of keeping this as long as it is, and not any longer, the significant others of my life–grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, wives, ex-wives, girlfriends, friends, and assorted in-laws and out-laws–(except for my kids)–will have to remain absent from this list.

I have unreasonable faith they know how important they are, or were, and I won’t attempt to roast them here–perhaps another time.

With any such exercise, the things that one picks out, the things that resonate in a stream of consciousness fashion, can give one, and hopefully others, a glimpse of not only what has informed one’s life, but also of what one finds interesting in life–a “wiki-life.”

The goal here was to “channel” one or two things from each year.

Since it is likely few will have the patience or interest to read my entire life–you might want to check out the year you were born on my list–unless of course you are older than me and then you are stuck reading the whole thing.

What would your wiki-life say about you?

On March 6th, 1947, I apparently survived being born–no small deal for any of us, and at 9+ lbs (at least that is what I am told) I am sure my mother was more than ready. I also, according to certain authorities, apparently survived the crash of a UFO in Roswell.  A gallon of gas cost 15 cents and there was absolutely no awareness as to the actual “real” costs to the planet.

In 1948, I was lucky enough to not be an infant in Palestine. (Although this is likely true of anyone born between then and now–and even before.)

In 1949, I was too young to be included on a list of communists that included famous people like Helen Keller, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Katharine Hepburn,  and many others, but then again, I was too young to know what being famous was.

In 1950, I was not old enough to even “dream” of helping the U.S. soccer team beat England in the FIFA World Cup–I was not even kicking my sister under the dinner table yet.

In 1951, on this birthday, I turned 4 years old. History would show that I would have wished that I could have been old enough to be on the jury of the trial for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg–they could have used a four-year-old that was not damaged by years of propaganda and fear. By the end of kindergarten I would probably have been useless to them.

It is 1952, my parent’s brains, and the brains of all parents around the U.S. of A, were altered forever by “I Love Lucy.” Polio was also on everyone’s mind.

In 1953, I was still WAY too young to be interested in the first issue of Playboy Magazine. That Hugh guy did seem to be the ultimate rabbit though!

1954, marked the saddest year in my young life. The last episode of the “Lone Ranger” aired, and I would be stuck with re-runs for the rest of my life.  But, I did get to see my first movie, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

In 1955, I may have heard the word “Vietnam” for the first time–it would not be the last. It was also the first time anyone asked the $64,000.00 question–that question could have just as well been about the Vietnam War.

In 1956, my sister likely got her first “dose” of Elvis, I was passed over by the Asian Flu Pandemic and without 1956 what would we have called the “56 Chevy?”

In 1957, we all watched the first piece of Russian space-junk, shining, and moving slowly across the star filled Connecticut sky. Also Zorro came along to save me from that Lone Ranger issue.

In 1958, sentimental pop culture was skewed forever as John, Paul and George paid a recording studio the equivalent of $3.99 to record Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day.”

In 1959, the twilight zone I had spent most of my life living in, became real on TV’s “The Twilight Zone.” We also found some long lost relatives hiding at Olduvai Gorge.

In 1960, even to a 13-year-old-Connecticut-Yankee-WASP, the notion that it had taken until 1960 for the Supreme Court to deem Southern segregation laws “unconstitutional” seemed at the very least “hypocritical”–and possibly even “un-American”–yet all too American.

In 1961, a guy with an accent like mine became the 35th president of the United States–and a hottie name Marilyn liked him too.  Even I was growing up by 1961 because I knew what “hottie” meant.

In 1962, the 54-year-long embargo of Cuba began–seems like a long time to hold a grudge. And of course in this same year, the fore mentioned hottie died of an overdose.

In 1963, all ears were glued to news about the USS Thresher, and one can only wonder what her contents are doing down there today. This was also the year some idiot killed that guy with the accent like mine.

1964, was the year of the Beatles invasion, and the vocal cords of 13-year-old girls were genetically altered forever.

In 1965, I watched the Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston fight, but more importantly it was the year Dylan went electric and Dr Zhivago taught us you cannot have too many daffodils.

In 1966, Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton became household names in white America–but very few whites went to the Black Panther Parties being held around the country.  Time magazine wanted to know if God was dead.  If he is not, he must be in hiding.

1967, can you believe this is the year the Da Vinci Code was discovered? Tom Hanks was 11 years old.

In 1968, we all lost a bit of the Dream when Martin Luther King was assassinated. Public support for the Vietnam war was severely eroded by the My Lai Massacre. And how come there were no “Hot Wheels” when I was a kid?

In 1969, I went back to Connecticut after spending the summer touring the South on my motorcycle. Of course it was the year of Woodstock, and Led Zeppelin. It was also likely the first year I sent my draft card back to Richard Nixon.

In 1970, the Vietnam War came closer to home when 4 Kent State students were killed by the Ohio National Guard. The Chicago 7 were found innocent. We were all guilty of “something” in 1970.  It was also of course the year Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died.

In 1971, Nixon declares War on Drugs. That War still drags on 46 years later–with no end in sight. Perhaps we need to learn to pick our fights better. Also, Archie Bunker started putting the truth of our lives right in our faces.

In 1972, George Carlin was arrested for “public obscenities” exercising “free speech” when he said the 7 words you are not allowed to say on TV.

In 1973, after several years of Apollo missions to the moon, “The Dark Side of the Moon” pretty much summed it all up. 1973, was also the beginning of the first oil crisis. Does anyone remember the oil crisis?

1974, was the year of the Watergate Scandal–it could not have happened to a more deserving bunch of guys.

In 1975, my daughter Julia was born–the first time I won the lottery. As Saigon falls so ends the Vietnam War. Microsoft happens.

In 1976, Patty Hearst got us to think about the line between believing and brainwashing–and about picking ones friends more carefully–but ultimately about having friends in high places.

In 1977, my son Klee was born–the second time I won the lottery. The “Force” of Star Wars was with us all. It was no small feat, that small pox was eradicated in this year–do you still carry the scar on your arm?

In 1978, Jim Jones showed us all the power of seduction, delusion, illusion and confusion–taking Kool-Aid to a whole new level.

In 1979, China attempted to lose the term “sibling.” What life-lessons do we miss out on without sibling rivalry?

In 1980, Mt. Saint Helens erupted–she pretty much said it all over the place.

In 1981, AIDS scared the bejeezus out of all of us and still does–whether you are gay or straight–or anything else.

In 1982, we heard about the Falkland War–what the heck was that all about anyway? AT&T was found to be too big for its britches and was ripped into 22 pieces–by all accounts it has not gotten any better.

In 1983, my son Liam was born–the third time I won the lottery, and the year the last DeLorean was made–its Back to the Future again in a couple of years.

1984, turned out to not be very Orwellian after all–I am pretty sure?

In 1985, Tetris and then more Tetris with a dash of Calvin and Hobbes.  The French CIA sink the Rainbow Warrior.

In 1986, my daughter Lena was born–the fourth time I won the lottery. Also in this year, the U.S. Senate, in its infinite wisdom, approved a treaty outlawing genocide. Duh!

In 1987, Jerry Falwell learned about free speech the hard way in his loss of an argument with Hustler Magazine, and Barfly was full of free speech!

In 1988, my son Eamon was born–the fifth and last time I won the lottery. This is the year the Soviets left Afghanistan–me thinks we coulda-shoulda learned something about Afghanistan at this time?  It was also in this year that the idea of the WWW came into being–oh what a web we have woven.

In 1989, the Exxon Valdez, showed us what our addiction to oil can cost the environment–and–we are still not listening, and seem hungrier than ever.  Breaking ground for the first McDonald’s in Russia puts an exclamation point on the old Soviet Union being done.

In 1990, and prior to 1990–and even to this day–the World Health Organization is often quoted as a leading source of “reliable health information.” Yet prior to this year homosexuality was listed as a “disease.” We all, in some way, would be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century–still 10 years away–and that seems to be the biggest dis-ease of all.

In 1991, Russia and 14 other countries were born out of the ashes of the former Soviet Union–and the jury is still out.  Dominoes anyone?

In 1992, the Serbians and the Croatians become unreasonable in the extreme–and why does religious tolerance only apply to the other guys religion?

In 1993, “Doom” appeared on computers EVERYWHERE–kids have been doomed ever since.

In 1994, “Shindler’s List” received 7 Oscars and it is now on the “required list” for one to get one’s “Certificate of Being Human”–it is self evident that most people never acquire one.  This is also the year we all ran across the country with Forrest Gump living on shrimp, chocolate and what mamma always said.

In 1995, DVD’s arrived–who can honestly remember life without them? They are not likely to be around much longer the way things are going.

In 1996, a computer finally beat a human at chess, the Singularity was upon us.

1997, the whole year could pretty much go sink itself–except for the movie: “Titanic.” Rose did know Jack after all–saying his name 76 times before blowing the whistle.

In 1998, the Iranians decided they wanted to play with nukes too–the U.S. thought the U.S. should be the only ones to play with them, so Iran was not allowed in the sandbox. Of course this was also the year that Bill and Monica discovered they were nothing like John and Marilyn.

In 1999, Brandi Chastain’s goal won the Women’s World Cup for the United States and her celebration will not soon be forgotten.

In the year 2000, obviously, the world ended. Since Y2K, there has been nothing but the infinite void. Anything you read on this list after this point will be all in your head.  Of course Tom Hanks, in Castaway was oblivious that it all ended.

2001, “Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?” Not even Kubrick, or any other rational being, could have anticipated the attack on the Twin Towers. All American lives were changed forever as we watched, with tears in our eyes, the towers collapse on live TV.  The Nisqually Fault trembled.

In 2002, we were “sold” a war with “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and bombed a 3rd world country back into the stone age.

In 2003, the Human Genome Project was completed–something that will likely turn out to be one of the greatest human achievements–ever. Of course this was also the year Martha Stewart found much smaller quarters to decorate.

In 2004, one could not miss the devastation and the death of over 200,000 people as a result of the earthquake and tsunami near Indonesia.

In 2005, after 8 years of travel, human beings littered Saturn’s moon Titan. Think about that–pretty impressive really–I can get behind littering on this scale—just not on my street!

In 2006, a Jackson Pollock painting that he painted in 1948, sold for $140,000,000.00.

In 2007, the last Harry Potter book was released–one of these days I will have to get around to reading the first.

2008, was the year of the $700,000,000,000.00 bail out–nothing with that many zeros has a right to live.

In 2009, we learned how important avatars are–we should all have a good one. Otherwise, it was pretty much the same old same old—except for those of you born that year.

In 2010, scientists studying the Neanderthal genome discovered that Neanderthal’s and early humans “fooled around,” thus proving that some things never change–and may even be essential. What is up with ducks that mate for life and yet any given clutch of eggs has several different papa ducks?

In 2011, the era of Osama Bin Laden came to an end, but there is likely no end to the others like him that will follow.  Also a wall of water attacked Japan, and the US West coast got a wake up call.

2012 marked the year the world did not end; and as far as we know, cataclysmic or otherwise transformative events have not occurred.  Encyclopædia Britannica did however succumb to the 21st Century.

In 2013, wacko’s killed innocent people at the Boston Marathon–but the running will always go on.

In 2014, as a planet, we learn about Ebola, but are more captivated by the disappearance of Malaysian Airline’s Flight 360.  Also the US decides its time to ease up on Cuba–such a scandal.

In 2015, Ireland votes, as a people, to legalize same sex marriage.  Ireland? It is hard to predict where rational thought is going to jump out and surprise us.

In 2016, we learn about the Zika virus, how many of these mystery viruses can there be? Also the British have a “Momentary Lapse of Reason” and Brexit the European Union.  We are all underwater holding our breath to see if his Orangeness fulfills our dreams or our nightmares.

2017, today March 6th, I turn 70, and I am sure those of you still reading are deeply grateful I am not any older.  Oh, and gas costs $2.49 a gallon, is considered “cheap,” and there is still no awareness as to the actual “real” costs to the planet.

While my first encounter with Peter Pan came in 1953, I still like to think that there is a part of me that will never grow up.  That illusion may get harder to maintain now that I actually have a Medicare Card in my wallet, that I string senior moments together on the soccer field instead of passes, and that I can no longer actually fly.

Now where the heck did I leave those damn marbles?

Charles Buell

Remember Sears & Roebuck?

Sears and Roebuck have been around roughly twice as long as I have been.

I can remember pawing though the catalog as a kid figuring out what I wanted for Christmas while parents selected clothing to order.

I still get my pants and shirts from Sears, but I have come to dread walking in the place.  I am sure I do not shop there as much as I would if it was not for the hounding I get to sign up for a credit card every time I check out.

As soon as they tell me I can save $16.00 on my $80.00 purchase by signing up, I can feel the hair on my neck start to bristle and my temperature rise.  Am I missing something?  Do they really think my having a card it is going to make me buy more stuff?  Will my additional purchases more than offset the $16.00 and the additional costs of spewing out more pieces of plastic and monthly billing or other paperwork?

I DON’T THINK SO!

Instead, it is close to making me, never walk in the door again.

What really gets me is, if they can afford to give me a discount as an incentive to sign up for a credit card, they are ripping me off for $16.00 if I don’t.  Why not just make the stuff $16.00 cheaper and encourage more people to shop just because the stuff is priced fairly?

There is another factor as well.  I have actually gone through the process in the past, but because I never use the card, I have to do it all over again every time I buy something.  Of course they always argue it only takes a few seconds to fill out the paperwork.

I DON’T THINK SO!

It leaves me feeling there must be something else going on.  Then again, the fact the parking lot is always empty and there is hardly ever anyone in the store (and there is almost never anyone to wait on you), may be a hint sears will not be around much longer–in spite of their long history.

Why can’t businesses just provide good service at fair prices and skip all the gimmicks?

Charles Buell

Merry Every Thing!

While Christianity has “renamed” the season to suit its own purposes, the Winter Season truly is the “Season for All Humanity” regardless of religion. In many cases, in spite of religion.

Of course the fact “Christmas” includes Christ’s name, it is only logical the celebration of his birth would be deemed “Christmas.”  However most scholars agree it is highly unlikely Jesus was actually born on December 25–or even in the winter.

A more likely reason for the choice of that day for his birth was for a struggling upstart religious movement to usurp pagan seasonal rituals popular at the time.  If the coat tails are already in place, why not use them?

Contrary to popular belief (in predominately Christian parts of the world) the season is not “owned” by Christians. While some call their holiday “Christmas,” other holidays chosen by most of the rest of the world have equally valid names.  Names like, the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa and a many others.

In that sense, “Happy Holidays” could be considered the most “inclusive” of terms and more imperative to a world in desperate need of “anything” that helps us see how we are all on this planet together.

I am sure all the various holidays that have sprung up at this time of year have had an element of just “getting-me-through-the-night.” The longer nights and shorter days must have been quite an ordeal for people just trying to survive.  Add to that a bit of superstition, lack of education, and tyrannical special interests and you have the perfect recipe for the season becoming magical.

It is interesting that the only persons who seem to get their Christmas stockings all in a bunch about NOT calling the season the “Christmas Season” or saying “Merry Christmas” are Christians.  It is totally fine for them to call it Christmas and say Merry Christmas if they choose, just as it is fine for the rest of the world do not do so if they choose.

I am quite OK with our government’s tip-toeing around the words used related to the Holidays.  It is important that our government be for all of us–regardless our personal beliefs.

The various ways people choose to celebrate this change of seasons and entry into a New Year, is, and should be, as varied as the number of people there are to celebrate it.

If you find yourself among the 32% of the world’s population who identify themselves as “Christian,” and who insists “Merry Christmas” is the only correct way to say it, the remaining 68% of the world still manages to merrily and happily find their way into the New Year regardless.

Whether one says Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings–or Nothing at All—it is ALL good!

I kind of like the sign I saw in a store window the other day that said: “Merry Every Thing!”

So, MERRY EVERY THING EVERY ONE!

Charles Buell

The Great MYME

wp_20161001_20_17_38_richI know there is a lot of angst over this election and many of the issues are complicated, but let’s see if we can simplify the problem.

The Republican Party platform or agenda can be boiled down to some basic principles.

1.    There is an American Dream that has been lost–when what we actually cling to is closer to a nightmare.

2.    There is a notion that somehow we have gotten away from our constitutional government—even though we have a Supreme Court that is arguably more functional than the other branches of government.

3.    That somehow the earth’s resources belong to Americans—even though they belong to all of humanity—including the resources in our own country.

4.    That somehow American families are no longer great–even though they never have been wholly, but can be on occasion.

5.    There is a notion that fixing healthcare involves supporting the insurance industry–even though with it the profit motive reduces the amount of money that could greatly offset the cost of health care for us all.  There may indeed be some painful catch-up as we all get to a place where we are paying our fair share.

6.    There is a notion that somehow we are not the great power in the world we once were–even though sometimes that should not be our job when we are merely being a bully.

7.    The notion that government is too big is also a common thread—when all evidence points to its not being big enough (and while it is broken, so is the private sector, we do not need to throw either baby out with the bath water).  We only have to look to our crumbling infrastructure, lack of construction oversight, delays in public works, underfunded education etc.  And why are these problems?  Because we lack the will to pay for them.

There will always be the wrestle between what appears “socialist” and “capitalist.” But it should be clear to anyone paying attention that neither one can ever be entirely the answer.  There is no reason to think we cannot be a country that does what it takes to function, use whatever means works, as opposed to beating dead horses for all eternity.

Behind the thin veil of these principles is the ugly underbelly of exclusiveness, nationalism, entitlement, religious intolerance, racial intolerance, social intolerance, bigotry, selfishness and wishful thinking.

When we have a MY and Me approach to the problems we face on the planet, and become unable to see the WE and US that is necessary, we ultimately all suffer. Sure this means we may not get what we “want” all the time but perhaps we can all get a better share of what we need.

Americans are a better people than to promote walls that will never be built, support insurance companies and corporations when they become nothing but leaches or parasites, and/or promote one religion’s views over another.

So as we all go to the poles it is important to consider which candidate is more likely to be about the MY and ME as opposed to the WE and US.  Ultimately, if the planet is to survive the MYME stands to make out better if the WEUS is paramount.

The road to ruin is paved with greed, selfishness, arrogance, and ignorance.  While these will always be present in whichever road we go down, let US at least attack the issues with WE and US first.

Charles Buell

Be Careful Judging Books by Their Covers

We may not always do this, some don’t come with pretty covers, but it sure is easy to do.

Of course this is a metaphor for any number of things we judge by their appearance.

But their appearance where?

Most men are afflicted and helpless with the power of a pretty woman walking by. I was thinking about this the other day when I saw a pretty woman headed home from a hard day’s work at the office.

girlslums

Obviously I have no clue as to whether this is true or not. I suspect I could make up endless stories about what the truth really is, but I suspect regardless the truth, it would not alter the high likelihood of their being a dark side most of us would not want to go to.

I wish the picture was in better focus, but I suspect that would not clear up the overall focus.

While most guys will automatically see her as “beautiful”–regardless of focus—the truth is, there was almost nothing unusual about her such that, if you saw her in Nordstroms, you would have any clue this might be where she lived. Either here, or in one of 20 other similar homesteads on this median of Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle.

girlslum2

I found the juxtaposition almost unbearable.

Solutions apparently are difficult to come by, and I have to assume the varied causes are themselves, likely part of why nothing gets done.

Charles Buell

Watch out when snakes warm up!

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How to Guarantee an Election

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Abandoning Ship

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Something is lost when success leads to mediocrity.

DSCF1228While I live in the land of all things Starbucks, it never occurred to me there might actually be a very “first” Starbucks–and that one could actually “go there.”

I guess it is logical there had to be a first and that one could go to it, but not being a fan of burned coffee, I have never spent as much time thinking about going to the first Starbucks as it will take me to write this post.

What struck me about going to the first Starbucks (besides finding out that it is not at the actual “exact” location of the original one–but very close–at least in the same Pike Place Market), was noticing the degree to which Starbucks sold out as it went after, and adapted to, a wider audience.

What started out as a very cool and different coffee shop, with a different taste and with perhaps one of the coolest logos of all time, had to “cover up” their vampish mermaid logo so as to not offend the tastes of a wider audience—a sometimes prudish and conservative audience.  The logo became “safe” and much less interesting.

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But this is the way of businesses that feel compelled to figure out ways to clone themselves in the pursuit of profits.  It is one of the fringe benefits of globalization.

Something is lost when success leads to mediocrity.

 

Charles Buell