TRUMP–ED©Port Whitman Times 2017
     Donald J. Trump won election.        

     The way we do it in the USA
  You did it, Mr. President! Not just the Democrats (of course), not just The Republicans (Egad!) who you dragged with you, but you Trump-ed everybody – Well, except the American People, who, in delivering a 2,900,000+ vote majority for your opponent, spoke rather loudly too, even if not counted. 
     Whose bidding will President Trump do? Republicans?Democrats? People? Himself? Hmm? Bears thinking about, eh? If The Don – i.e., President want's to get re-elected in 1921, and surely he does – or maybe not… he will serve the desires, not those of the Repubs or Dems, not even his own, but those of the people, in order to swing things his way and gain a majority of the popular vote too when election time comes around again, not to mention doing a worthwhile service for the entity that is The USA. So… 
Dear President Trump,
     Please serve the people. Serve us well, including making demands of us in return. All of us people, not just the Right or the Left, but the in-between too, those who might be eenie-meenie-ers when the next election (for congress, don't forget) in a couple years comes around. The ball is in your possession, what you do with it affects all of us, and importantly of course you – yourself.
     You changed our election process, made mince-meat of the selections of the established order, therefore can tell-em-what-to-do; or their elections, and their seats in the golden process of government, might just themselves be in jeopardy. Funny, it's like the game Jeopardy every weeknight on tv. You can choose your category, then from that your subject, and address the question – choosing how to deal with it, i.e., how much to bet. In so doing you can also drag a reluctant congress along with you, i.e., if they see their re-election process jeopardized or encouraged depending on how they support your program. You might even, Heaven forbid, go into double-jeopardy, risk big things, fly by-the-seat-of-your-pants. Sometimes those seats are the best ones too, and with your apparent charm among "the people"  you can nail it down for the future, change things for good, insuring immortality. 
     That is what you're after, isn't it? Im-mortality? With the Presidency of The USA, that IS achieveable. Mount Rushmore immortality. Godspeed. Make things work, at a reasonable price. We'll all pay, one-way-or-another. HJH

MEDICAL CHICANERY  In April, I went for an X-ray, – an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) at The University of Pennsylvania Hospital. The whole ordeal took about an hour of my lying perfectly still as they ran my body through a long tube where they took subsequent electronic pictures of my brain, my spine and my thorax. Not the most pleasant of experiences, having to suppress an itch or a twitch here or there in the interest of getting just the right shots of my innards with no do-overs. But hey, you do what they tell you, and then listen carefully to what they tell you after: That there was "no change" in my condition of TM (Transverse Myelitis), which we all pretty much suspected from the outset. Oh well, I'm old, having lived my life in relatively good health, and am thankful I'm not in pain, though I'm confined to a wheelchair most of the time, and sleep only sporadically with the constant twitches. So no real reason to take the pictures, except to do a final check-up, and reassure the doctors (and supposedly myself) that despite the TM, my condition is good. So, my wife drove us home, and we went on with life such-as-it-is.

On July 5th we got the bill.  $33,942! Thirty-three-thousand-nine-hundred-and-forty-two dollars! "You gotta be kidding!" I thought, remembering, what, about an hour of electronic picture-snapping is all. Oh, and a note that "Your physician will bill separately for professional services." That came later, $1,230 for a three-minute consult and a glance at the X-rays.
Medicare, not being dumb and getting sucked in by the inflated bill, paid $2,116.36 for the scans, and $160 for the doctor, what the services were probably really worth, of course, and I paid my share, $194.37 plus $180. Okay, that seems reasonable. Case closed.

     But wait-a-minute… What happens to the difference? The $31,631 plus $1,044? Since they're right there on the bills, somebody has to be responsible for them, no? Otherwise, why put them on bills? For Medicare to figure a percentage on? Ah! That's it, Medicare pays a certain percentage of the total amount, the Hospital of the UofP and the doctor write off the difference as lost fees, and, poor UofP's accountant has to subtract that from their profit (Oh yes, hospitals and doctors are profit-making entities, in case you haven't heard) for the year at tax time. No dummies, they, or their Wharton-School accountants. I mean no way is what I got worth or costs even near the amount they bill, so there must be a reason, eh
     Wait – another factor: Insurance. I betcha that $33,942 plus $1,230 are the figures that go to my insurance carrier, if I have medical insurance to supplement my Medicare; and of course the premiums charged by insurance carriers are based upon the bills they receive for such amounts, which, no dummies they, of course negotiate down to a reasonable amount (just like Medicare) acceptable between HUP, doctors, and their companies. And they're all pals, in the medical-billing racket together, so what money actually passes between them is top-secret from the customers who buy the insurance, to protect them from being bankrupted by the huge amounts billed by the medical industry. Scary. And it's meant to be scary, to get you to buy insurance coverage. Does the old shibboleth "protection-racket" ring any bells? It should…

No wonder the whole medical-insurance-drug cartel, and their pocketed-politicians are complaining about the Affordable Care Act. The ACA is a step in the right direction, counter to the huge profits that keep them all in business,   and in money – to run for office.
Henry Francisco


The Japanese have a very practical attitude about drinking, exhibited to the careful eye in the film Gung Ho -- that whenever you take even a little alcohol, you have the liberty to act as crazy as your mindset will let you, i.e., to let down all your inhibitions and be as zany as Harpo Marx, dance naked with a lampshade on your head if you want.  Next day all is forgiven, and you go back with a clean slate to being the Bank President, factory worker or Political Prefect, attributing your bizarre behavior to the demons in the alcohol.  Anything is forgiveable, in the past even harmful behavior right up to maiming & killing, including automobile accidents.  Certainly such behavior is more subject to punishment today in an American-designed system, but the tradition lingers in the Japanese soul.

Of course they also have Geisha Houses, where one can go to BE crazy, dress crazy, act the fool, with your behavior stroked by Geishas heaping lavish praise and encouragement upon you, egging your fantasy to whatever lengths it seeks.

We Americans have few such outlets as the Japanese attitude, and fewer places such as Geisha houses to go and let our hair down.  We're expected to "hold our liquor" and act sober even if we're very drunk.  The Japanese can act very drunk even when they're just a swallow away from cold sober, their drunkenness being more a state of mind, achievable with minimal chemical help, but knowing no outward bounds of propriety.  

However, should one be called upon to operate a car, it would seem that Japanese crazy drunk on little or no booze would be preferable to Western pretending sobriety, especially to yourself, on many drinks.  Maybe they'll boil it down to being nutsy/crazy at will, on NO booze.  Could happen.  Now about us. . .



Here's a suggestion, an alternative to the constant harangue of your fund-raising efforts, which I believe are losing you listeners. After all, who wants to put up with ten-minute intervals of constant, irritating begging when tuned in for programming to accompany one’s day?

However, you do have an opportunity to raise money year-round without turning off your listeners, and it’s an up-to-date way rather than the old give-us-your-money-for-a-coffeecup-or-teeshirt method that went out of date way-back-when. What is it?

Okay, if I have your attention, here goes…
1.Use your website.
2. On your website, establish a link. Another link. Call it W_ _ _ Marketplace.
3. On that link, list items for sale - a list of Headlines which are themselves links to...
4. Descriptions of the items, with contact information to owners of the items who have listed their items for sale, with an agreed-upon percentage of the proceeds of the sale going to W_ _ _.
5. Owner-sellers can place their items-for-sale, through you, on that list, via email or call-in, with their contact information.
6. Prospective buyers can contact the sellers to see and buy items, via your list on your website.
7. To complete the transaction, the buyer makes the payment to W_ _ _ on a credit card, either vocally over the phone, or on a computer.
8. The money goes to W_ _ _, to keep or divide with the seller as previously agreed when the seller lists.
9. W_ _ _ sends the seller-donor a check and thank-you note – which can be done online, saving postage.

So, everybody wins…
Listeners sell their items,
Year-round funds are collected by W_ _ _,
No interference with broadcasting.

And what faithful listener wouldn’t put his/her item up for sale on a wide-based, easily-accessible website, giving all or a major portion of the proceeds to a favored public radio station?
W_ _ _ doesn’t even have to warehouse the item, or show it. That’s done by the sellers, who can call it in or email it to W_ _ _.
All you have to do is collect the money.
Which you are doing now, by losing listeners – temporarily. But who knows where they go and when they’ll come back?

Henry Francisco


Perhaps we in the USA need an extremist group or two of our own, that would capture foreign nationals who have come to the states to study or to live and work, but retain a connection to their homelands to which they will return eventually, just as our people in foreign lands will return to us. We don't seem to have any bargaining chips other than foreign nationals who have been caught-in-the-act carrying out or planning crimes, and then, when we effect any kind of trade, we have to trade many of theirs for just one of ours. And the many of theirs go right back to their militant anti-US lives as before, leaving us to wait for their next move.

Everyone who comes to the US has to register, thus we supposedly know where they all are while they are here, and so our own hostages would be easy to collar, imprison and allow to go free once one of our own is released. If not, then we meet barbarism with barbarism, throwing up our hands, and justifying with their logic, upon which their incarcerating our citizens is based. Fight fire with fire. They execute one of ours, we execute one of theirs. Same way too. See how they like that…

We do need to meet with all and any representatives of these militant groups, find out what are their beefs, and see if we can rectify anything that might be bothering them and those they represent, or if it's just kidnapping for ransom. Not to send them money, or weapons, or anything that they demand, but things which, to us, might seem sensible, looked at from their point of view and circumstances. If our business is getting in the way, perhaps it could be fixed to the degree that would bring enough satisfaction to keep them from murdering our citizens out of spite. If it's simply war that they want, then let's give it to them in spades, not dilly-dally around with a few bombs here and there or blowing up a couple of trucks. Total war, and if the countries where they reside can't abide that, that's just too bad, get out of the way. They should think of that before harboring terrorists.

No more Mr. Niceguy, I say.

Henry Francisco


Instead of the bad things that can be said about cities (and they are said), one thing, proximity to them gives us a distinct advantage, that being the direct line to the metropolitan TV antennae. Yes, there are still antennae, for direct transmission of signals over the air, not via cable or any kind of direct-wired hookup through an independent provider.

Cable providers – You don’t need ‘em! You can, with a small plug-in antenna ($10), when placed advantageously on top of the TV or in another sensitive position facing the transmitters of the local stations, get a picture as good as the cable companies deliver, without the monthly $75-plus bill to pay for cable.

You want the news, the culture, the movies, the auctions, religious, sports, gossip, interviews, or whatever? It’s all there. All available on channels you can pick up on-air with a little antenna that costs a one-time $10, and you’re finished paying. Hey, all the big-time stuff, the Oscars, the Grammy’s, the Super Bowl etc., come on non-cable publicly-available TV. No dummies the networks.

But wait, you want the HBO or Showtime series? Well… not right away, but after they are aired originally, they’re right there for you at the Public Library. So you get to see them 9 months later. Big deal! It’s not as though they need immediate viewing like the daily news. They’re stories! Just order them post-airing, using your computer (a nice feature of the library system is that you can order online) or going personally, then pick them up when you get the library’s notice that they’re ready, along with the latest best seller (Oh yeah, them too) that you want to read. Oh, and I almost forgot... Just about any movie is available on DVD, at the library. And it's all FREE!

Forty nine (where I live, near Philadelphia) channels available maybe more (or fewer) depending on your location, height, etc. But hey, how many channels, how much TV, can you watch, and why pay for 100 channels when you can only see one-at-a-time? One’s watching habits can be satisfied rather easily, by the over-the-air menu of programming.

So go to eBay, or Radio Shack, or Amazon, search “TV Antenna,” and order one for ten bucks, try it out just to see if it satisfies your viewing requirements, then decide what to do about that $75/month bill…

Henry Francisco


© Port Whitman Times 2006

        Art is not what is expressed, but the way it is expressed, and just because it is used as journalism does not make it less artistic. The public can certainly think enough for itself enough to distinguish between behavior it wants to believe as true, and what it wants to reject as false, without father-figures to tell it no-no. If the public cannot think this far in today's world of total access to communication, then it is already damned. Those whose icons are figuratively trampled upon can merely consider the source, for we live today in a time where separating the valid from the spurious is part of the fabric of awareness. Freedom of thought, of expression, is something that we treasure in the free world, and that includes the right to write, paint, film, depict, anything, letting the cards fall where they may. Certainly you would be the one to scream the loudest if, someone were to forbid you to display your ideas publicly, and vice-versa I'm sure.

        Artists, as long as their art is theory (and that's what true art is), need not abide by rules, any rules, save those which society sets forth to protect its members from physical harm. That's why they're artists. They should be free to fly like birds, releasing their droppings where they like. The public's option then, is to support (buy, in one way or another) them or not, and by so doing, either validate them, or consign them to well-deserved oblivion. In between of course, there are many shades from quasi-validation to semi-oblivion, and the public needn't even go to decide, for that's why critics exist, as tasters (a legitimate function indeed), to tell whether they see the art as worthwhile or not; thus the reader/viewer who knows his critic can filter out and choose the places where he is going to spend his time and money.

        If artists applied the criteria of courtesy and respect to everything they produced, our art would be vapid indeed. Read the social columnists, and you'll find one person's courtesy is another's impudence. The artist's hallowed tradition of kicking over sacred cows comes straight from Moses, through Jesus, and all the point-people who brought us to our current state of human progress.


© Port Whitman Times 1990

Regarding cutting off grants to the National Endowment for the Arts, it does seem a shame that Congress would chop the endowment to a whole arts organization just because they disapprove of one or two pieces of art (i.e. Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano and their photographic ventures into the avant garde). I think most people probably agree that the examples that these two photographers have presented, i.e., one of kinky sex among homosexuals, the other of a crucifix submerged in the photographer's urine, are over the line into bad taste, but banning federal funding for "obscene and indecent art" which is what Senator Jesse Helms introduced, seems like killing a fly with a baseball bat. But then who decides what is good art and what is bad art? If it's artistic even if you don't like the subject matter, it might be good art if it's artistically done, and if you do like the subject matter but it's badly done then it's probably not very artistic - so who makes the decision?

I guess that's why Congress just throws money and gives it to the National Endowment of the Arts charging them with the responsibility of making the decision; of course once you do that you can't then go back and then say oops, you made the wrong decision. The NEA has been with us since 1964 and I'm certain that there have been many, many pieces in somewhat questionable taste according to the attitudes of the times, so why now all of a sudden start with the restrictions? Perhaps a slap on the wrist might be indicated, and congress is doing that just by bringing it up.

But then, is photography really art, or is it merely a process by which something can be done artistically? Certainly a creative way of looking at things is artistic, but it is not a totally creative art like sculpture, painting, writing, or music composition. Photography might more closely be compared with journalism-taking a subject that is already there and looking at it thru a particular prism peculiar to the viewer's eye, and it probably ought to be considered in that light. Now as to whether the National Endowment for the Arts should fund exhibits of photography per se is another question, perhaps open to debate. I'm sure if we were all to be exposed to these so called pieces of art and were allowed to vote on them, a consensus about each piece could be arrived at. If we were all able to somehow troupe thru a museum and cast a vote, each piece of art then would acquire a following of praisers or scoffers. Of course we would then have to consider the background and education of each of the voters.

Then, do you really have to have an art education to appreciate art or is it better appreciated on its own terms? If we were all able to cast a vote and factor in what we knew about art along with our appreciation of a particular piece, it would acquire a certain acceptability quotient, and then the most popular art - very much like the most popular movies - would survive (Do we really want Batman to be the representative movie of 1989?). But then that's really what we do in electing our representatives. We elect them to take our wishes to the government for us and represent what they surmise our wishes to be in terms of appropriations, spending our tax money on different projects. Frankly, I think there ought to be a telephone number that each of us can call for 50¢ to vote yes or no on any particular issue. That way the government could make money and we could express ourselves, dollar by dollar - one phone call per telephone number. That might not please the avant garde, but it would allow us to express our opinions on certain works. How many of us have seen Mapplethorpe's exhibit or Serrano's Crucifix Submerged (Why did he have to tell that it was urine - is the shock part of the art? I guess so.)?


© Port Whitman Times 2005

Miss Billington was a kinder, gentler teacher, but we knew she had a will of iron, kept in reserve for use when needed. But for a first grader who was probably too young (5) for the class, she was an awesome personage, and what she said went. No student rights or any of that stuff at Columbus school. We learned or we flunked. As I didn't want to be left back, I of course learned right along with the others, despite my tender years. In fact I did rather well, considering, and later on even skipped a grade so that I wound up 2, sometimes 3 years younger than my classmates.

On this day, Miss Billington, to test our artistic aptitude, asked everyone to draw a red and white cow. Easy enough. Each of us was equipped with a red crayon, one of those big thick crayons that fill up your whole little hand, to do the job.

We set to work, and I manufactured my cow, your basic rectangle for a body, a skewed rectangle for a head, with lines for a neck, legs and a tail, finally installing oval eyes and a closed mouth. Udders I hadn't encountered, so they were, literally, out of the picture. My cow was plain, efficient, easy to feed. Of course with such a simple drawing, I was one of the first done, taking it up to turn in to Miss Billington. I layed it on her desk, and noticed her eyes widen as it came into view. "No, Henry, I said a red and white cow" she instructed. Of course... As I took my cow picture back to my desk, I noted the elaborate designs, pinto, spotted, etc., that the others were incorporating into their animals. Very artistic to be sure, showing great imaginations, even fantasies painted on these laconic animals that merely eat, give milk and make chips.

At my desk, I proceeded to continue along the same lines originally established with my efficient cow, drawing a line through the middle of the body and coloring the lower half of the rectangle red, leaving the upper part, including the head, plain, the color of the paper. Back up I went again to teacher's desk, which now sported a line of maybe three others, waited my turn, and placed my drawing in front of her. With a perfectly straight face she accepted it, giving me a sideways glance that spoke volumes about what she thought of my masterpiece, and that was the end of it. Well, almost.

After everyone was done, the drawings were pinned up on the wall for fully a week, showing the bright designs of which the others were capable, and of course my pure and efficient effort. Then came PTA, which all the parents attended, and I got the picture that my artistic talent was not as "matured" as that of the others. But that didn't matter, I got the job done, and my cow left much to the imagination‹of the viewer. Needless to say, Art didn't become my forte. But then who knows what could have been, had I been exposed to the cubism of Picasso & Braque, or if they had been first grade teachers instead of immortal artists.

Chuck Henry website:
Really Neat Origami Website:


© Port Whitman Times 2007

Oh sure, they look funny spicing up a film or a TV program, but high-speed police chases are, in reality, quite dangerous for everyone, as we only recently saw. In the cinematic presentation, everything is meticulously planned right down to the near misses, the screeching turnarounds, the crashes and off-the-unfinished-ramp dropoffs, but in the real world, it's all unplanned. It sure must be fun for the folks making the movie, and perhaps a kind of perverse flirt-with-danger fun for the real cops & robbers, but unfortunately, innocent people end up dead.

BAM! That's all the warning, and you and your family, all six of you, are gone from life. Snuffed out. Subtracted.

Not to play down the role of the alleged criminal leading the chase, seemingly to save his own hide, with nothing to lose but his freedom or his life, which is most probably of little consequence to him or society by this point. But that's only 50%, one car of two. Or three. Or Four. Everyone's alerted within radio distance.

If he didn't run, they wouldn't chase, and if the police didn't chase, he wouldn't run, wouldn't speed through traffic signals, wouldn't be turned from a minor drug offender into a major killer of several innocent people, a crime which, unlike the others he has allegedly committed, is not really of his own planning and doing, and for which he will not be justly punished, according to those who suffered the loss.

The cops say they have to leave their cars running, thus open, to be available to the radios therein, or have to have duplicate sets of keys. Most anyone who drives will tell you that you can buy keyrings that have detatchable ends, so one can stay in the ignition while the door/trunk key can be carried outside the car. It won't float, not that one.

It's time to ban the chase scenes. In this instance, certainly no one wanted to kill six people. But six people were killed nevertheless. Repeat: If he hadn't run, and if they hadn't chased him, those people would be alive today.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

Go for it! Just Do It!

We're constantly encouraged to grab the brass ring of one sort or another, to take the next adventurous step, and it's made so easy for us, new life is just a click away on just about any website we visit, and of course on those that are visited upon us, with or without our consent. The internet is a vast world, vaster than the real one, yet with just as many cliffs, rivers, oceans, pitfalls, jungles, perils, as the physical world, maybe more, and these are all adventures we can take with just a click of the mouse. No passport, no airline reservations, no standing in line, none of the inconveniences that we have to put up with in the real system of things. We can just go there, right now, actually go for it into any adventure we choose, at least on our screens. And in our minds.

And we have curious minds, minds that might want to wander into tsk, tsk, private areas inhabited by the opposite sex, maybe to grab a peek at a little more flesh than might be permissible, even in this wanton world of advertising that flings at us much more than might be advisable to hawk jeans or undies or perfume. The internet allows us to do that with impunity, to peep, to enjoy, to wallow into the fleshpots as deeply as we want, with no one looking but ourselves, or so we think. But just as there comes a time when Daddy should stop giving little Melissa her bath (and, by the way at which Mommy should turn Little Johnny's bath duties over to Dad), there is a point, depending on one's sense of sin and good (or bad) taste, where risque becomes porno. Yet, lately it seems, with all the prosecution over who is and who isn't involved in child pornography, that society sets the limits, as it should, with regard to its young innocents. However, in the privacy of one's home, peering into the electronic universe, society can be flouted, and one can indulge away, spurred on by the clickable links that beckon us from bad to worse to downright sinful, immoral, and eventually illegal.

But this is not like illegal drugs, where one has to actively meet the drug dealer to get the goods, purchase the paraphernalia, the works, whatever you call it. No, it's right there under your fingertips, easy to find, easier to explore, to indulge. Anything your heart desires on Google or Yahoo, so whoopie! One can break the law at home, where privacy is no longer regarded as sacred, just by clicking on to a website that features underage flesh; moreover, one is apparently invited, on these websites, to chat with what are, or would seem to be, the underage "models" who pose lasciviously for the world to see. A very strange kettle of fish indeed. But then, should one, who has slipped into this lower depth so readily, so easily, be prosecuted for what would seem so minor an infraction as having collected images on one's hard drive? People are now getting into DOing what they are WATCHing. Seems so easy to go over that fence, to be enticed to indulge, and thus be tricked by one's own foolishness into something illegal, thus into jail.

Like in gambling, one thing leads to another. It's not as though Mr. Joe Innocent comes home from church and says "I guess I'll chat up some young jailbait this afternoon." He is led down that path one step at a time from bad taste to sinful to unethical to illegal by a beckoning Lolita that for some, is just too good to resist going for it. So he does. He Goes For It. Uh-oh.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

'Tis almost the season to be merry, thus to think about driving home at the end of the festivities. Here's a tip: Drink your booze limit in the first 15 minutes, then drink non-alcohol. You know, just like the cowboys, step up to the bar, order "three fingers of Redeye," belt it down, then spend the rest of the evening being crazy, tapering off, winding down, sobering up, or whatever you do, so by the time you're ready to go home, you're coherent, functional, and with the aid of some coffee, ready to make the trip behind your wheel. You'll feel a whole lot better in the morning too, if you make the one for the road the one you don't kill.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Philadelphia Inquirer: - 20 inches of copy devoted to story of boy who shot out dogs' eyes, and the suggestions of revengeful eye-for-eye retaliations that readers feel should be exacted upon the boy. Moving across the page, 7 inches devoted to story of mother who starved her infant twin daughters to death. No suggestions of punishment there. She is indicted for endangerment and released on her own recognizance. Is there any justice in print, or is the amount of space solely contingent on the unusual nature of the story? I guess cruelty to dogs is odder than cruelty to (infant) children these days. Same page: Off duty patrolman shot dead in bar around midnight Christmas Eve. The victim, one of two in the same incident was described as one whose "primary thing is his family" but whose "main watering hole" was the bar in which he was killed. My question is; What is someone whose family is "primary" doing hanging out in a bar at midnight on Christmas eve? Then: How many other "watering holes" did this family man have?

We hear so much and so frequently about the growing gap between the rich and the poor in the USA, and we see evidence of it lying on our sidewalks and accosting our cars stopped at red lights, wrapped in blankets with styrofoam cups extended, simply standing around glumly on street corners or in the long welfare line at the bank on "Mother's Day" the first of every month. We try to narrow the gap, as well we should, by throwing money at the problem, following an old adage that if you keep throwing mud at a wall some of it is sure to stick. And stick it does, frequently so well that the wall welcomes it, ends up wanting nothing but the mud. The Welfare Trap has sprung.

We can only bridge the economic gap with economic tools - money, frankly. But what of the other gap - The Knowledge Gap, that between the educated and the ignorant - how are we bridging that one? Is it widening like gap #1 or is it narrowing? And SAT scores are not the only measurement, there are many many knowledges to gain, to fend off the wolves of joblessness and homelessness. Nor can we extrapolate the extent of societal ignorance from the boorish conduct by the louts who crowd our sidewalks or talk loud during movies. But literacy rates count plus math abilities, or just the mental wherewithal to write a letter to a friend - or a company. Today we might include computer abilities, some motor abilities, interviewing, telephone manners, parental skills and the like. Many of the factors going to make up real intellectual capabilities can't be measured by tests. But look around - is the gap widening? If we narrow that one, make the real war the one on ignorance, the rich-poor gap, merely a result, not a cause, will take care of itself.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Life is short, right? And when you get to the "coming to the end" stage, and see people you know falling off the edge - at whatever age their edge claims them - you realize that in pursuing whatever you went after, you might not have had as much FUN as you could have, because you had to GET this or that, or you had to show somebody that you could BE this or that, that you thought they expected you to be, and so you went along with what you thought they, no matter who they are or were, thought instead of what you wanted. But man wasn't originally built that way. After all, the cave people, the nomads, pursued FUN along with pursuing life, did what they felt like at the moment, like sex, instead of always looking at the long picture. Now I am a Christian in that I believe in the philosophies of Jesus, but this thing called The Christian Work Ethic, that wasn't His invention, that was drummed up many centuries after JC lived on earth, to keep people in line, and aimed in the right direction, i.e., toward "Heaven" - to keep them away from what the inventors of the work ethic deemed to be sinful. And that's okay if you believe in the work ethic and can be satisfied following it, keeping your nose to the grindstone as it were. But it ignores FUN, that for which we were put on this earth. I don't mean life is entirely fun, especially if it comes at the expense of others for whom one is or has become responsible, but to cram in as much of it as one can in a scant four score years or so is only human.

Ah, responsibility. You make your bed, you must sleep in it. Well, not exactly, you can get up, leave the bed behind, and pursue fun full time; but that wouldn't be seemly, you must think of those whom you brought into the world, and how much FUN it is being them, show them how to live and have fun in their circumstances, in whatever milieu you find yourselves. You don't have to be rich or live in a nice house or drive a nice car or even eat the best food or wear the best clothes, jewelry, have the latest computer, cellphone, iPod, etc., to have fun. REAL fun is cheap. Singing is fun. Playing a musical instrument is fun. Can't afford a musical instrument? People throw them away every day now, and I remind you, the fun isn't in the musical instrument you have, it's in the music you make with it. Sing, whistle, dance. Take sex, for example, the fun isn't in the person you have it with, the sex object, the gorgeous woman or handsome man; it's in what you make of the act with the person you have. Hey, you can close your eyes and imagine anyone you want, and the climax is the same, pretend you're paying a million dollars to have your sexual icon, cry about the loss of the money you paid if you want, but still pretend.

Which people have the most FUN out of life? The Masters Of The Universe, The Great Performers, the Airplane Pilots, the Mercenary Soldiers, the __________________ (fill in your own concept)? No. We ALL have the most fun. It's not what we do, whether it be for a living or for diversion, but when we are doing it, i.e., the stage at which we are looking forward to the actual doing of whatever we choose to do. The learning stage. That's why dilettantes have the best time. Yes, dilettantes, dabblers. You can dabble at anything, dabble at a job, after all what is a job at first but a learning experience? People who go up the fast track to become CEO's are really the biggest dabblers, learning each rung as they rise, and being fortunate enough to move up a rung when the current rung gets boring, else they move laterally to the same rung on a different ladder. Up, up, learn this job, then progress to the next, and if you're stuck, that's when life becomes painful, and probably it's a good thing to look elsewhere. Not for the same dull job, but for something completely different, something that interests you, amuses you, something you can tolerate and make a living at until something better appears on the horizon. Something that's FUN. After all, in the short span of life, there isn't enough fun, too much commuting to work and not enough riding the roller coaster.

So now, looking back, I realize that I've been a dilettante, yes, to the expense of the success that was envisioned for me by "them" but I've had a great deal of FUN doing the myriad of things I've attempted, learned, the skills I've acquired along the way. And I'm proud of the way I've been, now that I think of it. Some may say "you should have done this" or "you should have done that," and they might have been right, for them, but hey, I didn't. Lately I look back and say I could have taken this path instead of that, or gone here instead of there or said this instead of that, but I didn't, so what can I do about it now? At least I've survived until I can look back on my life as a whole life, an existence seen as a big cohesive ballagoola comprising everything I've done. So what now, stick a gun in my mouth and pull the trigger? Oh no, not yet, this life still goes on, there's more fun to be had, not the same fun that there was when my body was able to handle more rigorous activities, but gentler fun by my mind, fun that doesn't require great leaps to satisfy myself I'm being amused. Oh yes, amused, for amusement is the raw material of FUN.

So it's on with life, with breathing and sleeping and putting one foot in front of the other, playing, singing, carrying on. Having fun. Damned if I'm not gonna have fun; maybe damned for the fun I've had. But then... it's been fun.


© Port Whitman Times 2005

Now this may seem trivial... and it is, but as we can see in our trash problems, a lot of trivia adds up. But someone ought to pass a law against giving people more than one. You know, those people who, when you ask for a napkin, or a tissue, or a straw, or a toothpick, or any number of small but useful items, always grab two, or a handful and pass them on to you, expecting, I guess, that you'll either use them all (Really, how many toothpicks can you use at once?) or tsk tsk, throw away the rest. Whatta waste! Oh yes, we live in the land of plenty - of garbage.

This applies to just about anything you buy too, especially in the food line. You wanta get an ice cream cone... Do they give (and charge you for) a sensible amount on top of your sugar or wafer holder? Noooo, they pile on five or six ounces of the stuff, just so they can charge you that extra dollar, so you have to throw it away or get balloon fat. Can you buy a small candy bar anymore? Fewer and fewer places carry them, opting for the jumbo size bars which are just too much. Too much sugar, too much chocolate, too much money.

It's our way of passing the good life around to each other...filling up our dumps, and our bodies, unnecessarily. Wouldn't it be easier to conserve in the beginning, rather than worry about trash-to-steam, toxic waste, hauling fees, and landfills bursting at the rims with stuff we never had to use up in the first place?

You who do it, STOP it. That's right, YOU. You know who you are. When someone asks for one, give them one.


© Port Whitman Times 2005

Why on earth would anyone commit suicide? Seemingly normal, sane people, children, who you would think have much to live for, do it every day. Not the terminally ill, although more and more lately, this is a term that has less meaning, as science alters the outer limits of the termini, and gives medical hope to all, even the 100-plus-ers on the Today show.

We're talking suicide in the shank of life here, because of some emotional, career, family or other problem. It has to be more than that actually, a brick wall of existence that can't be maneuvered around, climbed over or dug under. The potential self-murderer has to have come to the point where he feels absolutely no forward step can be made in this world. After all, it isn't a whimsical act, though it has been characterized as "the sincerest form of self-criticism" (Lenny Bruce). Hopeless, I believe it's called, and left at that. "Oh yes, it was hopeless, his situation..." and we're supposed to know what that means, accept it as such, no questions asked.

But the contemplator of the act is asking himself hundreds of questions as he wanders toward his personal abyss. Questions which bear upon every aspect of his life up to now, how he's handled them, how he anticipates dealing with future ones in light of how he did with past ones. The truly hopeless person doesn't think he can change, or be able to cope any better with the same situations any differently in the future, so the alley has become a dead end. Resigned to status quo, unsatisfied with it, and nothing more to look forward to than more of same, more unhappiness, personal flagellation, disappointment, he plunges. Oddly, as we have lately seen, age has little to do with the decision and the hopeful prospects. And not so oddly, drugs magnify the despair, exaggerate the drama of life to the point of the ultimate misjudgment.

The person must be done more with than pulled down off the ledge. Somehow hope must be given, ingrained, so he realizes that change is always possible, progress not far behind once the decision to return to the pursuit of life is made. That's true in a larger sense too, about smaller issues. Change, hope for improvement, progress, is possible in all areas, no matter how small, regardless how insignificant, or how large, how seemingly overwhelming. Once one realizes that, the problems can be addressed and dealt with, without resorting to what one might think of as the ultimate solution.


© Port Whitman Times 2005

Dad was always the family winner of the Life Saver Game. We all played, usually on long trips, when he'd bring packs of Life Savers, Spearmint and Doublemint gum from our store. To play, we'd each take a whole Life Saver squeezed off from the top of the pack, and put it in our furthest mouths to suck. Simply, the one whose LS remained whole the longest won the game. No prize, just the joy of beating the others.

We all tried to keep dad talking, because we knew that was what generated the saliva that wet the Life Saver, otherwise it was no contest. He had some neat little dry pocket where he'd tuck it away, and when the first of ours broke and we all had to show, his would invariably be the biggest - you could still see the raised imprint that said "Life Saver," usually.

He'd conserve & conserve, and we'd try & try to get him talking, only succeeding at doing all the talking ourselves, with you-know-what result. Occasionally he'd talk enough so's it'd even matters up, and we got better as we got older, our mouths deepening. Now I'm the dad, and I get to win, cause my mouth is bigger, er, deeper.

It occurred to me that dad's now playing the same game - more seriously - with his body. Seventy nine, he's going for eighty, then it'll be eighty one, two... got himself tucked away in a corner, not using any more than absolutely necessary, down in some crevice, dry, comfortable happy, taking it one life saver at a time.


© Port Whitman Times 2005

D'ja ever notice - the guys in the after shave ads on TV-always apply the lotion with only one hand, gripping the lotion bottle in the other for all to see. Now men, gentle and otherwise, I ask you, how many of you use only one hand to put on aftershave? Huh? You may pour it with one hand, from the bottle into the other hand, but then you put the bottle down, rub your hands together, then use both hands on your face, right? That's the way man has done it from the dawn of shaving (invented, I think, by Judas Iscariot, the first biblical character I can remember who was portrayed unashamedly unbearded) and that's why those guys look so uncomfortable doing it singlehandedly on TV. It's some sort of macho gizmo I think, the hairy, muscle-rippled guy clenching the bottle as if he could crush it and maybe eat the broken glass, pouring a little of the precious stuff in as un-perfumish a manner as he can, so as not to look uh, feminine. Heaven knows, we don't want to look feminine! Uncomfortable is OK though. C'est la vie Amerique.


© Port Whitman Times 2003

"Drink Intelligently" shout the Smirnoff Ads. Hey, great concept, save lives, drivers all adhereing to the speed limit, stopping at the amber lights, never passing on a curve, and arriving home still fresh, not dozing at the wheel. Etcetera, etcetera. Oh, yeah, teriffic concept. But think about it. Just what, exactly, is "intelligent Drinking?"

We drink for the effect, which is to relax our nerves, to let down our guard, to come down from the pressures of the day, to GET un-intelligenced. To a degree. Granted, in most cases a small degree, nevertheless the effect is the same, to mellow-off the sharp edges. So, approaching it intelligently is really oxymoronic, because it is really dumbing down one's sensibilities. The intelligence comes BEFORE you decide to drink. The approach is where the critical decisions come. How much to drink is a predecided factor if one is to be rational about it.

The cowboy sashays into the saloon, steps up to the bar and sez "Three fingers o' rye whiskey." He knocks it back, then ambles over to the poker table and sits down for a game of cards. A cowboy, nevertheless a gentleman. The drunk sits over in the corner with his bottle, slurring his words, falling off his chair. One of these men knows his limit. One does not.

So... Do you know your limit? - How much liquor you can hold - intelligently - and still be able to say, drive, or, uh, not be taken advantage of, or carry on a coherent conversation? What's your limit EXACTLY? The state has an exact, measurable limit: .08% alcohol in the blood. You drive with over .08% and you're breaking the law. If you're at .079, you're legal. So how much can you drink and stay under the legal limit? One would suppose that it's somewhat different for each individal, depending on factors like body weight, mental tiredness, amount of food taken with the drinks, - Did I say drinks? Plural? Think about it, maybe one is your limit. Maybe NONE is your limit. After all, there are folks who just can't tolerate ANY alcohol without going off the deep end. You should KNOW your limit. Perhaps you're one of those intolerant people, and you should stick to Shirley Temples. That's OK too, sticking to non-al drinks, at least you know precisely where you are, with nothing affecting your consciousness.

But most of us like to join the party when we're out, and that usually involves having a snort or two. So "Drink Intelligently" is surely good advice, but only general advice. Let's get specific. To really drink intelligently, you have to know your drink limit BEFORE you go out on the town, not experiment in the moment, because the more you drink, the more you WANT to drink, to continue that euphorious feeling you get after the first or second one. But I got news forya, it doesn't get any better after your limit, just more hazy, more foggy, and ultimately more unconscious, by degrees.

In the ideal drinking world, you would know your limit - say, three ounces of 80-proof alcohol, or two 12 ounce beers, or 12 ounces of wine. Whatever. You would drink that at the beginning of the evening to get as high as you want to get, then switch to non-alcohol. The rest of the evening you coast, drinking water, soft drinks, coffee, whatever, so that when it's time to drive home, you're relatively sharp, not disposed to pass that guy in front of you on a curve, or run the amber light, or go too fast. Better to arrive later and alive than sooner and deader. Deader? Sure, injured, perhaps permanently, surely less of a person after a crash. Intelligent Drinking? Your personal limit? Figure it out. Before you go.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

How is being a homosexual like having an addiction to smoking? Because now we are asked to believe that the afflictees can't help themselves. Homosexuals are born that way, smokers are hopelessly addicted, even in the face of diagnosed and treated cancer. Pity. Poor things, we'll just have to come up with a government program to support them, instead of asking to make their own decision and live with the consequences. Come ON, both of these afflictions are a result of decisions made by the afflictees themselves, and have nothing to do with any predisposition to either one.

Don't you see the link between ADDICTION to smoking and being BORN homosexual being forged? It's the "I can't help being the way I am, I'm addicted" syndrome. Or "I was BORN that way." Sure. The Devil made me do it. Armed with wisdom coming from use of more colorful, but ultimately embarrassing turns of phrase, I use a more decorous term: HOGWASH! In both cases, we CHOOSE. Smoke or not, be Gay or not.

You DECIDE to be gay, and that's OK, if that's your decision, you have a right to it. Live with it. And you DECIDE to continue putting pleasant poison into your lungs, because you like the euphoria it gives. OK too, but live with it, and don't expect us to pay you for it when the misery starts, or for damages after you're dead from something you brought on yourself. If you don't like it, QUIT! And if you're gay, AIDS is certainly reason enough to caution you to be discreet in your sexual predilections, eh? Nobody forces you into indiscriminate or anonymous sex, so use your head in deciding matters of sexuality. Gay marriage is not such a bad idea, at least it's a monogamous one.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

The NPR radio program advertises itself as "Growing Up Gay In America" and purports to chronicle the difficulties of the child who has found him/herself trapped in the "gay orientation" and resigned to living it out in a society which is, if not anti, at least not pro, homosexual. We then, apparently, are to say "tsk, tsk" at our own intolerance, and resolve to be more accepting of the lifestyle of gay-oriented youngsters.

Oh please!

The program stems from the "orientation" idea, i.e., that we are born with a gene or some inherited physical characteristic that predisposes us toward the gay life, to liking sex with members of the same sex rather than traditionally with members of the opposite sex. From what I can tell, those who are in the gay life, or who analyze it, would have us believe there is a - what, maybe a gene that is the "gay gene" and if born with that gene we are foredestined to be homosexual, thus to live a life of carnality with our own kind, or of closeted desires and guilts putting us figuratively on the psychiatrist's couch for life.

I'm sorry, I don't buy it. The "oriented" line. Nope, you'll never convince me that this is not a serious, even if sometimes not seriously considered, decision, made somewhere along the way, i.e., "I'm going to be a homosexual" or at least "I'm going to experiment with this form of sexuality, see what it's like." I believe the "orientation" gimmick is just a way for those who have at one point or another made the decision, to abdicate responsibility for taking the road that most of society disapproves of, if not condemns. It's "The devil made me do it," basically, or "God made me this way, so just accept what God made and let's get on with life." I'm for the let's get on with life part, but I can't abide the blaming of the decision on God or The Devil or Mom and Dad's genes. If you make the decision to be gay, OK, fine, but I'm not, so please take your hand off my leg and let's get on with life other than in the bedroom, or the john or the public bath house.

The "orientation" line is just another way of persuading children at younger and more pliable ages to abdicate the responsibility, to go along with what they may think is fore-ordained. I am not against choosing, and I am not against homosexuality if that's your choice, once you have achieved enough experience with life to be objective, but this "orientation since birth" is just another way of saying "It's okay" to younger and younger children. Proselytizing, if you will. Teaching children how to "Grow up gay in America" is just a way of allowing a very public entity, Public Radio, to influence young minds, and prepare them for the difficult lifestyle they will find at nearly every turn.

There is a point in everyone's life, where one decides which way to be, or whether to try this or that. We all of us approach these crossroads, decide, and pass them. What we don't need is some brain tinkerer getting in the way with that "Maybe you're orientated that way" routing us, thus making part of the decision for us, absolving us of the responsibility for determining our own future.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Ever wonder what those words you hear in the Mafia TV programs or movies about the mob really mean? What are the Sicilians who run La Cosa Nostra saying to each other, that gives them that special lingual advantage over us civilians? Well wonder no more, here's a glossary of the most commonly used terms, and some not so commonly used:
ADMINISTRATION: the upper-level power structure of an organized crime Family, composed of the boss, underboss, and consigliere.
ASSOCIATE: an almost-there; someone who works with and for wiseguys, but who hasn't been sworn in as a member of the Family.
BABANIA: Heroin, as in dealing. Lucrative but risky for mob insiders because if they're busted, long prison terms might compel them to cut a deal and squeal.
BABBO: A dope, idiot, useless underling.
BEEF: a complaint or disagreement within the organization, usually discussed during a sit-down with higher-ups in the Family.
BIG EARNER: someone who makes a lot of money for the Family. A LOT of money.
BOOKS, the: euphemism for membership in the Family, since nothing is ever written down. When there is an availability (when someone dies), the books are "opened." When no one is being "made," the books are "closed."
BORGATA: a crime Family; brugad.
BOSS: the head of the crime Family; he is the only one who gives permission to "whack" or "make" someone, and he makes money from all Family operations; synonyms: don, chairman.
BOSS OF BOSSES; Capo di tutti capi: While no one proclaims himself the Boss of Bosses anymore, the press awards this title to whomever they feel is the boss of the strongest of the five Families of New York, who is also said to preside over Commission meetings.
BROKEN: demoted in rank; "knocked down."
BRUGAD: a crime family; borgata.
BURN: to murder; synonyms: break an egg, clip, do a piece of work, hit, ice, pop, put out a contract on, whack.
BUTTON: a "made" member of the Mafia; soldier, wiseguy, goodfella, Man of Honor.
CAFONE: a phony or embarrassment to himself and others; "gavone" (slang pronunciation)
CAPO: ranking member of a Family who heads a crew (or group) of soldiers; a skipper, short for capodecina.
CAPO DI TUTTI CAPI: see Boss of Bosses
CHASED: to be banished from the Mafia and barred from associating or doing business with any made members. The punishment is merciful in that the offender is spared death.
CLEANING: taking the necessary steps (driving around, stopping in various locations) to avoid being followed.
CLIP: to murder; see burn
CLOCK: to keep track of someone's movements and activities.
COMARE: a Mafia mistress; "goumada" (slang pronunciation).
COME IN: To go see the boss when summoned.
COMMISSION, THE: the Mafia "ruling body", typically a panel made up of the bosses of the five New York Families, Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, Colombo, and Bonanno sometimes with representatives from other U.S. Families, such as Chicago.
COMPARE: crony, close pal, buddy. Literally, "godfather" in Italian.
CONSIGLIERE: the counselor in a crime Family; advises boss and handles disputes within the ranks.
CONTRACT: a murder assignment.
COSA NOSTRA: Italian for "this thing of ours," a mob family, the Mafia.
CREW: a group of soldiers that takes orders from a capo.
CUGINE: a young toughguy looking to be made.
DO A PIECE OF WORK: to murder; see burn.
EARNER: someone whose expertise is making money for the Family.
EMPTY SUIT: someone with nothing to offer who tries to hang around with mobsters.
ENFORCER: a person who threatens, maims, or kills someone who doesn't cooperate with Family rules or deals.
FENCE: someone with worldwide outlets to liquidate swag.
FRIEND OF MINE: introduction of a third person who is not a member of the Family but who can be vouched for by a Family member.
FRIEND OF OURS: introduction of one made member to another.
GAVONE: a phony or embarrassment to himself and others. See cafone.
GET A PLACE READY: To find a burial site.
GIFT: A bribe, sometimes for a juror.
GIVE A PASS: To grant a reprieve from being whacked.
GOING: About to be whacked.
GOING SOUTH: stealing, passing money under the table, going on the lam.
GOOMBAH, GOOMBA, GUMBA: Sicilian slang for the Italian compare; plural: goombata
GOUMADA: a Mafia mistress. See comare.
HARD-ON WITH A SUITCASE: mob lawyer; feminine: half a hard-on with a suitcase.
HOT PLACE: a location suspected of being the target of law enforcement or surveillance.
ICE: to murder; see burn.
JOINT, THE: prison; synonyms: the can, the pen, go away to college.
LOANSHARK: someone who lends mob money at an exorbitant interest rate; a shylock.
MADE: to be sworn into La Cosa Nostra; synonyms: to be "straightened out," to get your button.
MAKE A MARRIAGE: to bring two parties together for legitimate or illegitimate Family issues.
MATTRESSES, HITTING THE, TAKING TO THE: going to war with a rival Family or gang.
MEAT EATER: a corrupt cop (not exclusively mobspeak).
MUSTACHE PETES: Old fashioned or older generation Mafiosi.
NUT, THE: mobspeak for "the bottom line"; also the gross profit figure.
OMERTA: the code of silence and one of the premier vows taken when being sworn into the Family. Violation is punishable by death.
OFF THE RECORD: an action taken without the knowledge or approval of the Family.
ON THE RECORD: an action sanctioned by the Family.
PIECE: a gun.
PINCHED: arrested
POP: to murder; see burn
PROBLEM: a liability, someone likely to be whacked
RAT: a member who violates Omerta; aka- squealer, canary, snitch, stool pigeon, yellow dog.
SHYLOCK: see loanshark
SIT-DOWN: a meeting with the Family administration to settle disputes
SKIM: tax-free gambling profits, money taken that is not reported to the IRS
SKIPPER: a capo
STAND-UP GUY: someone who refuses to rat out the Family no matter what the pressure- offer or threat.
SWAG: stolen goods
VIG: interest payment on a loan from a loanshark; (vigorish); aka- juice
VOUCH FOR: to personally guarantee- with one's life- the reputation of someone dealing with the Family
WALK TALK, TAKE A WALK: to conduct a sensitive discussion while striding up and down the block to avoid being overheard on surveillance devices
WHACK: to murder
YOUNG TURKS: younger, less traditional generation of Mafiosi. Less likely to live by the old rules
ZIPS: American Mafiosi's derogatory term for Sicilian Mafiosi.


© Port Whitman Times 2001

Let's be frank. It isn't personal. No way could whoever perpetrated The Tragedy personally hate all the people they killed. No, they hate US, hate our "Way Of Life," as opposed to their way, which to us, who are USED to our way, is NO way. Hey, who'd want to give up a three hundred million dollar existence to live in the desert? You? Me? Not this week, or any week, pal. But Osama bin Laden did. So they have a point to make, Heaven knows what it is, but we might be able to get our minds around it if we take a serious look at ourselves.

In America, we are a country of EXCESS, writ large. "Small" is now what we used to consider "Jumbo," and there is no smaller, so if you want it, whatever it is, you pay the price and throw the rest away, like a good American. And it goes into a good old American landfill, I mean what the heck, we haven't filled up the Grand Canyon yet, haven't even started, so why panic about all the trash we make. Plenty of holes in the ground still to be filled, and covered over with housing developments.

When was the last time your toothpaste tube was actually FULL of toothpaste, and not just air at the end? When did you get a pound of coffee in a can that was meant to hold a pound, or a bag of potato chips that wasn't mostly air?

The other day, I went searching for a pair of Groucho Glasses. You know, with the big nose, the eyebrows, to use in a comedy skit. Most of the variety stores I went to "only carry them around Halloween," when they try to maximize their profits by palming off anything that's spooky on those of us who are rushing around and will grab up anything that seems to fill the bill. Hurry up and get it over with so we can get back to the couch and the security of the TV remote control. "Yeah, yeah, gimme the whatever..." I looked in several places, and finally found a store - a Dollar Store yet - that had Groucho Glasses; the clerk took me back to the Halloween department (Two months early, but you never know, a little business might just materialize) and got me the bubble-wrapped card, with FOUR sets of Groucho Glasses, all cheap plastic with stamped out eyebrows which were really part of the rims of the eyeglasses, and the wrong nose (a politically correct WASPish proboscis as opposed to the semitic schnoz that's always been the rule). But FOUR Groucho Glasses! "I only want one" said I, even though the four were nothing but cheap junk. "Can't break up the set" said the clerk, who was actually the proprietor. "No thanks, then." American merchants try to make you buy more than you want, so they can charge accordingly. EXCESS.

Go to the movies. A SMALL popcorn is $3.25. Probably costs them less than a dime to make, but they try to hold you up for as much as they can get, figure you're a hostage. Most people just pay it and use their union to get more money from the job, justifying it by the "everything's going up" rationalization. In the movies the concessions use the logic that we figure we're subsidizing art by paying more. Bullshit. Movies are an industry just like mining or construction. Art schmart. I bring fruit, nuts, munchies, my own popcorn made at home. Pay my own dime for my popcorn.

Go to the Ice Cream store. A "small" is really more than you can eat, but you try, hey, get fat, you pass this way but once (maybe). You paid the "small" price which is $1.75. To be fair, you can get a "baby" size (They actually call it that, more as a deterrent to adults who don't want to be put in the infant category, than as something a baby would be able to eat), which used to be 50¢ and was just about right for a normal adult, size-wise, but now costs a buck, plus tax, and is far more than a baby could eat, in fact just about more than a reasonable, repeat reasonable, adult can consume too. "Baby" indeed! MORE EXCESS.

How do all professional people, doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc., know exactly how much to charge for a particular service? No competition, charge the standard amount. Want a crown for a tooth? $850. Call another dentist - "How much do you charge for a crown?" (if they'll even quote a price over the phone) It's $850. Call 10 dentists - $850. Is this price fixing? "Well, no, we all just seem to have arrived at the same price by some sort of telepathy, surely not from talking to one another at the dental convention." Yeah, sure. Or maybe the insurance companies set the rate - good 'n' high so they can charge plenty of premium to the employers who pay for the coverage. But what about the people who who don't have coverage, who have to pay by themselves? Tough, pal, but the rates just come out of the computer, take it or leave it. Right. The dentists, the doctors, gotcha over a barrel, they know it, and in a society where everyone seems to be getting as much as they can, they sock it to you when they've got you down sick. To pay for their boats, or second home in Florida, or Mercedes 500SL. Gougers all.

We're a nation of fat people. From all this excess consumption, we've gradually over the years become bloated, and we don't even recognize it because we're ALL that way. Go into a restaurant - Bigger is better - The 20 ounce prime rib special, all you can eat buffet, whopper burgers. Try to get a small, just try. They just about ask to see your age card, to make sure you're young enough to order a child's portion, which is really about all you can comfortably eat.

But notice the terrorists: all thin. No fat terrorists allowed. Not conducive to the imposition of terror. Don't look mean enough. Hey look, Santa Claus is fat; you wouldn't think he would hijack your airliner, wouldja? Mister Niceguy who brings gifts, comes down the chimney without getting sooty - mythical in all proportions. The terrorists are stark realists, using our myths of excess against us, and we are pushovers for the finely tuned cynicism of people who have to, or have chosen to live on, the minimum. Like pricking a balloon with a needle. Boom! So why are we surprised? We're soft, and willing to go along with excess, and this is excess of a different sort. Excess of evil, a new dimension of evil that kills indiscriminately.

Our cars are representations of us - big fat SUV's that guzzle gas, and keep us safe, impenetrable, and high off the ground (i.e., away from what's "below" figuratively). OPEC knows this, so socks it to us on the oil prices, and everyone down the line adds a little bit of profit so gas sometimes goes up to four bucks a gallon, not all due to OPEC, the purveyors at home can take part of the blame. Pile on the profit. At least there's a little competition there, or we'd be paying terrorist prices at the pump.

"Shall we get regular cable, digital cable, HBO and Showtime, Hey, howzabout Satellite TV, 150 channels, all the sports, all the Discoveries, wow! We can have the whole world, with just the flick of a remote." "Look at those nomads down there, riding around on goats. aw, aren't they cute! Look, they're waving at us, oh no, it's their fists, and they're shouting something, and burning something. It's our flag, and our president, they're burning our president. Let's change the channel, shall we?" Right, we have it ALL, and the have-nots have zilch, nada, ugatz, niet, but they do have the one thing that everyone CAN have: Kids, kids to grow up and hate The Haves. Hate us precisely because we have it all, and all they have is their kids and their religion. Their religion that can promise them a better life in the hereafter, if only they sacrifice here... perhaps the ultimate sacrifice, taking along a few thousand of the Hated Haves. Religion is a very persuasive tool, especially when its subjects crave, and don't know what they crave, beyond survival. Still, they crave.

Before World War II, we had to scrimp, just to get along during the depression, though everything in the USA was bigger, better, more fecund, just waiting to be developed. WWII proved, thank heavens, that the bigger can smash the smaller, faster, more agile, with huge mass-production war industries. Feed the battle more than THEY can, and you'll win. Certainly true, and fortunately we did win, but this same mentality carried over to our society, and has produced opulence to be sure, along with every variation on excess that about forces us to guzzle and get fat. Such excess that the rest of the world, especially the have nots, those who scrape along like moles in the desert or the hills, harbor a jealousy that in time becomes murderous, then murderous on a large excessive scale to match our excess, especially when we are so easily murdered, our fat balloon is so easily pricked. Their logic would be "They won't miss a few thousand people, a couple of skyscrapers." But we DO, even mired in our excess, miss our people and our couple of skyscrapers. And those who sink to this new dimension of evil have forced our machine back into an excess of war making. Hopefully to eliminate them.

It's understandable why the have-nots would want to JOIN us, to come here and become fat, excessive, but why would anyone want to DESTROY us? The only motive would be jealousy of course, because they can't have what we have. We've reached the point of diminishing returns in our excess, and are beginning to implode anyway, so they feel they're just helping us along. But there's not telling how far excess can go. Look inward though, right here: people here killing their families, their classmates, their employers, their colleagues, because they're fed up and just can't take it anymore. Can't take the excess, perhaps not having it all in spite of being so close to it.

Time to take a good hard look at ourselves. What do we watch on the evening news, besides the morsels of actual happenings we're allowed to witness? DRUG ADS. "Take OUR drug. This is what's wrong with you." "No, take OUR drug. THIS is what's wrong with you." "Ask your doctor" (Sure, at eighty bucks a visit). Day and night the whole medical industry, which includes drug companies, insurance companies, HMO's, hospitals, medical practitioners, pharmacists, the whole lot, hammer away at us with ads on television, then claim that most of their money is spent on research. This is nothing but spurious, egregiously spurious claptrap. We can SEE where their money is going, and why the price of medical care and drugs is skyrocketing. WE are paying for those prime-time spots, make no mistake. And the drug companies don't just cure you, they SUGGEST what ails you so they can cure it, with THEIR drug or treatment. Now there are clinics where you can be screened for free, drumming up business for the drugmakers, hospitals, the whole medical industry. And the insurance pays for it... But what if one doesn't have insurance? Then one PAYS through the nose, enough to give you a nosebleed.

Well, at least we have our "Way Of Life" such as it is for some of us. We have America, even if we're poor here, and that's better than anywhere else on earth. But America to the struggling here is not what it seems to the struggling over there. To them it IS what it seems, what they hate, what they're jealous of. Well guess what: There are those of us who hate it and are jealous of it too, because it's all around us but not ours. We wouldn't, most of us, however, kill people to express our rage. There are other avenues. We seek opportunity to get to the good life we see. And opportunity is there, so we join the excess instead of making war against it. Perhaps instead of making war on them, we should make opportunity on them. Is that possible? Is there any other civilized choice?


© Port Whitman Times 1999

Didja ever talk to one of those guys who constantly punches you in the arm while he's making his points? Oh yeah, I remembered them from the seventh grade, about the time we were going through the "you flinched" phase of developing personal relations. You remember too, dontcha? Yeah, they'd come up to you and make a move as if they were going to let you have one in the kisser, fistwise, and if you so much as moved a muscle to avoid the facial disaster, even if their rooker came right up to within a fraction of an inch of your nose, then you "flinched", and had to take a shot on the arm. ( Needless to say, this was a boy's game, as the girls' arms were not up to such punishment, and no self-respecting female would put up with that business anyway.) Then the arm punch, no matter whether it was just a grazer, or a knuckled clout, would be "wiped off", and the little game was over, unless of course the hitter forgot to wipe off, in which case turnabout was fair play, then you, the punchee could become the puncher and take a penalty shot. Or start the game over by making the other guy flinch, if you could lift your arm. This went on well into the seventh or eighth grade, when we started noticing the girls.

Well there are adults, I'm sorry to say, who seem not to have forgotten the game, though now without the "flinch" part of it. They give it to you all the time while they're carrying on a friendly conversation, requiring you to extend your friendliness considerably just to put up with this indignity. It's not innate meanness that fathers this intimate mini-mayhem, but a sincere desire to drive one's point across, thinly veiling an unrequited sadistic bent; certainly I can appreciate wanting to get your point across, but I would prefer that they go in my ear, where there is an opening meant for gists and particulars to enter, rather than in my arm, where they have to be propelled through muscles meant to protect rather than accept.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

"Live fast, die young, and have a good-looking corpse!" (LFDYAHAGLC) was something we kidded each other about in our foolish youth, whenever we did something remotely daring, or as a cover for our doing something foolish, like smoking cigarettes. We kidded about that too, the smoking, (coffin nails, etc.) although the sensibles chided us (they knew better), we were executing our prerogative of challenging the gods to kill us by stunting our growth or somesuch. We waved the fags around with carefree bravado, all the while putting the poison into our lungs.

And we have since attended the funerals and pored over the obituaries of our classmates who did live too fast, and died too young, testified to by their good-looking corpses. In the ideal world, we would all die old, shriveled and bent with age, rich as Croesus, passing peacefully in our sleep as we dream of being borne into the everafter to the tune of The Dies Irae, sung by angels of course. Sorry folks, but it rarely comes out that way. Ask the Kennedys...

The Kennedy Clan seems to bold LFDYAHAGLC as a family mantra. Surely the press, not only the tabloids, are eager to tell us about every live-fast episode these brash Bostonians breeze through, from the affairs of Jack to the seamy episodes of the younger clan members, who blithely flout ethics, morals and the law, with the calm assurance that family money and connections will rescue them from the depths to which they have plunged themselves with an arrogant scoff at society's rules. And you know what - it does! Money and connections do it every time. And somehow the family reputation as the political royalty of the USA seems to survive, as long as their foolhardiness is balanced by doing some photo-op good works, i.e., human rights here, gun control there, Santa Claus for the Ronald McDonald House's suffering children. Oh gag me with a silver spoon! Don't these limousine liberals realize they can do a lot more for their country, more for their constituencies, by actually BEING the role models they are given credit for being?!

But they blithely race through reckless lives until one of them runs into an irresistable force that doesn't know from money and connections. A tree "shall not be moved," does not forgive, does not genuflect to the checkbook, hears no hand-wringing public apologies. It remains a tree and stands its ground. You crash into it playing some reckless version of human sport, you suffer the consequences. And, suckers that we are for the blue news, we gobble up the syrupy story of the family gathering at the little ole country church house to weep their last goodbyes to a fallen royal, who frolicked and perished on the slopes of Vail, while other statutory rapists without money and connections suffered the humiliations of incarceration in a prison system, the conditions of which surely some Kennedy now or in the future will take up and make a cause celebre, at least long enough to get elected to public office. As individuals, they may have their graces and styles, but as a family in the public eye, the Kennedy's, from bootleg booze kingpin Joe down to the latest generation of Boston Brats who go about screwing and corrupting, even killing whomever they damn well please, are really a shameful lot, and we would do better to relegate them to the back alleys of American History, good looking corpses and all.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Writing in a TIME editorial re the international conference on Hate, held in Oslo Norway with many notables (Elie Wiesel, Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela) in attendance, Lance Morrow wondered why Hate is not named as one of the seven deadly sins, since there's so much of it around, and reported it was found difficult to discuss by "virtue's choir" i.e. the good.

It occurred to me that much as these good people would try to get into the mechanics of hate, it is something that is really defined in the mind of the hatee, he or she who experiences its effects, thus has a much better idea of what it produces. After all, none of the haters, even the Hitlers and Saddams, get up and look in the mirror and says "Well, who shall I hate today?" No, their actions have logic, peculiar to be sure, nevertheless they feel they are actually doing good by actions appropriate to achieve their particular goals. Hate, that notorious detribute, doesn't really enter into it. Unless you're the object; then hate looms large.

Now love, on the other hand, is defined by the lover because he can feel the emotion and the resultant joy or disappointment. Hopefully more of us know love than hate, and there are more ardent suitors than helpless victims, but one wonders, when looking over the situation in the entire world just who would win in a tug of war.

Vaclav Havel, another attendee at the conference, stated: "The hater longs for the object of his hatred." I doubt it; what the hater really wants is to be rid of the object and to go on to his own idyllic existence without the problems he feels the hated object represents. The sooner we rid ourselves of this simple concept that people do things simply out of unreasonable hatred, the sooner we can deal with the real problems -- by education, so that we know each other, thus love one another more, or at least hate one another less.

But then, doesn't that mean we will have to get rid of our minted idea of love too? Let's think about it.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Who teaches these movie actors how to smoke? Look at John Travolta or Gene Hackman or worse yet, Robert DeNiro. All of them hold cigarettes like adolescents behind the barn, and taking large puffs on these fake prop cigarettes that look like they're burning, but emit no smoke, so the actors look as though they were actually inhaling. Hey fellas, the movies are not like the stage or even TV where you can fool us by indicating. We're so close to these characters, microscopically on top of them, that we can pick out every minor flaw, every hair out of place, every mini-inconsistency in the continuity. So what do you think, we're gonna miss the fact that, we who view smokers sucking on their fags every day, are not gonna see that these guys are rank amateurs at taking a drag, breathing it in for the optimum "delivery of the nicotine" to the system, and breathing out a slim stream of what's left? Come ON!

And WHY do these characters have to smoke anyway? Just because somebody's cliche idea of a tough guy or a gangster is someone who does all the corrupt things to his own body that he does to others? Really, surely there are many Mafia wiseguys who take as good care of their bodies, while they have them unperforated by bullets, as any health food nut, who work out regularly at the gym, who abstain from alcohol, coffee, fatty food, and eat no more than three eggs per week. Smoking doesn't make you tough anymore, just foolish, especially in the closeups.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

A friend of mine is in the urine testing business. As he so delicately puts it, "I'm a piss collector." Well, if you say so, lad. But apparently it's lucrative, affording him a nice living. Well, SOMEBODY'S got to do these things; better him than me though, gives me a creepy feeling just thinking about it. Want to go wash my hands. But it's surely a growing business.

If alas, we have to cave in to inevitability and all be subjected to urine testing for illegal drugs, a good place to start would be in the lines on the public dole. The Homeless line, the Unemployment line, the Welfare line. After all, we are GIVING these people our money, which we pay in taxes or premiums, and it certainly is worth knowing if we are urinating it away in cocaine, heroin or any of the substances which cripple the will and muddy the resolve of the helpless to become self-sufficient.

How many of our tax dollars ultimately go to buy drugs for recipients of public funds or their families & friends can only be crudely estimated, but surely we know the main market for drugs is in the ghettoes, where welfare is a major source of income, and that the sale of drugs in the ghettoes corresponds roughly to the monthly issuance of government checks.

But how to conduct the tests? Should the welfare worker descend unannounced upon the recipient's house and collect the specimen, watching to make sure it's legitimate? Or could the recipient be trusted to bring in a sample to exchange for the monthly payment?

I can see it now, mom sends junior in with her little bottle of tinkle ‹ "My mom's sick, and she asked me to bring this in..." And soon another pricey item would emerge as a ghetto staple, with the vendors going up and down the streets yelling "Peeeeee, get your fresh sample, fresh, clean peeeeeeee..."

Opportunity, the American way.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

With all the furor drummed up by the press about the Michael Fay affair - should he or shouldn't he be flogged in Singapore - apparently engineered mostly by his mother, who seems to have spoiled him to the point where he committed the acts for which was beaten - it seems only logical that someone ought to look into the positive side of this punishment. The chastisement does seem to have its merits in Singapore, to wit the lack of crime, even minor crime, if reports are to be believed, and would justify investigation as a solution by crime-ridden countries (I can think of at least one) that are being bankrupted, morally and financially, by a penal system which provides nothing more than an extended vacation for its inmates.

For example, the cost of maintaining one prisoner in our American-plan luxury prisons is somewhere around $35,000 per year, which covers recreation facilities, cable TV, weightlifting rooms, basketball, etc. But the sentence passed is really a fine levied against the taxpayers. And what do we get for our money? More crime, as the prisons become training grounds for parolees who go out after serving a fraction of their sentences, with more knowledge about committing felonies, plus more connections to other felons, and the hapless public can only wonder where it will end. It ought to end in prison, where, as a condition of sentencing, if an inmate can't acquire a moderate education and a usable skill, he/she remains until such time as he/she does. .

On the other hand, a good flogging costs next to nothing, and with the proper application, even public display (ads could be sold for the TViewing, to home security companies, gun dealers, etc.), leaves a permanent enough impression to have a TRULY deterrent effect. Oh sure, I know liberals are going to say it harks back to days of slavery, that it's inhumane, that it's proven that beating is ineffective and all that, but let's face it, our present system is a flop at rehabilitating criminals, and corporal punishment is at least cheaper. There's no reason we must have penal mini-municipalities housing thousands of offenders for whom we must provide adequate bed and board plus walls, guards, administration and recreation, when a good whipping would do just as well.

So until our prisons become effective at breaking the cycle of crime, training inmates for some other constructive life on the outside, I say flog them and send them hopping gingerly on their way.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Surely it's important to keep reality and fantasy separate, knowing they both exist within one's self, but countenancing them each in their proper time and place. The area where they are mixed together, whether by choice or accident, is the place where evil sprouts. Fantasizing about doing away with your wife or having your neighbor's teenage daughter in your bed is one thing, but making those fantasies come true flies in the face of all that is decent and moral. Of course fantasizing that you're going to do well in the game or at the job, and making that one come true, is quite another thing.

One is quite respectable/acceptable, and the other is not. The determiners of morality and law, such as religion and government, decide for us which can be done, what is decent, legal, moral, what is not. And we, in our minds, if we are conditioned by acceptable morals and laws and inclined to observe them, can keep our illicit fantasies from spilling over into life.

Drugs however, legal or illegal, alter that perception, give us the impression that the dream we are having IS the reality, and can be treated as such. Any chemicals in small, controllable amounts, keep us somewhat in touch with reality, allowing us a certain amount of relaxation of our fight-or-flight response. The evening cocktail, the afternoon cigar, give us a good feeling for a little while, let us jump back and forth, mentally, over the fence of petty impropriety, swim back and forth between the big balloons of respectability and sin, keeping them in balance. But overuse, of any of the catalogue of mind alterers, closes us off into the world where fantasies can rule. If those fantasies are of the murderous variety, then murder, in the wrong circumstances, can be the result. That's why our prisons teem with felons whose lives were changed by having one-too-many of this or that.

Of course there is the possibility that a sick mind, in which something has snapped, can react in the same way, but a sober mind usually remains controlled and able to corral the fantasies into an area where they remain the province ruled by the "Thou shalt nots" of one kind or another. Our unconsummated fantasies, however, are our own, and if they affect no one but ourselves, no harm done except to our own outlooks. We can think about "it," but wouldn't consider doing it. To keep it there, we have the two commandments that say "Don't even THINK about it," so anymore than a passing fancy is still sinful. Best to steer clear of some of the roller coaster rides in fantasyland, especially those brought about by the overuse of some substance that, once it's in you, drives you…


© Port Whitman Times 2011

Duke Ellington was an addition to the party already going on backstage. He arrived, looking like a matched set of eyebags carried around by his husky head neck and body, also bearing a thick attache case bulging with manuscript. He was the serious one, the genius, with his fingers on immortality, while the others lived for the moment. But quite a moment it was, nightly, with the Ellington Band.

He was the essence of genuine cool, charming, but tepid, cordial; he seemed to come into the party almost oblivious to it, as he had seen it all and been a part of it many times before, with variations on the cast due to comings or goings, retirements, deaths, for many years. He had a serious, studious way normally, with his music his playfulness, his whimsy.

They, the musicians, called him Maestro, to his face and behind his back, they having played with and been the best of their time, maybe of all times in the jazz age. They had had their own bands when bands were the rage, they had gigged in trios, quartets, Jazz at the Philharmonic, Jazz at Carnegie Hall, Newport, wherever, expressing music, the most intellectual, most abstract, yet since jazz, the most animal, basic, savage instinct. Now they were with the man who wrote it all down, layed it out for them, and of course, us.

It was the opening night of the theatre, a Music Fair Tent, and the new manager, having learned the theatre routine by the manual provided by the company, was proud of having supervised the raising of the entire circus, seeing all of the jigsaw pieces put in place, now to be shown off for the public with one of the foremost bands to play anywhere, ever. Having gone by the book, the manager knew the rules, knew them enough to see when they were being broken, flagrantly, backstage. "These are seasoned professionals, why would they act like this?" he thought. . . "drinking, prohibited guests, carrying on as if there were no tomorrow." Or so it seemed to this fresh kid of 30, who proceeded to call the boss in NYC, wanting to know whether to call the cops or what, as the manual clearly stated no drinking, no guests, no. . .

"Don't worry about it," the boss said, "this is not your cast of Oklahoma putting on a musical comedy, but a group of men who have been playing and living together musically all their professional lives. They know how to handle themselves. Just be cool." OK, OK. Wait and see.

The festivities went on, got wilder & wilder, until showtime, when The Maestro emerged from his dressing room, again with his sheaf of manuscript. Almost instantly the backstage party stopped, ties were straightened, jackets buttoned, the guests left, the band made its way down the ramps to the stage. A little tuning, a no smoking announcement by the stage manager (Back to the rules everyone), and the band swung into "Take The A Train" lifting the roof, the tent, the audience, the manager, that whole part of the world it seemed, straight up about ten feet.

Whatta sound, what music, no wonder the party backstage, to get ready for this! But then this was just the party's continuation, its logical extension, and right in the middle, once more, Edward Kennedy Ellington, shining, seemingly minus the bags, made his entrance, just the right addition to the new party. He sat down and added exactly appropriate notes to the A Train, making it zoom. As had surely happened many times before, the scene was one of transformation.

Even the manager got into the groove. Best groove I ever got into too.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

Block's was an upstairs poolhall in a grand old tradition - 16 pool tables, 3 billiard (no pockets) tables, a pinball machine, a bowling alley further upstairs. To get there, you had to go up a long, straignt stairway wide enough for six people, and through two swinging doors, the kind of place Harold Hill sings about in The Music Man, when he intones "the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community" - Block's was no disaster though, just a place where we went after school -- starting in the eighth grade, much to the dismay of the nuns and the Oblates, who were well aware of our penchant for the 16 balls. Pool was a skill game that you didn't have to be big for like football or basketball, didn't have to be tough for like wrestling, didn't even have to "train" for like track or swimming, but a "loner" pastime to eventually be known by just about all of us, footballers, basketballers, wrestlers, swimmers too, the whole crowd, even the goodies, at one time or other, sort of a benchmark of teen-manhood, a notch in your belt.

Being the forties and fifties, it helped if you smoked, like our war-heroes all did, so you could consider a shot from several angles while dragging on a Pall Mall, then gently lay the fag down on the table for the shot. We played either eight-ball or "straight" (call your pockets) mostly, with a little six-ball, nine-ball or full rack rotation for the gamblers. The charge was ten cents a game, or 60¢ an hour. When the game ended you pounded your cue on the floor and called "rack", at which point the rack boy would come, rack the balls, and collect the money to pay to Mike or Charlie Block, whichever brother/owner was in charge.

There was a discipline about Blocks, one that was just as strict as that of the playing field or court - just of a different kind, more related to the world of pure commerce than sport, although gamesmanship is certainly a part of both. Invariably we were castigated for going there, by the gradeshchool teachers, the PrepSchool faculty, the coaches, the parents, the music teachers, the pillars of respectability. I occasionally even skipped dancing school, a white glove boy-meets-"the right"-girls affair where we learned the waltz, the fox trot, and some charm, for later.

We were good players, Fast Eddies by the dozen who trained with old Dick Allen to the point where we'd even play a game with Mike or Charlie Block--nothing like a young teenage eye for an angular game like pool. Old Dick, though, in his eighties, still sighted a mean cue, and was ideal competition, plus, with his proper manner and somewhat stiff demeanor, a stabilizing influence on the lot of us who might otherwise have fallen into bad habits. Dick was a retired Railroad man a non-smoker living in an apartment in a residential section a few blocks from Block's. His day consisted of doing his home necessities in the morning, then taking an afternoon walk to the poolhall, playing with anyone who would play for the afternoon, going back home about 5:30 to dinner and an evening of reading, writing letters, radio, the like. Dick was that good a pool player, slow and deliberate, that he could play with anybody and hold his own. He was no Willie Mosconi, but no bluffing hustler either. His bridge was professional, his eye slow but true. His tableside chatter traditionally humorous, i.e., slightly cynical but always up to the latest hip banter. He seemed an innocent, though I suspect he was anything but, certainly not the kind of person those who warned us about poolhalls had in mind. We learned sportsmanship, behavior, character from Dick, just as we did at school or on the playing field, for he was in essence respectable , living out an idyllic retirement in the company of teenage boys coming into young manhood, with a daily walk and a round of sport just about equal to his physical talents. When Dick died finally, it was a sure thing that many former Fast Eddies remembered him in their prayers, and can picture him, cue in hand, calling his shot to this day.


© Port Whitman Times 2004

The tough guys are all there... Boog Whatsisname, Bonehead Shultz, Bubba, Baldie McGurk, Mickey Spillane with his porkpie hat, the hulks all making macho for those lite beer commercials, y'know, arm wrestling, breaking tables with karate chops, that kind of stuff for TV and beerdom. But these guys ARE tough; they didn't get this commercial JUST because of the way they looked. No, no, they were football hulks or hulks of another ilk, but hulks you wouldn't mess with if you were smart. Mean Joe or Killer or The Refrigerator, or others, the mention of whose names would strike sheer terror into the opposition whether on the ball field or at the arm wrestling table. Anyway, they're all there slapping backs and playing grown-up stuff like how firm is my handshake, how solid is my pickup truck, and I wanna tell you, these guys may be over the hill jocks but there is still a good fight or two left in 'em if it becomes necessary - or, since they are professionals, lucrative.

So this kid comes in - a squirt like you see in the shaving commercials, smaller than the rest of these giants, the sort of smart aleck who walks off with the chicks afterwards because of his irresistible sense of humor - the kind the big bozos like to beat up before breakfast - BIFF! - and that's the end of the kid for a couple weeks, right? But this kid walks in all cocky and speaks right up to a yell, in a high tenor, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, HOLD ON!" He gets up ON the bar and says, "SHADDUP!" to all those blokes, real loud. THe place quiets down, sort of turns around as a unit ("Who IS this fruitcake?"), but the squirt continues, "I SAID shaddup a minute." A hush. The place goes quiet and somebody picks up the jukebox and rips out the plug (This place is TOUGH!). The assorted grizzlies, disturbed in their den quaffing a few, pay curious attention. The newcomer looks like Lord Fauntleroy in a pair of knickers and a high voice, but he's forceful, so they listen. "I'll bet a thousand bucks I can beat any one of you in a fight, right here, right now." A moment of silence... Snickers, laughter, guffaws, the place dissolves in hilarity. The challenger putting up his money along with his mouth, takes out $1,000, in twenties, lays it on the bar, and the silence strikes again, deadly soft this time.

Now, much to their credit, these big oafs are not above a little fun, so the matter before them is now discussed sensibly. It is decided that someone big and mean looking should toy with the fruitcake for a while, put him away, and win his money fair and square - after all, HE issued the challenge, not them. The biggest, toughest and meanest of them all is settled upon, a cross between King Kong, Mr. T and linebacker Alex You-know-who.

So, first the bartender, then everybody in the bar puts his ten or twenty or fifty, even a couple of hundreds, up on Monster Mortie who, to his credit, is cool - not a badmouth or loud or anything, but a devastator, a wildman. Against the fruitcake. The fruitcake is not really small, mind you, not a lightweight, he just seemed small beside the big guys, and accentuated it by the way he dressed and acted.

So, they pushed away the chairs, put all the money in some bighead's hat, and all gathered around the dancefloor for the dispatchment of the jerk, the fight to last until one man can no longer fight. Haw Haw Haw. No mention of fists or karate or any type of encounter - this was a rough and tumble affair and anything goes. Everyone was in a jock-ular frame of mind, brought on by the coupla "lites" they'd had, which put them in the mood for a little of the old madman mayhem routine. The money was held, off with the coats and shirts as both contestants stripped to the waist, and the women folk were asked to leave - because of the blood, you see.

So they're out on the floor now, the little fella with not an ounce of beef on him, maybe 175 soaking wet, and still that behind the ears so it seemed, probably 70 or 80 pounds less than Mountain Morton, who carries bulk to spare, lite beer or not. There's a lot of yelling as the two approach each other, center, a real fight for real money now, the talk being part of the past, a very exciting moment in all their lives, as we soon find out.

It was over in maybe ten seconds. The man on the floor later remembered taking five punches to his ribcage inside maybe two seconds, then the lights went out. What the bar crowd saw was a couple of fancy fakes, a few blows, a punch to the jaw, and their man went over like an ice cream cone, on the floor and out. Quick. They had never seen any one as fast as the little pansy, far more powerful than he looked (But that was the plan, wouldn't you say?), and the big guy was slowed down a little by the old booze.

The fruitcake asks if anyone else wants to try for another thou... No offers. He collects the dough out of the big hat, and leaves.

The place is now in an uproar. Who was that? The buzz goes around. It all happened so quick that nobody bothered to get the little shrimp's name, but he did tell Rodney, the owner of the place; Kid Blackie they called him. Kid Blackie, huh? Hmph.

With a few up-to-date variations, this actually happened many times, back in the 1920's, in the days of the mining and logging camps out west, with miners and loggers, tough guys, even in the hobo jungles, for $100, or whatever the traffic would bear. Kid Blackie grew up too, or survived really, for in all the challenging, he never lost one of those fights. It was all in knowing how, you see, how to feint, counter, where to strike to put 'em away. In fact, he got so good at it that he eventually made a pretty good living under his real name, Jack Dempsey, The Manassa Mauler, Heavyweight Champion Of The World, a legend to be sure.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Out in the factory yard, it was Freddie's job to shovel up the slag from where it came out of the ore works as waste, over to a place where it could be re-introduced to the process as a more or less raw material, to eventually become steel. A dirty, mean job it was, too. "Hey, Freddie - workin hard? Haw, haw," the mill workers would shout to the bespectacled twenty-one year old, as they went back and forth to the plant. They mostly all started at the very same level of work themselves, and therefore knew the bone-weariness that accompanies a day's work of that kind. Freddie, nevertheless, kept on keepin' on, as the saying now goes, for he was supporting himself and hoping to attend night school as soon as his eyes were better.

Freddie's analytical mind immediately perceived the boring struggle to survive his life would become if he remained on this bottom rung. But he also contemplated, as he lugged the dirty waste, that the job-o-work could be improved upon if approached with a fresh outlook each day. So that is what he proceeded to do. He turned the procedure of taking a shovel, scooping up what it would hold and carrying it to another place into an organized train of little movements, analyzed and classified them according to the old traditional method, then re-devised a new one and put them back to work. He did this not once but several times, each time keeping part of the task and throwing away part until the best - a combination of many parts of the different ways, and even some of the original way, finally materialized. It was as though he took a picture puzzle and redesigned and recut the pieces so that they could be easily reassembled in a far shorter time, with much less effort. Then he practiced and put them together - fast. He showed what he had done to his boss, and was very shortly promoted. It was 1878; Freddie was 21.

His eyesight did improve and he, studying for an Engineering degree at night, began to move up through the factory ranks by sheer ingenuity and the use of his new scientific approach to each job he held. By 1884 he was Chief Engineer at the plant where he had started as a yard boy a scant six years before. But most important - he had DISCOVERED HOW TO DISCOVER, and how to apply his discovery to something useful. His new approach to the organization and performance of work was quite radical fotr that time, as work had been more or less eyeballed up to then Problems were always solved empirically, by Rule of Thumb. Sort of "Well, what'll we do, fellas!". Someone would come up with what seemed like a reasonable suggestion, and that would be that.

One thing, though...Freddie didn't stumble upon his scientific approach. He invented it, plotted it from scratch with an unfearing creative mind, then applied it to ALL work - factory, office, transportation, the whole Industrial Megilla. He eventually developed it into a brand new profession, that of Consulting Engineer in Management. He then went on to use it and to educate others in the use of this same approach to all of business.

In 1915, at the age of 59, Frederick Winslow Taylor died, and the controls of Scientific Management were taken up by Frank ("Cheaper By The Dozen") Gilbraith, who refined Taylor's principles of Time and Motion Study and continued to change the whole face of industry the world over. Most of our modern mass-production techniques emanated from this germ of an idea in the mind of a young man shoveling slag.

Unfortunately, Frederick Taylor could not live long enough to take his same principles and apply them to Society at large, as well as to business. But perhaps Society itself had not, at that juncture, progressed to the point where individual lives could stand the Organization-Classification-Analysis- Reorganization approach.

Now, however, has the time come? We are one hundred and ten years, two world wars, automobiles, television, computers, internet, yea light years from Freddie's first ponderings. Slag, anyone?


© Port Whitman Times 2010

Now the bank wants to charge me an "Inactivity Fee" - Just for leaving my money with them and not doing anything with it. Or let THEM do anything with it either. So they are charging me for storing it there, for just letting it lie fallow. But if I make 10 transactions every month, there's no fee; In other words holding me up, for letting my dough sit. Pretty smart, banker, since it was one of yours who enticed me into first opening the account, so I could get a higher rate for letting you use my CD money to lend out!

Now, what if God (The Other Great power in our lives) operated thusly? If you just subsisted, just did nothing but get by, then you were penalized by not letting God use you for his purposes - "Two years in Purgatory, jack, 'cause you just sat around smoking dope instead of doing something with your life." What do the various Gods, The Father, The Son, The Holy Ghost, Allah, Jehovah, etc., do in a case like that?

"You vill be punished accordingly for your sins of commission or OMISSION, what you didn't do when you could haff, or vat you ever thought about doing (or not doing)" - It's just too complicated and think of what God has to go through to deal with all this for billions of people, not only while they're alive, but all of the ones who ever got to Heaven too. It's a logistical nightmare. "It'z a catastrastroke!" Durante used to say

. Remember: God is everywhere ("WOO, WOO, WOO!") like Santa Claus "He sees you while you're sleeping, knows when you're awake, what you're dreaming. Everything. No hiding from God. So that's how it's getting to be, folks, you do nothing, time gets subtracted from your eternity. Not while you're here, but in-between here and there, for when you aren't there yet, yet not here anymore. Not like burning in Hell, more like endlessly standing in line, while you see others whom you consider less deserving than yourself being passed in. Oh, the injustice! - And the virgins, the servers of the good food, the perfect golf game, are lining up around the block waiting for you.

So God says "Get off your ass, Osama, and help save the world, not destroy it."

It's time to start controlling the population, for the sake of The Earth, not by blowing it up, but by more sensible means of population control. So get building up your eternity time, Eternity doesn't last forever, y'know. Time is fungible. And when someone says "Time's up" - That's the end.


© Port Whitman Times 2009

Business Consultant:
Someone who
Knowing less
About your business than you
Tells you how to run it
At a price
You could ill afford to pay
Even if you ran it
The way you should
Instead of the way
He tells you to.

(From an old Wharton School adage)


© Port Whitman Times 2005

Why is it that people's arguments for more pay always center around what someone else is getting for similar work? Wouldn't it be more sensible if we each had a more or less general idea of what our time is worth, say, on an hourly basis, and expected to be paid that amount regardless of what the rest of the world is earning (or not earning)?

It's sickening, especially in the area of politics, that if the mayor of Dry Gulch is making $$$$, then the flag goes up for the mayor of Lard Point to also get $$$$. Of course this only works one way - up. If the mayor of Dry Gulch is getting less than the mayor of Lard Point, the mayor of Lard Point shuts up. Soon, however, the mayor of Dry Gulch finds out what his counterpart in Lard Point is making, and sure enough a proposal to city council pops up with the justification that the other mayor is getting more, so he deserves more. It comes back to the question of "should elected officials be paid at all?"

ME TOO has become an ism to the point where you think they're going to form the Me Too Party & run for national office, but the Repubs & Dems beat them to the punch. They Me Too everyone out of even considering Me Too-ing for themselves. Are there no original thinkers left in our halls of state?

Now I'd be willing to pay more for a chief exec who led the way with a paper picker and a burlap sack down out of the ivory tower for an hour a day to clean the streets. Heaven knows they need it. Or maybe one who went around firing loafers on the payroll instead of hiring more of them from the ranks of the election-day faithful.

You too, you say? Well right on...


© Port Whitman Times 2005

It's far more interesting to think up the ideas than to carry them out - that's what being a writer/artist is all about - thinking up ideas, or at least injecting them into the verbal mainstream. Having a good idea and spending years making it reality is far less purely creative than constantly manufacturing creative ideas, regardless of stature; indeed carrying ideas out, though highly remunerative, can be enervating to one whose mind is programmed to thinking them up, as it is an executive function, not necessarily a purely a creative one. But then just having ideas and not carrying them out can seem pointless to the executive used to making things happen.

Not all writing is purely creative, some is just journeyman reporting of what one sees or reads, although with a rivulet of creativity here and there, but creative people do sit, in the artistic order of things, over executive people, in fact sometimes so high above them as to need parachutes to connect up with earthly reality. Nevertheless creators ought not to concern themselves with practical applications of their ideas, as that is not their function yet, though the real cannot be ignored, lest whimsy render the idea un-amusing along with being impractical.

Both executives and artists should avail themselves of the output of the other, so that each of their functions can be affected by the other's creativity, but executives, or the executive part of us, must choose which of the theoretical ideas are well-grounded enough to bear carrying out, or even embarking upon.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Bidding for something you see listed on eBay isn't just a matter of who bids the most, though in the final analysis that's who wins. But HOW you bid and WHEN you bid are major factors that determine whether you win or lose. If you've been on eBay much, you probably have heard of "sniper" bids. Good snipers seldom lose if they bid the right amount at the right moment. Here's how to lay in wait and be a good sniper:

1. Enter Ebay and find the item you want: In your browser, go to When the main page comes up, enter the item you are looking for in the box at the top of the page, and press "Find It." All of the items with the word you entered in the search box will come up. List them by clicking on "Ending First," so you'll know what's coming up and when. Click on an item in the list that interests you and check out its description, picture, Bid History, Seller's Feedback, Ask Seller a Question, etc.

2. Bookmark the listing so you can watch it as the bidding progresses, and you'll also know how much time is left to bid. E-mail the seller with any questions you may have about the item, payment, delivery, etc.

3. But don't bid until the last minute of bidding, so you won't give away your hand. As you monitor the progress of bidding during the time the item is listed, you can get an idea of how the bidding is going to turn out, especially if one or two bids have been made, and it sits there at a nice low price. By bidding early, you signal others that you're interested. By not bidding, they may just be lulled into thinking that their top bid will take the item. Good. Also check the counter to see how many people have looked at the item.

4. If you haven't bid before, you must REGISTER to bid. To do this, scroll down to the Bidding section of the item you're looking at, and click on the "Register to bid" link at the right of your screen. Enter the info they ask for. Write down and save your ID and Password. You'll need it fast when you make your bid.

5. On the final day, bring up the item listing (you bookmarked) about 10 minutes before the bidding ends. You're going to reload the item as the minutes go by, so set your browser's preferences so that images are NOT automatically loaded. Then your reload time will be much shorter. Besides, you already know what the item looks like.

6. Practice your bid: Scroll down to the "Maximum bid" and enter a TRIAL bid of the maximum amount you are willing to pay for this item. Your maximum bid isn't necessarily the final price you'll have to pay, because your bid will automatically go up in small increments, just enough to top other bids. Of course they may have entered THEIR maximum bids too, so consider your maximum bid carefully, and really make it the max you are willing to pay. Have your ID and password ready.

7. Now click on "review bid" and when the next screen appears, enter your ID and password, as though you're going to bid, but DON'T click on "Enter bid" yet. Not until the last minute when you're really going to bid. This is just to see how the bidding will work so you won't make any mistakes in that critical last minute. But do check the box beside "Remember my User ID and password for future bidding." Now click on "Back to item." Reload to see how much time you have left.

8. Have a stop watch ready, (not an egg timer). You want to be EXACT. If no stopwatch, you can watch the second hand on your clock or watch, or set your menu bar clock to show seconds along with minutes.

9. Press the "reload" command on your browser, and see how long it takes to reload the screen with the current "time left" to bid. This will show you how many minutes are left to bid. Keep reloading. Reload should take less than 10 seconds.

10. When you get down to exactly two minutes left, start your stopwatch at zero. Now you know you have exactly two minutes to go.

11. Immediately scroll down to the bidding section and enter your maximum bid, the MOST you are willing to pay for this item and maybe a couple of dollars more. Click on "review bid" and enter your password quickly. Now wait. Scroll down and wait. All that's left to do is click on "Enter Bid."

12. When 1.5 minutes have elapsed on your stopwatch, you have 30 seconds left. Wait 15 more seconds, then click on "Enter Bid." Now others won't have time to see your bid and manually put in a higher bid. If your maximum bid is higher than anyone else's maximum bid, you'll win the auction by a small increment over their maximum bid.

13. After 15 seconds, go to your bookmarks to bring up the item. You'll probably find that you've won. That is, if you bid more than anyone else.


© Port Whitman Times 2006



    •    Sales
Actual Sales, Previous Year: $____________
Anticipated Sales, coming year: $____________
Cost Of Goods Sold, previous year: $____________
Operating Labor, previous year: $____________


    •    Sales Expense


    •    Actual, Previous Year: $____________

    •    Anticipated, Coming Year: $____________

    •    Administrative Expense
Actual, Previous year: $____________
Anticipated, Coming year: $____________

    •    Executive Salaries
Actual, Previous year: $____________
Anticipated, Coming year: $____________

    •    Depreciation/Replacement Fund
Actual, Previous year: $____________
Anticipated, Coming year: $____________

    •    Maintenance & Repairs
Actual, Previous year: $____________
Anticipated, Coming year: $____________

    •    Unclassified Expense
Actual, Previous year: $____________
Anticipated, Coming year: $____________


    •    Land: $____________

    •    Building: $____________

    •    Inventory:
Raw Inventory: $____________
Work In Progress Inventory: $____________
Finished Inventory: $____________
Resale Inventory: $____________

    •    Equipment: $____________

    •    Furnishings & Fixtures: $____________

    •    Other Tangible Assets: $____________

    •    Working Capital Needed: $____________


    •    RISK Rating (from 0 to 6): ______
0=Continuity of Income at risk
3=Steady Income likely
6=Growing Income assured

    •    COMPETITIVE Rating (from 0 to 6): ______
0=Highly Competitive in unstable market
3=Normal competitive conditions
6=Little Competition/hi cost of entry

    •    INDUSTRY Rating (from 0 to 6): ______
0=Declining Industry
3=Industry growing faster than inflation
6=Dynamic Industry, rapid growth likely

    •    COMPANY Rating (from 0 to 6): ______
0=Recent start-up, not established
3=Well-established w/satisfactory environment
6=Long record of sound operation/outstanding reputation

    •    Company GROWTH rating (from 0 to 6): ______
0=Business has been declining
3=Steady growth, slightly faster than inflation rate
6=Dynamic growth rate

    •    DESIRABILITY Rating (from 0 to 6): ______
0=No Status, rough or dirty work
3=Respected Business in satisfactory environment
6=Challenging Business in attractive environment


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Thinking of investing in a rental property, or any kind of commercial real estate venture? Following is a thumbnail formula that will give you something to consider. Write down and calculate the information for of the items below.


    •    PRICE: $__________
Cash Required (Down Payment) $__________
Mortgage Amount $__________
Mortgage Interest Rate/Term $__________
Settlement Expenses $__________

Gross Scheduled, i.e. Rental, Income $__________
Plus:Other Income $__________
Less: Vacancy & Credit Losses $__________

    •    TOTAL OPERATING INCOME $__________

Insurance $__________
Advertising $__________
Licenses & Permits $__________
Accounting & Legal $__________
Property Management $__________
Resident Management/Payroll $__________
Personal Property Taxes $__________
Taxes/Workmen's Comp $__________
Repairs & Maintenance $__________
Real Estate Taxes $__________
Outside Services $__________
Supplies $__________
Utilities $__________
Electricity $__________
Gas & Oil $__________
Sewer & Water $__________
Telephone $__________
Other $__________
Miscellaneous $__________
Reserve for Replacement $__________

    •    TOTAL OPERATING EXPENSES $__________

    •    NET OP. INCOME: (Total Op. Income less Total Op. Exp.) $__________

    •    Debt Service (Total Annual Mortgage payments) $__________

    •    NET INCOME: (Net Operating Income less Debt Service) $__________

    •    Cash Required, Including Settlement $__________

    •    RATE OF RETURN: (Net Income divided by Cash Required) $__________
Print this out, fill in the blanks and do the calculations. This will tell you whether it's really worth it to put your money into this investment. Compare the Rate of Return on your investment with the rate you could get by investing your money in any number of non-participatory investments such as mutual funds, CD's, bonds, stocks, money market, etc., where NO work on your part is involved, and you get a real appraisal of what a Real Estate venture is going to mean to you.
Of course this doesn't take into account the amount of YOUR TIME you have to spend on the project, which, if you put a price on it, you could add into the expense list. Nor does it figure in the increase (appreciation) in value of the property itself over a number of years, or the depreciation, either in real market value, or as a tax item. 


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Recently I went to a street fair, a giant party crawling with the Uppie set, in an area that is now urban chic, and amid the bands, art exhibits, performers etc., I bought a Ben & Jerry's ice cream cone. The charge was $2.50 for a caricature size cone piled with about 8 ounces of the stuff. There was no choice of size, except maybe LARGER. Well, if you know Ben & Jerry's, you're aware that it's high butterfat, very rich, and eating 8 oz. is akin to drinking a half pint of heavy cream - full of cholesterol & fat; surely a little dab'll do ya. I asked for a small (say, 2.5 oz. - standard ice cream cone size), but they just stonewalled me with "only one size." S'posed to fit all I guess.

The point is: to get what we want anymore, we are constantly backed into paying for MORE than we want, and so we consume it just to feel that we didn't waste the money. This is true virtually everywhere - movie theaters where they now call the smallest ($3.50) popcorn the "child's" size, then cars, health insurance, washers for your sink, you-name-it. "Merchandising" is packaging items in large amounts, leaving us with excess, plus the package which is trash, the cost for disposal of which we also get shoved down our throats. We are victims of surfeit, the alternative being to do without. (Heaven forbid that ANY of us should have to do without).

So we meekly pay the inflated prices, and waste the difference, by growing fat, filling up our bellies, our landfills or our basements, inflating our economy, which periodically goes into a readjustment, receding a step before the next giant leap into wretched excess. Greed runs our system, and that's not all bad, just mostly.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Watching the TV correspondents ambush the likes of doctors and appliance repairmen reminds us that we are constantly in danger of being ripped off by those to whom we entrust our prized possessions for repair. Everything today is quite high tech, or at least made to seem so simply by virtue of what it does, and rightly so, so when the repairman/technician tells us that the franistan needs replacement because the diodes have worn down too low for proper contact to the resistors, we non-techies must simply accept the verdict and pay the price. Of course, we can go get another opinion - for another initial "bench charge" of $50, which doesn't guarantee we won't be scammed in the same way again.

The attitude among those who know a certain field of expertise, no matter how limited, is either that the customer comes in so seldom that the price for the service is irrelevant, or that he's got you by the sensitive part of the anatomy, and you have nowhere else to turn, so it's easy to pad the bill up good. This attitude is rife in our economic society, from the government worker who takes the sinecure job doing virtually nothing because he figures his small paycheck is only a drop in the big budget, to the union that demands featherbed jobs or threatens a strike, to the hospital that charges $25 for two aspirin that it gets free from the pharmaceutical manufacturer, and on and on.

The answer? - Well, there oughta be a law, and there is, but with little enforcement, which is like having no law at all. Those with the expertise to do the checking up to enforce the law can do better, much better financially, by becoming part of the problem. No, the answer seems to be just what the Prime Timers are doing - exposing, thus educating us to the chances for being ripped off by even the least suspect in our society.

But then, it's on - once - the exposure seen by those who might be watching channel X instead of Channel Y, and then it's gone. How much good does it do? Well, some, hopefully, but one wonders...


© Port Whitman Times 2007

Oh sure, they look funny spicing up a film or a TV program, but high-speed police chases are, in reality, quite dangerous for everyone, as we only recently saw. In the cinematic presentation, everything is meticulously planned right down to the near misses, the screeching turnarounds, the crashes and off-the-unfinished-ramp drop-offs, but in the real world, it's all unplanned. It sure must be fun for the folks making the movie, and perhaps a kind of perverse flirt-with-danger fun for the real cops & robbers, but unfortunately, innocent people end up dead.

BAM! That's all the warning, and you and your family, all six of you, are gone from life. Snuffed out. Subtracted.

Not to play down the role of the alleged criminal leading the chase, seemingly to save his own hide, with nothing to lose but his freedom or his life, which is most probably of little consequence to him or society by this point. But that's only 50%, one car of two. Or three. Or Four. Everyone's alerted within radio distance.

If he didn't run, they wouldn't chase, and if the police didn't chase, he wouldn't run, wouldn't speed through traffic signals, wouldn't be turned from a minor drug offender into a major killer of several innocent people, a crime which, unlike the others he has allegedly committed, is not really of his own planning and doing, and for which he will not be justly punished, according to those who suffered the loss.

The cops say they have to leave their cars running, thus open, to be available to the radios therein, or have to have duplicate sets of keys. Most anyone who drives will tell you that you can buy keyrings that have detachable ends, so one can stay in the ignition while the door/trunk key can be carried outside the car. It won't float, not that one. It's time to ban the chase scenes. In this instance, certainly no one wanted to kill six people. But six people were killed nevertheless. Repeat: If he hadn't run, and if they hadn't chased him, those people would be alive today.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

If I were a bank robber, I'd think twice about going in and demanding money at gunpoint if I knew everyone in the place was armed with, and trained in the use of, a pistol. How is it that two gunmen can walk into a bank, start shooting, kill three people, injure 4 others, and get out alive? The only answer seems to be that while the criminals have the firepower, we hapless civilians are marooned out in the open like skeet to be fired upon at will by these crazies.

If I owned a bank (as long as we're if-ing, we might as well carry it the whole nine yards), I'd build a firing range in the basement and make sure all the employees who worked on "the floor" were checked out on the range and carried guns, just like you see the cops do on Hill Street Blues, neatly tucked away in holsters, but there for all to see. After all, thieves go where the money is, and banks fill the bill. A robber would feel mighty vulnerable if everyone in the place had a gun, and anyone could trigger an emergency signal to point all guns at them.

Innocent people are being led like lambs to the slaughter, with the bad guys calling the shots because their arsenals are met with no resistance. You may say having everyone carry weapons is too harsh in dealing with most bank robbers, but you don't know what kind of chemically altered paranoids you're dealing with, and what they'll do as a result. Remember they don't want the money for a college education or retirement, but more likely to fulfill idle fantasies of drug-induced nirvana, or other instant pleasures. Why give them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately they create their own dog-eat-dog situation, and must be consumed in the process if they can't be deterred.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

In the movie/TV trailers, Clint Eastwood does his thing very credibly, effectively steering us away from rock cocaine (crack); then Nancy Reagan comes on assuring us the only way to deal with the drug problem is to "take the users away from the suppliers"- "Just Say No." OK, that may be, but singular solutions and people advocating them always come off as a bit too pat, because they seem to be closed to other, perhaps better solutions for the myriad areas of the problem.

When I worked as a door-to-door salesman, back when there were such jobs, before telesales, tellysales, the mail order and malls with everything, it was understood among the brethren that the lower the economic scale of the neighborhood, the stickier the doorknobs, the easier it was to sign up new customers. Mooches we called them, the piece-of-cake sales, people who were ready to buy the kitchenware the minute you walked in the door. You'd have a harder time getting them to say no than yes. Whatever you were selling, they were buying - on credit of course. A dollar down, a dollar a week. That was the problem, getting the dollar a week, even getting the dollar down was like pulling feathers out of a horse. But they'd sign. No sales resistance.

Transplant that same receptivity to now, add a generous welfare system, plus other sources of money such as prostitution & street crime, then the item for which there is little sales resistance after the first hit, i.e. crack cocaine, and you've got a situation with unlimited potential for major disaster.

Telling people who've been saying yes all their lives to "Just Say No" to pusher/salesmen who swarm around like bees to honey, is a mighty stiff order. Sure it works in the 'burbs where the sales resistance is ingrained by an educated cynicism, but in an area where school-education-jobs in general are frequently an object of snickers, the message must be accompanied by a substitute for the product - Sports, Music, Work, Religious Fervor, Education as a vocation, not just a stopping off place on the way to someplace else.

Asking people at the lowest levels of our society to exercise raw will power is like asking them to just give up Welfare and go looking for a job at $3.35/hr; asking the user who is hooked on a drug to just give it up is almost laughable. True, the Just Say No attitude will work with beginners, and it's those at whom these messages are ostensibly aimed - our teenagers & young people who could go either way at some point. But there could be other solutions too...

First of all, if you want to get rid of the drug scourge, change the common name of the item itself, from "drugs" which in many cases have a positive connotation (see Drug Emporium, Drug Palace, etc.) in that they offer cures for many illnesses and offer something that might be interesting to get into for a little bit, to "poisons" or "toxins," something completely different that can all be labeled as bad, because toxic is what they are to your system, the high coming from the body's reaction to the poison.

If there were no profit in drugs, the supply network would collapse. After all, in Colombia or Ecuador, the natives can chew the leaves or smoke the stuff all they want, and we never hear about their having a drug problem. Perhaps they learn the dangers before they're exposed to the charms of the salesman. Perhaps, as the suppliers, they must keep sober to do their jobs. Perhaps with the stuff freely available as the next plant, they're not tempted to change from reality to fantasy so precipitously.

Perhaps we ought to look more closely into decriminalizing all drugs, taxing them, and making them available like liquor, for those adults who want to make their day by ingesting a little bit of poison. That might stop the killing from enforcement of the drug laws, and free up some space in the prisons too, saving a ton of money which could be used to persuade people who need persuading to Just Say No.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

It's been said, and with a good deal of plausibility, that we can't stamp out the drug scourge by nailing the growers, because the cash they can make by growing coca, poppies, pot, etc., at least as long as the retail price is inflated by its illegality, far surpasses that which they could make growing potatoes or radishes. Probably so, and from that point of view, the sooner dope becomes just another universally-grown commodity, the sooner the price will stabilize and the growers will see equal profits in other crops.

Like nuts. Bought any nuts lately? I mean nuts where there's no peanuts, or even walnuts, mixed in for fill. You know the Deluxe Mix of cashews, pecans, filberts, brazil nuts and almonds. Sky high, so much so that anyone with half a mind for prudent spending and only cash to lay out, simply has no alternative but NUTS! to the prices of these delicious morsels. We won't even discuss macadamia nuts which are just outasight. For the amount of gas nuts give you, better to eat fruit.

But if more growers got into nuts, y'know maybe some of the Colombians and Afganis, there's gotta be a legitimate profit there - and hey, they're darn near as addictive as that other stuff. Waitaminute, maybe the government could outlaw nuts, forbid their growing, sale and consumption, then more people would get into the new racket. Think of the jobs it'd create: there'd have to be customs checkers, undercover nutcops, interdiction teams, sniffdogs and trainers, federal NEA (Nut Enforcement Agency) troops. Kids'd give up flipping burgers to deal nuts on the corner, organized crime would be alerted, street posse's would drive-by shoot each other over a few pounds of cashews, and anyone caught with nuts in their teeth would be incarcerated minimum three to five. It's not just supply and demand anymore, with the government in between, y'know? A whole false economy gets created.


© Port Whitman Times Nov. 28, 2005

Come now, just how long have the police been pushing to get drugs off the streets? Whatever the number, it's has been an abysmal failure; the street drug business keeps growing. Faster than the stock market, bigger than Microsoft or Google. Why? Because there are enormous profits to be made, that buy anything from jewelry to big cars, to bank accounts and villas in the Caymans. To paraphrase a small town Police Chief: "They improve the quality of life - for the drug dealers."

But our quality of life? We, who are not part of the drug dealing or taking world, most of whom couldn't care less about those who deal or take drugs until it affects us personally, are saddled with the burden of investigating, catching and putting away these people, at an astronomical cost, pouring money down a rathole for police, drug task forces, helicopters, incarcerating offenders at a cost of some $40,000 per year each, in a losing war where children gun down children for profit. The opportunity to make big bucks selling drugs is too tempting for kids who might otherwise have to work at some minimum-wage legitimate job. The cost of incarceration is only for the ones who are caught selling or buying. To that add the costs of pre-incarceration, from investigating to arresting and trying each case. Moreover, among those who are yet to be arrested, big money we cannot touch still flows from hand to hand.

Of course we want to protect our own children, friends, relatives, co-workers et al. But that's not a matter of stopping the flow of drugs, because once one source is eliminated, two others pop up. Any high school kid knows how to get drugs. Just go to the right people and they go to the right people, and voila! You got pot. The pot guy knows a coke guy, that guy knows a crack guy, that guy knows a smack, or ecstasy, or speed or whatever guy... The key to preventing drug use is education, not incarceration. All that money that is spent on pushing drugs off the streets could be spent on serious education programs to immerse everyone into what the drug culture is all about, why and how to avoid it.

To eliminate the drug trade, the enormous profits must be removed. After all, why should an undereducated "unemployed" teen be able to drive around in a new Lexus or Mercedes, just because he's brave enough to flaunt his business in the face of the law? Answer: Because it's where the money is.

Oh boy, helicopters with spotlights. Duh, any minimally intelligent rodent can figure that out. you go where the light doesn't shine; if you hear the chopper coming, you hide. It's not rocket science. Nor is buying low and selling high. Oh sure, there are undercover cops risking their lives to ferret out dealers, that's just one "business cost." Meanwhile, taxpayers have high crime, speeding police cars, cops battering into homes, search warrants, low-flying aircraft disturbing the peace. All that money that is made in selling drugs and in the catching and jailing of those who deal and take drugs could be put to use: better schools, better services, more responsive government, lower taxes.

The solution is to make drugs legal. Not just de-criminalized, but legal, sold just like liquor (Remember Prohibition? It's deja vu all over again) in state-run or taxed liquor stores. Thus, money is made two ways: In heavily participating in the profits, and in eliminating expensive enforcement of ineffective drug laws. "Oh, that makes the state a drug dealer," you say. Well, isn't that already true in the case of alcohol and tobacco products? If drugs were legal, their potency could be regulated - if you're a drug user, who would you rather buy from, the street dealer who might cut or lace the product with an unknown substance, or a store where the quality is regulated (Think Len Bias, River Phoenix or anyone who died from an overdose); and the age of buyers could be restricted. Quality or age restriction is not a choice we outside of the drug culture have to make, but surely one that is a major factor in the milieu of the drug taker.

The way to get drugs off the streets is to take drugs off the streets. Literally. As long as there are human beings, there will be drugs. Just watch the evening news, and you'll see ads for drugs from Adderall to Zoloft. Y'know - "Ask your doctor if _______ is right for you." At least with legal drugs, there is some control. But on the streets, no control beyond what overworked, over-matched drug law enforcement can muster.


© Port Whitman Times 2005

LAWYER: (On the phone) ...Yes, Chief, I see, but you do have it down to a "by incident" cost as I understand it from the statistics released in the newspaper. Correct? So, we see it costs you so much per, ah, crime to dispatch a patrol car, expose the officers to the danger they might face, then, hopefully, capturing the perp, doing the paperwork, incarcerating him, feeding him, maybe even a suicide watch, and then going on to prosecute and imprison him or her for a specified sentence. Well, I'm proposing to save you all that trouble, Chief, and for a very reasonable fee.

I represent a person, might be male, female, that's not important, let's call this person a potential perpetrator, who, with the proper incentive, might just be dissuaded from causing you all that trouble by just saying no to the inclination to do a certain as yet unspecified crime. Result: your officers can then attend to more immediate matters, and the folks at the target institution, let's say a bank, won't have to go through the trauma of a crime episode, and the attendant dangers that crime might represent to not only life and limb, but the institution's financial resources. Just think, a liquor store, might have its cash register emptied, its cashier put in mortal danger, its owners deprived of their Christmas money, etc., or, say it's Black Friday, a business might just be prevented from achieving its annual goal of solvency, might have to close. Moreover, innocent people might be hurt or put out of work, Chief. Could you have that on your conscience?

But of course you're not concerned with what the business owner might suffer, understandably you only want to deal with crime itself, and I'm here to help you do that - by making sure a certain crime never happens. Then your department and your officers are spared the inconvenience of even having to answer the call, draw their weapons, expose themselves to danger, and for what? So some petty felon can buy more jewelry and a bigger car? Speaking of which, think of the money you'll save on vehicle expense by not having to indulge in a long chase after the incident, which, by the way, might be covered by helicopter on TV, exposing your department to embarrassment if the chase doesn't catch the perp, or, God forbid, if innocent people are hurt.

My fee? Not to worry, chief, it comes out of the proceeds of the case paid by the municipality to my client, my commission for my time spent. And even if there are no proceeds, my charge to my client is on an hourly basis, no cost to the city or the police department over and above the initial imbursement. To cover it, you can just take the money out of your petty cash account, justifying it by the bald fact that you have prevented a crime, thus giving you a positive bump in your statistics. In fact, maybe we can make this a regular thing if it works out. We, you and I in partnership, prevent crimes, your stats go down, the city is safer, and we provide a better way of making a living for the many perpetrators who might otherwise be out on the street committing felonies, harming innocent people, and ending up in the criminal justice system costing society at large upwards of $40,000 per year. This could be a very big thing for the city, and for your career, Chief. A lot cheaper than dealing with crimes and criminals after the fact. Think about that.

It's a win-win bargain, Chief, talk it over with your staff, and I'll call you back in an hour so we can set up the amount and terms of payment. How much? Of course it depends on the potential crime, but we can discuss that once you've made your decision. Of course we take MasterCard, Amex, even PayPal if you're on eBay. Cash is better of course.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

We constantly hear commentators lamenting the failure of the nation's war on drugs, yet the people who are the warriors, in the trenches and at the command posts, keep stringing us along that somehow, with their help, we're going to win. Winning, apparently, is counted as putting more users and suppliers away; but - behind every supplier there are more who are willing to take his place... The money is apparently THAT good.

The threat of prison doesn't seem to change the minds of drug users either. If they want 'em, they're gonna get 'em, no matter the cost or the consequences.

In a shooting war, when neither side is winning or losing, it's time to settle, to come to an armistice, to stop throwing good money, good lives, good resources, after bad. Surely we can agree that Drug Education is a major answer, to teach people how to deal with chemical substances of all kinds. Because, at some point, you turn around and there's someone smoking a joint. Characters in films, which somehow set our social mores in celluloid, are doing drugs while "chilling out" or making a deal, or having a deep conversation, or whatever. Fact is that drugs on film are no longer being presented in that "Reefer Madness" filthy habit context. They are actually, very subtly, being tolerated, if only comedically, as part of our culture. So we MUST deal with them, not just shove them away into jails.

The society that we live in runs on money, pure and simple. Money is the foundation of politics, manufacturing, business, art, health, and one of the biggest international enterprises - Drugs. Under our noses, behind our backs, up on the screen and in the boys' washroom, there's a product going from hand to hand in exchange for cash. From the grower to the mill to the processor to the shipper to the mule to the destination to the kingpin to the lieutenants to the lookouts to the dealers - to the customer. Each time a transaction takes place, a margin of profit is extracted, a larger margin than in normal business, because of the illegality. If somehow, a substantial piece of each of those transactions could be taken, and more money put into Drug Education, the war on ignorance about drugs would be won a lot faster than the war on drug production, distribution and consumption. But how to do that without having to spend it on incarceration at the other end?

People involved in the illegal drug industry pay bribes to be able to continue in business, a "service fee" to a "blind" enforcer or an ignoring incarcerator or a weasel snitch. It's probably a good way, maybe the only way for them, to stay in business. That bribe goes directly into the pocket of the bribee. No Drug Education Program, no city, no county, no state, no government sees a dime of it. People who could be stopping it are taking money for keeping it going, while we slap offenders in jail at a cost to us, the taxpayers, of around $35,000 per year for each incarcerated prisoner.

That bribe money changes hands within the trade, PLUS the money we, the taxpayers, are spending to interdict, arrest, try and incarcerate. Billions. Yet what we really need is MASSIVE Drug Education, everywhere, that goes beyond "Just Say No."

Another way to stop the drug scourge would be to kick it in its most sensitive spot - PROFIT. The drug industry, the entrepreneurs, cartels, kingpins, etc., right down to the dealers, who are all making a nice living off the trade, and the feckless users, must be made to pay cash to us, who are paying through the nose for this War, not necessarily by going to prison, but by opening the gushing money spigot, and putting the money that flows through it to good use.

One solution would be the FINE: Everyone caught using, possessing or dealing drugs at any step up the drug ladder would be subject to an immediate fine (payable right there and then), of a prescribed amount of money depending on the type of drug and the amount found. A definite schedule of fines for each drug, for different amounts at various levels, dollar amounts that are published so that everyone knows the precise risks of dealing in or transporting or processing drugs. Offenders are given a choice: pay the fine immediately or be taken to jail. The payer gets a government receipt for the cash paid, no checks, and is not booked, fingerprinted or photographed. The money goes into the general fund of the discovering municipality, to be used only for Drug Education. The alternative for the offender is to be taken immediately to jail, booked, fingerprinted, photographed, where cash bail is set at TWICE the amount of the initial fine, and if the case goes to trial, the subject is fined THREE times the amount of the original fine when found guilty, and subjected to prison time. So it amounts to large immediate fine or immediate jail, then a larger fine, then prison. Who wouldn't choose to pay the immediate fine?

Thus, instead of incarcerating people, at high cost to everyone, society is getting money to finance Drug Education, paid for by by the drug business itself, without approving or legalizing drugs.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

The headlines now all say "Life is changed forever." from the World Trade Center bombing. Yeah, right, and the solar system is realigned because a couple of buildings and a few thousand people were annihilated. Wake up terrorists! Life is NOT forever changed by your actions. Life would be changed if global warming were to drastically increase, if a cure for cancer or Alsheimers were to be found, but to delude yourselves into thinking that "life is changed forever" as a result of a you and a few deluded followers crashing hijacked airplanes into our architectural icons and cradle of business, is to subscribe to the same belief as you do, i.e, that life CAN be changed forever by doing what you did.

I hate to break it to you, but life is bigger than anything a few terrorists can accomplish. People who single-handedly try to vent their rage upon the world, or upon THEIR world, such as a high-schooler killing schoolmates, or a worker run amuck at the office and gunning down fellow workers, may be able to generate more carefulness among the rest of us who survive, but the cannot change the world, or life, or anything beyond making a few ripples in the pond they themselves inhabit. As far as the terrorists, their ripples are bigger, wider, made as they are on the world stage, but as for changing life that has developed over centuries into what it is, no way.

Look around, look at any object within your immediate view. Who, living in a primitive society, could visualize a box that you sit in front of, with a screen to look at, and a keyboard to type on, where the words you type can be seen as you type them, which words can then be transmitted verbatim, immediately, to anyplace on earth that has the same box. Look at something simpler, a sneaker. Here is a piece of footwear that is virtually molded to your foot, that has special qualities suited to the activity you're going to perform, that ties up to just the right amount of tension on your foot, that is comfortable, and can be had at a minimal price. No, the world is not going to change because bombers or bio-terrorists perpetrate acts of violence. The world goes on. The flea can float down the river on his back with a hard-on yelling "Open up the drawbridge!" all he wants, but that's no sign that the drawbridge is going to open.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

We're the luckiest of people, we who
Can look out back and see what's left
Of God's Green Earth still thriving
Despite what it took to put us there, yet
Enjoy our own dominion o'er it
If not o'er us ourselves.

We're the folks who can discern
The sounds of our nature, and
Sing them into melodies
That bridge all language.

"There are no wrong notes." - Marian McPartland, Pianist So it follows, there are no wrong decisions in life, only directions taken, logical to the taker if not always to the observer, even if the observer be the taker at a later date. It is there, having begun in what one might say is the wrong direction, that the real decision takes place. How the correction is made, the taking of the "wrong" note, to use MM's logic, and making it into the jumpoff to a new melodic path.

Thus, no regrets. Please, no regrets. We make the right decision for the time and the circumstances, both general and personal. If a sick mind told you to do this and you did it, who's to say that the logic of that mind can be blamed? And how does a mind get sick? Could be many things; environment, genetics, moral upbringing, parentage, etc., etc. Then why prisons.

We persuade one another, show the way, talk the talk, do the doing, teach the lessons, and that is what governs, imposes, dictates, the decisions. We must find, be, the right teachers to make the right decisions in the minds of our, or at least seem to turn out to be, our students. Prisons are the wrong approach. We must put criminals, those who break the laws made by society or its representatives, in places of influence toward not only tolerable, but constructive activity, monitor that activity and behavior. Use a body implant or ankle-bracelet rather than constructing prisons with bars, walls, guards, guns, paperwork and administration. Put a prisoner, a murderer, a rapist, in a monastery...

Put a monastery in a prison. A theatre group. Three theatre groups. Maybe not, maybe let 'em rot, but somehow our prison system doesn't seem to be working, so another approach is indicated, no? Putting prisoners in with other prisoners only gives them the strength of union, reinforces them.


© Port Whitman Times 1999

Now the breast beaters, former "victims" of the cocaine epidemic, tell us that the reason they were afflicted was that they saw their heroes, rock stars, baseball players, etc., and they merely "followed their example..."

Sorry, but I don't buy it. Anyone who is awake today, and exposed to any kind of media (and how can one avoid exposure?) learned long ago to separate the truth from the hokum, the image from the human being. Saying that you emulated your hero, blindly following him or her over a precipice, is admitting you have no mind of your own, and if we have anything today, it's our own minds. After all, we all have sense enough to push the buttons on the TV remotes, don't we?

No, this so-called uncontrollable sickness that is described has nothing to do with heroes, but a lot to do with choice, that of WHETHER to indulge or not. Just as alcoholism is a vice, a matter of letting yourself do it, as are smoking, gambling and wife beating, so too is drug abuse, and the way to avoid it is to say "No." If the peer group is into it, then avoid the peer group. And if you must beat your breast, be honest accompany it with "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa."


© Port Whitman Times 1999

Who's really at fault? Now we're confronted with a young man sentenced to death for the gratuitous racial killing, ruining two lives, possibly two more yet to be tried, and all their families who must live on with this in the future. And it really served no purpose other than to satisfy some primitive urge in the murderer, and that of revenge in the family of the victim and society at large. What a waste.

Speaking of waste, where did this all spring from? Let's look back, and conjure up a scenario that might have turned this normal boy into a despicable man: Where did it start? Drugs? Usually that is the way these things begin; a little pot, then coke, speed, smoking, snorting, huffing, whatever that turns youthful rebellion into felony. So, the drug ingester is imprisoned for possession, or maybe worse, commits burglary to support his habit. Up till now he's just a rebellious kid gone wrong, maybe didn't get into the college of his choice, or perhaps, robbed of his ambition by drugs, didn't WANT to get into a college, or heaven knows even graduate from high school. So far all we have is a druggie and a rebel against life as he, limited in his experience, sees it. OK, he steals to maintain his habit, hangs out with other kids just like himself who also steal to pay for their own drugs. No doubt drugs are at the root of all of this, at a level where education, REAL education about substances, might have avoided the whole ordeal.

Drugs ought to be legal and cheap. Anyone of legal age who wants to get drugs should be able to go down to the liquor store and purchase what he wants, instead of having to go back in the alley and obtain them from an illegal source where there is no quality control, the substance is possibly laced with another substance to make its effect more stimulating, more potent, more whatever. As of now, the same guy who sells the drugs of one kind also has drugs of another kind which he pushes (Remember this guy is a SALESMAN; the more he sells, the more money he makes, and he's supporting a lifestyle that makes him WANT to sell you MORE of WHATEVER he can!). He doesn't care WHO he sells to, kids, whoever... So if he doesn't have any pot this time, he has a catalogue of other substances which might do the trick, not unlike your friendly state store that sells you vodka or wine. Or maybe our subject hies to the office supply store and obtains any number of other mind-robbing substances to induce his euphoria. No control there, the drugs are already legal...

Illegal drugs cost more money, thus spawn an industry that ANY entrepreneur willing to take the risks can get into, and result eventually in incarceration, either for the supplier, the possessor, or the burglar robbing to get money to buy. Currently the only way they are stopped, the only card in our deck today, is jail. You can't go on doing drugs regularly, and committing God-knows-what-all to support your habit without you eventually nd up in the slammer.

The slammer, for better or worse. Either you rehabilitate or you recidivise. No matter which you do, while there you must protect yourself, because it's a dog-eat-dog world in there, and the dogs mostly travel in packs, for protection from assault of one kind or another. So Johnny, who started out as a handsome young boy, on the basketball and baseball teams, who high jumped over six feet and was the captain of the ping-pong team, did some drugs, got in with the wrong crowd, pursued wrong ends, ends up in prison, having to protect himself from being gang-raped. He's a white boy, so he gets in with the white-boy crew, whose refuge is hating anyone who's not themselves. And who are better back-haters than the nazis, the white supremacists, the KKK, the whole ilk that in the joint says "mess with me and you risk the consequences" to keep the predators away. Hey, if you're in prison and you need protection, there isn't much choice but to side with your own kind, cave-man style, to ward off the dangers that exist. So Johnny joins up, but more than that, really gets INTO being one of this group, first just to survive. Later, being the compulsive sort that he is, perhaps as a result of the mind-bending effects of the drugs he's taken, he goes whole-hog, gets the tattoos of the SS, the lynching, the swastika, etc., and swallows the rhetoric of the group. This rubs off, and that little seed of racism that is inside us all (so the psychologists say) is germinated, grows and blossoms. A new True Believer is born.

Or consider the alternative: Johhny is raped, degraded, his manhood taken away, in a society, inside of the walls or outside in the world, which prides manhood as the bastion of life. Surely now HE is bent on vengeance, just as surely as the jury that convicts him of killing that black man - ANY black man - later on.

He gets out. Now an avowed a racist, which he might have been to a passive degree before prison, now a confirmed White Supremacist, whose success at supremacy has been confirmed by protecting him in prison, now he begins looking for "brothers" other seeds to sprout, other groups to ally with, to become part of what he now sees as "the movement." All this grown out of a simple need to protect himself in prison.

This isn't an isolated case. It's the way it IS. And the way it will be until we correct our attitudes toward drugs, crime, and punishment. So what do we do?

Make drugs legal. Then EDUCATE people about drugs. Here's what this drug will do to your thinking or performing system, here's what each substance will subtract from your life, as opposed to what little it might add to the moment. Use the same money we now spend on prisons. Use the taxes we collect on their legal sales. What we are doing is not working, and needs drastic change. Of course there are so many people who have their lives invested in the process of enforcement, interdiction, prosecuting and incarcerating that it will be a tough fight. Crime is their raw material, and they have a vested interest in MORE criminality, after all, law enforcement and punishment is an industry, and if the criminal side of it disappears, so do their jobs. They must retrain to teach, and not all of them can do that as well as they can track down and catch. It's a hunting mentality out there, it's always open season, it's a good living and comes complete with uniforms, badges cars, and full medical coverage, plus retirement benefits. Teaching is a harder.

ALL of us are against our children, or anyone, becoming addicted to drugs, just as we are against drunk driving. But it happens. Do we want it to happen in an atmosphere where society has no control over it, or do we want to have a hand in prevention of this process? We must stop putting away minor offenders in psycho-sewers of prisons alongside violent offenders. Assign treatment, house arrest, supervised rehabilitation, education, instead of spending $35,000 per year per inmate to imprison, spend it on outside rehabilitation - a good college education costs $35,000 at the BEST colleges.

But then how to PUNISH offenders such as burglars and robbers?

Singapore has the right idea - See
Flogging Michael Faye
Flog them or otherwise physically inflict punishment to the degree that the offender remembers the punishment permanently, with no wish to be subjected to it again. Institute an alternative to the behavior, such as a special school where a trade or profession can be learned in the company of other offenders who want to leave the old life behind. Somewhere, somehow, before the next victim is dragged to death behind the next pickup by the next prison-bred white supremacist, a large-scale intervention must take place. Flogging costs the state very little; education and training is cheaper and more effective than imprisonment.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

"The bulk of police forces are white males of the middle class, yet we send them into large urban centers that are black and hispanic and poor, with no understanding of the cultural differences, to enforce white, middle-class moral laws." - Ron DeLord, head of Combined Law Enforcement Assns. of Texas, quoted in Time Magazine

So, are we to have different sets of laws for each ethnic or economic group? The law is the law, something we agree upon, stating the difference between what society as a whole considers right and what it considers wrong. Society as a whole. Are different ethnic groups not to be considered part of society as a whole, thus allowing them a special set of laws for their neighborhood, race or national origin? OK, so what if we do have two sets of er, standards, then what about ethnics who move out of the barrio into middle-class suburbia, are they to be subject to their former restrictions or now abide by the new ones? Can they adopt a new behavior overnight? After how many intermarriages does one become "white middle-class" thus eligible to abide by white middle-class morals?

It seems we've now reached the low point in our society where, because of the obviously racial, brutal beatings of Rodney King et al, our very laws are being questioned, even apologized for. The same principles seem to be invoked in the case of bi-lingual education. One set of rules for us, and one for, ah, them. And "them" can be either group, or any group. The sooner we realize we are all US, the better will be our footing for a stable society. Whether the laws are white middle-class suburban or black inner-city ghetto, we'd better decide on one set and abide by - or enforce - that set alone.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

One wonders whether perhaps the only way to deal with the narcoproblem is possibly to invade the country of origin and snuff out the root supply once and for all. With a large syndicate operating a greased pipeline from South America to Florida to NYC to Philadelphia, teenagers clamoring to get into the big money behind those sealed slotted doors through which the product passes, and a diminishing, though higher paid, force of police charged with enforcing our drug laws, the taxpayers footing the bill for the enforcement seem to be paying for a losing battle, pouring our money down the proverbial rathole.

Of course there is "Just Say No" which in some cases is working, but statistically the current seems to be flowing heavily against the individual refuse-to-users, and with the habitual or even occasional users, an indication that our national will power could probably use some moral or religious backup. But one would venture to say that those who are into drugs are probably not your upstanding churchgoers, and surely switch to another mental channel when the egg-frying anti-drug promo's come on.

So with a larger and larger share of the potential market giving in and just saying yes, if we are going to keep drugs an illegal/controlled substance, the problem remains how to cut off the flow. It seems we can monitor and detect and interdict from now to the 22nd century, and have little or no effect on the volume of the shipments that pass through our borders, the number of franchisees willing to be wholesalers, retailers, operate drug houses, even lookouts. Sure beats the money you can make in straightsville. Therefore if we really want to stop the drugs, the only viable alternative seems to be invasion at the source. But then the source would just move to another location, wouldn't it? Where there's a lot of money, there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of people who'll do just about anything to get it. Pity they don't have to pay taxes on it.


© Port Whitman Times 1997

It sure seems odd that at the same time we're lamenting the dearth of prison space across the country, we are closing many military bases. But if training is what these bases have been built for, surely anyone must be able to recognize that training is what criminals need, along with incarceration. Wouldn't it be simpler to put up a double electric fence topped with razor wire around the base and funnel the criminals in, to use the already constructed facilities which already have dormitories, classrooms, technical facilities, physical conditioning courses and administrative offices?

It's not as though the money has "single use" stamped on it. Certainly by some very simple paperwork, funding could be redirected so that the war on crime could be fought beginning at the same camps where training was done for other wars. One doesn't have to be a genius to see this very obvious use for these places. But why haven't our representatives seen it? Or have they, and they're waiting for the right media opportunity. No time like the present.


© Port Whitman Times 1997

It's a matter of corners, i.e., who gets to deal here, who there - like the street merchants of Philadelphia who, for a small license fee, peddle anything from fruitcups to overcoats. But in the drug business there's no license fee, you just choose an unoccupied corner, hang out on it, protect it from other aspiring businessmen who would deal their dope at that intersection, let the word out, and the business comes rolling in.

Surely it isn't that simple, what with all the factors mitigating against the purveying of chemical happiness, but basically it's a standard Wharton School-type entrepreneurial setup. There's supply, demand, location, advertising, legal, cost of goods sold, transportation, maintenance, all the accounts you'd find in the ledger of any business.

Location, which corner you choose, of course is the primary consideration. It must be one near where a lot of addicts pass or could pass, and where the price of uninterrupted operation isn't going to be too high. Also one where you won't look too out-of-place just hanging out. After that it's just get the stuff, set the price, and start taking orders. There are thousands of unoccupied corners, and hundreds of thousands of potential entrepreneurs with no other skills who would - what the heck, why not - go into this business, thus it expands, as long as people are willing to drive up and buy. Could your corner be next?

Now there are thousands of corners in hundreds of other countries, where little businesses might be started. Perhaps we ought to send our drug dealers there instead of to our prisons. Of course, the penalties, should they be caught, are a bit more severe than incarceration in one of our institutions at $35,000 per year cost to the taxpayers; but that's their problem, not ours. From all indications, sending our drug dealers abroad to ply their trade would defeat countries and their dictators a lot quicker than sending our missiles and troops.


© H. John Henry 1997

Isn't it odd that no one ever discusses capital punishment as an economic issue, i.e., how much it costs to execute a murderer as opposed to what the tab is to keep him in prison for, say, 30 years? After all, that is a factor, no matter how we may try to ignore it. If the death sentence were carried out within a reasonable time after it was pronounced, without endless appeals for leniency which the state must defend at no small cost, the execution would only incur the actual expenses of whatever the method is going to be used, in whatever state the crime occurred. That would be it.

To address some of the objections the anti-capital punishment folks might mention: Yes, execution is no deterrent according to some, probably because it is done in secret so no future prospective offenders can see the end result of serious violent crime. Now look at it from the taxpayers' point of view: Why should we spend $35,000 per year to keep someone on ice for the rest of his life, as opposed to doing away with him right away, saving him the trouble of living out that time in prison, and saving us the trouble of paying for it, overcrowding the prisons with violent felons who clutter up what rehabilitation process exists, who have nothing to lose by continuing their criminal behavior behind bars? In fact, from the prisoner's point of view, death, quick and humane, might be preferable to a miserable life in incarceration, allowing him to get on with the hereafter. No matter if it is a "country club," as some have claimed, prison is no picnic, and as noted recently in Pennsylvania, a condemned murderer might simply say "OK, let¹s get this life over with, and on with the next."

How many condemnees now languish on our death rows awaiting the results of their appeals, or, in states which have no death penalty, reside among the general prison population, eating up the money which we pay in, simply maintaining life behind bars? Five thousand? Multiply that by $35,000 and the annual cost is $175 million. For 30 years, the average stay, the cost becomes $5.25 billion, and I suspect these figures are on the low side. But if this amount were put into education, the prison population might, along with being reduced by those executed, also show the effects of the education process.

The ACLU types condemn all of our methods of execution as cruel and unusual punishment, and for the most part, they're right. Imagine being fried by a surge of electricity lasting several minutes, choking to death on cyanide gas, or strangling at the end of a rope. Even lethal injection has its drawbacks, as described by our ever-aware journalists after every execution. But they are nothing compared to the executions of old (or current in some exotic places), such as being stoned to death, or hacked or shot or broken on the rack, drawn and quartered, ripped apart by horses, boiled in oil, etc. Oddly enough, the most humane method of all time seems to be the guillotine, where the body is separated from the nerve center in one stroke. Not the prettiest sight, but quick and efficient. Maybe we ought to bring it back, and televise the executions of murderers for all to see. Then it would be a deterrent.


© Port Whitman Times

"Although blacks by far are the victims of crime, whites see crime to be black." D.C., writing in the Camden NJ Courier Post.

And how do blacks the victims see white? It seems, to make a point, Mr. C., is comparing apples and oranges, i.e., the perpetrators, who are largely minority on the evening news, and the victims. Just because the victims are mostly black does not excuse the criminals, and whitewash the act into racial homogeneity. It certainly is no slight to respectable blacks to publish the facts of crime in our cities.

D.C. goes on to say "Democrats... have to show the folks in the cities that they care whether they survive and get a piece of the pie... The trick is to help the poor without bankrupting the struggling middle class..." Just remember that there are a lot of middle class blacks too, and even though the perpetrators of urban street crime might be mainly black & hispanic, that's no reason to tar both perpetrators and victims with the same brush, which better-than-thou suburbanites are frequently wont to do.

It's no crime to be a minority or poor. It borders on criminality however, in this day of free education, to be ignorant. Let's work on that, and leave the stereotypes and condemnations to the bigots of the world. If Mr. Clinton is to continue the "Educational Presidency," let us press him and Mrs. Clinton to invade the cities and turn the victims and perpetrators toward a better life, a piece of the pie. Certainly if the squeaky wheel gets the most grease, then the cities should have the best educational facilities, and that includes teachers, computers and all the software that goes with them.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

Music has always been written, notated, on a page like a book. But that's not the way we read it. We read it in a linear fashion, as we do lines of prose, and so it would ideally be done in a linear fashion, on a stripe that passes in front of us, automatically, as we play. The passing speed could thus be governed, as a metronome governs tempo.

Come to think of it, ALL our reading is done off a page of some sort (except those little news crawlers under the picture on TV), where we have to keep and find our place either visually or manually, i.e., by a marker of some kind, a card or a finger. If books were written like galley copy on one of those linear beer display units that pass in front of you, there would be less concentrating on the actual process of reading the print, and more involvement with the story that is actually unfolding before your eyes. Then books could be put on tapes or on discs that merely spew out their ideas at you for you to interpret, thus taking up much less room in libraries, in our homes, in our pockets. Picture a long, say 8"x1"x1" "stick" that fits in your pocket, which you can turn on to exactly the place where you left off last time, and the story continues passing in front of you at a speed you find suitable and which you can govern as you go along reading.

It would amount to a new medium, as distinct from print as TV is from the stage. The definitions of the more difficult words, along with their pronunciation, could be an added parenthetical attraction, an optional which would appear when the screen is stopped and touched. Learning to read then, would simply be a matter of being able to recognize words and thoughts and "speed reading" would come in time. Instead of keeping your place, following the page, moving eyes back and forth, you'd just look, recognize and react. Imagine.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

". . . Welfare motherhood has become the role model for girls, and drug dealing and pimping the role model for boys. . ." - Roosevelt University Urbanologist Pierre deVise, discussing the disintegration of the black American Family.

"The mobility afforded by racial integration has drained the ghettos of their middle-class. Institutions, including schools and churches, are similarly losing their ability to inculcate positive values." - Columnist William Raspberry.

One thing, one very important thing, that the middle class escapees from the ghetto have, besides money and its more obvious trappings, is education, both academic and civil. They have acquired the middle class values that make them, minority or not, members of that stratum. The ghetto hopeless, on the other hand, are truly deprived, in terms of the evidences of useful, even genteel, learning. They languish in ignorant ineptitude, and of course fall into the easy path to pleasure, for lack of anything better. This is the real dead end for kids.

There is better of course, The key to it is education, not only what little we are doing now, but in innovative means of selling information, to drive learning, curiosity, even practical creativity, into waiting brains. We are all created equal, born equal, and what happens to us after birth is what makes us unequal, dictated by environments, and by the ways of life our families pursue. Someone, however, is communicating with those brains, and usually someone with a lot less to offer than what good education has. It's up to the Educational community, and the Communications community, to get it across. Certainly with the most advanced technology ever even dreamed of, we have the capability of reaching, influencing a whole segment of people, showing them that a constructive way of life is better than a destructive one. If our schools are not doing the job, then something's wrong with their mode of teaching, not their fault necessarily, but what the system has become over the years.

Perhaps a whole new look must be taken at our public school systems everywhere, and a comparison be made with the effectiveness of how information is presently transmitted there, as opposed to using modern means such as TV and computers on a massive scale. Our present systems try to deal with the future with the tools of the past, and end up barely maintaining the status quo. Yet our Federal Department of Education remains one of the least active, low priority slices out of the national budgetary pie.

If we continue down this road, the future holds no more than forced education in a prison atmosphere to be graduated, not parrolled, from. Maybe, in the long run, that won't be so bad. At least it prepares the incarcerated students for more than pimping and illegitimate motherhood for a living.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

We contemplate the magnitude of the Age of Information as we stand ankle deep in its drifting tide. At last we have the technology to transmit, receive, manage and employ the wealth of available data. But we haven't yet mastered the technique of turning it into knowledge in the minds of those with the greatest need to know it. Information can't help you unless you have access to it, and know how to use it.

What I'm getting at is--Freedom of access to all information, by whatever means, and freedom to manipulate that information, in whatever way one chooses, must be a given if we are to march forthrightly into its "Age." Sure, information is available in a library somewhere, but to glean, to connect with that information, one must have access to the technique, to the process of reading, not equally available in our educational system, on other than a group basis. But reading is not a group activity, it's a very personal one, and to presume we can teach it in all its subtleties as a group activity is overloading our system with too much responsibility. Real knowledge is not borne from place to place as a large object toted by ants, using great numbers of each other as rollers upon which the burden moves. Knowledge is imparted from one mind to one other mind. The medium really has nothing to do with the idea itself except as a carrier.

If we were able to read minds directly, we could incorporate enlightenment whole hog, like instant computer transfer from one floppy disk to another. But just as the floppies need the computer, our minds need a compatible medium.

Until the 20th century, that medium was mainly print. However, since 1900, the radio, television, recordings, telephone, have suddenly opened up the great body of information as deftly as a surgeon slits the stomach from sternum to pubis. But until now, we have only scratched the surface of turning the available guts into a mechanism operating for all.

Finally the computer, the tool to solve the problem, has become available. We must now make it accessible, physically and academically, to all who need it.

Remember the "War on Poverty?" We lost that one. There is still poverty, plenty of it too. We thought we could solve the problem by pouring money over it like gravy, opening up opportunity to those who hungered. Opportunity was opened, but its halls were filled by those who poked their heads up from the quicksand of ignorance to grasp enough straws to save themselves. There's only so much money. The real answer is not just to feed the hungry, but to somehow nourish the ignorant to the point where they don't have to be fed, to give the ignorance in all of us a chance to get lost. It's the War on Ignorance, and the computer is the main weapon. The battlefield, our minds, all of them.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Okay, which would you say is really more important, knowing, or being able to judge? "Education" has in the past meant cramming facts and formulae into our personal Read-Only-Memory, without regard to the ability to do any more than reproduce that data on tests. But tests only measure what percent of the facts memorized that we can reproduce for the purpose of the test, not necessarily the ability to use the material in real-life problems. It is assumed that, once exposed to all of the lessons academically, we will, having been taught to think and analyze, be able to apply these abilities to life situations, but it ain't necessarily so. Once tested, we tend to forget what we crammed in, and even where it reposes.

Isn't having the answers to the test, as in the results of the NY state chemistry exam whose answers were actually published before the administration of the test, also a kind of education in itself? So you study the published answers, relate them to the questions, thus "learning" the important material, go in and look at the questions again, remembering the answers, mark the right blocks, and forget the material at the same rate you would have had you crammed the larger mass and taken the test. Learning is easy; nothing to it...

If education is really to be a "learning" experience it must be a process of threading one's way up a creek of knowledge by stepping on the rocks of fact to arrive at a concept, remembering where but not necessarily what the rocks were, for a possible return trip. Once we find our way up a few of these creeks, using the map of where the facts are rather than what they are, it becomes easier to avail ourselves of all the knowledge that begs our attention, and using this process of learning will leave us time for the genuinely important tasks involving judgement, which is after all the thing that clears or clouds our lives.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Miss Billington was a kinder, gentler teacher, but we knew she had a will of iron, kept in reserve for use when needed. For a first-grader who was probably too young (5) for the class, she was an awesome personage, and what she said went. We learned or we flunked. Not wanting to be left back, I of course learned right along with the others, despite my tender years. In fact I did rather well, considering, and later on even skipped a grade.

One day, Miss Billington asked everyone to draw a red and white cow. Easy enough. Each of us was equipped with a red crayon, one of those big thick nickel ones that fill up your whole little hand. We set to work, and I manufactured my cow expeditiously, with a basic rectangle for a body, a skewed rectangle for a head, lines for a neck, legs and a tail, finally installing oval eyes and a closed mouth. Udders I hadn't encountered, so they were, literally, out of the picture. My cow was plain, efficient, easy to feed. Of course with such a simple drawing, I was one of the first done, taking it up to Miss Billington. I layed it on her desk, and noticed her eyes widen as it came into view. "No, Henry, I said a red and white cow" she instructed.

Of course... As I took my cow picture back to my desk, I noted the elaborate designs, pinto, spotted, etc., that the others were incorporating into their bovines. Very artistic to be sure, showing great imaginations, even fantasies painted on these laconic animals that merely eat, give milk and make chips. At my desk, I proceeded to continue along the same practical lines with my cow, drawing a line through the middle of the body and coloring the lower half of the rectangle red, leaving the upper part, including the head, plain, the color of the paper. Back up I went again to teacher's desk, which now sported a line of maybe three others, waited my turn, and placed my drawing in front of her. With a perfectly straight face she accepted it, giving me a sideways glance that spoke volumes about what she thought of my masterpiece, and that was the end of it. Well, almost.

After everyone was done, the drawings were pinned up on the wall for fully a week, showing the bright designs of which the others were capable, and of course my pure and sensible effort. Then came PTA, which all the parents attended, and I got the picture that my artistic talent was not as "matured" as that of the others. But that didn't matter, I got the job done, and my cow left much to the imagination - of the viewer. Needless to say, Art didn't become my forte. But then who knows what could have been, had I been exposed to the cubism of Picasso & Braque, or if they had been first grade teachers instead of immortal artists.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I believe that professional spokespeople, who are paid good money to announce on TV or Radio, are linguistic role models, and should use proper pronunciation of words, the tools of their trade. Instead, I hear pronunciations like

Wanttudda for Wanted to
Avukussy for Advocacy
Fith for Fifth (I once heard this from a teacher of grade 5!)
Lenth for Length
Strenth for Strength
Heighth for Height
Udda for Of the (as in "The lenth is a fith udda heighth")
Pockabook for Pocketbook (Old ladies contraction)
Fuffulled for Fulfilled
Thoo-out for Throughout
Ickudbee for It could be
Non-profick-group for Non-Profit Group
Credickard for Credit Card
Ferda for For the
Tudda for To the (Goin' tudda game tudday)
Comeen-up for Coming up (This goes for all the "ing" endings)
Respatory for Respiratory
Awso for Also (Some have troubles with their "L" words)
Tempacher for Temperature (From most meteorologists yet!)
Fortoonally for Fortunately
Haddabee for Had to be
Icken for It Can (and other Icks for its too)
Eckcetera for Et Cetera (even common among people of letters!)

And of course Nookuler for Nuclear, but since the President of the United States constantly mispronounces that one, I suppose, in the spirit of "The Emperor's New Clothes" or the Spanish "th" for "s" sounds, many might forgive it, and use the same ear-grating utterancy; nevertheless it gives one pause to hear the most powerful man in the world misspeak the very source of his power. Makes you wonder if he might misuse the power too.

If the icons to whom we listen on the media can't pronounce the words they say (Listen to the BBC World news for the right stuff); alas if we can't hear proper pronunciation, how are we expected to learn to pronounce words ourselves, or, Heaven forbid, spell them? So how about some speaking lessons so our professional speakers can "Speak the speech, I pray you... trippingly on the tongue." (Ref: Hamlet)


© Port Whitman Times 2002


Da lenth izza fithada heighth.
You mean the length?
Yeah, da lenth.
Don't you mean length?
Yeah, like I said, da lenth.
What grade do you teach?
Yeah, usta be forf' But dey permoted me tuda fith.
Oh really, why?
Cuz I said it wrong.
Said what?
Forf' I I shooda said four-th.
Oh, Okay, anyway, what was that formula you gave me?
Da lenth izza fithada heighth.
And what determines the height?
Da lenth.
And what determines the length?
Da heighth.
Sort of a formula that comesback on itself.
Kurrect. So anyway, now I teach da fith.
No, fith.
Oh, fifth.
Yeah, fith. Sometimes I sub math intada middle school. Dats whereIgot dat little formula about da lenth and da heighth, not in fith, in arif'matickt inna forf'.
Yeah, arif'matickt.
In the fourth.
Yeah, da forf'.
Now you teach fifth?
Yeah, fith.

You go to church?
And you pray
To whom?
Ta who?
Yes, to who?
Ta da God Yu.
No, Yu
No, Yu. Da God's name is Yu. Y - U.
Y - oh, Yu.
No, dummie, Y - U.
I don't know, why you?
No, da question ya shoodbe askin is "Why Yu"
Oh, okay, why Yu?
Becus he's you.
Right, Yu.
Like you.
Yah, Yu.
You pray to Yu?
Yah, Yu.
Does Yu pray too?
Ta who?
You tell me.
Yu pray ta who?
Who's Yu gonna prayta?
Ta who.
To whom, actually.
Ta whom?
Yu don't prayta whom.
Who does he pray to?
Yeah what?
Yu prays ta Who.
Actually ta Who Am, read your bible.
Who Am?
So if Yu prays to Who Am, and you pray to Yu, does Yu then pray to Who Am for you?
Not always. Yu ain't no dummie, Yu prays ta Who Am fer You too.
Yu II. There's another Yu?
No, you. Too.
You II. So there IS another Yu. Two Yu's. Yu II and Yu.
Dere izzn't any Yu II.
No Yu too, just You. I think I got it.
Just Yu.
Just Yu, and me and you.
You and me, and Yu.
Yah, yu.


© Port Whitman Times 1999

The events at Littleton Colorado seem to be the best recommendation for UNIFORMS in all public schools. The Trench Coat Mafia indeed! After all, why should teenagers, students who are in the process of learning about life, be able to express their whims by affecting a different style of dress, or makeup, or hairstyle. NO, they must be made to realize that they are STUDENTS, and the way to express their individuality is by finding a subject or activity that will show them to their world and to themselves to their best advantage, WITHIN the scope of the microcosm (school) in which they exist. Not that they must adhere to only the activities presented them in school, but surely those respectable ones presented to them in a life in which they now exist, which happens to be school. Other, at-home hobbies or occupations must revolve around learning, but within a structure of moral living.

Look at any school which requires uniforms: The behavior situation is markedly better. Do you see uniformed students on TV who are engaging in the behavior exhibited in Littleton? No. But students who are allowed to form little in-groups tagged by the way they and their friends dress, whether it be GAP or Tommy Hilfiger or Black Trench Coat, helps to identify them with whatever the CLOTHES represent - "We're better than you because we can afford to shop at XXXXXXX" - or - "We recognize Hitler as our Fuhrer, and wear his swastika" - It's all a false front that wastes students' energies on externals and getting over on one another by exhibitionism, when the business of their lives is managing the internals, getting grades, participating in activities that help them build future lives in a finite world.

Sure, get rid of guns, make it tough for anyone to buy destructive weapons, or to make them. But put students in the place where they belong by making them immediately identifiable, to us and themselves, as learners, and giving them the time and space to be exactly that, and no more until they successfully navigate that phase of life.


© Port Whitman Times 1999

This past fall semester, at Duke University, there were two sophomores who were taking Organic Chemistry and who did pretty well on all of the quizzes and the midterms and labs, etc., such that going into the final they had a solid 'A.' These two friends were so confident going into the final that the Saturday before finals week, even though the Chem final was on Monday, they decided to go up to the University of Virginia and party with some friends.

So they did this and had a great time.

However, with their hangovers and everything, they overslept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to Duke until early Monday morning. Rather than taking the final then, what they did was to find Professor Aldric after the final and explain to him why they missed the final.

They told him that they went up to UVA for the weekend, and had planned to come back in time to study, but that they had a flat tire on the way back and didn't have a spare and couldn't get help for a long time and so were late getting back to campus.

Aldric thought this over and then agreed that they could make up the final on the following day. The two guys were elated and relieved (not to mention, extremely lucky).

So, they studied that night and went in the next day at the time Aldric had arranged for them to take the test. He placed them in separate rooms, handed each of them a test booklet and told them to begin. They looked at the first problem, which was something simple about free radical formation and was worth 5 points. "Cool," they thought, "this is going to be easy." They did the first problem and turned the page. They were unprepared, however, for what they saw printed at the top of the next page.

It said:

(95 points)

Which tire?


© Port Whitman Times 1998

So what's the commotion about proposition 42? The NCAA just wants to make sure student athletes are "students" first, then athletes. No athletics, indeed no scholarship, until they get their academics together. Under to the old Prop 48, it was just for the first year, but now they're tightening the regulations. Weellllll, I wonder. Maybe Junior isn't the best student, but he's a heckava basketball player. Skims by school with less than a C average, but graduates, though getting less than 700 on the SAT's. But in basketball--He's a slam dunking, passing rebounding dribbling FOOL. Can do just about anything with a basketball. Waitaminute though, that's a kind of knowledge, isn't it? It kept him off the streets, out of drugs, and into team cooperation toward a goal. Something definitely to be said for that. So now Prop 42 says no college (Without a scholarship he can't go) and no pro ball cause he isn't developed well enough. Where does he go from here? Back to the streets? Only so much ball you can play there.

But what do the SAT's TEST anyway? The ability to learn, or the ability to know? Junior learned the plays in his sport, trained his body to do the required gymnastics, developed his hand/eye coordination to a high degree. Perhaps the SAT's should include tests on these subjects too. Technical questions about the sport of your choice, on which your scholarship will be based. Physical conditioning tests, hand/eye coordination tests. Junior learned these things, so he CAN learn. So test what he knows.

Then when he gets to college, let his area of major learning BE the sport he plays if he chooses. Approach it from an intellectual viewpoint, test on what he knows, from plays to statistics, to history to business to legal, ad infinitum. Surely one could devote many hours/credits to any sport, and in doing so, train one's mind just as well as the pre-med or accounting or education major. And sports is, in the big world, a major area of interest today. Whole networks, sections of the newspapers, and many hours of everyone's time are devoted to sports. One's sports major doesn't have to be just in the sport; there are many facets to athletics from management to coaching to TV announcing to producing, which a student can learn while earning his keep as a scholarship player. And after college, if he doesn't go on as a player, he knows the sport in all its aspects well enough that he surely can fit in somewhere and earn a respectable living.

Another thing. Surely players, who are the thoroughbreds we watch on the tube, playing for Alma Mater but sponsored by beer and such products, should be paid in proportion to their contribution. Why should a college or TV networks make all the money, while giving only free scholarships (which cost them nothing) to the people that play the game? Players, even college players, ought to be able to negotiate just like pro players do--as long as money is being made off their hard work.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Ok, Ok, so eliminate the PhysEd requirement in the public schools, if you must. Let the couch potatoes grow eyes and puff up to blimpdom. Hmph. It would be Ok if the little darlings were going to devote the PhysEd time to some intellectual pursuit, but nothing of the sort seems to be on the horizon. So how are we gonna keep them in shape, and awake for geometry after lunch?

Well, here's a suggestion that should appeal to all: MARCH. That's right, for that same hour the kids used to have to play dodge ball or do jumping jacks, take them on a forced march at 120 steps per minute, for the whole hour. "OK, Fall In."

Sure, why not? It would get the kids into the most beneficial form of exercise there is--walking--and develop a group spirit that can only come from doing something together--in unison. Band does it too, but not everyone can play a musical instrument. Sports teams do it, but not everyone makes the team. But all CAN walk; all can count; and we suppose all know the left foot from the right, though in a tight situation, there may be some doubt. "Dress right, Dress!"

Maybe someone could carry a boom box with some good marching music--Sousa, Dixieland, Ragtime, Prince, anything at 120 beats/minute to bring a little entertainment to the parade. Walking for 45 minutes 3 or 4 times a week would surely put everyone in shape and in a better frame of mind. "Left Face!"

AND--it can be done in STREET CLOTHES--no locker room changes, no showers, march out at 120, back at 90 to cool off, just like they walk the horses after a race at the racetrack--so no one arrives for geometry in a lather. "Forward March!"

Remember, walking stays with us for life. "Hup, Hup, I had a good home but I left, you're right. Sound off, One Two three four One two--Three Four!"


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Oh come now Big City Papers. We watch Action News too you know, along with reading your versions of news. We see the first four "big" stories of urban crime - 95% minority crime, incidentally - with the perpetrators being led away in chains, the survivors interviewed still in tears, the neighborhoods ravaged, the schools paying for police protection and metal detectors, and stack that up alongside the City Fathers' line that the cities' education problems must become the suburbs' problems, that forced busing is the only way to solve the crisis in urban schools. Then we see your editorials promoting the integration of housing out here as the first step toward bringing the local schools up to speed.

Maybe you don't, but we realize that we left all those problems behind when we moved here. That's WHY we moved here. We prefer to keep them in the past, and distant at that. Odd as you may find it, we don't want metal detectors in our schools, we don't want our kids to be on Action News, we don't want to be caught in the crossfire brought from the urban ghettos to our peaceful existence here. Sure, there are urban problems here, but they are not the stuff for daily TV grist, and meanwhile our kids can go to decent schools where learning is still the mode, not having to worry about fellow students carrying knives and guns, or blatantly selling dope on the streetcorners. We don't have to have alarm systems on our houses, clubs on our steering wheels, or be afraid to go out after dark. No, we surely don't want to import even a fraction of the urban streetscape to our lovely country air. Let the cities solve their own problems without us paying our elected governments to finance moving them here. We'd just as soon watch the Big Stories on Action News and leave it at that.


© Port Whitman Times 1997

How indeed does one get a real education in the Age Of Information? Schools teach us the basics, organized for our, and their, convenience. But so much is already known, so much has already been thought up, that one might, if one had read everything there is to read, conclude that everything has already been thought of already, so why think? Indeed, much thinking and deciding is already done for us today, all we have to do is meet the minimum requirements of some test or another, to become admitted to a school or profession or occupation, then maintain competency, sit back and enjoy life. But if you want to get at a piece of intelligence, you've got to know how to search, to find what you want to know, that is if you want to know anything more than you already do. Let's hope you do.

One suggestion is to begin considering all knowledge, not as erudition, but simply as information - some of which you will use, not just in the big decisions like career and house and car, but the small ones, about what to do with your career, your house and your car, plus the risks and benefits you place on the scales each time you get out of bed. If we could somehow dip into the pool of information to drink what we want, without having to search through card catalogs, find parking places, expose ourselves to the elements - both natural and human - learning would be a whole lot easier.

Peter Mark Roget outlined all knowledge in designing and authoring his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified and Arranged so as to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas and Assist in Literary Composition. If you'll look in the front of that book rather than the back-index, you'll find a fascinating organization of all thought - ideas, concepts, nothing more, just the raw stuff - covering everything, from an abstract point of view, broken down into: (1)Matter, (2)Space, (3)Sensation, (4)Physics, (5)Abstract Relations, (6)Intellect, (7)Affections, (8)Volition.

Look at it this way:

Matter=What is
Space=What isn't
Sensation=What you perceive
Physics=What it's made of
Abstract Relations=Being
Intellect=How you think
Affections=How you feel
Volition=What you'll do

That's one way of looking at it.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

by Anthony Henry, May 8, 2007

...The issue at hand here has, from the start, been about the PRICE of gasoline.

Of course, if enough people do it, walking, bike-riding or taking public transportation will affect pricing. But, if along with being less expensive, it's also a less efficient, more dangerous, and a more energy-consuming way to get from Point A to Point B one has really lost a lot in the exchange. In most cases when a logically sound and objective (read: non-hostile to oil companies) cost-benefit analysis is made, car-driving is the most cost-beneficial means of transportation currently available.

More simply illustrated: There are 16 quality "awake hours" in a day. If you¹re not maximizing those hours you're cheating yourself out of the fullest life that¹s available to you.

Look... I'm all for alternative means of transportation and alternative fuels, but walking, riding a bike or taking a bus/subway to save a few bucks a week when driving is less costly in time spent, energy exerted and discomfort and danger exposed to seems to me to be an act of irrational folly.

In sum, as long as driving continues to be the most cost-beneficial and most efficient way to get around, demand for gasoline is going to increase and price is going to continue to rise along with it. When the price becomes too burdensome for a large enough percentage of consumers, someone will come up with a less expensive alternative, e.g. gas-hybrids, greater fuel efficiency engines, alternative fuels, battery-operated cars, cars with kinetic energy engines, etc, and become respected and rich for having done so - and that will be most excellent. Yet, until that time, it makes NO sense to deny oneself one of life's principal "creature comforts" in some short-sighted attempt to punish oil companies whose products one will eventually return to using in short order as soon the fad of self-denial wears off and the realization sets in, that time and energy - and as a consequence... money - is being lost, not gained in any "Let's boycott driving" endeavor.

For those who are truly serious about punishing oil companies - they should be honest with themselves and desist in using all petroleum-based products. Eschew the hypocrisy and sell the car, cancel the flight, throw out the petro-based household items, boycott the industrialized world and move to the woods (a lá Henry James Thoreau and the Unabomber) and leave life's "petro-perquisites" for those of us who are fully prepared to unabashedly use them in the pursuit of happiness.

The truth of the matter is as follows: Petro-products are just like Doritos - if somebody's going to make 'em; somebody's going to eat 'em up until something better comes along. And there's no need to worry - they'll make more. Not to admit that demonstrable fact, is just a lot of high-order hypocrisy and self-delusion.

Finally... gasoline is cheaper than beer for Christ's sake! A lot cheaper. Yet, I don¹t see anybody complaining about the price of, or advocating boycotts of, Bud or Miller Lite. So, let's stop the whining and give the oil companies and their employees who do the risky, dirty, dangerous and thankless job of seeking out, extracting, transporting and refining those petro-products we've come depend upon a break already. Those good folks who work for Big Oil (many of them hard-working Americans) have been and shall continue to provide us with the most-efficient "bang for our buck" so we can enjoy our lives to the fullest degree heretofore known to mankind.

Think about all that the next time you consider jumping into the car to roll over to the local 7-11 for a couple six-packs of cold beer and large bag of Doritos.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

By Helen Henry

Want to make your own yogurt? Here's how:
€ Heat some milk to scalding, not boiling, in the top of a double boiler.
€ Remove from heat, cool 'til you can hold your finger in it for a count of ten.
€ Add 1/2 cup plain yogurt ("starter")
€ Cover and keep warm overnight (12 hours) by returning top of double boiler to reheated bottom. Wrap this in a heavy blanket or sweater (or both if the room is cold). Warmth is vital-yogurt will not "take" if it is too cool.
€ In the morning, remove 1/2 cup, reserve this for "starter" for next batch. Put remainder in jars and refrigerate. Eat plain or add fruit or flavoring to taste. Mix with spices to use as a vegetable dip. Enjoy!
(P.S.) If yogurt is not firm, temperature probably was not warm enough. Reheat same batch, adding another 1/2 cup "starter" and try again. Good luck!

To make cheese from yogurt, proceed as follows:
€ Make yogurt per above recipe, remove "starter", add 1 1/2 tbsp. salt, gently mixing throught the yogurt.
€ Pour into "Cheesebag" (double thickness cheesecloth bag)
€ Put bag of yogurt mix into a colander, place the colander in the sink or over a bowl to drain off the whey.
€ Twist close the cheesebag and place a heavy object (jar of peanut butter, large can, etc.) on top to help force the liquid from the yogurt.
€ If started in the evening, by the next morning you'll have CHEESE, the consistency of cream cheese. Scrape this from the bag (messy), mix with herbs, seasonings, honey, or leave plain (Has a "bite"), refrigerate and enjoy.
Starting with a half gallon of milk for the yogurt, you'll end with about 8 oz of cheese. Well worth it since you made it yourself!


© Port Whitman Times 2006

If you've been reading about food at all lately, you've read how good for you soy beans can be. You probably suspect, correctly, that they are the main ingredient in "Hamburger Substitute" type food. Why then do you only seem to find them raw in health food stores, where they sell for prices beans should be ashamed to be selling for, either raw, or "prepared" like nuts. Why don't supermarkets sell them in 1 lb. bags like they do the other beans? Apparently they don't feel there is a market for them (I can't think of any other reason...could it be the meat suppliers would object..?).

Haven't they been reading the food sections of the newspapers? Or the Health magazines? It seems that every other week there's an article about how complete soy bean protein is, and how unfat-saturated it is, and the like. Maybe someday some advanced type supermarket will begin to feature soy beans, but until then, it's the out-of-the-way sources for us all. You can generally get them in feed stores or grain outlets, but in large quantities. That's OK, they keep in their raw state, as they are just seeds anyway.

To prepare soy beans you must first remember that soy beans, like most other hard beans, cannot be eaten raw. They need cooking. You can bake them or cook them in oil, but eating them after cooking them this way is about the same as eating gravel - watch out for your dental work. No, the best way to do them is just like other beans... but if you are going to mix them with other foods, and you most certainly should as opposed to eating them alone, then do up a large quantity for future use in all your food preparation.

Now, place soy beans (6 cups is optimum provided you have a refrigerator with a reasonably large freezer) in a kettle and rinse with water several times, by running cold water to overflowing to wash away husks, stems, chemicals, etc. Mix them around with a spatula or your hand to loosen anything that might float to the top. After everything that floats is poured off, leave enough to cover the beans plusa couple of inches. Salt the water, if desired, and allow the beans to soak about 8 hours (overnight is good). Then wash the beans again, cover them with fresh water, heat to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for about three hours, or until beans are tender (taste one to make sure it's cooked all the way through). Pour off any liquid and save it for use in soup or anywhere where liquid is required.

Allow the beans to cool slightly, then pack them into ice cube trays and freeze them. When frozen, pop them out of the trays into plastic bags and keep them in the freezer.

ADD them to everything you prepare - soups, salads, bread, casseroles, pancakes; mix them with vegetables, spaghetti sauce, dips, anything. You might want to chop them in your blender or food processor to the same consistency as the food to which you add them. The idea is to MIX them, not eat them as beans, because soy beans have no real taste of their own, but they do take on the taste of whatever you mix them with. Remember, they're PROTEIN, vegetable protein, at 1/10th the cost of meat, and far better for you. Most definitely, soy beans are the food of the future.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Every evening, at exactly nine-thirty, Dad goes to the kitchen, gets out the peanut butter, pours himself a seven ounce glass of milk, and makes five (no more, no less) peanut butter and cracker sandwiches. Then he puts away the milk, peanut butter and crackers, and takes it all in to read or watch TV in his favorite chair. Oh, the cracker? Why, Ritz, of course, because he's been doing this now at precisely the same time in just that way for 50 years. For him, there are no other crackers. RITZ, period. For the first part of my life I thought Ritz was the only cracker. Surely they must've invented crackers, and maybe even peanut butter too.

Dad does it this way, so formally and particularly, I found, so that he will eat the five double crackers he's allotted for himself, and ONLY those. You see, he's a crackabetic. His body is only able to synthesize ten crackers and beyond that, if the supply is readily at hand, he becomes like a crazed person, uncontrollably devouring all the (Ritz) crackers on the premises until he becomes engorged and stupified. He's been known to go on weekend toots, complete with crackablackouts and loss of memory (Crackamnesia). But now that he has been medically certified a Crackabetic and is prescribed daily medication to control it, he can pretty much stick to his daily maximum limit, as long as temptation is not within easy reach. We're all very proud of him, the way he keeps on the straight and narrow. Mother helps too, by keeping a daily tally of his Ritz and reminding him of his condition constantly. "My name is Henry and I'm a crackabetic" is not unheard in our house.

I watched this nightly ritual all the while I was growing up (before the medication it was a real struggle - sometimes he would come home from the poker club engorged, smelling of crackers, and we'd have to put him to bed and hold him there until the merciful onset of sleep), and therefore I had only thought in terms of Ritz as the cracker to quell the demons. But recently I have discovered a new demon-queller. You see, it has ben found that Crackabetes is, as suspected, congenital, and I have all the seeds of the same disease lying dormant in me, so I must exercise the same fortitude in my crackahabits.

So, having tried Town House, Triscuits, HiHo's, etc., and always returning to Ritz before, I pooh poohed any new munchie that came along, in comparison with the savory delights of the original.

"Hah, Snackers," I sneered, "Another imitator to bite the dust, I'll bet...well, they're cheap anyway, so let's try 'em. Hmmm, made by Ralston/Purina...Ralston/Purina...Ralston Cereal, I remember that, did they make Farina too? Purina animal chows, well they're certainly not rookies in the grain business."

So, I got them home, these Snackers, and did the comparison test, first myself, then with friends, finally with Dad (with an emergency medical crew standing by), and we all concluded Snackers are just as good, even BETTER, than Ritz but alas with the very same addictive qualities (unfortunately, we must accept the side effects of our pleasures).

I decided, after short consultations with my doctor, psychiatrist, dentist, broker, lawyer, accountant, and not least, my clergyman, to make the change. I immediately had all the Ritz consumed at an impromptu Final Ritz Party (FRP) and went cold turkey to Snackers. I found no withdrawal symptoms at all, as long as I received my daily oral injection of the substitute, now to be the mainstay of my mid-evening light repast.

Everything had gone smoothly, and after a day or two , as I was getting to the bottom of the Snackers box, I stopped in to the convenience store to pick some up on the way home. What? No Snackers? "Probably sold out," I told myself and went on, having caught a glance at the Ritz and proudly resisting the urge to pick them up.

Next day I was even closer to the bottom of the box, maybe one or two doses left, and stopped at the supermarket - no Snackers. All the other brands were there, plus the newer inventions: Punywafers, Snakflats, Great Western Cruncholies and the like. "Snackers? What are they?" said the cashier down her nose. The manager's memory was only slightly better: "I've heard of them but we don't carry them." To make a long story short, I looked in many stores while rationing out and eating slightly less Snackers, so that my supply lasted for three days. Finally, at seven o'clock on the fourth day, just about resigned to going back to Ritz, I went to the place I had originally procured the Snackers, just as they were about to close, and bought up an adequate supply for my larder. That night as I went to bed, my belly sated with the craven edible, I got down on my knees and gave thanks to the Divine Powers for my newly found manna.


© Port Whitman Times 2005

1 pound small pretzels
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing Mix
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons dill weed
3 teaspoons garlic powder

Place pretzels in large bowl.
Mix other ingredients well in small bowl.
Pour over pretzels. Stir well.
Stir every 20-30 minutes until all dressing is absorbed.
Drain on paper towels.
Store in airtight container.


© Port Whitman Times 2003


1 Fish filet (approximately 1/2 to 3/4 lb.), cut in bite-size pieces
1 Medium potato, cut in bite-size pieces
1/2 cup mini carrots cut in half
10 ounces of water
1 slice of bacon cut in bits
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon of flour
2/3 Cup of milk
Salt, pepper, and spice/herb to taste


Cook fish, carrots, potatoes in water 15 minutes.

In separate pan, Fry bacon until crisp.

Remove bacon bits & drain on brown paper bag.

Saute onion in bacon drippings.

Add flour to onion mix, and stir to blend.

Gradually add milk to onion/flour mixture, stirring.

Add onion/flour/milk mixture to fish/vegetable mixture.

Add salt, pepper, spices, herbs to taste.

Mix, and simmer 10 minutes longer.

Serve with crackers, bread, etc., & Salad on the side. Garnish salad with bacon bits.


© Port Whitman Times 2003

Here are some suggestions as to where to use those spices that inhabit your kitchen spice rack. They are given from the point of view of the foods you may be cooking, and what might go well with that particular item.

Anchovies - cumin
Anisette - anise
Apple Pie - Fennel
Applesauce - nutmeg
Asparagus - caraway seed, nutmeg
Bananas - nutmeg
Barbecue Sauce - cayenne (red) pepper, chili powder
Bean Dishes - chili powder
Beef (roast) - rosemary
Beef Stew - oregano , rosemary
Biscuits - sesame
Bouillon - celery salt
Bread - cumin, Fennel, saffron, sesame seed, poppy seed, cardamom
Breath Sweetener - cardamom
Cabbage - caraway seed, Dill
Cake - cloves, saffron, allspice, coriander, nutmeg
Canape Spreads - cumin Boiled/Pounded
Candies - Fennel, cloves, sesame
Carrots - thyme
Casseroles - chili powder
Cauliflower - Dill, nutmeg, rosemary, paprika
Cheese - cumin boiled/pounded, basil, chervil
Cheese Mixture - cayenne (red) pepper
Cheese Spread - caraway seed, curry powder
Cherry Pie - mace
Chicken (broiled) (garnish) - tarragon
Chicken fricassee - saffron - thyme
Chicken Paprikash - paprika
Chicken Sauce - ginger
Chili - cumin, chili powder, oregano, cayenne (red) pepper, paprika
Chocolate - cinnamon
Chocolate Pudding - cloves
Chops garnish - tarragon
Chow Chow - tumeric
Cider - cinnamon
Cider (hot) - ginger
Clam Chowder - thyme
Clam Juice - celery salt
Clam Juice - thyme
Cocktail Sauces - chili powder
Coffee - cinnamon
Coffee Cake - cardamom
Cookie batter - anise
Cookies - allspice, caraway seed, coriander, pumpkin pie spice, sesame
Cookies (topping), poppy seed
Cottage Cheese - poppy seed, paprika
Creole Dishes (pre-serving) - Filé Powder
Croquettes - celery salt
Crumpets - sesame
Curry - cayenne (red) pepper, cumin
Custards - nutmeg
Danish Pastry - cardamom
Demitasse - cardamom
Desserts - nutmeg
Doughnuts - nutmeg
Dumplings - parsley
Egg dishes - basil, chervil, curry powder, oregano, savory, celery salt
Eggs (deviled) - mustard
Eggs (stuffed) - cumin
Fish - allspice, basil, cayenne (red) pepper, chervil, Dill (Herb - Seed), marjoram, dried mint, rosemary, thyme, sage, cayenne (red) pepper
Fish Chowders - curry powder (blend)
Fish garnish - paprika
Fish (poached) - Fennel
Fish sauce - bay leaves, Herb Combinations (Chopped)
Fish Stuffings - poultry seasoning (blend)
French Dressing - curry powder
French Fries - caraway seed
Fruit Salad - nutmeg
Fruit Salads (discretely) - marjoram
Garnish - parsley-dried
Ginger Cookies - ginger
Gingerbread - coriander, ginger
Gingerbread - pumpkin pie spice, mace
Goulash (Hungarian) - paprika
Grape Jelly - cardamom
Gravies - allspice, bay leaves, marjoram, savory
Green Apple Pies - Dill (Herb - Seed)
Green Beans - marjoram, rosemary, tarragon
Green Salads - thyme, coriander, oregano, rosemary
Gumbos (pre-serving) - Filé Powder
Ham (baked) - cloves
Ham Sauce - ginger
Hamburger - celery seed, chili powder
Herb tea - anise
Iced Melon - cardamom
Indian Fish Dishes - curry powder
Indian Meat Dishes - curry powder
Indian Poultry Dishes - curry powder
Indian Rice Dishes - curry powder
Ketchup - paprika
Kidneys - caraway seed
Lamb - thyme, basil, marjoram, rosemary
Lamb Stew - bouquet garni, rosemary
Lemon Sauce (puddings) - nutmeg
Licorice candy - anise
Lima Beans - marjoram
Liqueurs - fennel
Liver - caraway seed
Meat - dried mint, savory, cayenne (red) pepper, Garlic Salt, allspice
Meat Loaf - chili powder - thyme
Meat pies - basil
Meat Sauces - oregano, savory
Meat Stuffings - mace
Merengue - ginger
Mexican Cooking - chili powder, cumin
Noodles - caraway seed, poppy seed
Omelets - basil, marjoram, oregano
Onion Soup - thyme
Onion (studded) - cloves
Onions (creamed) - thyme
Onions (french fried) - poultry seasoning
Orange (studded) - cloves
Oyster Stew - celery salt
Pastry - fennel
Pastry Dough - celery seed
Peas - basil
Peas - marjoram, thyme
Pickles - coriander, cumin, tumeric
Pickling - allspice, bay leaves, cassia, celery seed, chili peppers, cinnamon, cloves, mustard
Pies - cumin (boiled/pounded), nutmeg
Pork - oregano - poultry seasoning, sage, herb combinations (chopped), (rub on), coriander
Pot roast - allspice, bay leaves
Potato garnish - paprika
Potato Salad - celery salt
Potatoes - dill, rosemary
Poultry - poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram
Poultry Stuffing - coriander
Pound Cake - mace
Preserves - allspice
Puddings - allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg
Pumpkin Pie - cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice
Relishes - allspice, tumeric
Rice - saffron
Rice Pudding - nutmeg
Roasts - marjoram
Rolls - cinnamon, fennel, sesame, poppy seed
Rye Bread, Rolls - caraway seed
Salad Dressings - celery salt, celery seed, dill, garlic Salt, mustard, paprika
Salad Greens - sage
Salads - celery seed, garlic Salt, poppy seed
Salads with tomatoes - tarragon
Sauces - celery seed, mace, dried mint, mustard, sage, tarragon
Sauerbraten - bay leaves
Sauerkraut - caraway seed, dill
Sausage - cumin
SconesScalloped Tomatoes - curry powdersesame
Shrimp sauceScalloped Tomatoes - curry powderbay leaves
Soup - parsley, basil, bay leaves, bouquet garni, cayenne (red) pepper, celery salt, chervil, chili peppers, chili powder, cumin, herb combinations, dried mint - dried, rosemary, thyme
Spaghetti sauce - basil, chili powder, oregano
Spice Cake - cinnamon
Spiced Vinegars - bay leaves
Spinach - nutmeg
Squash - basil
Steak - allspice, tarragon, garlic salt
Stewed Cherries - mace
Stewed Fruit - cardamom
Stews- basil, bay leaves, bouquet garni, celery seed, chili peppers, chili powder, cumin, dill, herb combinations, marjoram, dried mint, parsley, savory, thyme
String beans - basil
Stuffings - herb combinations, sage, savory, thyme
Sweet Pickles - fennel
Sweet Potato Soufflé - nutmeg
Sweet rolls - anise
Syrups - cloves
Tabasco Sauce - cayenne (red) pepper
Toast - cinnamon
Tomatoes (scalloped) - curry powder
Tomato Dishes - oregano, tarragon
Tomato Juice - celery salt, garlic Salt, tarragon
Tomato Mixtures, bay leaves
Tomato paste, basil
Tomato sauce, allspice
Tomato soup, basil, curry powder
Turnips - dill, rosemary
Veal - poultry seasoning
Vegetable Dishes - garlic Salt, celery seed
Whipped Cream, mace
Whipped Cream Pie Topping, ginger
White Sauce, mustard
Wine cinnamon
Wine (hot) ginger


© Port Whitman Times 2003

Save all your meat and vegetable leftovers, chopped to 1/2" size. Freeze separately, if not used right away. When you buy celery, chop up the whole head into small pieces, freeze in an air-tight bag to use as needed (bang on countertop to loosen). Divide a 32 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce into four 8 oz. portions, freeze, labeled, in plastic yogurt containers to use one-at-a-time.

Chop 6-8 cloves of garlic, 1/2 medium onion, and brown in a little oil in a large skillet. Add salt, pepper, spices to taste, especially oregano, basil, parsley. Add one 8 oz. container of spaghetti sauce, defrosted. Add any meat leftovers. Cut any fresh meat into small pieces, brown separately in oil, then add to sauce. Add any leftover wine, soup, broth, etc., but be careful to thicken with a little tomato paste. Watery spaghetti sauce you don't want. Add hard fresh vegetables, like carrots, at this time. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Now add canned or frozen vegetables as desired. Add some sliced mushrooms. Add any (defrosted) vegetable leftovers. Simmer another 10 minutes. Serve over cooked pasta (You did remember to cook the pasta, didn't you?) - Henry prefers thin spaghetti, 1/2 package boiled approx. 15 minutes until it "plumps." Sprinkle with parmesan, eat w/ crusty bread and butter, salad, wine.


© Port Whitman Times 2003

2 Strips of bacon
1 large chicken breast cut in
half, or chicken parts
1/4 lb. sliced mushrooms
1/4 tsp. Salt, Pepper to taste
1 heaping tbsp. chopped parsley
6 cloves peeled garlic, chopped
1 cup chicken bouillon or broth
1/2 can tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine, or water
3 small potatoes cubed 1"
1 cup baby carrots
1/3 can lima beans, drained
2 oz. pitted black olives
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped celery
1. In a bowl, blend bouillon, tomato paste, wine or water, and pepper.
2. In a large skillet, Fry bacon. Remove and crumble.
3. Brown chicken in bacon fat. Remove and set aside.
4. In same pan, sauté mushrooms & salt, 2 minutes, add a little oil if necessary.
5. Add parsley, garlic, sauté 2 minutes more.
6. Stir in bouillon/wine/tom paste mixture.
7. Add Chicken, potatoes, limas, olives, onions, carrots, celery.
8. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Serves 3, or 4 in a pinch.


© Port Whitman Times 2003
   Portable Mixer
   2 Qt. Double boiler
   Mixing bowls
   9x13" cake pan or three 9" round pans with sliding bottoms. 


(All at room temperature - no substitutions)
   Two and 1/8 cups flour
   1 cup light brown sugar (Not dark)
   1 teaspoon baking powder
   1 stick(1/2 cup) butter (Not margarine)
   1 teaspoon baking soda
   1 teaspoon vanilla
   1/4 teaspoon salt
   One and 1/2 cups milk
   1 cup white granulated sugar
   4 eggs (4 yolks & 2 whites for cake, 2 whites for Frosting)
   4 squares Bakers Unsweetened Chocolate
    (Can use 12 tablespoons [3/4 cup) Raw Cocoa)
   ALSO SEE ingredients for frosting, below. 

1. Heat Water to boiling in bottom of double boiler with lid covering, not top pan.
2. Separate 4 eggs as follows:
   1 yolk in top of double boiler before putting it over heat
   3 yolks in separate (small) mixing bowl
   2 whites & 2 whites in separate dishes (medium mixing bowl & small dish.
3. Shave chocolate (or measure cocoa), and add to the egg yolk in top of double boiler.
   Add 1/2 cup milk, and1/2 cup brown sugar
   Mix over double boiler until well incorporated and smooth (no lumps).
   Set aside to cool.
4. Sift flour once, then measure.
   Add baking powder, soda & salt.
   Sift twice again.
5. Cream together the rest of the sugar (1 cup white, 1/2 cup brown) and the stick of soft butter in large mixing bowl.
6. Beat the three egg yolks.
   Add to the sugar/butter mixture.
   Blend well.
   Add Vanilla. Blend again.
7. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
   Grease (Use butter wrapper) and flour 9x13" cake pan or Three 9" pans.
8. Alternately-gradually add remainder of the milk (1 cup) and half of the sifted flour mixture to the creamed egg, sugar-butter mixture.
9. Pour into the top of the double boiler containing the cooled chocolate mixture; mix well, scraping pan w/rubber spatula to mix all the chocolate.
   When this is well incorporated, beat in the rest of the flour.
10. Clean (and lick!) beater blades if using one portable mixer.
11. Lastly, Beat two egg whites stiff (to standup);
   Then gently fold into the mix.
12. Pour into cake pans (Weight: 610 grams per pan).
   Bake at 325 deg. F. (slow oven) for 25-30 minutes for 3 9" pans, or 30 min. for single 9x13" pan. Do not use high heat.
   Test with toothpick (should come away clean) before removing from oven.
   Set aside to cool.
13. Meanwhile, clean upper part of double boiler for icing preparation.

   2 (remaining) egg whites
   One and1/2 cups sugar
   1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
   5 tablespoons+ of cold water
   180 miniature marshmallows
   1 teaspoon vanilla 

1. Heat Water to boiling in bottom of double boiler with lid covering, not top pan.
2. Before placing over heat
   Blend the following in upper part of double boiler
      Two remaining egg whites
      One + 1/2 cups sugar
      1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
      5 tablespoons+ cold water.
3. Place mixture over rapidly boiling water, and mix continually until sugar is dissolved (smooth, not grainy--TEST!);
THEN add mini-marshmallows gradually, until icing is thick, & fluffy (stands up) - (at least 7 minutes).
4. Take from double boiler
   Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, beat until slightly cooled
   Then spread thickly over cooled cake or between & on top of cooled cake layers.
   Slather on sides to cover
   It's a good idea to "toothpick" a layer cake so the layers don't topple. That's Martha's Cake; Enjoy it in good health.
Think of Martha Backstrom, a Swedish beauty, as you do. 


©Port Whitman Times

Boil 1 cup of water, add one and 1/4 cups of sugar, stir until clear.
For more, just multiply the ingredients by 2, 4, or whatever amount you want.
Good for making sundae toppings --just add to cut-up fruit.

Make double recipe (2 cups boiling water, two and 1/2 cups of sugar) of Simple Syrup.
Add 1 teaspoon of Maple Flavoring and 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Flavoring.
Refrigerate in large squirt bottle, such as an old dish-detergent bottle.

Sift 1/3 Cup of Cocoa, add to 1 cup of Sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of Salt. Mix dry.
Then add 1 cup of hot water, mix thoroughly (with eggbeater) and place over fire.
Stirring, leave come to slow boil (slowly, and watch closely, or it will boil over!).
Simmer for 15-30 minutes, depending on the thickness you want. (Keep watching!)
Let cool in covered pan (so skin won't form).
When cooled, mix in 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla flavoring.
Store in a Squirt Bottle, such as an old commercial chocolate squirt bottle. When it gets low, turn the bottle upside down when storing, then the good stuff won't all settle at the bottom.
Refrigerate -- it will thicken more as it gets colder.


©Port Whitman Times

12 oz. Welch's Unsweetened Frozen Concentrated Grape Juice (Red or White)
4 Cups of Sugar
1 Bag of Granulated yeast

Gallon Jugs (Any restaurant will be glad to give you their old ones)
Sterilizing solution or pill (optional)
Funnel (32 oz. is ideal, but any large funnel will do)
Siphon Hose (48" long)
Stirring Stick (18" long)
Large pan or 1 gallon plastic milk container
Airlock Stoppers & 16" tubes - OR large balloon for each gallon jug
Water Jars (any old 12 oz. jar), if you use airlock stoppers and tubes
Tape for Dating jugs
Old screw-top seltzer bottles or liquor bottles

Wash, and rinse all equipment, sterilize if you wish. Run 1 inch of water (cold or lukewarm) in jug. Add the defrosted concentrated grape juice, sugar, yeast, a little more water. Shake up to mix well. Fill jug with water almost to the top, stir to mix well. Place the jug in an out-of-the-way, warm (70 deg. F. is ideal), dark, spot where you can look in on it occasionally. Wet and place the airlock stopper firmly in the top of the jug, with the tube inserted in the hole of the stopper, and running into a jar of water, the idea being to let the gases escape from the mixture, but not to allow any air to get in. The same thing can be accomplished by pulling a balloon over the top of the jug, after cutting a tiny hole in the top of the balloon, to permit the air to escape but not enter. Place a sticker on the jug noting the date you made the wine. That's it for starters. No mess, no squeezing grapes, no jelly bag. Leave it this way for 30 days, by which time the wine should be clear, i.e., you should be able to see your hand through the wine.

Using the funnel now, siphon off the clear wine (this is called "racking") into the clean large pan. As you suck the end of the hose to start the siphon, you can taste the wine, just as a test of course. Siphon starting just below the top, moving the hose down inside the jug as the level of wine moves down, tipping the jug slightly at the end, so as to get all of the wine and none of the mucky dregs at the bottom. Once this is done, rinse out the jug, clearing all the dregs, and pour the wine from the pan back into it; replace the airlock as before, and leave for another 30 days (at 60 deg. F. if possible but 70 deg. F. is still OK).

By this time the wine should be perfectly clear and totally finished emitting bubbles through the airlock/balloon. You may rack and age the wine for another 30 days if you like, but it's not really necessary. Siphon it off into screw-top seltzer bottles (the kind in which you buy seltzer at the supermarket) or any kind of airtight container that has been cleaned and dried. Mark the date on the top and lay each bottle on its side on a shelf or in a wine rack.

Aging (Ideally at 60 deg. F.): It is recommended that white wine be aged 90 days, and red wine 180 days, but we've never been able to wait that long, usually opening and drinking some after 2 weeks to a month. It's quite good even then, a perfect dinner wine for less than $2 a gallon, and it seems to get better in the refrigerator after opening. It's probably best to make several jugs at a time and, after the first batch is done, adjust your winemaking schedule to your wine-drinking schedule.

Skoal, Salud, Cent Anni, Proust, L'chaim, Nasdrowie, and bottoms up.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

DON'T DRIVE DRUNK. Period. Solid advice. Sure, but let's be practical, those magazine ads aren't kidding around, they're selling drinking, and where do people go to drink? To bars, mostly, or to friends', and how do they get home after? You guessed'er Chester, they drive. Fact is, despite all the preaching and advice on not drinking and driving, people, being people, still will get tipsy and climb behind the wheel. It used to be you could get home safely because you could lead a horse to water but you couldn't make him drink, so at least the horse was sober, but since cars, things have changed drastically. People now wield machines that are lethal weapons that make many of the driving decisions automatically, and whether they've been to the annual office party or just stopped by for a couple-that-led-to-a-few beers on the way home, the net result is that they find themselves driving home with a slight or heavy load on. Could this hypothetical person be you? If so, then what? What do you DO?

These are not directions, but suggestions to remember, to use anytime you're behind the wheel, but especially when you've had anything at all to drink. . . First, buster, realize you've had too much (remember, one can be too much), don't think coffee will help-it won't, it just makes you wider-awake, but reflexively just as slow. Do open the window for some fresh air though, and remember to buckle up. Drive Defensively, those other drivers don't know you've been drinking, but you do. Be super-cautious, extra suspicious, increase your cross-check (speedometer, road, mirrors, speedometer, road, mirrors etc.), concentrate on what you're doing. Slow Down - This is the perfect time to drive at the speed limit, no faster, and slower just might be a hazard too. Let all those other people who are driving just a little over the speed limit watch out for you. Stay out of the Fast Lane - don't mind not being first. Be a follower, but not too close. Make sure you know exactly where your flashers are, and how to turn them on, in case you might need them, even to signal other drivers to watch out for you in an unfavorable situation. Super-obey all traffic rules. Stop on amber lights, fully halt for stop signs, really yield, be watchful for pedestrians, signal when changing lanes. Don't do anything suddenly, smooth out your driving,make it smooth. Keep both hands on the wheel. Shrug off any so-called "slights" from other drivers. Be Mr. Easy. . . But pay attention to their trafic signals. Visualize yourself making a safe trip home, driving into your garage, driveway or parking place, turning off the switches, locking up, then drive right into the picture. Don't talk on a cellphone or text! the Any other suggestions? Sure, don't drive drunk.

NEW CATCH 22 It's all well and good to sing or say "Don't drive drunk", but where, except at home, do you drink these days, that you don't drive to or from? Most of the bars are roadhouses far from public transportation, and what pub-trans runs late at night anyway, leaving imbibers the motor trip home after the party. Now let's face it, few people only take one drink when they go out on the town, so the alcohol content of the drinker-driver's blood is likely, although not at "blasted" level, to affect his/her judgement. So, as the prohibitionists said, the real danger is the booze itself.

THE ANSWERS? Drink at home only. Don't drink. Straight-shot it all right down at the beginning of the party, then soft drinks for the rest of the evening. Don't drive or ride with someone who drinks. Sleep there, wherever that is. Live near, and drink near, public transportation. Walk (or crawl) home. The further you walk, the soberer you'll get.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

Since we are criminalizing, then looking away then accepting then hiring then persecuting then deporting then fining then considering then ignoring then accepting then licensing then registering then educating then embracing then legalizing them (The Mexicans).....

Why don't we just BUY Mexico?

I'm sure there's a price, between their dream top peso and our dream bottom dollar, that can be struck; maybe they'll pay us to take it. So instead of all the Mexicans moving here, we can comfortably move there, share our country and all its products including jobs with them, and we get land, oceanfront (Beachfront villas for the retirees), we get oil (Sixth largest oil producer with 12.5% of the world's reserves), and we get people to do those jobs that nobody wants. At a fair price of course.

We get enough oil to last us until the alternative-powered car is developed and for sale, at a fair price.

The Mexican police remain where they are, becoming state police of Mexico. Mexico's current President becomes the governor of the state of Mexico, the constitution of the state is drafted, and everyone remains where they are, militia included, a paycheck continuing, coming every two weeks. Saves on the traveling, depriving the oil cartels of that much of their exorbitant fuel profit it from we who are currently overcharged.

With the permission of the Mexicans, we adopt English as the official language, but retain Spanish which everyone is required to learn, teaching three years of it in the high schools, and free lessons in all the churches. That creates jobs for English and Spanish teachers, and interest in each-other's culture, which is the case anyway.

What are we waiting for? The Mexicans probably want it more than we do. Just do it! Go there with planeloads of money, bank account numbers, and buy everyone. It would surely be cheaper than making war in Afghanistan. Nobody gets killed and we'd get a lot more for our money. This could be the Keystone of the Obama presidency ("Barack, here's something that could save your presidency, make it really count."), the acquisition of Mexico as the 52nd state.

Now, what if the Mexicans balk? What if they take a vote, and the Mexicans say "No?" That means we haven't spent enough money convincing them. But I betcha the Mexicans would jump at the chance. How to do it is the only roadblock, which can be cleared easily. Maybe it would be better to get the Mexican Government to declare bankruptcy, and the US buys them out of it - with the condition that they become a state, which they do, and an election is scheduled six months from now, meanwhile, for six months we shower them with that inimitable USA hospitality.

We get them, their land available for development, their Music, their food, their long American Heritage (We can't pretend we're English forever). What do they get? Why, they get us and our American Heritage such as it is. Both of course have their drawbacks, but you accept the chaff with the wheat.

Or, another way, why not buy Mexico a little at a time, say an acre, with all the rights of secession from the Mexican Union such as it is, and just eat our way with money, into Mexico an acre at a time. "Who will buy? Our Beautiful Taco Bell?"

Not that Mexico per se is any great bargain, there are a great many poor, undereducated Mexicans who are gonna need help. And for simply doing that, we get all of the above, plus all of the below.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

What's the problem is with this guy Saddam. Why are we pussyfooting around, dropping a bomb here, taking pictures there, playing cat and mouse with his little tinhorn air force? Why not just invade the place, smash the government, get rid of the power structure, set up a democratic government like any one of our 50 states, and make it the 51st state?

You think the people would mind? I hardly imagine that their lives would not be a whole lot better than they are now, or would be even if we lifted the sanctions with Saddam still in control. There's plenty of oil there, and other industries too, farming, (only 3% of the land is farmed, although 12% is arable, even fertile), so it wouldn't be like their people are automatically going on welfare. Iraq has the sixth largest supply of the world's known oil reserves, which should provide its people with collectively plenty to support a prosperous lifestyle.

The only thing that seems to be wrong with the place is its government, a warlike monarchy-in-fact, where elections are a farce, and Saddam Hussein and his henchmen remain in charge. But if there were no Saddam, no henchmen, no military, this could be a pretty nice place, and a magnificent addition to the United States.

We brag about our great form of government, but are we doing anything to spread it around? We ought to be adding states by the score, if our government is so good, and it does seem as though everyone in the world envies us, our prosperity, our way of life. We should be proselytizing it all over the increasingly smaller world.

Good Heavens! That smacks of Totalitarianism. Yeah, well, okay. Think about it.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Why all the fuss about the budget and deficit? What to cut, what not to. Whether to continue to read lips about a tax increase. Whose and which program or entitlement is important enough to keep and whose or which is expendable. The solution is so obvious - No new taxes, keep ALL the programs, but cut EVERYTHING back 10% or whatever % it takes.

That way we all suffer a little, but everyone survives, and we're on our way seriously to beating the financial crisis created by our governmental big spenders, in fact, then THEY can all lay claim to being in a very democratic sense, saviors of the day, maybe even the decade.

After all, if there is 10% less food, we don't cut off a lower leg so we can eat, theoretically can get along on 10% less nourishment, and we don't go raid our neighbors larder to keep our fat selves sated. No,we manage it so we'll survive on 10% less.

It seems so easy to solve the big problems from the comfort of an armchair, but some problems are better looked at from a somewhat simple point of view. With 10% less, no one can complain, and everyone can afford to lose 10% of that fat we've got used to. But increase the taxes 10%, everyone'll complain and there'll be big trouble in Washington.


© Port Whitman Times 2010

1. Moderate your bad habits. Maybe completely eliminating them is not as easy as you thought, they have a "gotcha" on you to a degree; but to moderate them... so your body can catch up in between episodes - Don't eat, drink, sleep, go on benders, lost weekends, etc. Just a little bit on a regular basis, every day, every week, little enough so you can handle it with no really ill effects.

2. Same goes for your good habits - a little dab'll do ya daily better than thrice weekly. A little walk, a short run, a bike ride, a dip in the pool. Most convenient is a bike ride or a walk. You put on your coat and go, without having to go to a special place, suiting up, showering, scheduling, paying. Just go out, ride or walk to a destination, then back, or in a large circle ending where you started. A shopping center is great, where on a bike you can zoom around the parking lot early before the cars come, to the rear where the trucks go, in and out lightly up and down, fast, slow, sharp turns keeping you sharp, watchful. Same with walking of course, AND you can shop - Food, Supplies, whatever you need into your backpack.

3. NEW IDEA: Learn to throw a ball with either hand. If you're a righty, then with your left, or vice-versa. Oh sure, you you throw OK with your main hand. Try try the other now - start with a tennis ball, throwing it against a wall and catching it on one bounce. Throw first with your main hand, then imitate what you did with your main hand with the other hand, right down to the stretch, the windup, the grip, the fingers, the tightness, the roll of the ball off the fingertips. Later a heavier ball like a rubber lacrosse ball. See how easy it is with your main hand, and how it gets easier with your other hand every time you throw. Right, left, right, left, aim for a spot on the wall. Catch, throw. You're training the whole other side of your body, yes, of your brain, which, after all, controls your body, right? Training your reflexes, your internal mechanisms.
Think that's strange? There's a pitcher in the New York Yankees farm system who flings with either hand, causing some consternation among batters, finally resulting in a new rule in baseball as to the order of things: RULE: The pitcher must decide FIRST which hand he's throwing with, THEN the batter decides which side he's going to bat from. (Then of course the fielders shift, the umpires get out of the way, the dugouts protect themselves, the fans shift their attention, have another beer...).
It's important you "learn" that other side. Who knows when you'll need it? Start shaving, combing, brushing teeth, eating, painting, hammering, mouse-ing, maybe even writing - everything. Try it. Maybe you have a whole 'nother lifetime to live...


© Port Whitman Times 2009

One doesn't have to be a Wharton Grad or a Harvard MBA to see that a major part of medical dollars are being used by Hospitals, Doctors, Drug Companies, indeed by the entire medical establishment, for ADVERTISING (q.v. on any TV program) to compete against one another for the dollar of the consumer, especially the sick consumer who has little choice when an illness arises. This broad net also includes the gullible consumer who is impelled to "Ask your Doctor if ________ is right for you," by ads that plant suggestions of possible maladies or conditions. It's just disgusting, and no one seems to be talking about it in this discussion of HealthCare.

And now we are seeing more "Harry and Louise" type ads threatening that people will lose their current meager and expensive healthcare coverage if the government does anything to subsidize healthcare - this is just more advertising dollars being spent, to prevent us from benefiting from a program that might help us financially and cut into the profits of these same medical advertisers!!!

The best thing the government could do is prohibit all medical advertising; in the absence of that, establish a government program that is NON-PROFIT, non-advertising, and competes with the for-profit industry that currently takes advantage of people who are sick to keep medical industry people in the acoutrements that come with ill-gained wealth (pun intended).

If you took all the money the medical industry spends on advertising, you could make a pretty good health system just with that. Imagine!


© Port Whitman Times 2009

Eliminate ear mites. All it takes is a few drops of Wesson Corn Oil in you r cat's or dog's ear... massage it in, then clean with a cotton ball. Repeat daily for 3 days. The oil soothes the cat's skin, smothers the mites, and accelerates healing.

Kills fleas instantly... Dawn Dishwashing Liquid does the trick. Add a few drops to your dog's bath and shampoo the animal thoroughly. Rinse well to avoid skin irritations. Good-bye fleas.

Rainy day cure for dog odor: Next time your dog comes in from the rain, simply wipe down the animal with Bounce or any dryer sheet, instantly making your dog smell springtime fresh.

Did you know that drinking two glasses of Gatorade can relieve headache pain almost immediately-without the unpleasant side effects caused by traditional pain relievers?

Did you know that Colgate Toothpaste makes an excellent salve for burns?

Before you head to the drugstore for a high-priced inhaler filled with mysterious chemicals, try chewing on a couple of curiously strong Altoids peppermints. They'll clear up your stuffed nose.

Achy muscles from a bout of the flu? Mix 1 tablespoon horseradish in 1 cup of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then apply it as a massage oil for instant relief for aching muscles.

Sore throat? Just mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1/4 cup of honey and take 1 tablespoon six times a day. The vinegar kills the bacteria.

Cure urinary tract infections with Alka-Seltzer. Just dissolve two tablets in a glass of water and drink it at the onset of the symptoms. Alka-Seltzer begins eliminating urinary tract infections almost instantly-even though the product was never been advertised for this use.

Honey remedy for skin blemishes... cover the blemish with a dab of honey and place a Band-Aid over it. Honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin sterile, and speeds healing. Works overnight.

Listerine therapy for toenail fungus: Get rid of unsightly toenail fungus by soaking your toes in Listerine Mouthwash. The powerful antiseptic leaves your toenails looking healthy again.

Easy eyeglass protection... to prevent the screws in eyeglasses from loosening, apply a small drop of Maybelline Crystal Clear Nail Polish to the threads of the screws before tightening them.

Cleaning liquid that doubles as bug killer... if menacing bees, wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets get in your home and you can't find the insecticide, try a spray of Formula 409. Insects drop to the ground instantly.

Smart splinter remover: Just pour a drop of Elmer's Glue-All over the splinter, let dry, and peel the dried glue off the skin. The splinter sticks to the dried glue.

Hunt's Tomato Paste boil cure... cover the boil with Hunt's Tomato Paste as a compress. The acids from the tomatoes soothe the pain and bring the boil to a head.

Balm for broken blisters... to disinfect a broken blister, dab on a few drops of Listerine, a powerful antiseptic.

Vinegar to heal bruises... soak a cotton ball in white vinegar and apply it to the bruise for 1 hour. The vinegar reduces the blueness and speeds up the healing process.

Quaker Oats for fast pain re lief... it's not for breakfast any more! Mix 2 cups of Quaker Oats and 1 cup of water in a bowl and warm in the microwave for 1 minute, cool slightly, and apply the mixture to your hands for soothing relief from arthritis pain.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

The problem with the entire Health Care industry, from drug manufacturers to hospitals to insurance companies to pharmacies to nursing homes to suppliers of medical equipment right down to doctors and nurses, is that it IS an INDUSTRY - geared to making money, for its participants and for its investors. Yessiree, for all involved, greed is good.

Watch TV; see your money being poured down the drain. Every other ad is for something in the Health Care. "Ask your doctor" is the most heard phrase. Of course "Doctor doesn't advertise, this would be beneath his professional ethics," so the drug companies and the hospitals do it for doctor. This is a collective, conspiratorial business, a racket really, designed to make a maximum profit out of the misfortunes of people who happen to get sick or might get sick. Surely if the Mafia ran the Health Care industry, we'd get a better deal than we're getting from the current white-collar criminals involved in fleecing the infirm. And what can the infirm do about it? NOTHING! When you're sick in the good old USA you've just gotta bite the bullet and pay through the nose. Breathe deep!

And the lawyers, not to be denied, sue at every turn, so the docs pay the liability insurance, and their prices go up to cover the premiums. Who pays for it all? One guess!

It's no wonder those in unions who have the power to negotiate, demand medical coverage up to the hilt or else they go on strike and inconvenience everybody. They can see, as we senior citizens can, just how the Health Care industry is heartlessly scamming the people who have no control over prices for things they MUST have to live.

Once upon a time, when medical/hospitalization insurance first began, it was very low-cost, and non-profit, and certainly no advertising was involved because those who needed it just got it and it was a pure insurance, i.e., the risk was spread over many people paying. But suddenly the hospitals became profit-making businesses, as did the doctors hiding behind their corporate shields, and the lawyers who sued the doctors for the whining and malingering clients drove up the cost of malpractice insurance making big bucks for them and the insurance companies, the drug companies realized they could also hold up anybody who needed their product to live, the pharmacies increased their profit margins to match that of the drug companies, and so forth...

It's getting to the point where consumers in need might paraphrase Patrick Henry and say "Give me universal health care, or give me death!" But then, death is what we'll get out of that one, so one might as well move to Canada, England, or any number of other civilized countries where Health Care is universal and free.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

The trouble is, everything is so GOOD! Everywhere we are besieged by savory temptations, steaming hot or dewy chilled, begging to be consumed in ever increasing quantities and succulences. Restaurants give you giant portions; newspapers blare food sections at you with celebrity recipes (you too, lowly Schlemiel, can dine on the very same exact comestables as your idol Schlomo Hudzley). It is the life of plenty, for sure. No wonder we're FAT.

I think we reach a point in our existence where we say, like My Sister Eileen's sister Ruth: "Ah, the heck with it, let it (her figure) spread." The temptation is TOO great for will power at its present state of development to cope with.

But medical experts tell us that fatness KILLS you quicker, and we do in our deep selves want to live longer, don't we? OK then, assuming that, we've gotta reduce, so here's the PORT WHITMAN TIMES DIET. With your own good sense as a guide, and we must start with that as a given, you're bound to lose weight. Remember, follow it exactly

1. Eat whatever you want...but PLAN what you want to eat. 2. Do not eat even one bite until it is (are you ready?) READY. 3. Get it ready by choosing and preparing the food, then putting everything else away, except for the sensible portion of exactly what you plan to eat. No more! 4. Sit down to eat. No interruptions. 5. Eat ONLY what you have set out to eat. Lick your plate if you must, but no more. Period.

That's it. You'll notice two things: A: You don't have serving dishes from which to take seconds (and thirds), and B: It is more difficult to rise, unwrap and prepare more food than the pleasure you would derive from it is worth. These two simple factors in your diet--all by themselves--will make you thinner, if of course you are the sensible person we think you are.

The importance of the absence of serving dishes cannot be overemphasized. Do not promise yourself you'll eat only what you put on your plate, but leave the big block of cheese, or the cracker box, or a half-full serving dish in plain sight to tempt you. These are empty promises you won't be able to keep because the food is too good these days. It was different way back when there was only liver which tasted like motorman's glove, boiled potatoes and spinach, but if you and/or your mate are a good cook/preparer (and who isn't today?), the food will be extra tempting. This is an "occasion of sin." The sin is Gluttony, even to a small degree.

That's it, the PORT WHITMAN TIMES DIET. Spend all you want on one diet or another, on weight control or exercise regimens, but you won't lose weight unless you avoid the "occasion" of its gain.

Oh, by the way, TAKE A HARD WALK for 20 minutes every day.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Oddly enough, I look forward to my restorative trip to the dentist, as opposed to my hygienic trip when they just clean my teeth. On a restorative visit all the unusually scary stuff is brought into play, the drills, the picks, the jabbers, where you'd think you'd feel like the bull in the corrida in Mexico City. NOT SO! Emphatically not so in modern dentistry. Gone are the old fear-ridden days of white knuckles (the dental chairs don't even have arms anymore) and stiff necks from trying to avoid the contact you were so fearful of. Now, if you take the sensible approach and become dead a little, at least as much as they let you in modern anesthesiology, it can actually be a pleasure. The problem, of course, is the fear of the pain, then the pain itself, but wait a minute, they've taken care of that--really. However, you must JOIN them, not fight them.

The secret is to go to a dentist who uses BOTH nitrous oxide/oxygen (laughing gas) AND procaine (Novocaine). I do not discuss these from a medical point of view, which is your dentist's speciality, but from that of the patient. To me, it seems that the gas puts you in a receptive frame of mind, and the needle deadens the area so the the pain is killed. In other words, you become dead a little, both in the mind and in the mouth. So far, so good.

Next: DON'T HELP. Give in to the impulses brought about by the drugs. Don't move your jaw here, swallow there, etc. BE INANIMATE--that's what the dentist wants to be able to do his best work (and that's what you want, isn't it?). After the anesthetic takes effect be as dead as you can. To try to stretch your mouth a certain way to accommodate the drill or pick or mirror is definitely a mistake, Think, yes, but totally relax and enjoy the experience of just being a vegetable for a while. You could be a watermelon or a large squash, or think of yourself as cold spaghetti. Breathe through your nose so the mirror doesn't get foggy, and spare the dentist your breath. Let the excavators (the dentist and his assistant, masked and anonymous) do the excavating. Don't swallow, don't do ANYthing with your mouth--they have tools that take care of all the waste as they work. And if you want sensational work, don't talk either. The degree of intellectual interest or snappy repartee that you can banter about with your dentist while he is concentrating on fixing what's wrong and has your mouth full of work instruments is extremely limited, so in the interest of better restoration, clam up. Don't BE, just exist. Enjoy what's happening to you and the artistry of it all, where YOU are the sculpture. These days it can all be rather enjoyable, especially if the music in the office is good.

Dentists are oral engineers these days, and dentistry is becoming competitive so the days of, "get in the chair, open, rinse and shut up" are long gone. Find a dentist you TRUST and he can make your experience a more pleasant one, particularly if he uses N & N (Nitrous and Novocaine). Just let him do his job. This is the only place where you can score a hundred every time just by doing nothing--even LESS than nothing. Just be a block of wood lying dead in a peaceful swamp.


© Port Whitman Times 2004

Hey Lard! That's right, I mean you, Fatso. Are you part of the latest USA expansion - the way-out waistline, the bulging butt, the thunder thighs, the undulating underarms? When you pilot that riding lawnmower, do you look like jiggling jello? Perhaps you kind of "waddle" out to the mailbox to retrieve the latest ads for your favorite eatery? Hey, I got news for ya lumpy, you need to cool it on the eating, and - Earth to Porky - EXERCISE! Get out and carve off some of that extra poundage; and it's not just talking about it pal, you've gotta DO IT!

Now there are a lot of ways you can get exercise, and oodles of people who will take your dough, to give you the impetus you need to GET GOING and work off some of that blubber. Health clubs abound, and personal trainers if you have the cash, even yard work, out there sweating among the lilacs and poison ivy, helps a certain amount. But all those, even yard work, require a certain amount of readying up, going there, preparing, doing the exercise, then unpreparing, coming back, etc. Well, maybe not if the personal trainer makes house calls, but who can afford them, besides movie stars and physicians?

Take for example, the health club. Besides joining and paying that monthly fee, you've got to go out, get in the car, go there, park, enter the place, go to your locker, undress, suit up, do the routine, then unsuit, shower, re-dress, exit, unpark, drive home, go back in the house or office. Okay, if you like going through a whole lot of activity just to do your constitutional...

But there's a BETTER WAY, an easier way, a more convenient way - How? Oh, glad you asked - TAKE A WALK! Now I don't mean a meander, or an amble or even a briskie. I mean take a HARD walk, Bunsie. What the military calls a "Forced March." Maximum output for twenty minutes, or better still, half an hour. DAILY! Not three times a week, not just on the weekends, but every single day! No skipping a day. Put on your sneaks, go out the front door, walk out for 15 minutes, then turn around and return, and walk as fast as you possibly can all the way, breathing as deeply as you are able, swinging those arms and shoulders, stretching those thighs and calfs. You'll break a sweat in no time, and maintain it, keeping that heart rate up - Oops, remember to make sure your physician approves, noting your physical condition, age, etc. - Then start doing it - NOW, and do it every day, for the rest of your life.

If you need a reason, take your headset radio along and listen to the news, or music, or talkradio, and if you STILL need a reason, take a little supermarket bag with you, and pick up any trash you see along the way. Your neighbors will thank you, even the drivers along the route will see what you're doing, get the message, and stop throwing trash out of their cars. Oh, by the way, if you must walk on the roadside where there are no sidewalks, walk on the side facing oncoming traffic, usually the left (except in England and on a one-way street), so you can see what's coming at you, and drivers can see that you can see them too.

Once you start this, you'll feel better, your blood pressure will go down, your energy will go up, your weight will stabilize, your muscles will tone, and deep within yourself you'll know that no matter who's in the White House, Congress, your state and local governments and school boards, no matter who you've offended, what bridges you've burned, what wrong choices you've made, still you'll know you're doing THE RIGHT THING. Don't just think about it. Do it, NOW.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Seriously, if you could choose your death, which would you choose? This is a multiple-choice quiz, see? Would you want to die in battle, or in bed? Those would be the two extremes, one quick, one slow, ideally, either "Bang, you're dead," or one where you could watch TV while it happens. We ought to have the freedom of choice of our method of death, that must be a sacred and basic right.

In a way, of course, we do, we can choose to die of booze, drugs, tobacco, fatty foods, sugar poisoning, lack of exercise, driving dangerously, even exposing ourselves to senseless violence. We can murder someone we don't like, then go by lethal injection, sort of a two-for-one. But then, there's the chance we won't be executed, but will have to spend years in incarceration, undergoing egregious unpleasantness at the hands of some really nasty people. "None of the above" might be the best answer to these choices.

Perhaps you want something more... or less. Suppose you want to die somewhere midway through your life. The only choice now is suicide, blowing your brains out or jumping off a bridge or going to sleep with the aid of pharmaceuticals. "Going to Las Vegas" the Nicholas Cage movie, gave an answer - booze, more booze and more booze, then gamble away what you have. Too bad if just as you draw your last breath, when you were sure you hated life and everyone in it hated you, you find an Elisabeth Shue has fallen in love with you. See? Too slow, he gave someone the opportunity to love him with all his shortcomings, and they were legion.

Heroin would have sped it up maybe, or a lotta crack cocaine. LSD would simply make one crazy, maybe subject to committal, thus commitment to more life. I suppose any number of drugs could do it - but selecting the RIGHT method of death could be an all-consuming problem.

Unexpected would be good. Perhaps in an airline crash, or driving your motorcycle into the front end of an oncoming cement truck. Truth is, we all expect to die, and might PREFER that it be unexpected, say, when we're old, rich, in a plush nursing home at age 99 making wisecracks with the likes of Bob Hope or George Burns. One of our grandchildren comes out to take us for a ride, to go play golf, and we're struck by lightning out on the links, or in a car crash on the way home. Your grandchild survives of course, but you, alas, are killed, only two days short of your 100th.

Howzabout if you chose your death a long time ago - death by cigarette, for example, and now you can get the tobacco companies to pay your newfound heirs a boatload of cash, covering your last illness, in luxury too. THAT'S the solution to the medical situation - the tobacco companies should buy the HMO's. Then they'd be able to kill you and take care of you both at once. Knowing that, the public would probably buy a lot more cigarettes. And the more cigarettes you'd buy, the quicker you go. The tobacco companies could free cigarette machines in all the nursing homes, hospitals, doctor's offices, with those private TVideos advertising the product right there. We'd ALL smoke then. Of course, no sooner would the cigarette companies start making big profits, the liquor companies would want in, then casinos, and in Nevada, the prostitution industry. Think of all the JOBS this would create! And finally we would have FREEDOM - the ultimate one: Freedom of the Choice of Death.

Might make sense for the tobacco companies to get into something sacred too though, like HMO's or schools. Schools would be a good one - buy up the local school systems one at a time and use them as a buffer against frivolous lawsuits. Prob'ly teach the kids better'n' they're being taught now. Why look at their success rate with Joe Camel. Ole Joe might do a better job of putting algebra and calculus across to obtuse minds. So it would be "You want your kids better educated? Smoke more cigarettes, kill yourself faster. More money for Education!"


© Port Whitman Times 2002

I'm not sure where I read it or heard it, but it worked. It seems to me it was called "The Irish Method" at the time, though I don't know by whom. Anyway, it was the easiest way of toilet training a two-year old boy that I had ever heard of or done. And just maybe it could help with those of us who've had our prostates removed and are walking around like leaky boats, shpritzing when we least expect to, and cursing the pads we have to wear. Actually, you may find you're already doing part of The Irish Method. If you'll notice when you're in the bathroom or bedroom, or in between, with nothing on, you don't seem to have to pee, or tend to leak. Somehow the configuration of the muscles is such that you hold it in when you're naked, but when you put on clothes, especially pants and a belt, everything changes.

Now about the Irish method. If you have a two-year old this might be useful, and as I said, to you who've had the RP (radical prostatectomy) operation too. First put the child (male, as I don't know how this works with female plumbing that doesn't project out from the body so it can be seen, and seeing it come out is part of the process) into a room with a waterproof floor such as linoleum. No low furniture in the room either, as it might get wet. One piece of furniture that IS essential however, is the potty. Then, undress Junior below the waist, and put him into the room with the waterproof floor AND the potty, now for all intents and purposes naked, so he can SEE his little peepee and what comes out when he gets "that" feeling. After the kiddy gate is closed so Junior can't get out and pee on the rug in the living room, Mom (or it could be Dad) stays close by, where she can hear into the room. When the tinkling sounds of urination are heard, parent hurries into the room, and with a gentle "no, no, wait, wait" whisks Junior over to the potty to finish the pee into the proper place. As the rest of the pee is flowing into the potty, Mom issues forth sounds of praise: "good boy, good Junior, that's where it goes, etc." Then clean up the spilt pee and repeat the process: wait, whisk, praise, clean up, until he makes the connection. Very soon, especially as he sees the pee squirting forth out of him, with the feeling of urgency-then-relief, Junior gets the message that peeing on the floor isn't done, realizing that the place for it is in the potty. Voila! Toilet-trained, and usually in a day. Kids are smart, they catch on to this very quickly.

Now how about us, can we catch on as quickly? The problem is how to connect this to an older man recently shorn of a prostate gland, which for many years has been the controlling gateway for the urinary process? Other muscles must be trained. New awareness must come into play.

In a way, nakedness, and the evidence of incontinence, must be faced - actually seen, or at least felt, once more. So, if you have a house that is all linoleum-floored, or even a room with floor protection, that might work, or if you could go to a nudist beach or a nudist colony, you might be able to face the music and learn to conduct again. It's probably not necessary, as with Junior, to SEE the pee coming out, but to recognize the feeling unconstrained by any clothing is much easier. For most of us, it's the pads and those "oops" leaks just when you least expect them that are the problem, until the process can be reconstructed. The idea is to teach the subconscious to predict the leaks, somehow anticipate them, guard against them until we can get to a potty.

So if you can, try the naked approach, or if nakedness isn't an option, get as close to it as you can without alarming the neighbors or the grandkids. It would seem that something very loose fitting that you hardly know is there, around the house maybe loose boxer shorts held up by suspenders, or an extra-large bathing suit. Outside loose pants and suspenders. Then, you'll SEE and FEEL that without those Depend pads you'll pee yourself, your shorts, your pants, so you MUST remain aware and in control, able to say to yourself "no, no, wait, wait" and whisk yourself to the nearest potty to execute the function, saying "good boy, good Junior, that's where it goes, etc." to yourself. It's the senior citizen equivalent of working without a net, letting your subconscious autopilot have control.

Once you have it down, you can graduate to more sophisticated attire, working up gradually to the khakis, finally the white duck trousers, and remember, with suspenders, not a belt. I find that in wearing a belt, I tend to relax my muscles more and let the belt do the heavy work of containing and supporting, pushing against it when lifting or straining even slightly. But with suspenders and loose pants (to do this might involve losing some weight), I tend to use my own inner muscles to keep control, to keep urination in check. Works for Junior, works for the Irish, and hopefully for me, and you.

EDITORIALby Henry Francisco
Think of a a subject, any subject,
do a "find" to see what, if anything, is written about it here.

​MEDICAL BILLING  Is Way More Expensive Than You Think. If you're not from America, or you're young and healthy enough to have avoided doc-tors up to now, you may not have been exposed to the delights of this country's high medical costs. So here's a demon-stration, in the form of a $243K bill for a three-night hospital stay: Meh, just tight-en up the eating-out budget a little bit.

     Hospital bills topping one million dollars are on the rise, and even a minor injury can leave you with a bill that looks like the hospital replaced all of your in-ternal organs with diamond-studded plu-tonium. But beyond the initial punch to the wallet, the awfulness of ridiculous medical bills extends to places you might not have thought. Such as ...  Even Insured People Are Going Bankrupt. The majority of bankruptcies in America are now caused by medical bills. Clearly, these bankruptees were devil-may-care hooligans who chose not to protect them-selves with health insurance. Oh, wait: Most of them did have insurance. Three-quarters of Americans whose medical bills contributed to their  bankruptcies were insured when their health problems began. Their real problem was that these slackers were dumb enough to not be able to afford a low-deductible plan, or clumsy enough to come down with something their insurance didn't cover.
     And when you look at the random bills that even insured people get hit with, it's not hard to see how this can happen. I have a friend who broke an ankle slipping on her frozen driveway during the seven-month ice storm people in New York call a "winter." She was in-sured with an 80/20 plan, but still re-ceived a bill for around $6,000. This month, I got a letter from my own insur-ance company arguing that a single blood test I got back in March wasn't "medical-ly necessary" and warning me that I might have to cough up the full price. How much was the full price of that single blood test? Just $5,000! Luckily nothing came of it, otherwise I would have had to dip deep into my salary.
  These incredibly high and apparently random medical costs get even more ridiculous when you consider...Stupid Frivolous Stuff Actually Costs Us Less.
     These bills are high, but hey, maybe doctor stuff just costs a lot. Those long white coats and stethoscopes-around-the-neck don't pay for themselves! Except that while fixing a broken ankle appar-ently costs as much as a new car or two, the charge for laser eye surgery is usually only around $2,000 per eye. And this isn't a freak outlier: Nonessential pro-cedures like cosmetic rhinoplasty often cost a lot less than surgeries that people actually need.
     Why is essential medical care so much more expensive? Look at it like this: Say you're a plastic surgeon who performs extra-nipple implants. This procedure isn't considered medically necessary, and therefore is not covered by most insurance companies, meaning that your patients must pay you directly. If patients choose not to buy your extra nipples for $5,000 per nipple, you'll have to lower the price to $4,000, or else change your business model.
"Nipple pills? Nipple serum? Aerosolized nipple spray?"
     But when you add in the American system of mostly-employer-based health insurance, things get weird. The patient doesn't pay the doctor directly -- A lot of Americans don't even realize that this is an option. Instead, hospitals and medical practices bill the patient's insurance com-pany. Because insurance companies are usually big and powerful enough to have bargaining power, there's a good chance that they will respond by farting on the bill and sending it back. Hospitals know this, and so over the years they've started making up their own extremely high pri-ces and throwing them at insurance com-panies in the hope that they will pay   something. These so-called "charge-master" rates have grown so ludicrous over the years, they now include things like $37 Tylenol pills and $137 IV bags.
     Once again, these chargemaster rates are mostly completely made up and have nothing to do with what these things ac-tually cost. They're simply part of the monetary dance-off that insurance com-panies and hospitals are doing with one another. In most cases, the insurance companies agree to pay a small amount of the stupidly high bill, the hospital ac-cepts this reduced amount, and everyone is happy. Except uninsured and under- insured people, that is, because they are also billed at the chargemaster prices.

     There are a bunch of other factors at work, of course, but this is a big reason why a single petting-zoo mishap could end up costing you the price of a small car. But most hospitals will still tell us that everything is fine for Joe Injured American, because ...

Everyone Is in on the Con but You.
     When asked how people could be ex-pected to pay chargemaster rates, the vice president of the American Hospital Asso-ciation insisted that $37-Tylenol-style prices are not so bad, because they are "generally not what a consumer would pay." In other words, only suckers pay sticker price. Big medical bills are just a silly game between hospitals and insur-ers, and us consumers should just laugh it off for the same reason we laugh off the neighbors' late-night throwing-knife fights: It doesn't affect us, and it isn't our problem.
     Let's pretend now that the American Hospital Association is telling the abso-lute truth. Let's pretend that all patients have to do is call and ask, and hospitals will slash the bill every time (and not just sometimes, as is really the case). Let's pretend that cancer patients have the time and money to dispute every single item on their $70,000 chemo bill while they are trying to concentrate on having the bloomin' cancer. Let's pretend that peo-ple are really only at risk of medical bankruptcy if they break their leg 60 times in a row.
     ..................."Dammit! Again!"
     We'll assume all that, and it still doesn't matter, because most people don't know that chargemaster rates are a joke. Do a quick survey of posts about medical bills on social media, and you won't find many stories of Americans receiving a letter, rolling up their sleeves, and marching down to the hospital to dispute the **** out of some billing. Instead, most people receive bills and immediately start wondering how they can pay the whole thing off, whether it's by getting another job or asking for do-nations or by cooking meth or whatever.

     Why are so many people unwittingly allowing themselves to be ripped off like this? Maybe it's because America is not a bargaining culture. Guidebooks written for Americans traveling overseas are full of warnings about not paying full price for traditional French penis statues or whatever: French penis-mongers, the books will tell you, quote high prices but expect to be haggled down. Maybe Americans need these warnings because in this country bargaining is generally something that happens only when you're dealing with professions seen as shady or dishonest, like car dealerships. Yet at some point doctors and hospitals, the people we trust with our family members' lives, have migrated into this same shady "don't trust the quoted price" category. And then we're surprised that some people don't realize this.
     It's Probably Getting Worse...
America's insurance-dominated health-care system is not a friend to small, inde-pendent clinics. If you're running a small practice with a limited budget and staff, it's difficult to concentrate on patients while you're also essentially running an insurance-shakedown business. And it's getting worse: Every year brings new regulations requiring things, like fancy electronic record-keeping systems, that are as far outside small clinics' budgets as robot nurses.

     As more and more of these clinics fold, the doctors who once would have worked there are instead getting hired by hospitals. In itself, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. But those same hospitals that are swallowing up doctors like British police boxes are also merging with each other all across the country. And when big hospitals give in to their mutual love and merge into mega hospitals, patients' bills go up.

"And here's where I drew a penis on a piece of paper. It's going to cost you $32,000."
     Once a hospital chain becomes the dominant health provider in an area, in-surance companies are pretty much forced to keep that hospital as a client, because otherwise they'll lose customers faster than if they changed their name to "Death Panels of America, Inc." Who would sign up with an insurance com-pany that isn't accepted by any doctor in a 100-mile radius? Once insurers are trapped like this, hospital chains are free to start pushing up prices even more.
     A big problem here is that when Americans think about healthcare costs, we're used to pointing at insurers like they're the sole bad guys. After all, for most of us, "insurance company" means "those guys who call you up in the ER after you've been bitten by a mountain lion and question whether you really need all those stitches." Hospitals, on the other hand, are the good guys: They sew us up, remove all those mountain lion teeth, and save our lives. Unfortunately, these days a lot of hospitals seem to be taking this innocent goodwill and using it to turn into the antagonists in a James Cameron movie.
      And one of the worst things about these increasingly awful medical bills is ... They Destroy the Way You Think About Mone

     Although the average American cable news station spends approximately 50 billion hours a year discussing health-care, one thing hardly anyone talks about is the psychological effect of these stu-pidly huge bills. I know all about this, because I'm a person with chronic health problems who recently switched to private health insurance after many years participating in the socialized healthcare system known as "the U.S. military." I have the best insurance I can afford, and yet every trip to the mailbox involves psyching myself up for this week's third surprise bill, or maybe even another letter accusing me of getting a medically unnecessary blood test, because appar-ently I'm some kind of blood-test junkie who bursts into clinics and shakes down doctors to get my next phlebotomist-administered hit.
The needle is the only way I can feel anything anymore.
     Logically, at this point I should become super financially responsible so I can pay these bills, right? But nope, it's a constant effort not to react in the exact opposite way. I want to be a responsible middle-class person with a mortgage and a sensible haircut and well-organized kitchen utensils, I really do, but what's the point in trying? At any moment in the near future, my insurance could decide to dispute a random medication and send me a bill that wipes out all my savings and more. So tell me why I shouldn't live in the moment and spend $250 on a jewel-encrusted cockring. Sir Edgar Crowington deserves only the best

Yes, many things can go wrong in life.
     Your house might burn down. A dying bald eagle might fall on your parked car. The difference with medical bills is that they're so potentially huge and arbitrary that there is no preparing for them. You can't just buy insurance and stop worrying: Insurance might cover your bills, but it might not. You can't predict how bad your bills are going to be if you get hurt in an accident, because costs are pretty much random. I have no idea why one of my generic medications costs me $150 after insurance and the other costs me $15. It's not like the first one works 10 times better, or a panel determined that the second medicine is needed only by people who are jerks. The extent of your money-beatdown depends entirely on how your body decides to go wrong and how unlucky you are.
                                  We're living in a society where an ordinary misfortune like a broken bone or a car accident can strike normal, responsible, insured Americans out of nowhere, and it could cost us $200 or it could cost us $200,000. There's nothing any of us can do to prevent this looming financial shark attack, except be incredi-bly rich. And we're all getting older, and most of us aren't in perfect health, so why not just say "screw it, YOLO" and spend all our income on monster trucks and golden unicorn statues? Yet you'll hear people refer to this whole situation as some kind of opportunity to learn and practice "personal responsibility." Guys, those words: I don't think they mean what you think they mean.

Jeeeeeeeeeeez, as a European, it isn't even fun to be smug anymore. This is rotten to it's very core.
"If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you."
"If you cannot afford a doctor... piss off and die, peasant."
'Personal responsibility' is only ever, ever applied to the underprivileged..


The problem with lobbying and lobbyists is that it gives the most attention, thus influence, to those with the most money, not necessarily to the constituency with the most votes. Since such a small percentage of the populace in the USA comes out to vote regularly, and our election days are many, and on inconvenient days (Tuesdays) to boot, elections are won by small percentages of the most fanatical, the party faithful. Voting needs to be easy and convenient, not hard and inconvenient. For everybody.
     Money used in political advertising, where candidates can say anything they want this side of legal, short of slander, shades their opinion to reflect one thing, when it actually might be another legislative item that's more important when it comes down to an actual vote. Mr. Niceguy-in-the-ad, who appeals to everybody is the candidate you see portrayed, and in public, whereas in the negotiating rooms he is bargaining not only for his constituents, but for retaining his position on the money train, in office with full medical coverage, expenses paid, nice office and staff etc., all courtesy of the taxpaying public.
     No doubt about it, outside cash, lobbying, within the legal bounds of course (ahem), buys influence, especially when it costs so much to get into – and stay – in office, which is the road so-called professional politicians inevitably take. Well, why wouldn't they? And why shouldn't it be that way? Really? You ask? Come on, it ought not necessarily be that way, because politicians are charged with the responsibility of governing for everyone, not just those who can afford to pay them so they can get re-elected. That's what democracy is all about.
     Today, as soon as politicians take the oath of office, they begin their campaign to win the next election, courting the electorate and the influential donors at the same time, on a fence that can maybe satisfy both if they are lucky, but hey… How lucky can you be, or, how rich in donors can you be? Which would you bet on? Hmm?
     The solution? Take media advertising out of the electoral process. Then base electioneering on public debates only. Free. Oh yes, on and in all media, but with equal time for all candidates' points of view so that we who vote (you do vote, don't you?) can make an actual decision based on exactly what we see, not on what the hucksters present (or hide) in the constant din of advertising for this or that candidate with the most money.                       Henry Francisco

© Port Whitman Times 1999
Is Death an act, as in the ACT of dying? Sitting in my reclining dentist's chair the other day, I WOULD have died, had it not been for Dr. Bob's vigilant efficiency.

I WOULD have stopped breathing voluntarily, under the Nitrous Oxide. Yes, I had persuaded myself, as I let the drug overtake me, that this is probably what heaven would be like, this euphoric feeling, all the time, not caring even whether I breathed or not. . . "Oh, what the H_ _ _ , why breathe anyway. . ." said I.

"OK, off the Nitrous," said Bob, "we want you to come back." Ever mindful of the dial that measures such goings-on as I have described, he became aware of what the drug was doing to my body, seemingly an accurate indication of what's also transpiring in my mind. I had been "playing dead" for easier working conditions for him, taking my pleasure at the same time.

At first I took deep breaths, to kill the pain of course (Ahem), and gone through the stages of awarelessness of things around me, eliminating each setting and object from my mind, the first being the pain, that being banished to the farthest place. I obliterated images of the tools working on my mouth, the hygyenist, then Bob (Sorry, Bob), the room, the place, the news, the world, all but me myself, my spirit that could stop or keep breathing at will. Do I have the faith to step off the cliff of life to search for another dimension?

Well, not consciously, soberly, but with the laughing gas in my system I would've tried, maybe even been happy there and decided to stay. Perhaps drug death is, after all, a lofty experience where you go willingly into the heavenly sphere, and, if that's what you want, you should not be denied. But, for most of us, it is not a willing companion. Hey we got sense, y'know.

There may be times, of course, when we will WANT death to come, wish to stop breathing, because life, the suffering of a terminal illness, has become unbearable. But then that same mechanism, which seems to be a two-way switch, won't LET us take the coveted final expiration.

It's a good-news, bad-news situation: The good news drug lets you go down whatever paths you want, over to the other side to sample what's there, laughing all the way. The bad news drugs keep you alive to suffer, won't let you go when you'd rather.

On reconsidering the idea later, I concluded that had I just let myself stop breathing, it would have been a mistake, to this side's way of thinking anyway. As to the other side's way, who knows - you, maybe?


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Low-cut Converse All Stars are the most comfortable and practical shoe, summer or winter (yes, even winter, with shoe-look-alike rubbers over them) - their insulation of your sole is equally cushiony throughout; they are as flexible over stones as over mud, their angle of attack is at a perfect attitude for walking. They're terrific for golf or boating - just the best for everything, dress casual, moderate casual, extra casual, super casual and casual formal i.e. white tie and sneakers, for ballroom dancing. They are not for jogging long distances, however, as the heels are too thin.

The coup de cobblery, however, is the SNEAKER SANDAL, the final end-use of the Converse All Star. This is a footpiece that can be worn around the house, even in the yard in the summertime. Far more practical than the rubber clog, because it still gives good arch support, yet airy and comfy with or without socks, at the beach (emptying sand from them is a cinch), or in the TV room. Firmer than a moccasin, yet as easy to slip on, prop up, keep cool, and all the rest. Here's how they are made:

Take an old pair of low-cut Converse All Stars (others will not work because of the way they're constructed), run them through the washing machine, dry them out in the sun, remove the laces.

Using a single edged razor blade or an Exacto blade, cut the tongues along their seams at the bottom where the tongues join the side of the shoe.

The tongues are now still attached to the piece of rubber that forms the top of the toe of the shoe. Now cut around this toe just above the red line, and cut what's left of the fabric of the tongue attached to the side of the sneaker, removing the tongues completely, but leaving a small front fence to protect your toes, should you happen to kick something stationary, such as a chair leg or a steel bed-frame leg (Ouch!).

Trim off the heel by cutting from just in back of the eyelets, retaining all the eyelets, down diagonally to the sole and around the back, removing the entire heel section, so that the sneaks become slip-ons.

Now replace the strings: put the laces back into the sneakers just as you normally would, lacing them up untwisted, to the top. Keeping the strings loose, insert your foot fully into the sneaker-sandal; now tighten up the laces so that your foot is comfortable and snug, but so the slip-on won't slip off when you walk fast in it, tie offf the laces at exactly that tightness, and double-bow them so they won't touch the ground.

Now proceed to wear them, totally and comprehensively, out. It'll take years; maybe they'll outlast you. Oh yes - you may paint them different colors too - yellow is the current favorite of this contributor. Ta-ta. See you at the beach.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Today I saw a kid, er, a young man (!), perhaps a college student, or at least that age, carrying books so you'd give him credit for a little sense anyway, yet he was wearing those new-style pants - I hesitate calling them trousers - with the crotch slung way down almost to the knees. STUPID PANTS (or Poopie Pants) I call them, 'cause you'd almost expect the wearer to be going "Duhhh," with his index finger hung over his lower teeth; but I suppose they're better than the genesis of this style, which was regular pants pulled halfway down to all but expose the buttocks - purposely - apparently to get some kind of reaction, exactly from whom one wonders.

The teenager I saw was getting on the bus, paying his fare, and what caught my attention was his struggle with the books and the pants. The bus was a "Driver Has No Change" affair of course, so you either had to have the right change or inject bills into the farebox and watch them slip away through a window, belts whisking them away to the lower depths. I didn't have the right change, so it was bills for me, but the kid did, and that's when the notable activity with the pants came.

Now I'm not one for high tight crotches either, being of the school that pants are one of man's greatest inventions (finally being adopted by women, and not a moment too soon), covering the lower part of the body yet offering the convenience of a fly front with a zipper, belt loops, and pockets, usually four in number, conveniently placed to permit access to what's inside, be it handkerchief, wallet, personal items, bills or change. Change was the item in question today, being that it was the front end of a bus.

The kid, books balanced in one arm, reached down, lifted up the bottom of his jacket with the other hand, went naturally into the hip area where pockets traditionally are - and missed. No pocket there, where we've become used to them over the years. You see, the new crotch-fallen pants also come with side-fallen pockets, so to reach your change at the bottom you've got to have knuckle-dragging neanderthal arms. But this normal-armed kid was up to the task, as people waited in the rain behind him. Down he went, fumbling his books, straight to the bottom of his thigh-high pocket, and came up with a handful of change. He proceeded to allow the change to drip from the bottom of his fist into the change slot until he had satisfied the maw of the farebox, and then went to put the rest back into his pocket.

Once again he went for the nonexistent upper pocket (old habits die hard), and in the process dropped several coins onto the floor before he realized again that the pocket he sought wasn't there anymore. However, being a persistent sort, he once again located the thigh pocket and dropped the rest of the change back to its knee-high repository, then swivel-duck walked (how else can you walk when the crotch of your pants has dropped a full 12 inches from the hinges for your legs?) back to his seat where he sat with his big high-style sneakered feet in the aisle. Figures.

Now I assumed he was fairly intelligent, but his Stupid Pants unfortunately made him LOOK stupid, and holding up the rest of the passengers didn't help. They simply sighed, rolled their eyes and cursed silently while he fumbled. Right in style, yeah.


© Port Whitman Times 2003

Opportunity knocks. It pounds. It's hammering at the door, and we haven't seen fit to answer yet. We quibble about whether politicians, whose small minds can't seem to accept homosexuality as a fact of life and move on past name-calling and own-ass protecting, are going to step up and do the right thing or remain inured to the opportunity for revenue from such as internet spam and narcotics. Both spam and narcotics are facts of everyday life in our world, and both operate under the radar, even underground. Anyone whose connected to cyberspace receives up to hundreds of spam e-mails daily. Bothersome messages about reducing one's debt or enlarging one's penis or breast size. Casinos abound, as do money-making opportunities, like helping to release tied-up funds in Nigeria (for a cut of the booty, of course)


Representation without taxation. The only ones of us that are bothered by these phenomena are those of us who are bothered by them. Don't want them, can't stand them! So, what do we do to counteract them? In the case of spam, nothing. NOTHING! And in the case of drugs, we try to stop them in countries where people who might otherwise be starving, are at least making ends meet by growing, harvesting, processing, transporting, exporting, reaping the profits in the USA where people who might otherwise be starving make ends meet by importing, processing, transporting, concealing and selling them to people who are starving - for something to spice up their dreary lives in a humdrum world, and prey upon productive members of society to support their habits. Logical? Not hardly.

Well, in a way yes though. Why? Because drug laws all over the world support jobs, of the infrastructure. of police-dom and law enforcement involved in preventing the drugs from getting to those who want them. And who pays? Of course those who want the drugs pay higher prices, AND we who want to prevent those drugs from getting to those want them, we have to pay for the industry of prevention. The border patrols of the DEA, the cops, the undercover narcs, the snitches, the wiretaps, the detectives, the CSI teams, the jailers, the judges, the court systems, the prisons, the parole systems etcetera ad infinitum. To stop the drugs from getting to those who want them. And does all that stop them?D No. NO! The drugs still get through.

Our governments complain that there's no money in bad economic times. So, raise the real estate taxes, Raise the school taxes, raise the income tax, the sales tax, the head tax, the transfer tax, the wage tax, etc. While the drug people cruise merrily along under the tax radar. They make millions. Billions, to which legitimate governments have NO claim. On which legitimate governments SPEND billions in a futile attempt at prohibition. Earth to Government: You CAN'T stop drugs!

I don't take drugs beyond aspirin and vitamin C. But if I did, I no doubt could find them within five minutes of where I live. And I live in the exurbs! I don't take undue risks, or I'd be in the drug business, helping those poor souls who need drugs to enliven their existences to find the pleasures that they get from the imbibing of their favorite substances. But I do take notice, of all the futile efforts and massive expenditures required to prevent the drugs from getting to the users - the wanters - the needers, the bound-to's and the can't-help-its. And I say "why starve the government while the drug purveyors are making a killing?" The best way to take care of the problem (and it's really only a problem for those tho TAKE drugs or those who are victimized by the dopers for their cash) is to welcome it into the economy and to TAX it. Tax it to the teeth, while controlling the flow, the quality, the manufacture, transporting, and the sale.

Money we spend on prevention of the sale of drugs could be spent on education. Look how it has worked with tobacco, an addictive substance. Nicotine cessation is now a big business, fewer people are starting with tobacco, more people are quitting. The smoking population is shrinking. Same thing could happen with drugs.

Now, as for SPAM...


© Port Whitman Times 1997

That contribution to the non-profit group you've been solicited by... Is it REALLY deductible, like they say it is? Not unless all your itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction you can take regardless of whether you give or not. The Standard deduction is substantial, so if your house is paid off (interest deduction), your medical bills and other itemized deductions are not large, you might just be better off with the standard deduction, in which case that $25 you sent to the college or high school, fire/ambulance company, or any of the small "deductible" items just don¹t count as deductible.

So, if you give, give BIG, make it matter, tax-wise, or at least don¹t be fooled by that "deductible" tag.


© Port Whitman Times 2010

PORT WHITMAN TIMES Dec. 30, 2010: As of January 1, 2011 Junk mailers must accept return e-mail for all transmissions coming into Greater Port Whitman. Also, there will be a 1¢ TAX levied to recipients on both sides, receiver and sender, on any e-mail that is opened, which tax shall be paid monthly through both their ISP's. The tax is a sample tryout for a proposed Worldwide tax by the UN, to finance education and modernizing programs everywhere. All ISP's must comply, and submit electronic records with payment or their WWWCC license to operate on the Internet will be suspended. This is only a test, and since Port Whitman has the various economic levels of population equal to the same percentages in the world population, it is seen to be a valid sample of the world's reaction to the tax.Ê

The Benefit (along with tax revenue) to onliners all countries: If receivers of spam, other advertising or any message, text or graphic reply to spammers with an an e-mail saying "Remove me from your mailing list" - the sender has to pay for that reply, and will be sure to remove that e-mail address from their list, lest they be taxed again.Ê "It's time for Internet users to clean up their acts, and start paying for all this stuff we get for free." said Gary Prost, the interim head of the proposed hard-nosed collection agency under the ÊWorldWideWeb Communications Commission.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Dear Harpo...

I'm sorry to have been so late in answering your lettr, but I've been studying for my Permanent Record test. Oh, did I tell you about Permanent Records? Hah, remember you told me that back in your grade school days the teacher taunted you with, "This will go on your permanent record, Sonny.." whenever you did something really bad? The way you described it, you went directly from canings or beatings to the "Permanent Record" routine between maybe eighth and ninth grades. I guess they started to take a more adult tack about you quasi-incorrigibles about then, ha, ha.

Anyway, my test today reminded me, because now we really DO have Permanent Records, but they're much advanced due to the connection of everyone on earth to the giant computers. Now we just slip our PI (Personal Identification) plastic card into the slot on our TV anytime we want, and we can examine our Permanent Record to see where we made mistakes, and where we can improve. As I wrote you last time, almost everything we want is SOMEWHERE in cyberspace. School up to Ph.D in almost any subject, entertainment and news of course, newspapers with voice-overs reading the copy as it appears, want ads, and all kinds of information about anything. We don't have channels any more, just an index which we request with our PI, and then we select. The cost is deducted from our bank account automatically. There are terminals everywhere, and our whole lives seem to depend on our Permanent Record... how many notable accomplishments we have entered into our cumulative total to date, and it affects everything, even what job interviewers think. I had to produce my card and sit there the other day while this employment specialist at a place where I was applying for a job inserted it into their company terminal and inspected my whole life! It used to be embarrassing, but I'm used to it now. P.S., I got the job.

My voting weight just took a jump from 59 to 61 last week, due to a course I took in Dance, of all things. Imagine a course in Dance Movement (Modern) affecting the numerical weight my vote has in the Presidential elections! Oh, didn't I tell you -- I forgot you're back there in the twentieth century -- our Permanent Record influences how much our vote counts too. It's all very equitable now -- the better educated you are, the more you have on the plus side of your Permanent Record (PR), and the less you have on the minus side, the more your vote counts (from 1 to 100) in any election. Everybody votes, naturally, because there are terminals everywhere by law. You just place your card in one of them, request the ballot, mark it, and that's it. Of course, how much your vote counts depends on your PR, which factors EVERYTHING in, your age, your education, your income, family size, time on the job, etc., etc., ad infinitum (really!). So, not to bore you with any more of this blather...I took this Dance course, reduced my body weight and raised my voting weight...I've registered for another TV course in The Mathematics of Baseball. Maybe I can figure what the chances are of breaking Pete Rose's all time hits record this year. Imagine! More later...



© Port Whitman Times 1998

With the computer we can revive, recall, reorganize, reprocess and best of all, re-use all of our and everyone else's thoughts... There seems no point in learning the traditional things in traditional ways anymore, because information, i.e. the tiles which make up the mosaic of knowledge, will be forever readily available, and those who can access needed data and refocus it on a current problem will be the fittest survivors. Formerly fact-crowded brainspace is now available for consideration of solutions. Mere facts are relegated to electronic storage, information bins.

For some, just learning how to operate a computer will be the key to a reasonable survival. Today's so-called knowledge, becomes obsolete by next week. Forget hammering anything into stone. Knowing WHERE information is, makes more sense rather than knowing WHAT it is. As time goes on, those who can perform the tasks of information-shaping and interpretation will be much in demand.

But when the computer refuses to perform, we are at the mercy of the wolves. If lawyers are the sharks, the repair people (along with all the other repair people who tinker with the electronic innards of that which we do not understand, and charge us as much as they can, while our item is held hostage on their shelves) are surely the wolves. They'll take a chomp out of your wallet, and being the carnivores they are, will rip off as much flesh as they can manage in the same bite. For they are unquestionably one-bite creatures. Electronic repair people get one shot at you - like Lee Harvey Oswald - A short window of opportunity, but by careful and efficient planning, can pull off a sizable caper. These predators plan ahead, then lie in wait in the yellow pages, and spring out when you're most vulnerable, with your computer down around your ankles.

"That'll be $100 for the 'Analysis Bench Charge' plus parts and time on our Repair Bench at $200/hour. But we'll getcha outa here lickety split - Unless there are, ah, (Uh-Oh) ...complications. You got coverage for this? Y'know, a manufacturer service contract?" He holds hands up like a surgeon ready for work in the O.R. "Oh, my hands? Gotta bathe in the anti-static solution. You're covered? Good, what's the deductible?"...

Danny Glick, founder of FAIR REPAIR shops now at three locations in Port Whitman advertises that they do not store your computer, but make an appointment with you for an in-shop consultation and repair. If it is a simple job, they'll do the repair while you watch, or with an express-air-overnight part, next day for sure. If they cannot fix or don't have access to the part, they will send you to a local specialist who, at a higher hourly fee, fix it while you watch. All computer repair specialists throughout the FAIR REPAIR CMO (Computer Maintenance Organization) are required to, on request, explain what they are doing from behind a soundproof window through which you may see, but cannot comment beyond explaining the initial symptoms prior to the operation.

Sounds like a good deal.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

"Oh! Mama, this guy, he transports himself from one machine to another, with molecular whatsit, and he gets caught in one of the machines with a fly, and he starts to turn into a fly when he comes out of the other machine. Mama, did you know that flies vomit on everything before they eat it. Ugh, who wants a fly vomiting on your food!"
"I agree m'dear, but its your generation that contemplates these things. We would rather concentrate on love, marriage, faith, hope and charity... Now about the fly..."
"Mama, he walks on the walls, an' grows spiny hair all over, and his eyes bulge out and he 'ticks,' y'know, moves his head real fast like flies do. He does everything but fly."
"How so, m'dear?"
"Well, apparently flies develop their wings last, and he was. . . well anyway, before he gets his wings, sump'n bad happens. I don't wanna give it away, for when you see it on TV. But it's almost as scary as CUJO was."
"No, really?"
"Yep. 'Cept he gets some people. Cujo didn't."
"Gets people?"
"Yeah, he spits up on 'em, and they melt like ice cream, 'cept faster. I wanteda run out an' vomit, but I didn' wanna miss any of it, y'knowhatImean? (Pause) He's a real nice guy too, a scientist who has seven sets of clothes all the same, so he doesn't hafta waste time deciding. Maybe a couple extra sets fer laundry day, and special dates. An' she falls in. . ."
"She? Who's she?"
"Ohyeah, I fergot. She(Geena Davis)'s a magazine writer, and he persuades her to do a story on him, on his invention to revolutionize time and space travel by this molecular whatsit, and she falls for him and they have an affair, but her old boyfriend (John Getz) is jealous, he's also her editor who doesn't believe her at first but he comes around. Durn! Howcome we always want to kill the things we don't understand. Flies can be nice too, y'know. Oh yeah, she even gets pregnant, an' doesn't know if the baby is gonna be part fly, she even dreams she has a big maggot, I mean a big (gestures) maggot all quivery and... yuck, I don't even wanta think about it."
"Sounds like there's enough in the film to make a body sick at their stomach."
"Yeah, but yer laughin' so hard y' don't wanna. It's like... remember Spencer Tracy in that old movie Dr. Jekyl an,' an' uh, Mister Hyde, where he changes little by little into this monster? It's like that and this guy'l get the oscar too, I betcha. Er maybe Chris Walas, the one who created & designed the fly."
"Who's gonna get the Oscar?"
"The scientist mama, er, Jeff Goldblum. He becomes the fly, well, almost. He's funnier too, the movie's funnier I mean. 'Cept for the gooey parts. Boy, I betcha he had a hard time getting back to being himself after being the fly."
"My my, I could've swatted him yesterday."
"Oh mama, don't be silly, it was only a movie." 9


© Port Whitman Times 2005

GODFATHER III No matter what you think of La Cosa Nostra, Mafia etc., you must admit the Sicilians adhere to a wonderful family structure, and no matter what the family business, whether olive oil or putting holes in each other's bodies, the tarantella of family life maintains an unbreakable rhythm, forming, of course, the basis for "the organization" - This now is the third generation of Godfathers - just the beginning of a dynasty that¹s sure to rival the Henrys of England or the Pius' of the Vatican, all in their own ways historical icons of their times. Violent times to be sure, still times where a kind of "second government" (Joe Valachi¹s phrase) exists in a pyramid descending from one boss.

This boss is tired of the game; we find him in the process of buying some respectability, where before, respect sufficed. The price is high, but the rackets have been good, and unlike the Milkins & Keatings of 1990, Michael Corleone has managed to stay out of prison while amassing a fortune in the billions. So now he spends a few hundred million to (a) receive a papal commendation, and (b) bail out one cardinal whose papal accounts have mysteriously come up short.

But Michael (Al Pacino) just can¹t seem to shake that old gang - they keep coming to him for decisions. But if not him, who? Ah, that is the question: Whether is nobler in the mind to suffer the bullets of outrageous fortune or to blast your way through a sea of trouble, and by opposing, end it (Thanks, W. Shakespeare).

This long life of Michael Corleone is just one calamity piled atop another. He's a king who wants to abdicate, but no heirs - his only son wants to be an opera singer (Haddayalikedat!), and his daughter is just too soft for the job (Women need not apply; godmothers are still relegated to fairyland).

Just in the nick of time, along comes wiseguy Vincent (Andy Garcia), son of dead bro Sonny (remember James Caan?). Wet behind he ears, eager to knock off the competition and, when the rough edges are sanded off, about right for the job. But first this business with the Pope, and Michael¹s dreams of canonization, purchased fair and square, not to mention the political infighting among the members of the Mafia high council to get the capo de tutti capos - super-padrone - job. There¹s a subtle war going on here - world governments take notice - where only a few people get killed before things are resolved - it¹s certainly more efficient to kill a few key recalcitrants than to bathe the countryside in the blood of multitudes. Ah, good honest treachery knows no limits.

Along the way some good advice, for which the cost is relatively reasonable these days: (a) Temper clouds reason, (b) Your enemies always get stronger on what you leave behind, (c) Don¹t overestimate the power (or the value) of forgiveness, (d) Never hate your enemies, it affects your judgement, (e) Politics and Crime - they¹re the same thing.

Maybe we ought to send the mob to Iraq, fight fire with fire.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

They say you can¹t teach old dogs new tricks - but of course with homo sap it¹s a different tale, which is what makes us superior to the canines. Miss Daisy (Jessica Tandy) due to her advancing age, has to be driven, literally , to learn some new habits, but to her credit, and that of her driver Hoke (Morgan Freeman) she takes, if reluctantly, to new paths, without even realizing she's changing. What she really takes to is Hoke, who begins like a shy ol¹ hound and ends up an indispensable paternal friend to his mistress. Through the twenty-five years these two are together, the forces of the changing world swirl about them, yet they retain a Georgian (the state) stability that bespeaks American conservatism yet allows for the deepest compassion, lighting up the years with the love only long friendship can provide.

One can see and interpret a story such as this from any number of viewpoints, and therein lies its depth; one obvious facet is the amount of life each can provide for the other, not only in terms of service but from the experience they both bring from totally different backgrounds within the same geographic bailiwick, she whose idle hours are whiled away with Mah Jong at the apex of privilege, and he who bears the childhood scar of seeing his best friend¹s father hanging like strange fruit from a backyard tree. Though they are able to mix their experiences, in effect relating them to each other, they maintain a platonic physical distance, while the emotional bonding is becoming intensely intimate, as only two people who spend a lot of time together are wont to do.

While Freeman¹s dazzling character study of Hoke steals the show, it is the evolving of the character of Tandy¹s Daisy and of the relationship itself that provides the meat of the story. Not to be overlooked is the full-blown portrayal of Dan Ackroyd as Boolie, Daisy¹s loving and tolerant son. 9.5


© Port Whitman Times 2006

A story that revives the horrors of the Holocaust also begs the question: Exactly how are otherwise decent people brought to the conclusion that they are sufficiently better than other people that they can torture and kill them based solely upon some arrogant complex of superiority? Then, once having been brought to that state of mind, how can they indulge in the carnage to the point where it becomes a game - fun, if you will.

In this tale, a seemingly respectable old man, a loving grandfather, father, widower, hard worker, contributor to U.S. society etc. is brought to trial for WWII crimes, shameful acts of callousness that were personal, not institutional in nature - no paper pusher he, but a trigger puller, a child killer, a mother torturer who allegedly used his position as a Hungarian "Gendarme" to toy with and decimate the lives of innocents. There are no graphic depictions of the events, only verbal courtroom testimony focused on the stoic perpetrator who long before had locked away memories of the war, never to be exhumed. But contrasted with the evidence are the loving feelings of family and friends who know the human side of this man, and the relentless pursuit of an acquittal by his devoted daughter, a talented criminal lawyer who focuses her substantial legal talents at the accusers of her beloved dad, as his defense attorney.

The juxtaposition of the two levels of existence claimed by the prosecution is what makes the story a gripping one, but the final effect on the viewer can¹t fail to be: "Do we all possess a dormant strain of sadism just waiting to be awakened by membership in a group giving legitimacy to acts of horror upon our fellow human beings?" All our wartime actions seem to bear this out. Maybe it's time to change our moral direction. 8.5


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Richard Gere probably makes the movies' best heavy, because you like him immediately; so... if he turns out to be a rat, you derive an added dimension out of his role, because of the engaging personality he brings to it. One way or another the guy's always the manipulator tho, getting his licks in for the badguys and their boss, Satan of course. Here he's being pursued by Mr. Righteous IA cop (Andy Garcia), and his "nails" partner Ms. Sternly (Laurie Metcalf). He's slippery as a snake and twice as vicious when cornered. As you might suspect, there's lotsa gunfire since all the cops have guns, and a real hot internecine war is gonna involve life/career-threatening situations, with all protecting their slices of the pie.

Internal Affairs is a Cops 'n' Cops tale exposing the seamy underbelly of what could be any police unit where the city's finest have access to all the tools of criminal empire construction, but are pledged to ignore the opportunities and collar the perps, confiscating and turning in all evidence. It probes deeper and deeper into one example of a cop, a macho lover, a family man and peer-respected patrol corporal that has taken the downward path to total corruption, becoming involved in everything from drug dealing to prostitution to extortion to murder for money, using his knowledge and influence as a cop to lubricate his various enterprises. Hey, with four wives and eight children, he has a pretty big nut to provide to keep them in good cars and the right neighborhoods.

The good cops, investigating for IA, bound to get to the bottom of the scent they encounter in the department, find the trail always leads back to one cop. You guessed 'er, Chester, it's our boy Richie, one minute the loving daddy playfully having "tea" with his 5 year-old daughter, the next having adult fun with his partner's wife. Like that.

It's a taut well-made flick that will surely keep you wide-eyed and on the edge right to the final frame. 8.5


© Port Whitman Times 2007

He said he wanted "To go out in style!" How about that? Said at least he'd be "famous," and "make his mark." Killed 9 people. Hmph. Style. Fame.

Whatta country! Nowhere else would a person, a kid, no less, think that killing a lotta people in a shopping mall during Christmas shopping season would be going in "style." Oh, waitaminute I almost forgot, Iraq. Plenty of kids there think killing a lotta people is going out in style, but for their cause - Jihad, or Revenge, better than for breaking up with your girlfriend or being fired from your job. "Nine - Phhh! I killed 150" (bragging, around the campfire down in Hell) "I blew 'em all to pieces and me in the middle, like the splatter of a ripe tomato. Boom! Splat! Kill!" (He drools a little, which the others try to catch, to throw on the fire to cool off") "Pah! You and your piddly rifle, what was it, a Junior Red Ryder pop gun?" We had bombs strapped to our bodies everywhere; we went into the mall and did EVERYBODY! Big Time!"

Okay. Kill yourself if it gets that bad - with style - Do a two-and-a-half back double-twisting somersault off a high building and put it on U-Tube, live, the time and date announced in advance, but not the location, to get the maximum live viewership. Use 3 cameras for maximum angles, do it up right, with elan, panache. That's style.

Howzabout self-immolation? Lenny Bruce said suicide was the sincerest form of self-criticism. The self-immolators knew the best way of going out in style, just do yourself, a spectacle where no one else is involved up close: "Hey, look at me, I'm on fire!" There used to be a lot of that around, but everyone saw just how futile it is, and it stopped, people wised up, mostly.

Now it's guns (cheaper than gasoline) - Afterwards the rifle goes on eBay as a collectible. - "This firearm killed nine people (with notches carved by the shooter himself)." - And you take a bunch of other people with you. Hey, in a war, soldiers brag, pilots put stickers on their planes (like stickers on your first-grade paper or piano lesson) for every "Kill" - How many "kills" today, Captain? Oh, a napalm run? Too many for stickers.

You want style? They had real killing style in the middle ages - Stretching, and cutting, and dipping in boiling oil and twisting (you get the point). And the cannibals! Hang up the victim and cut off a piece at a time, keeping the rest alive ("Hey Mom, what's for dinner?") The Indians (American) - They wouldn't deign to eat the settlers, but they would hang them up and peel off their skin - slowly, for fun.

Style, fame, So you broke up with your girl, lost your job. Imagine how she feels now. Bad? Noooo - "Hey, I broke up with this guy and he killed nine people. What did the guy you shafted do?" And the employer: "This job is so good that when a guy was fired he..." (You get the point). Cynical? Indeed, America has become a cynical place. That someone - anyone - would even fathom he could attain "fame" and go "in style" this way bespeaks something seriously wrong with our "gotcha" society. The funny part is, the current subject is actually achieving his 15 minutes of notoriety - on the news, and with the note and the gun, and the girl friend, and the fast-receding story, small-time fame. All out of comic books, computer killing games, really bad TV, U-Tube, and The News. Fabrics of our society.

Look to your entertainment, America: Plenty of killing there. And check our so-called foreign policy: Heroes coming back with stickers (and missing body parts) from Iraq. And killer politcs - "Gotchas" instead of cool consideration of solutions. Down the road to perdition.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

What is all this about rights? It seems that everything has rights these days, not only people, but animals: dogs, cats, all living things through conservationists, birds, bees, snakes, bugs.."BAN FLYPAPER!" say the placards.

Women, of course, have rights to the same pay for the same work, and rights to the same jobs, right down to the hand grenade tossing and the bayonet work. The right foremost to remain women, feminine, while exercising all the other rights. Even men have rights now, to remain women for longer periods of time. Gay rights.

Now, while we're on the subject, do Gay Rights carry the implication of "only among consenting adults" and also the indictment that insidious seduction of our adolescents is not only sinful but feloniously illegal? Let us assure ourselves that such is the case before we, the democratic society that can choose how it lives, grant the rights intractably and collectively.

The poor certainly have rights, once they are alive, but they must work if able, even in the home. But do the poor have the right to breed MORE poor unrestrictedly? This right seems to have been mistakenly granted. But of course why punish babies for the mistakes of their mothers and fathers, whomever they may be. Does the father have the right to impregnate that mother and deny responsibility for the issue, after the pleasure is over?

Does the landlord have the right to collect the rent or evict the tenant? Does the tenant have the right to refuse to pay the rent, or move? Each has obligations to the other, oh yes, they accompany the rights.

Just who has the rights Every living thing seems to. Maybe plants are next: Plant's Rights. Hmmmm. If all of these rights and their exercise had been the case throughout history, and there had not been any consuming of one animal by another, there would have been no fittest to survive. Civilization by definition gradually eliminates the least able to survive on their own by promoting the most able. But if the fittest spend part of their effort helping the helpless, too many will survive, and the finite world will soon be too overcrowdded for our means, scientific and otherwise, to deal with.

After all, those who can help themselves should. People between 18 and 55 SHOULD work if they are able, and going to receive Public Assistance. Work used to be considered a right; remember RIGHT TO WORK laws? When you break it on down, the right to work is really a privilege to which we all have access, and for which we should need no encouragement.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Gays try to make the case that their homosexuality is a genetic "orientation" born within, not a life-choice.
Okay, suppose we all accept that.
People are born gay, and just can't help being the way they are, falling for whom they fall, thus their choices of sexual partners, and the rest that goes along with it - the sexual playing and plumbing. The cohabitation. They just have to come out and admit it.

But then comes the flap about anonymous sperm donors. The interviewer at the clinic asks "Are you a homosexual?" and the gay man is tempted to say "My sperm is as good as anyone else’s, why can't I be an anonymous donor too?"
Well now, if one's inborn orientation is genetically homosexual, why would any prospective parents who did not want their child to be born "gay-oriented" want to take the chance? Can you see a couple going to a clinic and saying "We want to have a child who will be a homosexual when it grows up." Yeah, right. But on second thought, maybe a gay or lesbian couple might just want that. Or a hetero couple with a broader acceptance quotient.

The same would seem to apply to lesbians and the donation of an egg, no? So if you're gay and happy with it, and they ask "Are you a homosexual?" - Don't tell. Just donate the sperm or egg and let the genes fall where they may. And if you are a heterosexual couple that just wants a regular hetero baby, make sure you get the sperm or ovum from known sources.
Forget anonymity.


© Port Whitman Times November 27, 2005

No way we can fight terrorism unless we know who the terrorists are. Well duh! That goes without saying. But how to know who they are, without knowing who we are, thus eliminating us from suspicion, is the problem. The terrorists are at war with us, no? With our nation, our government, our way of life; they would drag us back to their way of life, living in another, more primitive cultural age. Sure, everyone has a right to their opinion, and can try to persuade us out of ours, as long as legitimate means are used. That's the democratic way, right? Free speech, first amendment and all.

But these terrorists apparently couldn't care less about the legitimate way of doing things, maybe because their way of life, and they subconsciously suspect this, isn't worth going back to anyway and the only thing they have to look forward to is their concept of heaven with the virgins. So they even us up with them, by destroying what we have, bombing us back to their dimension, or so they think - cutting us down to size... We know this, they have said it, proclaimed it; the only thing we don't know is who they are, so fighting them is just punching the fog.

So we must know who we are, both us and them. How? We must identify. How do we do that? What are the best means to identify? To simply tell if we are who we say we are, and if they are who they purport to be too? Physically, there are Fingerprints, retina scans, DNA, dental records, photographs, physical descriptions, birthmarks, tattoos. Then Administratively: Social Security Numbers, Drivers License Numbers, Credit Card Numbers, Bank Transit Numbers, Personal Identification Numbers, Military Service Numbers, Passwords, residences, memberships, etc. Then of course the testimonies of friends, relatives, employers, church and organization references.

But how do we know who we are not? Rather who are not us? Or, how do we know who they are, they who pretend to be us, yet plan to do us harm? How do we separate us from them (or them from us, actually)? Aha! Ethnic profiling - Uh oh, not politically correct. Then there's scanning and inspecting, as in metal detectors, explosive particle detectors, sniffing dogs. But not everyone comes in contact with these yet-not-perfect channels of discovery, so we must conclude there are people out there somewhere who just are not known to anyone, cruising along in the general public pool, planning to destroy the things we hold dear, i.e., our lives as we know them. How to protect against these people?

Identifying them as not being us is like panning for gold, or looking for the needle in a haystack. We sift through everything, put everything through the same thorough inspection process until we come upon that which is different. But waitaminute, let's face it, we do not have a uniformly thorough inspection process. Oh yes, we have state drivers licenses, credit cards, membership cards, miscellaneous cards, but no standard identification screener that is universal, individual, definitive. For that reason we need a National ID Card. A single card with all our essential information, including a picture, a fingerprint, a retina scan, and a DNA designation, that tells for sure who we are, that we are who we say we are, and that we probably mean no harm to the USA we love and live in. What the teachers in grade school figured out we were most afraid of: our "Permanent Record."

We get the picture of the Nazis asking for "papers"- an evil picture, yet not because of the act itself, but because of who the Nazis were, and how they oppressed those whom they influenced or conquered. It needn't be that way. But it does need to be done, otherwise anyone with a driver's license can take flying lessons and learn to guide a flying fuel-loaded missile into the Twin Towers of Life and Liberty, and wreck the pursuit of happiness as we know it.


© Port Whitman Times 2004

Gay Marriage isn't really such bad idea, you know? At least, in a monogamous relationship, the threat of disease is alleviated, and couples have more time to address their lives to the more important pursuits. Really, just how much time in one's life is devoted to actual sex activity, hetero or homo? How many minutes in the day out of 1440 is spent in enjoying sexual pleasure? Not a large percentage, unless one is some kind of satyr or maniacal sex glutton. And even among those, how long can that phase of life last? But marriage, that's a different story. If we are to believe the vows we take with our chosen partner, they are meant to last a lifetime. This is a promise that lasts far longer than the next orgasm, and is far deeper than the ephemeral committments made in the local gay bar or bathhouse. Look where anonymous sex, non-committal sex, got the world: STD's, AIDS, and for what? Momentary pleasure? Please!

What this whole gay marriage spat is about, when you get right down to it, is Health Coverage, i.e., whether one's "partner" gay or not, has a right to be covered by the employer of the other, and enjoy certain legal rights, survivorship, tax advantages, etc. Surely what's right for the partner in a traditional marriage ought to be right in a gay relationship that is just as committed, just as legally binding. And if it's not LEGALLY binding, then it's just "shacking up," and deserves no legal considerations at all. This is the reason gays and lesbians want to be united in what the rest of the world calls "marriage." Getting a license and performing a ceremony is just the next step in wedding two individuals together so that all the legal rights of traditional married couples are accorded those who choose non-traditional but just as binding unions. That seems fair. Sauce for the goose-gander should be sauce for the goose-goose or gander-gander too.

Today I heard a clergyman describe marriage as something "created by God" for the good of mankind. Gee, I didn't know that. On which of the six days of creation did God come up with marriage? Was there a ceremony uniting Adam and Eve? Did I miss something? Or is this clergyman just using God and the concept of The Divinity to further his and his sect's own beliefs? Sounds that way to me. Organized religion has a lot to lose, actually, by going at gay relationships head-on, and using God to condemn them. Come ON, who knows how God feels about homosexuality? Oh sure, the bible purports to lay God's opinions about the matter out, but as anyone can tell you, the bible is open to interpretation. Certainly every Judeo-Christian denomination uses it, claiming it to be the word of God, to further its own ends, to preach its own credos, to attract its own congregations of believers. Maybe now that there are openly gay clergy, things will change and some churches will become more accepting, even begin to marry those attracted to partners of the same sex, bring them into the fold as couples rather than as non-committed individuals, religiously speaking.

Actually, other peoples' sex lives are none of anybody's business. Your sex life and how you pursue it is none of my business, vice versa, and I like it that way. I don't want to know what you do in the privacy of your bedroom or on that deserted beach, or in your little hideaway apartment in the city. That's YOUR private life, and let's leave it at that. If you like someone of your same sex, if you like S&M or bondage or bestiality or buggery or fellatio I don't CARE, that's your concern, not mine. Moreover, I don't want to be smacked over the head with your exhibitions of your sexuality. I don't want to see you caressing and fondling in public, kissing, manipulating each others' organs, etc. So stop DOING it already. Whether you're boy-boy or girl-girl or boy-girl or girl-boy. Displays of sexuality in public places just aren't something we all want to see.

The uniting of two people in marriage, no matter what their sexes or sexual preferences, is fine; let them be committed in a "mighty public way" (Thornton Wilder: "Our Town"), but the public kissing and caressing part between two people of the same sex is just too too shocking for the conservative side of me, along with a large segment of our churchgoing and non-churchgoing society. My sexuality is something I keep private, and beyond a perfunctory public kiss on a special occasion, something I wouldn't show the world. And I surely wouldn't flaunt it before a world that for the most part disapproved of my choice of sexual acts or partners. So seeing two men kissing or two women with their tongues in each other's mouths celebrating their wedding is way beyond what many of us want to accept in real life. In a movie or a play that is meant to shock or titillate, it can be countenanced; after all, people go to BE shocked, so they can sit through it, enjoy it; but not in the light of day, not on the nightly news. Eventually we might get used to it and say "so what," but it'll take a while.

Most of us do accept a legal, public contract of commitment though, and I think homosexual couples who commit in such a way, and not just because it's the act-du-jour, should be given all the legal rights that traditional couples are due, so long as their marriage, intended to last for life, survives. Beyond that, once divorce is granted by the courts - and make no mistake, if there is marriage, there must be divorce, LEGAL divorce, to dissolve the union and all its aspects - then all legal rights cease. So go ahead, marry, but be aware of the responsibilities that come with the ceremony.



Geographical Society of Philadelphia film

© Port Whitman Times 2007

In South Yemen, they worship the village idiot one day a year, imitate whatever he does, prance around foolishly, not much more advanced than animal, in fact less so, for animals have practical things to do like hunting, providing. But for the village idiot it's right in character. Finally a village idiot that LOOKS like a village idiot, and knows he is, instead of secret ones we venerate as respectable pooh bahs in more civilized societies. Finally a place that has the courage to admit that there is a village idiot. Takes guts.

Yemenites chew Qat, a drug, changing their mental attitudes so that they don't care that they live at a subhuman level (There's a lesson for us there). The quotable statistic is that 70% of the people of South Yemen use this drug. And who's to care? Maybe geographic students who take films and show them at the Academy of music to the gapers and whisperers wondering "where in the world...?"

More than 100 different kinds of dates grow in Yemen, which the Yemenites export as their number one product. In their primitive delusion, the Yemenites also dive for "natural" pearls, plunging to the depths to retrieve oysters, opening more than 3,000 to get one salable pearl, which seems largely a waste of time, but that's how poor they are. The more industrious Japanese (Mikimoto), for example figured a way long ago to culture natural pearls, and are the leading producer of pearls in the world, showing that ingenuity wins over foolish perseverance. The Japanese are into work, not Qat.

It is truly amazing that people are allowed to exist in primitive physical and mental squalor when we in the civilized world have the wherewithal to help them toward learning, health, progress. Oh come now, the notion that all are free to waste away their lives as collective drug addicts, allowing the children to literally starve from birth to death is just a bit misbegotten as a justification for "human rights." Ultimately some system will just take over these primitive countries and bring them into the 20th century, educating the children to all the opportunities available in our world. After all, it's not their fault they were born. Do they get enough to eat for the stomach and the mind? It's amazing how far ahead we are, not only in agriculture and technology, but in areas such as clothing; we wear pants, shirts, hats, shoes, while in many areas they must get along with sheets, bare feet, not that there's anything inherently wrong with these articles, it's just that the western wear is so much more convenient and sensible, allowing movement while still providing warmth, employing zippers, buttons, belts, velcro and modern tailoring to do so. We're high tech, and they're reverse-tech, it seems.

One wonders how, in this age of communication, people still follow philosophies based on ancient myths, and allow their lives and those of generations to come to be retarded because of some emotional credo that was embedded into their subconscious' by past generations of teachers' traditions. It doesn't seem that there is the luxury of time and space anymore to indulge such things to the point where we, the rest of the world, have to slow down to their rate of development in the name of human rights. What, after all, do they know of rights? All they seem to know is hand to mouth existence and Qat. At our command we have the greatest weapon to proliferate our system, that of communication, which will outlive the forcible means by which other systems purvey theirs, just as been the case from the dawn of history.

Thanks to the Geographic Society of Philadelphia, which puts on these travelogues at the Academy, for truly awakening us to the manner in which other people live, and perhaps stirring in us some pride in our own ways.


© Port Whitman Times 2003

This guy's on the radio lately, pushing his book that casts doubt on all the do-gooders going around the world giving "humanitarian" aid to people in need, i.e., people with diseases, people caught in the crossfire of war, people who are starving, etc. You know, the regular needy of the planet. And he's saying that now these do-gooders are suspect because they may have ulterior political motives. Well, surprise, surprise, of course their motives are political, if only to imply that "Our system is better than your system" - not to proselytize the victims of the world to come live with us, but just to show them that we have a system that's working for the good of all, to the point where we can magnanimously go around and help those less fortunate. Okay, so maybe the do-helpers aren't running guns or spying, but somewhere deep down, there are motives that go beyond helping for its own sake. Religious, for one. Convert the heathens...

But when you get down to it, isn't all this helping-hand stuff really just tampering with Darwin, going around saving the world from the ravages of normal earthly living? Oh it's nice to do what we do, and we can pat ourselves on the back, but face it, it's not survival of the fittest anymore, but also of the ones who can cry the loudest and most publicly TO the fittest, who might in their fittness have a lot of guilt and a little extra of the good life to donate.

Yet, we lament that earth is becoming overpopulated, bemoan that by 2050 there will be trillions more of us humans on earth and not enough natural resources to take care of us all. Well, maybe by that time, heh, heh, we'll find another planet like ours, inhabited by strange beings that don't speak earth-ish, and we can invade them, kill them off or put them on reservations, and go live there. Why not? It worked here, didn't it? If we don't want to go ourselves, we can send our excess, unwanted population there. Maybe the have-nots would line up to go there, in steerage. Now that would be a helping hand, more like a helping foot.

On the other hand, maybe our planet is singularly unique, and we won't find another like it anywhere in the universe. Hmm. Then what'll we do, stuck with the one we have, a large percentage of which we've already used up by then?

A little pre-planning, a little forethought, might lead us to realize that WE, the do-givers, the bringers of help to the downtrodden, ARE THE FITTEST! We are the survivors, and the earth is ours for the waiting - until those further down on the ladder of survival die off - from disease, war, or starve or poison themselves, because they have no idea of how to use the resources currently at their disposal constructively. Some places in the world still live in the stone age, where survival is not of the fittest, but of the most feral. Is it any of our business if these elements kill one another off? Let them. the fewer we'll have to worry about in 2050.

But then, if the terrorists among them somehow get the weapons of mass destruction,to unleash upon on us, suddenly we lose a few rungs on the survival ladder, to those most vicious who would simply destroy us because we are the haves and they're not, or they want us not to have what they don't have. Hey, survival is a ruthless business. So, simply put, maybe it's up to us to search out those who would do us harm, and destroy them, pre-emptively. But where are they, where? And who?

Now there's a job for the do-gooders. Do your good, help the needy; but snoop around while you're at it, locate the evil elements, find those who would destroy their true darwinian superiors, we who have managed to create the world of uh, excess in which we wallow. Report back to us; we'll take care of the rest.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

I am he for whom you have been waiting. Of His DNA, born again of virgin woman. I have cloned, directly from the DNA of a true relic of he who tried to save you but apparently has failed.

Look at it logically, it's entirely possible to produce me now, AND face it, where would a would-be savior begin today? Walking the Sea of Gallilee just wouldn't cut it for a would-be savior, and make no mistake about it, I WOULD BE your savior, not that I know so much about running the world, but I do know about getting along, because that is what I have done all my life - got along, and before that too.

There's no escaping either, even if you kill me like you did before - I have already been reproduced via an embryo of my DNA through the womb of another virgin woman, now live somewhere in the world, but am connected to you via the internet, and although I'm not going to exactly tell you how to run things, I'm here to direct, to aim you all in a slightly different direction, philosophically. This I shall do by trying to present lessons in life, or reactions to events, to which ALL, each and every one of you, can say "That's an interesting way of looking at it." That's all. Just accept you COULD look at it that way. Then decide for yourself how to run YOUR life.

I am cloned from one of the great moral leaders of all our pasts. Which one I shall not tell, lest you think what I say be religiously tainted. It is not, and I am not, religiously tainted or aimed in one direction, but hopefully in the direction we all would want our race, i.e., the HUMAN race, to go. I only try to be reasonable.

If we all could clone only ONE person, wouldn't we clone ourselves, then live life over again, avoiding all the mistakes? I bet that would be high on the list, after thinking of using your one clone-opportunity on becoming someone you most admire. But you can never put your way of dealing with things into anyone, and a clone is someone, after all, who is predisposed to BE you, physically, along with a soul (oh yes, clones have souls formed of our own aura, and suffused with the holy auras of all who have gone before us). This isn't to say that I have not made my share of mistakes. Surely I have, and egregious ones too. But let's forget about all that is past, unless to learn from it, and let's think about NOW and tomorrow and the time after that.

The deal is this: I write things either active or reactive, from my point of view, and you have multiple choice: You think "Yeah, it could be," and try to consider it from that viewpoint, even though it might not be your own, or you consider it an implausible train of thought and reject it. But you DO consider it. That's all I ask. No donations wanted. I have all I want or need. Just consider the ideas. You may, of course, express yourself (See below for Email Address). I will consider your ideas too, but make no mistake, this is a MONOLOG. You want to save the world, make your own website, but remember, you've got to present fresh ideas.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Right under our noses, a new word is sneaking into our language, one which we listen to every day, and pay it no mind. One would think by this time all the words have been thought up, but remember 15 years ago, humongous was just peeking over the auditory horizon, now you read it in the papers, and I'm sure in Congressional reports. Any dictionaries got it yet? Now this new one is sneaky, and although we hear it constantly, directly from the lips of another, usually by telephone, we hardly notice, cause it seems to be just idly filling space, like that loafer hanging around on the corner leaning against the pole. But up it pops while we're waiting for someone to look up, figure out, to find, or to think of what to say next. I know you've heard it, and chances are even used it, if what I hear is any indication. Any day now I'm expecting to hear it on the radio, or from the mouth of one of the blabshow honchos. Here it is: "Tshf." Right, that's the word. You say you've never heard it? Well waitaminute, I didn't say it was used by itself. No, it's said in a kind of train. "Tshf-tshf-tshf-tshf-tshf" etc. until the time is filled, the task finished.

One of the nice things about it is that it's a unisex word, acceptable to both the male and female of our species, not considered the prerogative of either, certainly devoid of foul-ness in any way, unless the speaker is a spitter, in which case it's ideal for the telephone. It's kind of a occupier, like the person saying it to us is filling in, not leaving any dead air, like that music you hear on the telephone while you're on hold, just so's we won't have to be alone with our own thoughts.

Plain silence might get boring, y'know, and we certainly don't want that. We might end up going "tshf-tshf-tshf-tshf" to ourselves...


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Everything we read today about the dangers of what we have done to our environment indicates that the original Americans, the Indians, had truly come up with the most practical way to live. No radon in a tent, eh? No holes in the ionosphere then, no gang problems, crime, no trash. No auto exhaust,and when people got too old, they put them out on the side of the road and allowed them to die naturally. Took about three days out there, before the cold got them, or the animals. Wolves, Bears, vultures, mountain lions. No Social Security, no Medicare, just them and the bears.

Natural selection - the strongest survived the longest, at least long enough to reproduce and carry on the line. One wonders which of us will survive. The best with a gun, or one who knows how to use his instincts to make the environment work for him? We still have our environment, such as it is, not what the Indians had, but what's available to us in today's civilized America.

The world has grown so small that we now consider IT our environment, much as we used to consider the neighborhood where we grew up. But, not much to our surprise since Galileo, we found out our environment is only a speck in the universe, yet what we considered to be limitless only a century ago, is very limited indeed, in some cases scarce, or lately even nonexistent.

So living our high life, pushing the Indians off onto a reservation to make way for civilization, has certainly had its benefits - for civilization, but then natural selection, face it, was no picnic. We're better off for sure, but for how long - tents anyone?


© Port Whitman Times February 2010

PORT WHITMAN Dear Holy Father The Pope, I know this might be a sudden request, but in these days of world turmoil, drastic measures might indeed be necessary. I would like to become a saint, a legitimate saint of the Church, with all the benefits of sainthood, designated by you in your official capacity as the Church's leader. I realize canonization is something that in the past has occurred after death and intense investigation, after a life of good works including in some cases martyrdom, but I am operating at a disadvantage here - First of all, I'm not poor nor an official member of the religious community. In fact I see myself as well off, and frankly I'm not really interested in giving up my rather comfortable life unless I can be given an ironclad blessed assurance, by someone of your high office, that I will be guaranteed a seat at the hand of The Lord, it doesn't matter which, left or right. In that case, with your assurance and blessing, I am prepared to do anything, absolutely ANYTHING, no exceptions, to secure my eternal happiness in Heaven.

The reason I am proposing this is I see now that other religions, which shall be nameless here though we both know who they are, are providing guarantees to individuals who go out and along with their own martyrdom relieve the world of non-believers merely by killing, bombing and other violent acts, and I wonder if you might consider the same path to salvation for some of your own followers, simply to keep up with modern methods. I would like to state at the outset that I would not ask for virgins or special food or worldly-type rewards of a sensory nature, only to spend my eternity in the presence of The Lord, and to hang out with the other saints already consecrated or so honored down through the centuries, with guarantees of the same benefits accorded to them in their afterlives, plus small perquisites here on earth, such as my own statue (modern dress please) and portrait in a suitable place for venerating, my own Holy Day somewhere in the liturgical calendar with a mention in the mass of that day, an official listing and bio in "The Lives Of The Saints," and a designation as the Patron Saint of something, might I suggest saint of "Final Solutions," and a memorial medal struck from a suitable mineral. But with all due respect I would leave the choice of patronage up to you and your staff.

I realize that given the Church's current approach to salvation and good works, I could be asking something that would be somewhat out of the ordinary right now today, but lately the competition for people's souls seems to be getting to be downright cutthroat - literally. In future years what I am proposing might well turn out to be a universally accepted path to sainthood, though now it would seem like overkill, but look around and you're bound to conclude that excess is the order of the day; surely as leader of your flock, you would not want the Church to lag behind in that regard. With that in mind, I would like volunteer to be the first in line to serve, and with your indulgence and consent, devote some small final act of my life, now nearly at an end anyway, to this cause, and in that way become Your Humble Servant,

Henry Francisco


© Port Whitman Times 2009

1. The influence of fragile or unworthy authority.
2. Custom
3. The imperfection of undisciplined senses.
4. Concealment of ignorance by ostentation of seeming wisdom.

Don Tarquino (Baron Corvo)


© Port Whitman Times 2010

Milton Berle's Favorite Joke:

MARTIN LUTHER KING TO GOD: "We've seen an Italian pope, a Polish Pope, now a German pope. Do you ever think we'll have a Black pope?" GOD: "Perhaps someday, my son, but not while I'm God."

But seriously folks...

The point of the joke is the belief that God is eternal, unlike man who lives a few years and then dies. God never dies, but we think, in our minds, of God as drawn in our image, a great white bearded father who benevolently looks down upon us from the lofts of Heaven, and in some way sometimes affects what happens here on Earth. Well, maybe so...

How about this: God as a great Spirit which has lived forever, and Heaven as an omnipresent Spiritual "place" that is somewhere and everywhere all at once, as Spiritual places are wont to be. This might make God more acceptable to those who can't seem to fathom the creationism of the bible, which, with all due respect, is all that the people of the earth, led by people who wrote it down, could come up with at the time thousands of years ago. Seemed logical then, even now, to some.

But God as a Spirit - only a Spirit- might not be swallow-able to them, until now, now when we can first-hand see the enormity of "creation," can go to the places in the Universe that heretofore were believed to be actually created by the God of the bible. "How could this be?" we say. "How could one entity have created all this, all that too? (indicating the sky)" "God always was, always will be." we were taught. But what if it's the Universe that always was, always will be, and the God we faithfully worship is the eternal Spirit that pervades it all, from then - way back when - right up to now? Actually that might be easier to imagine or comprehend, since we can actually see the physical Universe now, through the scientifically proven age of it all, in millions of years and thus be skeptical of the "creation" process, yet even more accepting of the Spirit of the Divinity that is the basis for faith.

The Spirit of God - The Holy Spirit if you will - Now that's a matter of real faith, because not only can we not see it, thus not imagine its form, we can't locate it in a "Heaven," and can only contact it, and it us, at the deepest levels of our consciousness.

But back to the original point: "Not while I'm God." - Could the God we imagine, the being we see in our own image, actually be a temporary entity, a sort of franchise passed down through generations? How could that be? Think of it this way...

We are at a point now where all the so-called "miracles" of the bible, old and new testaments, could be created by any competent magician. OK, the parting of the Red Sea, a myth that might be a problem, but the "Voice of God" the "Burning Bush" Moses on Mt. Sinai, Noah and The Great Flood, Curing the Sick, Making the Blind See, even Raising the Dead, Water into Wine - Phenomena all explainable in modern terms.We have mastered the science of all of it, and now we could go to another planet where the civilization is at the same stage Earth was thousands of years ago, and amaze the people of that planet by re-creating the same phenomena all over again, proclaiming God's hand in all we do. They would believe it as we did, knowing only the level of their knowledge at the time, which was the level of our knowledge until a few hundred years ago. That established, we let them go on as we did, build their churches, synagogues, mosques, leave them alone. God is eternal, ever watching, you might think going on, creating new worlds such as theirs, such as our own.

But I digress. The nature of God is what is under consideration here. God and this omnipotent being that "Shazam" let there be light, made the sun and stars, sea and land, the creatures thereon and therein, and as a final stroke, made man, then from him woman. But if we take the other tack, if the Universe always was, and if various species, including homo sapiens, simply developed over the millennia as Darwin said, suddenly a whole different light is cast upon our idea of a Diety, yet the notion of the Divine Spirit, the Holy Ghost if you will, remains quite fathomable even as God the creator recedes in the pantheon of belief. The Spirit lives, though The Father dies. How can this be?

Suppose that thousands of years ago, somewhere on another planet among the millions in the Universe, our species - homo sapiens - had developed to the stage at which we find ourselves now, able to travel among the planets, to cure illnesses, make the blind see, raise the dead etc., even duplicate ourselves, i.e., cloning from DNA, and they decided to invest all the Spiritual knowledge into one person that they would name "God," and then, throughout millions of years, thousands of generations, proceeded to re-clone that individual again and again, until now, investing him/her with the divine qualities we associate with God or Jehovah or Allah or whatever Diety you might name. The humans die, the divine clone lives on, and on and ON. Think of the knowledge we have today; Imagine we are that first planet, and we go to another underdeveloped planet, uninhabited but just like ours, and we plant our own Adam and Eve, cloned from our cloned "God," there with the ability to live and procreate an entire new civilization for thousands of years to come...

Think it couldn't be done? Think again. We are skirting the edges of just that capability.

But the Spirit, the Divine Spirit that lways was and always will be - We've only nibbled at the edges of that, though it lives all around us, in us, between us, among us, and it's the same Spirit that has permeated the Universe and all of "creation" from time immemorial. From time existential. From, well, way back when.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

There are those, including the likes of movie stars, corporation presidents, and prominent religious figures espousing some of the state-of-the-art faiths, who believe that once dead, we (our spirits) are somehow revived into new, albeit infant, bodies which then flower into new lives, wherever, whenever but soon, before dissipation takes place to be sure. Apparently, only a limited number of souls were once created, if this theory is to be believed, and then manufacture was stopped, waiting for the body production to catch up, that process having started with only two originals, the biblical Adam and Eve. Since we humans are certifiably slower reproducers than the almighty, it took light years, culminating sometime around the period of the American Revolution, when, new waiting souls having run out, recently enlivened bodies experienced a waiting period of their own, until recently "liberated" souls were available to inhabit them. One of the first of these humans with newly filled spiritual voids was Wolfgang A. Mozart, whose soul had once lived in the body of a musician of considerable talent, and who thus started out with a monumental head start on children of his time.

Whether you believe in this theory or not, this version of heaven (or Hell) being incompatible with the teachings of many of our traditional faiths, you might give serious consideration to living your life as IF it were to happen that way, as IF you were to come back inside the body of the newest nakedest, most innocent baby you know. What would you do? How would you approach this new life, what would you change, what would you encourage, what would you do with the life. Then, live the rest of this life that way. You never can tell. . . Your next stop may just be a continuation of this one, so prepare your attitudes starting NOW. And don't forget to figuratively carry your wallet card making you available for the impending transplant.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

Regardless of the fact that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon was sent to prison on what appears to be a technicality (Depositing $162,000 in his instead of his church's account, thus subject to taxes which were not paid) it remains that his church, along with many other churches and quasi-churches are, with the aid of modern communications and FREEdom of religion, making a TON of money, tax free. No income tax, no property tax, no sales tax, (and as the TicTac girl says) er nuthin.

Our across the board law that churches don't have to pay taxes, in this cynical age leads to several abuses, all of which are results of playing on the emotions and application of religious fervor to extract contributions from members or prospects.

We've reached the point where preachers brag openly about the vast amounts of money they make, flaunt their wealth with big cars, flashy clothes, jewelry, foundations, hospitals, colleges, churches, auditoriums, while Uncle Sam goes deeper in debt playing Mr. Niceguy. Vast stores of wealth are being built up, in the Lord's name (Unfortunately The Lord only helps collect the money, not to spend it) or in the name of the current good which is the province of the particular sect doing the collecting.

Now wait just a minute. No one minds giving money to their church, and the concept of the tax free neighborhood church and minister to the small congregation is a valid one, so long as they are carving out "God's" work. But what is God's work? Is it saving souls from sin? Education? Or is it selling the church to new members who, propagate the faith by contributing to the coffers of the organization? At what size and income per capita does the church begin to show an inordinate profit? Which are reasonable church-related expenditures, and which are flagrantly abusive ones? Are we, the donating public, being duped individually by the religion hucksters just as we are being duped collectively at the governmental level by overcharging contractors? Maybe we are as corrupt as many people in the rest of the world seem to characterize us. But then, at least we're public, right here, out in the open, and that's a lot more than many of them can say. Now what are we going to do about it?


© Port Whitman Times 2008

It may very well be that Jesus has run His course as an object of desire. Not that His wonderful teachings won't always apply to all of us, but that the legend of His death on the cross was atonement for all our sins and that the myth that we must be "Bathed in the blood" in order to be saved and go to heaven is just that: a myth, based on faith. Jesus was, after all, a man, who lived, walked the face of earth, and preached universal truths that apply today just as much as they did 2000 years ago. But what Jesus is beyond that, is a matter of faith, of conjecture really, of ascription to Him of a divine nature. One may believe it, religions have been founded upon it; but one does not have to subscribe to an organized faith, or even believe that Jesus was the Son of God, to be a Christian, to follow the principles that Jesus taught. A good Christian life can be lived without ever entering a church, bending a knee in genuflection or reciting The Hail Mary. It was what Jesus said that mattered, otherwise he never would have uttered a word, just came, got crucified, and went back to from whence He came.

The amazing thing is that the spirit of Jesus has survived for lo these two thousand years, and thus the spirit of God - The Holy Spirit - which survives because it lives within and without all of us, in a dimension we have yet to fathom, but which we hope exists because we want our concept of self, our personal spirit, or soul, to go somewhere after it completes its journey here on earth within a human body, actually is. No matter our religious or non-religious beliefs, we long to know that after we die, something remains of us, that our very essence adjourns to another level of consciousness. Just as matter does not disappear but reduces to other forms, so too will the "me" of all of us in turn. It will go to that dimension, where the spirit of Jesus, of God, The Holy Ghost, of the countless humans who have recognized that we even have an inner entity still live, and be, in a dimension other than the here and now.

This spirit, the Holy Spirit, lives always within us all, and it's time we recognize and apply it to both our inner and outer attitudes. Yes, Jesus lives too, in our hearts, minds and cathedrals, but The Holy Spirit exists everywhere, in you, in me, in the very nature of God St. Augustine described as a circle with its center everywhere, its circumference nowhere. The breadth of our spirit, of The Holy Spirit, of the spiritual dimension, is the diameter that bridges that very nature of God.


© Port Whitman Times 2004

Maybe what some people are saying is true - that the trouble IS religion.

Not that people go to worship some Ideal, but that in return for what is claimed to be favor with God, or Allah, or whatever Diety they worship, the so-called representatives of that particular Diety ask some tribute in return, right up to the giving up of precious life, for some pie-in-the-sky rewards they guarantee will be reaped in the afterlife that they imagine. Imagine! It boggles the mind how incredibly stupid people can be to believe such tripe to the degree that they will give up the things they have, things they love. Not just money, which is bad enough, but rights to control over their own existence, their bodies, their time, their minds. They go to church numerous times a week, they pray several times a day, they actually believe that God is something beyond the definition given by St. Augustine: "A circle with its center everywhere, its circumference nowhere" - A conundrum, which we can understand AS a conundrum, now that we know what we have seen and proved - that up there in "the heavens," there is just more and more and more - SPACE...

Not that we don't WANT to believe in a great God who created it all, and made us in HIS image, implying that maybe sometime in the future we can follow in HIS footsteps to perhaps create worlds of our own. Well, we can, of course, but that world, our creation, is one of existence right here on Earth, where we can plant seeds and reap harvests not only in the ground, but in the inventions and ideas we devise, and more importantly in the minds of other humans, whose horizons could just possibly be expanded far enough to understand St. Augustine's definition of the nature of The Divinity. But those who COULD do this expanding instead use the promise of what a grateful God might grant, or fear of what a wrathful God might wreak, to turn the minds of ignorant people toward actions which might benefit their own ends, whether they be financial, political, or simply in the service of naked power. Frankly, I doubt that Jesus or Mohammed really intended to change the course of history, just wanted to come up with something that everyone could use to regulate life to more just and progressive ends.

And who's to say that what we're promised when we're saved to OUR God's heaven is better than what others are promised in THEIR God's heavens, i.e., the virgins, Nirvana, or whatever? It's all just conjecture, and "Faith" is simply unqualified belief in the conjecture. So, is their conjecture better than ours? Give me a BREAK! One can imagine any heaven one wants, and one does; but to persuade others to go there, to your heaven, voluntarily sacrificing this very life we have, based on the imagined place, is - well - either you have to be very persuasive, or they have to be very dumb.

For those who believe that corporally, life is all we have and are going to get, it's hard to understand why one would sacrifice the very life we have, for a mere belief. An objective, okay, or in self-defense, but a belief? No way. Put a gun at my back or a knife at my throat, and I'll tell you what you want to hear, and believe what I want. Just take away the threat. Even Peter, The Rock, saw the practicality of that, or so we're told. Our beliefs are within, and private, so for someone to hold enough influence over the beliefs of others to make them do their bidding based on what he can induce them to believe, I suppose is the ultimate power over the ultimate stupidity. So why are there martyrs? Hey, LIE unto others... as you would have them do unto you if you were holding a knife to their throats demanding they believe what you believe, or deny that they believe something. One would hope no one WANTS to kill another human being just for the reason of a little belief. They just want us to agree with them, then everyone goes back to the farm happy. Like us in Iraq. We just want them to believe like we do, that Democracy might solve their problems. Hey, TRY it already, what can you lose? Then everybody can go to a nice school, have a nice house with a pool, live the good life. What's the point of living in the middle ages and oppressing half the population (women)?. Relax, get a big car, use the oil you have under your feet, chisel out a life. You don't have a lot of time, so make the most of it.

Martyrs, Gods, hard and fast rules, come ON, fellas, there's more to life. Things! - Stuff! - cell phones, computers, Movies, TV, Music, Good Books, Disney World, McDonalds, so much more. The silly thing is that with all the martyrs, it's kind of a pissing contest. "Our martyrs are bigger than your martyrs. Yours simply died so as not to deny their beliefs. Ours die purposefully, go on to their purported rewards, AND take a bunch of innocent people with them - supposedly to THEIR final rewards too. So THERE!" On such a thin premise, Osama and his ilk are able to recruit gullible young men and women to their cause, to a way of thinking that EMBRACES martyrdom by dying and killing. What the heck, to them the other dead are, after all, only Infidels. People who don't believe. Well, yeah, right, we are people who believe otherwise. We believe in Disney World and SUV's. Not that we should or shouldn't, but who are you to kill us because we do? Because your Allah is bigger than our God? Because you've concocted this fiction about what happens in the afterlife to people who kill themselves for the cause? Allah is great... Yeah, well how do you know? Because someone told you so. Hey, get a life, think for yourself. God is great too. Our Heaven is just as nice as your heaven, maybe nicer since there are none of YOU there.

Same with our fundamentalist Christians willing to go to the ends of the earth for their God. Give up their hard-earned money, pledge their time, their children's time and effort, their rights, all because some silver tongued preacher wraps them up and delivers them to The Lord. HIS Lord. Come ON now. I hate to break it to ya, but THIS is all there is that we can PROVE. Oh maybe some kind of a spiritual life after you die, floating around in the circle with its center everywhere, its circumference nowhere. A life for the soul, maybe, but the body ROTS and turns to dust, no matter how you try to protect it, so live while there is living to do, and forget about earning your little plot in some imaginary afterlife.

BULLETIN to Militant Islamists: You can HAVE the gold medal for the pissing contest - Okay, okay, your martyrs are bigger than our martyrs, your Allah is right up there with Jehovah. Just stop killing people, trying to justify some earthly cause, in the name of some imaginary Diety.

Along with being ingenuous enough to buy into the promises of what will happen once they martyr themselves and kill a lot of people in the name of Allah, these credulous kids apparently dont realize that the minute you kill a few or a lot of people, whether they be members of the government or military or civilians, others pop up right away to take their place. One little terrorist organization, or even a worldwide network of them, can't make a serious dent, no matter how hard they try, because civilization is just too big. Even 911 scarcely made a statistical impression. And we the establishment, can't gain any kind of purchase on control over the terrorists by prosecuting individuals from the ground up, though it's surely a start. The only way any kind of real control can be exerted is the way the Coalition force is doing it - and the way Al Quaeda dreamed of doing it on 911 - by cutting off the head and working down from there, with overwhelming force to back you up. It's messy, costs lives, fortunately many more of theirs than of ours, but that's the price you pay to get rid of the whole snake. Someone has to get bit in going for the head, but once you get ahold of the whole, ultimately the snake dies, civilization is rid of the scourge, and there are lines of people who want to give it their best shot at running things - rules that conform to what the powers consider to be human decency.

Makes you think: Maybe it can be done with religion too. Thus The Crusades...


© Port Whitman Times 2003

Imagine a civilization, on a planet such as ours, that is, say, 10,000 years ahead of us; well, if that's too much of a stretch, then imagine our own civilization 10,000 years ahead of some other civilization on another planet, such as ours, that we might be on the verge of finding. After all, the scientists tell us that we have been around for millions of years on this planet, and we're not the only ones, are we? And with that in mind, what's a mere 10,000 years? So it's quite possible that we are 10,000 years ahead of some other planet out there in the solar system, or in another solar system somewhere. And it's quite possible that some other civilization on some other planet is that far ahead of us. And five thousand, or two thousand years ago, they were still ten thousand years ahead of us. So you see where I'm going with this. Everything, EVERYTHING, is explainable under those circumstances. Miracles are not so miraculous, they can be produced. If a magician can make an elephant disappear on a stage in front of thousands of people, then creating a burning bush, or "raising the dead" or making wine out of water, is not a problem.

Speaking of problems, is God the solution, as so many believe, or is God a large part of the problem? Well, maybe not "God" per se, but the way people worship their God, how they have twisted the meaning of the Deistic ideals to suit their own purposes. A case in point: The ruffle about the Ten Commandments in Alabama. The problem is that "God" supposedly gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on the mountain, Moses carved them on the tablets, brought them down to the people and presented them as "God's Law," the foundation for a religion, for a couple of religions. Okay, they do seem to be acceptable as reasonable rules of behavior that have lasted down through the centuries. But associated with the Judeo-Christian religious beliefs as they are, they run nose-to-nose into our constitution, which mandates a definite separation between church and state, and these ARE church precepts, religious laws, as presented to us today.

But if somebody else, NOT God, say, Huey Long or Abraham Lincoln were to be given credit for these rules of life, and they were just good advice to follow to keep on the straight and narrow, they wouldn't be so objectionable to our constitutional government. Say, if they had been written by some famous Alabaman, like, oh, Bear Bryant, or a famous southerner like Mark Twain, and set forth as good rules to follow for living in general, then posted in the statehouse as a monument, who would object to them on their face value. "Do what your parents tell you, Don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, don't kill, don't mess with someone elses wife or property, (Don't even think about it)," all reasonable to just about everybody. Of course there is the "I am the one God, thou shalt not have other gods before Me" one, but these days God is called by many names, Allah, Jehovah, Vishnu, Bhuddha, Khuda, Mazda, The Great Spirit, etc., by many different religions in different languages, and unspeakable things are done in God's name, so "I am the only God" is kind of archaic, obsolete really. No matter what you call Him or Her, God is the foundation of religion, i.e., that which the United States Constitution is sworn to ignore. So, in Alabama, God is the problem, not the solution. Not to mention in the world of terrorism, where many innocent lives are sacrificed in the name of the Almighty. And if there is only one Almighty by whatever name, that Almighty, or how the belief in that Almighty and plays out to some fanatics, is the source of many of the problems in the world today.


© Port Whitman Times 2003

1. St. Augustine defined "The nature of God: A Circle, with its center everywhere, its circumference nowhere." We're taught that God is everywhere, right? Well why not right within you?


© Port Whitman Times 2003

2. The perfect you, the Ideal you, exists only in your imagination, but to strive to be that perfect you, that ideal, is a worthwhile aim. The closer you get to your ideal you, the more your ideal improves, and so being your ideal becomes a lifetime occupation, as well it should.


© Port Whitman Times 2003

3. The "Scientific Method" teaches that there is always a Better Way to do. Following along with being your ideal, you always seek the better way of doing what you are doing. The more you improve upon something, the more suggestions you receive from yourself that there is an even Better Way.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

Hillary dillary dock
Nomination was nearly a lock
"Til along came Obama
Who in spite of Osama
Never voted for war in Iraq

Now let us consider Barack
Who's yet to go on the attack
Senatorial gentility
Seems to hint at ability
To give higher office a crack


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Why on earth can't a free discussion of ideas take place somewhere on our consumer oriented media? Oh, it can, you say, on the internet, in the news forums, on the blogs, on the Sunday talk shows... No, no, I mean a FREE discussion on the MEDIA (i.e., TV, where everyone can see, and make judgments based on what is presented). It can? Then why do we have to put up with endless political advertising whenever election time approaches? Surely, our government, that has charge of these media through the Federal Communications Commission, can make all the rules, put up all the restrictions, give or take away permission to do anything that goes out over the airwaves.

Well, then, why not make a new rule: Eliminate commercial political advertising altogether, and mandate that the media give equal time to the candidates for discussions, debates, analyses of the issues and even speeches - frank talk about what we the citizenry will ultimately have to vote on? The advertising for political candidates is nothing but posing as the goodguy and badmouthing the otherguy. It has to open develop and resolve in 30 seconds like a haiku poem, or the charge is astronomical, well, it's astronomical anyway, which leads to the point: To get elected, to get onto the gravy train that is our political ship of state, you gotta have lotsa dough, or raise lotsa dough. Big bucks to get to the big decisions, the decisions about how to spend our big bucks.

And wherefrom comes the big bucks you gotta have to get elected? Why from contributors to your campaign of course, unless you have big big bucks of your own and even then you don't spend your own money to get elected, so the bucks come from just the people who want you elected, then you're only a phonecall away when their chips are on the table and they need influence where it counts. No doubt about it, the big bucks buy the big influence ("Whattaya think I gave you all that money for, fool?"). Don't you doubt it. Those hundreds of thousands from the oil companies, from big pharma, from the big insurance, big casinos, from the thousands of lobbyists for the myriad of causes that they shill for, buy something. All money buys something. There's no such thing as a freebie in a system that is based on cash. Somewhere, somehow, every dollar spent makes a dent, and the bigger spent, the bigger dent. Access if nothing more.

It's what's good about our society, that everything can come down to having a pricetag, that all the money exchanges can be negotiated at some level in the process that goes from idea to marketplace. But it's what's bad about our society too, that those things that ought not to have pricetags, have them nevertheless. But that's what our government is for, no? To right the imbalances so that life sails along smoothly for everyone, including us low level souls bent on mere existence, so that nothing roughs up the seas of life to the point where we can't handle the vicissitudes that blow our way. So there's no reason that our representatives should have to pay their way in, after all, their currency is votes, not gold, and to have to come up with the gold just to get the votes to put forth ones ideas, to represent ones constituents, just isn't fair, yes, even though it's fairer than whatever else is around. It still isn't fair enough!

So, FCC, how about it? Make those networks that are making all the dough with their "Ask your doctor" ads (now THERE'S another topic that needs attention) provide free time, and ONLY free time for the candidates to discuss the issues fully, and NO political advertising sold, compromising the idea market. Spare us viewers and listeners the mud-throwing and vilifying, the holier-than-thou-ing and goody-two-shoes-ing, let us base our votes on fully expressed ideas of candidates, which, after all was the original intention of the founders of all democracy.


© Port Whitman Times 2004

They asked me how I knew
Raccoon shit was blue...
Then I turned and said
"Bullshit you've been fed,
Raccoon shit is red."
------Eighth Grade level Humor sung to the tune of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"

Hey suicide bombers in training. I got news for ya. There ain't no 72 virgins waiting for you in whatever heaven you're dreaming of. Whatever you're gonna get is right here on earth, and if you drive an explosive laden truck into a compound and kill a lot of innocent people, including yourself, that's gonna be the end of it. Of you. Of your dream. If indeed there is a heaven, it surely isn't for those who kill innocent people. That's just the bullshit you've been fed by those in whom you've mistakenly put your faith. Look at the raccoon shit and determine for yourself what its color is, and get a life of your own instead of being used for the purposes of others who would take advantage of and cultivate your fanatical belief in your religion to get what THEY want. Think for yourself and get what YOU want right here on earth.

You only get one life to live here; all the rest is in your imagination. The virgins? You're more likely to find them right here, or even where you are; but think about it - any self-respecting virgin, who has apparently deprived herself of the carnal pleasures to be had here on earth, is surely not going to sit around waiting for the likes of a murderer of innocent people, to present herself as some kind of reward for the heinous crimes committed on earth. No, she's going to save herself for better. Probably for the Imam who conned you into the depth of your belief in the rewards of the hereafter.


© Port Whitman Times 2004

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during election years.

Our Senators and Congresswomen do not pay into Social Security and, of course, they do not collect from it.

You see, Social Security benefits were not suitable for persons of their rare elevation in society. They felt they should have a special plan for themselves. So, many years ago they voted in their own benefit plan.

In more recent years, no congress person has felt the need to change it. After all, it is a great plan.

For all practical purposes their plan works like this: When they retire, they continue to draw the same pay until they die. Except that it may increase from time to time for cost of living adjustments. For example, former Senator Byrd and Congressman White and their wives may expect to draw $7,800,000.00 (that's Seven Million, Eight-Hundred Thousand Dollars), with their wives drawing $275,000.00 during the last years of their lives. This is calculated on an average life span for each of those two Dignitaries. Younger Dignitaries who retire at an early age, will receive much more during the rest of their lives. Their cost for this excellent plan is $0.00. NADA....ZILCH....

This little perk they voted for themselves is free to them. You and I pick up the tab for this plan. The funds for this fine retirement plan come directly from the General Funds. - "OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK!"

From our own Social Security Plan, which you and I pay (or have paid) into, every payday until we retire (which amount is matched by our employer), we can expect to get an average of $1,000 per month after retirement.

Or, in other words, we would have to collect our average of $1,000 monthly benefits for 68 years to equal Senator Bill Bradley's benefits!

Social Security could be very good if only one small change were made.

That change would be to jerk the Golden Fleece Retirement Plan from under the Senators and Congressmen. Put them into the Social Security plan with the rest of us .... then sit back and watch how fast they would fix it.

If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe good changes will evolve.

Copy this article and send it to your address book. How many people can YOU send this to?

Keep this going clear up thru the election! We need to be heard.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Let's face it, there is no tough love in politics, no telling the truth at all costs, only careful tightrope walking, with a long balancing stick to make what is said upright itself in case a high wind should come along that threatens to blow away paper-thin candidates who, in spite of the way they really feel, carefully program what they say so as not to offend, ending up making them merely a bunch of pretty faces, like the line of folks behind the rope on Good Morning America, carrying their "Hi Mom" signs. After all, what could be wrong with "Hi Mom." That'll get you votes. Heh, heh.

What should be politics highest moment, the laying out of new ideas to take our country, our society, to the next level up the stairway to imagined ideals, turns out to be nothing but wading in the surf of mushy compromise and pandering to the current whims of a fickle provincial public, first in the primaries which have their own axes to grind, sampled to death to determine the right things to say to eke out that local victory to make another building brick in the house of public approval to get the nomination, then in the general election where the statements become more "general" to accommodate a public that has been dulled by the news of results of the primaries.

No wonder only 38% of us vote. In Iran lately it was 80%!!!

Since all of the candidates do nothing but tell us what their surveys tell them we want to hear, the election becomes like the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated - ostensibly we're looking at the styles of the swimsuits, but it's really the boobs and bottoms that we ogle. Our elections have turned into nothing but irrelevant beauty contests, and let's face it, even Miss America has dropped that image.

But beauty contests they are - who looks more "presidential" or "senatorial" and says little enough of the wrong things, with just enough of the right things to turn off as few of the voters as possible, while keeping just inside the favor of the party faithful. Yadda yadda yadda. Then come the negative ads, a sort of graffiti sprayed on the opposition's manufactured image, to shock the public into voting against the burnished icon. Then the counter-graffiti, with the name calling about who is "going negative," i.e., graffittizing, then the withdrawal and re-placement of the negatives later on.

So is it any wonder we don't vote, or vote for the pretty face, ending up with at best a president who will look good on Mt. Rushmore, until the graffiti gets there too. But hey, it's better than a monarchy, or a dictatorship. At least it seems that way most of the time.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

It's a shameful comment on American politics that the major representation of a candidate's likelihood of winning an election, according to the media is not what the candidate stands for and how well it represents the thinking of his proposed constituents, but how much cash he has raised for his war chest. But of course, the media would spin the election this way, they being the main beneficiaries of this cash through advertising revenues.

It hardly matters anymore what the candidates say in their speeches, press conferences, and even advertising spots - Heck, they all say the same things - what will get them the most votes, what will alienate the least number of people. They justify this by rationalizing that getting elected is the top priority, and whatever you have to say, or not say, to get the most votes is job one.

Where are the "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" people who actually will tell it like it is? Why, they're out making a living at a more honest profession, not having to suffer fools, and watching TV like the rest of us, trying to read between the platitudes and decide who's really going to be the best representative at whatever level, from ward heeler to president. It's a sad state of affairs that money, especially that given to candidates to buy elections, is what dominates our political landscape.

If our FCC had any guts at all, they would enact a regulation that all political advertising must be free, and each candidate would be given an equal amount, and equal time to personally explain his or her point of view, in person. Why not a series of kitchen table debates, unmoderated, where all of the legitimate candidates could discuss his/her their take on current issues, head to head, with each other. Show us what they're really made of, theoretically. Surely that would be better than the dog and pony show they now present.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Probably the best way to solve the sorry state of our election process, is to outlaw polls. Then, Americans, who tend to try to be like the Joneses, won't be affected by what other people think, thus learn to think on their own, and review what the candidates actually plan to do. The candidates then won't tend to say what gets them the best reaction, and then the election process will be back in the hands of the people, rather than in the hands of the handlers, the analyzers of the results of the polls, especially those polls that may make premature decisions on candidacy.

People don't always vote the way they say they're going to vote three months prior to the election, or three weeks, or three days, even three hours, so what you see in the polls may not be what is, but what will be, as soon as the un-polled read the results. Polls are like numbers at the end of movie reviews, a summation, an opinion, a spot judgement, not necessarily a final conclusion. Unfortunately, people, and image-spinners, tend to gloss over the meat of what candidates are saying, and look at what polls are saying, making their decisions based on conclusions rather than reflection. If what they see is favorable to one candidate or the other, that may very well be the way they vote - after all, in this day of microwave popcorn and quik-stop nirvana, we only have so much time for input on even the most major decisions.

It is said that success in the election is measured only by the bottom line, but unfortunately with polls you have a progressive series of lines that people perceive as bottom lines. There's a terrible compulsion among us all to want to be on the side of a winner, and that's where the polls deceive us, they tell us who the winner is going to be, officially, in print, real believable, before the winner wins!

The big question is: "Accurate as they may be, are polls news?" (Is most of the news news, for that matter), or are they just fill, something to hang the copy on, to balance the ads? Gotta have something to put in that space, otherwise, channels and publications'd just be "shoppers," i.e., all ads. Nothing wrong with shoppers of course, but beyond what the bargains are, we don't really learn anything from them.

If there were no polls, then there wouldn't be any results of polls, and if there were no results, then there'd be nothing to interpret, by the public, or by the poll watchers representing the candidates, and then the candidates could say what they really think ought to be done, and we could vote on the basis of who we think could do a better job of dealing with the country's problems rather than the problems of interpreting and using the polls.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

One wonders just how much "pressing of the flesh" photo-op managed news is really necessary during political campaigns? Wouldn't it be a relief if candidates just all got together, agreed not to pollute our TV air with their slick ads showing the side of them the pollsters/hucksters determine we're dying to see (or the side of the other candidate he doesn't want to show us), and then to conduct their campaigns on a higher plane, i.e., that of kitchen table-style head-to-head debate, or at least round-table discussion? If the stations won't program it without ads, the FCC ought to have their licenses. If the candidates refuse to do it, don't vote for 'em.

Really how important is it to us to see Joe Candidate singing "Amazing Grace" with the podunk Senior Sisterhood, holding the children at the pre-school center, and marching in a daisy chain around the bingo tables? Come ON. Cut us a break. We are, although you might not guess it from our occasional behavior, intelligent people who know our asses from our elbows, and can tell the difference between a Gucci handbag and a silk purse made out of a sow's ear. One tends to end up with the conclusion that ANYTHING politicians spew out during their campaign is a lie, and so we vote for the best looking, or the most honest seeming bloke from what we're allowed to glimpse on the evening news or in the candidates' debate. This is not democracy but videocracy, an edited version of the franchise that serves no one except the networks.

Give me Candidate A and Candidate B, or C, or D, duking it out face to face, talking frankly about the problems we must address, and how to manage this huge enterprise we call the city, the state, or the U.S.A.

One New Jersey mayor's proposed ordinance prohibiting political signs on public property is surely a step in the right direction, forcing candidates to think of other ways to get their messages across, like "knocking on doors and talking to the residents about issues" as one constituent put it. Think of it - thousands of doors to rap on - you'd have to start your campaign around 1904 to talk to everyone. Certainly to any prospective pol, in these days of mass communication, door-to-door is not the optimum way to get across to the shrinking percentage of people who vote. And such a proposal brought forth by sitting politicians leaves them open to criticism of protecting their own nest, not giving challengers the opportunity to advertise in the time-honored political tradition of U.S. hyperbaloney. The no more signs rule would be admirable, but instead - what?

How about a law that requires each political candidate, including incumbents, to spend a minimum of one hour a week being interviewed by the opposing candidate on cable TV. All candidates would be mandated to answer identical questions addressing the major points at issue in the office being sought. Voters could set their VCRs to tape the program, aired at a late-night hour. Cable TV operators would be required to provide time and facilities for the sessions FREE of charge. Maybe then the voters could get some answers to questions that relate to government rather than a lot of image posturing and fancy advertising art and logo work, and endless fund-raising to pay for it, with the post-election debt to the contributors.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

When I was a boy in grade 7, Hitler was a popular item of ridicule. Fresh from WWII, when all the comics and cartoons made scathing fun of Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo and the Prussian, Italian and Japanese archetypes that were constantly implanted in our minds to further the war effort against the rotten Nazis, the Dirty Japs, etc., we of course developed our own mockeries, which showed up in our behind-the-teacher's-back antics in the classroom. Hitler was especially fashionable, where any boy with a black comb could pull down his forelock, put an inch of the comb in front of his upper lip, and with his other hand raised in the Nazi salute, mock Sister Bernardine's sternness by pantomiming or saying "I vill take overr ze vvorrldt!" We will probably never again get so ripe an image as Hitler to mock. Hopefully never again.

Now, of course, Hitler might still be with us. You don't think he really killed himself, do you? C'mon... He had one of his doubles (right down to the dental work) killed, and he might be your corner hardware merchant - "Now zis rrake, is probably ze strongest IN ZE VVORRLDT!" Hitler lives some shabby little life somewhere in hiding from those who hunt him for his monstrous crimes. He'll probably say something like "I do not vish to talk about ze past, but I vould be only too happy to discuss viss you any items of current interest."

Hitler was always pictured with a hanging forelock on the left. Alas mine is on the right, so I'm not quite authentic, but enough to fool "ze whole VVORRLDT! Fools, Dumkopfs! Who vould belieff zat I am ecktually (click heels, snap Nazi salute) ze Fuhrer, ze maddest madman ever!"

Maybe Sister Bernardine.

Hitler was a monster, no getting around that. A wolf in wolf's clothing, living at "Wolf's Lair," who persuaded a whole nation to follow him over a cliff. His henchmen, Reichfuhrers, were no better, perhaps worse. These Mein Kampf followers had only the urge to manipulate within that which had already been designed, to carry out their leader's whims to the enth degree.

But Germans do still drive on the autobahns, which were the Hitler era's one practical permanent legacy. Do they think of him then? I have a table knife that was once part of my mother's everyday stainless, the last remnant of our 1940's art deco kitchen. I use that knife daily, the lone survivor of a life past, and when I do, I remember Mother, as though somewhere within that steel lies her spirit, her essence. I remember the good times, the love, not the mistakes we made. Same with Dad, his hammer, his gloves, his work apron. They are the evidence, to me, of their existence. So it must be with The Germans and Hitler. The things he did shall remain with us forever. The roads, the little water colors of Adolph the Artiste, the ashes of millions. . . The Jews and their fate. Hitler's primary legacy, the needless, heedless murder of millions. Unforgiveable, a deed which must never be forgotten. Hitler will always equal Murderer. But in a way, oddly enough, perhaps even unbeknownst to himself, certainly to those around him, this fuhrer touched on an issue that confronts us more and more as time goes on. That issue is the overpopulation of our planet.

With Hitler, surely there would now be fewer people on earth. And HIS people would be the ones who survive. The Super Race, Aryans, Nazis of whatever stripe, probably mostly those who cozied up to the Fuhreregime, unless, of course, they were deemed by the so-called Master Race to be so far inferior as to be relegated to a status below that of worms, thus suitable for "The Final Solution." SO unfair, to kill everyone of a certain "class" or ethnicity, but that's how they did it back in the middle ages from whence the Hitler method sprang, Attila, Ghengis, Stalin; and Hitler certainly was a throwback to times when people in skins lived in mud huts, except that he had the mechanism of modern warfare, of mass production, of mass seduction, of mass reduction, i.e., of those he didn't like at his disposal. SO primitive, really.

But how do we contain the human race, slow it down, so to speak. Wars have always been the way, kill the men off, and they won't impregnate the women so fast, marriage having always been the legitimate way to foster reproduction. Surely natural selection is a better way to keep our numbers down than mass murder, but is it fast enough? It doesn't seem so, so wars of some sort are still a possible solution, leaving us with whoever is powerful enough to kill off the competition, plus whomever they decide to protect, doing away with the rest, young and old alike. But remember the net result would have been, and this is still our goal: few enough people on earth that those who remain would not have to fight over the finite resources to which the human race has access. It's a problem that MUST be resolved, either by us or by future generations. Maybe science will find another planet identical to Earth, where we can go, clear away the Indians, and expand our wasteful civilization. Perhaps that's what Earth was, thousands of years ago, when human beings from another, crowded, planet came to populate our planet.

So we can do the same, go THERE and say "I vill take overr ze vvorrldt! YOUR vvorrldt. Und it vould become OURRR vvorrldt!" Yeah, right.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Everyone, it seems, has a personal agenda to back up his political "convictions." The teachers are against choice, the doctors are against national health care, the cops condemn legalization of drugs, congress tables campaign funding reform ad infinitum - all under the guise of "better" government or education or whatever - but mostly to protect their own jobs and security. These righteous defenders of the status quo all have a stake in the status quo, and might very well jump completely to the other side if they could visualize a soft landing in a rosy bed there - such as they have here. Not that this is all bad, after all, one ought to support one's own way of earning, especially in this unsure world, but it's the rest of us who pay the price of a degenerating democracy that simply, for the sake of votes, pours more money into a failing system that's supporting not only voters, but public office, price supports, pork barrel projects, in fact an entire political infrastructure that simply refuses to see the handwriting on the wall.

The auto industry was a case in point. The American car companies pooh-poohed small cars for decades, refusing to retool to compete with the foreign bugs & beetles until the minis had nearly completely taken over their market. Why? Because, far from being the maverick adventurers we historically paint ourselves as, we, have transmogrified into fat dumb and happy yanks, oblivious to what's going on around the world until it's too late, thinking that everyone should become like us instead of following the best idea from wherever it comes. Not that good ideas like choice, national health care, decriminalization of drugs, campaign spending reform etc. don't happen here, it's just that they have to fight a steep uphill battle that usually ends up enduring enough compromise to ruin any net effect they might have.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

It's getting a little tiresome that many of the major carpers over cutbacks in government programs hide behind children. "You're not going to reduce programs that benefit children are you?" is their wail, as though the president didn't say that we're all in this together, and will thus have to sacrifice en masse to bring the deficit under control. The complainers, and the pork barrel pols who represent them, realize that everyone either has children, or is related to someone who does, and therefore it's expedient policy to run up the red flag when anything threatens the little ones, for whom we're all supposed to have compassion. After all, if we don't help them - we being the entire bureaucracy that serves the welfare of the little shavers - then who will? So goes the theory.

Many of these tykes were never intended, but came into being because the parents were in the first place sexually neglectful, then compounded the neglect by not aborting a futile pregnancy; but now that baby is born, they are only too willing to accept the monthly check, if not the total responsibility, for providing the kid's requisite care. Or, in the worst cases, they intended to have children just to get into the ADC system and away from their own mom, who is just as likely to be collecting welfare herself. The cliche goes "I can't wait till I'm old enough to be a mom and get my own check." ...and babies keep having babies...

Television helps the "little darlings" myth along - that being that we all must have empathy for the children - by showing us the little lambs on the local news, in their classroom gatherings, doing the inimitable things that toddlers do, playing upon the conditioned "aw, aren't they cute" response, and by giving exposure to those who use the response to play upon our emotions. Undeniably the tots are cute, but when they are used as weapons to pry money from us through the government, their cuteness becomes a burden.

What comes immediately to mind is the Head Start program. "You're not going to cut Head Start, are you?" goes the communal bleat accompanied by the sudden sucking in of breath, threatening to cast our elected officialdom in the role of Scrooges, shaming them into going easy on this inner city program by issuing the ultimate veiled threat, that of withholding the precious vote that keeps them on the gravy train of political office. Fact is, the benefits of Head Start are soon negated by the pitiful morass that is the urban public school system, so that by third or fourth grade, the gains are cancelled by the inferior education and limited ghetto homelife that remains after these kids have taken off the little caps and gowns that they wear on Head Start "Graduation Day." Thrown into a school that is usually deficient in hardware, i.e., the infrastructure of education such as buildings, books, desks, computers and the like, and software, i.e., the better teachers, hard discipline, homes that lack books and culture beyond the latest rap release, even lack a parent, they have no hope of acquiring what Head Start promised. Now if Head Start were to infiltrate its way into first, second grades and on up, its benefits would surely increase. But since it languishes at the pre-school level, it remains at the mercy of the crybabies who hide behind children, playing upon our sympathy to keep the money, and the votes, coming.


© Port Whitman Times 1997

Is congress obsolete? That question may seem a bit harsh, but think of it - suppose you owned a business, as we most certainly own the enterprise that is our government. Suppose you hired someone to run it, to administer the income, drum up sales, manufacture the product; would you hire a bunch of other people to make up the rules and spend the money? You'd want to make up rules & spend the money yourself, wouldn't you? Oh sure, the theory is that the congress makes & spends in representation of our wishes. But remember, maybe only 50% of us vote for them, then they win by a slim majority of that 50%, so somewhere around 25-30% of TV-ad glutted people are really sending their message to Washington, and many of them have jobs or benefits that depend on that congressperson being re-elected, so it's not exactly an objective viewpoint that chooses who makes & spends for all of us. Then, with whatever wheeling & dealing goes on between members of congress themselves, or between them and political action groups or contributors, our theoretical say in matters which we ultimately pay for is further diluted. What kind of representative government is that anyway?

Our congress reps play us like fish to get elected, then raise their own pay, virtually thumb their noses at our opinions, and we keep on paying, against all common business sense. Congress was originally designed back in the 1700's to be johnny-on-the-spot and run things at the seat of government when it took weeks for news of results to get back to the electorate; but now the news gets to us before it gets to them. With instantaneous coverage of what's really going on in the country and the world, and a lightning fast telecommunications system with which we can react, why do we need to elect a representative to dally for 2 or 6 years, supposedly expressing our wishes, with one eye on the polls to tell him how to vote, when we could express our own preferences daily - hourly if necessary. We're a grown up country, with modern hi-tech at our disposal. Now either they get hi tech, or high tail it back to the land of their constituencies...

No laptops in congress! Hah! Buncha goldbrickers more interested in protecting their own positions than in keeping the public, even their own constituents, current on what they're doing.

Perhaps congress ought to be us, expressing our preferences right here, in cyberspace...


© Port Whitman Times 2007

"Kill the (expletive deleted) Jews!" shouted Norman, pacing the dining room at the fraternity. I'll never forget it, him all red-faced, the windows reverberating his words. He felt he had been passed over some honor in favor of another student, who happened to be Jewish. It was the fifties, and the university was pretty much split at the time, between Gentile and Jew, at least socially/officially, if not socially/actually, surely fraternity-wise, giving fellows like Norman a good excuse for blatant anti-semitism. Norman was an ultra-conservative member of our moderately conservative band of bros. His shirts were J. Press, his suits were Brooks, his ties were Chipp, his prep school was New England. He had all the "right" moves, and now, at an Ivy League university, was pursuing the right road to the right life in the right neighborhood, with the right friends, the right cars, the right children going to the right schools to learn the right things, thence pursue the right life, etc.

That was 1953. By now I'm sure Norman has mellowed; after all, much has happened since then and now the only people who hate Jews seem to be Arabs, and not all of them. At least on the surface. But then... it was "fashionable" in some trad settings to be somewhat anti-semitic. The Ivy covered halls all were either/or, the campus clubs and orgs were still controlled by old guard WASPs with pre-war attitudes. It was not until 1955 that the famed UofP Mask & Wig Club initiated its first Jewish member (Michael Malkan, who was since executed in a reputed NYC Mob hit).

Hitler didn't invent anti-semitism, he merely used it, turned the puerile emotions of millions of Normans into a movement, a genocidal business, using mass production techniques to manufacture death. There were a lot of Norm-type screamers around then, who, though they mightn't kill Jews themselves, nevertheless looked the other way while it was done, shuffled papers, blindly ignoring their consignations, passively anti-semitizing while others executed the orders. Like them, Norman was not a terribly original fellow, just one of those peer-pushy types who does things a little more intensely than the competition and takes his resentment out on the most convenient whipping boy.

The point is: Why persecute Kurt Waldheim? As a member of the Nazi regime which worshipped Adolf Hitler en masse, and in an earnest effort to go along with, perhaps even outdo his contemporary competition, he distributed leaflets condemning whoever the fuhrer condemned. Since then he has certainly contributed to the progress of the world, and surely, if only by virtue of the broadening effects of travel, has seen the error of his Nazi ways.

Norman, in similar circumstances, probably would have done the same thing Waldheim did, even in America 15 years later, without benefit of governmental approval. Instead he graduated, went on to a life, now no doubt lives comfortably somewhere in the right suburb in New England, a prosperous practitioner in the corporate business world, while Waldheim is dragged over 45 year-old coals by those who want to somehow even the score. No way could that score be evened. Best it be forgotten as an evil mistake, a throwback to primitive times before any of us were made aware of real reality, as opposed to political reality.


© Port Whitman Times 2004

"I am - an American." - Said Morgan Freeman, the actor, when asked by a presumptuous interviewer how he as an "African-American" felt on sucn-and-such a subject. It was like a "Stop right there" statement, and I almost smacked my head at the ultimate truth of it.

I was reminded of this as I watched the funeral of Ronald Reagan. RR never had to say it, he was called many things, communicator, actor, governor, but never called anything ethnic - like "Irish American" - He was The Essential American, no matter his politics, as American as apple pie, Huckleberry Finn or as Bill Cosby (fill in your own person). We never really thought of him as anything else: RR - American Boy, RR - American movie star, American Spokesman (Remember "Progress is our most important product."), American President, proof that anyone can grow up to succeed here. For better or worse, his image as The Essential American made us proud Americans too.

There are many, like Ronald Reagan or Morgan Freeman, who we must see as Americans - we just haven't put our minds into that frameset yet - and their ethnicity has nothing to do with it really, in fact it might just get in the way. It's a point of view one takes on of one's self, a feeling, a faith in a way of being, of life. You could call many new Americans, immigrants, by some other hyphenated appellation, and they might very well accept that, but what people clamor at our gates for, is to BE Americans, to get to the point where they can OWN our point of view. Irving Berlin was Russian immigrant Isidore Baline, but he became an Essential American, even composed the American song we all sing, "God Bless America." There are Essential Americans all around us - In public life, in the neighborhood; they are the ones who believe in the spirit of the individual, in working hard to get where you want - all the values which have come to be known as American Values in the American-as-an-ethnic-group way of thinking. The Iraquis don't think of us as any kind of hyphenated Americans, just as Americans. To them, we are all Essential Americans, an ethnic group...

In World War II, when it was us against them, against the world's most prominent ethnic groups who sought by their "ethnic purity" to dominate the rest of us who were NOT them, to make us BE them or at least kowtow to them, we of whatever mixed heritage became Essential Americans by necessity, who fought and won, without hyphens in our names, as an American Brotherhood.

The dominance of one race - Aryan, Japanese, Roman, was of course, old world thinking, and we proved it wouldn't stand, that we - us mongrels - could, by our ingenuity and will, overcome their pre-19th Century tribal ways of thinking. In all those old WWII movies (yes, the Ronald Reagan, John Wayne genre), all the ethnic groups were portrayed, mixed heritages come together as The American Team, The Allies, to fight against The Axis. Oh yes, we were together in that, then, but some of us have since learned the power of using what we were once, essentially, to get what we want, forgetting what we undeniably ARE NOW, and should be proud, as Morgan Freeman, Ronald Reagan and (insert your name) are: Americans, Essential Americans.


© Port Whitman Times 2004

It's truly unfortunate that the overwhelming percentage of our "extant" heroes throughout history, i.e., those who were recognized as such during their own times, seem to come from the ranks of people of Action as opposed to those of Ideas. Not that people of action shouldn't be lionized, but we tend, with the aid of what media we have had at various times, to deify them, worship them in an orgy of adulation and rhetoric that usually stops right there at the point of their action, even years after it has become history, to contemplate it with a gross magnification far out of proportion to its place in the real world of mankind's progress.

Many times, progress has, in fact, taken place in spite of such heroes. This is certainly true of many monarchs or political rulers who have cast their lots into the arena of domination and conquest in order to control destiny as they saw it.

However, a large percentage of people of Ideas have become heroic after their deaths more often than not, because of the immortality of their ingenious inventions rather than their actions, whether the inventions be concrete, philosophical, political, mechanical or artistic.

Now that the Age of Information is upon us, it would seem that people of ideas will begin to dominate, even though much of the communication today is used to gain its own attention, making itself the hero, instead of the person with the media merely the means by which the idea of heroism is reported. Thus the real hero has become shock, or tittilation, or revelation, and we onlookers merely the worshipers of whatever the news bureau decides to program, and its concupiscient images.

Fortunately there is a plethora of ideas too, and heroes to accompany them, if you search for them. And conveniently the means to search are also proliferating. It now becomes a matter of knowing how to operate the technology to separate out what are ideas and what is literally trash. Stick close to your channel switcher, pal.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

There is NO Henry The Great. Yeah. Look it up. Get out your Encyclopedia, try Encarta, Bookshelf, search the Web. There isn't ONE, at least one GREAT enough to make it stick. You'd've thought there would have been a Henry The Great, back there in the, dark ages, before Henry I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, that gang. There's no Henry's after VIII either, all the way up to as high as you want to count. And you only go BACK to Henry I. Henry's before him are buried in obscurity, maybe bums, ne'er-do-wells; before that, nada, zilch, pfft, mokkis. And for sure nobody would have thought to call himself Henry (minus)-I, though it could have worked. People weren't so jaded then.

So no Henry The Great so far. Unbelievable. But there's opportunity! VACANCY in GREAT land. HENRY WANTED, no experience necessary. Well, far be it for me to pass up an oppty. I had often dreamed about having a title; Henry AOL, Henry PDQ, or Henry FBI, something impressive, but they were all taken. HENRY THE GREAT it will have to be. Therefore, I now declare, and so there be no mistake, Copyright, the Title HENRY THE GREAT©. Better than Henry I, II, or any of those forgotten Henry's of yore. Henceforth my children shall be called by the minuses, Henry -I©, and thence Henry -II©, Henry -III©, etcetera on through the next millennium, and for any more millennia to come. And after that too, as the Mormons say "Forever in eternity." (Nice idea, forever in eternity. You get married now, until you die, and even AFTER you die, same wife, same kids, same in-laws. Probably go to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, July 4th, Labor Day, etc., with them indefinitely.)

HENRY THE GREAT©. Any challengers? I didn't think so.

Oh, I could have declared years ago, but then, not good to come out as HENRY THE GREAT© too early, before you're ready. One has to wait for the most auspicious moment, be groomed for a year or two, be the backup for other Greats like MORTY The Great, RANDY The Great, DICK The Great! See how they carry it off, show their GREATness with just a look, a gesture, a boatload of cash. With me it was no cash, so GREATness had to be postponed. But alas, what to be GREAT at?

Why have to be great at anything besides ACTING great? Whoa, Acting, that's it. So I could behave like other characters, normal people, and at the same time learning to be the real me: HENRY THE GREAT©. Ease into it. So far the problem has been that you have to be great at SOMEthing to declare yourself Joe The Great or Stanley The Great, or any of those other greats. But not any more! Well what I've become great at is posing as unremarkable, being barely competent at something normal, but not great, lest I get trapped in a rut, thus never able to reach the dizzying heights of HENRY THE GREAT©. Okay, here goes, like a double twisting one-and-a-half somersault off the high board:


(Looks around) Pretty good, huh? Think they'll believe it? Sure, why not? No competition. Nobody ever WAS Henry The Great© before. Dumb mistake too. Coulda been more than a contender. Coulda been GREAT! Eat your heart out putzes.

So here we are. I still can be A GREAT. Not many GREAT's around. No Norm the Great, Gomer the Great, Gary the Great. Shmucks. But maybe they were smart. You know, once you're in the limelight, history pins a lot of stuff on you. It comes with the territory, like assassination. Hmm, assassination, think I ought to get a secret service detail? Sure as you're a GREAT, somebody's going to try to knock you off just to go down in history as THE MAN WHO KILLED WALLY THE GREAT. Some fame. But even with all that, and since nobody else seems to want the job, I'll give it all I've got (stands up on hind legs, beats chest)...


Not bad, huh? The nice part about being this THE GREAT© nowadays is... no responsibilities. Just BE The Great. Don't have to have an army, kill a lot of people (messy), no kingdom to protect (difficult), no taxes to collect (more difficult). No crime, no welfare. Not like before, where you get a kingdom to be THE GREAT for, and as soon as they find out, everybody in it WANTS something. Leeches come out of the woodwork, come up to your table while you're having dinner out, gimme this gimme that, they want benefits, they want protection, they want TV appearances, press conferences, decisions, it's a DRAG, man! And the paparazzi! You wouldn't believe it. Better this way, on the Internet, no pictures, anonymity with GREATness.

HENRY THE GREAT© appears only when and where HE chooses. The Super Bowl, the Olympics, but frankly, I'd really rather watch. Besides, is appearing, is conquering, is providing, is protecting, a true indication of GREATness? Not necessarily. GREATness is invented, manufactured, hyped. You don't achieve Great by DOING anything anymore, those days are gone. Now it's just BEing. That's the great part. Your STREET NAME on the Information Highway. You announce it to ALL the people, before anybody else. "Hey, I'm SO-AND-SO THE GREAT" and from that moment on, you're IT.

Okay, enough said, I'm taking the job. No others need apply.

I AM HENRY THE GREAT©! (glances around furtively) What do you think? 'That sound okay?


© Port Whitman Times 1998

"Henry, do we save a newspaper for DiSimoni?" mother asked dad, who was having breakfast in our apartment in back, while she minded our candy store in the mostly Italian neighborhood. "This little boy asked for it and there's no paper marked DiSimoni in the layaways." Dad wondered for a moment, then got up from his bacon and eggs and went into the store. When he returned he cast a sly smile at mother, sat down and said "Martha, he wanted 'this morning's' paper."


© H. John Henry 1997

"Jack Armstrong, Jack Armstrong, Jack Armstrong, the All-American BOY!" OK, so when do we all start becoming All-American? At some time we've all been exposed to what someone would call the "All-American Boy" or the "All-American Girl," and we've created a picture in our minds of what that All-American type looks like. Was it Ed Harris as John Glenn in "The Right Stuff?" Is it Michael Jordan, Bret Favre, Bill Clinton? All of the above or none of the above? Is it us? Well, yes it is, actually, deny it as we may; we have seen the All-American, and he is us, like it or not.

But when did we stop thinking of ourselves as All-American? What changed us? Was it WWII? In the movies, the squads of WWII GI's usually comprised one Italian, one Polish, one Irish, one Jew, one Swede, etc., All American-born, but ethnic in background, plus one All-American who wasn't any of the above, but a Jones or Smith of indeterminate heritage who belonged to the "American" Race, whatever that is. But look around, what is it? Well, maybe then it wasn't, but now it is, us to be sure, and it isn't a Smith or Jones anymore, but could be a Rodriguez or an Abdul-Jabbar. All the ethnics in that American squad going out to kill or be killed against the Japs or Nazis in WWII (yes, even the blacks in the "negro" squads) were on our side, and have just as much a claim to being not just American, but as All-American as Jonesy, Jack Armstrong, or Tom Sawyer.

Of course, it went without saying that some of us were of German or Japanese descent. In 1942, this wasn't a war of ethnicity but supposedly of ideas, of Democracy against Fascism, though in the media of the time it was, especially in the case of the Japanese, presented to the public as a war of ethnicity ("Remember Pearl Harbor," "The Dirty Sneaky Japs," etc.). We were All-American, all of us, and segregation was everywhere, but that didn't change the fact. Irish, Spanish, Indian, Polish, all fair game for whoever didn't like or agree with them. Bigotry was and is as All-American as apple pie, but cooked in the melting pot. Also as African as Tutsi vs. Hutu, or as European as Norwegian vs. Greek.

But is demanding your month of ethnic or racial obeisance the answer to bigotry? No. But All-Americanism is. We must all become All-American, join the American race. After all, when we go to a foreign country, we are perceived as being of the American race, American ethnicity, American extraction, whatever. Not European-American, Irish-American, Spanish-American, African-American, Italian-American, Native-American or any other kind of American. We are seen by others as All-American. Maybe ugly American, but still American. In every country in the world, The Godfather is now as American as Mickey Mouse, Jerry Seinfeld, Luci, Archie Bunker, Bill Cosby, even O.J. Simpson...

Charlie Chaplin, though English-American, was an "American" phenomenon. Peter Jennings, a Canadian by birth, was as All-American as you'll find; ditto with Michael J. Fox or Jim Carrey. But they are known as Americans, are in fact Americans. And so are we natural Americans, along with Jim Thorpe, Jackie Robinson, Jimmy Smits, Dennis Franz, Jay Leno, Beavis and Butthead. American is, let's face it, an ethnicity, a race if you will. Go to Egypt, become a citizen there, have children there, and they will be American-Egyptians; grow large enough as a minority there, and maybe you can claim a month to celebrate your American-ism. Yeah, right.

Face it, there is a little Huckleberry Finn in all of us, plus a little Louis Armstrong, a little Danny Kaye, Michael Corleone, and anyone else you can think of who you, if you were in Cairo, would recognize as coming from the same environs as yourself. The point is: If we look to what is, and what will be, we realize that we are all in this boat together, as All-Americans, not as Africans, Italians, English or ___________ (fill in your own ethnic choice), especially now that we are being stirred up together and producing offspring. The sooner we begin thinking like All-Americans, no matter what we or our parents, grandparents or Great-grandparents were before they arrived here, the sooner we join the American Race. It's us versus the world, as part of an earth that left racial purity in the ruins of Buchenwald, the rubble of Hiroshima, or the jungles of Vietnam.

We are a race to be sure, and it is up to us to set the example of the melting pot to the rest of the world. We must truly melt, and learn to complement one another.


© H. John Henry 1996

PORT WHITMAN, Dec.27,1996: Stores in the smart State Street and Bellski Square shopping area are sporting newly painted signs stating "Ebonics Spoken Here," and "All Ebonics Speaking Staff" to assure Ebonics speaking customers they will feel at home. Banks are into the act too, advertising "special LOW rates for Ebonics Clients" and "Loan applications in English, American, and Ebonics." Even Block's Billiards has designed a special cuetip to put ebonics on billiard balls instead of english. Not to be left out, a national African American publication has launched a syndicated Ebonics Publication called "Z'app'n'n," with typeset Ebonics boilerplate copy, and simultaneous translation for all incoming wire service copy. They report that one of their staff writers has been working on an Ebonic version of the Holy Bible, to be Imprimatured by the Pope, who has agreed to consider celebrating a Catholic mass in Ebonic at the Vatican, with the voices of the Abbysinian Baptist Church Choir of Port Whitman singing gospel hymns.

Apple computer, lately losing ground to IBM and compatible computers, has begun manufacture of an all-Ebonics keyboard. Meyer North, a theatrical agent in New York's Broadway district, has told Rasheeka Muluuf, a Z'app'n'n Reporter, that the owners of the rights to My Fair Lady have contracted with a musical comedy writing team to do the book and songs for an Ebonic version of the musical, in which Professor Higgins is a teacher of Ebonics. The character of Eliza, for which the producers are seeking Whitney Houston, is portrayed as a recent immigrant from Haiti. Translation of the lyrics to the great operas, Ebonic Subtitles to American and Foreign movies, a Sesame Street Ebonics show, and Ebonic Jeopardy are all in the works.

Sounds silly, eh? Well that's what's going to happen if this patois is allowed to be quantified into an acceptable entity. It is NOT an acceptable entity, and one should waste no time in letting its practitioners know they will not feel comfortable in adult society speaking Ebonic in front of those who might not understand the language. Local school boards must be contacted to stem the wave of interest in legitimizing so-called Ebonics.

But waitaminute. Maybe this Ebonics thing has a chance somewhere... Stranger things have taken off in the African American Ghettoes, casting a major influence on American styles. Remember the Big Apple Hat? The Zoot Suit? Perhaps Ebonics is something we should all buy into, if only a little bit. Maybe the King's English, as a form of expression, hasn't been serving us as well as it could. It's hard for ordinary people to put a rhythm to, and not everyone is Shakespeare, Shaw, or Dylan. It is entirely possible we could all use a little vacation from The King's English, a rather stiff form of communication designed more for dueling and debating than for dancing. Ebonics is a tongue born to go along with funky James Brown music, and movement such as the Boogaloo and the Bump.

Who knows, it might be a good idea if we all spoke Ebonics at home, let our hair down a little, cut the rug. Hmm... Contact the Berlitz School and ask about a course...


© Port Whitman Times 2011

PORT WHITMAN February 9, 2010 - Undaunted by the discontinuance of the Port Whitman Symphony Orchestra, disbanded early this year because of lack of community support amid financial problems, Michael Backstrom, the former conductor of the orchestra, whose controversial taste in programming ran from traditional classics to modern 12-tone pieces, has steered local music into a new direction, founding the Port Whitman Keyboard Ensemble, a full 60-piece orchestra employing electronic keyboards exclusively, to continue the community's musical traditions, hopefully satisfying the cravings of music lovers of all stripes.

At its first concert in Strong Vincent High School auditorium, the local glitterati came in full force, and the curious came from all strata of economic and social groups, filling every seat, showing their support for Maestro Backstrom and the Port Whitman Progressive Piano Society, proving that, as Barbara Weschler, chairperson of the PWPPS support group, stated, "Music of deceased composers isn't dead yet, so there!" The new group plans on presenting programs from living composers as well, with the names of pop and soul composers being mentioned, along with the time-tested traditionals.

Taking the podium in his usual white tie and tails, Mr. Backstrom led a group of keyboardists arranged in exact duplication of the standard symphony orchestra, a semi-circle around him, their Yamahachi-branded instruments looking for all purposes like rows of desks, with the "strings" in front, then "brass," "woodwinds" and "reeds," then the "percussion" in the rear, each keyboard set to play assigned instruments according to their section. Concert selections included "Symphonie Fantastique" by Hector Berlioz, "La Valse" by Maurice Ravel, "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin, and Duke Ellington's "Take The A Train" with impromptu jazz solos by random players selected on the spot by the conductor. "Just close your eyes, open your ears, listen and imagine" said the conductor at the outset.

The event was sponsored by Yamahachi of America, with their latest series keyboards supplied by the manufacturer through their network of music dealers in and about Port Whitman, and Freehand Systems, with MusicPadPro readers provided for each instrument. The keyboard orchestra concept is especially favored, and financed, by the Bilotti foundation, controlled by Charlene Bilotti, granddaughter of Dr. Louis Bilotti, a local surgeon and real estate investor who founded the Port Whitman Symphony in 1926.

There had been some controversy over the program and the choice of non-acoustic instruments, especially from traditionalists and instrument players who are not keyboard-qualified, thus excluded from concert personnel, but Backstrom plans to forge ahead with the players he has, augmented by advanced students specially selected from the Port Whitman Conservatory of Music, while offering a special brush-up keyboard course for any instrumentalists whose piano technique has deteriorated over the years. Many hurdles had to be negotiated, especially with the local musicians' union, and with the American Symphony Orchestra League, which originally thumbs-downed the project; however, Yamahachi International stepped in and applied its considerable economic influence to the groups, ameliorating the situation at least for the current season.

For its next concert, to be held this summer at the Port Whitman Dell, Maestro Backstrom has scheduled Gustav Mahler's "Symphony #5," The Beethoven "Eroica Symphony," special orchestrations of three Scott Joplin Rags, and the Spike Jones arrangement of "Cocktails for Two" with more impromptu solos, this time featuring the percussion section's novelty sounds. Auditions for keyboard players will be announced in The Port Whitman Times, and held by appointment only.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

It doesn't matter if the idea is played on a bass guitar, or an oboe, or a piano, or any combination of instruments, if a musical idea, i.e., a melody, a rhythym, a bass line, a contrapuntal figure, is a great notion, that's musical innovation in its truest sense. Of course certain compositional ideas take better to certain instruments, but if you, the listener can perceive what the composer is trying to put across through the instrument played by the musician, the job is done, his state of mind has been committed to you.

People generally recognize good musical ideas, if they aren't covered up by a lot of gloppy instrumentation, but verbal ideas are flung at us rhetorically, with such regularity and in such volume (TV, Radio, Print, etc.), as ideas that we are advised by implication, to pick up on for our good, that we reject some of them without giving them reasonable audience, just because they are thrust at us so directly. Good verbal ideas are certainly plentiful, but so subject to capitalization by the perpetrator, that it seems that behind every good idea is an axe-a-grinding held by a would-be Machiavelli. Music however, is a subtle drug we imbibe gradually, and thus its ideas, sensual or practical, militant or merely academic, have an easier time with our rejection mechanisms, so before we know it we're hooked.

Lately however, music is lyrics, which may or may not conform to the listener's, or the parents of the listener's, tastes. It is usually the dearth of musical ideas that prompts a performer or group over into verbal ideas of questionable taste disguised as music. But please don't blame Music for these lapses of good judgement, blame the recording industry, blame the lyricists, blame the producers, the public, but Music? Nothing is as pure except the singing of the birds, and it's not since the early decades of the twentieth century that Music per se was (erroneously) thought to be a corrupting influence, before modern man had become fully conversant with his emotions and inner conflicts, realizing that Music was only the articulation of those phenomena, not their corrupters.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

What you're hearing when you listen to music are... ideas. Not those that we can understand on a verbal level mind you, but only on an abstract, non-verbal plane. That is not to say that music doesn't have a logic; it does, one chord or melodic series leads inevitably to another, or so it would seem after you hear it. And the true innovators of music are ever plotting new logics that afterwards seem inevitable too. So much for inevitability.

Musical ideas particularly can not be understood on an explanatory level, thus must be stated in their language, which one must learn to be able to approach on an academic level. Now lyrics are not music, they are poetic adjuncts to music, appendages to the aforementioned language. The two may go well together certainly, but shouldn't be confused with each other.

A "good" radio station is one that presents the best, the most innovative in musical ideas, whether they be melodic, harmonic or rhythmic, regardless of the lyrical, poetic ideas. In fact, listeners rarely hear all the words, that's why some artists are printing them on the record jackets. It's their poetry...Now you certainly don't find stations programming the reading of poetry for long. Poetic ideas per se just aren't attractive enough to garner listeners unless they're dressed up with music, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Joni Mitchell and Lionel Ritchie notwithstanding. Advertisers just won't buy ads for it, and they run the stations and the video programmers, in the final analysis. Advertisers need numbers, and the number of people who will listen to poetic ideas alone, unaided by music, is downright minuscule.

BUT the number who will listen to music (or tolerate it as background) is quite large, and that includes music with or without poetry, so long as the musical ideas are not oppressive. Since the innovations of Bob Dylan, pop music has slid by on its verbal ideas, but now that the gamut of rhetorical thought has pretty well run out, programming must fall back, as it does periodically, on purely musical ideas. Lyrics will still be there, but less prominently, more in the manner of cliche obligatos. People have become skeptical of the lyrical ideas lately anyway, even doubting their validity as ideas. So watch for a resurgence, a renaissance, in musical ideas. After all, once a good idea reaches a receptive mind, nothing can ever be the same again. In a small way anyway.


(Question posed by Lawrence Kramer in The Sunday New York Times 6/3/07)

© Port Whitman Times 2007

ANSWER: Yes! Museums of sound, with the exception that, unlike other museums, you can't browse, you have to pay attention and be quiet! Oh, and sit still, turn off your cell, don't chew gum, jiggle your leg, talk, all the rest of the seventh grade discipline. It's a drag! On my iPod, I can listen to what I want when I want, while I'm doing all of the above bad behavior and more, replay it, rehear it, rethink it, relive it. I can re-experience the melodies of Mozart after 200 and some years, the musical thoughts of all the great geniuses of music. Why do I need to go sit still and behave to watch a bunch of musicians re-create the great symphonies?

Fact is, going to hear music played live by musicians - REAL music of whatever stripe (as opposed to pop), is itself slowly becoming obsolete. Oh, we go for the EVENT, whether it be dress up to the Philharmonic, or jeans to the rolling stoned. But to really listen, we buy or download the CD.

To get the musical ideas of the composer or improviser of honest-to-God music, it's much better to listen to it on a personal headset or in a well-equipped stereo-room. Even to get the subtleties of the performers. Actually, the future of performers, especially performing their own compositions, is YouTube, where you can see them interpret their own compositions. In the end, the transmission of the musical ideas of the composer to the appreciative mind of the listener is what it's all about, and as technology allows us to eliminate all the in-between folderol, even the performers become less important to musical purists.

Composing music, or any art, is a form of mental self-gratification. The composer does it for himself, sets it down just as he wants it, to hear it perfectly reflected back to him exactly as he thought it up.

Up to now, the way it works is: The composer either goes and plays the music himself, or finds an entity with cash to finance the production and performance of his musings so an audience can listen. But just imagine, if Mozart had all the technology we have available today, would he do all that? Or would he get out his music program to make his own Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart MP3? And guess what... If he did do that, using 100 voices on his computer instead of 100 musicians playing in a hall or studio, making the whole Jupiter Symphony or Eine Kleine Nachtmusic at his desktop, skillfully using all the musical dynamics and inflections and accents his computer and its application are capable of producing, I venture to say a large majority of listeners wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

That's a direction music is taking - away from the human performance and interpretation, and directly from composer's brain to listener's brain, or soul to soul. The rest is just commerce - selling tickets to an audience that will attend and listen. The final destination is the listening, and we can do that through earphones plugged into a computer (An iPod IS a computer after all). The art is in the composition, in the direct transmission of an idea, or feeling, or impression, from one mind to another, so the less in-between "stuff" needed to do that, the better. Like writing a letter, or blogging. Me to you.

This is already being done - by lesser minds than Mozart - but it IS being done, for example at where all the music is composed in the mind of one person and notated on the computer, which then "plays" the music back just as the composer wants it. This is in its early stages, but there it is. And there will be more. Keep listening, keep watching on YouTube, and reading on Blogspot. It will all be there sooner than you think. Then the halls shall truly be museums.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Neal Gabler's NY Timesarticle on "The Illusion Of Entertainment," showing us what we think we are laughing at in the movies, might also have been written about music, i.e., Jazz, being faux melody as related to the real thing. Jazz, or the improvisation based on a harmonic and rhythmic pattern, is just like the song it parallels - sometimes even recognizably - but it's really not. After all, how could you tell whether the I - VI - II - V chord progression is describing "Blue Moon" or "Heart And Soul" or any number of songs by Rodgers, Loesser, Arlen, Kern, Mercer, Carmichael, et al? Jazz is the American Illusion of Music.

Whereas the great old melodic and harmonic standards were carefully crafted pieces, the jazz versions take the same cadences and improvise endlessly around them. "Fake" them, as it were. And "Faking" is a whole area of music that has come out of the shadows to be known as music, but in many sad cases is simply ruminative, sometimes closer to scales and exercises than to the music on which it is based. The sale of "Fake Books" which condense hundreds of songs to their basics of melody, chords and words, has largely supplanted the sale of sheet music. Yet, in the hands of great melodists such as the Nat Coles or the Errol Garners, the jazz versions - fakes - become renditions that are sometimes more listenable than the originals.

It's the whole picture that makes the piece, not just the melody. You could take the entire article of Mr. Gabler and substitute "music" for "entertainment" and come to the same cultural conclusions, but Jazz is a well-established form, and "signaling in movies is just beginning. Perhaps what he says about well thought out character developments becoming mere signals is true, but this indicating is just in its infancy, and like Jazz, will develop into a full-fledged art in the not-so-distant future. Let's wait and see, meanwhile sort out and support the best of the present offerings.


© H. John Henry 1997

Boogie Woogie is not complicated music. You'll have more fun if you make it up yourself, as follows: First there is the bass line or left hand, which you can adapt from almost any blues or rock piece you hear. Isolate what the bass guitar or bass keyboard is playing, plus what the rhythm guitar or keyboard is playing, and adapt these to a left-hand 12-bar standard blues pattern. It may take some doing, but with a little work you can capture the essential notes and flavor of the bass/rhythm.

Now, with the right hand, play the I - IV - V chords (eg. in the key of C: C7 - F7 -G7 - all in dominant sevenths to give it the bluesy flavor) that go along with the left-hand pattern you've established. You might also fudge the thirds by mixing the minor and major notes. For example in C, go from the Eb to the E; in G, go from the Bb to the B, etc.

While executing this rhythm, hum or whistle a short melody to go along with what you are playing. Just something short, a little burst of a phrase ("Da da da DA doo doo wa" etc.). Work that out with your right hand alone, adding intervals or chords to make it sound "funky." Maybe while doing this, if you haven't got the bass/rhythm down perfectly, just play beat-octaves with the left hand to keep yourself straight, but keeping in mind the bass/rhythm pattern.

Finally, put the left-hand pattern that you played previously and the new phrase together, playing the same phrase in all three (I - IV - V) modes (with the IV you can usually just adapt I to a minor), interspersed with the chords from before as filler in between. Use this as an exercise.

Now make up another phrase, and another, plus more bass/rhythm patterns. When you have three phrases and three bass/rhythms, use one with the I, one with the IV, and one with the V patterns. String them all together any way you can, with little melodic bridges or chords. As you go along, let your phrases get longer, adapt phrases from any blues or rock music you hear, jot down the phrases on music paper for future reference, and you're on your way... Better than scouring the world for sheet music or boogie-woogie books that just set down what others have thought up and released for copyright, and usually cost much more than they're worth. You probably have more in your imagination and at your fingertips that way, rather than trying to read other people's music. And then it's your OWN, and it hasn't cost you a nickel. Start collecting bass patterns and phrases (Some are well-worn cliches, for good reason - because they're GOOD!). Good luck.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

According to a recent report from Japan workers sorting garbage at a trash processing plant in Nara prefecture in Western Japan found $7,000 in a briefcase. Two days before, garbage collectors found $8,700 in a pile of trash. Almost makes you want to go into the garbage sorting business. Or maybe the Japanese are getting so rich they're throwing out the old money.

Garbage sorting? What is that, separating the prune pits from the coffee grounds? Well, maybe just cans & glass from plastic from bio-degradables. But knowing the Japanese, they do a very thorough job of it, and everything ends up going to the right place. They have to, otherwise how could 118 million people get along in an area the size of California? And Japan is clean, not like the US where we're just about wading in ankle deep in some neglected areas. We need people who are willing to be trash sorters, heck we need trash bringers, trash minders, trash disposers & collectors, not the trash litterers and ignorers we have now. In Japan everyone has a job to keep the ship afloat, even if it's only bailing water. It seems as though we ought to be able to create jobs that keep our ship afloat instead of wallowing in this "It's a free country, I can do anything I want and you have to respect my rights" attitude. With rights come equal responsibilities; perhaps some of the hangers-on, draggers-down of our society ought to be put to work sorting garbage. Or collecting, or transporting or somehow making the U.S. a cleaner place, instead of given prison terms. Never can tell, they might just find some old money.


© Port Whitman Times 1990

At The Dinner Party, a new approach to singles functions here, individuals pay $15 to come to a sit-down dinner in a quiet restaurant and talk to several other people with similar interests.

At Dinner Party #1, with only the gentlest of background music playing, tables of 7 (3 male, 3 female) sit down together with a moderator (who gets a free dinner). After all courses of dinner have been served, conversations have been had, and everyone is having coffee, while still at the table, each fills in a short critique of the others, commenting on the persons who impressed them, and who didn't, mostly by checklist, as a driving or flying instructor writes down evaluations, but also including a paragraph of subjective opinion at the end, all to be sorted out later. Eventually, each person receives the critique sheets that have been written about him.

At Dinner Party #2 for each of the candidates, they are more closely "matched" by the host organization The Dinner Party Inc.,this time combining people according to their interests and the impressions of other attendees. As the parties continue, and people are rated more definitively, they are matched more closely with people of like interests and personalities, until finally after a series of up to eight dinners, each "graduates," and is not scheduled for any subsequent dinners. By that time they either have formed closer relationships, or are just using the parties to massage their egos, and won't be of any use to the rest of the group anyway.

It's a good system, and seems to work, so far, so said Susan Halder, chairwoman of the project, and a charter member of the organization.

ITEM: Interview programs at GICU-TV in Port Whitman have begun running a subtitled biography of all guests as they are shown, to give viewers a chance to get to know the interviewees better, and perhaps stimulate interest in reading, while folks are watching TV. Librarian Sally Boyle praised the measure as one that could just encourage reading enough that people, especially students, might become interested in books again. At least the library is hoping in that direction.

ITEM: In a strong blow to curb panhandling by so-called homeless people, and improve the looks of the downtown area here, Port Whitman's city council recently approved an ordinance requiring panhandlers to pick up and dispose of trash on the block they are "working." In effect, the rule is as follows: (a) Panhandling is allowed only on two opposite corners of each block, and (b) the person doing the panhandling shall be responsible for the cleanliness of the sidewalk and curb-gutter on the two sides of the block that can be seen from that particular corner.

It is felt that this will give the person being asked for money the opportunity to look both ways down the block and determine if the panhandler is doing the job, basing the amount given, or even whether a donation should be given at all, on the efficacy of performance by the panhandler.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Ever been to an April Fool's Party? They're all the rage you know. Everyone is having them, the Lackfratzs, the Van Doodads, the McWatchmacallits...we attended one this year and it was just wild, you know, wild.

First, it was, as are all these affairs, impromptu. We were called and expected to come that evening - one must comply, of course - and to show up outrageously foolish as is the April custom. Being the fools that we usually are deep down we entertained the idea of going as ourselves. Au Naturel, so to speak. But we immediately rejected the idea as being just too far out for anyone to understand.

So, it was definitely a costume affair, but what costume? We scoured about and finally found some old things that were on their way to Goodwill, made a few calls, and came up with passable attire. Naturally, we took the train. It was the waning minutes of the rush hour and we were greeted by the friendly jeers of our fellow riders who were dressed in their "work clothes." That is to say designer jeans, designer ties, designer hats, designer suits, designer shirts and socks, all with appropriate labels, and reading designer magazines through their designer glasses. Oh Sergio! We, of course, were something else - non-designer everything - and we were hardly recognizable as Americans: we were treated as immigrants. As we walked through the downtown streets we were mocked, followed and nearly arrested. Even the bag ladies gawked at us.

The arrival at the party was humorously traumatic. Our knock was answered by the hostess who opened the door exposing a Psychiatrist friend in a raincoat (the effect was sort of like a cuckoo coming out of a clock). He opened his raincoat and showed us his 'naked' suit, a suit mind you, and outwardly displayed...EVERYTHING (in suit form, of course) culminating in a prominent large erection. And, like a cuckoo, he just as quickly disappeared back into the party.

It was a truly odd gathering of what seemed like a bunch of nuts, but it was in reality a perfectly normal group of citizens ACTING like nuts. But that was the idea wasn't it? Here were your stock characters, Grouchos, Laurels and Hardys, Chaplins, all acting like those characters, and not just dressed like them. But they were just the first wave, gathered around the food and drink. The rest were a crazy assortment of clownish anybodys with clothes on any which way, funny wigs, masks, nothing too shocking mind you, but then, where could you go after the Psychiatrist in the naked suit? Everyone was acting like the proverbial bedbug, talking in mad non-sequiturs, conclusion-jumping and emitting strange squawking sounds, twitching, even writhing on the floor. Whew! You think group therapy is something to man/woman (I couldn't tell which) had a seltzer bottle and was squirting people, none of whom seemed to mind.

There was funny food - lima bean ice cream and runny peanut butter dip. One person came with his pants upside down over his arms, held straight up with shoes (and argyle socks), his sweater on his legs, bare feet and a nylon stocking filled nylon stocking complete with a wig acting as his head pinned to the neck of the sweater. and he talked backwards for heaven's sake. There was just no credibility whatsoever at this party, but it was FUN, with wild dancing and frolicking into the wee hours, with music making (most of it awful), reciting of monologues, semi-monologues and attempted improvisations that have to go on record as some of the whoopingly funniest charading and carrying on since the discovery of laughter back in the days portrayed in "Quest For Fire." A complete catharsis, really.

Ah, once a year to actually be the absolute fool. A total April Fool, the perfect outlet.

On to home. Another ride on the train took us back to relatively tame nightmares, and we awoke to find everything normal again. Well, there's always next April, fools.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Dear Amy,

Let it be known from this day forward in all future volumes of etiquette etudes, that TISSUES can serve equally alongside table napkins as absorbers of food and clothing and mouth wipers at the table. WHAT? Yes, tissues, or Kleenex if you will, though all tissues are not Kleenex; only Kleenex are Kleenex, and only Kleenex are the PRICE of Kleenex. Starting with a small number of hard core supporters, we Tissuists have boldly decided to make our secret yearnings part of the American Mainstream, to come out of the closet, society notwithstanding, and announce we support the use of tissues on kitchen, even dining room, tables everywhere.

Under our right of the Pursuit of Happiness, as stated in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution, we assert our privilege to substitute one, two, or even more tissues for the larger, more unwieldy mainstay items that have been forced upon us for centuries. We are aware that we wil be persecuted, even snickered at, for our beliefs, but we will stand firm no matter what the consequences.

After all, lets took at it sensibly. Larger (paper) napkins cost four times as much, and are four times the trouble (loading and refilling the napkin holder, increased trash, etc.), not to mention the guilt incurred when using the expensive things to clean eyeglasses, blow noses or wipe up itty bitty stains. Tissues come in dispenser boxes already, eliminating the package-to-holder process completely. AND they lie flat. They don't stick up yelling, "Take Me! Take me!". They relax until they are called. We do NOT include the pop-up variety, why those bratty things leap out at you so insouciantly that you use them just to put them down, but they keep coming at you like the Chinese infantry. Why just looking at the jumpy things would give you indigestion. But the flat, peaceful tissues relax in the box, and you know they'll do the same in your lap, yet leap like a third baseman after gravy drops or coffee drips. Eating fried chicken or asparagus with dainty fingers? Well then, take two, three, as many as you need, for they're cheap (175 for 85 cents or so) and guiltlessly disposable.

We Tissuists claim the right to proselytize our cause, to win converts, and to that end, Miss Vanderbilt, we ask you to print this letter for all to see. Then good people of free will everywhere will be able to make a decision to come forth as Tissuists.


© Port Whitman Times 2004

Up to HERE with the world? Tired of disasters? Sick of taking orders? Then paint. PAINT! Not pictures of apples & oranges, not nature studies, still lifes or portraits, no kind of art, just some small object around the house that could stand a new life, oh, maybe a chair, a table or a picture frame.

Painting something is such an unfettered joy, because in preparing the object to be painted, and a place to DO the painting, you make ready a setting for your personal triumph. Triumph? Of course. What easier way to WIN than by painting over a totally non-competitive object? Exercising complete dominion - over the color, the time, the place, the whole process right up to admiring the end result. You can paint it all at one time, or in increments, as you choose. It must simply lie there and wait helplessly, while you cover it all over with your chosen veneer, making exactly what you want of it, with no backtalk.

TOTAL CONTROL is what we're talking here - You as DICTATOR, the object as subject, a paltry nothing after you've used it, bruised it, sanded off its very skin. Then, like a magnificent savior, you ride to the rescue, give it new life and a new outlook. Why, some things, having had their liquid makeovers, actually seem to speak to you thanking you for their new existence. Hanging on your wall, or sitting in your parlor, the beautiful beneficiary sings a paean to all who pass by, and a secret hymn to you, its beloved benefactor.

Now, aside from the dress-up job to the paintee, the thing, consider the therapeutic value to the painter, the person - you. There is, in this world of unalterable situations, nothing like having the final, unchallengeable word, exerting ultimate POWER over a whimpering passive item (you can imagine the whimpering). You there! - Men and women who long to dominate! This is your big chance! Go forth immediately to the paint store, get equipment & supplies, make ready with your attitude of - puissance!

Don't worry about what to paint; something always turns up.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

When I take a 2-ounce shot of 80 proof booze or drink a can of beer, I can pinpoint very precisely the effect either one is going to have on my body. I feel comfortable with that, knowing the quality and potency of the drug I'm taking is predetermined, so I know just how much to take in order to become "relaxed" yet remain in control of my faculties. Even the law knows that so much booze imbibed by a person who weighs so much, over a time period of so long, will have such-and-such an effect. It's all predictable, and meant to be so. Lochaim!

But with illegal drugs, no matter whether they be marijuana, cocaine, crack, heroin, you-name-it, the manufacturers are under no constraints to keep the quality and potency within any limits. So the drug one buys "on the street" could be weak enough to have no effect, or potent enough to kill you. Remember Len Bias?

This Situation could be used as reasoning for two points of view: "Just saying no," because added to the addictive properties of drugs, there is the mystery of not really knowing what you're getting; OR to the movement for legalizing them, because then at least then people who want to take drugs would be assured of some kind of officially supervised quality control.


© Port Whitman Times 1999

Bugs are tres sensible, but they're...oh, sneaky I guess you'd say. They don't live out in the open like us humans, dressed up in 3-piece suits or docksiders, with our "here I am, world" attitude...Nah, they hide down in the basement, or in their lairs behind the refrigerator, under the paper-bag drawer, or on the defenseless dog. I'm talking domestic bugs here, semi-civilized, reflected in their sense enough to come in out of the cold.

Now the dog, having some smarts too, comes to a reasonable understanding with the critters -- they are not denied tenancy, but he gets to kill one every once in a while, if he can catch it, just to show who's boss. That's important to dogs, you know, and to us too come to think of it. We kill each other little by little, usually in the name of expediency or some other human invention.

Bugs though, they just go to work, with managers, helpers, drones, the queen bug "boss" able to produce more bugs to do more work. War would be an idle egotistical whim to them, fueled as they are by the work urge. Bugs are basically not warlike. I mean if you corner one, he isn't gonna jump out at you, but will just burrow deeper in somehow. That's their expedience, plus an apparently fatalistic attitude about the hereafter. Who knows, perhaps today's dead bug soul is tomorrow's great composer's.

Bugs are rather fearless, or just unsuspecting, they'll crawl right across your foot, not worrying that you'll harm them unless you're exhibiting aggressive behavior in the first place. Then they'll cower and hide, as any sensible being does when confronted with awesome destructive power. The dogs have the right idea: live, let live. Accept what comes, don't make waves. Bark when anybody gets too close, put up a good show, that's the job, then back to the corner for a snooze. Let the bugs do the work. They enjoy it. Life's too short. Hmm...


© Port Whitman Times 1999

Is Death an act, as in the ACT of dying? Sitting in my reclining dentist's chair, I WOULD have died, had it not been for Dr. Bob's vigilant efficiency.

I WOULD have stopped breathing voluntarily, under the Nitrous Oxide. Yes, I had persuaded myself, as I let the drug overtake me, that this is probably what heaven would be like, this euphoria, all the time, not caring even whether I breathed or not. . . "Oh, what the hell , why breathe anyway. . ." said I.

"OK, off the Nitrous," said Bob, "we want you to come back." Ever mindful of the dial that measures such goings-on as I have described, he became aware of what the drug was doing to my body, seemingly an accurate indication of what's also transpiring in my mind. I had been "playing dead" for easier working conditions for him, taking my pleasure at the same time.

At first I took deep breaths, to kill the pain of course (yeah, right), and gone through the stages of awarelessness of things around me, eliminating each setting and object from my mind, the first being the pain, that being banished to the farthest place. I obliterated images of the tools working on my mouth, the hygyenist, then Bob (Sorry, Bob), the room, the place, the news, the world, all but me myself, my spirit that could stop or keep breathing at will. Do I have the faith to step off the cliff of life to search for another dimension?

Well, not consciously, soberly, but with the laughing gas in my system I would've tried, maybe even been happy there and decided to stay. Perhaps drug death is, after all, a lofty experience where you go willingly into the heavenly sphere, and, if that's what you want, you should not be denied. But, for most of us, it is not a willing companion. Hey we got sense, y'know.

There may be times, of course, when we will WANT death to come, wish to stop breathing, because life, the suffering of a terminal illness, has become unbearable. But then that same mechanism, which seems to be a two-way switch, won't LET us take the coveted final expiration.

It's a good-news, bad-news situation: The good news drug lets you go down whatever paths you want, over to the other side to sample what's there, laughing all the way. The bad news drugs keep you alive to suffer, won't let you go when you'd rather.

On reconsidering the idea later, I concluded that had I just let myself stop breathing, it would have been a mistake, to this side's way of thinking anyway. As to the other side's way, who knows - you, maybe?


© Port Whitman Times May 2010

PUBLIC RADIO: Your fundraising, begging on the radio, getting in the WAY like a homeless person on a steam grate with his hand out, is frankly, boring, and barely relevant only to the extent that, IF your broadcast voices are to be believed (and one wonders if as many pledges actually come in and come through with contributions as one hears telephone rings during your fundraising interruptions), some cash is produced.

But to a large portion of your audience, those who have already contributed or those who don't contribute, they are a major turnoff, literally losing your listeners during the time the begging takes place. It would seem that the idea of radio is to keep people listening, not to repel them at this most important time, but I would venture to say this is exactly what your fundraising by begging actually does - repels us. Don't we see enough begging by the steam-grate set, the cardboard box set, the windshield cleaner set? What do we think when confronted with these people - and barely people, too - "Get a job. Do something productive, stop lying around waiting for the world to come support you. Earn your keep, 'cause we're tired of throwing money at you and seeing you descend further into your situation." Public Radio does do something productive, but your fund-raising puts you in their class.

Question: Do the people whose books and films and other projects rate an hour of your airtime pay anything for this advertising? Do they even rise to contribute the minimal membership level?

With the high degree of communication you have with your audience, it would seem that there would be better alternatives to raising money than naked begging.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

It's truly unfortunate that the overwhelming percentage of our "extant" heroes throughout history, i.e., those who were recognized as such during their own times, seem to come from the ranks of people of Action as opposed to those of Ideas. Not that people of action shouldn't be lionized, but we tend, with the aid of what media we have had at various times, to deify them, worship them in an orgy of adulation and rhetoric that usually stops right there at the point of their action, even years after it has become history, to contemplate it with a gross magnification far out of proportion to its place in the real world of mankind's progress.

Many times, progress has, in fact, taken place in spite of such heroes. This is certainly true of many monarchs or political rulers who have cast their lots into the arena of domination and conquest in order to control destiny as they saw it. However, a large percentage of people of Ideas have become heroic after their deaths more often than not, because of the immortality of their ingenious inventions rather than their actions, whether the inventions be concrete, philosophical, political, mechanical or artistic.

Now that the Age of Information is upon us, it would seem that people of ideas will begin to dominate, even though much of the communication today is used to gain its own attention, making itself the hero, instead of the person with the media merely the means by which the idea of heroism is reported. Thus the real hero has become shock or tittillation or revelation and we dupes merely the worshipers of whatever the news bureau decides to program and its concupiscient images.

Fortunately there is a plethora of ideas too, and heroes to accompany them, if you search for them. And conveniently the means to search are also proliferating. It now becomes a matter of knowing how to operate the technology to separate out what are ideas and what is literally trash. Stick close to your channel switcher, pal.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

Just how much of today's reporting do we believe anymore? Aside from being seen as TV, Print, or Radio Entertainment...that we know is going on, but which, powerless as we are to affect it, we simply ingest along with the crime shows, the game shows, the sitcoms, specials, soaps, documentaries, docudramas, etc...we soak up whatever else is on or in too, whether it be news presented like entertainment, or entertainment presented as news. Anyone in the public eye, or with an eye toward the public eye, even the leaders of supposedly backward countries, has lately learned how to manipulate our news media, and our media, whores in the marketplace, allow themselves to be led around by the nose-ring of good copy, in pursuit of that evasive diety, ratings.

Everyone, of course, has an axe to grind, whether it be in support of some idea/cause, or simply to keep the public familiar with his/her face for reference at election time. Therefore, our media being voracious consumers of "copy" and man being the inventive being that he is, it's only a simple problem for any Machiavelli to put the two together to provide us, the public, with what passes for THE events of the day. Problem is, much of it is just shrewdly designed flak, PR whipped up with the media in mind. Doctors rediscover old maladies and phrase them as new dangers, terrorists make their points with bullets and grenades, heads of state "leak" word of some forthcoming event, aspiring politicos call news conferences for maximum impact.

And the media, the directors anxious for ratings, the announcers polishing their images, the stringers on the news "teams" grubbing for features that will outdo what the competition has to offer, finally end up in that final repository of fascination, "human interest" --"Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the show?"--just to get us to watch. And us? We watch alright, but with increasingly jaded eyes. Rightly so, too, rightly so.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

As a former card-carrying Equity Actor, I feel compelled to speak up on the subject of staged news stories, such as the one of several years ago concerning an alleged "passing of classified materials to the other side." The great hue & cry about how the public was duped by a certain network re-staging the event for the evening news obscured the fact that, presented as accurately as could be by the producers, this made for much more interestingly graphic TV viewing as opposed to a dry announcer reading a report from a teleprompter. Take any news story of today, create a script and a little playlet, such as is done in flashback on many of the crime shows (eg., "Without a Trace") and bingo, you've captured the news-watching audience. Hey, get the transcript of Mel Gibson's comments to the cops when he was detained, do a little flashback with a Mel Gibson lookalike. Sure would be juicy TV.

If only the blue-noses weren't so squeamish about such things, we could be treated to many portrayals such as this, and dry news would become much more interesting to us all, especially students, who are subjected to state-of-the-art graphics in MTV, Entertainment & Docu TV, even in school where good graphics come as a bonus-premium. So why not "augment" news reporting with accurate portrayals of days events, soap-opera style, all the time disclaiming possible inaccuracies with words such as "alleged," etc.

Look at the work it would mean for actors. Usually we get the news of shootings and other illegal acts by verbiage alone, with maybe crime-scene footage after the fact. With dramatized news, actors could bring stories to life. Might even eliminate the need for TV sitcoms. Come to think of it, that's what TV is going toward, with true-crime shows like "Cops" and "Most Wanted," so why not go whole hog and act out all the news too?


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Politicians on the conservative side, and some in the middle too, are treating Gay Marriage as some sort of immorality that will corrupt us to the very core of our family life. That may or may not be, just wait and see, but the idea of two committed people living together and sharing love along with all the other assets of marriage certainly is no sin. Of course it's only the sexual part, the plumbing as it were, that grates on the sensibilities of those who object, it being against their religious beliefs, or at least their physical sensitivities. Two people living together as roommates certainly is not objectionable in itself. But the benefits of marriage coming to same-sex couples living together? To some so far a no-no, or at least maybe a perhaps-perhaps.

But you want immorality? I'll give ya immorality. You watch it every night on the tube. It's the immorality of Advertising for Gambling. I'm not against gambling per se. If people want to toss their money into the pit and hope for a win, that's their prerogative. But the way it's presented in the media, all you have to do is show up and you win. The ads only show the winners, as though everybody comes away happy. Hey, I got news for ya: Most gamblers come away losers; that's the way it's set up. And for them, the casinos, the lottery, the track, to picture the happy winners who showed up and won - is patently immoral. People believe what they see on TV, because to most it's reality. We get the news, reality shows, great performances, live stunts, animal captures, statistics, grim pictures of war, etc. ad infinitum, so a lot of what we see on TV is real. Then along come the people celebrating their great good fortune because they won at the gaming tables or on the lottery, and it seems real. That's the real immorality, the presentation of the fake winners, an outright lie to the public, especially on what we have come to believe as the real truth on the news programs.

Your chances of winning the lottery are infinitessimal. Yet people are actually interviewed before the number is drawn, as to what they are going to do with the money they win. This is news?! Why not interview the same people after the lottery number is chosen. "Hey, did you win?" "What about that vacation you were gonna take, that boat you were gonna buy, that new car?" That would be truth in advertising. But then, how much of advertising is truth? How much of everything we see on TV as truth, is really truth? Come ON!


© Port Whitman Times 1998

2/24/98 J.A. wrote:

I am extremely angry at right (sic) now. You not only spammed me, you did so by using a quoted distribution list. Now every stupid mother fucking spammer on your distribution list also has my address. Thanks to you, I am now on a self-perpetuating spam list.

You stupid fuck.

At this point, I will begin tracking costs associated with your little e-mail and the ensuing e-mail messages that are sure to follow. Expect my bill for network bandwidth, DASD storage, and lost time. The invoice will be sent via your network admin in the very near future.

PS. Your web site is ugly, and my 5 year old could have done a better design job. And I'm not kidding.


PWTIMES REPLY 2/24/98 Dear J.A.

The combination of words: mother and fucking, to be grammatically correct, really ought to be written as one word, or at least with a dash between the words to connote a closer relationship that that which would normally occur between two sets of syllables, don't you think?

Now really, J.A., why should you be angry? I'm not a commercial net entrepreneur, my message loads in milliseconds, my netsite loads just as fast, and can be deleted with no trouble at all. My little list is strictly private, consisting of return addresses of domains that have sent ME spam mail. I don't get ANGRY at people who spam me, J.A., I look at the first line of their mail, as I would junk mail I receive at home, and accept it or reject it then and there, a snap decision I admit, but I also use the source for my own purposes, and would expect no less of anyone else, commercial or private, associated with the internet. Think of it, J.A., my distribution list is growing by leaps and bounds, as I receive others' inane Email soliciting me for this or that daily. But your letter troubles me more than most, because it seems to amount to a rejection of my my methods, my ideas, my very SOUL, all of which I display on my website, for the world to enjoy FREE!

Even your five year-old daughter might get a kick from some of the music. She must be quite advanced for her age to be able to put together a website with folders, music, latest entries, etc. I congratulate you and your spouse on raising such a precocious offspring.

I didn't design my website to be pretty, J.A.. The pretty ones take too long to load, and I wouldn't presume to waste your valuable time. So better to be ugly and practical, I figure. Now if you had disagreed with some of my views, or criticized my music from an INTELLIGENT point of view, I might pay some attention to your opinion, but you just seem to have flown off the handle and shot from the hip, so I'll just have to understand.

Do track all your costs and send me a bill for all the miscellaneous horseshit items you mentioned, and don't forget to include the time you will waste doing the tracking, etc. I promise to give your bill the consideration it deserves, and act upon it immediately.

Stupid Fuck


© Port Whitman Times March 2010

Ninety percent of what we receive in our mailboxes is junk mail. Perhaps instead of continuously raising the postal rates of all mail, including real business mail and personal letters or cards we send to friends and relatives, the USPS ought to raise the rates on all the commercial junk mail we constantly tear up without reading and throw away. Then the large companies, i.e., insurance companies, banks, real estate dealers, supermarkets and other organizations that blanket areas with commercial mail would surely consider qualifying their mailing lists more tightly, to send mail to residents who might actually be prospects for their products or services. With the rates as low as they are, the USPS is just helping fill up the landfills, and losing money at it to boot.

Re closing the post offices on Saturdays: Surely we can wait another couple of days to receive the personal cards and letters from folks we know, so cutting out mail deliveries on Saturdays seems reasonable. However, it should be recommended to keep post offices open to receive packages and mail we might not be able to send on other days due to work and other schedules. This is the way the USPS can cut down and still keep the general public serviced adequately. After all, it's pointless to have deliveries on Saturdays just to deliver more junk mail, but the real mail where people, customers, are paying top rates, must go through. Wasn't that the original spirit of the Postal Service?


© Port Whitman Times 2010

At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down

Finally,the guys' side of the story.
We always hear "the rules" From the female side.

Now here are the rules from the male side.

These are our rules!
Please note.. these are all numbered "1"

1.Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down.
We need it up, you need it down.
You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides.
Let it be.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1.. Ask for what you want.
Let us be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work!
Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work!
Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it.
That's what we do.
Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.
In fact, all comments become Null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are.
Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one

1. You can either ask us to do something Or tell us how you want it done.
Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions, and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched.
We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," We will act like nothing's wrong.
We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, Expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. Really

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as football or motor sports

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

1. Thank you for reading this.
Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight;

But did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

Pass this to as many men as you can to give them a laugh.

Pass this to as many women as you can -to give them a bigger laugh


© Port Whitman Times 2010

Christmas is the time at which Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, though it has become more all-inclusive with the incarnation of Santa Claus, making the giving of gifts and sending of cards more generally acceptable. Gifts are given, cards are sent. Merry Christmas. Oh, and Happy New Year too. It's institutional.

Easter is the time at which Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus after His crucifixion, and the redemption of us all through His sacrifice. It's more religious, but institutional too, combined with Passover, including most of us. We pray, we ask God's blessing and indulgence on our humble lives. We eat, the Easter Bunny comes and leaves goodies. Cards are sent. Happy Easter, Spring is here!

Thanksgiving celebrates those things we have and what we have been able to accomplish in the life that has been allotted to us. The sheaves are brought in, the harvest is a fait accompli. We get together, feast, give thanks, watch football. Some send cards... Happy Thanksgiving! (Christmas is just around the corner.)

But Valentine's Day - This is a personal affair, between two people who proclaim the reciprocation of their love for each other, if it is truly reciprocal, and even then they fake it if they have doubts from which they can't escape. Valentine's Day is not a family or group celebration, but one where mutual love is somehow declared, choices are made, and expressed. The only card to be sent is that to your love, hopefully your lover. It's not a "Happy Valentine's Day to everybody" festivity.

A long time ago, on Valentine's Day in early elementary school, each of us placed ONE valentine in the white slotted box decorated with red hearts, our valentine sent to the one we fancied with a plea to "Be My Valentine" - A singular entreaty to a single person. There were, unfortunately, those to whom no valentines were sent, none received, so they would have ended up unchosen, ostensibly unloved; but our provident sister/teacher, foreseeing this situation and coming to the rescue, kept a ready store of valentines addressed to every student just-in-case, signed "From a Secret Admirer" preventing hearts, alas, from being broken through disappointment on this day of expressed love. Smart sister/teacher. Then, as it developed through the years, to spare hurt feelings, the rule was finally made that everyone had to send a valentine to everyone in the class, thus totally diluting the whole idea, but of course great for the purveyors of valentines, Hallmark and the like. As a result, the whole classroom valentine "celebration" added up to - not much. Everybody began sending valentines to everybody. Just another "family" day now. Net result: Good business for Hallmark and the US Postal Service. Still in some cases, of the most sensitive, hurt feelings, disappointment of another kind, a result of pre-emption.

Many still subscribe to the notion that Valentine's Day is a personal celebration of the love, such as it may be, between TWO people, the "such-as-it-is" part being applied possibly to the likes of married folks who are for-better-or-for-worse-ing. It's a time-out-for-love day when all the other picayune differences are forgotten, and the love is allowed to emerge, thus the celebratory part. However, when it becomes a general day for everybody to send cards and give gifts and express wishes to everybody, it co-opts the personal love of the individuals, to the point where it robs them of the inclination to make their own declarations, affirm their own personal choices, put their own special "Be My Valentine" in the slot in the white box decorated with the red hearts.


© Port Whitman Times 2010

In an effort to get my ass off this chair, I have recently begun a campaign to walk for an hour or so every day. Living as I do in west Harlem, there are many walks that offer inspiration, from the park along the Hudson river, with it's baseball fields, and soccer fields, and gorgeous views of the bluffs of New Jersey, to the historic rows of houses lining the streets of central Harlem, where I search vainly to find that house where all those jazz heroes of mine once posed, to the more stately and collegiate greens at Grant's Tomb. But my favorite walk, perhaps because it makes the jelly jiggle a little more, is up and down the steps at St. Nicholas Park. The fresh sweet air of the dense trees, the happy faces, wagging tails, and flagging tongues of the dogs on their morning walk, the streaming sun giving the pink dry tightness to my forearms, all this enriches my days, and gives me a place in the world where I can commune with myself.

On a usual day, I come out of my apartment the back way onto Riverside Drive, not the Riverside Drive of “You've Got Mail” where a step into the park is liable to make Meg Ryan fall head over heels for you, but the one where families hang out on the sidewalk, the men playing dominoes, the women watching over the children. That's the Riverside Drive I live on. So I go out and walk up along the wide-open space before the sun obliterates it. I stroll along easily making my way up the side street to bodega on Broadway. I'm always careful to bring fifty cents in change so I can get that little six ounce eye-opener, and not have two quarters rattling around in my pocket attracting attention. From there I stroll easily up the street toward City College. I'm sure they frown upon it, there are gates and fences all around, but I always walk through their campus, always. I suppose I can get away with it since, even though I'm well past the age of education, I'm blessed with a youthful boyish appearance. No one seems to take any notice of me as I brush past the security schmos tooling around in their carbon monoxide machines, idling on the corner, eye-balling suspicious types, looking for pushers one would assume, cruising, keeping the neighborhood types from intermingling with the students. Huh. But I give them no mind, and they give me none, and thus I slip out onto the street winding along the park. From there I pick up the pace, raising my heartbeat as best I can, dumping my empty cup into the rusty trash bin handily standing sentinel at the entrance to the park. Then it's down the hill, up the hill, down the steps, and up two at a time, a nice flat stretch to focus on breathing, down and up, down and up, pushing the pace, and taking the air.

The park itself is quite beautiful in its way, sitting on the side of a steep hill with lovely staircases whose slabs of granite have shifted over the years. The central feature is a great hill covered in grass and clover where people can have picnics on the weekends, and sporting sorts can throw a Frisbee, do Tai Chi, or just get a bit of color. Though I have yet to see a winter there, I imagine it an ideal place for sledding on a trash can lid. Surrounding this there are secluded areas of tree-lined precipices where squirrels hunt for their daily bellyful, and stoners can find a peaceful place to smoke a joint. There's a dog walk where neighborhood best friends can run free. Into one corner they've just moved the Hamilton Grange from off a street two blocks up. This stately colonial was once the idyllic homestead of the once great Alexander, our nations first Treasury Secretary, that is until he was so rudely met one morning by Aaron Burr on the Bluffs of New Jersey. Soon it'll be some sort of museum. And there are endless playgrounds, basketball and handball courts, and any number of picnic tables where men play chess and such. In short it is New York City park, with all its beautiful design features, its wonderful functionality, and its irreplaceable sense of escape from the glorious industriousness of urban life.

The people who use the park are a grand representation of our city, people of every ethnic and social description. There are the teenagers trudging lazy-eyed up the steps to the high school which overlooks the park, college kids trying desperately to appear alternately edgy and grown up, neighborhood old timers meeting daily to discuss the appalling status of recent indignities, and dog walkers, baby walkers, swing pushers, hoop dunkers, and the homeless guy who sleeps on the great hill always wearing his big black winter coat, even in the dog days of August. The park acts as a neighborhood divider, separating West Harlem from Central Harlem. West Harlem, where I live, is primarily Dominican, Spanish speaking. Central Harlem is primarily and historically African American. City College brings in a cosmopolitan mix of ethnicities. It boasts a dormitory also overlooking the park. Both of these neighborhoods share a broad range of artists seeking the lower rents that were once available in the East Village. Both also share the constant pressure of gentrification driven by the draconian empire that is Columbia University, which is seeking to do to Harlem what NYU did to the East Village, buy it, build big ugly buildings on it, and make it safe for rich white people. We can only hope that we are a few blocks too far outside their dreams of utopia.

When I take my walks, though I am an avid i-pod junkie, I never wear it. Normally it is part of my urban armor, an indispensable tool in fighting off the many indignities one must endure when sharing a daily grind with nine million others. It's much easier to ignore a cop with an i-pod on. But in the park I prefer to be alone with my thoughts, and the sounds of nature such as they are, the crackle of dried leaves under my feet, the cackle of dogs playing, the wind in the trees, whatever. It is one of the few times in my day that I am free of the endless blaring of one form of media or another, and so I leave my i-pod happily recharging on my dresser.

I am a happy urbanite. I grew up in an inner city (Camden, NJ), and though I am white, I was a minority in my neighborhood. This has often been a source of ambivalence in me, especially in my youth. Though I have often been the “cracker” getting his money took, or his bike took, or his dignity took, I have tried to bear it all philosophically. I must admit that at the time these events hurt a great deal, and I couldn't understand it. But I think I have never harbored malice toward anyone because of their race, or even their choices in life. I have never lived my life in the shoes of an oppressed person, so who am I to stand in judgement. I have enough faults of my own to stand in judgement of. I have only tried to be a person in my environment, struggling to go about my business as optimistically as I could.

I tell you all this, dear reader, to lay the foundation upon which I will assemble an incident that has vexed me.

I am a theatre artist, which is neither here nor there, except that as such I am exposed to any number of environments. The pertinent case in point is a summer job that I have been doing for the past few years. Every summer I direct a show at a country club in Connecticut where the elite of our society play tennis and sail their boats. For three weeks I live at the club, which overlooks the Long Island Sound, teaching the children of privilege to sing, dance, and be merry. At the end of the three weeks there is a big show in the ball room. The entire club shows up in black tie and $5000 gowns to hoot and holler drunkenly at their progeny. It is a singular event.

Well, me being me, I want to keep up my figure as much as the next guy, so I take my walks every morning, right there in a neighborhood I'd normally be afraid to be caught by the police in. I don't mean to tell you that the neighborhood is exclusive, but in six summers I've never seen a black person. Anyway, there I am walking brusquely with my i-pod blaring, you know why, and every single person I pass on the street, and there are many as they are a particularly athletic class of people, every single one of them says “Hi,” as I pass. “How do”. “Morning.” How fake can you be, I thought. They smile chipperly as though I were one of them. I can only assume that they can't see that my sneakers are worn through to the insole. They can't know that my choice of music is NWA. They must think that my purposefully accentuated urban attire is some kind of adolescent phase. The ability of the rich to delude themselves cannot be underestimated. “Nice day.” I can only tell you that I feel like the most inveterate interloper in the world as I walk past the private beaches of Chad and Muffy. “Hello.” “Hi.” But midway through my stay something happens to me. A tanned athletic matron of sixty or so says “Hello,” and involuntarily, I crack a smile and nod. A bit unnerved, I turn up my i-pod and go on, trying not to appear cynical to myself. These people don't know anything about me. Why should I give them the satisfaction. “Hi.” “Hi.” I said “Hi.” What am I doing? I'm giving up my identity in a way. “Hello.” “Hello.” What the hell? Maybe I am just being cynical. I've earned it I guess. I can't imagine that these people think I am anything but a rich white guy just like them. If they did, would they really want me tromping around their estates? But then why should I stand in judgement of them. I don't really know them either. “Morning.””Hiya.” Slowly I give in to it. There is something nice in a greeting after all. Something simple. It's not fake, it's a nicety that goes straight to the quality of life. And so for the rest of my stay I do like a Roman, greeting every person I see on my walks. Funny, huh?

So anyway, I finish out my job at the club, head back to my neighborhood, and get back into my normal routine, up and down the hills of St. Nick Park, feeling at home once again. And this, dear reader, is where a small incident, a mere trifle, managed to penetrate my coarse urban persona. I was bounding up a staircase at the south end of the park where there is a nice rock on the side of the hill looking out over the trees. Sitting on it was an older black gentleman, looking out in a contemplative manner, just minding his own business. I huffed up to the top and as I approached him I smiled, and said “Hi.” He looked at me a moment, then slowly turned his face away, as if to say I refuse to see you, I am ignoring you. I shrugged it off and walked on, purposefully working on my breathing. But it bugged me. I know he heard me. I wasn't threatening in any way. I couldn't figure out why we couldn't greet each other with the same simple forthrightness as those rich folks. Then it struck me. He thought I was an interloper. He thought I was one of those rich white folks, just like I did with the yacht club summer home set. Of all things, me, a poor artist, a neighborhood guy. Couldn't he see my sneakers? I admit I'd just gotten a haircut, and I was wearing a polo shirt with the collar up, but I'm not one of them. I'm one of us. I dropped out of NYU when they started buying the Village. I couldn't afford the tuition hikes. Can't he see me? It's a question that has bugged me ever since.

Brian Francisco


© Port Whitman Times 2010

Our house in Erie faced north. It was an old house, frame construction, that had a "vestibule," a tiny anteroom where you could leave your boots or rubbers, even take off your overcoat to be hung in the closet inside. The vestibule had two doors, one to the outside weather, an the other to the heated inside, in effect insulating the house from the weather, just as a storm door does on more modern construction today.

One night, after a balmy but cloudy afternoon in early December with temperatures in the 40's, the snow gradually came, first light, then heavier, then BIG flakes, dense snowfall, with a stiff wind coming off Lake Erie, temperatures dropping by the hour. We could see it would be a heavy load of the white stuff, but hey, this was Erie, lots of snow was, still is, common.

It snowed like that all night. Beautifully, picturesque really, but more and more silently as the night passed. Nine, ten, eleven, go to bed, twelve, etc...

When we arose next morning there was no sound from the outside, no vehicles, nothing, complete silence. Then the first thing we noticed, out the back window, was that the tall pine (or spruce? evergreen anyway) tree in the backyard was bent over to all the way to the ground, bent double. Turning on the radio, we heard that Erie had had a snowfall of record proportions. They said 45 inches. Overnight! But the most memorable thing was what we saw when we went through the vestibule and opened our front door, the one that faced north. There, from the floor of the porch to the top of the door frame, was the full imprint of the entire front door! A wall of the full front door! You could not see outside; it was like we were completely buried in the snow! Pulling up the shade of our big bay window overlooking the front porch - same thing - a wall of snow. The heavy snow and the north wind had managed to completely engulf the front of the house, porch and all.

We actually had to dig tunnels to get out. Tunnels! Boy, that was a snowfall, but, as it does every year in Erie, Spring came, the snow melted, then Summer, we went to the beach, our ice cream business picked up, Fall, the leaves fell, we waited for snow again.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

Two women were out for a Saturday stroll. One had a Doberman and the other, a Chihuahua.
As they walked down the street, the one with the Doberman said to her friend, "Let's go over to that bar for a drink."
The lady with the Chihuahua said, "We can't go in there. We've got dogs with us."
The one with the Doberman said, "Just watch, and do as I do."
They walked over to the bar and the one with the Doberman put on a pair of dark glasses and started to walk in.
The bouncer at the door said, "Sorry, lady, no pets allowed."
The woman with the Doberman said, "You don't understand. This is my seeing-eye dog."
The bouncer said, "A Doberman?"
The woman said, "Yes, they're using them now. They're very good."
The bouncer said, "OK, come on in."
The lady with the Chihuahua thought that convincing him that a Chihuahua was a seeing-eye dog may be a bit more difficult, but thought, "What the heck," so she put on her dark glasses and started to walk in.
Once again the bouncer said, "Sorry, lady, no pets allowed."
The woman said, "You don't understand. This is my seeing-eye dog."
The bouncer said, "A Chihuahua?"
The woman with the Chihuahua said, "A Chihuahua? They gave me a damn Chihuahua?!"


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Three Mothers, a blonde, brunette, and a redhead were all talking about their daughters.
The Brunette said "I was looking through my daughters things and I found cigarettes, I can't believe my daughter smokes."
The redhead said "Ladies, I was looking through my daughters things and I found a bottle of liquor, I can't believe my daughter drinks."
The Blonde said "I was looking through my daughters things and I found a pack of condoms, I can't believe my daughter has a penis!"


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Bernie and Sara were having dinner at a very fine restaurant when this absolutely stunning young woman comes over to their table, gives Bernie a big kiss, tells him she'll see him later, and walks away.

Sara glares at him and says, "Who was that??!!"

"Oh," replies Bernie, "that was my mistress."

His wife says, "That's it; I want a divorce."

"I understand," replies Bernie, "but, remember, if you get a divorce, there will be no more shopping trips to Paris, no wintering in the Caribbean, no Lexus in the garage, and no more country club. But the decision is yours."

Just then the wife notices a mutual friend entering the restaurant with a gorgeous woman.

"Who's that woman with Morty?" Sara asks.

"That's his mistress," Bernie replies.

Sara says: "Ours is prettier.".


© Port Whitman Times 2002

There's a fellow who is an avid golfer. Actually he's a golf fanatic. Every Saturday morning he has an early tee time. He gets up very early and golfs all day long.

Well this one Saturday morning, he gets up early,dresses quietly, gets his clubs out of the closet, and goes out to his car to drive to the course. It is raining a torrential downpour. There is snow mixed with the rain and the wind is blowing 50 mph. He comes back into the house and turns the TV to the weather channel. From there he finds that it's supposed to be bad weather all day long.

So he puts his clubs back into the closet, quietly undresses and slips back into bed where he cuddles up to his wife's back, and whispers "The weather out there is terrible."

To which she replies "Can you believe my stupid husband is out golfing?"


© Port Whitman Times 2002

The following quiz consists of four questions that tell you whether or not you are qualified to be a professional. The questions are not that difficult. You just need to think like a professional.

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator? The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe and close the door. This question tests whether or not you are doing simple things in a complicated way.

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator? Incorrect answer: Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant and shut the refrigerator. Correct answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This question tests your foresight.

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend except one. Which animal does not attend? Correct answer: The elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator! This tests if you are capable of comprehensive thinking.

OK, if you did not answer the last three questions correctly, this one may be your last chance to test your qualifications to be a professional.

4. There is a river filled with crocodiles. How do you cross it? Correct Answer: Simply swim through it. All the crocodiles are attending the animal meeting! This question tests your reasoning ability.

If you answered four out of four questions correctly, you are a true professional. Wealth and success await you.

If you answered three out of four, you have some catching up to do but there's hope for you.

If you answered two out of four, consider a career as a hamburger flipper in a fast food joint.

If you answered one out of four, try selling some of your organs. It's the only way you will ever make any money.

If you answered none correctly, consider a career that does not require any higher mental functions at all, such as politics.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese?

One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, are humanitarians cannibals?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? And if I'm uncouth, are you couth?

P.S. Why doesn't Buick rhyme with quick?


© Port Whitman Times 2002

So now, due to the rise in medical care costs over the years, companies are waffling on free medical insurance coverage, increasingly asking workers to pay part or all of the premiums. As if it were hammered in stone that medical costs (or ANY costs for that matter) had to go UP as a matter of course. Doctor needs more, nurses strike for more, hospital administrators more, malpractice more, building more, equipment more, more,more. Can't costs ever go DOWN?

Perhaps, as long as we subscribe to the economic theory that we have to be doing at LEAST as well as the other guy, there's no chance that things will go down. Because that greener grass over in the other yard is, through pressure of one sort or another, somehow achievable. We can strike, we can negotiate, we can threaten, we can arbitrate, we can simply increase our own pay (as physicians, politicians, TV repairpersons do). Making as much as the other guy is the name of the game.

But that's not the only thing making our costs, especially medical costs, go up. The major factor is INSTITUTIONAL BUYING. We're not a nation of individual hagglers any more, preferring to let the company/government/institute pay. Thus, if rates go up, hey, no skin off our nose, it's simply "absorbed." Don't bother us, we're too busy having fun. Work, of course, used to BE our fun, but now work is institutionalized too, with many of us droning away in a systems designed by geniuses to be kept moving by an army of high school mentalities. Not that this is bad, it just contributes to the institutionalizing of our mentalities.

In becoming a country dominated by companies as opposed to individuals, we accept one company charging another company more for less, hardly making a ripple in our personal lagoon of living; thus as "costs" go up. The only recourse the little guy seems to have is on the picket line or in the courts, where awards trickle down to the personal level. THEN we get revenge, gouging the insurance companies back a little. But, they just raise the rates, and the system, with us as the common denominator, has to pay.

So now our companies want US to pay more. Perhaps someday it'll get back to haggling, but certainly not tomorrow.


© Port Whitman Times 2011

PORT WHITMAN January 4, 2011 - At the request of Msgr. Salvatore Mantuan of the St. Abdul Roman Catholic church, Bishop David H. Gray, who heads the Port Whitman Diocese, will carry a special supplication to the Papal Council on his annual pilgramage to the Vatican. The entreaty, couched in a formal letter with the official seal of the Diocese, will request that the catholic law against masturbation be eased slightly, to allow self-prostate massage. This will enable celibate priests to relieve the sex gland of built-up fluids as a result of sexual deprivation, and alleviate urinary-restricting Benign prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) and other ailments frequently leading to deadly prostate cancer over a period of time. Recognizing that with priestly celibacy, common maladies peculiar to lack of sexual release are a real danger to the priesthood, and that normal masturbation usually requires a degree of morally degenerating fantasizing, the massage of the prostate gland, done through the anus, in a maneuver barely attainable by a male on himself, can empty the sensitive organ of fluids usually flowing out with normal sexual ejaculation, but without sexual orgasm. Thus, swelling, hardening, and later illnesses of the gland are forestalled, and later surgery can be alleviated, giving priests longer terms to be engaged in serving spiritual needs of Catholics.

One of the advantages of self-massage of the prostate is that of remaining trim, as it is necessary to somewhat contort one's body just to reach around, from a sitting position, and insert the middle finger, with the palm down, into the anus to reach the walnut-sized gland. In other words, fat priests need not apply for the dispensation, as it would be useless even to attempt the maneuver; they will thus be encouraged to lose weight, leading to longer lives of church service. In discussions of the move to send the request to Rome, it was at one point suggested that priests be permitted to perform the "finger-wave" maneuver on fellow priests so that overweight prelates be able to passively participate, but that was rejected on the grounds that it borders on forbidden sexuality, even if performed by higher-ranking Monsignors or Bishops. Rumor has it that the atmosphere of discussion became highly animated when this possibility was debated, with chubbier members of the local clergy coming close to demanding the therapy by fellow prelates. In the end however, it was rejected.

Since marriage for priests has been determined to be out of the question, it was concluded that some sort of therapeutic relief is necessary for urinary health; several options were considered, including masturbation without fantasizing, employing ice cubes or sandpaper, but alternate methods were determined to be completely out of the question. One member of the panel averred "What goes on in the mind of the self-gratifying priest could never be adequately monitored, and so is impossible to police."

When the contents of the letter to the pope was announced from the pulpit on a recent Sunday, objections were raised by the Order for Priestly Purity (OPP), an organization in St. Abdul Parish devoted to the ideal of priests as moral leaders. President of the OPP Miriam Cooney at one point threatened to picket the church with signs opposing the ordeal, but was finally pacified when it was argued that Monsignor Mantuan, a local favorite for many years, and a former Vietnam Veteran who became a Catholic in a battlefield conversion ultimately leading to his ordination to the priesthood, would be the main parish beneficiary of the exception to the rule. The Port Whitman Diocese will await the decision by the Vatican.


© Port Whitman Times 1999

Is your hospitalization and medical insurance going to cover your bills? Well, maybe.

Example: A patient recently went to a large medical facility for an out-patient procedure to be conducted under anesthesia. The procedure itself took less than an hour, not counting early AM pre-op waiting (2.5 hours) or post-op recovery (3 hours).

The procedure having been done, the hospital bill and physician having been paid by Blue Shield, the patient breathed a special sigh of relief that all was normal. Except for one thing. The next week, he received a bill for $256 from the anesthesiologist, who, as it turned out, was not a hospital staff member as the patient was allowed to believe, but a member of an outside public association of specialists. Limited liability at work to be sure. And unlimited fee scheduling.

Blue Shield covered only a fraction of the amount, a sum which it considers reasonable for anesthetizing, leaving the patient responsible for 78% of the bill. The patient, figuring he should have been covered for 100%, thereupon called the association's office, and was told "We do not have an agreement with Blue Shield," thus the anesthesiologist does not have to abide by what BS considers reasonable, and can charge whatever he likes. This patient felt as though he had been the recipient of a thumbed nose.

When inquiry was made at the hospital, it was found that it doesn't use any anesthesiologist that has a BS agreement, effectively leaving the patient to fend for himself. (Mini-lesson: Don't expect the hospital to be the benevolent protective facility that you're used to from the past--that was then, this is now). That anesthesiologist probably handled several patients that day, with the hospital's equipment, making himself a nice profit if he charged all the same rate, which he most likely did. Surely some of that was justified, the liability rates being what they are for this most sensitive of specialties, but the amount does seem a bit exorbitant, don't you think?

So check out what your charges are going to be before you go for any procedure, along with who's going to be responsible for them, and make sure your doctors and your insurors see eye to eye, or it could cost you an arm and a leg, or worse yet, your nest egg.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

Naturally, hospitals are going to be against Euthanasia, as are nursing homes, and homes for the aged, because they all have a financial interest, along with an ethical interest, in keeping patients alive, i.e., beds occupied. Their job is to save, to preserve life as long as it is possible; they're specialists at this and they do their thing, as we used to say. It's just that their thing comes out of all our pockets, in the overall rise of medical costs, because the majority of medical money is spent when we get the sickest, go in the hospital, and when is that? When we're old and feeble, and the way things are today, that's when we'd better have insurance to cover us.

The alternative, of course, to keeping us alive artificially, long after we are useful to ourselves or anyone, is pulling the life support plug, Euthanasia, or as the Indians used to do, leaving us behind. I can't say that I'd like to be left to die like an old Indian, no, that might entail a lot of suffering, starvation and the like, but if I were just vegetating, or in unbearable pain, so something quick and easy to end it all might just be the grim panacea for the occasion. Now I don't know whether I'd like grandma, as she will be then, to come over with the twelve guage and blow my brains out, not while I'm looking anyway. I've always wanted to die in my sleep, so maybe she could bring it over and blow me away while I'm in dreamland. Then it'll all seem like a sort of nightmare, and I rather enjoy them in my perverse way.


"I recently purchased a book which provides a series of exercises for improving blood flow to the prostate. These include deep knee bends; touching toes, flexing buttock muscles for 15 seconds and then relaxing 80 times. I must admit I haven’t the discipline to keep these up to determine how effective they are; but the approach of increasing prostate circulation makes sense."

Best to start gradually I'd bet.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

I have been dealing with an acute case of Chronic Prostatitis now for 45 years, having been diagnosed when I was 20. I do it with NO drugs, NO herbs, only occasional visits to the urologist when flareups occur due to my neglect of my REGIMEN of control (and it's been years and years since a flareup). What am I doing? Here it is:

1. I have sex twice a week (more only if I'm really horny and the opportunity presents itself, but NEVER LESS than 2x/week), limited to ONE ejaculation each time. I do it with a partner, OR if necessary, I masturbate, with mineral oil (not baby oil). At first this latter method jabbed at my conscience, having been raised Catholic, exposed to the attitude that masturbation was "sinful." But after a couple of flareups involving burning urination, penile discharge, even epydidimitis - swelling of the lining of the testicle to grapefruit size, and resultant hospitalization, all due to my neglect of this schedule, and drug therapy that ultimately provided only temporary relief, I just got used to masturbating when necessary, and now rather enjoy "sex for one," and the feeling of independence it gives, along with the regular exercise of my fantasy life in the process.

2. I make sure that I NEVER get sexually excited without having an orgasm. Dry humping without ejaculation, etc., is strictly a no-no, so if you do and she won't, go home and jerk off. Of course Marriage can regulate one's sex life, but wives must be aware of the limitations created by the condition, and the regular schedule it demands. An understanding partner is a requirement! If she can get you horny more often, maybe tell you licentious stories during sex, you've found a gem, and you can possibly increase the frequency to as much as once daily, as I did at one point. But watch it, I wouldn't go any oftener than that, lest you overtax an already sensitive gland.

3. I limit my alcohol intake to a glass of wine a day, a couple of martinis a week (vodka, NOT gin), stirred, not shaken (only kidding). Usually on Fridays I have a beer with pizza. A lot of beer or gin, or I suppose any alcohol, is anathema to the prostate, I find. And I limit my coffee intake to 3 cups or so a day.

4. I don't smoke (well, one cigar, a panatella, on Sunday); I don't know if not smoking is a factor, but I'm pretty sure smoking is harmful. I don't use smokeless tobacco either. I've tried snuff, and that definitely has a stimulating effect on the prostate. Makes you just about NEED to have sex right away. Too powerful to use on a regular basis. Stay away from tobacco, or any kind of drugs is probably a good general rule.

5. I walk a mile every day, keep my weight down (150 lbs. on a 5'10" frame), and stay away from stimulating internet sex sites, even movies or books that get me horny, unless using them to stimulate sex or sexual fantasies which lead to orgasm. Part of the regimen.

6. I use a prostate "ring" cushion (which my wife has covered in nice satin), available in medical supply stores, in the car to absorb the bumps (bumpy rides are anathema to the chronically sick prostate), and have even carried this to the extreme of having such a cushion on my desk chair, my TV chair, anywhere I sit for extended periods. Don't laugh, it seems to help.

7. Once a year I have a urologist manually check my prostate, and have a PSA blood test done, usually during free "prostate month" at my local hospital. So far all OK.

At first, when my University of Pennsylvania urologist suggested this twice-weekly regimen, I wondered how I would be able to keep it up (and GET it up) semi-week in and semi-week out, and at times it has seemed like being sentenced to a life RULED by this little gland, which I guess it has been, but I've learned to enjoy it, and when doing it alone, cut the time to just a few highly pleasurable minutes. And the fantasies! When you're alone and in your mind, there are no limits! Just don't let them spill over into your real life if they are illegal, or unethical. Be careful, this IS a danger. I don't INDULGE in sexual gymnastics, i.e., high frequency sex (that's what brought the disease on in the first place); if I'm with a partner (I am heterosexual, never have considered homosexual relations), I try to get my partner off as many times BEFORE myself, employing other forms of stimulation, then ideally WITH me in normal intercourse; that is only considerate. So I have fun being the stimulator of her pleasure.

I have never wanted to be at the mercy of doctors, prostate massages, and drug therapy, and with this regimen, never have had to be. For this I am thankful. At 65, I have a healthy prostate, normal size for my age, I sleep at night without having to get up more than once to urinate (for some reason sleeping on my side rather than on my back seems to help in this regard - keeps me from snoring too), and otherwise lead a very normal life.

I hope this is some help to someone who might be suffering the ravages of chronic prostatitis.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

A recent posting on the Prostatitis News Group related the following:

"Recently an Ayurvedic doctor from India visited... where I live. I visited him and his advice was useful and did alleviate the frequency of urination particularly in the evening where on some occasions 6 nightly visits were reduced to 2 and even 0 on one occasion.

He prescribed some medicine but in addition the recommended the following to reduce the frequency but increase the volume of urination.

1 teaspoon of cumin spice and 1 teaspoon of coriander spice in a cup of hot water; and allow to steep for 1/2 hour then drink. I use ground spice so I drink it instantly and it seems to have the same effect. Adding a teaspoon of ghee, clarified butter was also recommended

In the evening he advised keeping liquid intake to a minimum.

Also he advised that for 4 evenings in a row I eat only rice for the evening meal with a little ghee if desired.

Although not alleviating the pain it has certainly reduced the frequency of urination."

Name withheld to protect privacy of posting party.

Personally I don't like the idea of becoming attached to ANY drug or herb cure, but this may be of some help to those who want to deal with their prostatitis from an herbal point of view.

© Port Whitman Times 2006
There is a way of viewing things, an attitude if you will, that can ignore order and cleanliness, eschew morality, neglect maintenance and permit matters to deteriorate to the point where nothing works, not even the people. This has become the situation in many of our urban neighborhoods where street signs are rare, trash abounds, empty houses are the norm, businesses and respectable people simply leave.

This is not to say it is purely a racial phenomenon, because sensible people of all races want to escape it (if they can), but a way of not seeing the obvious, because it has always been there. If you grow up surrounded by trash you learn to accept it as part of the landscape, and hey, it's no big thing if there are no street signs, egregious disrepair, no orderliness to the neighborhood. That's the way it's s'posed to be, isn't it? And when you encourage people to vote into office one of their own just because he is a certain color or ethnic background, you not only give him the reins, but you support him with jobs for those neighborhood people who helped to put him there. He may very well have been educated to see things differently, but they, the workers, remain part of the ghetto, literally and philosophically. And they are the ones who are doing the line work, supposedly keeping the order, with their still-contaminated perspective.

Despite the virus of Nazidom, the Germans have always had the right approach - Order is the soul of civilization. The Germans are masters at orderly. That's why Hitler appealed to them with his "New Order." In the U.S. we encourage so-called "Freedom," i.e., the right to do as you please, as a philosophy, but neglect to enforce restrictions on that freedom at the low levels where the societal infrastructure is maintained. We thus build-in a contradiction, in that we democratically give everyone who can pull a lever the power - and pay them to produce the numbers that accompany that power - to elect anyone they want, induce them to select by using the seductive influence of TV, whose motor is driven by money, then piously expect the best quality of elected officials to emerge. OK then, where are the street signs, and why is there so much trash?


© Port Whitman Times 2011

Here's a post we received re the "new Baseball invention:"

Dear PWT,
As we watched the Yankee game on TV last night, I couldn't help commenting to my husband on the new baseball invention: "Why, all the pitcher has to do now" I said, "is throw the ball through that little box over the plate, and it's an automatic strike! And the hitters too - If the ball isn't in the box, voila, he doesn't swing at it, and it isn't a strike, it's a ball! Boy, talk about modern improvements. And with the new box, who needs umpires?"
Dora Vacant

Yeah, right. But seriously, when you think of it, just how much that is decided by umpires in baseball could actually be done by electronics? Surely that little box over home plate could be activated so that strikes and balls are automatically seen and measured. The box could of course be adjusted for the height of the player at bat, so the strike zone for a 5'8" player would be smaller than for a 6'8" player, etc., but that would be a minor correction; it could be done.

Whether a ball is fair or foul? No problem. In fact there are probably cameras already set up that could do that. After all, it's merely a judgement as to whether the ball crosses over the plane established by the first or third base at a point immediately above the respective base, not really a matter of judgement at all, but an electronically measurable thing, that the camera eye would see and decide infallibly. Hey, they do it in tennis, don't they?

Is the player out or safe on a tag? Ah, that's a little more complicated, but with computer chips installed in the balls and bases, an instantaneous signal could be generated on a tag or a touch of the base. If the tag is first - Out! If the contact with the base is first - Safe!

Imagine! Baseball without umpires. No more "You're blind, ump, you're blind, ump, you must be outta your mind, ump."

How about a balk? Well, if the pitcher's leg... Oh boy, it's just too complicated.
Okay, keep the umpires.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

So Pete Rose is on the loose again. Too bad about the Hall of Fame vote, after all, baseball is what it's all about, and Pete was Mr. Baseball. But then after all, wha'd you expect from a man who was a kingpin in a game where theft (stealing), violence (hitting), apprehension (catching), and ejection (throwing out) are major components? Naturally he'd get involved in something shady. Looka what happens: The batter gets a free ride (walk) to first base, then guilefully watches the pitcher's every move waiting for his chance, and the second the guard is down he steals a base, or maybe goes to second on the cowardly hit-and-run, sliding in with spikes flying (Ty Cobb used to sharpen his) threatening to hurt the second baseman if he gets in the way. There it is: larceny and violence, and who was the top perpetrator? Pete Rose, of course. It's just a step from there to the easy life of gambling.

It was only a few years ago that gambling was one of the mortalest of sins, and preachers regularly thumped against it from pulpits far and wide. But now it seems to have gone the way of eating-meat-on-Friday, in the pecking order of sinfulness. Lately, TV constantly exposes us to the happy-go-lucky dreamers recounting what they will do with the money they win in the lottery. Sure pops, you're going to Tahiti - maybe in another life.

It's no wonder guys like Pete Rose - simple folks, and anyone who makes a living out of hitting, catching, throwing and stealing has got to be simple, I mean as opposed to rocket scientists, brain surgeons, philosophers and junk bond dealers, (at least they're exploiting their simple sides) - fall into bad company. So what can you expect? Baseball is a game of nerve - and so is gambling. But don't get caught stealing, especially from Uncle Sam, he doesn't take kindly to being spiked.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

Some years ago in Port Whitman, in the early sixties before it was settled and civilized, there were the Rat Fights. Not private brouhahas among the rodentia over cheese, but a semi-sporting activity, controlled by humans, sponsors and captors of the contestants. Employing live, wild rats, they were not sponsored by the County Department of Rodent Control, but were a "men's getaway" activity, a questionable form of recreation held with beer and cigars in a garage or a basement, for the purpose of betting, then not yet legal in the state.

Since live rats were used, traps had been fashioned to catch them without exposing the catcher to being bitten by a rabid, irate rodent. Used was oblong box-cage, the size of a small loaf of bread, made of wood with mesh screen inside so the trapped creature couldn't eat through the wood. Approaching the trap, the curious rodent would encounter a little ramp, over the far end of which is some scrumptious looking food, like an M&M or Raisinette. All he has to do is walk into the box, up to the food, and as soon as his weight tips the ramp, a door swings shut trapping him inside. The harder he pushes, the tighter it closes. So the rat eats the delicate morsel, small consolation. Next morning more food comes, thence three squares a day, until THE day. The day when he'll fight for his life.

In the garage/arena, cigar smoke and beer fumes hang in the air. From its repository back in the corner comes an old claw foot bathtub, a reject, in favor of the shower water catchers they build today. In the center of the tub a metal post is welded to the bottom, on the top of the post is a small platform the size of a paperback book. Enough room for one rat, no more. The tub is positioned in the center of the garage, its drain over the garage's floor drain, filled with water almost to the platform, so a rat can climb from water to platform but not out of the tub. He either swims or rests on the platform.

Rats seldom prey upon each other in the normal scheme of things, but when they do, it's fight-to-the-death, a characteristic that will serve them well in this cutthroat contest. The garage, the smoke, the beer, the bathtub, the platform, the water, all create the atmosphere; death is an inevitability. An honorable bloody battle, teeth-to-the-throat combat, and brave departure.

On they come, carried by proud catchers from executives to adolescents, to engage in mortal combat. If you have no rat, you've no business here unless you're a bettor, because this isn't really a spectator sport. This is a field of honor, as back in the days of yore, or even pre-yore, where rats could feel free to be RATS, and of course men men. After a lot of yo-ho-ho camaraderie, similar to what you see in beer ads, the combatants are brought forth for the duel. Amid cheering and betting, all crane to get a glance at each rat, now cowering in sheer terror at what is happening around him. Rats have a keen sense of hearing, and big ears to do the job.

As the door of his cage/trap is pushed open, Rat "A" is released into the water . He swims around, ultimately tiring of the exercise, finally discovers and climbs onto the platform out in the middle of the water, center stage. The chatter of men's voices fills the air, for now, Rat "B" is released into the water, quickly tires of the rat-paddle, then, finding the slippery tub walls unclimbable, proceeds to the platform. One rat is king of the platform, the other needs it to survive. Two snarling rodents, enough room for only one, and what ensues is the most ferocious fight, pound for pound, you'll find anywhere in the world. Clawing, biting, slashing, twisting, one corpse, one winner, a torn, brutalized one too, only too happy to get back into his cage/trap, for more steak and baked, and some R&R. Bettors return home, richer or poorer after a card of ratfights.

Ultimately this activity was discovered, the participants fined, and as far as we know, never continued, the police seizing all the equipment that went toward the fights, the traps, the rats, the tub, everything, either because the laws against gambling or cruelty to animals were being violated.

We've made some progress since‹gambling is legal now in limited scope, rats are still dealt with on an institutional, humane basis - traps, poison "rodent control" the like. The game has moved from the tubs to the casinos and the green felt tables, or to your corner store and the lottery. Rumor has it there's a computer game in the works. Still, live rats abound. They manage to coexist with each other, in spite of man.


© Port Whitman Times 1990

Re: Pete Rose "I am the Lord thy God, Thou shalt not have false Gods before Me" - The First Commandment.

No this is not about Pete's idolizing gambling. It's about us. How we, with our media tools and gullible, malleable imaginations construct idols out of our record breakers in any trivial field. To wit: The Guinness Book of World Records, where there is a world record holder for chicken plucking, clam eating, standing en pointe with one's toe in a milk bottle (Richard Barstow, director of the Barnum & Bailey circus until his death a few years ago, if we're to believe his theatrical biography), and kissing, as we've recently seen on TV.

Baseball being big business, especially big media business, is a prime example. Everyday someone new is becoming an idol for the kids to worship (and deep inside we're still kids) because he caught the most fly balls hit off a left-handed pitcher in the last week of a 30-day month where there were two full moons falling on an odd numbered days. Any excuse for a new record, for a new baseball card notation or even a new card. With the help of the keepers of the game, the owners, managers, announcers, advertisers, media in general, we hype our superstars into idol status, then expect them to act the part of idols all their lives. We give them golden feet, even golden calves, then smack our heads in surprised dismay when their lower extremities turn to clay before our eyes, with the help of all those aforementioned folks who goosed their ratings on their way up. We made them idols, then confused them with being ideals.

Now God, being the only real ideal, not to be confused with a mere record-holder, never turns out to have feet of clay because divinity, i.e. perfect idealism, is by its very nature, flawless. No need for records, as the perfection, as far as we're concerned, is only limited by our individual and collective imaginations. One thing about an ideal too - it's always ahead of you no matter how far you progress.


© Port Whitman Times 2004

You may not see a home run. You may not see a triple or a double, or even a hit from one of the teams. You might see a couple of double plays, a few bases on balls, or just on sheer nerve; you'll see lots of pitches, a few great catches, line drives, pop-ups, grounders, flies, not many mosquitos, strikeouts, foul balls...but one thing you're sure to see at a baseball game is SPIT. It's everywhere. I mean, why are the home plate umpires' brushes brown? Tobacco spit, that's why. Every time you look, at least one man on the field will be spitting... It's like they pass it around, you know? You never know WHO'S going to be next, but THEY know, like an unwritten conspiracy. They spit everywhere... Why did they go back to real grass? Because the tobacco juice was staining the Astroturf.

There is SO much spit that it really affects the game, though the players wouldn't let on that it does. They calmly go about the business of spitting as they play - even the ones who don't chew terbaccy are spitting, just to keep up appearances, with bubble gum.

Now you'll notice that there are no women in big league baseball. Today women are everywhere else, stars in all sports, trying out in basketball and even football, but not HARDball. No way, baby, "Why you could get hit right on the LIPS with that missile." Another reason is spit. Really, did you ever see a woman walk down the street and spit-too into the gutter? Not on your tintypewriter. Women just don't spit, so you don't find them in a spitting contest like baseball - no way do they want to wade around in all that muck that is not one gram of their making.

So the men nonchalantly go about knocking the spitty mud off their cleats with their bats laden with what else? PINE TAR, which is closer to tobacco spit than anything you can name, just thicker. Well, Billy Martin told 'em once: "Spit anywhere you want but not on the end of the bat - that's a sacred area." Hmmmmm.

BUT--everywhere else on the field--SPIT. Spitting on the basepaths is frowned upon of course, and everyone more or less keeps the rule, but you'll notice the baserunners DO wear running (i.e. sliding) gloves. After all, who the blistery pits wants to slide head first into second and plop your hands down in someone else's expectorant? The first bases, back in Abner Doubleday's day, were probably old spittoons, but it just got too sloppy. So the whole field became the spittoon. And you never know whose spit it is, the baserunner's spit, the fielders going back and forth spit, the manager's spit, the bullpen spit, not much spitting from the field crew though, you really have to come up through the minors too presume to spit on a major league field. You never see the umpires spit much either, it would be out of character for them to indulge in such a low practice and retain their image as the diamond's decision makers.

Thank heavens not many fans spit. It's really not nice off the field, and baseball fans are a nice All American bunch, yes? But did you ever watch a man get out of a car he has just parked? Chances guessed it. Well, he's probably a frustrated center fielder.



© Port Whitman Times 2000

The real stars of basketball today aren't the whirlaround stufferguys who can dazzle you with their aerobatic techniques, nor the distance shooters who consistently drain the 3-balls, nor even the leapers who spring like grasshoppers or the canopy custodians who deny points by batting away close-up sure-shots. No, none of these, and it's not the teams who can mystify opponents with their passing skills or the deft ball magicians that can fake guarding opponents right out of their Reeboks. And oddly enough, the tattoos, the dyed hair, the hairless and the pierced bodyparts don't phase us a bit. Nooo, the REAL stars of the court are three:

THE NET: That's right, the net itself, made of some kind of perky costume material that flounces like a virgin's skirt when the ball slips through rimless, or snags the ball when it comes through at an angle, bags it for just that split second of capture, and gives us the visual splash the shot touches off, that little jolt the shot that penetrates neatly truly rates. Whatever material that is, gottabe a man-made fabric, it definitely is one of the major stars of the game, without dribbling, shooting, passing or defending. It just be's there. When that material changed from the old stiff nets we knew as kids, or the chains of the playground, the game suddenly changed too, to accommodate the giants, the leapers, the long-ball shooters, those who could, from high above or far away, stuff the basketball, nothing but lace.

THE RIM: Whatever metal it's made from (one suspects some material NASA came up with to be used on Mars), the rim that allows a 260 lb. player to hang on it after a stuff shot (so he won't fall on his head, or so no one will have to catch him on the way down), yet won't bend an inch, springing back to its precise original shape after every hang, time and again, has to be a major player. If you've ever seen a regular steel playground rim that's been hung upon, you know what I'm talking about. It's a sorry sight, drooping forward like an exhausted warhorse with it's tongue hanging out, not to be uprighted ever again, waiting hopefully for a replacement made of the new metal that won't give an inch, no matter what, or who.

THE BACKBOARD: Or the "glass" as our announcers call it, couldn't really be glass, no, must be some kinda plastic that, no matter what pressure is put on it by that 260-pounder who hangs on the rim, won't shatter, won't even budge from its stalwart position, as though it were made of tempered steel. We've all seen it's predecessors busted into a thousand pieces when a player would hang too long on the rim, stopping the game while another "glass" is put up, the player chastised, sometimes even issued a technical foul. But nowadays that won't happen, as the whole system is stronger than the strongest player, and can stand up to whatever abuse is dealt to it and not give in. Inhuman it is, surely that. No modern backboard or rim is going to surrender to some mere basketball player trying to give it grief.

Yet the heroic rim and backboard hold that most delicate of lacey articles, the net that bounces saucily, femininely, when a bold shot rifles thru. A "swisher" we used to say. No more, today it's more like a sensual splasher.


© Port Whitman Times 1999

Before he was a national phenomenon, which he was even before he was a college star, Wilt Chamberlain was a local, a high school, a schoolyard wonder, who was called "Wilt The Stilt" (a name he hated), because of his height and then thinness, of course. Not that there were'nt tall, even 7' or 8' tall persons before, but here was one who was more than tall, not JUST a giant. Here was a giant that was coordinated like a panther, with the strength of an atlas. He could high-jump, he could put the shot. He could dribble pass and shoot a basketball.

Being in college in West Philadelphia in the early 1950's, I was among the few who, in this early age of television, got the first look at Wilt, not that a tall basketball player was anything unusual, after all, I, at 5'10," had been a pall bearer for my Great Aunt Frances with my two Indiana second cousins, college players who were 6'9" and 6'10" respectively (I still imagine Aunt Frances rolling over in her tilted coffin as we descended the church steps), so being tall wasn't all there was to it. No, Wilt The Stilt, and I don't think he minded the name back when he was first approaching the 7' level, was definitely something else. As an underclassman in high school, he provided the outstanding sports visual moment of the decade, of the century really, and there it was, on the tube, a recent phenomenon too, for the world to see. But we in Philadelphia saw it first, watching in awe, jaws open, as a young man, a mere adolescent, jumped up and STUFFED the basketball DOWN into the basket.

Now I had been used to all manner of players, all styles of basketball, slow, fast, inside shooters who delayed release of the ball, outside shooters who pushed the ball up in a high arc, effecting a "swish," bank shots, hook shots, half-court hail-marys what actually went IN, the whole catalogue of shots since before high school, when I as a grade-schooler would practice in the backyard on the basket that my dad build out of pipe, wood slats, and a rim. This was the era where foul shots were still tossed, lobbed underhand with both hands, from a squat position, banking off the backboard with a little reverse spin. The two-hand long shot was still the norm, and the reverse layup was somewhat of a marvel. But I hadn't ever seen a STUFF! "Have you seen Wilt The Stilt stuff the Ball?" was the hip sports question of the day. No doubt about it, this was two points every time he got the ball, as sure as there's sky above and earth below. We could play the sight over and over only by switching channels (Philadelphia had three) to catch the sports from another station. It just knocked you over every time you saw it, like watching a tall building imploded.

Not only could this kid jump up and slam the ball down through the hoop, making the net flounce back in the process, but he could BLOCK the shots of the opposing team by just standing under the basket and waiting for them to get it anywhere near. Something had to be done about this of course; it just wouldn't do, it would be contrary to all aspects of the game to have someone who could simply jump up and keep the ball from going in. There is no goalie in basketball, never was, never would be. So the "downward flight" rule and the "cylinder" rule, the "three-second" rule and the like had to be invented to preclude goal-tending, to let the game continue unhindered by human physical development. But the stuff-shot was so in-your-face, so watchable, so stunning in its effect, that it just HAD to stand, and of course it did. Thus basketball was changed forever.

That was the contribution of Wilt Chamberlain: In a moment, he single-handedly changed basketball, changed the sport the way we saw it and played it, brought it into the new era, the fruits of which we see today in the Kareems, the Michaels, the Shakeels. Now everybody stuffs. Why, even Larry Bird, the greatest long-shooter of all time, could stuff when called upon. Sure, white kids can jump. We learned it from the Wilts. Even the little guys jump up like grasshoppers and jam the ball down through the threads, as if it might backfire if not enough force was used, then have to hold on to the hoop to keep from falling in their heads. New space-age materials have to be used to keep the backboards from shattering under the weight of a Dawkins or a Barkley. As to Wilt, there have been better dribblers, shooters, even dunkers than Wilt Chamberlain, those who could maneuver around or under him, outscore him from the outside, but nobody, nobody except Wilt, did it FIRST, and for those of us who witnessed it first, it was an unforgettable moment, an indelible picture. Our world was changed.


© Port Whitman Times 1999

Back in the good old days (the 40's), before middle America had heard of quiche, before automatic transmissions, before Fan-a-vision, when boys were proud to be boys and longed to be men, we of the schoolyard set played. . . mushball. That's right, MUSH-ball, the same as baseball, but with a ball a little bigger, that you couldn't hit so far, and theoretically wouldn't go through a window quite as fast. Obert, Sanner, McCormick, Harmle, Lorei, Campbell, all the guys in the eighth grade, we were the captains of the diamond out back of St. Peter's Grade school, where daily during lunch period, after we had wolfed down our packed up sandwiches and fruit, we chose up sides and played ball. No umps, underhand slow pitch until you hit something, and it probably wouldn't go out of the yard. Sometimes we let Zimmo (Zymslinski) play, even though he was a mere seventh grader, cause he was good. A natural, as he was at all sports, proven by his subsequent 4-sport high school (after that I lost track) record. No girls though. They could sit on the sidelines, observe and adulate, but had no notion of how to actually get up and swing at a ball. Now all that has changed of course, women can and do do EVERYthing. Sometimes better, but usually not always quite as well or as fast or as high or as low as men, at least in the sports department... but whatever men may try, so may our counterparts. Hey, fine with me, as long as we don't get in each other's ways.

Something else has changed too. Maybe it had something to do with women coming into the sport, I don't know, but it shook my image of it to the very basepaths. They started calling it... are you ready - SOFT-ball. Mush isn't really a girls' thing, too, ah, yucky, but SOFT is acceptable, apparently, so suddenly the Mushball of the schoolyard bacame the Softball of organized leagues of office workers, firepersons, actors, lawyers, secretaries, HOUSEWIVES fer gosh sake. There's something limp-wristed about SOFTball, like it's a first cousin of Cottonelle, or Dove, or hand lotion, or "Have a nice day", like that. And it's not slow pitch anymore, where the ball useta take a high arc and came down through the strike zone almost vertically, so that your chance to hit it was about the same as one of our defense missiles hitting one of their ICBMs. Oh no. Now they zzzzzzzzzip it past you at 80 MPH, and you've got to have 20/20 with perfect depth perception to think fast enough to get wood on the ball. Everyone has coaches, jerseys, equipment, tight field schedules, carpools, all mass production. The leagues are listed and ranked, both men and women, and the game is no longer one of liesure, but another route for the rat race.

Hey, once your home run days are over, whattaya have left but the old memories, old terms. Fer me it'll always be Mushball in the schoolyard, and choosin' up by fists on the bathandle.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

It used to be funny, the cartoon of the outfielder missing the fly ball and getting conked on the noggin, but no more. Now, it's the basis for a parental lawsuit; in fact ANYthing seems anymore to somehow be processed into lawsuits. Signs of the times, where we don't make a move without contacting our lawyer, our accountant, our broker, our dentist, our cardiologist, and on and on.

Now back in the olden days, before astroturf, before adult coaches, before equipment lockers, when the "Little League" was known as the "Junior Baseball League" and things were much less formal, it was almost unheard of for parents to even COME to games - we would have been embarrassed if they had, not to mention cheering for us. We were our own cheering section, we who played, and we congratulated each other on our own team, or on opposing teams, or razzed each other when we pulled boners that got us beaned, or got fooled by good curve pitches (Child Pitchers were allowed then to throw curves). That's why they called it, and still call any other tough-knuckles activity, HARDBALL.

The way it looks now, whenever a fly ball is hit, they'll have to appoint a designated catcher while the ball is in the air, and get a release signed by both parents... Maybe it would be good to go back a step, ban parents from the fields, play without coaches or umpires, back to sandlot, where baseball really is the All American Game.

So it shouldn't be a total loss.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

"Did I see that?" was my initial reaction, as I saw one of a group of several teenagers, going into a place of business with his pants down around his hips, a good six inches of underwear on display. "Maybe he lost his belt," said I to myself, "and he hasn't noticed his pants are falling down. Hmm." But just then another of this gang appeared and he was in the same condition of disarray, then a third, who was at least making token gestures to hike up his trousers, apparently not feeling totally comfortable with the condition. I finally realized that, among this group, this was their "style," their way of rejecting societal norms, establishing themselves as "bad" in the eyes of their peers, i.e., one another. I suppose any way you can get the approval of your peers is fair, but one wonders...

First it was hats on sideways, then sneakers untied, coats half off, now it's pants half down. What next, tongue hanging out? Isn't there a more productive way to rebel? The great tragedy of young life in the USA today is that, with the present educational level of our schools (and therefore our kids), the only way they can find to show contempt for a system that's leaving them behind is to drop their pants, in effect "mooning" life. Oh please, let me be wrong.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

There's no denying it, Hitler was surely on to something: arbitrarily delete the undesirables from the human species. Unfortunately however, it was Hitler and his criminal coterie who ultimately determined who the "undesirables" were - the people he didn¹t like - a gradeschool mentality deciding a twenty-first century question for an entire continent, nearly the world. And so it was too with Stalin, or Tojo, or Pol Pot. We must assume that all their intentions were, at least in their own minds, in their mirrors in the morning, estimable, or at least progressive in terms of world population. We now must also admit, the problem must be managed. The easiest way then as now in some quarters (see Yugoslavia), was imposed liquidation, lopping off major segments of the race. "The less they have, the more we have," the thinking goes. Fire the mortars and the targets be damned.

One would have to be totally unaware today, not to conclude that unless we somehow purge the race, the human race, of those yet unborn who will be effecting a drag on the resources, the environment, on the progress of the species, the world will, in a generation or two, be unable to support our children and grandchildren in the manner to which we will surely have become accustomed. Then, finally fed up with the "gimme" attitude of those who are ill-equipped or refuse to contribute to the society, we will somehow - through wars or simply ignoring the Somalias and Rawandas of then, allow "them" to die, leaving more room, more of the world¹s assets, for "us." We¹re not talking "goodies" here when we say assets, not diamonds or emeralds, but the basic tools and commodities of survival. Although we all in our munificence, might contribute to humanitarian or military entities to solve present local crises, which of us would voluntarily give up our TV, our supermarkets, our automobiles, our homes, our land, to support those who have none of these due to their own wrangling and mismanagement, to those who, when given some, have not the wherewithal to conserve, but merely use up what they receive and come back to the trough - our trough - for more.

Now we, the haves, can still help, because we are still the pastures or the peoples of plenty, though leaning unwillingly toward the merely sufficient, and we do what we can. But with the geometric expansion of world population, and consequent geometric reduction of the world¹s resources, without another planet, a "new world" to go to and exploit, we are left with the problem of getting along with what we have and no more. Looking ahead fifty years, to a planet bursting with humanity, how, other than with the Hitlerian solution, do we solve the problem? Of course we have weapons that can vaporize entire cities, millions of hungry mouths, in seconds, but who, short of Hitler and his ruthless ilk, is willing to use such drastic measures on fellow humans? After all, wiping out an entire city throws out the baby with the bath, the contributors with the laggards, the intelligent with the ignorant, the providers with the squanderers, and the infrastructure that accompanies them all. Somehow the undesirables must be separated from the desirables, in a less arbitrary, but more objective way than has been done up to now. Which does not necessarily bring us back to Hitler, but does present us with the same problem that faced the world in the thirties: how to generate progress for all, still conserving enough for our progeny.

As someone said, Democracy may not be the ideal system, but it beats everything else anyone has come up with so far. However, even democracy can be carried too far. Our founding fathers did not intend for everyone to vote in elections, thus prevented masses of interests from feeding themselves through the ballot box, which is just what is happening today. Politicians have learned to cozy up to whomever can provide security-in-office, whether it be the fat cat contributors who can donate the most money to buy the most prominent TV ads, or voter groups who are malleable enough to give blind approval to anyone who massages their wallets, their stomachs, their ids, simply by encouraging them to breed more voters. This is not to say we ought to deny even our lowliest citizen the right to expression via the vote, but somehow the vote of a contributor to society must have more weight than that of a drainer from that society. If not, and the drainers are multiplying geometrically, we are ALL doomed.

The one leveling factor in our national community is not money, i.e., capital to buy or do what one wants; after all, drug dealers, extortionists, embezzlers and the like can easily get money. The leveling factor that which determines class today, is knowledge - education too, but moreso actual knowledge, the ability to transform resources - human and otherwise - into useful activity and respectable cash. Those with more knowledge don¹t always make the most money, but as a measure of ability to survive, earned income and its source is near the top of the list of credentials. Those with the most knowledge, i.e., the least ignorant, must be given the representational tiller to guide the ship of state, lest we founder at the mercy of hapless souls without direction, who would navigate us onto rocky shoals. Generally speaking, the most knowledgeable do represent us, but when representation is carried to the extreme, as ours seems to have been, corruption sets in and retards the very progress we must make to endure as a civilization.

I am suggesting that what we need is a weighting of an individual¹s voting strength according to the amount of knowledge he/she possesses. This could be verified by a test administered by the government, and kept current by a test given locally every four years, insuring that every voter has the right to vote at his/her current or possibly a higher level. Should the educational level of the voter fall, the weight attached to his/her vote would fall also. This would give incentive to voters to increase their educational level, in order to be taken more seriously in the voting booth, and to have more of a say in electing officials to posts where decisions are being made, and tax money is being spent - or wasted. Then the Hitlers of the world would no longer have an arbitrary say in who stays and who goes. The vote would determine who gets and who¹s left wanting, according to who knows what. Now about the test…


© Port Whitman Times 1998

OK, so now we' got soul. Since our African-American bros & sisters have been, deservedly, liberated from the bonds of segregation via the Civil Rights legislation that has come down since 1954, the whole nation that is US has, if not embraced, at least been deeply affected by our assimilation of much of the African-American way of life. This is not the same lifestyle we knew before 1954, in which we aspired to the values developed in Europe over the centuries, but one born in Africa, and nurtured by our grim sin that was slavery, into what we previously considered THEIR mode of living (afar off in the ghetto), as opposed to OUR well-manicured and rigidly controlled way. But now for better or worse, THEY are part of us, - and we of them.

So far, the marriage has not been a good one. Instead of bringing them up to the best parts of our well-tested way, we have indulged them and made it chic for us to become more like them in both their best AND worst behaviors. Where we have been able to compete on level playing fields (sports, music, theatre) we have learned, they have shone, all has improved, but not only have we allowed them to sink into the deplorable conditions of ghetto life, with its bad habits and outré behavior, but we have JOINED them to some degree, accepting behavior in ourselves over the years that would have been unthinkable before integration. As the segregationists used to say, we have become mongrelized - not by intermarriage, but by intermingling. We have each, both black and white, taken on the worst aspects of each other's behaviors, along with the benefits of the friendship. But then nobody said it was going to be easy.

This has happened with all the ethnic groups that were stirred into the melting pot, however the results have usually been one step back and two steps forward. This is not the case with our blending in with the black society, which is not to lay blame, unless it be with the media, for showing us all the evidences of the good life, and providing a forum in which its benefits could be demanded and won by demonstration and political bulldozing rather than education and hard work. All any group has to do to prosper in this regard it seems, is to breed voters, then the politicians come forth and genuflect to the group that demonstrates with the greatest and loudest numbers. Once each ethnic group begins thinking only of itself and its members, demanding its jobs, its own education, its language, its private representatives, we are in danger of turning our democratic edifice into a tower of Babel, where nothing gets done, and no one, including the various separatist ethnic groups, gets anything near what they need. Our society will DISintegrate (that's the opposite of integrate) which is exactly what we don't want.

WE ARE AMERICANS all, good is good, bad is bad, English is our language, having babies you can't care for is wrong, what's mine is mine, Bryant Gumbel caters to our best instincts, 2 Live Crew to our worst - There is no god but God, no devil but Satan, and we are ALL free to choose.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

"Belonging to a gang is a rite of passage"- Former gang member appearing on Good Morning America with football great Jim Brown and current gang member.

Gangs, clubs, fraternities, platoons. Like wolves, we like to travel in packs, NEED to in some cases, for protection, the new group replacing the family as we grow to adulthood and want to strike out from the original nest to something greater, or at least something else, having tired of the old routine. And if the new "family" is rooted in law-breaking, the bonds between brothers are that much stronger, in that they may all go to jail together (the gang survives there too), as opposed to a "respectable" band who may go to college together. Trouble is, street gangs never seem to go anyplace EXCEPT to jail or to the morgue, and that's true whether they're the big time mafia or the small time "posse" hanging out by the pay phone on the corner.

The point that's troubling is the phrase "rite of passage." In some members minds this word rite tends to get confused with right, so the person looks upon membership AS a right just like the civil ones, or human ones. All of us pass through phases in our lives by undergoing "rites," some of which, like graduation from school, are respected by society, and some of which, perhaps like killing someone, are not, but mostly they have to do with progress which society, even underworld society recognizes. In a small, neighborhood way, gang membership can be ascribed this position, but that is a particularly narrow viewpoint, and it's the job of the establishment to broaden, through education, the neighborhood into a societal, even universal viewpoint, so that the individual growing out of the family structure can use acceptable and equally satisfying rites of passage to enter into a better world, not entrench himself into a hopeless one.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Are there no absolutes anymore? Like happy, or satisfied, black or white? Seems every time you read or hear of controversy, it's cast in RELATIVE terms. The teachers want more because OTHER teachers are getting more, not because they NEED more - it's a matter of relative compensation, competition really. The marijuana folks want to legalize pot because "tobacco and alcohol are just as harmful, if not more so" (I guess that makes it OK). God help the city that falls a couple of rungs on some evaluation or other - suddenly there's panic in city hall (One notable exception is Camden, NJ, which rests comfortably at the bottom of most lists and defiantly stays there - now THAT'S attitude).

Go to a meeting or party, mention any subject, and someone else feels obligated to top you with their version of an experience on the same subject. It's as though we NEED comparison in order to justify our own existence with relation to ANYTHING. Does anyone think independently in our group-oriented society? Not anymore it seems. We're so used to subverting our individual impulses to those of the team to which we belong or want to belong, that thinking for ourselves is becoming old hat. Example: Want to become an entrepreneur, what do you do? Buy ENTREPRENEUR magazine, natch, and find an established field, or spend your life savings on a supposedly proven franchise. It's "which franchise makes more money, A or B, not what will I enjoy doing the most." Money, there's another example. Which bank pays the highest interest, which mutual fund did the best, which S&L offers the best CD rates (That's what sparked the S&L crisis we're still paying for), instead of putting your money in the neighborhood bank. Of course, if Silverado S&L was in your neighborhoodŠ Ah well, it's all relative. It's only money, only life.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Life is really about death, no? As soon as you realize you're a participant in it and not an onlooker, you inevitably, if not always consciously, start to do the things you want to make-sure-you-do before you die. Not just the once-in-a-lifetime, bungee-jumping sorts of things, but, if you are a planner, the prudent activities that insure you will be able to do the things you know you will want to do or MIGHT want to do later, whether it be bungee-jumping, golf, travel, or playing the piano, also including any number of what might be considered destructive activities. After all it's your life, your choice.

Becoming a life participant is essentially the recognition that there is a future somewhat under your control, and beginning to act upon the rudder of that control to steer toward or away from the direction of what is to come. From birth and feeding at the breast, we are all somewhat pleasure-oriented, and might spend our lives in pursuit of hedonistic activities if we were allowed to languish, resulting in a somewhat shortened existence, but we learn that we must open our mouths to eat, stand up and walk, control our bodily functions, feed and dress ourselves, tie our shoes, mind our parents, learn in the abstract at school, get along with people, be what parents, peers, finally ourselves expect us to be.

Oh sure, the primary rule is survival, and one has to do what one has to do, yet it's no harm to have fun along the way. For some, survival is easier, due to inheritance, luck, special gifts, societal benefits, and they don't have to spend as much time surviving as others, thus command more time for the fun part. I say take advantage of this, and, as long as your survival isn't at stake - you only live once - have as much of that fun as possible, so long as it hurts no one. If you hurt someone in the process, who knows, you could find yourself living more than once, and come back as an oppressed minority in a third world country, or a slave on another planet, just to show you how it feels when the shoe is on the other foot.

Fun, not work, is the ultimate stuff of which life is made. True, to many, work is fun, and they get their pleasure in jobs, or in pursuit of a career, i.e., in constructive pursuits as opposed to idle diversions, but when these serious endeavors become a burden, then it's time for some REAL fun. OK, golf, a cruise, boating, work among the less fortunate, something ELSE for sure, but if you go through life just eating beans and never have ice cream, what's the point? That is if you can GET ice cream.

It's up to us, the ice cream eaters, to provide the means for everyone to enjoy the idle pleasures. Not to deliver the pleasures, just the means. It isn't up to us to hand over a free ride for those unable to get a leg up, to pull people off the steam grates and cart them around like impedimenta, slowing us down. The steam grates are, of course, no place for people, and steam-graters need putting someplace where they are safe, and, as long as they are unwilling, not in the way. But it isn't fair, just because we got here first, to ignore those who didn't get here yet, though are willing to work to get what they want. Fair? Of course life isn't fair. It's up to us to MAKE it fair.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

If we'd just let the drug addicts have all the drugs they can't seem to stay away from anyway, we'd soon be rid of them. They would simply do themselves in, one way or another, and except for the lives of the innocent people that would be lost via auto accidents and the like (surely fewer than the innocents presently killed in the line of fire in drug wars), society would be better off! Let people worry about themselves and their own, and the government worry about building roads and providing education - including education about the dangers of drugs.

    •    Think of some of the COSTS of Illegal drugs:

    •    Crime - Burglary, theft, robbery, carjacking, assault, murder

    •    Enforcement - Huge costs at all levels of government: federal, state, county, local, to         catch smugglers, distributors, dealers, pushers, using expensive equipment -         Hi tech cars, surveillance, aircraft, dogs, etc.

    •    Jails - To incarcerate felons caught dealing, distributing, smuggling, and prisons to         warehouse drug offenders

    •    Courts - To try all of the above

    •    Prosecutors - To indict and prosecute drug offenders

    •    Defense Attorneys - who could be pursuing more useful work

    •    Juries -Whose members lose work/income, and are paid by local constituencies

    •    Taxes - Billions of dollars changing hands in drug deals, NO TAXES COLLECTED.

    •    Money - Leaving the USA, contributing to the invisible trade deficit

    •    Unscrupulous Dealers - Prey upon society, winning over new addicts, ruining young         lives, resulting in lost         productivity, more welfare

    •    Teachers - Wasting precious teaching time having to preach against drugs or trying to         teach druggies who couldn't         care less about learning.

    •    Weapons - Bought and sold illegally - NO TAX COLLECTED

    •    Rehabilitation programs to treat addicts

    •    Recidivism costs - criminals who go out and break the law again and again

    •    Health system costs - From drug-induced illnesses, overdoses, mayhem, murders,         welfare clients unable to work

    •    Homeless Costs - People whose lives are wrecked by drugs

    •    Esthetic costs - Homeless begging, sleeping on sidewalks, stinking, etc.

    •    Fear - Of crime among the public

    •    Security - Expensive measures one must take today to protect the home

    •    Insurance costs - Auto, Business, Accident & Health, Life, etc.

All of these things add up to a society that is burdened by the drug culture and being bankrupted by crime and a costly prison system that could be totally eliminated by simply making drugs legal, reducing the cost, collecting the taxes, and letting those who wish to drug themselves into oblivion do so. This is a family matter, not a legislative and governmental one.

After all, their oblivion doesn't cost near as much as our enforcement, and in fact we could profit dearly from it.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

OK, 'fess up now. Those New Year's Eve party people we see at Times Square, or the Waldorf Astoria, Or Billy Bob's in Texas aren't really partygoers at all, but extras who've been hired by the TV networks to dress up the scenes so the rest of us, sitting home watching the spectacle, won't be tempted to go out, get pottsed, and end up in auto accidents. After the show is over, they all take off the costumes and makeup, pick up their paychecks and go home.

Some scenario, huh? But think of the lives it'd save if it were true, if we could bacchanal at home, viewing what seems like a celebration - or a war for that matter.

Sure. Suppose, instead of actually fighting it out with lives on both sides, warring countries simply escalated the TV rhetoric, brought in assistants (VP's, foreign ministers, generals, etc.) to pile it on - verbally of course - then Hollywood took over to manufacture a war purely for TViewing. The first Virtual Reality War. VRWI. Jobs would be created, all the military personnel would get extra "extra" pay, the loss of equipment would be kept to a minimum, loss of life would be nil, and politicians worldwide could have free rein, open season on each other and take sides in the controversy, more or less strongly depending on whether they are up for election or not. All the big action stars (Stallone, Schwarzenegger et al) could make cameo appearances, and perhaps the Cop Rock people could be re-employed to set it all to music. Remember now, this is on the tube in countries world wide, so the artistic communities everywhere would have a field day with the troops from their homeland doing battle with the desert villains. So a great variety of music, drama and dance could be simulcast and simultranslated so that we all could enjoy the war from one anothers' viewpoints.

It sure would be a broadening experience, but then war always is, unfortunately. And who would sponsor this ersatz armageddon - GE? IBM? The Airlines? Mylanta? Perhaps we could prevail upon Matsushita or Sony to cover the tab. Look at the TV bonanza it would produce, and no one would deny that it sure beats the real thing.

Well, keep your fingers crossed.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Nuclear War? Some have come out for this option. And when you think about itŠ How many lives lost on both sides would even a short (standard) war produce? Estimators seem to count in thousands of deaths per HOUR instead of per week or month. Everyone agrees that with modern technology, which is far more advanced than Vietnam era weaponry, the costs in lives per hour will be drastically increased. What, 50,000 American lives lost in a matter of months? Plus at least the same number on the other side, and, the longer the operation, the greater the risk of friends of our enemies turning on us, not to mention the costs to us here at home and around the world due to terrorism.

And what would a nuclear bombing of an enemy cost? Possibly only about the same in terms of lives and disruption - on the other side, virtually none on ours. Moreover, a country could be leveled and its underground resources, such as oil, would remain intact, so the world economic loss would be minimal.

So - first we warn any leader and his government who would pick a war with us, that somewhere in the desert or the ocean, outside of a certain safe radius of their capital yet close enough for all there to see, hear and feel, we are going to drop a nuclear bomb from a high flying aircraft, as though we were actually bombing their city and them. Then we detonate a sizeable nuclear device, close enough so that they and their people can feel the effects of the weapon they're up against, first hand - not to destroy anything, yet - but to show them the potential devastation. Then we serve notice that the next target is their capital, should they decide to continue in belligerence, and in power for that matter. If they refuse to budge, we first leaflet the capital, warning everyone that their city is about to be nuked, then, if still no results, we nuke it.

Fair warning. Better that than give up the lives of MY sons and daughter. And yours?


© Port Whitman Times 1997

"Homeless group seizes vacant HUD-owned houses"... "Youths protesting racism in hiring vandalize school, cars" ..."Snubbed teen wounds ten in schoolyard"...

All in one day's news. You would hardly think there would be a link among these incidents, and there isn't, except that they seem to herald an age of impatience with normal sources of power to deal with grievances, thus the taking into a group's, or individual's, hands, the execution of a just solution. The fact is that government, on any level, has been unable to deal with some problems fast or efficiently enough to keep up with their growth, and things have got so out of hand that the aggrieved have simply seen fit to act on their own. And who's to say they're wrong in doing so, to bring attention if not salvation to their plight? Certainly not the police, who are busy enforcing more serious matters. So protests and seizures etc. get short shrift from a police dispatcher who is lined up with murders, break-ins, hold-ups. stabbings, bad drug deals, drug law enforcement, etc. But citizen action is catching‹and grows more serious with each generation of contagion.

So a kid snubbed or "dissed" on the playground sees it as a logical step to "act on his own." After all, the rest of society does. So he goes home, gets dad's shotgun, loads it up, goes back and sprays the playground in retaliation for his rejection. Logical anarchy? That may seem far-fetched, but today, far-fetching seems to be the rule rather than the exception.


© Port Whitman Times 2008

In the computer store the other day, I overheard the sales-person ask the prospect, a woman, if she would rather do it with the "mouse", or with the "joystick", to which she made the obvious reply that the joystick was preferable (What woman wouldn't?). The way that she said it made me think of the sexual connotations in many of our computerwords: spreadsheets (Oh wow!), software (Mmmm), hardware (Macho!), computeractions: flip horizontal (for you athletes), quick eject (only for the strong-spirited), Jazz (no explanation needed), RAM (a hardware function), items: internal drive (F), external drive (M), intermatrix (for family planning), floppy (easy virtue), fat bits (Chacun a son gout), goodies (any special flavors?) and graphics communications (at the adult bookstore of course). And just remember, to do it all faster, you've just got to get a HYPERDRIVE (adults over age 50 consult physician first). More later.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Dear Earthling,

Dzidia gap mbooba. Karodi flandandik mezinga!

On the planet Gambol, we speak Gambooli, which is a language Gambolis have spoken for many many millennia. It is inexpressible in English, as it is part what you would call "feel" language, communicating by a telepathic wave only Gambolis can pick up. Perhaps you will be able to learn it sometime in the future. Our planet, from the Galaxy Grüt, was civilized by Ng and Nm. No gender designations are allowed on Gambol, nor are racial designations. We are all human; that is sufficient, and if one is being considered for a position, the only significant factor taken into account is whether that human can do the job. Yet we are human beings just like you, with the same physical limitations.

We will be taking a group of you humans from earth back to Gambol, or another planet we have found suitable for human habitation, as was Earth, Gambol before that, and Dzut, and Klong before us.

Please forgive me if my English is not up to what is the most advanced on your planet, but it is, after all, my second language. I have been assigned the task of writing to someone human on Earth, in preparation for our importing some of you to Gambol before your planet is destroyed. Not destroyed by us, heavens no, but by you. As you see the conditions today, of your atmosphere, of your Earth itself, of the politics and relations between humans and especially groups of humans, are not ideal for survival, and we have seen, in the case of other planets such as yours which we have also colonized and attempted to make like our own, abject failures, over many billions of years, if our historical records are correct. Many colonists have simply been unable to build and sustain a successful culture for more than a few thousand years.

So, as the downslide of each civilization picked up speed, but before the civilization fell in on itself, we have sent modules to collect samples of each kind of human being, to return with us to Gambol so that that subsidiary of our species may be continued. We have, in the past, conducted our own search for the most advanced specimens, and have always made contact through the mind of one person, that person to be a liaison between our rescuing planet and your victim planet.

Oddly enough, your planet has progressed quite far in the establishment of a viable culture, among the failures, that is. The best of the worst, so to speak. Of course the successful colonies have gone on to advances such as a World Order, one money, one race, while managing to avoid destroying themselves with Chemistry/Physics, or without wars employing the results of Chemistry/Physics among peoples of different beliefs, ideals and methods. We had hoped for great things from Earth, because we enjoy your climate there, and the beautiful colors of the fall where you live, along the Appalachian Chain.

We have our problems on Gambol too, you see, but we have managed to live with them, and restrict our population by promotion of alternatives to sexual intercourse. We encourage fantasy and self-satisfaction, that is masturbation, in that area, as opposed to reality. I have tried to translate some of the masturbation fantasies into English, giving them characters that I thought would titillate Earth humans, putting them in Earth-human situations.

Of course there are as many fantasies as there are Gambolians, as we sometimes call ourselves. These are just a few of mine. Feel free to enjoy them as I have, over many years. In fact, intercourse on Gambol is held only to conceive babies, and is supervised, i.e., done publicly, as such. Much as we have tried, we have never been able to find something to allow satisfactory intercourse and suppress birth, so we have simply given up intercourse in favor of masturbation/fantasy. Your word, "masturbation" has such an ugly sound to it, I'm not surprised it is suppressed as an act. Our word, "pulaina" gives us far more leeway in considering it, embracing the subject, giving in to it.

Thus on Gambol, no egg is fertilized by a sperm unless it is within the human rights of all of us deserving of life. We restrict ourselves to consumption levels that will support us, yet provide an unending supply of the items necessary for survival. Thus our food, fuel, and atmospheric requirements are stable and sufficient. But enough about us...To the business at hand.

You and I, if you accept the challenge, are to supervise the finding of the individuals who will be taken, voluntarily, aboard our module, and saved to Gambol. We have selected you because of your open-mindedness, good genes and imagination. Hopefully we have selected well, and can welcome you as part of our project.




© Port Whitman Times 1998

The problem in sexual harassment situations, overwhelmingly men on women, is that men, like dogs, have this deeply ingrained belief that women want sex as much, as wantonly, as we do. The bad news is that it isn't true. Women, physiologically the passive partner in the copulative act, aren't presented so dramatically with the evidence of their own arousal, are not tuned in as tightly to the scents and perceived signals given off by the potential partner as men, thus are able to switch on or off more as a matter of will as opposed to instinct.

The New York Times presented a case in which a female government employee accused a superior, not her direct supervisor, of sexual harassment. Having once previously had consensual sex with the man, she was then subjected to further propositions including notes and "joking" (according to him) references about promotions and transfers in her job of Office Manager.

Her first mistake of course, was to have had sex with the man (a married investigator) at all. But then, who's to know what will follow? Once agreeing to have sex and opening up to him, she puts herself in the position of entering his thoughts via the avenue of fantasy, and even though they both agreed next morning not to continue the relationship, little does she know that his guilt will dissipate much faster than hers, and his hormones will ultimately dictate the nature of his thoughts about her. Men are that way, call it amoral, call it what you like, we are raised to be sexual opportunists if not predators. Let's face it guys, we are less in control of our sexual appetites than our sisters. Can this change?

Being slapped with sexual harassment charges out of the blue is no day at the beach, and should be the last in a series of very direct steps by the aggrieved party. First, the aggressor has to be told, in no uncertain terms "Your id is affecting your judgement, so back off, or serious consequences will follow." To legally charge sexual harassment, threatening loss of job, reputation, career, because of anything from a suggestive remark up to - yes - threats of job loss, is a serious step, and the offender should be warned to desist or else...

The warning probably ought to take the form of a letter, sent certified mail, return receipt requested, or even a legal document served by an agent, stating that unless the provocations stop, further, legal, action will be taken. This all between the harassee and the harasser privately (except for the agent, i.e., the post office or process server bearing the letter). Then the harasser has been fairly warned that if he (or she) doesn't cut it out, his life, as he knows it, is in jeopardy, and we, the public will be spared the lurid details, the wondering who is really at fault, and whether the pass was somehow subtly invited or not.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

"The woman's behavior is not at issue in a rape case." - Meredith Stiehm, UofP '90, writing in the Pennsylvania Gazette.

It certainly is true that her behavior is not at issue; but is it AN issue, i.e., does it bear upon the behavior of the man at the time of the alleged crime? For example, suppose the woman entices the man to have sex and then at the last second whimsically decides to decline. Surely we all can say in theory that the man must accept this refusal and simply blow it off as though "Oh well, the game was called because of rain" and go on his way. But, although perhaps women (some women, many women, most women?) can switch on and off in such situations, men, glandularly, psychologically, emotionally, machismically, cannot. Not that this an excuse for rape, but it certainly does make the women's behavior an issue, if not the issue.

Now suppose we pull back from the last second to the last minute, the last hour, last week, before the incident. At what point does her behavior retract into "not an issue" status. And in what circumstances - Suppose the girl bursts into the fraternity house on a Sunday afternoon and shouts "Let's f---!" From our detached and objective armchairs reading about this situation, we can take pity on her, and realize that she's probably got a screw loose someplace, or perhaps she's a professional and this is her gimmick, but given the randiness of young men, you can hardly blame their libidinous interest from being piqued. I was witness to such an incident in my own fraternity, in fact, and the woman, much to the credit of the brothers, or one of the brothers, or herself, actually ended up being cornered by one of the members, who spirited her off possessively, to his room, and then smoothly slipped her out of the house, accompanying her to her own home in the suburbs. I guess you could say this was a gentlemanly thing to do, but suppose this had developed into what the frat boys now call a "train." - This woman was not high on drugs, not visibly drunk - And suppose after servicing so many boys she decided enough was enough. OK, stop, period.

But, is her behavior an issue here? It sure is. Not to deny there are bona fide cases of date rape, but the woman's behavior is a factor if not an issue, or at issue, and females must begin taking some responsibility for foreseeing and guarding against the circumstances which suggest intimacy before they are ready and willing to accept the consequences, avoiding the occasion of the crime before it comes up.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

I am not a prude. I accept homosexuality, although more as a lifestyle choice than as a genetic inheritance. But I do believe there is a certain physical side to it that can be conditioned out by environment. To use an old cliche, some of my best friends are gay, some in the closet, some out. but I would never presume to "out" anyone who chose to keep his or her predilection a secret, and they would never presume to impose on my order of things by flaunting their sexuality or proselytizing me, my family or my friends, using my friendship as a pry. Nor do I, straight as I am, lecture them about something which I consider to be unnatural, not in the divine order of behaviors. Let it be. Chacun a son gout.

I don't even mind that ELLEN is gay, that she has come out about it, that the media have picked up on it and made her outcoming an event. But I do object to her and her character using the power of television to treat the sexuality as a somewhat normal way of life by illustrating the mechanics of seduction between two characters with the same tendencies. Now REALLY, seeing two women snuggled up on the couch with each other with you-know-what cutely in mind grates just a little. (Imagine if two men were doing the same...) Then, cutesy-poo one playing she-loves-me, she-loves-me-not as she entices the other into the bedroom for you-know-what is just a bit much, don't you think? Well, maybe you don't, but you ought to.

I guess I'm just a don't-ask-don't-tell kind of person, though if you told without my asking (as Ellen did), I'd just shrug and say "OK, so what else is new?" or "What REAL talent have you got to offer?" In the case of Ellen, I haven't seen much to recommend it, so I suppose her coming out, if my opinion is in any way general, was a definite plus for the show's ratings. It's just another situation comedy in my book, and the situation has turned down a road that, in portraying Ellen's gay-ness as just another normal lifestyle, is using the power of the medium to tell the big lie to a gullible public. Homosexuality is NOT just another normal lifestyle. It is un-normal in every sense, and to put it on the tube, advertise its mechanics as FUN, is unconscionable of the network (ABC). I know it's done, and I can look the other way (change channels), but can impressionable adolescents? There are many ways of selling sex, and TV has access to all of them, and uses those which are generally acceptable. I say this one is not.

On NYPD BLUE, we are treated to two characters making love, exposing breasts, buttocks, thighs, etc., with the implication that they are naked, though we know that in some way this is being faked, or at least we believe it is, and underneath, in the business area of sex, they are really wearing bottoms and duct tape or some such mechanism. Nevertheless, to us whose sexuality is of the "normal" variety, this is somewhat titillating. Now with Ellen at the bedroom door, disappearing inside with her chosen partner, are we at the edge of seeing two naked, or assumed naked, women in the act of lovemaking? Hey, it's only a step away. Next show they are removing innocent pieces of each others' clothing, or pulling the covers back or somesuch, and if the censoring powers will allow it, they'll be snuggling in bed - under the covers - instead of, as we have already seen, on the couch. Then it's a shoulder, a knee, a thigh, a breast, and making whoopie for all to see. Is this what we want? Or is sex really a private matter, at least on public TV? You want to watch porn? Go ahead, knock yourself out. Rent a video. But I find the fact that Jimmy Smits has a nice ass, and whatsername, his co-worker and fiancee has great boobs, frankly boring in comparison with the rest of NYPD BLUE, and usually irrelevant to the main story. So it will be with ELLEN when she and her partner are exposed. But to put all this up for the public to see is sin of the most egregious kind, masquerading as libertarianism.


© Port Whitman Times 1997

If it weren't just out-and-out sick, the Jeffrey Dahmer case would have almost been funny. Dr. Frederick Fosdal, testifying for the prosecution called Dahmer's predilection to have sex with corpses a "maladjustment," saying that Jeffrey "preferred live bodies," but fell into this "compulsion" for corpses, much as some people prefer domination/submission encounters (Or maybe like "Uncle Ed" prefers underwear, socks and fecal matter). Well, to each his own, but it's a shame there isn't a legitimate outlet for such weirdos.

This corpse thing, though, in a properly supervised and regulated industry, could just work, maybe even, given our bent for the unusual, become a fad, if it gets out that corpses could be just as much fun as, or even more fun than, live people. Warm corpses of course, therefore just-dead ones, or day-old heated up ones. Cold corpses for personal use just don't seem the thing. There's the undesirability factor... So, what to do, go hang around the hospital trauma unit, or maybe an efficiently run funeral parlor, see if anything fresh turns up... Some entrepreneurial spirit could develop it into a thriving business (Heaven knows we need them) - Rent a Corpse, or Corpses-R-Us, Howzabout Corpse-A-Rama... Oh, you've already been approached by spammers on the net?

We know there are laws against prostitution, but this just could be the answer--a corpse brothel where the personnel are, ah, transient, perhaps moreso than the clientele. Surely the legality of such an establishment would make an interesting case for the courts, assuming of course that people, when alive, signed a statement for their remains to be used in such a manner. It could then develop into a program (similar to organ transplants) where "donors" would carry wallet cards giving their permission to use their recently deceased remains--with the profits to go to a charitable cause of course. "Hello, Mr. Dahmer, we have you on our list of people who signed up to have sex with the just-deceased" (or would The "Unalive," maybe the "Not-quite-dead," be smoother terms? The Undead has already been co-opted by the vampire community), and we have someone here, looks to be a man in his mid forties who just came in from an auto accident; we have his current donor card and he's cleaned up and ready for to speak. We could take care of the whole thing on your Visa or MasterCard..."

It's getting to be that way.


© Port Whitman Times 1997

So-called Child Advocates are complaining that the 30-something teacher who "raped" (yeah, right) the 13 year-old boy (And what 13 year-old boy, confused by sudden physical urges, wet dreams, who might be considering a steady regimen of spanking the monkey, wouldn't prefer to be enlightened by an experienced, attractive and highly sexed adult?) was let off too easy. Perhaps, they say, she should be sentenced to three or four years in prison, as older men who (statutorily) rape young girls are, routinely. There's something very amiss about this duality of opinion in regard to Her and Junior, versus Him and the Sweet Young Thing.

First of all, what the disproportionality of sentences is saying really, is that girls are more easily "taken advantage of" than boys, thus the punishment should be harsher. Well, I don't know. Girls today are no more naive, i.e., dumber, than boys at that age, but isn't the inequality in sentencing for these statutory "rapes" really saying that they are? Come ON, this is 1997; it seems that girls of 13 or 14 are MORE mature than boys at that age. They know more, and know how to handle it better. Probably because, with the onset of menstruation, something they can't control, their mothers talk to them about life's facts, whereas boys, who may be getting physical urges and having wet dreams, are given the good-old-boy advice, to "be a man" and "contain yourself" B.S. from well-meaning dads. After all, who encourages their sons to relieve the urges via masturbation? Surely not the adherents to the bible, or any of the religions, yet, this is the most practical relief at hand, so to speak.

So, when someone comes along and tells the confused lad "Here, I'll show you how," who can blame him for jumping in, er, feet first? And dads (and moms) say "boys will be boys." Yet, the same ought to be done in the case of girls, if that is to be the custom. Why should "it" be considered, off the record, part of the maturation process for an older woman and a young boy, but condemned as a "rape" when it's the other way around? Girls will be girls too. And "rape" means forcible, if it is to be punished by the ugliness of prison. Otherwise, treatment programs, loss of privileges, etc., where indicated, would seem to be be punishment enough.

This is not to say that seduction of this most recent kind is right. We can only judge each case individually, and assess the DAMAGE done, physically and psychologically, then administer suitable punishment. And this means damage to the so-called victim, not to the pride or moral sensibilities of the parents, or Child Advocates who make their living by digging out real or imagined abuse. Our attitudes toward sex are mired in the 19th century, before any kind of "liberation," of the sexes, of sexual technology, of sexual attitudes, came about. VIOLENT crime, of course, ought to be punished severely, but this can only be determined objectively.

School Sex Education ought to be not only a diagram of the mechanics of sex, and this, distasteful as it might seem to some, should include all forms of homosexual activity (not to approve, simply to describe) if homosexuality is to be accepted as a legitimate form of relationship, but must somehow address the psychology of sex, the avenues of release, the dangers of over-indulgence, or of indulgence at all in certain circumstances, the sensible approaches to one of the most grand and intense experiences of life. Stop associating it with sin and punishment! Start treating sex as a social function, at whatever level, which in fact it is.


© Port Whitman Times April 2010

I probably was "born Gay."

At least, if you look at me, as a youth, and maybe even now, you might come to that conclusion; in fact there are those who have, and thus deprived me of things thought I ought to have had, given me things I didn't want, but more of that at another time. I am not now, nor have I ever been, or even thought of myself as, a Gay person. As an actor I've played gay characters, which of course is what led others, gullible others, to think I really was gay, er, am gay. But No, I'm not gay. I've experimented with homosexual acts, and found them wanting, of intimacy, of sensuality, of, ok, naturalness if you want to get biblical. Yet I am not afraid of gay, nor do I care much anymore if people think I am or don't, for I know what I am, and am happy with that.

But I realize there are people, strict biblical adherents, who are basically afraid of gay-ness, of homosexuality, to wit the movements in various states against gay "marriage" or civil unions. I also realize that if we who are "born" gay can claim so, we throw up a heavenly defense against such arch-anti-activists, using their own scripturalness as our shield. "God made me the way that I am." That's it.

I don't buy it. I still believe what you do (leave out whether you are this or are that), the way you approach life, love, sex, is a matter of choice, and even if you want to put a name on it, still your choice. It's a free country, isn't that what we all believe? So if we choose to be gay, straight, lesbian, bi-sexual, or celibate, it's nobody's business. Nobody's. And if we want to form a lifetime union with another person capable of making the same decision, okay. You choose your person, I'll choose mine. What counts is the legal rights of what follows such a union. Ay, there's the rub, does the partner have not only conjugal but legal rights such as survivorship, family insurance, or obligations of debt and liability? The rub to be sure.

In our make-your-choice world either of super-macho ballplayers or nerdy information technologists, of the cartooning of everyone from jet pilots to hamburger flippers, "gay" or "straight" are convenient boxes in which to store images of personalities when one's mind is not of a diacritical nature, and used to simply classifying and storing away icons for convenience. That's the kind of world we live in, here in the good old USA, where advertising rules the way we think, if not advertising, then the situation episodes that surround it. TV is boss, no matter if one watches news, sports, "reality," discussion, late-night, early-morning, after all it's just what's happening, and it's all happening at light-speed, in high-def. Hey, the real story of who we are is in the ads, where we are told what we might want and how to get it, what we might have and the pills to cure it, what we might get later and how to plan for it, our entire life, if we believe what they say, and the sad part is, when you come right down to it, mostly we do, when they are just ways to part us from our cash.

Back to this "born"-ness, this defense against those who would suspect that those who are of another mind than their own, might proselytize their offspring to get them to make a "decision" to be one way or another, a way not in concert with their own wishes. Frankly, I believe "born"-ness is a cop-out, a rationalization by gay people about the path they have chosen, when such a decision could just be made on its own merits, and to hell with the rest of the world and the way they might think. It's easier to say "Oh, I was born gay," i.e., "Born the way I am." - "and my circumstances had nothing to do with it." Please. Circumstances have everything to do with it, where you are born, where you grow up, how old you are when you start school, how big or small you turn out to be at different ages, all of it (Read "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell). Born is only one circumstance, one among thousands. Stand up, be a man, or a woman, and say I'm in charge of my own destiny, and I choose this or that, and I'll live with it. If you want to hire me or fire me, if my performance is more or less than you want, fire me for that, not for some silly none-of-your-business-ness.

The increasing examples of gay or lesbian couples raising children lends credibility to the argument that it is a decision, not a predetermination, that directs a person to either lifestyle. After all, wouldn't those raising children in a gay or lesbian home be the first to declare, and be even more firm in the declaration that the child has the right to decide, that the "parents" don't make any indication for the child as to how the child was born, only get to determine how the child is raised. The child thus has the opportunity to see first-hand whether the gay lifestyle is right for him or her, and that's the way it really is, until the "born that way" - ers muck it up with their theory of how God made us. How easy it would be for two homosexuals living together parenting a child, to lead that youngster into believing he or she was "born" this way or that, and thus indicate a direction for that young life. So you would think that gay persons raising children would be the first (and second) to deny the "born gay" rationalization, no?


© Port Whitman Times February 2010

Christmas is the time at which Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, though it has become more all-inclusive with the incarnation of Santa Claus, making the giving of gifts and sending of cards more generally acceptable. Gifts are given, cards are sent. Merry Christmas. Oh, and Happy New Year too. It's institutional.

Easter is the time at which Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus after His crucifixion, and the redemption of us all through His sacrifice. It's more religious, but institutional too, combined with Passover, including most of us. We pray, we ask God's blessing and indulgence on our humble lives. We eat, the Easter Bunny comes and leaves goodies. Cards are sent. Happy Easter, Spring is here!

Thanksgiving celebrates those things we have and what we have been able to accomplish in the life that has been allotted to us. The sheaves are brought in, the harvest is a fait accompli. We get together, feast, give thanks, watch football. Some send cards... Happy Thanksgiving! (Christmas is just around the corner.)

But Valentine's Day - This is a personal affair, between two people who proclaim the reciprocation of their love for each other, if it is truly reciprocal, and even then they fake it if they have doubts from which they can't escape. Valentine's Day is not a family or group celebration, but one where mutual love is somehow declared, choices are made, and expressed. The only card to be sent is that to your love, hopefully your lover. It's not a "Happy Valentine's Day to everybody" festivity.

I remember a long time ago, my first Valentine's Day in early elementary school, when each of us placed ONE valentine in the white slotted box decorated with hearts, our valentine sent to the one we fancied with a plea to "Be My Valentine" - A singular entreaty to a single person. There were, unfortunately, those to whom no valentines were sent, none received, thus they would have ended up unchosen, ostensibly unloved; but our provident sister/teacher, foreseeing this situation and coming to the rescue, kept a ready store of valentines addressed to every student just-in-case, signed "From a Secret Admirer" preventing hearts, alas, from being broken through disappointment on this day of expressed love. Smart sister/teacher. Then, as it developed through the years, to spare hurt feelings, the rule was finally made that everyone had to send a valentine to everyone in the class, thus totally diluting the whole idea, but of course great for the purveyors of valentines, Hallmark and the like. As a result, the whole classroom valentine "celebration" added up to - not much. Everybody began sending valentines to everybody. Another "family" day. Net result: Good business for Hallmark and the US Postal Service. Still in some cases, of the most sensitive, hurt feelings, disappointment of another kind, a result of pre-emption.

I still subscribe to the notion that Valentine's Day is a personal celebration of the love, such as it may be, between TWO people, the "such-as-it-is" part being applied possibly to the likes of married folks who are for-better-or-for-worse-ing. It's a time-out-for-love day when all the other picayune differences are forgotten, and the love is allowed to emerge, thus the celebratory part. However, when it becomes a general day for everybody to send cards and give gifts and express wishes to everybody, it co-opts the personal love of the individuals, to the point where it robs them of the inclination to make their own declarations, affirm their own personal choices, put their own special "Be My Valentine" in the slot in the white box decorated with the red hearts.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

by Anthony Henry, April 14, 2007

What?!?!?! I can't believe this! Don Imus got fired for merely calling some black female college basketball players "nappy-headed hos"?!?!?

This tip-toeing around racial issues has become absurd. It's like James Brown said, "Thing's have done got too far gone. It's done got to be a drag... a man can't do nothing no more!"

All the political correctness surrounding race relations (primarily the black and white thing) has become tiresome, already. White people, who aren't too consumed with self-guilt and hating that they're white, need to stand up and say "I am somebody!!! Somebody who refuses to worry that I might be labeled a ''racist'' if I make an occasional raunchy, off-color comment about black people.'' Black folks who are outraged that a shock-jock like Imus could say such a thing, need to grow up, re-learn the ''sticks and stones'' adage and recognize that hucksters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who peddle perpetual black ''victimization,'' for their own gain, are brainwashing yet another generation into thinking of themselves as having been ''cheating'' of something Ð and thus helping to keep them largely dependent on handouts from the welfare state and its white liberal advocates who need to feel guilty, so as to pretentiously demonstrate their supposed ''sensitivity'' to unfortunate historical precedents in which they and their ancestors had no involvement.

It's like this... African-Americans are full-fledged Americans with a full citizen's right to all the same advantages and privileges as whites - nothing more; nothing less. The now 45-year-old civil rights movement, to secure full civil rights for blacks, achieved its objective long ago and, unfortunately, has evolved into a movement whose principal cause these days is to find incidents, like the Imus comment, to whine about and hopefullyÉ make enough white people feel sufficiently guilty about so that they'll give them something. It's an obvious ''shakedown movement'' anymore and should be exposed as such - by un-cowed whites, but mostly by blacks who have some sense of propriety and pride in themselves and their people's rich cultural history.

Again... like James Brown said (to paraphrase) "Educate yourself and work to build the country because in doing so, you build yourself'' - it's either that, or move someplace elseÉ please. The incessant cant about ''racism'' has become annoying, counter-productive and downright un-American (like wimpy Euro-weenie soccer players play-acting and writhing on the pitch in hopes of getting a referee to call a foul on an opponent).

If somebody's great, great, great, great grandparents were slaves - that has nothing to do with 99% of white Americans. As well, many white American's great, great, great, great grandparents (if they were even in the USA at that time) were, quite possibly, working just like ''slaves'' - as ''indentured servants.'' (It should be noted that indentured servants, who, as contracted, non-owned, non-citizens worked merely for the right to continue living in the USA, were quite possibly ''driven'' longer and harder than the personal property that slaves constituted - much as one drives a rental car far more abusively than the car one owns.) When looking at the difference between a ''slave'' and an ''indentured servant'' it becomes clear that it's mostly a nicety of semantics that many folks with an agenda (e.g. the ''Reparations Now,'' the tacit ''Make Whitey Feel Guilty'' or the overt ''Please Don't Hate Me 'Cause I'm White'' movements) tend to conveniently eliminate from consideration when discussing those other early Americans who also suffered in centuries past.

SoÉ to return to the specific incident at hand... as the black girls on the Rutgers basketball team actually do wear their hair in a style commonly referred to, in the African American community, as "nappy-headed," it would seem that Imus's comment was a verifiable statement of fact - hardly anything ''racist.'' This begs the question, why, if it's okay for a black person to call it ''nappy'' in the 'hood, should it be ''offensive'' or ''racist'' for some old harmless white guy to call it ''nappy'' on the airwaves? If it's a legitimate means of description, its usage shouldn't be the purview of any one group or class of Americans. That's just downright un-American.

As for ''hos,'' it's like this... one man's ''ho'' is another man's ''Flo-Jo.'' So in many circles a ''ho'' appellation merely constitutes a rather commonplace and innocuous pet-name Ð much like a pimp calling his girls ''my bitches.'' These words are used for effect, rather than any intention to be taken literally - that being so, they only really sting those who are worried about their veracity.

Let's be honest, it's likely that old Imus was just babbling on in an attempt to fill some airtime time by making some crass, shocking and thus ratings-grabbing commentary. No real intent to wound the sensitive feelings of any 6'4'' pumped up female basketball players.

Finally... the best way to have discredited Imus and his remarks would've been for the girls to have won the tournament!!! Perhaps, if they had spent less time twisting and tweaking their hair and more time practicing jump shots, lay-ups and defense, Rutgers University would have a national championship trophy in the display case now. Let's face itÉ ''There's no substitute for victory'' because victory talks and radio shock-jock BS walks.

SoÉ to turn the entire incident to his advantage and strike a blow against the doctrine of PC and its advocates, Imus should withdraw his apology and fight back with all his sardonic wit and cantankerousness. He should get a new show on another station that's less fearful of intimidation and threats by race-baiters such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and tell those two masters of the canon of kindergarten rhymes to ''get a new bag'' and quit peddling the same old black victimization - sucking out, and living off of, the ''life-blood'' of their own people.

For those with an interest in seeing the demise of PC, it should be realized that while Imus's admittedly left-wing politics do tend to irritate - should he get another show, he needs to be supported as long as one can tolerate his mostly boring Lefty notions tinged with an occasional bit of funny sardonic wit. Call your local stations and tell them, ''I want my Imus Radio!''

To repeatÉ with all the PC BS that's being given serious credence these days ''it's done got to be a dragÉ a man can't do nothing no more!''

Tony in Brazil


© Port Whitman Times 2002

To ensure we Americans never offend anyone -- particularly fanatics intent on killing us -- airport screeners will not be allowed to profile people.

They will continue random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, Secret Service agents who are members of the President's security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips, Ray Charles, Kevin Bacon, and Medal Of Honor winning former Governors.

Let's pause a moment and take the following test:
In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped & massacred by:
(a) Olga Corbutt
(b) Sitting Bull
(c) Arnold Schwarzenegger
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40

In 1979, the U.S. embassy in Iran was taken over by:
(a) Lost Norwegians
(b) Elvis
(c) A tour bus full of 80-year-old women
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40

During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:
(a) John Dillinger
(b) The King of Sweden
(c) The Boy Scouts
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40

In 1983, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:
(a) A pizza delivery boy
(b) Pee Wee Herman
(c) Geraldo Rivera making up for a slow news day
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40.

In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked, and a wheelchair bound 70 year old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard by:
(a) The Smurfs
(b) Davy Jones
(c) The Little Mermaid
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40.

In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked in Athens, & a U.S. Navy diver was
murdered by:
(a) Captain Kid
(b) Charles Lindberg
(c) Mother Teresa
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40

In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:
(a) Scooby Doo
(b) The Tooth Fairy
(c) Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid who had a few sticks of dynamite
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40

In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by:
(a) Richard Simmons
(b) Grandma Moses
(c) Michael Jordan
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40.

In 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:
(a) Mr. Rogers
(b) Hillary, to detract attention from Wild Bill's women problems
(c) The World Wrestling Federation to promote its next villain: "Mustapha the Merciless"
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40

On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked & destroyed & thousands of people were killed by:
(a) Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd
(b) The Supreme Court of Florida
(c) Mr. Bean
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40.

In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against:
(a) Enron
(b) The Lutheran Church
(c) The NFL
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40.

In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:
(a) Bonny and Clyde
(b) Captain Kangaroo
(c) Billy Graham
(d) Male Muslim extremists mostly between the ages of 17 & 40.

Hmmm . . . nope, no patterns anywhere to justify profiling



© Port Whitman Times 2002

It might be shocking to some to see a respectable sort like Warren Beatty take on a Black persona, even more so (or less so, depending on how you see it) a "Nigger" (Yep, it's THAT kind of movie, folks) persona, but it's been done before - Al Jolson, Amos 'n' Andy, Gary Oldman - Gary Oldman? Sure, didn't you see his pimp in TRUE ROMANCE? White boys have been playing and playing off Blacks AND Niggers (Yes, there IS a difference - Watch the current crop of Black comedians, who come right out and say it, then you'll get it) for decades. Nothing new there. But fact is, a lotta Black folks will be downright disappointed in Mr. Beatty's characterization of The Black Community, where he seems to say that even in respectable families... well, let me put it this way: You might shy away from inviting nice African-American families to your cookout because they might bring some of their friends, or even relatives. Well, it isn't really that way at all - usually. But the characterization of Blacks as "motherfucker" spouting dope deal ignorers is certainly not acceptable to honest, hard-working African-Americans.

We live in the suburbs, having paid our way out of the city. Our daughter goes to a respectably conservative suburban public school The ratio of Whites to Blacks is about 95 to 5. At least that. In other words, what a city person might call an "all white" school. The kids - all the kids - in the school, including the Blacks, "act white" - quiet and respectful for the most part - in school. How they behave at home is none of our business. These kids are being taught a nice form of behavior, and tend to adhere to it. Cut to:

The Middle School Talent Show. In one number, a group of white, blonde, straight-hair girls gets up and does a choreographed lip-synch pantomime to a pop recording - a nice job lip-synching the lyrics with no microphones to hide their lip movements. All blonde all tall and slender, in little frenchy performing dresses, they look sharp too.

Then a piano interlude - our daughter plays a Jelly Roll Morton Rag. Good applause, well done.

Now the Black group of girls gets up to pantomime and lip-synch to some of THEIR music. OK, fine, different style of music, of movement, even of "lip-synch" because here it's with a microphone concealing the real lip movements - a convenience for the performers, but hey, maybe that's part of the shtick - the way you HANDLE a microphone. The Black girls' clothes went more toward the purples, which tend to look good on African-American skin. So they let go with their act, and are no more than four measures into the song, when their teenaged Brother and Sister, almost in the front row of the auditorium over on the right, stand up in their seats and begin waving their arms, dancing in place to the music. Doing their thing - as if to say "Here's how we do it where WE come from," with their more sensible mother trying to get them back into their seats. They kept this up during the whole number, in effect saying "look at US, not what's onstage." The whole effect was, I must admit, enlightening to the rest of us sitting in our seats trying to watch the show onstage, though maybe not in a way that would be complimentary to Blacks - THESE Blacks. The way it turned out, we were distracted from watching the girls performing onstage by being shocked into watching the behavior of two members of the audience, and probably of their own family. It was as if someone had streaked through the audience wearing no clothes. You tend to watch the streaker. I felt sorry for the girls onstage trying to do their act.

But that's what I mean about Bulworth, which is really a political essay, with the message: "We need more Black Leaders, more Black Participation in the political process" etc. However, one comes away with the impression "These people, the ones presented, have the right to VOTE?! To determine the future of our society?!" What we meed is more Black Leaders who are willing to forgo being THE FIRST mayor, THE FIRST congressman, governor, senator or president, long enough to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done without regard to race, creed, color and all the rest. - To recognize that the problem is EDUCATION - The War is against Ignorance, right down to personal behavior. Somebody's got to teach SOME of these characters some MANNERS, and some MORALS, because we all tend to judge the many by the actions of the few, especially, in this country, if they are all the same color or complexion, so they make it seem, to those who lean toward racism anyway, that the whole "Element" is like them. Face it, we tend to watch the streakers rather than the people up there trying to do a job.

The language in Bulworth will be offensive to some. All the really verboten bad words come out; the N-word of course, plus MF, CS, et al. Somehow everything got worked in short of pederasty, and maybe that too and I missed it. Quentin Tarantino's movie Jackie Brown did the N-word thing first though, I mean the "You' MY Nigger now" said by the Black to the White. It was uttered almost contemptuously by Samuel L. Jackson to Robert de Niro, in making him his gofer. In Bulworth, it's said lovingly by Halle Berry to Warren Beatty after he has shown his true mettle by "getting down" with the Street Bro's. Ahem, as the result of a "nervous breakdown," of course, lest the uptight liberal whites in the audience become uncomfortable with the portrayal, and think he might become like Gary Oldman's pimp. Of course Bulworth ultimately comes out of his trance, comes to his senses, and gets back into his thousand-dollar suit and hundred dollar tie. But we know now that he's "Been There" (and, by the way, "Done That," as the saying goes), but we wonder, what with the perks of office so tempting, so available to a U.S. Senator, will Bulworth revert to his thousand-dollar appointment and hundred-dollar handshake, or will he remain "My Nigger" to Halle and the respectable - and disrespectable - Black Community? This matter IS resolved at the end, and some are bound to be disappointed. "You' MY Nigger now!" Indeed.

The film is arresting though; we get a shot of some touching and grim realities. That doesn't mean we get to DO anything about them, because, short of a coup d'etat, things won't change overnight, even if everyone in the country went to see the picture, unfortunately the closest we get is our one vote, and the ability in our minds to separate the real message from the Bull-Worth. I give it an 8.5. Go, you can handle it.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

One characterization fast becoming an accepted staple on our crime programs is the black hustler working some kind of scam on the people in the ghetto, whether it be drug-based or slick political/business-based, backed up by a higher-up within the establishment providing the connection to the white (the real) power structure. This is obviously meant, by the writers of the program, to allay some of the blame for the operation away from the "badguys" in the black hats, to the "goodguys" in the white hats with souls fashioned of greed.

In a recent example, the super-bad white connection was even cheating Mr. Black Hustler on the split, ultimately providing the means to bring down the guy terrorizing the neighborhood. OK, the program producers/writers don't wish to appear racist by laying all the blame on the black, who we know may have had a lousy childhood etc., mitigating his total culpability. But in doing so what they really are transmitting is that the black dude doesn't have the brains to run his own operation top to bottom; this plays out as a WORSE form of racism, because the image that this guy represents really turns out to be the straw man for the big guy, the schmuck who ends up taking the real fall while Mr. White Collar criminal goes to a country club prison. Think how the black kid on the street looks at it. Here's this hustler dude doing a scam, but he needs the help of a corrupt official to carry it out. Some entrepreneur. He'd be nothing without Mr. Big.

Racism, pure and simple.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Small wonder there's racial prejudice. In much of our public media, blacks are frequently portrayed in an artless context, much as we would view simians, not humans, in patronizingly fawning over their accomplishments of simple things. This is true especially in the case of so many photo-ops showing little black children in an "aren't they cute?" context. Come ON. This kind of exposure does little good for progress of anyone,and certainly is nowhere near newsworthy. If you're going to show public interest footage, local channels, shoot some where someone who happens to be black is accomplishing something which we all can ADMIRE. Show a black scientist or inventor in action. Show a teacher teaching something not just being a teacher. Treat people like bloomin' pets, and they'll act that way, at least to the degree that they see their public images doing so.

Plenty of African Americans, accomplished in their fields, who can speak articulately, deplore the welfare, the homeless and criminal pictures we constantly see, and would gladly discuss a subject in their areas of expertise. Show them if you want to improve things. Why are Bill Cosby's shows so popular? Because they carefully avoid patronizing "aren't they cute" scenes and material, and deal with life, not necessarily black life. If we look at people, not blacks being people, we can then graduate to expecting the same things from them that we expect from all people, such as fulfillment of responsibilities toward society, home and family, the law, business, etc., and blacks will look at themselves in the same light. Let's get serious, and not just indulge in "human interest" filler items, or a war on this or that perceived injustice just for election day.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

BET (Black Entertainment TV) presents a Rap Video called "Git Money!" where some pretty slick video and album producers have filmed a company of African American performers acting, for all intents and purposes like, well excuse me, but... the best word I can use to describe them, and I'm sure that respectable blacks would agree, is, well, n_____s. That's not to say I am calling them n_____s, because they're just people making a living at what sells, but they're making that money by ACTING like n_____s. Some people sell dope, and they're dope peddlers. These are actors, singers, having to make a living by acting like n_____s.

Now we may have banned the word, and rightly so, because we Americans tend to tar everyone who looks remotely like one another with the same brush. But we cannot deny the existence of n_____s, nor k___s, w__s, p_____s, m___s, k____s, l____s, f___s, r______s, etc., though we personally wouldn't want to be identified with any of these lower forms of any ethnicity. Sorry, but the African American who hijacks your car, rapes and kills, hooks children on drugs without remorse, is most assuredly a n_____. If you're skittish about the "N" word, go see Samuel L. Jackson in "Jackie Brown" where you'll get "N"-ed until you're used to it.

Highly intelligent and respected people like Colin Powell or Oprah Winfrey tend in some circles to be called by the "N" word and somehow put in the same category the character played by Jackson in the film. Wrongfully so. Nothing could be further from an accurate description of General Powell or Miss Winfrey or other respectable Americans of African descent. But actors on TV acting like n_____s. Oh, that's supposed to be down, OK because it breaks the mold of respectability, makes "uptight" people cringe. Frankly, it has BECOME the mold in hiphop presentations, giving us truculent, defiant characters hiding behind microphones, strutting the stage in outrageous attitudes, spouting doggerel set to rhythm for any gullible listener with a shallow, thus pliable, outlook. But waitaminute, we're not to SAY the word, lest we be PU (Politically Uncorrect) and downright offensive. Racist. But then we all are somewhat racist, no matter how we deny it, simply because we notice the difference.

Now there's only one reason for talented, intelligent people to "get down" and act like n_____s, that's for money. And this presents an image to young people. That is not to say that TV doesn't present blacks in respectable roles, both in dramas where actors are used, and on news and discussion shows where REAL articulate and intelligent minds that just happen to be in bodies with black skin discuss the issues of the day, or present noteworthy art. But how many black youth watch Oprah or CNN rather than BET? Black ENTERTAINMENT Television, surely gives jobs to AfAm talent and production staff, black entrepreneurs, distributors, music dealers, etc. However, in entertaining, it also presents blacks in a context, and that context goes a long way toward shaping the off-duty minds of African-American teens. It is, in many cases, a destructive image, contributing to the dumbing down of all of American society. Since it's on TV, impressionable people, especially those who might be exposed to even moderate amounts of recreational drugs, might take it to be the norm. Surely it is not.

Three women sitting on barstools chanting "Git Money!," and overfed men going "Uh, uh, uh, uh" in syncopation, doesn't seem to be anything like what you would find in a typical African American home. Maybe in the bar down at the corner. And if a predominately black city like Camden, NJ, where RCA used to make recordings with all of the top black and white musical talent in the world, is any example, every corner has a bar to lure the locals into the "get down" mood.

What's going to happen when the welfare stream stops? For one thing, a lot of these bars (mostly white-owned, incidentally) are going to close. At least, respectable African American people hope so. Unless they stay open to encourage their clients to "Git Money!" ANY way they can, in which case they're no better than drug dealers, which in fact many are now anyway. Different drugs, that's all. "Git Wise!" might be a better admonition.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

No way around it, Real Estate is inherently a racistic business. Let's not kid ourselves. There will always be racism in real estate, as long as people are of different colors. We're not talking ethnicity here, which spurred much of the early twentieth century migrations of more traditional blue-nosed and aspiring blue-nosed families out of the ghettoes. No, ethnicity is one thing, and after a couple generations, you can't tell the wops from the polacks, the micks from the spics, at least by looking at them, but the blacks have an unmistakable sign popping right out of their collars and sleeves. It says "here we are, in your neighborhood!" And in the old blockbusting cliche, up go the white folks' "For Sale" signs. After all, who wants to be the last white family to sell on a block that has "gone black," where the values have plunged, not to mention the sense of security?

This situation is a shame too, for the decent, respectable African-Americans especially, who tend to be the first to move in to an all-white area, thus pay the most for their property, then see it gradually decrease in value as more people "like" them (i.e., the same color, though not necessarily the same in any other way) move in. And it's harder for them to see the reason too, after all, the prejudice is, insidiously, purely a racial one - "Aren't they the same as us?" they think. Not always.

Looking at it from the other side, how would you feel, if you knew that the house you bought today for $75,000 with a 5% down payment ($3,750) and a mortgage payment (at 8%) of $720 (Including taxes and insurance) was going to be worth $60,000 in five years, when your remaining mortgage balance is still $62,364? In other words, if you had to move and sell the house in five years, you'd be forced to work of... well, let's see, $60,000 sale price less 6% broker's commission leaves $56,400, less $1,000 for settlement, less $1,200 transfer tax, leaving you with... $53,200, not to mention the aggravation of showing and selling, the expense of moving, etc. You'd have to still be paying off $9,164 after you move - if you CAN sell and move. Then, if you're black and moving into another white neighborhood, you will again be paying top dollar for your new house, perhaps starting the cycle all over again.

But let's go back. You could always rent house #1, for enough money to pay the mortgage on house #2, maybe even come out a little ahead every month. Makes sense, doesn't it? But remember, in a black neighborhood, in any neighborhood, the more people who don't have enough of a stake to permit them to buy a house, thus care for the neighborhood, the less the overall value of the neighborhood. So even though you might be able to get enough to pay the mortgage, as the neighborhood declines and other owners become landlords - absentee landlords, the value of the property decreases even more, and at the end of your 20-year mortgage, you may or may not have enough to make up for the $172,800 you have paid in (Oops, forgot to mention maintenance and repairs in the total cost of the house. Add that in, about $1,000 per year, bringing your total to $192,800).

Say, instead of buying that first house, you rented for 20 years as a tenant, at the same monthly payment, and invested the $3,750 down payment, plus settlement costs, bringing the total up to around $5,000. All your repairs would have been paid for, and at 5% interest with a yield of 5.25%, your money would have grown to $13,913. Maybe in a rising interest market you could have raised that yield to 8%, you'd end up with $23,305, all with no responsibility except to leave the $5,000 lay in savings. No maintenance or repairs. But then, if you're a renter, black or white, you've got to watch out that much more for neighborhood decline, rise in crime, decreasing quality of schools, all the well worn clichés of "There goes the neighborhood." That's the dilemma.

You say we must not have racism in real estate. Agreed, we must not have institutional racism, built into mortgage qualification, advertising and the like. In a perfect America this would not happen, but but think of yourself buying a house... You cruise the neighborhood and on the corner hang out four teenagers. If they are white, you think very little of it, but if they are black, you see a "street gang" (after all, don't we see black teen criminals being led away to jail nightly on the news?), and you think twice (whether you're white OR black) about buying a house there. Multiply that by all the prospective buyer-lookers, and kids on the corner, and supply & demand takes over: the fewer buyers there are, the lower the price, the faster the decline in the value of property in a given area over time. Unfortunately, racism will always exist in real estate, as long as people are physically distinguishable from one another.

But waitaminute. Wasn't America supposed to be the melting pot? The place where all the immigrants melded into one "American" (remember the Yank types from those WWI and WWII movies?) generic American personna? Somehow we've lost that ideal, you know, the Sergeant York, Babe Ruth, yes, Jackie Robinson, Jimmy Smits, and Elvis Presley types. We became The Ugly American, after the book of the same name, and refused to own up to the image the rest of the world has imprinted in their minds, of us as the blue-eyed, open-faced, rich, albeit klutzy insensitive idealists. Vietnam had a lot to do with it too, where we turned out to be the badguys killing anyone who wasn't us.

We had this image of us too, even those of us who weren't us imagined ourselves as the essential American us, and changed our ways, indeed even changed our names, to conform to the us of American yore, or at least American movies. We wanted to be Americans, not Italians, Polish, Irish, Spanish, or any other of the ethnics that came through Ellis Island. But Lord, then we found that us had some serious skeletons in our closets, and we turned and began to run the other way from us, and when that didn't work, to try in a guilt-ridden bleeding-hearted way, to make up for the well-perceived injustices by burying them in mountains of public money, and retiring to our couches for another rerun of Seinfeld, thinking that by at least keeping the neighborhood the same color as us, that we were maintaining our American-ness. Hardly.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

How many of us, born and raised in pre civil rights days, maybe even pre WWII days, don't now find ourselves reverting to an unconscious racist slip? That includes both whites and blacks, the whites indulging in a stereotypical thought or word, and blacks in stereotypical acceptance of the slight. After all, teaching old humans new ways of thinking is not unlike teaching the proverbial old dog new tricks. This is not to excuse such behavior, but to say that just as the reformed smoker, drinker, or substance abuser can be tempted to revert to just one puff, or sip, or sniff - so too can a person who for many years thought one way, having been taught that way since birth, veer unknowingly into old habit, despite the laws, the national attitudes, the teachings that have come our way since the civil rights revolution began. If we haven't slipped once or twice, or even more times, we just didn't pay attention to our upbringing. So, like alcoholism, smoking and substance addictions, withdrawal, for the rest of our lives must be approached one day, one thought at a time.

Not every black we see portrayed or reported in the media is Bill Cosby or Bryant Gumbel. If that were the case, our image of blacks would be a totally different one. But when we see the homeless, when we see the perpetrators of crime in our urban areas, we see an overwhelming percentage of blacks.

Everyone, white and black, is somewhat of a racist. Can't help it, but we can try to correct its generalizations. There are surely those who resist the temptation to be racist better than others, thus convince themselves they're not. Then there are those who get PAID to be non-racists - politicians, for example - whose very jobs depend on non-alignment with unpopular attitudes. For them, bland is better. Professional anti-bigots. The worst kind of racists, because they're harder to detect. None of us is unaware of racial differences perceptually, and none of us fails to react to what we witness on TV¹s news, though we may cover up our own opinions in the presence of others we associate with, whose feelings might be hurt if we said exactly what we think all the time. So we patronize, just as TV does in those little human interest stories that we all know are nothing but fill, so as not to offend. But frankly, if we are to make progress in this area, offending is what we must do, offend to the point where it becomes unpleasant to be black and uneducated, black and useless, black and dependent, black and downtrodden. Or white and uneducated, white and useless, white and dependent, white and downtrodden. Those who have the will will then get up and find a way to become educated, useful, independent and proud.

How to do this? Through our present educational system? Hardly, because it fosters all of the disadvantages and ridicules those who try to surmount them. Education must again become a private affair, performed at home, with someone in charge who cares for the individual, and with a system that encourages intellectual exploration. The computer is ideal for this job. It would make more sense to give every disadvantaged family a computer and an educational program from first grade through college than to keep pouring money into the outmoded public educational systems that now exist. And teachers could become online helpers instead of cops of the classroom.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Why is it that, invariably the minority pundit on the round table TV program always buffaloes the featured guest with the MINORITY point of view, always asking the same minority-oriented questions? Surely these are intelligent people, who have, we assume, achieved their positions by virtue of talent and hard work, whose mental agendas consider other than minority matters. Whether the local mayoral candidate favors keeping a minority department head, or retaining a municipally funded minority program, or questions of the same ilk are not the only things occupying the minds of members of the minority at large. These pundits are only perpetuating the ghetto mentality, the us-against-them syndrome, rather than tackling problems that concern us all. You may say that these minority problems DO concern us all, because it is we-all who must pay in the end. That may very well be, but if you divide us up into majority and minority in so obvious a way, you force us to think of "them what gets and us what pays," thus inspiring a "gimme" attitude in the payees and resentment in the payers. We are all in the same earthly boat, in fact the relative size of the boat is shrinking, yet there are paddles enough for everyone. Paddles which don't consider the race or nationality of the paddler, but do the job if wielded properly.

Minority writers, thinking they are presenting a minority point of view, write minority stories and matters, of which there are plenty. William Raspberry, brilliant a scribe as he is, only talks the African-American line, as if there were only one "us" perspective in the African-American community. (I'm sorry, but I don't like "African-American" or "Italian-American," or any other hyphen-American designations. If we're here and contributing, we ought to be accepted simply as AMERICAN). If anything is going to bring us down it's a "refusal to melt into the pot" point of view, and the ultra-liberal fed & state hand-out mentality that inspires the crab-in-the-basket syndrome keeping minorities "in their place" by virtue of their own restrictive vista.

Why does a book by a black writer have to be reviewed by a black critic - as though it's a "black thing" no one else can really get their mind around. Next thing you know the black reviewer, not to bring down the fledging author, is calling the book great art, and the writer a genius "making history" by writing about things familiar to many black people. Granted the viewpoint may very well be an unusual one, and the writing a good journeyperson's effort, but not Shakespeare or Shaw. Then when the reader in the general reading public reads the book and says only "so what, it's a good story but hardly deathless prose" the "black thing" ghetto mentality is perpetuated on both sides.

When minorities on TV news and radio news programs, go on to more general matters and speak intelligently, intelligent viewers can understand and identify, so there are minority opinions which are not necessarily MINORITY points of view. We need more of that. After all, a good incisive opinion is certainly worthwhile, no matter where it comes from.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

"Would you hide us?" they asked, as we watched a teen fave "mondo" video about various kinds of torturous deaths (electric chair, hanging, a parachutist plunging, a cult carving up a live human and eating the organs [is this for real?] - grim, disgusting) which finally came around to the holocaust, the images of which still rate as a suitable finale for such a film, even after we've seen them over & over, able to bring forth the deepest of feelings of revulsion. The question hung there - "Would you hide us?"

What a question. "Need you ask?" was the first reaction, the obvious answer that came to mind, but then I realized the question was a serious one, that Jews today, here, still feel the insecurities, the terrors inherited from parents & grandparents, forbears whose lives were snuffed out in their prime because they were WHAT they were, not who, something over which they had no control, i.e., being born. It deserved a serious answer, and my second thought was "Of course." But then I began to approach the subject more seriously, to think about the kind of person I might have been, a civilian, a business owner, a father, a writer, in the face of the Nazi oppression. Would I have been strong enough to resist?

It's easy to say you'd be brave and defiant, here, now, when the time is 1998 USA, with a free democracy shouting the power of the individual, the oppressive regimes caving in worldwide, and the barbarous realities of the Nazi holocaust merely grim scenes from a mondo film. Times have certainly changed, the middle aged concept that you can eradicate a problem by killing off a whole segment of a world's population is, thankfully, a thing of the past. Not that remnants of racial & religious prejudice have been eradicated, but as concepts, they're dead.

I went home and began looking around the house for places where a small family might be effectively concealed against an unfeeling, intrusive oppressor. A false door here, a crawl space there, a small knot of bravery, a wisp of defiance... It makes you think.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Dogs definitely do not like to make decisions like where to go, what to do, etc. They like a nice habitual routine where they can get it all done up, nice and tidy, without a lot of effort or intellectualizing. They're into efficiency, and have been for much longer than we humans, making their lives, through the generations, simpler, while we have made ours more complicated. They don't think up ways to make wars on each other or even to expand their spheres of influence beyond a long walk to leave their marks by the side of the road. Their battles are instantly ignited and immediately settled there and then, either with bravado or blood. Their food is whatever fills their bellies, and they don't waste time with the fancy food section of the Sunday paper. Their wants are meagre - to lie about in the sun or by the fire, to catch flies - to please us so that we'll maintain their existence on an even keel.

It is this last which provides us with the utility we need, for a dog is like a short range radar network around our castle, and so a mutual bargain is struck: we provide Butch with simple food, water and a place to lie about; he warns of and intimidates strangers. Not a bad trade for either of us. But back to the original point about dogs and decisions - they are strictly order followers, except for the few things already mentioned, so don't be BEGGING the dog to do the things you want him to do. ORDERS! - That's what he likes. Simple words: Come! Stay! Sit! Lie down! Go To Your Place! Roget's Thesaurus is lost on Rover. Dogs just don't understand subtlety, unless it's olfactory, and how are we going to give him Smell Orders?

About "Go To Your Place!" - This is a command that will save you time and aggravation because it's the way to get Muttley out of your hair. When he barks at strange visitors, etc., he will reach a point where he's actually at loose ends a to what to do next, and will sort of hang around kind of snarling and acting as though he's still suspicious even though he knows you approve of the guest. Here, the prompt applicaiton of a pat on the head, a "good boy" (for a job well done) and a firm "Go To Your Place!" is just what he needs and what YOU want. Of course, he must have a "place" to go, out of the way, comfortable, clean, a corner from which he can lunge forth a a moment's notice to do his job, a real protection game, but worth the racket.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Your dog doesn't NEED two whole cans of Alpo every day to satisfy his minimum requirements, or even to keep him healthy. Not even one whole can, or a half or a quarter can doth Fido require. In fact, dog's systems are pretty much like ours in that they become super saturated with fat too, so meats...wellll, I don't know. Master canine must have pretty much what the nutritional small print says on the outside of the DRY dog food package, whether you buy it in the five or twenty-five pound size for your one or one hundred pound hound. It has always been my impression that the law somewhere requires that manufacturers of pet food state on the package what the ingredients are, and what percentage of the daily dog requirements they meet, for health that is. So that being the case, the secret has been let out to us, albeit in a way that only left-minded minds like ours could perceive, that dogs can actually LIVE on the ingredients in any dry dog food. The problem, of course, is in persuading Rex the Sentry to EAT it, and that, my esteemed reader, is what this article is all about.

Fooling the dog into THINKING what he's eating is good worthwhile cuisine, when what you're giving him is the bare minimest of diets according to your short arms and deep pockets prudence. Or: How to remain friends with Tippie while feeding him the cheapest food (have you LOOKED at dog food prices lately?).

"So what I did, y'see, was I give it to the mutt, y'know, and the first night he walks over gingerly with his tale up and his nose down, sniffin' he was, t'see if it met his requirements. He considers, sniffs again, tastes his water (fresh), and decided to plunge into the food. Right then I knew I'd won him over." Dogs being what they are, this is probably a lifetime mindset. Now, how to bring your particular pet to this decision (sounds like Evangelism of a sort). Read on down the trail.

What TASTES like Alpo, sniffs like Alpo, is about the same consistency as Alpo. digests and nourishes as well or better than Alpo, but is vastly cheaper than this fairly high grade #1 selling dog food? Here it is: ALFAPRO (All Fake Protein), your blend synthesized complete diet for doggie. Fido's favorite gustatory injection: --1. Take the cheapest dry dog food and place the number of cups your dog should eat according to his weight in his (or her) bowl. --2. Prepare the FLAVOR in your blender or food processor: a couple of tablespoons of leftovers from your day's cooking (your dog has been smelling the delicious aroma of this all day-give him a taste of it). Use strong flavors very discreetly. Add a small piece of meat or meat fat, an egg (shell and all, preferably hard boiled) once a week, and a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil, plus some pepper and maybe garlic (they say garlic and brewer's yeast keep the fleas away - they can't stand the smell either), and perhaps improvise something to give your protector a distinct urinary aroma, for that is precisely how dogs maintain their IMAGE in their neighborhood or territory. --3. Mix this blend together, with enough water to puree the conglomeration as much as possible, with the dry dog food so as to soak the pellets or chunks (I prefer chunks because they somehow seem more absorbent and chewy, and so does Iron Jaws, my pet), and give it to your dog. The idea is that it should TASTE like the high-priced menu, but be healthful and cheap-in that order.

Try it. Your dog will thank you, hopefully by not going on the sidewalk and by living longer, thus being your best friend for posterity. Fooling Fido is simply a matter of figuratively climbing into his world of smell, and approaching his most important event of the day through his nose.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Have you ever gone to someone's house, rung the doorbell, and the dog comes snarling, barking to the door? Most of us have...the thing I can't understand, though, is why dog owners in such cases come running after the dog saying, "no, no, stop that racket" or some such, when the dog is just doing what he perceives as his JOB, i.e., warning the owner that strangers are approaching. Dogs are creatures of habit, and anything that breaks the security established by our normal movements around the house is extra-ordinary to Mungol the Beast, so he barks. This should be encouraged instead of stifled, even rewarded with a doggie cookie if possible, because your pet wants to fit into the local scheme by providing utility, earning his keep, so to speak. Mungol wants to feel needed. So when he sets up a ruckus at the arrival of someone strange, and EVERYONE except household members should be strange, he's proving his worth to you, his master or mistress. When he barks at a strange sound or arrival give him a "good boy" and a pat on the head instead of disapproval.

In fact, CULTIVATE suspicion in your animal, and he'll always be on the lookout on your behalf. When you hear any strange noise, see his head and ears perk up, YOU say, "What's that?" in a quick, suspicious whisper, and he'll increase his awareness, as dogs are wont to do anyway, perhaps standing up and going toward the whateveritis, sniffing and distrustful. Good boy. Take him out, maybe, to really satisfy his (or your) curiosity. Probably it will be nothing more than someone emptying his trash, or another dog going on HIS fireplug, but his vigilance will have been exercised. After a while, this will become dog-matic, and you won't have to prime the distrustful nature of Mungol.

Naturally, he'll bark at the Mailman, the meter reader, the sound of a nearby car door slamming, garbage men (especially the momback man--the guy who stands behind the truck and yells,"mom'back!"). These are more or less greetings, but the sounds that pique Mungol's alertness for friendly intruders are the same sounds that will be made by threatening intruders. In the dog's mind they're all worthy of suspicion, but faintly recognizable. At a certain point, the decision is passed on to you, if you are there, and he goes back to his place, having carried out his responsibility. "That's a GOOD boy!"



© Port Whitman Times 2002

1. Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right finger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.

4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.

6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold cat's head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered Doulton figurines from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10. Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus jab. Throw Tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

12. Call fire brigade to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

13. Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed, force cat's mouth open with small wrench. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of filet steak. Hold head vertically and pour 1/2 pint of water down throat to wash pill down.

14. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call a furniture shop on the way home to order new table.

15. Arrange for SPCA to collect cat and ring local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.



© Port Whitman Times 1997

"Do your thing" was an expression very popular back in another era. Taken as a group, humans, or homo sapiens, our primary "thing" is thinking, that, as opposed to a cockroach's thing being feeling, or a cat's listening. It is the thing we depend most upon to make our decisions in life, whereas, for example, a dog depends upon his nose, and decides what to do do based on what he smells.

So remember, the next time a dog comes at you, he's only doing his thing, sniffing. Of course, in being afraid of him when he barks or growls, you are doing your thing too, based upon what you remember of other dogs in similar circumstances. But you have one advantage over a dog. You can think about his smelling you, where he cannot smell about your thoughtfully considering him. He can only perceive the physical effects of your thought. However he is extremely perceptive in this, so much so that his reaction to you is immediate. Either he bites you or he doesn't. Remember, when a dog sniffs you, even while barking or growling at you, he is only just doing his thing. So girls, next time you go to someone's house, and they have one of those big, long-nosed canines that comes right for you, and tries to stick his cold nose into your crotch, just pull your skirt up over your head and say "sniff away, big boy."

A dog is especially interested in the smell of the physical things that your body produces, such as perspiration, urine, and feces. Just imagine what a dog with a refined and discriminating sense of smell can learn about your body and its processes through smelling your stool. He learns how your body processes what you put into it, and of course WHAT you put into it too. Maybe doctors could capitalize on this talent, by founding a medical school for dogs, where dogs would be trained to react appropriately to the scent of different diseases. Incidentally, haven't you ever taken a specimen to your doctor? You won't see him do it, but I have it on very good authority that the first thing they do, and rightly so, is give it a sniff (not necessarily to bark or growl at the result, of course).

A dog even checks up on himself by smelling his own feces, and I am sure comes to some decision about himself as a result. A well-trained canine could perhaps replace one of the big diagnostic machines just by reacting in a certain way to the scents of specific traumas or neoplasms within the body. The same with you and your smells, such as your breath or urine or feces...

You'll find that perfume and incense really confuse a dog.


© Port Whitman Times 1997

Dear PWT:

I offer this as one solution to one of our population problems: the over-breeding housecat. We came up with something that might not be the most pleasant answer, but it worked for us... for awhile.

We were poor. Below gentile poor, living in a townhouse in an "urban" environment, gentrifyers, rehabbers, sweat-equity folks. We couldn't even afford to have our cat spayed, so she, being an indoor-outdoor cat, kept having kittens, which we gave away at first, but finding fewer and fewer folks, then no one upon whom to prevail to take a little kitten, we decided to have the litters "taken care of." The feline final solution. We took them to the animal shelter to be "put to sleep."

There was really no difference as to where the kittens went, between being "put to sleep" by us or the animal shelter, just an exchange of money for the service, and an hour's drive to deliver them to the final sleeping place. Consider too that the operators at the shelter were not emotionally involved with the little creatures, thus could dispose of them with few qualms. Therein is the sticky point, the emotional attachment, and the qualms. So we resolved, next litter, to accomplish the task BEFORE any sentimental attachment could build up.

Between each other, we, as humans too, seem have developed an emotional attachment to just BEING human, sufficient to keep us from killing each other directly, even under the worst conditions, which gets in the way of our survival mechanisms too. So in wars we use bombs, planes, bazookas. Anyway, when the time came, and Mama-kitty had her next litter by Papa-kitty-unknown, I went directly into action.

Having read since childhood of people who disposed of cats by putting them in a bag at the end of a pole and holding the bag of kittens underwater in the river, I thought "Now that's a humane way to get rid of the little creatures - Drowning, a pleasant way to die, so I hear, like going to sleep." OK, get the kitties from Mama by luring her away from the litter momentarily, put them in a sack and hold them underwater. The stick and the river seemed too Dickensian, so I decided to do it up close. Holding the few kittens underwater and watching them struggle and claw, crying out for life was just too much for me. It seemed like a case of taking your local murderer who had been condemned to death and instead of the needle or the electric chair, tying his hands behind him and throttling him to death. Uh-uh. Not for me. Even with kittens only a couple of days old, some emotional attachment had crept in, and a humane streak survived somewhere deep in my soul. So it was off to the shelter, resolving never to try that method again. But what was it to be next time?

With animals it cannot adopt out, the pound disposes of them in a painless way we assume, sticks them with a needle and lets them die in their sleep... At least that's what we would like to believe. Pleasant, but certainly not instant. Practical, unfeeling, efficient.

They say the best way to be executed if such should be your fate, is by the guillotine, as you feel nothing beyond the terror you experience while rolling toward the mechanism in the tumbrel. The blade coming down is the last sound you hear before your head is lopped off, ending your body's time here. It is said that no particular date is set for the execution, so that there is no factor of anticipation such as here, where you can read about your case in the newspapers right up to the time you are sizzled, or gassed, or injected, or hung, whatever. In Ireland, if the movies are to be believed, they come to get you anytime, in the middle of the night, drag you off and hang you before you can think about it for more than a minute. Still, it would seem that the guillotine is the most humane way, being so instant. The same is true in the case of cats, of course, they don't want to sense that they are going to be disposed of either, or in a slow process, as they must when they are allowed to hang around for long in a place where their friends keep disappearing.

Finally I came up with a way that would meet all of the humane qualifications: instant, painless, efficient, and would leave me no carcass to dispose of after the animal was, ah, put away. But be prepared, it may shock you to hear it, to think of it, yea to see it in print. But it worked, for as long as we could stand to do it. Mamakitty finally got her needed fixing when the money was available.

As soon as the litter was born, I separated Mamakitty from them so that she would not develop any love beyond the instinctual one mothers naturally have for progeny. This done, the rest was easy. The little things were still soft and boneless, freshly born, eyes closed to the world, having been for weeks in an almost liquid state, so offered no hard resistance to a mechanical device. No, I did not devise a guillotine, but my method would rival that sanguine separator for humaneness easily. One by one, I gathered them around, and dropped them, head first, into the already running disposer in the kitchen sink. In a split second each was gone, churned to smithereens by relentless machinery whose job it was to make instant particles of dinner scraps of former cows, chickens, pigs, or parts thereof, suitable for treatment at the local waste plant.

Now you may think this horrible, heartless, cruel, and so did I at first, but upon rationalization, even for the many years that have passed since, I cannot for the life of me find a more humane way to handle the situation, at least without the trip to the pound, where Heaven knows what is done with them. I trust the machine didn't bruise what passes for cat souls, and they are resting somewhere in peace today.

Many times we simply do what we have to do. There is not an element of choice, only of expediency.

Name Withheld by request


© Port Whitman Times 2008

There is a major problem in political perception. That is that the Democrats are for the poor, the Republicans for the rich. You can hardly blame the Dems, since getting elected is the first order of business, and currently the poor are a large, electorally influential group increasing in their numbers. Since we count one vote per body, the party that says it's for the poor has, one would assume, automatically more votes on election day.

Now, since we are paying the poor just to stay alive, with possibly their one contribution to the system being their vote, we're (Dems AND Repubs) literally paying them for their votes. So whoever pays more of them more, i.e., the bigger briber, gets more votes. And the poorer and dumber he keeps them, with just enough cash to survive, the more surely he can predict that his bribe will produce a vote.

Actually, it's not bad, being paid to stay alive. Gives you a chance to get your life together when you're down; but being paid to stay STUPID, something else, to stay poor, unthinkable. Being paid for doing nothing though, sure has merits, y'know? Because in that time other people are using to keep themselves alive, you can be, oh, doing something, something constructive, one would hope.

But back to perception, mis-perception really, part of which is that many people perceive the party that gives the poor the most money operates for their greatest benefit. But look closer -you'll find it not so. In fact, quite the opposite sometimes.

But who does operate in the best interests of the people he proposes to lead, the person who gives them more money, or the one who gives them more education? Not that I'm claiming one party or another DOES, but which party, would you say, is more committed to educating more people faster and better? There's a party worth attending to, and staying with.



© Port Whitman Times 2008

As any pubescent boy can tell you, the sex is all in your mind. You don't need a partner to experience the ecstasy - it's all a form of coordination between imagination and bodily manipulation. So why are apparently so many adult males who should know better getting arrested for acting on their impulses, downloading kiddie porn, making dates with whom they believe to be youngsters, acting out their fantasies?

We are becoming slaves to the advertising culture, and to the internet culture where everything is available at the click of a button. So not only are we finding that birds, bees and educated fleas do it, but teachers, preachers and congressional over-reachers too. "So why not me?" asks the internet cruiser. Well, first, because it's against the law, and second, because it's against the law. We learn predation from, well, from politics. Is there anything more predatory than the political ads on TV? Ads that vilify the opponent with semi-lies, and lionize the candidate with semi-truths infect our national culture, and poison our attitudes to the point where we believe nothing - and everything - we see that comes out of the box, a cynicism so pervasive it goes to the very core of any moral foundation we possess and eats away at it like a fungus under your toenail. So all sins are one sin, all of us sinners, no one is innocent - or exempted from the tarnish of our trespasses.

Characters in the movies smoke marijuana - but for us it's a no-no. In real life, people do the unthinkable - kill children, blow up buildings, hack off heads... It's all out there, not just in our minds or in books anymore. We have returned to the middle ages, to middle age thinking, just like Hitler. We've become our nightmare, thirsting for our 15 minutes of fame, or notoriety, the flip side of fame - at any cost.

It's no longer all in our minds. Now we act out, and the old religions, tried and true, are frequently - too frequently - unable to deal with, or even contemplate the concept of real evil as opposed to a mere perception of evil in the mind of a charlatan, a poseur, a scoundrel.

Behavior is no longer comme il faut, but strictly improv, and God, if there is a God, knows where that will take us. Pity too, because it could remain all in our minds, and only show its head on election day.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

When I was growing up, I was told to accept compliments with a polite "Thank you," and leave it at that, not to answer with anything that might diminish the validity or the intent of the compliment, which, by the way, is what Sen. Barack Obama, being wise in the ways of political society, did when called "articulate" by Sen. Joseph Biden. But others, whose motives are varied: to get laughs, to take personal offense, or make political hay etc., are ascribing unmeant innuendo that was in no way inherent in the statement, and shouldn't be put there. We are all racists of a sort, simply by the fact that we recognize the differences among us. So what. We get over it, we accept change.

Just how much INarticulateness are we exposed to - from the American community at large, let alone the African-American community? Watch the local news, see the interviews - you won't always find a lot of articulateness. Sincerity, friendliness, humor, pathos, many qualities, maybe, but articulation on the world class level - not really. Nor do we need or expect it from media impromptus. But from a candidate for this nation's highest office, we surely DO need and expect it - and from Barack Obama we get it, so why denigrate the compliment? The put-down will only offend those who feel that it's just another overly-sensitive quibble from the self-righteous, racially profiling (yes) victim set, who try to get attention by taking everything as a slight. Please, just accept that it's a compliment, save the umbrage, lest you make enemies for the very person you want to see make history for us all.


© Port Whitman Times 2005

"It's my money, I guess I can do whatever I want. I don't care what they say." - Bernard Marcus, founder of Home Depot, responding to complaints of his tactics surrounding his opening of a huge new aquarium in Atlanta, GA.

There it is - The American Attitude: Anything can be bought - including politicians and public opinion. If you spray enough dough around, all of America is for sale. Just introduce your idea, its image, favorably, enough times through the media, mainly TV, with appealing pictures, and the gullible, malleable public will fall into line behind anything you present. Same with our legislators, our congress, whose members control our lives and whose main job there in Washington or the state capitol is getting themselves reelected to the gravy train, to the detriment of the public interest in many cases. How-much-face-time-can-you-get competes constantly with-how-can-you-benefit-the-public in towns where there are several lobbyists for each legislator, as if they can't think for themselves, but need shills for every point of view, presenting their cases via junkets to exotic lands, and backed up by hard dollars when they are needed most - at election time. Public hoors they are, doing the bidding of capital.

And the moneyed know this, thus the "I can do whatever I want with my money" attitude. The voters can't be bought, you say? Think again. Why is it that candidates store up a war chest for election time? It's to buy that most persuasive of salesmen, TV advertising, where they present themselves as choirboys working hammer and tongs for the public good. It's no wonder Iraqis rebel at the coming of American Democracy. They see it as the whoring up of their society, where all will be indentured to cash instead of what some think is a benevolent dictatorship backed by an old-time religion (Islam). And face it - If it were not for the black gold under their feet, the Iraquis would be left to fend for themselves, like the Rwandans, the Sudanese, etc. America's interest is in the oil, and making sure that whoever is incharge of selling it is firmly grounded in dollar diplomacy. Money rules!

Prosperous yuppies buy second homes in remote areas suitable for their retirement, while Nigerian Nomads starve. Our unions demand more and more, yet complain that foreign competition is ruining our labor-intensive industries. Oh please, give the world a break! One thing for sure, you can't buy love, and we sure haven't, despite the trillions we have poured into foreign aid. Oh they take it, and maybe think twice before getting the big USA handout, then they do what's best for them, just as we do in the final analysis. Pity, sometimes.

Mr. Marcus' hubris in saying what he said the way he said it might be overlooked considering his contribution to Atlanta's economy with a major attraction, but that the quotation itself represents a big slice of American values stands out like a bloodstain on a wedding dress. We are not pure.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

You say there's no difference between lottery advertising, and regular advertising on television - hey, what the heck, they're both advertising a product. But wait a minute. You see an ad for shampoo or perfume, or something you're going to buy for your garage, like a new car, what they're advertising is what you GET - in other words, EVERYBODY gets a degree of satisfaction out of what you see in a normal advertisement for a product or service, even if it's only an emotional satisfaction, or an imaginary satisfaction, such as you might get from perfume. But in the lottery, what you see in the ad is not somebody playing, but somebody WINNING the lottery, sitting there in his chair, seeing his number come up and leaping for joy as he WINS. Is that jump the same jump for joy the customer gives cause he's happy with his new Toyota? Nooo. Because when you go out and buy a Toyota, you get a Toyota, just like in the ad. When you go out and buy a lottery ticket, the chances are only one in a THOUSAND (for the regular daily number, astronomically higher for the pick four, pick six, etc.) that your going to get that thrill they advertise. Nevertheless they are advertising that YOU get that thrill. Not so.

Therefore, what you're watching is patently immoral, a lie, encouraging you to spend your money for something you're NOT going to get, yet painting the picture of your getting it. In any other circles this would be called a confidence game. You are seeing unethical advertising of lottery WINNERS on television, sponsored by your state, paid for with those sucker dollars from the lottery players who imagine themselves in that player/winner's chair.

Not that I disapprove of the lottery, just because I think playing the lottery is largely a waste of money. Not so. I fully approve, and sometimes even play. But I do take issue with the advertising of the lottery from the point of view of the one-in-a-thousand (or zillion) winner, rather than the everyday player, whose main satisfaction is the anticipation he feels as the pingpong balls with alas the wrong numbers are sucked up to communal attention. Just let me know that the money is there, and somebody has to win, that's enough; I don't have to see fictional winners spending their fictional millions all the time. I can use my own imagination to put me in the picture.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

Big BIGGER BIGGEST! We're impressed with size. Almost anyone who can invent (and thus triumph in) a new category can get into the Guiness Book of World Records it seems. "Man eats two refrigerators in 78 hours twenty one minutes flat, breaking the old record of 79 hrs. 25 min. set in 1938." But the old record was set using pre-war, thus more durable, refrigerators. (Burp). We are awed by the heaviest person, the biggest building, the longest ship - the largest lottery prize. Speaking of which...

I dunno, what can one person DO with $155 million, besides pay a lot of taxes? Oh sure, we all say "If I won the lottery, I'd do this or that, retire, go to the South of France, etc., but most of our wildest dreams wouldn't cost NEARLY $155 million, or $133 million. Or even $110 million, or five. Hey, I'd be satisfied with ONE million. But since I rarely play the bloomin' lottery, I guess I'll just have to be satisfied with what I can old-fashioned SAVE.

But the point is: Instead of giving away one big lottery prize of multi-millions, wouldn't it make more sense, AND get more people to play, if there were, say, 155 prizes of $1 million each? It would make the odds to win a lot better, and as anyone who pays for space in the media knows, a steady stream of small notices beats one big one anyday, so surely more of us would play.


© Port Whitman Times 1997

COVET v. - To desire inordinately... without due regard to the rights of others (Amer. Coll Dict.) Once, Gov.Rockefeller of West Virginia, in a futile bid for the nomination to run for the U.S. Presidency, came up with a "Children's" program - the benefits, as befits a political candidate, were squeaky clean and unchallengeable, but of course, would have run some (ahem) $56 million.

"Where would the money come from?" posed one interviewer, to which the honorable Rocky answered "We spend better than $50 million on the space station, why not our children," using one program to rationalize another. At first, this would seem to be justifiable, logic, but on second thought, if we keep adding programs to our budget, justifying them by throwing up other programs and applying the "If...Then..." form of logic, especially when the comparatives bear no relation to each other, we'll end up broke.

Waitaminute - we ARE broke (except that the Chapter 7 government that spends our money also prints it!) and getting broker. The fact is, many programs, fee increments, pay raises, etc. go through, raising our taxes, on the flimsy justification that "so-and-so is getting $___, so why not us?" "The mayor of ____is getting $____,so why shouldn't Mayor____ be getting $___?" ditto with Superintendents of Schools, Company executives, teachers, ad unitum infinitum, and the raises sail thru.

For example, every ballplayer wants more than the next ballplayer, and from the media he knows what the other guy is getting, and uses that as a lever to pry more out of management, so the seat prices go up, TV ads get more numerous. Doctor X knows that doctor Y charges a little more and gets it from his pleading patients, so he charges that or more, which Dr. Y sees, and raises HIS fees. It seems every one wants to make more than that other guy, to get rich out of a simple calling, so uses that guy as justification to gouge more out of a hapless public. Whatever happened to Fair? A fair profit on items, a fair day's pay for a fair day's work? Caveat Emptor rules!

If only we'd demand less, and spend less instead of more than we make, we'd all end up comfortable instead of prosperous, content instead of covetous.


© Port Whitman Times 1997

The Red Cross puts out the call: "BLOOD NEEDED!" and everyone's guilt quotient is expected to rise 50 points as we rush down to the blood bank to drain off a pint. Periodically the supply comes up short, and a panic message flashes across our screens and airwaves, imploring us who can unlock the flow to go immediately to the local blood bank and give. After all, we in the general population have an unlimited supply, don't we, and it doesn't hurt to share it.

But getting it back when you're sick is another story.

What does the Red Cross give me for my pint of blood? A donut and some juice? Or some perverse satisfaction of donating what I alone can give so that they can start it down the profit stream, ending up as a $300 item on someone's (maybe even my own) hospital bill? Between the Red Cross and the hospitals, they're making a killing on my little O-negative contribution, and I'm supposed to be happy to donate, then glad to pay at the other end. Bosh!

I would be willing to make a deal with the Red Cross or the hospital to give my fairly rare blood regularly, every six weeks, if a system of credits could be established, where I would be able to benefit later, when I get sick. I'm not looking for free blood in my coming illnesses, mind you; I realize there are administrative costs and various other transfer expenses of bringing my blood to whomever needs it downstream. Nevertheless I would be willing to donate every few weeks if the hospital or blood bank would give me some kind of credit, a chit which could be applied to the price when I need blood, or even used to help pay my hospital bill when I need treatment. Quid pro quo, that's fair, isn't it?


© Port Whitman Times 2004

One of our main problems is that the information that is fired at us regarding the operation of our political system comes much faster than the rate at which we can do something to affect it, diminishing the democratic-ness considerably. In other words, TV, Radio, Print, Graphics, etc., are firing constant fusillades of ideas and reports at us, to give us something to digest between advertisements, so much so that it all seems like entertainment, but we, being only human, without technology that would give us power of immediate response, are relatively helpless in the face of it, except to absorb.

What to DO, then? Oh sure, write letters to our congressmen, local representatives or editors, but that's such a whistle in the wind, in the face of the ongoing parade of events which affect every issue, that our real net input is virtually nil. They do what they want anyway, because they know that we'll forget by the time election comes around in two or four years, and we'll vote for Mr. Niceguy or Joe Sincere, or Gentle Ben, or one of those images they so assiduously portray.

In the early days of the U.S. Democracy, the balance of communication was more evenly distributed, and since events happened at a more leisurely pace, one vote could come in time to have more effect. But now, events happen so quickly that Everyperson can only sit back and watch the parade.

We need a lightning-fast transmitter by which we can truly make our wishes known on a daily basis to those who make the decisions. The pollsters come close to offering the powers an ongoing idea of what the public is thinking, alas only random samples though, to which the tests of validity have been applied but which at best are only delayed reactions, not partners in the decisions. They are only surveys after all.

So we have the internet.

We need daily elections, a true reaction mechanism that officials can read like a tickertape to help them stay in harness with the electorate's mandates. And with our telephone communications, TV and radio facilities, it's only a matter of time, in a sensible world, until these things come to pass, hopefully soon enough to save civilization from destruction. The founding fathers I am sure, would be surprised to find that we aren't doing this already.

And why do we need representatives anyway? With current technology, we could surely understand and vote on issues ourselves, every day if necessary, one vote per computer/household, or one vote per telephone/household. Of course that would entail having the issues layed out for us in a public forum and debated there by parties who have no vote in the outcome but who can explain it down to a common denominator level. Our hobby would have to be politics, and I'm not sure that would fit everyone's schedule. Or taste. But it's possible. One would hope inevitable.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Dear Barbara Walters,

I guess there's certainly a morbid fascination in watching a talented man and great performer such as Dudley Moore deteriorate before your eyes, but I'm not sure I don't prefer the old Dudley, the insouciant imp with the rapid wit, the classical pianist who can get down and boogie, the falling down drunk who was just pretending. Regardless of the cause, though a good one being the research into the disease that inhabits him, I don't like to see him in the REALLY falling down state. I want to see him "fall down," not see him fall down, if you know what I mean.

With his wealth of boyish charm he was always lovable in character, and according to four women who married him, out of character too, at least for the nonce. It seems that soon enough we'll be reading his obituary, which might be pleasanter going than watching him be gored with your hypodermic needle, Barbara. It's like watching a compressed version (no pun intended) of the Great Depression reduced to twenty minutes. Illness is something that must be endured privately, oh sure with stories about it later, but it is a slow devourer sometimes, and what could be pleasant about watching some sort of maggots, viral, oncological, or neurological, ingesting a human being, one whom we loved, slowly from his deepest innards?

The whole thing smacks of such rank commercialism, a freak show, where we can turn on the tv and see the subject in his prime, and then watch 20/20 and see him all twisted and deformed. Oh yes. TV is in the business, the industry, of presenting. They present the news, they present information, they present entertainment. They present. ABC News presents. But it ought to present only the presentable. Poor Dudley is reduced to being a sick clown for what? As news? As information? No, as Entertainment. For us to indulge in schadenfreude - thank God it's him, not me. What next, Harrison Ford with his catheter, incontinent and impotent, Elizabeth Taylor with her colostomy bag, reeking. Come ON, Give Us A Break, 20/20.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

The final word in conspicuous consumption is the broadcasting of your sartorial preferences to the world thru wearing of clothing with brand names tattooed on sleeves, pockets, cuffs, woven into the material, or branded on the behind. We become walking billboards for products from jeans to soft drinks, a fact for which the manufacturers so displayed are no doubt unremittingly grateful, not that they charge less as a gesture. Nooo, they charge MORE. No fools they.

Where did it all begin? When did the hucksters find out that they could use us wearing their merchandise as part of the hustle? The first hint that I can remember came with airplanes. The word NAVY on the wings of planes constituted not only identification, but public relations as well, put there with a style of type that blared: "Look at us, world." Then came "Property of Notre Dame Athletic Dept." sweatshirts, authentically stolen at first, but then, NDU not being oblivious to a good gimmick, and alas wondering what to do about the pilferage, manufactured ones, to promote the "Irish" institution, solving the problem and making some dough all in one stroke. After all, who wants to wear a jersey that says it's the property of someone else if they charged you for it?

Soon "prison" sweatsuits appeared, and as the fads fad picked up, Elvis paraphernalia, peace & love stuff, record companies now getting into the act (Remember Mick Jagger "tongue" T-shirts?), concert T-shirts proving you'd been there when Morty and the Rammers or The Wrong Brothers performed, and don't forget car manufacturers. Pretty soon, the whole side of your car proclaimed "RABBIT" "FORD" or "DODGE" - Maybe you could negotiate with them for the paint job... Doubtful, doubtful.

Perhaps Coke, IBM, or Campbells Soup could be approached to provide clothing for some of us who live in high traffic areas and want to advertise them for free. Maybe go off to Honduras or Nicaragua, develop the area thru walking ads. Sure.

We love to force our tastes, subliminally and not so subliminally, on other people. There must be some way we could use this to affect our serious world situation. Shame that heads of state, in their meetings, couldn't tear their suits off, Superman style, to reveal T-shirts with "DISARM" or "JUST DO IT." Think of the exposure.

War is obsolete; Advertising is the new strategy for world domination.

Me? I don't wear other people's advertising.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

You can tell a lot about the current state of feminism by the looks on the faces of the women in the underwear ads. Where the fashion used to be the guilty look ("Why am I exposing so much of myself") or the trapped look ("Please let me out, I'll do - anything") now it's more the pensive ("I wonder how the jury will react if I present the case this way"), the defiant ("Don't cross me, or I'll beat your brains out on this project, mister"), even the smug ("I got the promotion by a little, ah, subterfuge, and I'm glad - so there") that sets the tone on the lingerie pages, more to appeal to women - who are, according to Madison Ave., more likely to be buying their own scanties, rather than the male who looks at and figuratively fingers the bras & panties & teddy's.

It's a welcome change, though you still see young slender bodies filling out the outfits, the advertisers being painfully aware of the selling power of beauty, no matter what the reality. Unless I'm mistaken every woman pictures herself as the body in the teddy whether wishfully or not, or at least aims to get (back) to that enviable form, thus the models as forms tend to speak for womanhood in general.

Now for the male underwear guys, it's still M&M - muscle & macho, but the expression is a shade softer as we drop the mask of rough and tough to show our sensitive side. I wonder how long it'll be before the men can get into "guilty" or "trapped"...surely centuries.

Lately the ads now feature skimpier underthings, string bikini panties and the "doped-up and just-had-sex" look on teenage bodies with pouty, puffy, juicy lips meant to tantalize those who would take advantage of these young things, if only in their imaginations. If the Pope only knew of these ads he would surely declare them sinful, or at least an occasion of sin, for all who would look and think impure thoughts, and also those who would consider buying the items, if not the look. Business marches onward, and inward, you might say.


© Port Whitman Times 1998

I wonder if all the haranguing done by the public radio and TV stations during their fund raising periods really justifies the amount of money they raise. Now the local public radio station fund raiser has been extended to TWO weeks, which says in effect that they can't raise what they want in the usual single week of asking. That's two weeks of pleading, begging, wheedling by advertising amateurs, trying to hector money out of increasingly impatient listening or viewing public, which has had its suspicions confirmed by no less than a republican majority in congress, that these stations, with major support from the U.S. Government, use the public airwaves to promote a largely liberal agenda, to which not all subscribe. But that's not the point here. If you're like me, you're sick of hearing these volunteers come on at the best part of the programming, like nagging mother-in-laws, trying to coax the last dollar from what they apparently consider the prisoners of their "quality" airings. Granted, their presentations are a cut above the general run of sitcoms and magazine expose hatchet jobs on regular TV, but oh, those fundraisers! Thank heavens for the remote controller. Enough already! ZAP!

We look upon advertising in the commercial media as a necessary evil, and we tolerate it, sometimes even pay attention to it, usually because it's slickly, professionally produced, and because it's short, sometimes entertaining (to wit: the Budweiser Lizards, the Kia HipHoppers), not causing us too much aggravation, and certainly no guilt if we don't buy. In many cases it gives us a nostalgic look at faces, or the sound of familiar voices, even dead ones, that we only see in major films or television shows - Sly Stallone, Robert Mitchum, Jack Lemmon, James Earl Jones, Gene Hackman, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Taylor, Janine Turner, Sally Kellerman, etc. not to say this justifies them, but at least they carry better production values than the programming. They're watchable anyway.

But on the publics, the fundraising segments are all the same tired plea on the same lame subject, on and on with the local amateurs ("Look mom, I'm on TV") or worse yet, station or public network bureaucrats, "doing their thing" to death, beating the dead horse, squeezing the last drop of pity out of anyone foolish enough to listen, lecturing stones about giving blood. And the fundraisers' quality is a very large cut below that of the programming, which we may or may not want to watch anyway, in many cases because it is a repeat of a successful hour or two that may have been produced as long as twenty years ago.

You would think that these supposedly brainy types would be able to come up with more original ways to bring bucks into their coffers than simply groveling on air for contributions. After all, their programming is generally on a higher level than the commercial stations, and no one is seriously unwilling to part with their hard-earned cash when it comes to a worthy cause, but, today the worthy causes are many, and like the homeless beggars sitting on steam grates getting in the way on the corners of our cities, they are soon ignored, even avoided, turned off.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't mind a few ads on the publics. Of course they would then have to subscribe to the numbers in the Arbitrons or Nielsons, competing with the rest of the video fodder. Shouldn't be too difficult...


© Port Whitman Times 1997

Does anybody believe celebrities anymore?I mean those movie stars drinking coke, or parading for conservation, or espousing this or that cause. Carly Simon helps out with the Red Cross, Charlton Heston's for guns, (Fill in your favorite celeb and his/her favorite cause). Really, they may be just doing it as paid spokespersons, if not for money maybe for public exposure which translates into popularity which translates into higher contracts which means more dough. There are so many well-knowns espousing so many causes that we're getting glutted with poseurs letting us think they really are sincere, just by appearing on camera with this or that organization that the really sincere ones are lost among the impostors. Did Elton John REALLY befriend the boy with AIDS? Do you think Michael jackson went to the Taj Mahal just to hang out with Donald?

Then there are people who get on TV to tell us the raw truth about this or that pressure issue - at first you think they're commenting on the news from an inside and well studied point of view, then you find they're pushing a book they've written. Hey, Paul Newman sells salad dressing, what'd you expect? Maybe Pope John will come out with paint-by-number sets of the Sistine Chapel. The profits to go to charity of course. Or Clinton wearing a Nike Swish on his jacket pocket. Let's hope Michael Jordan eats Wheaties once in awhile.


© Port Whitman Times 1997

Do we recognize advertising anymore? Lately a lot of it comes at us as news. The morning show gives us a snippet of the interview that's to be aired in its entirety on the evening magazine show. That's not news, it's promo, advertising for the evening magazine. Face it, we're so inundated with logos at every turn, sports players, racing cars, wearing company graphics, and so used to advertising inter-spliced with our media programming, that we hardly flinch when it comes at us as supposedly legitimate copy. Sure, on the evening news, there are the ads for Zantac, Advil, Rolaids, Phazyme, Tylenol, Pepsid, and the rest, which we've learned to tolerate so we can watch the world turn. Those ads are presented as such.

But then there are the sneaky ads. For example, the medical/pharmaceutical/hospital/insurance conspiracy has somehow duped the newsies into thinking that each new "discovery" rates top billing on the evening news. The lead story on the ABC Evening News tells us that doctors (physicians to us jerks) have found a new way to predict heart disease in those of us who are completely non-symptomatic. By a new magic procedure incorporating measuring blood pressure in the arm against blood pressure in the lower leg, and performing some other mumbo jumbo, the local cardio-specialist can tell us with a relative degree of certainty whether we run an abnormal risk of dying from a coronary. Of course this procedure isn't free, and there is a distinct possibility that your cardio man won't see you without a referral from your GP, so that means two fees, and an extra charge of course for "the procedure" and lab fees, to tell you what the evening news has led you to suspect, that you're OK, but going to need regular periodic cardiovascular checkups to monitor your good health. And this is presented as "news" because the New England Journal of Medicine has released it in the form of an article. Of course the final admonition, as always, is: "See your physician," so the network is off the hook. That's advertising, pure and simple, and the news shows buy it. Why? Just look at the millions of dollars worth of hospital, health plan, HMO, pharmaceutical, and miscellaneous medical advertising they and their local stations get.

You may have noticed that every hospital in your area is now advertising its wares: "We are the heart hospital, the wound hospital, the cancer hospital" or "kidney stones have never been more pleasant than at hospital X" or "We have the only bifurcator-analyzer in the metropolitan area." Et cetera ad nauseam. They almost say "Did you ever think you might be sick? Well you just might be, even though you don't feel sick. Well think about it, hurry up, get sick, and come to us." Since hospitals became profit-making businesses instead of charities, their margins have gone up, their advertising is everywhere, the physicians are passing the buck, the hospital CEO's salaries are in the stratosphere, and guess what - it costs you an arm or a leg to go in for a couple of days to have a "tests" which may or may not be necessary, but keep you "safe" from possible dire illness. That money the hospitals were supposed to save by applying business acumen has all gone into promotion, and the cost is passed on, to the patients. Actually it costs your insurance carrier if you're lucky enough to be covered, but in the end who pays for this profiteering but the public! The money has to come from somewhere, it's not manufactured in outer space. And as the baby boomers hit the age where the body begins to show signs of wear and tear, this is definitely a growth industry. No wonder the medical/pharmaceutical/hospital/insurance conspiracy is against Universal Health Care; it would throw the monkey wrench of supervision into their slick mechanism of profit-mongering.

Your money or your life, eh?


© Port Whitman Times 2004

James Phillip Struthers, 71, teacher, director, playwright, died from complications of respiratory disease and pneumonia on January 15, 2004, in New York City after a short five-day stay at Beth Israel North Hospital. Our beloved, creative friend will long be remembered by "dear hearts and gentle people" -- to use a phrase historians believe to be intended lyrics of James Phillip's famous ancestor, Stephen Foster. (These words were found in a New York City hotel room in a leather purse at Foster's tragic death!)

Throughout his career, Mr. Struthers worked with many luminaries of The Theatre: Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, George Abbott, Mike Nichols, Neil Simon (assistant on the Broadway production of "Star-Spangled Girl"), Gower Champion, David Merrick, Lester Osterman, Elliot Martin, Jose Quintero, Jeff Britton, and George Axelrod. Mr. Struthers also worked as a Stage Manager on Broadway, including "Flower Drum Song" at City Center; also as a Theatrical Talent Agent, as well as a Literary Agent and Book Editor. He worked in all phases of Broadway and Off-Broadway production and management, summer stock and repertory theatre (including Cleveland Play House and Harrisburg Civic Theatre) with particular emphasis on sales, publicity, promotion, group subscriptions, casting, script selection and development.

Mr. Struthers worked with the New York State Council on the Arts for several years and was consultant to various states arts councils and performing arts organizations. He was an instructor in the fields of English, speech, acting, creative writing, playwriting, play direction, and journalism in three major universities -- Wesleyan, Case Western Reserve, and the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at two first-rank private secondary schools, The Gunnery and Choate (where he encountered a now famous student by the name of Michael Douglas and his social agenda once brought him into contact with the American icon, Marilyn Monroe!)

James Phillip, son of James Clifford and Blanche McConnell Struthers, was born June 30th, 1932, in Elyria, Ohio. He went to the College of William and Mary and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, with a B.A. in Journalism and received an M.A. in Theatre & Speech from the Yale School of Drama. He settled in New York City in the late 1950's and taught at two NYC colleges, Touro and Marymount Manhattan, and numerous professional schools: The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Cambridge School, the American Language and Cultural Institute, the Barbizon and John Robert Powers Schools. Mr. Struthers also directed for many local theatre groups across the USA.

As mentioned, Mr. Struthers was a direct descendant of Stephen Foster and wrote "The Stephen Foster Radio Show" showcasing the life and times and songs of this renowned pioneer of American musical composition. Stephen Foster's grandfather James was, in fact, buried in the Struthers family plot in Poland, Ohio.

It seems our own "beautiful dreamer" carried on the family talent. In addition to the Foster piece, other musicals/plays/shows written by Mr. Struthers include: "The Greatest Man On The Ground" (from memoirs of the Struthers Family), "Twice Upon Twelve," "Flying Chaucers," "The Pie-Eyed Piper," and "Lunch Hour" produced in midtown Manhattan at various venues, to name a few.

Jim, or Phil, as he is known by both nicknames to his friends, never forgot a face or a friend. He was a prolific letter writer; a grand well-wisher of birthdays; an excellent conversationalist ... a store of information about The Theatre and The Arts in general. His life was earnest, his actions kind, his heart generous, his mind creative ...a loyal friend and tenacious to the end.

Mr. Struthers is survived by a maternal cousin, James Ludwick of Silver Spring, Maryland.

Mr. Struthers' ashes will be interred at the family mausoleum with his mother, father and sister Ann at Knollwood in Cleveland, Ohio. In lieu of flowers, a memorial contribution can be made to a Scholarship Fund to inspire future theatrical artists. This Fund has been established in honor of the deceased. Please send contributions to:

HB Playwrights Foundation 122 Bank Street New York, NY 10014 Attn.: Bob Callely

This not-for-profit organization was founded by Uta Hagen, another great friend of the arts, who coincidentally died on the same date of January 15, 2004.

On James Phillip's birthday, June 30th. We celebrated his life with fondly remembered stories and a gathering of friends at one of his special haunts: Finnegan's Wake, an Irish Pub, corner of 73rd and First Ave., New York City. For those friends in other parts of the country, we urge more celebrations. We raise a glass to our dear friend! May James Phillip rest in peace!


© Port Whitman Times 2007

I've never been totally comfortable with filing my nails. I know, I know, it's the proper way, the way they look the best, and they stay pliable and manageable. But filing conjures up images of lying around watching soap operas eating bon bons, while waiting for the polish to dry. No men I know have ever done that, at least that I know of, but that's still the picture I get. Sybaritic, not masculine, no sir. But durn, it's the only way to get them (the nails) to behave sometime, and not catch on today's miracle fabrics.

Now clipping, with one of those little keychain devices - snick snick - Oh boy, really prissy precise. The sound I mean. You can hear it over the roar of the trains on the commuter platform. Probably could have done just as well as those clickers paratroopers use to signal in the night.

The pliers-type cutters you get in the little booger wrench kits are good, and manly too, but you've got to do your clipping outside, cause the nails fly all over, and could get into the office or kitchen machinery. Of course you can clip with a wastebasket on your lap, but that's a little cumbersome.

There are scissors intended for the purpose of course, but there are hazards attached to these sneaky implements that could lead to your cutting a cuticle artery, if there is such a thing. Then it's bloody fingerprints all over the outgoing mail.

Nah, maybe better to chew them off, then your clippers are always available, you can blunt cut with the front teeth, trim with the incisors, even file a little with the old molars. Nothing, I say nothing beats catching hold of a hang nail, ripping it down the side, and yanking it out without drawing blood. I dunno, maybe the cave people had the right idea.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

Oh sure, life is just a series of experiments - one realizes only too late. Some of them come out well, and some don't. And right, the world belongs to the strong (but shall be inherited by the meek, who, apparently, live longer). Strong of course implies that there are those who are weaker than the strong (!) The idea, of course, is to be strong, promote strong-ness, enough to survive and if possible prosper, somehow leaving enough for the meek to inherit. But strong to show how strong, how rich, how prolific in some crass way? Why bother? Better to survive, prosper a little, and don't forget the meek. If they don't survive, the strong will alas have no heirs. And without airs, the strong are no longer THE strong, but merely competent, which we all strive to be in one way or another. In one way. Or another.

Sometimes it seems that what our real goal is, is mere survival, to reach the point of not having to be competent, but just having, being rewarded with sheer existence by support of some munificent higher body, whether it be God or the state, who provides. And God will provide - even if you don't work hard it seems, but only for awhile. It might be even shorter than that.

"Let sleeping dogs lie." Ah, to be a sleeping dog. But life intrudes, so we can provide for us, ours, and our sleeping dogs. Perhaps in the next life I should like to be my pet, who for a few nasty barks a month at whatever or whoever is a stranger to us, gets to lie around, let by us, the providers. Good deal, eh?


© Port Whitman Times 2008

We put up some flypaper today - We're having the house painted, the storm windows are down, all our flies got out and strangers came in, bringing in God knows what. Mostly they just buzzed by, like little Stukas. We got 'em though, with the flypaper, and a light to attract them to it. We closed the door, so they can confer and decide about the flypaper. . .One will try it, the others will think he's yelling"Come on in, the water's fine", when he'll really be yelling "Go away!" Hmph, flies. . .good spatial judgement, but no communication skills.

So, one by one, the decisions will be made, the crowd on the flypaper will expand, the little fly din will grow, and they'll all be there saying "I told you so" to one another, but too late.

I wonder, is there fly killer on flypaper, so the little creatures of God die humanely, or must they just stand there waiting, until they starve to death? No magazines to read, can't even do your nails, just stand & yell until you realize it's no use. Ever hear a fly yell? You can, in a quiet house, when they get stuck on the gauze curtains, thinking they're the outside and freedom at last. . . Then you get 'em - CLAP - and it's bloody gauze. But to wait - till you die - the worst!

I used to have a pet fly - Kept him in a jar with holes in the cap. Fed him water and dog doo. Never named him, except for calling him "Little fella" sometimes. He seemed thankful too. Of course he would fly around the house, but he always came back for a little dog doo mixed with marshmallow. Miniatures of course, and a spritz of garlic.

Flies aren't subtle you know - They want to go out, they'll go to the window, so you let 'em out. Nighttime they don't like to hang around. Rather be back in their own digs, with the TV. We'll keep the windows open a little. Maybe our flies will come back.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

Peanuts are good for you. One of the world's healthiest foods.. For further proof, see The World's Healthiest Foods So, you're convinced. So now, how to prepare them, and we're talking about roasted peanuts here, roasted in the shells, not the kind you get in jars, whether dry roasted or not, but plain roasted peanuts. Those ones in the jars have chemicals, other stuff.

We're coming to that, but first: To prepare peanuts in the shells, first buy peanuts in the shells either at your local produce store, get Virginia Jumbos if you can, but ordinary peanuts will also do. You can also find several vendors of raw peanuts online, at Google search: jumbo raw peanuts and one of them'll send them to you for about $1.99/pound.

Preparing them in the oven is easy, on a cookie tray at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, stirring them up (just agitate the tray every few minutes. OR, if you have a bread maker, it's easier to control, set it for "Bake" and start the machine (without the bread blade) with the baking unit about 2/3 full of peanuts in the shells. After 22 minutes, stir up the bottom peanuts to the top with a wooden spoon or utensil, and bake for another 22 minutes. Then pour them out on a counter or other cool surface and let them cool for at least 10 minutes.

When you eat the peanuts, be careful not to eat too many, they have caloric content. I restrict myself to three peanuts per meal, and that takes discipline. Crack the shells open and eat the nuts without the skins, just the nut itself, for the most healthful results.

Don't throw away your peanut shells and skins. Chop them up in your food processor, along with banana skins, orange peels, apple peels (though apple peelings are good chopped up in your bread too), and any other peelings you have, vegetable or fruit. If you mix in peanut shells with the peelings, it makes for a nice dry mix, which you then mix with a little bird seed (about five parts peelings to one part birdseed) and pour this onto your bird feeder. The birds at our house seem to love the mixture, and it's gone every day by the end of the day. But the squirrels love it too, so they'll get their share, unless...

You can capture them in a trap and transport them elsewhere, ping them in the behind with a BB gun, you can build elaborate preventive gimmicks to keep them away, but I've found a solution that works even better. When you pee, save some urine in a jar (especially male urine, which is stronger), then funnel it into a squeeze bottle, such as an old ketchup or pancake syrup container. Squirt the urine around the area of the bird feeder often, (animals recognize this as your marking, and will avoid the territory you've marked) and the squirrels will stay away. I have found this to be very effective. Of course you can also go out in the middle of the night when no one can see you and urinate around the area. I find the jar routine to be better.

Enjoy the peanuts. Feed the birds. Alright, feed the squirrels too, if you like.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

The reason you don't like shoveling show is because you do such a poor job at it. No reason to stand back and admire your work, "just get the troublesome stuff out of the way" and go about what you were going to do before it arrived. The snow is just another impediment to the real job of the day.

But people who live with snow, who have thus learned to love snow, who really dream of that White Christmas and usually get it, know how to deal with - yea even enjoy dealing with - snow and its relocating via shovel. To them it's recreation, moving the stuff into convenient piles beside paths they make, tunnels actually, to go to places they want or need to be. It's the same as when you were kids, playing in the sand with your little shovel or trowel, digging up the beach to make little kid-worlds there where your toy cars could travel and park, and your toy people could congregate in make-believe social gatherings, to talk about the weather and the way things seem to be.

Good snow shoveling requires a minimum of planning, and an attitude at least aimed at accomplishing something which if not artistic is at least worthy of consideration. Might I even say an attitude that "this could be fun" being out in the weather, dressed properly amid the elements. People build HOUSES out of snow fer gosh sake. HOUSES, that they live in, sleep in, cook in. Now aren't you proud of your House? Sure you are; well so are they. They use the snow rather than it using them. it's not an annoyance but a way of life, a factor in daily existence, one to be wary of naturally, but one which gives a certain amount of personal return for a little effort, might I even say exercise. And fun. Shoveling snow is fun. That's right, it all depends on your attitude, your approach, your point of view.

Now, the planning: You wait until the snowfall is over, then you survey what you've got, and picture what you're aiming for, once the shoveling is finished. This is the artistic part. In your mind you imagine what the scene will be when you have created it to the best of your imagery. The driveway, the walk up to the house, the paths out to the bird feeders (You do feed the birds, don't you?) The slot for the mail carrier, the trash men (or women - Are there any trash women? Ah, a last bastion of male-ness, the guys on the trash truck, bonding as they dump your garbage in back and hop on their little pedestal to yell "OK" or give a wave to driver to signal "On to the next stop"), you see the pathways, the tunnels if you will, the piles conveniently set aside to melt and replenish the aquifers below in the springtime; you anticipate how, as the melting progresses, you will gradually push the stuff back, widening the tunnels, making life easier as the vistas broaden and normal activity resumes. The picture is important, the "goal" if you must, that being what you view as the ideal, not just a bothersome existence in spite of the snow.

Then, the tools. To do a proper job, you need the right implements, just as in anything, eh? Three is the minimum: first a good flat snow shovel you use to lift and throw the snow, then a curved tubular number used to push the snow in a perfect wave (this for smaller snowfalls where pushing it will suffice). And then the one you pray you won't need: the ice chooper, to get at and clear away patches of the slippery stuff, the lawsuit begetter. With these three you can do 'most any job. So think about it, but not too long. Get to work.

What?! You went and bought a snow thrower? Sissy.


© Port Whitman Times 2007

"In leaving your answer on my phone service, lease state your priority, from one to ten:"
1. This is an Emergency!
2. Call me back as soon as possible.
3. Call when you get a free moment.
4. Just give me a ring when it's convenient.
5. Nothing important, I just wanted to chat.
6. Letting you know I'm still alive.
7. Touching base, making sure you're still where you were.
7. Are you still breathing?
8. Last chance to communicate.
9. You have been selected...
10. I'm taking a survey...


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Igor Patzke, the innovative Swedish designer, opened his first American Store, called Bjadde, in the Sister Mary Ivo Mall here today, specializing in a line of styrofoam furniture that is the rage of Sweden's Lake Iborg South Shore. A major feature of the furniture is its strength, portability and reusability. "When your dining room table flakes too much you mash it up in the trash compactor and process it into mulch for the garden, or return it to the store where we give you credit, based on weight, on a new piece of furniture, because it's recyclable" Mr. Patzke said. He was interviewed just prior to the ribbon-cutting, deftly performed by Mr. & Mrs. Joe Laposky, personal butchers to the Mayor of Port Whitman.

Mildred Swenson, a regular mail-order customer of Bjadde, stated that "Igor's furniture is such a pleasure because of its lightness. If you stub your toe on the chair leg the whole chair gives, not your toe. And moving...darling yesterday I switched my family room and living room in fifteen minutes, including my Patzke grand piano." Quite satisfied with her purchase, Mrs. Swenson, an Ironing lady by profession, was eyeing the Patzke "Bubble Bed," a styrofoam framed king-sizer with a mattress similar to that of a waterbed, but filled with ping pong balls. "My only reservation about the bubble-bed is a personal one, about which I've been trying to reach Dr. Ruth," she said.

Postmaster Francis J. Kuzma breathed a sigh of relief as the ribbon was severed, "Now the mailmen won't have to deliver those bulky packages with only 56¢ postage on them" he confided, bemoaning the very existence of the new fortified styrofoam, and Bjadde's policy of sending all its items first-class mail. Mr. Patzke said that he had also received reports from the Chiropractic Association that their patient load had fallen off significantly since the entry of "tempered styrofoam" into the market. He reportedly has approached the city with a proposal to build an all-purpose all-weather stadium of the material, which would be called the "Styrodome," and has orders from Cairo, Egypt for several pyramids and sphinxs, pre-fabricated at his plant in Haddegudde, Sweden.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

Apocryphal Advice going around the World Wide Web

1. Budweiser beer conditions the hair

2. Pam cooking spray will dry finger nail polish

3. Cool whip will condition your hair in 15 minutes

4. Mayonnaise will KILL LICE, it will also condition your hair

5. Elmer's Glue - paint on your face, allow it to dry, peel off and see the dead skin and blackheads if any

6. Shiny Hair - use brewed Lipton Tea

7. Sunburn - empty a large jar of Nestea into your bath water

8. Minor burn - Colgate or Crest toothpaste

9. Burn your tongue? Put sugar on it!

10. Arthritis? WD-40 Spray and rub in, kill insect stings too

11 Bee stings - meat tenderizer

12. Chigger bite - Preparation H

13. Puffy eyes - Preparation H

14. Paper cut - crazy glue or chap stick (glue is used instead of sutures at most hospitals)

15. Stinky feet - Jello

16. Athletes feet - cornstarch

17. Fungus on toenails or fingernails - Vicks vapor rub

18. Kool aid to clean dishwasher pipes. Just put in the detergent section and run a cycle, it will also clean a toilet. (Wow, and we drink this stuff)

19. Kool Aid can be used as a dye in paint also. Use Kool Aid in Dannon plain yogurt as a finger paint, your kids will love it and it won't hurt them if they eat it

20. Peanut butter - will get scratches out of CD's. Wipe off with a coffee filter paper

21. Sticking bicycle chain - Pam no-stick cooking spray

22. Pam will also remove paint, and grease from your hands. Keep a can in your garage for your hubby

23. Peanut butter will remove ink from the face of dolls

24. When the doll clothes are hard to put on, sprinkle with corn starch and watch them slide on

25. Heavy dandruff - pour on the vinegar

26. Body paint - Crisco mixed with food coloring. Heat the Crisco in the microwave, pour in to an empty film container and mix with the food color of your choice

27. Tie Dye T-shirt - mix a solution of Kool Aid in a container, tie a rubber band around a section of the T-shirt and soak

28. Preserving a newspaper clipping - large bottle of club soda and cup of milk of magnesia, soak for 2 0 min. and let dry, will last for many years

29. A Slinky will hold toast and CD's

30. To keep goggles and glasses from fogging, coat with Colgate toothpaste

31. Wine stains, pour on the Morton salt and watch it absorb into the salt.

32. To remove wax - Take a paper towel and iron it over the wax stain, it will absorb into the towel

33. Remove labels off glassware etc. rub with Peanut butter

34. Baked on food - fill container with water, get a Bounce paper softener and the static from the Bounce towel will cause the baked on food to adhere to it. Soak overnight. Also; you can use 2 Efferdent tablets, soak overnight

35. Crayon on the wall - Colgate toothpaste and brush it

36. Dirty grout - Listerine

37. Stains on clothes - Colgate

38. Grass stains - Karo Syrup

39. Grease Stains - Coca Cola, it will also remove grease stains from the driveway overnight. We know it will take corrosion from car batteries

40. Fleas in your carpet? 20 Mule Team Borax- Sprinkle and let stand for 24 hours. Maybe this will work if you get them back again.

41. To keep FRESH FLOWERS longer Add a little Clorox, or 2 Bayer Aspirin, or just use 7-up instead of water.

42. When you go to buy BREAD IN THE GROCERY STORE, have you ever wondered which is the freshest, so you "squeeze" for freshness or softness? Did you know that bread is delivered fresh to the stores five days a week? Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each day has a different color twist tie. They are:

Monday=Blue, Tuesday=Green, Thursday=Red, Friday=White, and Saturday=Yellow.

So if today was Thursday, you would want red twist tie; not white which is Fridays (almost a week old!). The colors go alphabetically by color Blue- Green - Red - White - Yellow, Monday through Saturday. Very easy to remember. Even the ones with the plastic clips have different colors. Enjoy fresh bread when you buy bread with the right color on the day you are shopping.

Better yet, buy a breadmaker & you'll have fresh bread whenever you want it, at a fraction of the store price, and better too.


© Port Whitman Times 2006

I have a quarrel with the word until - especially when it's used in the context "the party will last from 9pm until..." - meaning of course that the party or function will continue until the last person decides to go home, leaving the length of the party up to the person with probably the worst taste, or at least the highest degree of indulgence.

Functions, whether they be parties, meetings or benefits, ought to have a closing time, so that people are not tempted to stay around for one more, one more again, and yet one more for the road. Somehow we have to develop a sense of time temperance, of tempus moderatus. Of course when the promoter of a function is able to declare that it will last from "9pm until," he's trying to make the most money out of it that he can, in other words, trying to sell the most drinks or whatever happens to be the consumed product of the affair.

Also, when a function lasts from "9pm until," what it really means is that things won't get rolling till 10:30 or 11pm, because it's assumed that people is going to stay "until"...that last person decides to go home. So just remember, you have an appointment that probably comes before "until," - an appointment with the bed, because tomorrow, after all, is another day. Until then...


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Remember when eating out was a relaxing experience? Someone else cooked for you, served you and cleaned up after you. All you had to do was chew, swallow and pay. No longer, though. Today, you feel like a laboratory rat who has to struggle through a maze every time it wants a chunk of cheese:

"Good evening," the maitre d' said. "Table for four?"
"Yes, Thank you."
"Smoking or non?"
"Non smoking."
"Would you prefer to dine indoors or outdoors this evening?"
"I guess indoors would be good."
"Very well, sir," he said. "Would you like to be seated in the main dining room, the enclosed patio, or our lovely solarium?"
"Uh, let me see...uh..."
"I can give you a table with a lovely view in our lovely solarium."
"I think the solarium would be lovely," I said.
We followed him there...
"Now, would you prefer a view overlooking the golf course, the sunset on the lake or the majestic mountains to the West?"
"Whatever you recommend," I said. Let HIM make a decision for a change, I thought. He sat us by a window facing the golf course, lake or mountains. I couldn't tell which because it was dark outside.

Then, a young man better dressed and better looking than any of us presented himself at our table...
"Good evening, my name is Jerry, and I'll be your waiter this evening. Would you like a few minutes before I take your order?"
"No," I said. "I'm just a meat-and-potatoes guy, so I'll have the filet mignon and a baked potato."
"Soup, or salad?"
"We have a mixed-green salad, hearts of palm, or a very fine endive salad with baby shrimp."
"Just a mixed-green salad, okay?"
"Whatever you say, sir. Dressing?"
I didn't want to make another decision... "Whatever you've got will be fine."
"We have creamy Italian, Blue Cheese, Vinaigrette, Thousand Island, Honey Dijon and Ranch."
"Just bring me one. Surprise me."
"Creamy Italian is our house specialty. Would that be all right, sir?"
I was curt. I was done with civility.
"And for your baked potato?"
I knew what was coming! "I just want the baked potato dry, you understand? I don't want anything on it."
"No butter? No sour cream?"
"No chives? No bacon chips ? "
"No! Do you understand English?" "I don't want anything on it.
Just bring me a baked potato and a steak."
"Would you prefer the six, eight, or 12-ounce steak, sir?"
"Would you like that rare, medium rare, medium, medium well or well done? Or, if you prefer, we can butterfly it for you."
"Jerry Boy," I said, "you are really starting to get me steamed."
"Which brings up the vegetables, sir. Would you like steamed broccoli, creamed corn, sautéed zucchini, or diced carrots?"

That did it. I threw my napkin to the floor, stood up, put my face right in his arrogant kisser and said, "How'd you like to settle this outside?"
"Fine with me, sir. Would you prefer the parking lot, the side alley or the street in front of the restaurant?"
"I prefer right here." Then I sucker-punched him. He ducked, then countered with a left hook right under my eye. It was the first time all night he hadn't offered me a selection. I collapsed semiconscious into my chair, as someone in authority rushed over and berated Jerry.

I felt my tie being loosened, my collar unbuttoned, hands slapping my face. When I regained my senses, I saw the very concerned maitre d' right in front of my nose. He apologized and offered to buy me a drink, call the paramedics, whatever I wanted.
"No, no," I said. "I'll be all right. Just bring me a glass of water."
"Yes, sir, right away," he said. "Would you prefer imported mineral water, sparkling water, or club soda with a wedge of lime?


© Port Whitman Times 2002

The CIA had an opening for an assassin. After all of the background checks, interviews, and testing were done there were three finalists...two men and a woman.

For the final test, the CIA agents took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun. "We must know if you will follow your instructions, no matter what the circumstances. Inside of this room, you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Kill Her!!! "The man said, "You can't be serious. I could never shoot my wife." The agent said," Then you're not the right man for this job."

The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for about five minutes. Then the man came out with tears in his eyes. "I tried, but I can't kill my wife." The agent said," You don't have what it takes. Take your wife and go home."

Finally, it was the woman's turn. She was given the same instructions to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the Room. Shots were heard, one shot after another. They heard screaming, crashing, and banging on the walls.

After a few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow, and said,"This gun is loaded with blanks. I had to beat him to death with the chair."


© Port Whitman Times 2002

It was getting a little crowded in Heaven, so God decided to change the admittance policy. The new law was that, in order to get into Heaven,you had to have a really bad day the day you died. The policy would go into effect at noon the following day.
So the next day at 12:01 the first person came to the gates of Heaven. The angel at the gate, remembering about the new law, promptly asked the man, "Before I can let you in, I need you to tell me about the day you died."
"No problem," said the man. "Well, for some time now, I've thought my wife was having an affair. I believed that each day on her lunch hour, she'd bring her lover home to our 25th floor apartment and have sex with him. So today I was going to come home too and catch them. Well, I got there and busted in and immediately began searching for this guy. My wife was half naked and yelling at me as I searched the entire apartment. But, damn it, I couldn't find him! Just as I was about to give up, I happened to glance out onto the balcony and noticed that there was a man hanging off the edge by his fingertips! The nerve of that guy to think he could hide from me!"
"Well, I ran out there and promptly stomped on his fingers until he fell to the ground. But, wouldn't you know it, he landed in some bushes that broke his fall, and he didn't die. In rage I went back inside to get the first thing I could get my hands on to throw at him. And oddly enough, the first thing I could grab was the refrigerator. I unplugged it, pushed it out onto the balcony and heaved it over the side. It plummeted 25 stories and crushed him! The excitement of the moment was so great that right after that I had a heart attack and died almost instantly."
The angel sat back and thought for a moment. Technically, the guy DID have a bad day, and it WAS a crime of passion, so he announced, "OK, sir,Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven," and let him in.
A few seconds later another guy came. Here's the rule. Before I can let you in, I need to hear about the day you died.
"Sure thing.", the man replied. "But you're not gonna believe this. I was out on the balcony of my 26th floor apartment doing my daily exercises when I got a little carried away and accidentally fell over the side!Luckily however, I was able to catch myself by my fingertips on the balcony directly beneath mine. When all of the sudden this crazy man comes running out of his apartment and starts cussing and stomping on my fingers! Well, of course I fall, I hit some trees and bushes on the way down which broke my fall so I didn't die right away. As I'm lying there face up on the ground, unable to move in excruciating pain, I see the man push his refrigerator, of all things, over the ledge and it falls directly on top of me and kills me!" The angel is quietly laughing to himself as the man finishes his story. "I could get used to this new policy.", he thinks to himself.
"Very well,"the angel announces. "Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven.", and he lets the man enter.
A few seconds later a third man in line comes up to the gate. "Tell me about the day you died.", says the angel.
"Ok. Picture this.", says the man. "I'm naked inside this refrigerator..."


© Port Whitman Times 2002

Four men went golfing one day. Three of them headed to the first tee and the fourth went into the clubhouse to take care of the bill. The three men started talking and bragging about their sons.
The first man told the others, "My son is a home builder, and he is so successful that he gave a friend a new home for free."
The second man said, "My son was a car salesman, and now he owns a multi-line dealership. He's so successful that he gave a friend a new Mercedes, fully loaded."
The third man, not wanting to be outdone, bragged, "My son is a stockbroker, and he's doing so well that he gave a friend an entire portfolio."
The fourth man joined them on the tee after a few minutes of taking care of business. The first man mentioned, "We are just talking about our sons. How is yours doing?"
The fourth man replied, "Well, my son is gay and go-go dances in a gay bar." The other three men grew silent as he continued, "I'm not totally thrilled about the dancing, but he must be doing well. His last three boyfriends gave him a house, a brand new Mercedes, and a stock portfolio.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

An old man walked into a crowded doctor's office. As he approached the desk, the receptionist asked, "Yes sir, may we help you?"
"There's something wrong with my penis," he replied.
The receptionist became irritated and said, "You shouldn't come into a crowded office and say things like that."
"Why not? You asked me what was wrong and I told you," he said.
"Because" replies the receptionist. "You've obviously caused some embarrassment in this room full of strangers. You should have said there is something wrong with your ear or something and discussed the problem further with the doctor in private."
The man walked out, waited several minutes and reentered.
The receptionist smiled smugly and asked "Yes?"
"There's something wrong with my ear" he stated.
The receptionist nodded approvingly. "And what is wrong with your ear sir?"
"I can't piss out of it," the man replied.


© Port Whitman Times 2002

A woman goes to heaven, is walking around and sees The Lord. She walks over, says reverentially "God, may I ask you a question?" God says "Certainly, my daughter." The woman says "Look, we've had a Polish pope. Do you think we'll ever have a female priest, or even a female pope?" God answers "Of course, my dear. But not while I'm God!"


© Port Whitman Times 2002

DUCK HUNTING ON THE RESERVATION An Indian, Sam Winter Moon, was hunting once near the edge of the reservation. A duck fell right out of the sky at his feet. As he picked it up, a white hunter appeared and claimed the duck was his because he¹d shot it. Sam Winter Moon pointed out that the duck was on reservation land, and so the hunter had no right to it. The hunter claimed it was his because the duck was not on reservation land when he shot it. Sam Winter Moon looked at the man, who was angry, and at his rifle, and suggested a way to decide. “We will have a contest” he said. “We will kick each other in the nuts, and whoever is still standing will get the duck.” The white hunter, who was a very big, mean-looking man, agreed. Sam Winter Moon said he would go first. The white hunter braced himself, and Sam Winter Moon gave him a good kick. The man turned red, then blue, then white. He staggered around holding himself in great pain. After a few minutes he drew himself up and said to Sam Winter Moon, “Now it¹s my turn.” But Sam Winter Moon said “You win,” handed him the duck, and walked away.

Letter From Brazil Re "FAHRENHEIT 911"

© Port Whitman Times 2004

FORECAST: Temperature To Rise Well Above "Fahrenheit 911"

Michael Moore is a hate-filled, conspiracy-obsessed, lie monger who does nothing to elevate the political debate. He has no foreign policy credentials nor has he worked in the business sector which he feels compelled to rant against in ignorance. He asperses and slanders (e.g. publicly shouting that the president is a shameless "deserter" and traitor) and unfortunately much of the American public gobble it up as they do other degenerate Hollywood entertainment product.

However, in all Moore's incriminations he suggests nothing more than superficial and factually unsubstantiated evidence of guilt that doesn't hold up to common sense scrutiny. As well, in his copious criticisms he proposes no alternatives. If Moore feels so passionately on these issues, why doesn't he remove the baseball cap and run for political office himself so he can formulate and put forth his own ideas and proposals for debate and consideration?

I'll tell you why... because he's making too much money peddling his unfounded schlock to the Bush-hating suckers that watch it and come out believing that they understand the complex geo-political/economic issues, intrigues and decisions our leaders face because they were spoon-fed a Hollywood entrée of accusations and incriminations by a high school educated loudmouth.

Americans that subscribe to, and support this kind of theatrical garbage (yeah... like someone could really sign away their son or daughter to fight in Iraq) extirpate any fledgling intellect and reason they probably never had in the first place. These are the "useful idiots" that think not before they run to the street to mouth the talking-points of their heroes ­ those Hollywood intellectual heavyweights, such as Sean Penn (a high school graduate), Barbra Streisand (a high school graduate), Martin Sheen (a high school graduate), Tim Robbins (a high school graduate) and Rob Reiner (a fat, read: uncouth and undisciplined, "Meathead").

Michael Moore, the new Pied Piper of the angry liberal left, is substantially diminishing the nobility in what the US and the other allied forces are trying to do in Iraq and Afghanistan at both a heavy human and economic cost. The philippicious cant in his movies and books diminishes the stature, influence and righteousness of democratic and free-market causes in the eyes of the world. This will prove to be a dangerous thing for the future continuance of our lives, liberties and pursuit of happiness.

As well... a by-product of Moore's accusations will be the inevitability that the soldiers fighting, protecting and dying in Iraq/Afghanistan will come home to a public that either consciously or unconsciously feels as though their service and sacrifice was in furtherance of an illegitimate and "illegal" cause. The numerous and erroneous parallels drawn by the liberal left-wing between Iraq and Vietnam only contribute to making it seemingly so in the minds of the uninformed.

Thus, "Fahrenheit 911" shall embolden the enemies of US-style liberal democracy and liberty by showing the internal division, lack of cohesion, and general pusilanimousness of its proponents in the face of the threat from the forces that call for, and act upon, its annihilation. This will serve nicely to inspire more anti-"American-imperialist" jihad and precipitate the Nuclear Suitcase Time-Bomb Show that's coming to a city near you.

Too bad you might not be around to see if it surpasses those vaunted "Fahrenheit 911" box office records.

(Salvador, Bahia, BRAZIL)


© Port Whitman Times 2004

Folowing is a letter received in answer to Henry Francisco's article on Gay Marriage, which can be read at


The reader answers as follows:

While Senõr Francisco writes in a most commonsensical, homespun and ostensibly persuasive manner, many of his premises are only superficially presented and thus, easily rebutted.

Ergo, I, proffer MY esteemed, and final word on this most important polemic engorging our societal dialogue.

Sr. Francisco opines thus: "At least, in a monogamous relationship, the threat of disease is alleviated, and couples have more time to address their lives to the more important pursuits."

"What this whole gay marriage spat is about, when you get right down to it, is Health Coverage, i.e., whether one's "partner" gay or not, has a right to be covered by the employer of the other..."

Whoa... whoa... whoa there, Francisco!

The "in a monogamous [read: homosexual monogamous] relationship threat of disease is alleviated" statement is baldly ERRONEOUS. Actually, the threat of disease to those that participate in anal sex is greatly INCREASED.

Don¹t think so??? Talk to any proctologist or urologist. Unprotected, penile-rectal sex promotes the risk of many other diseases in addition to the commonly known STDs. Serious and expensive to treat maladies such as, anal hemorrhoids and other rectal diseases, urinary tract infections, prostatitis (chronic and acute), etc. are all much more possible [read: probable] when one engages in anal sexual activity.

Let¹s face it... a monogamous, male homosexual marriage is very much about NOT using condoms, and thus the risk of the above mentioned diseases is hardly "alleviated," but rather greatly increased.

Okay... so if the "whole gay marriage spat is about.... health coverage" then I resoundingly vote NO, NO, NO!

Why should employers be forced to cover those that knowingly engage in this risky behavior? Why should the taxpayers foot the bill? Why should the state encourage this behavior by conferring a marriage license upon those that engage in it?

If that¹s what now constitutes liberal "open-mindedness"