Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In Memory of Ted Kennedy - Rest in Peace

An era ended with his death, but as so many have already said, "the dream will never die."

As we remember Teddy Kennedy today, think of all the years he was with us, and all he did for this country, and take some time to mourn.

"To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep..."

Judy Collins and Pete Seeger, singing it together:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We All Need a Dose of Nothingness Now and Then

H/T to Geoff of EcoRealty for posting this article on Facebook.

The author of the article reminds us that everyone needs a little "nothingness" now and then - a moment to just absorb what is around them without trying to put anything back. A time to empty the mind of anxieties and anger, remove thoughts of the future or the past and just enjoy the present for what it is.

I am hoping President Obama and his family are doing a little of that right now and he will come back refreshed and ready to take on the difficult problems of the world. But right now he should just enjoy the nothingness.

I'll end with the quote from Franz Kafka that the author of this article cites. I had never read it before (I didn't even know Kafka wrote poetry, shows how ignorant I am), and I loved it. It is called "Learn to be Quiet."

You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait.
Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Night Haiku

A million crickets
Fill the night with their singing
Late August is loud!

During the daytime
The cicadas are screaming
"Today will be hot!"

But then comes the autumn
And the first frost of the year
All becomes silent.

Dark will come early
Winter will be setting in
My spirits will drop.

How long must I wait
Till summer comes 'round again?
Will I last till spring?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. Good Lord, when will my Female Human learn not to make Stupid Remarks on how she has such "Peace of Mind" lately. You would think she would Learn that just Jinxes her. A few days after she posted That Bit of Sentimental Drivel, she and the other Human were up in the Adirondacks at That Cabin of theirs and got a Phone Call that the Female Human's Aunt had hurt herself by Falling. She's OK but Once Again my Female Human has been very Tied Up this Week taking Care of Things for her Aunt.

On the Plus Side for ME (which of course, is the Most Important Thing), the Humans are spending this Weekend at Home for a change instead of going to That Cabin.

So, here I am, finally Blogging again. And may I say, it's About Time! I was overdue to Blog and was not Given the Opportunity until now.

Well, I don't even know where to start. All this Ruckus about the Health Care System is driving me up the Wall. On one hand, of course, it would be Nice if everyone had Health Care. I am certainly very Lucky that my Humans take me to the Vet when I need it and can afford to Pay for Me. There are plenty of Pets that don't have the Opportunities I have and I've seen that they don't live as long or as Well as Pets that get regular Care. I'm sure that is true for Humans too.

But I am becoming Very Concerned that the Way this has been handled has not been Ideal. I really thought the new President would be better at this than he has been. There have been too many Rumors that were allowed to get Out of Control, and not enough Pushback on those who are spreading them. Despite efforts to get the Truth Out, the rumors continue to spread and are Poisoning the Discussion.

And on top of that, Fellow Democrats aren't even all pulling for this. And then the Latest Thing is there has been a lot of Confusion over whether or not the "Public Option" is Dead or Alive!

This could really be a Bad Thing for President Obama; his Popularity is waning in a lot of places because of this Mess. If You want to read a Lot about the Subject, please go over to Watergate Summer. Enigma4Ever has been keeping track of this All Along and has done a Much Better Job of it than my Human or I can do. Not to be all Gloom and Doom - there are some Encouraging Signs out there - Barney Frank has really Pushed Back on the Protesters at his Town Hall meetings and now President Obama is Hosting a Forum (See Enigma's site for details). Maybe things can still Turn Around.

Onward to another subject - Fuel Efficient Cars!

In my Web Surfing, I just saw a video on about the World's Cheapest Car. It's the Tata Nano, made in India - but soon coming to Europe and ultimately, the U.S. Here is the video about it:

Apparently the Base Model sells for $2,500 without the Amenities that the American Humans have come to Expect in a Car. It has a Manual Transmission, no Air Conditioning or Power Anything at that price. (Of course, for about $3,500 you could Have It All). It gets 50 miles per gallon and they're going to come out with a Diesel too.

Since the smallest cars in America still sell for Big Car Prices, if the Nano comes here, it will Revolutionize the Industry. For instance, the Smart Car starts at almost $12,000. And a Mini Cooper is even more, starting at nearly $19,000. Let's all keep our eyes on this one! For that price, even Gas Guzzling Die-Hard SUV Owners might be willing to shell out $3,500 on a Nano for at least driving Locally. This could be Good News for our Environment.

You may Wonder why a Cat would be so interested in Cars. But You have to Understand that I have Little to Do all day except stare out the Window. And I Notice Cars. They have become a Hobby of Mine. After all, One must keep Busy.

Of course, a News Roundup wouldn't be Complete without mentioning the release of the Lockerbie bomber. This was Way Before My Time, but my Humans remember when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, back in 1988. Apparently the Perpetrator, who had been Serving a life sentence, is being released on compassionate grounds because he has Terminal Cancer. Some feel this is Terrible because his Victims didn't get to live out their lives with their Families. On the Other Hand, it depends on whether the purpose of Jail is Revenge or Deterrence. If the Latter, it is probably OK to let him out as he is Unlikely to do More Harm. If it's Revenge, that's a Whole Other Story. What do You All think about this?

Goodness Me, I'm being rather Too Serious today. When I Blog, I usually like to Post a few more Lighthearted Items. How about ending with this, from I Can Has Cheezburger? It pretty much Sums Up How my Female Human and I Feel Lately about the Political Scene!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Till Next Time, have a Great Week and don't forget to Share your Catnip. We can All Use Some!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Keeping My Peace of Mind is Easier Lately

As some of you know, we just got back from a long weekend up in the Adirondacks at our cabin hideaway, and today I made an interesting discovery. Some of the peace and quiet I experience up there actually lasts into the week.

I was sitting in a meeting today, and for a moment my mind strayed back to yesterday when we were sitting on the deck overlooking the pond and watching a Scarlet Tanager wend its way among the upmost branches of the aspen trees nearby. For that moment I wasn't in a conference room in New Jersey, but here:

And that experience reminded me of one of my favorite poems, by William Butler Yeats. If only I can continue to keep this image "in the deep heart's core," maybe I'll be able to keep calm longer when I'm home! I don't know if it will totally prevent immense frustration and aggravation about the crazy political scene, but it can't hurt.

By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Bill Maher Pretty Much Sums Up This Country's Problem: Teh Stupid

H/T to Lisa for posting this link on Facebook.

Here is the link to the article on the Huffington Post.

Maher goes through all the absurdities that many Americans believe and what they don't know, and then says,

"And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? Please, this country is like a college chick after two Long Island Iced Teas: we can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There's a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. "Inside the beltway" thinking may be wrong, but at least it's thinking, which is more than you can say for what's going on outside the beltway."

He makes a lot of great points in this diatribe, and ends with the truth:

"Until we admit there are things we don't know, we can't even start asking the questions to find out. Until we admit that America can make a mistake, we can't stop the next one. A smart guy named Chesterton once said: "My country, right or wrong is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying... It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.'" To which most Americans would respond: "Are you calling my mother a drunk?"

Go Bill! He nails it. This is one reason it is so frustrating right now for all of us on the left. We know Obama has better ideas and good intentions; but the stupidity of much of the American people and of a lot of Congressmen, sad to say, (to say nothing of the obstreperousness of the right) is preventing him from realizing his vision. Instead he has to tiptoe around contentious issues, compromise on what he'd really want to do, and try to make everything acceptable to everyone. Maybe he should be a bit more like Lyndon Johnson and shove things down America's throat because it's good for them, and not worry about whether he'll be re-elected.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

What I've Been Thinking About While I Was Too Busy to Blog

I've been a bad blogger - over a week without a post. But that doesn't mean my mind was not fomenting opinionated polemics about various subjects all week. Just not enough to spur me to sit down at the computer and write about them.

As you know, Baxter tries to keep a relatively objective point of view when he reports the news; in fact, thanks go to Dave Dubya for kindly comparing him to Walter Cronkite! Baxter was "Very Pleased." He also thanks everyone else for their comments as well.

Unlike Baxter, I am more apt to let my feelings show about the news and so I'll subject you all to a short barrage of opinions on a bunch of different things that I've been reacting to this past week. So here goes:

The Birthers: I am sick to death of mainstream news outlets actually giving any air time to the ridiculous accusation that President Obama was not born in Hawaii on this date in 1961 or that he is not eligible to be President. It's just one more example of the right trying to distract from real issues and de-legitimize the President. This kind of thing has been going on since Bill Clinton was elected and this is just one more example of the kind of wing-nuttery this country has become prey to. At least when the Democrats claimed George W. Bush was illegitimately elected by the Supreme Court they had a reason to feel that way, since the Court overstepped its bounds.

But our whole country needs to get a grip and understand that "it is what it is" - once a President is sworn in, he's the President and that's that. Get over it and get a life. Also, stop saying he's the AntiChrist. It's just silly. Who ARE these people anyway? And why are we talking about them?

Michael Vick: NFL Commissioner Goodell reinstated Vick conditionally after Vick finished serving his sentence for running the horrific dogfighting operation, Bad Newz Kennels. (And he didn't just sponsor the ring monetarily - he participated in the abuse of innocent dogs. "Vick pleaded guilty after his three co-defendants had already done so. They told of how Vick participated in the killing of dogs that didn't perform well in test fights by shooting, hanging, drowning or slamming them to the ground.")

According to the conditions of Goodell's reinstatement of Vick, Vick "agreed to undergo psychiatric testing, which determined that he was capable of returning to the NFL but needed continuing counseling." In addition, Vick said he had matured as an individual, has re-evaluated his life and fully understands "the terrible mistakes I have made in the past and what type of life I must lead moving forward." He also happens to be bankrupt so has a great self-interest in being able to play again.

So far no NFL team has offered him a job since the reinstatement - but I'm sure it's only a matter of time. Some people feel the world should forgive Vick for his crimes and let him make a new start. Some have said there are guys playing who have done "worse" things than hurting and killing dogs (spouse abuse, drugs, DUI manslaughter, etc.) and are still playing. Well, maybe so. But maybe they shouldn't be playing either.

I am not convinced of Vick's remorse. I want to see him pledge to give an ongoing percentage of his future salary to pitbull rescue organizations or to help break up dogfight operations - or even go work for an animal rescue organization to truly make up for what he has done. I'm as forgiving as the next person but when it comes to exploiting and torturing an animal that is only trying to please its owners, or a child who is at the mercy of his torturer, these crimes I can't forgive. Why should Michael Vick go on with his high-paid career after what he has done? I know many will disagree but I can't help but feel this way.

Thankfully almost all of the dogs rescued from Vick's operation are doing well and will probably eventually find homes. Here is a video from the rescue organization BAD RAP, which has participated in rehabilitating some of the Vick dogs.

Healthcare Reform: So far the House Energy and Commerce Commission has passed one version of a healthcare reform bill and the Senate has another one in the works that is different. Neither of them will make everyone happy. According to the linked article, President Obama stated, "'The bill that they have passed will strengthen consumer protections and choice, while lowering costs and improving care, underscoring the broad consensus among all of the bills that have emerged in Congress,' he said.

The bill would make more low-income people eligible for Medicaid, the federal healthcare program; provide health insurance subsidies for middle class Americans; and offer a government-sponsored plan as an alternative to private insurance."

Of course, the concern on the left is that the public option will be stripped out in the final legislation once the rest of Congress has a go at this after the August recess. On the right there is continued fearmongering regarding "Socialism" and "government run healthcare," while on the left there is fear of a watered-down version of reform that just makes things worse without solving the real problems.

We don't know yet how this will turn out but my feeling is, it is likely at least some good will come out of it. We on the left may not get everything we want, but there will be improvements. Even President Bush's Medicare Part D prescription coverage, flawed though it is, was an improvement over no coverage at all. The "doughnut hole" system at least allows a good amount of prescriptions to be covered before the "hole" kicks in - and then picks up again when the expenses become more catastrophic. It's not perfect. But it's better than not having it. "The best (or perfect) is the enemy of the good" is one of my favorite sayings. Often good is accomplished in an incremental way. By holding out for the perfect, sometimes we don't get any good at all.

When these healthcare reforms get closer to final, let's all take a good look at what is truly being proposed and ask ourselves, "Is it better than what we have?" If the answer is yes, then it is worth doing.

Plaxico Burress: The former NFL player for the NY Giants was indicted for gun possession stemming from an incident in a nightclub last year when he accidentally shot himself in the leg with an unlicensed gun. According to the linked article, "Burress was at the Latin Quarter nightclub Nov. 29 when a gun tucked into his waistband slipped down his leg and fired, shooting him in the right thigh." On the radio I had also heard this, and that he was wearing sweatpants at the time. Sweatpants. Not even a real pair of pants with a belt that might have held the gun in place. Someone could have been killed and he's lucky he wasn't more badly wounded himself. My main reaction to this story, however, was WTF? Who goes into a nightclub with a gun loosely stuck in their sweatpants WITH THE SAFETY OFF? Hello?! How stupid is that? This is the reason people shouldn't be allowed to carry concealed weapons. Because some of these people don't have the common sense the good Lord, if there is one, gave them.

OK, I'm done now. I'll be back with any further diatribes if the mood strikes!