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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Broken a review

I knew Terry Austin for three years at Wayland Baptist College (now University). He used to wax me all over the board in chess regularly. In the past few years we've reconnected by facebook. There are some good things about social media.
I was intrigued when he posted his latest book, pictured left. He has a prologue and epilogue explaining the book. The rest is in the words of Erik Daniels.
Terry explained why he agreed to work with the man who was in essence making a death bed confession of truly horrible crimes. The man was a sociopath. His entire life was pure freudian "id." Terry said he wanted to portray him as a "sympathetic protagonist" similar to Walter White in Breaking Bad. I found sorrow in Erik's life, but not sympathy. In my perspective Erik is an object lesson.
Walter White is fictional. The crimes Erik committed had real life victims. Walter White had a purpose and reason for his actions--to leave money for his family after he was gone. Erik existed only to satisfy his basic needs and he would harm anyone who got in his way.
Erik has a compelling story. I don't want to spoil it by providing too many details. As an object lesson his confession is a window into the mind of a career criminal. Erik sums it up by saying his life was "drinking and using drugs and he financed it by stealing." As crime escalates across our country there are countless Eriks doing the same thing. Knowing why the criminals around you do what they do may provide understanding, but not sympathy.
What I took away from the man's story is understood by "The Pursuit of Happiness."
When one is at the end of his or her life and looking back over his/her time on this Earth, did he or she leave something meaningful behind. Children, grand children, a happy marriage, or did he/she live a life of quiet desperation? Are they content in knowing they've lived a good life or bitter at what they think they've lost or missed?
Erik reached out for someone to guide him in telling his story as he was terminally ill and Terry answered him.At the end of Erik's life he found misery. He only recounts one instance in his life where he felt good about something, and that was when he was a child. In recounting his crimes he felt no remorse, his only concern was not getting caught. It broke my heart to read the hard life he lived as a child. No child should be so abused, but I found no sympathy for him as he embarked on a life of crime.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Stupidity Won

Within a week of the results of this election I've lost a friend, pastor and client.
Theologically we've been close on the majority of issues. The only time we came to a disagreement in church was over the issue of same sex marriage. The other members of the congregation were surprised, but he used this to impress upon them that we can disagree and still be friends and fellow believers.
Politically he's known I'm a democrat and I've known he's a republican. We decided to not talk politics.
He's a friend on Facebook, but he rarely bothers with the site. I have written my views on many issues over the years and he's not said or written a word. After the election he didn't come in and gloat and I didn't say anything in the office. We were business as usual.
This past Friday, I reposted a number of thoughts I had concerning Mike Pense in July and August stating a belief that Trump if elected would either resign, or be impeached  and a right wing dominionist, someone who wants to turn the U.S. into a theocracy, will be president. In the post from August, I re-posted an article about Pense and made the statement that if "stupidity wins and Trump is elected."
This friend, pastor and client responded to the post. He was offended that I thought all who voted for Trump were stupid. He wrote some words that created a rift that is now irreparable. He said he "voted for Trump because Hillary is a baby murderer and wants to take away religious freedom."
He equated wanting to maintain the status quo that's existed for forty three years with being a baby murderer. This is not civil discourse. His idea of religious freedom I consider religious oppression.
Over the weekend, I cleaned out the office. I knew we could no longer work together amiably. Today I turned in the keys. He agreed we couldn't work together and allow me to spew hate on my fb page.

I will not be muzzled.

Evangelical Christians have been voting to overturn Roe v Wade since 1980. The Republicans have always promised to do this. To this date it hasn't happened. To follow the logic of if elected Hillary would be a baby murderer, this man and preachers all over the country have been saying; then Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama are also baby murderers. Abortion has been legal in the U.S. since 1973. Reagan, and the two Bushes have appointed numerous justices to the Supreme Court. Since Roberts was approved and made Chief Justice until the day Scalia died, the republican had a 5-4 advantage. They could have voted to repeal Roe v Wade at any time in over a twelve year period. Following their logic, by not doing this it makes them and the president who appointed them baby murderers.
They kept Obama from appointing a replacement for Scalia for the express purpose of using this to sway evangelical voters. That is how single minded those voters are.
If Roe v Wade were ever overturned republicans would lose the evangelical vote. This is the one issue that keeps them faithfully voting for trickle down economics, perpetual war, the dismantling of the affordable care act, turning medicare into vouchers, privatizing social security, destroying pubic education, the list goes on. No matter what at least Republicans are pro-life.
Here is why I consider those who joined in electing Trump with Wall Street thieves drooling for the good old days of 2008, the KKK, American Nazi Party, for the sole purpose of ending abortion to be stupid.
  • I cannot work with someone who would hand over the nuclear codes to a madman. 
  • I cannot worship with a man who considers making all women of reproductive age a slave to the government. By making abortion illegal a woman's will is violated. Her body becomes the property of the state and if she does anything to violate those property rights she's considered a criminal. A person considered property with no rights, no will, and no choice is a slave.
  • I cannot be friends with a man who accuses me with spewing hate by calling those who voted for Trump stupid. It was an opinion, not hate speech.
  • He and all those who preached from the pulpit to support a man more in character with Caligula than Christ, so he can appoint yet another puppet to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade have been played for fools, yet again. I still think stupidity won.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Death Penalty again

Susana Martinez, our governor, has started the crusade to reinstate the death penalty. When everything in the state is falling to pieces because of her mismanagement this is a convenient way to blow smoke up the electorates tailpipes.
About a week ago when Martinez brought the subject up, to deflect our multi-million dollar budget deficit due to her cutting taxes on corporations. TV polls showed the state split down the middle.
Two days ago a ten year old girl was brutally murdered. It's about as bad as it gets. Three people were arrested, one being the girl's mother. Yesterday in her grandmotherly pose, Martinez in one sentence gave the usual politician's lament about a tragic loss of life and in the next one called for reinstating the death penalty. That day's poll showed 97% were now in favor of the death penalty.The police chief was interviewed and mentioned that four police officers have been killed in the state in the last three years and the need for the death penalty as a deterrent.
I work as a legal assistant. Politically the attorney I work for, he and I, are polar opposites. He voted for Susana. The one thing we are in agreement on is the death penalty.
One of his heroes and friend was an attorney who defended members of a motorcycle gang on death row in the 1980's. His investigation found the man who committed the crime and they were released. The person who committed the crime was not given the death penalty, he didn't even get life.
Naturally in over six years working together this topic has come up many times. When I was writing my Fan Plan Trilogy a sub plot dealt with the death penalty so he gave me invaluable advice.
We both have different reasons to be against it. The one argument against capital punishment we both agree on as the most compelling is found in Scott Turrow's book Ultimate Punishment.
My advice is to get the audio book. The prose is rather dry for reading for more than a thirty minutes at a stretch.
In true Sophist fashion he gives the arguments for both sides on every issue remaining neutral until the last page. All weighing in on this issue should read it.
In researching this book Turrow traveled the world and interviewed politicians and law enforcement in numerous countries for their reasons to have or not have the death penalty.
It was Germany that gives the most compelling of all reasons; when he asked why they don't have the death penalty the person answered: "We will never give the government the right to kill people again."

Seems to me with the nastiness in government going on at local, state and federal levels wouldn't it be nice to take the power to execute people out of their hands. I would definitely never want to see Susan Martinez with this power.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Shell Game

Joseph Badal has a five book series of spy suspense novels I've read recently., Evil Deeds, Terror Cell, The Nostradamus Secret, Lone Wolf, Death Ship.  Praise Amazon Unlimited. The Danforth novels are full of suspense, stupid politicians, evil terrorists and heart racing action where the world is on the brink. I'm hooked on his books.
Ultimate Betrayal was a fun read with a new hero similar to the Danforth saga .

He also has murder/mystery book named Bordeline set in Albuquerque. I love the fact he at least mentions New Mexico in about every book. Two women detectives fighting bad guys and the sexist egotistical bigots co-workers make for fun read.
Having said all that I want to focus on by far his best book.
The Shell Game is scarier than Edgar Allan Poe, Harlan Ellison, Robert Block, and Stephen King combined. It doesn't have ghosts or goblins, no rabid dog, no one is walled up alive or tortured. There is a real vampire existing in the world today. It's not Dracula or Nospheratu.

Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged says, "Money is the life blood our economy."
Only someone like Badal who worked many years on Wall Street could be able to write a book that explains how our economic "life blood" is being drained out of our country, states, businesses and lives.
There are people out in the world that suck this "life blood" out of ordinary human beings trying to survive: The Federal Reserve Board and Bankers.
There are sociopaths and psychopaths who legally get away with destroying people's businesses and their lives, not only of the owners, but their employees and their families. The blood suckers who buy up banks, liquidate the loans and make a killing before finding another victim.

This book explains in plain and simple terms just how our banking system has become so corrupt and is destroying the very fabric of our society. Fostered by both political parties. He writes a simple history explanation of what happened to small businesses with the 1986 Tax Reform Act, the crash of 2008 and how small business that are thriving are ruthlessly destroyed by the Fed, FDIC regulators and the sweetheart deals they give predatory speculators.
The novel focuses on a family with a thriving franchise of restaurants and out of the blue the bank gives them two weeks notice that they are calling their 20 Million dollar loan. Their fight to stave off the financial wolf, who bought the bank at a fire sale and will make three times by liquidating the company's assets should frighten every small business person in the country. A really good read and very enlightening.

Personal point here:
I remember reading a review that in The Princess Bride, the Count who hooks Wesley up to the year sucking machine is an analogy of the Fed. Badal in this book explains the avalanche effect that happens when the Fed takes of banks and practically gives them away to leaches. What happens to ordinary citizens when credit is cut off without reason or explanation. How our entire economy is dependent of credit and what happens with it is shut off.
I remember when Obama came out with his stimulus package that included the "Cash for Clunkers" program. I had an old F150 worth about a thousand bucks and thought I could trade it and one of my cars in on a new one and the cash from the truck would lower my monthly payments. I couldn't get a bank to approve the loan. The salesmen in 2009 were the most despondent I've ever seen them. I went to numerous dealers they all said the same thing. "We sell the cars, but the banks won't finance them, no matter how good a person' credit is." How many people had years of their lives sucked out of them since 2008? How many young men and women in this country over the age of 30 are still living with their parents because they can't find a job where they can afford an apartment and a car, even with a college degree? How many years have been sucked out of their lives? Answer: over 33%, or at least that's the statistic Bill Maher gave on his HBO show, and I've heard it from other sources as well.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

For Gilbert and Sullivan fans

Good friend and blogger has an interesting post, if you're a Gilbert and Sullivan fan check it out.

Private Bafoon has a great video

Russ Sype, who I was campaign manager of his Presidential run in 2012 is back to blogging and has some interesting stuff. Check him out. http://privatebuffoon.blogspot.com/

One Phrase Song

A One Phrase Song
By Patrick Prescott

I wrote a one phrase song,
Yes a one phrase song,
No really, a one phrase song.

On the radio all the songs are:
One phrase songs.
On tv song shows they're all:
One phrase songs

That's why I wrote a:
One phrase song
That's right a
One phrase song
Yes a one phrase song
Really, a one phrase song

I'll say it again
A one phrase song.
Everyone sings:
A one phrase song.
Will you sing along on my:
One phrase song?

One phrase song
A one phrase song
One phrase song
A one phrase song

That's all I have is a:
One phrase song
One phrase song
One phrase song
One phrase song
One phrase song

Sing it again, my:
One phrase song
One phrase song...

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Farewell to a good blogger

For many years I've blogged with Michael, whenever I left  a comment on his blog he always faithfully left one on mine. Since retiring and turning to serious writing along with facebook I've not blogged very much. Now one of my few blogger friends is shutting his sight down. It's a shame as blogging was great in it's heyday. You could truly speak your mind and others would either support it or discuss it a few trolls crept in from time to time, but it was a wonderful sharing of minds. Michael, you will be sorely missed. Live long and prosper my friend.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Casca books

A long long time ago while teaching summer school the bookcase in the teacher's room had this book. I read it and was hooked. I bought and read all 22 books in the series before the author Barry Sadler died. He wrote the first four books and turned the others over to ghost writers.
Casca is the Roman soldier who stabbed Jesus on the cross. The gimmick used here is that Jesus curses Casca Rufio Longinus to never die until He comes again. This makes him immortal and he is a mercenary throughout the last two thousand years of warfare. From ancient Rome, the Vikings, Chin, the Mongols, to the present day. Each book takes you to a different part of the world and covers most of world history. There is meticulous detail concerning the commanders, strategy, tactics and weaponry on each battle.
Casca also has a group of radical monks who know about him and cause him grief. They cut off his hand and he's able to sew it back on and it works good as new. He dies a number of times in each book and no matter what he comes back to life.
When I was teaching middle schoolers I found girls didn't need much encouragement to read. All books written for this age group are designed for girls. The publishers for the most part won't accept a manuscript written for boys. A few exceptions are The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and of course the Harry Potter franchise, but even those books are written by women.
It is really hard to get boys around the ages of 12 to 15 to read outside of what's required. This is called Alliteracy. I tried getting the boys to read a number of the books I liked at that age. Edgar Allan Poe was too hard vocabulary wise. Those rascals wouldn't go more than a few pages into Mickey Spillane. Then I hit pay dirt with Casca books.
I scoured all the used book stores in town picking up as many copies as I could get to put on the SSR book shelf and a number of the boys who boasted at the beginning of the year that they've never read a book, finished that year getting through two or three of them.
The beauty of Casca books in that they only take me around six hours to finish. For slower readers, like middle school boys it takes longer, but the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter.
After Barry Sadler's death the series stopped at 22. Over the years I picked up a couple of books on tape or CD at truck stops. I image they'd be popular with truckers. Eventually I downloaded all 22 books on tape to my computer and still enjoy listening to them at the gym while I'm trying to break a 20 minute mile on the treadmill. I used to run it in less than 4:30, those were the days.

Then to my delight I found that another author, Tony Roberts,  has picked up the Sadler mantle and has started writing new ones. He follows the tried and true formula. His books pick up with volume 25, I don't know about 23 and 24. He's now into the 40's and thanks to Amazon Prime I've been able to read them on my trusty Kindle for free, just have to send them back when through.
For my faithful readers who would like a quick read in an historical setting, lots of fighting and tragic love stories to escape this world give Casca a try.

For more information about the whole Casca series go to the Wikipedia page.