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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Things I'd rather do...

Than sitting in my classroom doing nothing.
All papers graded and recorded. check
All desks cleaned. check -- you know I have to be bored to clean student desks!
Listening to the soundtrack of Meet Joe Black. check
The one student who signed up for a meeting -- not here yet.

We are having our nextstep meetings. Third year since our legislature thought it would be a good idea for teachers to meet with parents, review their students' transcripts and then decide what classes for them to take next year. It entails two full class days and one evening. This year they fill out the next step form on the computer. Oh my but are we getting high tech!

Had most of my students come first thing this morning. It was rather busy for about an hour, then rather nice to be in the classroom alone getting caught up on the paperwork and other things that pile up, especially when you don't have a prep period. But what do you do when you're all caught up and have the evening and all day tomorrow too?

Somewhere this grading period I'm supposed to cover curriculum. On our flex schedule I had the six classes for two hours Monday and Tuesday (three classes each day), we are off for this next step for two days then a regular day on Friday. Next week Flex schedule again then we have testing for 9 & 11 grades on Wednesday and Thursday, back to a regular day that Friday. The students are really going to remember the revolts of 1848, Nationalism and the unifications of Germany and Italy when it comes time for a test.

And the idiot politicians wonder why test scores are falling! They pat themselves on the back saying what wonderful legislation they've passed to improve quality of education, but everything they do reduces the amount of instruction time.

Mummble mummble mummble grrrrrr.

Cat thoughts

Monday, February 26, 2007

More Kitties

Ragdoll cat

Van Gough Cat

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Time to lighten up

Well the Oscars are over, is it just me or were the women's fashions this year rather tame? What's with Jack Nicholson going bald?

Does anyone else find Ellen Degeneros just plain irritating?

Where was Al Gore's sense of humor when he needed it the most six and a half years ago?

Peter O'Toole struck out for the eighth time. Such a shame that he hasn't been so honored.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I'm covering 19th century Europe in my classes, and worked the students pretty hard over the Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment and French Revolution. Thought I'd give them a break from book work and fit a little culture into the class too.
I've shown them the 10th anniversary concert of Les Miserables. I've discussed with them the difference between Common Law and Civil Code using the plot of the story.
What discourages me though is that the music and the story is very emotional. Certain notes in the songs just tug at your heart. The theme song "Can You Hear The People Sing?" makes you want to start marching to the beating drum. AND I CAN'T GET THE STUDENTS TO STAY AWAKE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE OR HEAR IT!

What has happened to the young people today? In all the years I was in public schools in Colorado and New Mexico no one ever slept in class. My generation had plenty of bad attitude in both Junior High and High School, but sleeping in class was never a problem teachers faced then.
If it was a problem in first period because it is rather early or sixth period when everyone is a little tired it might be understandable, but it is every bloody period. If I'm speaking to the class I have to walk through the class and tap desks to get kids to lift their heads up. (Our administration is adamant that students not sleep in class, and I agree with them on this issue)
If I have them doing group work half of the kids work on the project and the other half try to sleep here as well.
What also discourages me is the lack of feeling on the part of the students. When I showed Shogun last semester (it took me the whole eighteen weeks to get through it was shown on our flex days when we have a two hour period) when Mariko is killed at the end of the mini-series most of the students didn't bat an eyelash. A few of the girls seemed to react, but the majority felt nothing.
How can anyone listen to Fontine's aria as she is dying and worrying about her daughter Cossette and not be moved?
Does Rap and Hip Hop music, horny teenager or mad slasher movies, and video games make our children emotionally numb?
God help us all!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

President's day

My first choice in teaching has always been World History, but over the years I've also taught U.S. History. Most of U.S. is about Presidents. So here is my list not of the best or worst Presidents, but I thought it would be interesting to come up with a list of best Presidential decisions and worst Presidential decisions. After all we are being led by "The Decider", and in reality that is the yard stick they are all measured by.

Best decisions:

10 -- Washington not running for a third term. Set precedent of only two terms, and relieved fears of a military dictatorship, which has plagued all other governments with our type of Constitution.

9 -- FDR running for a third term. Armchair quarterbacking here, but he was the right man at the right time to handle WWII.

8 -- Truman de-segregating the military. The first step towards Civil Rights.

7 -- Eisenhower creating the Interstate Highway system. How much our economic prosperity for the last fifty years came as a byproduct of his national military transport system.

6 -- Eisenhower sending the army to insure the safety of black students in Little Rock, Arkansas and uphold a Supreme Court ruling. Showed that defiance of Federal government would not be tolerated.

5 -- John Tyler setting precedent that when a sitting President dies the Vice-President fills out the rest of the term. Referred to as "His Accidency", but just filling the post until a new election would be an electoral nightmare he helped us avoid.

4 -- Theodore Roosevelt enforcing the Sherman Anti-trust act. We could use someone with the guts to do this with our media and energy behemoths today.

3 -- Lincoln ordering the resupply of Ft. Sumter and staying the course throughout the Civil War. He kept the Union together.

2 -- Kennedy ordering the blockade of Cuba. Avoided invading Cuba and starting a nuclear war. (This could be argued as the #1 since the entire world could have been destroyed at this point, but if we had invaded Cuba and Russia moved on East Berlin the right wingers might have considered this and exchange of knights in their chess game and pulled back from using nukes.)

1 -- Truman dropping the atomic bombs on Japan. No decision has been more second guessed, praised or vilified. It ended the war and saved over a million American lives, and untold Japanese lives too.

Worst Decisions:

10 -- Andrew Johnson keep Stanton as Secretary of War. Leads to Congress' excuse for impeachment.

9 -- Bill Clinton spending time with Monica Lewinsky. Just plain stupid to committ the sin that the Republicans were waiting to exploit.

8 -- Buchanan not sending federal troops to settle the violence in Kansas.

7 -- John Adams signing the Alien and Sedition Acts. The first attempt to silence political opposition and fear immigrants.

6 -- Jefferson's trade embargo. Financially ruined New England to avoid war with England and would eventually be fought by Madison. Yes it was a stupid war, but running from this fight didn't stop it.

5 -- William Henry Harrison giving the longest inaugural address in his shirt sleeves on a cold day. He was dead a month later and was the first President to die in office.

4 -- Andrew Jackson killing the Second Bank of the United States. It would destabilize the economy of the U. S. for the next eighty years.

3 -- Andrew Jackson refusing to enforce the Supreme Court ruling against the removal of the Cherokee nation to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The Trail of Tears was an illegal action encouraged and allowed by someone who was violating his sworn oath.

2 -- Eisenhower stopping the election in Vietnam in 1956 and partitioning the country. It put a lie to our calls for free elections in Eastern Europe when we stopped one in Asia because Ho Chi Mihn would win it hands down. It also led to twenty years of bloodshed and the near bankruptcy of the U. S. for the same outcome that would have been achieved peacefully.

1 -- George W. Bush proposing a pre-emptive war. We have a department of DEFENSE not offense. Now that he has set that precedent what other mayhem will be caused by future Presidents. The only decision that would be worse than this one would be if he starts another war with Iran.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another snow day

Captain's Log
Stardate 021407.0915

Perfect timing. We got three inches of snow last night and school has been canceled. Since it was an in-service day couldn't have come at a better time.

Mom posted her concerns about a lesson in her Sunday School class concerning the afterlife. A number of people on Bruce's blogroll have responded to her concerns. I wrote my basic beliefs on this in my Human Sacrifices novel-in-progress. Thought I would post that excerpt here.

Jan decided it was time to broach a subject that had been on her mind, but she didn’t want to ruin such a wonderful vacation with heavy thoughts. “You were careful in your sermon Easter Sunday to not denounce pre-millennialism, all Dad will tell me is that he’s pan. What do you think about the second coming?”
“On this I’m a true heretic.” He told her getting a quizzical look. “There isn’t another coming of Christ.”
“Now I’m confused, your not pre, post or a millennial” Jan asked.
“I had a religion professor at Baylor that stopped me in my tracks my Freshman year.” He started to explain. “We were covering the time in Christ’s ministry coming close to his crucifixion and how all his disciples were expecting him to set up an earthly kingdom, they never really understood how His kingdom was spiritual, not physical. The professor just threw a thought out there, he said, ‘What makes you think He will change now?’ It dawned on me that Jesus wouldn’t change, that His kingdom is and will always be spiritual, All the mellinnialists are looking forward to Jesus coming again and setting up a thousand year physical kingdom. His disciples have still not gotten the message. I then read the accounts of the crucifixion. Tell me what words did He say from the cross.?”
Jan thought for a few minutes. “Let’s see. When He was being nailed He said “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.’”
“Good, what else?” He was being a teacher, and leading her to the answers, teachers hate being taught they find it irritating, but she decided to humor him.
“The two thieves talked to him, one ridiculed him and the other defended him.” She continued. “He then asked Jesus to remember him, and Jesus said ‘Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.’” She thought some more, “He said ‘I thirst’ and the Romans gave him soured wine or vinegar, what they called gall.”
“So far an A+” Paul told her.
“Oh give me a break, I’m a PK (preacher’s kid) I’ve heard this all my life, I’m just trying to go in order.” She snapped back. “He asked John to take care of Mary, his mother, and when it got dark he cried ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.’”
“What else, one last comment.” Paul nodded to her, smiling.
“No need for prompting I was coming to it.” She arched her eyebrows at him. He said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ and His last words were ‘It is finished” then he gave up the ghost.” I could have gotten some of them out of order, I’d really have to look them up.” She added.
“Excellent,” Paul praised. “Now stop and think, does anything that he said while on the cross make any sense if you believe in a millennium?”
“What do you mean?” This question caught her off guard.“He told the thief they would be in paradise that day, yet all mellinnialists believe that no one is in paradise yet, they are waiting for the Rapture. A word by the way that is never found in the Bible. If you believe that Jesus must come back and set up a thousand year reign here on earth, then he should have said, ‘I’m halfway done.’ Not ‘It is finished’."
“But what about the book of Acts and Christ’s ascension?” She asked. “An angel met the disciples and told them that Jesus would come again.”
“And He did, in the book of Acts.” Paul answered.
“I missed that one,” Jan responded.
“So did the disciples and most believers. What happened on the day of Pentecost?”
Jan answered. “That’s when the Holy Spirit came and filled all believers.”
“If you believe in the concept of the trinity, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all one, right?”
“Yes.” She was thinking now, “What are you getting at?”
“Exactly what that song we sang on Easter said, ‘I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today, He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. You ask me how I know he lives, He lives within my Heart. The song doesn’t say the Holy Spirit walks with me and talks with me, or that the Holy Spirit lives within my heart. But we all understand that Jesus and The Holy Spirit are one and the same, just different manifestations of God.”
Jan looked at him pondering what he said. “That’s too simple.” She said at last.
“Most deep truths are.” He answered. “And why they are so often overlooked, people want to complicate things. Just as Christ’s kingdom was spiritual so was his second coming. That is what finished God’s revelation.”
Jan countered, “Then what about the white throne judgment mentioned in the book of Revelations?”
“Why does it have to wait till the end of time? Why can’t God be doing the judgment right now?” Paul responded.
“You have a point.” She conceded.
“When my wife and son left this world it is a great comfort to me knowing that they are right now with Jesus in paradise, just like he promised the thief on the cross.” His face flushed red, and voice filled with emotion, but he held back tears. “They are not in limbo waiting for the rapture, then tribulation and great tribulation, then the battle of Armageddon and then come back to a physical reality to live for a thousand years, and then start all over again, before the great white throne judgment and finally going to heaven. Talk about complicated. If you follow pre-millennial thought Jesus would have to come back not once, but three or four times. It is not a logical or reasonable theory, nor is it consistent with the life and teachings of Christ.”
“Those thoughts could get you burned at the stake.” Jan thought a little hyperbole would lighten things up.“Told you I was a heretic.” He smiled.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I'm too old for this

Had my first book signing Friday night. I told my wife the next time I do something like this just shoot me. I get to school at 0700; get home about 3 in the pm, loaded up the van with table, chair, reviews, books and business cards. Got to the bookstore and sat there from 4 to 8 pm. That made for a 13 hour day. Sold 4 books. When the lady that was in charge of the book dept came by and asked me how I was doing, I told her it was like fishing. Just sitting there waiting for a nibble. I guess four fish in four hours wouldn't be too bad. But next time it's on a weekend or I take the day off. I wound up sleeping most of yesterday recovering. I didn't think it would be that draining, but it knocked me for a loop.
The Baptist New Mexico ran a press release a couple of weeks ago and mentioned this book signing. One couple came in with the paper specifically for the book. As we talked and I told her where I teach, she mentioned that she graduated from that school. When I inquired (impertinently) what year, it turned out to be the same year that grinnygranny graduated from there too. She didn't remember gg's name, but said she'd look her up in the yearbook. I called grinnyganny and told her the story. When I got home she had the yearbook out and had located the lady.
I stopped by today and picked up my earnings. They've said I can have as many book signing there as I like. I'm still trying to set up signings at Barnes and Nobles, Borders, Chronicles and Bibles Plus. A number of people told me that one of the larger non-denominational churches has a book store and I might talk to them about placing Optimus there.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I went to Southwest Writers Workshop today. The speaker gave her talk on writing memoirs. So I decided to write a memoir following some of her guidelines. Here goes. Revisions as I work on this will be in red.

Trip to North Carolina
It was a different time. A different world. June 2000. It was pre 9/11.
I had sponsored YMCA's Youth and Government for eight years at my previous high school. It is a model legislature held every year in the Round House. (What New Mexico calls their capital building) Students write bills and then have to get them passed through committees and two houses in two and a half days. There is also a Supreme Court and Panel Discussion Group. The kids pretty well run the show and as sponsors it's a couple of days watching and at night making sure that the kids don't get into trouble as they socialize. My son attended for four years and enjoyed it very much. After the school year is CONA. YMCA's Convention on National Affairs. It's at the YMCA conference center in Ashville, North Carolina for a full week. The year before my son attended this conference and seemed to enjoy it. A teacher from Santa Fe accompanied him on the trip.
For the summer of 2000 I got the opportunity to take three of New Mexico's brightest and best on the trip. The first leg was a flight to Dallas, landing at Love Field where the Texas delegation and Oklahoma delegation were waiting to take a twenty hour bus ride to North Carolina.
This was to be my first trip to the state where I was born since I was a baby and Dad was a Marine stationed at Cherry Point, NC. It was a really long bus ride and from Tyler, TX to North Carolina the Interstate was just a tree lined open top tunnel. Quite a change from the brown open spaces of New Mexico and West Texas.
We changed drivers and ate in Meridian, Mississippi. It seemed like a nice city. Hard to fathom that it is where the four civil rights workers were murdered in the sixties. We stopped in Vicksburg at eleven at night. I was rather disappointed visiting one of the most important battle sites of the Civil War and the only thing I saw was a Taco Bell, where we stopped to eat. The only major city we drove through was Atlanta. We arrived there at dawn and it was beautiful. I also saw Kudzu for the first time. Miles and miles of vines covering just about everything.
When we got to the conference center the bus dropped us off by the dining hall. The two boys and girl I was sponsoring were staying at dorms to the side of the hill. I was staying in Robert E. Lee Hall at the top of the mountain. Three tiers and nearly two hundred yards straight up hill. I only had three pieces of luggage, but in the 90 percent humidiy and 90 degree heat getting half way up nearly finished me. A few of the delegates from other states took pity on the fat old man and carried the luggage up for me. Getting to the building wasn't enough. My room was on the second floor with no elevator.
The conference started and the students did a wonderful job of running it smoothly. Each delegate had to write a position paper and present it to a committee. The committee then selected one paper to present to the general assembly held the last two days. It's not easy getting a paper to the general assembly for discussion and debate, but those that do are phenominal.
Robert E. Lee hall is the oldest, largest and dominate building of the center. It had no airconditioning. The main room had two huge french doors in back and two more in the front which created a breezeway that was surprisingly comfortable. On the front porch in front of the hall were green wooden rockingchairs -- dozens of them. They were very comfortable and I spent hours sitting in them looking out over the North Carolina mountains flabbergasted as the days went by that without a cloud in the sky how little visibility there was due to the moisture haze. I came to appreciate the clear skies of my home state.
As the days progressed I spent most of my time checking on my three charges making sure they were in their committees and making sure I was there when they presented their papers -- none made it to the general assembly, but they did a credible job. The rest of my time was chatting with other sponsors. I had hoped to have time to work on the novel I was writing (Optimus). On the long bus ride I had edited, and thought I could add a few chapters while sitting on the nice green rockingchairs, but I found myself too distracted. It would have been rude to be working on it when all the other sponsors were there chit-chatting. Then we were joined by a man from India. J worked for YMCA, and they brought him in to see the program so he could start one there.
Did I mention that nearly all the other sponsors were women? I wasn't the only male sponsor, but we were definitely a minority. J spoke very passible English and latched on to me like I was a lifeline. I think he was very uncomfortable around all the women. I naturally had quite a few questions about India since one of my alltime favorite novels in M. M. Kaye's Far Pavillions. I was also rather curious about what it was like being a Christian in a country made up mostly of Hindus, Muslims and Sihks. He was very patient with me. When I told him I was from New Mexico he had never heard of it -- not surprising as just about everyone east of the Mississippi in the U. S. hasn't either. To my astonishment and chagrin the entire conference center did not have a map of the U.S. I tried to draw a picture of the country to show him where New Mexico was, but I am not -- repeat -- not -- an artist.
We ate our meals together most days and except for the times I spent checking on my charges sat and talked either on the couches in Lee hall or on the green chairs.
Since he was a novelty for the conference most of the other sponsors and many of the students came by to chat - usually asking the same questions everyone else had asked (including me).
The dining hall had two lines. One for the days specialty -- one evening they served egg plant parmegiana! FOR TEENAGERS!! Not much of it got eaten. The other line was hamburgers, J usually ate at the first line, but on that particular day even he wasn't up for egg plant. He came to me and wanted to know what kind of meat hamburgers were made from. I told him it was ground beef. He naturally asked why it was then called ham - burger and might be pork. I tried to explain that it was named after Hamburg, Germany. He still wouldn't fix a sandwich and chose not to eat that meal. I asked why pork would bother him if he was Christian, but he had been Muslim before converting.
This opened up quite a bit of information from him. Muslim who leave the faith, even in India live a life of genuine fear. J was married, had children, but his brother also lived with him, and he was married with children too. His brother could not find a job because of their faith, and he wanted to know if I could find a way for his brother to immigrate to the U. S.
I asked what kind of education or training his brother had, but not much more than the equivalent of our high school. I told him I would do the best I could, but not to hold out much hope as without an education or skill it would be very difficult.
There was only one incident with my students. The sponsor from another state came rushing up one afternoon and wanted me to speak to one of my boys. He had said something in a meeting that got the girls a little ruffled. I asked what the problem was and got a rather garbled message. I took the young man we had a little chat. A young lady's position paper was to legalize prostitution. In the discussion he asked a question but made the mistake of starting it with the words "What if I were to..." For some reason all the girls thought he was propositioning her and claimed it was sexual harrassment. It was hard not to laugh with all the female sponsors looking our way. So I acted properly upset and told him from now on to make sure he phrased his questions in the third person, not the first person.
As I checked on another student a delegate from South Carolina was finishing up. He was a newly graduated Senior, had an easy drawl for a speaking voice, and was pushing for tax cuts. I was standing in the back of the room. It was a pretty lockstep Republican spiel I had heard since Ronald Reagan's first Inaugural. That evening the young man with others from South Carolina sought me out. They had some questions about New Mexico, but it didn't take much to get them singing the praises of South Carolina. They all thought their hundred year old Senator was practically God.
On the next to the last day there was a free afternoon. The students could go on a hike or go into town for a movie. My three charges decided on the hike. I took them to the man who would be their guide. When I told him we were from New Mexico he asked if I knew E, who had been there the year before. I told him he was my son. The man said E was the only one last year who had been able to keep up with him for the entire hike. Kind of made me proud.
I went into town for the movie. We had a woman bus driver for the drive to Ashville. Her ten year old son was sitting next to her. She naturally asked where I was from and I said, "Albuquerque." Her son then spoke up, "Isn't that what Bugs Bunny is always trying to find?"
The Trip Home
I finally got to work on Optimus on the long bus ride home. We went through Vicksburg around noon and I was surprised as we crossed the Mississippi how short the bridge was -- only about half a mile. It explained why this spot was so important. A battery of cannons on the heights would stop any ship trying to go up or down that spot. Shreveport, La was the hottest stop on the trip. Glad we were there for just an hour. When we got to the Texas state line the sponsor from Texas gave everyone the opportunity to speak about what they had learned. She started at the back of the bus and I was right behind the driver, so I prayed we would get into Dallas and Love Field before they got to me.
Almost everyone talked about the CONA spirit. That you could express your ideas and vigorously debate the issues, but afterwards be friends and have a good time together. They had all learned to respect differing opinions. They also said that the only thing they didn't like was the food in the dining hall.
I nearly got my wish. By the time they got to me we were already in Dallas and nearly the airport, but still enough time for me to finish up. I had a loaf of bread I bought the day we arrived at the conference center thinking it would come in handy for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if the food wasn't edible. I distributed the slices out one for every two people there and had them break it in half and share. This is what I said:
"Breaking bread is the oldest form of human bonding. We've had a week to meet and make friends with people from all over the country. Most of that bonding took place in the dining hall. But when you break bread it's not the quality of the bread that bonds one another together. It's the quality of the people.
Everyone has talked about the CONA spirit. That you could meet people who have different ideas and beliefs, but still respect each other and even become friends. You've been told all your life by the adults that you need to grow-up. When you get home and in the coming months as we have national and local elections. When all the grown-ups running for office are calling each other pond scum and slinging mud -- maybe they need to grow-down and have some of this CONA spirit too."
We had a pleasant flight back to Albuquerque. I contacted Catholic Charities about J's brother, but they needed more information than I could give. I received a letter from J that Christmas and I wrote him back telling him I needed records of education or job skills, but have not heard from him since.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Stardate 020107.1840

Whatever happened to Science Fiction?
I grew up reading Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, his Robot stories. Then there was Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Tunnel In the Sky, R is for Rocket, S is for Spaceship, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Time Enough for Love.
I became voracious in reading Harlan Ellison. Just about everything he has written.
I belonged to the Science Fiction Book Club for years, and bought tons of books, but something happened around 1985. The Science Fiction Book Club stopped offering Science Fiction. It started rather subtle, I noticed the growing trend towards Sword and Sorcery, magic and fantasy in the 70's. Some of the books were really good. Anne McCafery's Dragonriders of Pern series are really marvelous, but by 1985 that's all the book club offered. The Science Fiction Book Club no longer had Science Fiction.
I don't know if people stopped writing Science Fiction or the books stopped selling, or publishers stopped accepting the genre. All I know is that for all intents and purposes Science Fiction is dead.
There was always two kinds of Science Fiction. The optimistic and scared shitless.
Isaac Asimov called the latter the Frankenstein Syndrome. Fear of the future and the unknown. That's what made the writers I've mentioned above so wonderful, they wrote about the promises inherent in advances in science instead doom and gloom. Well Ellison is as gloomy as they come, but it's not the science you fear in his stories -- it's the people.
Hollywood embraced Science Fiction in the 50's with all of its giant bug movies. Giant ants, or grasshoppers, spiders, etc usually because of radiation from atomic bombs. Again the fearmongers held sway. Then came Star Trek. Hey the future could be hip, cool, even positive.
Star Trek has run its course it seems and were back to Michael Crighton's brand of Frankenstein stories where Science is to be feared instead of embraced.

Alright already -- what got me all sappy about SF?
I came across this today on Bruce's blog: Chris Hedges essay on his book Christianists on the March.

The Christian right has lured tens of millions of Americans, who rightly feel abandoned and betrayed by the political system, from the reality-based world to one of magic - to fantastic visions of angels and miracles, to a childlike belief that God has a plan for them and Jesus will guide and protect them. This mythological worldview, one that has no use for science or dispassionate, honest intellectual inquiry, one that promises that the loss of jobs and health insurance does not matter, as long as you are right with Jesus, offers a lying world of consistency that addresses the emotional yearnings of desperate followers at the expense of reality. It creates a world where facts become interchangeable with opinions, where lies become true - the very essence of the totalitarian state. It includes a dark license to kill, to obliterate all those who do not conform to this vision, from Muslims in the Middle East to those at home who refuse to submit to the movement. And it conveniently empowers a rapacious oligarchy whose god is maximum profit at the expense of citizens. We now live in a nation where the top 1 percent control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined, where we have legalized torture and can lock up citizens without trial. Arthur Schlesinger, in "The Cycles of American History," wrote that "the great religious ages were notable for their indifference to human rights in the contemporary sense - not only for their acquiescence in poverty, inequality and oppression, but for their enthusiastic justification of slavery, persecution, torture and genocide."

Somehow when science fiction died and was replaced by Fantasy, the rest of the country left reality and has gone into never never land too, and that is not a good thing.