The Return of Polar Vortex

Things in the Situation Room were tense.  Intergalactic cyber intelligence was reporting that Aliens were preparing another attack on planet earth using the highly effective Polar Vortex.  The mere mention of the name sent shivers down the spines of the military advisors which did little to heat up the frosty cold meeting room.  Since the last attack just weeks earlier, the Military Industrial Complex had constructed a force field meant to thwart the invasion.  Since there had been little time to test it, no one knew if it would actually work.

News reports all across the country warned that much of the nation would be cast into the deep freeze soon and all should prepare to live in conditions worse than Antarctica.  People were in a panic and a run on supermarkets and big box, supersized, bigger than a football stadium home improvement stores was under way.  Shoppers loaded up on Campbell’s soup, Spam and beef jerky.  Teenagers charged their electronic devices while parents bought generators and gasoline.  Everyone was preparing for something worse than the Y2K predictions.  Old timers had their Fall Out shelters to fall back on.

Meanwhile, famed broadcaster Rush Limburger proclaimed the whole thing to be a government hoax.  “There is no such thing as a Polar Vortex,” Limburger proclaimed, “and it is just cold weather and further proof there is no such thing as global warming.”  As a matter of fact, just about everything the government warned us about was a hoax according to Rush.  He told his listeners that it was time we “take back America” but it was rather unclear what he meant by that.

People at all the NBS channels were certain the nation was in for a great catastrophe and publicly decried the broadcasts of Limburger.  Surely he is an uneducated crackpot, they claimed, and they encouraged people to listen to the scientists.  Rush, on the other hand, was certain that scientists were pawns of the left-wing and he ridiculed them daily.  Everything was a left-wing conspiracy according to Limburger and nothing would be right until the right returned to power.  “There are no aliens,” Rush insisted in daily broadcasts while telling the public that the last vortex was just a cold spell.  No one bothered to point out that months earlier this same broadcaster implied that the government was hiding something at Roswell, Arizona and he knew what it was.

Many Americans, however, listened to the warnings and prepared for the Siberian cold.  Dr. Wizard dedicated shows to the topic of preparation for the extreme.  The good doctor was a national favorite after appearing on the Opal Windy show.  Anyone that Opal liked was in turn liked by the nation.  “In extreme weather,” the doctor said, “be sure to cover your extremities.”  How could the nation not follow such a reasonable precaution?  Windy was behind the cold advice 100 per cent.

President B. Rack Alabama prepared to address the nation.  His speech writers had laid out a reasonable explanation for what was happening and offered good advice for the coming days.  The pending attack was not from Al Qaeda the president would assure the his people, but rather from aliens so gruesome we dare not say their name.  “There is nothing to fear but the cold,” Alabama would say, “and if the Green Bay Packers can play in it, so can we!”  References to the cold of Green Bay were not taken well in the home of the their arch rivals, the Chi-Town Bears.  Anyway, it was hard for Midwesterners to follow a green president with slits for a nose.   Rush insisted his green color proved he was born in the Amazon and was not really an American.  He demanded to see the president’s birth certificate.

At the situation room, Secretary of State Carry sat quietly in the corner, unsure which country, if any, we should blame.  Vice President Buyten was asked to quiet down while the generals conferred.  President Alabama watched the weather channel to see if Jim Cantore was going to report from somewhere really cold.  The head of NASA, Captain James T. Qwerk, was ready to deploy shields to protect the country from the Vortex.  “Ready, Mr. Zulu?” the captain called.  “When are you going to learn my name?” Sooloo responded.  It seems those two had been feuding for years.  In the engine room, Spotty was giving it all she had and the nation could hold its collective breath to see if the attack could be thwarted.

“There is no attack,” Rush declared on his daily radio broadcast.  “When will you people wise up?  If there is another Vortex, I will move to Costa Rica, because seriously, who needs the cold?  But don’t worry, I plan to be here next election day to vote for my favorite right-wing, anti-scientist extremists and I hope you will be too!”  Rush never softened his tirades and never let the truth stand in the way of his anti-left wing rhetoric.

When the Vortex was thwarted and there was no extreme cold, Rush was on the attack.  He told the nation that the left were all lying and that NASA did not deploy protective shields.  “It is all a lie just like the moon landing,” Rush reported.  After all, the moon landing was planned under one of those left-wing presidents, so you know it is not true.

As the months wore on, Rush was fond of reminding his listeners of the Hoax of the Vortex.  It was one of many things that most people believed, but Rush called it a lie anyway.  As a matter of fact, Rush frequently told his listeners that the moon landing as reported by left-wing NASA did not happen but was staged in some NASA built movie studio.  Rush said the greatest day in his many years of broadcasting was the day he called Neal Armstrong a liar to his face.  How can we not put our faith in such a courageous Limburger?  And that’s the way it is!

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The Midterms

And the winner is…

The Republicans and Big Money seem to be the winners of the midterms.  They have taken control of Congress leaving us with some officials who do not seem to mirror the wishes of their constituency.  Have negative ads unduly influenced the elections and brought about results contrary to the nation’s beliefs?

If the Republicans were winners then it follows that the Democrats and their followers were the losers, but there was an even bigger loser than the Democrats in the 2014 midterms.  “Who or what was a bigger loser at the polls?” you may ask.  If you don’t already know or you are not sure, check out a commentary on SERENDIPITY now: Majority Does Not Rule.

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Rich Paschall:

It seems like the perfect time to reblog this cautionary tale.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

A cautionary fairy tale by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

The King Brothers strode through the luxurious lobby of the grand Wilford Washington Hotel. It is a stately old hotel with all the modern amenities. Only the richest of the rich can stay at the Wilford, and the King Brothers were among the one percent that controlled most of the nation’s wealth. It was a particularly joyous night for the highly successful businessmen as they again used their business skills and wealth to get what they wanted.

Your Vote CountsAlthough they were knowledgeable and successful businessmen, Chauncey and Derrick King owed most of their wealth to inheritance. Their father discovered a new way of making energy. It was not the most environmentally responsible method, but it sure made a lot of money.

When old Farley King passed on, Chauncey and Derrick aced out two other brothers to grab control of the largest privately held…

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Exercising your rights

“… to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.”

Liberty Bell, Independence Hall

Liberty Bell, Independence Hall

If only we could separate ourselves from the political powers that be.  They seem to have lost touch with us, or perhaps by not being an active part of the process, we have lost touch with them.  Oh yes, we see them all too often in political ads and very brief news clips, but do we really know them?  Are they serving our nation, our states, our cities well?  Are they only serving the causes of the rich benefactors that helped put them in power?  Do they refuse to comply with their appointed duties and to act under laws “the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.”  For if it is not the public good for which they serve, then they are not serving at all.  When it comes to the duties of having fiscal responsibility and reaching across the aisle for compromise, many have “utterly neglected to attend to them.”  While pork barrel projects can get tacked on to public bills and items that benefit one another can find agreement, some in turn “refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People.”  Where is service for the common good?  Do some of our politicians have a notion of “common good”, or is their idea of good being anything that opposes the other party?

“…That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed…”

Perhaps many of the millionaires who pretend to represent the “little people” have forgotten that they owe their power to the consent of the people, or at least they should owe it.  We give our consent when we vote.  That is exercising our rights.  We also give our consent when we do not vote.  By withholding our voice, we consent to letting others decide who is in power, who sets policy and who spends our many tax dollars.  We can not accuse our politicians of “imposing Taxes on us without our Consent” if we fail to make any effort to give consent in the first place.  We should throw off the politicians who are not spending our money wisely or serving the public welfare.

“… it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.”

If collectively we are dissatisfied with the state of the union and the lawmakers who have failed to enact a budget and brought us to the brink of the fiscal cliff while campaigning for themselves, then it is not just our right, but our duty to step forward and elect those who will do a better job.  While we consider our slim choices, we must recognize we will continue to get more of the same if we keep sending back the same legislators to maintain the same stalemates, except perhaps when it comes to their own benefits.  With the monumental disappointments of the current group of clowns, and  “their Acts of pretended Legislation” it must be our patriotic duty to consider what is at stake in the next election and endeavor to “institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  For their will be little happiness if we continue down the road of perpetual impasse.

“…with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

There was a time when America was not so polarized into extremes.  Great causes saw us come together to provide solutions, even when the tasks were monumental.  A land so severely divided with its king that its pledge to stand together for independence brought forth a land of determination.  Even divided against itself in civil war, it found a way to heal.  The calling of World Wars meant the mobilization of the nation to see the fight to the finish.  A devastating economic crash found a people ready to be put back to work and in turn built some of the greatest construction projects in our history.  Roads, dams, power plants, national parks, and countless projects saw legislators reach across the aisle.  Although vilified by some opponents, one president was returned to office four times to heal a nation and guide it through rough economic times, then through war across the globe.  Where is that great spirit?  It is time for a landslide of votes.  I am not talking in favor of any candidate.  This is about a turn out so tremendous in size, that politicians will understand everyone wants action.  Everyone is watching.  Everyone is willing to turn out and vote and that may just mean turning the rascals out of office.  We must pledge “our sacred honor” to vote!

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES…”

Wikimedia  commons

Declaration of Independence

If you did not already know, all the parts in italics above are quotes from the Action of the Second Continental Congress.  That is, of course, The Declaration of Independence.  Perhaps you did not know that Independence was actually declared on July 2nd, 1776.  The Continental Congress approved the final text on July 4th.  It was not actually signed until August 2nd, despite the wonderful scene in the play and the movie, 1776.  It may have been mostly the work of Thomas Jefferson, but it was a 5 member committee that wrote the Declaration (See, Congress can work together!)  One of the members of the committee, Robert Livingston, never signed it.  Committee members John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the 50th anniversary of the vote, July 4th 1826.  They had an infamous falling out, but historical letters indicate they reconciled through their final correspondence.  Roger Sherman and Benjamin Franklin were the other committee members.  Franklin was the oldest signer of the document.  He was 70 at the time.  Finally, historians doubt that anyone actually rang the “Liberty Bell.”

Note:  Today seemed like a good day to rerun the above.  Tuesday, Nov 4 is election day.  Vote!

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Why do you care?

Seriously, why do you care?

Symbol of the major religions of the world: Ju...

Symbol of the major religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“What’s it to you how others get along as long as you have yours?  Let them get their own!”  You may have heard many versions of the “What’s it to you?” question in recent years.  You may have been told, “Never mind about them.  It is not your problem.”  If you have a comfortable living, I suppose you can walk away from a lot of social problems.  Indeed you can rant and rave against any notion that we should help others.  “Let them help themselves,” you may add.  “There is no need to concern ourselves about that problem, because it is not our problem.”

When exactly did we come to the philosophy to protect the wealth of the rich and to hell with the poor?  When did social security, medicare and unemployment benefits become terms that are to be tossed around like dirty rags into the trash?  There was a time when the Republicans across the aisle and their leaders called for additional taxes on the “haves” in order to help the “have-nots.”  Now many of them act as if this never happened.  Perhaps part of the problem is that they are all part of the rich themselves.  They pay themselves big salaries while trying to figure out how to give the elderly and the poor next to nothing.  To them “Entitlements” is a dirtier word than the seven dirty words George Carlin could not say on television.

On the other hand, some might argue there is a moral imperative that comes into play here.  That means we must take action, or not take action, as required based on a moral reason that comes from within ourselves.  This is like the voice inside that compels us to do right.  It is imperative that we do the right (moral) thing.  In modern philosophy I guess it is the same as saying, “do the next right thing.”  Suppose, however, there is no voice from within urging us to make the moral choice.  What if our inside tells us to ignore the needs of others and to protect our own?  What if our inner voice issues no commandment of reason (imperative) and there is no morality to be heard?  My friends on the left side of the aisle may call that the Tea Party voice, if they like.  I caution you that the Boston Tea Party was not what it seemed.

Whether or not there is a moral imperative to drive our decision-making, shall we also ignore the voice of the major religions that speak of our moral obligations?  Of course, there are people who do not follow any religion, but the vast majority of  people do associate themselves with one of the major religions.  Followers of Islam and followers of Christ both believe in the obligation to help those in need, Jews believe they are commanded in the Old Testament to help the poor, other major religions here this calling as well.  So how is it that political leaders can claim to be both religious and opposed to social programs?  Religious leaders here and around the world have encouraged the continuation of lending a helping hand in the tough economic times.  It is not a matter of whether there is enough to go around, it is the issue of whether there is a willingness to share.

Islam believes that it is a moral obligation for Muslims to share with the less fortunate.  It is a way for the rich to understand the needs of the poor.  A young man in Cairo recently told me that his family was fortunate enough to give a camel to the poor each year.  Some may give a goat or lamb.  Pope John Paul II wrote in his 1981 encyclical letter on social justice, Laborem Exercens, that there is a right to life and subsistence.  In other words there is an obligation to meet the minimum needs to the poor.  The Vatican’s Justice and Peace department have urged world leaders to create a fair economic system.  It called on Catholics as a “moral imperative” to help the poor.  U.S. Catholic bishops have urged Congress to extend social programs.  House Speaker John Boehner, a practicing Catholic, has been challenged by a faculty member of Catholic University regarding his willingness, almost stubbornly so, to cut or eliminate certain social programs.

Why should Congress care?  If they are not urged by some moral imperative from within, or pushed along by some moral obligation stated by the major religions, then by what standards do they rule over others?  In preserving as many of their own dollars and that of their wealthy friends, have they lived up to the social contract?  Do they care that men were “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life?”  Or have we dropped “all for one” in favor of “each man for himself?”  Let’s look at this in an individually selfish way then.  Is is not better to preserve “domestic tranquility” by helping the poor when needed, rather than letting them fall into desperate and hopeless situations?  Crime rises in desperate times because if there is no hope, there seems to be little to lose.

 “The public revenues are a portion that each subject gives of his property in
order to secure or enjoy the remainder. To fix their revenues in a proper
manner, regard should be had both to the necessities of the state and to those
of the subject. The real wants of the people ought never to give way to the
imaginary wants of the state.”Thomas Jefferson

“Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all
from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property
in geometrical progression as they rise.”Thomas Jefferson to James Madison,

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Rich Paschall:

With Election Day near, it seems like a good time to reblog this story.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

Darren Walker was moderately successful in business when he was called upon to head up the state’s Bureau of Air.  Even though he made little progress there, his passion for the job and common sense solutions to problems led him to be appointed head of the state’s Environmental Protection Agency.  From there he made a lot of pronouncements about enforcing the state’s laws and cleaning up the rivers, lakes and the air as well.  There was a big problem with Darren’s dreams, however.  He had a small staff and a small budget.  So Darren decided to dream bigger.

Election Day 2012

An entire year before the general election for governor, Darren announced that he would be a candidate.  He told the press it was the only way for him to move reforms forward in the state.  His own party was stunned at this and especially at the use of a dirty word to…

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This gallery contains 12 photos.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:
From the biggest pumpkin patch, to the most gloriously orange pumpkins, to a house made of pumpkins, to the finest carved jack o’lanterns. It’s that time of year again. Orange, orange everywhere. The world is pumpkin…

Gallery | 2 Comments

It Gets Better

Rich Paschall:

It gets better.

Originally posted on aaron's random musings:

Feeling down today.

2014-10-27 22.19.49

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  A visit to the park                 

 small Midwest town church

A drab, older model, olive colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled up directly across the street from the bright white colored Protestant church.  The driver of the car liked that particular spot because he enjoyed looking at the church with its impressive steeple and large cross at the top.  He was not a member of that church or even of that denomination.  He just liked looking at the church.  He never went inside and could not tell you why he liked it so much, he just did.

Harold exited his dependable vehicle.  It had taken him around town for a dozen years already.  He guessed it was good for a few more years, just like Harold himself.  His parking spot was not far away from Harold’s modest home in the small Midwest town, but it was a little too far for Harold to walk.  He did not walk much at all anymore, although he would be the first to tell you that he really should get more exercise.  He would tell anyone that, if only someone would ask.

Across from the white church with the tall steeple that could be seen for miles was the town park.  It was well-kept and was the pride and joy of the town.  It had a small pond stocked with swans, who could come and go into a little house where they were fed and cared for.  The door of the house was always open.  The pond was fenced in and the little house was inside the fence.  The fence was certainly to keep the people out.  Swans were to be looked at, but not touched.  They may look nice but could be downright mean. There were none around for Harold to see.  Maybe they went south for the winter, maybe they were inside the little house, maybe the town puts them away somewhere before winter.  Harold did not know and really did not give it much thought.

He took the path that led to a magnificent gazebo which was just about in the center of the park.  He could imagine bands playing there on summer nights to the joy of small town Americans with lemonades or ice cream cones in hand.  He had to imagine it because he had never actually seen it.  He stayed away from the park on summer nights when they had activities of any kind.  There was never a parking spot close by when bands were playing and Harold simply was not going to walk for blocks to go to an event where he knew no one and would have nowhere to sit.  Rocking away the evening hours on his front porch was his main summer evening activity.

When he reached the gazebo he went up its three steps and walked into the center.  It was on slightly raised ground and he could see all around the park.  “What a beautiful autumn day,” he said confidentially to himself.  “We are lucky to have such a nice spot.”  The “we” at that moment was actually just Harold.  Although the temperature was pleasant for that time of year, the breeze was alluring and sun was falling softly between the clouds and across the beautiful green grass, no one else came to the park that Thursday afternoon.  Children were in school, most adults were working and the rest did not know they could put on their best fall outerwear and join Harold in the park.

Having exited the other side of the gazebo, he looked down the path that led to the main street in town.  Right before the road was a tall flag pole with the American flag flying proudly in the autumn afternoon.  There were shorter flag poles on either side flying the flags of  the military services.  They were put there by the local VFW and the bushes and flowers that surround them were cared for by VFW members.  Harold wondered why he had never joined the VFW.  Of course, he was not sure if there was anyone he knew in the VFW and he certainly was not assertive enough to find out.

Rather than take the pathway, he decided to cut across the grass to a park bench he spotted across the way along another path.  Leaves were gently pushed out of the surrounding trees and were falling around the bench.  He thought it would be a pleasant place to sit down for a while and rest.  His slow movement across the lawn would have revealed a slight limp if there had been someone, anyone there to see it.  No one knew of the limp, however, except Harold and he was not about to tell anyone of it.  There were plenty of things Harold kept to himself.  He could not think of a single person he could tell.  There were no family or friends left.  He guessed he had outlasted them all.

When he reached the destination, he sat down on the cold metal bench.  The old wooden ones were more comfortable but these were going to last longer, if properly maintained.  With the awkward spacing of the metal slats, no one was ever going to get comfortable,  even Harold.  From a distance the bench looked quite inviting, but it turned out to be a poor invitation once you sat down, especially when the weather was turning colder.  It was of little matter to Harold, he was not going to stay long anyway.  First, he looked at all the trees and saw the yellows, oranges and even some greens.  Some trees had their colored leaves neatly decorating the green grass below.  “I wish I could get a thick, green lawn like that,” Harold murmured to himself.  “I wonder how they do it.”  Then he looked down the path to the right to admire some bushes with bright red leaves.  They were probably the brightest red leaves he had ever seen.  Finally he gazed off to the left to admire the white church.  He thought he should bring a camera some day to get a picture of the church from this beautiful vantage point.  Actually, he had that same thought many times before.

When he got on his feet again, Harold discovered that he had stiffened up in the cool breeze.  He moved slowly across the lawn feeling the effects of age and inactivity.  The slight incline toward the gazebo now seemed like a small hill but he conquered it just like he had conquered small battles in the past.  His impulses told him to turn around and take in the view one last time.  Across the lonely park he spied the black, metal bench sitting there all alone, just like he was doing not long before.

Note: Harold in this story is no relation to the Harold that has appeared in the short story series on SERENDIPITY (  Apparently I know a lot of people named Harold. 

The short story as a video presentation.

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