HOT, HOTTER, HOTTEST – FICTION BY RICH PASCHALL

Soon the weather will be warming up again. Just how hot will it get? Here’s a possible look ahead. Click “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for the rest of the story.

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The Greenhouse, by Rich Paschall

It was another hot February day in the nation’s capital.  Many people had flooded the city’s cooling centers to get away from the unusual heat, as well as the “rolling black-outs.”  Even some of these air-conditioned locations would go without power for a few hours a day. It was unavoidable.  Just a few structures, as well as most government buildings, were exempt from the power outages.  There were a variety of factors straining the power supply in many regions of the country.  Heat seemed to be the main one.

72-GAR-Sunset-Phoenix-01062015_189

When the 21st Century was coming to a close, the President at that time had to admit the impact on the earth that was caused by human factors.  When elected, he continued to insist that climate change was a hoax, just as many Presidents had done before him.  The 45th President eliminated the Environmental Protection Agency  The 46th…

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SEND IN THE FEDS – RICH PASCHALL

The feds were not sent by “45.” Perhaps he got sick of tweeting about us. Nevertheless, the murder rate fell by 15 per cent in 2017 over 2016. Chicago police say violence is mostly gang related. By no measure is the Windy City near the top of the list of murders per capita. Why don’t we hear as much about the other cities? Click on “View original post” at the bottom to follow over to SERENDIPITY and some additional thoughts.

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The Streets of Chicago, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


When I was in Medellin, Colombia, someone had brought up the name of Pablo Escobar when we were out for food and drinks.  Escobar was an infamous drug lord who had lived in the Andes mountains near Medellin.  My friend commented unhappily that they have to keep telling people that Escobar was killed in the 1990s, meaning he does not live there anymore.  I told him I understand. We have to keep telling people that Al Capone no longer lives in Chicago.  The crime boss died at his home in Florida in 1947.  Sometimes the truth does not help you to shake your reputation.

1931 Photo Credit: cta Historical Photo Collection 1931    Photo Credit: cta Historical Photo Collection

At the present time you may hear that Chicago is the murder capital of the country, just like in the Capone days.  The leader of our nation has said that crime here is “totally…

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Making Resolutions

Most of us made New Year’s resolutions.  Some of us have already broken them.  Perhaps they were meant to be broken sooner than later anyway.  Here are my thoughts on the topic that do not seem to change from year to year:

Breaking Resolutions


By Unknown early 1900s [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Everyone is expected to make resolutions. As people go around asking one another about them, they create a societal group pressure for each one of us to resolve to do something.  It is a sort of “I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours” game. Newspaper and magazine articles will discuss this at the end of one year and into the beginning of the next. Radio and television stations may dispatch crews to the shopping malls and “city sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style.” Sorry, that was a momentary flashback. Anyway, the question persists each year at this time. “What are your New Year’s resolutions?”

When nosey Aunt Bertha tells you her resolution is to go on a diet, and then asks you what your resolution is, you will probably be compelled to say something other than she actually needs the diet. So you trot out some of the better clichés and offer up some ideas. You may wish to say that you are going to go on a diet too, even though you are not the one needing to drop 50 pounds. You can say that you are going to give up smoking. That will work whether you smoke or not. It is particularly effective on people who only know you casually. How do they know you are not out in the garage in 10 degree weather smoking like a Christmas night fireplace? You could resolve not to drink until St Patrick’s Day, but there are the birthday parties, anniversaries, dreadful family events and of course more Bowl games to watch. When the NFL play-off games are finally over, there is the biggest night of sports fueled drinking to contend with, the Super Bowl! It looks like you should leave the drinking resolution alone until Lent, unless you have resolved to enter a 12-step program.

New Year’s resolutions are not like those Catholics make at Lent, of course. We actually mean to keep our Lenten resolutions. Lent is a mini-sacrifice we accept and will actually work at. New Year’s resolutions are different since they are mostly just the things we tell people. Of course we should exercise more and stop super-sizing everything we get at fast food restaurants. If you passed 50 years of age it would be interesting to see if you could fit in some of your high school clothes again…OK, skip that, bad visual. You could resolve to take the stairs instead of the elevator. You could even resolve to ride your bike to work or jog or walk briskly. In our part of the country you would have to walk very briskly in order not to freeze your McMuffins off at this time of year.

There are a lot of things we could do, but we really are just saying them and have no deep desire to carry them through. In that way they are sort of like campaign promises. Trust me, whatever your duly elected representatives promised to do in the campaign, they have already forgotten and hope you have forgotten them too. Therefore, in the great tradition of American politics, whatever you promise Aunt Bertha you are going to do this year, you may feel free to discard as soon as you leave her dusty, doily filled apartment. In fact, the sooner you run from Aunt Bertha and her resolutions the better off you will be. The less lying you have to do, the better you will feel.

If ever there should be some resolutions, however, I think these should be included: Politicians should resolve to stop leaving things to the last-minute. Perhaps they can resolve to stop scaring us with fiscal cliffs and bad tax bills laden with pork. Colleges and Universities could resolve to care more about education than about winning football and basketball games. Bloggers and You Tubers should resolve to stop leaving hoaxes and lies on the internet like the world-wide web was just some giant video game for their amusement. The Chicago Cubs should resolve to win another World Series. Sorry, we need a home town resolution. It is more of a pipe dream, I guess. Reality shows should resolve to actually be real rather than filled with staged confrontations. The city should resolve to pave my back alley. OK, that’s another pipe dream. Friends should resolve to tell friends how important they are to their lives. I am off to a good start on that one, actually.

To show that I am going to take this often abused tradition seriously this year, here are a few of my resolutions. I resolve to be more the real me than the me I think I need to be at times (confused?), but sometimes discretion is the better option. I resolve to worry more about getting things right today and not to worry about the past at all. I should resolve to work harder at learning French and playing the guitar I bought a few years ago, but those are constant resolutions in the back of my mind anyway. Maybe I should just resolve to push them forward a little. I resolve to use this weekly column for more than “reblogs.”. Actually, there are so many things I have resolved to do in life that I already have to live to 103 to get them done. OK, that’s the best one. I will resolve to live to 103 and if my brain still functions, I will then make up a bucket list.

 

WORDS OF A WELL-KNOWN AMERICAN

He has faded from the news despite the big splash he made at one time. Last year they even made a movie about him. Do you remember the story? What do you think of him now?

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Next month a movie about this American will be released.  Is he a patriot or a traitor?  A villain or a hero?  Do you feel the same way about him now as you did two years ago?

How do your opinions compare?

We all have opinions about our country. While some of us are Democrats and others are Republicans, and while some are Libertarians and others are right of the Tea Party, we can generally all agree on certain aspects of the American government and our basic freedoms. Nobody wants our rights taken away and we all want to be good patriots, but what is a good patriot?

constitution_1_of_4_630

“Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen…” and nothing would seem more certain than this. That is what one well-known American had to say recently, but not all are in…

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A Reason to Celebrate

Celebrate the true meaning of the day

Once again it is time to celebrate the Fourth of July.  Do you know the origin of the day, or has it become just another holiday?  A video I saw this morning showed a young You Tuber asking people about the historical origin of the day.  Can you imagine there are many Americans who can not give a good answer?  Some just see it as a day to have a giant party.

Here in the Midwest, some towns began the party last night with fireworks while others are going for the more traditional 4th of July celebration.  I am all in favor of the traditional celebrations.  To me, moving the special events around is a signal that it is all about the party and I don’t think that should be it.

Assembly Room

Independence Hall, Photo credit: Antoine Taveneaux, taken with Pentax K-5

The day is actually about an event that was a long time in the making.  The final draft of the action of the Second Continental Congress was finished on July 2nd 1776 and passed on July 4th.  The famous signing of the document did not take place for a month while waiting for all participants to be assembled.  It did not lead to fireworks although the Revolutionary War had already begun.  The Liberty Bell probably was not rung on the 4th according to historians.  In fact, there likely was no party at all, as the matter was serious business for the delegates of the 13 colonies.

The group had already been meeting for over a year when the Declaration was made.  During the previous July they had adopted The Olive Branch Petition in an attempt to avoid all out war with Great Britain.  The very next day the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms was issued.  The Continental Army was formed and strategies were adopted.  The bitter struggle that followed led the colonies to declare independence.

Three committees were formed in June 1776.  One drafted a Model Treaty to establish a way to deal with foreign powers.  Another was to write the Articles of Confederation to put together the model for governance of the colonies.  A third committee of 5 members wrote the Declaration of Independence although it is largely considered the work of Thomas Jefferson.  Some of his language was likely the source of lively debate.  The result proves that difficult work can be done quickly and compromises can be reached across the many members.

When I put out my flag this morning, I noticed only a few others flying on the block.  It made me wonder how many appreciated the events that went into the making of this holiday.  How many really know the history of the Second Continental Congress that forged the nation we have today?  How many think it is just some sort of day we set aside for picnics and fireworks?  Has the meaning of the most important day in our nation’s history been lost?

It’s your party.  That’s for sure.  As a matter of fact, it is the party for everyone who calls these United States of America home.  When you see the red, white and blue, let them have meaning for you today.  If there was no particular meaning to the colors at the time they were adopted, let them be a symbol today.  They stand for the freedom that allows us to live in a country where we can celebrate our freedoms openly.  The people of many other countries can not throw such a party.

Source: National Archives

Separate Is Not Equal

The Case for Equality

Segregation in the United States was struck down in the landmark decision in Brown versus Board of Education (Topeka, Kansas).  The court held in a unanimous vote that the policy of separate but equal was inherently flawed.  This set aside an 1896 ruling that allowed for separate black and white schools, not to mention other institutions.  By 1954 the court had realized the flaws of the earlier thinking, perhaps marred by personal prejudices, and ruled against the notion of separate but equal.  The establishment of two separate classes of people meant by its very nature that they were unequal in standing.

Despite the high court ruling, discrimination and segregation continued to exist throughout the 1950’s.  In fact it took federal government intervention in the 1960’s to force the end of segregation at some southern schools.  Governors Ross Barnett of Mississippi and George Wallace of Alabama famously tried to stop integration of universities in their states and maintain segregation.  While Governor Wallace remained popular in his state, Barnett, an avowed segregationist, was a one term governor.  Ending segregation by court ruling, did not change the opinions of many.

The prejudices of earlier times continued to plague the following decades, court rulings not withstanding.  It was impossible to erase generations of discrimination with some decisions of the court.  Indeed, many grew up learning discrimination and hatred in their own homes.  It would not so easily be set aside.

While a variety of equal rights were secured through the remainder of the 20th century by court ruling and legislation, there was one area where discrimination was being written into state laws.  Indeed the fear card started to be played anew when rights for certain citizens were being discussed.  It started when the Hawaii Supreme Court held in 1993 that the refusal to grant same-sex marriages was discriminatory.  In the years that immediately followed many states, including Hawaii, wrote laws to ban same-sex marriage.  In 1998 voters in Hawaii gave the legislature the right to define marriage as an opposite sex couple.

The systematic adoption of such laws across the country set up two classes of people.  The 104th Congress piled on in 1996 with the now infamous Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  This law institutionalized discrimination and denied basic benefits to same sex couples that were provided to opposite sex couples in almost a thousand laws. This included estate benefits or right to inherit, joint tax filings, survivor social security benefits, and so on.  The very establishment of another class of citizen would be the eventual downfall of DOMA.5doma

The federal government had always held that whoever a state recognized as married was married, but then they tried to deny benefits under DOMA to those a state found to be married.  The most egregious example was brought to the attention of the high court in United States v. Windsor.  It was a fight taken up on behalf of an elderly woman whose marriage in New York did not seem to matter to the feds when her partner died and they took everything.  They did not recognize her right to inherit.  Either the feds recognized the marriages that were recognized by states, or they did not.  They could not have two classes of citizens.  The court saw DOMA as “a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment” and struck down some of its provisions.

Despite this ruling, as well as overturning California’s attempt to ban gay marriage through Proposition 8, there are still a majority of states that declare that a particular two people in love are not equal to another two people in love.  It is the case of setting up another class of citizen.  Apparently, many states are still under the notion this is OK.  People talk about the institution of marriage as if some God came down from on high with a set of rules about this.

Yes, I already know what some are thinking, but since I do not know ancient Aramaic, I will not pretend that the interpretations and translations of the Bible handed me by the religious right are necessarily correct.  Nor do I buy into any of the other scare tactics they use to convince us to set up a separate class.  That separate class thing just does not stand up against any test when Supreme Court justices have to sit and listen to it.

In the new political climate states are introducing “religious freedom laws” and “bathroom laws” that are discriminatory at their cores.  They allow for setting up separate classes and separate treatments of various people, not because of criminal activity, but for who they are, who they love, who they identify as.  Will the current high court strike down this discrimination, or institutionalize it as present leaders would like to do?

Decoration Day

This article has been posted before.  It has been received with a bit of skepticism over the origins of the day.  It is likely that the practice of decorating the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War was taken up in many places during and immediately after the war, unknown to one another.  Some of these practices were reported in newspapers of the time, while others were passed down orally and written down later.  These later versions may have been supported by anecdotal evidence that is now hard, if not impossible, to prove.
Where exactly the practice of decorating graves started, and who should claim the origin is not really the point anymore, is it?  A tradition of decorating graves, and the meaning of the “holiday” are now largely lost.  This loss of historic knowledge, along with the loss of so many American soldiers, is the true sadness of the day.

Who will decorate the graves?

What bugs me most about our national holidays is that few people know what they are really about. It seems that we take it as some sort of extra vacation day and that we should all go out and have a party somewhere. The only exception to this might be Thanksgiving Day which remains on the traditional fourth Thursday of November. Most people gather with their families to give thanks at the dinner table. Of course, some are giving thanks that there are 3 football games on television and you can watch all day long. Even this tradition is starting to be eroded by commerce.

Other holidays are excuses for a party, 3 day weekend trip, backyard barbecue or attendance at a sporting event. If you ask someone of a younger generation the meaning of Thanksgiving, he might tell you it is the day we have football games in Detroit, Dallas and wherever the NFL will get ratings.  Christmas is when Santa comes, Easter is when the Easter Bunny comes, July 4th is when we shoot off fireworks and Labor Day is the end of summer so we should have one big old barbecue or party. The meaning of New Year’s Eve changed since Dick Clark no longer counts down the final seconds of the year and the NCAA destroyed New Year’s Day by moving most bowl games to other days.

When I went to search for Memorial Day online, I immediately got “Memorial Day sales.” That would probably be good if I needed a new mattress or backyard pool. I see news reports covering how Americans are hitting the road due to low gas prices. The cynic in me thinks the oil companies planned this to sell more gasoline. It also seems to be a good day for photo opportunities for politicians. They will lay wreathes at tombs of unknown soldiers, as long as there are cameras nearby. And the Washington DC website promotes the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally along with events that seem a little more patriotic.

When I was young, my grandmother referred to this holiday as Decoration Day. On May 30th, the Memorial Day holiday then, we would usually go to the cemetery and decorate the graves with geraniums. Some cemeteries put small flags at the graves of those who served in the military. We were told this was the meaning of the holiday. I had no idea how close to the truth this was. After the American Civil War a date was set aside to decorate the graves of fallen Union soldiers. Southern women had already taken up the practice of decorating the graves of fallen confederate soldiers during the war. In the 20th century the day was dedicated to all Americans who paid the ultimate price in combat. Decorating graves could be symbolized by presidents laying a wreath at the tomb of unknown soldiers as there would be no one in particular to decorate those graves.

The official name was Decoration Day until Congress changed it to Memorial Day in 1967. In 1968 they took a bold step toward destroying its meaning, however, when they moved four holidays to Mondays. Now May 30th is not the holiday (although it will fall there some years) and Memorial Day has become part of an annual three-day vacation. We can be so caught up in the hoopla we forget what the day is all about. “What time do we meet?” “What shall I bring?” “What is the forecast?” “What time is the game?” “Decorate what? The backyard?”

My father is buried in a military section of a cemetery in another state. Although I can not be there, I know someone will decorate his grave and there will be a small American flag on each military grave. Taps will be played. That is the true essence of the day.

Related articles

NO SPORTS, POLITICS, OR RELIGION

This past week I stopped by a local inn to see some friends. Two people ended up having a “lively” discussion on the outcome of the recent national election. Naturally, I thought of this guideline.

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Some Old World Wisdom, by Rich Paschall

When thinking of blog topics, there is no shortage of subject matter. Some general areas offer a lot of topics.  With a bit of extra thought, there’s an endless supply. Consider well how many areas you can pursue if you are willing to delve into sports, politics, or religion. Each is bound to set some readers ablaze. Would surely bring lots of comments. You do want lively discussion, don’t you?

How lively do you want it?

conversation1

Venture into a sports bar well into the evening and you are likely to find plenty of spirited discussions regarding sports.  These ideas should help you out.  Will the Cubs win another pennant?  Will the White Sox ever get the love the Cubs get?  Will the Blackhawks win another Stanley Cup?  Will the Bears defeat the hated Green Bay Packers?  Will the Bulls beat the hated ____________ (fill in…

View original post 627 more words

PLAN B – RICH PASCHALL

It seemed like a good moment to share this short story again.

Serendipity - Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

A King Brothers Tale, by Rich Paschall


It was a beautiful late summer day in the mountain resort town.  It was a high sky, whatever that means, deep blue with no clouds to be seen.  It was warm and the breeze was light.  The town was not crowded with tourists in this off-season, although many wealthy people had just arrived.  A few pesky reporters were buzzing around as well.

A so-called secret meeting of the Brothers of Freedom had been called.  The group’s members were composed of a series of conservative “Political Action Committees.”  The annual meeting was chaired by the King Brothers and their committee played host.  The topic was their common political interests in the presidential election year, but presidential politics would play only a small role in the meetings ahead.

While most of the billionaires had slipped quietly into town, including the King Brothers, a few were followed…

View original post 733 more words

A Reason to Celebrate

Celebrate the true meaning of the day

Like last year, we have a three day weekend to celebrate our independence.  Do you know the origin of the day, or has it become just another holiday?  A video I saw this morning showed a young You Tuber asking people about the historical origin of the day.  Can you imagine there are many Americans who can not give a good answer?  Some just see it as a day to have a giant party.

Here in the Midwest, some towns began the party last night with fireworks while others are going for the more traditional 4th of July celebration.  I am all in favor of the traditional celebrations.  To me, moving the special events around is a signal that it is all about the party and I don’t think that should be it.

Assembly Room

Independence Hall, Photo credit: Antoine Taveneaux, taken with Pentax K-5

The day is actually about an event that was a long time in the making.  The final draft of the action of the Second Continental Congress was finished on July 2nd 1776 and passed on July 4th.  The famous signing of the document did not take place for a month while waiting for all participants to be assembled.  It did not lead to fireworks although the Revolutionary War had already begun.  The Liberty Bell probably was not rung on the 4th according to historians.  In fact, there likely was no party at all, as the matter was serious business for the delegates of the 13 colonies.

The group had already been meeting for over a year when the Declaration was made.  During the previous July they had adopted The Olive Branch Petition in an attempt to avoid all out war with Great Britain.  The very next day the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms was issued.  The Continental Army was formed and strategies were adopted.  The bitter struggle that followed led the colonies to declare independence.

Three committees were formed in June 1776.  One drafted a Model Treaty to establish a way to deal with foreign powers.  Another was to write the Articles of Confederation to put together the model for governance of the colonies.  A third committee of 5 members wrote the Declaration of Independence although it is largely considered the work of Thomas Jefferson.  Some of his language was likely the source of lively debate.  The result proves that difficult work can be done quickly and compromises can be reached across the many members.

When I put out my flag this morning, I noticed no others flying on the block.  It made me wonder how many appreciated the events that went into the making of this holiday.  How many really know the history of the Second Continental Congress that forged the nation we have today?  How many think it is just some sort of day we set aside for picnics and fireworks?  Has the meaning of the most important day in our nation’s history been lost?

It’s your party.  That’s for sure.  As a matter of fact, it is the party for everyone who calls these United States of America home.  When you see the red, white and blue, let them have meaning for you today.  If there was no particular meaning to the colors at the time they were adopted, let them be a symbol today.  They stand for the freedom that allows us to live in a country where we can celebrate our freedoms openly.  The people of many other countries can not throw such a party.

Source: National Archives