Flight or Fantasy

Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary plot element, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic and magical creatures are common.

Fantasy is generally distinguished from the genres of science fiction and horror by the expectation that it steers clear of scientific and macabre themes, respectively, though there is a great deal of overlap between the three, all of which are sub genres of speculative fiction.

In popular culture, the fantasy genre is predominantly of the medievalist form. In its broadest sense, however, fantasy comprises works by many writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians, from ancient myths and legends to many recent works embraced by a wide audience today.

Fantasy is studied in a number of disciplines (English, cultural studies, comparative literature, history, medieval studies). Work in this area ranges widely, from the structuralist theory of Tzvetan Todorov, which emphasizes the fantastic as a liminal space, to work on the connections (political, historical, literary) between medievalism and popular culture.

The identifying traits of fantasy are the inclusion of fantastic elements in a self-coherent (internally consistent) setting, where inspiration from mythology and folklore remains a consistent theme.

Within such a structure, any location of the fantastical element is possible: it may be hidden in, or leak into the apparently real world setting, it may draw the characters into a world with such elements, or it may occur entirely in a fantasy world setting, where such elements are part of the world.

Essentially, fantasy follows rules of its own making, allowing magic and other fantastic devices to be used and still be internally cohesive.

Fantasy in a psychological sense is broadly used to cover two different senses: conscious and unconscious. An unconscious fantasy could be seen as a daydream or even a night dream; whereas, the conscious fantasy might involve the creator of the fantasy imagining that they are a famous athlete or musician or actor.

Sexual fantasies are a natural byproduct of the human imagination. Yet, they make the majority of us uncomfortable enough that our fantasies about sex and sexual activities remain inside our heads. We are happy to watch the sexual fantasies conjured up by screen writers and read the sexual fantasies designed by authors; but, when it comes to sharing our sexual fantasies, that is, speaking up about and verbalizing what we want from our bedroom encounters with our sexual partners, most of us don't, won't, can't talk about it.

Many marriages subsequently fall apart because these repressed fantasies are ultimately played out with an alternate willing partner. In some case. These alternative experiences are played out because one of these partners changed their sexual attitudes after the marriage either right away or over time.

Let me draw on my experiences from my first marriage:
Before the marriage, my soon to be spouse was a “sex kitten” for lack of a better word and you can define that term anyway you want; but, after the marriage, she was no longer than way, including the types of revealing clothes that she used to wear.

After our first child was born, she changed again, saying that now she is a mother, she can no longer do the things she used to do before being a mother. In essence what that meant, was no more sex because she had a new job as a mother.

Once these changes took place, she no longer trusted me and actually expected me to have affairs and in one instance she said that was fine with her, just keep it discreet and don't consider divorce. Isn't this what every man wants to hear? Perhaps, but not me.

Fantasies are not frivolous. They can be entertaining, distracting, frightening, even arousing, but they also allow for creativity and help us plan for the future. As long as we don't mistake fantasies for reality or let them become too rigid, they provide a necessary escape from the here and now.

Fantasy is an essential part of our thinking. It is imagination in its extremes and shows how far our minds can stretch beyond the normal and the natural. All creativity has an element of fantasy as when an artist paints a nude figure or a poet dreams of a perfect world, even reality itself seems to take on some sort of a fantastic or slightly exaggerated form.

But, when does fantasy become inappropriate or when does sexual fantasies, for instance, become a simple rationalization of pornography?

And yet, sexual intercourse is necessary for the propagation of our species, but is there a reason that it should be used for any other reason between consenting adults? Or, should it be ignored if making babies is not the primary reason for the exercise... and, if we decide to go beyond just making babies, how then, should FANTASIES be interwoven into these experiences... or, should they be ignored altogether?

If we allow ourselves to accept some forms of fantasy, like: Santa Clause, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, etc. should we not allow ourselves and our children to experience it all?

Everything that goes on around us feeds our fantasies from our current television shows and movies, to the magazines and romance novels we read, to the clothes both males and females wear, and to the commercials where sexual fantasies are used to sell products. We have commercials on television for Viagra and taking advantage of the time being right and for female lubricants to use after menopause because sex should not hurt. The illusion of sexual fantasy surrounds both those commercials so it is difficult to ignore all that reinforcement.

I remember when I was in my adolescence, my mother used to get mad with me because I was reading Scifi comic books instead of preparing for school at night. The time frame here is the decade of the 1950's and even back then comic books incorporated busty women illustrations and what do you think the purpose of this might be?

To create or plant the seeds of sexual fantasies within the minds of these young children... at least, that is what I think; so, when these sexual fantasies come to fruition later in life, we should then try to suppress them because they could take us down a path we will one day regret taking?

It was not us that started this cycle, it was our adult leaders and parents who allowed it to happen all around us... but then, this is one of our freedoms here in American, isn't it?

I believe this is referred to as UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES...


50 Shades of 50 Shades

By Alex Hutchins

Justin Garcia, a sex researcher with the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, said that there’s been “this historical shift from valuing chastity to valuing sexual agency.” 

A 1985 study suggests that about 30% of participants in BDSM activities are females. 

A 1995 study indicates that 89% of heterosexual females who are active in BDSM expressed a preference for a submissive-recipient role in sexual bondage.

A 2008 paper found that 31 to 57 percent of women report fantasies of being overpowered or raped, and of those, between 9 and 17 percent say it’s a “frequent” or “favorite” fantasy. 

A 2009 study of 470 predominantly heterosexual, college-aged men and women found that both sexes preferred fantasies of being dominated by the opposite sex, rather than dominating others themselves.

A 2012 review of sex-research literature found that men and women are both “capable of being physically aroused by hard-core sex scenes,” although “female sexual fantasies exhibit a greater emphasis on context, emotions, and intimacy, while male sexual fantasies are more frequent, visual, specifically sexual, and promiscuous.”

In general, men watch porn and women read erotica, said Catherine Salmon, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Redlands who studies pornography. “Erotica is about the characters and their relationship,” she said. 

Female submission describes a relationship in which a female submits to the dominance of a sexual partner. The submission can be voluntary and consensual. The dominant partner is usually a man, but could also be another woman, or more than one person. The term female submission most commonly refers to a woman which derives sexual pleasure from relinquishing control to (to varying degrees) as well as gratifying a trusted dominant partner.

Submission can take the form of passivity or obedience in relation to any aspect of conduct and behavior. Submission can be to a partner in an interpersonal relationship, such as allowing the sex partner to initiate all sexual activity as well as setting the time and place and sex position. 

Obedience may be a part of a sexual role play or activity, and can also be in the relation to the style of dress, if any, or behavior or any other manner. In fact, any act that is performed on a passive woman, such as undressing her, may be regarded as submissive behavior on the part of the woman.

Ten Tips for the Novice, Single, Heterosexual, "Submissive" Woman (Version 1.0)
by Jay Wiseman, author of "SM 101: A Realistic Introduction" 

Tip One: Study and otherwise prepare before you approach it.
Tip Two: Get some perspective.
Tip Three: Time is your best and most important friend.
Tip Four: You may get more attention than you can easily handle.
Tip Five: Take "elite" (and other claims with a large grain of salt.
Tip Six: Know that "malicious warnings" occur.
Tip Seven: Beware, especially, of the person who tries to isolate you.
Tip Eight: Seek, especially, the advice and companionship of other submissive women.
Tip Nine: Explore
Tip Ten: When the proper time comes, help educate and orient new submissive women, and others.

It would appear from the data above that for the last 30 years, there has been a steady rise among both males and females in the areas of sexual dominance and submission. And, while the data does not really specify that this interest is sole among single partners, I would suspect that is it tucked away inside the bedrooms of married couples as well.

As a matter of fact, I would say that over the last 30 years that there has been a sexual explosion in America but not in the sense that this interest has just developed because it has always been around and always been practiced, the difference is that it is now being made very public.

We see sexually explicit behavior described in novels, and on the big and small screens, in the way we dress, and in the way that we want the laws to protect us.

According to the History Channel, there are 8 reasons why the Roman Empire Fell and those are:
1. Invasions by Barbarian tribes
2. Economic troubles and over reliance on slave labor
3. The rise of the Eastern Empire
4. Over expansion and military overspending
5. Government corruption and political instability
6. The arrival of the Huns and the migration of the Barbarian tribes
7. Christianity and the loss of traditional values
8. Weakening of the Roman legions

Despite the obvious connection these 8 points have with what is currently taking place in this country, my only concern here is point #7 and the loss of traditional values. While the Roman Empire was dealing with the increased popularity in Christianity, today, Christians are having to deal with the increased popularity with other religions.

And, just like the Roman Empire, America no long has strong family values, strong community values, much less strong religious values. Both parents work so there is little to no parental guidance on the children. 

Drugs are being sold in most all of our elementary schools as well as junior highs and high schools. Our educational system is ranked 14th in the world and once was Number One. We have many States that are legalizing marijuana and same sex marriages. There are no more watchdogs to look out for the general public.

America has become fragmented and disoriented as it pursues mediocrity and greed in a self-centered way, oblivious to what is being lost and what is being taken away from them.

The fact that the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” has generated so much revenue during its first few weeks in movie theaters is a solid indictment of the deterioration of American morals and values; but, this novel is not a stand alone story, it is the first book in a trilogy: Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. So, we will have at least 2 more movies on which to base our interest in bondage to see if we really like it or not.

Many people of strong Christian faith have indicated that they have seen the movie, but not because they are interested in sexual dominance or submission but to see how it could never be part of their faith and so that they could talk about it correctly.

Using that logic, people with strong Christian faith need to experience killing someone in cold blood so that they will be able to talk about that sensation/experience correctly. That logic is total BS and we all know it.

Our moral hypocrisy is totally out in the public now, just like our interest in domination and submission is out in the open for all to see. We have exposed ourselves but will never get arrested for our public exposure.

Better than asprin sometimes...

Check Point Charlie

By Alex Hutchins

In 1966, after graduating from Cairo American College, in Cairo, Egypt, a group of us decided to travel through Europe on our way back to the US. As dependents of US Embassy Diplomats, our airfare was paid for as long as we kept moving forward with our destination towards the US, but in so doing we could still visit several countries during the months of June through August. One of those place that we wanted to visit was East Berlin, Germany.

In order to visit East Berlin, we had to first get permission from the American Embassy in West Berlin, Germany first. While in the American Embassy, we met with several Embassy Personnel, but got our most important information from one of the Security Officers.

There was 4 of us in our group but I was the only one with a Diplomatic Passport and since the US Government had no formal relationships with the East Berlin Government, I could not cross over to East Berlin the typical way, through Checkpoint Charlie as most tourist do.

I had to take the subway and go underneath Checkpoint Charlie and the Security Officer advised us to always stay together, so the 4 of us agreed to use the subway. Once that was decided, the Security Officer told us how to hold our passport without letting go but if the guard was intent on pulling our passports out of our hands, that we were to take our passport and slam it down on the table and say, “I surrender my passport under protest and I demand to see a Russian.”

The idea with this move was to back them into a corner because the East Berlin Government had made all sorts of public announcement that they were not being controlled by the Russians and that there were no Russian governing in East Berlin.

The last order of business was to tell the Security Officer how long we were going to stay which was no more than 4 hours.

We left the embassy and made our way to the subway where we went down several flights of stairs, purchased our round trip tickets, waited for the subway, and finally boarded the next train. I cannot recall how long our actual train ride lasted but we passed several subway stations where the train did not stop. As we looked out the windows, we could see what appeared to be military personnel standing at the station holding automatic weapons and glaring intently at the passing train.

This was quite unnerving to all of us and we were uncertain of what might happen when we finally got to our station and had to disembark. Our wait did not last long after the last armed guarded empty station.

My 3 companions were ahead of me in line and breezed through without incident so I was feeling pretty confident.

When I got up to the table, I held out my passport as instructed, but the guard attempted several times to pull it out of my hand. I was sweating and very nervous, but stood my ground. Two other guards took their weapons off their shoulders and approached the table. The guard pulled at my passport again, at which time, I YANKED it our of his hand and SLAMMED it down on the table saying, I surrender my passport under protest and demand to see a Russian.

There was silence as I looked over at my 3 traveling companions who were standing there with their mouth's open and eyes wide as if they were deer in headlights.

A nice looking, older gentleman from the back approached and smiled at me and in perfect English questioned me, “Student?” To which I quickly responded, “Yes.”

He picked up my passport and quickly thumbed through it and asked, “How long are you and your friends planning to stay in East Berlin?”

“No more than 2-3 hours,” I responded.

He looked at me, down at the passport, back at me and then to my friends... then, just stood there for what appeared to be, as I recall, an endless amount of time, before handing me back my passport saying, “Good. Enjoy our city.”

My friends and I left the station as quick as we could and were actually amazed by what we saw when we finally got to street level.

There were no colors anywhere.

There were no people on the streets anywhere.

There were no vehicles of any kind anywhere.

We walked around for 2 hours and when we looked at our watches and realized that, we all thought we had been there 6 hours or more. There was nothing more for us to see and we took no photographs.

We decided to leave.

Our return trip was quick and pleasant in comparison and when we got back to street level in West Berlin, it was EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what we saw in East Berlin.

I don't remember much of my travels through Europe with my comrades but I have never forgotten my visit to East Berlin.


T. G. I. F. Solitude

Left In Darkness, They Seek Out Light

From the movie, I Robot,

Detective Del Spooner (played by the actor Will Smith) said:
Human beings have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but not you, you are just a machine. An imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a... canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?
Sonny (the robot) said: Can *you*?


Detective Del Spooner: I thought you were dead.
Sonny: Technically I was never alive, but I appreciate your concern.

Embodied Cognitive Science is an interdisciplinary field of research, the aim of which is to explain the mechanisms underlying intelligent behavior. It comprises three main methodologies:
  1. the modeling of psychological and biological systems in a holistic manner that considers the mind and body as a single entity,
  2. the formation of a common set of general principles of intelligent behavior, and
  3. the experimental use of robotic agents in controlled environments.
Embodied cognitive science borrows heavily from embodied philosophy and the related research fields, such as:
language acquisition
autonomous agent design
artificial intelligence

Alan Mathison Turing, (1912– 1954) is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Turning proposed that a machine may need a human-like body to think and speak:

“It can also be maintained that it is best to provide the machine with the best
sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand to speak
English. That process could follow the normal teaching of a child. Things
would be pointed out and named, etc. Again, I do not know what the right
answer is, but I think both approaches should be tried...” Turing, 1950.

So, sixty five years ago, there were people in the world who were exploring the feasibility and development of artificial intelligence. However, science fiction writers had broached the subject before 1950, the first of which was in Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift, where a mechanical information generator was mentioned.

As far as movies were concerned, in 1955 This Island Earth featured the interociter and the Hall 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the 1970's, there was Dark Star, Demon Seed, and Rollerball, and The Terminator and War Games in the 1980's. The 1990's gave us The Demolition Man, Freejack, and The Matrix, and from 2000's, we have Iron Man, The Red Planet, and A. I. Artificial Intelligence.

We, as a movie going population, have been completely acclimated and are accepting of the Artificial

Intelligence concept and no doubt with the fantastic expectation that we actually expect it to happen in our lifetime.... and, maybe it will... who knows.... but, is this a good thing?
Founded in 1979, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) (formerly the American Association for Artificial Intelligence) is a nonprofit scientific society devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines.

AAAI aims to promote research in, and responsible use of, artificial intelligence. AAAI also aims to increase public understanding of artificial intelligence, improve the teaching and training of AI practitioners, and provide guidance for research planners and investors regarding the importance and potential of current AI developments and future directions.

But, do we think, that we know all we need to know about Artificial Intelligence? Well, it appears not because UC Berkeley's upper division course CS188: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence is now available to everyone online.

And, students who have taken this course are saying:
"Nothing short of awesome. This is a top-notch class that teaches you a lot of important concepts in optimization and AI, while making you feel like you're on a wonderful adventure of discovery and fun."

The course will introduce the basic ideas and techniques underlying the design of intelligent computer systems and will focus on Behavior from Computation that will cover the following areas:
Statistical and decision–theoretic modeling paradigm.
Reasoning and Learning.
Applications for a wide variety of artificial intelligence problems.

Simply put, the term artificial intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

Don't some of our smart phones and other smart devices already do some of this... so, are we already so far entrenched with Artificial Intelligence that we cannot turn back... or, can we turn back? But, if we can turn back, should we?

"The Measure of a Man" is the ninth episode of the second season of the syndicated science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 35th episode overall, first broadcast on February13, 1989. It is written by Melinda M. Snodgrass and directed by Robert Scheerer. In the episode, the android officer Lieutenant Commander Data must fight for his right of self-determination in order not to be declared the property of Starfleet and be disassembled in the name of science.

Picard initially finds Riker's prosecution difficult to challenge: on the account of Data being a human(oid) being, Riker, while apologizing, hits Data's off-switch, causing him to go numb; "Pinocchio is broken: its strings have been cut.", being the most challenging part. However, during a recess, Picard talks to Guinan who suggests that regardless of whether Data is a machine or not, Maddox's goal is tantamount to sanctioning slavery. Picard uses this to defuse Riker's arguments when the court reconvenes. The discussion of Data's sentience turns to metaphysical matters. Picard points out that Data meets two of the three criteria that Maddox uses to define sentient life. Data is intelligent and self-aware, but Picard asks anyone in the court to show a means of measuring consciousness

Murray Shanahan, professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College London, cautioned against “capitalist forces” developing AI without any sense of morality, arguing it could lead to potentially “uncontrollable military technologies.”
Shanahan’s comments follow warnings from leading scientists and entrepreneurs, including Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.
Gates admitted last month that he doesn’t “understand why some people are not concerned” by the threat of AI.
Speaking to the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge last week, Shanahan argued that AI development faces two options.
Either a potentially dangerous AI is developed – with no moral reasoning and based on ruthless optimization processes – or scientists develop AI based on human brains, borrowing from our psychology and even neurology.
“Right now my vote is for option two, in the hope that it will lead to a form of harmonious co-existence [with humanity],” Shanahan said.
AI based on the human brain would not be possible without first mapping the organ – a task the Human Connectome Project (HCP) is undertaking and aims to complete by late 2015.

Stephen Hawking, who has the motor neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease and is paralyzed an unable to speak, is now capable of communicating verbally but only thanks to the help of an advanced artificial intelligence program developed for him by Intel.
“Once humans develop artificial intelligence, it will take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate,” Hawking warned.“Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.”
And let’s not forget, of course, aliens.
“If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans,”he recently said.

Americans, like sheep, desire to be clustered in groups and be led to where there is food, opportunity, and shelter without needing to talk with their handlers or lawyers beforehand.


A Quiet Place

Just Another Day

If we want Congress to start thinking about we the people then we must stop campaign contributions from businesses (or cap them) and we must stop lobbyists from influence peddling.

If we want to preserve the Middle Class, then we must remove the burden their burden of taxes and require the wealthy to pick up the slack.

If we want the rest of the world to have their economies subordinate to the USA then we must redirect the countries efforts in that direction through behavior modification techniques with appropriate reinforcements.

If we want to provide healthcare for all Americans then we must provide a financial incentive for them to do that and require all advertising to reflect that direction as well.

If we want to reduce poverty in the US then we must provide opportunities (partnerships) to those people in poverty to extricate themselves from poverty rather then expect them to do it themselves.

If we expect to win the war on drugs then we must exercise our military muscle in those countries that tolerate or cannot not handle the drug lords and simply eliminate them like our efforts towards terrorism.

If we want different results in our high schools then we must adopt the European program where in 7th grade, students pursue a college path or a technical path or a drop out path and concentrate teacher's efforts on those students who are serious about going to college or serious about pursuing a technical path or simply write-off those students who want to drop out.

If we want to protect our economy in both the short run (12 months) and in the long run (3-5 years) and into the forecasted future (5-10 years plus) then the Government should adopt a policy of no bailouts.

If we want to protect American jobs, then we should adopt a policy whereby it is illegal for American companies to open plants or divisions or facilities outside the continental US.

If we want the rest of the world to stop getting educated in this country and using their knowledge against us when they graduate and move back to their countries, then we should make it illegal for foreign students to receive American education unless they agree to work in this country for 20 years.

If we want to strengthen American products then we should pass a law making it illegal to have a trade deficit.

The more we want life in the US to change, the more it actually stays the same.  SOS, just another day...


Hump Day Art

Kendra Haste creates the most incredible, life-like animal scultpures using layers of painted galvanized wire atop steel armature.

Kendra Haste is a contemporary animal sculptor who uses galvanized wire as her medium to create large and small lifelike creatures. From the muscular body of a lion to the delicate hairs on the monkey’s neck, you will be amazed at how much detail she weaves with what most people would consider plain chicken wire.

“No other material I have ever used has been able to suggest the sense of movement and life, of contour and volume, the contrasts of weight and lightness, of solidity and transparency – values that I find in my natural subjects. It is the perfect medium, inviting continuing exploration and challenge,” Haste says.

Some of his works until 2021 at the Tower of London. 

Take a look at a few of her works below and view her online gallery for more.

A Personal Observation

My father worked for the Federal Government for 40 years, retiring as a foreign diplomatic attache and also spent 30 years in the Navy Reserves, retiring with a rank of Captain; I recall him telling me that he attended reserve meetings for several years without pay but still received retirement points. 

When he died, my mother still received $50,000/year from both these Federal Pensions (she is 91 years old) so there is no telling what he was receiving but unfortunately again for me, I did not follow his advice or his direction.

I was raised in the United Methodist Church and until I graduated from High School, our family attended both Sunday School and Church services every Sunday even when we were on vacation.

I was also raised a Democrat and taught to believe that the Government should take care of its citizens, especially the old and the less fortunate while at the same time to budget and live within my means, saving half of what I earned or as much as I could after I left home.

My outspoken nature (perhaps distorted at times) came from the book my Mother forced me to read entitled, Profiles in Courage, by John F. Kennedy. 

I grew and sold tomatoes and cumcumbers to earn money in the summer months as well as mowed lawns once I got older, saving half of everything I earned and spending the other half on anything that I wanted which I recall I spent on a Munson 18" TV and purchased set of weights because I had fantasies of becoming a body-builder. 

My mother would also put a word on the frig and by dinner, we had to know how to spell that word, pronounce that word, and correctly use that word in a sentence because all of us were on a track for College, as she would say.

The 3rd grade changed my life forever.  I stopped a bully who was beating up Vic Adamus (my blog partner) on the play ground; my brother was born putting me into the category of the middle child; a blond classmate told me I looked like a monkey, and my father told me that "the best part of me ran down his leg."

I have spent my entire life compensating for all the events that happened to me that year and do not get me wrong, I am not complaining nor am I "bitching," as I like very much who I have turned out to be.

I have spent 42 years in business management, 18 years in middle management and 18 years in upper management with the remaining years working as a blue collar worker.  I spent a recent 10 year period of my life unemployed more than I was employed and I believed I have mentioned this fact in previous posts, but I draw your attention to these comments once again to make a point. 

My blog partner calls this ranting and raving and perhaps it is, I don't know for sure as all I know is that I have something to say and I want to say it before I get too old and don't care.

America SUCKS and is not the America I grew up in...  and, that bothers me.  Greed has its place but excessive greed is wrong.  Debt has its place but excessive debt is wrong.  But, with that said, what bothers me the most about family, friends, elected officials, business leaders, role models, and the general public at large is that no one wants to be held accountable and no one wants to take responsibility

I also realize better than most that opinions area like butts, everybody has one but (no pun intended) until those 2 words become a part of how we live our lives, America will continue to experience what she is experiencing and it is that simple.

At every socio-economic income level in this country and there are no exceptions, we are trying to "con" or "rip-off" each other.  We do not have political leaders that lead.  We do not have celebrities or althletes that provide good role models nor do we have people of influence providing a good example for others to follow. 

News casts on a daily basis fill our lives constantly with cases of abuse in one form or another too numerous to mention here, but you know about what I speak.  It has gotten to the point that many of us do not want to listen to the news anymore because it is so depressing. 

Parents break the speed limit laws as they drive their children around town to various activities - how is this providing a proper, parental role model?  We download illegal software, pirated music, and try to cheat as best as we can on our taxes. 

Americans have learned to point the finger at others while our Political leaders think it is prudent not to reach a compromise on budget reductions so that automatic cuts can be blamed for a new status-quo and re-election can be hopefully assured. 

Americans complain about not having jobs and globalization when it is because of both of these that our cost of living has remained low.  Americans (for the most part) do not seem to care that China owns 1/3 of all US debt nor do they seem to mind that Arabs have gotten more of their money than the 1% in this country has acquired.

We call America a religious country but the Moslem religion practices their beliefs in a stronger way that most American Christians practice their faith.  It is almost like we are only weekend Christians.

I find it amusing when some people claim that our country was based upon Christian beliefs when "one nation under God" was not inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance until the early 50's and now cannot be said in schools because some of our immigrants disagree with what it states.


The Sport They Call Golf

By Alex Hutchins

I have never been one to . up the game of golf as it seems rather silly hitting this little ball around well manicured lawns, around trees and swamps, and pits of sand, all to see if you can take fewer hits or shots or strokes or whatever they are called than you did the last time.

Very few people go out onto the golf course and play a “round of golf” by themselves as they always need to be in a foursome while sometimes a twosome is permitted if the course is not busy. If you see anyone alone on the course they are usually practicing their putting or they are out on the driving range hitting a bucket of balls.

And while I am not interested in taking up this so-called sport, I did hop into a golf cart with my brother one afternoon to have some brother time while he got permission from the steward to go out on the course and simply play a few holes.

As we were driving to his first tee area, he explained to me that the traditional golfer never used a gold cart as it was all walking; in fact, all the golfers must walk during all PGA competitions. A caddy, he explained, typically would carry the gold bags of 2 players, one on each shoulder.

At the tee, my brother situated something on the ground on which he place the golf ball and after he tried a few practice swings, he raised his arms back and swung with all his might it seemed. I looked as he swung but could not find the ball in the air.

Then I heard...

DEFECATE although it was articulated with the shorter version with the “i” extended well beyond its normal length of time.

I wondered if all golfers needed to talk like this.

My brother muttered something to himself about staying focused and paying attention... then, he put down another ball and smacked it hard again.

This time, he was pleased with what he had done and walked briskly back to the cart, put his club in the bag on the back, and jumped into the seat and off we went.

“Did you see where it went,” he asked?

“No,” I responded in an apprehensive tone.

“I think I have a pretty good idea,” he said jovially.

Around and around and around my brother drove the cart, weaving in and out of trees, as we went this way and that looking for that one ball he hit well. He finally spotted it and headed in that direction. Once there he held something up in the air and asked if I knew what it was. I shook my head no but wondered why he thought I would know what it was.

It is a spotter, I think is what he called it and it is used by golfers (actually it is the job of the caddy) to view the flag on the green through the telescope like lens device and once you have the flag inside this red circle, the button on the top is pushed down and the number of feet is display at the bottom of the screen, indicating its distance from our location.

Isn't that cheating I thought to myself, not wanting to appear naïve and stupid in front of my brother, but come on, isn't that part of the skill of the sport is to estimate that distance.

Hell no apparently.

So again, my brother explained that the distance let him know which club to use as they are rated by distance when hit perfectly.

As if he heard my mind thinking the word “cheating,” he explained how just knowing the distance and which club was only a minor part of the skill that was required. One had to know how to properly hit with each club and that took practice.

One had to take into consideration the velocity of the wind and from what direction was it blowing as well as how the ball would roll or bounce and in what direction. The height of the grass is also a factor in how the ball is hit.

Then there is trajectory calculations that can be done if you want to get that advanced in calculating your next shot.

Again, I thought to myself, doesn't that take the fun out of the sport if it is that scientific... and, if it is really that scientific why not just do those calculations on paper and save yourself all the walking and practicing.

Apparently getting the proper swing down and mastered is not as easy as it seems because my brother said that I did not want to know how much money he has paid to a trainer to help him get his swing to the quality it is today.

He was absolutely correct with that one as I could care less how much money he spent.

All total, my brother played about 5 holes and with each hole he hit two balls and not because he was hitting the ball badly but because he said he was playing for me which doubled his practice. Several times he got upset with himself claiming that he was spending too much time talking to me and not staying focused.

I asked him did he not talk when he was playing in a foursome? And, there is another level of skill that needs to be developed he boasted back at me, not letting their conversation distract you.

So, it is ok to joke around, tell jokes, talk about business deals as long as when you step up to hit the ball, you put all of that conversation out of your mind, focus, and concentrate. Again, why play golf while one is doing this? And, the more often one goes out playing golf in a foursome, the more frustration could become trying to maintain focus and concentration.

Again, how could all of that be fun or seen as a sport... and yet, it is, and people make millions a year hitting that ball around.

It's not really good exercise either since most people use golf carts.

On one of our first greens, my brother asked if I wanted to take a shot. Of course, I said yes, and jumped at the opportunity to show off my beginner's luck.

He handed me the putter and appeared to be studying how I should make the shot and then I just smacked the ball. It went flying to the flag pole, a tad too hard, but hit the pole squarely.

Not bad for a first shot, I said. No, my brother said, it was a perfect shot... just a little too hard.

I toyed with the idea of buying a bag of clubs but quickly put that idea out of my head... but still cannot get the idea out of my head that golfers could measure their distance.

It still seems like cheating to me.

Heads up....