Pavlov’s Dogs

lemur face

On a recent trip to Madagascar in search of wildlife in its natural habitat, we visited the magnificent Andasibe National Park, where a dozen species of lemur monkeys found nowhere else in the world make their home in the forest canopy. Viewing sifaka (“dancing lemurs”) normally seen only in captivity cavorting in the wild, leaping from branch to branch with an athleticism and grace touched by Terpsichore, moved us deeply. We felt reconnected to everything that modern life inexorably cleaves away. The best part was that our education and amusement didn’t come at the expense of another living creature’s freedom. We observed the lemurs — and the chameleons and birds and tree frogs — on their turf, on their terms. We were respectful guests.

One afternoon, however, we were mislead into visiting what had been billed as a conservatorship, a rehabilitation facility for lemurs. The place was called Lemur Island, . . . → Read More: Pavlov’s Dogs

We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists

The Bad Guys

The Enemy Who Hates Our Freedoms has gotten unruly, crossing borders dreamed up by imperial empires. Impudent weeds with AK-47s and machetes impertinently raise their masked heads, taunting, braying, slashing American throats and luring the big bad bully into yet another unwinnable war. It’s time to mow the grass. Here we go. Again.

It’s been 13 years since the Bad Guys got our attention and, barely trying, won the War on Terror. They left us terrified and flummoxed and hysterical, perfectly prepared to plunder our treasury in exchange for the delusional belief that we would be more secure, that somehow – and this would all work itself out, we were assured – our drones and bombs and torture camps would eliminate the threat, not increase it.

Well, reader, you and your neighbors have spent trillions to feel better. You and your precious children are altogether safer today than ever before, . . . → Read More: We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists

More Work, Less Money = Progress

income-inequality-gap

This year the United States economy recovered all of the jobs lost during the great Wall Street Recession.

But here’s the even better news: The newly created jobs pay an average of 23% less than the ones lost in the “downsizing.” According to a report issued by the United States Conference of Mayors based on 2012 Census data, higher-paying jobs in the construction and manufacturing sectors have been replaced by jobs in the lower-paying sectors of healthcare and hospitality.

It gets better. From 2005 to 2012, the analysis shows, the top 20% of earners were responsible for more than 60% of all income gains in our fine and fair republic. The bottom 40% enjoyed a 6.5% increase.

. . . → Read More: More Work, Less Money = Progress

Honoring Our Laborers

Laboring

As we make final preparations for the most solemn American holiday, Labor Day, our mind turns to ways that we, and perhaps all of us, can make Monday’s national celebration of workers into a perfect expression of how we all really feel about laborers.

Vegas, baby!

Disneyland?

Another less exalted way of honoring those of us who actually work is to take a small slice of time out of our vacation – thirty minutes maybe? – to ask ourselves a simple question: Why do I believe what I believe?

It’s a useful line of inquiry. Had the millions of Americans . . . → Read More: Honoring Our Laborers

Israel’s Final Solution

Conflict Ender

Enough already. We’re sick and tired of hearing about the conflict in Gaza, especially when there’s a new turtle movie coming out.

Sure, our tax dollars pay for Israeli and Egyptian weaponry, and, yeah, OK, that sort of makes us involved. But, really, what does this decades-old grudge match have to do with us here in America? Can’t it just end so our newspapers can return to reporting good news, like the discovery of more frackable shale in North Dakota?

Supposedly there’s no way out of this deplorable situation. Supposedly there’s no answer acceptable to all three parties (Hamas, Israel, and USA). Upon first and repeated consideration, that seems about right. Water and oil will never mix – unless you add a bonding agent, but never mind. It’s a foregone conclusion: Israel and Hamas will never come to terms.

Have you not read the Hamas Covenant? Are . . . → Read More: Israel’s Final Solution

Religious Champions of Discrimination

rights can't wait

America’s religious leaders, some of the most esteemed and respectable citizens in our republic, are helping us understand that our precious freedoms — the ones our brave soldiers fight and die for in faraway dust bowls most of us can’t find on a map — are once again under attack. This time the perpetrator isn’t a hairy Muslim in pajamas or an angry white guy with an automatic weapon and the phrase “2nd Amendment is 1st in My Heart” tattooed on his shoulder. This time it’s the White House.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order this week that barred anyone doing business with the United States government from discriminating against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, or transgendered Americans. The upshot: if you want to hang onto your tax exemptions, government contracts and subsidies, you must hire the ungodly and unworthy, the sodomites and Sapphos and freaks.

Now, this . . . → Read More: Religious Champions of Discrimination

Redskins Forever!

washington-redskins-logo

The Washington Redskins have the coolest nickname in all of sports. Their logo – a stone-faced Indian wearing 19th Century feathers – is also pretty awesome.

Here’s how you know the name “Redskins” isn’t a slur against a conquered and marginalized people but is actually a part of the NFL’s long tradition of diversity and inclusion, on and off the field: a league spokesman said, “The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive, and respectful image.”

Exactly. It’s not like they’re called the “Injuns,” or the “Savages,” or the “Inferior Race of People Who Couldn’t Stop the White Man’s Invasion.” It’s Redskins, as in the color of skin most of those people have. I mean, look at the helmet! Reddish skin is an honest description. Just like if you had a team of African Masai warriors, you could accurately call them . . . → Read More: Redskins Forever!

Poem: Ordered Correctly

paparazzi  know where to look

Someone famous kissed another girl.

Someone fabulous tripped on a red carpet.

Someone infamous professes shame about her fellatiatic indiscretions.

And someone fantastically sexy is prepared to make “revealing” confessions (on a TV show).

Which is why almost no one will read this poem.

A poem about what doesn’t matter.

Like a country far away without oil.

Exhale with relief.

This arrangement, we’ve all come to understand gradually,

Is the way it ought to be.

Perfectly calibrated.

Ordered correctly.

Why We Can’t Stop Shooting

it couldn't happen here

COMING SOON…THE 2014 MK.com SUMMER POETRY FESTIVAL, JUNE 21-30!

Since democracy is the best system ever to honor the concept of “innocent before proven guilty,” nearly 300,000 Californians voted for Leland Yee to be our next Secretary of State. His tally came as somewhat of a surprise, considering that Yee had officially dropped out of the race after being indicted on federal bribery and gun-running charges. NRA members, who sensed a brother in harm’s way, may have come to the ballot box in defense of their comrade-in-arms. Or maybe disaffected voters figured that Yee’s recusal made him a kind of rebel, and we all know how sexy that can be. Either way, affecting substantive policy changes at the ballot box is looking about as likely as Team USA winning the 2014 World Cup. Meanwhile, the young bodies keep piling up, like so many carcasses ready for . . . → Read More: Why We Can’t Stop Shooting

We’re Not Qualified

earth sun

Look, we’re not qualified to discuss the scientific data on the sun. We don’t have that kind of education. That’s for specialists to debate among themselves. All we know is that there’s a strong case for the sun being the “center” of our galaxy and an equally strong case for us, Earth, being the “center” of the galaxy. Obviously, it’s all very complicated. Rushing to final judgment on this issue would be a mistake.

And why does it even have to be an issue? Can’t we all just agree to disagree? Respect everyone’s point of view, even if it’s not outlined in the Bible?

It’s not like we’re claiming the sun isn’t the center of our galaxy. We’re just saying there’s some very strong data out there that makes you wonder…and isn’t skepticism one of the lynchpins of scientific inquiry?

Also – and you’ve got to be . . . → Read More: We’re Not Qualified