Saturday, October 31, 2015

An Alcohol Culture

A couple of days ago I texted my granddaughter who is a soph at BU and subtlety said, "be careful with all those parties and drinking too much." In fact, it is a simple fact: We live in an alcohol culture, plain and simple. If you really want to discover this, the next party/gathering you go too, just observe without drinking yourself. 

Recently my wife and I were invited to an anniversary party. It was not in our town and so we had to drive We decided ahead of time which of us would drink and the other a designated driver. It was a wonderful get together. Quality all around. Of the thirty or so there, I venture to say that I was the only one not drinking. The waiters kept filling the glasses. In a word, I saw personalities change. Some in remarkable ways. Not bad, just different. 

We live in an alcohol culture. What am I saying? Good or bad. Not really but basically I can’t think it’s good for us. 

Friday, October 30, 2015


Real combat vets often discuss the veracity of fellow soldiers war stories. Most true combat vets, those that actually fought, on the front lines, rarely talk about it. Here is one a friend passed to me.  

 "I tell people I don't really see a person as a combat vet unless they have a CIB, (combat Infantry's Badge or a Purple Heart or a Bronze Star or better. I often see everyone's DD214 (this is the official record of every soldier) so I know the bullshitters. I had lunch last year with a quiet Korean War vet as I told him I was collecting stories. I knew what he earned (all the above). He got hit with a grenade in the leg when he went to check a ridge during an advance. Getting toward the top, a grenade came rolling down the hill. 

He was back in the trenches a few weeks later. He said, 'All I really remember is how cold it was. All the time.' A real (and quiet) hero.

Monday, October 26, 2015


60 minutes. 

Fascinating. Showed this vast military operation we have in the Middle East. Costs "10" Mil!!!! Get this, TEN MILLION a day. $$$$$ Dollars we are talking about. Who would have thought bombing would costs this much. $$$$$ LOL. Imagine what we could do with those bucks (consider we have been doing this over a year) if we applied them to out problems in America.

 We are so f..king stupid. 60 minutes asked the Air Force types, "why a terrorist outfit like ISIS could still exist if we were so successful as the commanders said. One LTC allowed something like, "We are killing thousands." What in the f..k has he been smoking. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer is speaking at some University and an on-line petition is badgering her because of her comments concerning transgender women. The University said, "no way" would she be prohibited from speaking (Cardiff U). They didn't cave like Amerivan schools have when faced with controversial speakers. (Brandeis University notably exhibited a marshmallow backbone by withdrawing an Aysan Hirsi Ali honorary degree as they didn't have the guts to stand up to controversy. They preferred censorship to listening to all opinions). 

I like this comment about Germaine Greer. She scoffed when asked wherther she understood that her views could hurt the feelings of transgender women. She said, "People are hurtful to me all the time. Try being an old woman for goodness sakes." 

I am not a conspiracy theorist but do wonder about the fact that the "Times" reported this in a little small article buried way down the page. 

My favorite Germaine Greer quote is something like this: "men have always been interested in T and A (trying not to offend any sensitivities. HaHa)  And now after centuries,  they are still interested in one thing, T and A and A nd T. True. 


Recently, I was discussing the candidacy   of Hillary and Bernie with a friend who was a "dyed in the wool" Hillary supporter. I like Bernie because he has some fresh ideas and Hillary and Bill have had their chance. To me, Hillary will be so divisive. My friend pointed out, "And, you don't think Bernie will?"  Of course, the "right wing fundamentalist" will have a field day but with either Hillary or Bernie, no pulling the country together, even if it has ever been possible. 

It is our system. Broken and we can't fix it. When voters who care hear the word,  "broken," the illusion that we can "fix" it enters the stage. Ideally, we could vote out the present crowd and vote in a new one. But, we'll not do that.

 I have no faith in the electorate. We keep
 putting in the same worthless politicians. Many Americans even vote against their own interests as they get involved in so called wedge issues, i.e., Planned Parenthood, gay marriage, various bullshit sort of stuff. Politicians say, "American people" as if they have a clue what it means. What should be said, "Americans who care" and not all do. 

The best, I think, we can say about our system is "high drama and political theater." And, as a rock/blues guy, Sam Cooke, would say, 

Thursday, October 22, 2015


This was an HBO show that said for the first time ever, politics is addictive. So, Joe not running is even more impressive. Finally a politician who is willing to fade into the sunset. No use to analyze, just Way to go Joe. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Millinnials Revisited

Feedback from a follower:

We now live in the age of connectivity.  My children are always connected to their "clans"-those whose lives they value highly, and those they wish to communicate with on a regular basis.  It allows them the dynamics of "family" life no matter their location.  It's a fantastic, modern, technological transformation of the meaning of 'family'.
     We, you and I, etc., barely scratch the surface; but they are in up to their eyeballs.  We had to worry about the cost of long distance calls, toll calls, telegrams, sitting down, writing letters.  Not them: they flip open their "devices" and starting communications immediately.  Stay connected as much and as often as you like. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Social Media

A few months back, my wife and I went to Seattle for our first gay wedding. I went kicking and screaming but it turned out OK, met some nice folks. Yesterday, a couple we met came to our place for lunch. He is a high tech guru in a start up and his partner, a theater type of some sort. They were absolutely delightful and
educated us in how "millennials" think/act. Here is my interpretation. They are always connected and organize their lives around social media. Their friends on social media are organized in groups, whom they are involved with in various avenues of their lives. They are "Facebook" friends with my wife and many others who were at their wedding. They touch base on FB and announce they are coming to San Francisco, give dates, etc. They "couch surf" (think that is the term--it is, relatively speaking,  where people who are "friends" on social media offer up their couch for free. There is a website). They didn't "couch surf" but could have. My wife checks in on FB, they plan lunch with us. Delightful. Their next social activity is already planned through FB. Absolutely fascinating to me. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015



Big mistake. The Taliban can't be beaten. They have an endless supply of soldiers. To be effective, we would need say, 50,000, to use the stupid term, boots on the ground. We are setting ourselves up for a disaster. When we lose soldiers like we have before, the public outcry will be enormous i.e., 220 American Marines killed by a truck bomb (1983) at a Marine compound in Beirut, Lebanon

The President is often bamboozled by the generals. The cry in Vietnam was, "more troops," same thing today. In Vietnam, "more troops and we'll be home by Christmas. The only problem, nobody told us what Christmas. 


As my Dad would say, "I am already jaded." The Democrats, not so much a debate as a "group hug." Republicans go at it again tonight. 
I've really thought about what it means coming to this election season. I am an Independent/Democrat. I don't trust the Republicans to run the country. They would break down all that we've put in place. Hillary and Bill have had their shot. I think Bernie Sanders might be the guy. Glad Joe didn't run. Joe can now do something useful, Hang out with his grandkids. 

We need term limits. Will never happen as the ones who would put "term limits" in place would have to vote themselves out and we know what chance that would have. Term limits have worked in California. Let's face it, we are basically f..ked. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I love the Vietnamese. I seek them out. For a long time, my barber was the Kim girls. I moved. Recently, I've come to know Suzies. They are manicurists.

I've always felt, we f..ked up their country, we owe them. My mission is teaching them to say, America, the Southern way--the NASCAR way. Not America but "Merica." It is adorable. God bless "Merica. You should see them smile. 

Every immigrant has a story. We are all immigrants. Susie, for instance, escaped (her words) Vietnam when she was 10. She loves America, the freedom, "blessed," she says. I always walk out feeling humble. 

The Vietnamese are maybe the most successful emigrant group in American. This is not to acknowledge those f..k ups we did. I always asked the question: If the Americans hadn't come to Vietnam, would you be better off. From SUSIES, 
a resounding NO. 

This is not such an objective questioning for sure. We did go To Vietnam for eleven long years and for most of us Vietnam vets, Vietnam rewrote our life story. To me, part of the Vietnam legacy is how little our involvement there has impacted future American f..k ups. Iraq, Afghanistan, the MidEast in general. We never learn. Well, we still have Suzies. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015


For about 20 years I have been watching the Blue Angels fly over the SF skyline irritating the locals. Most every year I have been irritated myself. Not at the noise or any related activity. They are marvelous flying machines, no doubt. But, here is my gripe: can you fathom the money? I would say millions to put on this show and to what end? Soldiers (soldiers include all servicemen/women.) don't have adequate housing, low pay; some actually qualify for food stamps. And, what are we doing? Putting on an air show. F..K


The old, "truth is stranger than fiction" popped up recently in a long article in "Rolling Stone" about a young Lieutenant who goes AWOL (Absent without leave), joins the French Foreign Legion for five years. Finally comes back and is "court martialled" and sent to jail. Talk about the condensed version, this is it. Read the long, long article. 

Not the Army's finest hour from my perspective. It is piss poor leadership, to include some hair brain general who doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. But, it is more. 

For the Lieutenant, having a father/family whose concept of nurturing was built around running a marathon or something related. 

A bigger picture may be how a system like the military deals with mental illness. A Lieutenant who was maxed out depressed and finally with a feeling of nowhere to go. Where were the docs, shrinks, the chaplain, social workers. The military has all of this, yet the Lieutrnant doesn't take advantage of it. Why not? A mystery. 

When I was a young Captain in Germany, freshly back from Vietnam, one of my Lieutenants wanted to talk with me about Vietnam as he was scheduled to go. We had this long talk. I remember it exactly. We even retired to the Officer's Club, continued  talking over a beer. I was candid with him, Vietnam was a sorry war. Useless but it was the only war we had at the time and unfortunately if this Lieutenant wanted to make the military a career, he has to go to Nam to get his "ticket" punched. The humor to my sad story is that the Lieutenant leaves me at the Club, gets in his MG and defects to Sweden--good for him, one smart Lieutentant. 

There are lessons in the Rolling Stone story. First of all, why did the military feel they had to make an example of the Lieutenant. They could easily have given him a field grade article 15, dishonoble discharge and put him out of the Army. No, they had to be stupid. You can forgive the two star general but it is why there is a chain of command: to counterman stupidity. Somebody above the general, to include the president, could have said, "whoa." Come on, as strange as it sounds, the Lieutenant  did join the Foreign Legion for five years. Now, that I'm thinking about it, where the f..k are the French standing up for him. 
The last time I looked, the French are allies. The Prez is the commander in chief. But, not to be. It is one of the reasons that I think the military is in grave shape. The leadership only knows vertical thinking. No real leadership or creativity. Here are the facts, go with it. I often think of a realization that came out of WW Il. The basic difference in the Germans and the Americans is that the Germans had a plan. But, if something happened and they couldn't execute their plan, they didn't know what to do. If something went wrong with the American plan, they made another plan. This is what we've lost, I think. 

Read this story. Think it's called "The Good Soldier" Worth your time. 

Thursday, October 08, 2015


When I was a grad student at LIU (Long Island  U in Brooklyn. Don't ask?) our Sociology Prof, a wonderfully sensitive guy, trying to make a point about the sanctity of life, said something like, "There are 3000 muggings in NY City every day. In a city of 12 million, more or less, that is not a big deal. However, if you are one of the 3000, it is a 100%." 

I've always remembered that when someone points up a tragedy and says, it could have been worse. To the victim, it is a 100 %. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


I hear these talking heads, government spokesman and others, mostly, PBS interviews and the WSJ. Here is s chance to "skate" out of an impossible situation in Syria. Think the Russians and Afghanistan. Eventually, they simply went home. If they thought Afghastan was tough, they ain't seen nothing yet. Let them have Syria. 

The thing that is crazy is we still talk about getting rid of Assad while the Russians are there to prop him up. Will we never get it that the f..ker has nowhere to go. We still continue to sing the same tune: Assad has to go, the 14 people we've trained to fight ISIS are the model for the Russians to join. Wake up and smell the roses. GOOD LUCK Putin, we are out of here. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


I am so please to see the "End of Life Options Act" come to pass. Too many times I have seen patients continue treatment because they didn't know what else to do. Now, there are options. 

The reality of course, is that you are interacting constantly with those who can now choose when they depart the area. Amen and God bless them on their journey. 

A nurse in the Cancer 
Infusion Center. 


Long time coming. Finally we have to applaud the governor. Although I have supported him, he will always be Guv Moonbeam. This wasn't courageous so much as what the f..k have we been waiting on? 

My old professor, Albert Ellis. (actually I was a student at LIU [Long Island U] and took a class taught at Ellis Institude.) I will never forget the class and Ellis view of "death and dying." Something like, "a person's life belongs to them and they can do with it what they want." Right on. The stories and examples are legion on how important it is at the end for someone departing this life to choose how they exit. So IMPORTANT. The law, although a long time coming, is here. Thanks to all those folks who have worked so hard to see this happen, many in the final chapters of their time on earth. God bless them.  


There is an NC saying, "Snake Bit." What it roughly means is that regardless of what you try to do; good, moral, whatever, it comes across f..ked up. Snake Bit. Bad luck on every turn. That is us, overall in our present involvements. We pretty much get blamed for everything. Maybe, right or wrong. But, here's an example of Snake Bit. Russia is indiscriminately bombing most everything that moves. We are going for the big condemnation. At about the time we are taking the moral high ground, we bomb a hospital in Afghanistan and "tick" off the unflappable "Docs Without Borders." We are SNAKE BIT. 

Sunday, October 04, 2015


Going to SF Giants last game today. Symbolic, they are out of playoffs but been an entertaining season. 

The other day when I was watching the "Willy Mac" awards, I thought, how would it be to spend years playing baseball and then it ends. Now, of course, they make millions and we have to view them as entertainers. 

What I like about the Giants is that they are a kind of, "Peoples" team. Their manager is brilliant but not flashy. He doesn't "grandstand." You feel like you know the players.  So, Giants, thanks for the season. 

Saturday, October 03, 2015


San Francisco didn't make the baseball playoffs. They didn't finish last but not in the money, so to speak. I love baseball for its strategy. Some say it's boring. I've never been bored seeing managers maneuver. 

Overall, not much of a sports type but baseball, as Susan Sarandon quoted in my favorite baseball movie, "Bull Durham," 'Walt Whitman said, Baseball is America's game.' " 

Moping around, bemoaning the loss, I thought of a Lieutenant I knew in Nam. He was a West Point graduate and told me this tale. At "The Point" when the cadets get close to graduation, cadets who finish first or close to the top, their hard work has paid off and there's much of which to be proud. However, at this stage, nearing graduation, the real prize goes to the one who finishes "last." He is called "the goat." 

According to the Lieutenant who said he was more proud of being "the goat" than anything ever, when you get close to the end, you know how many points you need to pass a test, how much to fail one. There are scores who are vying to be the cadet "goat." When "the goat" walks across the stage at graduation, he is given a standing ovation. 

Well , my beloved Giants didn't win but they weren't the "goat" either. A sad note to this war story that I remember distinctly: the Lieutenant was killed shortly after telling me the "goat" story. Sad beyond words. We spent a million dollars educating this fine young troop to have him die in a useless war. It is not the money, it is just an example. The Lieutenant will never be married, have children, love the good American life. We sent him off to war and he died. The greater sadness is the anger at what we did. We have done it many times since Vietnam and continue. We f..king never learn. 

Friday, October 02, 2015


And, I mean no disrespect to those who struggle with mental illness but the word "crazy" conveys the idea that a person, obviously mentally ill, is living in a parallel universe. He is hearing voices and having conversations that we can't share or know. And, from initial readings, his mom who coddled him was not a paragon of mentally stability, herself. 

As one who has no answers, maybe this could be an approach. Let's go
after the "gun dealers," make it a profession where they have to truly screen for mental illness. As much or more like TSA. The "crazies" might not be getting on a plane but they are loose in society with a gun. How can we keep guns out of their hands? The gun sellers! And, if a crazy has bought a gun from a dealer and the dealer has not done due diligence, he goes to jail. Now, jail is an incentive. Solve the problem? No, not really but it is something. 
God bless us all. 

Thursday, October 01, 2015

HELLO, Russian war planes bombing

Hello, Hello. We are surprised that the Russians are bombing everybody who is not with Assad. They entered the frey and we are maxed out dumb to think they are going to fall in line with American views: Get rid of Assad, the one the Russians came to prop up. 
Hello, Hello.