Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Florence + The Machine - Dog Days Are Over

Dogging Michael Vick

I’m in the minority, apparently, when it comes to Michael Vick.

I don’t hate him.

In fact, I admire the 31-year-old Philadelphia Eagles quarterback who played for the Atlanta Falcons for six seasons before heading to prison for being part of a dog-fighting ring in 2007.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a “dog person” – I always have been – who finds Vick’s crimes despicable and almost incomprehensible. I’m as anti-animal abuse as the next guy. I’m glad he served almost two years in prison and agree that maybe his sentence should have been longer.

I’m okay with the fact that he was dumped by the Falcons, lost his obscene NFL salary and lucrative product endorsement deals, and had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008.

But I admire how he’s shouldered on in spite of the hatred and vitriol directed at him by animal lovers, people who resent his million dollar paychecks, racists who frown upon black men being rich and famous and gifted, and those who for some reason want to deny him the same chance at redemption that they give countless others.

Amy Fisher, the “Long Island Lolita,” can shoot her married lover’s wife, Mary Jo Buttafuoco, in the head and become a journalist and porn star after prison.

George W. Bush can cause the death of more than a million human beings, sully America’s reputation in the international community and destroy our economy and rack up at least $15 million in speaking fees since leaving office in 2009.

G. Gordon Liddy can be convicted of burglary and conspiracy for his role in Watergate and become a syndicated radio talk show host heard in 160 markets.

Figure-skating champion Tonya Harding can plead guilty to conspiracy for her role in the 1994 assault on a competitor, Nancy Kerrigan, and then become a boxer, television personality and pop culture icon.

Even Michael Jackson – who shared his bed with little boys, changed his race, appeared in court in his pajamas, and danced on top of an SUV parked outside the Santa Barbara County Courthouse – was just a little “eccentric” in the eyes of his international army of fans.

Vick’s now working with the Humane Society of the United States to get Congress and state legislatures to toughen sanctions for dog fighting. (Legislation is being considered in Lansing that would make dog fighting a racketeering crime and allow police to seize property from those who profit from it.) Apparently the new federal law that went into effect in 2007 – the one making interstate dog fighting a felony and mandating prison and large fines – isn’t good enough.

What else does the guy have to do to pay for his crime? Why isn’t he entitled to the same second chance that we give everybody else?

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 40,000 people in this country are involved in professional dog fighting.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are 307,006,550 people in the United States.

How about a little perspective on the Michael Vick thing, people?

Sources: WKAR News, U.S. Census Bureau.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"An Open Door" by Nikita Welch

Death Cab for Cutie - Little Bribes


I saw a nine-month-old baby at the optometrist’s office 30 minutes ago. She was crawling on the floor, chewing on a rubber duck, and clapping just because she could. As I watched her drool and crawl and clap and stare – at me and my kids, at her grandma, at everything and everybody – I wondered what it was like to be her. I wondered if she would always be healthy and happy. I wondered how long she would live.

Tom “Killer” Kowalski was found dead yesterday at the age of 51. The popular writer/reporter who covered the Detroit Lions for Booth Newspapers was just 51 years old.

Last month, cancer killed Charlie Cain – a well-liked journalist who worked for the Detroit News for 34 years – at the age of 60.

Samantha Smith
Bobby Kennedy is dead, and Paul Wellstone, and Ann Richards and Molly Ivins and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X and Walter Cronkite and Samantha Smith, the little girl who became famous back in the early 1980s for promoting peace in a letter to Yuri Andropov, leader of the Soviet Union. She was just 13 when she died in a plane crash in the summer of 1985.

TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes died in a car crash in Honduras at age 30. R&B singer Aaliyah was just 22 when the small plane she was in crashed shortly after takeoff in the Bahamas. Anne Frank died at 15 in a concentration camp.

The Challenger crew
I, like others, remember the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle like it was yesterday. It was on January 28, 1986, when we lost Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, and Judith Resnik due to a faulty O-ring seal in a solid rocket booster.

I was sad when I heard that Soupy Sales died, and Barbara Billingsley and Tom Bosley and Detroit’s Sir Graves Ghastly and Jack Parr and Don Knotts and Lucille Ball. (I loved Lucy.) Even though they lived a relatively long time in relative comfort, their exit from this mortal plane still represents candles that were extinguished. Darker is darker.

It’s too bad that George Carlin and Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor and Bill Hicks, people who didn’t just make us laugh but also made us think, had to go when they did. And say what you will about drug abuse, but Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse and River Phoenix and Charlie Parker left too soon.

Some deaths are especially sad. Children should but don’t always outlive their parents, as we all know, and the obituaries describing the strength and courage of, and lessons taught by, young cancer victims and kids with bad hearts and not-rare-enough diseases always make me cry.

The tenth anniversary of the September 11 tragedy is fast approaching. Surely we’ll be bombarded with media retrospectives and wounds will be reopened for those who suffered the loss of friends and loved ones. Although the significance of September 11 has evolved for me and the attacks were subsequently used by unscrupulous politicians to justify the unjustifiable, 2,966 human beings didn’t deserve to lose their lives on that bright and terrible morning.

I wrote about Eleanor Josaitis, who co-founded a charitable organization, Focus: HOPE, back in 1968 and enhanced the quality of life for countless fellow Michiganders before cancer took her earlier this month at the age of 79. She was mourned by thousands.

Some, like Elvis and Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor, are mourned by millions when they die; others leave more quietly after leaving amazing marks on their loved ones, like my wife’s dad, Daulet Singh, and my good friend’s husband, Charles McGlashen. Although 6,026 soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan to date, I’m ashamed to admit that I know the names of just two or three.

Why am I thinking about death? Why write about it? It helps me to remember – when I’m offended or unfriended or irked or depressed – that life is short and fragile. No one is guaranteed a single day, no matter how good we are or what kind of lives we lead or how many others are affected for better or worse by our being here. I really need to try harder to live each day as if it were my last. Because it might be.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mercedes Sosa - Como la Cigarra

Blogging about b*llsh*t

Image by Kristina B

I scan my Facebook news feed every morning to get information, ideas and inspiration for “What’s the Diehl?” I want to make sure my blog covers the most current news, the latest political developments, and topics of interest to others, not just me.

The problem is that there’s so much negative news out there right now.

In just five minutes this morning, I was confronted with the following potential topics for a blog post:

  • Michele Bachmann says God sends messages through natural disasters and pledges to consider drilling in the Everglades.

  • Ick Perry (no, that’s not a typo) says Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and signs a gay marriage ban for Texas.

  • The “liberal” media refuses to report that just five people showed up in Republican Naples, Florida, for a Christine “I Am Not a Witch” O’Donnell book-signing.

  • Republicans think they can use Hurricane Irene – which was much ado about nothing in many quarters, I hear – to force more cuts to popular government services.

  • The Obama administration just moved toward approving construction of a 1,700-mile, $7 billion pipeline that would bring 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to Texas.

  • A report says foundations paid $42 million to spread anti-Muslim propaganda.

  • The New York Times’ Paul Krugman points out that “one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge."

  • Michigan lawmakers are considering bills to end the state’s no-fault auto insurance requirement.

  • Charities are bracing for the worst as Michigan welfare recipients are cut off.

  • Detroit Mayor Dave Bing wants to use $316,000 of Head Start funds – which are supposed to help feed poor kids – to improve facilities.

  • GOP Congressmen put constituents who asked tough questions on a ‘Watch List.”

  • It's a myth that 47 percent of Americans pay no taxes; in reality, 86 percent pay taxes.

  • The child poverty rate climbs in 38 states.

  • U.S. support and aid to Israel – at least $10 billion every year – is more than the rest of the world combined.

  • A number of stories reported by Fox News have turned out to be lies.

  • Wall Street loves it some Obama. In 2008, Goldman Sachs contributed $1,013,091 to Obama’s campaign, JPMorgan Chase & Co. gave $808,799 and Citigroup Inc. gave $736,771.

  • Ick Santorum (no, that’s not a typo either) says gays are waging “jihad” on his anti-gay, anti-Constitutional ideas.

  • Texas lawmakers are fighting to insert Christian language in funerals for non-Christian soldiers.

  • Salmon is disappearing from Lake Huron; marinas, charters and towns are suffering from the loss of game fish.

  • Convict and disgraced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is “excited” about returning to the Motor City to speak and promote his new book.

I don’t know why we didn’t let Texas secede when it was threatening to. I don’t know how much longer I can write about all the crap currently swirling around this country’s toilet (it’s not like I’m getting paid for this). I don’t know why I can’t just stick my head in the sand and leave the blogging to the thousands of others who have been doing it longer anyway.

Oh, that’s right. I care. Dammit.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pay attention while walking

This sign is by Jason “Jay Shells” Shelowitz for his “Metropolitan Etiquette Authority” project. Visit this link.

Linkin Park - In The End

Sunday poetry

Every Third Sunday

I visit my grandfather
in the nursing home.
He doesn’t remember me,
calls me by the wrong name
and talks about Korea
as if I was there with him.
This is the third nursing home
for him in the past year.
The last two released him
for talking dirty to the nurses.
Every sponge bath
turned into a case of
sexual harassment.
My grandfather greeting nurses
with his pants down,
asking for a hand. And that’s
not even the worst of it.
I’ve read the reports. Received
late night phone calls threatening
that he’s being moved
first thing in the morning.
“He’s a dirty, dirty man,”
they scolded me though the phone,
as if I was the one
who put him up to it.
They left me with a warning
that if it were to happen again,
his next stop would be an institution,
and you know what that means.
I sit my grandfather down at lunch
and lay it all out, pleading for him
to stop with the dirty talk,
to keep his hands to himself,
to find a different way to channel
his sexual frustration.
“Frustration,” he laughs,
“You don’t know what that is.
Frustration is when they don’t let you
outside, too afraid the world
isn’t strong enough to witness
the sight of a dying man,
so they keep you locked
in here all day with the stale air,
and the men
who are no longer men,
who weep strapped
to their beds, screaming
for their mothers.
You think those trees
out front were planted?
No, they were uprooted
and hauled here
from some far away place
so no one could see
inside this mess.
My God boy,
these men fought Hitler,
and they’ve been reduced
to diapers. Yesterday I forgot
what day it was, and for a second
I was scared of Alzheimer’s
but I remembered
time was on my side,
and by time, I mean
not much of it. For the first time
in my life, I’m more scared
of living than dying.
So, yeah, maybe
I’ve only slept with
one woman in my life
and to be honest with you, kid,
it doesn’t matter if they send me here
or there, fact is, I’m already dead,
just waiting to be buried,
so I may as well give it
one last shot
because the graveyard isn’t going
to wait long for an old cat like me,
and what is all of this going to matter then?
It’ll mean jack shit, that’s what.
Now go home, or find
something else
to do with yourself
cause the nurse
with the big tits
is calling the bingo numbers
this afternoon
and I’m feeling lucky.” 

~ Tyler Bigney

Read more poetry of unusually high unusualness at Clutching at Straws.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Seals and Crofts - Diamond Girl

Favorite Status Updates Part 4

Time for more Facebook status updates, in random order:

  • Patrick Diehl wonders if it's wrong to feel like going over to the house of the person who unfriended me in Facebook and demand an explanation and apology.

  • Patrick Diehl is grateful.

  • Patrick Diehl was just asked why I was meeting with a lawyer because according to my son, that's the only time I shave.

  • Patrick Diehl heard that the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal. What a buzz kill.

  • "It may be necessary temporarily to accept a lesser evil, but one must never label a necessary evil as good." ~ Margaret Mead

  • Patrick Diehl wishes the battery in my Android lasted half as long as the one in my kids' Nintendo DS.

  • "The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all." ~ John F. Kennedy

  • "How the hell did we get into a world where workers making $60,000 are overpaid but CEOs making millions are overtaxed?" ~ A Facebook user

  • Patrick Diehl heard that Michelle Bachmann won yesterday's Iowa straw poll, putting her one step closer to challenging Barack Obama. People, do we need any more proof that Iowa sucks and should not play such a prominent role in American politics?

  • Patrick Diehl thinks if corporations are people, then Exxon-Mobil and BP are slick and greasy, General Electric is a dim bulb and Wal-Mart is one fat, loud, obnoxious, cheap piece of sh*t.

  • Patrick Diehl thinks if I receive one more letter or e-mail message touting the benefits of AARP membership, somebody's gonna see just what kind of punch I can still pack.

  • "You cannot negotiate with people who say, 'What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.'" ~ John F. Kennedy

  • "Honestly, we should talk about the fact that during the financial crisis, S&P was handing out AAA ratings to any pile of junk tall enough to reach the doorbell and ask. So they do not have the most credibility on this." ~ Rachel Maddow

  • Patrick Diehl was just told by my eight-year-old to be more pacific with my answers.

  • "If you have to rely on Facebook status updates to know when you have to go vote, you should probably do everyone a favor and just stay home." ~ Eric Baerren

  • "If I ever get a divorce I want Barack Obama to be my ex-wife's lawyer in the settlement so I'll get everything." ~ John Fugelsang

  • "Let's get this straight: I don't particularly care why they need help, if they're drug addled, if they're lazy and sick, crippled, any of it. My interest in feeding the hungry and clothing the shirtless does not exist because I think THEY'RE particularly good people. It exists because I know I am." ~ Mike Barber

  • Patrick Diehl wonders if someone who teases twelve-week-old puppies with a vacuum cleaner is going to hell. I'm, um, asking for a friend.

  • Patrick Diehl just came back from seeing "Captain America" with the kids. Send money or I'll reveal whose side he's on.

  • “Government is the Entertainment Division of the military-industrial complex." ~ Frank Zappa

  • "Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka gave birth to a baby girl. The baby's name is 'Trump Granddaughter and Casino.'" ~ Conan O'Brien

  • Even the game Monopoly has a luxury tax.

  • "If my devils are to leave me, I am afraid my angels will take flight as well." ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

  • Patrick Diehl was surprised when Maya, who was sitting next to me talking to her mother on my cell phone, decided to spell something that she didn't want me to hear. WTF?

  • Patrick Diehl just heard there's a new show on the History Channel called, "Mounted in Alaska." I assume it's about Bristol Palin.

  • “There is a price to pay for speaking the truth. There is a bigger price for living a lie." ~ Dr. Cornel West

  • Patrick Diehl thinks the real scandal is that the married congressman who consorted with prostitutes while wearing diapers is still in office while the one who sent icky text messages is out. Liberal media bias my ass.

  • "No one would be foolish enough to choose war over peace - in peace sons bury their fathers, but in war fathers bury their sons." ~ Croesus of Lydia

  • Patrick Diehl just read that Senator John Kerry owns a ton of Comcast stock. I never liked that bastard.

  • "Let he who is without sin show his internet browser history." ~ Sexy Liberal

  • What?! They scrapped the food pyramid?! Now how am I gonna know how to eat?

  • Nancy Grace is not a natural blond. Pass it on.

  • In honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms, I ate too much and got a painful sunburn.

  • Patrick Diehl kind of resented being laughed at by two little neighborhood girls just now as I exited my van and opened a child-sized Spiderman umbrella.

  • Now that Ashton Kutcher has been signed to replace Charlie Sheen on "Two and a Half Men," I'm still not gonna watch that piece of crap show.

  • Patrick Diehl is standing watch, coffee in hand, in case any giant rabbits try to dump their eggs and jelly beans on my property.

  • Patrick Diehl went on a field trip with Maya to Woldumar Nature Center and had an amazing time. Sure hope there's money in the budget for more of these because the kids love 'em and they learn a lot....what? Millionaires need tax breaks? Never mind.

  • Patrick Diehl remembers when Donald Trump praised the Clintons, bashed the Iraq War and labeled Dubya the Worst President Ever. Then he caught something from Dennis Miller and became a dickhead.

  • Patrick Diehl is sure glad there's a Nobel Peace Prize winner in the White House or else we might engage in military actions that we can ill afford.

  • Patrick Diehl is getting too old for this sh*t.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Green Day - 21 Guns

Dogs and death and doing what's right

The photo of the dog laying next to his dead owner’s casket that everyone’s posting on Facebook doesn’t make me say, “Awww.”

It makes me mad.

I’m angry that 35-year-old Navy Seal Jon Tumilson was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on August 6, and that his beloved Labrador retriever, Hawkeye, was deprived of his master, his best friend, for no reason.

Tumilson was one of at least 30 killed when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Afghan “insurgents” took out their Chinook helicopter. Hawkeye lay at the foot of Tumilson’s casket throughout his funeral, held last Friday in Rockford, Iowa, and was photographed by Tumilson’s cousin, Lisa Pembleton.

The photos of the devoted dog are indeed touching and heart-wrenching and beautiful. But Jon Tumilson and Hawkeye didn’t have to be permanently separated, not yet, and I don’t know why they were.

I’m not saying Mr. Tumilson died in vain. It’s not my place to judge. From what I read, he always dreamed of joining the military and is considered a hero. But things could have been different. They could have been better for the man and his canine companion and those who loved them.

Friday, October 7, will mark ten years since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. Since then, 1,721 Americans have lost their lives – and thousands of innocent Afghan civilians have also been killed, although you never hear about them or how their loved ones are suffering – and we’ve spent almost $460 billion on this conflict.

Imagine how much $460 billion could buy here at home – how many teachers could keep their jobs, how many community centers could stay open and hungry children could be fed and bridges could be repaired and mental health clinics could fend off closure. Although Republican politicians would surely still want to destroy the economy for political gain and kick Obama out of the White House, imagine how many lives would be made easier, a little better, if we weren’t spending so much to kill brown and black and white people for no reason 7,411 miles away.

Why are we in Afghanistan again?

And why the excessive use of the word “insurgent” these days, by the way? The word originally referred to someone who revolts against government or civil authority. Was it co-opted by pro-war flacks in some conference room in Bethesda or Langley or Washington to make it more palatable, more acceptable, to kill people in other countries by stripping them of their humanity?

It’s good, I guess, that people are posting these photos and keeping us aware of the folly in Afghanistan. But maybe we should all take another second to communicate to our congressional representatives and the president how wrong this costly, needless, endless war is. It would be cool if we all did a little more than just repost a poignant photo on a social networking website and move on with our lives.

The ones we still have.

Unlike Jon and Hawkeye.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nicki Minaj - Super Bass

Oh, this is just super!

Getty Images

Excuse me if my cynicism is showing.

The 12 politicians appointed to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – the bipartisan “super committee” charged with finding $1.5 trillion in debt savings over the next decade – received nearly $64.5 million from special interests groups in the last decade, with legal firms donating about $31.5 million and Wall Street firms (including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase) donating about $11.2 million.

Ever heard of Club for Growth? This conservative “free market” group (read: staunchly opposed to tax increases) donated more money than any other organization, contributing a combined $990,066 to the 12 committee members. The vast majority of that money went to its former president, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA).

And yet surely it’s possible that these fine, noble, unsullied men and women – mostly men – will opt to put campaign contributions aside, negotiate in good faith and vote with the best interests of the people and economy of the United States in mind.

The committee has until November 23 to produce a debt reduction plan or else as much as $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts (evenly divided between defense and non-defense spending) will automatically kick in. The full Congress has to vote on the committee’s plan by December 23.

CNN provided snapshots of each committee member:

  • Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), co-chair, is chair of the House Republican Conference who served on the president’s debt commission but voted against the commission’s plan because he opposes any and all tax increases.

  • Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), co-chair, chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and serves on the Budget and Appropriations Committees. The Republican National Committee has already strongly objected to her appointment on the grounds that she’s too political.

  • Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MA), the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, played a key role in the debt talks led by Vice President Joe Biden earlier this year.

  • Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Senator Mitch McConnell’s second-in-command, is a pro-military member of the Finance Committee and a staunch opponent of tax increases. He walked out of Biden’s debt negotiations earlier this year.

  • Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the failed presidential candidate, is an expert on foreign policy and national security. He’s a member of the Finance Committee and has been in the Senate for almost three decades.

  • Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) was elected to the Senate just last year. The former president of Club for Growth sits on the Senate Budget and Banking Committees and ended up voting against the debt ceiling bill that created the super committee.

  • Senator Max Baucus (D-MO) is chair of the Senate Finance Committee. He served on the president’s debt commission but voted against the final plan because he thought it cut too deeply into farm subsidies and he didn’t like the changes it would have made to entitlement programs.

  • Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) is a Senate novice, a member of the Budget Committee and a former White House budget director in the Bush administration.

  • Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA) is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee who served on the president’s debt commission but opposed the final plan because it cut too deeply into discretionary spending and didn’t raise enough revenue.

  • Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) is the third-ranking Democrat in the House, a veteran of the Appropriations Committee, and one of Nancy Pelosi’s BFFs.

  • Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) chairs the House Ways and Means Committee and served on Obama's debt commission but opposed the commission’s plan because it hiked taxes and he thought it failed to address rising health care costs. Camp has collected $134,000, largely from insurance and health care-connected groups – more than anyone else in Congress, including party leaders.

  • Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee and received $92,000 from special interests in the span of a few weeks last month, ranking fourth among all politicians.

The six Republicans have all signed a pledge by Americans for Tax Reform to vote against any tax increases.

This is too bad. A new state poll released yesterday by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA found that two-thirds of those surveyed want the super committee to agree on a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

Yeah, that’s going to happen. And newfound bipartisanship and productivity will permeate throughout Washington, butterflies will flutter, rainbows will glisten, angels will sing, and politicians of all stripes will march hand-in-hand down Pennsylvania Avenue with smiles on their faces and compromise in their hearts.

Politicians do have hearts, right?

Sources: Raw Story, CNN, Washington Times, Associated Press.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Queen - 'We Will Rock You'

Fumbling at football

I need to learn the difference between a running back and linebacker, a safety and wide receiver, and a tight end and cornerback. I don’t know how many players are on the field at any one time. I know where the line of scrimmage is, I can identify the quarterback, I know the difference between offense and defense, I get the first down thing...and that’s pretty much it.

My ten-year-old son is playing football now – not flag football or pickup football, but real football, with shoulder pads and a jersey with his last name on the back and special pants and a mouth guard. Teams were announced last night and he was happy, thankfully, with where he ended up. I was pleased because I’ve watched one of the coaches during the last week of practice and he seems knowledgeable and enthusiastic and approachable and tough but in a good way, and it turns out Bryant ended up on this guy’s team. I think this is going to be good for my boy.

I need to find out if ten-year-olds are supposed to wear underwear under their jockstraps. I need to learn how frequently a young boy’s grass-stained football pants are supposed to be washed because I want to back Bryant up when he complains to his mom about washing away his badges of honor. I need to be able to answer another parent’s question when she asks me if her son is playing halfback or fullback. I need to plug in, to become invested, to get in the zone, to put my Android down and stop checking Facebook from my camping chair on the 30-yard line at Holt Junior High.

I watch other dads tell their sons to “stay low” and “move those feet” and “get nasty” and “take him down” and I know if I repeat those tidbits, Bryant will look at me like my skin is green and I have a third eye because he knows I’m no sports fan, I’m a writer, and any gridiron advice I spout probably comes from Google, not my head or my heart or my experience. I may not know as much as the other dads, who have more tattoos, can throw a better spiral, and have favorite players and teams. But no one is happier when his child makes a tackle and earns a high five from the coach than I am. No one loves his kid more than I love mine.

I know the benefits of athletics, of participating in team sports, of stretching and conditioning and exercising by playing football on a brisk, sunny morning. I know what it does for self-esteem and coordination, and what it teaches about dedication and being part of something bigger and working together to achieve shared goals. I also know how beautiful it is when coaches, parents, sisters, brothers, grandparents and friends provide direction and support from the sidelines. It’s breathtaking to watch hundreds of children in matching yellow jerseys overtaking the junior high school football field under a blue sky, doing jumping jacks and pushups in unison, counting out loud as one, preparing to play hard, and being cheered and consoled and encouraged and loved.

Bryant was offsides? So what? He’s just a kid. Wanna make something of it, bub?

I’ve already got some of it down – the “get nasty” part, that is.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ashford & Simpson - Send It

So Snyder's sinking....

Polls are funny.

I remember the weekend before Michigan's gubernatorial election back in 1990. My boss, Jim Blanchard, the incumbent, was 20 points ahead of his challenger, John Engler, the frumpy, dumpy right wing Senate Majority Leader.

Jim Blanchard
I woke up the following Wednesday morning in a hotel in Detroit to a hangover and the jarring news that Mr. Unpleasant from Mt. Pleasant had beaten my boss by fewer than 20,000 votes. My wife at the time was six months pregnant, Christmas was in a few weeks, and I was suddenly in the job hunt along with hundreds of others.

That was when I learned that polls don’t necessarily mean sh*t. It’s all about GOTV, “Get Out the Vote,” and Blanchard hadn’t done it. So while he headed to a lucrative post at a high-falutin’ law firm, then a presidential appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Canada, scores of mid-level staffers like me scrambled and lamented the fact that we hadn’t burrowed into holes in state government like some had recommended. (We refused to acknowledge the Blanchard Fatigue that existed in the field, choosing instead, unwisely, to hang our hats on the results of a single poll.)

John Engler
It’s because of that experience that I find most polls worth less than the paper on which they would be printed if things were still printed on paper. They’re a tool for the media to use to inflate its own importance, suppress voter turnout and shape the outcome of races. Sometimes candidates can use favorable results to fundraise and motivate and energize, but polls can also give false hope to the doomed. And an unfavorable poll can decide who wins before voters get the chance, which just seems wrong.

So I can’t decide how I feel about yesterday’s news that 62 percent of those polled by the Lansing firm EPIC-MRA disapprove of Republican Rick Snyder’s performance as governor, up from 57 percent in July. (Back in January, Snyder’s favorable to unfavorable spread was 59 percent to 8 percent.)

Rick Snyder
EPIC-MRA pollster Bernie Porn said voters are skeptical that business tax cuts will improve the state's economy and don't care for either the 2012 cuts in state aid to education or the increased taxes on retirement income that take effect January 1.

When asked about his poll numbers, Snyder insisted that the personal meetings he has with residents suggest the public is more supportive than the surveys say. This is the equivalent of sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears and singing, “La la la” really loudly.

I want to hang my hat on these numbers because I strongly dislike the Nasally Nerd and believe his “Rob from the Poor to Give to the Rich” policies are as bad for Michigan as John Engler’s were two decades ago. (At least with John Engler, Lansing observers knew what we were in for. Snyder is more of an enigma, a secret that proves uglier and worse as more is revealed.) But the next election is still more than 56 weeks away; a lot can change in that amount of time.

Let’s see what happens on Election Day.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Shoot them space invaders....

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

What Stalin said

I ran across an interesting video clip in Facebook this morning. It depicts a computer programmer named Clinton Eugene Curtis of Tallahassee, Florida, testifying under oath that computer programs indeed exist to secretly fix elections. And unless someone knows how to read source code, the irregularities are pretty much undetectable.

Mr. Curtis, who says he’s worked for NASA, Exxon-Mobil and the Department of Transportation, seems credible. He claims former Florida Speaker of the House and Congressman Tom Feeney was a client who wanted Curtis’ help in rigging an election; Feeney, gubernatorial wannabe Jeb Bush’s running mate in 1994, was later named one of the "20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress" by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. (Feeney led the effort to certify Florida’s Republican presidential electors even though it was still unclear whether Dubya or Al Gore had won the state's 25 electoral votes in 2000.)

Remember after the 2000 election when the demand for electronic voting machines became louder? Companies like Diebold claimed their voting machines could solve Florida’s butterfly ballot problem and there was much discussion about hanging chads and paper trails and direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting systems and the likelihood of electoral fraud. Unfortunately, problems and irregularities with electronic voting machines have since been recorded in Virginia, California, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas and, of course, Florida.

In Ohio in 2004, there was a sudden and unexpected shift in votes for Dubya after Ohio’s vote count was transferred late on Election Night to a partisan Republican server site in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (For more information, read “New Court Filing Reveals How the 2004 Ohio Presidential Election Was Hacked.”) The transfer was enabled by Govtech, a private IT firm headed by the late Michael Connell, a technical guru for the Bush family and Karl Rove. Mr. Connell died in a suspicious small plane crash 45 days after giving a deposition in the case examining Ohio’s electoral irregularities.

It’s interesting how conspiracy theorists seized upon Clinton confidant Vincent Foster’s "suspicious" demise in a Virginia park in July of 1993 but no one says anything about Mr. Connell.

The GOP’s recent willingness to take the economy of the United States of America to the edge of a cliff and nudge it several times proves that Republicans will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. It’s not hard at all to believe they’ll rig elections, especially since it’s so easy to do and difficult to detect.

In the words of Josef Stalin, "It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Adele - ''Someone Like You''

Sunday poetry

Jesus Paints Graffiti

I’m pretty sure Jesus is a morning person
that he wakes up in a good mood
He denies he ever spoke personally to George Bush
Maybe he spoke to Bob Dylan
Jesus wears a bathrobe and reads the obituaries
He has a long braid like Willie Nelson’s
He drinks his tea black
leaves the cap off the toothpaste
and never uses an ATM machine
He’s never won a poetry slam
or been published in the New Yorker
He runs full page ads in the New York Times
and blushes when he’s on the cover
of People Magazine: Sexiest Man Alive
Jesus painted graffiti on the Christiansburg Kmart in 1989
Next to a blue planet in bold black letters
He left it unsigned

~ Colleen Redman

Read more poetry of unusually high unusualness at Clutching at Straws.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lyle Lovett - "I've Been To Memphis"

18 Years and 78 Days

I had to spend the weekend in jail once.

I was convicted of violating a personal protection order on a Friday afternoon and was handcuffed right in the courtroom and taken directly to the county jail, where I stayed until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday when Anita picked me up. (The PPO had been falsely obtained but that’s another blog post.)

The loss of freedom, the sense that I was caged and this just wasn’t right and I was under someone else’s control, were almost overwhelming – so much so that I had to “unplug.” I fought down the rage and frustration like bad food trying to exit my body and did my best to distract myself from the fact that I was trapped, confined, unable to leave the room. I borrowed a lousy paperback from a fellow inmate. We all took turns trying to shoot a wadded up piece of paper into a trash can on the other side of the room. I slept as much as I could.

Others would argue about who was getting my food because I wasn’t eating – the food was disgusting and I didn’t want to have to relieve myself in front of 20 strangers. The deputy who controlled the television that was bolted to the ceiling derived pleasure from exercising his Awesome Power sparingly and ignoring our attempts to kiss his ass and get him to let us escape by watching something, anything, besides a fly caught in a spider web and the sun coming up and going down.

My practically unbearable sentence lasted 52 hours. By 7:00 on Sunday night I was drinking Port wine and watching Seth Rogan exchange clever repartee with Kathryn Heigl in “Knocked Up,” the DVD that Anita rented.

I can’t imagine being convicted of a crime I didn’t commit and ending up on Death Row or spending my entire adult life behind bars. I can’t imagine the panic, the rage, the despair. I can’t imagine how that would reduce me, kill my spirit, turn me into an uncaring animal.

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were freed from an Arkansas prison yesterday where they had been held since 1993. They had been convicted of killing three little boys – eight-year-old Cub Scouts named Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers – and dumping their hog-tied, naked bodies in a ditch.

The crime scene had been contaminated, important leads had been disregarded, confessions had been coerced, the prosecution’s case had more holes in it than a wiffle ball, evidence had been mishandled, none of the DNA recovered at the scene matched that of the supposed perpetrators, other potential suspects were ignored...yet Echols ended up on Death Row and Baldwin and Misskelley were given life in prison for the murders.

Johnny Depp and Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder have all made supportive statements about the “West Memphis Three,” as they’ve become known, as have a number of less-famous people. HBO received accolades for “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills,” one of two documentaries about the case. Henry Rollins and other musicians raised money to help defend the West Memphis Three and books have been written critical of the verdict.

The three teens were clearly railroaded. Satan worshippers were the Boogey Men of the day and one of the young men fit the description of what they looked like, people thought. They’re not troubled, teenaged heavy metal fans anymore, though. They’re 35-year-old men who were falsely imprisoned for 18 years and 78 days while the real killer remained free.

I hope they make a mint from the books they write.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Michael Franti: Hey World (Don't Give Up)

Walker, Kasich and Snyder? Oh, my!

Note: A nasty computer virus prevented me from accessing the net and posting this yesterday morning:

I’ve written about this crap before.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a law earlier this year making it possible for emergency managers appointed by the state to go into struggling cities and school districts and usurp the authority of local elected officials.

In an April 19 post entitled “Fascism comes to Benton Harbor” and again in a June 23 post entitled, “Look out, Snyder! Sugar Law is on the case!,” I lamented the fact that the governor can appoint emergency managers to take over local units of government and do whatever they want. Emergency managers have already laid off employees, privatized services, cut wages and increased health care costs for employees.

Chris Savage of wrote that Public Act 4 of 2011, the “Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act,” disenfranchises Michigan voters by stripping away the powers of their local elected officials and giving them to a single gubernatorial appointee; forces local governments to pay the costs of emergency managers; reneges on previously-negotiated contracts and collective bargaining agreements; allows emergency managers to assume control over academic and educational plans; and allows public assets to be sold off to private interests.

Not only has a lawsuit been filed in Ingham County Circuit Court to declare the law unconstitutional, but folks have banded together under the “Repeal Public Act 4 of 2011” banner to collect petition signatures and put the issue before voters.

A group called Michigan Forward is leading the coalition and volunteers are collecting signatures in Detroit, Marquette, Pontiac, Grand Rapids, Flint, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor, among other places.

The group needs 161,304 valid signatures by next March to put the issue before voters; organizers said a few days ago they have nearly half of their 250,000-signature goal. (They want a cushion to allow for invalid signatures.) If the State Board of Canvassers certifies the signatures, the law would be suspended until voters decide its fate in November of 2012.

I bet Michigan’s pro-repeal forces are encouraged by what’s going on in Ohio and Wisconsin. Ohio’s GOP governor, John Kasich, just announced he’s willing to discuss his union-stripping law, Senate Bill 5, after all – now that polls show it’s likely to be repealed by voters. (Over 1.3 million signatures were collected to get the repeal on the November 8 ballot.) And labor came out on top in five of the nine recall campaigns recently concluded in Wisconsin, where GOP Governor Scott Walker has been flipping the bird at angry voters for months. Looks like politicians seriously underestimated the power of an enraged citizenry.

I wonder how long Rick Snyder thinks he can keep his fingers in his ears and ignore the will of the people here at home.

Update: It was announced Thursday that Snyder wants to fast-track the Ingham County Circuit Court challenge by having the Michigan Supreme Court – which has a 4-3 majority of justices nominated by the Michigan Republican Party or appointed by Snyder – take the case immediately. What a surprise.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nature's Passion

This remarkable photo of Yachats, Oregon was taken by Judith Hees in August 2010.

Youssou N'Dour featuring Neneh Cherry - 7 Seconds

If you hate taxes...

If you're a person who hates taxes:

1. Don’t use Medicare.

2. Don’t use Social Security.

3. Don’t become a member of the U.S. military, who are paid with tax dollars.

4. Don’t ask the National Guard to help you after a disaster.

5. Don’t call 911 when you get hurt.

6. Don’t call the police to stop intruders in your home.

7. Don’t summon the fire department to save your burning home.

8. Don’t drive on any paved road, highway, and interstate or drive on any bridge.

9. Don’t use public restrooms.

10. Don’t send your kids to public schools.

11. Don’t put your trash out for city garbage collectors.

12. Don’t live in areas with clean air.

13. Don’t drink clean water.

14. Don’t visit National Parks.

15. Don’t visit public museums, zoos and monuments.

16. Don’t eat or use FDA-inspected food and medicines.

17. Don’t bring your kids to public playgrounds.

18. Don’t walk or run on sidewalks.

19. Don’t use public recreational facilities such as basketball and tennis courts.

20. Don’t apply for educational or job training assistance when you lose your job.

21. Don’t apply for food stamps when you can't feed your kids.

22. Don’t use the judiciary system for any reason.

23. Don’t ask for a lawyer or expect one to be assigned to you by the court.

24. Don’t apply for any Pell Grants.

25. Don’t use cures that were discovered by labs using federal dollars.

26. Don’t fly on federally-regulated airplanes.

27. Don’t use any product that can trace its development back to NASA.

28. Don’t watch the weather provided by the National Weather Service.

29. Don’t listen to severe weather warnings from the National Weather Service.

30. Don’t listen to tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake alert systems.

31. Don’t apply for federal housing.

32. Don’t use the internet, which was developed by the military.

33. Don’t swim in clean rivers.

34. Don’t allow your child to eat school lunches or breakfasts.

35. Don’t expect help from FEMA when everything you own gets wiped out by disaster.

36. Don’t expect the military to defend you in the event of a foreign invasion.

37. Don’t use your cell phone or home telephone.

38. Don’t buy firearms developed by the U.S. government or military.

39. Don’t eat USDA-inspected produce and meat.

40. Don’t apply for government grants to start your own business.

41. Don’t apply to win a government contract.

42. Don’t buy any vehicle that’s been inspected by government safety agencies.

43. Don’t buy anything protected by the Consumer Protection Agency.

44. Don’t save your money in or apply for a loan from a bank that’s FDIC-insured.

45. Don’t use veterans’ benefits or military health care.

46. Don’t use the G.I. Bill to go to college.

47. Don’t apply for unemployment benefits.

48. Don’t use electricity from companies regulated by the Department of Energy.

49. Don’t live in homes that are built to code.

50. Don’t run for public office. (Politicians are paid with taxpayer dollars.)

51. Don’t ask for help from the FBI, SWAT, the bomb squad, Homeland Security or state troopers.

52. Don’t apply for a government job (state and federal employees are paid with tax dollars).

53. Don’t use public libraries.

54. Don’t visit the National Archives.

55. Don’t visit presidential libraries.

56. Don’t use airports that are secured by the federal government.

57. Don’t ask the government to help you clean up after a tornado.

58. Don’t ask for an Agriculture Department subsidy to help you run your farm.

59. Don’t take walks in National Forests.

60. Don’t ask for taxpayer dollars for your oil company.

61. Don’t ask the federal government to bail your company out during recessions.

62. Don’t seek medical care from places that use federal dollars.

63. Don’t use Medicaid.

64. Don’t use WIC.

65. Don’t use electricity generated by Hoover Dam.

66. Don’t use electricity provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

67. Don’t ask the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild levees when they break.

68. Don’t let the Coast Guard save you when your boat capsizes at sea.

69. Don’t ask for evacuation assistance when all hell breaks loose in the country you’re visiting.

70. Don’t visit historic landmarks.

71. Don’t visit fisheries.

72. Don’t expect to see animals that are federally-protected because of the Endangered Species List.

73. Don’t expect plows to clear roads of snow and ice so your kids can go to school and you can get to work.

74. Don’t hunt or camp on federal land.

75. Don’t work anywhere that’s safe because of government regulations.

76. Don’t use public transportation.

77. Don’t drink water from public water fountains.

78. Don’t whine when someone copies your work and sells it as their own. (The government enforces copyright laws.)

79. Don’t expect to own your home, car or boat. (Government organizes and keeps all titles.)

80. Don’t expect convicted felons to remain off the streets.

81. Don’t eat in restaurants regulated by food quality and safety standards.

82. Don’t seek help from the U.S. Embassy if you need assistance in a foreign nation.

83. Don’t apply for a passport to travel outside of the United States.

84. Don’t apply for a patent when you invent something.

85. Don’t adopt a child through your local, state or federal government.

86. Don’t use elevators inspected by federal or state safety regulators.

87. Don’t use any resource that was discovered by the USGS.

88. Don’t ask for energy assistance from the government.

89. Don’t move to any other developed nation because the taxes are much higher.

90. Don’t go to a beach that is kept clean by the state.

91. Don’t use money printed by the U.S. Treasury.

92. Don’t complain when illegal immigrants cross the border because there aren’t more border patrol agents.

93. Don’t attend a state university.

94. Don’t see any doctor who's licensed through the state.

95. Don’t use water from municipal water systems.

96. Don’t complain when diseases and viruses once fought around the globe by the Centers for Disease Control reach your house.

97. Don’t work for a company that has to pay its workers a livable wage or provide sick days, vacation and benefits.

98. Don’t expect to be able to vote on election days. (Government provides voting booths, election officials and voting machines funded with taxes.)

99. Don’t ride trains. (The railroad was built with government assistance.)

100. Don't complain about potholes.

The fact is we pay for the lifestyle we expect. Without taxes, our lifestyles would be totally different and much harder. America would be a third world country. The less we pay, the less we get in return.

Americans pay less in taxes today than in 1958; the United States is ranked 32nd out of 34 of the top tax-paying countries. (Chile and Mexico are 33rd and 34th.) People are lying when they say we pay the highest taxes in the world.

If you object to paying taxes or support abolishing taxes for corporations and the wealthy, remember this quote:

"I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

With thanks to Julia Koch.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pretend I'm passing a hat....

If you can show me some love so I can continue to write thought-provoking essays and post good music - and I hope you can - please use the "Donate" button on the upper right and make a left-leaning, middle-aged blogger with mouths to feed happy.

I'll even have your name tattooed somewhere.

Five Man Electric Band - Signs

Recall, Recall, Everywhere a Recall....

Rick Snyder won’t be recalled.

Recall Snyder organizers raised just $25,000 of the estimated $1 million a recall election costs and collected fewer than half of the 807,000 signatures they needed by their August 5 deadline. Now they’re hoping to keep collecting and place the issue on the ballot next February.

This is a good thing. If Snyder were recalled, his lieutenant, Brian Calley, would ascend to the governorship. (The claims of recall proponents notwithstanding, there is no special election to select Snyder’s successor. The state constitution clearly specifies that the lieutenant governor shall be governor for the remainder of the term if the governor dies, resigns, is impeached or removed from office.) Lieutenant Governor Calley is further to the right than Snyder; it’s safe to assume things would be even uglier than they already are.

Governor Rick Snyder
I don’t agree with the professional pundits and establishment types who insist the recall option shouldn’t be used when voters disagree with a politician’s policies because they can always remove 'em during regularly scheduled elections. Rick Snyder – who refused to disclose any positions or intentions on the campaign trail – deserves to be removed from office now, not three-and-a-half years from now after he’s turned Michigan into the Mississippi of the Midwest. (Sorry, Mississippians.) But the writing’s on the wall and it isn’t going to happen.

I wrote back in June that it makes more sense to go after state legislators “where Republicans currently control everything, including the scheduling of bathroom breaks, because less money and fewer petition signatures are required in a district.” As of today, 26 state lawmakers face the threat of recall.

This is good and bad – good because changing the composition of the state legislature still makes the most sense; bad because my own state representative, Democrat Barb Byrum, is among those at risk.

Is it because she’s failed to represent her constituents or work hard or has done something wrong? Nope. It’s because she represents a district that could go either way politically and Republicans want to maintain control of the legislature by any means necessary, even if they have to misuse the recall mechanism.

State Representative Barb Byrum
I hope the Byrum recall effort is unsuccessful because she’s a talented, charming, dedicated legislator who doesn’t deserve it. And being a Democrat in a Republican House of Representatives in a state with a Republican Senate and a Republican governor and a Republican Supreme Court and Republican Secretary of State and Republican Attorney General is punishment enough for whatever mistake she’s capable of making.

I hope the other legislative recall attempts succeed. Some voters weren’t paying as much attention as they should have been last November. They are now.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Immature - Extra Extra

Read it and weep

I can’t read the Lansing State Journal anymore.

Yesterday’s “Talk About It” section – which features responses from a panel of average Joes and Jills to a question posed by the paper – asked the following question: “Do the current swings in the stock market make you uneasy?” One panel member responded, “What makes me uneasy is the same thing that is making investors uneasy, President Barack Obama’s policies.” He went on to criticize Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke, and government taxation, regulation and inflation.

Further up on the same page, 9A, the Journal featured an op-ed authored by Bobby Schostak, chair of the Michigan Republican Party, claiming that Obama and the Democrats are endangering the future and the GOP’s conservative fiscal policies are the right change.

What’s conservative about spending over a trillion dollars on two unnecessary, unjustifiable, endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? What’s conservative about taking our country’s economy to the brink of a manufactured disaster, the absolute edge, in a political fight over raising the debt ceiling, which was raised five times during Dubya’s administration? What’s conservative about awarding billions in tax cuts to the richest two percent of Americans, those who need it the least, and fomenting class warfare? What’s conservative about protecting tax loopholes for Big Oil even as it announces record profits? What’s conservative about inheriting a budget surplus from Democrat Bill Clinton and turning it into a massive deficit in eight years?

This “Republicans are our only hope to rein in the tax-and-spend liberals” claptrap infuriates me for two reasons: 1) it’s just not true, and 2) lots of people are na├»ve enough to believe it.

I regularly – some say excessively – criticize Barack Obama, and one of my recent blog posts explained why I no longer consider myself a Democrat. I’m no knee-jerk liberal. But this mischaracterization of the two parties, this bending of reality, this suppression of fact and advancement of lies and distracting and diverting and misstating is a disservice to all of us. It threatens our future because it mucks up the electoral machinery and ensures that ignorance will remain the primary characteristic of many voters. It helps the defenders of the status quo and people who don’t have our country’s best interests at heart to retain their ability to rule the roost.

Not all Democrats are “tax-and-spend liberals.”

Not all Republicans are fiscal conservatives.

There are distinct, major differences between today’s Democrats and today’s Republicans.

Taxation, regulation and government are not always bad.

And not all investors despise Barack Obama. Some despise Republicans and some despise all politicians.

There are times when I don’t lament the fact that newspapers like the Lansing State Journal – which a former colleague used to call the “Lansing State Urinal” – are going the way of the stagecoach and rotary telephone. This is one of those times.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stephen Stills - Love The One You're With

Sunday poetry

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~ Robert Frost