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Monday, September 29, 2014


In the summer of 1984, I was living in Athens, Greece. I lived in a fancy schmancy building on Vassileos Constantinou Avenue, a couple of hundred yards from the 1896 Olympic Stadium (my roommate, Scott and I snuck in a couple of times and ran the then cinder track. It was a lot like "Chariots of Fire" I imagine) - unfortunately, I lived in a dumpy basement apartment, barely larger than a broom closet. The point was though, that I got to explore Athens and the surrounding areas.

Back then I smoked (Salems - loved that menthol taste).  As a poor traveler, I couldn't afford Salems, instead I smoked a European knockoff brand called Reyno:

My morning routine would be to go to the little shop around the corner, buy a pack of Reynos, walk through the National Gardens to Syntagma Square for some breakfast, maybe try to steal some stationary from the Hotel Grand Bretagne (I was living on about $5 a day and needed to save my money for Reynos), and would explore Athens.  Sometimes we would go to Piraeus (a port city about 7 miles away), and would catch a boat to one of the islands in the Cyclades - Santorini was my favorite, spent a week sleeping on the beach that summer.

(it really is that beautiful)

or maybe Spetses, one of the Saronic Islands:

(also that beautiful)

It was a good time.


One afternoon, I was wandering around a street close to the Parthenon (modeled after the one in Nashville, I think), probably smoking a Reyno, and I came up to a guy in traditional Afghan clothing who was handing out flyers. I talked to him for a minute, and he told me that he was Mujahideen - asked me if I knew what that was. Well, I vaguely did. They were the group of Afghan freedom fighters that the U.S. was helping to arm in their fight to run the Russians out of their country. Guy was pretty friendly, and very appreciative of the help that the U.S., among others (including a fellow by the name of Osama Bin Laden, as it turned out) was giving them. Now, after the Russians left Afghanistan, the Mujahideen started fighting amongst themselves. Ultimately, a mulla named Mohammed Omar and his group came out on top.  You might have heard of them.  They are known as the Taliban.

Anyhow, now we are talking about arming "moderate Syrian rebels" in our fight against ISIS. I hope that somewhere in Washington, D.C., someone remembers that the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Remote Area Medical

This weekend, a very worthy group called Remote Area Medical will be in Ooltewah setting up a free clinic (!about-us/c172w). Their mission statement is:

                                       "To prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free                                                     quality healthcare to those in need."

First, donate to them. They do good things.

Second, the United States has the richest economy in the world, with $17.5 trillion in purchasing power (

Third, look at this map:


The green areas represent countries with universal healthcare. Notice the western hemisphere.  Notice specifically the NOT green areas.  Yep, the United States, with the richest economy in the world, does not make affordable healthcare available to EVERYONE. Healthcare costs in the United States are such that an organization such as Remote Area Medical sees the need to provide free clinics inside the United States.

And THAT, my friends is something that embarrasses and disgusts me, and I hope it embarrasses and disgusts you as well, regardless of your politics.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Preconceived notions

Here's the deal: O.J. Simpson murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Everyone knows it - he skated because he could afford the best lawyers. His actions after the trial showed how irrational he was, and again, everyone knows he did it. I mean, really!

Now, today, we hear of George Zimmerman threatening to kill a motorist:

another in a long line of incidents like that from him.  Objective people realize that he murdered Trayvon Martin, and just like O.J., his actions since then have borne out what kind of person he is.
I remember how disappointed I was the day that O. J. was acquitted, particularly at the black people I saw on TV cheering at his acquittal - again, come on, folks.  We know that O.J. did it.

I was likewise disappointed at all of the white folks coming out of the woodwork to defend Zimmerman, and do everything in their power to make Martin out to be the meanest, baddest…you know what…around.

We’ve seen it in the last month, as (mainly) white folks are working pretty hard to bring anything into the Michael Brown case that will confuse the actual event of him being shot six times by a police officer – including trying to make it look like Mr. Brown beat Officer Wilson and broke his eye socket by planting a fake picture of another man from 2006: 

Or posting a picture of someone who is NOT Michael Brown, but trying to pass it off as him:

This picture is of a man named Joda Cain, who is a murder suspect. This picture was posted by a POLICEMAN!

So, again, we let our preconceived racial notions affect what we believe – on both sides.

O.J. murdered his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman.  George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and will wind up killing someone else, or will be killed by someone else, and it sure does seem like Michael Brown, unarmed and with his hands up according to witnesses (including construction workers with nothing to win, by the way), was executed by Officer Darren Wilson.

This is what I believe.