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National Adoption Day


Tony Bella Ana Hawaii

Tony, Bella, and Ana discovering the Pacific Ocean.

I overshot this one by a couple of days (National Adoption Day is the Saturday before Thanksgiving) but I’m still going to cite it:  November is National Adoption Month and the 21st was the official National Adoption Day.

Our family has been blessed with three siblings — I call ‘em “the terrific trio” — whom my daughter and son-in-law adopted.

Heather and Bobby had decided waaaay back when they were in high school that they wanted to adopt in addition to any biological children they might have.  After they were married and their jobs and careers had stabilized to the point where they could start having a family[1], they began the adoption process.

It took several years.  There were psychological profiles that they had to complete, training classes where they were taught what to expect and how to cope, even we grandparents-to-be were checked out and CPR certified before the state would even think of letting Heather and Bobby actually meet potential adoptees.

Once they passed that hurdle, the process of matching them up began, and it was not easy.  Heather and Bobby opted to be available to adopt two slightly older siblings instead of infants[2].

Time and again they were told of potential matches, and time and again it fell through for a variety of reasons.  Weeks became months became years.

Feeling frustrated, they were about to drop out of the process when they were told about three young children, a brother and two sisters, who were older than the age range Heather and Bobby had been considering, but who were literally on their last leg in the adoption system:  If they weren’t adopted together ASAP, family services would split them up and put the older children in foster care and the youngest would be separated off for adoption by herself.

Heather and Bobby saw the three young children’s picture and knew they were the ones.  They met them, struck off a good rapport with them, and began the adoption process.

Boy, that sounds so easy — everything was peaches and cream and the bureaucracy fairies magically sprinkled pixie dust all over everything and made the process as smooth as silk.

It wasn’t.  There were still frustrations and friction points, delays and detours.

The children were friendly but wary[3] and there was some baggage that had to be unpacked.

But, oh, those children!  How could anybody not fall in love with them?  Bella and Tony and Ana filled a hole in our hearts that we never realized was there.

And the great thing about the adoption process is this:  We are family.

Don’t get me wrong, these are not three little angels who are absolutely perfect in every way:  These are three mischievous little kids who bounce on furniture, tease each other, yell indoors, “forget” to do their homework, and sing “John Jacob Jingleheimer-Smith” at the top of their lungs on long car trips.[4]

They have their bad moments, just like any other kids.  And they have their good moments, and they have their fantastic great moments as well.

Just like any other kid given half a chance.

So that’s how I want to end this:  Soon-ok and I are delighted to have three brand new grandkids in the family.  They are no longer “adopted”, they are family, they are part of us, part of our lives, and God willing we will be part of theirs for many years to come.

Adoption is not for everyone[5] but for those who can, it’s a blessing.[6]




[1]  This is a really important point to sink in to young people.  It never hurts to make sure your relationship is solid and you have the time and energy to raise children before you start having them.  Tragically, too many young couples aren’t ready and as a result too many children enter the adoption / foster care system instead of being raised in a stable home by loving parents.

[2]  Heather did her typically meticulous research and found that siblings who were adopted together responded better to their new parents and felt more safe and secure.  Toddlers or slightly older children would have their basic toilet training and language skills so they could communicate easier with adults.  This does not mean, of course, that everybody should adopt older siblings, just that there are plenty of children out there that need parents and it’s possible to find a match that’s good for everyone.

[3]  As well they should have been.  It is not my place to tell their story, but I hope someday they feel ready to share it with the rest of the world so others can know not every situation is hopeless, not all adults are untrustworthy.

[4]  I taught them that.  Heather and Bobby have vowed revenge.

[5]  Soon-ok and I discussed it when we were Heather and Bobby’s age but realized we were not cut out to be adoptive parents.  Adoptive grandparents, yes.

[6]  And yes, not every adoption story has a happy ending.  But stories where children get adopted and become part of a new family are far more likely to have happy endings than stories where children are left in bad situations, indifferent foster care, or institutionalized.

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Putting Things In Perspective


There’s been a lot of hysteria recently about Daesh and the Syrian refugees and Muslims as a whole.

Too many Americans are shaming themselves and their country by peeing in their pants at the thought of huge murderous hoards of evil radical Islamic terrorists creeping under their beds to hatch nefarious plans.

Let me ‘splain it to you.  To make sure everyone grasps the concept, we’re going to use money, since that seems to be the only things these hysterical residents of the US of A seem to understand.

There are, as of this posting, approximately one billion and six hundred million Muslims in the world.

That’s 1,600,000,000 people.

Let’s say every person equals one penny.

1,600,000,000 pennies = $16,000,000.00 or sixteen million dollars.

The combined forces of Daesh and Al Q’aeda and their various affiliates represent .003% of the total Islamic population.

For the mathematically less gifted among you, that’s not “three percent” but rather “three thousandths of one percent”.

That would be $48.

On the one hand you have sixteen million dollars

…and on the other you have $48.



And you’re afraid of that ?!?!?


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An Autobiographical Note


Harry Barton - waking up to scenes like this cap

art by Harry Barton

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With Halloween bearing down hard upon us, this seems like a good time to discuss cultural appropriation.

A lot of people express irritation when someone from the dominant US culture (white and/or Christian and/or male) attempts to “mansplain” appropriation.

That’s easy to understand:
Too often the dominant culture just grabs something without asking either permission or the appropriate use of same.

At the same time, while education can do much to alleviate the problem, cultural misappropriation is not only impossible to prevent, it is also impossible to predict in advance whether something will or will not be appropriate or offensive.

The most blatant bad examples are people from the dominant culture (see above) wearing costumes based on other cultures in a denigrating, mocking context. Drunk frat party with rich white kids dressed as Mexican banditos and their dates as sexy Indian squaws? Don’t pretend there’s any innocence there, pal; that’s the dominant culture’s ruling class showing what they think of anybody Not Them.

But…sci-fi / comic book convention with large size folks of either gender dressed as Sailor Moon? Well, depends…they could be ridiculing those who like Sailor Moon, or they could find something in Sailor Moon’s character that is so appealing to them they want to present as that character in an environment where such activity is appropriate.

animated sailor moon 3pt landing fail

Read the rest of this article »

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Handicapping The Nomination/s


Nash cartoon 3rd term panic

Thomas Nast’s classic cartoon
created the symbol of both parties

Caveat #1: This post has nothing to do with policy; it is entirely about the strategies and tactics, individual strengths and weaknesses of the various candidates for the two parties’ presidential nomination. It is a purely intellectual exercise, not an ideological one.

Caveat #2: We are 13 months out from the election; the political landscape can cartwheel three or four times between now and then. This post reflects conditions as they presently exist.

Among the GOP:
Historically, the only non-politicians elected president by Americans are generals who just won major wars that either protected the U.S. or expanded its holdings. Trump, Carson, and Fiorina will not make the cut.

If you are not a fresh face to national presidential politics this year, you are yesterday’s news. Quite specifically, if you didn’t soundly defeat the rest of the ’08 and ’12 fields, why should anyone believe you can beat the Democrats’ 2016 candidate?

Bush fatigue is a real thing, and nobody thinks he did a good job anymore (at best they will claim he was sincere in his efforts). Jeb Bush has been campaigning in a way that makes one suspect a passive-aggressive agenda: He is bowing to family and old boy network pressure to run, but he’s saying things that — while the old boy network can’t fault him — drives more and more potential voters away.

That leaves us with Rubio and Kasich.

On paper, Kasich is the least problematic: Solid conservative principles, pragmatism to cross the aisle and get things done. He’s dropped the fewest potential verbal land mines.

The problem is he a middle American white boy at a time when a significant number of American voters have expressed a willingness to listen to what non-middle American non-white non-boys have to say. Ironically, race and gender may be two of his biggest handicaps.

Rubio is a little more of a firebrand, but his public utterances haven’t been as extreme as other GOP candidates and he would be able to plausibly appeal to Latin American voters as having earned the nomination on his own, not as a GOP ploy to win minority votes.

As of today: A Rubio-Kasich ticket looks like the GOP’s most viable team. Carson has an outside chance as the bottom half of the ticket, especially if Bush can’t convince enough of the GOP base not to vote for him.

Among the Democrats:
Clinton fatigue is real, too. Hilary Clinton has the chops to do the job, but after 8 years of Bill and 8 years as Obama’s secretary of state, a lot of voters — Democrat and independent — have had enough of her.

Bill C. has done her no favors, either; and by Bill C. I mean Bill Cosby. In an astonishingly short time, Cosby plummeted from one of the most admired and respected figures in America to a pariah. The generation of female voters who came of age after 9/11 look at Bill Clinton’s shenanigans in light of Cosby’s disgrace and curl their lips in disdain. Hilary’s relationship with Bill is not a strong selling point with this crowd.

Bernie Sanders is old, he’s white, he’s Jewish, and he’s a socialist, but oddly enough those characteristics tend to cancel themselves out, making him the most ideologically pure candidate in either field (“ideologically pure” in the sense that identity politics have been nullified).

As an old white guy, he’s reassuring to old white voters; while his age and whiteness have no appeal to younger and/or non-white voters, his other characteristics do.

He’s Jewish, which appeals to people sick of evangelical Christian influence in politics. Conversely, he has successfully reached out to evangelicals and told them what while they’ll never get what the GOP promised them, there are things President Bernie can deliver.

The evangelicals are listening to this.

He is a socialist, but he’s a socialist from one of the most contrarian conservative states in the union. The fact he has served them and served them well tells voters that even though he’s the most extreme left candidate, he’s still comfortably within mainstream American politics.

(As of this posting, neither Joe Biden nor any other viable potential candidates have officially announced for the Democratic slot. Biden is not the goofy uncle the public perceives him to be, but nonetheless they perceive him as the goofy uncle and it’s too late in the narrative to change that. Of the others, only Elizabeth Warren today offers an outside shot of securing the nomination but she seems willing to wait 2016 out. It’s not impossible she could end up on the bottom half of either a Clinton or Sanders ticket.)

Clinton faces a unique situation among candidates in both fields: She has started the campaign with the most support she can possibly get and must now keep voters from defecting to Sanders or later to the GOP candidate. She will lose supporters but if she can keep it down to a trickle and not a stream or more disastrously, a torrent, she can win handily. To do so she has to defeat Sanders in the early caucuses and primaries, defeat him decisively yet diplomatically so as not to alienate his supporters.

As of this posting:  The nomination — and quite probably the election — is hers to lose.

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Today’s Lesson



never forget
never ignore
never pretend

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Heading Down Route 66: Adios, Martin Milner



I’ll take the opportunity of Martin Milner’s passing to comment on Route 66, and Route 66 to comment on Martin Milner.

Mr. Milner passed away this weekend at the respectable age of 83.

He had a long and worthy career as an actor behind him. Never a huge star (though he starred in two of the best remembered shows on TV, one of which is a bonafide classic), he was a competent journeyman actor.

Do not read that as a put down:
Quite the contrary, it’s a tribute to his ability to show up, take an ordinary character / scene, and imbue it with life. He worked and worked a lot because of that ability. While his TV career overshadowed his film career, he had significant roles in several major motion pictures, four of them quite good.

He was the jazz musician fiancé of Burt Lancaster’s sister in The Sweet Smell Of Success, a much too laid back shore patrol officer from Alabama in Mr. Roberts, James Earp in The Gunfight At O.K. Corral, and Natalie Wood’s friend-zoned playwright suitor in Marjorie Morningstar.

What he is most famous for, depending on your age, is as the driver of two of the most iconic TV cars after the Batmobile and the Beverly Hillbillies’ truck.

The obituaries all mention Adam-12, which was a good show and used the easy rappaport between Milner and co-star Kent McCord to present a more personable view of police work than displayed in its companion series, Dragnet.

But the great shining jewel in Milner’s career crown was Route 66, arguably one of the most important TV series in American cultural history and one of the few that everyone should track down and watch, even if only for a few episodes.

Route 66 was created by producer Herbert B. Leonard and writer Stirling Silliphant in answer to the Chevrolet Motor Company’s musical question: “If we lend you a brand new Corvette, can you build a TV show around it?”

Leonard & Silliphant could & did, and the result was the incredible Route 66, a semi-anthology[1] that offers rare slice of life Americana, with stories taking place in less traveled parts of the country, involving occupations and true-to-life situations typically not explored in drama, much less network television.

Milner was convincing as Tod Stiles, son of a bankrupt industrialist who inherited nothing from his father except the Corvette he and his traveling companions drove. They were the consistent, friendly, appealing touchstones that enabled audiences to get into the surprisingly complex and insight stories that made the series a justifiable hit.[2]

One may argue that Maharis (who had to leave the show due to health reasons) and Corbett were more dynamic actors, but Milner made it possible to welcome the show into your home every week. He may not have been a dramatic showboat, but he got people to tune in.

Milner had a shockingly normal personal life:
The child of a family on the fringe of show biz, he married actress / singer Judy Jones in 1957 and stayed married to her for the rest of his life, producing four children.

We’ll let him have the last word in his own memorial:

“I have no complaints on any level.
I’m pretty happy about the way
everything turned out.” — Martin Milner

We are, too,
Mr. Milner.
10-4 & RIP




[1]  Milner and his co-drivers George Maharis and later Glenn Corbett typically bookended every episode by arriving in a new town looking for work and thus getting involved with the characters & story of the week. Their contributions to the actual stories were often slight: Knights errant arriving in the nick of time to serve justice at the end of an episode, then hopping in their car to drive off to their next adventure.

[2]  Jack Kerouac felt Route 66 had ripped off his novel On The Road. While the basic idea of two young men drifting around the country, taking odd jobs where they could find them, is similar, the focus of the TV show was vastly different from the novel’s. Noetheless, credit where credit is due, and without On The Road there may never have been a Route 66.

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What I Did Today


Sometimes you get an idea for a story and you have absolutely no idea how it’s going to turn out until you start writing it.

And then to your amazement stuff just starts falling into place, including the perfect capper that comes from what seemed like a wholly extraneous side point.

And you wonder:

Did I create that?  Did my subconscious put all those elements together and shape them into a coherent story?

Or has the story simply been waiting all this time for someone to find it and tell it?

Creativity can be a puzzling thing.


Gawd, I love ‘em, but you can only find ‘em online now.

This entry is about a story that came together over a single afternoon, written by hand on a collegiate notebook using a PaperMate Flair pen and transcribed / revised into my computer this evening.  It needs to sit for a few days / weeks and then we’ll see how well it stands up, and whether it goes straight up here or if I try to place it somewhere first.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Only Guaranteeing The Problem Remains Unchanged


Someone did not like my previous Duggar post:

“like them or not you are commanded by Christ to love them – your words do not exemplify that – no matter how loathsome you may find their words or deeds you are called to love them – you do not have to accept them or approve of them – but you do have to love them – call them to task for what you see as their faults or failures but you have to do it in a spirit of love – not in a snarky sarcastic way – THAT is how others will know you are a disciple of Christ”

As my late aunt was wont to say, I am bumfuzzled.

First off, I don’t see any snark in what I posted previously.

Josh Duggar is a sexual predator.

The Duggar clan are sexual deviants.

The Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches, the Bill Gothard led faction of same, and the whole Purity Movement have perverted the gospel of Christ.

These are inarguable facts.

Pretending these facts are not true by refusing to call them what they are is not going to help anybody.

Josh Duggar has checked in to “rehab” for treatment of his “sexual addiction.”

I use quotes because addicts can’t self-diagnose themselves; they may indeed have that particular problem, but it takes trained professionals to recognize all the symptoms and help locate the root of the problem.

I use quotes because the “rehab” facility is is attending has no medically or legitimately trained personnel; it is yet another extension of the same basic mind-warping / soul-killing / child-abusing IFB cult that both directly and indirectly made Josh Duggar what he is today!

Sending him to that facility
is like trying to conduct an
AA meeting at a bar
during happy hour.

They will do nothing to fix his problem, because they are the problem: Their grossly distorted, domineering, sexually deviant, soul crippling theology that attracts the spiritually and intellectually fearful.

It would be bad enough if their toxic nonsense was just confined to their own group, but that’s not the case: They crowd themselves in front of microphones and cameras, determined to shout down all attempts to try and present the genuine gospel of Christ at work.

They are modern day Pharisees, concocting an ever widening network of laws and rules and regulations and rituals and practices that are guaranteed to make worse the lives of anyone who tries to follow them.

They are precisely what Christ championed against in his brief ministry on earth.

And it’s not just the IFB;
they’re merely the particular flavor
of the Duggar clan sickness.

People are leaving Christianity, and they’re leaving it because we are letting the moral imbeciles and the con men and the slickee boiz get away with their crimes and perversions.

The Duggars, at least Jim-Bob and Michelle, are not victims but perpetrators. He’s a hack politician who couldn’t even please the undemanding electorate of Arkansas. She’s his enabler. Together they milk the system to enrich themselves without regard to any havoc they wreak.

Wanna see the Duggar true colors?

After their “we’re a wonderful family and you’re not” show was canceled (because they hid the fact their son had molested his kid sisters while they were away pressing political flesh), they tried to crawl back on TV by pitching a show where they would “counsel” victims of sexual abuse.

animated little-girl-crouch-stomp

This after Jim-Bob blithely asserted child molesting by older teen sons goes on all the time in fundamentalist families.

Good lord — these people have no shame!*

Do not try to protect these people. They cannot be forgiven and loved until they stop harming others, and by that I mean shutting the fnck up and getting out of the public conscious and acknowledging the system they embrace causes far more problems than it purportedly solves.

You wanna love and forgive ‘em, fine; just don’t let them keep spewing their nonsense out to the world at large.




* I don’t, either, but then I’m quick to point that out to people. They don’t; in fact, they hide behind a false mask of pious humility.



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Video Podcasts From TFExpo 2015


animated bender seeks applause

Not one but two video podcasts I recorded at TFExpo in Wichita.

First, a half hour interview with Duron Land for TransFormers For Your Listening Pleasure (also available on iTunes).

Then a lengthy interview with co-guest Matt Frank conducted by Chris Ho of Vengelus Central.

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