Conversing with a political ideologue is like attempting to teach a parrot to speak, one that has already learned another vocabulary from an old sailor. You say "Pretty bird" and it replies with something you wouldn't allow in polite company. In my case it's even worse. I couldn't even train a bird that had no vocabulary. What chance to you suppose I have with an ideologue full of pre-recorded sound bites?
Click to read "Pretty Bird" by Jack Durish
Right now I'm suffering from bronchitis and sinusitis and I just finished one of those conversations with a family member that has left me numb. I can't remember the pain in my chest and face. Why do I do this to myself? However, the experience inspired me to write a short story.

A really short story.

I may have mentioned, I'm not feeling well.

Click on the photo of the bird to read it.


I don't suppose that I looked all that good even when I was young, but the ravages of seventy-two years hasn't helped. 
Even so, I can still make the subject of a fine photograph provided it is produced by a true photographic artist, and I found one, Mark Jordan.

My first job upon moving to Southern California was as a writer for the Vivitar Corporation which manufactured and distributed photographic products. Inasmuch as photos were our business, image was everything. Thus, as I worked on product packaging, point of sales promotional materials, and instructional guides, I had an unlimited budget that attracted the very best artists and photographers. I wish I had Mark on my team in those days.

Every great photograph begins with a snap of the shutter. However, the real magic takes place in the moments afterwards. Once upon a time, the magic occurred in the darkroom. Now it happens in a computer. Raw files of bits and bytes produced by digital cameras are manipulated into works of art. Images are overlaid. Colors are balanced or unbalanced. Blemishes hidden. Features emphasized.
Click to enlarge
I may not have Brad Pitt's boyish good looks, but I have a better photographer.

You can too.


It's fairly common to hear of public works projects such as prisons, landfills, and power plants meeting resistance from local residents who don't want them in their backyard, but a cemetery for service members and veterans? Yes, it seems that some residents of the City of Irvine don't want a national cemetery sullying their new park, the Orange County Great Park, being built on land that once was home to the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Yes, this is the same city where the student body of a University of California campus voted to ban display of the American flag, thus we shouldn't be too surprised.

Click to enlarge
These citizens of Irvine purportedly are speaking out against the cemetery in their backyard because:

  • The sight of it would upset their children attending a nearby high school

  • The embalming fluids of the corpses would pollute the land

  • Their property values would suffer

Some of these citizens in unguarded discussion on the Internet have opined that the cemetery would adversely affect the Feng Shui of their park and, more callously, that it should be re-sited to a garbage dump.


army Life

This was a popular refrain of the antiwar movement during the conflict in Vietnam. It was used to vilify us. After all, there would be no war, no babies murdered, if we all just burned our draft cards and refused to fight. Does anyone actually believe this?
I'm surprised that this cry hasn't been heard recently. Despite the fact that the WMDs were found, pacifists still insist that “Bush lied and people died.” Despite the fact that it has now been documented that Bush directed the CIA and his Administration to refrain from making a big deal out of the WMDs, his critics insist that it was his only rationale for going to war (that and as revenge for an alleged attack on this father). Despite the fact that Saddam Hussein was in breach of the agreement that suspended the war that drove his forces from Kuwait, the war's critics insist that there was no legal basis for the resumption of hostilities. In view of all this, I'm surprised that the pacifists haven't fallen back on the argument that all wars would be impossible if common folk like you and me simply refused to put on the uniform, pick up a gun, and go soldiering.

Interestingly, like most good ideas, it was taken out of context and perverted to the simplistic thinking of idealists. The actual line is plagiarized from a poem by Bertold Bretch

PictureBertold Bretch
What if they gave a war and nobody came?
Why then the war will come to you!
He who stays home when the fight begins
And lets another fight for his cause
Should take care:
He who does not take part
In the battle will share in the defeat.
Even avoiding battle will not avoid Battle,
since not to fight for your own cause really means
Fighting in behalf of your enemy's cause.

I suppose it rhymes when read in Bretch's native language (German). It certainly doesn't support the pacifist's ideology in any language. Failure to read past the first line simply is lazy thinking.



I remember those early days, fresh out of the Army, pursuing a career, learning a new trade: Consultant. I began working for another, someone with experience, a mentor. As the new kid, I had to take the clients no one else wanted. That's how you learned.
Pelletizer Diagram
Click to read story
No Bull is a story, a true story from those days.


Some decry the Constitution as flawed because it is old and obsolete. How can a document written more than two hundred years ago address modern issues? The Framers lived in a pre-industrial, pre-technological world. They couldn't anticipate the world we live in. How could they architect institutions to govern it?  
The Constitution is a blueprint for limited government designed “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”. We the People does not include machines or technology. These things, sophisticated as they may be, are just tools. No, We the People includes just people. All citizens of the United States of America. Self-governing people.



Many decry the Constitution as flawed because it denied women the right to vote. Yet there is no mention of the woman's right to vote, either for or against, in the Constitution. Where are the words “woman” or “women” even mentioned in the Constitution of the United States of America. 

Interesting, isn't it?

All of the representatives to the Constitutional Convention were men. They were largely very successful professionals. Most were well versed in the law and knew that in writing contracts it was as important to say what you mean as it was to mean what you say. They did.



Many decry the Constitution as flawed because it allowed or authorized slavery. Yet, there is no mention of it. Where are the words “slave” or “slavery” even mentioned in the Constitution of the United States of America? 

Some claim that the Constitution considers blacks (or African Americans) to be just three-fifths of a person. However, the words “black” and “African” appear nowhere in the Constitution.

Isn't it interesting that it doesn't even mention them let alone legalize slavery?



Apparently, my memory is very selective.
I dressed in jeans and a turtleneck sweater this morning. (I'm retired and every day is casual dress day.) As I met my wife in the dining room where she was already having breakfast I announced, “I can remember the first time I ever saw a turtleneck sweater.”

“That's nice, dear.”

Well, it may be nice to her, but it certainly is curious to me why I would remember such a thing.



I lay awake last night wrestling with regrets. Yesterday, February 23, 2015, I met at a luncheon with a small band of octogenarians, at the Marriott Hotel in Newport Beach, California, to share their memories of Iwo Jima and the battle they fought there seventy years ago. Surrounded by their family and friends and Marines of every generation and every war including Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, as well as the Cold War, they shared their stories. The event was hosted by Operation Home of the Brave and Iwo Jima Monument West which, led by Ms Laura Dietz, is raising funds to bring a monument memorializing their victory on that distant Pacific isle to Camp Pendleton where these brave men learned the art of war. Sadly, as the event ended, my courage failed me and I wondered all night if I could have waded ashore with them and earned a place on their memorial.
The monument was cast in stone by sculptor Felix de Weldon who was serving in the Navy at the time the Marines raised their beloved flag above Mount Suribachi on the Island of Iwo Jima. He was inspired by the iconic photo snapped by Associated Press photographer Joseph Rosenthal. While this photo, reproduced in every newspaper and on countless posters inspired Americans to rally to buy bonds in record numbers, Weldon was inspired to fashion ten statues commemorating the event. A 10,000 pound version of it which had stood for years at Arlington National Cemetery, has become available.