MARK YE WELL THE SEA

Mark well that light on Widow’s Peak
Shining two fortnight now in futile beckoning.

The sea takes no notice of the amber glow
Nor do those aslumber in her depth.

Mark well the widow’s sobbing, knowing without knowing
That her man has taken another bride.

Green tendril’d arms embrace him now,
A thousand nibbled kisses reduce him to memory.

Mark well the kirkyard stone, In Pacem Requiescat.
The sea has nurtured, has provided, has collected her debt.

Brave men will venture forth, as brave men are wont to do
But before you, my bonnie lad, sail out on the briny deep,

Mark well that the sea is a jealous thing,
Full with tenacious love and lust.

Mark well these words of give and take
And of the debt that may come due.

********************************************

From “A Mixed Bag” by Rick Fontes
Available at Amazon and other fine book sellers.

 

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BIRTHER OR NON-BIRTHER, GIVE IT UP

Barrack Obama was not the first sitting president to be accused of foreign birth.  That dubious honor belongs to our 21st president, Chester A. Arthur.  Mr. Arthur was thought by many to have been born in Canada and by a lesser number to have been born in Ireland.

Without regard, he served his term and moved on into history, the country none the worse for his having occupied its highest office.

I realize that the current controversy is kept alive primarily as a political ploy but it has the potential to do lasting damage to our republic.  The time to fight the “birther” battle has long since passed.

Some blame for the birther issue having such long legs must be shared by the mainstream media and by Mr. Obama himself.  He could easily have directly refuted claims by people in Kenya, his paternal grandmother included, that they witnessed his birth.  The Kenyan hospital that offers tours claiming to be the “Birthplace of the 44th President of the United States” could have been told to stop doing so.  And had Mr. Obama chosen to do so, he could have cleared up any rumor of having been a foreign exchange student in the USA by simply releasing his transcripts.

His failure to do any of these is not proof of foreign birth, merely a suggestion that there might be some hidden agenda being served.

The mainstream media, with its ability to get reporters to remote sites anywhere on the planet at the drop of a hat might have dispatched an investigative reporter or two prior to the 2008 election.  At this juncture it is far too late to do anything other than to let the matter rest.

Suppose that someone among the “birthers” produced a smoking gun, incontrovertible proof that Mr. Obama was indeed foreign born.  Then what?  Presenting such evidence would result in a constitutional crises beyond imagination as several thousands of individuals and organizations sued to have everything our current President ever touched be declared invalid. The Federal Courts would be hopelessly log jammed for decades and the status of many worthy programs would be suspect.

In this writer’s opinion the best way to approach the entire birther issue is to ignore it and let it follow Chester A. Arthur’s similar controversy into obscurity.  Future historians can resurrect it every now and again to argue the pro and cons as they write scholarly papers on the two individuals who possibly ascended to the highest office in the land without the legal right to do so.

America survived Chester A. Arthur, it will survive Barrack H. Obama without regard to where either of them was actually born.

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I FEAR UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE

My thoughts on this subject are far from being politically correct but yes,  I do fear universal suffrage.

A recent local TV “man in the street” interview illustrates the problem.  The reporter, questioning registered voters, asked, “what are the branches of government?”  The response from one person was, “Federal and local.”   The reporter followed up with, “What does the president of the United States do?”  Answer, “he is the man in charge of the Federal government.”

One of the presidential candidates in the current contest promises automatic voter registration at at age 18 for every citizen.  The problem here is that there are millions of non-citizen students enrolled in our nation’s schools and many, if not most of those school districts do not keep records on citizenship status.  An automatic registration process will invariably grant voting rights to non-citizens.

A much greater problem however, is the low information voter.  We watch the Jesse Watters interviews on Fox and get a chuckle out of the inane answers to questions on civics.  But when you stop to consider that the folks we are laughing at are registered to vote and many will do so even though they have no clue as to what they are supporting.

Candidates who tailor their campaigns to the low information voter most often promise things that the office they are running for has no authority to implement but the voters they are targeting lack the basic knowledge to realize this.

A famous You Tube video from a few years ago showed a woman expressing enthusiastic  support for a certain presidential candidate because, “he is going to pay my bills for me.”  When asked where the candidate would get the money to pay individual bills for people she replied, “I don’t know, out of his stash, I guess.”

The right to vote is a precious right, enshrined in our constitution, and deserves to be treated with dignity.  That every eligible citizen has the right to vote cannot be denied but where the system falls apart is that we, as a nation, place almost no emphasis on training our citizens in how government works.  As long as a significant portion of the voting populace has no idea how government is constituted or what powers reside in which offices, there can be no intelligent use of the right to vote.

In my opinion the future of our country depends on instituting a strong civics education program.  Children should begin learning civics, with age appropriate material, from the first grade and the subject should be taught at every grade level through to high school graduation.  As extreme as it might sound, given equal opportunity to learn civics, I would go so far as to link an understanding of government to suffrage.  If you don’t know what your vote means then please, stay away from the polls.

There is nothing, not anything, more important to the good governance of a democratic republic than having informed voters who know how government is supposed to work and can recognize empty campaign promises when they hear them.

Thanks for reading.  This is my opinion and I welcome yours.

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SKIN SCRIBE

The Inkslinger

He loves the ladies
He has designs on each one he meets
They color his world much as he colors their bodies

Each new conquest a fresh landscape
Space to display those dreams,
Those fantasies and nightmares
That spew from his id

They emerge from his electric chair
Released from his web to the world
To serve as living canvas, displaying his art.

 

From the book, “A Mixed Bag” by Rick Fontes.
Available at Amazon and other fine booksellers.

A paean to my youngest son, Joseph Fontes, currently needling people at
The Electric Chair, a tattoo parlor in Houston Texas.
http://www.electricchair.cc/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NCAA OR SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT?

Cardale Jones aimed the spotlight with his tweet, “why should we have to go to class if we came here to play football, we ain’t come to play school, classes are pointless.”

I confess that I am not a follower of organized sports although at one time I was.  Each spring, back in middle and high school, the opening home baseball game was an unofficial holiday.  A dollar would get you a seat in the bleachers where, with a transistor radio on your lap giving color and play by play coverage, you ushered in the season.

Perception is reality and back then the perception was that sports were all about the fans.  The current perception is that it’s all about the money.

But that’s just my opinion, based in part by the difference in pay between coaches and deans of students.  The average dean of students in US institutions of higher learning earns $93,819 per year.  The average football coach in those same institutions is paid 1.64 million dollars per year with the highest paid being just over seven million.

In a recent conversation a co-worker defended this disparity by saying that the football program generates far more income for a school than does academics.  I thanked him for making my point.

It’s true that organized sports is a valuable tool for teaching teamwork and selflessness  but this only accrues to a few dozen individuals on a campus of several thousand.  The bulk of the students merely learn to have a Pavlovian response when seeing men in a certain color jersey trot onto the field.

What would the world be like if, instead of being proud of the sports teams, the emphasis was shifted to the science departments, the engineering departments or any other department you care to name and that those areas were the ones that attracted huge donations from the alums?

Here’s a question for you: Suppose the Creator of the Universe were to say, “people of Earth, I give you a choice.  By popular vote you must decide to keep one group of individuals and the other will disappear forever, never to be replaced.  You must choose to keep either collegiate sports or the sanitation and solid waste workers.”

Would we find ourselves drowning in a sea of refuse or would we be following competitive garbage collecting?

 

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ENIGMA

Sitting in a little bar in lower Manhattan
Nursing a gin and tonic
And rearranging world events in my mind.

The man comes in, obviously down on his luck,
Takes the next stool,
And orders a double shot of bourbon.

He downs the shot, throws a few crumpled bills on the bar,
Turns to me, a tear in his eye,
And says in a voice as sad as the gates of Perdition.

“I never sang my song.”

 

From “A Mixed Bag” by Rick Fontes, available at Amazon and other fine booksellers.

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TMI

The digital information age: Boon or boondoggle?

TMI, meaning “Too Much information,” is usually used when someone shares a snippet of information that goes far beyond anything we would want to know about them.  Like when the guy behind you in the checkout line strikes up a conversation and then says, “After a couple of days I reverse my underwear to get an extra day or so of wear.”   Definitely TMI.

On the other hand TMI might be an appropriate assessment for a much greater phenomenon, the explosion of information available caused by the digital age.  It would seem that the more sources of knowledge we have, the less informed we become.

Although I lack scientific data to back it up, it would appear to the casual observer that with the increase of media sources has come a tendency to filter out much, if not all of the content that does not validate our preconceived notions.

Several years ago, while learning a difficult new system at work, a frustrated co worker questioned the need for continued technological advances and said that in her opinion, “the highest and happiest self-sustainable level of human society was the stone age.”

That statement has come back to mind many times over the years, always with the question: At what point did we stop living in complete harmony with nature and begin to alter it to fit our perceived needs?  And at what cost?

Consider the life style of the Pacific Islanders prior to the time when the voyages of Captain Cook brought them Christianity, European moral codes, modest clothing and sexually transmitted disease. Arguably being suddenly thrust into the then modern world did not increase their potential for happiness and harmonious living.

In many ways the computer age has been our Captain Cook and its promise of knowledge and edification has become, as a result of TMI, a reality of distraction and a narrowing of interests.

I don’t know if there is an acceptable answer to this conundrum, we certainly aren’t going to treat our computers and other digital devices to a modern day “Bonfire of the Vanities.”

One simple solution might be if we each adopt a new regimen when surfing the net; for every several sites visited that validate our preconceived ideas on a subject perhaps we should challenge ourselves by seeking out at least one that offers an opposing view.

There was a time, in recent history, when we all had to work to gain useful information and that effort strengthened our intellect.  We cannot afford to allow the lack of effort offered by the TMI digital age to cause our intellectual muscles to atrophy.

Thank you for your time.

 

 

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