images-9Remember a certain personality type from high school?  Fussy, bossy, self-absorbed, controlling…you know, aspiring politicians.  images-7The less gifted of these future public servants would become middle managers happily devising new government rules, forms and functions.  The least endowed would fulfill their humble destinies by enriching our experience at the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Their bureaucratic utopia comes darkly to life in the horrifying 1985 film, “Brazil”.


The Thought Police Rides Out


Vincent Black Knight motorcycles provided quick mobility for the Thought Police in the 1955 film adaptation of George Orwell’s ‘1984’

I was recently accused by a young person I love of “not being politically correct”.  I was puzzled.  Was that a good thing or a bad thing?  By reflecting on the context, I deduced that it was supposed to be a really bad thing. (more…)

Rome on the Potomac


We enjoy a narrow view of the Capitol building.
A light on top indicates when those inside are up to no good.

Rosalie and I have loved the big departure from our quiet life on San Juan Island during the past six months of living and working in Washington DC.  Here we enjoy easy access to every kind of restaurant, the world’s best museums, theater, concerts, “Blues Alley”, interesting public speakers.  The powerful come and go loudly in motorcades or helicopters.   In a couple of months we’ll return home with many memories.

The DC area is booming.  New office buildings, apartment complexes and shopping malls are shooting up on every point of the compass.  Tower cranes dot the horizon.  Expensive real estate, crowded restaurants, exotic cars (usually stuck in traffic)–even my short-term job here–all demonstrate the sick fact that, while America’s economy continues in distress, there’s been no recession around its capital.


America’s Pyramid


The Great Seal of the United States
Its weird 1782 design anticipated America today.

The Egyptians that built the pyramids weren’t slaves exactly.  They were government employees constructing monuments that a few big shots thought were important.  Such power–to bend a whole society to its purpose–is highly admired by ruling types.  The sight of the pyramids was a religious experience for Napoleon.

The mysterious design of the Great Seal may foreshadow America’s drift toward the social model of the pharaohs.  A growing number of Americans find employment building a rising pyramid of government *.  Government loves to exercise power (attack Syria now?).  It’s building a homeland security force unprecedented in US history.  It’s spying on and regulating our private lives more and more.  It’s expanding its mind-boggling tax code (17,000 pages**) and tax collection army.  It’s extending its control of commerce, education, health care…it’s an ever-growing list***.   The Great Seal’s designers even anticipated the all-seeing-eye of the NSA.

Government will keep us in our traces.  We’re not slaves exactly…more like government employees.


A Radio Telescope, Manure and the Public Purse


Highway of Mystery

“This road is weird!” I thought.  I’d gotten a little lost on my first day out of Washington DC.  My touring style encourages this.  I spurred the rented Harley Davidson ‘Road King’ down a stretch of freeway that my West Virginia roadmap curiously omitted.  The oppressive July heat began to break as the road climbed and the sun descended.   I wasn’t sure where I was headed except in the right general direction.  I saw no signs.  I saw no cars.  I passed exits that connected to unidentified dirt roads.  No evidence of normal activity appeared for 5 miles…for 10 miles.  After putting 18 weird miles behind me, barricades appeared and the mysterious highway simply ended.  A final exit served no other purpose than to let me turn me around.

So I admired the same beautiful, empty superhighway from the other direction.  Twin ribbons of fresh concrete flanked by generous shoulders swept grandly, conqueror-fashion, through a virginal mountain landscape.   I glided over magnificent bridges wondering, “Why is this here?  Where does it go?  Why is there no traffic?”  When I’d fully backtracked, I saw a sign that I’d missed saying, the “Robert C. Byrd Highway”.