Throw Down the Sword

My old blogging friend, Bill and I have been talking for some time about how we've gotten out of the political blogging business. We both have had our reasons from wanting to enjoy time with partners or family to simply deciding that it was time to pass the torch to others.

In my case, after coming near death while awaiting a liver transplant it became obvious to me that if I survived there was far too much in life to enjoy without spending hours and hours angry, upset, or incensed about politics.

When I used to blog about politics I invariably found myself upset and often felt cut off from those around me as I discovered all the wonderful ways that human beings try to harm one another, from religious bigotry in all its wondrous forms to social intolerance to economic disenfranchisement.

The more I yelled the more I became depressed by the whole process. Many times it felt like I was beating my head against a wall.

After my transplant, I decided that life was too short to continue to fight. People have a tendency to do what they will and losing my sanity screaming about did not seem to make a lot of difference. Besides, I have a wonderful partner, Michael whose company I enjoy above all others. Though he shares my politics I realized that the hours I spend screaming at conservative radicals and religious bigots were hours that I wasn't enjoying his beautiful music, his wonderful personality, and his incredible love of life. My yelling at the idiocy of religious doctrine was not going to change the mind of even one true believer. My screams of outrage about Abu Ghraib were not going to shift the opinions of any Conservative radical who saw all people of Arab descent as fodder for the torture mills.

Recently, Michael was telling of a band he enjoyed during his high school days called Wishbone Ash. Somehow, I'd never managed to hear them despite my preference for early 70's rock and Progressive Rock in particular. So, he introduced me to his favorite song by them, "Throw Down the Sword". Although, somewhat an anti-war message on the surface as I listened to the lyrics they seemed to speak to a deeper meaning for me.

Throw down the sword,
The fight is done and over,

Neither lost, neither won.

To cast away the fury of the battle

And turn my weary eyes for home.

There were times
when I stood at deaths own door

Only hoping for an answer.

Throw down the sword,

And leave the glory -

A story time can never change.

To walk the road,
the load I have to carry -

A journeys end, a wounded soul.

There were times
when I stood at deaths own door

Only searching for an answer.
Isn't that just a great sentiment for those of us who fought the good fight for so long and must now pass that torch to others who have the youth and energy to keep going?

What's even better is that Michael is teaching me to play it with him on guitar. I took guitar when I was about 10 or 11 years old and learned nothing more than "Mary Had a Little Lamb" for which I had bleeding fingers! I put down the guitar and resigned myself to my fate as a fan of the instrument and nothing else.

Today, I actually began playing the opening of this beautiful song. That was incredible!

So, at the risk of being flippant: I've thrown down the sword and maybe now I can pick up an axe. Sorry, that was bad.

Check out this beautiful song here.

And here's a video of Wishbone Ash playing it in concert:


The Disingenous Ryan Buell

I do read Ryan Buell's blog. I'm not sure why I read it, but I do. Today he had a post discussing "where we go from here" in the Paranormal Community. It began as a legitimate discussion of groups forming large organizations to share information and assistance but quickly dipped once again to his normal theme in almost every post: justifying the rank religiosity of his group and their show.

Let me be frank and say that I find much of "Paranromal State" to be unpalatable. The pandering to religious beliefs and the reliance on religion first and science second really raises my ire. Beyond this they are one of those groups that always seems to find some horrible negative entity somewhere to validate their own religious beliefs.

Ryan makes a big deal that he has a Pagan on his team as though this will convince us all that his group is not basically a religious rather than scientific organization.

But what always gets me is that he goes back to this argument or rather whine:
It’s somewhat ironic that investigators who spend time trying to document proof of the afterlife, spirits, poltergeists and the demonic are so quick to dismiss spiritual/religious tones. But the bottom line is that there are just as many groups out there who strongly believe that spirituality and paranormal investigation go hand-in-hand."
And of course, that's where the problem lies. Paranormal investigation, if you are seeking to advance the base of knowledge is inherently scientific. This means that you are working from theories and seeking to test those theories to gather data. If you are coming at the whole process with the notion that what you learned in church must be the truth then you begin with a false premise and are seeking only evidence that reinforces that belief. A theory if proved wrong is easily discarded but a religious belief is a bit harder to throw aside even when the evidence may scream otherwise.

To continue reading... please visit Buck's Ghosts and Hauntings.

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California Strikes Again

The big news today was California's Supreme Court saying the ban against gay citizens getting married violated the state constitution. Immediately, celebrations popped up everywhere and people started "speechifying" as we'd say in the south.

Meanwhile, here in Arizona the extremely powerful Catholic lobby is once more pushing a constitutional amendment to outlaw equal marriage rights and join the ranks of the homophobic states such as the one I just moved from. Twice so far the ballot measure has failed but the Catholic lobby and their Republican minions bring it up every session and try to get it voted on again. They keep tweaking to make it more and more "acceptable" to the majority by honing the hate speech it includes so everyone is crystal clear that it's just pesky queers they're singling out not good heterosexuals who are just shacking up!

Anyway, it's up again for vote in the Senate here and California's craziness has just added fuel to the fire. Now they are jumping up and down and pointing west crying for everyone to see what those "activist judges" did over there. So, thanks California you probably have bought us another ballot measure and maybe a constitutional ban here in Arizona that will even negate partner benefits by local governments and companies as well as any Domestic Partnerships such as mine.

As for the celebrations - live it up folks. You can bet the constitutional amendment for California is in the works. After all, they passed the law easily that got struck down so the amendment should be fairly easy.

When will people realize the only solution is going to be a national one?


Sunday Morning Flowers

We've been enjoying some beautiful flowers and plants blooming around our house lately. Here are a few pictures from this morning as a "Happy Mother's Day" for mothers of every description!

View more pictures in our Gallery!


The Joys of Living with a Musician

I'm very lucky to share my life with a wonderfully talented musician. This afternoon I took a break from writing reports for SPI to watch a DVD of a Lynryd Skynyrd concert from 1975.

Michael joined me to watch the last half and of course they ended with "Free Bird". That song has a lot of connotations for anyone who grew up in the South. But it also has a lot of memories for Michael. Since he associates it with his decision to leave Wisconsin at 19 years old in 1975 and move to Arizona alone and a whole new existence he finds it very surreal to hear now. In fact, he was so closely associated with it in high school and college that it seems his classmates consider it his "theme song".

So after the DVD finished I walked outside on the patio and Michael settled back at the piano. I expected to hear Chopin or Beethoven but suddenly I heard an incredible rendition of "Free Bird" coming from the studio. I'm sure he'll laugh at this as he always does, but he took a classic rock song and gave it a whole new level of musicianship.

Judge for yourself. This clip was done on my little digital recorder which I quickly placed on the piano since I knew he'd never play it again. It's a bit rough and I did what I could to mix out background noise and even it out. But, you'll get the idea. Don't you think I'm lucky?

By the way that photo is Michael in the Summer of 1974 in Wisconsin.