Monday, September 22, 2008


This past week ushered in a change of seasons.  Summer to fall.  Same as years past, on schedule.  

It also ushered in something most Americans have, for decades, pledged to fight with all the colors of the flag:  Socialism.  The hidden powers that be, using their puppet Bush administration have effectively nationalized America's banking and insurance industries.  And probably more.  Any economic leverage the American public may have had has also been nationalized.  Our economy, the health of which is often measured by consumer spending, could be crippled if enough citizens don't wake up and realize that taxes will surely have to increase to pay for the stupidity of our collective spending orgy.  I doubt that will happen, though.  Most people still are filling their Hummers, buying their snowmobiles or ski-doos, flat screen TV's and the latest "iWad".  

I didn't bother to look at the national ragsheet USA Today and see what that medium was blathering on about.  But Yahoo News featured a huge diamond find in Africa, an NFL player with a bad reputation, and Miley's response to reports of her "diva-like behavior."  Yep!  Gotta keep up with Miley.  Smiley Miley.  At least she wears panties. 

Oh yes, the bailout...There was a story about the Wall Street "turmoil" causing more people to turn to religion for solace.  Good God, we ARE  in trouble.  Folks, religion isn't going to save your house, lower gas prices, or keep the price of bread low.  We need to put down the Bibles, pick up the pitchforks and fill the streets with anger and civil disobedience.  But we won't.  Can't afford a pitchfork cause we had to fill the Hummer, and anyway, no one is manufacturing pitchforks here anymore since the farms are being taken over by corporate conglomerates, and farm tools are now very low quality because they're made in China.  We'd probably get a Chinese made pitchfork that gave us chemical burns on our hands and sickened our children. 

The two presidential candidates have said absolutely nothing about all of these socialist stirrings.  Probably because Obama's leanings (and the Democratic Party's in general) are fully in line with the socialist, communist, Marxist bent, and McCain is simply clueless, being a shill for the powers that are shoving these socio-economic changes up our collective butts.  Most likely, neither of these men or their running mates know what is happening to this economy, our form of government, and the world economy.  Whoever winds up sitting in the Oval Office will do exactly what he is told to do by the wealthy powers consolidating control over the world's wealth and the masses.  

We're probably screwed, folks!  We STILL don't pay attention.  We STILL pay at the pump, grumble a bit, then go out and buy more gas-honkin Fords and Chevys.  We STILL swoon over the latest hour's celebrity gossip.  We STILL complain about jobs outsourced to India or China while strolling the aisles of Wal-Mart, buying goods made in both countries. We STILL get emotionally lathered up about non-issues like flag burning, abortion, gay marriage, and doctor assisted suicide.  (These are CAUSES, people, not issues!)   

Today, even a local conservative radio talk show host aired views about the "bailout", but then decided the day was "too beautiful"  to keep talking about such a depressing subject.  That's right, folks!  Enough about all that!  Let's talk about Miley.  Ooohh, and the Buffalo Bills being 3-0!  Damn, I smell a Super Bowl!  Let's just get on with the weather, traffic report, and pretend nothing has changed.  Let's ignore these disconcerted stirrings about a global economic collapse.

But the seasons changed today, and soon we'll be scrambling to find the sweaters, coats and gloves. 

And the leaves on the trees will change to yellow, brown and red. like our national bank account.  Red like the herrings that divert our attention.  Red like our designer iPods.  Oh yeah, red like the Chinese flag that we owe our economic souls to.  

Sobering isn't it?  Well, perhaps not.  After all, seasons come and go.  Same as years past, on schedule.  Every year like clockwork. Always have.  Winter will come, and spring and summer will bloom again. 

But I have a feeling that this winter may bring record cold in more ways than one.  And we'll STILL be too distracted to look for those winter clothes before the first snow falls. 

(c)2008 R.Burnett Baker   


Sunday, September 7, 2008


Some years ago I heard, or read conspiracy chatter about contrails being a sinister plot by the government to spray chemicals over the country as some kind of mass experiment.  It may have been talk show host Art Bell who did a program about contrails.  Doesn't really matter who.  I heard it somewhere and had to laugh about it.  

Most people I've talked to don't even know what a contrail is.  As a boy in the Texas Panhandle I would see aircraft contrails every day in the clear skies of the plains.  Now, I watch them in the early mornings at sunrise.  I'm fascinated by them, not because of what they are doing to the masses, but because of where the aircraft might be coming from, and where they're going.  I watch them coming over from the northeast and imagine that this one or that one or the one over there is coming from Europe and headed for, gee, I don't know, maybe Chicago, or Atlanta, or Houston, or the west coast.  Others coming in from the northwest surely must be flying in from Asia for New York or Boston, or Washington DC.  

I think of the time it takes for each flight.  From my many years of travel to and from Asia I know that to get from Rochester, NY to, say Taipei takes a total of about 22 hours.  Not all of that in the air, mind you, but it's a long haul.  As I look up in the morning at each streaking contrail I know that the brief time it takes each plane to fly out of my sight is but a flash in the sky compared to the total time those passengers will experience on their journey.  For some time after the plane has vanished from my view, the contrail will remain.  It either quickly dissipates, or spreads out on wind currents, finally appearing as a stretch of clouds.  

Each part of this experience is a measure of time:  My view of the tiny plane, the time it takes the plane to vanish from view, the flight time each invisible passenger spends on the journey, and the time afterward that the contrail is visible.  The contrail, for me, is the only evidence of a journey taken by those passengers.  It's my confirmation of life that passes above me, and speeds rapidly away.  

Two years ago, on the 5th anniversary of 9/11,  I happened to be outdoors on that clear morning, as usual looking up at aircraft and their contrails.  It struck me that it was September 11th.  (2006)  In less time than it took for one of the aircraft to vanish from my sight, I quickly wrote a short poem.  This week as we approach yet another anniversary of the day that redefined our world views, I'll share that poem here.  

In the morning as the sun rises, look up and watch a jet carry lives from somewhere to somewhere else.  Consider all the elements of time that journey represents.  See how long the contrails last. And appreciate the short time you're able to live, stand, look into the sky and imagine.  


contrail cloud: 
evidence of a journey 
swept away on winds 

as lives 
speed invisible 
through Earth's 
ocean sky.

Poetry and photo (c) R. Burnett Baker 2008