Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!

Reading while driving, and living to tell about it

Posted May 20th, 2012 by Tom

I don’t advocate texting or talking on your cell phone while driving. I had a close call the other day when some yahoo veered into my lane just ahead of me while he was doing something on his phone. But I have become a strong advocate of reading while driving. Let me explain.

I recently listened to the audio version of 11/22/63, the time travel novel by Stephen King that my wife Lindi had just finished. We both loved it. King’s books have been hit or miss with me. I’m not a horror fan, but I love good fiction and he’s a terrific story teller. 11/22/63 combined great story-telling, time travel, and focuses on a lifelong obsession of mine: the assassination of President Kennedy. In an afterword, King says that the all-time great time travel novel remains Time and Again, published in 1970, and written by Jack Finney (who also wrote the sci-fi classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers).

Published in 1970, Time and Again tells the story of Simon Morley, an illustrator working in Manhattan who is chosen to participate in a secret government project in which he will attempt to travel to the past. The experiment works and Morley finds himself transported to 1882 New York. One reason this book has become a beloved classic is that Finney did such a masterful job of recreating 19th century New York City and describes the differences between 1882 and 1970 in such intricate detail that anyone who knows much about New York can’t help but be impressed.

One of the highlights for me was that a key location in the book is the Dakota Apartments, located next to Central Park; where John Lennon was murdered 10 years after this novel was published. Another highlight was how tense and compelling this story is without any gratuitous violence or sexuality. Time and Again is simply a wonderful story. I highly recommend it.

Here’s how we read Time and Again. Lindi and I did so together – something we haven’t done before. We picked the book up at our library the day before we began 18 days on the road together. We flew to Cleveland, where I spoke at the 15th annual MetroHealth Pastoral Care Conference on May 3. It was after the conference that Time and Again began. Lindi read aloud as we drove from Cleveland to New Jersey for a wedding, then on to Baltimore to meet our newest grandchild. She read as we drove to New York for a few days with my writing partner Sharon, then on to Connecticut, Queens, and back to Baltimore. After a couple more days with our new angel, she read as we drove back to Cleveland for our flight home.

Our experiment was so successful that we finished the book before our travel concluded so we bought another book (The Woman in Black) that she literally finished it ten minutes before we arrived at home after our three hour drive from the airport.

Reading while driving? I highly recommend it as long as your passenger is doing the reading.

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

Posted July 12th, 2011 by Tom

It’s obvious to me now. Chicken Little has taken over Washington, DC. A tiny fowl succeeded in a fiendish coup d’etat in which almost every member of Congress (with the possible exception of Senator Bernie Sanders) and many political pundits have been replaced by exact duplicates. Chicken Little’s accomplice? Must’ve been the Body Snatchers. What else can explain the hysterics being spewed by pod people who scream, THE SKY IS FALLING!

Will Republican House Speaker John Boehner and other Washington insiders sell the Tea Party and our nation down the river by caving in to President Obama on increasing the debt AND raising taxes? Only one thing will stop such a deal: you and I raising a cry of opposition that scares sense back into the Republican leadership. — Ron Paul

THE SKY IS FALLING!

if this deal with the Republicans takes a dollar away from those people who do not have a dollar to spare while preserving the millions for those who have millions more, if this deal, sir, keeps intact funding the mechanisms we have for killing people while cutting the mechanisms we have for keeping people alive and healthy, then it is a betrayal of everything that makes this country great.Keith Olbermann

THE SKY IS FALLING!

The Republicans need to grow the hell up. Seriously, grow up. This is an M80 inside a clenched fist. It’s irresponsible and completely dangerous. And I’m not sure what the hell the president should do at this point. The Republicans are playing chicken with economic collapse. — Bob Cesca

THE SKY IS FALLING!

I’m not gonna play chicken with the notion that the United States would welsh on a debt. I think that is wildly political and irresponsible. — Sen. Claire McCaskill

Notice Cesca’s and McCaskill’s use of the word “chicken.” Coincidence? I don’t think so! Unfortunately, this ain’t no cartoon or science fiction movie. I also don’t anticipate a happy ending.

Like most Americans that pay attention to such things (outside of Congress, anyway) I’m frustrated by the inability of those in positions of power to compromise on our national debt, the deficit, the debt ceiling, tax loopholes, tax increases and budget cuts. The reason is the same as always: the very power, and the lust for more power, that those in positions of power crave. Everyone wants to retain power and will go to great lengths to do so.

Sadly, when the credits roll and the curtain falls on this lousy show, I expect the greatest burden to fall where it has always fallen: on the most vulnerable among us.

Logical people (in my opinion) know this posturing on both sides of the political aisle is all about politics and power and how to control both. But too few in power seem to be listening to logic.

Consider the opinion of Bruce Bartlett, policy adviser to President Reagan and Treasury official under G.H.W. Bush:

…we are getting close to the 11th hour and it is clear that there are many Republicans willing to risk a default to achieve their ideological goal of slashing government. Although they say they are motivated by a concern for the nation’s finances, their total unwillingness to consider so much as $1 of tax increase proves that such claims are hollow.

Read Corporate Cash Con by Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman. Watch “liberal” Mark Shields and “conservative” David Brooks calmly discuss these issues on PBS. Watch “liberal” Thom Hartman explain who ran up the national debt. Read what the pro-private-sector, anti-big-government magazine The Economist has to say.  Billionaire Warren Buffett recently pointed out that, “We raised the debt ceiling seven times during the Bush Administration” and “We had debt at 120 percent of the GDP, far higher than this, after World War II and no one went around threatening that we’re going to ruin the credit of the United States.” I think his pod person then took over to claim that the Republican-controlled Congress is “trying to use the incentive now that we’re going to blow your brains out…”

Finally, consider the thoughts of John Avlon of the Daily Beast regarding the pathetic failure of both Republicans and Democrats:

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the way to reduce the long term deficit and debt requires at least three things—spending cuts, revenue increases and entitlement reform. Economic growth is the final X-factor essential component.

Republicans won’t budge on taxes and Democrats (other than Obama) won’t budge on entitlement reform. Most people, according to a recent Pew/Washington Post poll, will blame the Republicans if a deal isn’t reached. If we want to play the blame game it appears the Obama Administration and congressional Democrats will win this game of chicken.

And who loses as a result of this childish insanity? Not the Republicans. Those who lose will be the people who can least afford it. And here is where the insidious specter of structural racism (as much as most of those in power, and many outside the halls of power, will deny it) can be clearly seen.

First read “Unnecessary Austerity, Unnecessary Shutdown” published by the Institute for Policy Studies to understand that “…we’re not broke. Not even close. The United States of America is awash in wealth.” But two factors “have unleashed a fiscal nightmare.” Most of America’s wealth is concentrated at the very top and the wealthiest among us are paying significantly lower taxes on there windfall wealth.

Most of the wealthiest people in America and most of the people in power in Congress and throughout corporate America look like me: white men. President Obama and Herman Cain notwithstanding, the overwhelming share of power and wealth has always been, and continues to be, concentrated in the hands of powerful and wealthy white men. Those on the opposite end of the scale are disproportionately poor people of color.

Read The Children’s Defense Fund “Portrait of Inequality 2011,” a report showing the gross inequalities facing black children compared to white children, across all critical indicators of wellbeing. This report explains how “the economic crisis of the last three years has pushed black children and youth deeper and deeper into an abyss of poverty, hunger, homelessness and despair.”

Finally, United for a Fair Economy has published “The State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom?” Here is the Executive Summary. This report surveys the impacts of a tax-cutting, government-shrinking economic agenda on communities of color. If  such an agenda advances, “the dream of a racially equal society, as described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over forty years ago, will be pushed even further out of reach.”

The sky is indeed falling. I wish the pod people in Washington understood, and cared about, upon whom it falls.

Copyright 2012 by Thomas Norman DeWolf | Website: James DeW. Perry