Friday, February 23, 2007

That's The Way, Of The World

The music group from the 1980's, Earth, Wind And Fire calls this song their National Anthem. I'll go along with that. The words we used to say...Right On.

This song was written by Maurice White, Charles Stepney & Verdine White. Maurice was the lead singer, leader and founder of Earth, Wind and Fire. Philip Bailey was the other lead singer and sang the falsetto parts.

I especially love simple songs like this. They are so pure and brief, yet say so much. Read the lyrics and think about them before you listen to the song.

Hearts of fire creates love desire.
Take you high and higher to the world you belong.
Hearts of fire creates love desire.
High and higher to your place on the throne.

We’ve come together on this special day
To sing our message loud and clear
Looking back we’ve touched on sorrowful days
Future pass, they disappear

You will find peace of mind
If you look way down in your heart and soul
Don’t hesitate ‘cause the world seems cold
Stay young at heart ‘cause you’re never (never, never, ..) old at heart

That’s the way of the world
Plant your flower and you grow a pearl
A child is born with a heart of gold
The way of the world makes his heart grow cold

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mr. Scoutmaster & Boy Scout Troop 55

When I was a very young boy I played clarinet in the Boy Scout Band. This was a band organized by the head of the local Army band, Lloyd Maddox. He teamed up with another well-known 1940's local bandleader, Deke Moffit who wrote arrangements of some of our songs. The pinacle of the year was to play at the Boy Scout Jamboree that was held each year at the Cincinnati Gardens.

We may have thought we were the stars of the show until Scout Troop 55 was called on. These fellas put on an exhibition of precision marching that was unmatched.

I had all but forgotten about the Boy Scout Jamboree until I read the online edition of today's Cincinnati Enquirer

This is the Cincinnati Enquirer article is by Chuck Martin and photos by Michael Keating

There may never be another group of Boy Scouts like those of Cincinnati's Troop 55. Maybe never another leader like the man they called "Scoutmaster."

Headquartered in the old Ninth Street YMCA in the West End, Troop 55 was a second home for many in the neighborhood during the first half of the last century. There, they learned to swim and operate amateur radios, to march tightly in step. On field trips out of the city, they hiked and camped, cooked and played.

It didn't matter that these scouts were all African-Americans, some so poor they couldn't afford uniforms. It didn't matter that in order to get to their black-only summer camp, they had to take a streetcar or bus as far east as it ran - to Madisonville - then march another 20 miles to Camp Symmes, near Milford.
Troop 55 was one of several area segregated Boy Scout troops. But that didn't diminish the members' goals or limit their accomplishments. Perhaps it emboldened them.

When Troop 55 formed in 1919, Ted Berry - Cincinnati's first African-American mayor -was a member. He would later serve as an assistant scoutmaster. The scouts of Troop 55 patrolled the streets and back alleys on bicycles, running errands for the elderly and shut-ins, asking for no pay or tips.

"We were like guardian angels," says Herman Turner, 79, an Eagle Scout, who would later fly an Air Force bomber in Korea and serve as a teacher and administrator in Cincinnati Public Schools.

In boats, the scouts helped search for survivors after the great Cincinnati flood of 1937. For air raid drills during World War II, they pedaled around their neighborhood turning off city lights.

At the Ninth Street Y between Mound and Cutter streets, then the center of the West End community, the scouts learned discipline, respect and hard work. The man who taught them these values, Leo J. Hopkins, is behind the legend of Troop 55.

"He was a man among men," says Bill Means, 77, a Troop 55 scout and former Golden Gloves boxing champion.

Most knew him only as "Scoutmaster," an African-American whom boys saluted - in or out of uniform - wherever they saw him. He was smaller than many of his scouts, standing no taller than 5-foot-3, weighing no more than 130 pounds.

Yet he earned their respect by example - teaching the boys to tie knots, use a knife and start a fire without matches. And in his weekly meetings, Hopkins demanded attention with his booming voice, the bang of a wooden gavel and sometimes, the toss of a drum stick across the room.

He lived at the Ninth Street Y and had no family except for the boys of Troop 55, who loved him like a father.

"His life was scouting, his life was the boys," says Lynwood Battle Jr., 64, another Troop 55 scout and former Procter & Gamble executive.

Hopkins taught the scouts to beat a drum, blow a horn and march proudly. Many still remember the adoring crowds that would follow Troop 55 in parades from the West End to Fountain Square during the 1930s, '40s and '50s. All the boys in the neighborhood wanted to join the troop.

William Mundon grew up across the street from the Y, hearing the drum and bugle corps practice every Friday "lighting up the neighborhood." He wanted to join so badly, he lied about his age.

"I went to join when I was two months away from my 12th birthday," says Mundon, 82, who served in the Navy during World War II. "But when Scoutmaster heard that, he banged his mallet on the desk and told me I had to be 12 to join."

The troop's bicycle brigade would shut down streets as the marching band of boys in starched green shirts approached. A drum major led the drum and bugle corps, followed by more scouts on foot and those on bicycles, their wheel spokes decorated for the occasion.

And somewhere on the street nearby, Hopkins rode his bike, watching to make sure everyone was in line and in step. Watching proudly.

Monday, February 19, 2007

John Frum

The John Frum Movement is perhaps the world’s most unusual religion. It is also a sad note on the Christian missionary style of the nineteenth century.

South Pacific villagers worship a mysterious American they call John Frum - believing he'll one day shower their remote island with riches.

In the morning heat on a tropical island halfway across the world from the United States, several dark-skinned men—clad in what look to be U.S. Army uniforms—appear on a mound overlooking a bamboo-hut village. One reverently carries Old Glory, precisely folded to reveal only the stars. On the command of a bearded “drill sergeant,” the flag is raised on a pole hacked from a tall tree trunk. As the huge banner billows in the wind, hundreds of watching villagers clap and cheer.

Chief Isaac Wan, a slight, bearded man in a blue suit and ceremonial sash, leads the uniformed men down to open ground in the middle of the village. Some 40 barefoot "G.I.’s" suddenly emerge from behind the huts to more cheering, marching in perfect step and ranks of two past Chief Isaac. They tote bamboo “rifles” on their shoulders, the scarlet tips sharpened to represent bloody bayonets, and sport the letters “USA,” painted in red on their bare chests and backs.

This is February 15, John Frum Day, on the remote island of Tanna in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. On this holiest of days, devotees have descended on the village of Lamakara from all over the island to honor a ghostly American messiah, John Frum. “John promised he’ll bring planeloads and shiploads of cargo to us from America if we pray to him,” a village elder tells me as he salutes the Stars and Stripes. “Radios, TVs, trucks, boats, watches, iceboxes, medicine, Coca-Cola and many other wonderful things.”

They are of course speaking in Pidgin English of their mythical messiah, John frum America.

There are a group of South Sea island’s known as Vanuatu. One of these was featured on the TV show Survivor. They lay between Fiji and New Guinea. Tanna is one of the 80 islands that comprise Vanuatu. Like some of the other islands in the chain, it has an active volcano. Tanna is populated with about 28,000 people. They call their god “Yasur”. They believe that their American messiah lives within the volcano.

The inhabitants imbibe in a drink made from a species of pepper plant called kava. Tanna is said to produce the strongest kava. This beverage has narcotic and perhaps hallucinogenic qualities. The local men consume vast quantities of the drink.

For as long as Tanna’s inhabitants can remember, island men have downed kava at sunset each day in a place off-limits to women. Christian missionaries, mostly Presbyterians from Scotland, put a temporary stop to the practice in the early 20th century, also banning other traditional practices, or “kastom,” that locals had followed faithfully for millennia: dancing, penis wrapping and polygamy. The missionaries also forbade working and amusement on Sundays, swearing and adultery. In the absence of a strong colonial administrative presence, they set up their own courts to punish miscreants, sentencing them to forced labor. The Tannese seethed under the missionaries’ rules for three decades. Then, John Frum appeared.

The local leaders say that John Frum first appeared one night in the late 1930s, after a group of elders had downed many shells of kava as a prelude to receiving messages from the spirit world. “He was a white man who spoke our language, but he didn’t tell us then he was an American,” says Chief Kahuwya, leader of Yakel village. John Frum told them he had come to rescue them from the missionaries and colonial officials. “John told us that all Tanna’s people should stop following the white man’s ways,” Chief Kahuwya says. “He said we should throw away their money and clothes, take our children from their schools, stop going to church and go back to living as kastom people. We should drink kava, worship the magic stones and perform our ritual dances.”

Perhaps the chieftains in their kava reveries actually experienced a spontaneous vision of John Frum. Or perhaps the apparition has more practical roots. It’s possible that local leaders conceived of John Frum as a powerful white-skinned ally in the fight against the colonials, who were attempting to crush much of the islanders’ culture and prod them into Christianity. In fact, that view of the origins of the cult gained credence in 1949, when the island administrator, Alexander Rentoul, noting that “frum” is the Tannese pronunciation of “broom,” wrote that the object of the John Frum movement “was to sweep (or broom) the white people off the island of Tanna.”

Whatever the truth, John Frum’s message struck a chord. Villagers on Tanna began throwing their money into the sea and killing their pigs for grand feasts to welcome their new messiah. Colonial authorities eventually struck back, arresting the movement’s leaders—including Chief Isaac’s father, Chief Nikiau. They were shipped to a prison at Port-Vila in 1941, their subsequent years behind bars earning them status as the John Frum movement’s first martyrs.
The cult got its biggest boost the following year, when American troops by the thousands were dispatched to the New Hebrides, where they built large military bases at Port-Vila and on the island of Espíritu Santo. The bases included hospitals, airstrips, jetties, roads, bridges and corrugated-steel Quonset huts, many erected with the help of more than a thousand men recruited as laborers from Tanna and other parts of the New Hebrides—among them Chief Kahuwya.

Where the U.S. armed forces go, so go the legendary PXs, with their seemingly endless supply of chocolate, cigarettes and Coca-Cola. For men who lived in huts and farmed yams, the Americans’ wealth was a revelation. The troops paid them 25 cents a day for their work and handed out generous amounts of goodies.

The Americans’ munificence dazzled the men from Tanna, as did the sight of dark-skinned soldiers eating the same food, wearing the same clothes, living in similar huts and tents and operating the same high-tech equipment as white soldiers. “In kastom, people sit together to eat,” says Kirk Huffman, who was the curator of Vanuatu’s cultural center during his years in the island nation. “The missionaries had angered the Tannese by always eating separately.”

It seems this is when the legend of John Frum took on a decidedly American character. “John Frum appeared to us in Port-Vila,” Chief Kahuwya says, “and stayed with us throughout the war. John was dressed in all white, like American Navy men, and it was then we knew John was an American. John said that when the war was over, he’d come to us in Tanna with ships and planes bringing much cargo, like the Americans had in Vila.”

In 1943, the U.S. command, concerned about the movement’s growth, sent the USS Echo to Tanna with Maj. Samuel Patten on board. His mission was to convince John Frum followers that, as his report put it, “the American forces had no connection with Jonfrum.” He failed. At war’s end, the U.S. military unwittingly enhanced the legend of their endless supply of cargo when they bulldozed tons of equipment—trucks, jeeps, aircraft engines, supplies—off the coast of Espíritu Santo. During six decades in the shallows, coral and sand have obscured much of the watery grave of war surplus, but snorkelers can still see tires, bulldozers and even full Coke bottles. The locals wryly named the place Million Dollar Point.

After the war, when they returned home from Port-Vila to their huts, the Tanna men were convinced that John Frum would soon join them, and hacked a primitive airstrip out of the jungle in the island’s north to tempt the expected American planes from the skies. Across the South Pacific, thousands of other cargo cult followers began devising similar plans—even building bamboo control towers strung with rope and bamboo aerials to guide in the planes.

In 1964, one cargo cult on New Hanover Island in Papua New Guinea offered the U.S. government $1,000 for Lyndon Johnson to come and be their paramount chief. But as the years passed with empty skies and seas, almost all the cargo cults disappeared, the devotees’ hopes crushed.

At Sulphur Bay the faithful never wavered. Each Friday afternoon, hundreds of believers stream across the ash plain below Yasur, coming to Lamaraka from villages all over Tanna. After the sun goes down and the men have drunk kava, the congregation gathers in and around an open hut on the ceremonial ground. As light from kerosene lamps flickers across their faces, they strum guitars and homemade ukuleles, singing hymns of John Frum’s prophecies and the struggles of the cult’s martyrs. Many carry the same plea: “We’re waiting in our village for you, John. When are you coming with all the cargo you promised us?”

Threaded among the singers’ perfect harmonies is a high-pitched Melanesian keening that hones each hymn with a yearning edge. I look around in vain for Chief Isaac until a senior man in the cult whispers that after drinking kava, Isaac has disappeared among the darkened trees to talk to John Frum. The weekly service doesn’t end until the sun comes back up, at seven the next morning.

The John From Movement (with a variation on spelling) has also sprung up in Australia and New Zealand as a charitable organization with the aim of making improvements to life in Vanuatu such as water purification and solar power to generate electricity

Much of the text was from the Smithsonian Magazine and written and photographed by Paul Raffaele

Saturday, February 10, 2007

You Know That You Are Living In 2007 If:

1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.

2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if
anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't even have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )

12. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.

14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.

15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn't a #9 on

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Gullible Christianity

Using an article
Published: February 7, 2007 The Denver Post

Forced by a gay sex scandal to resign as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Rev. Ted Haggard now feels that after three weeks of intensive counseling, he is “completely heterosexual,” says an overseer of the mega-church Mr. Haggard once led.

The church official, the Rev. Tim Ralph, said in an interview published yesterday by The Denver Post that Mr. Haggard had also told the board of overseers that his only sexual relationship involving another man had been with Michael Jones, the onetime Denver prostitute who exposed that three-year affair last fall. Mr. Jones said then that he was making it public because Mr. Haggard had acted hypocritically in promoting a constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriage.

Mr. Haggard, who as a result of the scandal was ousted by the overseers in November as senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, broke a three-month silence over the weekend when he contacted members of the church by e-mail to tell them that he was healing.

His three weeks of counseling, in Phoenix, felt like “three years’ worth of analysis and treatment,” but now “Jesus is starting to put me back together,” Mr. Haggard wrote in the e-mail message, which was published in The Colorado Springs Gazette on Monday.

“I have spent so much time in repentance, brokenness, hurt and sorrow for the things I’ve done and the negative impact my actions have had on others,” he said.

Mr. Haggard could not be reached for comment yesterday. Mr. Ralph declined through a spokeswoman to comment, and there was no response to telephone calls and e-mail to another overseer or to a New Life spokesman. But Mr. Ralph told The Denver Post that Mr. Haggard had come out of the counseling convinced of his heterosexuality.

"He is completely heterosexual,” Mr. Ralph told The Post, adding that Mr. Haggard’s homosexual activity had not been “a constant thing.”

Dr. Jack Drescher, a New York psychiatrist who is an expert on issues of gender and sexuality, said that while it was people’s prerogative to identify their sexual orientation as they wanted, the notion of being able to change that orientation was “not consistent with clinical presentations, but totally consistent with theological belief.”

“Some people in the community that Mr. Haggard comes from believe homosexuality is a form of behavior, a sinful form of behavior based on certain things in the Bible, and they don’t believe you can create a healthy identity based on sinful behavior,” Dr. Drescher said. “So they define it as a behavior that can be changed, and there is this thinking that if you control those behaviors enough, heterosexual attractions will follow.”

Mr. Haggard said in his message to New Life members that he and his wife were taking online courses to get master’s degrees in psychology, and Mr. Ralph told The Post that the oversight board had recommended to Mr. Haggard that he take up secular work.

As long as Christians accept idiots like Mr. Haggard and Reverend Tim Ralph, as long as they buy into the blather generated by the esteemed Dr. Jack Dreschler, they deserve to be bonded with these corrupt god-sellers.

You read in your Bible where Jesus beat and chased the money sellers and those selling sacrifices out of God's Temple, right? Do you not think if He were to walk into our Churches today He would do the same to god-monger like the ex-Reverend Haggard and this bunch?

My suggestion to all Christians. Think for yourself!

Friday, February 02, 2007


The doctor had ordered some medications for my wife, so I went to the pharmacy to pick them up. It’s a well known national chain.

When I got home my wife was looking at her medications. Before she became disabled, she was a Registered Nurse. One of the medications was for seizures and the doc had ordered 180 tablets.

My wife tells me that most of the pills are like the ones she had been taking as they were elliptical and had the name of the manufacturer printed on them. But mixed in were some round tablets with different markings. And she asks me if she thinks they may have come from different manufacturers?

I called the pharmacy and described the differences in the pills. The round ones had an “A” with “MO” beneath it. The pharmacist said the round ones were 50 mg Toprol XL. Now I take Toprol XL and I know that it is a beta-blocker which slows down the heartbeat and is used to regulate blood pressure.

The pharmacist said that she was sorry and nonchalantly told me to bring the medication back and she would remove the incorrect pills and refund my money. Like this happens everyday!

I let the pharmacist know that if she looked at my wife’s records she would find out that she takes another medication for her blood pressure. I asked her would not the combination result in hypotension and perhaps worse. The pharmacist stated that they were very busy so the actual pharmacist only opens the bottle and glances to see if the medication looks correct.

I sent an email to the company as well as wrote to the corporate office and cc’d my doctor.

When I took the drugs back I learned that at this chain of stores the drugs are automatically dispensed by a machine that is supposed to count each pill as it puts it into the bottle. The pharmacist that I talked to this evening said their general manager called them this morning and had them take the machine apart to determine what had gone wrong.

The moral of the story is if you folks are purchasing prescription drugs open the bottle and count them. They should have a description of the pill on the label. Make sure you are receiving what your doctor ordered and the quantity that was ordered. And if it is pill or capsule form, then count it.

I counted the tablets twice before I took them back. There were 181 of the correct pills and 6 of the blood pressure medications. So the stupid machine could not even count them correctly!
This Warning Is Only My Oppinion!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bringing Norman Rockwell Up To Date

May God bless Norman Rockwell. He gave us an insight into the way life was in the United States during the era in which he lived. One of his wonderful paintings was of a family holiday dinner. This was from a collection of works called The Four Freedoms. And the above work from 1943 is entitled Freedom From Want.

From a historical perspective, the United States was at war in 1943. Goods and food were being rationed. The common man, woman and child did without so those fighting in Europe and the Pacific could be supplied. And ironically Mr. Rockwell paints this wonderful image of Freedom from Want.

Fast forward to 2007 when gluttony and sloveness prevail in a country that has been given much and appreciated little. Perhaps Mr. Rockwell would have looked upon this typical family scene and captured this portrait.