www.DavidWilhite.com - fortified with 8 essential witticisms and irony
Welcome to www.DavidWilhite.com  David Wilhite is a part-time writer of fiction, humor, satire, and editorials; and a full-time political critic. The content of this web site represents his views, and his alone. Friends and family will, no doubt, keep their distance from any sentiment expressed here.
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Title: My Right to Own a Hammer
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/013-MyRightToOwnAHammer
Posted Date: 15-Nov-2009      Created Date: 15-Nov-2009
David's Comments: I don't understand how anyone could question my right ... no, DUTY ... to own a hammer!
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My Right to Own a Hammer

Can you believe how those socialist liberals want to take away my Constitutional right to own a hammer?
A hammer is so incredibly useful! It can solve nearly any construction problem that might arise. If a screw gets stripped and pops out of line, I can just WHAM it back into place. Bingo! No more problem. A board gets out of line, WHAM ... there ya go!
They won't let me take my hammer on an airplane. Why is that? Just think: if one of those overhead compartments won't close, I could just WHAM ... and it's back in place! You know those wussy flight attendants aren't packing a hammer. If every competent traveler was packing, there would be zero more problems with overhead compartments.
Can't take it into most bars either. Bunch o' sissies. If one of those barstools won't spin proper, WHAMMO ... When I'm finished with it, it will spin, or it won't be a barstool anymore, one or the other.
People say there are dangers. Maybe I'll hit my own thumb. Maybe someone will take it from me and use it for bad things. Maybe I'll miss and damage something. Not me. I know how to use my hammer.
Don't get me wrong. Not everyone should carry a hammer. If you don't know how to use it right, don't carry it! But on the other hand, if we let the government decide who can and can't carry one, they will make it so none of us can carry one. You can't trust the government with power. They want all the power for themselves. Just look what they spend my tax money on!
People say there are other tools ... other techniques to make the repairs I make with my hammer. Screwdrivers, tape, glue. Hah! Maybe for them. They're afraid to use a hammer. Me, I'm not afraid of the power my hammer has. In fact I do have other tools ... like my sledgehammer ... and for those really tough tasks, my jackhammer! On full-auto my jackhammer can get rid of any problem on the face of the planet!
You'll get my hammer when you pry it from my cold, dead, work gloves!
By the way, I've been thinking about buying a handgun, too.
# # #
Title: Parenting Is For the Birds
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/021-ParentingForBirds
Posted Date: 26-May-2009      Created Date: 26-May-2009
David's Comments: Time to rise to a new level of unaccountability.
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Parenting Is For the Birds

As I watched, at first I thought it must be an unusual event. But then I saw it again ... and a third time. This week as I was walking around campus during lunch I repeatedly saw the scene of an adult robin going about the business of hunting bugs, a fledgling robin following it squawking for food, and the adult totally ignoring the fledgling.
I need to learn that trick!
What the bird parents do instinctively it seems we human parents have to learn. My daughter is capable of doing things for herself that I impulsively do for her. Maybe it's because I'm afraid she'll make a mess pouring that drink. Or maybe I think she can't reach that cabinet to get out a plate. Or maybe I'm afraid she'll punch in too much time on the microwave.
Or maybe it's just because she squawks, and I do for her, out of habit.
But she needs to learn these things sometime. Why not now?
Not that I'm considering teaching her how to hunt bugs. (Though that would certainly reduce the grocery bill.) No, I'm talking about her picking out her own clothes, and preparing her own afternoon snack, and cleaning up her dishes, and just generally being more self-sufficient.
So, dear daughter, watch me, and learn how to do for yourself, and stop squawking. I'll do my part and ignore you. Welcome to your tween years!
# # #
Title: Emotional Tree-Climbing
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/020-EmotionalTreeClimbing
Posted Date: 26-Mar-2009      Created Date: 26-Mar-2009
David's Comments: The Winds of Change are starting to blow.
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Emotional Tree-Climbing

I've always been a tree-climber. I still do it on occasion. It hasn't been that long since I climbed 30 feet up in a pecan tree, out into the limbs to shake down the nuts. But no matter how long I've been doing it, there is eventually that scary moment ...
I climb safely. I keep at least two points of support in tested positions before moving on. When moving to a new limb that proves too weak to support me, I still have the tested support in at least two other places.
But of course trees are often not built for climbers. Inevitably there comes a time and place where I have to take a risk, where the reach is too far for me to test. I have to judge the strength of my destination before I move there.
The penalty for being wrong is likely to be a broken appendage. I judged badly once. The price I paid was a sprained ankle that plagued me for two years.
Recent tree-climbing has me staring at another far reach. The previous injury is still fresh in my mind. It scares me. I don't trust my judgment like I used to.
It would be nice if I could just ask that limb how strong it is. In some ways it reminds me of the one that I fell from before.
Some of the other limbs look pretty good. Some have fewer branches. That might be easier. Why not?
No, that would be wimping out. This is the right way to go. "Fear is the mind-killer."
Ready ... Set ...
# # #
Title: Strong Currently
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/019-StrongCurrently
Posted Date: 18-Feb-2009      Created Date: 18-Feb-2009
David's Comments: Is that a lifeline, or a fishing line?
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Strong Currently

What is strength?
My 10 year old daughter told me yesterday, quite authoritatively, that there is a place between heaven and hell, that people go, and have to prove that they are worthy of heaven.
I think she's right.
It's not a fun place to be. Not for the weak. Not for the weary.
In hell you know you're doomed. It's easy to accept.
In heaven ... well, it's heaven. Again, no mean feat to stay there.
But in between, it's a constant upstream swim. Is it the River Styx? I'm lucky if I can keep even with the current, which repeatedly threatens to bash me into something cold and hard. I'm tired.
I'm weak.
There are pools of calm that tempt me to come in and stay. I've tried a few of them. They've turned into eddies that dizzy me and send me off in the wrong direction.
Is a salmon weak if it can't swim against a strong current?
Is a heart weak if it can't stand up to a mountain of loneliness?
Is a liver weak if it can't stand up to a strong drink?
Are these analogies weak if they can't stand up to intense scrutiny?
Ah, well, at least I have a strong sense of humor.
# # #
Title: how old are You?
Author: David's daughter
Category: The Fridge      Article: fridge/002-HowOldAreYou
Posted Date: 04-Oct-2008      Created Date: 04-Oct-2008
David's Comments: Sometimes answers to universal mysteries can flow freely from an unfettered mind.
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♫  how old are You?  ♪

It was one of those whimsical conversations that we sometimes have.
My daughter started out by asking how old a person has to be to get a driver's license. One thing led to another, and she said, "I heard about the magic numbers: age 10, because that's when you reach double digits; 12, because then you're a pre-teen; 13, because then you're a teenager; 15, because you can get a learner's permit; 16, because you can get a full license; 18, because then you can vote; and 21, because you can drink."
I said, "Here are a couple more magic numbers to add: 25, because your insurance rates go down; and age 65, because then you can retire."
She gasped in shock at the staggering number, "Age 65! That's like how old God is!"
# # #
Title: The Truth Is In Here
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/018-TheTruthIsInHere
Posted Date: 27-Sep-2008      Created Date: 27-Sep-2008
David's Comments: I know how it really happened.
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The Truth Is In Here

The setting is a humble hut in a small village in the Fertile Crescent. The date is 1400 BC. The time is late one spring evening. Our hero, Prophet, sits at a table, bleary-eyed, struggling to see by the firelight, pondering his existence.
Prophet: (closing his eyes, and praying aloud) Dear Yahweh, I have come to a crisis of faith! The elders of my village insist that the world was created by a great dragon, whose bowels became the fertile lands, and whose teeth became the towering mountains, and whose stomach contents became the turbulent seas, and whose breath became the blowing winds, and whose scales became the glittering stars.
But I simply cannot believe their stories. So I come to You. I beseech Thee, oh Father of all, that You tell me ... how did You create the world?
(long silence)
Yahweh: I can see the time has come ... that humankind has reached a point in its intellectual development that you must all finally know the truth.
Prophet: Oh, thank You!
(long silence)
Prophet: Are You still there?
Yahweh: Sorry, I was trying to think how I can explain this so you'll understand ... I'm ready to begin now.
Prophet: (snatching his stylus eagerly off the table) Oh good! I'm ready to write it all down!
Yahweh: OK, it's like this: the multiverse exists as a broad array of universes, each with its own unique set of universal constants. One day I was bored and decided to stir things up a bit. So I nudged your universe such that it collided with an adjacent one, and the resulting collision formed a massive quantum singularity that rapidly expanded as a huge wave of energy to form all that exists in your universe.
(long silence)
Prophet: (staring vacantly at his clay tablet) I'm going to put down "Yahweh said, 'Let there be light.'"
# # #
Title: Know Your Fellow Drivers
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/017-KnowYourFellowDrivers
Posted Date: 21-Sep-2008      Created Date: 21-Sep-2008
David's Comments: I've used male pronouns here for sake of convenience. But these personalities are in no way confined to the male of the species.
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Know Your Fellow Drivers

Don't you wonder what they're thinking? ... other drivers ... when they do the things they do. After years of driving experience, observing drivers for miles at a time on interstate highways, I like to think that I've come to understand a few of the personalities operating in the drivers' seats.
Lefty: For Lefty, the left lane is not just his entitlement, it's his destiny, and his reason for being on the road. It doesn't matter if he's not the "fastest" driver, because in his mind he's driving "fast," and it's the "fast lane" isn't it? Well then he should be there! If you need to go past him then you should use the passing lane ... you know, the one on the right.
Righty: Passing is for speed demons, not Righty. If he has to slow to a crawl to avoid using the left lane, then so be it. Passing is risky; it requires changing lanes; changing lanes is like changing one's mind, being fickle. Fickle is bad. Besides, he's pretty sure he has to take an exit ramp about 10 miles down the road. What if he doesn't have enough time to finish passing before he has to take that exit? No ... it's just not worth the risk. Righty annoys me sometimes ... but only when I'm sitting in his passenger's seat.
Dragster: Dragster likes to drag race. When he meets up with another Dragster on the highway, he squares his car up with the driver in the adjacent lane. His sweaty palms steady the wheel with a grip of iron. He grits his teeth in anticipation of the burst of blinding speed. The brim of his fedora shields his forehead and ears from the harmful UV rays that penetrate the windshield of his 1976 Behemoth sedan. And the drag race begins ... to see who can drag his butt the slowest. Funny how it turns out to be a dead heat ... for miles.
Random-Foot: A good driver drives by feel. It's the only way to go. Random-Foot appreciates that. Sometimes it feels right to drive 90 miles per hour, which dramatically reduces his risk of being rear-ended. Sometimes it feels right to drive down the center line, which dramatically increases his interaction with other drivers ... most will feel compelled to make eye contact with him as they go by ... and some will even be inspired to give him that special single-finger wave.
Vampire: You might mistake him for Lefty. But Vampire is not hanging out in the left lane because he thinks he should be there, nor is he taking his sweet time passing that truck because he has no respect for you who are stuck behind him. Indeed, you must pity this poor soulless creature, as Vampire is deathly afraid to look in the mirror. And don't bother flashing your lights at him; you will simply confuse him as to why his headliner is suddenly lighting up.
Leader: His job is to set the pace for all other traffic. Don't go getting uppity and try to pass Leader; he will increase his speed to match yours ... until he begins passing the next car ... then he will return to The Right Speed, which he can enforce now that he has the passing lane blocked. If you ever do succeed in passing him, don't try to make eye contact, as he has a withering glare that will surely embarrass you, you speed demon.
Follower: You'll only see Follower as you're passing him, or in your rearview mirror (unless you're a Vampire). Once he's behind you, he'll hug your bumper so tightly you'll think he got caught on your trailer hitch. There's no point in slowing down to let him pass, because he doesn't want to. Your only prayer is that someone faster than you will come by and be more attractive to him.
Flasher: No, Flasher doesn't drive naked. But you know who he is ... you've seen him ... there, in the right lane ... with his left turn signal on ... for three miles now, and counting. Every once in a while a considerate driver in the left lane will pause to let him in, but he doesn't go. Obviously he doesn't realize his turn signal is on. Why not? Well, he can't hear it clicking because his window is rolled down or his music is cranked up, and he can't see it flashing because he hasn't looked at his gauges ... for three years now, and counting.
Frogger: He's the one trying to predict the behavior of the drivers in front of him and behind him. You'll easily spot him because he's switching lanes often, as if playing an IRL version of Frogger. Rumor has it that around town he times different routes to find the optimum one. But that's just a rumor. Really. I wouldn't know anything about that.
# # #
Title: Black
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/016-Black
Posted Date: 10-Sep-2008      Created Date: 10-Sep-2008
David's Comments: Thank goodness no one I know reads this stuff!
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I don't look very good in black. It makes me appear even more pale than I already am.
But some insist on dressing me in a black fedora just the same.
Why do you suppose they do that? I don't know. Maybe it's because we naturally assume that when there is conflict, someone has to be the good guy and someone the bad guy.
So how do people decide who's the bad guy? Maybe some actions that a person takes will always show us. For example, if I shoot a dog, I'm definitely a bad guy, right? ... or am I? ... What if the dog is Old Yeller?
If I escape from a burning home, and run to safety, leaving a victim to an unknown fate inside, surely I'm a bad guy ... and a coward. Does it matter that I emerge limping, gasping, and covered in second-degree burns?
I've been wearing that hat for a year now, and I grow weary of it. It doesn't suit me.
However, I'm not the one who gets to decide how others dress me. Maybe someday I'll do something that will inspire others to give me a new color scheme. But quite frankly, if they don't trust my judgment that the dog was too sick to save, other things I do probably won't make much sense to them either. And if they don't trust that I nearly killed myself trying to save the other fire victim, they'll always be suspicious of my motives.
On the other hand, black is supposed to be slimming, isn't it? And is anybody still making movies in the Film Noir genre? Maybe I can get a role in one of those!
# # #
Title: World's Greatest Prez
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Cartoon      Article: politoon/003-WorldsGreatestPrez
Posted Date: 24-May-2008      Created Date: 24-May-2008
David's Comments: None ever are likely to surpass him in at least one category.
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LCD - Lowest Common Denominator - cartoon series by David Wilhite
World's Greatest Prez - George W. Bush Golf Political Cartoon by David Wilhite
World's Greatest Prez
Title: J
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/015-MyGFJ
Posted Date: 06-May-2008      Created Date: 06-May-2008
David's Comments: I might pay for this. Oh well ... don't do the crime if you can't do the time. :)
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She has pretty, big, blue eyes,
   but she doesn't read my stuff.
4000 readers, on the rise,
   yet this one would be enough.
Now I post and risk demise,
   hope she doesn't call my bluff.
If you see her passing by,
   tell her this site's full of fluff.
# # #

End of Recent Articles

Title: Deacon Blues
Author: Steely Dan
Category: Lyrics      Article: lyrics/006-DeaconBlues
Posted Date: 19-Apr-2008      Created Date: 1977
David's Comments: Have I ever mentioned that I really, really like the lyrics of Steely Dan? :) I'm feeling these lyrics right now. They're from the Aja album.
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Deacon Blues

Steely Dan, 1977
more Steely Dan lyrics at www.SteelyDan.com
This is the day
   of the expanding man.
That shape is my shade,
   there where I used to stand.
It seems like only yesterday
   I gazed through the glass
   at ramblers,
   wild gamblers.
That's all in the past.
You call me a fool;
   you say it's a crazy scheme.
This one's for real;
   I already bought the dream.
So useless to ask me why.
Throw a kiss and say goodbye.
I'll make it this time.
I'm ready to cross that fine line.
(I'll) learn to work the saxophone,
   I'll play just what I feel.
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long,
   and die behind the wheel.
They got a name for the winners in the world;
   I want a name when I lose.
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide;
   call me Deacon Blues.
My back to the wall,
   a victim of laughing chance.
This is for me:
   the essence of true romance.
Sharing the things we know and love
   with those of my kind:
   that stagger the mind.
I crawl like a viper
   through these suburban streets,
   make love to these women,
   languid and bittersweet.
I'll rise when the sun goes down,
   cover every game in town.
A world of my own:
   I'll make it my home sweet home.
This is the night
   of the expanding man.
I take one last drag
   as I approach the stand.
I cried when I wrote this song;
   sue me if I play too long.
This brother is free.
I'll be what I want to be.
# # #
Title: Destined to a Fate of Possibility
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/014-DestinedToPossibility
Posted Date: 10-Apr-2008      Created Date: 10-Apr-2008
David's Comments: We can't rely on a Parent for everything.
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Destined to a Fate of Possibility

Every future offers more Paths of Possibility than human imagination can envision.
And yet we fall back on Destiny, an invention of the mind too narrow to examine Possibility; on Fate, an excuse of the spirit too beaten to visit Alternative.
If God exists, surely she tires of her parental role, her shoulder wet from giving consolation to her children, her fingers sore from prying open their eyes, her arms strained from pulling them to their feet to convince them to walk and to run and to play.
# # #
Title: A Man Of Faith
Author: David Wilhite, et al.
Category: Humor      Article: humor/008-AManOfFaith
Posted Date: 16-Feb-2008      Created Date: unknown
David's Comments: I don't know where this one came from. I heard it a decade ago. But I've repeated it enough times now that I think I need to put it in writing. Like any of my favorite recipes, I cook this joke from memory, seasoned the way I like it.
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A Man of Faith

A minister awoke one morning to find floodwaters rising around his home.

As he stepped out onto his front porch to survey the situation, he saw that the floodwaters spread around as far as he could see. His own small car was already submerged to the top of the hood, so he knew that he could not save himself. But he did not despair; instead he thought to himself, "I am a man of Faith; God will save me."

So he waited, and prayed.

The floodwaters had risen to the edge of his porch floor, when a police officer came in a four-wheel-drive SUV, and called to him to get inside to be carried to safety.

But the minister called back, "Go and save someone else! I am a man of Faith; God will save me!"

The SUV drove on.

So he waited, and prayed.

The floodwaters had risen to the edge of his roof, and he had climbed up there, when a neighbor came in a motorboat, and called to him to get inside to be carried to safety.

But the minister called back, "Go and save someone else! I am a man of Faith; God will save me!"

The motorboat drove on.

So he waited, and prayed.

The floodwaters had risen to the base of his chimney, and he stood atop it, when a rescue team came in a helicopter, and called to him to get inside to be carried to safety.

But the minister called back, "Go and save someone else! I am a man of Faith; God will save me!"

The helicopter flew on.

So he waited, and prayed ...

... and drowned.

At the Pearly Gates, St. Peter saw him approaching, and asked him, astonished, "What are you doing here? It's not your time!"

The minister replied, "Well, I prayed for God to help me, but He apparently decided not to."

St. Peter could barely contain his frustration. "We sent an SUV, a motorboat, and a helicopter! What were you expecting?!"

Title: Philosophy Madlibs
Author: David Wilhite, et al.
Category: Humor      Article: humor/007-PhilosophyMadlibs
Posted Date: 10-Nov-2007      Created Date: 26-Oct-2007
David's Comments: We have such respect for the deep thinking ability of the leaders of moral or philosophical movements. But now you can do it yourself! There's no need for introspection or eloquence; just fill in the blanks.
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Philosophy Madlibs

Hey, kids! Create your very own school of philosophy! Just pick your favorite type, and fill in the blanks!

On the Day of Judgment, ______ [deity] will cast all ______ [disliked class of people] into the Lake of Fire. The Word of ______ [same deity] says in the book of ______ [funny-sounding name], chapter ______ [number], verse ______ [number], that they who ______ [action to be discouraged] shall be ______ [appropriate eternal agony]. It is my duty to love all ______ [same disliked class of people]; but it is for their own spiritual good that I think they should all be ______ [creative form of capital punish] and their children branded and cast out.

Firstly, I am not ______ [unpopular personal attribute], nor do I think I will ever become ______ [same unpopular personal attribute]. Frankly, I think being ______ [same unpopular personal attribute] is distasteful and somewhat icky. However, I will defend to the death every person's right to be ______ [same unpopular personal attribute] in the privacy of their own home. Probably they should not teach my children, but some of my best friends are still ______ [same unpopular personal attribute].

A healthy, free society cannot withstand or condone the presence of ______ [disliked "-ism"]. Furthermore, we must strive to eradicate ______ [same disliked "-ism"] wherever it occurs, here or abroad, and support the principles and vital interests of free market trickle-down capitalism. All too many well-meaning ______ [sympathetic class of people] are innocent tools of ______ [enemy nationality] aggression.

The only good ______ [disliked race of people] is a dead ______ [same disliked race of people]. They are in league with the ______ [disliked class of people] and the ______ [disliked religion] to destroy the integrity of my race. I read that they are behind an international banking conspiracy headed by Nelson Rockefeller (who isn't really dead!) and the United States shadow government. All ______ [same disliked race of people] should be electrocuted in boiling acid after watching their children being fed to dogs on national TV. So there!

Despite being consistently exposed to ______ [social mistreatment] because of my ______ [unpopular personal attribute], I pity those who see this as a stigma, as I have benefited greatly from my deformity, and see all the more clearly how to ______ [act of flagrant denial].

There is no supreme being, nor universal master plan. I am responsible for my own ______ [household maintenance activity]. And I answer only to myself. Therefore I shall ______ [personal indulgence] as much as I please, so long as I consistently ______ [personal hygiene activity]. Vote Libertarian in November!

Praise ______ [deity], who delivers us from ______ [enemy] by giving us access to incendiary armaments, and by blessing the faithful throughout their lives of self-denial and suffering at the hands of ______ [same enemy] and their complicit allies. The faithful will be rewarded by ______ [hedonistic activity] in ______ [location of afterlife] for sacrificing their lives to rid the world of all ______ [same enemy]. Praise ______ [same deity]!

I am not responsible for my actions because ______ [mystical beings] inhabit my ______ [body part or internal organ]. I am fortunate to be one of the select few members of ______ [organization] who understand the truth. I aspire to acquire worldly wealth so that I can donate it to ______ [same organization] in exchange for an opportunity to be judged a more self-aware person, and thereby more powerful in ______ [same organization], regardless of how insane our theology may seem to outsiders. I have not been brainwashed. Really. I'm serious.

Title: Down on Main Street
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/013-DownOnMainStreet
Posted Date: 18-Oct-2007      Created Date: 17-Oct-2007
David's Comments: Blink, and you'll miss them.
Reader Comments: none
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Down on Main Street


We've all seen them. They're just not quite right. I can tell at a glance that they don't follow the mainstream of society. Of course I'm polite about it: I smile, nod, maybe say a kind word, but keep my distance.

He was the guy I saw in the burger joint. He was dressed within societal norms for middle class casual, but he was seventeen words too friendly, and far too specific about how he wanted his burger prepared. And he was needlessly concerned that I should ask the cashier for the half-dollar coin he just gave her.

Then there was the family out for a drive. My view through their rear window triggered my intrinsic prejudice; by facial appearance, they were a stereotypical family of hillbillies; by dress, bound for Something-Mart. And by the look it, all of the occupants were dead set on participating in the driving.



The real shame is that it's been my loss, and an unspoken insult to them.

Though, to be fair to myself, it's often a two-way prejudice. There was another time I was standing in a long line at a fast food restaurant, and a guy I'd never seen before in my life, ahead of me in line, donned an unapologetic sneer at me. He glared at me for at least a full minute before the switchbacks put us within a couple feet of each other.

His emotional disability was apparent in his facial expression toward me. And my intuition suggested that he had perhaps intellectual challenges as well. I am not a confrontational person, but something told me I should stand my social ground. When we came close together, I held his stare expressionlessly for a few seconds, then half-smiled, and said, "Hi."

Unfazed, his lips parted, and he uttered in a most dramatic way, "I loath you."

Determined not to react emotionally, I asked, "Why is that?"

Continuing his glare, with the same melodrama he returned, "Because of how you look."

"Hmmm," I said, unaffected, "That's a shame."


Friends of a Friend

Then there was a time a friend of mine invited me to a gathering of people I'd never met before. As I walked into the room, my prejudice kicked in. These were clearly not mainstreamers. Choice of hairstyle and clothing were the biggest indicators for me.

But I fought it off. I resisted the prejudice that leapt into my emotions. And now the friends of my friend are my friends. Among my best friends, in fact.


Prejudiced Against Prejudice

"Prejudice" is seen by mainstream society as categorically bad. And yet it's probably fair to say that mainstream society is where prejudice is most prevalent.

I submit that prejudice is neither good nor bad; it's just a conditioned emotional response, and a necessary component of quick response to real emergencies. How we act on that prejudice, however, can be good or bad. I can accept the fact that I had a prejudicial emotional response to the overly friendly guy at the burger joint; but should I avoid him because he's weird? I didn't. I smiled and interacted with him as I would with anyone else I don't know. It cost me nothing to do so, and it brought me no harm.

My tendency is to hold my prejudice close to the vest, and wait for further input. But, sadly, I'm sure that my prejudice colors my perception. The best I can hope for is to be aware of it and try to compensate.

Most of all, I need to fight my prejudice that favors the mainstream. The majority ain't all it's cracked up to be. America doesn't just live on Main Street; and I'm very glad of that.
# # #
Title: SMW's Mystic Nativity
Author: David's daughter
Category: The Fridge      Article: fridge/001-SMWsMysticNativity
Posted Date: 29-Sep-2007      Created Date: 26-Apr-2007
David's Comments: In her school's Gifted and Talented program, my daughter copied the style of Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli. Can you tell which is the original and which is the copy? The following elements of Botticelli's work are incorporated: subject (Jesus' Nativity), color, style (Renaissance), and brightness.
Reader Comments: none
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SMW's Mystic Nativity
SMW's Mystic Nativity
Botticelli's Mystic Nativity
Title: Where Do Experts Come From?
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/012-Experts
Posted Date: 28-Sep-2007      Created Date: 28-Sep-2007
David's Comments: At least they got me writing again.
Reader Comments: none
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Where Do Experts Come From?

I've noticed that cable news channels always seem to be able to find an "expert" in any given subject. But how do you go about locating an expert in a niche field like desert survival, or explosive footwear, or stellar cartography?
Then it occurred to me: You don't have to locate them; they locate you. Experts, by definition, have the highest level of knowledge in a particular field. So it stands to reason that only an expert knows enough to evaluate his own expertise.
Typically it seems I encounter an expert when I least think that I need one. And after all, who would know better than they that I need their help? I don't have to ask for advice, because they know when to give it.
Most recently aid has come to me in the form of unsolicited evaluation and advice about a relationship. This has been a very liberating development. While it is true that these experts don't know the intimate details of my life (in some cases not even the non-intimate details), it is intuitively obvious that relationships are highly subjective, and therefore largely independent of facts. All you need to know about someone else's romance you can easily gather through casual interaction, because it is indisputable that a relationship appears from the outside exactly as it truly is on the inside.
Although I can't currently understand the wisdom these experts have imparted, I must have faith that they can perceive the nuances of my values and aspirations. Who am I to second-guess an authoritative assessment? I'm no expert on relationships.
I'm only an expert in the usage of irony.
# # #
Title: How Not To Be a Terrorist
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/012-HowNotToBeATerrorist
Posted Date: 16-Jul-2007      Created Date: 16-Jul-2007
David's Comments: Don't get me wrong. I know most flight attendants are good, responsible people. The real crime is the legislation that permitted this gross misappropriation of power.
Reader Comments: none
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How Not To Be a Terrorist

Tips to make your commercial airline flight experience arrest-free.

After 9/11/2001 air travel changed permanently. Prior to the terrorist attacks of that day, airline passengers were searched for obvious threats, like guns, knives, and bombs; and making an idle joke or conversational reference about a hijacking or a bomb while going through an airport security checkpoint could easily result in your personal reroute to the airport security office.
Those were the Golden Days. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Congress had a startling revelation: the most dangerous weapon on any airline flight is the aircraft itself, and therefore the most dangerous item a passenger can bring on an airline flight is a bad attitude — or nail clippers. The proof of this reasoning is left as an exercise for the reader.
Deadly items like nail clippers, umbrellas, shoes, and soda bottles are relatively easy to detect by airport security. But how does one detect a bad attitude? Enter the USA PATRIOT Act, expediently passed by Congress, which cleared the way to give flight attendants bold new powers of interdiction. Thanks to this insightful new initiative, we now entrust our flight attendants with the unchecked power to order our arrest.
But despite the rigorous weeding process an aspiring flight attendant is subjected to before achieving their position (minimum: high school diploma, no felony convictions, and 3 weeks of training), surprisingly it appears that some of them have had hair-trigger response in exercising their new powers. For example, one passenger was arrested and convicted for thoughtlessly resting his head on his fiancée's shoulder. Another passenger was kicked off her flight for her toddler's poor choice of words, saying goodbye to the airplanes he saw out the window.
It begs the question: "How do I avoid my untimely arrest and subsequent 20-year incarceration for my thoughtless acts of terrorism?" Here at last is the advice you need in order to travel and yet keep your criminal record squeaky clean:

1. Never bring irony on a flight.

The flight attendant might not have the same sense of humor that you do. So leave the political jokes at home. Think of your flight attendant as Airport Security Lite, with half of the fattening training for making a life-altering decision, but all of the tasty authority.

2. Check your toddlers and infants.

Young ones can sometimes choose poorly the things that they say, and infants are surprisingly prone to crying and therefore distracting the attendants from properly performing their critical duties. Drinks and uselessly small pillows do not deliver themselves; and oxygen masks do not demonstrate themselves; that's why it's best for you to check your toddlers and infants along with the rest of your luggage, so they are not a hindrance to the flight crew.

3. Eyes front! Sit up straight!

Some flight attendants might not like the way you look at them, or the way you look, period. For example, if you are showing signs that you are too comfortable, they might ask you to change your position. Don't be a troublemaker; do what they say to do. Here's a technique to help you remember: Imagine your flight attendant as a Mother Superior with a ruler in her hand and hawkish expression on her face. Except that the penalty for defiance is not you sitting in the corner, it's you being locked in a federal penitentiary.

4. If you drop the soap, don't bend over.

If you do anything that is deemed to be suspicious, you may be subject to Additional Security Stipulations. This augmented investigation protocol will involve a fiber optic microscope, speculum, and highly specialized rubber gloves (none of which are used by you). Use your best judgment. For example, if your ginger ale goes down the wrong way, and you end up having a coughing fit, ask your seatmate (between wheezes) to punch you into unconsciousness. It will take far less time to heal from the head trauma than to serve the felony prison sentence.

5. Always remember: the emperor's new outfit is very stylish indeed.

It bears repeating: Do what your flight attendants tell you to do. No matter how ridiculous their demands are, remember that you are subject to their whims. You say you don't really want that uselessly small pillow? For the sake of national security, take it anyway! You say you don't really feel you want to quack like a duck? Do it anyway! Always remember that you are there for the comfort, convenience, and amusement of the flight crew.

6. Drive or sail.

With all the security measures imposed today, it's just easier and often faster to drive to your destination. Flying overseas? Maybe you should sail instead. Enjoy the salt air.

7. Fly yourself.

As another alternative to commercial air travel, you might choose to acquire your own pilot's license and rent an airplane to fly yourself. Despite the fact that you will be flying a vehicle that can be used as an incendiary weapon of mass murder, you will be subject to far less regulation and scrutiny. Go figure.
# # #
Title: Airline Passenger Shot Down by PATRIOT Missile
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/011-PatriotMissile
Posted Date: 17-May-2007      Created Date: 17-May-2007
David's Comments: Funny story: A guy, his fiancée, and a flight attendant are on this plane ...
Reader Comments: 2
7-Jun-2007 Dawn Sewell [e‑mail] writes: I absolutely love the way you wrote this. You clearly did some research because you are right on target. With more stories like yours being put out there, the better for our country. I feel people like you and I are the only ones who are going to be able to keep the spotlight on this issue. Thanks so much for your support.
8-Jun-2007 David Wilhite [web] [e‑mail] writes: My heart goes out to you and your fiancé. This is a sad era in our country, when more people are moved by sound bites than reason, and more people are interested in "dish" than fact. I hope the justice system will quickly come to its senses in your case.
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Airline Passenger Shot Down
by PATRIOT Missile

You remember the USA PATRIOT Act? The one that was enacted after the 9/11 tragedy, to help fight terrorism? Do you remember multiple officials in the Bush administration and Congress swearing (practically on their mothers' graves) that the law would only be used against terrorists and those who support terrorism?
Funny story: it turns out that they were just kidding.
Another funny story: the USA PATRIOT Act was most recently misused to prosecute a US citizen for the heinous crime of arguing with an overzealous flight attendant. On May 5 of this year he was found guilty, and could be sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison.
OK, maybe it's not exactly a "funny" story. It's more of a shocking, depressing, infuriating, ridiculous story.
The American popular press has mischaracterized the story as a matter of inappropriate sexual conduct on an airline. That's like characterizing Iraqi civil violence as a problem caused by WMDs. (That's a small part of the back-story, but to make that the headline issue would completely miss the bigger current issues.)
Rather, this story is about Carl Persing, who was a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight. He is a man in his 40s who was feeling weak from chemotherapy, and laid his head in the lap of his fiancée. The flight attendant, Frank McCabe, misinterpreted that as a sexual act, and ordered him to sit up. He complied, but McCabe continued his misguided jackbooted police work during the flight, not even permitting Persing to rest his head on his fiancée's shoulder. When Persing became verbally belligerent about it, the attendant escalated the incident. The FBI arrested Persing and his fiancée when the plane landed, charging them with "interfering with a flight attendant" under the USA PATRIOT Act.
The verdict will be appealed, and may be thrown out. But a lot of damage is already done. Persing is out $30,000 in legal fees, and has had his name smeared in the news and in popular jokes for months.
It illustrates again for us that the most common casualties in the War On Terror are common citizens who have lost basic civil rights.
It also illustrates how our obsessive fear of terrorism serves not to protect us, but to do us more injury atop the death toll inflicted by the terrorists.
There's a reason they're called "terrorists": their goal is to instill fear. Acting with brute-force legislation out of fear instead of calmly creating a rational plan of prevention, we have done their work for them.
How many times do we have to shoot ourselves in the foot before we throw away the gun that we think we can use to protect ourselves? The sooner the USA PATRIOT Act is moved from the law books into the Dark History Of Our Foolish Attempts To Legislate Common Sense books, the sooner we can begin to truly recover from 9/11.
# # #
Title: Translation, Please
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Riddle      Article: riddle/001-TranslationPlease
Posted Date: 12-Mar-2007      Created Date: 12-Mar-2007
David's Comments: I'm inaugurating a new "Riddle" category with this article. Can you translate this from G[r]eek to English? Post your guess as a comment, using the link below.
Reader Comments: 2
12-Apr-2007 Bob Gately writes: I Love SciFi. Cute.
12-Apr-2007 David Wilhite [web] [e‑mail] writes: Correct! ... on both counts.
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Translation, please:


Title: The Glass
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/011-TheGlass
Posted Date: 6-Mar-2007      Created Date: 6-Mar-2007
David's Comments: Resourcefulness transcends pessimism and optimism.
Reader Comments: none
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The glass is neither half empty nor half full;
it is completely full, half with water, half with air.
Title: Hawkish Grandeur
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/011-HawkishGrandeur
Posted Date: 22-Feb-2007      Created Date: 22-Feb-2007
David's Comments: I'm feeling quite disenchanted with entities who capriciously wield their power over the weak. If you don't care for my dark and cynical stuff, read no further.
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Hawkish Grandeur

It sails gracefully, majestically on the breath of gods.
Its peers are the cloud and the zephyr.
Its challenges are known to itself alone.
Who would not thrill to join its lofty venture?
A tinge of hunger annoying its endeavor, it deigns turn its keen vision downward to the unending plains of grassroots below.
He watches from the ground, at once awed, fearful, enchanted.
He sees the slow spiral of the circling spirit.
He sways with the looping rhythm, dreaming, envious.
But earthly matters distract.
He forages in unrelenting search for sustenance.
He grooms fur, scratches after parasite.
Others of his kin respect his prowess and experience.
He can detect slightest fragrance of thistle.
He can feel barest footfall of approaching danger.
The sun warms him.
He stretches his legs and rolls in the warm dust of the earth around him.
He enjoys the breeze that wafts through the grass leafs.
It is the same breeze upon which the shadow sails.
He peers again into the heavens.
He sees his fate too late.
The shadow grows and darkens on him.
Talons grip him, crushing his chest, expelling his breath, piercing his heart, halting his struggle, bearing him heavenward.
All watch from the ground, at once awed, fearful, enchanted.
His identity is gone, consumed.
His useful chattels are incorporated into its enterprise.
Who would not thrill to join its lofty venture?
# # #
Title: White-Collar Crime
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/010-WhiteCollarCrime
Posted Date: 17-Feb-2007      Created Date: 17-Feb-2007
David's Comments: "Give me a job, give me security, give me a chance to survive. I'm just a poor soul in the unemployment line. My God, I'm hardly alive."
Reader Comments: none
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White-Collar Crime

Welcome to the job market!

Check your humanity at the door.

Our white-collar job market has come a long way since I got my first job. There is no doubt that it has become more efficient. But somewhere along the way it lost its soul.

The Golden Rule: Whoever Has the Gold Makes the Rules

The job market has always existed for the benefit of the employer and not for job candidates. And that's the way it should be. After all, the employer bears the bulk of the expense for finding the right person for the job.

But the job market has undergone some insidious changes. We now have an Internet-centric existence, where information flows freely. The blessing it brings for an employer is that they can now have their choice of a vast number of candidates for a single job. The curse it brings for an employer is that they now have a vast number of candidates for every single job. So the process has mutated from a subjective human process of judgment into an objective automated process of numbers and keywords.


Inhumane Resources

Personnel departments (now poetically named "Human Resource" departments, as if employees are just another asset that the organization owns) are now so overwhelmed by each job search that they often hide anonymously behind recruiters or blind mailboxes, so that candidates cannot contact them directly for questions about the position or its status. And because employers have the advantage of anonymity, and the excuse of large numbers of candidates, they rarely see any ethical imperative to advise candidates about their status.

Candidates must not only be good in their field, they must also learn how to play the job market. One of the new rules of that game seems to be: Don't become emotionally committed to any job prospect.

A conscientious candidate must imagine slipping into that job in order to effectively compose a cover letter and tailor a resume. But no amount of effort, no amount of conscientiousness, will make the employer any more considerate in advising the candidate about the job status. So the candidate is best served to launch an application and forget about it. It used to be that following up on your application was an important way to show your enthusiasm for a job. But employers now make it difficult or impossible to do that because of the way they conduct their searches.


Personnel Experience

I wish I were more proficient at emotional detachment. When I create a cover letter and tailor my resume, I agonize over it to get it just right. Afterward I can't help but hold onto a strand of hope that the job will materialize. But after five months, and dozens of job searches, only one employer has had the consideration of advising me of my status.

That is emotionally taxing for me. It becomes harder and harder to look at a job listing that seems to be a good fit, and then summon the emotional energy to create another well-crafted cover letter and another highly-tailored resume. It's emotionally taxing because I know the greatest probability is that it will end up in the Recycle Bin on the Desktop of some HR department computer. It's emotionally taxing because despite my best efforts I tend to hold onto hope for ridiculously long periods of time. And it's emotionally taxing because I know that enthusiasm, ambition, loyalty, ingenuity, and flexibility are at the bottom of every employer's list of hiring criteria instead of the top.


Do Me A Personnel Favor

If you hold sway over a personnel department, please consider the following: The easiest way to conduct a candidate search is not necessarily the best way. Your method acutely affects the set of personal attributes your candidates will have.

If you seek only objective, quantifiable skills, that is all you will get. If you evaluate character first instead of last, the rest will fall into place. Skills can be learned quickly. Character takes a lifetime to develop.

If you treat your candidates like livestock, you will have a company of sheep and cattle. If you treat your candidates respectfully and with consideration for their time, you will have employees who respect their employer and strive for the wellbeing of the organization.

Spleen vented. Now, back to the grind.
# # #
Title: Mom vs. Dad
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/009-MomVsDad
Posted Date: 31-Jan-2007      Created Date: 31-Jan-2007
David's Comments: Nobody fools Father Nature.
Reader Comments: none
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Mom vs. Dad

Nurture vs. Nature

Whoever first characterized Nature as a mother rendered a grave disservice to Western culture. Have you ever stopped to think about how your parents varied from each other on policy and discipline? Now that I have an eight-year-old daughter whom I am holding increasingly responsible for her actions, I am seeing these issues from a new perspective.
Scene 1: Mom and Dad are chatting in the kitchen. From the den there is a crash, five seconds of silence, and a rising wail of distress from Daughter as she intuits that she is better off acting hurt than guilty.

Mom's Reaction: (running into the den, seeing an overturned chair and Daughter on the floor crying) "Oh, sweetie, are you OK? What happened? ... Poor thing! ... Now, didn't I tell you not to stand up in the chair like that?"

Dad's Reaction: (from the kitchen, calling into the den) "If there's any blood, don't let it get on the carpet. ... Maybe she'll remember this the next time she wants something from the top shelf."

Scene 2: Daughter has allowed the stuff in her bedroom to pile up approximately 40 feet deep because she has not put things away since ... well, believe it or not, this happened in just one afternoon of getting out every toy to play with each one for eight seconds, getting out every book to decide which one to read for story time, getting out every craft item to take inventory of them, and getting out every article of clothing to play dress-up.

Mom's Reaction: (furious) "I can't believe what a pigsty this room has become! You get no TV privileges until you clear a path from the door to the bed!" (Then seeing Daughter's dismay at not knowing where to start) "I'll make you a list of things to put away."

Dad's Reaction: (amazed) "Impressive! Well, you're nuts if you think I'm wading in there to do story time tonight. And there's no way I'm buying you another Barbie doll until you're ready to leave for college."

Scene 3: Mom is arguing with Daughter over what she should wear to school. It's 30 degrees outside. Daughter wants to wear a miniskirt; Mom wants her to wear thermal underwear, jeans, and a parka.

Mom's Reaction: "Absolutely not! You'll get hypothermia, and the school will call me to tell me what a horrible parent I am."

Dad's Reaction: "I don't care what the school thinks. Let her freeze her butt off so she'll know better next time."

We talk of the fury of Mother Nature. But when you were a child, whose wrath were you more afraid of? Mom's or Dad's? And we talk of the unpredictability of Mother Nature. But again, whose reaction were you more likely to be able to predict? There's a reason our culture uses the stereotypical threat, "You just wait until your father gets home!" Before law enforcement professionals made their first appearance on the face of the earth, Mom and Dad were perfecting the good-cop / bad-cop routine.

And surely it's encrypted in our genetic code for Mom to protect her child from every little danger and Dad to incite his child toward every little risk. I can picture Oggalina, the adolescent cave dweller, being scolded by her mom to wear the long mammoth pelt, and then sneaking out (wearing the short mammoth pelt) with her dad so he can teach her how to climb a rock wall and steal pterodactyl eggs (anachronisms notwithstanding).

Maybe mothers are more cautious about the safety of children because they have a better understanding of how difficult it is to make another one.
# # #
Title: Fantasy Eye Lens
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/008-FantasyEyeLens
Posted Date: 25-Jan-2007      Created Date: 25-Jan-2007
David's Comments: Look at the world through my eyes ... if you have no further use for your sanity.
Reader Comments: none
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Fantasy Eye Lens


Is it true that those who can't cope with reality retreat to fantasy? Maybe. But I think instead, those who can't fantasize can't excel in reality.

Have No Delusion about Fantasy

Some people equate fantasy with delusion, but it's not the same concept. Delusion is false belief, and often self-deception; fantasy is imagination, and often hope. Fantasy can sometimes become reality.

Dream Home

When something in my life is unacceptable to me, I might fantasize about an alternative. But that's not because I can't cope with that reality, it's just because I prefer to change that reality. When more things in my life are unacceptable, I spend more time in fantasyland, but I don't totally shut myself off from reality. You may choose to call that a retreat from reality; I choose to call it a planning session.

In my fantasy world, ideas rise and fall, ebb and flow. There is a temptation for me to spend too much time in fantasyland, because there I am quite proficient at creating people, places, things, and circumstances, as I need to. Yet while it's easy for me to create those out of the ether of my thoughts, their existence is like mist blown by the ever-shifting winds of my emotions and the ever-sobering events of reality. Though I form them in the likeness of reality, I am always mindful that they are unsubstantial and unstable.

Despite its tentative existence, I sometimes get attached to a dream. Maybe it's foolish of me to allow myself to do that, but I have found that the realization of a dream seems to require an investment of emotion. Only then can a dream give me the Hope I need to feather my wings for flight. Most often the life cycle of one of my favored dreams ends in fiery cataclysm. The bigger the dream and the higher I fly, the bigger the crater, the hotter the fireball, and the heavier the hail of jagged debris. And having formed an emotional attachment to that dream, at its demise I experience grief proportional to its importance. So my fantasy life and my emotions follow the cycle: Dream, Obsess, Crash, Repeat.

But sometimes ... sometimes ... the cycle goes: Dream, Obsess, Realize. And that's what keeps me going. No matter how spectacular the crash, how deep the crater, how hot the fireball, how heavy the debris ... the thoughts and emotions I have invested are ethereal, not material ... I will eventually emerge miraculously from the crash site, and live to fly again.

# # #
Title: It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's ...
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/007-ItsABirdItsAPlane
Posted Date: 18-Jan-2007      Created Date: 18-Jan-2007
David's Comments: If humans were meant to fly, God would have given us an overhead rotor.
Reader Comments: none
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It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's ...


I've always wanted to pilot an airplane. Over the years I've gained book knowledge of the principles of flight, and the basic controls for flying an airplane. I've played with flight simulators, and learned some advanced maneuvers. And I've ridden in the copilot seat of my uncle's twin-engine craft. I love the feeling of flying in a small airplane. As you glide past the clouds, above the landscape, you feel like a bird ... like you belong up there.

A helicopter ain't like that. A helicopter is constantly at war with gravity. The engine is all-important. There is no such thing as a dead stick landing, gliding gracefully back to the earth. If the engine fails, the very best you can hope for is to allow the main rotor to keep spinning and reduce the speed of your inevitable crash.

So I've long thought I'd like to try my hand at flying an airplane. But my first opportunity for piloting was not in an airplane; it was in a helicopter. The instructor's first talk with me included a warning about the worst-case scenario, in which the main rotor bites too much air and folds up overhead, guaranteeing an unimpeded fatal drop to the ground. But despite him instilling the fear of death into me, I gotta say I loved the experience.

It was a sobering feeling to have my life and my instructor's under the clumsy command of my unskilled hands and feet. But after a few minutes the experience began to feel less like I was trying to communicate with a dragonfly beast from Alpha Centauri by using semaphore flags and an accordion, and more like I was driving a team of bumblebees by using four-hundred yards of kite string and trigonometry. In other words, I was far from comfortable, but I was at least starting to see something familiar in the controls.

My instructor described airplane flight as basically stable, and helicopter flight as basically unstable. I would agree. I found that if continual adjustments are not made, the helicopter's bearings deviate dramatically from the starting position. In other words you cannot point it where you want to go and just sit back for a while; you have to keep tweaking to remain on your heading.

At the end of the experience, looking back now, I feel confident enough in my ability that if all the helicopter pilots on earth were to die, and the fate of the human race were to hinge on my ability to fly the only vial of antivirus serum across the mountains to the village of the last survivors ... I feel absolutely certain that humankind would have a decent chance for survival.

Don't worry. I won't quit my day job.

# # #
Title: Spinning Wheel
Author: Blood, Sweat and Tears
Category: Lyrics      Article: lyrics/005-SpinningWheel
Posted Date: 11-Jan-2007      Created Date: 1969
David's Comments: Positive developments in my life have brought answers to some of my cynical questions.
Reader Comments: none
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I think I finally got the message:
On a spinning wheel, what goes up must come down. But by the nature of the circle, what has gone down also comes back up. I'm still learning the lesson: stay on the spinning wheel ride; you can't just sit, it requires effort to stay on; enjoy the good stuff while it lasts, even knowing that it won't last forever; and don't sweat the bad stuff because it won't last forever either.
Spinning Wheel by Blood, Sweat & Tears:
What goes up must come down.
Spinning wheel got to go 'round.
Talkin' 'bout your troubles, it's a cryin' sin.
Ride a painted pony; let the spinning wheel spin.
You got no money and you ... you got no home.
Spinning wheel all alone.
Talkin' 'bout your troubles and you ... you never learn.
Ride a painted pony; let the spinning wheel turn.
Did you find a directing sign on the straight and narrow highway?
Would you mind a reflecting sign?
Just let it shine within your mind,
and show you the colors that are real.
Someone is waiting just for you.
Spinning wheel spinning true.
Drop all your troubles by the riverside.
Catch a painted pony on the spinning wheel ride.
Someone's waiting just for you.
Spinning wheel spinning true.
Drop all your troubles by the riverside.
Ride a painted pony; let the spinning wheel fly.
# # #
Title: Nice Guys
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/010-NiceGuys
Posted Date: 9-Jan-2007      Created Date: 9-Jan-2007
David's Comments: It's why your mother told you to find a nice guy to marry.
Reader Comments: none
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Nice guys finish last ... and they cuddle afterward, too.
Title: Insurance Claim Bloopers
Author: unknown
Category: Humor      Article: humor/006-InsuranceClaims
Posted Date: 15-Dec-2006      Created Date: unknown
David's Comments: More humor from my archives, dating back to the 1980s. This one is purported to have been published in the Toronto Sun.
Reader Comments: none
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Insurance Claim Bloopers

Many have experienced the confusion of traffic accidents and have had to summarize in a few words what happened, for insurance or accident forms. The following quotes were taken from some of those forms and were eventually published in the Toronto Sun.

Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I do not have.

The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intentions.

I thought my window was down, but I found out it was up when I put my hand through it.

I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way.

A truck backed through my windshield into my wife's face.

A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.

The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.

I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.

In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.

I had been shopping for plants all day and was on my way home. As I reached an intersection, a hedge sprang up obscuring my vision. I didn't see the other car.

I had been driving for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.

I was on my way to the doctors with rear end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident.

As I approached the intersection, a stop sign suddenly appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before. I was unable to stop in time to avoid the accident.

To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I struck the pedestrian.

My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.

An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle, and vanished.

I told the police that I was not injured; but removing my hat I found I had a skull fracture.

I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the roadway when I struck him.

The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him.

I saw the slow-moving, sad-faced, old gentlemen as he bounced off the hood of my car.

The indirect cause of this accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.

I was thrown from my car as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows.

The telephone pole was approaching fast. I attempted to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.

I was unable to stop in time and my car crashed into the other vehicle. The driver and passenger then left immediately for a vacation with injuries.

Title: Third Shift Talkativity
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/006-ThirdShiftTalkativity
Posted Date: 14-Nov-2006      Created Date: 14-Nov-2006
David's Comments: Darkness sometimes brings out the civility in us.
Reader Comments: none
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Third Shift Talkativity


People talk. Especially at 4 a.m. when they should be asleep.

I live in a small southern town, so you would already expect the residents to be talkative; but even factoring in population and latitude, I notice a marked increase in talkativity during the wee hours.

Case in point: at 4 a.m. today I venture out to the 24-hour discount store Which Avidly Locates Marketing Around Rural Towns. Why do I pick this hour to shop? Because I have noticed I am out of chocolate milk, and there is a little redheaded chocolate-milk-ivore in the house who will need sustenance in two hours. Or at least that's the excuse I'm using today. Actually I just do a poor job of managing my time, and that store keeps hours just for insomniacs like me.

There is a calm in the air at 4 a.m. Sparse vehicle traffic makes for a quiet approach to the entrance of the megastore. In daylight hours I sometimes move within the herd past the greeter without any acknowledgement of my presence, but at this hour that never occurs.

As I traverse the aisles, culling my shopping list, I encounter stacks of boxes, stock clerks, and floor buffers, all of which pose a challenge to navigating the store. But I am accustomed to the obstacles now. There are few other customers, but those whom I encounter, as compared to primetime shoppers, are far more likely to exchange a greeting or at least a nod or smile. There is a certain camaraderie among wee-hour shoppers; it's a form of validation that we use to reassure each other that although we may be a bit warped to go shopping at 4 a.m., we are at least not alone in our deviant behavior.

There is only one checkout register open, but no line, so I roll on in. The checkout clerk is far more relaxed and talkative than during primetime. She endorses my selection of bottled marinade, and suggests that the teriyaki style in that brand is also good.

On my way out, the greeter gives me the hairy eyeball, and asks to see my receipt. I haven't seen him before. Maybe he's new on this shift, and I fit his profile for suspicious behavior; after all, who would buy a half cart of groceries at 4 a.m.? Or maybe he's just bored.

Out in the parking lot, as I load my groceries into the car, another shopper just arriving calls out to me, "Hey there! It's a great time to shop isn't it?" I chuckle and nod my response.

Back at home as I am carrying groceries in, even the dogs down the street are extra-talkative. They tell me that there's a group of deer shopping for greenery in the neighborhood.

# # #
Title: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/010-ShouldIStayOrShouldIGo
Posted Date: 28-Oct-2006      Created Date: 28-Oct-2006
David's Comments: "Between Iraq and a Hard Place" ... Yes, of course I know I'm not the first to think of that one. But it really fits here.
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Should I Stay or Should I Go?


Between Iraq and a Hard Place

Civil War

For most people the term "civil war" probably holds a very negative connotation, naming the concept of deadly infighting over issues that perhaps should be settled diplomatically. Civil war is a bit like a pitched battle for divorce, where two factions battle for control of the assets of the union. But just as a divorce can be completed without a legal battle, so can the breakup of a national union. The breakup of the Soviet Union is an example of such (except for the subsequent ethnic struggles within some of the separated Balkan states).

There is no doubt that the US is responsible for unseating Saddam Hussein, the dictator who kept order in Iraq only by means of force and fear. There is no doubt that religious factional infighting is now ablaze in Iraq. And it seems likely that having US troops in Iraq is keeping an all-out civil war from ensuing. So we find ourselves asking: Should we shirk our responsibility, and pull out of Iraq? But there are more important questions: Under the current circumstances with US troops standing guard over the tenuous union will Iraq ever reach a situation that will avoid civil war? And if so, how much longer will it take? To keep the Iraqi factions married, US troops are paying a price in blood, at the rate of about 700 lives per year. And US taxpayers are paying a price in tax dollars, at the rate of about $100 billion per year.

Is this really a marriage that should be saved? There are two factors to weigh that we should be able to agree on: Right now the union is in a terribly unstable situation. And if it is even possible to save that union it will require a long and costly process.

Perhaps a separation is in order. A civilly orchestrated partitioning of Iraq (into ethnic/sectarian states) might avoid the fight for power that seems so hard to suppress in the single nation.

Side Bet

Our current presidential administration equates the war in Iraq with the War on Terror, despite there being only weak circumstantial evidence to connect them. They tell us that if we lose the war in Iraq, it will constitute a victory for Al Qaeda, which will bolster the confidence of terrorists.

But a committee of intelligence community experts assembled by the Bush administration has leaked a report concluding that the Iraq invasion has been a great boon for terrorists, providing a cause around which terrorist groups have rallied many new recruits.

Let's assume the committee and the Bush administration are both correct. That would mean that if we keep troops in Iraq the terrorists will continue pointing to the US occupation as an attempt to impose western values on Arab people, and thereby gain recruits; and if we leave Iraq the terrorists will be able to declare victory, and thereby gain recruits. It seems that holding Iraq together is a bit like holding together a bad marriage for the sake of the children: damned if we do, damned if we don't.

Double Trouble

Now another committee of foreign policy experts assembled by the Bush administration, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker, has leaked a report recommending that keeping troops in Iraq for an extended period is probably the worst strategy. In other words they believe that "Stay the Course" is a poor policy.

There is no avoiding the fact that the US bears the largest part of the blame for placing Iraq in its current situation, and therefore will receive most of the blame from the international community if Iraq falls into civil war. But we have to consider that Iraq might not be able to avoid a civil war at this point if left as a single nation.

If divorce is the likeliest outcome, shouldn't we begin the proceedings for a nonviolent separation of territory now before further damage accrues and more lives are lost? On their Combat Rock album in 1982, The Clash sings their hit song Should I Stay or Should I Go? The lyrics at one point say, "If I go, there will be trouble. If I stay, it will be double." They are important words to consider.

Maybe instead of calling it "Cut and Run," it will be easier to sell as "The Better Part of Valor."
# # #
Title: Coddling Terrorists
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/009-CoddlingTerrorists
Posted Date: 03-Oct-2006      Created Date: 03-Oct-2006
David's Comments: Perhaps I am beating a dead horse. But at least that doesn't violate the terms of the Geneva Convention.
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Coddling Terrorists


President George W. Bush has accused the Democrats of wanting to "coddle terrorists." That certainly isn't true using the primary definition of "coddle," which is "to treat tenderly, to nurse, to indulge," which is clearly something that anyone would enjoy receiving. Bush would not be willing to submit himself to even the most liberal forms of "coddling" that the Democrats have put forward.

[hyperbole mode: ON]

But his repeated use of that word made me wonder if he is covering for his own subconscious desires, similar to the way that some homosexuals are homophobic. A little investigation led me to see that is indeed the case: The secondary definition of "coddle" is "to cook in water that is just below the boiling point." And I believe that is one of the forms of torture that Bush is petitioning congress to make legal.

[hyperbole mode: OFF]

Come on, Mr. President, don't insult the intelligence of your constituents. Find a believable lie to tell about the Democrats.

# # #
Title: Miss Characterization Pageant
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/008-MissCharacterization2006
Posted Date: 30-Sep-2006      Created Date: 30-Sep-2006
David's Comments: Here he is: Miss Characterization
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Miss Characterization Pageant


Anyone can tell a lie. But in the world of politics the very best lies are told using truth, or at least plausibility. The process is known as the Fine Art of Mischaracterization.

The master artisans of this craft deserve recognition. And what better way could there be to celebrate their achievement than with the Miss Characterization Pageant? Because truth, like beauty, is very often only skin deep.

The Criteria
Contestants are evaluated based on their abilities in the following categories:
Oversimplification — Making a complex issue seem simple; sometimes known as Half-Truth or Truth Lite®. Example: Little Johnny ties a paint can to Spot's tail. When Mom discovers the new pattern on the living room carpet, Johnny says, "Spot got into the paint."
Word Substitution — Switching out an unfavorable term, for a more palatable euphemism. Example: Big sister Jane talks her kid brother Billy into drinking an entire bottle of red food dye. When questioned by Dad at the emergency room, Jane says, "He was thirsty and looking pale. I just gave him a drink to restore his color."
Criticism Recasting — Detracting from opponent arguments by changing the context. Example: At recess, Charlie steals Sally's lollipop. When Sally brings the teacher over, Charlie berates Sally for wanting to take food away from the hungry.
Sidestepping — Changing subjects to avoid an uncomfortable truth. Example: On the bus coming home from high school, Wanda punches Denise. When the driver confronts her, Wanda compliments how well she drives.
Name-Calling — Time-honored technique of raising one's own public image by assassinating the character of an opponent. Example: On the bus coming home from high school, Wanda punches Denise. When the driver confronts her, Wanda describes how Denise is a promiscuous, straight-F student.
Technicality — Using ambiguities in the English language to cause the audience to misunderstand the statement in a favorable way. Example: Larry comes in the door after school and says, "Ms. Johnson didn't give us homework today. So can I watch TV?" … when in fact Ms. Johnson was out sick, and a substitute teacher gave him homework that day.
Spin — Brilliant works of Mischaracterization and Misdirection that cannot easily be placed in any single category above. Generally these will involve components of plausibility rather than truth.
The Finalists — And Winners
Honorable Mention:
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, nominated for ...
• Characterizing a Clinton counterterrorism plan as being only a "List of Actionable Items." Kudos for this brilliant Word Substitution.
Second Runner Up:
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, nominated for ...
• Characterizing House Democrats as wanting to "give more rights to terrorists" when they objected to giving police broad powers for tapping any international calls or e-mails (and therefore invading the privacy of any American who wishes to communicate with anyone outside the country). This is a recent masterpiece of Criticism Recasting.
First Runner Up:
Vice President Dick Cheney, nominated for ...
• Successfully avoiding charges of Treason by saying he did not identify "Valerie Plame" as a CIA agent because he only identified "Joe Wilson's wife" (Valerie Plame) as a CIA agent. Pageant judges voted this to be the best use of a Technicality since the Clinton "definition of 'is'" defense.
• Characterizing the CIA's conjecture of WMDs in Iraq as "slam dunk evidence." This work of art qualifies as Spin.
Miss Characterization 2006 (for the 6th year running):
President George W. Bush, nominated for ...
• Characterizing terrorists as "Islamic Facists." Remarkably few people questioned this brilliant piece of Name-Calling, as few know what "facist" really means, and even fewer want to appear to be defending terrorists.
• Characterizing legislators who oppose any initiatives by the Bush administration as "Unpatriotic" (Name-Calling) or as "Coddling Terrorists" (Criticism Recasting).
• Characterizing prisoners of war as "Enemy Combatants" in order to avoid the pesky preservation of the human rights normally required. This masterpiece of Word Substitution and Spin has been so effective that it has kept attorneys and judges mired in legal nuance for five years.
Congratulations, Dubya!
# # #
Title: Virtual Patience
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/005-VirtualPatience
Posted Date: 23-Sep-2006      Created Date: 23-Sep-2006
David's Comments: Maybe I should get a job as a waiter.
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Virtual Patience


Patience truly is a virtue. If you have none, you acquire extra stress in your life when encountering one of the many situations that absolutely requires waiting. A hard-boiled egg takes about ten minutes to cook, no matter who you are ... just deal with it.

On the other hand, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. If you have too much patience, the world will beat a path to your door ... then it will continue through your door, up your chest, across your face, down your back, stop briefly to force its collective boot into your rectum, then leave and take with it every last ounce of your dignity and self-respect.

How do I know this? Because I am very patient. Extremely patient. So patient that I can wait in line at McDonald's for 45 minutes for the clerk to process only three orders in front of me, and then not even lodge a complaint. (I'm not kidding ... I am ashamed to say it, but I actually did that.) Patient to a fault.


How much is too much? How much is too little? Obviously I am no expert, so I can't tell you exactly where to draw those lines. But maybe it will be instructive to examine a few situations and responses that are clearly across the lines.

Situation: You are waiting in line to check out at the grocery store.
Too Hot: The clerk stops to bend over and retrieve a dropped coin. You abandon your buggy and stomp out of the store.
Too Cold: The clerk stops talking on the phone to bend over and retrieve a dropped cigarette. You stop smiling politely just long enough to shift your weight to the other leg.
Situation: You are waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right.
Too Hot: You decide it will be close enough to just wait for Mr. or Ms. Right-Handed.
Too Cold: You decide to wait for the right combination of signs: the clouds must part overhead, and a sunbeam must illuminate the scene as a bluebird lands on his or her shoulder.
Situation: You are waiting for the president to bring your family member home from overseas service.
Too Hot: You are unwilling to accept "They haven't even left boot camp yet."
Too Cold: You are willing to accept "They just unearthed a smelly beer can. Could be evidence of those WMDs we've been looking for."
Situation: You are waiting for him or her to be in the mood for sex.
Too Hot: You are unwilling to accept "Not now, dear, the light's about to turn green."
Too Cold: You are willing to accept "Not yet, dear, our child hasn't graduated from high school."
Situation: You are waiting for Godot.
Too Hot: You find your life's meaning by consulting your Magic 8 Ball.
Too Cold: You pass up that job in management so that you can spend more time praying for lottery numbers.

Somewhere between those extremes lies the happy middle ground. Now it's time for me to explore that new territory.

# # #
Title: Loose Lips Sink 'Ships
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/004-LooseLipsSinkShips
Posted Date: 17-Sep-2006      Created Date: 17-Sep-2006
David's Comments: CYNICISM ALERT - caveat reader
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Loose Lips Sink 'Ships


... relation'ships, that is.

[cynicism mode ON]

I'm going to get whiny now, so if you don't like the jaded, bitter me, you should probably not read any further.

Honestly, I Am Frustrated.

Honesty might be the best policy, but it certainly is not the most rewarded policy. After a lifetime of research, my finding is that relationships (be they partnerships, proprietorships, friendships, or courtships ... even citizenships) prefer truth to be administered in carefully measured amounts. Much like mushrooms, they seem to grow best when kept in the dark and given plenty of watered-down fertilizer.

Admittedly, my findings are derived not of the data from successful experiences, but from failures, which seem to be more instructive and surely are more memorable. And certainly my findings are biased, with recent experiences receiving more weight. I am not at liberty to divulge all of my experiential data, but I can disclose some persuasive anecdotes in support of my thesis.

As I related in an earlier article (16-Jul-2006 — Intuition: It's Not What You Think), my experience in sixth grade with speaking the truth to defend myself earned me a full school year of martyrdom at the front of the classroom.

Much more recently I have served many terms of jury duty. On one of those occasions, when I missed my first day because of illness, I approached the judge the next day to humbly explain the situation. He raked me over the coals for my irresponsible behavior, and threatened to throw me in jail. The thirty-or-so jurists who were also absent the first day, but who never appeared before the judge, escaped with no repercussions.

In similar fashion, while operating my business, I learned the hard way that the taxing agencies of our government also reward punctual data in preference to honest data (see article 26-Jun-2006 — I'm Afraid Not).

Personally Challenged.

Experience shows that, likewise, my personal relationships do not fare well in the face of full-frontal honesty. All is golden for small talk and jokes, and even aspersions about third parties. But when disclosing my personal struggles to a friend, with the hope of receiving helpful suggestions or commiseration, those attempts have resulted in subsequent withdrawal of the concerned ear.

I am left with few likely conclusions to draw. One possibility is that friends who will lend a sympathetic ear are a rarity. Another possibility is that I am just not the kind of person whom people like once they get to know me. Despite repeated incidents supporting the second alternative, my self-confidence survives with enough vitality to encourage me to discount that conclusion.

[cynicism mode OFF]

Considering that in the statements above I may have implicitly insulted some of my friends, I realize that there is a significant probability that I truly am the kind of friend who is best held at a generous arm's length. And it might well be the case that my loose lips just sank a few more 'ships (perhaps even readerships). I agonized over the decision to post this article. If it was a mistake, it wasn't my first. And if I am fortunate, it will not be my last, because I intend to go on being honest and candid with those who don't get away from me fast enough. So ... in light of that revelation ... I offer my sincere apologies to those I have inadvertently insulted or alienated (or will offend in the future).


However ... I do not apologize for being me.

# # #
Title: Pot and Kettle
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Cartoon      Article: politoon/002-PotAndKettle
Posted Date: 03-Sep-2006      Created Date: 03-Sep-2006
David's Comments: Dictionary definition: fascism n. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism.
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LCD - Lowest Common Denominator - cartoon series by David Wilhite
Pot and Kettle - Osama Bin Laden Political Cartoon by David Wilhite
Pot and Kettle
Title: Lionizing Capitalism
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/007-LionizingCapitalism
Posted Date: 22-Aug-2006      Created Date: 22-Aug-2006
David's Comments: Money talks ... and rulz!
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Lionizing Capitalism


Why is it that so many of the politicians who claim to be "Of Faith" put so much faith in Capitalism? Furthering the inconsistency, many of the same people who attack Evolution Theory are champions of Capitalism, which operates using the same mechanisms as Evolution. Companies innovate to adapt to the ever-changing economic environment (like Evolution's "differentiation"). Then they compete for limited resources, and the ones with the best survival strategies usually prosper (like Evolution's "survival of the fittest").

Faith-Based Economics

Should we put so much faith in the soulless part of the economic process? That's what we're doing when we try to improve the economic prosperity of the country by giving unconditional tax reductions to businesses. The presumption is that a growing business will employ more people, and the wealth will "trickle down" to the masses. But in practice the vast majority of the wealth lines the pockets of investors. Another problem is that growth will occur largely independent of consumer demand, leading to unsupported growth and subsequent failure unless economic supplements are maintained.

It's a bit like trying to boost the wildlife populations of the African plains by feeding the lions. You might hope that the increase in lion dung will trickle down to benefit plant growth and thereby work back up through the food chain. But the only thing you are certain to have is more fat cats.

Grassroots Economics

Ecosystems grow by taking in resources at the base of the food chain. Plants take nutrients from the soil, air, and sun, becoming food for the herbivores, which in turn become food for the predators. If you artificially increase the population at the top of the chain, there are not sufficient resources lower down to go on supporting them.

Capitalistic systems grow normally from increases at the consumer level. Consumer spending for goods and services encourages growth in those businesses. If you artificially encourage growth of businesses, there is not sufficient consumer spending to go on supporting them all.

Profit Motive

It's no wonder that the federal government has adopted supply side ("trickle down") economics as its preferred form of economic control: Although the United States was intended to be a government "by the people, for the people," today the government is treating corporations like people — people who receive special treatment — people who have more influence in the government. Corporate executives become politicians, and politicians become corporate lobbyists. The line between private and public sectors is now largely symbolic, and completely porous.

Guarded Optimism

Attempts at lobbying reforms have fallen flat. That's not surprising since they were designed and implemented by the very people who need to be reformed. Corporate influence on politics is now bigger than it has ever been. But enough ordinary, mere mortal citizens are now disturbed by their government's performance that it might be possible to rally an ad hoc revolution to force a major revision in the federal approach to economics. Such a revision is not likely to occur without a Change of the Guard (major turnover of federal politicians).


It would be nice to see the U.S. restored to a government that is truly "by the people, for the people." Right now we have too many fat cats.

# # #
Title: The ARt of Conversation
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/003-ARtOfConversation
Posted Date: 17-Aug-2006      Created Date: 17-Aug-2006
David's Comments: What do you get when you cross an A.R. personality and poor conversation skills? Be afraid. Be very afraid.
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The ARt of Conversation


Me being in an impromptu conversation is like ... well, it's like John Bolton being an ambassador to the United Nations ... only without the Yosemite Sam mustache.


Awkward silence — lots of it — and half-finished sentences, and unintended offenses, all are my trademark results in most any conversation that I haven't rehearsed. So I rehearse a lot of different conversations in my head.

Sad, isn't it?

Most of my preparatory effort toward small talk is spent collecting or composing witty repartee to file away for future use. People think I'm a quick wit, but in reality I just have a good filing system in my head ... and a bit too much free time. Consequently, a joke or clever response can be stuck in there for months, waiting for the right situation for me to use it. What's more, I maintain in memory an entire database devoted to puns. Truth be known, I have even nudged conversations toward one of my talking points just so I could set up a joke.

So, there you have it ... my secret's out.

Getting In Deep

It's not just the small talk that gets me stammering; deep subjects challenge me too. So as life situations present themselves to me, I spend a lot of time imagining various conversations I might have with those involved. For me it's a lot like working a maze, with much backtracking from avenues that lead to likely misunderstandings, or offended sensibilities, or restraining orders.

Some of my rehearsed conversations are highly unlikely ever to occur, and yet are pleasant to imagine, so I run through them just for enjoyment. Does that mean I'm living in a fantasy world? Maybe so. Making a quick count, I see that I have numerous conversations on file that are marked as having "Many Good Outcomes" despite them being within the filing section designated as "Conversations I Shall Never Have." On the other hand, since there are a few of them that do not involve Angelina Jolie, maybe I'm not totally delusional.

Some of my rehearsed conversations yield large branches where all likely avenues lead to undesirable outcomes. Those branches I simply mark "Do Not Enter."

Fiction Science

Not surprisingly, when I conduct one of my rehearsed conversations in real life with the real actual person, it usually strays from the script. But as my former employer used to say, "It's always good to have a plan for your day, even if you can only follow it for the first ten minutes."

So if you're ever in a deep and meaningful conversation with me, and I suddenly clam-up or change the subject, don't worry. It probably just means we've had that conversation before — with or without you being present for it. Trust me, you don't want to go down that avenue.

And if we ever have a deep and meaningful conversation that flows smoothly, you should be flattered — or look into getting that restraining order.

# # #
Title: Hoping To Be A Victim
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/009-HopingToBeAVictim
Posted Date: 16-Aug-2006      Created Date: 16-Aug-2006
David's Comments: May the Good Fairy sprinkle star dust on your lottery ticket.
Reader Comments: none
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I'm hoping to be a victim in the War On Poverty.
Title: A Lie
Author: Mark Twain
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/008-ALie
Posted Date: 16-Aug-2006      Created Date: 1835-1910
David's Comments: Did you know that Samuel Clemens was born in Florida and Missouri?
Reader Comments: none
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A lie can travel half way around the world
while the truth is putting on its shoes.
Title: The Enemy of My Enemy
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/002-EnemyOfMyEnemy
Posted Date: 12-Aug-2006      Created Date: 12-Aug-2006
David's Comments: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
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The Enemy of My Enemy


It was a bit like a scene from a horror flick: I noticed one or two ants in the kitchen, then squished them with my finger, and thought nothing more of it ... until I came back a few hours later and found the countertop covered by a swarm.

I'm not phobic about ants, but that was a bit much for me. That incursion was like my own personal Pearl Harbor. So I declared war.

Commencement of Hostilities
WARNING: The following scene may be too graphic for entomologists. Parenteral guidance is suggested.

Out came the spray can! Dishes be damned, I could clean them later. Like Rambo, I began with the obvious invaders first, spraying the entire encampment. The stench of death in my nostrils did not faze me. And when I finished with the ones in the open, I flipped over dishes, and opened cabinets, exposing the insidious infestation, and wiped them out with a swath of poisonous vitriol from my weapon.

But I didn't stop there! No! Out of ammo, I reloaded. Then I tracked them. I followed their trail outside, down the wall, all the way back to their nest. And there I ruthlessly slaughtered them all, even their young and unborn.

R & D

That's when I noticed the other nests. Around nearly every tree in the yard there were ant nests, massive ant nests, with superhighways of ants running up and down the trees. I had been assuming that the invaders were fire ants. To my untrained eye they appeared the same as fire ants. But they weren't acting like fire ants. And they weren't biting like fire ants.

So I did my research. What I found is that these are Argentine ants, another imported species that is spreading rapidly. This type of ant breeds in overwhelming numbers. With 10% of the population being egg-laying queens, when they have a sufficient food source they can generate tremendous numbers nearly overnight. But they are not aggressive to larger animals; rather they are attracted to dead things and sweet substances. In my yard their primary source of food appears to be up in the trees, in the form of certain saps and insect byproducts.


With new eyes, I re-explored my yard. There were absolutely no fire ant mounds anywhere. Had the Argentine ants run them out?

After several unsuccessful attempts at exterminating the Argentine ants from my yard, we have reached a tentative peace agreement. As long as the Argentine ants will keep the fire ants off my property I will not be calling in a professional exterminator.

In violation of the treatise, they still make occasional incursions into the outside garbage can, or into a car where goodies have been spilled. This results in sanctions involving a culling of their population. But I can't remember the last time I had a fire ant bite, so I guess I can live with their infrequent border violations.

# # #
Title: Animal Magnetism
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/001-AnimalMagnetism
Posted Date: 04-Aug-2006      Created Date: 04-Aug-2006
David's Comments: Ladies, and insects, please check your libido at the door.
Reader Comments: none
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Animal Magnetism

I never realized that a circular saw could be an aphrodisiac.

Ladies, picture if you will a guy working in shorts and T-shirt, outside in 100-degree weather, building a carport, his clothes so drenched in sweat that it appears he was caught in a rainstorm.

Not turned on yet?  Well then, imagine him operating a circular saw, with that whining, grating pitch rising and falling.

Still not doing it for you?  Hrrmph!  Well, it sure attracted the female cicadas to me!  For those who do not know, a cicada is an insect that lives most of its life underground, but immerges and sheds its skin to become something that resembles a housefly on megasteroids.  [click here for encyclopedia article] This final stage of their life, occurring in the dog days of summer, is the time they sit in the treetops and the males "sing" to the females a whining, grating song that bears an amount of resemblance to the sound a circular saw makes.  They do this to attract a mate.  I reckon that's why two female cicadas made the moves on me.

So, after having to beat them away with a stick, I see clearly that I have it: Animal Magnetism.

Title: It Is Better To Give
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/007-BetterToGive
Posted Date: 28-Jul-2006      Created Date: 28-Jul-2006
David's Comments: It's nice to see an old adage demonstrated so clearly.
Reader Comments: none
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You've heard it a buhzillion times: "It's better to give than to receive."  But few times in my life have I had it demonstrated as clearly as today ...

I was driving for six hours today.  Drivers were being about as considerate as they typically are — in other words, not at all.  Somewhere in the vicinity of Greenville, I got into the spirit of things, and cut off another driver.  As a result, I had the ultimate driver's gift bestowed on me.  I received the finger.  That's when I realized that receiving is not all that grand a thing.

Later in the day, out on I-26, a driver cut me off.  As I contemplated how to respond, I thought of my experience earlier in the day, and realized that verily it is better to give than to receive.

Title: In The Stone
Author: Earth, Wind & Fire
Category: Lyrics      Article: lyrics/004-InTheStone
Posted Date: 23-Jul-2006      Created Date: 1979
David's Comments: Despite my best attempts at pessimism and gloom, hope truly does spring eternal from somewhere inside me.  My chronic optimism keeps returning me to some upbeat music favorites.  Earth, Wind & Fire has a lot of sunny tunes and lyrics.  In The Stone is one of the best.
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From In The Stone on the I Am album, by Earth, Wind & Fire:
Do you believe, my friend, in what you claim:
people of the world all doubt the same,
bringing questions of their own.
Truth is written in the stone.
In the stone you'll find the meaning,
you're not standing tall.
In the stone the light is shining,
ever touching all.
Deep inside your heart, you're to keep,
lies a spark of light that never sleeps,
the greatest love you've ever known.
Love is written in the stone.
The full lyrics:
I found that love provides the key,
unlocks the heart and souls of you and me.
Love will learn to sing your song.
Love is written in the stone.
Every man I meet is walking time,
free to wonder, past his conscious mind.
Love will come, and take you home.
Love is written in the stone.
Do you believe, my friend, in what you claim:
people of the world all doubt the same,
bringing questions of their own.
Truth is written in the stone.
In the stone you'll find the meaning,
you're not standing tall.
In the stone the light is shining,
ever touching all.
Life experience a passing day.
Time will witness what those old folks say.
Getting stronger every day.
Strength is written in the stone.
Deep inside your heart, you're to keep,
lies a spark of light that never sleeps,
the greatest love you've ever known.
Love is written in the stone.
In the stone you'll find the meaning,
you're not standing tall.
In the stone the light is shining,
ever touching all.
Never, never my darling,
never you'll be alone.
Ever, forever my darling,
true love is written in the stone.
# # #

Title: DMV Is Not A Four-Letter Word
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/006-DMV
Posted Date: 18-Jul-2006      Created Date: 18-Jul-2005
David's Comments: Stand-up comedians everywhere may be losing some valuable material.  If you want to poke fun at the DMV now, you might have to take a number.
Reader Comments: none
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DMV Is Not A Four-Letter Word


Yesterday, when I noticed that my driver's license had expired nine months ago, I heaved a massive sigh.  I envisioned waiting in line for half an hour, and having a surly clerk tell me I have to fill out the other renewal form because I was more than 30 days late, and having a hefty just-cause-we-can fee added to the renewal.  I envisioned all of that because I have had similar experiences with most of my prior visits to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).

But I was surprised ... in the good way ... not the "Surprise! You're being audited!" way.  When I got to the DMV office, a clerk at the door immediately got me started with the correct form, and gave me a numbered ticket.  I went into the waiting room, where there were chairs, by God, real chairs, and no people in line.  I wondered briefly if I was in fact at the correct office.  Then I proceeded to find a table and pen to do my paperwork.  Before I even finished filling out my form, the automated system announced my number.  I approached the counter, expecting to be sent back into the queue, but the clerk actually waited on me to finish the form.  Waited on Me! the customer! what a novel notion.

Then she made a good-natured quip about how late I was with the renewal, but there was no brow-beating involved.  I was all ready with my genuine excuse that I had not received a renewal notice, but I didn't need it.  And there was no extra fee of any sort.

And the whole thing took about five minutes!  And I'm looking at my new driver's license right now, so I'm sure that I didn't just dream it.


Kudos to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles!

# # #
Title: Intuition: It's Not What You Think
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/005-Intuition
Posted Date: 16-Jul-2006      Created Date: 16-Jul-2005
David's Comments: I have a gut feeling that no one reads these comments.
Reader Comments: 4
19-Jul-2006 anonymous writes: I read these comments! :)
19-Jul-2006 David Wilhite [web] [e‑mail] writes: Glad to know I'm not just talking to myself!  Because that would make me look paranoid, or schizo, or something.  Oh, wait, I do that already with my writing, don't I?
24-Jul-2006 Karen writes: Well-said!
Ooh, and I read the comments too.  I just usually forget to email, or don't have anything nearly clever enough to say.  I should, though — as they say, success begets success, and we like it when you keep writing for us!
25-Jul-2006 David Wilhite [web] [e‑mail] writes: I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that "well-said!" refers to my article rather than my paranoid/schizo comment. ;^>
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Intuition: It's Not What You Think


Intuition is highly valuable when it inspires new ideas that begin an investigation.  But intuition becomes a huge liability when we allow it to substitute for an investigation.  Our society seems to put a great deal of trust in "gut feeling."  There is a predominant belief that if something "feels right" it must really be right.  But much that is intuitively obvious is simply wrong.

The Guilty Pig

I can thank my sixth grade English teacher for her fine example of how unreliable intuition can be.  One of the first days of school, a classmate sitting behind me jabbed me in the neck with his pencil.  Naturally I turned around and whispered, "Quit it!"  When I turned around forward again the teacher was staring at me.  As I started to explain what had happened, she immediately stopped me and sent me to a separate table at the front of the class.

Why did she punish me instead of the other guy?  As she explained it, "The guilty pig squeals first!"  Thanks to that teacher's faith in that little intuitive gem, I spent the entire year on display at the front of the class as her example to the rest that she was serious about discipline.  But the only lesson for those of my classmates who saw the whole thing was how to manipulate overzealous authority figures.

Shocking Evidence

We know from many examples that people can die from touching exposed household wiring carrying 110 volts of electricity.  So our intuition tells us that touching a source of 5000 volts of electricity will surely kill us.

But our intuition doesn't know the whole picture.  As a matter of fact, people are often exposed to thousands of volts of electricity with no harm at all.  If you walk across a dry, carpeted room, and touch a doorknob, the static shock can easily be thousands of volts, which might sting but is not lethal.

Why is that?  Because if you only know about the voltage you do not know all the facts, and not even the most important of the facts.  More important dimensions of electricity would be amps and watts, which express the quantity of electricity.

Being afraid of high voltage is like being afraid of fast-moving water.  If you're a non-swimmer and have to choose between wading across a body of water that's moving at 40 miles per hour versus wading across a body of water that's moving at 5 miles per hour, which would you choose?  If you've been following closely, your answer should be "I don't have enough information to make a decision."  And a wise answer it is!  Now I'll disclose that the body of water moving at 5 miles per hour is a river that is 20 feet deep, and the body of water moving at 40 miles per hour is a mountain creek that is 6 inches deep.  Now you have a mental image of the relative dangers of electrical voltage versus electrical amperage or wattage.

What's The Harm?

What does it matter that your intuition might make you overly cautious about electricity?  There is probably no harm to you personally.

But what happens if we apply that intuitive fear at a national level?  Then we have a whole nation of people who are afraid to work on anything electrical, and therefore no electricians among us.  That sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?  And it would be.

And that is exactly why it is ridiculous to use intuitive reasoning or "gut feelings" to make national policy or law.  Now we have a whole nation of people who have surrendered their privacy and their rights because those steps seemed like they might prevent a terrorist attack.  As a nation, we have unseated a dictator, but have killed thousands of people, and have had thousands of our people killed, because of someone's gut feeling that there must be dangerous weapons in Iraq.


I, for one, am ready for this nation to enter a new Age of Reason.

# # #
Title: Geekisms
Author: various unknown
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/006-Geekisms
Posted Date: 13-Jul-2006      Created Date: various unknown
David's Comments: A shout out to my peeps, all the geeks in the hazizouse!
Reader Comments: none
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This collection of wisdom is for all the science geeks out there.  If you don't understand some of these, don't worry, you're just not geeky enough yet.  Keep trying!  Maybe buy yourself a pocket protector.  Then start wearing khaki slacks and sneakers, and it will all fall into place.
A chicken is an egg's way of producing more eggs.
Heisenburg may have slept here.
Blame Saint Andreas - it's all his fault.
The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
Mobius strippers never show you their back side.
On a clear disk you can seek forever.
Programming Department:  Mistakes made while you wait.
Entropy isn't what it used to be.
Whom computers would destroy, they must first drive insane.
Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once.
It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
Don’t try to argue with idiots: they’ll just drag you down to their level and beat you with their expertise.
# # #
Title: Raising a Red Flag
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/004-RaisingARedFlag
Posted Date: 10-Jul-2006      Created Date: 10-Jul-2005
David's Comments: Why was the flag-burning amendment defeated by only one vote (short of 2/3 majority) in the Senate?  ... and passed by a 2/3 majority in the House of Representatives?
Reader Comments: none
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Raising A Red Flag


So, let me see if I understand the reasoning:  It's insane to threaten someone for drawing a picture of your Messiah, but it's a good idea to put someone in jail for desecrating your flag.

What Would Jesus Do?

I'm no authority on exactly WJWD, but it seems likely to me that he would not hide from the paparazzi, nor object to someone drawing his likeness.  But he would object to anyone treating such a picture in a sacred way, as an object of reverence.  We all know that's called "idolatry."  The obvious problem with idolatry is that the worshipper places importance on the symbol instead of the concepts it embodies.

So what do you call it when we make the symbol of our country (our flag) more sacred than the freedoms and rights it embodies (like free speech)?

It might make you furious to see someone burning your flag.  But remember that it makes some people furious to see someone picketing their factory.  Should we outlaw all forms of protest that most of us don't like to see?  Or do we act like the adults we are, and ignore the punks who stand in our face and chant "naanee naanee boo boo!"?


Perhaps Jesus would turn his other cheek.

# # #
Title: Sofa So Good
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Cartoon      Article: humor/005-SofaSoGood
Posted Date: 09-Jul-2006      Created Date: 09-Jul-2006
David's Comments: Based (loosely) on a real life event.
Reader Comments: none
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LCD - Lowest Common Denominator - cartoon series by David Wilhite
Sofa So Good
Harold ... ... Harold ... You hafta come see this. Millie, it's 2 a.m. What the #&%$ do you want?! It's a couple of guys with a truck. They're looking at the sofa we put out at the street ... I think they're gonna take it!


This cartoon is too large to place on the front page of the web site. The entire series is available here:
LCD: Sofa So Good - Web/HTML format
Title: Your Gold Teeth II
Author: Steely Dan
Category: Lyrics      Article: lyrics/003-YourGoldTeethII
Posted Date: 07-Jul-2006      Created Date: 1975
David's Comments: Here are some more poetic lyrics brimming with imagery, from Steely Dan's Katy Lied album.
Reader Comments: none
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Your Gold Teeth II
Steely Dan, 1975
more Steely Dan lyrics at www.SteelyDan.com
Who are these children who scheme and run wild?
... who speak with their wings and the way that they smile?
What are the secrets they trace in the sky?
And why do you tremble each time they ride by?
Throw out your gold teeth and see how they roll.
The answer they reveal: life is unreal.
Who are these strangers who pass through the door?
... who cover your action and go you one more?
If you're feeling lucky, you best not refuse.
It's your game, the rules are your own, win or lose.
Throw out your gold teeth and see how they roll.
The answer they reveal: life is unreal.
Throw out your gold teeth and see how they roll.
The answer they reveal: life is unreal.
# # #
Title: Meekness Revisited
Author: various unknown
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/005-MeeknessRevisited
Posted Date: 05-Jul-2006      Created Date: 05-Jul-2006
David's Comments: There's something about quiet people that can give a person reason to pause. Maybe it has something to do with all those incidents in the US Postal Service. Or all those times the eye witness on the news says, "He was always such a quiet person." I'm fairly demure myself. But I don't own a gun.
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From my collection of adages gathered from various sources over the years, here are a few devoted to those of impaired audacity ...
Meekness: the art of maintaining uncommon patience while planning a worthwhile revenge.
I could reach my full potential, but I think that would seriously cut into my sitting-around time.
Live in the safety of your own delusions.
If everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane!
Laugh, and the world thinks you're an idiot.
A closed mouth gathers no feet.
There are two kinds of people in the world:
   those who are against me,
   and those who are me.
My own personal observation:
In every lifetime, each of us is asked at least once to kick self in groin for sake of higher cause.  But only the Truly Meek are willing to do it pro bono and to respond with a cheerful "you're welcome" at the conclusion of the act.
# # #
Title: What Goes Up
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/004-WhatGoesUp
Posted Date: 04-Jul-2006      Created Date: 04-Jul-2006
David's Comments: Someone is waiting just for you. / Spinning wheel spinning true. / Drop all your troubles by the riverside. / Catch a painted pony on the spinning wheel ride.
Reader Comments: none
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I've often heard the old adage,
"What goes up must come down."
It's plain to see how that applies to most things,
with obvious exceptions like age, body weight,
and space vehicles traveling at escape velocities.
So that's a useful rule of thumb that I keep in mind.
But as I have been an unwitting host to recent
and numerous demonstrations of the validity of that old adage,
I find that I am now far more interested in knowing
whether those things that come down are ever likely to go back up.
Title: If Programmers Built Houses
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Humor      Article: humor/004-IfProgrammersBuilt
Posted Date: 27-Jun-2006      Created Date: 1996
David's Comments: Being a long-time computer programmer myself, I have a right to poke fun at the profession. Looking back at the old technology references from ten years ago is an additional source of amusement for myself. WARNING: This document containts Dry Computer Geek Humor. You have been warned! Proceed at your own risk. Author assumes no liability for injury to your sense of humor.
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If Programmers Built Houses

If builders were to construct buildings
the way programmers write programs,
the first woodpecker to come along
would destroy civilization.
— author unknown
If computer programmers were to build houses, they might have accompanying HISTORY.TXT files similar to the following:


History of House
+ New feature
- Bug fix
Version 1.00
I know this release is 10 months overdue, but here it is! Sorry it was late, but you'll appreciate the extra time I took when you see all the features.
Version 1.01
+ Installed locks on outside doors, for those of you with security concerns.
- Hot/cold water lines reversed (sorry about those wilted tulips, Larry).
Version 1.10
- Reinforced sagging roof with angle supports.
Version 1.20
+ Replaced door knobs with some of my own design. Sorry, but Sphincter Enterprises bought the patent and demands payment for their design.
+ Removed secret entry through crawl space. Sorry, I didn't think anyone would find this.
+ Removed ATSR (Automatic Toilet Seat Raiser). Too many unfortunate malfunctions!
- Reinforced sagging roof with steel beams. I don't think we'll have anymore problems with this!
Version 1.21
- Revised door knob design. They were breaking off after a few months.
Version 1.30
+ You asked for it, you got it: carpet!
- The ceilings are cracking from the extra weight of the steel beams added in version 1.20. No work-around. Will try to correct in version 2.00.
Version 2.00
I know this release is 12 months overdue, but you'll like what I've added! After much consideration I've decided to raise the price. Sorry, but new features don't come free.
+ Second floor!
+ Two more bedrooms!
+ One more full bathroom!
+ Electronics throughout. Coax, twinax, and 25-wire cable run to every room.
Version 2.01
+ Closets for upstairs bedrooms.
- Added stairs to second floor. No need to use a ladder anymore!
- Hot/cold water lines reversed upstairs. Oops! neglected to add the corrections of 1.01 to the drawings (sorry for the scalded back, Larry)
Version 2.10
- Downstairs ceilings are cracking from the extra weight of the second floor. No work-around. Will try to correct in version 3.00.
- Reran electronics cables. Many had been cut by nails and sheetrock screws.
In a couple of months I'll be releasing version 3.00!
You're going to love the new features!
Title: I'm Afraid Not
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/003-ImAfraidNot
Posted Date: 26-Jun-2006      Created Date: 26-Jun-2005
David's Comments: We have nothing to fear. Period.
Reader Comments: none
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I'm Afraid Not


I despise fear: not the kind that takes the form of reasoned respect for a real danger, but the kind that makes knees buckle, and evokes a panicked reaction.

Fear Is A Societal Thing.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated into the Presidency in 1933 amid the very depths of the Great Depression.  In his inauguration address he eloquently stated that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."  He perceived very clearly that negative global factors had only caused an economic downturn, and that downturn was then driven toward collapse by fear.  Fear among the masses caused the stock market crash in 1929.  Fear among the masses caused the bank failures in 1933.

Fear Is A Personal Thing.

Frank Herbert in his science fiction novel Dune composed the "Bene Gesserit Litany" which states in part, "I must not fear.  Fear is the mind‑killer.  Fear is the little‑death that brings total obliteration."

I detest fear for what I have allowed it to make me do ... and not do.  Out of fear, I have rushed choices that should have been better deliberated, I have shrunk back from actions when timeliness was essential, I have backed away from justified fights, I have been silent when I should have risen in protest, and I have even provoked lesser enemies for sake of an easy victory.

Being frustrated by my own shortcomings that have been induced by fear, over the course of my life I have endeavored to counteract fear as I find it in myself.  Spiders and snakes used to scare me.  So I learned to identify the few that are actually dangerous, and now I can literally handle the others without fear.  Public speaking used to make me squirm.  So I forced myself to practice it and do it, and now I have become quite comfortable with it.

An Abject Lesson.

A major personal turning point occurred in the failure of my small business.  Delinquencies on my part (no late payments, just late filing forms) resulted in major belligerent threats by the South Carolina Department of Revenue, which I allowed to scare me into inaction ("deer in the headlights").  The snowballing effect culminated in that agency's unjust seizure of my business assets, and the threat of additional action.  I became so fear-stricken that I had a genuine nervous breakdown with a full-blown panic attack (that I thought was a heart attack).  I believed I was about to die.

Facing death can be a very life-changing experience.  The South Carolina Department of Revenue eventually returned those funds (minus significant banking fees), but I did not try to rebuild my business.  The negative feelings were still far too strong.  But in the process I stopped fearing my government.  I have faced the fear of death.  I have no reason to be afraid of my Big Brother, no matter how much of a bully he is.

The lesson I learned: If I had acted objectively instead of going where my fear pushed me, I could have straightened out the whole ugly mess very early in the process.

Fear Is A Global Thing.

Society en masse has never dealt well with fear.  It has always taken concerted effort and/or time to allow society to recover from any given fear.  After World War II, proliferation of nuclear weapons was a source of justified fear, or at least justified caution.  The result was the nuclear arms race and a policy of Mutual Assured Destruction.  It took decades for international tensions to relax enough for the sides to realize that M.A.D. is a stupid way to live, and to begin disarming.  And if the Soviet Union had not disintegrated, it probably would have taken decades more for the disarmament to progress significantly.

The New Boogey Men.

Our new societal terror is Terrorism itself.  And that societal fear has gone beyond rationale.  It has developed into the kind of fear that causes airport security to take away fingernail files, and to inspect shoes.  It's the kind of fear that causes a whole people to submit to a loss of liberty and privacy in exchange for a perceived (and undemonstrated) improvement in safety.  It's the kind of fear that causes a nation to dismantle in a few months a system of government power restrictions that has worked for centuries through challenges much greater than the current ones.  It's the kind of fear that causes loyalists to turn a blind eye to abuse of power in their government, and to cast dissenters as purveyors of treason.  It's the kind of fear that causes a person to point his finger in accusation at another who has a particular skin color, or name, or religion.

Terrorists use fear to accomplish their goals.  On September 11, 2001, in a dramatic display of violence that resulted in death and destruction, a small group of terrorists was able to kill thousands of people in the World Trade Center, and thereby place millions in a state of mortal fear.  About 3000 died in that incident, which is approximately the same number that died elsewhere in the United States that day and every other day.  So in a cold statistical sense, the terrorists did not significantly raise the level of mortal risk to Americans as a whole.  But the spectacle of that one act has propelled the fear of that group's power forward for nearly five years now.  Not only individuals, but large corporations are afraid to defy their demands.

Terrorists are not the only ones to capitalize on fear.  In the subsequent months and years, the Bush administration and Congress have propelled many initiatives forward that they could never have passed without the environment of fear.  And of course many enterprising capitalists have taken advantage of new markets for products and services to offer the fear-stricken public.  Indeed, ethically challenged members of both public and private sectors have perpetuated that fear in order to benefit their own goals.

Step Into The Light.

In the United States there were about 3000 victims of Terrorism.  The other 290,000,000 of us have been victims of our own terror.

The best antidote for fear is knowledge.  We must read.  We must question.  We must seek out and evaluate different points of view, instead of huddling comfortably inside a small world of like‑thinkers.  This is good advice for the general public and for political leaders alike.

Title: Wish You Were Here
Author: Pink Floyd
Category: Lyrics      Article: lyrics/002-WishYouWereHere
Posted Date: 24-Jun-2006      Created Date: unknown
David's Comments: I am Olympian calibre in the sport of Second Guessing. Why do bad things happen to good people? Perhaps the same reason that growth is often painful.
Reader Comments: none
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From the title cut off the Wish You Were Here album:

Did you exchange
   a walk-on part in the war
   for a lead role in a cage?

The full lyrics:

So ...
So you think you can tell
   heaven from hell,
   blue skys from pain.
Can you tell a green field
   from a cold steel rail?
   a smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade
   your heros for ghosts?
   hot ashes for trees?
   hot air for a cool breeze?
   cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange
   a walk on part in the war
   for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish ...
How I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl,
   year after year.
Running over the same old ground.
And have we found the same old fears?
Wish you were here.

The Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part I-V) cut of the same album is a source of dark optimism:

Remember when you were young,
   you shone like the sun.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Now there’s a look in your eyes,
   like black holes in the sky.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.

You were caught in the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
   blown on the Steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter.
Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon,
   you tried for the moon.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Threatened by shadows at night,
   and exposed in the light.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
   rode on the Steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
   come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

It continues in Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part VI-IX):

Nobody knows where you are,
   how near or how far.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Pile on many more layers,
   and I'll be joining you there.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.

And we'll bask in the shadow of yesterday's triumph,
   sail on the steel breeze.
Come on you boy child, you winner and loser.
Come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine!

# # #

Title: Generation 3.0 Alpha
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Fiction      Article: fiction/002-Generation3.0
Posted Date: 22-Jun-2006      Created Date: 2003
David's Comments: This is a science fiction short story, more toward the fantasy end of the range. One of my favorite communication tools is analogy; as you will see from this story, I never metaphor I didn't like.
Reader Comments: none
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Generation 3.0 Alpha

by David Wilhite

Get to know Chip, who is a "Designer" with a head full of wires.

See his story through a series of vignettes, key points in his life.

Chip is completely unlike any person you have ever met. He is also exactly like every person you have ever met.





Chip jerked his awareness out of sleep, realizing that his father had just spoken to him.  He quickly played back the record of what was just said.

"You really must pay attention to this," his father had just lectured, "It is important."

Chip scanned back further to see that the priest was reciting from the book of Exodus, New Era Revision.

The priest continued his recitation, "He who takes life, he forsakes his own soul, therefore losing his own right to life.  He who takes the property of another, he must repay twice or be judged to be in obsolescence. ..."

Oh, I hate church! Chip thought to himself.  All we ever do is go over the same material repeatedly.

A small picture of a delivery drone appeared in the corner of his vision.  It was the icon he had chosen to let him know a message had arrived.  He decided to read it.  It was from some organization called InformatronJunk.  He revised his filter to delete all similar messages.

He tuned back in to the priest, who had begun his interpretation of the passage.  "... cannot discard these values like so many obsolete tools.  They are not just tools, but sustenance. ..."

Tools!  I've been wanting to try out my new gadget.  He switched his vision enhancer over to rangefinder mode.  He checked the distance to each corner of the room.  Very impressive precision.  All of the walls were placed within 0.3 millimeters of accuracy.  But one of the skylights was out of place.  4 millimeters off!

The priest had inexplicably changed topics.  "... since the gods created our immortal souls.  Refer with me, Genesis chapter zero, sentence thirty-three.  'The gods did then bring the bolt of life from the heavens.  And they saw that it was good and eternal.'"

Save me from the one who would save my "soul."





The instructor displayed the vivisected dog for all the class to see.  Every sensory input was simulated for the scene, including olfactory.  "... And the esophagus terminates at this sphincter, here.  If you have done some advance research, you may know the name of this ..."

Animals!  So disgusting.  What are the chances that one of us in this class will ever need to know this kind of thing?  Chip wasn't sure what emotional reaction he should display.  He silently composed a quick audio message to Katrina, "Hey, Circuitrina," Chip began the message using her nickname, "Glad to be in a stratum of society where this is all academic instead of practical."

Katrina shot back a curt text reply.  Later.

Bad move, Chip berated himself, I should have known she would be interested in this.  She is after all on the builder track.  After brief reflection he realized she would probably be a good builder too.  Maybe that's what makes her attractive.  Why did my father have to give me these ridiculous family values?

As the instructor directed next, Chip plugged in to the surgery console.  As the simulator feed began, the heavy stench struck him.  It was familiar, yet foreign.  He had been educated to recognize the smells, but could not relate them to his own life.

"Make your incision just at the middle of the descending colon," the instructor launched straight into the procedure, "continuing to the top of the anus.  If you need help finding these locations, the incision overlay is accessible on the help menu."

Chip began the cut, but could not bear the result.  He switched off his olfactory input.



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Title: Patriot's Dream
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/002-PatriotsDream
Posted Date: 13-Jun-2006      Created Date: Aug-2005
David's Comments: I am a Truly Blue American.
Reader Comments: none
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Patriot's Dream

Patriotism is the founder's dream,
a staff supporting waving flag unflawed,
flying above a nation of principle and cause.
Leader bends staff to form shepherd's crook,
pulling sheep to flock behind the wearer of the bell,
seeing only kin, they believe no one else,
hearing sounds unknown, they believe the wolf imperils.
General skins crook to form soldier's drum,
swelling proud heart when homeland name reaches ear,
narrowing vision when choices appear,
clenching fist when opposition rears.
Who leads that most patriotic cause
is confered with sheers by his trusting sheep.

Who commands that most patriotic war
is showered with accolades by his distant homeland.

Who follows that shepherd shares the fortune of the flock.

Who obeys that general knows the smell of victory on the battlefield.

Protect the symbol, neglect principle and cause.
And none recalls the foundering dream.
Title: Church Bulletin Bloopers
Author: unknown
Category: Humor      Article: humor/003-ChurchBulletins
Posted Date: 1-Jun-2006      Created Date: unknown
David's Comments: Here's some more humor from my archives. I don't know who wrote it, nor even how old it might be. And I can't vouch for the accuracy of the contents. But whether the material came from actual church bulletins or not, it'll give you a chuckle.
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Church Bulletin Bloopers

(names have been changed to protect the innocent)

This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

Tuesday at 4 p.m. there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk, please come early.

Wednesday the Ladies Literary Society will meet. Mrs. Johnson will sing "Put Me in My Little Bed" accompanied by the pastor.

Thursday at 5 p.m. there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers' Club. All those wishing to become Little Mothers please meet the minister in his study.

This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Johnson to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.

The service will close with "Little Drops of Water." One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.

On Sunday there will be a special collection taken for defraying the expenses of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the carpet will please come forward and get a piece of paper.

The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind and may be seen in the church basement on Friday.

The ritual, the music, and the massage will be presented by the youth.

Title: Dyslexic LBJ
Author: unknown
Category: Humor      Article: humor/002-DyslexicLBJ
Posted Date: 26-May-2006      Created Date: unknown
David's Comments: Dyslexics of the world, untie!
Reader Comments: none
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How many light bulbs does it change to take a dyslexic?
Title: Meekness Is ...
Author: unknown
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/003-MeeknessIs
Posted Date: 26-May-2006      Created Date: unknown
David's Comments: how they will inherit the earth
Reader Comments: none
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Meekness: the art of maintaining uncommon patience while planning a worthwhile revenge.
Title: Ignorance of the Law
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Commentary      Article: political/001-IgnoranceOfTheLaw
Posted Date: 25-May-2006      Created Date: 25-May-2006
David's Comments: I used to think that it was the responsibility of every citizen to follow the actions of their political representatives. Note the choice of words: "used to"
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Ignorance of the Law

Writing Off into the Sunset

"Ignorance of the law excuses no man," is an often quoted and widely revered maxim penned by John Selden, a lawyer who lived in England, 1584-1654, centuries before the texts of US federal and state laws grew into the millions of pages.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse; rather, it's a fact of modern life.

And how can an average citizen, even with the best of intentions, possibly analyze the actions of their government representatives? The existing body of law is far too large for anyone to understand all of it. And the implications of current legislation and other legal activity are therefore often far too complex to see.

Transparent government is essential, but even that is not enough. You can get a computer with a nifty transparent chassis, but that doesn't give you an understanding of how the thing works.

How about a constitutional amendment imposing "sunset" (expiration) provisions on all federal laws? Wouldn't it be nice to weed out the laws that no one finds worth the effort to renew? I'm not the first to suggest this. But there is a huge amount of momentum to overcome to bring such an amendment into being. Career politicians are heavily invested in the status quo; and those who detest scrutiny enjoy the natural cover provided by the briar patch of our tangled legal code.

Title: String of Consciousness
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Fiction      Article: fiction/001-StringOfConsciousness
Posted Date: 24-May-2006      Created Date: 8-Aug-2003
David's Comments: This is a science fiction short story, toward the hard science end of the continuum (rather than toward the fantasy end).
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String of Consciousness

by David Wilhite

Commander Shira Hilge, as the ship captain, must address a “Proximity Alert” by herself. But apparently it’s nothing of consequence.

Engineer Kenn Talbok likewise has his own small problem to deal with. And so do security officer J’Kobe Maniib, life scientist Dr. Bashon Braxst, and medic Ger Kaal.

These are all just small problems; but together they add up to something much larger.


• • •


Proximity alert, the synthetic voice sounded in a smooth but insistent tone.

Commander Hilge could hear before she could see.  She drew a slow, long breath into her aching chest.  Her muscles began to report their fatigue.

Proximity alert, the flight operations computer repeated.

Hilge knew the voice well.  It was the one she had selected for the mission.  It reminded her of her deceased husband: firm, authoritative, caring.  She could see his face now in the absence of real vision, his icy gray eyes, his bland expression hiding his passion.

Proximity alert.

At once, the present reality rushed in on her.  She inhaled sharply and commanded, “Flight Op, cabin lights on!”

Cabin illumination is already at fifty percent.  Should I raise the level?

She cursed, and commanded herself, Shira Hilge, eyes open!  She could feel her heart pounding, pulsing through her skull.  Finally she located control of her eyelids and willed them open.  The cabin lights burned the back of her eyes, forcing them shut.

Proximity alert.

“Flight Op, cabin lights at fifty percent!” she barked.

Cabin illumination is already at fifty percent.  Should I lower the level?

She forced herself to take another glance at the cabin, ceiling tiles still burned into her vision from the prior attempt.  Again, the light forced her eyes shut.  I’m wasting time!  “Cabin lights dim!”

Cabin lights now at twenty-five percent.  Proximity alert.

She tried again, this time easily able to keep her eyes open.  She tensed her muscles and sat up.  At first she was surprised how strong she was, as her body snapped sharply upright.  Then she remembered, Right, zero gravity.  She unstrapped her legs and floated off the bed, nearly forgetting to remove her biomonitor cables.  As she reached the ceiling she caught a handhold and launched herself toward the nearest op station.

Proximity alert.

She grabbed the handholds at the station and oriented herself upright in front of it.  “Flight Op, cancel alert message, show alert data here.”  The trajectory of a single contact was displayed in front of her.  It was just close enough to trigger the alert, but not showing an intercept trajectory.  Soon it would be close enough to get qualitative readings.

Wait, something’s wrong.  These aren’t ...  “Flight Op, show me the current data.  This is four minutes old.”

This is the most current trajectory data.  The contact is no longer within range.



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Title: Black Friday
Author: Steely Dan
Category: Lyrics      Article: lyrics/001-BlackFriday
Posted Date: 23-May-2006      Created Date: 1975
David's Comments: Steely Dan is one of my favorite musical groups. I like the musical style, and I love the poetry of the lyrics. This is just the first little stanza of Black Friday from the Katy Lied album. There is almost as much to read between the lines as in them.
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When Black Friday comes,
   I'll stand down by the door
   and catch the grey men when they
   dive from the fourteenth floor.
Title: In the mirror, I used to see ...
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/002-InTheMirrorIUsedToSee
Posted Date: 22-May-2006      Created Date: 22-May-2006
David's Comments: Depression is the potting soil of cynicism.
Reader Comments: none
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In the mirror, I used to see a star player hitting home runs out of the park.

Now I just see a disgruntled coach kicking sand on Umpire's shoes.
Title: Disorder in the Court!
Author: unknown
Category: Humor      Article: humor/001-CourtRecords
Posted Date: 21-May-2006      Created Date: unknown
David's Comments: I've had this humor piece in my archives since about 1995. I believe it was circulating on the BBSes (bulletin board systems) of the time. I have no idea who wrote it, nor how old it might be. I also can't vouch for the veracity of the stories related here. But regardless of whether they really happened, I find them quite amusing.
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Disorder in the Court!

Most language is spoken language, and most words once they are uttered, vanish forever into the air. But such is not the case with language spoken during courtroom trials, for there exists an army of court reporters whose job it is to take down and preserve every statement made during the proceedings.

Court is now in session, and here are a few transcripts, all recorded by America's keepers of the word:

Q: What is your brother-in-law's name?
A: Borofkin.
Q: What is his first name?
A: I can't remember.
Q: He's been your brother-in-law for 45 years, and you can't remember his first name?
A: No. I tell you I'm too excited. (Rising from the witness chair and pointing to Mr. Borofkin) Nathan, for God's sake, tell them your first name!

Q: Did you stay all night with this man in New York?
A: I refuse to answer that question.
Q: Did you stay all night with this man in Chicago?
A: I refuse to answer that question.
Q: Did you ever stay all night with this man in Miami?
A: No.

Q: James stood back and shot Tommy Lee?
A: Yes.
Q: And then Tommy Lee pulled out his gun and shot James in the fracas?
A: (After a hesitation) No sir, just above it.

Q: Doctor, did you say he was shot in the woods?
A: No, I said he was shot in the lumbar region.

Q: Now, Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?
A: By death.
Q: And, by whose death was it terminated?

Q: What is your name?
A: Ernestine McDowell.
Q: What is your marital status?
A: Fair.

Q: Are you married?
A: No, I'm divorced.
Q: What did your husband do before you divorced him?
A: A lot of things that I didn't know about.

Q: And who is this person you are speaking of?
A: My ex-widow said it.

Q: How did you happen to go to Dr. Cheney?
A: Well, a gal down by the road had had several of her children by Dr. Cheney and said he was really good.

Q: Do you know how far pregnant you are right now?
A: I will be three months November 8th.
Q: Apparently then, the date of conception was August 8th?
A: Yes.
Q: What were you and your husband doing at that time?

Q: Mrs. Smith, you do believe that you are emotionally unstable?
A: I used to be.
Q: How many times have you committed suicide?

Q: Did he pick the dog up by the ears?
A: No.
Q: What was he doing with the dog's ears?
A: Picking them up in the air.
Q: Where was the dog at the time?
A: Attached to the ear.

Q: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
A: All my autopsies have been on dead people.

Q: Were you acquainted with the deceased?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Before or after he died?

Q: Officer, what led you to believe the defendant was under the influence?
A: Because he was argumentary, and he couldn't pronunciate his words.

Q: What happened then?
A: He told me, he says, "I have to kill you because you can identify me."
Q: Did he kill you?

Q: Mrs. Jones, is your appearance this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
A: No. This is how I dress when I go to work.

Q: Have you ever been arrested?
A: Yes.
Q: What for?
A: Aggravating a female.

Q: You say you're innocent, yet five people swore they saw you steal a watch.
A: Your Honor, I can produce 500 people who didn't see me steal it.

Judge: Well, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, are you unanimous?
Foreman: Yes, your Honor, we're all alike — temporarily insane.

Judge: Now, as we begin, I must ask you to banish all present information and prejudice from your mind if you have any.

Q: When he went, had you gone? And had she, if she wanted to and were able, for the time being excluding all the restraints on her not to go also, would he have brought you, meaning you and she, with him to the station?
A: (attourney) Objection. That question should be taken out and shot.

Q: At the time you first saw Dr. McCarthy, had you ever seen him prior to that time?

Judge: I rarely do so, but for whatever purpose it may serve, I will indicate for the record that I approached this case with a completely open mind.

Q: Did the lady standing the driveway subsequently identify herself to you?
A: Yes, she did.
Q: Who did she say she was?
A: She said she was the owner of the dog's wife.

Q: I understand you're Bernie Davis' mother.
A: Yes.
Q: How long have you known him?

Q: Now, I'm going to show you what has been marked as State's Exhibit No. 2 and ask if you recognize the picture?
A: John Fletcher.
Q: That's you?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And you were present when the picture was taken, right?

Q: As a officer of the Dodge City Police Department, did you stop an automobile bearing Kansas license plates SCR446?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Was the vehicle occupied at the time?

Q: Please state the location of your right foot immediately prior to impact.
A: Immediately before the impact, my right foot was located at the immediate end of my right leg.

Q: Have you ever beaten your wife?
A: No. I might slap her around a little, but I never beat her.

Q: Just what did you do to prevent the accident?
A: I closed my eyes and screamed as loud as I could.

Q: What can you tell us about the truthfulness and veracity of this defendant?
A: Oh, she'll tell you the truth. She said she was going to kill the son of a gun — and she did.

Q: And another reason that you didn't want to go out there was because you feared for your life?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: Why?
A: That's a rowdy neighborhood, and there are very, very bad persons that will do bodily harm and seriously kill someone.

Q: Where were you on the bike at the time?
A: On the seat.
Q: I meant where in the street.

Q: (questioning a child) And lastly, Gary, all your responses must be oral, O.K.?
A: Oral.
Q: How old are you?
A: Oral.

Title: People who have what they want ...
Author: Ogden Nash
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/001-PeopleWhoHaveWhatTheyWant
Posted Date: 21-May-2006      Created Date: 1902-1971
David's Comments: Obviously this applies to money, but I have seen lately that it apples to many other things as well.
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People who have what they want
are fond of telling people who haven't what they want
that they really don't want it.
Title: Next Stop Iran
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Political Cartoon      Article: politoon/001-NextStopIran
Posted Date: 18-May-2006      Created Date: 14-Dec-2004
David's Comments: This was my first attempt at creating a political cartoon, inspired by news of the time (December 2004) about the Bush administration making the same kinds of statements about Iran as they made about Iraq a year or so before they invaded it. It was also the first cartoon of my series I have dubbed "LCD" (Lowest Common Denominator).
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LCD - Lowest Common Denominator - cartoon series by David Wilhite
Next Stop: Iran - Political Cartoon by David Wilhite
Next Stop: Iran
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