just for fun

Written by Scarabus



46 1a

Taken on the way back to DeLand after a 46th anniversary weekend getaway in St. Augustine.

NFS or publication because I appropriated someone else’s sky.

just for distraction

Written by Scarabus




Suffern lafayette auditorium 9d


 I don’t think this 19th century Wagnerian diva would have needed the 20th century amplified speaker above her head!

One reason why I trust children more than grown-ups.

Written by Scarabus


Family Portrait 4


About a week before Tuesday’s election here in Florida my wife and I received an oversized postcard from a candidate for judge. The card featured a traditional photo of the candidate, his wife, and their children – all smiling as if blissfully happy:


  • The same kind of photo one saw on advertising for, say, Democrat Eliot Spitzer while he was patronizing one of New York’s most exclusive and expensive call girl agencies.
  • The same kind one saw on church promotions for evangelical, virulently homophobic pastor Ted Haggard while he was rendezvousing with a gay prostitute to enjoy crystal meth and anal sex.
  • The same kind one saw on campaign literature for Republican David Vitter while he was arranging with Washington, D.C.’s, most notorious “madame” to hire a call girl who would dress him in diapers and “discipline” him.


I don’t remember which candidate mailed out the postcard – honestly! I could dig out the identity, but it really wouldn’t matter. I’m sure that particular candidate has a faithful marriage, has a happy family, and lives blissfully in “Happy Valley” where the bluebirds sing and there’s always plenty of sunshine (except when the suburban lawns need rain). Or not. Doesn’t matter (except to the candidate and his or her family). This is about principles, not personalities.

I’m just saying the general public has no way of knowing. In other words, the “happy family” portrait might say something about the candidate’s campaign strategy, but it says absolutely nothing about the candidate’s character or qualification for office.

That card featured quotations from the candidate affirming his patriotism; his commitment to “truth, justice, and the American way”; to moms and apple pies; etc. Again, the equivalent of smiling as if in rictus, shaking hands, and kissing babies. Every candidate says and does that sort of thing, and every rational voter knows it’s just bullshards.

No point in piling up examples. Any alert reader can provide her or his own. The real question isn’t what we can’t trust but what we can; isn’t what’s meaningless but what actually means something. My treatment of this issue is going to be a” several-parter,” but let’s begin with the way this stuff looks to a sixth-grader. Say what? Yeah. Precisely.


Bookworm Girl


Fortunately I didn’t have to look far to find an articulate kid I could ask. I just happen to know a sixth-grader who is super-smart and thoughtful, and whom I can trust. I asked her, “If you were going to vote in the next election, what would you want to know about the contestants before casting a ballot?”

Her answer? “What their rules would be and what they would change for better and for worse. I would want to know whether they would make some things such as gay marriage legal or illegal.”

I’d translate these “kid-speak” specifics into “adult-speak” principles as (a) “What policies would guide you?” and (b) “Where do you stand on these specific issues: x, y, z?” In other words, an intelligent sixth-grader says, “Forget the cotton-candy happy photos and the formless, diaphanous, meaningless platitudes. Tell me what specific, concrete policies you would pursue; and what specific actions you would support in respect to ____ (fill in the blank with the issues that matter most to you).

Pretty damned good for a sixth-grader, I’d say! Add to that one further question and you’ve got a dandy foundation for assessing political candidates. That further question? “What’s your track record? What have you actually done in the past to justify our believing you’ll honor your promises for the future, and that you have what it takes to turn promises into realities? Not what you’ve said, mind you, but what you’ve actually done?” Talk is cheap.

Another “tax-inverter” – Burger King

Written by Scarabus

MoveOn has started a petition to try to stop Burger King’s maneuver to dodge paying its fair share of U.S. taxes. Below is what I wrote in signing the petition. This is a photo of the Burger King store I refer to, at the corner of 8th Street and 61st Avenue. My brother will recognize it, as we bought many a hamburger there when we were teenagers:


BK 1


I was born in Miami, and later you were born in Miami. I used to buy hamburgers at your 8th Street. store. I’ve remained loyal to our nation, paying my fair taxes. You are proposing to betray our nation via the “inverting” tax dodge. But then I really am a human person. You’re the kind of sociopathic, treasonous fictional person that dances in “Scalito’s” wet dreams. I’d say, “Shame on you”; but, of course, fictional persons can feel no shame or compassion or loyalty or honor.


Majority owner of Burger King is a “private equity” firm. That’s a company that invests money in a fund that buys majority stock in other companies. The firm’s only interest is to increase wealth for its major stockholders. It makes no product. It provides no service. It contributes nothing material to the U.S. economy. It has no relationship with the employees or the customers of the companies it owns – except to squeeze out as much profit as possible, regardless of the damage it causes to employees, their families, their communities, the U.S. as a whole.

If these corporations really were persons, they’d be locked in an asylum for the criminally insane, diagnosed as highly dangerous and destructive sociopaths.

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Written by Scarabus


Voila Capture 2014 08 25 02 30 43 PM



Local superintendent’s controversial way of addressing dress code sends students home humiliated

August 22, 2014

by Paige Hill


NOBLE, Okla. – A group of Noble High School girls were left crying and humiliated after they claim they were called out in front of the entire school for what they were wearing.

[S]enior Stephanie Stewart remembers.

Stewart says, “The first sentence was, ‘Have y’all ever seen any ‘skanks’ around this school’. Around the end she said, ‘I don’t want to see anyone’s ass hanging out of their shorts.”

[T]his morning Bass followed up, unannounced.

According to Stephanie she asked just the girls to stand up while she did a dress code check, even asking some of the girls to bend over.

Stephanie was singled out because in Bass’ opinion her dress was too short.

Bass says, “If you’re not comfortable with bending over, we might have a problem.”

Bass said she thought the problem was so widespread, she sent an email to teachers saying, “Our female students are pushing the limits. We all know this to be true… please help us stay on top of this until a new norm of modesty is established.”


Weak 2

Guilty until proven innocent

Written by Scarabus


Tono 1


Urban myths to the contrary, in most countries — including England and France — the law assumes that you are innocent until proven guilty. The trouble is, what the law says is one thing, and what those in the legal system do in practice is quite another thing. They coincide, but often they don’t. A case in point is Mexico (whose legal system is being revised):

Imagine that one day the police come to your work, inform you that you are under arrest and whisk you away to prison. You have committed no crime, but someone else alleges that you murdered a man you have never even met. You now must prepare a defense to prove your innocence, but in Mexico you are already assumed to be guilty.

This is precisely what happened to Antonio “Toño” Zúñiga whose case became the story of Presumed Guilty, a documentary by Mexican lawyers turned filmmakers Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete. Zúñiga was sentenced to twenty years and six months in prison despite the complete lack of physical evidence and an airtight alibi. The 90-minute documentary is a powerful indictment of Mexico’s broken justice system. Denise Tomasini-Joshi of the Open Society Justice Initiative describes it as “an eye-opening film for all those calling for harsher sentences and fewer protections in a system that is all too willing to go through the motions of justice, while incarcerating innocent people and allowing criminals to go free.” In the same blog post Mexican legal scholar Javier Carrasco points out that the film reveals seven specific, widespread violations of the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty.


What I’ve been experiencing with the Royal Caribbean misadventure is a faint shadow of what happened to Toño Zúñiga, but that mere shadow has been enough to affect me. (For affect you can substitute any number of other terms. It’s angered me, annoyed me, pissed me off, frustrated me, disappointed me….) If this little incident has upset me this much, imagine what all the

Toño’s in Mexico must be feeling – they and their friends and their relatives.


Shakespeare’s character Iago in the play Othello is villainous, but not stupid. For example, when he says the following, he says the truth:


Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.


My accuser on Enchantment (ironic name, right?!) did exactly what Iago is talking about: He stole my good name. Not he alone, of course. He plus everyone on that ship who said through his actions (all males) if not his words that they knew I was lying but were willing to let me off in order to avoid further hassle. They assumed my guilt, and magnanimously offered me the opportunity to prove myself not-guilty.

The problem with that is that you can’t prove a negative. OK. Logicians tell me that in the purely abstract realm of pure logic you actually can prove a negative. I’m willing to take their word for it. In the realm of physical reality and human relations, though, you can’t.  Have you ever been falsely accused of something? And protested your innocence? And then realized that the more you tried to prove yourself innocent, the more guilty you sounded?


WaspComp 2


The whole thing struck me as terribly unjust, and justice has always mattered deeply to me. An incident from my childhood will show what I mean. I was just a little boy, playing in my grandmother’s yard, across the street from our house. Suddenly I was stung by a wasp. That made me really angry. I hadn’t been bothering you, I thought, so why are you attacking me? I took my toy bow with suction cup arrows and started shooting at them. Naturally the more I picked up my arrows and shot at the wasps, the more than stung me. I refused to give up. My mother loved to tell the story about how she heard me howling and crying. She finally had to run across the street and carry me out of there.

Stupid? Gimme a break! I was less than six years old. But clearly certain key elements of my character were set already. I’m still willing to battle for justice, even when it hurts me and offers little chance of success. In other words, Royal Caribbean, this isn’t over. I’ve just begun to fight.