Companies can’t do or say anything. It’s individual persons who take moral/ethical decisions. Who are they?

Written by Scarabus

Nation of Change


Mining Spill Near US Border Closes 88 Schools, Leaves Thousands of Mexicans Without Water

Ari Philips

19 August 2014


The safety of drinking water is in question in Northern Mexico after environmental misconduct. When will companies put people’s health before profit?




“When will companies put people’s health before profit?”

That question is meaningless in almost every respect. Most importantly, companies (corporations) are not people. They cannot make moral decisions. They cannot take moral action. Only actual human beings can do that.

What we should be asking is, “When will the executives, the officers, the individual members of the boards put people’s health before profit? When will they be held accountable if they don’t? When will we start seeing some ‘suits’ do serious time? In Super-Max, not Club-Fed.?”

The answer in every case is “Never,” of course. Still, it’s important to ask the proper questions so as to make sure legal obfuscations like “corporate personhood” don’t blind us to what’s really happening: Individual human beings with actual names and faces, actual addresses, are making actual profits from immoral, unethical, life-destroying behavior.

We might not be able to put them in prison, but we should at least be entitled to know who they are, how they look, and what they’ve done either to fight or to enable policies and practices like these.

At least it wasn’t boring

Written by Scarabus


Rain 2

Norwegian cruise ship being chased by a thunderstorm. Shot from our room aboard Enchantment of the Seas on August 13, 2014.


What follows is an edited version of a written statement I submitted to the security officer of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Enchantment of the Seas.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞


Wayne Dickson

Enchantment of the Seas

August 13, 2014

Statement Re Events of August 12, 2014


My wife and I are enjoying our 50th anniversary this year. To help us celebrate, our daughter (Dr. Katrina Dickson-Lah) and son-in-law (Dr. James Lah) have treated us to this cruise. They chose the Enchantment because they’ve been on several cruises with Royal Caribbean and have found the line to offer efficiency; good, friendly service; and good facilities.

Before retiring in 2009 I was a college professor for almost 40 years, mostly at Stetson University (DeLand Florida). I taught English, Humanities, and Honors courses. “Humanities” in this context means interdisciplinary arts and ideas: history of ideas, literature, visual, and performance arts – including dance and music. Here, the visual arts include drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, architecture, film, and video.

Since retiring, I’ve spent most of my time on writing and editing (my own and others’ work); layout and design; photography; animation; digital art (mostly combining digital images into photo composites – see attached). My wife is on the board of the Museum of African American Arts, and I do a lot of work making tickets, posters, flyers, etc. for them. In respect to photography and digital compositing, I would call myself a serious amateur in that I don’t market my work and only occasionally sell a work or donate it for auction by non-profit organizations.


My family were on shore at the line’s private island, while I remained aboard. I was planning to write, deal with essential email, and (unfortunately) try to make some good photos to use for a slide show documenting our cruise. I took shots of various parts of the ship, plus a video of the flag, flapping in the breeze. No problem. However, at the swimming pool I also took pictures of people of both sexes and all ages. That was an error in judgment, as quickly became apparent. I always ask permission before photographing people. This time, though, I didn’t.

A young man approached me and said something close to, “If you don’t stop taking pictures of my wife, you and I are going to have trouble.” I didn’t feel seriously threatened, because he was a little guy all puffed up, trying to intimidate me. I figured that if were going to assault physically, he’d already have sucker-punched me.

I acknowledged my error, apologized for taking pictures of him and his wife, showed him the photos, and said I would delete them immediately. Showing him the photos proved to be my second error, because among the photos of older, middle-aged, and young adults, there was one picture showing two kids walking. He jumped on that and told me I was not only a “peeping Tom” but also a pervert and pedophile. He said he would try to see that I was sent to jail. I admit to having been taken aback. Through the decades I’ve been called a lot of things by a lot of people, but never a pervert, much less a pedophile.

First security interview

A security man had appeared by then. I showed him the photos, apologized once more, acknowledged that I should not have taken the photos without permission, and said once more that I would delete them. The incensed young man said that wasn’t good enough. He insisted I erase every photo on the SD card. I think he was getting more cocky by then, mistaking my courtesy and apology for weakness. I used profanity, I’m afraid, and said, “No fucking way.” To delete the couple of photos that may have included him and his wife, plus the other photos taken without permission, was one thing. To erase family pictures plus those I needed for my photo-compositing was quite another.

I think that’s where we left it. I told the security man I would erase the pictures; he reminded me of the policies designed to protect guest’s privacy; and he and the young man walked off together.

At that point I gathered my goods and moved to a seat close to the bar. I deleted the photos, put up my camera, and began reading an online article from Harper’s. Ironically, the article was about the miseries of sailing on a cruise ship! (http://

Second security interview

I hadn’t completed the article yet when a second security man came up. He introduced himself and we went through the whole conversation all over again. I gave him my camera and showed him how to play back the photos I had shot. Having seen that everything on the camera was innocuous, he asked if I had downloaded the photos shot at the pool to my computer. I said I hadn’t and showed him how took through the files on the computer. I pointed out the images of my wife, daughter, granddaughter, and son-in-law. He asked if I had any other SD cards, and I said I didn’t. I inferred he had taken my word for it, because he didn’t search me, my camera bag, or my briefcase.

I gave him my card so he could copy down the identifying information. He went through the whole review of policy yet again, and asked if I was planning to leave the ship during the rest of the cruise. I said I might step ashore in Nassau just to close the circle from honeymoon to 50th anniversary, but that unless forced to do otherwise by my family I planned to remain sedentary.

One last item. I thought he asked if it would be OK if security searched our room. That’s what I understood, anyway. Regardless, I know I said that of course I wouldn’t mind.

My reactions

My initial reaction when the young man came up was surprise followed by amusement at his threats. I recognized immediately that I’d exercised very poor judgment, but the noise he was making was too far over the top to be taken seriously. Nevertheless, I was pleased he had called security – not because I

was looking forward to dealing with the hassle, of course, but because I preferred the matter be handled officially and was glad to have an objective witness. (Or what I thought would be an objective witness!) The security man behaved with courtesy and professionalism. (He seemed uncomfortable when the young man started slandering me with charges of perversion and pedophilia.)

I admit that the visit by the second security man began to make me angry. I mean the first man had seen the photos and knew they were technically unusable and certainly innocuous. So why was this thing escalating? In retrospect it occurs to me that it may have been in part because I remained on the pool deck to delete the images. And I suspect that the young man had continued to press the issue. I hope it wasn’t because the first security man pushed it. That would cause me to lose respect for his judgment.

I also admit that the implications of the second man’s questions and actions began to irritate me. He knew nothing about me or why I might be taking photos of strangers, obviously. But the thing is, he didn’t even bother to ask. Instead, he asked, “Do you have any other SD cards? Are you planning to go ashore? Do you mind if we search your room?” Think about what those questions mean. I was being treated like a major criminal. I wonder what he thought I might do if I went ashore?

The security men had to treat the matter seriously, both because it was the right thing to do and because in case of later complications it was important that strict protocol be followed. It really seemed to me I had been prejudged as guilty, though. Not only that, they were treating me as if I were stupid. Perhaps they thought I really was stupid. Only a fool would have been so open and obvious about taking pictures of people in a crowd in a public space under circumstances where they couldn’t possibly have an expectation of privacy, right?


My family’s reactions

My family tend to protective toward me. My son-in-law is a physician, research scientist, and associate head of the Neurology Department at Emory Medical Center. He has medical understanding of my physical health, and he knows I try always to calm things and resolve them. Consequently he feels I’m inclined to allow others to take advantage of me. My wife and daughter aren’t physicians, but they feel the same way.

I could persuade the latter two to stay in the room, but not my son-in-law. I don’t know whom he spoke with that afternoon, but I know he spent several hours doing it. When he returned, we was expecting the security people to give me a formal apology. Didn’t quite work out that way.


Third security interview

That night two different security people came to our room, and we played out exactly the same routine for the third time. One of them said it might be a good idea for me to complete a written statement. Once again my son-in-law was adamant in demanding an apology.

(I’m glad son-in-law didn’t know about the “search the room” detail. I omitted it because I’m not totally convinced I heard correctly … pretty sure, but not completely.)


Pausing for reflection

All four of the security men I’d dealt with up to then had been professional and courteous. As I say, though, I did get angry about what I thought were lapses in judgment, and I lost confidence in seeing uncertainty about how to respond to what I assume was an unusual situation. As for the young man? One of our nighttime visitors said the fellow had said he was concerned about how I might retaliate. I guess he was thinking that if the circumstances were reversed, he would be seeking retaliation, so that’s what I must have been doing. I assured everyone that, though I certainly would defend myself, he needn’t fear my seeking confrontation, much less retaliation.


Fourth security interview

At this point I was throughly weary of the whole business, and glad it was over (as if!). Once again my son-in-law was sure I’d be given a formal apology (as if!).

I was summoned to the office of an upper-level (maybe boss) “Guest Relations” fellow named “Nick.” Also present was his equivalent from the security department. It became clear immediately that there would be no apology. What followed was a ridiculous game.

They introduced themselves as “Nick” and “Chris” (sp?), but addressed me as “Mr. Wayne.” I said I was really not comfortable with that. They had summoned me. They had the power. For them to use an honorific in addressing me, while asking me to address them by first name as if we were pals, was dishonest, almost mocking. (I didn’t say that, but I definitely thought it.) I told them I would be a lot more comfortable if we all addressed each other the same way: either Nick, Chris, and Wayne; or Mr. X, Mr. Y, and Dr. Dickson. We settled on the former.

They behaved as “good cop” (Nick) and “bad cop” (Chris). I don’t think it was a strategy, but rather a reflection of job and personality. Chris started to ask me some questions. I said I’d prefer to tell my story first, then answer questions about stuff I’d omitted or left unclear. That’s what we did.

Chris said he wanted me to sign a written statement, which would be no more than one short paragraph in length. That might not have been a bad idea. The more you say or write, the more potential weak spots you provide for a potential attacker. Nevertheless, I wanted to have my say. We theoretically compromised with their agreeing to staple my extended statement to the regular form. I say “theoretically” because I suspect they threw away my statement without even reading it.

No one apologized.


Jesus is Lord?

Written by Scarabus

What does this mean?


Voila Capture 2014 08 10 01 20 04 AM


Yes, yes! I know what the overall ad is about. It’s yet another gimmick in the “pay us money and we’ll make it a little easier for you to hook-up, date, or maybe even more” game.

I’m talking about the assertion that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” This is from my computer’s built-in dictionary:


Voila Capture 2014 08 17 06 11 33 PM


OK, “Jesus Christ” is something having “power, authority, or influence.” I can understand that. But “master or ruler”? That one’s tougher. I mean, who would want to live on in some afterlife as a slave? Who would want to exchange freedom and democracy in this world for feudal servitude and subjection in another? New Hampshire’s state motto is “Live free or die.”  Would those who wrote this ad tack on an addendum? “Live free or die until after you really are dead. At that point live for the rest of eternity in un-free feudal servitude”?

But, as the TV hucksters say, wait! There’s more!! “Jesus Christ is Lord”…

  •  …as opposed to some other Jesus who isn’t also Christ? or Christ who isn’t also Jesus?
  • Jesus Christ as opposed to God? or maybe the “Holy Spirit”? (Fat chance! The latter is given short shrift by Christians in general. On the one hand they can’t give up the magical third whatever. Three bases, three strikes, three outs, 3 X 3 innings; 1…2…3…Go!; 3 X 3 Commandments, plus 1 to represent the unity of the whole; 3 X 4 tribes of Israel; and, yes, this is becoming boring. On the other hand they can’t really figure out what it is or how to get their minds around it. They say the words, but don’t actually know what the words mean.)
  • Lord as opposed to …? George Carlin’s “Buddy Christ”? Polygamous husband of nuns all over the globe? You know, the “brides of Christ” who wear his wedding band? Or …?


I have no trouble knowing what I myself believe. I do have trouble understanding what people who say stuff like “Jesus Christ is Lord” believe. Sometimes I wonder whether they’ve really thought through the implications of the platitudes that lie so ready to their tongues. At other times I wonder why they would prefer to live in servitude to a feudal master rather than in freedom and concomitant personal responsibility. I can’t help wondering why they keep looking for a bigger and bigger “daddy,” why they refuse to grow up and accept the responsibilities of mature adulthood.

Wait. Sorry. I have nothing against religion. As I always told my students, believe whatever you want — as long as it helps you and doesn’t encourage you to hurt anyone else. I’m just urging you remember that words and arrangements of words carry meaning; that you really understand what the arrangements of words you’re uttering actually mean (by implication as well as straight up); and that you understand  they might mean something different to others than to those who’ve been taught the coded language of your in-group.

Believe what you want. Say what you want. If you want to hunker down and nurture despair and/or resentment about how nobody understands you and everybody is attacking you, I can’t stop you. No one can. It’s too much easier to blame others than to accept personal responsibility. But if you really care about others and about community, then think about what your words mean to those outside your cloistered community of “true believers.” And vice versa, of course.

For better or worse, I’m back.

Written by Scarabus


My wife and I are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary this year. To help us celebrate, our daughter and son-in-law treated us to a short-week cruise on Royal Caribbean’s ship Enchantment of the Seas. We embarked Monday afternoon and disembarked Friday morning. Each of us — me, my wife Jewel, our daughter Katrina, our granddaughter Julia, and our son-in-law Jim — experienced the cruise uniquely, of course.

For me, spending time with four of the people I love most was what really mattered. Second best was getting to know those who served our dinners. (I haven’t yet memorized their names — I will — but their faces, their personalities, and key details about them I’ll never forget.) The headwaiter, Cristian, spent time with us, and gave me his email and Facebook addresses. I’ll write to him tomorrow, learning the others’ names, having him make sure they know how well I remember them as unique individual persons. Obviously I won’t impose on them, but will encourage them to contact me.

Like the waiter from St. Vincent, in the Lesser Antilles, whose daughter is the same age as our granddaughter, who shared her picture and their story with me, and who spoiled our granddaughter rotten. And like his assistant (don’t know the official title) from Goa, the island and adjacent area on the west coast of India. I surprised him, pleasantly, by showing him I know about the history, culture, and cuisine of his homeland. Indeed, I promised him that when I got home I’d cook a traditional Goan dish and drink a toast to him while sharing the meal with friends who’ll appreciate the gesture. Problem is that Goan cuisine features seafood (it’s an island, remember) and I can’t eat seafood. Bummer! Fortunately I enjoy vindaloo sauce and preparation, so that’ll work.

Yikes! Time has flown. I’ll share more of my experiences, some pleasant and some horrible. But right now I’ve had enough. A domani.




Written by Scarabus

Tomorrow morning we’ll be driving down to Port Canaveral to board a cruise ship. Don’t ask me which one! I just follow orders. Our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter will be joining us for about a week on the floating hotel. A friend will keep the house safe, and our feline dominatrix will be staying at a place where she’ll feel she’s in kitty nirvana.

I’ll take my PowerBook and a portable drive full of a whole bunch of multimedia resources, so I’ll definitely be blogging. However, depending on how the wi-fi/internet facilities work out, I may not be posting blogs or answering email. In other words, I might be incommunicado for a week. (I know that for many that’ll be reason to celebrate.)

I’ll be enjoying precious time with my family, eating, drinking, making photos and videos, thinking, and playing with digital art.

Wish me luck. I don’t like boats. I don’t like water. I don’t like being trapped in a confined space (even if the space is as large as a floating hotel). I don’t like crowds. I don’t like the sun. I won’t gamble. I don’t like “entertainment.” I can’t dance. I hate being hassled about going ashore or seeing the sights. (Yes. I’ve always despised “traveling,” but I used to love getting to know people and places in other lands. I’ve turned that page, though. Now I just want to be left alone.)


I love my wife, with whom I’ll be continuing celebration of our 50th anniversary. (We spent our honeymoon in Nassau, and that’s one of the ports where the floating hotel will anchor overnight.) I love my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. That overshadows any of the miseries I’m dreading. I’m looking forward to the snuggling, reminiscing, discovering, and even arguing. I’m an old fart, so I’m especially looking forward to catching up with my 11 year old granddaughter and seeing what she can teach me.

Young people often are grossed out at the thought, but even though I’m 71 years old I’m still excited by the anticipation of some intimate snuggling with my wife. I love her more all the time. I love the way her beauty and sexiness have evolved – but never diminished! – through the years. I love the way she can still turn me on like a radio.

Yeah. Lots to dread about this trip, but much, much more to anticipate with excitement. I know I’ll have lots of good things to share by the time we return.


Us at Easter 2

Then and a couple of years ago.

More lies from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Written by Scarabus


Voila Capture 2014 08 10 02 30 20 PM




Wayne to USCOC


They ask for a comment, and I’ve complied. (The part between brackets is an infographic they included in the letter beginning with the part I show above.)


BS 1

Golf, Crises, and Presidents

Written by Scarabus


FoxFear anxiety2


And speaking of golfing during a crisis, let’s never forget this classic. It was so embarrassing to “Dubya” that he gave up golf for the rest of his time in office. The “optics” (a ridiculous term, BTW) were just unacceptable for his propagandists.



You want to be petty? Arguably – at least in theory – the second most powerful person in the nation is the speaker of the House, who’s third in the line of succession to the presidency. Speaker Boehner plays golf 4 times as often as President Obama. Indeed, they’ve played golf together. The president who played golf most often? That would be the Republican Eisenhower, who played 800 times while he was in office.

You want to talk vacation time? George W. Bush spent 32 months at his ranch (490 days) or at Camp David (487 days). Think about it. He spent  96 months in office, and he spent 32 of those months on vacation. The arithmetic there shouldn’t be too difficult, even for Fox News viewers. You know, 96 (months in office) divided by 32 (months on vacation) ? The previous president, George W. Bush, spent 2/3 of his time in office at work, and 1/3 on vacation.

All of which is total bullshit! TOTAL!!!


From a Nancy Reagan press interview:

“Presidents don’t get vacations — they just get a change of scenery. The job goes with you.”


The devil Mephistopheles in Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus:

Dr. Faustus:


If you really are a devil, then why aren’t you in

hell instead of standing here tempting me?




Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it!


A president doesn’t go to the office. The office goes with the president. “Office”? That means the most sophisticated communications network in the world, the key advisers, the nuclear “football,” the “red phone,” and all the rest of it. You’re on Air Force 1? You’re in the office. You’re at Camp David? You’re in the office. You’re in Crawford, Texas? You’re in the office. You’re in Martha’s Vineyard? You’re in the office. Etc.

And that’s not necessarily a good thing. The adage is that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” And Jill a dull girl. And a president a weary, tightly-wound, profoundly-pressured decision maker.


Have you read the novel or seen the movie The Bedford Incident? It’s set during the Cold War, and features the fanatical U.S. captain of a nuclear-armed destroyer playing lethal games with the captain of a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine. The men on both ships are more and more sleep-deprived, clamped under more and more pressure, until…?


Poitier widmark the bedford incident2

The journalist (Sidney Poitier) is very unhappy with the captain (Richard Widmark).
The movie was released in 1965.
During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 nuclear-armed Soviet submarines and U.S. destroyers had confronted one another.
The submarine commanders were authorized to fire their nuclear missiles if they were attacked.
They were prevented from doing so by a single courageous officer, Vasili Arkhipov.
That’s how close we came.

Remember that the next time you hear some asshole Republican congressperson or “pundit” compare
the Crimea or Benghazi to the Cuban missile crisis..


Coming soon: Reflections on optimizing vs. sufficing vs. disaster.

Squint-Eyed cheaters.

Written by Scarabus


This is an ad that some marketing algorithm placed in the sidebar of one of the political blogs I follow. I felt insulted!


CheaterAd 1


This is what the ad suggests to me:


Ruffles 1


New Hope! (Conditions apply.)

Written by Scarabus


Daily Kos 2

Florida church cancels gay man’s funeral

by Jen HaydenFollow 


Julion Evans passed away on July 26, 2014, after a battle with a rare disease called Amyloidosis. He had a large family and an even larger group of friends who wanted to come together to remember his life. His family booked a large church in Tampa, Florida. One day before the service, they were shocked to receive a call from the pastor, telling them the church was canceling after finding out Julion was gay and married to Kendall Caper, his partner of 17 years.




Nhfu 1