I Keep Writing Letters
I'm up to over 3000 letters to the editor. Are any of them getting published? Yes! But I don't know how many. I've had many calls from newspapers saying they were going to publish a letter. I've also had many call up wanting me to take them off their fax list. Several letters have been published without them contacting me. If I were to guess I'd say that around 1 to 2 percent are published. But that's a lot of readers.
One thing I'm figuring out is how to get the size of the letter down. I'm limiting myself to 250 words and it has to fit on one fax page with the header. That way I'm only wasting 1 sheet of fax paper instead of two and I'm only paying 13 cents a hit instead of 26 cents.
Here are some of the letters I've written since last issue.
==[ Bush Waffling on Abortion ]==
The Bush campaign, attempting to please more voters on the abortion issue, may actually be losing votes from both sides of the political fence. The Republican platform, which calls for a constitutional ban on abortion, while appealing to the religious right is highly troubling to left wing and moderate voters due to it's lack of exceptions for rape, incest, or the mother's life.
The religious right is uncomfortable with Bush and Quayle's statements about wanting choice for their family members. Although confident that a Bush victory means an end to Roe vs. Wade, they are uneasy with statements that restricted abortion, as in the Pennsylvania law requiring a one-day waiting period, is preferable to an outright ban.
Henry Hyde, a strong pro-life voice in the Congress, sides with Clinton and the Democrats on the Family Leave Bill. This bill, which Bush is expected to veto, reduces the need for a woman to choose between abortion and her job. Many Republican supporters of the bill fear that a Bush veto will expose them to criticism on the issue of family values.
Past elections indicate that candidates attempting to straddle the fence have lost to candidates taking a strong position either for or against abortion. It may turn out that Bush raising the issue and waffling may be a serious political mistake in this highly volatile election year.
==[ Election Polarizes Country ]==
This election may turn out to be one of the most polarizing elections in American history. The stakes are high and there seems to be no middle ground.
The Republicans are taking a strong stand on abortion calling for a constitutional ban in their party platform. This ban doesn't include an exception for rape, incest or the life of the mother. Roe vs. Wade was one vote shy of being overturned and that one vote is Justice Blackman who is 83 years old and expected to retire soon. The next President will pick his replacement. Thus the future of abortion will be decided by this election.
Bush has also made it clear that he will not be able to work with a Democratic controlled Congress and warns of four more years of gridlock if he doesn't get a Republican Congress. The message being if you're going to vote for Bush you should vote a straight Republican ticket.
With all the finger pointing over the economy there seems to be a growing sediment to elect one party so that we at least know who to blame. Perot supporters also seem to agree that one party control will allow for tough decisions that might not be possible with divided government. It seems that voting for the team is in and voting for the individual is out.
==[ Class Wars ]==
"Tax the middle class!" the millionaires say. That's what Bush, Perot, Tsongas, and Rudman want to do. Bush wants to cut the taxes on the rich, financed by deficit spending as we've done for the last 12 years. The rest want a 50-cent-a-gallon increase in gasoline taxes.
The middle class is on the edge of poverty. If you tax the middle class then more of the middle class will fall into poverty and the gas tax will only finance more people on welfare. Sorry Ross, bad idea.
The top one percent has more money than the lower 90 percent. Millionaires have made a killing while the rest are stuck with debt. If the government needs more money they should go to where the money is. It's time for the rich to pay their fair share.
Donald Trump, testifying before a Senate committee, said we should seriously raise the upper income tax rate and put the tax loopholes back in, so the rich can work their taxes down by investing in America. That's how things worked before the debt, before voodoo economics. I am tired of being "trickled" on. I'm voting for Clinton!
==[ The Bush Factor ]==
In the southwest corner of Missouri is a hotly contested race for 7th district congressman. Patrick Deaton, the Democratic challenger, is running a very interesting and unusual TV ad to unseat Republican incumbent Mel Hancock. In the spot Deaton shows pictures of Hancock and Bush saying that, "Our national leaders have failed us. We need a fresh face for change."
Deaton is gambling that Bush will not only be soundly beaten, but that by associating other Republicans with Bush will cause them to lose as well. All eyes are focused on Springfield, Missouri and the Deaton plan to see if it works.
If Deaton is right, what will it mean for all the other federal elections? Will other Democrats use the "Bush Factor" as a tool to win? Will Bush suck the Republican party down with him? What is a Republican to do? Do you support the President or do you cut and run?
Republicans tend to be loyal to their party. If one jumps off a bridge they all jump off a bridge. But as November draws near and the polls come in, that bridge might look very scary indeed.
==[ Bush, Just say it! ]==
I've been watching Bush pussyfoot around over this story that he and Bob Dornan are pushing about Clinton in Moscow. Bush is dropping little hints about what might have happened and what Clinton might have done. He's inferring this and implying that and saying, "come clean" in a weasely, deceitful sort of way, while in the background Bush's cronies keep feeding the press in a desperate attempt to keep the story alive.
Come on George, why don't you just say it? If you think Clinton's a Commie then just call him a Commie! Act like a man for God's sake, you're supposed to be the President! Either put up or shut up. If you think this nonsense will get you elected you'd better think again 'cause that dog just won't hunt.
Well as you all know Perot is back in. You remember from Thinking Magazine issue #11 how I praised Perot for having the good sense to drop out of the race. I also said that Perot means what he says. So now that he's running, what's he up to now?
Quite frankly, I don't know. But let's look at what's happening and see if we can figure it out. Perhaps you, the reader, can figure it out and tell me what's going on. Having said that, let's look at the facts.
Perot says that he's running to win. I don't believe him. When he dropped out he said, "I'm an engineer. I deal in facts. We can't win." So what has happened between July and October to change reality? It could be only one of three things that I can think of.
Perot bought an half hour of CBS and ABC to talk about the problem. The show was excellent. He showed a lot of graphs and made a lot of sense describing the problem. Anyone watching the program would have been shocked to realize how bad off the country is. It was especially shocking to me because I understand the numbers. Perot didn't offer any solutions, but that's supposed to be coming up in future shows. I highly recommend that you watch it.
Since Perot started showing life again he has brought the issues of the economy to the forefront. You don't hear about Murphy Brown or the draft issue as much. Bush wasn't going to debate but after Perot went for it he wanted to debate 4 times.
I don't believe that Perot has a chance of winning. To win as President you have to have the trust of the voters. Here's someone who is in and out and waits till October to get in. This isn't enough time to create public confidence. Perot has never held public office and he wants to start as President. That isn't going to work because he has no experience. It doesn't matter if he has good ideas if he can't work with the political system to make his ideas work. In other words, it takes a politician to be a politician.
Clinton became Governor of Arkansas at the age of 32. During his first two-year term he took on all the special interests and made a serious effort at cleaning up Arkansas politics. He made a lot of enemies in the process and accomplished little. When he ran for a second term he was defeated. During the next two years he reconsidered his political strategy and won again. This time, rather than trying for purist politics he decided to focus on the possible rather than on the ideal. Clinton became known as the great conciliator and someone who moved through a lot of legislation because of his ability to work with diverse interests. That's why all the Governors elected him as the most effective Governor in the country. Because he it a politician and it takes a politician to take an idea and actually get it to happen.
Now Perot has a lot of good ideas but he doesn't have any political skills or political experience. He doesn't have the temperament to work with people the way Clinton does. For that matter, neither does Bush. That's why the country is in gridlock. Some people look at Bush's veto's as a point of strength, standing up to Congress and such. But in reality it is a point of weakness because government has to work together to get things done. Someone who knows how to work with diverse interests and come up with the best possible solution and actually get things to happen. An idea is just an idea unless someone makes it real. And if you look at the way the candidates work with other people it's pretty obvious who we need for our next President.
One thing I still believe about Perot is that he is serious about wanting to help America and is putting his money where his mouth is. I believe that whatever Perot is doing it is out of the kindness of his heart and that he believes it is the right thing. I'm still not going to vote for him because I don't think he'll do a good job as President. I agree with his reasoning when he dropped out. But I have a lot of respect for him and hope he will be part of the team when Clinton is elected.
The Perot Factor
So what's Perot going to do in this race? Is he going to hurt Clinton? Is he going to hurt Bush? Is he going to throw it into the house? Four weeks is a political eternity and anything can happen. That makes it more fun to analyze because no one knows for sure and we can only make educated guesses. So, since this is Thinking Magazine, let's se if we can figure it out.
Most peoples' first impression is that it will hurt Clinton. After all, he is ahead in the polls from 10% - 20% depending on which way the wind is blowing. Since he has the lead he has more to lose. Also, since 4 out of 5 Perotees went to Clinton you would think that some of them will come back. Thus it would seem that it would hurt Clinton more.
But does it? Lets look at this a little deeper. Perot is talking about the economy and focusing on the national debt. Most political wizards say that the economy is everything so focusing on the economy hurts Bush on the most important issue of the election. It takes attention away from what Clinton did when he was a teenager. When Perot gets on TV and says, "We're in deep Voodoo", you know what he's talking about.
Bush has designed his campaign around attacking his opponents rather than running on his accomplishments. When you see Bush ads he's talking about the other guy. This is different than the '88 ads where he ran a lot of "Kinder Gentler Nation" ads with baby kissing and such. By running attack ads he hopes to win by being the lesser of two evils. But in a three way race he has to be the lesser of three evils.
With three running if Bush attacks Clinton the votes lost will be Perot's gain, not Bush's. The act of throwing the dirt by Bush will also cost him some votes because people are tired of deceitful politics. So Bush would lose votes to Perot and Clinton for getting dirty.
If Bush attacks Perot he will piss off everyone who likes Perot. And there are a lot more people who like Perot than are going to vote for Perot. Last time Bush attacked Perot by claiming that he investigates people, a charge that still sticks to him. When Perot dropped out Clinton got 80% of Perot's supporters.
If Perot should start to win states what states is he most likely to win first. Most of the wizards think that Perot will start with Texas and Florida where he's most popular. But Texas and Florida are considered "must win" states for Bush. Thus Bush will take the first hit on the electoral count because of Perot.
So here's what I thinks going to happen. I think Perot will gain in the next few weeks at Clinton's and Bush's expense. But when people actually vote they won't vote for Perot because they will be nervous about who they are actually electing. They just don't know him well enough and will wonder "what if it's true?".
The other factor is that a lot of people may favor Perot but feel voting for him will be a waste of the vote. They'll feel like they would rather vote against Bush or Clinton rather than voting for someone who isn't going to make it anyhow. Besides, most people aren't going to vote for someone who is going to raise their taxes the way Perot has in mind.
So I predict that of those Perot supporters who ditch Perot at the last minute will go 80% to Clinton like it did the last time.
Bush on the Ropes
Bush is really getting desperate. He keeps attacking Clinton and the polls don't move. Now he's calling Clinton a Communist. Now Bush didn't out and out call Clinton a Communist and when you press him on the issue he says, "I'm not calling Clinton a Communist." But, come on George, we aren't that stupid. You're calling Clinton a Communist.
So the President calls Clinton a Communist. Does he have any proof to back this up? No, and he admits that he doesn't. So here you have Bush accusing Clinton of being a Communist and no reason to back that up by his own admission and who is the President of our country, this little weasel of a man?
"Now Marc", you might say, "You're losing your cool here. Vulcans never get angry." OK, you're right, I'm losing it but Rush Limbaugh pisses me off. I'm just responding to the tone of the election. This is a year of hate and anger and it is being fueled by the religious right. Now Limbaugh isn't really part of the religious right, he's an entertainer who has learned that if you talk like Paul Harvey and lie like Bob Dornan that people will listen to you.
Limbaugh has learned that the most important thing in journalism is sincerity. Once you learn how to fake that you have it made. If I were to accurately describe this man's show in words that carry the essence and feeling as well as an overall assessment of the quality and accuracy of the program, I would have to describe it as follows. The Rush Limbaugh show SUCKS!
While I'm on a bashing streak here I watched Bob Dornan on C-Span for about 5 minutes which is about all I coud take of him. He was on the house floor by himself creating the whole "Clinton is a Commie" event. He couldn't say the things he said out on the street because he would be sued for liable. But in the Congress he is protected by laws that give elected officials the right to lie.
Bob Dornan is what he accuses Clinton of. Dornan is a traitor. It might as well be Joe McCarthy all over again. The Republicans have stooped to red baiting and brought back one of the darkest times of American history. And our President is right in the middle of it. Bush, speaking on Larry King Live said he was speaking from the heart when he called Clinton a traitor and that it was spontaneous, but he had spent the day in meetings with Dornan talking about how thay were going to spread these lies.
Tsongas / Rudman Turn Down Perot Offer
Ross Perot offered to buy Senators Tsongas and Rudman a half hour of prime time TV to talk about their economic plan. They turned down the offer. Tsongas has endorsed Clinton and Rudman has endorsed Bush. They said that the reason that they turned down Perot is because they don't want the public to get the idea that they were endorsing Perot.
Thus, the way I read it, party loyalty is more important to Tsongas and Rudman than fixing the economy. And if party loyalty is most important then don't waste my time with your ideas. I know where you're coming from. Just go back to your law firms and sue somebody.
Gorbechev Held Prisoner
Mikael Gorbechev is now being held prisoner in Russia by Boris Yeltzin. I find this very distressing personally because Gorby is the greatest man of the 20th century and it is a shame to humanity itself that he is held in Russia. Gorby is resisting taking part in trials targeted at banning the Communist party. What a shame it is that we talk about idiots like Dan Quayle in the news and ignore the plight of a great man.
Gorbechev by himself ended the cold war. Americans are proud and would like to believe that we had a part in it, but we didn't. We not only had nothing to do with ending the cold war, but we actually got in the way. So when Bush waves the flag and claims he ended the cold war, I say that's bullshit. We need to face reality or cheat history and pay the price.
My Lawsuit to Vote Continues
On July 20, 1992 I file a lawsuit to be allowed to vote in the primary election of both the Republican and Democratic parties. See Thinking Magazine issue #11 for details. Well I'm still in the game. Here's what happened so far.
The defendants I named were William Webster Attorney General of Missouri, (yes, the "Webster Decision" Webster), Richard Struckoff County Clerk, Ron Brown, Chairman of the National Democratic Party, and Richard Bond, Chairman of the National Republican Party.
Richard Bond ignored the summons. Brown responded by saying that the lawsuit didn't involve him. Webster and Struckoff respond by asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
The motions to dismiss were based on the claim that the issue was moot because the election had passed. I responded that my suit included all upcoming elections. There was also a claim of protection under the eleventh amendment and they said that I should have asked the court to block the election.
I responded to all the claims and decided to dismiss Bond, Brown and Struckoff as defendants. I figured out that it is between me and Webster and it's easier to beat one defendant than four. And since Webster is preoccupied with running for Governor I might catch them asleep at the wheel.
The judge ruled in my favor and denied their motion to dismiss. So the next step is for Webster to answer the charges. I think he has maybe 30 days to do so. Then a trial date is set and I get my day in court.
I'm still looking forward to this. I have this fantasy that I can beat the Attorney General in court. I believe I'm right and can make a logical case. We will see.
Congrats to Sharlyn and John
I want to congratulate Sharlyn and John of Salt Lake City on their expected son. Rather than the traditional response to the question, "Do you want to know what flavor your baby is?" they decided to say yes. Now all they have to do it come up with a boys name instead of two names.
"But Marc", you might ask, "Doesn't knowing the sex of your baby take all the fun out of the experience? Isn't it like going to a movie after someone has told you how it's going to end?" Well I don't know. I never had one of my own. But I'm going to follow this story and see how it turns out. Stay tuned!
Computers in Your Brain
As computer get smaller and more powerful and biological technology increases the day is coming when we will be able to implant powerful computers directly into your brain. And I believe that this technology is only 10 to 20 years away.
"Computers in my brain? No Way! That's immoral! No one's going to put a computer in my brain." Yes but computers are everywhere. They are in everything. Having a computer in your brain isn't as weird as it sounds. Here's why.
I have a Casio Databank watch (The official watch of the computer nerd. Al Gore wears one.) This watch not only keeps time but has a calculator, an appointment calendar, a phone book, and a stop watch. I wear it on my wrist and interface to it using my fingers and my eyes.
Imagine this watch, which is technically a computer, were implanted into my brain. The actual chip is very small and could easily be powered from chemicals in my blood. The only piece that is lacking is the interface into the brain itself but in the next 10 to 20 years surely we can build a neural interface. What would this mean.
Well except for the interface into the brain it would be just like I have now except it would be more convenient. I wouldn't have this black thing on my wrist and I wouldn't have to deal with putting it on or taking it off. Nor would I have to deal with trying to read it in the dark. I would have time, date, a calculator, an alarm clock, appointment calendar, and a phone book right in my brain. How wonderful!
The only difference between now and 20 years from now is location. Is it on my wrist or in my head? What's the difference? Does this make me some kind of space mutant? I think not. Let's take this a step further.
Suppose instead of a watch in my head that this computer is similar to a standard desktop PC. It has say 500 megabytes of storage and a lot of software on it. Now we have databases and sorting and complex mathematics, graphing, and communications built in. Is this weird? No. We have that today but we have to use our fingers and eyes to interface into the machine. All I'm talking about is a different location and interface. You wouldn't have to go to your computer because it would always be with you.
It would take some getting used to. It's something you would learn to access. Certain thoughts you create would trigger it and it's totally under your control. You turn it on and off. It only does what you tell it just like your desktop PC does. Yes it's unnatural, but no more unnatural than driving a car or flying in a plane. But what would it be like to live that way?
Well, first of all you would never forget a name or phone number. You would just store any information you want and you remember it. Likewise if you want to forget a phone number you forget it. No getting lost because you have maps stored in your brain. You know where you are because there is a satellite network that transmits location information that is picked up by your brain computer and locates your position on the map. If you want to go somewhere then software calculates the route.
You don't have to do things this way if you don't want. If you don't want maps in your brain then you could just dig up an old paper map and use it but why would you want to? Why waste the trees? It's all right there and you can access it. And it doesn't have to store everything. If you are close to a data access interface then you can tie your computer into other large computer networks and download the information you need.
Other features that your brain might have is a device control feature. If you are cold in the middle of the night you wouldn't have to get up out of bed to turn up the heat. All you would have to do is think about turning up the heat and the thermostat would respond. Same with all the other appliances in your house. No more wall switches to turn on the lights, just a thought and the lights come on. They might even have computer implants for your cats brain so it can learn to open the door to let itself out at night. I'm serious!
No longer would you have to dial the telephone. The telephone would respond to your mental commands. All you would have to do is decide you want to talk to someone. But why talk to them? If you want to get a message to someone all you would have to do is send a mental digital message through the computer network and it will be routed to the desired person. Such a digital message will become a new electronic language allowing people to communicate thought faster and more accurately that by voice or through written language.
As technology increases you will be able to get better computers. Upgrading is no problem. You just have a little access port behind your ear where the old computer can be removed and a new one installed. You could buy a new one at Wal-Mart for $39.95 on special.
But what would it do to your brain? That's what get's interesting. If you had digital memory and all this computing power in a chip then it would seem that it would free up a lot of tasks that your biological brain does now. I would think that in time your brain would reprogram itself to be smarter, more imaginative. I think that it would free up your brain to be able to do more things than it can do now because now you have to store all this information.
We are on the verge of an evolutionary leap forward for our species. Over the next 100 years we will not really be the same species that we are today. We will evolve into something that is different. And what we become depends on the choices we as a species make today.
Gambling is for Losers
My fathers a gambler. He calls me up about once a year and asks me if I can figure out how to win at Craps with my computers. My response is, "You want to win at gambling? Open a casino!" Gambling is a form of robbery where you are taken advantage of because you don't have an understanding of the math behind gambling. So I'm going to take a few paragraphs and talk about how it works.
I'll start off by talking about a winner I know of. Here in Springfield about 3 years ago a man who had never bought a lottery ticket found on on the ground outside of a grocery store and won two million dollars. When the man was asked if he was going to start buying lottery tickets he replied, "No, I still think it's stupid." This man is a winner.
So now that this guy won big is he now more likely or less likely to win again? The correct answer is that he is just as likely to win again as anyone who didn't win. Every event of chance is a unique event that has nothing to do with any other event.
The chances of rolling a 7 with 2 dice are 1 in 6. You have rolled the dice 100 times trying for a 7 and haven't rolled any 7s yet. What are your chances of rolling a 7 on the next roll? The odds are still 1 in 6. Many people believe that if they are unlucky enough times in a row that somehow someone owes you some luck and it accumulates. It doesn't.
Lets talk about Roulette. In Roulette you have the numbers 1 to 36 and there is 0 and 00. One kind of bet is even/odd but the 0 and 00 are not considered to be either. If you win you get double, if you lose you get nothing. Thus when you are betting you have 18 ways to win and 20 ways to lose. On the average if you bet 190 times you will probably win 90 times and lose 100 times.
Now it is possible that you might win all 190 times and if you did and then you quit you would be a winner indeed. But people don't quit when they win. They keep on gambling until they lose. The game is loaded against you by 5%. This is the mathematical norm to lose an average of 5% on each event. The more times you play the more likely you are to approach these mathematical norms. In theory if you were to play an infinite number of times you would definitely lose.
Every spin of the Roulette wheel is an independent event. It doesn't matter if you've been winning or you've been losing. It doesn't matter if you are ahead or behind. It doesn't matter if the tables hot or cold. It doesn't matter if the blonde next to you has won 10 times in a row and you start betting with her. Your odds are still exactly the same.
The thing to remember about casino gambling is that when you look around at all the spectacular stuff you're surrounded by, remember that it's suckers like you who are paying for it.
Playing the Lottery
The lottery is an interesting game in that money lost can accumulate into serious jackpots. The tendency is that small jackpots are won early but sometimes there is a streak of losers and the money accumulates. The bigger the pot the more the odds are in your favor. I'm not saying that you are more likely to win, but the ratio of players to money can change in your favor.
A few years ago the Virginia lottery jackpot got up to 22 million. There were 7 million tickets sold. Of those 7 million, 5 million were bought up by an Australian investment group. They won. Mathematically it makes sense to go for a 5/7th risk against a 5/22 million dollar bet. Because they are Australians they weren't subject to the same tax burdens on the winnings as we Americans are.
But here's what they don't tell you about lottery gambling. If you win a million dollar jackpot you don't get the big check you see on TV for a million bucks. You get it over 20 years at $50,000 a year. Then you pay a third of that in taxes. Over 20 years inflation eats away at the value of the money so you end up with about a third of what you thought you won. None of this is counting the number of tickets you had to buy before you won in the first place. The way I see it, if I want to make a donation to the state, I'll just write them a check. That way I won't create litter in the process.
Gambling is a losing game. If you want to win then play a winning game. You are much more likely to get rich starting your own business or inventing something. Invest in your mind. Become smarter. This is the best bet of all.
Today's My Birthday
Well, turned 37 today. Kind of like the odometer rolling over again. I'm not big on parties so don't throw me one. I'm not growing old gracefully either. I used to be a skinny kid but now I eat half of what I used to and am still 30 pounds overweight. I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was.