Thursday, December 27, 2012

‘Go to the Ant, Thou Sluggard; Consider her Ways and Be Wise’’ Proverbs 6:6

illustration by Phyllis Peacock
by Madeleine Kando

One of my favorite stories as a child was 'The Cricket and the Ant', by Jean de la Fontaine. ** I had to recite the fable in school and to this day I remember every single line, in French.

The cricket was singing all summer while the ant was working to save up food. When winter came the cricket found herself dying of hunger and asked the ant if she would share her food, but the ant said: ‘Well, since you sang all summer, why don’t you dance all winter and let me be?’

There were periods in my life when I identified with the happy-go lucky cricket rather than the ant. I considered myself an 'artiste' with a disdain for the bourgeois goodie-two shoes ant. But as I got older, I came to see the cricket for the fraud that she was and began to look at the ant with different eyes. Obviously the moral of the story was not wasted on me, but because of my bohemian background I still had my reservations. Read more...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Should We Have a Constitutional Right to a Bicycle?

By Tom Kando

Even after the Sandy Hook massacre  of twenty children, the ENTIRE debate about gun control is about how to limit SOME sorts of fire arms,  while protecting the 2nd Amendment. I have yet to hear  ANYONE, no matter how liberal,  suggest that we repeal the 2nd amendment altogether. So let me be  the first one to raise this sacrilegious thought. Outrageous? Yes, but wait:

1. Amendments aren’t sacrosanct.   The 18th amendment (prohibition) was a mistake, so it was repealed  by the 21st. Similarly, the 2nd amendment could be repealed through a future amendment, e.g. the 28th.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Meritocracy? My Foot.

By Tom Kando

How often have you heard companies, universities and other organizations justifying their CEOs’ and  administrators’ extravagant salaries on the grounds that this is necessary to compete for,  and to attract,  talent. We live in a  meritocracy, right? The better you are, and the more useful your contribution to society is, the more money you make, right?
Maybe not. George Bernard Shaw (allegedly) said, “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” To which one could add:  “Those who can’t even teach become administrators.”  (Now don’t you  administrator -friends of mine all get huffy. Remember, I just quoted  the famous dig at teachers by George Bernard Shaw, and I am a teacher. What I added to it was just a variant of the Peter Principle).

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mass Murder: Again and Again, And Again

By Tom Kando

Less than five months ago, I posted a piece titled “Learning from Colorado Mass Murderer James Holmes?” The occasion was another  recent mass murder. James Holmes  “only” killed 14 people. Today in Newtown, Conn., the count is 27, mostly children!

One of the first commentaries  heard  today, from the White House no less,   is that “now  is not the time to get into a gun control debate.” Wow! If not now, then when? (To his credit, President Obama did emphasize later the imperative need to address the issue). Read more...

The Dunkin Donuts Affair

by Madeleine Kando

Bedford, Massachusetts is one of those towns that the whole world drives through to get somewhere else. The main road, called the Great Road is really not so great. It is the only artery that connects the highway with the more affluent surrounding communities and it is adorned with fast-food joints, supermarkets and gas stations. People stop, shop or get gas and move on to greener pastures.

Dunkin Donuts is one of the more popular locales of this drive-through town and our house has the misfortune of being one of the ‘abutters’, as they are officially called. I am a veteran Bedford resident and I have the scars to show for it. For the past year, I have battled with the town to try to get a decent night’s sleep.

Dunkin Donuts opens its doors at 6am at which point the drive-through intercom starts blaring ‘may I help you?’ with such deafening force that it could wake up the dead. But the real cause of my year-long battle with the powers that be is that the delivery truck comes rumbling in at the insane hour of 4 am, which obviously is in direct violation of the town bylaws. Read more...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Right to Bear Arms and Other Constitutional Rights

By Tom Kando

I recently made another pro-gun control statement on this blog, and someone accused me of not knowing about the 2nd amendment. This inspired me to write the following:

I do know about the 2nd amendment. It says, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

The Declaration of Independence states that "all people are created equal and are endowed with unalienable rights which include Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

The Constitution, the Bill of Rights and 17 additional Amendments concretize these general ideals. This is where our Founding Fathers and later politicians specified many of our fundamental rights.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Simple Answers

By Tom Kando

Today, I thought I’d help you out a little bit, and give some simple answers to some questions which you may have had:

1. Should we abolish the electoral college? YES. Why?
Because Democracy means equality. It means one man/woman = one vote.  The electoral college contradicts this.

2. Should we abolish the Senate? YES. Why?
For the same reason. In the Senate, California’s 38 million people are represented by  the same number of senators (2) as the 660,000 people of Wyoming.

No democracy should have a bi-cameral legislature.  A congress/parliament only requires one legislative chamber. The other one - call it the Senate, the Upper House, the House of Lords, or whatever - is a superfluous vestige of an undemocratic past, going all the way back to ancient Rome. Such institutions are as undemocratic as was the three-fifths compromise, whereby the slave population  counted for three fifths of the white population, or the poll tax, which was a pre-condition for voting. What part of equality don’t you understand?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Season: A Time of Giving

By Tom Kando

Sometimes it feels like we have forgotten how to be human.

My soon-to-be hundred year old mother lives  in Holland by herself.  I go see her twice a year. The most burdensome aspect  of these intercontinental trips is not the cost, but the extreme fatigue and discomfort. My  head, joints, muscles and every other part of my body hurt non-stop during travel and for weeks afterwards.  But this is not what I mean to complain about. I love my mother, she is a fantastic person, and I am blessed that I can still spend quality time with her.

What I do want to complain about is the attitude I have encountered around me. Sometimes I get teased about  my bi-annual  trips to my mother.  There is the insinuation  that I am a mama’s boy; that I am  “hung up” on my mother; that a “real man” wouldn’t do all of this. Read more...