Friday, January 19, 2018

I got a great Birthday present- Svengoolie shirt

Cam got me this really cool Svengoolie shirt. I really love the show and I love that shirt. I'll wear it to Goth Night one of these nights.

Monday, January 15, 2018

My 63rd Birthday- here are the high-lights

I woke up today to actual snow. It is a Miracle. I love snow- but not driving in it. Global warming hasn't destroyed everything in Kansas- despite our idiot president and other stupid politicians.

Yea snow!

Image may contain: house, tree, car, sky and outdoor

Today, in history, a great man was born- a man who fought for equal rights. A man who fought against racism and imperialism. Also today Martin Luther King was born in 1929. If you want to help me celebrate my birthday you can meet me at LongHorn Steakhouse at 6pm. 2720 N Maize Rd. That's tonight. Don't bring gifts (I have every thing a man could ask for, at least when it comes to material things), but you might need to pay for your own dinner. -from Facebook-

And yes we went. I forgot pictures inside. Roger and Mary and Cam and I had a great time. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

This year for Christmas 2017 (Happy Winter Solstice for us)

By SJ Otto
This year for Christmas we went to Lawrence to visit Cam's (my wife) relatives. We stayed with her brother Fred for Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
Cam is below and I'm above in the Christmas snow.

We also visited her other brothers, Clint and Brian. We also visited her other brothers, Clint Tuesday before we left.  
We spent a few hours at Brian's house with his wife, Amy, daughter Hanna and her boyfriend. Fred and I went to the Granada, Christmas Eve, to see a band, THE SOUL VISIONARIES. It was a great show.

We had a pleasant Christmas eve and day. While there was no snow at all in Wichita, we had plenty in Lawrence. So we enjoyed a white Christmas while our friends and relatives in Wichita had no snow.

I love putting up Winter Solstice lights.

US- We keep the important traditions when we are revolutionaries—so I'm celebrating Winter Solstice

By សតិវ ​អតុ
When Revolution occurs, we have to evaluate our society and decide what stays and what goes. So for us here in the USA what do we do about Christmas on December 25. It is a festive celebration. I’m sure many atheists celebrate these holidays as well. Why should we not take part in such a holiday. After all it is in the dead of winter when we could use some cheerfulness. And it involves us meeting up with family members and friends. It is a great time of year. But it is also associated with the Christian holiday which involves celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. actually the December holiday that was taken over by the early Christians, when Rome converted to Christianity. Many of the old symbols are still used—such as putting a tree in the house and decorating it. And also having some kind of father character which we now call Santa Clause.  
No one is stopping people from celebrating Christmas, that is the holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, despite the fact that that the actual date has never been completely narrowed down for him,. Picking a date for such a celebration is just fine. It is symbolic and I have no problem with that. Just let the rest of us celebrate as we want to.
Some time ago people in this country realized that Jews don’t celebrate Christmas, so some people began trying to include Chanukah in these holidays. In some cities as in New York there are a lot of Jews. There are menorahs and many people say “Happy Chanukah.” There is also the newer holiday called Kwanzaa. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966, as the first specifically African-American holiday. According to Karenga, the name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda yakwanza, meaning "first fruits of the harvest", although a more conventional translation would simply be "first fruits".
A few years ago I studied various pagan beliefs, such as Druidry. Most celebrate some kind of version of the holiday known as Winter Solstice. I later decided to go back to my traditional humanist approach to spirituality and I adapted the doctrines of Epicurus. Epicurus did not deny the existence of god(s) but decided that gods take care of gods and humans need to take care of themselves. He also told people we should learn not to blame everything on gods. ‘If your house is crushed by an earthquake it isn’t the anger of the gods, you built your house in an earthquake prone place.’ And he didn’t believe in an after-life.
I am a Maoist first and an Epicurean second. I put more of my energies into my politics that my spiritual beliefs, and they overlap. Both Maoism and Epicureanism promote focusing on humanity. Either way, I believe that people come first, not gods and not the afterlife.
I still like the fall holidays, I still celebrate Samhain for Halloween and for Christmas I celebrate Winter Solstice or Yule, which at one time was also celebrated as Saturnalia. Saturnalia or the solstice was actually the December holiday that was taken over by the early Christians, when Rome converted to Christianity. Many of the old symbols are still used—such as putting a tree in the house and decorating it. And also having some kind of father character which we now call Santa Clause.
I'm not trying to wipe out Chrisian Beliefs. But I do not share their belief in Jesus as a devine God-head. So I have found other reasons to celebrate this holiday. Many athiests have found their own reasons to celebrate this holiday.:
Recently there was the blog for American Atheists who make the argument:

"American Atheists posted new billboards in Memphis and Nashville on Friday that read “Dear Christians, I share my toys. Why won’t you share the season? Happy Holidays for all!” The new message is in response to an anti-atheist billboard placed by a group of Christians on Thursday evening in Memphis that parodies the atheists’ first billboard that launched Monday and that accuses atheists of sacrilege and claims Christians are being bullied.
The Christian campaign’s spokesperson Marshall Hart also accused American Atheists of “using children” to spread its message, despite using the photo of a three-year-old girl on its own billboard.
“The hypocrisy is unbelievable,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “Millions of American children are forced to go to church under the threat of being denied meals, losing household privileges, having their college tuition cut off, or being kicked out of their homes. Many atheist adults are forced to go to church under threat of divorce or lose custody of their children. We must ask the question, who are the real bullies? Those who are unafraid to stand up for our views on billboards, or those who destroy families from the inside out?”
I like celebrating the Winter Solstice and I get to do all the fun stuff, such as decorating a tree, putting lights on my house, toasting with wine, and giving a few gifts to close friends. My spirituality does not come from a god. It comes from within those who share my beliefs. That works for me and I plan to stick with that.


Have a Happy Winter Solstice! —Or whatever holiday you want to celebrate!

Keep The Merry, Dump The Myth! (Official) - Peter D'Angelo

Jethro Tull BBC Promo Vid for Solstice bells 1976

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Reasons for trouble in Iraq

A letter to The Wichita Eagle:

The newly liberated land in Iraq is turning out to be a hell hole for all those who did anything to cooperate with the ISIS government before it fell. People have been given ridiculously long prison terms and they are being executed for simply having had a job that in any way helped the ISIS officials who ruled over that part of Iraq for the last few years.
There has been a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) that criticized Iraq and the autonomous Kurdish authorities over mass trials of suspected ISIS group militants.
It would be easy to just claim that this is Iraq and this is what passes, in that culture, for normal behavior. But the truth is that it was the U.S. armed forces that trained the Iraqi troops and led their armies to remove ISIS from all Iraq territory.
The Iraq Army is a part of the government that the U.S. built from the ground floor up. In other words this is an extension of the U.S. government and armed forces.
I keep hearing that we must thank our military people for defending this country and our freedom. I hope our freedom does not rely on such repressive regimes.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

My dad represented a past generation—Like him it is gone now

By SJ Otto
May dad just passed away and that means it's time to look back on our relation ship, which at times was strained and at times was very happy. My dad was born in 1926, an early part of the 20th Century, in St. Louis MO. He was about 27 years old when I was born. He went on to have five other sons. We all lived in St. Louis until I was 13. Then we moved to Wichita KS where I have lived most of my life.

My dad grew up in the generation that witnessed World War II. The war ended a few months before their plans to ship him off to the Pacific theater. One of the things we have in common is that we both missed fighting in combat. The draft for the Vietnam War ended less than a year before my 18th birthday. One difference is that dad fully intended to fight the Japanese when called on. I on the other hand wasn't sure what I would do about the Vietnam War. I had mixed feelings and if I really wanted to get out it, I believe I could have. My dad was glad he didn't see any action. As with me he had no love for the idea of shooting at other people while they try and shoot back.
My dad and I represent a clean break from one generation to the other. My dad liked music by Tommy Dorsey, Henry Mancini and he liked Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. He liked the big band sound. He grew up in a time when that kind of music was very popular. I grow up as a rock and roll child. That is the music I grew up with and my culture was very different from my dad’s. His culture had actors such as Sammy Davis Jr., Henry Fonda and Kirk Douglas. Most of those actors and musicians are dead now, as my father is. My dad and his generation drank alcohol and avoided any other kind of recreational drug use. My generation adopted pot and LSD. So his culture differed greatly from that of mine which was mostly set by the 1970s.
I have spent a lot of years in the peace movement trying to stop most of the US wars. My dad worked with military secrets. He helped design the B-1 Bomber.
My dad was a Republican in his younger years. He became a follower of that party back when most of my other relatives, including my mother, were Democrats. That doesn’t mean they were all that left-wing. The Democratic Party at the time was more of a middle of the political spectrum party. At times the Democrats were quite conservative. As a child, both my parents admired John F. Kennedy and as with most people of that time period, he was anti-communist and anti-socialist.
I was always to the left. As a high school student I was interested in both socialism and anarchy. Much of socialist inspiration came from Salvador Allende. In my 20s I was a liberal. I slowly drifted in to Marxism as I got older. My dad will never understand my fondness for the Marxist left. But he is way more liberal than he used to be. I can remember having lots of arguments with dear old dad over many different things, from life style choices, (such as my first wife and how we lived together before marriage) politics and such things as using his property when I still lived at home. I used his 22 riffle once without permission—boy was he MAD!
I was a practicing Catholic until my 30s. That was one thing dad and I had in common. But I broke with that religion over political reasons and Christianity as well. I adopted agnosticism and I now consider myself an Epicurean. My dad stayed a life-long Catholic. His funeral will take place in a Catholic Church. Ironically none of my brothers are practicing Catholics. Some of us are Catholic but don’t practice the religion and others simply don’t value religion at all, (agnosticism or atheism). He may be the last of us to be buried in a coffin and the last to have a funeral in a Catholic Church. At times I feel sorry for both my mom and my dad that their religion of choice, which we all grew up in, is dying out in this family.
A point to much of this is that we represented two separate generations. Still, there were times when we had plenty of things in common.
As the years passed by my dad and I mellowed out and in the last 30 years we hardly ever argued things, even politics. We had found more in common with each other and my dad moved farther to the left. He is not a socialist or Marxist, but he is liberal and supports a lot of liberal positions. By the time he died we had way more things in common.
Not long ago my dad told me that I was more of a pro-family person—that is someone who takes an active roll in supporting various family members, than his other sons. I took that as a compliment. I do think that family is important. I do try to be supportive of other family members. I feel family is maybe the most important aspects of our lives. After all we can’t count on the government or society in general to support us. So maybe family is all we have that we can count on when we need help. As the mother of that show “The Middle” says—“you do for family.”
Politicians such as Donald Trump have helped bring my family together. My dad hated Trump, as does my wife and brothers. My dad and I have that in common.
My dad was 91 years old, so he got a lot out of life. He had a supportive wife, Joan, who is now deceased, had has six sons, of which Paul is now deceased and most of us have been fairly successful in life.
He had a good life. We can all be grateful for that. As with my favorite dead person quote: 

"Living is transformed into dying, lifeless matter is transformed into living beings. I propose that when people over the age of 50 die, a party should be held to celebrate, for it is in inevitable that men should die- this is natural law."[1] 

And here is a good song about dying:

Elvis Costello-God's Comic

[1] "INSTANT WISDOM: BEYOND THE LITTLE RED BOOK," Time, 20 September 1976, Vol. 108, No. 12, p. 38.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

My Dad is in his final hours—which really sucks if you are one of his sons, daughters-in-law or grand daughters

By SJ Otto
I’m at a major intersection of my life where my dad is dying from lung cancer and other complications. The disease is bad enough that the doctor sent over some morphine to kill his pain.
In all the time he has been sick here at his home, he has had little pain—so far!!
But tonight he is miserable. He has been in more pain that I’ve seen him in since he started to get sick from his cancer.  This morning he was barely conscious. I wondered if he was going into a coma? No he didn’t do that. He suddenly sprang to consciousness. When I say sprang- that is a bit of an exaggeration. He has not been able to eat and he has drunk little. My niece and two sisters-in-law and my wife have all been here, today, along with two brothers. I went to run an errand at about 3pm and I had a flat. We have had at least one tire replaced about a month ago. That should not have happened.
I had to get out all those crappy special tools I bought the last time my car broke down. With all the tools I had from the last time, it should have been easy and simple….it wasn’t. If I believed in god I would have thought that he made us all so he has stupid little people he can piss on and laugh at. But no logic in that….right!?
We all suspect that my dad has just a day or two left—maybe more or maybe a lot less. He is 91 years old. All things come to an end. Just a few days ago I took my cat in to the vet to end her life. She was really sick from some kind of cancer. She reached a point where she could not eat, drink or pee. She was week. She could not really holler much or try to escape us.
We drove her to the vet and on the way she barely put up a fight—as she usually does. The vet put a needle in her arm and a few minutes later she was lifeless. Easy for the pets—less so for our relatives, such as a dad.
We can’t put our relatives out of their misery—even though that idea is tempting. I couldn’t that to my dad and I don’t think my relatives could do that either. So we give him the morphine, which doesn’t work as well as I expected it to. It barely works at all.
He won’t be with us long now. He can’t eat or drink much. I suspect he has only a day or two—maybe!!

Nothing to do but make him comfortable and try to relieve his pain. And….wait!
Pix by Henry Schein.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Time to exit Afghanistan

Wow! They printed my letter in The Wichita Eagle.

President Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan speech introduced more wrong policies. Experts agree that this new policy will deepen our military commitment, but not result in victory. The truth is that we cannot “give them democracy.” Keeping that government from falling will cost this country a lot of its young sons and daughters, along with a lot of Afghan civilians — and for what? For a government that could not stay in power if U.S. armed forces left.
The invasion of Afghanistan was a major foreign policy blunder. The people of Afghanistan resisted control by the Soviets for nine years and now they have resisted the U.S. for 16 years. If the U.S. pulls out there will be some instability, but eventually the Afghan people will develop their own government and one that does not rely on U.S. troops.
What we need now is for our leaders to develop enough backbone to do the right thing — admit that invading Afghanistan was a huge mistake and pull all our troops out. It seems hard for our leaders to admit defeat and do the right thing, but they need to do it.