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Leopold

April 30th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor
You wanted to buy him for me.
Leopold.
A garden grotesque.
I didn’t know what to make of him.
Wanting to like him
For you.
He graces a Belgian cathedral
The woman said.
Or disgraces, I thought.
Discouraging the offer,
Pretending to consider
This Leopold,
I said I’d think it over.
That was a year ago –
Leopold.
Open mouthed and calling
My name.
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You Are your Brain

April 28th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

If you have the time, watch this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EREriwV71mA
In this video lecture, David Eagleman, professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, very persuasively and convincingly asserts that you are nothing more than your brain in this prodigiously fascinating and profound clip. Note: the video is 35 minutes long but it is definitely worth watching.
Can you possibly imagine the repercussions if in fact we are indeed nothing more than our brain? I know right from wrong and am a law-abiding citizen but what if I suffered from a brain injury that consequently affected my behavior and actually changed me as a person. I fall and hit my head, suffer a serious brain injury and now I become impulsive and cannot stop stealing, gambling and beating up my wife.  It may sound outrageous but there are in fact reams of documented cases, which suggest this assertion.
If I am nothing more than my brain, then it makes sense that I am not responsible for my actions. If the aforementioned scenario in which I hit my head actually occurred, then I have no freewill and I steal, gamble, and beat my wife because I have brain damage.  It is not me, it is my brain.
Neuroscience is in its infancy and we are many decades away from even grasping fully what the brain or the “mind” is. We probably will never completely understand all of the workings of our mind but we are indeed making strides and it is exciting and fascinating but at the same time frightening. The thought of not having any freewill and being a mere puppet orchestrated by your brain is prodigiously profound.  It seems like we have freewill, but do we?
Our whole judicial system would have to be revamped. However, on a positive note the notion of rehabilitation would actually mean something. (Hypothetically, that is diagnosing an aberration, in addition to actually rectifying the affliction. Diagnosis and treatment are two very different things however as the cliché – know….is half the battle.)
We would not only have to change our laws but we would indeed have to modify our whole way of assessing people. The monotheistic religions, which rely heavily on choice, freewill, and personal responsibility, would be obsolete. We certainly would be more understanding, perhaps maybe even kinder, and more forgiving to our fellow man. “To understand all is to forgive all.”
I, personally can’t think of anything more fascinating and interesting than neuroscience and the discipline of studying and figuring out how this convoluted mass of gray matter that looks like cauliflower actually works. It is after all who we are. On the other hand, is it?
Now it is your turn WHADAWETHINK ? Do you believe you are your brain? Do you believe in freewill? Are you afraid of the ethics and consequences of knowing too much? Hypothetical scenario – Joe Smith is a Kleptomaniac, not unlike the diagnosis of a broken arm, the neurosurgeon opens up your cranium and readjusts some gray matter so his dendrites fire differently and the dopamine (reward system) level is reduced  and Joe is all better, no longer steals and becomes a productive member of society. How about the more serious crimes like rape and murder, What do we do then?
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We Must Address the Public Pension Issue

April 27th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

How would you like to put in 20 years of service, retire at the age of forty and afterwards enjoy a comfortable middle –class lifestyle. Sounds wonderful to me – how about you?
Well if you are interested in becoming a police officer or perhaps choosing to be a firefighter as an occupation, the aforementioned is a reality.
This is not an Op-ed blog about how cops and firemen have it “made” (they put their life on the line day in and day out), it is rather about the fact that we must take a closer look at to whom and when the government administers pensions and how much.
This country, the United States of America, is a debtor nation, has a 14.2 trillion deficit, and is still in the midst of a crippling economy nationwide. Moreover, to elaborate just a bit, there is not a single industry that is not struggling except for perhaps the medical bad debt collection business.
The private sector has always been a little envious of people who retire early and enjoy perhaps 40 years of fishing and golfing as opposed to 15 years (that’s if at the age of 65 one is healthy enough to enjoy these activities – sorry for the cynicism) but now more than ever it is time to look at this prodigiously unjust public pension system. The question is what to do and how?  Obviously, it would not be fair to eliminate payment to those of whom who are already collecting a pension.  Additionally, slashing into the amount of money paid out to existing recipients is not equitable either.
Firstly, if everyone is expected to work until at least to the age of 65, why should government employees be exempt from this? I understand occupations, which require one to be agile and physically fit (like cops and firefighters) but certainly it is conceivable for an individual to be transferred to another area – perhaps administrative.  Keep in mind we are also living longer, so these public pension recipients are on the government dole for a longer period.
Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows that I am certainly not a republican. (Anyone who even mentions the thought of touching pensions or going after unions is immediately thought of as a right wing conservative) I am merely suggesting that we take a closer look at the public pension system and perhaps we can tighten it up a bit. We are in a position in which China is going to surpass us as the #1 superpower at least economically. We all have to sacrifice.
Now it’s your turn WHADAWETHINK ? Do you have a pension? It would be nice if we could all retire at 40 but we obviously can’t.  We are all living longer and 65 is more like 55 a half century ago. Just think – Ronald Reagan was 69 years old when he took the oath and agreed to take on easily the hardest and the most important job in the world.
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Pray For Claris

April 24th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

Pray for Claris

Afflicted

Of the dread disease.

Light a candle

At the shrine

Of Our Lady.

Penciled plea

To be tossed.

At her feet.

Pray as much

For Claris

As you would

For me.

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The Styrons

April 23rd, 2011 by Michael Tabor

Alexandra Styron has just written a book about her famous author and father – William Styron. This is not a book review but I have read the NY Times critique (it is a memoir) and I must say this sounds like a good read. I am blogging about William Styron because firstly I am a fan (I have read three of his works) and furthermore there is so much to write about this celebrated, sophisticated, and high-toned bohemian household.
I was amazed to read that the Styrons were friends with so many famous, eclectic, and interesting people. The Styrons hosted many renowned dinner parties either at the mansion in Connecticut or Martha’s Vineyard. Some of their guests included Bill Clinton, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (famous Columbian novelist), Sondra Radyanovsky – talented and extraordinary American soprano, Edward Kennedy, James Jones, James Baldwin, Carly Simon, Arthur Miller, Leonard Bernstein and so many more. They also enjoyed great conversation at these parties as one can imagine.
It is hard to fathom that a person in William Styron who had it all – fame, fortune, a plethora of celebrity friends, Luxurious homes in the finest regions of this country, etc., could ever fall victim to severe clinical depression.  He wrote about his affliction in 1990 in the apt and very creative title ‘Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness.’ I have personally suffered from depression and have read my share of books on the topic and I can honestly say that this short book resonated with me so vividly that in my opinion if one is interested in learning about despair at its worse, one need only to read this one book. Bear in mind, it is grim so do not read it if you or a loved one is not in the grips of depression (life is too short. Who wants to be weighed down by a book about such personal agony).
The New York Times Review stated that William Styon’s  genetic talent was successfully passed on to his youngest daughter. The memoir is well-written, produced with a flair and a style of her own (Alexandra Styron had written a novel before this), and is a compelling recollection of what it was like being a child and growing up and being raised by this loving but sometimes cruel and prodigiously flawed famous father. William Styron had a furious temper and was irritable beyond words even before he fell victim to suicidal depression(note: William Styron unsuccessfully attempted suicide and died of natural causes at the age of 81 in 2006.) As a matter of fact, much ink is spilled during the period when Mr. Styron was most famous – in 1979 after he had written his most famous novel – Sophie’s Choice’. This novel was later made into a successful movie starring huge actors at the time – Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. This made the Styrons very wealthy and brought accreditation to William’s literary talents.
I probably am going to read this memoir but I sometimes wonder why individuals share with the world such personal and quite frankly very unflattering and embarrassing details about a loved one. Well to answer my own question and if I were conjecturing cynically I would say for the money. A few days back I wrote about celebrity biographies and without a doubt that is just self-promotion. However, William Styron was a good writer and obviously, there is a something to say about this larger-than-life upbringing. Furthermore it’s not all bad. Alexendra loved her father and she does invite the readers to perhaps get a glimpse of what it was like.
Now it’s your turn WHADAWETHINK ? Are you a fan of William Styron? Did you read or see the movie ‘Sophie’s Choice’?  Why do you think people share with the world such personal matters? As you know, I am personally opposed to silly self-promoting biographies by non-writers but we are talking about something entirely different here.

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Bucklebury – A Piece of the Pie

April 23rd, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor
As you know from my previous blog, I’m very excited about the upcoming Royal Wedding scheduled for next Friday, April 29th. I normally limit my submissions for Whadawethink to poetry and the Rhett & Oracle cartoons which, by the way, I hope you are enjoying. However, today’s entry took shape in the form of another blog instead of the poem I wanted to write about Catherine Middleton’s home town of Bucklebury. But somehow, the name Bucklebury only conjured up thoughts of some sort of dessert and the intended poem morphed into a recipe/timeline of Kate’s life. Before you read it, I thought I’d provide some background so you can make the connection to the ingredients mentioned.
For one thing, England is famous for its roses. They climb and clamber around doorways and trellises all over the idyllic countryside known as the Cotswolds. (I must go there one day and so should you). Catherine actually hails from an area just south of this bucolic region, perhaps a stones throw if you’ve got a good arm. She has been called an English Rose, a title bestowed on beautiful young women possessing admirable English virtues.
Catherine Middleton comes from a long line of laborers, working class people, the everyday man (or woman). Her parents worked in the airline industry but later developed a business called Party Pieces, a firm that caters to the distribution of material for birthday parties and other celebrations. This line of work proved so successful that they became self-made millionaires and have recently commissioned a Royal Coat of Arms to be drawn up since the upcoming marriage of their daughter to a future King of England entitles them  this distinction.
We know that Catherine has sustained a rather long courtship with Prince William and survived a breakup before reconciling– this is how she acquired the name Waity Katie from the media as every nuance of her expression was held under the microscope. Through all this she bore up, retaining her grace and composure with all the dignity she could muster while she surely must have suffered inside . She is to be admired for this and so much more; for her warmth, her patience and good humor throughout . She will make a fine Queen one day. Unbeknownst to all, Bucklebury held a future monarch in their midst. To them she was just “Kate”. This is why the whole event is so captivating. It makes for a great story, for all those who believe in fairy tales or simply want to revel in watching history come alive. So, here’s the recipe.
Bucklebury Pie
2 cups English Roses (omit thorns)
1 full cup Laborers Love
½ cup Flights of Fancy
¼ cup Party Pieces
Sweeten with honey as much as needed
Bake until golden – be patient!
Remove from oven taking care to preserve “upper crust”
Top with a Royal Crest
Enjoy!
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Marathon Champion, Record-Holder and Beloved Role Model Dies Too Young

April 21st, 2011 by Michael Tabor
Cancer has ended the life of the almost super-human, Norwegian marathon champion, Grete Waitz at the age of 57 on Tuesday, April 18. I say super- human because she won nine (9) New York City Marathons (26.2 miles) and four of which were in record time. Grete also ran other marathons  – she won the London Marathon twice and the Stockholm once (It’s hard for me to even fathom finishing a grueling  26.2 mile marathon, never mind win on a consistent basis.) One has to wonder how many miles she has actually been clocked running in her lifetime in preparation for and in the sheer number of races in which she had participated. (I don’t know the official number of races in which she ran – there were so many- but she took part in 10 mile, 10 kilo., 15 kilo and more.)
Grete Waitz was often called the graceful champion for her modesty and athleticism. She never boasted about her accomplishments and was actually embarrassed by all the adulation that was bestowed upon her.  Whether or not she would acknowledge this fact, she was a role model for not only female runners but for all; and not just for running races. Grete was also a schoolteacher and taught geography in the Oslo school system.
Ms. Waitz was diagnosed with cancer (she never publically revealed what kind) in 2005. It must have been an absolute shock when you consider the fact that she spent her whole life exercising. I’m certain she had a robust cardiovascular system but cancer does not discriminate. Athletes and couch potatoes alike get cancer.
It’s only natural to ponder over this killer – cancer – for which we will never find a cure. (cure is an unsophisticated word for a disease which takes on 1000s of different forms. Every Physician will talk about how cancer manifests itself differently with every single individual diagnosed with the dreadful disease.)
I personally felt a sense of helplessness in terms of thinking about controlling the number of days of life each individual is allotted. No one worked harder at staying healthy than Grete Waitz. Smokers and alcoholics may live to 80 and she dies at the age of 57. God bless Grete Waitz and may she rest in peace.
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What is the Appeal to Celebrity Biographies ?

April 19th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

Did you know that Rick Springfield has published a book about his life? You never heard of him? Come on, the multi-talented Rick Springfield who played a doctor on the soap opera ‘General Hospital’ and who also was a pop rock star with the big hit – “Jessie’s Girl”. The kid who calls his “shredded” abdomens the “situation” from the Jersey Shore has a book out too (I’m sure it was ghost-written, I don’t think the kid can read or write.)Tina Fey from SNL also has a book out, though it is absurd to have an actual biography written up, she at least is a comedic talent. She can deliver and maybe she writes her own jokes but she does not know how to write beyond a 6th grade level.

I used to go to Barnes & Noble or Borders to purchase literature and sometimes I would perhaps buy something autobiographical (not biography unless the individual was a writer himself or herself.) Another observation of mine is these biographies come out while he or she is still alive and more likely than not still in one’s prime. One should really be dead for a while before a legacy is formed.

Let me just cut to the chase. I will not spill much ink on this because this topic need only be mentioned; there’s nothing important that Sarah Silverman has to say except that she used to be a bedwetter (also name of her book) into her teens – earth-shattering news (and I like Sarah Silverman. I think she’s talented and funny.) Though the books are poorly-written, a waste of trees (well now with the kindle maybe a tree can be salvaged) and it’s nothing more than self- promotion. Also you can expect to find the same old stuff in these poorly-written biographies Every one of these biographies is basically the same. Rags to riches, their struggles despite being related to Francis Ford Coppola, how they were abused (usually sexually – sells more) as a child, how they were exploited earlier in his or her career and finally the big one – ADDICTION PROBLEMS!

Nothing sells more than when a celebrity talks about being addicted to cocaine, heroin, or alcohol. I am sorry but I find this stuff monumentally boring but obviously, they sell; if the books didn’t sell they wouldn’t be there.

That is about it for me on the subject and I hope I do not sound like a snob. I certainly am not opposed to buying a book about Paul Newman or Katherine Hepburn written by a professional writer. However, I have no interest whatsoever about whether or not Howard Stern has a small penis and the fact that he was rejected by the opposite sex when he was growing up (who wasn’t ?)

Now it’s your turn. Do you buy celebrity biographies ? Don’t you think it’s a little arrogant to think that their life is worthy of a book ? A magazine piece about a celebrity who may be hot at any given time is enough. That’s what magazines are for – not books. Please open this up. Pounce on me if you disagree with me. In the interim I’m going to the bookstore to pick-up baba – booey’s new biography.

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Nicolas Cage is a Talented Actor but Sadly He’s Just Another Overly-Privileged Film Star

April 19th, 2011 by Michael Tabor
I am a film aficionado and a huge Nicolas Cage fan. I wish I just stuck with his film work and had not delved into his personal life because it is unfortunately not, as a biased and prodigious fan, what I wanted to know or hear about(I have often boasted about Cage’s incredible talent). Mr. Cage not unlike so many other big time American actors with too much money lives a life of unrestrained impulsiveness which despite being one of the highest paid American actors was recently forced to file bankruptcy. And yes he was recently arrested for being disorderly drunk in public but as far as everyone knows he is not an alcoholic (although he played one in ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ for which he won best actor.)
How is it possible for a man who makes 30 – 40 million dollars a year to be broke? (Cage can never be called lazy; he has already made over 60 films and always has something he’s working on.) Well if you take a closer look at his lifestyle it is easy to see when you explore the fact that  – he collects expensive homes, expensive cars, jets, yachts and has a comic book collection worth almost 2 million dollars. Makes you sick doesn’t it?
Let us discuss Nicolas Kim Coppola’s acting ability. The movie business is lucrative and certainly not real work (I am being facetious) – it’s all make believe – yay! Moreover, if one wants to be a part of this multi-billionaire dollar business one must absolutely be connected. Being connected #1 and having talent #2. Well Nic Coppola is so connected he purposely changed his last name to Cage so perhaps fans wouldn’t cry out nepotism! After all he is the nephew of the most famous directors in the world – none other than Francis Ford Coppola. He has so many more relatives in the business it’s superfluous to mention when he has the second variable of being one of the finest film actors one will ever see on the big screen. He’s not a good actor, he is a GREAT actor and one of my favorites. I usually will rent a movie based on topic and who is directing the movie, but I will also usually watch a movie if Nic Cage is in it. He’s talented – period; a superstar actor who in my opinion can make a bad movie great because of his magnetic persona on the screen e.g. – ‘Wicker Man. ‘
Cage calls his style of acting – Nouveau Shamanic that is a fancy name for your classic ‘Method Acting.’ Cage is eccentric with style and I will elaborate about that as well later on. Roger Ebert loves his style of acting as do I; it’s as if he really does become the character he’s playing (that’s what an actor is supposed to do) but more than any other mainstream actor I’ve ever seen. He is fearless too. He doesn’t shy away from despicable characters e.g. – Terrence Mcdonagh, the bad, bad (no typo) lieutenant in Werner Herzog’s remake of the original with Harvey Kartel – ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.
So in a nutshell here is Nicolas Cage: A man who collects Multimillion-dollar houses (Too many to itemize; in fact he doesn’t even know the number of homes he owns himself, he collects luxury items such as yachts, expensive fast cars, etc. and he collects comic books but it’s not in the order of  $100 or even a  $1000 dollar habit, he spends millions in order to satiate this peculiar need.(I personally don’t get this comic book thing for adults. What would you think if the President of the United States were interrupted in the oval office and was found reading Spiderman. Hey, didn’t something like that occur during 9/11 ….never mind this is not about W.)
I said I would talk about Mr. Cage’s eccentricities. Well for starters he’s an Elvis Presley fanatic, he even went so far as to marry his daughter – Lisa Marie Presley (she’s the daughter of Elvis – just to inform those of you who have just emerged from a crawl space). It only lasted 108 days – the divorce proceedings lasted longer than the marriage. He has been known to adopt different personalities even in is private life when he is not acting. I know he’s method actor and it is necessary to become the character you are playing but he slips into personalities he’s not acting for  – just for fun (strange and creepy behavior).
Well I am adult and of course I don’t have “idols.” There are people I admire but I idolize no one. Now it’s your turn WHADAWETHINK ? I love Nicolas Cage’s acting and I will continue to watch his movies. As a side note I must say that ‘Bad Lieutenant:Port of Call New Orleans’ was one of the best movies I have ever seen. If you have not seen it – watch it. It’s rough at times but not as gritty as the original by Abe Ferrara but just as shameless and gritty enough. Does the fact that Cage, although he’s a phenomenal actor, is responsible with money matters with as much concern as a teenage girl with a daddy’s credit card bother you? What do you think of Nicolas Cage ? Open this up. There’s a lot to talk about.I hate “selling soap” but obviously it takes money to create quality websites and we hate Ads – so we don’t use Adsense. We currently use one Advertiser – Amazon (thanks to my very talented Web Designer – the Amazon ads are very unobtrusive), so instead of blatantly asking for contributions like Wikipedia does, we ask that you click on the widget shown here and make a purchase from Amazon. You don’t have to buy what is displayed in the ad, but you do have to click onto the Amazon widget here and buy whatever you want. We get a small commission from each sale. And if things  are tight in terms of money that’s OK too. We’re not interested in making money – so  just visit and comment – it’s fun and educationalThank you and we hope you have as much fun with this site, as we do.
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Rhett & Oracle

April 17th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

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