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I am multitasking right now, typing, listening to CNN Television News, and swiveling my head around quickly at the sound of something interesting. At the same time, a newspaper is balanced beside me, permitting my eyes to shift between the keyboard and a story that caught my interest.

The story is about the Thunderbirds, the Air Force version of the Navy’s Blue Angels. Remember the Blue Angels and Chris Daly? He wanted to prevent them from flying over SF airspace.

Anyway, and this was news to me, the story I am reading is illustrated by a photo of Major Nicole Malachowski, 32, a member of the Thunderbird precision flying team. She is a graduate of the Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Management and a minor in French. After her graduation, she served as a flight instructor and a flight commander. She is now on her second tour as a member of the Thunderbirds. In the photo that accompanies the story, she looks like a female version of Tom Cruise with her Top Guns, snappy uniform, and bright smile. Here is an official Air Force photo taken from the Thunderbirds site.

She is a very beautiful young woman, Hollywood material without question. I bring that up for one reason—to illustrate my ultimate point: beautiful women can be accomplished women without wasting their time in an illusory world of smoke and mirrors. This Air Force major proves the point.

She points up the stark contrast between a world of bimbos and the world of beautiful and accomplished women. There are many beautiful and accomplished women, some in Hollywood, true. The one Hollywood type I am thinking of is Jackie Warner of Work Out fame. She is beautiful and she is located in Los Angeles. But her accomplishments as a successful business woman tell the real story.

In the Bay Area, an attorney comes to mind: Sweet Melissa multitasks with her lawyerly duties and one of the best, most perceptive blogs around. She probably has other tasks on the burner besides these. And Sarah Phelan. With her journalistic attainments, she has a record that her 20-year old soldier-son in Iraq can point to with pride.

But the photo of Major Malachowski also brought an unsettling thought to mind. My attention jumped almost immediately to the assembly line of cloned bimbos passing through Room 200, and I wondered why some women choose the road to bimbo-ism while others choose accomplishment.

Why do so many young women want to be like the exhibitionistic group of “cool” drug and alcohol addicts such as Lindsey, Britney, Paris, Nicole, et al? Have we become a culture in which bald-headed ass wigglers, crotch-exposers, and tit jigglers are the pinnacle in the female hierarchy of achievements? Where in hell is the road less traveled these days?

I credit Major Malachowski not because she is a Thunderbird but because she has accomplished something positive above and beyond the call of the false beauty of lipstick, powder, eye liner, blush, and a host of other camouflage tools.

More power to women like her and the others I’ve named.


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An article by Tommi Avicolli-Mecca in Beyond Chron today asks a provocative question: “Was Mother Teresa an Agnostic?”

Do I have a definitive answer to the mystery? No. Some questions are unanswerable. This is one. What is an agnostic anyway? Someone once said, “An agnostic is someone who says he/she doesn’t believe in God but goes to church every Sunday just in case.”

The philosopher, Bertrand Russell, wrote. “An agnostic thinks it impossible to know the truth in matters such as God and the future life with which Christianity and other religions are concerned. Or, if not impossible, at least impossible at the present time.”

According to Russell, the Christian believer is absolutely certain that God exists. The atheist is absolutely certain that God does not exist. The agnostic suspends judgment on the matter. By these measures, Mother Teresa may have been an agnostic.

But several questions remain. If she was an agnostic, was she a lifelong agnostic or perhaps she passed through phases of total belief, total non-belief and partial belief? Many people of my acquaintance travel this road when a disaster strikes and an innocent loved one dies for no seeming reason or purpose. Perhaps Mother Teresa saw the suffering around her and was unable to reconcile it with the vision of God she had been taught from birth. Perhaps at the moment of death she became once again a believer. So many questions.

My own personal philosophy has been characterized by a few friends as nuts. I never attend church unless someone is getting married. Even then, the concept of a religion so organized that it stifles life is repugnant. Like Martin Luther, I don’t need a pope or a pastor to interpret God to me. I am somewhat although not very intelligent and I figure God and I can carry on a conversation without a middleman. Besides, if the Intelligent Designer is really God, he/she/it would be fully capable of talking at my sub-sub-Mensa level.

In my internal universe, I argue that God may or may not exist (agnostically speaking) but just in case, I always capitalize the word God. Then I take things a few steps along. Whether or not God exists, man has completely and totally misinterpreted his-her-it’s purpose in creating Adam out of thin air and Eve from his rib, a ludicrous story if ever there was one.

God’s true purpose for the creation process wasn’t to populate the earth with a bunch of howling banshees who get together every Sunday and wail and gnash their teeth, doing nothing but worshiping this invisible Him-Her-It. And God didn’t create a heaven where the blessed sit around for an eternity wailing the same hymns they despised on Earth. For a fuller treatment, try Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth published more than a hundred years ago.

No, God, if such a being exists, placed humans on Earth not to worship Him/Her/It. A system for elevating humans to eternal life on the basis of who could wail and gnash the loudest is no system at all. It is mere noise and chaos.

According to my internal logic, humans are here not for God but for their fellow humans. In my scheme, everyone either makes it to Heaven eventually or languishes forever floating alone through an empty space somewhere, depending on the extent of their goodness or badness toward their fellow beings. God owes no less to the very beings He-She-It created.

Okay, so it’s a nutty philosophy, full of weaknesses and logical inconsistencies. But it has permitted me to do one thing in life, turn my attention away from self and concentrate on helping others in a few small ways according to my limits.

Just for the hell of it, make a promise to spend one day a year smiling at a child or an elderly man or woman. Or widen your promise. Smile at everyone. Offer people words of encouragement. Unless some nutcase attacks you. Within the bounds of my philosophy, you can knock the crap out of them in return.

If God really exists, you’ll be permitted a free pass.

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We don’t often think of Texas as a source of liberal viewpoints. Texas is often viewed as the redneck center of the universe, home turf of Redneck in chief, George Bush, even though he was born in New Haven, Connecticut, educated in the East Coast elite prep school Exeter at Andover, Massachusetts, and then attended those hot beds of liberalism, Yale and Harvard. Political allies like Karl Rove and Tom Delay add to the picture of Bush as a real Texan.

But one of the primary critics of Bush, or Shrub, sometimes Brush, as she called him, was another real Texan Molly Ivins, associated with the magazine Texas Observer. The magazine isn’t solely about Texas, even if its title suggests so, but, yes, most of its content concentrates on the politics of the state.

Even so, its ideas and its criticisms of politics are universally valid. I stumbled on the magazine by accident a few years ago when googling Molly Ivins. I’d been reading her columns for awhile and had attempted without success to emulate her humor and insight. I clicked on the link to Texas Observer, took a look at its website, and sent away for a hard copy. But, I eventually figured, checking the website was cheaper than a subscription. Anyway, when Molly Ivins passed away, I lost interest entirely in the mag.

A few days ago, I took another look and found the magazine relatively unchanged, although without the fire breathed into it by Molly Ivins. She was a one of a kind, seemingly out of place in Texas but nevertheless a fundamental part of overall Texas and heartland politics. The problem is that most people know nothing about ideology. I don’t know much myself, but at least I can figure out a few distinctions.

Like these: the political ideology some call liberalism isn’t a creature of the East and West Coasts. Those who make those accusations confuse the politics of liberalism with a form of personal behavior called libertinism. Not all liberals are libertines; not all libertines are liberals. The basic difference between liberal libertines and conservative libertines is the arena in which personal acts occur. Conservatives operate in the closets. Some liberals are more open.

The constant publicity about Hollywood bimbos and San Francisco’s hedonistic reputation can be misleading as it is. Mix this with a healthy and repeated dose of accusations about the evils of liberalism, and confusion is bound to occur. Even some liberals don’t know what the hell liberalism is. I’m no longer sure myself.

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Regarding its dining habits, America has been called a “Gulp and go” society by Europeans. That’s a natural observation I suppose. Europeans are leisurely diners, sometime taking a few hours to work through a meal.

Americans on the other hand, want it now. Drive up to a window, order, grab a bag, and go. Even the higher classes of dining establishments want to clear the tables for the next wave of diners. In America, the prime directive in a dining establishment is “Make money.”

Now I’ve discovered a variation on the dining theme among coffee aficionados. There is sipping coffee and there is gulping coffee. Sipping coffee is that first cup of hot coffee on a cold morning, the cup you can curl your fingers around, the cup with the steam rising from it like the steam from a tea pot. That first cup of coffee is so hot, you have to blow the heat away and sip to avoid scalding your lips, tongue, and tonsils.

I am fully familiar with sipping coffee, and now I’ve discovered gulping coffee in a most unlikely spot, in a Starbucks, thanks to my daughter the Starbucks habituĂ© and coffee addict who recently introduced me to their iced coffee.

This isn’t an advertisement for Starbucks, but I’m telling you straight, I’m already addicted to their blend. The stuff ought to be on a government list of controlled substances. When my daughter hands me my iced coffee, I gulp it down before we reach the door.

Chris Daly wants to introduce a piece of legislation which prohibits members of the executive branch from drinking and getting high on the job. He ought to include Starbuck’s iced coffee on his list.

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SFist and SFBG are a couple of good sites. Both are all-inclusive, but SFBG’s Politics blog is quite good. A couple of others are Fog City Journal and Beyond Chron. Very good sites.


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