Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, September 15, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 15



 Mountain Views News Saturday, September 15, 2012 


STUART Tolchin..........On LIFE




Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


Patricia Colonello




Richard Garcia


Lina Johnson


John Aveny 


Jeff Brown

Pat Birdsall

Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Stuart Tolchin

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Hail Hamilton 

Rich Johnson

Chris Bertrand

Ron Carter

Rev. James Snyder

Bobby Eldridge

Mary Carney

La Quetta Shamblee

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Greg Wellborn

Dr. John Talevich

Meaghan Allen

Sean Kayden


 A guy I used to 
know e-mailed via 
PDF a copy of his 
unpublished 550 page 
novel. The novel sat unread somewhere 
in the bowels of my computer for about a 
month and I felt angry at myself for not 
reading the thing. I communicated my 
discomfort to my friend and he e-mailed 
me to stop “guilting” already. Maybe it was 
my friend’s use of the word “guilting” that 
did the trick, but unexpectedly I found 
myself searching through the bowels of 
hidden computer folders to find the place 
where the novel was stored. I felt that I 
owed it to my friend and myself to read 
the thing. If a friend of mine said they 
wanted to read something I wrote and I 
took the trouble to send it to that person, 
I sure would expect them to read it and 
let me know what they thought of it.

 So, bent over my computer screen 
and struggling with the monitor, which 
for some reason kept losing its place 
and backtracking thirty or forty pages, I 
stayed up almost all night and read the 
whole thing. After finishing the novel I 
sent my friend a very long critique which 
my angry computer managed to erase and 
completely lose. I thought my comments 
were brilliant and helpful and hated the 
fact that their truth was now lost forever. 
I was angry and sent a shortened and 
perhaps less insightful response to my 

 All right; let’s be honest here. The 
novel-writer has kind of made it clear that 
I am not really his friend. Specifically 
he says, “The reviews have really been 
terrific from a lot of friends, but then, 
they’re friends aren’t they.” Note there 
is no question mark at the end probably 
because there is no question that real 
friends send terrific reviews. I did not 
send a terrific review; does that mean I’m 
not a real friend?

 Of course, the fact is that I am not 
a friend. The novel writer is somebody 
I have not seen for forty-four years since 
the last day of Law School. Even in Law 
School we really spent little time together. 
The reason for our present association is 
that a few months ago I had this dream 
where I saw this guy drive past me on a 
corner. I tried to follow him in my car 
but could not catch him, but somehow 
had a very strong notion that it was 
vital that I get in touch.. Through the 
wonders of Facebook I made contact 
and he remembered me. I asked if he 
was doing something to Save the World 
and, surprise-surprise, he was involved in 
Missions to Africa. He sent me his journal 
recounting his observations in Africa 
setting up care-centers for parentless 
children who had frequently witnessed 
the death of their parents from the AIDs 
Virus. The writing in his journal really 
was moving, even apart from the subject 
matter. I let him know that I appreciated 
his writing and, in response, he told me 
that he had written two unpublished 
novels, the main character of which was a 
lawyer who drove a car much like the car 
I had driven in Law School. According to 
him the car carried the same nick- name 
that I had given my car 45 years ago. 
Who knows? It was 45 years ago.

 Anyhow this seemed like a pretty 
magical connection and I told him I 
would like to read the novels. Why? 
Well, the reasons are pretty obvious. It 
just seems like fun to read a novel written 
by someone I know or once knew. I write 
these articles every week and beg and 
plead with relatives and close friends to 
read them. They’re too busy, they say. 
Other people, strangers, neighbors, and 
colleagues read them, but not my closest 
relatives and friends. I think it’s strange, 
but that’s the way it is. I felt I owed it 
to myself to spend the time to read the 
novel and besides, there might be some 
characterization of me or my car that 
would help me fill in my picture of myself.

 I read the novel and although I loved the 
writing, admired the skill and erudition of 
the writer and learned about many areas 
of scientific interest (the writer is a very 
smart guy), I was angry when I finished 
it. I felt that the central character had no 
real interest in anyone but himself, and 
saw other people as only pawns in the 
world’s novel in which he was the central 
character. More importantly I didn’t find 
the limited perspective of the character 
all that interesting.

 The novelist e-mailed back a long 
response containing the following: 
“I think caring about anyone as an 
individual is a myth, an illusion we’d like 
to buy into which doesn’t exist. We make 
people into what we need, want, fear, and 
project all that.”

 Is this where my dream lead me. Is 
my perceived reality, my waking life, just 
another dream? All my opinions and 
judgments and values, are they just outer 
reflections mirroring my own internal 
conflicts? If they are, should I be guilting 
about this instead of caring about what 
happens to other people—especially 
those other people who can’t find the 
time to read my articles?

 Who is writing my novel anyway? 
Maybe it’s us! 

Editor’s Note: Hail Hamilton will be on a brief hiatus 
from his column. He’ll be back before you know it.


According to ABC News, "Business Insider" and other sources, 
phrases such as "Nobody lives forever" and "death and taxes" could become quaint 
relics in just a few decades.

Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov and 30 top Russian scientists have formed a collective 
called The 2045 Initiative, with the goal of designing a future in which 
humans will be routinely upgraded to androids/hologram avatars. Shortly before 
death, a person's personality/thought patterns/consciousness would be uploaded 
into a super-powered artificial body. In other words, over the next 33 years, the 
human race would achieve IMMORTALITY!

Itskov has sent an open letter to the 1,266 individuals on the Forbes World Billionaires 
list, challenging them to fund the project (for profit AND for the betterment 
of the species).

Anybody else foresee problems here, starting with "til death us do part" controversies, 
earth's finite resources and the question of what sort of jobs will remain? And 
either we will have a new caste system with avatars living alongside mere mortals 
who can't afford an avatar OR flesh-and-blood folks will stop reproducing and 
leave a single generation "frozen in amber" as it were.

The 2045 people have the pie-in-the-sky notion that cranking out the avatars will 
somehow eradicate war. No, more likely, major confrontations will erupt over who 
gets the good hologram models and who gets the Naked Randy Travis model. 

The new paradigm will supposedly free mankind for projects of self-improvement 
and Higher Spiritual Evolution. Oh, yes, the achieving of a major goal like immortality 
will work just like the major goal of winning the hand of your Special 
Someone in marriage. Look for avatars lounging about with raggedy underwear, 
unshaven armpits, anniversary amnesia and a predilection for flatulence.

The scientists seem to assume that if a human soul even EXISTS, it will magically 
be transferred into the avatar without stepping on any Divine Entity toes. Yes, the 
researchers are playing God, and you have to wonder, if you stripped away their 
billions, would they even be qualified to play Chutes and Ladders?

The fact that this project began in Russia sets off clanging alarm bells for me. Do 
we really want Vladimir Putin going strong a thousand years from now, regaling 
anyone who'll listen with stories that begin "Back in MY millennium, we jailed 
female punk rock groups five times a day in heavy snow...uphill both ways"?

I've accumulated more books and DVDs than I'll ever be able to enjoy, so it is indeed 
tempting to think of having forever to catch up; but then I think of Burgess 
Meredith's hapless bookworm character in the "All The Time In The World" episode 
of "The Twilight Zone." At BEST, all our literary genres will become less and 
less relevant as time goes by. Who needs murder mysteries if they all end with "The 
BUTLER tried to do it —but nanotechnology repaired all the damage"?

I fear that Itskov's hubris will lull participants into a false sense of security. Too 
bad the consciousness-transferring didn't start with earlier notables. Nineteenth-
century poet Emily Dickinson could really teach us a thing or two with poems 
such as "Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly SENT A BIG HONKIN' 

Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at and visits to 
his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". . 

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RICH Johnson



A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder

 Many of us are getting all worked up (me especially) and 
that’s because it is an incredibly important and vital part of 
our freedom and democracy. So, as we near another national 
election cycle, I find it refreshing and cathartic to spend 
quality time with three of my good friends and confidants. Of 
course, I’m referring to Mark Twain, Will Rogers and Groucho Marx. They offer 
insightful and unique perspectives regarding the intersection of life and politics.


 Before I talk with our fellows, I wanted to make an observation. If your 
candidates do NOT win in November this may possibly be of some comfort to 
you. We benefit from a level of technology our three friends didn’t have that helps 
safeguard us in our quest for continued freedom and democracy. The information 
and communications technology now includes the 24 hour cable channels, 
the internet, iPhone cameras, and instant texting in addition to newspapers, 
telegraphs, carrier pigeon, radio, and television (what have I forgot?) Mark didn’t 
have access to medium other than newspapers. Will had to live with newspapers 
and radio. Groucho got to add only television. How does this technology protect 
us? Well, by my way of thinking, politicians cannot get away with as much as they 
could when news of their every exploit wasn’t so quickly and readily available. 
No matter who gets into office, they will face 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 
365-366 days a year of continual scrutiny of microphones, cameras (including 
iPhone cameras), pens and paper. If we don’t like what they are doing we can 
move them out.

 So, where was I? Oh yes, there is catharsis available for all things political from 
these fine fellows. And what is amazing is how appropriate they are in this day 
and age. I guess some things never change. Let’s turn on the feel better machine. 

Mark Twain: The first two gentlemen I quote from had the sense to use a 
nom de plume (a pseudonym) in their writings. Mark’s real name was Samuel 
Clement. Let’s draw first from the well of this wonderful communicator. We 
should particularly embrace his first quote and employ its principle in everyday 

 “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. “

His attitude toward the distinction between country and government: 

 “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government 
when it deserves it.” 

 “We have the best government that money can buy.”

 “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”

Groucho Marx: Groucho, as you might surmise is not this gentlemen’s real first 
name. We now know it was Julius. Still, he had a wonderful perspective on life, 
particularly in his definition of politics:

 “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it 
incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies. “

As to apt descriptions of most politicians, this is what he offered up:


 “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got 
it made.”

 “Before I speak, I have something important to say. “

Will Rogers didn’t think to change his name. His entire name was William Penn 
Adair Rogers. And he is the king of reporting on all things politic.

Here is his description of political parties and Congress:

 “The more you observe politics, the more you’ve got to admit that each party 
is worse than the other.”

 “The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse 
every time Congress meets.”

 I hope you find this column beneficial. The important reality is that you stay 
involved in the process. Regardless of who you support, do your homework (and 
include an analysis of the pundits you know you don’t agree with). Arrive at an 
informed decision and vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote. Please.


 I often hear 
derogatory remarks 
directed towards the 
IRS. I must admit 
that many of these 
critical remarks originated with me. Not 
that I do not like my good old Uncle Sam, 
it is that he is a little demanding when it 
comes to tax time.

 Every year I complain about filing 
my income tax and paying out gobs 
and gobs of dollars to the United States 
government. I know it is important to 
pay taxes, and, I pay my fair share, even 
though it may be grudgingly.

 Throughout the years, I have 
complained that dear old Uncle Sam 
never writes me a letter. I will have to 
amend that complaint because I recently 
received a personalized letter from the 

 Well, you can imagine my surprise at 
getting this letter. With trembling hands, 
I opened the letter, anxious to know what 
was going on in the world of Uncle Sam. 
I expected a detailed letter of what he 
was doing and how he was getting along 
and how the kids were and all that sort 
of thing. Imagine my surprise when none 
of that information was contained in the 

 From the contents of the letter, and I 
must say a lot of it was goobly glop, I had 
fallen far short of my share of income tax 
this past year. According to the letter, I 
was a gazillion dollars short of what he 
had expected from me and quite frankly, 
he was disappointed in this behavior on 
my part. Do not ask me how many zeros 
a gazillion dollars have because I do not 
know. I do not have that many fingers or 

 Although I read the letter several times 
it was not quite clear how much I actually 
owed and what plans there were in place 
for me to pay it back. From what I could 
understand from the letter, I owed good 
old Uncle Sam an arm and a leg, and he 
was highly expecting that I would come 
through for him.

 Well, that kind of letter did not set 
well with me. I was tempted to leave the 
country, then sneak back as an illegal 
alien, and not have to worry about all this 
nasty stuff. But, I did not have that much 
energy available.

 There was a phone number I was to call 
if I had any personal questions. Boy, did I 
have some personal questions. I was fully 
expecting not to get a real human voice 
when I called.

 But, again, I was pleasantly surprised. 
Within 30 minutes and after dozens of 
pushing this button and pushing that 
button I had on the other end of the 
phone a very pleasant and cheerful voice, 
a representative of the IRS.

 After we exchanged some personal 
niceties and followed up on the weather 
report from each of our locations, we 
finally got down to the real business of 
the phone call.

 I must confess I was not expecting 
such pleasantries from an IRS agent. I 
assumed she had the telephone in one 
hand and a loaded, fully cocked revolver 
in the other. If she did, she concealed it 
most admirably.

 Then we got down to the nitty-gritty 
of what the IRS is all about: collecting 
taxes from potentially delinquent 
taxpayers, like myself. The thought that 
I deliberately was delinquent was rather 
humiliating for me. Simply put, I just did 
not pay enough in, but this telephone call 
was going to rectify all of that.

 After she crunched all the figures 
and as I waited patiently on my end of 
the phone, she was able to determine I 
owed the government an arm and a leg. 
It was then that the negotiations began in 

 I must confess she could not have been 
any nicer had she been my grandmother.

 She then began to query as to which 
arm and which leg I was going to give to 
the government. This presented a real 
difficult decision on my part. Throughout 
the years, I have grown quite fond of both 
arms and both legs. Then I asked her if I 
could counter a proposal. She replied in 
the affirmative.

 “Would you consider,” I began rather 
slowly, “an arm or a leg?”

 There was a pause on the other and 
of the phone when I could tell she 
was thinking. Whenever you get a 
government employee to think, watch 
out. I could hear the old wheels grinding 
and grinding. Finally, she said, “I think 
that would be acceptable. And, I’ll even 
allow you to select either arm or leg. We 
like to work with people.”

 Now the burden was on me. I now 
owed the government an arm or a leg 
and I just had to select which one. I first 
considered my arms. In thinking about 
them, I use both of my arms although the 
left one less than the right one every day. 
What with writing and eating my arms 
are rather busy throughout the day.

 Then I considered my legs. I like my 
right leg and so the choice became rather 
easy for me. Now, the United States 
government has at least one leg to stand 
on, thanks to Yours Truly.

 I have something greater to stand on.

 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty 
wherewith Christ hath made us free, and 
be not entangled again with the yoke of 
bondage” (Galatians 5:1 KJV).

 Jesus Christ trumps Uncle Sam when 
it comes to liberty.

 Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the 
Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 
831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives 
with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs 
Shores. e-mail 

Mountain Views News

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