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Real News to Pay Attention to
by Jeff Klagenberg

While so much noise is getting news I thought it would be good to revisit something truly news worthy form a couple days ago. A drug for treating small percentage of muscular dystrophy patient was approved for use ( This is another step toward treatment for a very difficult and hard disease.

It may or may not directly affect you but even if it does not understanding how this disease occurs and finding a treatment will benefit us all. More importantly finding a way to help thousands of people is simply there right thing to do. We should all appreciate the researchers, families, volunteers and medical staff helping in this fight. If you find a moment look this up and find some way to help.


Conversations with Uncle Jim
by Jim MacCoubrey (intro by Chris Verrill)

James MacCoubrey is a 103 year old former motorcycle insurance salesman.  Unlike most people his age, James MacCoubrey has the mobility and physical health of a 70 year old.  His brain is 100% there and he has a great wit.  His bedroom is on the second floor of the house in California and he walks up and down the stairs every day.  He only stopped driving recently and, in fact, his current driver's license hasn't expired yet.  He checks his email regularly and has an excellent memory of his personal life and world events.  He is Chris Verrill’s Uncle.

 Chris:  It was great to see you last night.  Heidi and I could have listened to you for hours.  What do you think of President Bush?  How does he compare to President Coolidge or Taft?

Uncle Jim:  Dear Chris.

Thank you for the flowers while I can still smell them.

Regarding comparing Presidents Taft and Bush we have to keep in mind that Taft had a rather serene time in office as there was no war and things were very peaceful throughout the United States then.  I remember the Taft election because Teddy Roosevelt decided to run again but being a former Republican he could not run against Taft belonging to the same party so he created a party called the Bull Moose Party which I also recall very well. My stepfather was a very serious backer of Teddy both financially and active vote getter, Teddy had pins with the Bull Moose on it and his name so one day my stepfather pinned one on my jacket and later I was sent to the store near were we lived in Cambridge Ma and standing outside was 4 or 5 men  and when they saw me with the pin on they gave me a real bad time which I realized when older was all in fun anyway I ran home scared and told my folks what had happened so you can see why I remember President Taft.

 Comparing Bush to Taft is like comparing apples and oranges because President Bush is presiding in totally different times.  The war in Iraq is like starting an argument religion and there is a wide difference of what people think. It’s my feeling that the historians many years from now will render an unbiased statement. While a person has every right to disagree we must accept facts and its not possible to say oops I made a mistake as it will take a lot of doing to get the train back on track. Saying Bush is wrong or right will take lots more than newspaper talk. It a very serious situation and something I am not knowledgeable to discuss except for an off the cuff remark.

I just loved seeing and talking to you and Heidi.

Much much love to both of you.

Uncle Jim

Book Review: Is For Good Men To Do Nothing
by L.H. Klagenberg

Pack your bags, dust off your passport, and apply for your visas. Or better yet, relax, and pick up a copy of "Is For Good Men to do Nothing" by Chris Verrill. In this book, Verrill escorts the reader on an extraordinary adventure from Pacifica (California) to Afghanistan, and through 29 countries (including Palestine) along the way.

Like a gem, Verrill’s chronicles are brilliant and multifaceted. Although the impetus for the book were the events of 9/11, the book is more than the author’s pursuit of trying to answer the question of why this tragedy occurred. It’s about a Rotarian’s quest to "uproot ignorance and provide hope to the oppressed." And, it’s about an American pioneer exploring not only the disparities in the world, but the common human element. Most of all, it’s about Verrill’s journey of self-discovery as he connects with humanity, and realizes that there is no place like "home sweet home" and the importance of family.

Verrill’s writing style is witty and refreshing with a brutally honest perspective on the world around him and also of himself. For instance, Chris writes candidly about his little sister’s boyfriend, and even the Tower of Pisa and the Pyramids of Egypt do not escape his scrutiny.

For those who enjoy comedy, this book contains madcap adventures sure to illicit a chuckle or two. You are dared to read about Verrill’s escapade in Greece with the "Psycho Pink Palace Bus Driver" without thinking about a Charlie Chaplin comedy routine. Another amusing entry results from the use of a Swiss keyboard. And, his conversation with the finance minister of Jalalabad, Afghanistan is priceless.

Overall, this book is a must read. It inspires the reader to follow Verrill’s visionary lead to "just make the world a little better than when we got here." Chris calls this his "Running Water Campground Theory." If one man (Verrill) can follow this to heart without letting terrorist threats or SARS interfere with his mission to implement a vocational program for women in Afghan refugee camps, just imagine what we can accomplish together as a society.

The Fear Vote
by Jeff Klagenberg

So there I was sitting with some friends talking about the next presidential election, and each of us had a different prediction.  Basically with only four people we predicted four very different outcomes.  I found it most intriguing that those predicting Bush would win, one predicting it by a large margin the other by a narrow one, but both saying scared citizens will vote for Bush.

I find it intriguing that somehow that the parties have taken on character traits like people, and the Republican Party is somehow more “macho”.  Even stranger that this macho party is meant to appeal to scared people.  With great visual imagery like terminating terror and a search light (or rather beacon) the party certainly wants to enforce their image.  And somehow make people feel safer no matter what the reality. 

 Well maybe people will vote for Bush because they are scared.  That kind of makes the “momma’s boys” party though.  All I know is that fear often makes us make the most shortsighted and worst decisions.  But hey that just means I have a different fear I guess…

Speaking of Loyalty, A Pledge for us
by Jeff Klagenberg

I am saddened to hear about the case against the Pledge of Allegiance.  For me the Pledge was originally written as a simple but elegant loyalty oath.  And what it says is important.  But what it says and why is troubling.  Originally written in 1892 it was changed in 1954 in fear of “godless” communism, by adding the phrase “under God”.  This was meant to show “godlessness” as un-American…  Think about it, putting this statement in a loyalty oath is basically says those that are “godless” are not loyal Americans.  Also, notice, the phrase chosen was “under God”, not to be confused with “under god”.  The proper form of “God” was certainly no accident, and makes the pledge even less inclusive.  For example, my wife, who was raised Buddhist, says it was always clear to her that the phrase “under God” referred to the Christian god. Some argue that this phrase “only” leaves out Atheists, and multi-theists, but they are mistaken.  Besides, the pledge is our loyalty oath, and it is important to recognize that loyalty to the US is not predicated on ANY religious belief.  Let’s go back to the original writing and far more importantly the original intent.

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