Camel and me

One Of The Few Times You’ll Find Me On The Right

Yes, I Was Born This Way
By Michael Maynard
January 2, 2014

In the picture above, I’m the one on the right. It’s one of the few times I’ve been on the right, though I’ve been accused by those on the right of having views more like the one on the left.

I arrived on this earth on August 23, 1953, approximately 2 months before I was due to be born. I was 2 lbs and 7 ounces of being in a hurry and willing to tell everyone about it. Spending the next two months in isolation (in an incubator), only made this compulsion to shout out even greater. It was a medical miracle then. Surviving premature birth is much more commonplace today.

Perhaps as a result of the time spent cogitating in the oxygen-rich atmosphere of the incubator, I was a smart kid. I talked before I walked and read when I was two years old. The first book I checked out of the school library in kindergarten was Dickens’ “A Tale Of Two Cities”, because there was a recent movie on television about it. No, I wasn’t able to read it then, but I sure tried hard to do so.

I wore out two editions of Mammals” because of a fascination with bats. The school librarian begged my parents to buy a copy so that there would be one remaining for the other children. I was the quiet one who wanted to learn everything, all at the same time.

I’ve always been able to write. This ability definitely helped when I waited until the night before they were due to write term papers in high school and college. Being able to write well has been an essential part of my career – producing reports and business plans for consulting clients, writing articles for various computer and business publications to promote the business, and now focusing on writing and editing.

decordova-sculpture-and-biennial-2012-077

It’s Modern Art – I Don’t Know What It Means Either

People have asked whether I have other artistic skills. No, I really don’t. My grade school art teacher, Ms. Benedetti, used to cringe when I raised my hand in art class. I was the kid, when assigned to pick two crayon colors to mix together to create a third color, picked black and yellow. Emmy’s dog poop is that color. I appreciate and love all forms of artistic  expression, especially modern art. I shake my head at the unique creativity of  modern artists, because I can’t do that and can’t quite connect to those artists’ visions in what they develop.

I don’t consider writing non-fiction columns and articles art, but more like in keeping with the history of those public orators, starting with Demosthenes. It is being a clarion, a sentinel and a watchdog, as well as being a soothsayer, seeker, savant, cynic and snark.

I am  a wordsmith exploring a new medium where text and images and sound and video can be put together to express what interests me. I assume if it interests me, it will be interesting to you, too. I just have the need and willingness to do the exploring and research to find out more and the skill and ability to explain what I’ve learned in a (usually) coherent manner. I am a rationalist in an increasingly irrational world. I try to be a voice of reason.

In the past year, I’ve found out more about how:

Fracking is polluting our water supplies and in one town’s case, they have no more water because it was used up in fracking for more oil and natural gas.

Your hard earned money spent on buying lottery tickets is not being spent on education, as originally promised, but to help balance state and local budgets. Meanwhile, teachers are getting laid off, their salaries cut, and their pensions slashed.

Bankers still want to repeal the Glass-Stegall regulations that limit their making risky investments in derivatives and bad housing mortgage decisions.

The Koch Brothers are still doing very well and, through their American Legislative Exchange Council, continue to chip away at voting rights and woman’s reproductive health laws.

The country has similar inequality of wealth that caused the Great Depression. Can another great depression be averted?

Maybe it can. Senator Elizabeth Warren and her Senate colleagues are pushing for a new economic populism.

Willard Romney will always be a big white rat.

We did have fun with informal social media poll about The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones. Thanks to my 60 friends and relatives who participated. Keith Richards did have his 70th birthday. The Stones will spend their 50th year together touring Australia, New Zealand and the Far East.

And I got to honor one of the best to ever write columns and commentary, Molly Ivins. Miss Molly would be a very welcome voice on the political craziness that engulfs Texas and the country. Rest In Peace, Molly Ivins.

However, there’s still way too much gun violence and media concentration.  Too many soldiers are still on the battlefield and those returning home have a greater battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Wendy Davis is still behind in the Texas Governor’s race polling. We don’t know yet whether Hillary and Elizabeth are going to run for President in 2014. And so on, and so on, and so on ………. It’s all I can do to keep up with that is going on in the world.

I am liberal/progressive  politically because of all the above. I believe the underlying philosophic issue is whether people are more important than money.I grew up in a formerly prosperous, but then economically depressed former mill town. Too many skilled and hardworking laborers were left abandoned by the wealthy capitalists who promised those workers their jobs were secure and the companies the capitalists owned would never leave. For these capitalists, there never is and never will be enough money. That’s why I always choose people first.

Pierre Wildman said, “If it was so easy, everyone would be doing it.”

It’s not easy. Trying to be a responsible writer/journalist/columnist means spending a lot of time doing research in the effort to be informed and accurate. I’m not an expert in anything. But I can draw upon the knowledge of experts to help explain, make a point and form opinions. I can find lots of data, facts, quotes, charts, graphs, flotsam and jetsam and put it all together to write a coherent and cohesive column. That’s what I’m best at doing, explaining how and why things has gotten to where they are today, and what can be done to change them. It is the same kid trying to read “A Tale of Two Cities” way before he was capable of understanding what Dickens was saying about the ways and injustices of the world. Older, grayer and hopefully wiser, now I do.

It is my belief that “Opinions are like noses, everybody has one. But noses are like opinions, too. When infected, they shouldn’t be blown in public.” It is all too easy to have uninformed and biased opinions, which spread the infections of ignorance, intolerance and hate. There are too many providers of infection and too many who make it epidemic in today’s 24/7 news cycle world.

There is always hope. A neighbor and friend of mine is a staunch Republican. We agree on many things, probably we agree about 90% of the time. I’ve gotten him to watch equal amounts of MSNBC and FAUX News, which is a small victory.

He and I were having lunch recently. He was complaining how gay marriage was going to undermine traditional marriage. I asked him if he knew that there were 3 gay couples in our neighborhood. He didn’t and didn’t believe me. I also asked him, if having those gay couples near was threatening his 40 year marriage.

Later, I sent him an article I wrote about LGBT rights (in another forum) which showed being LGBT is not a choice, it’s biological -“They were born this way”.

Two weeks later during lunch, he said, “I read your article. I didn’t know being gay was biological. The Bible says it is wrong, but I look at our neighbors, and I don’t see them acting any different than we do. They are good people. Why shouldn’t they be married and suffer like I do?”

One small step for humans and one small step for humankind.  I’m still working on him. He thinks Rachel Maddow is smart and kind of cute, too. No, I haven’t told him about Rachel. Let him figure that one out for himself.

Informing and changing opinions is why I write. It worked in his case….

Thank you for your readership.  May you and your loved ones have a happy, prosperous, healthy and safe 2014. With all that is going on throughout the world, it will be an interesting year. It would be nice to live in less interesting times, but not as much fun to write about.

It will be a pleasure to report, analyze and comment upon all of it. After all, I was born this way.



Columnist/Journalist/Writer/Book Editor Co-Founder/CEO of Azimuth Partners, high tech consulting firm for 30+ years. Former columnist for the Washington Post/Newsweek syndicate.

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