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Flies in your Eyes is a dynamic source of uncommon commentary and common sense, designed to open your eyes and stimulate your thinking.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hair Brained

Karl Marx Would Be Pleased
Scott Sturman

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.  —  Mark Twain

I’m a different man, as anyone can readily see from the accompanying portraits.  The hair is no longer worn in the closely cropped para military style, but rather, the locks are long, flowing, and a bit unkempt to conform to my new progressive beliefs: wealth redistribution, position exclusive of merit, and one world government to name a few.  The striking metamorphosis not only includes a liberal physiognomy but ideas to match.  Gone is the healthy skepticism for all politicians, and the all too frequent cynical comments about their motivations.  Nor is the mind cluttered by heartless thoughts about the inadvisability of paying people not to work and rewarding bad behavior.

The inspiration for this epiphany came in the form of a voice message from the President himself, as he pitched the advantages of signing up for Obama Care before the March 31 deadline.  In his rich but measured baritone, he convinced me of the selfishness of preferring one’s own doctor and bristling about paying more for poorer health care.  Now I just have to decide whether to sign up for the Tin or Lead Health Insurance Plans, since I started smoking and eating more fast food to shorten my retirement years.

To be honest, lately I have been warming to the President.  Much to his credit, he has revived the foreign policy doctrines of Jimmy Carter and Neville Chamberlain, where appeasement is the favored tactic to keep dictators at bay.  He understands, whether one is dealing with Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Khomeini, or Putin, that letting them have their way is the best strategy, particularly if they promise their transgressions will not happen again.  As I recall, Mr. Chamberlain taught the Fuhrer a thing or two at Munich, as he waved a signed document proving there would be peace in our time.

Life is all about being fair, and as the President rightly observes, what reasonable person would object giving control of the Internet a more international flavor?  With America’s long history of human rights abuses, it’s time to pass the baton to Russia and China but also Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Somalia.

Life is much easier being a progressive.  One does not have to say no to anyone or anything unless it doesn't agree with you, of course.  And the ego is constantly being validated and reenforced by the media and the entertainment industry.  When advocating equality of outcome or the immorality of carbon based fuels, it’s comforting to know every high school educated movie star will come to my defense.  Who knows, maybe the new me with get an interview on The View or CNN.  It’s amazing what a new hair style will do. 

 Leaning LEFT at Torre del Paine

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Prince of a Man

Yosemite Falls - photo by JoAnn Sturman
Scott Sturman

He was by all accounts a prince of a man, and when he died unexpectedly after a short illness, the world was a lesser place.  Dr. Bernie Freeburg practiced obstetrics and surgical gynecology for over 50 years and was considered by peers and patients alike as the the standard setter of the community.  A kind and empathetic man, who never voiced a derogatory word about even the most loathsome character, he epitomized the concept of gentleman, physician, and scholar.

Dr. Freeburg and his generation of physicians are a vanishing breed, who shunned the employee model of medicine and developed private practices which spanned up to three generations.  The rewards were great but so were the responsibilities of caring for patients every hour of the day, every day of the year.  It is difficult to imagine this group of independently minded doctors interviewing their patients from across the examination room with their eyes fixed on the computer screen.  We’ll miss the human element and continuity they gave to a profession which is becoming increasingly bureaucratic and distant.

The passing of a man of considerable stature and integrity, who was a fixture in the community for a half a century, peeked a personal interest as to how the local paper The Fresno Bee would report the event.  The paper’s editors, after all, saw fit to make front page news of the deaths of two personal injury attorneys, one of whom was extolled for her penchant for fashion which matched the decor of her office, and the other with mental health issues who some say every felon between Bakersfield and Sacramento had his phone number in their back pocket.  Honoring the Saints    Despite the paper’s long antagonism toward the medical community, the death of a revered physician should transcend politics and institutional prejudices.

No front page eulogy accompanied Dr. Freeburg’s death and perhaps that is the way he and his family wanted it.  But to those of us who had the pleasure of working with him, it seemed fitting that his life should have been celebrated in a public forum and reminded readers that there are many among us, who by nature are not attention seekers but nonetheless great human beings. 

 Bridalveil Falls - photo by JoAnn Sturmans

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Only Story Worth Reporting?

 Cairo, Egypt - photo by JoAnn Sturman

Scott Sturman

Since the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370 on March 8th, Russia annexed the Ukraine, a devastating mud avalanche in Washington killed nearly a 100 people, Obama deemed the United States should relinquish control of the Internet, and Democrats running for reelection this fall disabused their constituents that they had anything to do with the enactment of Obama Care.  Yet CNN devoted nearly all resources to covering the ill fated airliner for every minute of the day.  It is, after all, a challenge to crow about the President’s foreign policy, which smacks of the invertebrate, Neville Chamberlain.  Thanks to those like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, history is taught so poorly in public schools that most under the age of 40 have never heard of the appeasing English Prime Minister and the events leading to WWII.  Alas, for the last three weeks the masses could tune into CNN, listen to speculation of experts and soothsayers alike, and pretend one missing airplane was the only problem in the world.

Just when one understands why CNN’s news coverage has been compared to Pawn Stars, the progressive network shocks its listeners.  Sandwiched between endless recaps of the intended path of Flight 370 and scenes of anguished Chinese relatives, a noteworthy report aired:  This past week the Law Society, which serves lawyers in England and Wales, published guidelines to allow solicitors to create “Sharia compliant” wills.   The recommendation would be recognized in British courts as “good practice” in integrating Muslim religious law into the judicial system.  It was an astounding revelation to learn a parallel system would be recognized, which discriminates against women, adopted and illegitimate children, and non Muslims by legalizing their disinheritance.     

Parallel systems have been dismantled systematically in Western cultures.  Separate but equal is a euphemism for discrimination.  Certain sectarian practices are incongruent with democratic principles and strictly forbidden despite sanction by religious text.  The recognition of Sharia Law and its incorporation into common law should provoke grave concern among women, who have battled religious and secular proscriptions for centuries.  Perhaps the editors at CNN, who long ago abandoned journalism for political correctness, realize this latest effort to meld mosque and state is so inimical to civilized society that for once they took the duties of a free press seriously

 Bright Angel Trail - photo by JoAnn Sturman

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Saul Alinsky Sighting in Argentina

Calafate, Argentina - photo by JoAnn Sturman
Scott Sturman

Three years ago an essay appeared is Flies In Your Eyes highlighting observations gleaned on a trip to Argentina in 2011. Tears for Argentina  Argentines knew trouble was on the horizon; they had experienced the impending chaos before, when the government fired up the printing presses to pay off the unions and the peasants.  There was a widely held view the government grossly understated inflation rates, but the banks were not fooled.  Financial services did not include issuing credit cards to Argentines.  No prudent lender was willing to underwrite any long term debt when annual inflation rates hovered above 20%.  Dollars and Euros were in high demand and accepted preferentially.  Foreign currencies and land ownership were the only hedges against inflation open to Argentines. 

Currently, Socialist President Christina Fernandez and her inept cronies may not be able to govern Argentina competently, but Sol Alinsky would be proud of their tactics to lay the blame on the business community and outside forces.  Unable to defend the peso and stem lack of confidence in the currency, the socialists posted pictures of business leaders in prominent locations throughout the country with captions blaming them for Argentina’s woes.  Concerned citizens now can report price gouging by Walmart and other multinationals to government authorities by using computer apps conveniently supplied by the blameless socialists.  Nothing like class warfare and the politics of envy to shore up support of the masses.

Guanaco at Torre del Paine - photo by JoAnn Sturman

Alinsky extolled these nefarious techniques in his book Rules for Radicals.  A concise summary of the book is discussed in the article Saul Alinsky - Patron Saint of Occupy Wall Street.  Simply stated, he advocated isolating one’s enemies, accusing them of preposterous transgressions, and propagandizing their conduct in a sympathetic press, thereby displacing the problem away from the actual source.  The situation is so dire in Argentina that even Alinsky’s tactics may not keep Christina Fernandez in power, but who knows?  They twice helped elect his prize disciple to the U.S. Presidency, despite an ailing economy, staggering public debt, and an incoherent foreign policy. 

 Iguasu Falls, Argentina

In a Nutshell - Romania

Herastrau Park, Bucharest - photo by JoAnn Sturman

Scott Sturman

Impaling, where the victim is lashed spread eagle and a sharp stake is driven from the perineum upward until it exits at the shoulder, was the preferred method of torture and intimidation of Vlad the Impaler, the 15th century Romanian who is the basis of the legend of Dracula.  With the shaft firmly in place it was rotated to the vertical position and fixed in the ground.  Due to the proximity of vital organs, an amateur easily could misdirect the stake and bring suffering to a premature conclusion.  An expert like Vlad aimed the implement posterior to the peritoneum and thorax, so it emerged between the rib cage and the scapula.  By avoiding crucial anatomic structures, a long agonizing death was guaranteed.

Vlad, the Impaler

Romania, slightly smaller in area than Wyoming, is home to over 21 million people.  Like most countries of eastern Europe the population is in decline due to low birthrates and a stagnant economy.  Nearly nine of ten Romanians identify themselves as Christian Orthodox, albeit the church’s influence is waning especially among the young.

As a general rule, as one follows the Danube down stream per capita income falls.  Economies are plagued with graft, corruption, and red tape, which significantly impede the free market business climate.  The rule of law, property rights, competitive business practices, and meritocracy lag in Romania, owing in large part to three centuries of Turkish oppression followed by the brutal Communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. 

Bucharest - photo by JoAnn Sturman

Other than his countryman Vlad, Nicolae Ceausescu generates the most interest among tourists.  The son of an impoverished alcoholic, Nicolae trained as an apprentice cobbler.  His big break in life occurred when he fortuitously shared a jail cell with Gheorghe Gheorghiu, the leader of Romanian Communist Party.  Ceausescu became Gheorghiu’s protege and upon his death in 1965 assumed control of the Romanian Communist Party and government.

Palace of the Parliament - photo by JoAnn Sturman

Although Ceausescu did not physically impale his countrymen, he subjected them to profound physical deprivation and political repression.  In 1982 he decided to pay off Romania’s considerable foreign debt, and over the ensuing years starved his people to death by diverting nearly all industrial and agricultural production to this goal.  As with most Communists, he was enamored with public works projects which appeared impressive but garnered poor returns on investment.  The unfinished canal connecting Bucharest with the Danube and the Palace of the Parliament, which at 3.7 million square feet of opulent excess is the largest civilian administrative building in the world, are testaments to his grandiose schemes.  

Bucharest - photo by JoAnn Sturman

For a brief period after the departure of the Turks, the Romanian elite became infatuated with all things French.  The evidence of these times can be found in the capital, Bucharest, with its wide avenues, beautifully constructed public buildings and private residences, and spacious parks.  Signs advertising multinational companies can be seen everywhere.  The capital is clean and safe for walking the streets at night.  It bustles with youthful energy and is home to the world’s largest Hard Rock Cafe.

Danube River - photo by JoAnn Sturman

Romania has an abundance of fertile land and has been a breadbasket since the time of the Roman Empire.  Since the construction of locks on the Danube, the notoriously fickle river has been tamed, making navigation safer and more predictable and profitable.  A member of NATO since 2004 and the EU in 2007, Romania’s future would be considerably brighter if not for its politicians, who can’t seem to learn that socialism and crony capitalism can nullify a country’s natural advantages. 

 Hard Rock Cafe, Bucharest - photo by JoAnn Sturman

Saturday, February 8, 2014

ObamaCare and the Negative Impact on Employment

Pidgeons at Boudhanath - photo by JoAnn Sturman

 Scott Sturman

Whether hiking in the wilderness or flying VFR, in order to correctly fix one’s position there is a fundamental rule regarding maps and observed terrain.  The secret is to note surrounding geographical features and their relative directions from one’s point of reference.  Then and only then can one’s true position on the map be discerned by transferring information to the map.  The opposite technique, where one assumes a position on the map by concluding, “ Oh, I must be here,” is certain to get one lost.  The mind will always find a mountain, a stream, or some other structure which appears to confirm one’s theoretical position on a piece of paper.

This faulty technique of ignoring empirical observations and working backward from theory to arrive at a preconceived solution rings true in segments of the academic world, where science is manipulated to support contentious political issues.  An example of this legerdemain is the conclusion by left leaning economists denying the adverse effect of employment and the Affordable Health Care Act.  In a stringing rebuke, this week’s non partisan CBO report projected a loss of 2.5 million jobs by 2024 as a result of this controversial program which encourages people not to work.

The CBO arrived at these sobering statistics by drawing upon University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan’s research correlating government financial incentives and their effect on low income Americans.  The Economist Who Exposed ObamaCare  Essentially, the consequence of the ACA is to discourage work, since in many cases it is more lucrative take advantage of government subsidies.

Sadly, a portion of the scientific community chooses to conjure conclusions based on political considerations rather than scientific observation.  They are abetted by an enabling, partisan press, which prefers patronage to analysis.  By pretending to know their location on a map, they invariably lose their way and take the country with them.          

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Hottest Ticket in Town

Kathmandu - photo by JoAnn Sturman

Scott Sturman

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Sturman:

Barrack and I would like to invite you to my 50th birthday celebration.  As billed, it’s the “hottest ticket in town.”  It gives us a chance to invite genuine minorities like you and your wife, who have worked since you were eighteen to pay for our annual Hawaiian vacation.  It's an extravaganza common folk rarely experience.

Regrets only,            

The invitation could not have come at a worse time.  That very night, while in a nationalistic mood, I watch the first episode of Steven Spielberg’s “The Pacific,” based on E.B. Sledge’s book “With the Old Breed,” which describes the horrific combat at Peleliu and Okinawa.  Having watched and enjoyed its companion series “Band of Brothers” years ago, it’s unclear why I waited so long, particularly since my father fought as a U.S. Army infantryman in Okinawa.

It’s not everyday one receives an invitation to hobnob with the rich and famous, but having a conscience and a long memory it was impossible to forget the First Lady’s proclamation that she was ashamed of America.  Where has she traveled and what history books has she read to come to such an inane conclusion?  Name one other country on any part of the planet in any time throughout history that has sacrificed as much as America.  It’s not a long list.   

That evening I told my wife about the spoof I had written for Flies In Your Eyes, and our hypothetical refusal to attend Washington’s gala event.

“Wait a minute,” she interjected.  “I’d like to go.  I already have the perfect dress for the occasion.”

“Honey, it’s just a joke.  It’s a story about principles.”

“I don’t like her politics either, but you have to right to speak for me.  If you won’t go, then I’ll ask my sister.”

“But....,” I stammered, feeling once again like Dagwood Bumstead.

Mr. and Mrs. Sturman Ponder an Invitation
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