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Beginnings

My earliest memory is on my third birthday, looking out the window of my kitchen window onto our fenced-in backyard in Wichita, Kansas. I must have been feeling pretty good about myself because I remember thinking "Wow, you're three years old today. That's old."

I must still be feeling pretty good about myself because I was recently looking out into my Silver Spring, Maryland backyard thinking "Wow, you're 46 years old today. That's old."

For purposes of full disclosure, I am the publisher of Musarium. As a publisher, I don't have to submit my work for approval, so what you read is straight from this horse's mouth. I haven't been able to convince everyone to believe as I do and most people go right on leading their own lives after they listen to what I have to say. You probably will too, but I encourage you to speak your mind as well and we'll include your comments on these pages.

For those who know me, it won't be a surprise to find out that I don't live in Berkeley, hanging out with the far left and reading old copies of The Nation. You can find me in Silver Spring, Maryland, making a living as an online publisher and internet service provider. You might see me reading Reason or logging onto AndrewSullivan.com , The Onion, or a variety of current news sources. News.google.com is a great source for the latest links to some of these stories.


A Talosian from another planet, circa 1968

As someone who has spent most of his working life as a photographer, I may not be a likely candidate for verbally musing about the world around us. As I get older, though, I often feel like the world is pushing more and more information into my head. I need a place to put some of my ideas together and out of my brain. Perhaps this form of expression will avoid my head enlarging to the size of an advanced alien. I saw this alien once on one of the early Star Trek episodes and I don't want to look like him (or was it her?).

While growing up in Kansas I often heard my parents talking about current events and history. My father was a member of the John Birch Society briefly in the early 1960s. I remember my parents' worry when Wichita decided to fluoridate its drinking water. Like many at that time, they thought fluoride would turn people into communists. This might be true, as I became a socialist sympathizer in my late teens. A quote often attributed to Winston Churchill probably applies to me: "If you're not a communist when you're twenty, you don't have a heart. If you're still a a communist when you're forty, you don't have a brain."

I attended a Goldwater for President rally in 1964 with my parents. When I was first old enough to vote for a President in 1976, I voted for Jimmy Carter. He seemed like the logical alternative to the aftermath of the Vietnam War and Nixon's lies to the American people. And I had the socialist tendencies of a nineteen-year-old who wanted to live in a fair society which cared for the poorest of its citizens (I was a poor college student then with a low-paying part-time job and no idea about how to play the stock market – the stock market is still a big mystery to me). I didn't realize that Jimmy Carter knew little about governing a country, much less his home state of Georgia. President Carter didn't know how to deal with the aftermath of Nixon's price controls, economic skullduggery and general lying to the American public. Gas lines grew long and my professors warned that the world would run out of oil in twenty years. I also heard that the world's population would balloon and consume much more than the world's farmers could ever produce. By the time radical fundamentalist Iranians took Americans as hostages in 1979, the world's outlook seemed pretty bleak.

For many of us with leftist tendencies in 1980, the world started looking like it was coming to its end with the election of Ronald Reagan. An ideological descendant of Barry Goldwater, Reagan spoke like he might start World War III. We all remembered the commercial about Goldwater during the 1964 campaign featuring a nuclear explosion and a child holding a flower. Reagan talked tough with the Russkies and I thought back to my first year in college, when we had to watch Dr. Strangelove over and over in a film history class. By the time The Day After (a scary drama based on a nuclear war hitting home in Kansas City) showed on television in 1984, I was starting to think my father might be right. My father was a fundamentalist Christian who believed Christ would soon be returning to pick up the pieces of our diseased humanity. My father was a big fan of President Reagan, and I've read that Reagan also worried about the apocalypse during the scary years of verbal engagement with the Russians.

Nearly twenty years later, the world seems like a very different place. My father died without seeing Christ return to Earth, we managed to survive the 1980s without a nuclear winter and the Soviet Union collapsed, allowing the people of Eastern Europe to reclaim their countries and lives. I also lived to see my fortieth birthday and fulfilled Churchill's maxim about growing older and reclaiming your brain by rejecting communism. I now exist as a living, breathing capitalist, glad that I live in a country which allows people to make their own smart or foolish decisions in their lives.

While the major threats of the twentieth century are behind us, we now live in a world with a new set of threats. I watched the dreadful events of September 11 and knew that my child won't be free of the fears she shouldn't have to live with. There are still horrible and nasty dictators ruling the lives of many people on this beautiful planet and far too many people will never enjoy the freedom to make their own choices about their lives or speak about their ideas without the fear of being arrested, tortured or killed.

At the same time, we live in a world where man has made incredible progress and where we have the potential to continue to create, invent and evolve into a higher form of life. In the same way my college textbooks of the 1970s got it wrong when they claimed that mankind wouldn't be able to feed itself and that the world's oil supply would run out in 30 years, we still hear overly pessimistic predictions about our future. I think life is actually getting better for a majority of people in the world, not worse. Statistics from places like the United Nations support this idea.

As individuals who live and breathe on this planet, though, we have a lot of work to do to continue to grow and prosper. There are more than enough diseases to conquer, starving people to feed and enslaved individuals to free, as well as new technologies to invent, bridges and buildings to build and other planets to visit.

I'm probably too old to be able to visit other planets and meet a real Talosian, but I'm greatly looking forward to continuing my exploration of life on planet Earth.

I wouldn't want to have it any other way.