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Or, is it just me?


J.D. Pendry


I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Is life full of mysteries?  Once each week I launch words into cyberspace.  I don’t know where they land.  It’s a mystery.  When something is loose on the Internet there’s no telling where it might end up, who might read it or how many places it travels – or whether it just ends up in a few hundred cyber trashcans.  I’d like to find out sometime.


I have other mysteries.  Maybe you can help me solve them.  Usually, when I’m contemplating the mysteries of the universe, I drive up the hollar (that’d be a hollow for the not indoctrinated) and search out a good spot to think.  This afternoon, I’m on the back porch watching the last of the Dogwood blooms fall after being chased from the yard by a thunderstorm.  So, help me with my mysteries.


Here’s one I can’t figure out.  When crude oil speculators raise the price to $55 a barrel, why does the gasoline in the tank at the gas station, which was refined from crude that cost $45 a barrel, go up 30 cents on the gallon in one day?  And, when the price of crude drops from $58 dollars a barrel to $49 dollars, the gas price per gallon only drops 2 cents after a week?


Here’s a dilemma.  After 30 years of fighting against drilling for our own oil, refusing to build new refineries, refusing to build new nuclear power plants, refusing to pursue alternative fuel sources, refusing to develop clean-burning fossil fuel technology…should we be complaining about the price of gasoline or the lack of action taken to resolve a 30 year old problem?  I hope my new Granddaughter doesn’t have the same dilemma with Social Security.


Help me with this one.  What are the odds of me – a thinking, reasoning human – arriving where I am following a big bang?  How many random things had to occur at the exact perfect time for that to happen?  Can you smart guys do one of those statistical probability things and while you’re at it explain for me the vastness of the universe.


Simple yet perplexing.  If I evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? 


This one requires deep contemplation.  Can we agree that humans arrived here with a sense of right and wrong?  You can’t explain it as learned behavior if the first one of us had it.  Where then did that sense of right and wrong, that’s in us, come from?  If you’re quiet, you can hear the Jeopardy music in the background.


A mystery from academia.  Why would an institution that is supposed to teach about freedom to choose, democracy, career choices, etc. - and who will to a pot-smoking professor declare themselves tolerant - want to ban military recruiters from their campus?  Maybe next they’ll ban physics.  After all, these smart guys develop really cool weapons.  Then there’s that whole religion thing, suppose we’ll have to clean out the library.  Wouldn’t want anyone subjected to the writings of right winged Christian nuts like C.S. Lewis.


An equal opportunity mystery.  If we can use a popular television series to promote homosexuality, why don’t we use television to promote other sexual perversions?  Think of the possibilities.  Welcome to The Whacko Jacko Hour, it’s so charming.


Women, I don’t know if you’ve encountered this mystery.  This could be a men only mystery.  Men, when you’re standing in the restroom at work relieving yourself from too much coffee, do you ever wonder which one of your professional colleagues stuck that booger on the wall?


Huh?  This one is complicated so contemplate it in small bits.  A doctor cannot remove my 13-year-old daughter’s appendix without my permission.  A schoolteacher can’t give her an aspirin.  If she commits murder, the Supreme Court determined that she’s not mature enough to understand her actions so she can’t get the death penalty.  But, according to a judge in Florida she is mature enough to decide to kill her unborn baby and some politicians to want to help her do it even if it means crossing state lines and without asking me or informing me.


I stand ready for your solutions.


Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;



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J.D. Pendry is author of The Three Meter Zone, Random House/Ballantine.


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