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December 2000


Previous Issues

January 2000
February 2000
March 2000
April 2000
May 2000
June 2000
July 2000
August 2000
September 2000
October 2000
November 2000

For technical support for these newsletters, please e-mail: arachne@pantarbe.com

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We Hope To See You At Our Next Celebration

Sunday December 10
4-9 PM
Katie & Duane Dolan’s House

For directions: Please phone Bob Olson at (425) 747-3879.

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Art Sharing
Sunday November 6, 2000, Carl & Lida Sloan's House

Carl and Lida Sloan provided a slide show of their new work. Seiko Olson played Japanese folk songs on her harmonica. Katie Dolan read a short play and introduced a writing game in which everyone participated. Roberta Gregory showed short Bitchy Bits videos. Mike Munro presented slides of the northwest Pasayten Wilderness. Bruce Taylor read his new story “Atmosphere Too”. Bob Olson read a convict friend’s NDE titled Shot While Robbing a Bank. Duane Dolan provided an attentive audience.

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Other Stuff

Want to learn how to critique manuscripts? Want to learn how to make your own novel stronger? Bruce is teaching two classes at North Seattle Community College and Shoreline Community College Winter quarter on precisely those subjects. Please call him for details 206-323-5483.

Remember December 16th & 17th: FOKUS would like to invite our readership to stay with us at the Bush House hotel and Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Index. (Beautiful old hotel, low rates with double occupancy.) Please call Bob or Bruce if interested.

On Sunday December 17, after our return from Index, Bruce would like to invite everyone to a Christmas tree decorating open house at his condo, 2 pm to 9 pm.

If you want to advertise something your are doing in our newsletter please call Bob or Bruce. This is an excellent free bulletin board for your announcements.

Samsara Quarterly announces its first poetry competition with 1st, 2nd and 3rd-place prizes. For all the contest rules and information visit: www.sundress.net/samsara/contest.htm. Deadline: December 31, 2000.

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Bruce Taylor's Editorial: I Hate to Say this But --

One of the hardest things to deal with is the nature of “Reality”. This is being written as a FOKUS editorial one week before the elections. I don’t know what is going to happen. I do know that we are at a profound crossroads in history and ecology – at no point in history have we had so much happening at once to potentially threaten life on this planet. If Bush has won, it’s really hard to think what this man could do, with his policies basically anti-environment, to further global warming (already established to grow potentially eleven of so degrees warmer by the end of the century – as warm as the age of dinosaurs. Good bye Antarctica, hello sixty? one hundred?-foot increases in ocean levels.) In the lives of the children being born today the icy peaks of the world will just be a “Kodak moment”. Mt. Rainier just a l4,000-foot non-snow cone. The Olympics, the river valleys – fjords. Capitol Hill will be beachfront property. It’s going to be very different world – larger ozone holes, more plagues caused by climatic dislocation of bugs; how can one possibly admit to the idea that this was meant to be? What a dreadful, dismaying thought. But maybe this crap has to occur before change can happen. Maybe we have to “hit bottom” on a planetary scale before we “get it”. Maybe we have to destroy the planet in order to save it -- a concept that really didn’t save Viet Nam -- but it took Viet Nam to make this country question its claim to be God and Indivisible.

God, I hope I’m wrong. I hope Gore gets elected, even if he is the lesser of two evils. I do hope Nader has a showing of over 5% nation-wide, so he can get matching funds in 2004. I hope the founding fathers were right in their belief in the wisdom of the people to choose rationally when given the information that they need through a free press. The problem is, when the media is owned by corporations, then there really isn’t such a thing as “Objective News”, and I’m afraid people really aren’t all that rational. We have to ask ourselves, what is it about us that votes in people like Reagan and Bush, who have espoused, for example, environmental policies so destructive to the planet of which we were born and of which we are inherently and obviously an integral part?. It’s like somehow we don’t get it that, as mammals, the fate of the earth becomes our fate.

But if that is the way it is, then it means we aren’t where we need to be to live in harmony with each other – or the planet. Sadly, the planet Earth may be the only bastion of life in the Universe, which gives us even more reason to treat it with immense care and respect. But if we can’t or aren’t willing to do that, Earth will, after all -- suffer for our pride, ignorance and arrogance.

Maybe this is what it takes for us to finally learn to respect and honor our planetary home, ourselves and, pardon the cliche, all creatures great and small who share it with us, before they become extinct. I just hope it’s not too late. I just hope there is still a chance. I hope, but sadly -- I’m not so sure we have the wisdom to make the correct choices we need to make – and there is little time left to undo the damage if we make the wrong decisions.

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Story By Bob Olson:

“A Tale of Two Cities”

“It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times…”

“Must God curse the children?” screamed the blonde reporter while she cradled the little boy in her arms, his face contorted in rage, as his fingers gripped the unthrown rock. A bullet baptized his bloody forehead.

A mob of teenagers dragged the sniper from his lair. Bloodlust gripped the air as waves of fanatics tore his body to pieces and smeared the gore over their hands and faces.

Cries progressed into the roar of a multitude that echoed -- VICTORY!

Not one building remained. The victors stood in rubble. As their waving arms and smiles faded away, the silenced tanks and armory of their foes provided an eerie backdrop to a smoky sky. Success -- at what cost?

Those clever enough to hoard and hide their food, found what shelter they could, ever fearful of their angry starving neighbors.

Chaos ruled Jerusalem.


Beverly Hills glowed as flames licked the night, mansions and estates burning in Hellfire.

Fire ants devoured the landscape. Armies of fire ants, the poor of generations, who basked in the shadow of garish wealth no longer. Clouds of ants took what they wanted. Looting property and ravishing beautiful people. Glutting their unsatisfied appetites.

Where was the LAPD? Below the Hills, LA had fueled the first fires. The police and firefighters lost control. Soon they too joined the fire ants. Shouldn’t the wealth of the few be shared with the many?

Chaos ruled Los Angeles.


Six months later.

Two fat men, pale-faced in their shock, converse in an opulent Swiss underground suite.

“What happened?” demanded Johan Buckworthy as he squirmed in his overstuffed brushed leather ottoman. “We’ve lost everything. Everything! Our magnificent cities, our industries, the Internet. We don’t own crap.”

“You’re right.” replied Marcus Chen. “Our wealth is worthless.”

In the Great Depression of the ’30s their grandparents prospered. Their money prevailed, as those with it bought what so many had lost. Then, cheap labor fueled the profits of industrial magnates. Governments fed tax advantage to the privileged, promoting the idea that wealth would “trickle down” to everyone. Instead, a few clever tycoons found personal profit in an ancient concept – slavery. Cheap labor saved billions. Oh, no one would use the word “slavery”; but that was what it was for many. So many of the working people who fed the world fell below the bottom rung of corporate ladders. Business thrived on labor from third world countries, refugee camps, or prison workers – slave labor.

Prosperity seemed to grow in industrial nations, with the blooming wealth of a middle class. However, an invisible class of the unemployed poor grew faster -- and angrier. They were unrecognized and they were uncounted and their numbers multiplied. These angry men and women had been taught to give up hope in the society around them. They found hope in rebellion, and they were the ones who led the riots. This poor unappreciated underclass was invisible far too long. With the mighty roll of a melting iceberg, society’s bottom half surfaced.

John Buckworthy and Marcus Chen never saw it coming.


Two years later.

Sunrise illuminated the desert sands like silica. Shades of blue, green, red and orange spread God’s rainbow over the Holy Land. An Arab shopkeeper lowered his awning as his Hebrew wife displayed their wares. Children laughed and played in the courtyard. The poor, unemployed Palestinian refugees quit throwing rocks when they were fed and paid to rebuild their city.

In the distance, one United Nations peacekeeping soldier from India smiled at the peace in New Jerusalem, the land of religious freedom.


Hills and valleys of manicured greenery, crowned with playground constructions, crawled with little ones, while their parents tended the grounds. This is the scene of Beverly Hills Parkland above Los Angeles today. The City of Angels has become a model for urban renewal.

“It was the best of times, it was the best of times…”

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Rix's Cow Joke

What would you call a cow that has just given birth?
Why, I’d call her decalfinated?

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Comments From The Experts

“Most writers are not quick-witted when they talk.
Novelists, in particular, drag themselves around
in society like gut-shot bears."
-- Kurt Vonnegut

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Last updated:  November 26, 2000