Sign up to get monthly notice of new issues

(back to beginning)

ISSN: 1530-5775
December 2012, Vol.14 #12


 print this article separately

Special Feature


The election is over. To our minds, worse disasters have been averted for a while, but "politics" means the people and in a democracy that means the ongoing responsibility of the people to be informed and to participate. We urge your continued participation in the process between, as well as during, elections.

In the Senate, Seven Races Topped $40 Million in Spending
By now, we know the Senate results well: The Democrats picked up seats and had victories in Indiana and Missouri that few expected at the beginning of the election cycle. Of the 10 seats that the Cook Political Report listed as toss-up races two months before the election, Democrats won nine, losing only in Nevada. But boy, did it cost a lot. Lee Drutman, Sunlight Foundation


What Happened, Anyway?
The election may be over, but the self-protective spin is not. Walter Shapiro, Columbia Journalism Review


FCC Abandons Diversity, Embraces Rupert Murdoch
President Obama told an Iowa newspaper that if he won a second term, he would owe his victory in large part to Latino voters. The president was right. But it wasn't just Latino voters who made the difference for Obama in 2012; it was a coalition that included women, African Americans and young people that won it for the president -- groups often marginalized by our nation's political and media systems. So it's inexplicable that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski would choose to alienate these very same groups in what could be the first major policy decision of President Obama's second term. Joseph Torres, New American Media


reddit Is Literally Writing Our Laws Now
Just when you thought reddit couldn't become more powerful, Rep. Zoe Lofgren has enlisted the power of the crowd to help her write a new Internet law. It's right up reddit's alley, too. Lofgren's law will legislate how domain-name seizures are handled in the United States, specifically in the cases of copyright infringement, accusations of libel and obscenity. Adam Clark Estes, The Atlantic


Every day, more than 400,000 servicewomen risk their lives in defense of our country and our ideals. For that, they should be honored.

Tragically, right now, they're being denied respect, care, and basic dignity. Each year, an estimated 19,000 of our service members, who make the greatest sacrifice anyone can make, are victims of sexual assault. And yet they are denied insurance coverage for abortions even in cases of rape and incest.

We can't let this continue.

My amendment to give these women the coverage they deserve is in the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act. The final vote could come as soon as this week and we have to make sure it's not blocked.

I'm joining with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to stand up for our servicewomen and make sure our voices are heard loud and clear. Will you join us?

Click here to show your support for the Shaheen Amendment and speak out to protect the rights of women who fight for this country to make their own medical decisions.

These women don't ask for accolades or praise. They go and fight for us because it's the right thing to do. Now, it's our turn to fight for them.

We owe it to their service. Please, join me and show your support for the Shaheen Amendment and these brave women. Click here to add your voice.

I know our servicewomen and their families share my gratitude for your support.

Thank you,
Senator Jeanne Shaheen


Worth re checking over the next 4 years:
RNC 2012 Party Platform
Democratic Party Platform

Read this feature from past issues.

 print this article separately

Special Feature

This month's Special Poetry Section features more from L.A. Paveling and some of their own choices from legacy poets Frances Sbrocchi and Irma Hudson — You can find Irma and L.A. working hard in the Writers Room now!

L.A. Paveling
An uncertain month a difficult friend, she comes wrapped in complexities unfolds layer by layer like petals of a winter rose. At the center of the blossom, she uncovers the unexpected. One year flows into the next, openly receptive, falling into grace, while December courts impermanence of new endings and beginnings as if conducting an experiment and recording the results. The earth turns, the seasons change, December insistently presses on in cosmic cycles beyond space and time. With ancient wisdom so intimate everything she touches is lifted and sustained, December journeys through darkness into mystery and light.

L.A. Paveling: I live with my partner Andrew Gillert, a landscape photographer, in the center of Canada's beautiful capital city, Ottawa. My interest in writing began at an early age with a straight pin, scratching the newly-learned letters of my name into the flawlessly veneered surface of my mother's dressing table. Decades later, I'm still scratching out fresh words and ideas on a laptop. For me, poetry is language, and image, and sense, and sound unfolding to interpenetrate the deepest experiences of our lives. I think when we use words to locate reality in the present moment, our perspective shifts, and we see life's interconnected matrix in all it's subtle complexity.

Frances Sbrocchi
At the end of a long life
the sharpened edge of time
cuts the beaded chain of memory
into tiny segments

At 3:30
An empty box its sawdust spilling evidence Windows opened wide against the pong that scent of small boys' wet moccasins wood smoke chalk and a fart or two The world a cracked globe, swings from the ceiling Faded paper hollyhocks twist in their orange jar The alphabet fringe on the green blackboard is missing letters g, m and capital T Four stools legs up pose on the red table a tin mug of cocoa dumping sludge three crumples of paper stuck in it On the lowest shelf six worn readers two torn copies of "The Wind in the Willows" a golliwog, a teddy and twelve shiny new copies of "Jim and Judy Go to the City " And on the board in fourteen forbidden colours Teddy Melanchuck's name
A Reply
Williams spoke of a woman's world of crossed sticks stopping thought I wondered (thinking it quite probable) if a woman had painted that wheelbarrow
Winter Decision
I wait for summer for forgiving The wind neither forgets nor knows forgiveness You may lie under stars but I will touch thick green growth on trunks where vast trees darken swamps and in a far place swing my hammock Banked snow deepens beneath the eaves I read a seed catalog

I invited them but what I really want to do is crawl inside your day and shut the door
Comfort a child's hand plunging a too-full breast Medicine a potion taken must have time to conclude its business Subtle to be aware that fierce beginnings end gently

The Biologist
She made him angry so he cloned a dozen of her so many, he no longer knew which was the original but she knows, and so has evened all the odds
I cannot touch you now across the distance You do not see my eyes nor can I catch the mirrored light in yours I hear your voice reflected reach toward you as you once touched and drew my flesh to yours. Rounded sounds ripple outward a high note, an upper e-mutedcatches my throat remembered remembered together, I try to match your deeper tones to those I hear: Words break over my tongue. I reach for colour see the cobalt ocean and the blue- green of pine and feel the cold rain of the northern island, feel the wind that drove us across the ice-clad roadway. I reach deep into the river circles, to memories, to words we learned together I try to feel the shape of words what it was like to taste a new word, one you knew well to recall what it was like to train a reluctant mind to sort and clarify to file, to pattern and to find new uses for old bits and pieces. When I find new patterns I'll return them to you. I know the colour, scent ,the taste, the wandering but cannot find as I once did, the long braiding together of your mind and mine
Why Write?
Why write? you ask for those of us who were born to walk in the middle road? We have been poor but seldom hungry carried a load of debt, perhaps, or early loss of parents yet not lost a child Our beds have been clean and ready before dark--our mother kept order that we failed to respect Our lovers discreet, our loves moved gently as though pale through still waters We drove our Chevies and Mustangs left narrow roads or high speed chase to men in leather coats We've kept the rear mirrors clean Set up our tents on well-raked gravel the spiders in this country are harmless gleaners of biting things Yes, my dear, I've heard the wild cryingof the night loon We roll ourselves into the mummy bag duck-downed and safe for we have been neither the hunter nor the hunted

Frances Sbrocchi has been with us since one of our earliest issues and we have been honored to be able to present works from Canadian/Australian poet, Frances Arnett Sbrocchi.

Irma Hudson
The devil in the details grins
He looked her up and down: "you must change into something more suitable." She changed into a fire breathing dragon, and that was the end of that.
At the Store
I have enough stuff yet there on that shelf the gadget beckons bright promises delight I must have that no matter what stuff is where it's at.
Writer's Block
The poem pouts in the shadows refuses to emerge into words.
Alaska Memory
Clouds and shadows settle on the mountains -- land and air become one.
To a 22 Year Old Cashier
I know you mean well but you'd better fear I'll use my karate if you call me "my dear" !
Does the lemming know as she dashes through the snow toward the siren cliffs that her pawprints wend inevitably to the end not that new beginning?
Pink and mauve silence interrupted only by gray honking geese high above flying home.
Cleopatra's Lament
It's not the men that make me cry... it's not for love that I will die I choose the asp's venomous rage rather than live in a Roman cage.
There once was a cat named Peas who cherished her life of ease. She loved the mood and the tasty food so she signed a nine-life lease.
Let us swim together into the indigo deeps of space, limited only by imagination; there stars line the Milky Way, dancing, and Saturn is as close as my hand.

Irma Hudson has been a good friend to LadybugFlights since its beginning, both as the author of "Your Virtual World" and as a steady contributor of her short, often humorous, poems. She is much more accomplished as a poet than I have ever managed to convince her she is.

Read this feature from past issues.


 print this article separately

Featured Fiction

Present and Counting
from Georgia Jones



Featured Fiction

Archibald Benson was not, as his name might imply, a conservative throwback to some eighteenth century worldview. The name was a family tradition; a tradition of punishment and challenge if you had asked him in the fourth grade and for some years of his youth. But he had learned to live with it and the diminutive, Archie or Arch wasn't so bad. His kids called him Dad, even his oldest who was going into her rebellious teen years and usually avoided calling him by any name at all. His wife of twenty-eight years, Susan Benson—a nice normal sounding name—seldom had reason to complain to her friends about his lack of attention or sensitivity. Archie, as she called him, was a good man with a quiet life, not too conservative or too liberal.

Archibald believed in the rule of law and the rule of rules, and he seldom "colored outside the lines" as he had once described "rebellious ignorance of order" in an editorial he had written. Though that line did not fully describe his attitude toward life, it had stuck. Archibald Benson, that conservative newspaperman was how he was known in the community. It was a wounding assumption because he thought of himself as open minded and maybe even, in his more confident moments, creative.

Now-a-days Archie had bigger problems than an awkward name and a reputation that didn't fit. The economy and technology, progress they called it, was destroying the business he loved. Print news was in trouble and that meant Archie's daughter's might not get to college, the mortgage might not get paid, his eighteen employees might be out of work and, probably most devastating to a man like Archie, the news would no longer be received vetted and carefully fact checked. It might not be received at all.

He had embraced technology at first. The pages of his paper had been graced by color pictures in new, non rub-off inks. He had a web version of the news, though he had never been comfortable with the tiny paragraph lead that was all many readers ever saw of the stories he and his reporters worked hard to provide. Now, though, he worried.

He worried about the past: what should he have done differently to avoid the calamity he foretold? He worried about the present: those employees, their bills and his own. And most of all, he worried about the future: who would take care of facts and fact checking, of learning the basics and beyond, and who would pick up after the mess his generation had left behind. That wasn't something he imagined when he had planned his children's futures. Neither had Susan and he couldn't quite shake the thought that she would blame him if that future were to become reality.

There was a definite air of gloom as Archie culled the files for "Christmassy" material to enliven the December month for his publication, The Local Times. Most years this had been one of his favorite editorial duties. This year felt different and it was. He couldn't ignore his concerns or the reality he saw on his books every month. This might be his last month of papers. Dailies were an endangered species and everyone seemed to think there were optimistic things to be said about that. Maybe there were, but he didn't see any.

He had been through the file of clip art, considered all of the cute reprints from past years and had simply had it. There would be papers this month. December wouldn't just go away because he wanted to cancel it. There would be papers but it was going to be a month of gloom, even if he stuck in every bell, Santa, Baby Jesus and Christmas wrapping picture he had on hand—not to mention anything he could pick up from the Internet… At least it was good for something. With that thought he turned his chair away from the computer and bellowed into the open space in front of him, "Has the mail come yet?"

Tina, who set copy and did a bit of light editing as well as brought coffee and the mail, hurried in to apologize for its being so late. What could she do about it? Archie grumbled to himself. As soon as she left, he got up and followed her out to the front desk. Nothing. No mail. He knew Tina was right, but he needed something to focus on and it seemed it would be the mail.

Before he could give up on this small hope, the postal carrier— as he always called her to emphasize his political correctness even though he knew her name was Millie— came through the door, a small bundle of envelopes in her hand and a smile at the ready. She was probably expecting Tina, he thought, but returned her smile anyway. He reached for the mail and Millie mumbled something about the weather, took the stack of envelopes waiting for her on the counter and swiftly turned toward the door. "Have a good Holiday!" Archie called after her, practicing the sound of it. Could they tell how he felt?

There was only one envelope addressed "Editor" and he pulled that from the stack, grasping it like a lifeline, and turned back to his office where he could open it in private, and maybe chant some wish for a miracle over it before applying the knife-like opener to its sealed flap. He was usually too busy to indulge primitive superstitions in his life, besides he laughed at people who did. But today— Today he needed anything he could get, even luck and metaphysics. The envelope opened with a soft zipping sound and a photograph fell out and onto his desk. He picked it up and looked it over.

It was slightly yellowed with age, maybe fifty years or so. There was a Christmas tree and presents and a couple of children tearing at wrappings. It was black and white. He shook the envelope. A note fluttered to the surface: For publication. Nothing else, just the scrap of paper and the snapshot. Not much of a picture, but he had asked for a picture. Here it was. Archie put the photograph in his tray with a note of his own indicating that the picture was to be put right on the front page. Maybe someone will come forward with an interesting explanation of the photo, he thought to himself, and there might be a story in it.

It would be pointless to go through all of those days of December, a kind of Advent Calendar, describing Archie's enduring mood of despair or telling how each day's mail brought another photo, each one as average and uninspiring as the last though all were different and it was possible to guess that some of the living rooms and some of the children were different too, or to mention, in case you didn't see those issues, that each one went dutifully to the front page above the fold unadorned with a caption of any kind. Let us just agree that is what happened and that none of it changed the world or the economy or the future Archie had so heartlessly foretold for the profession he loved.

It was a Wednesday, the third week of the month when Archie placed himself in front of the counter waiting for Millie and his now usual envelope. He was determined to get Millie to interpret the markings on the postmark. Surely, the post office must have some way of telling which part of the county a piece of mail originated from, even without a return address. Millie listened to his demand, smiled politely and answered that there might be, there sure might be, but no one had ever shared that information with her. All she did, she answered, was pick up a bundle in the morning, deliver it as addressed and return the new bundle to the outgoing rack later in the day. She was only part time, after all.

Archie's gloom magnified his frustration and if Tina had not stepped in he might have said some very unflattering things to his postal carrier, things that might have counted as high on the list of postal transgressions as a dog bite and have resulted in his having to pick up his mail himself. Tina had never doubted how valuable her role was, but that day everyone took note of it.

That picture went on the front page, and the next, and the one after that, of course, but Archie was beginning to formulate a plan. On December 23rd he ran a picture, the one from that day's mail, with the caption: Did You See Yourself Here? Come to our open house on Christmas Eve and meet the people we celebrated with this year.

He was sure he had gone a little crazy and so was Susan, though her concern was more about catering an open house at the paper's offices on such short notice. No one was likely to show up, he reassured her. She looked at him and wondered why he would be planning a party if no one was coming, but went ahead with full scale preparations anyway.

The 24th came on schedule, right before the 25th and after the 23rd, and Archie spent the morning ducking the troop of arrangers that was his wife and daughters. They had some help from Tina, of course, but Susan always felt that the personal touch was what made a gathering a gathering or a celebration a celebration, even when she was unsure about what they were celebrating. By noon, the place looked a picture of holiday spirit. Only Archie still wore his everyday face.

The girls were given leave by their mother to go down the street to a diner and lunch with their friends. They had done well, she thought, and deserved a chance to get away from the dustiness of the solid institution their father had built. She, herself, always loved the chance to go by the paper, to feel the buzz of news that told her everything anyone would need to know about the world, while still remaining safe in her own little circle. It was comforting and when she thought about her place in the community she was proud that she had married Archie. Susan knew about the problems, but she always trusted Archibald Benson to know what to do. He ran a newspaper; didn't he? He must know everything and if there was something he didn't know, well, he sure knew how to find out!

Archie sat behind his desk, his ears tuned to the comings and goings on the other side of the door that remained closed. There was nothing for it; by one o'clock he was ready to leave that door closed forever. By two, he was planning where he would move his family. By three, the depression had crowded all thoughts of vengeance, anger or hope of pretending that this had never happened out of his mind. By four, he was packing his briefcase for the drive home and realizing that he would have Susan and the girls in the car with him so would need to pretend that everything was or would be OK.

Susan had gone out for last minute shopping after lunch and seemed composed and cheerful as always. Archie guessed her practiced social face would remain intact until they were alone. Thank goodness he had had the sense to marry a woman as capable as Susan. She might even take the news of the disaster better than he worried she might. That was the most optimistic thought he had entertained in a month. He was grateful for Susan and her ability to make the worst somehow less bad, sometimes even tolerable, though not that day. Not that December 24th at the end of the world he knew and with a chasm opening in front of him and every thought of happiness…

There was noise on the other side of the door. Someone had tuned a radio to carols, but there were voices, too. Archie wondered who it could be. He had run the pictures. He had taken care of the past, someone's past, maybe everyone's. He still didn't know.

He grabbed the lined spiral bound steno's pad from the corner of his desk, the pen from his shirt pocket, and reached for the door handle. The future would have to take care of itself for now. He had a story to write and, from the sound of it, the spelling of a lot of names to double check.

Read this feature from past issues.

 print this article separately

Featured Article


We Have Come As Far as We Can
from Georgia Jones

Everyone has heard it said, usually about an old aunt who may be a hypochondriac or just chronically unwell and complaining — why we allow such negative stereotypes of women is beyond me, but I do have a point to make and there is good reason why I might begin here: "She'll outlive all of us."

Well, according to the statistics I won't be your crotchety aunt. I do, in fact have a firm expiration date: six months. And a survival rate: 0%. But, before anyone gets too upset (or begins to celebrate — I like to think I have lived an interesting enough life that there will be some people who would like to see my influence, and my voice, disappear) keep in mind that there is nothing stamped on me, no date or ticking clock. I have checked. There is also the reality that Bileary Tract cancer, which is what I have, has had so few cases of recovery that even for this rare cancer they aren't enough to make a statistical blip, which doesn't mean there aren't any. I have always been lucky so if there is time available, I expect to be benefitting.

Still, I have this diagnosis and I have to prepare with the possibility in mind that I might not be lucky this time or that my ability to function may be impaired well ahead of my death. I would really hate that last, but some things we can't control other than to be prepared, organized, and open with those who are close to us. After fourteen years here at LadybugFlights I certainly consider many of you to be people I am close to. Even if you are new here, we share a lot in this place, usually a wide range of things that are designed to entertain AND to make you think. Unfortunately, I feel the need to reduce my obligations and that will mean that LadybugFlights will no longer be a monthly magazine.

    Consider for instance that this magazine has seldom been late and is only this late now because I couldn't move any faster or think as well as normal — our wonderful columnists were, as usual though it does sometimes take a reminding nudge, on time.

As I say that last, I find that a final issue makes me sadder than I like to consider, so I will keep the door open to occasional issues. Watch your email announcements for when these might happen, and sign up if you are not on the list!

As I remind everyone, I have been lucky; good friends, wonderful sons, and the best husband in the world. They will all take care of me, but I also care that all of you and that LadybugPress, which I founded and built, should be lucky as well. And you will be. As I was informing my layers of friends and contacts many of them offered to help. The practicality of such offers are usually weighed in the kindness they reflect, but Tina Steele — whom many of you might recognize from her medical column in here, her sharp mind and determined attitude — Tina offered to carry on with LadybugPress. Now, I know what a huge task that is and how few people could do any or all of it on their own, so I politely thanked her for her interest and said she needed to put together a group if she was serious. She was serious and a group formed out of the mist to step forward like super-hero women and take on the task of giving as many women as possible a voice. That has always been the purpose of LadybugPress.

This group is new but they seem very promising so I have high hopes that LadybugPress, and possibly other parts of this small empire will go on. For now, I will be setting everything in archive mode. You will be able to listen to any of the audio at LadybugLive or read a year's worth of issues here. All of it will be archived for a year as the new group sorts through their plans for the future. I expect that the excitement of new ideas will begin to be seen well ahead of that year and that LadybugPress will grow into a new life with new strength.

She may not outlive us all, but LadybugPress will go on and that is something we can celebrate from all of this. And, btw, I will be keeping up my blog as often as I can as well as be available by email to anyone who needs me, or just needs to knock on my mailbox to make sure I am still here... And, yes, Amy, I will happily accept Dolly Parton as my guardian movie star.

Read this feature from past issues.



You can see more by David Donar at

Read this feature from past issues.


 print this article separately

Special Feature

Rethinking Marijuana with a Clear Head
from Michael Collins

Cartman, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny live in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado, a completely real state that just legalized marijuana by 50,000 more votes than it contributed to President Barak Obama's re-election. South Park's non-animated creators might have voted themselves, and Cartman is undoubtedly working on opening a hashish bar, but Matt Stone and Trey Parker don't actually smoke pot. Their kick ass real life reason? "It makes you okay with being bored."

If not for boredom we would have never climbed down from the trees and looked for something to do in the grassy plains. As it turns out there's not that much, so we moved into caves and started painting the walls as soon as the new smell wore off. Even bong hits and episodes of South Park eventually become boring, as does every activity and creation we've come up with. People are already yawning over the newest iPhone, and it too will soon be supplanted by humanity's boredom avoiding forward momentum.

The only thing that becomes not boring over time is boredom, a poisonous phenomenon that Gabriel Garcia Marquez calls bad time. Bad in the sense that once you've lived long enough with boredom you move out of the normal flow of time; what you think to be Friday is really Monday and what you assume to be May is actually September, until the hours pass like years and the years pass like hours. In psychology there's a learning principle known as extinction. Essentially when a formally conditioned stimulus is presented enough times without being followed by a reward it fails to elicit a response. Think Pavlov's dog hearing the bell over and over and over without ever being brought her food. Boredom is an innate negative stimulus, one that evolved to be persistently unpleasant and make us want to get off our ass and find something to do. But if circumstances are such that doing something is perpetually impossible then after a while boredom drops its cattle prod and a gray lobotomy of apathy descends.

Having spent the last three years in federal prison I'm familiar with bad time and with what it's like to lose the intrinsic motivation of boredom. It's stepping from the shower feeling an electric anticipation -- for what I'm not sure because I know once I tie my left shoe there's nothing left for me to do. The nauseating boredom that once came with tying that last knot used to inspire, this morning though, I simply laid down and took a twenty minute five hour nap, without bothering to take off my shoes.

Michael Collins is the author of three novels, including the notorious Hamster Wheel Manifesto. Michael currently resides within the Bureau of Prisons.
When not writing he earns .37 cents an hour as a GED and Computer Applications tutor.
As a free member of society he attended Nashville State Technical Institute, Tennessee State University, East Tennessee State University, and the University of Tennessee. The award-winning author misses his cat and looks forward to 2017.

Read this feature from past issues.


 print this article separately

Virtual World

So Long, and Thanks for all the Bits and Bytes

LadybugFlights has been a part of my life for a long time, since its beginning.

I met Georgia a long time ago, when the big gorilla for online connectivity was Compuserve, and she had a Writer's Room there.

I learned much in that group. We practiced writing and played with words and poetry.

The web exploded way beyond Compuserve, and Georgia started LadybugPress, and LadybugFlights. She asked me if I wanted to write for it. Thus I became the virtual correspondent here.

I came to look at bits and bytes in a new way... learn about computers not just for myself, but to share. I wrote an eclectic mix of articles through the years, anything from finding sweater patterns online to keeping data safe. And as I wrote, I learned.

And I learned from the other contributors too. Most of the economics I know came from Beatrice Spreadmore, the Financial Correspondent.

I watched Amy Barnes' kids grow up here:, and met her once when I was visiting relatives in her neck of the woods.

We went to California several times to visit our son, and met up with Georgia and Dave and had a fun time and got to know each other better.

This is the last issue. It has been a wonderful journey and gave me much that I am very grateful for, and the learning and friendships last. And of course I will still frequent the Writers' Room to practice poetry and play with words. Come join me there!

So long, and thanks for all the bits and bytes and Flights.

Read this feature from past issues.