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On a recent Sixty Minutes episode, Harry G. Frankfurt, an emeritus professor from Princeton talked about his runaway best seller (every book seems to be a best seller even if you haven't heard of it), called On BS. He talked about BS in our lives. "Nobody really tells the unadulterated truth," he says. Few of us take the time to delineate BS from lies--its worth the effort and Professor Frankfurt has spelled it out.

The interesting little "read" got its biggest boost from Jon Stewart's, The Daily Show which fits perfectly with this book as the show is a perfect metaphor for the term BS--A fake-news show that walks the line between social commentary, BS, comic hyperbole, and "over the top exaggeration" on the other. And, what makes The Daily Show so good is that they don't care what the truth really is. Consequently, what they have to say is more truth than fiction as it pokes fun at BS, especially government BS.

Jon Stewart was interviewed on his view and said, simply, "BS is a way of life." The biggest purveyor, of course, and the most important is the government. The most egregious incident of government BS is Iraqnam. It started out as weapons of mass destruction. They weren't found, then it became Iraqi Freedom, and now it is the war on terrorism. According to the good professor, "in there somewhere is some shade of the truth."

The little book is a quick read and worth the time. It will not change your life but just might make you more aware of your own BS and that of others.


When I was a chaplain at the Presidio of San Francisco, I often performed services for vets. The two hundred thirty year old cemetery had been closed for lack of room for full body burials and then decided to allow cremations. I performed the very first one.

The saddest services to me were often those with nobody in attendance but me, the military honor guard, and the bugler. Most were WW ll vets whose families lived far away or on more than one occasion an indigent, homeless vet whose life had taken a wrong turn. What brought them to that point, I did not know. Probably any safety net they'd ever had, i. e., family, friends, adinfinitum, was gone. They'd been given too many chances by the families and for whatever reasons, the wrong turns became more the rule than the exception. I did not know but here we were--they were alone.

The Northeast part of the San Francisco National Cemetery occupied a developers dream overlooking the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. The ceremony this particular day was a very sad one. The son of an active duty Colonel was killed in an auto accident. The only child. I was reminded of what my wonderful seminary professor, Dr. W. W. Boyce, would constantly say to us about grief: "Sometimes there is a sadness which is so great that you simply don't know what to say."

I feel this about Iraq on Memorial Day. I just hope my sadness is shared by most in our nation. I doubt it: 1640 Americans dead is heart wrenching. I've done my own little unscientific survey and have come to believe that most hardly know there's a war going on. What I always think of when I think of young soldiers who died is that they never got a chance to live out their lives. We could say that of any youngster dying, obviously, but war is especially heinous I think. There's an immeasurable cost of war that is mostly in the waste of human life. jhl
May 31 2005
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