November 23, 2015 - One Response

Hi, my name’s Arabella. I’m six years old and very beautiful. My two legs are long and slender, my eyes are bright, I can purr like a cat. And I have the sweetest disposition in the world.  So I’m told.

It’s easy to have a sweet disposition if you live in a loving family. Which I do. So many of us. So different. As different as the night sky from the day sky, the highest mountain from the deepest sea. We share. We care. We enjoy each other’s company. We talk a lot, each in a different way, but we’ve learned to understand each other.

Sometimes, when it’s raining, we sit hunched in a bunch and watch water–drops of water big and small, fast and slow–drip and drizzle and  fall from the sky like it was never going to end. Occasionally a flash of brilliance bursts with a startle and the sound that follows curves the air.  Overhead a cloudy wet  gray blanket smothers us tight,  and we think what it would be like if we never saw blue again. Dreary, I think, but I think most of us could adapt. We’ve been at it for a long long time. Adapting. Learning to live with the elements. Evolving from this to that. Changing.

We are the stuff stars are made of. You, too.

Eventually the sun  comes out. Warm and welcome.  Long legged trees grow longer taller. Green and gold and purple mountains in the distance  grow high before our eyes. And clouds. All that blankety blank gray stuff has morphed into delightfully soft puffy and fluffy stuff that soars and sways and wanders away. Disappears sometimes. Sky high. Free. I think it likes it up there. And the earth around us smells so fresh and clean we soak it in like the fragrance of  flowers blooming.  It’s just had a bath. It’s happy.  Birds sing and call to each other. And it never ends. Until the next rains come. Which they always do.

Just like you, me and my family love to eat. We all love cookies. Sometimes they come in a box, sometimes they emerge from an oven in a pan. Everyone’s happy when his belly is full.

The oldest member  of our family is a human. Just like you. He’s tall. Not too tall. Slender. Long legged. Beautiful, just like me. He talks to us a lot, that’s how we learn so much. We understand every word he say, sometimes we pay no heed, but he doesn’t understand us. So strange. I think he thinks we can’t think. Sad, kind’a. But I’ll bet he knows we love him. Love is beyond words.

We’ve all been around much longer than he. I’m a turkey and my roots go back 65 million years. I’m  a saurischian dinosaur, like Apatosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Velociraptor. He’s only been around for 200,000 years. We’ve learned so much. We wish he had, too. I’ll be here next year. Happy Thanksgiving.








The Greening of Lihue

November 17, 2015 - Leave a Response

Don’t you sometimes feel sorry for politicians?

I know they’re not our favorite servants, public or otherwise. I’ve known bedmakers who would serve their office better. Certainly we all know they should have a  better grasp managing money. If we managed our budget  as they manage theirs, we’d all be broke. Sadly, many  are, but I don’t think they should blame  politicians for that. I know who–or what–they should blame but I don’t want to start a fight.

Think about this? No matter what our politicians do, seems like  half the people in the country, in the state, in the county, disapprove. Bad.  Can we assume  fifty percent  approve? Good.

We rarely hear from they who approve, but we hear a constant stream of invective from those who disapprove. Some people like bike paths. Some people don’t. Some people want super ferries. Some people don’t. Most people don’t want higher taxes but everybody wants more, better, and faster public services. Fancy new high-tech garbage trucks? Oh boy! Where to dump the stuff? Not in my backyard? That’s  a 100% downer.

Everyone complains about the roads. Repair mine. Don’t repair his. Then we complain about the inconvenience we experience when the roads are under repair. Lihue is a maze most of us rats get lost in. Noise. Detours. Traffic jam ups and, quite often, a wrong turn–arrows, flag offs–sends us skittering off a hundred and eighty degrees south of that place we wanted to reach.

A restaurant? The Mall? A public potty?  A parking spot within walking distance of it? (That’s any place less than ten steps from  the spot on which we wanted to land.)

Some  answers: bring a book. You can read it in  stopped up traffic jams. A sandwich. Munch. Munch. A bottle of water. Slurp. Slurp. A road map.  Note paper and a pen. Write a letter to TGI about stupid politicians who do  stupid things and inconvenience the hell out of us. Complain. Stomp your feet. Cross your arms. Scowl. Got cell phone? Yell at the innocent in a government office who answers the phone.

So what’s this got to do with greening?

Well, I love  the green roundabouts. I love all the greened up strips beside the road. I love to see work men planting something. Watering something. ‘Course all this green stuff costs green stuff. Some guys want to spend it. Some guys don’t.

I got a’idea. Plant citrus. Local oranges are delicious–and the scent of orange blossoms!! –everybody loves good smells. Beats carbon dioxide.   Picking them when ripe would create government jobs and income. Buy homegrown food–good food, healthy food–from government road side stands.

Maybe we could plant some long green stuff. Sugar cane. Tall grass. So gorgeous. So generously, sweetly,  cleansing the air we breath. Such a marvelous living historical reminder of the wonderful island we once were. Don’t recommend burning.  Machete it–more jobs– let it grow back all by itself.

Thank you Mayor Carvalho.



November 7, 2015 - Leave a Response

I’m the lady from the provinces. In truth,  I’m  an expatriate at heart.  At 36 I’d spent as much time out of the country as I had  in the country and Kauai was about as far out as you could get without a Passport.

It was a feudal state. Sugar was King. Sugar, that historically  infamous dollar crop, held  sway.  Those glorious fields, that glorious crop, that  long green, dancing- in- the- wind grass that worked  two long years keeping our air the freshest,  the healthiest in the world. (Maybe that’s why so many of us who lived  those years ripened so well. and don’t forget it gave us sugar, molasses, and rum.) It’s beautiful yellow tasseles stopped traffic as did  their spectacular death in red/gold flames  in the quiet winds of early morning. An occasional plume of gray throat- itching smoke belched by, but we  forgave it.

There were hundreds  of miles of bridle paths,  maintained just for me and my entourage–one horse, two ponies running  free– and so many dogs I’ve lost count. We often  encountered a cane truck or a helicopter and our jaunts always crossed with  the field hands who greeted us with soft  smiles and friendly  greetings, “Good morning, Mrs. Bill Dux,” they’d call and  I’d smile  back. They were as much a part of this enchanting landscape as the cane itself. The cane mules, during planting season, brayed  love  to my  leopard–Beauregard the gaudy Appaloosa–who pranced by, head up, tail high.

Truly, I could not imagine a more delightful way to begin a day. To face the coming hours  of work and play and who- knows- what-all else lay ahead.

Just as sugar was King,  so were the managers. The department heads were lords and ladies of the manor. I was not much into the social life, women in America are much different from women who–excepting those in the military or Embassy sphere who were always the same– lived in a cosmopolitan community abroad.

On Kauai we lived on the water. Kept our beloved Warpath at anchor in front of the house, my horses in the red barn across the way. Somehow Bill and I managed to combine the horsey and  sailing set. Sailing these water–Bill and me–was too vast another world to describe briefly, but at night, beneath a sparkle strewn sky  and moon wide wonder–no phones, no worldly distractions–was an experience that kept our feet planted firmly on solid ground when they had to be. We lost Warpath during Ewa and Flash, Beau, and Billy are buried here. Bill’s ashes scattered.

Today it’s a third world. Gated  million dollar ghettos. The poor. The homeless. Cane is a  memory lost in concrete- coated  madness.  I see more cars driving to Lihue than there were on the Island 46 years ago. We’ve traffic jams–engine to BBQ hatchback– expelling so much CO2 it’s a wonder any of us survive.

Some people call this progress.

What do you call it?




November 4, 2015 - One Response


Hi ,
Young people in America are losing their religion. An encouraging new Pew research study says young adults are increasingly moving away from religiosity and belief in God. America is still a religious country, especially compared with European nations, but its youth are breaking free from their upbringing and thinking for themselves.
Republican presidential primary candidate and medical doctor Ben Carson, currently near the top of the pack in polls, has made so many jaw-dropping assertions during the campaign that it is hard to pick the most outlandish. But foundation friend Herb Silverman takes a stab at it.
After you read his piece, watch Herb talk to Richard about Richard’s latest book “Brief Candle in the Dark”.
Things are getting worse in Bangladesh, where four atheist bloggers have been killed. A publisher of one of those was hacked to death over the weekend just hours after three other outspoken secularists were attacked. A human rights researcher fears this presages further attacks: “Given the horrific pattern of violence, we have reason to believe many other lives are now at risk.”
Awards for speaking out are generally bittersweet. Bravery can come at considerable risk and great cost. That’s true of Saudi atheist blogger Raif Badawi, who was given the European Union’s top human rights prize last week. Sentenced to prison for a decade and 1,000 strokes for the crime of promoting freedom of thought, his body was devastated after receiving the first 50 strokes. Raif’s wife fears another round will kill him.

Robyn Blumner

Jailed, Whipped Saudi Atheist Given Sakharov Rights Award

An atheist blogger who was flogged and imprisoned for criticizing Islam in Saudi Arabia has been awarded the European Union’s top human rights award, the Sakharov prize for Freedom of Thought. Raif Badawi is serving a 10-year sentence and has been given 50 of a promised 1,000 lashes despite an international outcry. His wife says she fears the beatings are likely to resume soon — and could kill Raif.

Close your eyes and pick almost any position taken by GOP presidential primary candidate Ben Carson and odds are you’ll find something jaw-dropping. But he recently topped himself by asking the Secret Service for protection. Not because of the very real risks run by those seeking major office these days, but because “I challenge the secular progressive movement to the very core.”
Video of the Week: Dawkins and Silverman Discuss ‘Brief Candle’

Richard Dawkins and atheist writer and mathematician Herb Silverman discuss Richard’s second volume of memoirs, “Brief Candle in the Dark,” and their mutual admiration for Carl Sagan as a tireless promoter of the wonders of science.

Exciting news for the secular community. A new Pew research poll of 35,000 adults shows that America’s religiosity is waning, especially among young adults. According to the survey, only 27% of Millennials — people between 18 and 34 years old — say they attend religious services weekly, while 51% of people born before 1945 say they do. And only about four out of ten Millennials say they hold religion as something very important in their lives, compared with more than half of those in older generations.


Brief Candle in the Dark

October 28, 2015 - Leave a Response

Cherish books. Be determined never to  live without them. They’re difficult to keep in the tropics, but try. I have books I’ve carted around the world for fifty years.  They’ve seen the world. Many are worn, many are torn, many are frayed–held together with scotch tape, Elmer’s glue and duct tape–but all sit on my shelves and are dearest friends. I’m holding a hard bound–once upon a time–Thesaurus, with pages so messed up, so strung out, so dangling,  I wonder through words like a kid lost in a fairy tale  forest.

Words. Twenty-seven letters in the English alphabet strung together into meaning. Nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs. The primary colors writers use to paint pictures with black ink on white  paper.

A recent book that found my desk is a New York bestseller, Sense of Style,  the Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by Steven Pinker. He claims, rightly, writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and intellectual  fascination.  Delightful. Explosive. I recommend it to all  writers.

His incredible wife’s –Rebecca Newberger Goldstein–new book 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, is beyond a must read. If  you love to laugh, enjoy wit, brilliance  and entertainment  find this ‘literary miracle’. It’s sad we don’t have a bookstore on Kauai. We’re so backwoodsy. Order it from Barnes and Noble or our very own used bookstore  in Hanapepe.

But my most priceless new possession is Richard Dawkins’ Brief  Candle in the Dark. It’s signed. I carry it with me wherever I go. There’s always a park bench, a chair at a table,  some shade beneath a tree. Started reading it on the plane flying home.  Can’t put it down. I’m trying to read all three at the same time.

Richard is ‘one of the best nonfiction writers alive today’, says Steven Pinker and he should know.

What I loved is the earthiness of it. Richard’s incredible life, his  mind, his charm.  His story telling ability. Soon you feel you know his family, his wife–the beautiful actress and artist Lala– to whom the book is dedicated and who paints all his ties.  (Queen Elizabeth complained about one of them he wore to lunch.) You fall in love with his daughter, Juliet, who became ‘a fourteen- year- old hero’  when her mother died of cancer. All his friends become your friends. All his adventures become your adventures. He writes about people we all love, John Cleese, Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan. I think he knows everybody. He sounds a trumpet blast for truth. He cares.

“Richard always writes like he’s telling a story, which is why so many of us non-science people understand science better than we used to. But when the story’ s his own life, it’s doubly compelling.” BILL MAHER.

Someone  cautioned me, quoting 1 Corinthian 1:25-18 , “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

….blessed are the dense for they will inherit the earth?

Let us hope not.












Open letter to Richard Dawkins

October 27, 2015 - Leave a Response

Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015

Dear Richard,

I’m a columnist not a journalist. Columnists have more fun. We break rules.

Quick aside: Ann Druyan and I started a religious war on Kauai. In the November/December 2003 Skeptical Inquirer ‘Ann Druyan Talks About Science, Religion, Wonder, Awe…and Carl Sagan’ and I responded. My letter appeared in the Letters to the Editor section in the March/April 2004 issue. It then appeared as a column in The Garden Island Forum.

Eleven years later and I still don’t understand what it was in that letter that set ‘them’ off. The war’s still waging.

The current column –better known in this back neck of the woods as a bettejo– was a hoot to write. Have already had one response. Before the letter was published–I think there’s a leak–someone named Jerry Terui from Lihue cautioned me, quoting 1 Corinthian 1:18-25, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

….blessed are the dense for they will inherit the earth?

My Editor wants more Richard Dawkins. Will try to work something up about A Candle in the Dark and see if I can include the densers. Don’t want to leave them out.

By the way, I found, on my desk when I returned home, two books: Sense of Style and 36 Arguments for the Existence of God. I’m trying to read Candle, Sense, and 36 Arguments all at the same time.

If gawd had a hand in this, I think he’s got his fingers crossed.



PS: New comment: ‘I’m a Dawkish adolescent.’  In a way I’m kind’a flattered. Adolescent? Don’t I wish.


October 18, 2015 - 4 Responses


Many of us, I’m, sure, hold someone so completely in awe that the very idea of meeting him, dining with him, takes our breath away.How could it happen? If it did, wouldn’t we be struck dumb? Turn  loose a tsunami brain wave that washes all our cognitive thinking out the window? We’d mutter. We’d stutter. We’d falter. We’d faint.

Well, it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like that at all. Richard Dawkins, my  companion at the table, was, as David Silverman, president of the American Atheist, Inc., said, “…. sometimes funny, sometimes fascinating, and always interesting…” But, more than that, a delightful host. He made me feel welcome, comfortable, at home. All of them did.

It was a small group at the table. Several brilliant women, three Turks, one who plays polo, a guy from Australia, a lawyer from Texas–hope I’ve not left anyone out–I didn’t count, I listened and talked and had a great time.

The experience, I suppose, was something like it might be for you Christian guys having supper with Jesus. We didn’t drink blood or eat flesh, but we did wine and dine.  Richard didn’t wash anybody’s feet. Good thing. I was wearing a pair of Haines Barely There panty hose which would have turned my foot  washing into an awkward feat under the circumstances.

The introduction by the others was impressive. Lot of letters ‘fore and aft, degrees in fields of science I didn’t know existed. But there was a human quality there.  No chest pounding or me me meing. They were almost humble. Richard’s introduction was,    “I’m Richard Dawkins.”

When my turn came, I said,”I’m Bettejo Dux. The lady from the provinces.  I’m an atheist. No buts about it.” It was an ‘inside’ joke and Richard grinned. That made me happy and set the stage.

Sometimes the banter became a little hefty but all of it fascinated me. Held my interest. I could have sat at that table for hours listening in.

I think the women were a bit more interested in the awful ways in which atheists were  treated. I told my story about guys on Kauai who  say, “I agree with Bettejo but I can’t say it.” “I’d lose my job.” “I couldn’t be elected.”  “Neighbors wouldn’t talk to my wife.” “What would I tell my flock?” We all agreed  speaking the truth was a dangerous step but one which all of us had to take. Someone said, “Like our gay friends, we have to come out of the closet. Too many are sadly locked in there alone.”

I make it easy on myself. As an atheist, I prefer to pal  with astronomers rather than  astrologers. Reason my way through life  rather than indulge in make believe. Browse The God Delusion rather than the Bible.  Watch  Cosmos, narrated by Carl Sagan, rather than any sermon from any televised house of worship.

Lets teach kids the marvelous magic of math, not the  mythical magic of religion.

What do you think?









September 6, 2015 - Leave a Response

After  the muggy weather, we lived in a steam bath, we breathed in water– our lungs turned to gills, our skin, and fur and feathers, unpleasantly drenched with sweat– a new day beckoned. It was the kind of day, my husband used to say, “You pays your money for.”  It do cost long green stuff–plenty long  green stuff–to live in Hawaii. Always has. Always will.

But this day, that wonderful  Sunday–Kauai Marathon Day–was a gift from Mother Nature. We awoke, me and the zoo–Ari, Boots, Reba,  Rosa, and Duke–with a stretch and a yawn, a smile and eagerness to get  started. The rising sun, behind the hill, gave birth to  a  misty morning blue  and golden cool sky.  The silence on this beautiful  stretch of country road gave air space to every bird on the Island. Waking up in my jungle house is  waking up in an aviary. A crowing roosters– Pavarotti with a beak and wings and long slender chicken legs– starts it off. Joined soon enough with a chorus of trills and tweets and twitters–not the computer kind, oh joy, oh joy–but the real thing. Hope all of you reading this woke up that way, too. Wasn’t it Jimmy Durante who sang, with that scratchy irresistible warble,  “Start off each day with a song.”?

“Okeydokey, Jimmy baby,” Duke, the macaw, screeched, “You got it.” They heard him  in Metropolitan Kalaheo.

I rushed through morning chores. Fed Duke first, Ari second, Reba and Rosa and Boots third–serving their breakfast at the human end of the house–and brewed a pot of organic coffee.  Gathering some vanilla wafers , I took a front row seat on a  chair at my end of the barn. Everybody in my house loves vanilla wafers. We munch together. I  plump a cushion. Taking off my slippers, I  plop my bare feet on the long, book- strewn  table. Comfort is my style, coarse eating is my comfort. Crumbs fall and strew about. Boots, who’s finished supping–she’s a very tidy eater–cleans up after me and sits beside me watching the empty road. The kittens, Rosa, the  fuzzy black with red streaks, plunk themselves on a black ice chest and sit up watching the street.

At the barn end, Ari, with an arched neck and perked ears, glues his focus on the quiet, empty road.. Duke is perched in his jungle cage facing the street. Gone quiet, he’s  chomping a peanut.

The first runner appears. We see only his head and shoulders.  A slight glimpse of a handsome torso. Erect, eyes forward, he seems to float by. You can’t hear him breath. You can’t hear his feet. Do they touch the ground? He’s in the zone. He wafts up the hill. It’s 7:40 AM. Soon others follow, heads and shoulders bobbing by in many different Marathon styles.

I kind’a wanted to shout, sweetly, “Get a  horse.”

Ari heard me and responded, “Be a horse.”

Wonder if they heard?











August 25, 2015 - Leave a Response

…”Eating Horses Don’t Die.” The title of a book Scott was writing. Wish he’d lived to finish it. Would love to read the manuscript. My interest? I hope there are many horse and Scott lovers reading this because I’d like to write about an ‘eating horse’–my beloved Aristotle–who Scott operated on  several years ago. I could write about that time, that incredible surgery, that experience–Ari’s life and times– but I’ll try to stick to the subject.

Ari was bon on Kauai in September, 1987, which makes him 88 and a half horse years old in people years, three years older than I. As a colt he was sent to Honolulu where he was badly abused.  A very proud horse, but spooky, he hated everyone. He was rescued by a lady and her family who loved horses–Scott would’ve loved that story–and I first met him, bought him for a song,  at her barn in May, 1993. There was something about that big roan– the way we looked at each other–that touched my heart.  I brought him home.

The first ‘eating horse’ story: he came at me striking. A big horse coming at you, walking on his hind legs, forelegs boxing the air, is a formidable sight. Taught by a Canadian Mountie, ‘always ‘leave ’em laughing’,  I calmed him down, fixed him a bucket of food and walked over the hill. Sadly.  My horses always have  full run of the land and I could not live with a horse that might attack me.  Several minutes later–I’d left Ari with a full bucket–I heard hooves clopping behind me. I didn’t know what to expect. I turned.  We met eye ball to eye ball. Face to face,

The look in his eyes  said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” We bonded.

Fast forward to his homecoming after the surgery. Scott had put him on  antibiotics, which Ari hated. He fought me.  Came at me striking. I took him off the drug and offered him Vitamin C. He loved it and healed quickly. I gave Scott  the drugs and told him the story. “He even ate oranges,” I said.

“Horses don’t eat oranges.”

“Don’t tell Ari,” I replied, “he hasn’t read that part of the book.”

Today my long- in- the- tooth beloved friend, eats like a horse. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I cook for him in the barn. He watches, making sure I do it right. No skimping. He counts: one large measuring bowl of oat alfalfa soaked in warm water, sprinkled with salt and tossed in his bucket. Another bowl of same dimpled with raw carrots. And one more bowl flavored with bran and laced with molasses on the top.  He licks the bucket. Scott would have loved the sight, but he would have said, as he always did, “Horses have no sense of taste.”

And, once again, I’d have replied, “Don’t tell Ari.”

I hope Scott’s right and Ari never dies.




August 23, 2015 - Leave a Response

On Saturday, September 5, 1992, I heard about Iniki that morning. It was a hustle and a half  ‘battening down the hatches’ and getting my zoo–three horses, one dog and four cats–to safe shelter.

Once again I stayed home with the animals. (I’d spent Ewa in the barn with two horses on property surrounding the house on the Alexander Dam Road.) “We’ll all go together when we go,” I said then. And now. We cuddled up in the barn as hurricane winds brought down branches and stripped every leaf off every tree as far as the eye could see.

A nude tree is a very strange sight to behold.

The next day was so beautiful–swept clean of dirt, dust and debris–it blossomed like an hibiscus  in the hearts of all survivors. Across the street cattle, that had gathered at the bottom of my green valley, rose to their feet and sauntered back up the hill to graze.

The rest of the island looked like a war had stormed through. Houses at the top of the hill appeared  perfectly normal, until you caught on their roofs were missing. A house without a roof is a strange sight, too.

We’d been hit, darkness dulled the light, and passed through the eye–sunny, cloudless and clear blue sky–and been hit again. I think everyone who went through that remembers the morning after. That glorious glorious day. The air smelled sweet. The sound of no traffic a welcome silence.

In front of my house hundred of birds had feathered down–an animal knows instinctively where to find haven–and they began singing at first light, their tweets and twitters and bird lyrics an ode to joy. A peahen in a bare tree screeched as only a peahen can screech and livened up the party.

I think most of us were unprepared for Iniki. We swallowed our fear, took a deep breath, and rode it through.

Times are different.

We watched Kilo form south of us. We know that El Nino has gone berserk and may continue its berserkness until April. I’ve heard that because of climate confusion–global warming, whatever you want to call it–to follow the path of our storms is unpredictable. They can go anywhere.

I’m happy we were forewarned. Those of us who had computers watched Kilo–a strange critter–strengthen and weaken and lolligag around like winds on LSD. It couldn’t make up its mind. Did it have a mind? A destination? Or was it just on a spree?

What I do think is: if this is the way it’ll go until April, we’ll all be nervous wrecks.

I hope we get honest reporting. Not headlines to sell papers or religion. Please Editors–newsmen, talking heads–don’t become little boys who cry wolf. We need to be prepared. You need to be prepared. But we don’t need Tom Foolery.

I think Kauai can show the world how well we can handle reason, truth and disaster.





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