Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Washington Post editorial -- migrant kids





CHILDREN WEARING clothes filthy with snot and tears and food. Children locked in cells nearly all day long, sleeping on cold concrete floors. No windows. Always hungry. No toothbrushes, toothpaste or soap. Children alone, even the littlest among them.
These are the conditions in which hundreds of immigrant children are being held at Customs and Border Protection facilities along the U.S. border. Most pets get better treatment. The United States should be horrified and demand that the president and Congress take action, immediately, to provide humane care for these vulnerable young people.
Concern about the conditions in which migrant children are held intensified after the Associated Press reported on the findings of a group of lawyers who visited a detention facility in Clint, Tex., in which 250 infants, children and teenagers were being held. “It’s the worst conditions I have ever witnessed in several years of doing these inspections,” said W. Warren Binford, one of the lawyers, recounting the lack of adequate access to food, water and medicine; the minimal adult supervision, and the presence of lice and flu. News reports Monday evening indicated hundreds of children had been moved out of that facility, but the administration’s responses inspired little confidence that they would be treated better elsewhere.
“We’re doing a fantastic job under the circumstances,” President Trump had the temerity to say on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. He and Vice President Pence, appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” sought to put the blame on congressional Democrats for any problems. “If the Democrats would change the asylum laws and the loopholes, which they refuse to do because they think it’s good politics, everything would be solved immediately. But they refuse to do it,” Mr. Trump said.
Congress shares in the blame for its failure to address some of the issues that have led to an increase in illegal border crossings. It also has failed to act, after appropriating $400 million in February, on a larger supplemental spending bill to cope with the surge in migrants. A Senate version of the bill is headed to the floor with bipartisan support, but its future in the House is unclear. Some House Democrats, using the hashtags #NotOneDollar and #CloseTheCamps, have come out against additional funding because they think it will help advance the administration’s immigration and detention policies. Such thinking is irresponsible; children are hurting. Congress should provide the needed resources and then closely monitor how the money is spent.
But if congressional action is irresponsible, it is also understandable, given the contemptuous way Mr. Trump speaks of migrants; his loathsome policy of family separation last year; his current lies about that policy; and his constant use of fear, threats and ultimatums in place of an effort to work toward immigration reform. First and foremost, he is responsible for how these children are being treated. The U.S. government should be capable of providing toothbrushes, soap, showers and safe and humane shelter for these most vulnerable human beings.

Saddam Hussein, the former dictator of Iraq and a man excoriated by the United States, was said to have fed (or was it his sons?) his enemies into a wood chipper and listened to the screams. Might the same be done -- slowly and purposefully -- the Donald Trump? The trouble with a bloody price to pay is that it exacts more and more blood to pay and thus turns to a vicious circle. I would be willing to swallow the onus of all this violence if it would extinguish the current cause.

Blood is coming....as a U.N. report suggests.

Monday, June 24, 2019

taking the Arab world's temperature

The Arab world is turning its back on religion and on US relations, according to the largest public opinion survey ever carried out in the region.
A survey of more than 25,000 people across 10 countries and the Palestinian territories found that trust in religious leaders has plummeted in recent years.
For those as dumb as I am, this story is a helpful antidote to the sense of a monolithic Islam and a monolithic Arab mind-set.

Boy, is my ignorance pervasive!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

howdja like to live forever?

Some sleep on electromagnetic mats, others pop up to 150 pills a day. But are ‘life extensionists’ any closer to finding the key to longevity? Alex Moshakis meets some of the people determined to become immortal
To presume an importance greater than that of a daisy strikes me as arrogant in the end. Yes, it's scary, but the daisy doesn't seem to be the worse for wear.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

a town without time

The 350 residents of Sommarøy in the land of the midnight sun are hoping to free themselves from the tyranny of the clock by declaring the small Norwegian island the world’s first time-free zone.
“All over the world, people are characterised by stress and depression,” Kjell Ove Hveding, the leader of the campaign on the island, west of Tromsø and inside the Arctic circle, told the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.
“In many cases this can be linked to the feeling of being trapped by the clock. We will be a time-free zone where everyone can live their lives to the fullest … Our goal is to provide full flexibility, 24/7. If you want to cut the lawn at 4am, then you can do it.”
The islanders, whose main sources of income are tourism and fishing, are calling for formal opening hours to be abolished and people to be allowed to “do what we want, when we want” – although children will still have to go to school, Hveding said.
A time without time. It may or may not work for a town, but I wonder if it isn't a worthwhile pursuit for individuals who love losing track of things in such pursuits as laughter or music or sneezing or orgasm.

A time without time.

on whom is old age wasted?

If, as George Bernard Shaw is said to have whined wittily, "Youth is wasted on the young," does that raise the question, as I think it does, "On whom is old age wasted?"

The question re-raised its head yesterday with the pass-along of an Atlantic article about the declining years anyone might actually face. I found it interesting, if long.

Friday, June 21, 2019

this is my country?



[Sorry it's not better edited]


Just about the time I think nothing worse or more egregious can happen, well, of course it does.

Tonight's PBS NewsHour retailed two segments that, alone and more so when linked, made me want to weep or vomit. I am sorry I haven't got the computer skills to suss out the particular segments for easy access, but I can describe them:

First, the tale from Texas of some 250 migrant children, from toddlers to teens, shut in a single room with older children asked to watch after the younger. Many had been separated from their parents and then segregated in ways that might have done the Boers or the Nazis proud. This was my country as it exists today.

Second was an analysis of why, after Iran shot down an American military drone this week, a strike force was launched by the commander in chief of the military, Donald Trump, and only canceled when, in flight to Iranian targets, the president said he could not countenance the collateral death estimate of 150 people ... and so he aborted the mission. This is my country as it exists today.

Spliced into the latter segment was commentary of former vice-president and presidential candidate Joe Biden's refusal to back away from remarks in which he said that as a member of ongress, of course he had worked with those whose segregationist views he disagreed with. Congress is a body that tries to do things for the country it represents. To expect everyone to agree is egregiously stupid. The idea is to either arm-wrestle opponents to your point of view or convince them, no matter what their other leanings.

Why hadn't the president's sensitivities been more clearly in mind when the launching of the strike was ordered? Partly it's because he has no Secretary of Defense. He seems given to getting rid of advisers who simply do not agree with him. He is the sole arbiter ... the sole arbiter ... the sole arbiter.
Allies, if the U.S. has them any more, are in mental disarray. America is in mental disarray. There are no policies...

But 250 kids who are ill clothed, ill-nourished, and ill-medically-attended... this is my country as it exists today ... I am left with nothing but wubba-wubba on my tongue and lips. Will someone please take this man out behind the barn, shoot him in the kneecaps, and throw him into a sty where the pigs can shit all over him?

There is the minor "apostasy" that the Vatican can cite from time to time. But major apostasies spread a wider net ... a human one. It's time to stop.

Colleges and universities and other gatherings where people with good hearts and capped teeth agree with each other can learn from Biden, I think.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

grumbling in the scullery

Sixty-nine years old and a scullery maid.

Such is my lot, this morning and else-times ... washing dishes, cooking a slumgullion, putting crockery and utensils away. I don't care for it much.

If there be reincarnation cards in the offing and if I turn out to be a man, I believe I will find a woman who both knows how to cook and otherwise knows how to share the lob lolly chores.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

something for Japanese women

Sort of.... 
Women outperform men after Japan medical school stops rigging exam scores. Juntendo University says abolishing unfair treatment of women is behind rise in entrance exam scores.
 And speaking of 'rigging,' in my neck of the woods, the local Roman Catholic Bishop is headlined across the top of page 1 in my hard-copy newspaper: "We know we can do better."

The Japanese plan to level the playing field for women ... well, sort of.
The Roman Catholics are going to tighten the screws .....

Of the two, I believe I would bet on the Japanese reconfiguring their attitude towards women before I would believe the Vatican would clean house. The Catholics have the unenviable task of relinquishing their hold on power -- a synergistic love of power among the Roman Catholic power brokers and a lay constituency that loves their leadership.

The Vatican may hem and haw, but there will never be reform until they rebuild the house from the ground up. Power brokers simply will not give up the current structured settlement in which the clergy stands between Man (and did I mention his wallet?) and God. Yes, a little tugging at the hems, at little investigative tuck here or there, but not the central power, the position, the grandeur that pleases both the aggrandizer and the aggrandizee.

Yes, we can all do better.

Yes. pigs will fly.

Religion is slip-sliding towards a different animal. Not soon, perhaps, but a real re-visioning of man and his god(s). Clear the lot! Start anew. Set aside the moral and intellectual brocade.

PS. From here on out, I do hope those reading this blog will greet my words with doubt, if not outright scorn: I simply do not have the intellectual coherence/energy to make things fit. I associate and lack the coherence tools. It's not gonzo ... it's just my taste ... all of it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

spider eats pygmy possum

Pygmy possums usually aren’t on the menu for huntsman spiders.
But an Australian man from Tasmania has captured the rare moment a huntsman attempted to devour a tiny possum at a lodge in the Mount Field national park, 64 km north-west of Hobart.
If true, who knew?
If untrue, who knew?

Facebook's cryptocurrency

Facebook has announced a digital currency called Libra that will allow its billions of users to make financial transactions across the globe, in a move that could potentially shake up the world’s banking system.
Libra is being touted as a means to connect people who do not have access to traditional banking platforms. With close to 2.4 billion people using Facebook each month, Libra could be a financial game changer, but will face close scrutiny as Facebook continues to reel from a series of privacy scandals.
It could also be a welcome lift to Facebook’s profits: analysts are suggesting Libra could be a huge moneymaker for Facebook, arriving as its growth slows.
This sounds important in the world of the wannabe-dictatorship/rich-getting-richer, but it is beyond my capacity to connect the dots and sweep away the altruistic dross.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

serenity ... not?

Awoke this morning accompanied by what I guess might be a stand-alone antonym for "serenity:"

... A LARGE CAT IN GALOSHES.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

U.S. purges Chinese cancer researchers

This is important, I sense, and some more brighter and more energetic soul than I will read the whole thing (passed along in email today), I hope.

The U.S. Is Purging Chinese Cancer Researchers From Top Institutions

The NIH and the FBI are targeting ethnic Chinese scientists, including U.S. citizens, searching for a cancer cure. Here’s the first account of what happened to Xifeng Wu.
By Peter Waldman

Friday, June 14, 2019

an accidental murder



I'm not entirely sure why, but I found this first-person tale of accidentally killing a classmate with a javelin on sportsday ... moving.

There's enough tragedy already; is there any need to manufacture more?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

imponder-babble

Idly, I wonder:

If I had done things differently, things would be different, right?

But since I didn't do things differently, did I do them, ipso facto, "the same?"

And if I did them "the same," then "the same" as what?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

behold the lowly hedgehog!

The next time you twist your knickers as your favorite, loathsome politician goes on a rant, at least take some solace in this member of British parliament who was passed along this morning:


No, it is not a joke. Yes, it is Parliament. Yes, Monty Python is dead and gone.

Gotta say it made my day!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

frequently bandied, rarely examined

Natural.
Authentic.
Democracy.
Freedom.
Enlightenment.
Compassion.
Morality.
Terrorism.
Heaven.
Hell.
Hero.


et al.

How frequently bandied. How rarely examined.

Monday, June 10, 2019

"I want, therefore I am"

"I think, therefore I am"?

How about, rather,

"I want, therefore I am?"

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Four Seasons to Close in New York City

[C]ritic Jason Farago rhapsodized for the Guardian: “The restaurant’s heyday was the 1970s. Outside, the city came within days of bankruptcy, and the streets were choked with crime. Inside, tycoons and socialites conducted a choreographed spectacle of dining and table-hopping worthy of France’s ancien régime. “New York’s world of publishing gravitated to the Grill Room, as did magazine editors with expense accounts larger than the entire budgets of today’s viral content abattoirs.
And now the place will close after lunch on Tuesday.

I ate there three or four times, but as with other four-star eating venues allowed to me while I worked  in publicity for a book publisher in New York, there was too much about the setting that made my gorge rise.

First of all, the idea of discussing business over a meal is off-the-charts ("blasphemy" occurs to me but I'm not sure where to apply it). I'd use the line "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" but it has already been taken. You want to talk business. Talk business. You want to eat? Eat. The principle is one that seems to be pile-driver insistent in my DNA.

Second, minuscule portions do not necessarily make good eating. Artful decorations delivered by men whose accents are French and whose jackets are oh-so-body-hugging ... get bent! Eating is a deep gusto -- no simpering sissies need apply. This is LIFE and a blessing at that, asshole!

And most important: Eating is not a pretense, however pretentious it may be.

Why I get so cranky about a place I do not for a moment miss is nudging me. I guess it may just be my sub-rosa WASP background.

Maybe I'm just in the mood to jack myself up.

PS. In Iran, 547 restaurants and cafes were closed down Saturday for not adhering to "Islamic principles."

Friday, June 7, 2019

fake news vs. terrorism

[H]alf of Americans view fake news as a bigger threat to the country than terrorism, illegal immigration, violent crime or racism, according to a new study. ... The result, according to the study by the Pew Research Center, is that almost 70% of Americans feel fake news and misinformation have greatly affected their confidence in government institutions, and experts warn of a deepening crisis if the status quo is left unchecked.

moving right along

Somehow, there is a curious aptness to it, though I haven't got a clue why that might be ... suddenly the distinction between "apples and oranges" becomes, rather, its similarity. I guess the only thing to do is chalk it up to an old fart's vapors ... and move on:

1. Yesterday, my younger son got a motorcycle ... a used Suzuki .750.
2. A week ago yesterday, I had a toe amputated.

Something insists that these events are somehow "apposite" or "relevant" or "fit together." It reminds me of the short-lived humor wave a number of years ago ... which all rested on ridiculous questions like, "what's the difference between a bike."

Moving right along....

Thursday, June 6, 2019

previously unknown human group

Ancient Siberia was home to previously unknown humans, say scientists.... 
The results reveal these individuals were part of a previously unknown yet widespread group, dubbed the Ancient North Siberians by the team, who were genetically distinct from both Western Eurasians and East Asians...But, crucially, this population does not appear to be the direct ancestor of Native Americans.

Not quite sure who's on first here, but it sounds interesting.

a day without victims

Imagine it -- a Day Without Victims. Would that be something to practice/enjoy?

Or maybe not just one day, but five minutes.

Or even just one.

A Day Without Victims -- imagine it.

No improvements or protections or defensive maneuvers. Things, for a small moment, just are what they are. Additions are not necessary.

Don't worry -- you can have the victims back later; improve; uplift; excoriate ... but just not now. Now is a time without victims,.

Can't you hear the yowling?

I can.

Somehow this story about a history teacher's adventures on YouTube as he tried to portray Hitler and friends seems to belong here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

scab laborer

Since memory is what I've got and since memory seems to knock on the door of late ... oh well, what the hell, I might as well go with the flow. So here's one:

Even the sub-rosa recognition that I was acting as a "scab" -- an anathema word to someone suckled at labor's breast -- did not stop me. A scab is someone who fills in a job that belongs to a union member on strike.

I was in my thirties, then, and hip-deep in my 'Marine Corps phase' of Zen Buddhist practice. GO! Go! Go!... that sort of shit. I was supporting myself with a budding-but-not-yet-flowering business painting apartments in New York City and at the time I was woefully short of work. A fellow Zen student pointed out that with actors on strike, advertising agencies were pulling in people off the streets to fill advertising slots. He suggested I give it a whirl. I thought I would.

I filled out papers and waited about an hour before my turn before the camera came.

No one had told those of us in the waiting room what product we would be touting so it came as an utter surprise (I knew I was not fit to the task) when it turned out to be Ford pick-up trucks. I read the script on the story boards in front of me. I knew it was all wrong, but I was in the klieg lights, in the soup and there was nothing to do but swim .... see the try-out to its conclusion.

Which I did. I was a Zen student, after all, and all of life was a lesson ... blah, blah, blah. Not all of life's lessons are likeable or tasty or gratifying and this one, in the midst of the tryout, sucked.

I was mentally out the door and on the way home before I even left the set. No way in hell was anyone going to buy a Ford pick-up from someone who looked like me.

But the story had not ended, however much I wanted it to end.

A small, cocaine-anorexic producer approached me briskly after my tryout. "I'm sorry," she said in business-like, moving-right-along tones, "you're more the priest, cop or young daddy if you'd smile more."

And by God, she had nailed my life's hide to the barn door -- a priest, cop, or young daddy if I'd smile more!" She had me by the balls. Why was I wasting time seeing a shrink or diving into spiritual life when this cranked-up widget of a woman could nail it all so concisely? All my floundering and searching and tears and ... what the fuck! she had me in a trice.

Naturally, as in other instances, it took me years to absorb and find nourishment in the truth.

Even a scab can learn something.

flowery lingo, perhaps, but interesting photos

Every once in a while it's nice to see people without capped-teeth-ersatz-serene smiles, forced tears or other regalia. A book of pictures parsed.

Monday, June 3, 2019

homelessness declines ... in Helsinki

Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is falling. Its secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them – unconditionally.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

London's mayor assails Trump

When the mayor of a foreign city reads off the president of the United States (where I live), there is something galling in it. How come London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, can retail point after point about the president due to visit London Monday, but the politicians and other wannabe sages on Trump's home sod scuff and toe the sand beneath their feet? They are clapped in confused and confusing double-talk cuffs. They are cowards that would be praised for 'principle' and 'care.'

Yes, I can retail the knee-jerk responses, but it is nonetheless galling ... and little wonder that Americans are left angrier than they were a few moments ago.
Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat. The far right is on the rise around the world, threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than seventy years. Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France and Nigel Farage here in the UK are using the same divisive tropes of the fascists of the 20th century to garner support, but are using new sinister methods to deliver their message. And they are gaining ground and winning power and influence in places that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

something touching

Friends:
The following link leads to something you may be familiar with but I had not been: "Stories from the Stage." There's a little dross to endure, but there are two (of three, I believe) individually told stories here that wowed my heart and may yours: a S. Korean woman's family adventures in the wake of a store robbery (it has to do with her father's creating a room out of bullet-proof glass); and the tale of a woman who wanted to give a kidney to a friend from the past. Both left me emptied out and glad to be part of the human race.

FWIW: https://schedule.wttw.com/episodes/427014/Stories-from-the-Stage/Chance/?tp=e4ba5381-ff3f-487c-9060-bc351e857271

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Ben Higgins photo

Ben Higgins (1894-1981)
The confusions in my mind, sown in part by the Memorial Day holiday weekend, loll and linger. For unclear reasons, a photo of basket maker Ben Higgins (1894-1981) awaits attention in the photo scanner.

Why is it that this man continues to grab my attention and hold it firm? Ben Higgins built baskets from youth to death. I don't believe I ever met the man, though he lived a couple of towns away in the hills around here. In Chesterfield. Was he as assured as I credit him with being? Probably not. People are so much more interesting than the pictures others paint of them. Did Higgins have a handle where I frequently feel that I lack purchase or support? I don't know. Did his simplicities exclude complications? Doubtful at best.

Anyway, I seem to be fixated and grateful for ... for ... for something or other.

The black-and-white photo, passed along by antiques dealer Bill Samaha was taken by someone Bill described as a hotshot west-coast photographer ... what seems to be/looks like "Marco Julin (?????? ... cannot read the signature)" Bill knew I admired Higgins from afar and so passed along the photo ... who else would remember, Bill asked. Strange, Bill added, that Higgins was little celebrated in his own bailiwick and yet "everyone" (in the antiques world, perhaps) knew who he was in New Hampshire.

A man who did what he did and kept on doing it ... and ... so it goes.

r-e-s-p-e-c-t

Is it possible to be respected by others if you do not respect them?

I suppose it's possible, but it's a messy business I suspect.