Monday, October 21, 2019


Indonesia’s Aries Susanti Rahayu broke the women’s speed climbing world record

take an ax to the door

Like thin eddies slipping up a low-tide beach...

There's a house for sale across the street -- all spanky and yellow and inviting occupancy ...Hershel's house that for so long was a kind of French blue. Hershel was like a half-hewn log of a man. He had a bum leg from his time in the Korean War. He was loud and his apartment in the now-yellow house was stacked with books he read. Hershel wasn't quite right, but he never did me any harm.

Once Hershel missed his meds and went around in the night with an ax, chopping at the front doors of several other neighbors who for some reason offended him ...  millennial types who had never been to Korea and knew about Mozart. Hershel made mincemeat of several doors, but not mine and I was always sort of proud of myself that my door remained intact. They said Hershel was crazy, but hell, he just had ghosts, like the rest of us.

Dave Pottinger, another chum of the past, said that in Korea, the North Korean forces would steal into American lines in the night. No one ever heard them. The North Korean forces wore sneakers. You could tell from the foot prints. Sneaked into American lines and chopped off the heads of soldiers in the foxholes and snuck away. There was no noise: Maybe that was the worst of it. No heads, but no noise. Did Hershel and Dave see the same things? Did they bring with them the same ghosts? Dave wasn't as crazy as Hershel, but he had been to similar asylums. Silence ... headless silence.

If ghosts sneak in, there is no sneaking them out, I guess. A noiseless permanence. A violent, vile silence. No joke. Doors reduced to kindling in a carefully-coiffed neighborhood.. Who forgot to take his meds?

I wonder who will buy the now-spanky yellow house across the street.

Somebody hustled Hershel off to an old-age home. Or maybe he's dead. I miss him and I miss his ax, but the wispy, ghosty pride I once felt lingers.

Sometimes Mozart reminds me of it all.

House for sale: It's a two-family.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

mind-fucker du jour

What happens if your mind lives for ever on the internet?
It may be some way off, but mind uploading, the digital duplication of your mental essence, could expand human experience into a virtual afterlife
In the P. Lal translation of "The Dhammapada," the words are attributed to Gautama the Buddha:
All fear dying.
All fear death.
The fact that anyone might want to live, in whatever form, forever strikes me as a strong piece of evidence. Why would anyone even consider living forever, let alone take a shot at it? And ... is anyone likely to be any happier?

Still, talk about a mind-fucker.

Escape death????? Your aunt Fannie!

It's all enough to consider the gracious exit that might be provided by the barrel of a .38 placed beneath the chin.

mothers and fathers

The old doggerel asserts itself:
A daughter's a daughter
Until she's a wife.
A woman's a mother
The rest of her life.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no parallel aphorism for a father.

Or maybe, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" will do?

Saturday, October 19, 2019

dying is for the other guy

Pete Buttigieg's tragedy

Living as I do in a land that sometimes feels awash in self-satisfied sensitivities, it was a pleasure the other day to catch a TV snippet in which Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (how does he pronounce that name?), mayor of South Bend, Ind., responded to an interviewer whose sensitivities appeared to be over the top.

Sure, he worried about the trashmasher a gay man might face in a presidential race, but he also took time to care for others. "I grew up gay in Indiana," he said more or less. "I can take care of myself." But he worried for those (like his husband perhaps) who might be caught in the political blowback.

Buttigieg said no more about it, but his words lingered in my mind. This was a person of substance on my radar, a man who might be willing to say, "If I want you in my bedroom, I'll invite you." He doesn't say it but he doesn't back away from the issue either. Eyewash "transparency" and "caring" and "empathy" and "democracy" and "freedom" and unexamined "socialism" (yoo-hoo... Jesus was a socialist) could all take a hike where the issues of the day meant trouble for the country.

People get ignored. People get hurt. That's people!

Ignorance is no excuse.

Hurting afflicts one and all.

That's people, people.

Buttigieg will probably slide off the Democrat roster of those alleging they want to be president. But for the moment, I like the cut of an intelligent man's jib. Buttigieg's Texas-Hold-'Em delivery and presentation and intelligence appeals to me....

But no one cares much, I suppose. Donald Trump is busy getting impeached of late and the airwaves are full of the moment-to-moment revelations on that score.

In the long-ago-and-far-away, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, widow of solo pilot Charles Lindbergh, was asked in a TV interview how it felt to have her toddler son kidnapped in 1932. The interviewer had to ask the question. And Lindbergh, if I had to guess, knew it was coming. There was a long pause after the question was asked. And then Lindbergh responded

"I think everyone has suffered a tragedy."

And ain't that the truth? Everyone has suffered a tragedy and everyone has to move on. Homosexual, heterosexual, sensitive and insensitive alike -- everyone has suffered a tragedy, no matter how grievous the wails.

Pete Buttigieg struck me as having a handle on his own scrapes and bruises. Who knows if he has actually risen above the pains he may have suffered? But whether he has or hasn't, his candidacy does not seem to be laced with any smug whining.

There is serious stuff at hand. The earth is not flat. I am not the center of the universe. Idealism turns invariably towards dictatorship when given half a chance. Can it be avoided? Probably not.

Friday, October 18, 2019

eyes on the prize

If smoking were my worst habit, I reckon I'd be a genius. Everybody's got a tit one way or another and I've got mine ... and then some.


Strange thought to be 69 years old and resolved into a scullery maid ... washing up the dishes from last night, putting away the clean plates and flat ware.

I thought I might not make it this morning (fatigue nuzzled and nudged), but, having started on the chore, I completed it and it was time for a cigarette. Keep your eyes on the prize.

"Eyes on the prize" -- how's that for a bad habit and a tasty tit?

Lord save me from my beliefs!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

arrogance near and far

Arrogance is an interesting commodity ... one of which I am all too capable.

Still, didja ever wonder about the New York Times -- a diminishing bulwark in the American journalistic world -- and the fact that to this very day, it still bears the quote of one of its scions ... on the front page .... every day:
"All the News
That's Fit to Print"
When I was growing up in the 1940's and imagined that newspapers were for grown-ups, the U.S.S.R. had somewhere between 10 and 13 time zones (depending on who was counting and how) and yet on any given day, the newspaper might run precisely NO stories about our storied enemy. None. Zero. Zilch. 200 plus-or-minus million population and not one story fit to print? 13 fucking time zones.

Adolph S. Ochs, the owner of the Times, coined the phrase in 1897 as a means of stating the impartiality of his product. It may ring tinny these days, but by 1897, European countries had gathered in Berlin (1885) to divvy up the colonial spoils of Africa. Where there were no boundaries, the countries drew the lines in ... straight lines that remain today as markers of colonial arrogance. It wouldn't do for gentlemen to squabble over the spoils.

The late 1800's and early 1900's were likewise the time when men might gather for cigars after dinner and chortle about the notion of a Mother's Day. What did women -- then often seen as chattel -- expect? Their job was to make and care for babies ... and move on. Vote? Forgetaboutit!

My mother once said that if women reporters were going to be dismissed as "news hens," shouldn't men reporters be known as "news cocks?" It was a time of men and cigars and slavery and ... arrogance.

But no one who's in the throes of arrogance -- liberal, conservative, whatever -- ever imagined his or her approach might be arrogant. Oh no ... my approach is caring and thoughtful and sensitive whereas yours ... well, I'm not so sure about that.

Takes me back to school days:
I love myself
I think I'm grand.
I go to the movies
And hold my hand.
I put my arm
Around my waist.
And when I'm fresh,
I slap my face.

"anti-Semitism" again

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu in 2017. First amendment advocates see the potential spread of such laws as a major threat to free speech on campuses. Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters
Rightwing activists are attempting to spread new laws across Republican-controlled states that would ban criticism on public university campuses of Israel and its occupation of Palestinian territory.
Lord knows the Guardian can be rightly accused of skepticism at a minimum when it comes to the burnished reputation Israel would like to maintain, but it's tiring in the U.S. seeing the word "anti-semitisim" repeatedly co-opted and used to mean anti-Jewish.

It's all a great diversion for corruption-draped Benjamin Netanyahu to sweep up support among American Jews who claim to remember a vile and violent Holocaust ... but ... well ... stay away from the kids ... stay away from thinking ... stay away from confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians in which Palestinians seem always to be armed with knives while the Israelis bring guns and shoot Palestinians dead: Hell, even the Chicago police aren't that brazen.

"Never again."

And yet the Israelis paint themselves into a corner when the very tactics that stained European streets in the 1930's now stain the streets of a hard-won homeland. Why must those who suggest there was a time when Arabs and Jews got along ... oh well, never mind.... Netanyahu's corruptions linger and linger and seek cover and seek cover.

"Never again" is one of those lines that fairly begs its hearers to ... well ... try it again.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

marathon run in under 2 hours

Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line in first-ever sub two-hour marathon.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

"flash drought"

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A furnace-like “flash drought” is intensifying as it blasts away the little moisture left across a vast swath of the South, wilting garden plants and raising alarm among farmers, according to a weekly report updated Thursday.
Nearly 56 million residents are now living in drought conditions in parts of 16 Southern states, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report. That drought is classified as extreme in areas in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida. From the arid plains of Texas to farms in Maryland, concern is spreading that cattle, cotton and corn are suffering after a summer of record highs and very little rain.

Dhammapada verse

If you find no equal or
Better in life,
Go alone.

Loneliness is preferable
To the company
Of fools.
Such is my probably-flawed recollection of one verse in the P. Lal translation of "The Dhammapada."

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

autumnal habits

About a half-mile out, a small herd of Canada geese headed north yesterday as I looked out the porch door. I couldn't hear their honk-snort-swallowing from a distance, but I knew they were probably talking, one to the next, as they flew. It was a first taste of autumn. The geese fly through this neck of the woods every year and rest at varying water pools along the way.

On the ground, frabjous jays are strutting and just D-double-daring you to contradict them. What cheeky devils they are. "When you mess with us, you mess with the best" they seem to say. And so another season gets its lift-off.

As Dylan Thomas might say, "Time passes. Listen! Time passes."

Sunday, October 6, 2019

no good deed goes unpunished

This Spanish police picture shows a speedboat surrounded by bundles of drugs packages, after a police high-speed chase with smugglers off Malaga.
Three Spanish police officers who were thrown into the sea when their boat crashed early during a high-speed chase were pulled to safety by the drug-smugglers they were chasing, police said.
The unexpected rescue happened on Friday after a police vessel began pursuing a speedboat “with four people on board that was suspected of transporting drugs” in waters off the southern coast of Spain, a police statement said....
The gesture did not spare them, however, when police found three tonnes of hashish in the water nearby.
“They were arrested for drug trafficking,” a police statement said, indicating that more than 80 bundles of hash had been recovered from the sea.

Saturday, October 5, 2019


Let me get this straight:
My country is run on moral cowardice
And you expect me to be a patriot.
Is that it?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

greatest change in 20th century

If asked, I imagine those who waxed in the 20th century might point to the internet as the single biggest game-changer. Culture, relationships, information -- the internet shifted the tectonics of life.

My mother, by contrast, once observed that the single biggest change in the 20th century was "the loss of servants."

The same or different, I'm not sure.

As Donald Trump works his way back to a society with servants, he confronts the internet with its over-the-top references to "democracy" and "transparency" and "patriotism" and "empathy" and "freedom."

I dunno ... it just crossed my mind. Servitude is so much easier, but it can make people crabby.

Monday, September 30, 2019


Writing requires friction -- point A in tandem with or juxtaposed to point B. But where the sense of friction is lost, so the desire/drive to write also seems to dwindle.

Every morning, of late, I continue to scan the news wires -- a very old habit. But the sense of friction seems somehow to have dwindled and where once any topic could stir my verbal somersaults, now the excitement or interest appears to have run out of helium.

There is the impeachment hoo-rah about Donald Trump. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in hot water as he tries to lead Britain away from its participation in the European Union. And who knows what sigh of relief that other oligarch, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is breathing a sigh of relief that the world is focused on those troubled politicians and not on the fact that he is, or seriously might be, in judicial hot water. And then there is health care, wealth disparity, environment ... and the list rolls on, each item positing its mirror image and each more complex than my latter-day 'mind' can or will care about.

There was a time when I could write about anything. Now, nothing much seems worth writing about. It's age, I suppose, but it's also odd. Nowadays, I flow back to some earlier time ... and fly up my own reminiscing asshole ... and ... as it seems ... disappear.

"Form follows function" -- a useful observation that floats like a water drop in a space capsule. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Another one.  How does a threshing machine work? I had to look that one up. A technician is promised today ... someone who will straighten out the phone system which is on the fritz.

My wife and I drove into the hills yesterday. Leaves are changing, but I've forgotten the order ... is it green to yellow to red to brown or green to yellow to brown to red ... anyway, fall is on the way. Or, as CBS newsman Walter Cronkite once observed, "News isn't about how many cats did not get up on the garage roof."

Flying up my own reminiscing asshole ... smooth as dish soap. In the sixth, seventh and eighth grade, I carried a sheath knife with at least an eight-inch blade. No one thought anything of it -- they carried similar hardware ... it was mainly for cutting the string around bales of hay that needed to be shaken out for the horses or cows. Nowadays, such a tool would probably induce some good and kindly person to shit an 'altruistic' brick.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Trump helps to drain the swamp

In the midst of the impeachment tsunami that reared its roaring head last week in the U.S. House of Representatives, there are innumerable blind alleys, roads that lead to other roads ... and on and on it goes. Donald Trump may have been elected to "drain the (Washington legislative) swamp, but in the meantime, it seems, he has created his own.

And one of the indicators can be seen along the newswires.

Two weeks ago, every other story might have had Trump in the headline and left working Americans sucking hind tit. Now the headlines are as freighted by impeachment with the same frequency that Trump once ruled the waves. Every other story is an impeachment story .... Trump is not the focal point with his brazen lies: instead, the impeachment kerfuffle dominates the headlines and every other story is some aspect of that impeachment inquiry.

Impeachment may be wrong for all sorts of reasons, but getting Trump out of the headlines isn't one of them. What a relief to find other issues (Brexit, climate change, drug addiction, white supremacy, elections in the Middle East) floating to the surface.

What a relief not so see a tin-pan stand in for iron-pot issues. You know Trump is unlikely the drain the swamp of his own making, but lo-and-behold.....

Friday, September 27, 2019

impeachment piffle

Suddenly, there is no turning on the news without some new bit of information about the impeachment hearings, hopes, trajectories against U.S. President Donald Trump. Woo-hoo ... there is something satisfying about seeing the screw turn, if that's what it's doing. Trump is suddenly playing defense ... but ...

I think I would maintain that none of it matters. Trump, like George (the Shrub) Bush, has already served the purpose for which he was intended. The rest is eyewash. Trump's purpose was to reduce taxes on the wealthy. And he did it. And the Democrats helped. And the rest of us are fucked anew... or anyway that's my fake-news understanding.

Perhaps someone will correct this if it is too egregiously mistaken.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

shards andf snippets

Shards and snippets....

It's not so much, "I think, therefore I am" I suspect, but rather, "I want, therefore I am."


Over the past half-century, North America has lost more than a quarter of its entire bird population, or around 3 billion birds.
That's according to a new estimate published in the journal Science by researchers who brought together a variety of information that has been collected on 529 bird species since 1970.
Fewer birds, less song? Less song, less music? Less music, less magic?

The matter of music and magic is a matter of death minus the I'm-so-scared of it. To be swooned by music is a kind of death ... to give up everything for this delicious moment. A wowsers orgasm, perhaps.

Strange how giving things away can be so threatening on the one hand and so yearned-for in the same instant. Music is so comfortable that it is worth the surrender of positively everything. I thought of this when listening to portions of a latter-day TV series on country music by documentarian Ken Burns: The history is mildly interesting; the magic, where it is allowed to rise, envelopes me ... take me, I'm yours; take me, I'm nothing; really it's quite pleasant.

Can there be less music, less magic? I doubt it.

Bless the birds.

The start gun for impeachment hearings sounded yesterday. A little late in the day, given President Donald Trump's moral cowardice and outright lying, but better late than never. It was Trump, I believe, who foresaw his own downfall in impeachment hearings.

If true, then "from his mouth to God's ear." Because the Senate will never confirm such hearings, the House action is largely symbolic, but anything that turns up the fire on this man is probably a good thing.

Shards and snippets.

Monday, September 16, 2019

price per prayer

All things have a price – and if not, economists will find one. Researchers have calculated the going rate for thoughts and prayers offered in hard times.
This article left me utterly -- and I mean utterly -- flummoxed. What did it mean? What was its point? Why should I care? At what juncture could I find purchase and loll along in the lull of argument? Who thought up the thesis and then, by God, turned it into a "study?"  I desperately want to understand, but just plain don't.

Yes, OK ... I'm an old fart with dwindling capacities but, but, but .... what the fuck is going on?

Is there a cheat sheet that goes with this essay -- something to guide and support me? I'm lost, lost, lost.

Would it help if I asked for prayers... or eschewed them ... or something?

At least "Alice's Restaurant" makes some sense ....

I mean....
I mean .....


Thursday, September 12, 2019

beware the feral pigs!

Beware the feral pigs: They fuck like bunnies and are invading the U.S. from the north! They may or may not be a walking billboard for the large-capacity clips that some gun owners are keen to keep in their arsenals.
Feral pigs are widely known as “rototillers.” They root around for their food and spend much of their time wallowing in landscapes from farms and open fields to forests and riparian areas, leaving the terrains unrecognizable. Aside from the damages left behind, they are elusive in nature and often become nocturnal when “hunted or pressured by human activity,” said Ryan Brook, a researcher and assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
The pigs are also highly prolific.
Steuber said females birth around three litters every two years or so, and litters have been known to contain more than a dozen piglets. When grown, mature adults weigh on average between 120 and 250 pounds, but larger ones have tipped the scales at 400 pounds.
“They can decimate the range land by tearing up everything,” said Tahnee Szymanski, an assistant veterinarian with the Montana Department of Livestock.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


Just get it straight.

There is magic everywhere.

Stop pretending it exists.

Or doesn't.

Monday, September 9, 2019

no hand-holders for this woman

A 77-year-old British woman has become the oldest person to sail around the world alone, non-stop, and unassisted.
Jeanne Socrates, from Lymington, Hampshire, completed her 320-day voyage in Victoria, Canada. She was accompanied by a flotilla of boats during the final moments of the journey, while hundreds of people cheered her on from the harbour.
The Royal Victoria Yacht Club congratulated Socrates on Saturday for completing her solo circumnavigation unassisted and setting the record for being the oldest person to do so.

ditch the climate dithering

Passed along in email:

What If We Stopped Pretending?

The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.

Finally, overwhelming numbers of human beings, including millions of government-hating Americans, need to accept high taxes and severe curtailment of their familiar life styles without revolting. They must accept the reality of climate change and have faith in the extreme measures taken to combat it. They can’t dismiss news they dislike as fake. They have to set aside nationalism and class and racial resentments. They have to make sacrifices for distant threatened nations and distant future generations. They have to be permanently terrified by hotter summers and more frequent natural disasters, rather than just getting used to them. Every day, instead of thinking about breakfast, they have to think about death.

undignosed-illness list

At least 25 dogs in Norway have fallen victim to the undiagnosed sickness, which causes severe vomiting and acute diarrhoea. Photograph: ROMAOSLO/Getty Images/iStockphoto   
Pods of whales, river fish by the score, chickens, diplomats in Cuba, [were there also eels in there somewhere], dogs in Norway ... the list of those struck by largely-undiagnosed illnesses seems to grow longer. Or maybe I'm just making it up.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Jeffrey Epstein's little black book

I have to admit to a half-assed and ill-informed nosiness about the death of Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire who procured (with assistance) underage women for his sexual gratification. He was also, it appears, a very canny 'philanthropist.' Epstein's death in a New York jail cell was ruled a suicide (Aug. 11, 2019) by hanging -- a ruling I find hard to believe, but who am I to say? (Sociopaths don't commit suicide is my line of thinking). Epstein's lawyers also doubt suicide.

Not, apparently, in question, is Epstein's coterie of enablers or sycophants or whatever. Names like Bill Gates, the New York Times, MIT, TED talks ... crop up as those whose names need to be redacted from any upcoming lawsuits. The names in Epstein's little black book ... I wonder who will win the battle over whether and what and whom will be protected and kept out of the limelight. The ship is sinking and a variety of rats or look-like-rats are scrambling for the gunwales.

Can I keep up with it all? Nope. But one thing's for sure -- the rich and famous, the wealthy beyond compare and the oh-so-squeaky clean .... duck and cover, guys.

The Epstein scandal at MIT shows the moral bankruptcy of techno-elites Evgeny Morozov
The MIT-Epstein debacle shows ‘the prostitution of intellectual activity’. Time for a radical agenda: close the Media Lab, disband Ted Talks and refuse tech billionaires money.
And you thought Netflix had the latest and most up-to-date political trash/scandal tale.

Jeffrey Epstein's little black book....

oceanic heat wave

The ocean off the western coast of North America is five degrees Fahrenheit hotter than usual after warming at an unusually rapid rate, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).
It has been dubbed the “north-east Pacific marine heatwave of 2019”.
Marine heatwaves are defined as oceanic events in which the surface temperature of the water is warmer than 90% of past measurIf the abnormal patch does not dissipate soon, it could become as destructive as the so-called “blob” of warm water in the same area that, in 2014-2016, created toxic algae blooms, killed sea lions and endangered whales by forcing them to forage closer to shore.ements for at least five days in a row. The current heatwave is the second-largest since scientists started tracking the phenomenon in 1981, Noaa reported on Friday.

make "swoon" a transitive verb

Watching a TV program about the history of bluegrass music on TV last night, it became clear to me that I would prefer it if the word "swoon" were to become a transitive verb.

Back in the days of yore, when women cinched their waists to a breath-taking 15 inches, it was commonplace -- or anyway there was much-bruited anecdotal evidence -- for women to "swoon" at the first sign of any lapse in decorum.

[I know of no connections made between cinched waists and swooning, but since people are never quite as smart -- and never quite as stupid -- as you might imagine, I figure there was at least one bright penny who probably forged the links.]

Anyway, women swooned at the drop of an indecorous hat or so the stories are told. Swooning men were not similarly anointed or named: Swooning was not for those lesser lights.

But as I listened to the history of bluegrass music, I realized that some of its sharps and flats, banjos and mandolins, fiddles and guitars were utterly capable of swooning me. Music can swoon me and therefore deserved a role as a transitive verb -- not so much "I swoon" as "it swoons me." Beethoven's 9th does the same. And there are other segments of music that can creep in, curl up in a warming ball and ... just ... swoon me.

It's to die for....

Or is it just, "it kills me?"

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Texas bans dick pics

Big news out of Texas this week: sending unsolicited penis pictures is now against the law, punishable by a $500 fine.
You might be wondering why Texas, of all places, is leading the charge when it comes to legislation like this. The Lone Star state, after all, is normally more focused on loosening restrictions on guns than tightening protections for women. Well, it’s largely because the female-focused dating app Bumble is based in Austin and lobbied local politicians to make it happen.
“If indecent exposure is a crime on the streets, then why is it not on your phone or computer?” Bumble’s founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, asked Texas lawmakers at a hearing earlier this year. “We have to call on you because as tech companies, we can only do so much.” Legislators agreed and the bill got bipartisan support.
My own utterly-unscientific, thoroughly-anecdotal take on the sexy bits of entertainment/movies goes something like this: Women's breasts are making inroads in what once was taboo ... even an occasional vaginal bomb zone shows up. Men's asses are making inroads, though not yet peckers. And everyone, from galumphy redneck to button-down candidate is cussing with more and more abandon: The cussing words are all there, but the music of cussing is almost entirely missing. Unless I am entirely wrong, pretty soon the old cross-your-legs prurience that straightens America's imagined backbone should be back in vogue.

Oh, heck!