Tuesday, April 25, 2017

big bosom, no substance

The arrogant, elitist rest of the world just plain wouldn't lie down for Donald Trump's daughter in Berlin. The seriousness of the issue (women's roles) was utterly laid aside as the first daughter flogged the first father. A truly embarrassing display of U.S. gravitas.

Try reading the credentials (in the article) of those with whom Ivanka shared the stage. I'm sorry, but "pretty but empty" seems the kindest description available.
Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka was met with groans as she defended her father's attitude towards women at the G20 women's summit in Berlin.
The First Daughter was taking part in a panel discussion about female entrepreneurs alongside German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and IMF chief Christine Lagarde.
But the audience bristled at her praise for the US president.
The event is part of the G20 women's summit.
An audible groan went up as she told the room her father was a "tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive".

Monday, April 24, 2017

pain with the gain

Jack Ma
Artificial intelligence and other technologies will cause people “more pain than happiness” over the next three decades, according to Jack Ma, the billionaire chairman and founder of Alibaba.
“Social conflicts in the next three decades will have an impact on all sorts of industries and walks of life,” said Ma, speaking at an entrepreneurship conference in China about the job disruptions that would be created by automation and the internet. A key social conflict will be the rise of artificial intelligence and longer life expectancy, which will lead to an aging workforce fighting for fewer jobs.

the humanity factor

It's just human, isn't it?

David Wyeth and Matthew Rees recount the inspiring end to the London marathon that saw Matthew help his exhausted fellow runner across the finish line.
And, among other things...
The state of Arkansas plans to execute two inmates on Monday evening, which would make it the first U.S. state in 17 years to put a pair of convicts to death on the same day.
It's just human, isn't it?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

spring notes

What was a grey and clouded pre-dawn has turned blueblueblue in its day-ness. A lone wasp buzzes around the porch and is immune to my suggestions that it dip from its ceiling veldt and make through the open door to the sunshine outdoors. Across the street my neighbor's Tree of the Hanging Squirrels has popped the nothingness of its winter branches and has created a thousand somethings that are its Japanese Maple leaves.

The sunshine is bragging in the street and across the rooftops. A solid spring day.

I keep hoping to see Doreen, the owner of the house with the Tree of the Hanging Squirrels. She has spent the winter fighting cancer, but today, without seeing her, I did hear her signature laughter -- a delighted cackle about one thing or another. Doreen is there and I am here. Spring is all present and correct. There has been changes -- Doreen battling her trolls, I battling mine -- but spring has not lessened its laughter. Perhaps I will go and buy Doreen a flower and plant it surreptitiously in the garden she keeps at the front of her house but has not tended that I know of.... just to piss her off a little that anyone would dare to touch her hallowed ground. A neighborly thought, I figure.

Spring. Sun. Leaves. Pissing people off.

Somebody's gotta sing the song.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

stupid is not the same as peaceful

Some part of me is tired of making room for voices that insist on elevating unexamined bullshit, of enshrining it without taking responsibility for it, of pretending that a good ol' boy is the same as a right ol' boy.

I'm glad scientists are out in some measure of force to accord with Monday's Earth Day.

There is nothing wrong with not-knowing. There is something very wrong about assuming that not-knowing is the same as an unwillingness to learn and to get things right ... and to keep your word. Sure, it's climate change ... but it's also brain cells and health and alzheimers and young men and women researching and ... so much else that doesn't deserve to be choked by self-applauding uncertainty whose only quality is loudness.

More than 600 marches held around the world, with organizers saying science ‘under attack’ from a White House that dismisses the threat of climate change.
 Why March for Science? Because when it is attacked, only elites benefit

winter's bounty, summer's need

An ice stupa created by the innovative engineer Sonam Wangchuk in Ladakh, India. Photograph: Courtesy of Sonam Wangchuk
Why do I suspect that an innovation like this, when placed in the hands of a macher like Donald Trump, would be little more than a 'deal' to be made and others to withhold from?

"Lady's Companion" on the block

When you think of sex toys, you may not automatically think of the Victorian era. Or Ireland.
But you would be wrong.
Over the weekend, Matthews auctioneers in County Meath, Ireland, is offering for sale an “antique carved ivory ladies’ companion in scarlet lined leather upholstered carry box with inset bevelled glass panel”. It’s also known as Lot 475.

Declaration-of-Independence find

"Two Harvard researchers have found only the second known parchment manuscript of America’s formative text in a West Sussex archive."    
‘The Sussex Declaration’ was made sometime in the next decade after the original declaration was signed, the researchers say. Photograph: West Sussex Record Office Add Mss 8981.

making Britain great again?

British miners drilling for coal in 1924
If those committed to Donald Trump as a political beacon want some idea of Mr. Trump's ability to follow through, perhaps a glance across the Atlantic pond offers a preview:
Britain went a full day without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the National Grid says.
The energy provider said Friday's lack of coal usage was a "watershed" moment.
Britain's longest continuous energy period without coal until now was 19 hours - first achieved last May, and again on Thursday.
The government plans to phase out Britain's last plants by 2025 in order to cut carbon emissions.
Friday is thought to be the first time the nation has not used coal to generate electricity since the world's first centralised public coal-fired generator opened in 1882, at Holborn Viaduct in London.

Friday, April 21, 2017

saves wear and tear on the other end

A man who was fined €70 ($75) after unleashing a sonorous post-kebab belch near an Austrian policeman has won his legal fight to have the sanction overturned.
Edin Mehic was issued the fine in February 2016 for violating “public decency with a loud belch next to a police officer” in Vienna’s famous Prater Park.
But a court document Mehic emailed to the Associated Press on Friday shows authorities have ruled in his favour. It says there was “never proof” that he burped to affront the officer....
Mehic’s belch resonated in Austria long after it was emitted. Groups organised to support him, and a kebab chain paid for both his ticket and an all-expenses trip to Istanbul.

silent city in the desert

Sometimes I can purely marvel, whether blessed or cursed, at the stuff I don't know.

suckled by sunshine

I always felt that Tchaikovsky's "Capriccio Italien" was the gustatory equivalent of being suckled by sunshine. So. Take a moment and, possibly, savor the sunshine.

Ives in Texas

Ives at Ft. Bliss, Texas, April, 2017

Written communication has been sparse since my younger son got to his Texas pre-mobilization training in Texas, but this picture arrived last night when my wife and older son went to dinner with Ives' lady friend.

Rube Goldberg redux

For those who may once have been smitten by the availability of "dehydrated water" ("just add water"), there is the somewhat chagrined "Juicero," which costs $400 and promises an "experience" in healthy ingestion if you're too damned lazy to squeeze your own juice.
A US start-up that sells a wi-fi connected juicing machine for $399 (£310), has offered refunds after the gadget was mocked on social media.
Wrongly attributed to P.T. Barnum: "There's a sucker born every minute."

More seriously, I sometimes think every newborn should be required to attend a six-month course in being a human being, learning how to DO something, BUILD something, and stop fucking around 'leveraging' stuff.

Rube Goldberg lives anew.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

happy ending ... again and again and again

What follows probably qualifies in the same basket as the old logic joke:

All tables have four legs.
My dog has four legs.
Ergo, my dog is a table.

Though wrong-headed, what follows has stuck with me and made me smirk ... or something like that. So I'll write it down and hope no one gets too serious ... me included.


Among the silver tongued and slick, you can sometimes hear the Chinese fortune cookie that goes, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results." Examination (look it up yourself or open your eyes) shows this to be false, but it is so tasty on the tongue that it is hard to escape. I don't agree with it, but it came into my mind as a premise for a bit of thinking last night.

Premise: OK, the nutters do the same thing over and over in hopes of achieving some different and implicitly more acceptable result.

And if, for a moment, that is true ....

Last night I was flipping around the TV channels and ran into the reboot of "Cinderella." It's a movie version of the old fairy tale and I have to admit its bedrock gets to me -- the wicked stepmother treats the sweet, lovable girl badly but she gets her prince in the end. Up from under life's slings and arrows ... a happy ending ... bluebirds sing, as well they might. The older I get the more I like happy endings ... I don't give a damn if they're lies.

And while watching the movie, it occurred to me that no matter how often I watched it, the outcome would still be the same. A happy ending ... over and over and over again. I don't watch the movie expecting to run into a gloomy ending. No, I expect the same thing over and over and over. This is the mirror image of the slick definition of "insanity" above. And if that is true, does expecting the same outcome make me sane or insane?

Oh well, I'm perilously close to a brain seizure somehow. I guess I'll just be sane or insane and let someone else sort it out...


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

blue lobster

hermit hired!

Stan Vanuytrecht chosen from 50 applicants for post, which comes with no heating, running water, internet or pay

a country without constant war

Standing out from a Guardian article about those who left the United States in the wake of Donald Trump's presidential ascendancy was, for me, this quote:
“There is a psychological burden to living in a country that is forever in a state of war,” he said. “And I don’t think even politicized Americans can appreciate it viscerally until they’re free from it.”
It sounds true or perhaps it merely sounds like words you wish were true ... but is it true? I really don't know. How WOULD it be to live in a country that wasn't constantly involved in one military adventure or another? Surely it would have some effect ... but what effect?

How depressing to even ask the question.

sheep smarts

They're not stupid, they have sexual preferences (8% are homosexual), they prefer smiles, they defend weaker fellows of the flock, and their capacity to decimate the grass that feeds many is not to be trifled with.

For all that, human beings insist on calling sheep "stupid" and otherwise speaking down to the animal that adorns their sacrificial altars, fills their dinner plate and warms their sweaters.

I wonder if that is a descriptive human trait -- to label as "stupid" (or, pick your pejorative) that which a human being wishes to exploit without exciting a chorus of criticism or complaint.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

civilization collapse, my ass!

A BBC speculation today is headlined "How western civilization could collapse."

Oh goodie.
Oh gleee.
Oy vey.
Oh ain't it awful?
Oh the world is going to hell in a hand basket.
The air sucks.
The social structures crumble.
The people suck.
The cars suck!
Donald Trump is president.
Turkey has a dictator.
Africa has a variety of tribal slaughters.
Democracy crumbles .....

Oh weep
Oh moan


Relax ... western civilization may become more uncomfortable, but "collapse?" Never! Why? Because there's too much money to be made if it does not collapse ... there are too many weenies who want to flong their dongs and require subservient throngs to lick up their cuff-linked spittle. How can Tesla be kool if there's no one to salivate for it? Too many poorly educated men in Washington and elsewhere need a forum in which to believe that they, like British royalty, have the droit de seigneur ... someone will actually believe them and their spiff-dom.


And if I'm wrong, there will be no one left to contradict me ... nyah-nyah-nyah!

news bulletin: "there is no news"

... 87 years ago, on 18 April 1930, the BBC's news announcer had nothing to communicate. "There is no news," was the script of the 20:45 news bulletin, before piano music was played for the rest of the 15-minute segment.
The wireless service then returned to broadcasting from the Queen's Hall in Langham Place, London, where the Wagner opera Parsifal was being performed.
How different 18 April 2017.....

DOCTOR... Bashar al-Assad

"Bashar al-Assad trained as a doctor. How did he become a mass murderer?"

Don't worry -- this opinion piece includes Mengele.

40 marathons later

The first time Kathrine Switzer stood on the starting line of the Boston Marathon, it was as the lone woman in a men-only race.
The fact she dared to compete led one race official to try to rip the number 261 from her back, a few miles in.
Fifty years on, aged 70, Ms Switzer returned to the starting line wearing the same number.
 Blessings on those who choose to run the solo race that is their life.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Guardian photos

The Guardian: Honky Tonk Nun

I’m no great singer, but Emahoy TseguĂ©-Maryam Guèbrou only really trusted me after I had sung to her. “Something from your country,” she instructed. So I found myself in the tiny bedroom of this 93-year-old Ethiopian composer-pianist-nun, croaking my way through the verses of a Robert Burns song.
Given she does not agree to most interviews, I felt I should do what I was told. The room, at the Ethiopian Orthodox church in Jerusalem, was cramped and sweltering. In it was a small bed, an upright piano draped in Ethiopian flags, stacks of reel-to-reel and cassette tapes, and a jumble of handwritten manuscripts. On the walls were portraits of Emperor Haile Selassie – Emahoy knew him in the 1930s – and her own paintings of religious icons. The door was propped open and, from the courtyard, came smells of food and the sound of monks chanting.

I found her life more interesting thatn her music ... fish around.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

lotsa little tramps

barren in California

The 250,000 acres of California that no one inhabits:
"Despite being located less than 130 miles from downtown Los Angeles, few Americans have heard of Carrizo Plain."

"do you remember me?"

It's one thing to tease my advancing forgetfulness with friends or acquaintances likely to be suffering the same affliction. You can chuckle a bit or weep openly if necessary. This is cosa nostra, our thing.

But it is quite another to be bare-ass accosted ... out of no where ... by the same set of facts.

Yesterday, sitting on a low retaining wall outside the barbershop I had patronized some minutes before, I was enjoying the sunshine as I waited for my wife to pick me up. It was good to be outside, to feel the sun, feel the air, watch the almost non-existent activities as cars passed. And as I sat there, a man approached. Then sat on the wall next to me and said calmly, "Do you remember me?"

And I didn't, though his German accent rang some bells and it turned out Samuel's son and one of mine inhabited a similar high school class together. But I really didn't remember. He had the social-working demeanor of his profession -- taking care of 'challenged' kids in schools ... a poker face that remained in place even when confronting a serial killer. Texas Hold 'Em lips is what I think of. We chatted. He said I had once taken him to the zendo I built in the backyard here. I really didn't remember that, though I remember a general trend of trying to lure people in by giving a cook's tour of the 12x16 building. He wanted to know if I still did Buddhism. "I'll do Buddhism if you like," I said, feeling more at ease than when my cook's tour frequency had been in play. He laughed ... "you 'do Buddhism'" he repeated and we both chuckled. We had a nice chat and pretty soon my wife came and I wasn't a Buddhist any more ... or perhaps I was more so. How I loved it all once. And now .... Buddhism is sensible for those inclined.

But these days, my "finis" point so to speak refers back to a time when I asked a Zen teacher how to teach others. "Tell 'em 80%," he replied, "and let 'em find out 20." That never sat right with me, though back then I wouldn't have dared to contradict a "teacher." Then, by suspicion, and now by conviction, my feeling is, "tell 'em 100% and let 'em find out 100%."

As if there were some other choice.

Whac-a-mole salvation

A shrink friend of mine once told me that the world of sleep-time dreams had a saucy and silly facet in its firmament -- the most sublime things eliciting a torrent of wracking tears or the most horrific spawning uncontrollable laughter. Or, what ought to be metaphorical segues into the literal ... or vice versa.

It was in this realm that I woke this morning -- Easter morning by Christian reckoning -- wondering if the arcade game Whac-a-Mole took its inception from the resurrection story in Christian tale-telling and ritual: You can't keep a good (wo)man down no matter how tightly s/he is affixed to the latest cross. Saviors, to borrow someone else's words, "take a lickin' and keep on tickin'."

Resurrection is a way of life, but you gotta die first, right?

Those who may think I am flipping Christianity the bird might consider the discovery last year of the coffins of five (that's FIVE) archbishops of Canterbury stacked on top of each other and accidentally uncovered at a construction site. "Lost archbishops," the headline notes. How the hell do you lose an archbishop? Stacked on top of eachother ... "piled higgledy-piggledy on top of each other" ,,, sorta like Crest toothpaste in WalMart. Dead is dead, whatever the dreams may be ... but you gotta wonder how come these heavy hitters were ... ummmm ... stacked up like cord wood. Were officials pressed for space? Were they less smarmy than those who might come later?

Every moment a life. Every moment a death. Every moment a resurrection.

The pope excoriates the gas and other atrocities in Syria in his Easter message.

The United States pays homage to North Korea, which is managing to be the single biggest  resuscitator of the war footing that will allow Donald Trump not to address serious issues in the United States ... the ones that put him in office in the first place but have yet to acknowledge the fact that they have been sold out. A small armada with a lot of U.S. fire power is Korean-Peninsula bound.

The savior wears so many guises, comes in so many forms. Again and again, s/he rolls back the rock that was put in place after the last great horror. Again and again, resurrection is the theme and the fact and, when spoken about with the numbing solemnity of the moment, the cowardice.

Whac-a-mole, thou art risen.

PS. Please forgive me, but I am lazy and don't reread and allow my mind to wander without filling in the blank spots these days. I write because there's space to write and it may be better than picking my nose. But the illusions are fading ... imagining I could convince anyone to do or not to do. No one can convince anyone else. People convince themselves ... or not.

Ergo ... ?
After weeks of suspense, April the giraffe finally gave birth on Saturday to a baby boy, delighting of hundreds of thousands of people who have been monitoring a live cam feed from a New York zoo in anticipation of the long-overdue event.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

sheep farmer vs. A-listers

Jim Telfer can trace his roots on the rolling farmland outside Edinburgh back to 1915, when George V was on the throne and Allied troops were in the middle of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. Three generations later and Telfer, 82, is still up before daybreak tending to the newborn lambs that gambol round his smallholding.
But all this, he fears, may soon be taken away. Hollywood A-listers could next year be roaming the land after plans to build Scotland’s first purpose-built film studio were approved in principle by ministers.