Saturday, March 23, 2019

on the sexual toll road

As U.S. President, Donald J. Trump might well attest, inflation is a no-fooling-around problem.

As a kid, before I learned experientially that a pecker was not just to pee with, we had a naughty verse that went:
Sally is a friend of mine,
She will do it any time.
For a nickel or a dime,
Fifteen cents for over-time.
Very tee-hee at the time.

Some years later, Trump would learn that paying off two women with whom he allegedly had sex around $280,000 is just par for the high-resolution highway.

small news rant

A blustery day Saturday with snow showers. Sunday better.
Page A2
Drawing by Juliana Valerio Norris School, Southampton
My daughter stopped by today en route to getting her hair done. In a small chat, she took the trouble to orient me on the vagaries of the burgeoning marijuana-sales world of which I have little understanding. Then she was off with my younger son to a "wine-tasting" event. I returned to the hard-copy newspaper said to serve my world, "The Daily Hampshire Gazette."

Bit by bit and drip by drop, the Gazette oozes into non-existence and reduced-reduced-reduced staff which produces the front page and the small, homey (dontcha know) box giving an overview of the weather ... above.

Like much of the rest of what's left of the 'news'paper, the weather box has been truncated to leave out even the most salient of facts... right down to the guesstimated temperatures and the suggestion that "blustery" is somehow bad or undesirable and when coupled with snow is a true "uh-oh."

In my news incarnation, temperature ranges were part of the forecast. Readers could and did use those frequently-inaccurate markers as pegging parameters on their own day ... and not have some feel-good smiling ninny do it for them. True, the snippet did encourage people to look inside for more Gazette insight, but at that point doesn't it stop being worthy of page-one note?

I am sick of people trying to improve my world or make me feel better about it when they have little or no evidence about what may or may not be somehow worse. Instead, I am provided with the opportunity to agree and be sociable and .... and it's all miles from what once was news.

My younger son, who can be prickly, has a sweatshirt that reads, "there will always be assholes."

OK. Nuff said.

Newspapers everywhere are declining ... declining and whining ... and yet they seem to keep on printing. Maybe it's the 10% profit margin they may be enjoying despite the loss of bricks-and-mortar ad revenue. I'll admit it can't be easy to have the past and present on the plate without pretending to see the future into the bargain. One way to sidestep might be to print on each page in Told type, "NO ONE CAN FORESEE THE FUTURE."

Friday, March 22, 2019

bodies unearthed on Mt. Everest

In the growing warmth, the corpses appear on Mt. Everest:
Melting glaciers on Mount Everest are exposing the dead bodies of climbers previously entombed in ice, as global warming causes temperatures to rise.
Almost 300 climbers have been killed attempting to climb the mountain since the first attempt to scale it in 1922.
I guess warmth may have that effect -- to expose what was in plain sight the whole time.
For example:
Mina Guli has run 62 marathons – one a day since early November. She planned to run 100 to focus attention on the world’s growing water problems, but now she’s broken her leg and can’t go on.
Ms. Guli, 48, is an Australian lawyer and businesswoman. In 2012, she decided to focus on helping the world face its water problems. Ms. Guli said that when she saw a river that had dropped 20 feet (6 meters) in six years, she realized she needed to do something.
Experts think that by 2030, people will need much more clean water than we’ll have on the planet. By then, the United Nations expects water supplies to be limited for about half of the people on Earth.
In her travels, Ms. Guli has seen people who weep for water.

The warmth rises and the bodies appear. The past rises up to assert its place in the skein of things. Is this a joke? Was it ever missing? Just because the movie runs a "the end" credit, is that really the end of anything. What preceded "the end," what "succeeded" it? The warmth thaws a kind of wilful ignorance that longs for a "the end." Neat and tidy as "the end" may be, still there is all that history that preceded it ... and thence, succeeded it. Life is not neat and tidy, as much as I might prefer to forget and move on and heal and improve.

In Venezuela, a land struggling to feed an increasingly hungry population seated on one of the world's largest oil reserves, a woman observes:  "It's hard, too hard, you can die without water," she said. "We weren't aware of this before. Water now is gold."

I once read (but can't winkle out) a Los Angeles Times story about a reporter who was actually sent to Tibet to assess the thrall in which Tibetans might feel themselves in the wake of a Chinese 'invasion.' Once upon a time, Tibet was ruled by the Dalai Lama and his Buddhist coterie. Bumper stickers in the United States read, "Free Tibet." To hear the tale told, you might have thought the Dalai Lama and his disciples got the bum's rush and were oppressed. And perhaps they were.

Yet in the midst of the LATimes story was a line that came from a local farmer who had lived under both sets of rulers -- the Dalai Lama and the Chinese: He said, simply, "Well, at least we're not slaves any more."

The warmth encroaches, the bodies appear and what was never missing reattaches its caboose to the train that always pulled it. Just because a conclusion is convenient does not necessarily mean it's true ... or untrue either.

Warming grows and Monty Python springs to mind: "Bring out your dead!"

Thursday, March 21, 2019

antique flat-liners

George III mahogany and parcel-gilt mirrors. The one on the left sold for $3,300 in 2002, and the one on the right for $1,800 in 2014.CreditStair Galleries
The market for antiques has headed south, I realize this morning after chatting with my friend Bill Samaha, a longtime dealer in what was once made by hand by craftsmen whose skill seemed unassailable.

A March, 2018, article in the New York Times noted:
Will other 18th and 19th century furniture pieces ever return to fashion? Many designers say that antiques will rise again but, after nearly two decades of decline, few are willing to predict when.
“The pendulum is going to swing just like it does in politics,” said Mr. Hayes. “It always does. But I don’t see it coming anytime soon.”
There was a time when design and au-courant denoted a person whose "taste is in his mouth." Today, in the age of the internet and with but few exceptions, the trend seems to be keeping up with those who are keeping up ...

Artworks made of plywood????? You've got to be shitting me! But no one is laughing as the money changes hands.

Once again, I am left in the fumes from the exhaust.


Wisdom is everywhere.

Eyes and ears vary.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

the ascendancy of the White Man

A white America?

Manifest Destiny?

Well, take another look and perhaps learn to savor -- in "El Norte; The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America" -- the Hispanic roots and culture that preceded the preposterousness of the White Man's claims:
This point of view persists. In the 2000s, the historian Samuel Huntington wrote that “America was created by … settlers who were overwhelmingly white, British and Protestant” – and therefore the arrival of Hispanics in large numbers remained a direct threat. Huntington denigrated such immigrants as people with “dual nationalities and dual loyalties”, because of their Spanish language and Catholic religion.
Arrogance is so much easier to spot in hindsight, but still, when it flows from the pens of those claiming to be historians ... JesusfuckingChrist! Exceptionalism is so enormous that it can make you choke when trying to separate Donald Trump's disciples and the rest of us soaking up 'American' history.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

New Zealand et al

The confusion and the anger and the anguish mount in the wake of the fatal shooting at two New Zealand mosques of 49 people. Nationalism and exceptionalism are folded into the mix.

Imagine killing or maiming or disabling someone because s/he comes from somewhere else. And in New Zealand -- that hot bed of wealthy homeowners hedging their bets against the upcoming water wars and race wars and more wars and more wars -- of all places.
CHRISTCHURCH/WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Reuters) - Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after 49 people were killed and dozens wounded in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques.
A gunman apparently walked into a mosque and simply started shooting. The purity of his race was in question ... and everybody else's as well. Didn't Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, say much the same last week -- Israel is for Israelis, period ... before walking the statement back? Beware the first-est with the most-est, whatever the stripe or configuration. If white people should rule the world (nationalist whooppee), well, that's a major oops. If Israelis should rule in Israel -- as they do -- that's another oops. And the list goes on and on.

What a mess.

Bless all the activist children who are out there bellowing about climate change and other uniting principles. Lord knows I have neither the energy nor the brain power for it all. I have to admit that the first thought into my head in the wake of the New Zealand slaughter was, "It's time for another St. Valentine's Day Massacre -- line up the so-called nationalists and simply wipe 'em out, stem to stern and top to bottom ... They're stupid, perhaps, but they are also armed.

Another warmonger voice heard from.

lolling and writhing

Perhaps life is little more than lolling and writhing.

Or maybe not ... the "lolling and writhing" duet rattles around this morning. It's smooth off the mind's tongue ... lolling and writhing and perhaps it is close enough for folk singing.

"Importance" overstates the case.

Not sure what I'm getting at, but I thought I'd write it down.

Lolling and writhing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

basic survival kit....

Duct tape.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

compost the corpse

'Give back to the earth': Washington could legalize composting of human remains

The legislation, if signed, would see the state become the first in the US to legalize the alternative to cremation and burial


No disrespect intended, but aren't you a little old for books?

Monday, March 11, 2019

John Oliver on "robocalls"

women with "breed ready" status

An open database in China contains the personal information of more than 1.8 million women, including their phone numbers, addresses, and something called “BreedReady” status, according to a researcher.
Victor Gevers, a Dutch internet expert from the non-profit group GDI.Foundation, found the insecure data cache while searching for open databases in China.

no more the news hound

Bit by bit, I am no longer the news hound I once was. True, the doings of Donald Trump and his mirror Benjamin Netanyau can light my grinding disapprobation fuse, but literally, I now seem to skip over the news in order to reach a comfort zone that is somewhere between the Augustinian "born between piss and shit" and the admired graffito, "Man without God is like a fish without a bicycle."

My own fictions leave me cozy. The fictions and facts of others unrelentingly fail to stir the pot. I am reduced, I guess, to navel-gazing. But there is something to be said for navel-gazing -- at least it's mine and it is something I feel comfortable laying claim to.

My own fictions. The outrages dim. The warm bath water that is my own swirls and eddies and I am at home with bits and pieces of stories left incomplete. Others tend to their own business without a blush. I blush because I was once very gung-ho about about the social injustices and clusterfucks.

Tales and sketches can begin anywhere and I like the anywhere's far better. I'm just more interested, even in the face of question, "who died and left you interesting?" I am turning into Donald Trump, I suppose, but I am too lazy and uncomfortable to put a stop to it. A corrupt election here, a car bomb there, an argument about exiting from the European Union, and, as always, another war.

I like being comfortable and perhaps am simply too old for anything else. It just feels good in some visceral way that 'hard' news does not.

How do you make steel? What is steel made of?
What is the creature in the briny, briny deeps that is more humongous that the giant sea squid? I heard about it on TV. True or not ... there always will be a bigger, a more ferocious, and a more dangerous what-ever-it-is. When a person dies, do the fingernails continue to grow, as a high school test paper once asked me and to which I still don't know the answer, though it seems unlikely.
In the Springfield Armory Museum 20 miles south of here, there is a water-powered lathe someone invented to churn out rifle stocks during the Civil War ... imagine that ... all those angles and cuts and it's all run by water.

Fact and fiction -- my belly button.

I will skim the news ... perhaps.

Or perhaps no longer.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

a mild matter of curiosity

Question: How could Jesus be a winner if I am still a sinner?

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Mr. 80

Happy birthday, Mr. 80.

Oops... turns out I am not 80 at all but rather, as my daughter pointed out, I am 79. Let's chalk it up to a 79-year-old's foible.

80 is a roundy, rattling number, sort of like a couple of marbles in the mouth, idly moving here to there, idly clicking. I kind of like 80 -- at least on first blush. It's smooth and of course I'm never going to turn 80 ... except for the fact that I have ... I guess ... turned 80.

Who'd-a-thunk it? Not I, that's for certain.

And the door is still open.

"A whisper from your past" sends an unsigned, meticulously-hand-written card ... peaceful as a pomegranate. I like it but know I will never find out who sent it. N'importe ... it's peaceful and I'm thankful.

In the news, there is another belching about anti-semitism in the U.S. and else where. Lots of breast-beating and yet no where in the earnest observations do I find one reference to the elephant in the Israeli living room -- the Palestinians against whom Israel unleashes an apartheid that would do Hitler proud. How can this be a rational or even very helpful approach? There is something prim and protected and infuriating about it.

Religion and Israel seem to lose their grasp as I rattle marbles in my mental mouth.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

compulsory voting

Imagine that! It may come with its own headaches, but still, imagine that!
Australia is one of only 19 countries out of 166 electoral democracies where voting is compulsory, and one of only nine that enforce it. It is the only English-speaking country that compels its citizens to vote.
And more, the Aussies vote on Saturdays, not on a workday.

anti-Zionism equals anti-Jew? Get real

All over the world, it is an alarming time to be Jewish – but conflating anti-Zionism with Jew-hatred is a tragic mistake
It is a bewildering and alarming time to be a Jew, both because antisemitism is rising and because so many politicians are responding to it not by protecting Jews but by victimising Palestinians.
I like the lede on this story even if I haven't got the energy to wade through it.

barking dog-owners

SADDLE RIVER, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey town is putting some bite in an ordinance that could result in hefty fines and even jail time for owners of barking dogs.
The Saddle River council is amending a one-sentence noise rule by placing time restrictions that would prohibit dogs from barking, howling or yelping for more than 20 minutes between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. or for more than 15 minutes between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Violators would face a fine of up to $1,000, up to 90 days or up to 90 days of community service.
Anyone who has lived around such neurotic dogs and their neurotic owners ("s/he's such a sweet dog") may feel a sigh of vindictive pleasure.

on turning 80

Like a puff of wind passing idly across the summer-smooth stillness, the questions tiptoe on the shiny lake, touseling some boy's so-perfect hair. It's an area of roughness in the midst of all else that is in order and solution and stasis. Just a small patch. Summer. And then, of a sudden, it's gone -- back to a glacial stillness, like the rest.

Unfortunate onlookers rustle up sages and wise men. Why does simplicity always need to be so damned complex? It doesn't, of course, but that understanding comes with time, I think: Questions don't posit answers. Hell, they don't even posit questions. Let the small boy be and smile. It's just a puff.

On Saturday, as man's crow flies, I will be 80. How did that happen? What does it mean?

With time, the need to overlook or drill down into the questions abates. Answers are just grist for the question mill. What a bonny lad! Relax and tousle his hair.


There will be swimming later and in the meantime, it is smooth.

Do a cannon ball!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

holy jumpin' jibber-jabber, Batman!

OK, I surrender: Any time a British publication uses the word "maths" I know I'm going to become and remain lost. It gives me permission, which I receive gratefully, to be dumb. But this piece from the Guardian is wonderfully compelling somehow, a tale that takes on artificial intelligence and manages to shoehorn in everyday laziness and stupidity like my own.
Machines can already write music and beat us at games like chess and Go. But the rise of artificial intelligence should inspire hope as well as fear, says Marcus du Sautoy
Who hired this guy? Who pays him? And how does anyone know they're getting a bang for their buck? Luckily, because of the key word "maths," I do not feel compelled to answer in any coherent way. I can just sit back and marvel about whatever marvelous (or is it just nutsy-fagin?) confetti he is sending into the environment?

I wish I could say I would return to read the article again, and thus 'understand' better -- but it's a lie. It's all about "maths;" I am a nobody when it comes to "maths;" so you figure it out and tell me what's going on. Strangely, I love this strange miasmic leap into Neverland or wherever the hell it is.
Slackers should take note: the human aversion to hard work, it seems, is often nothing but a good thing. “I think human laziness is a really important part of finding good, new ways to do things,” he says. “I often look at things and think: ‘This is just getting too complicated – let me try to step back and figure out a shortcut.’
I think I love the fact that someone actually hired this guy and then let him lose in the rabbit warren. That's what I think ... or anyway what I think I think.

Buddhism, the cheat sheet

Because there was reason today to look it up, I did and rather liked it and so will republish what I wrote a bunch of years ago. Buddhism seems so éloigné today... sort of ... so to speak ... but what the hell ... a one-page, disposable cheat sheet on Buddhism -- not my worst crime I hope.

The truth of Buddhism does not come from a book. It does not come from a temple. It does not come from someone else. It is not written on a piece of paper. The truth of Buddhism comes from the individual effort to investigate, verify and actualize a clear understanding of this life.

Shakyamuni Buddha, the man most often referred to as the founder of Buddhism, was born on the border of India and Nepal in about 565 BC. He attained what is sometimes called enlightenment at 35 and preached until his death at 80. Many schools of Buddhism sprang from his teachings … in India, Tibet, China, Korea and Japan among others. Uncertain estimates put Buddhist numbers at about 350 million worldwide.

It is good to remember that the word “Buddha” simply means “awake.”  Not holy or unholy – just “awake.”

All Buddhist schools agree on at least two things:

1. THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS: These are observations about the world around us.
The Four Noble Truths are:
*** 1. There is suffering (dukkha – the uncertainties, dissatisfactions and doubts that life can dish up); 2. There is a cause of suffering; 3. There is an end to suffering; 4. There is a way to end suffering.

2. THE EIGHTFOLD PATH: These are the tools suggested as most useful when seeking out a truly peaceful life in a changing world.
The Eightfold Path is:
*** 1. Right View 2. Right Intention 3. Right Speech 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7. Right Mindfulness 8. Right Concentration.
The word "right" is sometimes translated as "complete." A “complete” effort is thorough-going and whole-hearted. Nothing is held back. Buddhism is not a threat-based persuasion: You won’t go to heaven (right) if you practice it and you won’t go to hell (wrong) if you don’t. But honesty is required -- complete honesty.

The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path carry with them the verifiable observation that everything in life changes. There is nothing that does not change. Joy turns to sorrow, love turns to anger, birth turns to death, and the family car always gets a flat. All Buddhist schools agree on such things, but how they approach them may vary.

But as the Dalai Lama put it once, "Everyone wants to be happy." And that is probably as good a summary of Buddhism as any.


You knew it was coming and now finally, it seems, here it is. Move over TED talks. Make some room on the self-referential rainbow of social analyses. It's here at last:
Are you turned on when you look in the mirror, and enjoy nothing more than a steamy night at home alone? You could be an autosexual.
Go back to your lairs, oh ye purveyors of gonna-fix-things-that-ail-you. No need for anyone else's opinion. The is the last word....

Only you know it isn't.

All you know is that is has endless possibilities and someone's going to make some money.

Monday, March 4, 2019


Snowman-ready snow -- 6-8 inches' worth -- fell overnight and the area is humming with snowblowers and potential cardiac incidents. Schools are closed together with other outlets that have taken to succumbing to the first hint (what?! -- do we live in Georgia now?) of slip-sliding and -- what did you say?! -- snowplows.

I guess I've joined ranks with the old farts who grit their teeth and grumble, "when I was a kid, we all walked 15 miles through the snow ("barefoot" for added drama) to get where we needed to go. Everyone else did too."

The word "pussy" springs to mind, but I won't say that. Some millennial improvement imp might jump my bones.

massacres in Australia

 ... just some shuddering history worth noting.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

marital weights

Competitors take part in the annual UK wife-carrying race at Dorking. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

the many uses of a bed frame

Men and relatives carry the coffin of Sudheer Qureshi, a boy whom mourners say was killed by shelling fired from Indian Administered Kashmir, during a funeral in Jehlum Valley in Pakistan Administered Kashmir, Pakistan March 2, 2019. Picture taken March 2, 2019. REUTERS/M. Saif-ul-Islam

Saturday, March 2, 2019

coming back?

My accomplishment du jour -- and with the somewhat grouchy nudging of my wife ...

Today is Saturday.

Don't ask me what day I imagined it to be otherwise, but at least I seem to be on course now.

Two days ago, I had a 'procedure' that intended to increase blood flow in my left-leg/foot. The affair was intended, as I understood it, was to have been a one-day, in-and-out matter. Instead, I remained in the hospital overnight and was crabby as a wet cat. Hospitals are mausoleums in disguise from where I sit and I didn't like it -- no color, no art, beds made to aid the aides who make them but not the people who rest in them ..... bleah!

After bitching enough -- though with reference to what day, I'm not sure -- I made it home, wobbly and drugged. I slept and slept and slept some more. The blood flow seems to have improved, the pain reduced and I am sitting at the computer ... I think.

In Africa, as I imagine it, the chief sits plump as a plum on the only chair. He is the only one raised up. His tribe sits in the dust. He decides and ponders and expatiates. Things are as they should be and I have no clue as to what this has to do with a hospital 'procedure' but it comes to mind ... a fat belly and everyone pretty much content in the gathering.

In the passage of days, who knows what may have happened. Still, the sun is down, the night dark. The chief's well-fed belly glistens. It is proper -- as with male lions who don't do much of the hunting and yet get first pick of the kill -- that the chief should be fed. Is there more?

Coming back is where I seem to be. From where and to where is open to question.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

"if it's not funny, it ain't true"

Rarified incondibula
Berate the harridans’
Foremost fibula

But Oistrackh never
Hit the strings
That left me gasping
For diamond rings.

Sweet the tall redwood
Sweet the fern
It’s all enough
To make anyone say “dern!”

I guess this solemnified gibberish came to mind in connection with a line read in an internet Buddhist bulletin board a week or so ago: “My wife says that if it’s not funny, it’ ain’t true.”

Still looking for the truth.
It ain't either funny or fun.

Is there any room here for laughter?

Monday, February 25, 2019

[fill-in-the-blank] ONLY I

 A mural in Jinwar. The female-only commune in north-eastern Syria opened in November and is home to Kurdish, Yazidi and Arab families. Photograph: Bethan McKernan/The Guardia"
 Does anyone else out there find their been around-the-block-teeth itching at the mention of one-pointed organizations?
 Does anyone else get a case of itchy teeth when someone posits a [fill-in-the-blank]-only way of seeing or building anything? Isn't whatever it is -- women-only, men-only, peace-lovers-only, greed-merchants-only, children-only, Christians/Jews/Muslims/Buddhists/Hindus-only ... pick-your-only ... isn't that which proclaims its only-ness doomed to dissipate from the get-go? And I mean anything?

All the reaoning and excuses in the world can't right this ship. I might love the idea of a women-only commune, but I'm sorry, it won't wash and it won't wear. I love the effort, but I cannot and will not pretend that the future is any different from the myriad futures that preceded it.

Think "only"....
Now think "human being"....
Now get real.

where science and comics collide?

A paragraph that may or may not make you want to read the story of which it is part and parcel:
The hypothetical Planet Nine, thought to be lurking in the distant Oort cloud, has been suggested as exerting a gravitational pull on objects in the depths of the solar system, including the recently discovered dwarf planet The Goblin and another object named Biden.

the little stuff

Of late, I realize I have seen enough movies or whatever so that I can pretty much know the outcome and can turn my focus to the lesser lights of what appears before me on the screen. It's no longer the star and starlet and their star-crossed adventures, but, for example, the cleanliness of the cowboy boots worn in some western drama. Notice the boots retreating in this shot or that ... notice how spic-and-span the leather two or three inches in front of the heel is? The character wearing the boots may be old and grizzled and trail-worn, but the boots are squeaky new. Notice how clean/clean/clean the horses are (no caked on or newly scrubbed-off shit on the rump). Notice how almost dust-less the main drag of and 'aging' and 'storied' cow town is. Notice how none of the horses -- whether of heroes or villains -- ever get shot in western-movie showdowns ... and this despite the fact that the horse is the most obvious target?

And does anyone any longer count the bullets expended during a six-shooter-dominated gun fight?

It's sort of like the majority of the so-called news pictures: Take a look at the newspaper and count up the number of smiling faces vs. the number of those (outside some disastrous loss) with compressed and frowning lips ... the other half of the facial equation.

If you can't believe the smiles, how far behind can the frowns be? And vice-versa? My local newspaper is positively awash in smiling-smiling-smiling faces. Can this be news and if not, why does it dominate the 'news' section?

I don't mind being diverted to picayune matters like this: I've got the stars and starlets pretty much fixed in my been-there-done-that sights. Now it's time for the credulousness I should dispense with in their environment to take a turn. I thought movies had actual jobs for those who would make the environment and the action dwell in the same space seamlessly.

No biggie -- it's just horse shit and horse shit, I suppose.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

words once victimized

Think of all the underutilized and perhaps maligned words in your native tongue -- words wantonly left out and ignored or, perhaps worse, misused and denigrated. Are they too not victims whose time in the shades of literal or metaphorical opprobrium has been prolonged and deserves a moment in the bright light of agreement and applause.

Oh the victim-hood!

Consider, for example:


And nor is such an example, alone.

The me-too's await!

Let the cangues hang from newer, unaccustomed necks!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

where education counts

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming school district plans to re-open an isolated school to serve a single student entering kindergarten this fall.
The Laramie Boomerang reports Cozy Hollow School is about 60 miles north of Laramie. A modular classroom is already there but hasn’t been used for about a decade.
It will be the second one-student school in the Albany County School District. They’re only a few miles apart, but connecting roads are impassable much of the winter.
Wyoming law requires on-site education for isolated students when it’s impossible to transport them to other schools.
The district tried live-streaming classes for isolated students but it didn’t work well, especially for young children.
District officials say it will cost about $150,000 combined to educate the two students next school year.

immortal hell

Is Silicon Valley's quest for immortality a fate worse than death?
Funded by elites, researchers believe they’re closer than ever to tweaking the human body so we can live forever (or quite a bit longer)
The only advantage I can see to "living forever" is that it might put a cork in the conversational gambit of talking about hell.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

the Edwardian firecracker

Does it say something about the beckoning day when I wake up with the child's nursery rhyme...?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice
And that's what little girls are made of.

And what are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails
And puppy dogs' tails.
And that's what little boys
Are made of.
Time has passed since that rhyme-time.

The generalization I can't seem to shake these days is,
"Men do the imagining; women clean up the mess."
It may not be true, but it's pretty close and "pretty close" does count in horse shoes, another aged pastime.

And another pin ball rucketing around in my mind of late is finding my place along the educated book shelf:

When I was in college, I decided I would not major in philosophy (logic was too damnably mathematical) and would major in French instead and thus be freed up to take the fun philosophy courses that attracted me. French was comparatively easy in my book and it was within its wiles that I encountered a place that seemed to fit me.

In French, there were two versions of "you." There was "vous," which was formal and respectful and there was "tu" -- a diminutive applied to children and beloved counterparts. "Je t(u)'aime was a sweet way of saying "I love you." And you might think that "je t'aime" would be applied to the latest beloved person. But I recognized that what suited me was "je vous aime," a way of expressing love and respect in a single sweep. An Edwardian correctness. A bit Brit.

Edwardian ... dressed to the nines and hot as a firecracker.

Je vous aime.

Muddling and mumbling... for the moment, as Emily Litella might say, "Never miiiind!"

I was interrupted and lost the strand..... "to be cont'd" perhaps.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

at the tone, the time will be....

While others rearrange their sock drawer of the internet -- reassuring themselves that they have "friends" on social media and thereby finding context and meaning -- I am grateful to the same internet for its reliability when it comes to what day of the week it is. Literally.

Today, a small compendium at the bottom corner right of this screen confirms this as Feb. 19, 2019 -- a Tuesday. I suppose it could be "fake news," but it is as close to reassurance as I can find after having lost another day and time. It is an old habit -- trying to be on the same page with others in this day and time. Old habits die hard.

My problem of late is taking a late afternoon siesta (circa 4 p.m.), waking at around 9 ... and being marrow-deep convinced that this is nine in the morning, and I probably have missed some doctor's appointment or other engagement. Then I find it is actually night and things need to be revised.

So much for the vagaries and vagueness of advancing age. When I ask myself why I should fret about what time or time of day it might be, I find no satisfactory answer. But that answer remains unsatisfactory. So I segue into a morning routine -- reading news wires, snipping out bits and pieces of interest, ingesting a roll and a bit of juice, and trying to otherwise reset the clock.

If today were not Tuesday, would it matter?
If today were Tuesday, would it matter?
If it didn't matter, would it matter?
If it did matter, would it matter?

Age ... would it matter if it stopped insisting that did/didn't matter?

Somehow I feel as floppy and flappy as a sea turtle on a Galapagos beach.

Monday, February 18, 2019

honoring beauty

How then would I honor beauty?

I think I would bask.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

oops ... Chinese surveillance 'surveilled'

It sounds to me as if the Chinese may have a leg up on the United States when it comes to snooping its citizens' business. I'm not worried though: The U.S. is never likely to allow such a blot to remain on its surveillance escutcheon.
BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese surveillance firm is tracking the movements of more than 2.5 million people in the far-western Xinjiang region, according to a data leak flagged by a Dutch internet expert.
An online database containing names, ID card numbers, birth dates and location data was left unprotected for months by Shenzhen-based facial-recognition technology company SenseNets Technology Ltd, according to Victor Gevers, co-founder of non-profit organization GDI.Foundation, who first noted the vulnerability in a series of social media posts last week.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Florida is drowning

Florida is drowning. Condos are still being built. Can't humans see the writing on the wall?

Florida is sinking.

Builders continue to build.

Hope springs eternal ... right along with idiocy.

black cowboys

Thursday, February 14, 2019

is all thinking wishful thinking?

Is all thinking wishful thinking?
I think perhaps it is.

Put that together with your grandma's saying, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride," and maybe there is a foundation of sorts.

Just a little thinking.

guilty until proven innocent

Is it coming to a time when guilty-until-proven-innocent is slowly replacing the once sacrosanct (if fabulous) innocent-until-proven-guilty?

Lord knows the Catholic church and its child-sexual-abuse coverups (since way before 2012) deserve a long period of sunlight after years in the convenient, holy-roller shade.

But I wonder about the politicians and other power-brokers who have seemed immune to sexual assault charges ... but now decide to exit the stage at the first hint of accusation. Investigations take time. Accusations are a quick-hit.

Is a randy teen-ager the same as a grown man/woman? So many of the accusations seem to relate to times when idiots-R-us ruled the roost. This is not to say that damage is any the less as far as victims are concerned. But is now the time to initiate a flying-squad investigative unit to sort things out?

Perhaps the divide is just too ingrained:

"Guilty until proven innocent" relates to you.

But "innocent until proven guilty" is something I would prefer be applied to me.

absorbing the shock

I seldom watch TV news any longer. Instead, I scoop up bits of what the internet provides on the wire services. But yesterday, I was in couch-potato mode, feeling a bit off my feed, and turned on MSNBC. Three or four well-coiffed talking heads were parsing one thing and another. And, believe it or don't, I found myself somewhat shocked in an age when "shocked" is so passé. It had been so long since I watched regular TV.

When I was a kid, Saturday-matinee westerns made it clear that if one man called another a "liar," it was grounds for stepping onto Main Street to duel things out. On school grounds as well, lying was considered a major no-no, a no-no any man or woman might uphold if s/he wished to maintain his or her honor. No man or woman could abide the moniker. Calling someone else a liar was the gravest of insults...

And yet here, on MSNBC, there were three or four talking heads reaching millions of people, who, within the space of 20 or so minutes must have called the president of the United States a "liar" 15-20 times. No one blinked. No one shuddered. No one headed onto Main Street. 

Literally, they called him a "liar."

Is there another world leader who is so forthrightly assailed? I waited for it. Germany, England, France, hell, even Iran, which the U.S. and its cohort Israel (or is it the other way around?) can critique over and over again without taking much responsibility for its own actions/inactions ...?

A liar.

I waited for similar critiques of similar leaders. Those critiques were not forthcoming.

Donald Trump has put his brand on the U.S. the way a cattle rancher might brand a calf. His lies become my country's loss; his lies become my country's lies. I am complicit in Donald Trump's lies.

OK, I am lapsing into old-fartdom. Lying is no good. It shames the one lying and shames the one lied-to. But of course, this is no Saturday matinee ... except that it kind of is: Who is willing to draw what line where and then stick to it?

"Imagine that!" my mind burst out in shock as I watched MSNBC. "A liar." If there is nothing left to be shocked about, isn't it I who shows off his dwindling colors?

I hate the fact that Donald Trump is turning America into one gigantic shock absorber. He has re-election-hungry support, of course, but is one man's greed an excuse?

Oh well, I guess it's just another shock to absorb. "I was just following orders...." haven't we heard that line before? "Never again...." haven't we heard that line before?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Trump terrorism challenged

Lawyers for eight immigrant families separated under Trump administration policy have filed claims against the US government, demanding $6m each in damages for what they describe as “inexplicable cruelty” and lasting trauma.
In claims filed to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security, released on Monday, the parents accuse immigration officers of taking their children away without giving them information, sometimes without even a chance to say goodbye.
Of all the heinous crimes that may be laid at Donald Trump's doorstep, the separation of Central American children from their mothers/families as a caravan heads north to the United States strikes me as most excruciating. A vile liar activates a vile lie and the United States is held hostage to those lies. Is this who the United States is -- turning away a crowd whose members may, but are seldom proven, to have criminals in their midst. The bottom line is purely visceral for me: How would I feel if someone of greater power took one or more of my children? Frankly, I would want to kill him/her/or it. Poor people often have little and are known to be devoted to their families ... and now this????? And the reasoning comes from a man who routinely fabricates facts and disseminates fictions. The same man who claims to be a good business man and yet paid over $200,000 as fallout from two sexual encounters?

Rabid dogs are frequently shot dead.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

the keys to the kingdom

The 97-year-old consort of the Queen of England has voluntarily surrendered his driver's license after an accident a on Jan. 17. As another old fart, I would like to have been a fly on the wall when the discussion was held and the prince handed over the keys. How 'voluntary' was it?

Can you imagine what it might have been like if Donald Trump had a similar accident? His eyesight is fine because he says it is fine and besides, he's God.

I can't imagine the prince was entirely happy about yet another reminder that, royal or common, faculties tend to wane, control is lost and, hélas, the clock unwinds for gods and men alike.

PS. It appears he was not wearing a seat belt either. Us old farts know that feeling.

backgrounder on blackface

Background on blackface [The Guardian]:
“America is a land of masking jokers,” the novelist Ralph Ellison wrote in 1958 in an essay on American identity. “We wear the mask for purposes of aggression as well as for defense, when we are projecting the future and preserving the past … the joke is at the center of the American identity.”
When white Americans dumped tea into the Boston Harbor, Ellison argues, they were wearing the costumes – the masks – of Native Americans; when white Americans wished to ease their discomfort with black Americans, they simply adopted blackness itself as a costume, a clown suit, attempting to at once crudely mimic African Americans through stereotypes and to create a caricature that could be easily laughed at and spoken down to. It was an act of both offense and defense: an attack through derision, and a kind of psychological defense against a deeply feared group. The entertainer in blackface – even when it was a black American forced to put on blackface makeup – “is [always] white”, Ellison noted.
At the height of its popularity in the late 19th century, seeing white performers adorned in coal-black makeup, woolly wigs and outlandishly red lips was one of the most beloved pastimes for white American families.
My now-dead friend William B. McKechnie III once told me that when his mother was little, the kids might go down to the local insane asylum and peek in at the crazy people and their crazy stuff. As ever, the habits of the past may seem antiquated and even cruel and yet there they are looking out of our very own mirrors. Blackface may make today's white man cringe, yet imagine how much worse than cringing the black man's burden was to bear.

sub-zero effects

Winter outdoor sports enthusiast Olesya Ushakova poses while throwing hot water into subzero air as she participates in the "Dubak Challenge", an intense cold challenge that is popular on social media in Russia, during sunset outside the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia February 8. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

Friday, February 8, 2019

Trump's slave laborers

At the same time that U.S. President Donald Trump thunders and berates for a border wall between Mexico and the United States (criminals, drugs, sex slavers and other undesirables are taking American space, don'tchaknow ... at the same time he vows to re-empower a working class whose work has been drifting away ... at the very same time ... construction workers are out of jobs that might pay $50 or more per hour, illegal Costa Rican immigrants laborers earning $8-$10 per hour have worked on President Donald Trump's golf course in New Jersey, according to the Washington Post.

The story needs editing -- or maybe my mind does -- but the smell of bullshit and hypocrisy and feudalism is overwhelming. What a disgusting little man.

How do people -- "the base" they keep being called -- keep loving a man who takes their jobs, impoverishes their families, undercuts their medical care and the best he can do is to call another raucous circle-jerk of adulation where everyone agrees to be angry or victimized ... though not by the man doing the victimizing.
A hat worn by a former worker at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster is displayed in a home in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

president's State of the Union speech

An 11-year-old boy called Joshua Trump who was invited by his presidential namesake to his State of the Union speech fell asleep and has been hailed as a hero of the anti-Trump resistance.
Joshua Trump, a middle-school student from Delaware, was invited to the delayed event by Melania Trump. He dropped out of school after being bullied because of his last name.

Poor photographers, working their asses off to get something serious out of a speech given by a man more known for lying and misrepresenting than anything else.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

... turns into art

If you wait long enough, everything turns into art.

don't read the book, just skip to the last page

Well, we're probably all in hot water now with a new study that suggests women's brains are somewhat younger than male counterparts of the same age. Do I dare to quip, "and here I thought it was just better DNA that made them right"?
Women’s brains are nearly four years younger than men’s, at least in how they burn fuel, according to scans performed by US researchers.
Scientists found that healthy women have a “metabolic brain age” that is persistently younger than men’s of the same chronological age. The difference is apparent from early adulthood and remains into old age.
The finding suggests that changes in how the brain uses energy over a person’s lifetime proceed more gradually in women than they do in men. While researchers are unsure of the medical consequences, it may help explain why women tend to stay mentally sharp for longer.
Is someone bound to jump on that as "sexism" or some other no-no? I don't know, but in an era when allegation and conviction come increasingly closer before the evidence that once presumed innocence is entirely sorted out ...

You know, if one priest is a pedophile and other priests helped him to cover it up ... well, you know what priests are guilty of, right? And they did bring it on themselves, much like cops... pulling the goodness blanket protectively closer and closer to the ears.

And when governors quiver (Va.'s Ralph Northam is likely to quit over a photo in 1984 in which one of two men pictured wore black-face and one wore a KKK robe. He acknowledged/then denied being one of those men. Northam was born in 1959.) Now it seems that his lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, is being dogged by sexual charges that relate to a time when he was younger. So the quarterback and backup quarterback are tarnished and like priests or presidents ... well, off to the conviction races! And for anyone who has been victimized, "it's about damned time!"

Meanwhile, Donald Trump, the U.S. president, gears up for what is being billed as a conciliatory State of the Union address to Congress tonight. With as many lies as he has told in the past, are there still actually people who can believe this man? Answer, yes. Trump is not an honorable man, but he has trained the public to avert its eyes from anything resembling honor, decency or patriotism.

Shut 'em up. Wave the "guilty" wand. Everyone's lying except you and me and sometimes I'm not so sure about you.

taking the Google shaft?

OK ... I'm not sure what it all means, but it probably means I'm being sliced and diced according to Google, which, like, "Big Brother" is bound to know better than I do and will screw me as a means of underlining its point.

Following the announcement of Google+ API deprecation scheduled for March 2019, a number of changes will be made to Blogger’s Google+ integration on 4 February 2019.

Google+ widgets: Support for the “+1 Button”, “Google+ Followers” and “Google+ Badge” widgets in Layout will no longer be available. All instances of these widgets will be removed from your blog.

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Please note that if you have a custom template that includes Google+ features, you may need to update your template. Please contact your template supplier for advice.

Google+ Comments: Support for Google+ comments will be turned down, and all blogs using Google+ comments will be reverted back to using Blogger comments. Unfortunately, comments posted as Google+ comments cannot be migrated to Blogger and will no longer appear on your blog.

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Monday, February 4, 2019

Super Bowl

Yesterday's game between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams had a foregone conclusion (Pats 13, Rams 3) and all the excitement of flour and water. A defensive game. Millions and millions of dollars spent on advertising. Four or five guys parsing every inch and tactic and ... well, they had a job, I guess, and advertisers were happy.

If I don't write it down, I'll never remember who even played in the game, which is not their fault, but mine.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

my goodness ... whether you choke or not

Sometimes it confounds me that any of us lived long enough to learn how to tie our shoes. The blind spots of youth are just that staggering.

John Chau
Today, the Guardian has what appears to be a rewrite of a NYTimes story detailing the last days of John Chau, 26, who took it into his Christian-oriented mind to meet with the members of a tribe on a Pacific island in hopes of introducing them to the wonders of Jesus Christ... "the isolated Sentinelese people. The Sentinelese, hunter-gatherers who inhabit North Sentinel Island in the Andaman island chain, are considered one of the Earth’s last uncontacted peoples; their entire tribe is believed to number several dozen people." The Indian government had forbidden contact, but a Christian's mandate, among other things, is to spread the word.

And I have sympathy for this warrior for Christ -- his is the same mind set that used to find me sitting on the stoop of a New York Zen center, waiting for the doors to open for evening practice, wondering how all the rushing pedestrians could be passing by what I found so compelling -- spiritual life. Mine was just another bit of arrogant ignorance: If I've thought this through, how come you don't agree with me, see my point, and join my effort? It seldom if ever crossed my mind that it was I who was the odd man out -- the weirdo in a world of ordinary folks: I was right, right? I'm doing good so it must be good, right?

John Chau was apparently killed by those he planned to benefit with a dollop of God.

A good guy, no doubt, but an asshole ... just like me.

I guess everyone has to cross the mine fields of the narrow and upright. That the survival rate is as high as it is ranks as a marvel, I think. Christianity lines up as one of the more childish spiritual casts based on the order to go out and fight Satan. Not that Christianity is alone -- lots of persuasions say we-are-the-bestest-with-the-mostest -- but Christianity seems particularly given to treacle and a willingness to self-impute 'goodness.'

A smack upside-of-the-head is not always administered in cruelty.

dinner menu

Food. What a habit.

Last night, for "dinner," I had a little supermarket-cooked "rotisserie chicken," (tastes just like chicken, don'tcha know), a tablespoon of lukewarm rice that takes 90 seconds to heat up, two small seedless oranges and a teaspoon of Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate morsels... Nestlé, the quality of whose chocolate seems to be following the downward chocolate spiral of Hershey, an American 'chocolate' provider whose offerings become less and less chocolate-y in a bid, I presume, for greater or equal profit.

I do love good chocolate, but it seems to be harder and harder to find outside the European brands. It may look like chocolate and I may wish it were chocolate, but it increasingly reaches the taste buds as some sort of filler.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

religion is a rich (wo)man's sport

The old saying, "idle hands are the devil's workshop" may not appear per se in the Christian Bible, but its roots appear to be there.

Idly, and without rancor, I wonder this morning if religion is not a rich (wo)man's sport, a way of addressing the vagaries of life and, coincidentally, finding a goldmine of adherents.

Money provides time in which to ponder and conjecture and weave a tale. As soon as the well-heeled open a mouth, those without money and education and perhaps handcuffed to a less-well-heeled station in life recognize their own need for explanation and understanding. And it's not just the irritation of the humanists we're talking about. Vagaries and change touch one and all.

Open a mouth and religion appears not so much for the thrall of it all but because "idle hands are the devil's workshop." If you have nothing better to do, well, how about religion? The well-to-do with their fuller stomachs have time and capacity to fashion a more 'know-able' world. Tell me a good story and I'm all ears,

The springboard for all this half-baked thinking was a picture I was sent of a man, Ben Higgins (1894-1981), who lived up in the hills around here -- in Chesterfield. My stepmother's longtime live-with, Bill Samaha, sent the picture along. Bill is a longtime antiques dealer who knows what makes and made quality items -- baskets like Ben Higgins'. "None of the kids care about the guy," Bill told me. But Bill cared. He cared for the old ways of making baskets. Higgins made his first basket when he was five, if Google is to be believed. Whether Ben Higgins believed in some god, I have no clue. But his hands, if I gauge correctly, were never idle. Life is mysterious enough without adding to the mystery. So Ben kept his tools in good repair and made baskets in ways that kids don't much care about, perhaps. Baskets take time; they take patience; they take skill; and perhaps, in an idle moment, they take God ... or not: Dealer's choice.

The photo Samaha sent along was -- according to Samaha -- by a snazzy west coast photographer I never heard of (C% Marceo Julin --- can't read it) who, like other photogs, took pictures of celebrities among others ... anyway I think it's the guy.) .... someone who probably kept his professional tools clean as well

Friday, February 1, 2019

early morning cold

The cold rests,
still and assured
as a cat.
The steam rises
from the hot coffee,
Frisky as a kitten,
Seeking the closeness
And attention
of its

Thursday, January 31, 2019

author, drug-trafficker pay their prices

Artistry, criminal and otherwise, has its prices, I guess:

Off the coast of Australia, author Behrouz Boochani has apparently been informed that his book "No Friend but the Mountains" had won both the non-fiction Victorian premier's literary award ($25,000) and the $100,000 Victorian prize for literature (same book)... top-drawer literary awards.

A Kurdish Iranian asylum seeker, Boochani could not collect his prizes because he is not allowed into Australia.

Meanwhile, in Spain,
A drug trafficker who managed to evade capture for 15 years by cutting and burning the skin of his fingertips and having it replaced with micro-implants has been arrested by Spanish police.... A police spokeswoman told the Guardian: “'He’d used very sophisticated methods to alter the fingerprints of both hands so that he couldn’t be identified. He used skin implants to change the shape of his prints so that the scars beneath couldn’t be detected. It was a very sophisticated, specialist process that took place over a number of years.'