Saturday, May 25, 2019

heroes in a age of victims

Hedy Lamarr -- actress and inventor
In an age when everyone wants a bite of the victimization apple, I awoke this morning thinking of those I consider vaguely as my heroes -- men and women who stood tall in the winds that blew against them.

They were people of 'sand' as my father used to say ... a character that was willing to step out of the crowd mentality of its time. No, I have little or no evidence outside a documentary, perhaps, but still they flutter on the edges of consciousness.

Sharpshooter Annie Oakley who shot straight and had a firm backbone.
Actress phenom Hedy Lamarr, whose technological brain power of the 1930's was not in step with a Hollywood vision of her as a beautiful woman. It was not until the 1960's that the Navy adopted her ideas to its torpedoes.
Marine Corps General Smedley Butler.
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, who spoke for and acted for equality when others only spoke about equality.
Tennis great Billie Jean King, whose homosexuality was widely and derisively whispered. She absorbed the bruising without any overt reaction. (Male joke of the time, for example: "Q. Who eats pussy? A. You, me, and Billie Jean King.")
Black-listed screen writer Dalton Trumbo, whose colleagues saw their lives shattered by the communist witch hunting of U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
The Dalai Lama whom I once saw from a distance of under eight feet help an elderly Tibetan woman to her feet after she bowed her forehead to his feet in homage ... and then could not get up.
Charles Monroe, mail clerk in New Marlborough, Mass.
Ben Higgins (1894-1981) who wove his first basket at five (if you believe Google) in nearby Chesterfield, Mass., and kept at it for a lifetime... praise and blame were waters for others to ply.

All and more like them stepped outside their herd-driven roles as victims or heroes. Not least among them, my wife, Elizabeth, who managed to survive three children -- and me -- while I worked nights. Jeee-sus!

Through it all, one way and another, I guess some things hold water: Everyone, irrespective of color or sex or religious affiliation or feeling victimized is entirely capable of being an asshole. Likewise, everyone is capable of reflecting a little, looking a little bit in the bathroom mirror and finding shades of courage and kindness. Is any of it true? Is any of it isn't? I don't know, but I do know I wish I had done things a bit better ... a bit more in line with my heroes and guideposts and a little less with my own herd-instinct reflexes.

Friday, May 24, 2019

price fixing in the bond markets... and Asian carp

FILE - In this June 13, 2012, file photo, Asian carp, jolted by an electric current from a research boat, jump from the Illinois River near Havana, Ill. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' commanding officer has endorsed a $778 million plan for upgrading a lock-and-dam complex near Chicago to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes. Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite signed the final report Thursday, May 23, 2019. It now goes to Congress, which would need to give authorization and funding for the project to proceed. (AP Photo/John Flesher, File)
If you wondered exactly how you were getting fucked in an economy that sports such well-dressed and well-heeled and well-chauffeured traders, just take a look at the price fixing being alleged against some of the banking and bond-trading big boys. It's worse than the Asian carp stalking the Great Lakes.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s treasury department is accusing about a dozen large financial firms of working together to illegally inflate the price of bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over seven years.
A federal court filing by Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella cites what his office says is evidence from a “cooperating co-conspirator” in a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into price-fixing in the secondary market for bonds issued by government-controlled companies.
Evidence cited in the filing late Thursday includes brief transcripts of what it says are electronic chats between traders from various financial institutions that are the largest dealers of the bonds.
In the discussions, the traders allegedly agree to fix bond prices at artificially inflated prices, cheating Pennsylvania and other buyers of the bonds. The price-fixing began in 2009 and lasted through 2015, and violates federal anti-trust law, Torsella’s filing said.
The whole thing is beyond my pay grade in terms of understanding, but it smells about right and the names ring familiar bells among those benefiting from tax breaks and other emoluments.

Of course the caring children of a caring generation may be more content to raise Cain about the potential for an Asian carp invasion of the Great Lakes ... it's so much easier to be pissed off at a fish than some slimy Wall Street eel, right?

Maybe someone will figure out how to put a little electricity under the college-educated thieves. No, you do not want to hold your breath.

toe amputation

"Slicker'n whale shit," comes to mind as I think back to yesterday (5/23/19), a trip to the hospital and the amputation of the second toe on my left foot. A wound on the toe had exposed the 'knuckle' bone and there was not enough skin to heal it over. The best guess was to amputate and delay any potential for gangrene that might endanger the nearby environment of the foot.

The day began inauspiciously with the bumping of my surgical appointment from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight. I fretted a bit that I might not be fretting enough, that I was too concerned for the discombobulation the whole affair might inflict on my wife and family. But in the event ... poof! One minute I was chatting with the surgeon and the next I was waking up in the recovery room. Talk about a magical mystery tour.

There's some stinging and there is a clunky foot-brace shoe, but .... voilĂ !

At a "wound clinic" I visited during the lead-up to the 'procedure,' a doctor readied me for what sounded like the inevitable: "You don't need that toe much anyway." Still, it was a good toe and I am thankful for whatever hard work it did over the years.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

up with cranky Christians!

Being the good Christian he is ( (: ), my neighbor across the street, Joe, got pissed as a hornet this morning after a parking enforcement vehicle parked across the street from his house and prepared to take pictures of Joe's car in front of Joe's house ... with, be it said, a lawn sign touting a tour by evangelist Billy Graham's son.

I've known Joe for a number of years. He's not some lock-step asshole Christian who won't give anyone permission to do anything other than come to Jesus. Joe never mentions Christianity. He goes to church. He helps to build schools in Africa. He gets to the senior center to buck the bereaved up.

And now the parking enforcement woman was about to ticket him because, technically, his advertising for the younger Graham was too close to his driveway ... or anyway, that's what Joe believed .... and was pissed about. "It's one-way tolerance" he fumed. Anything that says "Christian" is immediately suspect.

And he's right in one sense: My town is so goodie-two-shoes-left-leaning that it risks flying up its own asshole and disappearing. Lesbian, transgender, homosexual, black, brown, 'Native American,' women and other victims, blah blah blah.

It's all OK with me ... except when Joe's lawn sign appears to be the focus of a wrath attack. For my money, Joe gets to be a Christian if that's what he chooses. My own appreciation of Christianity is not the issue, though I do think slightly more of it since seeing Joe in action.

Everyone gets to be the asshole (s)he chooses, and as long as it doesn't harm others ... well, have a ball.

Joe was furious.

I don't blame him. The person who called the parking enforcement folks (we live on the relative outskirts of a sometimes impossible-to-park-in downtown) obviously didn't want to take responsibility for his or her disagreement. And when you don't want to take responsibility, one of the easiest ways is to cite the rule book, call the law ....

Tolerance.

Yeah ... right.

John Oliver on death investigations


Monday, May 20, 2019

fitting last words?

Somewhere, out of the corner of my ear last night, I heard a TV documentary about a devoted Alabama gardener refer to what sounded like "Mark Twain's last words." Though I was dozing, the words, which didn't sound much like Twain to me, were: "There's no one to play with any more."

A good-ish explanation/epitaph it seemed to me ... no one to play with any more.

I tried looking it up on the internet -- did Twain say such a thing? -- and got no where. No matter: I still like the words.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

"Rev. Adam" gets an email

"Hello Rev. Adam," yesterday's e-mail began, before reminding me that it had been 12 years since I signed up to become a minister at something called the "Universal Life Church Ministries."

Twelve years ago, I vaguely recollect, a Zen friend had asked if it were possible for me to officiate at his wedding and I went about finding out how that might be possible, and, in pursuance of that goal, signed on to the church in the belief that bureaucracy loves bureaucracy ... et voila! in a few moments on the Internet, I was a minister, somehow.

Now, 12 years later, there was additional paraphernalia the church thought I might want:
Have you been taking full advantage of your status as a legally ordained minister?...
No matter what activities you might have planned moving forward, we've worked hard to ensure that our site is stocked with all of the information and supplies that you may need to meet any challenge that comes your way and continue your mission to make the universe a better place. ...
[Y]ou've probably officiated your fair share of ceremonies by this point, but are you doing so in full regalia? If you'd like to add a bit of flair to your clergy outfit, consider picking up an official ULC stole! Our stoles feature tasteful gold stitching, high-quality tassels, and are available in a range of color options.
"Tasteful gold stitching ..." I especially liked that. What is a minister without a stole with tassels?

There is no real need to get snarky about such email plaints. Everybody's doing it and it ain't cheap. The email I received mentioned no prices but I do know that Zen paraphernalia costs a bundle (hats and robes and sticks and ... well wowsers!) No doubt the Zen tassels are 'tasteful-er.' You need fins on the car if the car is to be believed, I guess.

But what a strange blast from the past. Just about the time my 'religion' is fading in the rear-view mirror, here comes a reminder of the excesses I was prone to in the past. "Hot dogs here! Getchyer hot dogs!" Do people believe more or less in this internet age? It's so nice to have someone leading the charge ... and well-dressed into the bargain! It's nice to have a serious cast to what feels like a serious step like marriage, so ... getchyer hot dogs!"

But religion feels to me -- or is it just me? -- as if it were dwindling-dwindling-dwindling. My Zen teacher said simply, "take care of your family." He didn't have any tassels that I knew about, but maybe he stowed them away or only put them on for Halloween. Did this make him wrong or apostate in some Zen Buddhist sense? I don't know. He was a prickly, spike-y little man who didn't take crap from anyone.

My anniversary has come and gone.

So much for "Rev. Adam."

Saturday, May 18, 2019

making friends

In an era when "social media" drive people further apart, it pays to make a friend ... maybe even two. Who knows when who will hit the wall that lurks at the other end of the constructs and feel-goods erected in the course of being "connected" these days?

Of course no one can tell anyone else about this and the observation does carry with it the whiff of old age and sour grapes, but check it out -- sometimes the bedroom ceiling really does reach out forever at 3 a.m. Neat and clean and can-do turns messy and dirty and can't. Rushing away into some electronic hug becomes inadequate and pale. The tribes of improvement -- religions and exercises and verbiage and who knows what all else -- ah ... wouldn't a friend be nice? Someone with whom to break the bread of whatever brick wall has been erected and maintained.

A friend is the one who knew and knows you are an asshole, just like everyone else ... and vice versa. Let's get past it and sip beer and don't, as my mother suggested, "get too holy by next Thursday."

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

abortion ... again

In the early 1970's there was a spike in the number of news stories detailing the defections of Roman Catholic priests. The press, ever anxious to remain at the shallow end of the reporting pool, focused on the desire to marry and to overlook the priests who did not leave. And it was in this mix that I conceived of writing duet articles -- side by side -- about those who had decided to leave and, equally important, those who decided to remain as unmarried priests or other monogamous clerics.

Finding priests who had quit was not hard though their reasonings were often more subtle than simply wanting to get married. But finding priests who stayed was harder. Why stay? "Jesus Christ!" one exploded at the other end of the phone, "you want me to talk about my faith!" And my question remained -- why DON'T you quit? Aren't you in the faith business? Shouldn't there be some coherent thought process behind that choice?

I guess this comes to mind because Alabama's legislators have just passed an anti-abortion bill and I keep wondering how it is that those who view abortion as murder or some such plan to care for the unwanted pregnancies and life-forms they claim to defend. Have they made a concomitant vow to adopt and raise such children in a healthy, secure setting?  Will the Roman Catholic Church do likewise? Seriously ... if you want to ban abortions, what's the next step?

record-holder on Mt. Everest

Kami Rita, 48
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Sherpa climber Kami Rita scaled Mount Everest on Wednesday for a 23rd time, breaking his own record for the most successful ascents of the world’s highest peak.
Rita reached the summit with other climbers Wednesday morning and all of them were reported to be safe, said Gyanendra Shrestha, a Nepalese government official at the mountain’s base camp.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.
“It is my profession, but at the same time I am setting new world record for Nepal too,” Rita told The Associated Press last month before heading to the mountain.

kids teach themselves to read

If their 'adult' population is too busy and crazed with unkindness and ignorance, perhaps the kids can teach themselves:
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The challenge was to develop software that could easily be
downloaded onto tablets that poor children around the world could use to teach themselves to read, write and do simple arithmetic. The incentive was $10 million for the winner.
Nearly 200 teams from 40 countries around the world jumped at the chance to become the latest winner of an XPRIZE, a coveted international award funded by future-looking entrepreneurs, billionaires and philanthropists who have banded together with the goal of making the world a better place through technology.
After 15 months of building software, putting it on tablets and having thousands of children in 141 remote villages in Tanzania test it, judges narrowed the competition for the XPRIZE For Global Learning to five final teams from New York City; Pittsburgh; Berkeley; London; and Bangalore, India.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

global warming yawn .... not

If nothing else, this John Oliver clip is worth it just to watch Bill Nye, public TV's "science guy," step outside the framework of capped teeth and gentle information injections.



In email this morning, a friend passed along an article about the blackouts planned in Calif., where faulty power lines are credited with recent forest fires. Pacific Gas and Electric -- the power purveyor -- has apparently folded into its planning the possibility of instituting black-outs on days when winds are likely to rise and thereby threaten power lines that sparked and lit previous fires. Nobody's really ready because, of course, the earth is flat and danger is something the Other Guy has to shoulder.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

fallen, part deux

As a matter for my own forgetful records, I note here that today I fell down for the second time in the recent past. That's right, "I've fallen and ... I don't want to get up." On the front stoop while retrieving the paper today... flooompf!... things collapsed and down I went.

Nothing too serious, but I think it makes a marker.

And someone will probably ask me when my last 'incident' was. As I righted myself and pawed back up the six or eight concrete stairs, I was aware of the irony ... learning to crawl before getting up to walk and now relearning how to crawl.

Sheeit!

Nothing broken, I don't think.

"cheaper than a four-dollar suitcase"

A keeper:

Floating out of the three-person assessment of the week's news on Public Broadcast System NewsHour's "Shields and Brooks" yesterday evening came rumpled journalist Mark Shields' "cheaper than a four-dollar suitcase."

In the midst of all the talking-head assessments, the phrase planted its feet on the ground and hung in the air. The rest of the assessments followed routine analytic guidelines of 'taking things seriously." Shields broke the mold with a little English.

The phrase was used to describe the cheap-date maneuverings of U.S. President Donald Trump ... everything on the cheap; everything pointing back to the suitcase-in-chief ...

I had never heard the phrase before. It was tastier than good chocolate in my mind.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

the tipping point?

"It seems that I am cutting off more toes these days," the surgeon mused as he regarded the longest toe of my left foot yesterday as we moved, doctor-fashion, towards an amputation date of my own. There's a wound on that toe's 'knuckle' and it is in a place that is unlikely to heal over. And as your grandmother observed, "a stitch in time saves nine:" not cutting the toe off might lead to worse infection and the amputation of more than the toe.

I wonder if all doctors hit a tipping point in their practices -- the point between keeping the patient healthy as for a longer life -- and the recognition that death is part of life and if you can't handle that, you're in the wrong profession.

The whole discussion was delicate. Who knows how anyone will react to the notion that an appendage that has come so far must now be removed as a precursor to death. It's all diabetes-related in my case. Actuarily, I have four or five more years to go. Propping up what is bound to decline takes on an increasingly over-energetic effort ... i.e. a fool's errand. Healing and energizing and kissing things better is a young (wo)man's sport.

Anyway, the 45-minute operation (a 'procedure' dontcha know), is likely for sometime later this month.

I wonder what "cutting off more toes these days" means to the surgeon. What does that imply about his skills and experience and the health care system as it currently exists in his mind?

Going to the the doctor at 3 p.m., when I am used to taking a nap, took some of the starch out of me. Am I fretting (and ergo sub-rosa fatigued) in ways I don't know behind a curtain I can't see? I was tired when I got home. Didn't feel like eating. Napped. Ate peanut butter and crackers. I don't feel especially anxious that I know of ... but then, what do I know?

The wound-clinic doctor, when she raised the possibility of amputation before shunting me to the surgeon, said en passant, "you don't need that toe much anyway." OK, but now that this old companion is fixing to move away, I wonder what it was doing there all this time.

And time seems to slip away lately. There are occasional hallucinations, which sounds fancier than it is in fact -- a man, quite clear and whole, across the room. He has a somehow mildly disfigured mouth. He poses no threat or joy, he's just there. Or a small bird behind some black-string netting ... once again, clear as a bell and yet placed in the room where where was not netting or bird earlier. No threat or joy or noise. It takes a few moments to reorient the room, the man, the bird ... and then they're gone. And time itself -- was it ever all that necessary?

If you see things that are and see things that aren't, how much difference is there really?

The sun's out. Air is warming. The tree of the hanging squirrels across the street has burst out in its Japanese maple red and plays with the passing breezes. There are daffodils. I figure if you're gonna make shit up, it might as well be stuff you like ... sun, air, Japanese maples, tousled hair, trying to get the mourning dove's four- and six-note calls fixed in my mind.

I figure as long as I don't do something harmful or hurtful, things are basically OK.

Doctors or anyone else for that matter: Over the tipping point. A tipping point suggests two ends to a teeter-totter -- a weight at one end and a weight at the other .... balancing, toying, smiling.

Two ends.

"Ends" is a bit bizarre.

Sort of like "two."

Was it Rinzai or his teacher Obaku who chastised the Zen monks in his care: "Your who problem is, you do not trust yourselves enough."?

Two ... one ... poof!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

drifting apart, eating alone

As a nation [United Kingdom], we have also become less self-conscious about solo dining. The bookings website OpenTable recently reported that reservations for one have increased across the UK by 160% since 2014. Bar seating and communal tables are increasingly popping up in restaurants.
While destigmatising solo dining in all its manifestations is liberating, our new dietary habits steer us into uncharted territory. Until now, eating in groups has been a universal human ritual.
Another shift in the gearbox of human existence. I wonder if "communal tables" is a good idea ... I sort of think so.

Monday, May 6, 2019

if Trump weren't president ...

Congress may shudder at the notion of pulling the trigger on U.S. President Donald Trump -- and thus risk diminishing the cash infusions future re-election bids may require -- but legal eagles appear not quite so Emily Post about it all:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 400 former federal prosecutors have signed onto a letter saying President Donald Trump would have been charged with obstruction of justice if he were anyone other than the president.
The letter was signed by more than 370 former Justice Department prosecutors who served under both Democratic and Republican administrations. It was released Monday by Protect Democracy, an advocacy group formed two years ago that is critical of the Trump administration.
The former prosecutors say special counsel Robert Mueller’s report “describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge.” Those actions include Trump’s efforts to have Mueller fired; Trump’s attempts to limit the scope of the Russia investigation; and Trump’s tweets and public statements aimed at discouraging aides from cooperating with prosecutors.

more retrograde mumblings


Practice a little. Try going a whole -- or perhaps just a half -- a day without using the word "so" at the beginning of a sentence. In these times, "so" is the new "uhh," a space-maker and an invitation to find room for some sort of agreement, a stall tactic.

In my retrograde times yesterday, I rewatched the original "Blade Runner," a strangely evocative movie from the shelves of director Ridley Scott.

And then, to check my original enthusiasms for the book, a re-reading of "Plainsong," by Kent Haruf ... was it really as good as an initial reading insisted it was? The answer is yes. It still rocks me like a baby who has a colicky moment or two. I'll finish it in a day or so.

Scrubbed from the reading docket was T.E. Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" and James Jones' "Whistle." The former was too ornate and intelligent and antique for me.

The latter attacked the topic of wounded soldiers returned from battle. Their fate ... the fate that every combat vet faces with a sense of helplessness. Who will care for and heal the wounded rither within or without? Answer: No one. It's a lost cause trying to ease what can never be easy. What civilian, of however loving a heart, can connect and relieve and hug and erase? A lost cause. Sometimes horror remains what it always was: horror.  Easier to run around labeling the "heroes" -- those poor damned bastards.

Dry tears do not get "dry-er."

The rubbery scars go bumpity-bump over flesh that was once smooth but is no longer.

I think I will go back to "Plainsong" and its slow, swinging lullabies.

Things are happening in the world. Israel is putting a good face on its latest rocket attack against Gaza ... a bad face would be "anti-semitic" and thus not allowed... the anti-semitism of the Jews is not open for discussion. Brexit is tussling. Various locations are licking their storm-borne wounds. The U.S. is looking for a war (in Venezuela? or Iran?) that will rally us round an ill-defined flag.

Wouldn't it be nice to "win one for the Gipper?"

Saturday, May 4, 2019

skulkers et al

What well-intentioned bureaucrat thought to organize things in such a way that the Department of Unintentional Virginity should be set cheek-by jowl -- in the same hallway, for crying out loud -- with the Sympathy of Skulkers. Luckily, a schedule in the lobby below shows that acolytes of either do not meet at the same time and hence fuel the flames of fragility, if you get my drift. Imagine the fisticuffs if disciples should murmur and shuffle at the same time.

Pterodactyls are left intact, but it is an uneasy world when these two should brush, however lightly, against the tail feathers of the other. Stay tuned for the TED talk. The ages-long friction shows all the makings of a catastrophe but to date the enmity has been muted. But where there is friction, there is someone who has found a way to make money from it and smile the smile of indecorously-straightened teeth.

Each remains discreet and winning and ... well, you know what I mean.

Someone will fix it.

Estrogen.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

blurry times

Somewhere in the recent past the number of lies and misrepresentations of the president of the United States became fodder that was included in the morning mix of news stories presented on the wires. I cannot remember a time in my past when the president's prevarications rose to the level of news.

All politicians lie ... OK. But the line is being blurred from my perspective, which includes the notion that lying is simultaneously a no-no ... and the moreso when it is attributed to the man charged with running the United States.

A blurry time. A time when everyone becomes a victim.

Men become women.
Women become men.
An era when comedians with no adequate humor to offer resort to "fuck."
"Fuck" "Fucker" Fucking" "Fuckee" ... until the music is gone and only the notes remain.
Unarmed black people get shot.
The dangers faced by police officers goes largely unreported.
There is a feeding frenzy around "opioid addiction."
No mention of the fact that opioids have demonstrable pain-killing capacities.
The Washington Post pulls the trigger on presidential lies...
Even as the Congress cannot seem to muster the backbone/trigger that would allow them to put Trump out of our misery.

The president is a congenital liar. How 'great' can America be?

Where will America's next war erupt -- Venezuela? Somewhere in Africa?

Foreign policy, alliances, nuclear treaties, dodging climate change ... blur, blur, blur ... everything moving in retrograde and not a single positive position on anything other than a Tweet.

It blurs in my mind. Literally.

A strange, blurry era in my strange, blurry brain.

Hurricanes and forest fires of a raging voraciousness gobble up not just trailer parks, but suburban neighborhoods as well.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

the battle to "privatize warfare"

Erik Prince
Looking for a chance to make a buck for the bang?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince - the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater and a prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump - has been pushing a plan to deploy a private army to help topple Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, four sources with knowledge of the effort told Reuters.
Over the last several months, the sources said, Prince has sought investment and political support for such an operation from influential Trump supporters and wealthy Venezuelan exiles. In private meetings in the United States and Europe, Prince sketched out a plan to field up to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire on behalf of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, according to two sources with direct knowledge of Prince’s pitch....
For Prince, the unlikely gambit represents the latest effort in a long campaign to privatize warfare. The wealthy son of an auto-parts tycoon has fielded private security contractors in conflict zones from Central Asia to Africa to the Middle East.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

let them eat cake

LAS VEGAS (AP) — At a farm outside Las Vegas, a herd of pigs feasts on lobster, sausage links and beef. In town, people at a community center sit for a dinner that may include sliders and truffle mac and cheese....The federal government has estimated more than one-third of all available food in the U.S. is wasted.
An EPA initiative has partnered with more than 1,000 organizations — including grocers, restaurants and hotels — to tackle the issue. The agency estimated participants in 2017 prevented about 648,000 tons (587,856 metric tons) of food from going into landfills or incinerators, avoiding more than $30 million in landfill tipping fees.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

composting human bodies

It may soon be legal for the dead to push daisies, or any other flower, in backyard gardens across Washington state. The state legislature recently passed a bill that, if signed by the governor, allows human bodies to be composted — and used for mulch.
As the nation ages, U.S. funeral practices are changing. Rates of cremation surpassed 50 percent in 2016, overtaking burials as the most popular choice. The Census Bureau, in a 2017 report, predicted a death boom: 1 million more Americans are projected to die in 2037 than they did in 2015. Human composting, its supporters say, is an eco-friendly option that can meet this growing demand. A Seattle-based company called Recompose plans to offer a service called “natural organic reduction” (it has two patents pending) that uses microbes to transform the departed — skin, bones and all.
There is something wonderful about common sense floating to the surface.

a good idea?

Stop dreaming you are dreaming a dream.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

photos in Guardian

I haven't a clue as to what's what either in photo or cutline, but the whole thing nudges my curiosity. Enlarge the photo and... there's a whole lotta shakin' going on!

School for Villainy

Perhaps it has already been done, but I missed it: An uplifting TED talk about matching people with their own, personalized, custom-tailored villain.

Don't you think someone could make money off that -- a School of Villainy? No more generic brands. The real deal, scientifically calibrated and available on an installment plan if you're a little short of ready cash? Your own, personalized villain.

Generic villains are a dime a dozen. Trump has the press or whatever once-praised acolyte who  has most recently been fired. Boyfriends have girlfriends and vice-versa. Husbands have wives and vice versa. Bosses have workers and vice-versa. That's all easy peasy.

What is really necessary is the fits like a glove villain, the one who fills the every need ... kind of like love only with villains standing in.

The School for Villainy ... I'll work on it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

my journalistic white flag

OK ... I've skimmed the news wires as usual this morning and honest-to-aunt-fannie, I surrender. My mind simply refuses to winkle out who hates whom, who has killed whom and why ... there are bombings and slaughter in every direction. Who's the good guys and who's the bad, I cannot keep up with. But more, I don't want to.

I don't need some au-courant touchstone to wrap up the case for all this. In the 1950s/60/s, the Kingston Trio hit the nail on the generic head (for my taste) with ... I surrender ... everyone is part of the pig pile:



your unique life

Your life is so unique/unusual/special//intricate/fulfilling/meaningful or some-other-pick-a-resounding-word, that it has never been tried before. You are the only one and it is fine because, in the end, there is no other choice.

This environment of observation has a smile built into it. No one has ever lived this life before and will ever live it in future. Since it is unique, you are free. Fucking up is not possible. The bonds of critiquing and improving ... nah!

The problem with this happy-making or easing scenario is that if anyone lives a life according to its dictum or direction, s/he will have screwed the pooch.

Unique? Yes. Living as if you were unique? Fuggetaboutit! Don't be an asshole.

the guarantors called facts

The more facts you gather, the closer you get to the truth:

I read that somewhere yesterday (newspaper?) and wondered a bit. Surely it is sort of true -- true in a socially-pleasing sense -- but is it true? I doubt it. Facts point to the truth, but is the implicit promise that eventually facts will cough up the truth goods reliable? No, I don't think so. Facts make people less stupid and that's always nice, but as keepers of some The End chalice, facts don't really cut the mustard.

In my hand, let us pretend, I hold a rock. It is a rock, and that is a no-shit fact. But is it a "rock?" Serious up for a minute. Gather as many facts as you like ... more and more and more and more ... and does the truth of a rock really display its luster?`

I think it's something to consider: Facts are nice. Being less stupid is nice. But are facts the best -- the closest to what may or may not be called true? And if not facts -- based on empirical evidence -- what then?

Something to consider.

Monday, April 22, 2019

John Oliver on the Mueller Report

I can't pretend to hold all the reins in my hand, but there are at least bits and pieces that float up and tap me on the mental shoulder during John Oliver's assessment of the "Mueller Report."



Among the taps on my wussy shoulders:
In fact, the report said: “If we had confidence … that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”
Others, I hope will understand and piece it all together better than I.