Tuesday, July 31, 2018

things get messy

Suddenly, like some exploding California wildfire currently raging in the West, things are a mess. What was relatively calm has turned into a shit storm of glass shards whizzing around my house.

1. My younger son started a guard job yesterday at a nearby welfare office. He viewed the job as a stepping stone to the cop he would like to be. Today he received an email saying he had no job: There had been a disconnect between the state offices near Boston that had hired him and the local welfare office which had no hours to give him. Having a job has been a hard row for him to hoe, so getting the job was a relief and losing it was ... a cutting shard.

2. My younger son and his partner, who is also living at our house, are having a falling out whose echoes I do what I can not to stick my nose into but cannot help but feel the fallout from. What's happening I don't know, but it's cutting.

3. A friend of mine in Maine wrote (and we talked this morning about) to say he was being forced to put down today his companion dog of nine years ... his best friend. Harley-Bear is old, his back legs are going, he has become incontinent ... the whole nine, cutting yards. There is precisely nothing I can do about it but absorb the long-distant, sympathetic cut.

4. My older son is due for an 8-10-day visit later today ... another cutting wrinkle in the cloth somehow.

Heretofore, things around the house have been relatively OK. Bumps, yes, but nothing major. Now there is dust dust and more dust in the air. I don't like it, having my relative calm shaken by forces I can do nothing about. Helplessness is not the men-are-from-fixit-Mars mindset I have to plead guilty to. A little peace and quiet seems little to ask and yet, in the midst of all these bits and sharp pieces, it is far too much and far too self-centered. And still a little peace and quiet is what I hope/whine for. An woe betide the well-wisher dispensing regurgitated Buddhist wisdom!

I can't sort it out. I can't fix it. And the whole business leaves me somewhere between growling angrily and wiping up confused tears. This universe gives me the kind of whimwhams that entering a cinderblock house filled with tear gas and removing my gas mask before stating my name, rank and serial number did in the army.

Monday, July 30, 2018

failing the pedophile test

Roy Moore
It's not fair, it's not news, it's not just ... but in the end, it left me laughing.

Roy Moore, a wa-hoo Alabama Republican who got his ass in a crack for refusing to remove a marble memorial to the 10 Commandments during his tenure as chief justice of the Alabama supreme court was caught up in comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's "Who is America" serial on Showtime. It appears Moore failed a 'pedophile test:' https://mfanews.net/sacha-baron-cohen039s-latest-prank-using-a-fake-pedophile-detector-on-roy-moore/
Sacha Baron Cohen reliably churns out cringeworthy moments on his new Showtime series “Who Is America?,” but Sunday night’s episode may be the most uncomfortable yet.
Cohen — who shows up as various characters in the satirical series — played fake Israeli anti-terrorism expert Gen. Erran Morad as he interviewed former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R). And “Morad” brought along “the latest Israeli gadget”: a wand that detects pedophiles.
Moore lost the December 2017 special election to fill an empty Alabama Senate seat to the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones, amid allegations that when Moore was a local prosecutor in his 30s, he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl.
Several weeks ago, Moore hinted that he had been tricked by Cohen and blasted Showtime for tricking other conservative politicians and personalities.
According to Moore, he received an expenses-paid trip in February to Washington to “receive an award for my strong support of Israel,” he wrote in a statement. “I did not know Sacha Cohen or that a Showtime TV series was being planned to embarrass, humiliate, and mock not only Israel, but also religious conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Joe Walsh, and Dick Cheney.”
He added that Cohen’s “art is trickery, deception, and dishonesty” and “as an American, I would never hide my identity and deceive others only to mock and ridicule them as this Showtime Series is designed to do.”
In Sunday’s episode, Cohen-as-Morad sits down with Moore and details some fake Israeli research: Sex offenders, “particularly pedophiles,” secrete an enzyme at “three times the level of non-perverts,” so Israel has “developed a machine that is used in schools and playgrounds to detect anyone coming in.”
The fake anti-terrorism expert then takes out a wand that sort of looks like a handheld metal detector. “It is very, very simple to use,” he says. “You just switch it on, and because neither of us are sex offenders, then it makes absolutely nothing.” The wand beeps every time Cohen puts it near Moore.
“It must be faulty. It’s malfunctioning,” Cohen says, as Moore keeps a tight smile. “Is this your jacket? Did you lend the jacket to somebody else?”
“No,” Moore responds. “I’ve been married for 33 [years]. I’ve never had an accusation of such things.”
Even as Cohen says, “I’m not accusing you at all,” Moore continues, “If this is an instrument — certainly, I’m not a pedophile.”
“But the machine, the machine works,” Cohen continues.
“Maybe Israeli technology hasn’t developed properly,” Moore counters.
“This is 99.8 percent accurate,” Cohen says. “It is not saying that you are a pedophile, of course not.”
Finally, Moore ends the interview. “I am simply cutting this conversation right now,” he says. “Good night. I support Israel. I don’t support this kind of stuff.”
Appearances on “Who Is America?” have generated other controversies. Georgia state lawmaker Jason Spencer (R) resigned from his seat after his appearance on the show, in which he dropped his pants and repeatedly used the n-word. Cohen also got former vice president Dick Cheney to sign a fake “waterboard kit” and several Republican politicians to endorse a fake program that would arm toddlers.
When asked about Sunday’s episode, Showtime had no comment.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

NYTimes exec begs Trump

A.G. Sulzberger
BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) — The publisher of The New York Times said Sunday he “implored” President Donald Trump at a private White House meeting this month to reconsider his broad attacks on journalists, calling the president’s anti-press rhetoric “not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.”
In a statement, A.G. Sulzberger said he decided to comment publicly after Trump revealed their off-the-record meeting to his more than 53 million Twitter followers on Sunday. Trump’s aides had requested that the July 20 meeting not be made public, Sulzberger said.
There is something both shaming and profoundly handsome about Sulzburger's willingness to stand the critical gaff, enter the tetchy lion's den, and ask for a bit of national uplift ... a reprieve not for the New York Times, but for the nation. Trump is too stupid -- too involved with his own bellybutton -- to see the opportunity he had been given and I can imagine his thinking, "I've got the bastard by the short hairs!" Power and money are the merchandizer-in-chief's currency. The depths of his ignorance cannot be plumbed.

Hats off to Sulzberger!

Jim Jeffries on U.S. gun control

Everyone else may have heard of Aussie comedian Jim Jeffries, but I hadn't until a friend sent along this two-part take on American gun control....

whistling ... seriously

When I was in high school, there was one fellow I knew, Vladimir, who still took and practiced whistling. I was always amazed at the wonders he could concoct.

Who whistles any more? More pointedly, who whistles with a seriousness that entails practice?

A quick zip around Google suggests it's still out there, but the art and artifice has lost its social inroads.

One thing that came up in the Google tour that was sort of fun was this:  Why Do People Whistle.

I remember being taught by a fellow student, a Mexican chum, how to whistle loudly for a cab. It took a while to perfect and a lot of saliva dribbled down my fingers, but eventually I caught on. I never did learn how to expel classical music with whistles.

Ah, the lost arts.

the Robert Reich effect

There is something I find suspicious when I agree with one voice or one point of view too much. And thus it is that I am suspicious of how much I agree with Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under then-president Bill Clinton. Somehow his writings about how and why the Average Joe is getting economically screwed suck me in, make me agree ... but also make me suspect my own agreement.

Oh well, I guess I'll just have to live with the fact that I enjoy and agree with the very man I suspect.
Here's an essay [today] from The Guardian.
Two fundamental forces have changed the structure of the US economy, directly altering the balance of power between business and labor. The first is the increasing difficulty for workers of joining together in trade unions. The second is the growing ease by which corporations can join together in oligopolies or to form monopolies.
Yes, it's another analysis, another deconstruction of how the American worker is getting fucked. In general, another analysis sends me running to the hills: Everyone has an analysis, a whine, a liberal and caring take ... and nobody's doing much more than using that particular realm to ... write another analysis, whine or caring take. I keep waiting for someone to toss a bomb in the arch-duke's passing carriage, but there seems to be no time to DO something other than analyze and wax 'compassionate' and 'intelligent' and 'truthful' and all the rest of it. [Lord, I have become the spawn of Donald Trump.]

But I keep on reading Reich's stuff while giving a cold shoulder to his analytical compatriots, some of whom are no doubt savvy and intelligent and ... repetitive and boring. Call me when you've lit the fuse or pulled the pin.

What can I say? Taste is taste. I like Reich (no matter how short he is :) )

Saturday, July 28, 2018

of late and en passant

How long it has been I am not sure, but there have been a variety of cultural shifts in the last year or two ... mostly minor stuff, yet telling from where I sit.

The word "fucking" has entered TV movie lingua franca. Women's breasts are now more or less routinely displayed in TV movies where once they were locked up and hidden. Even an occasional vagina muff can be seen. I have seen, though briefly as yet, male genitalia. No one quite dares to say the word "nigger," which is, instead, "the N word." But "fuck" is another matter.

It may be my age, but all of this has seemed to clump and drop into reality simultaneously ... not as a dripdripdrip but rather as a moist and succulent PLOP. Nothing is any longer "dirty" somehow.

I kind of like the full-frontal getting-naked thing because it calls into question the meaning of the word "sexy." Clothes provide provocation. A lack of clothes is ... well, what the hell, we're all naked beneath the cover-ups and naked is not all that interesting.

I do miss the naughty of it all. When I was growing up, males said "fuck," but not in mixed company. Women seldom -- I mean really rarely  -- did. Don't we need a space in which to be naughty?

Telling a dirty joke that relies on cuss words is harder these days. Comedians who rely on cuss words for comedic fodder are really not terribly funny or daring any more. They're more prosaic and lack invention or humor. What was once brazen or even pornographic is now becoming pedestrian.

Simultaneously with all this, the plunging female neckline seems to have reversed course and women are wearing higher-necked (and therefore more provocative) clothing. Prurience, if I had to guess, is making a comeback: What other choice is there?

And of course the crassness and coarse merchandizing of Donald Trump greases all these wheels.

from flat earth to flat earth

Stepping off the edge of my flat earth....

I was 21 when I found that I had signed my name, taken my vows and ended up -- as was then mandatory in the U.S. -- in the American army. Aside from anything else, I was scared: I didn't know anything about where I was or where I was going but I did know that someone else -- a very big someone else -- was in charge of my universe.

It wasn't all smooth sailing in order for me to sign up. To heap weird on top of weird, I needed five character reference letters in order to link up successfully with the Army Security Agency I was linking up with ... an agency that boasted 80% of its recruits went to Europe, which is where I wanted to go.

One of those letters of reference came from a minister who had once been a high school English teacher of mine. He wrote a nice enough reference letter, but appended a private note that suggested I shouldn't go into the army at all: I was too rebellious, too loud-mouthed, too individualistic ... and the army did not look kindly on such attributes. They'd eat me for breakfast, he suggested.

But now, here I was, having stepped off the edge of my school-bubble flat earth and into the great unknown. Really, I didn't know anything and it scared me. And then the the minister's admonition echoed in my mind ... they'll eat you for breakfast, you'll never fit in. it's just not you.

But basic training made itself clear pretty quickly. A step into the deeply unknown was ... wait for it ... a cake walk. All I had to do was be right according to some fairly simple rules: make your bed, straighten your foot locker, clean your rifle, polish your boots ... this and more like it was all the army really required. It was easy to be right and the army loved "right." Nobody gave shit what I thought. No one gave a shit what my philosophy was. No one cared if I had read Marx and Engels.

Just be right. And being right was easy. The vast unknown -- vast enough to inspire a virulent case of metaphorical diarrhea -- was off the edge of my small, flat world. I was lost-lost-lost and ... it was a piece of cake.

The minister had miscalculated ... as had I. Just following rules is perhaps the easiest way to live this life. And not only that, it's social and full of friends with similar aspirations, fears and successes. And all you had to do was be right in order to get a gold star.

Be right? Sure. Lots of agreement and back-slapping and propaganda and no need to parse and dissect and see for yourself. Follow the rules and you'll always have company. The army helped me realize how others lived and how/why I felt lonely.

For the better part of three years, I lived in the military womb.

Follow the rules.

In the end, I decided not to re-enlist because, as I told a friend, "I don't want to work at any job from which I cannot (without real effort) be fired."

So I stepped off the military's flat earth and into a realm of vast, vast uncertainty. I'm still trying to fold my socks according to the, uh, 'rules.'

whopper wave-ride

There is something a bit too picture-perfect about it all and yet I find myself delighted for the moment that Koa Smith pulled off a whopper of a surf ride. Anyone who follows whatever dream, however lonely and minuscule, to its apex ... that's wowsers in my book. In this case, the documentation appears to be there, so perhaps it's all true and I am left purring. My skepticism at the perfection of that documentation is on the back burner for now.
Perched precariously on his surfboard, the 23-year-old from Hawaii rode a wave off the coast of Namibia, on the western shore of Africa, for 120 straight seconds. He stayed upright for nearly a mile (1.5 kilometers) as he traveled through an unheard-of eight barrels — the hollow formed by the curve of the wave as it breaks over the rider’s head.
Given the Fake-News-in-Chief Donald Trump's ability to assert falsehoods and then walk them back a day or two later, I really hope Smith's accomplishment is a true accomplishment. It may be a small matter compared to the devastations of hunger or immigration or water or fires raging around the world and yet a little plus-side woo-hoo really is welcome, whatever its source.

Friday, July 27, 2018

pop-pop-pop ... the newish normal

Of late, and with increasing frequency, I feel like I simply cannot cope. I cannot cope with the vicissitudes of  Washington (what's the latest corruption and who are the last players) in ways I might have once taken an intellectual interest in it all.

I feel like a sink full of water into which dish soap has been squirted and a sprayer brought to bear ... bubble after bubble after bubble floats and waxes and wanes and I simply cannot any longer sink my teeth in. This is not mopey. It's vaguely frightening, being that I must now pray that someone else will take up cudgels against what my mind might once have done. It's not that I 'won't' do something. It's that I simply 'can't.'

What once were smarts are now drip-dropping, 'slip-slidin','  away. There is an occasion sense of wooziness to complement the latest incapacities.

Perhaps the seemingly endless days of humidity around here contribute. Humidity takes the stuffing out of me. But I doubt it. I am getting dumber in the same way I am getting shorter ... quite literally.

I can't keep up with Donald Trump, his lawyer(s), the investigation that seeks to nail Trump and his minions to the lately-anointed Russian, the Chinese/American trade trade war, spiritual conundra, life's foibles, etc. .... I can get a sense of the panic in the face of forest fires in the West, but even there, it's hard to keep up.

Keep up with the Jonses? Hell, I can't keep up with whatever is left of my popping-bubble self.

Literally, not just sweet-talking metaphorically.

the juggernaut called "English"

Sotto voce, I have always kind of wondered about the tyrannical choke hold English has on the linguistic panorama of this globe. Why English? It's not especially beautiful. It's irregular as sin when it comes to meaning and pronunciation. Why not something more tenable, like Spanish? Isn't there something arch and elitist about cloaking everything in English?

A Guardian article unpacks the panorama in ways that are probably too long and arcane for most and yet caught my attention today.
Today it is estimated that the world loses a language every two weeks. Linguists have predicted that between 50 and 90% of the world’s 6,000 or so languages will go extinct in the coming century. For even a fraction of these to survive, we’re going to have to start thinking of smaller languages not as endangered species worth saving, but as equals worth learning.
There is a lot of information in the article, much of it more significant than simple statistics. A nice munchy, I found ... and, what's more, it's in English.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

prattling ... morality ... stuff

Rattling around like lottery-balls in a cage are two (one?) thoughts:
1. The separation of church and state is a myth.
2. I secretly yearn for some vestige of morality to infuse the current American scene that is so rife with volume substituting for veracity.

Yearning for morality is one of those secrets I hardly dare tell myself. But based on a couple of recent caroms provided by some TV talking heads, I realize I am not alone. And one of the problems that those who yearn for some smidgen of morality face is the track record of the fundamentalist shredding of morality in the Bible machine: Asking for morality squares off against those who conflate Bible and morality and come out waving the Confederate battle flag.

I don't dare ask for decency in social discourse for fear of being labeled an extreme ignoramus... and an old fart into the bargain.

But for me, there was something balm-bastic in the words of Peter Wehner on Public Broadcast System's news hour last night. Balm-bastic in the face of bom-bastic.
A self-governing nation can’t run if you can’t have a common set of facts, if you can’t agree on common realities.What you have got is a man in the White House who is engaged in not just an assault on truth, but an effort to annihilate truth.... Well, what’s different is that we don’t have a run-of-the-mill liar in the White House. We have a pathological liar...."
I think Donald Trump, the effect of all of this is exhausting on the public. I think they’re embarrassed, as was said earlier. And I think they’re ashamed of what’s happening.
Ashamed, embarrassed and exhausted... and willing to come out, and risk the ignoramus label and ask for some common decency and decorum because otherwise people get hurt.

And as to church and state ... morality does not emanate from the Bible alone. What the Bible exudes most pungently is ethics. Morality emanates from individuals and the bathroom mirror. Yes, Virginia, it is possible to be moral and not even own a copy of the Bible. Or own one ... individuals will decide.

But morality -- the thing I am shy to ask for -- cannot be legislated. Morality takes balls ... ethics may take balls as well, but it also succumbs equally to a glib tongue.

Oh well ... I'm prattling and not thinking very well today.

I do wish the sense of "ashamed, embarrassed and exhausted" could be mitigated.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Chinese buy into American baseball

Texas AirHogs’ Na Chuang (36), Song Yunqi (15), Yang Yanyong (1) and Yang Jin (29), all of China, stand for the playing of the Chinese national anthem before an American Association of Independent Professional Baseball game, Wednesday, July 18, 2018, in Grand Prairie, Texas. The small ballpark in Texas just a few miles from downtown Dallas is home this summer for the Chinese national baseball team under an unprecedented setup. The Chinese players are part of a revolving roster in a professional league, getting to play more games and against tougher competition to strengthen their team for future international competitions like the 2020 Olympics. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
One thing China is good at is the slow start ... collecting the foreign building blocks that can pay dividends in years to come. Africa comes to mind for me: Where the west searches for the next big right-now oil or minerals, China is willing to put its money on roads and bridges and infrastructure and relationships. It'll take time, but guess who's going to win that battle.*

And there is something about the following story that suggests China may end up owning America's signature pastime -- baseball.
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (AP) — The starting lineups are announced in English and Spanish at home games for the independent Texas AirHogs, and then the Chinese national anthem is played.
For about 30 members of the Chinese national baseball team, the suburban ballpark adjacent to a horse track and only a few miles west of downtown Dallas has become their summer home and training ground in an unprecedented setup.
They are a revolving part of the roster for a professional team in the United States, playing more games and against tougher competition while working to improve their team for future international events such as the upcoming Asian Games and 2020 Olympics.
I can't say that I fully understand what is going on in this story outside "China" and "American baseball" so I may be off-base in my suspicious little mind. But it's got a whiff of the slow start leading to a world series title.

Donald Trump likes selling off and selling out America. I can imagine his saying this is a "very, very" good deal for the United States.

*In the dusty past somewhere was the suggestion that the Roman Catholic Church was planning to switch financial strategies and target Africa after U.S. revenue streams began to dry up in the wake of all the pedophile priests springing from American soil. Another helpmeet for another 'benevolent' cause. Another "very, very" good deal?

love etc.

Just a thought:

If anyone knew what love was, there would be no insistence on talking about it so much.

And I wonder how many other things are like that ... mindfulness, enlightenment, spectacular moments.

Perhaps there is a correlation: The more the talk, the greater the ignorance.

And what, precisely, is so unpleasant about not knowing? Is it the dangers not-knowing can impose? But if death is considered the worst possible danger ... well, what does anyone know about that? The bookshelves are cluttered with books, like love, about death.

Just some more talk, I suspect.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Viagra-linked baby deaths

The death of 11 babies born to women who were given Viagra during a drug trial has led to the termination of the experiment – and an anxious wait for other mothers involved.
The trial was designed to test whether sildenafil, a medication sold under the brand name Viagra, could help boost babies’ growth in the womb.
The research was carried out at 10 hospitals across the Netherlands and involved women whose placentas had been underperforming.
This is the first story I can ever remember in which news-worthy, medical-trial stories ended on a negative note. Considering the amount of testing that must be going on out there, the lack of failure-centric stories strikes me as pretty unusual.

As Thomas Edison was said to have said approximately, "I didn't fail 2,000 times to make a light bulb. I discovered 2,000 ways that didn't work."

Monday, July 23, 2018

water -- no laughing matter

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Harsh drought conditions in parts of the American West are pushing wild horses to the brink and spurring extreme measures to protect them.
For what they say is the first time, volunteer groups in Arizona and Colorado are hauling thousands of gallons of water and truckloads of food to remote grazing grounds where springs have run dry and vegetation has disappeared.
Federal land managers also have begun emergency roundups in desert areas of Utah and Nevada.
Could human beings be far behind?

sayonara, New York Daily News

I once asked a fellow who could type 100-words-per-minute and would occasionally take my dictation for use in the New York Daily News, "What's the difference between the Daily News and the New York Times?"

On the face of it, the question was ludicrous. The Daily News at the time was a paper I thought of without apology as a tits-and-ass tabloid, whereas the Times was stately and stolid as meatloaf when it came to content. But the guy I asked knew what I was talking about and he was ready for the question.

"The difference," he said, "is that the Times trusts its writers.* The Daily News trusts its editors."

And that was my experience. Looking back, one of my proudest moments was getting a story into the Daily News unedited ... unedited by one of the best-edited papers in the country. Nothing was extra in their stories. Not...one...comma. To be accepted without correction was an accolade for a stringer like me who worked at a Massachusetts paper and reshaped the occasional story for Daily News reuse. They paid me $35 per story.

I don't know what the parameters are these days at the Daily News -- or the Times, either, come to that -- but I felt a sadness to read today:
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York tabloid Daily News cut half of its newsroom staff Monday including Jim Rich, the paper’s editor in chief.
The paper was sold to Tronc Inc. last year for $1, with the owner of the Chicago Tribune assuming liabilities and debt.
In an email sent to staff Monday, Tronc said the remaining staff at the Daily News will focus on breaking news involving “crime, civil justice and public responsibility.”
The newspaper has been a key fixture in New York City for the last century. It has won 11 Pulitzer Prizes, including last year for its work with ProPublica on the abuse of eviction rules in New York City.
I think that if I have to be stuck between a tits-and-ass-tabloid and Donald R. Trump, a man who gives a bad name to the noble art of lying, I'd prefer to be a plug-spittin' fool. No more news as opposed to Donald Trump news? Trump's failing lies in his endless mediocrity, cruelty ... oh well, each has his or her own list, I imagine.

*I once heard a former New York Times reporter enunciate his exasperation with the paper when he said of the news reporting process, "All you [a reporter] have to do is mention Alexis de Tocqueville in the third paragraph and you're home free."

Sunday, July 22, 2018

alphorn festival concludes

Alphorn Internartional Festival concludes
What it sounds like:

In tandem

and solo

I wonder if alphornists ever get together with those smitten by the didgeridoo... music in my ear begging for a fairy tale.


the pleasure of, say, bacon

A March 1, 2018, Guardian article resurrected today goes into lengthy detail about the facts, bogus and otherwise, about the links between bacon (yumm) and cancer (ick). On and on the article goes. I purely marveled at its almost-Jesuitical research.

And it set my mind a-noodling: Yes, there are studies done all the time about the links between what provides pleasure and what will kill/maim/cripple you. Pleasure, as anyone reading these studies will know, always comes up holding the short and often slimy end of the stick.

"Oh woe! Pleasure is fleeting.
Wisdom, by contrast, is perfect."
Why would anyone with his or her head screwed on the right way, choose the flimsy over the assured?

I distrust this assumption-prone proposition. How about making the argument that pleasure is preferable to perfection? That, for example, bacon may entail dangers, some of them perhaps fatal, but is fully worth the price of living life admission? Or that the cigarettes I enjoy are evil-incarnate and yet provide a pleasure I enjoy?

Yup, they'll kill me.

And your point is?

Life, after all, is the true killer, assuming anyone wants to make the death-is-bad argument. Is bacon or are cigarettes somehow off the beaten path that is so clearly laid out for anyone?

It seems to me that at a certain age (one like mine of course), it is hard not to ponder and puzzle: Is there some reason to step off the well-beaten path that I will follow whether I like it or not? Why should pleasure be less rich, less worthy of adulation, than the life of which it is a part? True, there's the downer quotient when it comes to pleasure, but that at least is closer to real life ... which has promised death all along. Who am I to improve on what is clearly perfect without any help at all?

And when has perfection ever qualified as a perfect solution to anything?

I'm not so interested in the religio-philosophical arguments. Blow it out your tail pipe. I'm interested in real time, this time, honest-to-goodness true time. Perfection comes up short when it comes to bacon, I suspect.

Just some confused noodling.

"Alice's Restaurant" redux

Woke up with "Alice's Restaurant" humming in my mind like one of those "ear worms" and figured I might be able to get out from under if I just posted it ... probably won't work, but hey...! ... what another time that was.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

"lest we forget"

Reading along shiftlessly in the book and not quite sure why ... "Young Men and Fire" seems to suggest that the reader should not forget the 13 lives claimed by a forest fire in Montana on Aug. 5, 1949. The courage and craziness of it all... do not forget. Let us not forget these good men.

And "do not forget" puts me in mind of the "never again" that can be appended to any number of tragedies. Near at hand, when the tragedy is just past, the horror and anguish are enormous... and 'we' will never forget or allow others to forget ... a child, a spouse, the Holocaust, a groups of innocents ... never again such ruthless, edge-less pain!

But whereas I may have my schedule and maintain a self-affirming portrait of myself, forgetfulness has its and "never again" might better be rendered as "ever again." World War I gave way to World War II with hardly a hiccup, the the horrors were beyond screaming just like the first time. Never again...never again...never again...

Oh wait -- let's do it again.

And did I hear that the Jews who were so badly treated during World War II are doing a grand job marginalizing others in many of the same ways they themselves were once never-again marginalized?

George Santayana gets the credit for "those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." ... and various incarnations of that saying. Doesn't it sound wise? Profound? Sage?

To me it sounds like bullshit when set up against the imperative that goes with forgetting. Of course history will repeat itself. Ditto personal idiocies.

Ever again! Too bad -- that's how the cookie crumbles and forgetfulness kicks in ... whatever the horror, whatever the pain, whatever the disgrace, whatever the dishonor.

When it's not flat-out false, memory at the very least is fickle as it offers up sorta-kinda recollections that are never exact, always fuzzy, always reshaped. The confusion is compounded by the fact that there is a burning desire to imagine that memory can or could be relied upon. Yessireebob, I'm going to remember into all eternity. In addition, I plan to do what I can to have others remember as well. Remember what? Remember this horrendous horror.


"Doomed to repeat it" suggests that there is another option.

There isn't.

Which, if true, means there is no "doom" in it. It's just part of the natural flow. Do I wish I could be smarter, less idiotic and less foolish based on part performance and outcome? Sure, but "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride." My options dissolve into wishful thinking and an occasional, but not assured, correct activity.

Never again? I doubt it.

Let's not forget to remember... for whatever that's worth.
And let's remember the inescapable capacity to forget.

Just noodling.

Friday, July 20, 2018

among the immigrant's goats






Ethiopian migrant brings Italian hills alive with the sound of goats [Reuters]... Photo essay

Thursday, July 19, 2018

astronomy photos

four-day work week

A bit self-referential, perhaps, but still....
The New Zealand company behind a landmark trial of a four-day working week has concluded it an unmitigated success, with 78% of employees feeling they were able to successfully manage their work-life balance, an increase of 24%.
Two-hundred-and-forty staff at Perpetual Guardian, a company which manages trusts, wills and estate planning, trialled a four-day working week over March and April, working four, eight-hour days but getting paid for five.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

numbed and dumbed

This is an era of numbed and dumbed and I am increasingly a part of its flow.

What I'm after here is my increasing unwillingness to even read or consider the analyses, extracts, self-congratulations and whatever all else is brought to bear when assessing U.S. President Donald R. Trump. There are blog-writers, political analysts, news people, sociologists, psychologists and a host of other earnest and caring people weighing in on one aspect or another of Trump's latest lie or misrepresentation or policy demolition. Really, they care. Really, they're smart. But most visibly of all in this era of numb and dumb, they are willing to clap each other on the back for someone else's latest thrust ... oh how fucking apt! Ain't it awful?!

But not one of these wags and wise (wo)men has a single full-frontal-do-something-about-it program to offer. Not one. And for that reason, I've had it. I find myself skipping the emails or blog postings or analyses of Trump -- a man who has been president for a year and a half and has shown repeated-repeated-repeated instances of insanity, idiocy, manipulativeness, merchandizing, unwarranted supremacy ... and the list goes on and on.

Should I throw in the towel? Perhaps not, but I have begun simply not reading stories about Trump. Newscasters may feel they have to scramble in order to keep their jobs. Analysts may feel  they have to assure their fan base that they are still wise. And others probably have other axes to grind. Why should I waste my time reading about a man who is president of the most powerful nation on earth and yet can to little more than posture ... with the analysts posturing in his wake?

The closest I can get to a corollary is the old joke about three guys walking down a New York City sidewalk when they run into a pile of dog shit. "Sure does look like dog shit," says the one. "Sure does smell like dog shit," says another as he bends down and takes a whiff. "Sure does taste like dog shit..." says the third who has used an index finger to prove the point. "... Damn glad we didn't step in it."

Likewise I am reminded of the man who goes to the doctor and says, "It hurts when I do this." And the doctor suggests mildly, "Well, stop doing that."

How many analyses and whines is anyone supposed to credit before the solution gets as obvious as it's going to get: "Shoot him in the head ... or at least take the bull by the non-analytical horns." What are you going to DO?

Well, stop doing that! Get rid of him ... plain, simple ... and stop applauding the fact that you didn't step in it.

As evidence of my encroaching laziness in the world of numbed and dumbed, I consider here the fact that I refuse to go back and round up links to a lot or many of the actual-factual fuck-ups Trump has initiated or participated in. If you need evidence in this stage of the game, you haven't been paying attention.

Shoot him in the head and have done with it.

Stop doing that!

In the meantime, Trump has scored a 'W' in my house: Yes, it is fake news and I decline to play the intellectual-masturbation game of participating by reading or taking especially seriously either the man or his analytical minions. Sticking my head in the sand? You bet -- at least there's a little peace and quiet down here.

making bells in Greece

The work orders dwindle. The passion remains.
...[T]he buzz of the foundry rarely stops. The craft, a painstaking process of mostly manual labour, has remained largely unchanged since the 12th century.
Being something of a bell-freak, I remember seeing a Japanese movie about making gongs. It was extremely labor-intensive and yet people kept doing it ... despite the mysterious fact that you never could tell if you were going to produce a satisfactory sound. Sound, in a Japanese temple, is really important.

being right, being just

It is easy to be right: You just blame someone else.
It is harder to be just -- then you have only yourself to blame.
Is this true? I don't know, but it popped into my head as I thought about my younger son's desire to become a police officer.

the richest man

Jeff Bezos is the richest person in modern history.
The Amazon.com Inc. founder’s net worth cracked $150 billion in New York on Monday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s about $55 billion more than Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s second-richest person.
'The richest" -- I just hope he doesn't sell himself short.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

altering baby's DNA

The creation of babies whose DNA has been altered to give them what parents perceive to be the best chances in life has received a cautious green light in a landmark report from a leading UK ethics body.
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics said that changing the DNA of a human embryo could be “morally permissible” if it was in the future child’s interests and did not add to the kinds of inequalities that already divide society.
The report does not call for a change in UK law to permit genetically altered babies, but instead urges research into the safety and effectiveness of the approach, its societal impact, and a widespread debate of its implications.
Talk about a sticky-wicket world!

What every happened to "fill 'er up and check the oil?"

you go, nasty girls!

With regressive gender politics and a restrictive legal system, the Victorian era is not exactly remembered as an empowering era for women. But the Museum of the City of New York is shining a light on a set of oft-forgotten figures: the 19th-century heroines who broke all the rules in a new exhibition called Rebel Women, a tribute to the “nasty women” of the era.
It’s an intimate collection with more than 40 objects on view, including old photographs, fashion garb, posters and poems illustrating the lives of New York’s female activists who fought for equal pay, abortions, divorce and “free love”.

Meanwhile, on the Roman Catholic front... a virgin who is not a virgin can still be a virgin:
In a statement, the US Association of Consecrated Virgins, which says there are 235 consecrated virgins across America, said the document was “deeply disappointing in its denial of integral virginity as the essential and natural foundation of the vocation”.
“It is shocking to hear from Mother Church that physical virginity may no longer be considered an essential prerequisite for consecration to a life of virginity,” it added.

Monday, July 16, 2018

make schools safe: arm the kids

The first episode of Sacha Baron Cohen’s new series, Who is America?, launched on Sunday, with guns blazing. One of the most talked-about segments of the show, titled Kill or Be Killed, involves Baron Cohen posing as Col Erran Morad, an Israeli security expert who has devised a “Kinderguardians” scheme that teaches preschoolers to use firearms so they can defend themselves in school shootings.
Received various versions of this story from the kind of friends everyone seems to have these days ... the ones with still more depressing news..

Sunday, July 15, 2018

life sneaks into artifice

In the search for some pre-sleep soporific to read, I pulled a dusty book off the porch bookshelf a couple of days back. "Young Men and Fire" by Norman Maclean seems (by page 47) to be a not-terribly-well-written, not-terribly-well-edited reflection on the "smokejumpers" of the U.S. in general and those who were killed in the Mann Gulch fire in Montana in 1949.

Somehow I have kept on reading its pages. It may feel lumpy as a high school senior's essay, but there is something honest in it -- men, most of them at least partly and admittedly crazed, who set out to tame and extinguish ferocious fires in impossible and faraway places. And in the midst of it, I read the following paragraph, a paragraph that somehow spoke the truth in the midst of lumpy artifice for me:

The narrator (Maclean) is questioning the widow of one of those who was killed:
She and I have known each other off and for most of our lives, and we have known the Blackwater River, where her ranch house stands, even longer. "He said to me when we were married, 'You do your job and I'll do mine and we'll get along just fine.'" Then she said to me, "I can't help you much. I don't know much about smokejumping, and I didn't know any of the Smokejumpers. We never talked about them, and he never invited them home." She added, "I loved him very much, but I didn't know him very well. If he said my red drapes were black, I would say, trying to keep myself intact, 'Yes, Wag, my red drapes are black.'
I loved him very much but I didn't know him very well. How much of real life is based in such confounding, bright-light truths? It felt spot-on to me ... but maybe not to others.

the next rock bottom

Passed along in email was this additional evidence that every time the United States seems to have hit rock bottom, there is another rock-bottom to hit.
A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.
Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.
Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.

the light

Be as silent as the light

And then


Saturday, July 14, 2018

real-life art or is it real-art life?

Mix 'n' match -- Fun stuff.

Since April, Michael Thibault has been mixing contemporary photography with classic paintings on his Instagram account Art Frame Design. It all started with a Van Gogh: “I positioned it on a fashion portrait,” explains Thibault, “but I still had the feeling something was missing, so I added a frame and adjusted the lights and colours. I posted it on Instagram and this first piece was appreciated... so I made others.” The sales manager from north-eastern France has so far created almost 100 images, featuring work by, among others, Leonardo, Modigliani and Frida Kahlo. “Some of my creations are more surreal than others. My favourites are the ones where the adjustments are done simply and everything comes together – the ones that seem obvious.”

unweaving the woven

     I cannot undo
     What has been done.
     It would not be easy
     Nor any fun.

     But if by some chance
     I could undo
     The question remains,
     Would it be true?

a real challenge to world's hackers

With the 26th Def-Con hacking conference scheduled for Aug. 9-12 in Las Vegas, now may be the time to offer one last encouragement to the world's computer wizards to give back to a universe that has been so good to them.

Hackers around the globe have proved adept at cracking financial or industrial or governmental fortresses, but without the world wide web to challenge their various bits of expertise, where would they be?

Isn't it time to say a collective thank you?

And what better way to both exhibit expertise and bow to the world that made it all possible than to hack into the various facets of the internet and for one 24-hour period -- just one day -- block and banish all news stories about or relating to Donald J. Trump? Nothing, nada, zip, zero....

News stories, analyses, opinion pieces ... 
all of it ... gone ... for one day.

A childish dream with potentially serious blowback, you say, but I say the good effects outweigh the bad.

What a relief, for starters.

Then there is the matter of Trump's capacity to slap/lie/misrepresent in gross terms a single topic and then turn around and kiss it better. How much difference could a 24 hour hiatus make?

And then too, news outlets might find rafts of news that go uncovered or under-reported or poorly-researched due to the feeding frenzy coverage granted to Trump's latest, self-centered pirouette.

Just one, single day of no stories that refer to or are penned by Donald J. Trump.

These are the best of the best, these hackers. If anyone can make this dream come true, hackers can and should. A wider world will thank them.

I am lazy enough to be unwilling to check the news wires I read each day to determine how much space such an action might free up. A third, at least, is my lazy-man's guess. News ... imagine that!

Perhaps the August conference is a good time to start mapping a strategy. Just bar Trump from living rooms and dens and sofa nooks across the world. One day. A breather.

Would Trump implode? I don't know, but I do know it would help him to learn that though he may long to be the cynosure of all eyes, still there is a higher authority ... and he ain't it. Would such an algorithmic bit of magic open the door to even greater crimes? Difficult to know ... but worth finding out.

Someplace out there, I started an inept (friends told me so) petition asking hackers to pick a day among themselves -- perhaps in August -- and make it all happen. I can't find it any longer, but it was pretty inept in any case, so nothing is really lost. But the Def-Con conference might be just the place to start hatching a plan that might create a reality. There is no time like the present.

Hell, I'd rather read another touchy-feely-millenial-improvement plan than be confronted with yet another and another and another story that relies pro or con on the immoralities and ignorance and outright lies of my country's president.

C'mon, guys and gals ... show us whatcha got!

Friday, July 13, 2018

appreciated advice

In late 1964, when I had left the army and had a job with a New York book publisher, it took a while to recognize that book publishing was a bit too pluperfect pink for me. Everyone was bright and dressed nicely and there were muffling carpets on the floors. What I loved about books was not what book publishing was about. Instead, as a friend had warned me before I took the job, "book publishing is about selling shoes."

The discovery came in slow increments, but once it had a toe hold, it refused to let go and I scrounged around wondering what else I might do and took up the idea I might like newspaper reporting. The only problem was, I knew squat about the business -- how to break in, how to gain some credibility, where to get some practice. And so I felt lucky when someone gave me the name and phone number of a city editor (the newsroom top gun who threw your latest effort in the trash bin with a snort) on Long Island. By the grace of God, this guy was patient with my endless ignorance.

The game, he said, was played like this: Don't apply to the New York Times (the holy grail from where I sat) at first. Instead, get a job away from the bright lights and big city. Build a repertoire at another paper and THEN apply to the New York Times.

He also gave me a nutshell summing up of the reporting business. Like all nutshells, his advice was only as good as the effort anyone might put into it ... walk the walk and not just talk the talk. His advice was deceptively simple when it came to journalism: "First, it's a craft, not an art. And second, be yourself." Since that long-ago-and-far-away, it has occurred to me more than once that his advice as regarded journalism was equally true for any other longing or passion or leaning: It's a craft, not an art and be yourself.

Besides these two facets of the newspaper business, the only other pointer he gave me was to stay with a smaller newspaper for no more than five years. "During the first five years, you learn good habits. After five years, you start learning the bad ones."

But it was the first two pointers I remember best and wrestled with over the years ... fucked up and kept going, fucked up and kept going, fucked up and kept going. Idealism was good as long as you didn't get too convinced by it; hypocrisy was no surprise; self-promotion was always in the mix; the news source would use the reporter and the reporter would use the news source ... and symbiosis could be addictive. I have known reporters who wallow like pigs in shit in the fact that they are rubbing elbows with the powerful and empowered. I've done much the same.

A craft, not an art. These days, what's left of journalism is mired in art, in predicting a future no one can know, on not digging any deeper. And a craft is something that gets done and not just imagined. It is not simply hoped for or pimped for or postured in support of. A craft invariably leaves something out and that something is the reporter's responsibility. Telling the 'whole' story is not possible, so what part of the story are you willing to ignore or sweep under the carpet or set aside. You might love not to be a liar, but A. words are not facts, so you are, perforce, a liar and B. the choice to lie is not someone else's choice. Every key stroke, every note struck, every movement of the brush ... it is a craft, not an art, even when others call it art.

These days many are far too willing to overlook their own lies. And certainly that is one danger. Another is to become bogged down in a recognition of the lying aspect ... and accomplish nothing. What choices anyone might make is entirely up to his or her own mettle. What compromises is anyone willing to live with? Finding out is part and parcel of the craft. Neglecting this responsibility is a mistake: Not easy, but a mistake.

And then the other part of the advice column -- be yourself. Oh shit! Who am I ... the one I am encouraged to be? It's an easy question for those who swagger and announce, "I know who I am." Right ... and pigs know how to fly.

And it is a mistake that segues into the business of "being yourself." Surrender to my own cherished beliefs ("I know who I am") is one option. A little peace and quiet is nice. A little satisfaction. Don't dig too deep or you may stub a toe painfully against some unseen rock. If I am a falsifier, from what truth does that grow? And, conversely perhaps, if I am a truth-teller, from what falsehood does that emanate?

None of this mumbling and grumbling did me much good when I was a reporter. You had fifteen minutes to write a news story and your personal problems were your problems. Your sensitivities could go piss up a rope. As my mother used to say of writing, "Don't get it right. Get it written."

Anyway, I took a job reporting and purely could not believe that anyone would pay me to be nosy. Imagine that!!! For five years I wallowed in it, high-brow and low ... and loved it, even as I tried to iron out the wrinkles and searing flame of what it might be to be myself. Eventually, the question may have pressed too hard and I slip-slid into Zen Buddhist practice and a job painting apartments back in New York. Zen is not for everyone, but it put wind in my sails. Zen didn't fuck around: You want to know who you are? Seriously? Then find out and let nothing deter you.

Or, as my Zen teacher's teacher laughingly commented when he learned I painted apartments: "Wonderful! Each stroke of the brush is IT."  Did I get it? Nope, but it's grown on me.

It's a craft, not an art.
Be yourself.

Strange how advice given over there turns out to be advice given here. It's all water over the dam -- no one reads newspapers any more.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Black Moon Zendo web site disappears ....

In the beginning....
I was looking around for some of the pictures I had placed on my small zendo's web site when I discovered that the web site itself seemed no longer to exist ... or if it does, it is elusive as a bat.

A bit of a jolt in the sense that seeking out the pix won't be quite as easy for me, but also ... well ... it's OK if I say "done is done" but when someone else says it, suddenly my proprietary nature raises its protective, clutching head. If it did exist, what difference would it make? If it doesn't exist, what difference does it make?

I didn't agree to eradicate it and now it is eradicated.

I do miss the pix, but ... oh well. www.blackmoonzendo.com ... gone to another shore I guess.

In the middle ... kids help

In the end:

I am not doing a Zen mewl, hoping that some steadied hand will mention transiency and then preen,  but I do wish I could retrieve the pictures that were on the web site.

PS: A savvy (and more energetic) friend recovered this for me. It seems you have to press each desired link a time or two in order for it to come up.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

and again ... spiritual life

Back to the nudgings that ebb and flow -- that insist only to evaporate like wood smoke in the evergreen boughs above. Wouldn't you think all that effort, all that time, all that solemnity that morphed into seriousness under the guise of seriousness would amount to something, some answer, some satisfaction, some unwavering conviction...?

As the crow flies, it all began around 1975 when the decision/question enveloped me: Was spiritual life true? I  decided to find out. As a newspaper reporter at the time, the question shaped itself in the newspaper reporter's directness: "I want to know if spiritual life is bullshit or not." In this instance, I did not want to know as a means of convincing anyone else. The blood of this lamb was strictly for my own washing. Mohammad, Jesus, God, Buddha, Vishnu ... screw the names and swoons and promises. Was ... it ... true? No-fucking-fairy-tales true?

No more was I interested in the philosophical or psychological need to be in control with explanations and tome-like disquisitions. No scripture need apply. Just ... was it true? How and why the question took on urgency at the time was just more smug crap. I suppose I can say I felt bereft in some sense, but there were no eureka events impelling me -- no deaths of the near and dear, no break-ups of romantic relationships, no waxing sense that I would die and I wanted a happy hunting ground, no drugs forsaken.

Bereft -- that's as quick and dirty an impetus for the question as any. Psychologists, philosophers, TED talkers and others wishing to find and be control of some 'meaningful' answer can take over now. They want to know whose heart they can strum. I just wanted to know. "Why?" -- the question was and remains irrelevant.

Know for me. In my terms. Without any smarm. Is it bullshit or not?

And now, as the crow flies, it's 50-plus-or-minus years later and ... was it worth the effort? Is it true or not. Why, after all that time, do I conclude that the only possible conclusion to a serious spiritual adventure is to give it up, to give it away ... forgetaboutit! Seriously -- what are you doing with all those sap-sucking nostrums that drew anyone forward in their laughter or tears or brief flashes of wide-open lightning? Stop lollygagging about in all that stale bread that once nourished and informed.

Stop it! If you can give up cap pistols and dolls, surely you can give up spiritual adventure. Not be lured by humanists and psychologists and philosophers and priests and atheists and agnostics.... Just give it up.

What other use or usefulness could there be?

Fifty years.

As I gave up fifty years, so I must -- no choice in the matter -- set it aside.

Is it bullshit or not?


But that's just my take. Bereft-berefter-bereftest. Don't expect me to put money in your collection plate. Don't expect me to be gooder than I might have been. Don't attach electrodes to my head in search for some proof. Don't expect me to purr.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

the Guantanamo roust ... again

Eleven inmates held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp without charge for as long as 15 years will have a rare hearing in a US court on Wednesday when they submit a petition demanding they be tried or released.
A black eye revisited.


"Stormy Daniels," helps right U.S. ship of state

I suppose it could be a lingering wet dream of some sort, but the story that caught my attention and aroused a pitter-pat of excitement this morning was the tale of porn actress "Stormy Daniels" taking all her clothes off at the same time President Donald Trump was trying to boost his own celebrity by announcing his nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court.

A strange concatenation and perhaps one indicative of the times Donald Trump has landed my country in. I have always taken the Supreme Court seriously. With luck (and discounting the Citizens United case), the Supreme Court represents a potential even keel in choppy, immoral seas Trump has confected and stoked. Serious people on serious business, and yet this morning some part of me pinned its hopes not so much on the court as on a naked lady who alleges she was paid off in the wake of a little sex with the now-president.

God, how Americans hate their love of prurience! Or, how they love their hatred of carnal manipulations and pleasures. It's a Trump moment -- everything reduced to a level that Trump himself adores ... women as sex objects, manly men, bigotry, ignorance, racism, tax breaks for his handlers, imbalancing what others tried so hard to balance ... and yet when Stormy speaks (as she did in March on "Sixty Minutes") her voice and allegations are level-headed and, from where I sit, credible. She comes across, as my father used to say, "as a person with sand." Is she out for herself. Probably. Is her lawyer out for his own best interests? Probably. But are the two of them nonetheless more credible that the president of the United States? I think so.

Or is all of this just teen-swoon poetic justice or, as I said, the refrain of Sally Five-Fingers?
WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Donald Trump exercised his power by nominating Brett Kavanaugh Monday night at the White House, adult film star Stormy Daniels exercised hers about a mile away, wearing nothing but black heels....
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she had sex with Trump in 2006 when he was married, which Trump has denied. She’s suing Trump and his former longtime personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement that she signed days before the 2016 presidential election.
It was unclear how much money the club and Daniels were earning from the event, which charged $50 and up per seat. The venue, DeMoya said, can seat a couple hundred people, but it was not nearly full....
Trump supporters may willingly overlook the fact that promised coal-mining jobs have not been implemented. They may dismiss as the fault of Democrats the fact that Republicans have yet to come up with a promised replacement for Barack Obama's health care initiative. They may go with Trump's flow on "fake news" even as he embellishes the realm. They may point fingers elsewhere when asked to think through the assaults on diplomacy and international relations. But sex and fucking? This is a world that they understand.

As General George Patton once said, "A man who won't fuck, won't fight" and Trump is nothing if not a ... uh ... fucker ... or is that "fighter?" Or at least that's the way he casts the story and that's the story his supporters can hear ... even if he has to try to buy his way out of it.

So maybe Stormy's come-hither body -- and don't-fuck-with-me mind -- is just the ticket.

Imagine taking a porn star more seriously than the president of the United States. Such are the times. Et pourquoi non?