Sunday, September 30, 2018


 I imagine, without any supporting data and a dash of unkindness, that there are people out there who think that the word "ineffable" means "not fuck-worthy" or something similar.

Or maybe not.

tax cut legerdemain

January's corporate tax cut from 35 to 21 percent was permanent. Individuals and small corporations saw limits on the tax relief offered by once-deficit-wary conservatives. Now, however, in a bit of political legerdemain reported by Politico:
The House on Friday passed a bill to permanently extend tax cuts for individuals and unincorporated businesses included in the recent GOP tax overhaul, even though not much more is expected of the measure legislatively.
The Senate has no plans to take it up. But backers in the House, who are exiting Washington for an extended recess of some six weeks before November’s midterm election, believe it will deliver for them politically. Polls show scant public support overall for the GOP tax cuts that took effect Jan. 1. But Republican voters overwhelmingly favor them, the polls also show.
Read the story and you will see that the Congress can just as easily withdraw the changes, which are offered as a sop to 'little guy' who was not so fortunate as the big corporations. Add to that the fact that the Senate will not address the House bill and you get ... squat.

I just mention all this in case someone out there feels s/he hasn't received a daily fucking.

the rise(?) in whining

It was only 40 or 50 years after the fact that I learned I had broken my nose as a kid. The nose doctor who informed me of this fact -- a guy I was seeing on another nose-related matter -- was quite insistent and quite assured.

I ravaged my memory of any such event and came up empty. Was it possible to break your nose and not know it? It struck me as unlikely, but the doctor seemed to want to be right, so I let it pass: I had broken my nose and somehow missed out on the event ... I guess. It was -- or was it? -- another time.

Am I wrong or just playing the old-fart card to think that in the past there was less congenital whining (Brit.: whinging)? Today's universe seems rife with complaints, left, right and center. As I say, it may just be a symptom of old-fart-dom ("When I was a kid, we would blah-blah-blah...") but looking back, which is never my best thing, it seems to me there were fewer complaints.

Today's world is rife with a complaint at every corner and little sense that the shit hits the fan, always, for everyone... as if everyone were playing by Donald Trump's book of whines and lies and mischaracterizations. Broken nose? Who knows ... get on with it. If you can fix it, fix it; if you can't, stop whining. Stop trying to measure one pain against another.

Associatively, I recall the 1981 movie "Reds," in which one of the U.S. participants in the Russian Revolution sympathies of the early 1900's, commented approximately about the sexual freedoms of the time: "There was just as much fucking then as now. We just didn't talk about it as much."

Now, whatever "it" may be, it's the talk of the town. Trump supporters, Roe v. Wade supporters, tax benefit supporters, health care, sexual molestation ... there are victims as far as the eye can see and the internet assists in the dissemination of the information.

To the extent that any of this (more complaining now than then), I sense a hot air balloon getting fuller and fuller until it eventually pops, there may be blood in the streets, and everyone goes back to ground zero.

To the extent that this is all false -- just as much whinging then as now -- I sense a flatulent diminution of whatever social threads may remain.

As to my excuse for whinging -- as in this blog post -- I forgive myself based on the fact that I do what I can to keep the complaints compartmentalized in this blog. It ain't perfect, but it's the best I can manage. There's a broken nose back there somewhere, I guess, but there isn't much I can do about it these days.

Saturday, September 29, 2018


I once heard a salutation (attributed to the Bedouins) I still admire despite not knowing if it is true or not. That salutation, made as I imagine it between strangers in the desert:
I salute you and I thank you for your life.
In my mind, it is a handsome way of being.

Friday, September 28, 2018

No phony hookers for Houston

A Canadian company wants to open a so-called “robot brothel” in Houston, but is getting pushback from officials and community groups, with the mayor saying the city is reviewing its ordinances to determine if they address public safety and health concerns potentially associated with the business.
Mayor Sylvester Turner says he’s not trying to be the “moral police” but that this is not the type of business he wants opening in the city.

"The Mayo Clinic" documentary

Tuned in by accident to documentarian Ken Burns' latest depiction last night and found my heart engaged as no politician -- Republican or Democrat -- can manage. "The Mayo Clinic" was, in my eye, an example of why and how America can be great, despite all political posturing. Bottom line: Watch it. Ads and all, here is what I hope is the link to the film.

Republicans have failed in their promise to "repeal and replace" America's health care system, settling instead for Donald Trump's money-oriented chipping away at "Obamacare." Democrats have waxed enthusiastic about "healthcare for all" but their remarks are always freighted with attempts to claim some high and compassionate and better ground. Both are tiresome. "The Mayo Clinic," whatever its failings, points a way towards what actually makes America great -- decency and kindness and "the patient comes first."

Doctors at the clinic, the documentary asserts, could be making "ten times their current salary" by working elsewhere. But they don't work elsewhere. Instead, they work in a collaborative atmosphere that is repeatedly proven by the looks on patients' faces and by their words. And far from going belly-up, the clinic has done nothing but grow -- providing health care and scientific breakthroughs and a model of what is decent and indeed great about America. A man like Donald Trump will never understand such greatness, but that doesn't mean the rest of us can't.

The two hour presentation may be a bit top-heavy on praise-for-Caesar, but whatever puffery exists is offset by actual-factual results, I think. Yes, it is light on failures and mistakes, but it makes up for it and then some. Despite Republicans, despite Democrats, despite big-name clients like the Dalai Lama and John McCain and Tom Brokaw, it feels good to praise a really-great America.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

"The Frozen Logger"

From the days when ballads told stories:

finding the adult

Water, as I have come to understand it, is as close as science has come to electing a "universal solvent." Mind you, it's not a perfect silver bullet of a choice, but it is as close has science has come ... or maybe I'm all wrong about this.

Whatever the case with water, I have found myself lately, searching for a silver bullet of forgiveness when it comes to the confusions of aging and their intersection with the old habits of being a news junkie who wants to understand (and sometimes was convinced he actually could) the confusions and frustrations of a 24-hour-news-cycle.

Often, these days, I am left panting and exhausted where once I felt myself to be on firm footing. Is there anything that will forgive my ever-widening willingness to ignore what is deemed the news of the day? I actually skip stories I know have implications. How can I be so uncaring of my environment in both larger and lesser senses? I simply don't and won't read a story about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Is there anyone who wasn't an asshole when s/he was given the opportunities youth served up?

Is there some litmus test that will forgive me for not giving a shit? North Korea, tariffs, another tax benefit for the wealthy ... and on and on it goes. The news cycle tells me I should give a shit and, increasingly, I simply don't. Has Donald Trump and his minions won me over?

OK, I'm 78 and increasingly forgetful. These are my bona fides. My capacity and interest in reading news stories drips away and there is an element of shame in it all. What I would like is a silver bullet, a universal solvent that might absolve -- or pretty much absolve -- me of what hitherto has been felt as a responsibility. Last night, I think I hit on it.

From now on, the yardstick I will apply is this: It's not the elephant in the room that counts as much as the adult in the room. Who, if anyone, is the person I am willing to credit as an adult? Like the universal solvency of water, it's not a perfect yardstick, so I will have to settle from time to time for "adult-ish." But in general, I will skip those tales which make little or no effort to convincingly elect an adult.

I grew up in a time when it was almost unthinkable that the president of the United States should be substantively accused on a daily basis of being either a liar or a mischaracterizer of facts. But these days, it is the new normal. Was there ever a policy Donald Trump wasn't willing to espouse and then with equal volume disassociate himself from? This is not adult behavior. When members of the U.N. General Assembly laugh out loud about Trump's approach to global affairs, it's time to seek out the adult. Will the adult be some politician who, to date, has not displayed the courage it would take to disassociate him- or herself from the childishness that is rampant? Maybe so. Probably not, Or take Iran or China or North Korea or the American workers being ground under the heel of top-volume assertions ... who and where is the adult? If I can't find one ... well, fuck it.

Naturally my adult and someone else's will differ. Remember, I am looking for broad-brush absolution and resolution and a "te absolvo" for my increasing inability/unwillingness to read what at another time might have been worth what I consider serious.

My absolution -- or as close as I suspect I will ever get -- is using the "adult" yardstick. I may wish to death I could and did understand more, care more ... but it's all too overwhelming. I am old and the spaces between connections in my brain widen by the second. I am confused. A lapsed thinker, so to speak.

But I feel no uncertainties when in the presence of an adult ... or someone adult-ish anyway. So it is not necessary to chastise myself for devolving into the miasma of childishness and cowardice. It is only necessary to ascertain if the topic or news story includes an adult... or someone adultish.

Watered down seems to be my lot.

Strangely, I seem to be on Team Trump at last.

PS. Buddhism strikes me as an "adult" persuasion. Relying on it doesn't even make the "adult-ish" cut.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

who painted 'the Mona Lisa of vaginas?'

One of the greatest mysteries in art history appears to have been solved.
The identity of the model who posed for the most scandalous painting of the 19th century, Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World), has finally been revealed.

a little cash for Bill Cosby

The 3-10-year sentence for "American Dad" Bill Cosby -- a comedian accused of violating several women in the past -- brought out accusers and defenders.

What interests me is totally local: At the same time that Cosby was on trial and now stands convicted, local television has offered up reruns of Cosby's old TV sitcom "The Bill Cosby Show." There is something bizarre in that. Can't nail down the channel, but I know I've seen it in passing.

Trump goes to U.N., shames America

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — President Donald Trump poured scorn on the “ideology of globalism” and heaped praise on his own administration’s achievements in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly that drew headshakes and even mocking laughter from his audience of fellow world leaders....
Just sentences into the president’s remarks, the audience began to chuckle and some leaders broke into outright laughter, suggesting the one-time reality television star’s puffery is as familiar abroad as it is at home.
Trump's triumphal efforts to turn America into a third-world "shithole country" he once derided gather momentum, if any further momentum were needed.

literate graffiti

Passed along today in email "for fun" came this bit of mind-tweaking photography. It reminded me of a time when graffiti were more imaginative and literate and slightly weird ... my favorite being, "A kiss that lasts forever is a strange gift" written on a wall in a bar toilet in Berlin in the 1960's.

wanting to be right

A dark and misty morning around here. Were it the woods, the word "bosky" might somehow linger nearby.

A strange proclivity, the desire to be somehow "right." A socially-adhesive longing on the one hand. Something in keeping with the 'brotherhood of man' or some such.

A (wo)man can believe anything s/he likes, but it behooves all to remember that it is people who were right who were most-largely responsible for the bloodbaths referred to as "war." Are such bloodbaths worth it in order to prove who is right? I suspect it is not beliefs that nourish the screams of anguish. Rather it is the assertion that there is something "right" in them.

Better (if harder) to believe what you like and beware of people, like me, who long to be right or assert their achievement.

Just a little noodling.

Monday, September 24, 2018

two-headed snake

After doing radiographs, experts found that the two-headed snake has several other unique features. The snake has two heads but one heart and one set of lungs.
“Based on the anatomy, it would be better for the right head to eat, but it may be a challenge since the left head appears more dominant,” experts at the Wildlife Center of Virginia said in a news release.

still trying to post Trump rant photos

Here, I hope, are a few.... trying to do this really scrambled my already-scrambled brain.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

spare tires for the human format

What will humans look like in 100 years?
Mechanical exoskeletons, bionic limbs, uploadable brains: six experts’ visions of 2118 by Richard Godwin

Saturday, September 22, 2018

tracking a stranger

What a wonderful idea -- one I wish I'd thought of:

Since no man ever walked a mile in another man's shoes, how about the possibility of simply following someone -- someone chosen at random in a foreign city?
[W]hat I’m doing is a one-off exercise, and, as artist and writer Phil Smith puts it, is handing over control of exploring the city to someone else, chosen at random.
Smith regularly gives this task to students of theatre and performance at the University of Plymouth, seeing it as a valuable exercise. “The idea is that you’re exploring the space but someone else dictates it to you – it neutralises your will,” he says. “The intention – or hope – is that the followed person will lead you into places you haven’t been before.”
Neutralizing "your will" -- erasing a blackboard in order to admit new writing and thinking and seeing and being. What a great idea. I don't travel well any longer, but if I were to, what a plum-wonderful experiment.

Reminds me of the 1961 book "Black Like Me," about the white author who traveled the deep South here in the U.S. as a black man. I can imagine the current exercise would be full of false starts and do-overs, but still, when you think about what you see as a tourist or visitor ... hot damn!

"Where you haven't been before."

big oil's smoking gun ... and then some

Passed along this morning:
Newly found documents from the 1980s show that fossil fuel companies privately predicted the global damage that would be caused by their products.
Shell and Exxon, two of the wannabe oligarchs of this era, predicted the calamaties they would wreak, but neglected to tell the rest of us. You know, these are the guys sporting American flag lapel pins and a die-hard patriotism.
Although war planners and fossil-fuel companies had the arrogance to decide what level of devastation was appropriate for humanity, only Big Oil had the temerity to follow through.

visual Trump ranting

Friday, September 21, 2018

take aim

At 5:30 a.m., my younger son was out the door for a weekend of having his finger on the trigger -- a weekend of shooting as part of his National Guard obligation. He took off for Fort Devens, east of here. A weekend of reestablishing ties with a tribe he has agreed to be part of.

I, by comparison, awoke seemingly determined to be sad that I had no tribe I could identify. Where was my mooring and tribe, however stale? I could not find it and felt a bit like a crumpled bit of newspaper, scrunched in a fist, waiting to be added to a wood fire: Each nook and cranny held a tale that failed to yield any adhesiveness. Memory, yes; but adhesiveness -- that sense, however false, of reliability -- no. I wanted a mooring. I could not find a mooring. I was determined to be sad and full of something less than even echoes.

When I was 11, my mother took me with her to Italy and in the course of that trip we stayed a while on the Adriatic Sea, where I met Dili, a boy of about my age. Neither of us spoke the other's language, but we hung out in the waters, did boyish leaps and scanned the sea bed below our masks.

The water was incredibly clear and pale blue/aquamarine and you could watch fish or -- in the case of a slingshot-like spear gun my mother bought me -- kill them. On the seabed perhaps 10 or 12 feet below, the sands were littered with greening bullet shells from the war that had ended six years previously. The bullet shells were there by the handful. Their horrors had been spent and as a boy, I thought them heroic and masculine and tribally bright. What I was interested in, before I changed my mind, was the fish I might pinion with my spear gun.

Dili would give the spear gun a try from time to time as well. It was the kind of toy any waxing boy might enjoy. When he did take over, he would swap me the long bamboo pole he carried with him in the water ... long enough to reach into the nooks and crannies of the small rock caves on the sea floor below. The pole had a triple hook fastened to the thin end. Dili was after the shy octopuses that sheltered in the micro-caves. He would thrust the hooked end of the pole into the cave and like as not withdraw it with a middling-small octopus squirming on the hook. Then he would swim with his prey to the dock, hoist himself and his pole/catch, then grab the flailing creature and bite the back of its head ... at which point a blackish liquid would spill onto the dock and the octopus would be dead.

I never did catch and octopus and never bit the back of its head, but I admired Dili for it. I did not occur to me that he might have just caught his family dinner or something to sell for hard money in the town square. I was on vacation. He was moored in his life.

And I ... I killed fish on occasion before I got my first inkling that killing for sport felt distinctly wrong, viscerally wrong, to me. If I wasn't going to eat it (and I still dislike eating fish), then killing it was presumptuous and somehow disgusting.

In Tijuana, Mexico, 20 years later, I determined to go to a bullfight. I had read about bullfights in Ernest Hemingway novels and it sounded manly and moored and ever so empowered. If Hemingway's books said so, surely I might be invited into a manly brotherhood somehow, if I went to see one.

It took about 20 minutes to realize that killing for sport -- goading and wounding and stabbing an animal trapped in a man-made enclosure -- was, by whatever moored or unmoored book was on my shelf -- despicable. If I paid a lot for the ticket to get in, I would have paid multiples of that amount to get away from such a scene. "Horrible" in its earliest incarnations is too kind a word for me.

And yes I eat beef, much as I suspect a beef might eat me.

Moored. I would have liked to be moored this morning. Moored in something more than sorrowful conclusions. And yes, I have helped to butcher cattle -- and was sad at it, though knowing it would end up on my plate offered a sort of morbid solace.

Perhaps I should take a lesson from my son, aim at a target some distance away and moor myself to the outcome. How I sometimes wish I could do that and credit it.

digital models debated

Does the anorexia cost extra?
LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The three women gazing into the camera in an advert for French luxury label Balmain look like they could fit in at any high-end shoot, but Shudu, Margot and Zhi are “digital models” whose rise is dividing the fashion world.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

"settled rules"

In my neck of the woods, words like "compassion" and "democracy" are popular. But the further the country descends into Donald Trump's miasma of self-aggrandizement, the harder it is to see how anyone can use the word "democracy" without a blush. Democracy requires a willingness to sacrifice and as it currently seems to stand, sacrifice is a dwindling commodity, left, right and center.

Yesterday, a friend passed along a lengthy Atlantic article that circled once more the drain down which American "democracy" is dripping. I can't say I was either willing or able to absorb the article's analytical efforts but the following stood out for me:
Willingness to adhere to settled rules, even when in the short term doing so ensures your opponent’s triumph and your own defeat, is the hardest of all democratic habits to acquire—and increasing numbers of Americans never did.
"Settled rules" seems increasingly far from a description of current events. Politically, morally, socially ... where are the settled touchstones? Somehow things have become uncoupled or unmoored and all that is left is the personalized anger and loneliness of those who feel suckered by the self-serving likes of a Donald Trump AND the preening pomposities of those willing to speak the word "democracy."

I may have this all wrong, but I feel it in my bones. Blood -- literal blood -- tinges a future in which "settled rules" are re-established. Because the alternative is too gruesome.

The Dalai Lama once said, "Everyone wants to be happy." But perhaps this can or should be modified a bit: "Everyone would prefer not to be sad." Being angry and lonely and far from anything resembling "settled rules" ... living under a pall of mediocrity rife with racism and misogyny and a price tag on every capacity for decency and companionship and sacrifice... talk about repopulating the political swamp!

A confusing time. I suppose that itself is a democratic description, but it certainly isn't pleasant.

arachnophobe's nightmare

A Greek beach has been turned into an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare, as spiders have covered it in a web some 300 metres long....The web has been built by spiders of the Tetragnatha genus. They are often known as stretch spiders, as they have elongated bodies – and in another worrying development for those who fear spiders – Tetragnatha extensa are small enough and light enough to be able to run across water faster than they can move on land. However, the spiders of Aitoliko, which is 300km from Athens, don’t pose a threat.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

defining old age?

Less to say and more of it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

World Nomad Games women

The substance and presentation of this photo essay about women in the World Nomad Games made my life easier and happier somehow ... beautiful women archers, beautifully dressed, with rules of the game that might flummox lesser athletes. Imagine competing from the back of a horse you had never met before.... 

sexual assault ... or not

Congressional Washington is currently alight with allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: Did he did or did he didn't sexually assail a woman thirty years ago and can that woman, who has stepped from the shadows of anonymity, undo his hitherto impeccable credentials to win confirmation? Another political pissing contest, another sexual past, another dust storm of solemn kerfuffle that means so much to those willing to risk so little?

And yet what draws my reading attention this morning is of a rape that is hundreds of years old:
A 17th-century sailor’s confession about a rape, of which he became so ashamed that he sought to cover it up for ever, has been exposed by conservation workers who discovered the note hidden under a rewritten version in his journal....
[Edward Barlow] originally wrote an excruciatingly frank account of his rape of Mary Symons, a young female servant in a house where he was lodging, an encounter he admitted was “much against her will, for indeed she was asleep but being gotten into the bed I could not easily be persuaded out again, and I confess that I did more than what was lawful or civil, but not in that manner that I could ever judge or, in the least, think that she should prove with child, for I take God to witness I did not enter her body, all though I did attempt something in that nature”.
Barlow inserted a line of warning: “I found by her that women’s wombs are of an attractive quality and dangerous for a young man to meddle with.”
Another time. Another sensibility. Another bit of "meddling." Do the two stories deserve to be in the same barrel? I'm not really sure. I just know that the earlier tale caught my attention -- possibly because of the "shame?"

There's little or no shame of any sort in Washington these days. But apparently there was shame in the man's heart so many years ago. The circumscribed delicacy of the earlier language ... a strange matter as it seems today.

Anyway, the two played in my mind this morning.

Monday, September 17, 2018

effects on the assassin

As a teenager during World War II, Freddie Oversteegen was one of only a few Dutch women to take up arms against the country’s Nazi occupiers. (Courtesy of National Hannie Schaft Foundation)
In an article about Dutch sisters who worked for the underground during World War II (blowing up bridges and other acts of sabotage but also luring Nazis into the woods for a private execution), here are some of the words of and about one sister:
By Truus’s account, it was Freddie Oversteegen who became the first to shoot and kill someone. “It was tragic and very difficult and we cried about it afterwards,” Truus said. “We did not feel it suited us — it never suits anybody, unless they are real criminals. . . . One loses everything. It poisons the beautiful things in life.”....
In interviews, Ms. Oversteegen often spoke of the physics of killing — not the feel of the trigger or kick of the gun, but the inevitable collapse that followed, her victims’ fall to the ground.
“Yes,” she told one interviewer, according to the Dutch newspaper IJmuider Courant , “I’ve shot a gun myself and I’ve seen them fall. And what is inside us at such a moment? You want to help them get up.”

pitons of interest

Reading the newswires this morning (as I have for years), I find fewer and fewer points at which to hammer home a piton of interest. It is like swimming through a roomful of cotton candy. Nothing seems to offer a reliable holding point. Instead, I am merely irritated.

"Compassion" is irritating.
Thirty-year-old sexual allegations are irritating ... priest or politician or entertainer ... if it's true, then what? If not, then what?
"It is what it is" is irritating.
The Israelis have found a new way of fucking the Palestinians.
The sensitivities of these times drone on an on and I, like some supporter of Donald Trump, am merely irritated by the entire panorama.

And now I have to admit it -- the problem does not reside in others and their endless sensitivities, it lies with me. What is news needs to be handed over to the next marathoner. Pass the baton and keep my crabby mouth shut. I might like to find the piton point of interest, but I can't.

It's confusing and amorphous and ... what the hell?!

Writing too wafts into the tall pines like wood smoke from a camper's fire. Pitons fall away. Nothing fancy, nothing "Buddhist," ... whatever it is, it just ain't there.

This definitely calls for a good dirty joke.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

plump and entitled

It seems to have no basis in fact -- I kind of Googled around -- but nevertheless, the thought keeps nudging...

That I grew up in a time when recollections of the Depression meant people tended to be thin, as when there was not enough to eat and people scratched out or eeked out a living .... but whatever they did, they made something, created stuff and had no real laurels to rest on.

And that I grew into a time of entitled plumpness, one in which there is an overly-generous sense that each and every person deserves whatever s/he wants and gets to whine if s/he is denied it.

Oh yes, and while we're at it, keep the joking politically-correct. No more Polish jokes, thank you very much. No more smiles about broad-brush considerations of men or women or whatever.

It's just a thought that I think is flummoxed.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

john oliver riffs

A couple of John Oliver riffs I hadn't seen"

youth, age and horseshit

It has been asked before but still...

If, as G.B. Shaw or Oscar Wilde or someone else observed, "Youth is wasted on the young," isn't there some reason to pose the possibility that "Old age is wasted on the elderly?" And if this is possible, on whom is old age wasted?... what is wasted and on whom?

Google is full of suggestions that it is wisdom that is wasted on the elderly, but, as usual, the meaning of "wisdom" is left hanging like some venerable wraith -- undefined and presuming that 'everyone' might agree not only on what wisdom is, but that it might be venerable in the first place.

I have a hunch everything is always wasted on someone, irrespective of wisdom or idiocy, youth or age. Everything is wasted until someone decides to investigate and use. Waste is life's/Mother Nature's most prolific product, perhaps.

I always like the mildly-twisted Dhammapada line, "Better your own truth/ However weak/ Than the truth of another/ However noble."