Tuesday, December 31, 2019

my mother's 100th

If my mother were alive today, she would be 100 today. But since she is not, she is not. Imagine the bummer of being a kid whose birthday fell on a national holiday. Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 26, 2019


When I was a kid, the backs of comic books would advertise, "Use a word ten times in a day and it is yours." And I guess it is somehow fitting to circle back on that invocation.

Why it is, I don't know, but I seem to have a perennial brain fart about the word "desultory." I simply cannot remember its meaning and usage. (desultory:
"1 : marked by lack of definite plan, regularity, or purpose a dragged-out ordeal of … desultory shopping— Herman Wouk
2 : not connected with the main subject desultory comments
3 : disappointing in progress, performance, or quality a desultory fifth place finish a desultory wine")
The word does not flow along my vocabulary circuits. It doesn't fit as other words do. Its music and meaning escape me again and again. Again and again I bump up against the word and fail to get it right, find its home.
I try using it ten times in a day, but the word sniggers like some bad boy with spit balls at the back of the class room. You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man.
I console myself by suggesting that no matter how hard anyone might try, there will always be some strand of understanding left unknotted, unknown and just plain wrong. Go with the flow. But of course the habit is still strong: Improve and understand ... improve and understand ... improve and tara-diddle.
Another thing still unknown.


The house was teeming with everyone yesterday ... all the kids grown and all of them bigger than I was for a Christmas get-together. Everyone together and, from my perspective, everyone BIGGER. How ever did we fit so many people in such and small and littered house?! My daughter cooked a meal for everyone and there were enough calories to choke a horse ... not least some REAL fucking brownies and a cheese cake with caramel sauce that was pure wowsers.

I could tell I was old, the surest sign being that I got a robe and some slippers from Santa and his/her elves. Toasty stuff.

How did everyone get so big? ... an old fart's question. All of them good kids -- healthy and kind in their particular ways. A privilege to be part of their realm. Still not quite sure how I fit in that jigsaw puzzle, but I'm in there somewhere. My wife did the heavy lifting and ... well, it was a quiet velvet day.


Wednesday, December 25, 2019

asked and answered

As once, in what I think of as the bomb zone of my beginning of my spiritual quest, I asked the question, so now I have reached my answer and it is satisfactory to me.

The question, posed somewhere between an icy doubt and a deep, beloved yearning was this:

Is spiritual life or spiritual endeavor a crock of shit or not? I really wanted to know and that yearning set me on a 40-50-year quest.

Question: Is spiritual life a crock of shit or not? I didn't want to know for anyone else. The question was a one-off built solely for me. Well, is it, or not?

Question: Is spiritual endeavor a crock of shit or not?

The answer is: Yes.

Asked and, after so many years, answered.


Is it a crock of shit or not?


I cuddle up to this answer today as I was in no way capable of cuddling then: Yes.

I am satisfied, yet issue a warning.

Anyone who might take this blog post as a jumping-off point for some further metaphor or evidence of their own assessment should be wary: If you come within my crosshairs, I will shoot you dead if I have the chance. Literally. Don't be a scumbag!

Is spiritual endeavor a crock of shit or not?


Asked and answered.

Nothing -- no question or answer should be premised on these words. Just yes. Yes. The end.


Sunday, December 22, 2019

"Scar of Bethlehem"

Wissam Salsaa, the manager of the Walled-Off Hotel, pictured with Banksy’s Scar of Bethlehem. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images           

Banksy’s latest piece – the artist’s take on a nativity scene – has been unveiled at a hotel in Bethlehem.
The Scar of Bethlehem features a nativity scene with Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, but instead of a star hanging over the crib there is what appears to be a large bullet hole piercing an imposing grey wall.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Trump impeached

The Democrat-laden U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump last night. No one has promised to take him out behind the wood shed and shoot him ... and put him out of our misery.

The Republican-laden Senate will now have the chance to exonerate the same man who promised to "drain the swamp" and created a new one.

Exhausting and embarrassing.

Monday, December 16, 2019

newspaper for sale; price: $0

An Alaska newspaper publisher is ready to hand his operation to a new owner at an unbeatable price: $0.
Larry Persily, a longtime journalist who runs the Skagway News in the state’s panhandle, is willing to give away the small-town paper to a multi-talented professional who can ensure it a bright future.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Trump gears up to step down?

Niggling and naggling at the edges of my thoughts is the notion that U.S. President Donald Trump is shoring up his political nesting place in advance of his stepping aside from the U.S. Presidency.

Trump hasn't got the balls to lose and the House of Representatives vote on articles of impeachment in the upcoming week/this coming week looks (however scripted) like a loser.

A Senate exoneration is to follow the House vote.

Trump has fewer and fewer whipping boys -- people he can blame and fire for the errors he has made. And like any champ, he would like to go out on top. Or maybe this is all just wistful  wet-dream  thinking. Can anyone imagine his leaving office without saying, "I-told-jaso!"

And castrated Senate Republicans who don't dare to stand up for country or principle would like a safe harbor as they head home for the Christmas break and meetings with constituencies that voted four-square for The Donald.

Maybe someone will write a "Profiles in Cowardice" book ... but it's doubtful.

And  Vice-President Mike Pence as president? The artificial-intelligence Christian as president? Well,  let's take one pig-pile at a time.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

rewriting American history

It was my now-dead Army buddy Bill McKechnie who reworked the wit and witticism sometimes attributed to American 'founding father' Benjamin Franklin:
Early to bed
And early to rise
Makes a man healthy,
Wealthy and wise.
McKechnie's rendition -- announced after what I can only assume was a night of too much beer, carousing and giggling:
Early to bed
And early to rise ....
And you never see any of your friends.

Mexicans bridle

Emiliano Zapata: He pissed them off then and he pisses them off today.
A new portrait of Emiliano Zapata has caused a firestorm of outrage for its portrayal of the Mexican revolutionary hero striking a seductive pose – clad only in a pink sombrero and high heels.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

a bit of information


Monday, December 9, 2019

taking a step back

Watching CPAN 3 last night, I could feel a sigh of relief ... I wasn't quite as nuts as I had thought I might be.

Elizabeth Holtzman
There was Eizabeth Holtzman, one-time pepper pot of the 1970's, remembering the impeachment of Richard Nixon (against today's backdrop of a firestorm of impeachment talk swirling
around Donald Trump today).

Listening, I realized how much more courteous and well-argued times were in Holtzman's era. It was important that the country might be injured: Democrats and Republicans all agreed on that. No one was above the law -- Republicans and Democrats agreed on that. It was important to think and to tell the truth ... and however rancorous, no one made a fetish out of stupidity and harming the nation.

The country was important.

That, and it was not up for sale.

Elizabeth Holtzman helped me to breathe easier. No wonder I felt so out-of-joint. Nowadays, everything is thrown away, indecorous, and rude. The law is ... oh well, it's a witch hunt and the country is a Tinker Toy for toddlers. Still, Nixon's was my era ... no wonder I felt weird and confused when the media dove into bed with a man whose most notable accoutrement is his wind-blown wig.

As if to drive some passage-of-time nail home, the Associated Press saw fit this morning to mark the death of René Auberjonois, a character actor with
René Auberjonois
whom I used to play as a kid. Swords and cap pistols and movies in which lusty, male background singing was par for the course. Rene died on Gautama's enlightenment day (some say): Dec. 8. As kids, we imagined we too might be as lusty and manful and sword-swinging. And, of course, sing about it.

Slow it down. Iron it out. Talk about the past because, enfin, it is the past and as such, is apparently confined and ready for shipment into the present.

My teacher's teacher, Soen Nakagawa Roshi once commented, "There is birth and there is death. In between is enlightenment."

Somehow things were and remain more fitting.

Feels like an ahhhhhhh, somehow.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

the search for wisdom

The search for wisdom is a fool's errand.

But since, in the gentler sense, we are all fools... well ... do you have something better to do?

Organize your sock drawer?

Iron your brocade?


Isn't it time to live up to at lease some expectations?

Friday, December 6, 2019


Shinto priest Kiyoshi Miyasaka displays a photo he took in 2006 that shows a phenomenon called omiwatari, or the crossing of the gods, which occurs when Lake Suwa freezes over and two sheets of ice collide.
Found this Reuters piece a tranquil and evocative meditation.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Taken from the internet
For once, the forecast for a winter storm that slipped east over the weekend lived up to specs -- six to eight or more inches of snow it seems. It's winter. Lotsa snow.

Long day yesterday doing doctor stuff. Tiring. At around 2:30 a.m., I realized I wasn't going to get back to sleep so I turned on the TV. There was some amateurish soft-core porn to while away the time.

Strange to see the beginnings of movies with a whole lot of stamps of warning and approval. "Brief nudity," "some violence," "adult content...."

Is there really any "adult content" any more? What constitutes "adult content" -- is it a bare bum, uncovered breasts, grinding hips ... the red flags all seem to hark back to more sedate and clothed times. Naked bodies hardly seems worth a nod -- "sexy" after all relates to the coverings, not the uncoveredness. Plunging necklines, popular lately, are being replaced ... how far can anyone 'plunge' before you run out of plunging space and it's time to re-cover and start all over?

I guess the final step will be penises, but when a body is entirely naked, it's just naked, isn't it? Sometimes sexy sometimes not ...

Sunday, December 1, 2019

an era of perpetual rug burn

Catullus: "Ave atque vale."
Donald Trump, erstwhile president of the United States, made a trip to be with the troops in Afghanistan on this just-passed weekend. Congress headed home for a holiday break in the midst of impeachment hearings that are threatening to wear out even the most caring democrat.

Skitter-skattered along the news wires I skim, like left-over confetti from last night's party, there are the Joe Six-Packs and oenophiles alike saying what I certainly feel -- it's all too much. Everyone's divided.
Benito Mussolini
The sense of one-ness that might underpin an impeachment hearing is missing in action and hence Donald Trump -- savvy liar. moral coward, and ignoramus extraordinaire -- shows signs of winning. Touching base with what might be patriots in Afghanistan, lining up the troops who may prove necessary to his cause -- the blood cause, the new civil war, the rise of ignorance, Trump, like Mussolini and other dictators, touches base with the guys and gals who have the guns.

But it's so damned tiring ... and not just because I am an old fart, a skim of the wires suggests. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. And Donald Trump, the purveyor of bleah, may be the only salvation. Where is George Carlin when we need him most?

Ave atque vale!

An era of perpetual rug burn.

I, like others (boozers and non-boozers alike) seek some healing... and, as mis-attributed to P.T. Barnum, "there's a sucker born every minute." Me too -- another sucker. Trump engineered the era. A money man. And just look at those who aided and abetted him. Love my country? Horseshit!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

tusk hunters unearth "dogor"

Doggone it! How an 18,000-year-old puppy could change everything we know about dogs

Dogor was two months old when he died and has been well preserved in the Siberian ice. But is he an early modern wolf – or one of the world’s very oldest domesticated dogs?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

gene-edited babies?

Glad to think someone -- in this case The Guardian?/Associated Press, I guess, is keeping an eye this one 
Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world by claiming he had helped make the first gene-edited babies. One year later, mystery surrounds his fate as well as theirs.
He has not been seen publicly since January, his work has not been published and nothing is known about the health of the babies.
“That’s the story — it’s all cloaked in secrecy, which is not productive for the advance of understanding,” said Stanford bioethicist Dr. William Hurlbut.
He talked with Hurlbut many times before He revealed at a Hong Kong science conference that he had used a tool called CRISPR to alter a gene in embryos to try to help them resist infection with the AIDS virus. The work, which He discussed in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press, was denounced as medically unnecessary and unethical because of possible harm to other genes and because the DNA changes can pass to future generations.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

new stuff

My daughter and her husband are adopting a dog... Sugar ... a beagle... hales from Arkansas and is thus pronounced without the 'r' I gather ... "shuga." They plan to pick up the dog Friday next in Maine.

My older son is settling down with his live-with into a newish used house in Marietta, Ga.

My younger son keeps a stony silence about his interview upcoming with the UMass police department. Waiting is always 90% of the battle.

On the porch, my wife discovered a birds nest in the making and shooed it away. I see no reason not to share the porch with the birds, but my wife finds it invasive.

I want to apologize to the birds, but it's too late now.

On the TV, a tale teller made a distinction between telling tales and joining the political fray to re-arrange or reform the tale. I like the distinction. Tale telling is not the same as the need to do something about the content of that tale.

As for example the incomplete tale of Catafalque Rambassoon, whose body was found a presumed day or two after his death. His layout was as neat as he had planned it. Catafalque lay smooth in bed. Sheets, coverlet ... everything neat. He knew he was on the lip of something new and had instructed Ermina, the woman who came Tuesdays to clean: If anything was out of alignment, would she please rearrange it so as to make the least possible splash in death. Ermina, a woman who was not afraid of death, followed his wishes and tucked in Catafalque's left foot under the covers from which it peeked. Catafalque was a man of neatness, both on the bed and off. A so his body was found, smooth as warmed honey, lying supine where he lay.

Likewise the pocket detritus on the bedstand table -- a pocket watch, a silver quarter, a .32 caliber live round whose copper and brass were scratched here and there to the brilliance of raw metal
... and the rest was dulled from riding so long in his pocket. Catafalque -- who chose his first name when he was 10, wanted the bed-stand to tell a tale or two, though which tale, precisely, he was never entirely precise.

Good to her word, Ermina tucked the errant foot under the coverlet, smoothed the sheets, smiled at the corpse, and called the authorities. The authorities came, pronounced Catafalque dead, which struck Ermina as slightly silly, and leveraged the body into an ambulance that was currently not being used.

At 10, Catafalque had taken his father at his word and chosen a given name that seemed to gambol with the family moniker. At 10, the choice boiled down to a flip of the quarter ... heads for "Fontainebleau" and tails for "Catafalque."

One thing was for sure, he wasn't going to stick with the name on his birth certificate, "Chauncey." And so, for 70+ or minus years ... he had become Catafalque, a nice enough man who preferred the poetry and roll of names. A smooth man who had died, to all appearances and with Ermina's help, smoothly.

Rambassoon, a name out of the deep Pacific Ocean, far from "far away." "Ulyanov" was a name toyed with but carried too much baggage. So, "Fontainebleau" or "Catfalque" and the quarter chose "Catafalque." ... chosen at 10 years old. Smooth and oiled and quiet on the tracks of the announcement, "Catafalque Rambassoon."

And a single live round amid the various bits of lint.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

feeding frenzies on Atlantic shores

I have yet to find the news outlet that ignores U.S. gryrations on the presidential impeachment front in the same way the rest of the world appears to be. That on the one hand. And, across the pond, winkle out a news outlet that is not chasing its tail on the on-again-off-again exit of Britain from the European Union. (Brexit)

Where is the rest of the news. I can't keep up with the impeachment players.
I can't keep up with the Brexit players.
The feeding frenzy on both sides of the Atlantic suggests to me that Turkey and Israel have open season on their lesser opponents. China, of course, keeps its head down and keeps on keepin' on.

Imagine that: Bibi Netanyahu and Donald Trump swept back into office. Plausible deniability. The oligarchs get what they want and the rest of us get ....

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

people given a taste of hibernation

Humans put into suspended animation for first time
Groundbreaking trial in US rapidly cools trauma victims with catastrophic injury to buy more time for surgery.....
Nasa considers that full-on hibernation for interstellar travel is still a distant prospect. The US space agency is instead investigating ways of putting astronauts into a torpor, so reducing their metabolism for extended periods.

Friday, November 15, 2019

dumb is preferable?

Worth observing?

A question I don't know how to state clearly ... but something like this:

In a comedy movie, perhaps, a rap-happy black person comes head to head with a well-educated white person. The comedy rests on the fact that the well-educated (wo)man struggles to bring his or her lingo in sych with the black person's rap. The flubs are endless.

I can think of zero instances in which the rat-a-tat-tat rapper attempts to bring his or her linguistic abilities to align with the educated (wo)man's capacities.

This needs to be stated more clearly and I can't seem to do it. The dumber version invariably wins out. The smarter version is left to languish. Why is the one acceptable and even funny, while the other is not?

This needs to be brushed off and clarified. I feel inadequate to the task and yet think it is an interesting social question. Why is dumber better or more acceptable or whatever?

Why is "nucular" acceptable when the word is "nuclear," for a small side-light example. Why is "ast" OK when the word is "ask?"

There's a question in here somewhere ....

I'll come back to it, perhaps.

journalistic dream team

It's the second day of "impeachment" hearings in Washington. They're rioting in South America. Hong Kong awaits the iron fist of China. It's all important, but I have a hell of a time detemining what, exactly, "it" is.

Jeepers, creepers.

Since fantasy football is acceptable these days, I thought I would start compiling a fantasy news team -- a grouping of people who remain somehow top-drawer in my ill-informed book.

1. Mark Shields -- a reporter's reporter.
2. Rachel Maddow -- a woman who seems never to run out of ways to ask the question without ever stating it: "Are you shitting me?!"

The rest of the reportorial prairie seems to be peopled by well-made-up and well-paid players who have good dentists. I guess there are others that belong on my list, and perhaps I will add to it, but these two strike me as remaining true to some form of journalistic quality... and a willingness to smile or even laugh.

Connect the dots, and do it in mouth-sized portions.

I don't really understand: Don't I get to understand what the fuck is going on?

Is it possible that a latter-day version of the "Valentine's Day Massacre" is needed ... just take 'em out behind the barn and shoot 'em.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

details, details.....

Ever notice ? --

1. Horses ridden in western adventure movies are uniformly spic and span, whereas anyone who has ever curried a horse knows it gathers caked-on shit on its flanks and some portion of the belly before it is dutifully scrubbed. Tack, though harder to see, is also spiffy with much care and little use.

2. The underside of human shoes in TV movies are almost always a brand-new-leather color between the heel and where the toe-portion of the sole hits the ground.

3. Autos out of the 1930's 1940's and 1950's(and earlier/later) in retro movies almost never show a spot of mud or slush .... always in spanking-new, perfectly-waxed condition.

I'd like to get paid as much as the worker who gets a paycheck and yet overlooks such details or cannot get the changes past cost-conscious executives.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Trump for sale?

Of note of late:

1. The piece of apple pie my neighbor Joe gave me the other day was THE BEST PIECE OF APPLE PIE I HAVE EVER EATEN. The pie was so good that plans to share it evaporated as I inhaled it. To run into "the best" anything at the age of 69 is rare as hen's teeth.

2. I can no longer watch the news. Specificially, I cannot keep up with the impeachment players and more than that, everyone on the news shows seems to talk too fast. Literally, I cannot keep up. Literally, I am confused. Literally, it's no longer worth the price of admission. It all seems important and my brain cannot absorb and process that seriousness. I feel better when I stop trying to keep up and I like feeling better.

3. I am sick of being confused.

This passed-along satire (why is it satire?) eased the gaff a bit:

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—The former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg upended the 2020 Presidential race on Friday by offering Donald J. Trump ten billion dollars to leave the White House by the end of the day.
“I will deposit ten billion dollars into your account in Moscow, Riyadh, or wherever you do your banking these days,” Bloomberg announced. “All you have to do is go.”
In addition to the ten-billion-dollar offer, Bloomberg told Trump that he would cover the moving expenses of Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Kellyanne Conway, and any other associates “that you haven’t already gotten rid of.”
On Capitol Hill, congressional Democrats expressed sadness that Bloomberg’s offer, if successful, would eliminate the need for impeachment, which many of them had been looking forward to.
But Representative Adam Schiff of California struck a more philosophical note. “If ten billion dollars gets rid of Donald Trump, that’s a quid pro quo I’m okay with,” he said.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

ice eggs in Finland

A rare collection of “ice eggs” has been spotted in Finland, a phenomenon experts say only occurs in highly particular conditions.
Risto Mattila, who photographed the eggs, said he and his wife were walking along Marjaniemi beach on Hailuoto island on Sunday when they came across the icy balls covering a 30-metre (98ft) expanse of shoreline.

N.Z. climate change

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

real apple pie

Gift from the gods....

Joe, my neighbor across the street, brought me a piece of apple pie he had made from apples on land he owns in Canada. Spies apples among the mixture. Deeeeeee-licious. Real apple pie. Gawd! When you eat store-bought drivel long enough, real apple pie is a blessing and a half.

Or anyway, I would eat it eight days a week.

fear of the perfect

Watching Public Television's "Frontline" take on artificial intelligence last night, I tried to sort out what it was that was scaring me bone-deep to death.

The best I could come up with was "perfection."

I am a lover of beauty and what is beautiful about human beings is their imperfection -- an imperfection that artificial intelligence is hell-bent on eradicating.

If everything becomes perfect, how perfectly imperfect is that? A world without beauty is a world minus any semblance of beauty. It may sound like gobbletygook, but it is no laughing matter for me.

Tyrants of all sorts are dipping their oars into such perfected waters. The rulers will rule. Things will be perfect. Is this the time to leap into the leaf shredder? Without imperfection, what room is there for humanity, for vision, for juiciness?

The perfect widget (car, computer part, whatever). The perfect mind. The perfect intelligence.

Oh well, someone will cope...

I hope.

Anyway, it scared the pants off me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

blame the electorate

Another loser:

OK – you can feel the political stampede gathering strength – politicians hustling for the bolt holes that will exclude them from the lash of Donald Trump’s collapse. Republicans didn’t do it. Democrats didn’t do it. I know – let’s blame the electorate!

Well, as part of that electorate – and seeking to make some common cause with Joe Palermo’s (10/23/19) letter to the Gazette – I would like to remind Republicans and Democrats alike: I get it: You want the money Trump could generate … but not the blame. May I ask where you were when the heat was hottest? Sure, you are a principled person who never liked Trump – but did you speak out? Did you really speak out? I doubt it.

Yes, the MONEY, Money that could assure re-election. Money that would assure others could see you in a principled light. I’m sorry, but I choose not to bite down on that bit of bait.

Rather than a principled person who spoke up for ‘democracy’, I choose to remember the enablers who extended Mr. Trump’s tenure (through namby-pamby doubts or outright silences) and filled the re-election coffers. In this sense, politicians like Richard Neal (never knew an issue he couldn’t be silent about) is not that different from toe-the-mark Republicans.)

Democracy, as Palermo asserts, may be fragile, but who was it who contributed to that fragility most directly? Was it something as conveniently vague as “the electorate?” Bottom line: It’s the money, honey. As a member of the electorate, I decline to don the mantle of an enabler. Was I confused? Yes. Angry? You bet. Dismayed? Yes, and then some. All that and a lot more. But no one hired me into a role as an honest broker who might lead.

OK, you’ve got the money. Now shoulder the responsibility. Where were your principled stances when principled stances were most needed? If you’re such a good guy, I hesitate to think what a bad guy might look like.

Maybe we should re-elect Donald Trump?

viva the victims

Sent out but apparently not making the cut:

Is anyone else sick of “victims?” I am. It seems that not a day goes by without some new and improved victim to point out and parse.

Donald Trump is a victim.
A woman who had her behind grabbed 20 years ago is a victim.
Liberals are a victim.
Democracy is a victim.
Israelis, like Palestinians, are a victim.
Empathy is a victim.
Black lives matter … another victim.
Conservatives are a victim.
The economy and weather and ecology are a victim.
Choir boys and priests are a victim.
Those who live in the stratosphere of wealth and the perennial magma of red ink are victims.
Free speech like speech sequestered is a victim.
News outlets are a victim.

Pick your day.
Pick your victim.

Dawn breaks and I’m in no hurry to enter full consciousness, not least because I know it will entail bringing my attention to some newly-revised world of victim-hood. Whether it’s the moral cowardice of the White House or the black-face someone donned as a teenager in the distant past, I can feel it out there, waiting like a catamount: I am the victim. Sleep is preferable in those early hours. Victims await.

Well, I’m tired of it and offer a possible world of pushback for those who may likewise be sick of victims and victim-hood. It’s just a small exercise that declines the bait.

Take it slow. Take it a step at a time. Take a page from the Christian playbook. I have no special preference for or against Christians, but good advice is where you find it: On the seventh day, God rested. If God can rest, so can man and taking a break from victim-hood might be a good starting point. So….

Today, for just five minutes perhaps, practice imagining that no matter what happens, there is no victim. Hell, it’s just five minutes. Since nothing is going to change, you might as well go with the flow. This…is…it. Just five minutes. Or even one.

No victims need apply.

And when the minute or five is complete?

We now return you to your scheduled broadcast.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

top of the mediocre mountain

Most, when ascending the ladder of some new-found interest, look to their betters for instruction. For example, the newly-anointed tennis interest is oiled and honed on those whose edges are demonstrably sharper.

But it occurs to me that those of demonstrable skill would be put to the real test by playing against those of demonstrably lesser capacity. Can the real "pro" keep sharp in the face of such obvious mediocrity? Why not just relax into an obvious victory? Will the real "pro" release his or her grip and coast or will s/he play his or her best game ever?

It's no mean feat, I suspect.

fly away invitation

Day of the Dead Fest in Mexico City/ Reuters

Thursday, October 31, 2019

grim reaper shadows pig world

About a quarter of the global pig population is expected to die as a result of an epidemic of African swine fever (ASF), according to the intergovernmental organisation responsible for coordinating animal disease control.
In the last year the spread of the disease has taken policymakers by surprise, and has been particularly devastating in China – home to the world’s largest pig population. The disease is also established in other Asian countries such as Vietnam and South Korea, and continues to wreak havoc in eastern Europe, where the current outbreak began in 2014.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

cheering for Trump boo's

U.S. President Donald Trump got booed at one World Series game. Other people may be more serene about it, but I have to admit the incident made me feel like a man who hasn't bathed in 40 days and 40 nights and finally gets a shower ... and wallows in it.

This compendium was passed along by a likewise-scuzzy email friend.

Monday, October 28, 2019

another perspective on U.S. cities

Idly watching a TV documentary about New Orleans the other night, I heard words attributed to an author whose name I have forgotten. The words, pretty nearly, were these:
There are three cities in the United States. There is New York. There is San Francisco. And there is New Orleans. Everything else is Cleveland.
There is something almost Mark Twain about the observation. It makes me giggle. I can feel some kind of dig intended.

Anyway it tickled my ivories.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

foundations ashudder

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Catholic bishops from across the Amazon called Saturday for the ordination of married men as priests to address the clergy shortage in the region, an historic proposal that would upend centuries of Roman Catholic tradition....
Some conservatives and traditionalists have warned that any papal opening to married priests or women deacons would lead the church to ruin. They accused the synod organizers and even the pope himself of heresy for even considering flexibility on mandatory priestly celibacy.
They vented their outrage most visibly this week when thieves stole three indigenous statues featuring a naked pregnant woman from a Vatican-area church and tossed them to into the Tiber River.
 Imagine that ... "heresy" in this day and age.

Friday, October 25, 2019

rivers suck up carbon

In the turbid, frigid waters roaring from the glaciers of Canada’s high Arctic, researchers have made a surprising discovery: for decades, the northern rivers secretly pulled carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a rate faster than the Amazon rainforest.
The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, flip the conventional understanding of rivers, which are largely viewed as sources of carbon emissions.
I sense that this is important, but it is above my intellectual pay grade or energy level.

World Lemur Day

Friday is World Lemur Day. Lemurs are the earth’s most threatened larger group of mammals; there are more than 100 species and almost all are under threat of extinction. Bristol Zoological Society has been studying lemurs and working on their conservation in north-west Madagascar for over 10 years

fomer SecDef James Mattis

I want to remember former defense/war secretary James Mattis who opined a week ago at a safe-sex black-tie roast of President Donald Trump that he (Mattis) had won his spurs on the battlefield "He (Trump) won his (bone) spurs from a doctor."

Trump, who never met an appointee he couldn't malign after the appointee was shown the inevitable exit, "denounced Mattis as “the most overrated general” when he met members of Congress on Wednesday to discuss his recent controversial decision to pull US troops out of Syria."

Sometimes I wonder if there is a difference between a physical and a moral coward.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

super duper computer speed

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google announced Wednesday it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing, saying it has developed an experimental processor that took just minutes to complete a calculation that would take the world’s best supercomputer thousands of years.
The feat could open the door someday to machines so blazingly fast that they could revolutionize such tasks as finding new medicines, developing vastly smarter artificial intelligence systems and, most ominously, cracking the encryption that protects some of the world’s most closely guarded secrets.
Wowsers! I guess. Super-duper-whooper speed... for as long as the electricity is on.

Meanwhile, as a footnote perhaps,
LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of thousands of residents of Northern California whose power will be shut off in the next two days got even worse news Wednesday: Another, even larger, blackout is likely over the weekend.
The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Corp., or PG&E, began shutting off electricity to nearly a half-million people Wednesday afternoon, the second massive blackout in two weeks. It said hot, dry winds and low humidity were creating a high risk of sparks and "rapid wildfire spread" from its long-neglected power lines.
And, as a P.P.S. as I skim the news wires this morning, I have yet to find any tale that addresses the question of an EMP (electro-magnet pulse) bomb that targets electrical capacities. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

paralympian commits suicide

I wish you what you wish.
Paralympian Marieke Vervoort said when the day arrived, she had signed the euthanasia papers and was prepared to end her life. That day came on Tuesday in her native Belgium, her death confirmed in a statement from the city of Diest.
Vervoort, 40, won gold and silver medals in 2012 at the London Paralympics in wheelchair racing, and two more medals three years ago in Rio de Janeiro.
In an interview at the Paralympics in Rio, Vervoort described living with unbroken pain from an incurable, degenerative spinal disease. She talked of sleeping only 10 minutes some nights, described severe pain that caused others to pass out just watching her, and detailed how sport kept her alive.
The smug sorrows of those who lived to see the day are not enough. What is it that compels people to withhold best wishes to those who have chosen? Why should the blessing I hope for be the blessing you have chosen?


I wish you what you wish.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

serious H2O concerns

CAIRO (AP) — The latest breakdown in talks with Ethiopia over its construction of a massive upstream Nile dam has left Egypt with dwindling options as it seeks to protect the main source of freshwater for its large and growing population.
Talks collapsed earlier this month over the construction of the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is around 70% complete and promises to provide much-needed electricity to Ethiopia’s 100 million people....
The Nile supplies more than 90% of Egypt’s freshwater. Egyptians already have one of the lowest per capita shares of water in the world, at around 570 cubic meters per year, compared to a global average of 1,000. Ethiopians however have an average of 125 cubic meters per year.

A 120-year-old lighthouse has been put on wheels and rails to move it away from the North Sea, which has been eroding the coastline of north-western Denmark.
When the 23-metre (75ft) Rubjerg Knude lighthouse was first lit in 1900, it was roughly 200 metres from the coast; now it is about only six.

Call me an alarmist, but I hope my son's pistol is somewhere around this house.

Monday, October 21, 2019


Indonesia’s Aries Susanti Rahayu broke the women’s speed climbing world record

take an ax to the door

Like thin eddies slipping up a low-tide beach...

There's a house for sale across the street -- all spanky and yellow and inviting occupancy ...Hershel's house that for so long was a kind of French blue. Hershel was like a half-hewn log of a man. He had a bum leg from his time in the Korean War. He was loud and his apartment in the now-yellow house was stacked with books he read. Hershel wasn't quite right, but he never did me any harm.

Once Hershel missed his meds and went around in the night with an ax, chopping at the front doors of several other neighbors who for some reason offended him ...  millennial types who had never been to Korea and knew about Mozart. Hershel made mincemeat of several doors, but not mine and I was always sort of proud of myself that my door remained intact. They said Hershel was crazy, but hell, he just had ghosts, like the rest of us.

Dave Pottinger, another chum of the past, said that in Korea, the North Korean forces would steal into American lines in the night. No one ever heard them. The North Korean forces wore sneakers. You could tell from the foot prints. Sneaked into American lines and chopped off the heads of soldiers in the foxholes and snuck away. There was no noise: Maybe that was the worst of it. No heads, but no noise. Did Hershel and Dave see the same things? Did they bring with them the same ghosts? Dave wasn't as crazy as Hershel, but he had been to similar asylums. Silence ... headless silence.

If ghosts sneak in, there is no sneaking them out, I guess. A noiseless permanence. A violent, vile silence. No joke. Doors reduced to kindling in a carefully-coiffed neighborhood.. Who forgot to take his meds?

I wonder who will buy the now-spanky yellow house across the street.

Somebody hustled Hershel off to an old-age home. Or maybe he's dead. I miss him and I miss his ax, but the wispy, ghosty pride I once felt lingers.

Sometimes Mozart reminds me of it all.

House for sale: It's a two-family.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

mind-fucker du jour

What happens if your mind lives for ever on the internet?
It may be some way off, but mind uploading, the digital duplication of your mental essence, could expand human experience into a virtual afterlife
In the P. Lal translation of "The Dhammapada," the words are attributed to Gautama the Buddha:
All fear dying.
All fear death.
The fact that anyone might want to live, in whatever form, forever strikes me as a strong piece of evidence. Why would anyone even consider living forever, let alone take a shot at it? And ... is anyone likely to be any happier?

Still, talk about a mind-fucker.

Escape death????? Your aunt Fannie!

It's all enough to consider the gracious exit that might be provided by the barrel of a .38 placed beneath the chin.

mothers and fathers

The old doggerel asserts itself:
A daughter's a daughter
Until she's a wife.
A woman's a mother
The rest of her life.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no parallel aphorism for a father.

Or maybe, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" will do?

Saturday, October 19, 2019

dying is for the other guy

Pete Buttigieg's tragedy

Living as I do in a land that sometimes feels awash in self-satisfied sensitivities, it was a pleasure the other day to catch a TV snippet in which Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (how does he pronounce that name?), mayor of South Bend, Ind., responded to an interviewer whose sensitivities appeared to be over the top.

Sure, he worried about the trashmasher a gay man might face in a presidential race, but he also took time to care for others. "I grew up gay in Indiana," he said more or less. "I can take care of myself." But he worried for those (like his husband perhaps) who might be caught in the political blowback.

Buttigieg said no more about it, but his words lingered in my mind. This was a person of substance on my radar, a man who might be willing to say, "If I want you in my bedroom, I'll invite you." He doesn't say it but he doesn't back away from the issue either. Eyewash "transparency" and "caring" and "empathy" and "democracy" and "freedom" and unexamined "socialism" (yoo-hoo... Jesus was a socialist) could all take a hike where the issues of the day meant trouble for the country.

People get ignored. People get hurt. That's people!

Ignorance is no excuse.

Hurting afflicts one and all.

That's people, people.

Buttigieg will probably slide off the Democrat roster of those alleging they want to be president. But for the moment, I like the cut of an intelligent man's jib. Buttigieg's Texas-Hold-'Em delivery and presentation and intelligence appeals to me....

But no one cares much, I suppose. Donald Trump is busy getting impeached of late and the airwaves are full of the moment-to-moment revelations on that score.

In the long-ago-and-far-away, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, widow of solo pilot Charles Lindbergh, was asked in a TV interview how it felt to have her toddler son kidnapped in 1932. The interviewer had to ask the question. And Lindbergh, if I had to guess, knew it was coming. There was a long pause after the question was asked. And then Lindbergh responded

"I think everyone has suffered a tragedy."

And ain't that the truth? Everyone has suffered a tragedy and everyone has to move on. Homosexual, heterosexual, sensitive and insensitive alike -- everyone has suffered a tragedy, no matter how grievous the wails.

Pete Buttigieg struck me as having a handle on his own scrapes and bruises. Who knows if he has actually risen above the pains he may have suffered? But whether he has or hasn't, his candidacy does not seem to be laced with any smug whining.

There is serious stuff at hand. The earth is not flat. I am not the center of the universe. Idealism turns invariably towards dictatorship when given half a chance. Can it be avoided? Probably not.

Friday, October 18, 2019

eyes on the prize

If smoking were my worst habit, I reckon I'd be a genius. Everybody's got a tit one way or another and I've got mine ... and then some.


Strange thought to be 69 years old and resolved into a scullery maid ... washing up the dishes from last night, putting away the clean plates and flat ware.

I thought I might not make it this morning (fatigue nuzzled and nudged), but, having started on the chore, I completed it and it was time for a cigarette. Keep your eyes on the prize.

"Eyes on the prize" -- how's that for a bad habit and a tasty tit?

Lord save me from my beliefs!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

arrogance near and far

Arrogance is an interesting commodity ... one of which I am all too capable.

Still, didja ever wonder about the New York Times -- a diminishing bulwark in the American journalistic world -- and the fact that to this very day, it still bears the quote of one of its scions ... on the front page .... every day:
"All the News
That's Fit to Print"
When I was growing up in the 1940's and imagined that newspapers were for grown-ups, the U.S.S.R. had somewhere between 10 and 13 time zones (depending on who was counting and how) and yet on any given day, the newspaper might run precisely NO stories about our storied enemy. None. Zero. Zilch. 200 plus-or-minus million population and not one story fit to print? 13 fucking time zones.

Adolph S. Ochs, the owner of the Times, coined the phrase in 1897 as a means of stating the impartiality of his product. It may ring tinny these days, but by 1897, European countries had gathered in Berlin (1885) to divvy up the colonial spoils of Africa. Where there were no boundaries, the countries drew the lines in ... straight lines that remain today as markers of colonial arrogance. It wouldn't do for gentlemen to squabble over the spoils.

The late 1800's and early 1900's were likewise the time when men might gather for cigars after dinner and chortle about the notion of a Mother's Day. What did women -- then often seen as chattel -- expect? Their job was to make and care for babies ... and move on. Vote? Forgetaboutit!

My mother once said that if women reporters were going to be dismissed as "news hens," shouldn't men reporters be known as "news cocks?" It was a time of men and cigars and slavery and ... arrogance.

But no one who's in the throes of arrogance -- liberal, conservative, whatever -- ever imagined his or her approach might be arrogant. Oh no ... my approach is caring and thoughtful and sensitive whereas yours ... well, I'm not so sure about that.

Takes me back to school days:
I love myself
I think I'm grand.
I go to the movies
And hold my hand.
I put my arm
Around my waist.
And when I'm fresh,
I slap my face.

"anti-Semitism" again

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu in 2017. First amendment advocates see the potential spread of such laws as a major threat to free speech on campuses. Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters
Rightwing activists are attempting to spread new laws across Republican-controlled states that would ban criticism on public university campuses of Israel and its occupation of Palestinian territory.
Lord knows the Guardian can be rightly accused of skepticism at a minimum when it comes to the burnished reputation Israel would like to maintain, but it's tiring in the U.S. seeing the word "anti-semitisim" repeatedly co-opted and used to mean anti-Jewish.

It's all a great diversion for corruption-draped Benjamin Netanyahu to sweep up support among American Jews who claim to remember a vile and violent Holocaust ... but ... well ... stay away from the kids ... stay away from thinking ... stay away from confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians in which Palestinians seem always to be armed with knives while the Israelis bring guns and shoot Palestinians dead: Hell, even the Chicago police aren't that brazen.

"Never again."

And yet the Israelis paint themselves into a corner when the very tactics that stained European streets in the 1930's now stain the streets of a hard-won homeland. Why must those who suggest there was a time when Arabs and Jews got along ... oh well, never mind.... Netanyahu's corruptions linger and linger and seek cover and seek cover.

"Never again" is one of those lines that fairly begs its hearers to ... well ... try it again.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

marathon run in under 2 hours

Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line in first-ever sub two-hour marathon.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

"flash drought"

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A furnace-like “flash drought” is intensifying as it blasts away the little moisture left across a vast swath of the South, wilting garden plants and raising alarm among farmers, according to a weekly report updated Thursday.
Nearly 56 million residents are now living in drought conditions in parts of 16 Southern states, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report. That drought is classified as extreme in areas in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida. From the arid plains of Texas to farms in Maryland, concern is spreading that cattle, cotton and corn are suffering after a summer of record highs and very little rain.

Dhammapada verse

If you find no equal or
Better in life,
Go alone.

Loneliness is preferable
To the company
Of fools.
Such is my probably-flawed recollection of one verse in the P. Lal translation of "The Dhammapada."

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

autumnal habits

About a half-mile out, a small herd of Canada geese headed north yesterday as I looked out the porch door. I couldn't hear their honk-snort-swallowing from a distance, but I knew they were probably talking, one to the next, as they flew. It was a first taste of autumn. The geese fly through this neck of the woods every year and rest at varying water pools along the way.

On the ground, frabjous jays are strutting and just D-double-daring you to contradict them. What cheeky devils they are. "When you mess with us, you mess with the best" they seem to say. And so another season gets its lift-off.

As Dylan Thomas might say, "Time passes. Listen! Time passes."

Sunday, October 6, 2019

no good deed goes unpunished

This Spanish police picture shows a speedboat surrounded by bundles of drugs packages, after a police high-speed chase with smugglers off Malaga.
Three Spanish police officers who were thrown into the sea when their boat crashed early during a high-speed chase were pulled to safety by the drug-smugglers they were chasing, police said.
The unexpected rescue happened on Friday after a police vessel began pursuing a speedboat “with four people on board that was suspected of transporting drugs” in waters off the southern coast of Spain, a police statement said....
The gesture did not spare them, however, when police found three tonnes of hashish in the water nearby.
“They were arrested for drug trafficking,” a police statement said, indicating that more than 80 bundles of hash had been recovered from the sea.