Wednesday, February 27, 2019

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

Rarified incondibula
Berate the harridans’
Foremost fibula

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

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

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

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

Is there any room here for laughter?

Monday, February 25, 2019

[fill-in-the-blank] ONLY I

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

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

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

where science and comics collide?

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

the little stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 24, 2019

words once victimized

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

Oh the victim-hood!

Consider, for example:


And nor is such an example, alone.

The me-too's await!

Let the cangues hang from newer, unaccustomed necks!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

where education counts

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

immortal hell

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

Thursday, February 21, 2019

the Edwardian firecracker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Je vous aime.

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

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 18, 2019

honoring beauty

How then would I honor beauty?

I think I would bask.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

oops ... Chinese surveillance 'surveilled'

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

Friday, February 15, 2019

Florida is drowning

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

Florida is sinking.

Builders continue to build.

Hope springs eternal ... right along with idiocy.

black cowboys

Thursday, February 14, 2019

is all thinking wishful thinking?

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

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

Just a little thinking.

guilty until proven innocent

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

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

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

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

Perhaps the divide is just too ingrained:

"Guilty until proven innocent" relates to you.

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

absorbing the shock

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

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

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

Literally, they called him a "liar."

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

A liar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Trump terrorism challenged

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

Rabid dogs are frequently shot dead.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

the keys to the kingdom

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

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

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

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

backgrounder on blackface

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

sub-zero effects

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

Friday, February 8, 2019

Trump's slave laborers

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

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

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

president's State of the Union speech

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

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

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

... turns into art

If you wait long enough, everything turns into art.

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

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

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

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

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

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

taking the Google shaft?

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

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

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

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Monday, February 4, 2019

Super Bowl

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

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

Sunday, February 3, 2019

my goodness ... whether you choke or not

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dinner menu

Food. What a habit.

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

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


Saturday, February 2, 2019

religion is a rich (wo)man's sport

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 1, 2019

early morning cold

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