A Brief History of the World, Winston Smith edition

First, according to astrophysicists, there was nothing. Nada. Zilch. Tabula rasa. Then that nothingness somehow exploded. Can you say big bang? Congratulations! To, uh, whatever produced the big bang, as it gave birth to what is referred to as the universe. According to scientific investigation, that was approximately 13.8 billion years ago. Then, around 13 billion years ago, the first stars begin to burn, their glow taking its sweet time to reach…well “us”; but let’s not get too far ahead here since “us” at this point in the life of the universe is still WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY off.

Moving on, about 4.6 billion years ago our solar system begins to come together and with it the birth our life-sustaining sun. Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and thus one of the charter members of our universe, which early on had no stars or planets. Stars were forged from atoms of hydrogen and helium, while new chemical elements were created inside the dying stars (birth and death, it’s inescapable, eh?). Planets and moons formed from blobs of ice and dust using these new chemicals and elements, and the first living cell evolved in the rich chemical environments of rocky planets.

Then, 3.8 billion years ago, comes the earliest forms of life on our very special planet we call Earth. These were mostly single cell life forms. Not too sophisticated but, hey, back then they were the entire show. And that “show” was a long-running production, with virtually zero competition for attention for the next 3.2 billion years. Okay, so let’s do the math: 3.2 billion from 3.8 billion=600 million , as in years ago, larger life forms appear. Those bigger living things had the stage for a mere 593 million (or so) years, when ‘only” 7 million years back our human lineage splits from that of the Chimpanzee. That “break-away” from the chimp world, over the next 5 million years, produced the–ta da!–homo erectus. This new “standing man” then becomes the species known as Homo sapiens, a classification that is marked at about at 200,000 years ago. Hey, from Big Bang to standing man. In a mere 4 billion, 599 million, 999.8 thousand years.

Or, in just three paragraphs on this blog entry.

A brief history, okay?

Standing man hasn’t always had it easy, though. Life was rough and tumble. Maslow’s pyramid of ascending needs would have to have several sub-basements to signify the ordeal of simply staying alive back in that day. Today’s homeless population live elite lifestyles compared to Homo neanderthalensis. Basic food and shelter? Life was always a bitch, no doubt. And then , as already noted, they would die. But enough of standing man got off his/her feet to copulate and Homo sapiens endured, right through the last ICE AGE, some 10,000 years ago. After that frosty kick in the loin cloth-covered asses of our species by the forces of nature, it was but 5,000 years ago that cities began to appear on the planet. 3,000 years later, standing man had developed its survival instincts and desire to be the masters of their–and other’s–domains, with the Han and Roman empires. Little by little, by about 500 years ago, exploration and discovery by our species started to link the world together. For better or worse. Mostly worse, in my estimation.

Formal knowledge, the refinement of arts and sciences, elevated our human place on planet earth. In the past 150 years industrialization has given us railroads, jet airplanes, radio and television and space travel. Just 50 years ago we landed on the moon, an event that for a brief moment in time, was at once inspirational and mesmerizing in its realization, and as such, transcended race, ethnicity, or nationality in a most powerful and positive sense of shared pride in our humanity. And it was quite a momentary antidote to a world in which over the previous 200 or so years having been marred by revolutionary wars here and abroad, the U.S.civil war, World Wars I & II, (the latter of which produced an another awesome, if not a Kumbaya, event called the creation–and deployment–of the atomic bomb), the Korean and Vietnam wars, and at this point in time bloodshed far and wide. More empires. Less humanism.

Now, here we are early in the first month of year 2019. Unless you are one of the Homo sapiens that has succumbed to a de-evolutionary modus operandi, and cannot think on your own, unable to truly engage your brain, not able to determine basic right from wrong, nor distinguish a stone cold fact from an inference to a bald face lie, you might have heard about, and perhaps become concerned for our planet, all 4.6 billion years old as it is. What am I getting at? Well, while the Big Bang theory says we came from nothing, (go figure) ever since, and as been alluded to earlier, all forms of life on this planet come and go. You know, born to die. In comparison to mother earth, we are all around for a nano second of a wee smaller nanosecond of a fraction of a fraction of a blink of an eye. Hope to live to be 110? No different. By the time you were born to your demise, you (all of us, okay?) relatively speaking were barely here at all! But reproduction keeps humankind around, whether one is using that brain very well or not. Among the scientists whom are most involved with the life span of our planet–which, mind you, is inevitably as with all else, going to die–they assert we have reached an “existential crisis”. It’s called climate change. And the virtual consensus of climate scientists is that our planet is sick. Very sick. Human activity is hastening our planet’s demise–and standing man and woman will eventually pass away when the sphere beneath our feet no longer can support itself, or us.

What are we humans doing about this crisis? Apparently not much. Certainly not nearly enough. In the decade that ran from 1979-1989 we had an excellent opportunity to solve this climate crisis. The world’s major powers came within several signatures of endorsing a binding, global framework to reduce carbon emissions–far closer than we have ever come since. During those years, the conditions for success could not have been more favorable. The obstacles we blame for that inaction are still emerging. But now, as back then, the only thing standing in the way of saving the planet is…ourselves.

And by ourselves, I include a particular person who is an avowed science-denier when it comes to looming climate collapse: this person is deeply, profoundly flawed. Okay, nobody is perfect but…this person is a sociopath. This person is a racist. Indeed, he is a white supremacist. He is a misogynist. A homophobe. A xenophobe. A failed businessman. A con man. As bad as all that is, the worst part is he has been allowed to be the President of our country. Oh, and one who may have colluded with Mother Russia and its evil strongman, V. Putin, during his campaign. This man is not helping with much except to create chaos and consternation amongst critical thinkers. Sadly, this person has followers. I call them “pod people” (after the people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers whose beings are overtaken by insidious pods being slipped near them as they slumbered, to awake and become zombie like automatons in the grip of alien forces). Today’s Pod People have brains, but they are a waste of gray matter. Podsters don’t seem to care about anything but what their “leader” thinks and does. But more than any creepy flaw he has clearly displayed, it’s that science-denying one that is the most dangerous here, in 2019.

Sadly, in my informed, personal opinion, it may be 2019, but I’m beginning to feel as though it is really 1984. As in the dystopian world penned by George Orwell in 1949, shortly after the carnage of World War II. In it, Orwell created Big Brother. A glossary of terms from that seminal novel would include, doublethink, hate week, newspeak, speakwrite, thought police, and thoughtcrime. Doesn’t sound like a Disney narrative, eh?Now, I am not saying we are actually immersed in Orwell’s nightmare vision of the future, as he saw it back in 1949, but there are indications that, since our current occupant of the White House took residence there in January of 2017, it certainly sounds and seems as though we are getting closer to an Orwellian nightmare than safely secured from any such approximation of it.

For example, a few nights ago, the corporate, mainstream media once again demonstrated its collusion in this country’s ever-increasing descent into creepy, dark political cynicism. How so? By granting a prominent platform for the dissemination of blatant propaganda and fear mongering by the above alluded to White House denizen.

The various major media outlets, both broadcast and cable, were asked to permit this person, who has been clearly and credibly identified as a bona-fide, dissembling demagogue to speak to we the people. The heads of these news outlets could not possibly have acted any more irresponsibly by agreeing to provide prime-time coverage for this person and his intended reason for seeking their assistance. After all, he was not addressing the vital–and ever more desperate–need for climate action. Of course not. He, at best, willfully denies the reality of climate change, or actually is unable to process the credible evidence that has been around for-as noted–several decades by now. He wasn’t talking about making healthcare more affordable for all of we the people, nor was he addressing the need for more affordable means of getting a college education. He wasn’t announcing a plan to address re-building our rotting national infrastructure, or creating a living wage policy to help the average person make ends meet without working two or more jobs.

No, he was give the national airwaves to potentially enter into the living rooms–Little Brother?–of every household, to demand several billion dollars for a “wall” to separate the U.S. from its neighboring countries to the south. He claimed–without evidence– that the border is not secure, and that those coming here included rapists, murderers, drug dealers and terrorists. All while our federal government has been shut down for almost three weeks as a means of showing he means business.

The Orwellian part of his being on the airwaves so pervasively is that there was no obligation on the part of the media to grant him time to spew his nonsense, all of which is at the expense of that evidence-based existential crisis known as the climate crisis that increasingly threatens our planet. The heads of each of those major media outlets could have easily declared his request as being so blatantly a political stunt that they could not possibly be so irresponsible as to let him have the airwaves to advance its unworthiness. The fact that they didn’t is extremely disturbing.

Orwell’s book, by the way, has become something of a new best seller in the past couple of years. Art imitates life? Ugh. Well, we’re not that far gone yet, but the media created this orange-hued occupant of the White House, and it could destroy him just as easily. We don’t have to listen to him even if the media continues to provide a platform for further prevarication, division and hate speech. But we shouldn’t have to willfully ignore what should never have been allowed to become a reality in the first place. What happened on Tuesday evening was a dangerous symptom of incipient Orwellianism, in my estimation.

After 4.6 billion years, here we are, my fellow Homo sapiens. We are the problem. Of course we are. We must have asked for this or else why has it become a reality? When did basic right and wrong become so jumbled in so many people’s minds? How can we be so easily led astray? Who and what are we paying attention to? So, as mother earth continues to wheeze and convulse, the clock is ticking. You can take time out for a break, but you can’t take a break from time, right? I’d say, time to take a break from taking break from thinking about the present and the future. You can change the dial, or turn off that tv, leave cyberspace and connect with reality. I mean, can’t we do better than this? This is what we have evolved into since leaving ChimpWorld?

4.6 billion years from nothing to the moon and back. And it was televised! Now, our media has become a tool for misinformation, disinformation, insipid celebrity cults, bread and circuses. It is everywhere and nowhere. Newspeak. Doublethink. Hate week. Thoughtcrime. Far fetched? Let’s hope so. But sometimes, lately, I feel a bit like Orwell’s protagonist, Winston Smith in 1984. But I’m hoping for a happier ending than Winston’s.

If your brain is critically engaged and your eyes wide open, I’d say you–as I–are all insipiently becoming Mr.Smith.

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The More Things Change…

The lyrics below are from a song by the Quicksilver Messenger Service circa 1970. Clearly, they could have been written today. It’s titled “What You Gonna Do About Me? Check out the recording, whether you’ve heard it before or not. It’ll stick in your head–for better or worse–for awhile.

You poisoned my sweet water

You cut down my green trees

The food you fed my children

was the cause of their disease.

My world is slowly fallin down

and the air’s not too good to breathe

And those of us who care enough

have to do something, no time for ease

Your newspapers they

just put you on

they never tell you

the whole story

They just put your

young ideas down

I was wondering if this could be

the end of your pride and glory

I work in your factories

I study in your schools

I fill your penitentiaries

and your military too

I feel the world is trembling

as the word is passed around

“If you stand up for what you believe,

be prepared to be shot down”.

And I feel like a stranger

in the land where I was born

and I live like an outlaw

always on the run

And I’m always getting busted

and I got to take a stand

I believe the revolution

must be mighty close at hand

I smoke marijuana

but I can’t get behind your wars

and most of what I believe in

is against most of your laws

I’m a fugitive from injustice

but I’m going to be free

because your rules and regulations

they don’t do the thing for me

Oh oh, what you gonna

do about me?

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Hansen and Greta, a possible Grim Reality

Climate Strike! That was this past Friday, the 20th of September 2019. The “face” of this movement is a 16 year-old named Greta Thunberg, from Sweden. She was born on January 3, 2003. Ms.Thunberg is very concerned about the environment.

In1968, Stanford Research Institute delivered a report titled, Sources, Abundance, and Fate of Gaseous Atmospheric Polluters to the American Petroleum Institute.The report made clear the consequences of the climate trends it had noted, warning that if left unabated “could bring about climate changes” like temperature increases, melting of ice caps and sea level rise.

It took 7 more years before the term “global warming” would appear in a peer reviewed academic journal. James Hansen a prominent NASA scientist would not testify before Congress for another 20 years. So, the alarming evidence and what it meant, ultimately, for planet Earth, was scientific fact a long time ago in the current framework of Greta Thunberg’s remarkable effort to wake up governments far and wide to DO SOMETHING.

When Hansen and other climate scientists made their research available to the U.S. government decades ago, it didn’t take long for the energy companies to read between the lines of the reports proposed remedies, including finding alternate energy sources to fossil fuels and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. And thus began the propaganda campaign of Big Energy to pooh pooh the science, a campaign still being advanced today. As a result, the latest climate science reports are strongly suggesting that so much damage has now been done to our earthly environment that unless action to slow down and/or at least try to stabilize the negative atmospheric developments are put in place, the human species (and many non-human species) may be in danger of extinction, possibly within a generation or two into the future. The most dire predictions say that by 2030, if nothing continues to be done to address the scientific documentation of climate change, the drastic realities of environmental collapse will be a grim daily reality.

Is Greta going to make a difference? I, personally, think it’s too little, too late. Too little what? Protesting I guess. Demanding formal, official action. Storming the Bastille? Keep in mind our current administration pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord and is currently, systematically gutting layers of legislative environmental protections. Maybe some countries are trying, but not the USA. And then we have the media asking the question: who can beat Trump in 2020? Is that meant to be an ironic question? Irony lurks here. But never doubt our dumbed down culture, both popular and political. But that’s for another blog. However, that the mass media asks that question to an electorate evidently possessed of dubious critical thinking skills (Trump??!!), distracted by stressed-out living and soothing, mindless, touch screen escapism, it is an alarmingly relevant question.

Yeah, right. That media. The “legacy” media and now social media. As our worldly environment apparently succumbs to the neo-con, “free market” ideology of the far Right, profit over people/planet modus operandi, the idea that 50 years ago Stanford published its alarming climate report begs the question, why wasn’t this matter, factually identified, now so many years in the rear view mirror, given the spotlight in major media then? It was a report that certainly warranted significant attention with continual drum beating by the electronic and print media. The planet is dying?! Stop the presses! To say that the story was a victim of the aforementioned propaganda campaign by big energy to negate the science states the obvious, I’d say. Now, today, along with the psuedo-science that energy companies promulgate, the media has devolved along with the our atmosphere. The other day, the city of Houston was slammed with FORTY INCHES of rain! I didn’t hear or read of any correlation between that catastrophic event and the current climate science and its evermore alarming studies. The story is: wow!, 40 inches of rain! Let’s watch footage of the dramatic water rescues. One can use that example of the uselessness of the mass media when it comes to providing the most important information.

Similarly, Greta Thunberg’s story goes this way: Wow! a 16 year-old girl is the voice of her generation and demanding action regarding climate change. So remarkable. And she has austism! Incredible, no? Will she make any difference? Look, she’s speaking in front of elected officials. What’s the big deal about her? Oh, she’s only 16!  From Sweden! How bold. How unusual!

What the Greta narrative should include is the same Stanford report alluded to at the top of this blog entry. The story should be Greta’s parents, grandparents, and the other generations before her who should have been made aware of what was known over 50 years ago. The narrative should note that science has been silenced by influential, business-as-usual, profiteers (can you say Koch Industries) and thus it takes Greta (she’s only 16!) to say something. But Thunberg is the bright shiny object. What she is saying is lazily invoked by media, at best. And of course, because corporate media is implicit in our current environmental crisis, it isn‘t going to mea culpa now.

We get Trump and more Trump. Then more Trump. Then, wait, what did Trump say? Can Trump (wrecking the environment as best he can, as noted above) be beaten in 2020?

What the…?

Marshall McLuhan, also over 50 years ago, termed the phrase the medium is the message. In terms of Greta Thunberg, the message, as filtered through the various channels of the media is as I asserted above. Very little context and analysis of the real, actual, vital part of her story, that it’s getting late, so take action, PLUS the backstory of just how long ago action should have been taken and why it hasn’t been taken. Point fingers! This is a man-made crisis. Accountability as part of the take action now process. 

Look, a squirrel! Wow. Look, a cat video! Oh, those doggies all so cute! Social media? Russian hackers! Cardi B. Taylor Swift! Click bait abounds. What obscure YouTube “stars” have the most followers? There are teenagers making a fortune for giving advice via YouTube or InstasnapchatfacetimeBook about fashion or how to excel at Warcraft. Short attention span theater…

It’s been this way a long time too. Social media does have its smarter moments (Arab Spring, 2011) but the news cycles are now so short and facile that even today, having looked at the news feeds, there’s A LOT about Trump, as usual, and hardly any mention of Greta. Out of sight, out of…That was Friday, okay? What’s NEW? Beside what’s old: Trump. Trump. Trump did/said what? Trump and Russia. Trump and the wall. Trump and that…squirrel! What is easily digestible? People don’t need or want any context or analysis. If they did, they’d demand it. Right? If people wanted to save the environment, they’d just do it. And then the media would report on it. Why they would JUST DO IT doesn’t really matter. The media just reports. The reporting is the story. The medium IS the message. The media is the MASS-AGE. With legacy media or social media, one must ask, can I trust this information? Is this valid? Can what one reads or hears be verified by fact? Caveat emptor.

It’s Sunday. In the U.S. at this time of year that means football. Big advertising dollars for all the eyeballs that somehow, for some reason, just have to follow the action. And bet on it. Or sweat out their fantasy team’s stats. Lots of action. Winners and losers. The evening news in a major market that has a NFL franchise will spend extra, extra time breaking down the plays and the controversies and what should be done or could be done. The fans need answers! This is really important “news”.

Good luck to Greta and her capturing the media spotlight–for a moment or two. After the sports extra programs later, maybe there will be a special report on Thunberg. I mean really digging into the weeds on that story. What’s the score with this young woman? What is she saying? Why is she saying it? It what she’s saying true? Is the environment really going to collapse in the next 10-20 years? Can this be verified?

I’m sure CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, the New York Times, Washington Post, even the Peoria Journal Star will not let Greta down or the millions around the world who showed up for Climate Strike Friday. It’s a really big story, right? Release the journalism-degreed investigative hounds and get to the bottom of this story.

It sure is a big chunk of juicy news, and the story began decades ago. Not just since Greta got in gear. If the beginning of any story is left out, it’s not a complete story. Maybe this is all just a dream. You know, dreams have no logical beginning or end. One just has the dream, is in it some place, with no idea how it happened. The dream has a person floating about until it simply, abruptly succumbs to wakefulness. That’s a dream for ya, eh? But if the dreamer is about to plunge into an abyss, or be run over by a train? The dreamer is jolted awake. Unsettled. Whew! What to make of it? It seems absurd…

The Greta Thunberg story is like a dream as far as the reporting on it goes. Who would dream a 16 year-old could…? How did she get here? What’s this Greta want? Oh, never mind. What else is on the tellie?

The abyss awaits, my fellow humanoids. Will you wake up in time?

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Terror du Jour

Thursday, 9-12-2019. I usually try to mark momentous historical moments with a personal (and to some degree, formally informed) commentary of the then and now that reflects upon what history offers. Thus, where the hell was I yesterday, on the 18th anniversary of the 9-11-2001 terrorist attacks that quickly became noted as a variation on the Pearl Harbor attack that ushered the U.S. into WWII? Well, I was reflecting on 9-11 as I noted the day, but couldn’t come up with a line of reasoning to evoke what remains in my memory of that day, and what has transpired since.

What, generally, has transpired? There have been no other foreign borne attacks on our soil. That’s great, of course. Not that there hasn’t been other terror attacks, however. What?, you wonder am I alluding to? What terror attacks? You must be confused with another country. Oh, come on. You damn well ought to know what I am referring to. Hint: it has to do with the use of bullets. Bullets ripping through human flesh, borne by anything from handguns to rapid-fire, military style assault weapons. You should know by now how virtually weekly, at times recently even daily, come accounts of the now common use term “active shooter” nightmare scenario. At this point, educational institutions from K thru college have put in place the so-called “active shooter drills”. You know, just in case, well, the next shooter decides to act on some sense of disapproval or disappointment wherever one might happen to be in a classroom. And now we have those bullet proof backpacks as part of a response policy to these TERROR attacks.

However, these vicious and senseless attacks are not part of any Taliban or any Muslim-backed hate group. Not at all. Our mass shooters–the terrorists–are apparently always home grown, white males. I doubt that the crazed gunmen have killed more than the 2,900+ that died when the 9-11 attacks occurred, but consider this: As of right now, today, there have been more mass shootings than there have been DAYS in the year 2019. There have been 256 days (today is 9-12) in 2019, and a total of 283 mass shootings. The dead are in the hundreds. The wounded more than a thousand.

After 9-11, our response was to create the Homeland Security agency, and generally, incrementally, surveil we the people as part of sniffing out any possible sequels to 9-11-2001. I guess it must be working, since as noted no other foreign attacks have occurred. Hooray! In the meantime, our privacy has been compromised. A sense of anyone is suspicious is in effect, with tightened security, and “profiling” used to zoom in on those who might appear or act well, “suspicious” a la 9-11 terrorists. The most glaring reminder of how tight security has become is when one has to pass muster at any U.S.airport. Off with the belt. Off with the shoes. Stand in the scanning apparatus, receive a thorough pat-down, have your hands swabbed for what?–traces of explosive chemicals?–and maybe a rummaging through one’s luggage. Even children and the very elderly are not exempt from the process. No more O.J racing through an airport to get to that gate a the last moment. Those days are gone forever, over a long time ago (18 years, that is).

But what about detecting the next potential active shooter? We clearly do not have any effective screening for that type of terrorist. When El Paso and Dayton each had their crazed gunman terror attack within a day of one another, a sort of nadir had seemingly been reached. Could it get any worse? 31 total dead, dozens more wounded and the stories were so close together one might be forgiven for thinking the second was actually still referencing the first attack, with further updates. No, it was El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. And now the public just had to expect it was time for some real goddam legislative action to address this insanity. But in spite of such an outcry, exactly NOTHING has been done by our congress. After 9-11, the wheels almost instantly went into motion to do anything–even some unconstitutional action–to prevent another such attack.

As for mass shootings, which pre-date 9-11 as in the University of Texas clock tower gunman picking off 17 campus strolling folks in 1966, and Columbine High School and 13 shot dead there in 1999, there appears to be no will on the part of our government to protect the public from what–as already noted–has become a horrific, common occurrence. Shameful, I’d say. Disgraceful. Despicable. But there’s that gun lobby. And there are those bought-and-paid-for congress critters who abide by the NRA and are clearly not ashamed of all that innocent blood they must know is on their hands. Virtually, if not literally, all the blood shed at the hands of domestic terrorists. White. Male. Terrorists.

Do you feel safer anymore now than on September 11, 2001? If you are more than a handful of years old, with mass shootings occurring as an inconceivable quotidian reality. where is this safe place anymore? Not a school. Or a theater. Nor a shopping mall. Not a place of worship. Not an outdoor concert. It’s now devolved into not a matter of if another attack will occur, but when it will occur. Where it will occur might be just about anywhere. As I now sit operating the computer keyboard at a public library, it most certainly could happen here. Or has a library been shot up too? I have lost track of the places that once upon a time suggested one could go into and have every expectation of leaving on one’s own accord. Not in a body bag or by ambulance, with blood oozing from one body part or another.

Thank goodness we have prevented any further coordinated, diabolically plotted 9-11s from turning our world upside down. That was a nightmare of a day, writ large enough to garner the sympathy of most of the rest of the civilized world. As for the active shooter scenario, it may occur seemingly every single day, on average, but it evidently isn’t much of a blip on the radar of our elected officials. Of course they KNOW it’s a major problem, but hey, apparently it still, if it’s even possible, required to become an even BIGGER, more mind-shattering nightmare that demands action. Now! Like yesterday, or like back in 2012, when Sandy Hook had its crazed, white male shooter take out 20 six and seven-year olds. Little children. Ripped apart by bullets. I figured that had to be the nadir. A bottoming out point that would force a change in our lax and loony gun policy on easy access to absurdly dangerous weapons, change that demanded immediate action.

Silly me! Is there a lower level than what “nadir” asserts?: the lowest point in the fortunes of a person or an organization.

Where’s that thesaurus?

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Beating a Dead Horse

Happy Monday, guys and gals, kids and kiddies, and any precious furry pets that are a part of your singular or familia mojo. Here we are, just a little over 14 months until the next chance for the GOP to steal yet another election. If you recall, the last time we the people were invited to the polls to choose many an office holder, starting with the White House occupant and descending orders of political magnitude, 99% of which are members of either what I call the party of Murder, Inc. or the other major political organization I will call The Spineless Ones, the outcome was quite an odds-beater.

Harsh name calling, you may feel, but I am speaking on behalf of those who have the ability to see reality for what it is after actually taking the time to assess who is who and what they do and the whys and hows of their political sausage-making. I’ve been rather bleak in attitude the last couple of postings, basically saying that Evil is winning, in this still pretty young (infancy, actually) 21st century. The powers-that-be have brought the U.S. to a point that begs the question: what kind of country are we anymore? We seem to have become quite uncivil, to say the least.

Is there hope? Sure there is. After all, where there is no hope to be grasped, to cling to, to tightly hold in one’s heart and soul, then what’s the point of getting up in the morning? Hope for what, however? Well, many people hope to see an end to the acrimony, for a more peaceful coexistence, regardless of race, religion, gender, lifestyle or political affiliation. Sure, that’s worth hoping for! But I do believe the current Las Vegas odds still have Evil as a 3 to 5 favorite today and moving forward. Those oddsmakers closely study the participants, the major influences of their modus operandi, and set odds that are reflective of what is basically an irrefutable “tip sheet” on probable outcomes. The contest is a 2-horse political race, so there’s not a lot of sorting through the competitors. And, yeah, it’s 3-5 that nothing is going to change. The same horse will “win” again, one way or other. Why? Because the other “horse” has no game. It’s jockey has no spine, the horse under the jock is not interested in winning, not conditioned to win, not trained to win, or willing to make any serious effort at winning. The horse is as good as dead. How is this? I mean, how does this organization lose to a reality TV creature bereft of any substance? A prevaricating huckster. But lose they did. Yeah, I know, the loser got a few million more votes than the winner, but the Spineless candidate was so flawed and one-dimensional that millions more of potential voters sniffed the flagrant odor of the evil of two lessors and stayed home. Electoral math sealed the shocking outcome.

As I said, it’s barely 14 months to Race Day, and here’s what we have so far since the last race in 2016, the outcome of which has engendered much of that divisiveness (and hostility, and hate and, oh right, mass killings that occur on an almost daily basis) alluded to above. Try to refute my assertion, but you cannot, other than simply say this posting is just “fake news”. I wish it were. But I see reality. If you do too, you might agree.

Here is some harsh reality for you to chew on, whoever you are and what you may or not be aware of. Our current government, since January of 2017, after the “winner” of the 2016 election was settled, has taken action, all of which has succeeded to one degree or another: Caging migrant children, imposing corporate rule, destroying workers rights, rigging our elections, degrading women, gutting healthcare, gutting public education, denying climate change, decriminalizing pollution (again, climate change!) pampering billionaires with yet more tax cuts for the 1% leading the way, demonizing Muslims, coddling racists (literally labeling white supremacists as “nice people”) kowtowing to dictatorial thugs, profiteering on the presidency, flagrantly obstructing justice and I’m leaving some things out that I’ve lost track of.

Sounds like some Orwellian nightmare vision of a future dystopia, no? Yeah, except the future is now. Oh, you can still move about freely–especially if you are a white male of the species, but all are free to get up in the morning and go about things, okay?—-take the toddlers out to play innocently in the sandbox, walk the dog, cuddle your kitty, or your significant other, your spouse equivalent, or hit the sports bars and cheer for the home team, ride a bike, take a hike, attend a concert or a movie, a play, or just while away the day, maybe go to a mall. A museum. Your favorite eatery. Watch the idiot box. Go to the health club. Check the mail. Sure, on the very first layer of current waking life, all things seems pretty much the same as they were before the final electoral college outcome of election 2016.

But go a little deeper under that veneer of normalcy, and take a closer look. Listen more closely. Think beyond the daily routines. Think about the future. If you do, well, that’s a start. But how many of us are demanding change? Have you seen a wrong and stood up for right? Is what you think is wrong even right? Did we ask for this new “normal”?

Bullet-proof backpacks are now being sold for the little ones marching off to grades kindergarten and above. What?! No, that’s not the The Onion. It’s the New York Times reporting it. But not demanding to know how it came to be. Along with much of the mainstream media in its neo-journalistic slumber mode.

And if you do see what I know I see, do you sense any blowback against this increasingly unstable society fostered by an clearly nefarious government? Is there not any action, legal and binding, that can be taken? Right now? If not legal and righteous action, any mass rallies for a more reasoned, balanced approach to governing and its impact on our innate desires to pursue a peaceful place among the many of us, a mixed bag of race, gender, ethnicity, and spiritual beliefs? I don’t see any reports on any mass protests (unlike in France, and especially Hong Kong, with millions taking to the streets to vent their ourtrage). What about the opposition party, you know The Spineless Ones? Oh, wait. That’s right. They have no backbones, at least the supposedly empowered jockies who ride that party’s listless equine don’t. There are new members ready take the reigns of a fresh mount, but they are not given any access for real action. Their elder peers are apparently okay with the current choas and malice of Murder, Inc. But first, they need to grow that SPINE. Long odds on that!

I thought we had a constitution that set a clear agenda for one and all to live by, and by that I mean for the common good. You know we the people and our rights and protections from unreasonableness and ill intent. There is a Constitution, I know this because I saw it, encased under protective glass in a D.C. museum. However, I’m not sure anyone who really, really matters in either of the camps of Murder, Inc. or The Spineless Ones, has ever read it, or even if they did, have decided that its just a old piece of parchment and apparently fake news too! Seriously. Where are the committee hearings? Where are the subpoenas calling for answers and action to set things right? I hear crickets, not the gavel being slammed down as a call for inquiry and ultimate accountability. I hear crickets. No, not even crickets at this point. It’s that sound of silence, deafeningly filling the airwaves, while Murder, Inc. prevents any action as though it, and it alone, runs the show. Can you say Moscow Mitch.? I think he actually runs this country, though the constitution doesn’t spell that out, I’m pretty sure.

Really, caging children? A tacit support of white supremacy? Rigging election systems? Undermining public education? Denying affordable healthcare? Denying women the right to control their own bodies? Mocking the sciences, climate studies included? Overt union busting? Aren’t any of these well documented wrongs forbidden by the language and spirit of that constitution?

For now, I say I guess not. It’s just an old piece of parchment, folks. It reads all noble and just through its preamble and its Articles and Amendments, but it may as well be reprinted on toilet tissue for all the good it is doing with regards to those who are doing some really, really, very, very, nasty, dangerous and even deadly things as they go about “governing”.

If we now live in a country that is selling bullet proof backpacks for the kids, just in case an active shooter shows up at their school, why can’t we have our constitution on toilet paper? At least that way, its will serve we the people in a very fundamental way on a daily basis. I mean, think about it. Both Murder, Inc., and The Spineless Ones have been essentially wiping their asses with it for quite a while now.

Excuse me. Think I’ll take a stroll and watch the veneer of normalcy pass before my eyes. It can be downright Norman Rockwell-ish in mis-en-scene. I’m especially bewildered by the young couples pushing strollers, some carrying a payload per double or triple occupancy models. I look at them and assume they are blissfully unaware of the troubled times in which they all live. Complacent? Comatose? Clueless. Unless they endorse our current state of affairs, as too many apparently do.

…never mind. It’s late August. Here’s what is being profoundly judged and argued over: Are you ready for some football?!

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Bombs Away

This past week marked the 74th anniversary of the most dramatic uses of uranium and plutonium in world history. No, not used to power a nuclear submarine or nuclear power plants, among the most common uses for these two atomic elements. Wait, did I mention the word atomic? Yes, plutonium and uranium are atomic elements. So, what about this “most dramatic use…”? that leads this entry of my blog, heretofore to be known as Alas, In Dunderland.

August 6th and 9th of 1945. Holy U-235! Odds are you weren’t alive or very old back then, but thanks to the chronicling of history in print and film among other mediums, we can all immerse ourselves in history’s many episodes. In 1945, on the the 6th and 9th of August there were a couple hundred thousand humans of all ages who became history when the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which then dropped Imperial Japan to its knees in surrender and the end of World War Two. One was a uranium bomb, the other plutonium. Approximately 150,000 people died in short order and thousands more succumbed to radiation poisoning in the ensuing months or years. Keep in mind, virtually all of the dead from these atomic bombs were civilian, although it was the means to the end of a war that had already claimed about 70-85 million lives. Nuclear energy, unleashed by the terrors of science!

Today, nuclear energy–in warm and fuzzy contrast– may be keeping your electricity flowing and thus your 65″ Ultra High-Def, 3D flat screen alive. Nothing to fear but for a power line going down in a storm. It’ll all be better in a matter of a an hour or so. Relax. Smell that latte brewing. But atomic bombs? Who drops atomic bombs anymore? Just those two times, over 74 years ago. Now, there are so many countries with so many nukes that it would be crazy–as in mutual assured destruction–MAD crazy for any country to go nuclear.

Since WWII, wars are much more scaled down. Korea, Vietnam, Gulf I & II and Afghanistan equal around 100,000 military dead. Plus even more civilians. But when it comes to a history of war’s carnage, when you think about 70 million or more dead from 1939-1945, and what was at stake–that being fascism versus democracy, writ global, it would seem post WWII humankind has not had it so bad. Oh sure, there’s been genocide and ethnic cleansings around the globe, plus the above noted conflicts, but no global, literal fight to the death really, for the right to live as free as possible from dangers of foreign forces from evil empires like Germany and Japan back then.

Today, life is so quaint when compared to a literal world at war with itself. Of course, those genocides and cleansings and dictatorships here and there are no Disney dreamsickle, but it depends on where one is born, and what race one is born into. Today’s bombs are dropped on a daily basis, but they are metaphorical mostly. Political hot air suffocating you, tweet by tweet.The new abnormal.

Industrialized nations are, for the most part, decent places to live. Here in the U.S. a lot of citizens are very happy with the externals of life. The fragility of anyone’s life is a matter of happenstance in many cases. No atomic bomb threats to freak out about, just a worry or two maybe about being layed–off or being mugged in the subway, or having a work crew unwittingly bust a gas pipe and blow up one’s house. Or, if you are of a certain manner born, one may worry about getting whacked in a drive-by as you stand on the corner, waiting for the light to change. Or getting shot dead simply because of being pulled over by a cop because your brake light isn’t working. Or having your door kicked-in and parents and children are suddenly separated. Or you decided to go to the mall. Or a movie. Or simply to work. And here comes that active shooter. Ooops. Wrong time, wrong place. Otherwise life is a breeze compared to a world war.

Anyhow, Hiroshima and Nakasaki. What a one-two punch to end that match between good and evil. But that fight will never really be settled. If there’s a Vegas line on that match-up, I’d go all in on Evil winning. That’s not cynicism, folks, that’s playing with the facts of the matter. It’s bread and circuses for the free world. Crumbs and cudgels for the denizens of underdeveloped countries. Ozone depletion, oceans warming, icecaps melting, and in the meantime, we simply consume, and distract ourselves. You don’t think so?

There’s a bomb ticking away. Science wants to defuse it, but the resources and will to do so are virtually nowhere in sight. And those who have the ability to do something are preferably checking their stock portfolios or consulting with their money donors rather than the taking serious the ever-more alarming climate reports; and their children and grandchildren will pay the price. For certain. It’ll be a slow death. Not a blinding flash in the sky and instant incineration. Oh no. This planet-killing bomb is ticking away, and unlike in the James Bond mode, agent 007 isn’t going to hit the kill switch with less than 5 seconds to detonation. No long sigh of relief. Maybe a last gasp, though. Know this: there is no 007. There’s only the Bomb. It sits there, in plain sight, while all manner of nonsense passes for news and analysis, babble and blathering, with political farce passing for governance. We are very likely beyond the point of no return. Once those two 1945 bombs left the bombay doors, there was no calling them back. Same goes for our 21st century bomb that’ll take out, ultimately, oh say 7 billion people. Maybe the cockroaches will survive. They’ll have have lots of rot to feast on.

Tick, tick, tick.

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Fool Rule

If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to to live under the rule of fools.


The best argument against a democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.


Hey, this Plato guy should be around today, here in the USA especially, and have somethings more to say, no? I can only imagine him thinking to himself, what in the hell good has my pearls of wisdom had on these people? That would be in reference to that first quote up there. Then, he would remember the second of his quotes and conclude that the current state of affairs reflects perfectly on that “average voter”.

He would have to be tapped on the shoulder, however, and have someone–perhaps you or I–give him a 21st Century primer on voting in the USA and how it applies to taking an interest in their government. Specifically, that in this country as many people who do bother to vote, many don’t bother to vote at all. He’d likely say that in that case, people are both taking an interest in the affairs of their government, and making some very bad choices when they do, and that those who take no interest at all are making an even worst choice. He’d have to conclude that his quoted pronouncements are still alive and well in their sagacity and insight. He’d assess the exact state of government affairs right here in this exact moment of time and react with a long and very audible sigh.

Well, Plato isn’t around right now other than through his writings. But I’m working with those two quotes and assert exactly how they apply to how we got to where we are. Indeed, let’s look around and assess who are the people responsible for the gun-crazy, racist, hate-mongering ethos that encapsulates life in the USA, 2019. Those people, some who did vote, some who did not, are the ultimate perpetrators of a current government that is indeed ruled by fools. Yeah, even those who do vote, or certainly a lot of them, seem not to know basic good from bad, or in the case of a certain national political party, somehow vote for what can only be deemed as evil. My recurring refrain in responding to our now virtual rogue government and their worship of the amassing of wealth and power, and using that wealth and power to create a country of, by, and for the very fewest, is we voted for this.

Of course we did. And to not vote is a vote. Isn’t there a quote that goes something like, evil prevails when good people do nothing? So, not voting or voting for those whom have no interest in your vote other than to maintain their corrupted control and blatant lawlessness, goes to heart of Plato’s apparent contempt for that “average voter”. Certainly, many (but not enough) people do vote for the common good, but that national political party I alluded to up there has so long ago proven it has no interest in the common good. My moniker for this political organization is Murder, Inc. There’s a progressive radio talk show host who has offered a certain prize (not sure what) that if anyone, as in ANYONE, who can document a single piece of legislation sponsored by this party (hint: it now controls the White House, Senate and even the Supreme Court) in which it actually was of any benefit to the working class of America gets the reward. This has been a standing offer for many years. No one has been able to prove such legislation ever occurred. Yet many among that average voter endorses this party, in spite of it not having any benefit coming to them as their reward. Ruled by fools, in a country with many a fool somehow not seeing basic right from wrong.

However, our current government does benefit many of those who voted for it. Those would be the like-minded racists, hate-mongering, scapegoating citizens that are so easily manipulated or who are, seemingly, intrinsically, hot-wired for hate and violence, and have been waiting for some informal signal of approval to spew hateful rhetoric and, in an astounding number of cases, spew their hate from the business end of an assault weapon, weapons fully endorsed and protected legislatively by Murder, Inc’s amoral modus operandi of money, power, control and a 2019 brand of open lawlessness. But we voted for this, make no mistake about that.

Sadly, and ever-more frustratingly, the other national political party, which does have some power to govern of its own, is doing next to nothing to confront the ugly atmosphere that pervades our politics. People voted for them, too, recently giving them that power. So far, more rhetoric than action, although their rhetoric sounds defiant and indignant and well reasoned. Unless I missed something, however, I’m still certain that action speaks louder than words.

So, thanks for the wisdom, Plato. Too bad it does not seem to have been proven no longer heedful. You spoke those words a couple thousand years ago. Obviously, the more things change, the more they stay the same, no?

Well, enough of this. I’m exhausted with our politics, now worse than ever in my lifetime that started with the Truman administration. I honestly hesitate to talk politics with most anyone. Enough talk. Time for action.

After all, as another quote goes: never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

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And Justice for All, Waiting for Godot edition

What a long, strange trip it’s been. That’s a line made famous in one of the Grateful Dead’s songs. The “trip” has been longer and now stranger than ever.


As an aging, born in the USA Boomer who has been around for long enough to consider the passage of time from earliest memories to the present moment, I’m ready to consider the strangeness of my personal journey through space and time, part of humanity, for better or worse. Peaks and valleys. Good times, bad times. And blah blah blah.

Let’s see. I remember snippets of the late 50s. President Ike. He was a Republican? Hard to believe, as he was the one who famously warned we the people of the “military-industrial complex”. We all fail to heed a thoughtful warning now and then, and I believe we can conclude that caveat fell on deaf ears then, and all these decades later, our official set of budgetary, policy-making ears has not had any improvement in effective listening skills. The military gets over half of our federal budget pie. War is good business, invest your son, as the hippies mocked in the midst of the Vietnam slaughterhouse.

Well, we just celebrated the 4th of July. Hooray for our side! Wave that flag. Watch those fireworks. The parents, grandparents, the kiddies, the teenie-boppers, the slackers, the vamps and vapers, the bambinos pooping their panties, the dogs running for cover, wondering, well, wondering however dogs wonder anything. Arf, arf! at full force and feets a flyin away from the sound assault. Not very patriotic, eh? Siberian Huskies. German Shepards. Mixed breeds. Whaddaya expect? Then there are the independents, the in the hood type impromptu shows, M-80s, cherry bombs, Roman candles, leaving fingers missing, or maybe a hand or an eye gone for good. Whatever. That’s what the 4th is about, no? Independence! Freedom! From rational thought and action included.

Oh, and this time on the 4th in D.C., a military parade, Soviet style, with tanks ICBMs, and ranks of storm troopers signalling their sieg heil salutes to their fearless leader… No wait, maybe it didn’t go that far. However, the “long, strange trip” up there, remember? It’s is getting longer and stranger. Than ever.


We recently commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day. That was a different military matter, indeed, far more a reflection of do-or-die determination of all the Allied forces. Good triumphed over evil. And it was absolutely hooray for our side. Now, “our side” is whatever side of many issues, global or domestic. What’s your skin color? That counts. A lot. Get my drift? Give a rat’s ass about something that appears to be unfair? To you or your loved ones? And getting unfairer every day in some cases? Like what? You figure that out. Are you concerned about your future, and the future of coming generations? Well, sure you are, but then again, what your concern is may or may not be much in vogue these daze. Are you on the right side of history? Been protesting lately? Posting your disapproving voice on social media? Or maybe you’re sitting back and thinking, hell I like where this is heading. Onward ho! Fine, I believe it’s still a free country, depending on what you define as a justifiable freedom of speech or action. We are a land of law and order. In theory. Depends on who is on what side of what law, or even, if one is seemingly on the right side of the law, is that law actually enforced anymore? Selective umbrage.

As far as the U.S. being guided by the so-called “rule of law” I most definitely am thinking that’s a dubious matter anymore. Back to that militarized 4th of July observation, as it was the idea of our Commander-in-Chief. This person, now in his 31st month of occupying the White House, seems not to think “rule of law” has any set standards or guidelines, either by the literal letter of lawful legislative statutes, or constitutionally embedded ones. He openly defies the concept of checks and balances, protocol or what used to pass for proper comportment reflective of the office he holds. But that’s just fine for many of his fans. If you are not a fan of he and his, then I guess you have a “side” that you have taken. Are you demanding perceived wrongs be righted? Are you in the mix, fists clenched? Pissed and primed for the fight?  

Last November, the political party that is supposedly in opposition” of the above noted Oval Office inhabitant and his fellow party members gained significant power by winning a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. If you thought, here comes the calvary to the rescue!, have you finally realized that there will be no rescue? That new power, given to that opposition party by we the people is doing nothing to right your perceived wrongs at the hands of that other “side”. And I mean, nada. Nix. Nil. They are not holding anyone accountable. There isn’t even a pretense of trying to do so. Quick, name one person who has faced a committee, under oath, demanding answers for blatant actions that clearly cross a legal line. Just one?

It’s over, folks. That calvary has no horses. It has no real leader of any substance or sense of urgency. It is a toothless, aged, decrepit pussycat that is fearful of fighting back, terrified of seeming “unreasonable”. The only “opposition  with the power–to do nothing–has in its line of fire are members of their own party.

How much clearer can it be, if you feel this country is going in the wrong direction, in matters of heart and soul, of morality, of justice and equal protections in such matters invoked in one amendment or another of the U.S. Constitution, that your side is not just losing, methinks it has LOST. Game over.

We have been lied to our entire lives about so many things. All men are created equal and so forth. What irony! I have lived to see lies become “truth” and up becoming down, wrong becoming right, bad becoming good, and we are exactly where we deserve to be in this regard. It has been a long, strange trip, and where we are now has been coming at us for decades, actually a couple of centuries, the populace ever and ever more lacking the ability to accept that “created equal” mantra, which is now mendacity writ large.

History, the nightmare from which James Joyce said he must awake, stares back at us, but not enough people see it clearly or even faintly, if at all to make a difference. To learn from.it.

Hooray for our side! Well, at least some people, seemingly on board with the current trip’s 2019 brand of strangeness, callousness, amoral greed and plain old hatefulness can feel good about current events. Morality, good and bad and all that is up for interpretation, no?

Our nada who art in nada…

one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The Banana Republic of Central North American is in control. If you don’t like it, do something about it. Just kidding. You thought you did do something last November. I hope you learned that history lesson. Caveat emptor…

But have a nice day. And remember, this too shall pass. Eventually. But not any time soon, evidently. And since there is still not an true opposing political police force willing to put a halt to this “above the law” administration, there is no end in sight.

And a strong possibility that includes November 3, 2020.

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