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 13.8 biillion years back to standing man. In a mere 12,999,800,000 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 among 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 given 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 Chimp World?

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 incipiently becoming Mr.Smith.

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Report from Wazoo

Geeze Maw. Whens be being ourins guy be comin back to his ol job, siderin how he be gotten cheatered otta on dat lectshin?

Ray Joe Billy Bob Bubba, I nots knows whens but whens be being a comin, surins as a coon’s ass be for grits when Paw be dones huntins and dat coon be bagged. Jus hopes Paw aints brings back no haf dead coon like las times. Had to slams dat critter on its hayed buncha time fo it give up and croak so I be gettins to skinnin en guttins it out en chops it inna buncha chunkies fo fry ins dat bakins greese.

Sho nuff, Maw. Whens we get ourins guy in charges of things likes befoes, he be being ables to helps po fokes liken ussins agin. I members we be eats lotta coon when he be runnin da rules, but was bouts to givens ussins po why peoples betterins eats den coon. He be dun robbered otta his job by dem louster demos who dun stole da steals, ans gots ways wit it. But he be being gets reddy fo he comin backs an sets it all be being rights agin. Aint he Maw?

Joe Ray Bob Billy Chesta, Weeze jus got a be being paychen fo bits mo times. Dems theevins dems be get what be dey gots a commins. Ourins guy gots his peoples likens Mitts Mackanel and Linseed Graston annarest uh em blockins all dat stuffs the cheatins fakens wants be gots dun likens havins usssins po Wazoo foke be being taxied so dem color types foke gets it all. You bets yous lifes, Clevon Riley Robert E. Lee Taggert. We Wazoo foke toughin enuffins to hole on til ourins guy be being prezdent agins.

I noze yous be rites, Maw. Sho be likes a ternity evers sins he be gots cheats wrongful and dat Joe guy be lets in his and be lets out. Ourins guy was ways mo good for Wazoo, an he ways betters looks thens Joe. Joe look likens he stiffins, en kin bearsly talks and kin bearsly walks. Ands he be wants us po foke to pays for dems don wanna works but wanna gets welfers en free stuffs. We Wazoos be being har works fokes. Jus aints fare, Maw.

Sho wish Paw gets back wit his sack fill uh possum or a rabbid. Kinda gettin tire of coon.

Paw likens ta stop at Sack-O-Suds befir he bringgin backs what be fo viddles. He be gettins lots un insidrs dope on dat comin back by ourins guy. Befoes ya knows we all be being sittin perdy, and dem dems bee swingin fum on highs fo deys trencherus stealins uh dat lectsin. You jus waits and sees, boy. And dens we kin stops hearins bouts vassinatins and fake panderemics. Yeps, da trute be being settins usins frees. Just you waitens, boy.

Now lets me get that skillert readies so to cracks a coon hayed rightful opens and commenceratin to cooks ussins grub. It be chat and chew, boy. Paw and dem boys at Sack-O-Suds be gettins da rights informs on whens we gets ourins country back. Agin. But nows gunna be fir keeps. Jus likes last times…

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Chimps and Chumps

It’s been a little over forty years since a certain mediocre Hollywood actor became President. You might instantly recall his iconic role in Bedtime for Bonzo. In this film, the prez-to-be plays a psychology professor attempting to teach human morals to a chimpanzee. I suppose it isn’t any more absurd a storyline than current cinema’s cartoonish penchant for superhero tales, or supernatural hauntings, or makes-no-sense sci-fi thrillers that create monsters without any backstory whatsoever (Us, A Quiet Place, A Quiet Place, part 2 (!!) Passengers…). But enough people pay to see this cheap cinematic sausage to allow for more and more cheap (and cheaper) movie gunk to hit the screens.

I’d like to think some silver screen consumers of these offerings gag on the product and avoid repeating the experience, but that star of Bonzo (the above noted human, not the chimp) didn’t suffer from such low-grade, grind-it-out studio offerings. Indeed not. He was reliably functional, if not very flashy. His ease of effort in front of camera gave him an edge on the campaign trails. As is well noted, ever since JFK set the table for style being rather vital to likeability, that now a candidate’s looks and non-verbal stylings count as much if not more than their substance.

You may be wondering: where is this blog post going? Obviously it’s about that book, the one for which one should not be judged by its cover. No, wait. It’s about people being willing to cram down their gullets any cheap, processed, packaged piece of floor scrapings for gratification. No, wait. It’s about how the fuck does one make any sense of a Mitch McConnell getting elected over an over in spite of his McTurtle looks and mumbling, muffled vocal stylings?! Or maybe it’s exactly about the consumers of junk food, junk politics, junk science, junk rage, and junk that they keep having delivered to their doorsteps by Amazon, UPS, FedEx or USPS. Yeah, that’s it. And now we live in a junk “democracy”. Which started getting junky the day that Bonzo’s handler started the grift that has the U.S. in its grips quite tightly these looney bin daze. And the Grifters reside in both political parties. It’s so bad now, that even when we the people got rid of the Orange serial grifter and his failed coup attempt, the new sheriff (and his congressional posse) still seem unwilling to place people over profits. And the utter and complete irony is that the new sheriff got elected while looking embalmed. THAT’S how much the voters wanted a new sheriff to replace the tin-pot wannabe dictator. Is this incompetence? Hell, no! These are the new Grifters, beholden to much the same corporate masters, but without all the vile and vicious invectives that accompanied the previous ones.

Maybe there is a Bonzo out there who can bring his rope-swinging reformers with him (her?). We’ve been living with political chumps long enough. A Chimp couldn’t possibly do any worse. Teach it human morals? No need, I’m sure any chimpanzee has better morals than what passes for such in politics-at-large.

Sure, that sounds completely bananas. But at this point what have we to lose?

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June 6. 1944; January 6, 2021

Last Monday was Memorial Day. We honored the fallen of all U.S. wars.

Today is June 6. Seventy-seven years ago on this date, D-Day, the Allied invasion on the beaches in Normandy, France began. It was a battle that eventually took back the European continent from Hitler’s army. A year later, WWII was all but over. The Third Reich and its hideous objectives were finished. Japan was hanging on but after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hirohito surrendered. The Allied forces had saved the world from fascism.

Those who died to defeat that massive evil should always be gratefully remembered every June 6th. June 6 should be its own Memorial Day, Any living U.S. military survivors of D-Day are now at least in their mid-90s. They likely have not wanted to indulge much in recalling what that war was like. Altogether, up to 60,000,000 people died. It staggers the mind.

On this June 6, unfortunately, the United States is once again fighting the dark forces of fascism. But the battlefield is not in Europe. It is not in the South Pacific.

It is right here, on our mainland.

The fascists have infiltrated the halls of our congress. Up until January 20th of this year, it occupied the Oval Office. And although the recent 2020 election gave the “opposition party” a very slim majority in both Houses and has the White House, the fascists are still wreaking havoc. Vicious, racist voter-suppression laws are being passed in many states. A woman’s right to to a legal and safe abortion is possibly going to be struck down. The minority party still runs this country. The majority party can’t unify to fight back. A few of its own members are more concerned about some absurd fantasy of “bi-partisanship” when it is clear the minority has ZERO interest in working with those to whom they lost that election.

While June 6, 1944 is a date that needs never to be forgotten, so too is January 6, 2021. That was the day of the insurrectionists. Has its white supremacist, misogynistic, xenophobic, sexual-assaulting former “leader” been held to account? Has anyone involved in that insurrection been held to account, including dozens of members of the GOP who endorsed the Big Lie of a stolen election that propelled the barbarians who smashed their way into the Capitol building?

We defeated fascism in WWII only to have it now become an infestation into our national and local governments. If the party that actually has more power than their opponent won’t fight back, then this country is doomed. If some reading thinks I’m an alarmist, then some aren’t paying any attention to what is right in front of their faces. That is, those that don’t agree with January 6. Or those who believe the Big Lie. They are out there. If not you, your neighbor. Your brother or sister. Your boss. They are a minority but their elected representatives are giving them the nasty red meat they want.

For the majority that helped get rid of Fascist One, it is now a slow-motion nightmare, only one doesn’t need be asleep for its presence to be felt. The monsters are on both sides of the isle. The new majority party is peopled with those very much asleep, and apparently, it is not a troubled sleep.

For the sake of those who defeated fascism eight decades ago, it is time to WAKE UP!

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The Fallen

*The pandemic has been significantly mitigated by medical science’s gritty
determination to beat this mortal enemy, although it is a worldly war and
many more battles need be won before humankind prevails. Thank you, medical
science! As a result of increasing vaccination availability, more people
are venturing out*, *feeling safe enough to do so. Formal gatherings of
large numbers may not be encouraged, but the parks in my area are looking
more and more a place to lay around or frolic about. *

*One of these parks has a monument dedicated to WWI solders killed in that
conflict. The fallen whose names are part of this large structure, all
hailed from the village wherein it stands, and a smaller town adjacent to
it. Of course, the imposing design of this tribute to those locals who died
in the line of duty in that war, symbolically honors any and all of The
Fallen in our country’s war efforts throughout* *its history.*

*And* *Memorial Day is soon to arrive. A formal ceremony at that monument
may again take place as, until 2020, was a yearly event.* *If that ceremony
occurs, valor, bravery and sacrifice will be oft repeated words. Wars means
dead soldiers. They cannot speak for themselves, however. One would prefer
to assume they possessed a patriotic nobility that held up until the moment
of their demise. That whatever threat to thei
r motherland they had been
ordered to fight against, they were inspired to die for if need be. * *Dalton
Trumbo’s* *classic anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun, (set during WWI)
however, questions such assumptions of the mindset of those pitted in life
or death, in the moment battlefield confrontations. Trumbo asserts that
commemorative oratory regarding the war dead cannot assume any soldier’s
last thoughts were anything but completely patriotic.* *No one alive can
have any idea of what doomed combatants felt about anything*. *Maybe they,
as Trumbo wrote,* *cried out for a loved one. A wife. A Child. A mother.
But not their motherland. Maybe in their last breath they cursed the
high-up-the-command-chain-strategists, damning them to hell for a failed
plan. *

*Lose some battles, but win the war. And to the winner goes the spoils.
That’s a fittingly concise eulogy for WWI’s casualties. No need for
highfalutin oratory. It’s sanctimonious coming from the mouths of
politicians, likely posturing for the next election. *

**************************************************************************************************

*One of the other wars that American soldiers fought–and which has its own
national monument–was in Vietnam. While all wars are inherently acts of
bloody insanity*, *the Vietnam campaign was quite the case of tragically
underestimating an enemy on their own turf. The historians have not been
kind to our government’s decision to escalate tensions in Southeast Asia.
Those who were sent to fight against “creeping Communism” ultimately were
not able to rescue South Vietnam from North Vietnam. Not that they didn’t
fight with enough intent. U.S. forces were withdrawn after about ten years
of fighting and nearly 60,000* *dead. The Generals conceded they couldn’t
figure out how to succeed. The North prevails, a humiliating concession to
the futility of fighting on any longer (to save a country the size of
California from that commie
boogeyman). Those who fought to no avail and
got to return home were often met by a public that accused them of being,
among other invectives, “baby killer” criminals. They won many battles, but
lost the war. Not that it was their fault, but hey, the ugly optics of Vietnam’s
carnage was broadcast (including a daily body count) to that ultimately resentful, disrespectful public.
At least that part of the public who had no loved one involved in that
conflict.* *That’s gratitude huh? As one notorious 20th century politician
once said: don’t make no waves, and don’t back no losers. That part of the
public. okay? Vietnam veterans, alive or dead, are entitled to the same
respect* *as any member of the military. For damn sure.*

*In contrast, today, to be a member of the military is to be automatically
branded a warrior, always fighting to protect national security, blah blah.
There’s a perceived threat 24/7. Russia, China. Iran. Is Granada still in
play? Whatever. Now it’s always rah rah for our armed forces. This
knee-jerk response to what it means to be today’s soldier is aided and
abetted by a slickly package PR puff-piece strategy. The media doesn’t show
the blood or the body bags any longer. It now allows the military to screen
the reporting from afar, filtering out the blemishes, air-brushing those
potentially undermining optics. Now the media genuflects while military
fighter jets roar above sporting events, propagandizing at several hundred
miles per hour.* *Our current military deployments thus are sanitized,
packaged to be consumed without fear of possible failure. Even when failure
is always a possibility.*

*If this posting is interpreted as disrespectful of The Fallen, then one
clearly misses the point about war and those who die fighting it. A simple
sense of gratitude for those who do the fighting–against a credible threat
or not–should suffice. They deserve no less.* *Place some flowers at the
base of any war memorial to give thanks. And be thankful that you are
alive
to do so, and not one of the fallen*.

*There are more monuments to be built for wars yet to be fought. For
combatants yet to be born. Perhaps one final war. As Albert Einstein said,
I know not with what weapons WW3 will be fought, but WW4 will be fought
with sticks and stones.*

*But never you mind.* *Say thanks this Memorial Day, and maybe even get
outside and have that cookout.

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In Search Of

When you’re young and begin thinking about life as it forms and informs you, and not in the least understanding all the feelings and forces of being alive, you have entered into a mystery world. What is it?

When you’re young and now yearning to grasp IT, there is no guidebook. Other than the personal one that is written all at once both confounding and crystal clear. Each is one’s own author. To ask to read and act upon another’s guidebook is sheer folly, an invitation of imitation, inauthenticity, of insincerity.

When you’re young, whether acted upon or not, IT will occupy your universe. You will have to choose to act or not act. Day after day after day. Your playbook’s author may be bold or blocked. Regardless, the feeling remains intense. Unblock. Embolden. Or go a bit batty grappling with IT.

When you’re young, and blocked or bold, IT taunts and teases. And when you’re young finding ITS fulfillment becomes an everlasting certitude.

Whatever IT is, or wherever IT may reside. IT is your container. IT is you. Your youthfulness may or may not use IT wisely.

Then

When you’re suddenly (seemingly so) not-so-young, the guidebook’s pages autofill with retrospective and lots of empty spaces. IT was there, then. Then IT wasn’t. What was IT? How did you lose IT? Did you actually ever have IT? Perhaps IT was never really there. IT was but IT was wasn’t. Look closer at the pages of that book. Seeing is believing but just in case believing can be seeing. Perception is reality. Fill in that empty space. You know you need to. The guidebook is a fluctuating state of mind. Maybe mindfulness. Maybe mindlessness.

When you’re not-so-young, now of a peculiarly very particular, crooked age, you might have a clearer picture of IT or get lost in cluttered confusion.. That once-when-you-were-young yearning for a forever IT was a foolish but inevitable folly. What were you thinking? Should have. Could have. Did. Didn’t. You want–still– to sort IT out.

Now, you boldly invest in the most of the least of any moment. You now sense an understanding of IT. IT is only time. Your lifetime. Life=time. Time=life. Whatever unknowable portion of IT one may be granted.

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Days of Whine and Poseures

2021. One month old, here on its last day in January. Following 2020’s historically rotten, lousy, enervating, aggravating and more than anything, chaotic 12 months, many figured things had to get better with its passing. Has it? Uh, it’s a matter of opinion, for sure, but there are clear markers that have made January a jumble of ups and downs.****************************************** First a short overview: Just knowing that 2020 was finished, permitted a modicum of relief in and of itself. It was a loooonnng year. Good riddance. A symbolic sigh of relief. Totally just so damn finished with 2020! The year of frightful thinking. Wishful whimsy about literally adding a digit to the 21st century’s age was indeed in order.************************************************************* Clearly the ongoing pandemic dominated 2020, and it was early in January of the year when the moniker Covid-19 started its insipient emergence into the daily lexicon of our lives. There was “novel coronavirus” as a festering term as well. and by the time January 2020 ran its course, the virus had gotten a ride from Wuhan, China to the U.S. The infections increased. The pandemic was announced by the World Health Organization on February 11. Then, when the National Basketball Association abruptly cancelled the rest of its season on March 11, the dominos started to fall far, fast and wide. Shut down for most of the country was in place by St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, for most everyone the events of 2020 now represent the most wearily old, stale, funky tale ever—in spite of being barely a year old! That’s how bad 2020 was. Again, adios you worthless waste of a calendar year******************************************************* As for 2021? Let’s take a look. On the 5th of this month, run-off elections for two Senate seats took place. To many, it was rather surprising that both Democrats won. The result was the Senate now being controlled 51-50 by the Donkeys, owing to VP Harris having the tie-breaking vote, need be. For millions this made January a feel good in its fifth day. Hooray for that side! The System has a new master.**************************************************** Then came the 6th of January. Insurrection at the Capitol. Egged on by the (former) Commando-in-Chief. Angst, anger, revulsion, disbelief. Shock waves throughout the world. The 5th of January? Never mind. What was made clear is that the supposed greatest democracy on the planet was in shambles. The shake-out from that disgraceful, horrific event is ongoing. Major damage has been done to the U.S.’s world status. And worst of all, it was aided and abetted by factions of the U.S. Congress. However, other than some of the insurrectionists having been arrested, dozens and dozens of Republicans refuse to turn on their now-civilian former boss. In fact, while the Senate was awarded to the Democrats on the 5th of January, back on the 3rd of November,2020, someone was elected to the House of Representatives, ironically, from Georgia, where those two Dems squeaked out their victories. This new member of the House is rather symptomatic of the mindset of the backers of their out-of-office oracle from The Apprentice. She has stated–are you ready?–that the 2018 California wildfires were ignited by a space laser controlled by a corporate cabal of Jews. She also claims the Parkland High School massacre was a hoax. There’s more but that is enough.********************************************** You. Cannot. Make. This. Shit. Up.************************************************ So, that’s enough about the insurrectionists, both elected or civilian. On the 6th of January. Let us move ahead.********************************************* On the 20th of January a new President was sworn in (while 25,000 troops stood watch). So, 2020 was gone and so, too, the guy who made 2020 his most dysfunctionally grotesque year of his term. Whew! However, as I noted, dozens of his party’s members still infest congress unwilling to bolt from their willingly, obsequiously shackling themselves to a madman–with that gal from Georgia who is seemingly crazier than a shit-house rat–refusing to hold him to account for inspiring the Capitol invasion. Such a reality serves as a clear iteration of a twisted politically viral mindedness that holds sway in D.C., as well as many of their acolytes in the general population. Hold not your breath waiting for the guilty–or crazy–to be taken to task. We live in a deeply troubled country. It is a Systemic infirmity************************************************ So, not the most auspicious start for 2021. However, then came the 27th of January. And GameStop. Long story short–pun intended–Main Street crushed Wall Street. Comprised mostly of Millennials who grew up playing the kind of video games sold at GameStop, they noticed the big hedge fund operators trying to “short” GameStop’s stock. Hoping it would tank, the hedgers bought the stock at about $20 a share. The company, they figured, was going under. So, like vultures awaiting the feast of the deceased, they make a profit when G.S. expires. The young turks of on-line stock trading stepped in and bought GameStop stocks and sent their shares skyrocketing in valuation, to the utter dismay and disapproval of the insiders. You may want to look up “selling short” to understand this story. Alas, I cannot explain it sensibly here. It is a complex System. But it works. Until it doesn’t. And Main St made it not work.*************************************************** Thus, the rigged System that is Wall St was played by the street, where most of us live, and they had their phony game played on themselves. Oh, how they cried foul! And in doing so, pulled back the curtain on the rotten soul of how the monied and powerful feel is their birthright to have all the advantages. How dare these peasants barge in our game! We demand Daddy make this right. And daddy is–the System. The corporate bankers. The corporations. The government itself. Yeah, including the government. Our new Big Cheese keeps babbling about “healing the nation”. About bi-partisan political sausage making. You don’t concede anything to fascists, Joe. And leave the Wall St insurrectionists alone!, ***************************************************** Right now, that same sinister System is at work. Still now. Doing next to nothing in response to a singular crisis across the country in urgent need of economic and healthcare lifelines. Let them eat crumbs since the end of June? Still no sweeping assistance policies? Maybe by March? WTF? Work with the Elephants? Who coddle their bloated sociopath and his kin, like the Jews and the laser beam conspiracy whacko. Really? WTF?!**********************************************************  What…ever, huh? But huge props to the appropriate insurrectionists who irreverently crashed the Wall St casino and laughed at its haughty elites. Well done. As 2021 inches on, with no reason to feel that optimistic given what passes for governance right now (oh, but at least he’s not that other guy) the 99%-ers will always have the satisying story of The System that serves the 1% mooned by the Millennials. Billions of dollars lost. Rapaciousness as a two-way street. For the moment. Alas, the casino can afford it. And rest assured The System will, as it always has the last 40+ years, bail them out*************************************************** The System. The curtain pulled back. Eyeballs seeing reality. Wanting better. But there’s not a lot of being held to account these early days of 2021. Or for decades and decades, either. Holding to account of the elite, that is. You? Me? Pay that goddam parking ticket or you will pay ever more in fines. The rule of law. Rack up huge debt on a card charging 29% interest. While waiting for help from The System. That isn’t coming. Use the Payday lenders because you have no credit anymore? And pay 300% interest. That’s the System. Default on student loans? Here come the The System’s muscle, to hound the hapless deadbeats all the way to hell if need be. And when the accused are cornered down there, the late fees will still be carefully adjusted upward. The System.

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A Cartography of Consternation

The Southern Poverty Law Center is one of many organizations from which I receive mailings seeking donations. I have written modest check amounts to some of them, but never to the SPLC. Not that they aren’t trying to make the world–or a certain part of it–a better place. My budget for sending money to such organizations is not large. So, I will give the SPLC a shoutout by posting this blog entry, and hope the number of eyeballs that encounter it is anything but modest.

The latest mailing from the SPLC does a great job of getting the recipient’s attention. How so? Well it has a map of the U.S. in it. Not that I don’t already have easy access to such a map, but this one isn’t simply one that denotes the borders of the country and its 48 contiguous states. It does that, but also highlights certain parts of the country. Maybe highlight isn’t the best word to use, however, inasmuch as it has a color coded index of symbols that refer to specific states, and focal areas therein, in which various “hate groups” are organized and active. Yeah. It’s called a Hate Map.

These demarcations include the following such nefarious groups: The KKK. Neo-Nazi. White Nationalist. Racist Skinhead. Christian Identity (!). Neo-Confederate. Black Separatist. Anti Immigrant and Muslim, plus General Hate (general, eh?, as in what are you hating on, generally?). These groups total 940 spread across those 48 states, with Black Separatist the most abundant at 255. Not sure how that exceeds general hate, but let’s not pick nits here.

Does this shock or surprise–anyone? After the last four years, especially, it seems easily acceptable as likely being–if anything–an understatement of the tensions that clearly exist in the U.S. related to skin color, lifestyle or religious beliefs. On the back of this map is more information regarding these regrettable designations, all under the headline THE YEAR in Hate. That would be 2020. Ugh. What a year, huh? It has it’s own map of deplorable designations where–counter to the signs I see in front yards here and there that state Hate Has No Home Here–hate has various homes near and far.

The good news is the Hater-in-Chief is now a non-government protected civilian. How well he can protect himself from being held to account for his myriad transgressions against humanity, decency and general decorum will be revealed over time. We’ll see what unfolds, and maybe he’ll pay a very significant price. As for those 11 hate groups? Perhaps the SPLC can make a difference. But I doubt any amount of money can’t eradicate hate. Expose it and contain it, maybe.

2021 has gotten off to a very shaky start. But hope springs eternal. That’s the thing, though. Hope springs eternal because there’s always something we hope not to have to hope to overcome. Kind of a looping lamentation, no? I hope not.

Agh! See what I mean? I hope so…

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Crime and Punishment, post-insurrection edition

In less than 48 hours the U.S. will have a new occupant of the White House. For the past four years it has been occupied by a sociopathic grifter. Do I have to invoke other descriptions of this person’s particular shortcomings? It’s now a quite commonly noted compilation of not-so-flattering appellations. On January 6, 2021, he added insurrectionist to his arsenal of antipathic behavior. It may be debatable as to whether his precise words “fight like hell” are protected by the 1st Amendment, but clearly there was cause and effect that played out graphically not long after he addressed his followers amassed near the Capital steps.

Hmm. That attempt at overthrowing our democracy took place almost two weeks ago. For those not among his faithful followers, there was an immediate sense that this man must be held to account. However, given that 140 or so Republican House members still voted against counting electoral votes on January 6th–a vote that took place AFTER the insurrectionist mob had dispersed from the Capitol–might explain why the outgoing president is still able to be accorded the powers of the presidencyright up to the moment the new guy is sworn in tomorrow around noon, eastern time.

What is wrong with this picture, as that expression goes? An angry and ugly throng of seditious acolytes ransacked offices, stole personal property–some with possible sensitive national security implications–shortly after listening to their “leader” egg them on, and he has yet to be removed from office? He is still thus entitled to Secret Service protection? It makes you wonder if our congress is infested with its own breed of questionable characters. Spineless. Cowardly. Corrupt. Collusive. Timid. Assholes. That goes for both sides of the isle, party-wise.

It appears that if he is to be held to account, it will be well after he leaves office. If ever. Maybe he’ll flee the country. Who knows? The fact that he isn’t already in custody of some goddam law enforcement agency begs the question of what, exactly, would it take to hold this guy to account for his most egregious offense of all his offenses against civility and the common good?

Me, I have my doubts about him being convicted of anything, given that George W. Bush has yet to be held to account for starting an illegitimate war that cost over a hundred thousand deaths, mostly to Iraqi civilians. George is–according to the War Crimes Commission–guilty of “crimes against humanity”. Big deal. W. was asked to chime in on what he thought of our disgraced current president. George did not approve. What irony. What hypocrisy!

Want to be president of the United States? Hey, apparently, it’s quite the secure gig. Seemingly that office makes it impossible to be held to account anymore. And Nixon resigned for a cover up over a botched break-in at the Watergate hotel. Ha! How quaint!

***********************************************************************************

In the meantime, according to the Guardian, a former civil servant has been jailed for 43 years for insulting the Thai monarchy. How did she insult this country’s royalty? She evidently posted some audio clips to–what else?–Facebook and YouTube that were critical of the regime. Oh, and the woman accused of such insensitivity and lack of social media comportment is in her 60’s. Talk about being held to account! Do the crime, do the time.

At this point, it is not certain if she has been banned from those social media sites. That would be adding insult to injury. Just ask our outgoing Commando-in-Chief about being excommunicated from Twitter and other digital soap boxes. If only he could take the place of the Thai woman who dared to speak ill of others.

Perhaps our soon-to-be new Big Tuna in D.C. can cut a trade deal with Thailand. Him for her. Like I said earlier, he may be wanting to find another country in which to reside. Then our new Big Tuna can make her the head of the FCC.

Or something.

.

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Infection and Insurrection

The externals of daily living feed into the internal part of our lives. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree, right? We were all little twigs once upon an innocent time. Then the growing process, both physiologically and emotionally, quickly kicked-in. The alt-rock British band, the Godfathers, succinctly summed it up : Birth. School. Work. Death. Were you “Of the manner born”? Silver spoon? Or quickly having to learn how to keep the wolf from the door? Did you manage a decent formal education? Or was it always a seat in the hard knocks school of life? Did you become gainfully, satisfactorily, employed related to your intrinsic skills and intellect? Or is your work resume a series of seemingly directionless employment drop-ins? The death part? That’s an equalizer, no matter what personal details your book of life may contain. The last chapter may be inspirational or weepy, noble or ignoble. But dead is dead. At that point of departure, you could be Mother Teresa or Ivan the Terrible. Then you become a memory, for better or worse. And time ticks on dispassionately regardless of one’s Earthly reputation.

As for the possibility of an afterlife, it’s up to we the living to speculate on such. We do so in various versions of what might be awaiting us, so that we can make being dead more than an inevitable gone and forgotten fourth stage of life invoked by that above noted song title. Me, I like Mark Twain’s take on it: Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company.

For we on the mortal coil of life in 2021, now only in its ninth day, there’s a good chance it has not been very reassuring as to simply wanting to feel good about being alive. This collective “you” I refer to includes all of humanity, thanks to a global pandemic now closing in on 2 million dead and 90 million infections. Talk about equalizers. huh? Here, in the U.S., the dead number 377,000–and counting. That’s the top of Covid-19 global leaderboard. Really? The U.S. of A, the richest country on the planet, is unable to provide better battle plans against this viral enemy? Not that conquering a deadly virus is a facile matter, but still. It must reflect on a lack of determination. The virus is our common enemy. Medical science is at “warp speed” in getting vaccine out. Well done. However, the general population seems to lack a cohesive strategy to help battle this equal opportunity killer. I’d say a large swath of the citizens of the U.S. are in “warp brain” mode. You know, those who won’t wear masks. Won’t avoid crowds. And those who simply refuse to forego their precious Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year traditions. They are among those now infected, or who may already have died because they chose to be stupid about this very serious matter. One wonders just how malignantly bent these people’s twigs were waaay back when.

On the bright side of this lamentation on life writ large or local, we can take comfort in knowing that, as King Solomon (allegedly) once pronounced, This too shall pass.

2021, as with 2020, shall too, pass. Maybe the United States, along with the rest of the world, can have some new version of normal with which to live out the days (daze?) of our lives. Unfortunately, we now have to anxiously consider even more than avoiding getting an infection, we have to deal with an insipient insurrection. The curtain went up on this dangerous development just a few days ago. Where it goes, and how and when it will end (as all things do pass) is as uncertain as the pandemic’s ultimate outcome.

In the meantime, to quote Nizami, In the hour of adversity, be not without hope; for crystal rain falls from black clouds. That’s for the pandemic down trodden.

As for that festering fascist face that burst dramatically on the U.S. stage the other day there’s H.L. Mencken: Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

For this humble blogger, I’ll go with George Bernard Shaw: Whisky is liquid sunshine. Or, as ol’ blue eyes Frankie S. said: Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but as the bible says, love your enemy.

Or; Whatever!, to quote many an Gen-X-er…

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Learning to Speak, the day after day 6 edition

Four days of stasis at the start of 2021. That’s what I figured was all we would get out of our new year, following the most forgettable, regrettable year of virtually any living person’s life. While the the 5th of January contained the pivotal senatorial run-off elections in Georgia (won by the Democrats, defying political conventional wisdom) it was clear that the 6th day of the year would have even much, much more more to say. Oh, and it sure did. It aggressively erased any “stasis” by giving the U.S.–and the rest of the concerned world–a heavy dose of disequilibrium.

You saw what happened, no doubt. If not as it happened, then you’ve seen the replay. An attempted coup d etat unfolded on live media feeds. Many people labelled the clearly ominous utterances of the president and others in positions of political influence as a coup in the making days and even weeks ago. And even though the consensus opinion of those who supposedly knew how our political process of certifying the electoral count would not permit any coup to succeed I, for one, wasn’t willing to be so confident given the last four years of a virtually lawless administration. An administration that has the backing of at least 74 million voters. Thousands of these “backers” showed up in D.C.,–as anticipated. As anticipated, they were agitated. But rather than clashes with their naysayers or any security force assumed to be at the ready, they were met virtually no serious resistance when they decided to gain entrance–uninvited, unlawfully and aggressively–into the our nation’s emblem of democracy and civil governance: the Capital Building itself.

What. The. Fuck!!??

My immediate reaction to what I witnessed from afar was the obvious, blatant conclusion that if these invaders, these insurrectionists, were ANY color other than white, they would not be in the Capitol Building; they’d have been tear-gassed, maced, bloodied and battered, if not many of them shot dead on the building’s impressively layered staircase leading to the main entrance. Of course they would have been. It should not have taken anyone who has been paying attention to last year’s treatment of many a person of color who dared exercise their 1st Amendment right to assembly and protest of police brutality (even murder, a la George Floyd and several others) to come to the same conclusion. Well, anyone who is not a white supremacist, that is. Certainly, Blacks have endured generational examples of how racism is baked into this country’s history. Some may have been shocked at what unfolded, but not the minorities, especially Afro-Americans. Hardly.

It’s certainly not just police forces that contain a racist element in their ranks. Of course not. That Capitol Building represents our government. Those elected officials inside, mostly white, freaked out, cowering as this virtually all white mob decided they wanted to stop the political sausage making apparatus from functioning, might have some explaining to do today. And tomorrow. And far into the future. Many who were suddenly thrust into a “doomsday” mode (as one Representative said was literally what they were placed in) have, buy omission or co-mission, aided and abetted the 21st century version of social, racial and economic inequality that infests this country.

The utter and complete irony! A virtually all white mob was threatening mostly white senators and representatives, as global coverage of this descent into reality TV lawlessness played out. It provided millions of people of color in this country the greatest single piece of evidence that so-called “white privilege” was now CLEARLY this country’s modus operandi. Not that it stated yesterday. Remember, most of our “founding fathers” were slave owners. Scores of white viewers (if you have been following social media responses to yesterday’s events) have joined in this chorus of shaming the deadly double-standard that applies to who can say what, or do what, or be wherever, and not get their heads cracked open or having to take 16 bullets for not having white skin.

Then there is the blathering bullshit I listened to on every major media outlet, whose breathless reporting attempted to explain the cause and effects of a day that, on the 6th of January, 2021, will live in infamy, along with Pearl Harbor and 9-11. How could this be happening? Why would this be happening? Uh, well, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC and the rest, you all share responsibility. It took the actual occurrence of an attempted coup for the media to finally label Trump and his crazed acolytes what he and they have always been: anti-democratic, racist, fascist terrorists. The mainstream media literally created Donald Trump with the absurd reality show, The Apprentice. His vile, venal and sociopathic character has been on full display for goddam decades. His campaign for President became a ratings bonanza for the media (as a CBS executive literally admitted to over four years ago). To have to listen to the handwringing of reporters and news anchors as pictures of the momentary interloping occupants of the House and Senate floors filled the frames of screens large and small with their smug defiance was as laughable as it was sickening.

Today, the 7th day of our already tarnished and tattered new year, is the first day of reckoning with the national and international disgrace that went viral yesterday. The guilty insurrectionists might today be arrested. Ya think? That they simply walked out of the Capitol as seemingly unchallenged as they went in without already being cuffed (if not brought out in body bags) is still something that those people of color have to swallow hard.

Your humble blogger here, lily white and well aware of history’s harsh lessons taught to me by direct experience or formal education, has been trashing our failed 2-party system of government for a couple of decades. Not that I’m an anarchist. I’m simply a realist, okay? I vote Green or Independent. I’d like to see the U.S. become a better place for all of “we the people”. After yesterday, my sentiments about needing a new, 3rd party or 4th or 5th new option, are as emphatic as ever. My meme, unabashedly, has been “burn it all down”.

I do believe, although it cannot be seen yet through the haze of yesterday’s convulsive display of lawless hate and divisiveness, and the our current national government’s corrupted and/or incompetent dysfunctionality, plus major media’s culpability in coddling a con artist and eventually helping him be escorted into the White House, that our House is now definitely, vividly on fire.

The smoke from this fire can be smelled all around the world. Hard to be a proud American–of any color–today.

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