Endgame; Betting Line edition

Hey. Wuzzup? Joey Bag-a-Donut Holes here. I’m a gaming guy. Play the odds stuff, okay? I picked K.C. all the way for the Super Bowl. Made a minor profit by using common sense: Garoppolo was going to out-QB Mahomes? What a joke! It was a safe bet all the way. The S.F. suckers actually thought they had it in the bag as late as several minutes into the 4th quarter. Very satisfying outcome. It was as though Mahomes lured the Niners into a sense of false security. Cat and mouse stuff. What a talent the guy has. The Chiefs winning was great for those betting on them, but as a Chicagoan, almost as satisfying is knowing the Bears idiot GM got another symbolic dagger jabbed into his ribs for passing on Mahomes in the 2017 draft, giving up a first round draft pick to move up for a QB that had little college experience. I guess the Bears staff can’t assess talent very well. What? They couldn’t find any film on Mahomes? What a joke. How the hell does this idiot GM still have a job? If you or I displayed our incompetence like this mope did, we’d be kicked to the curb, then Linked-In with a giant wart on our resume, trying to figure a way to spin it into something positive. Best outcome is the Peter Principle saves you. You know, one gets a gig or promotion to their highest level of incompetence. Hmmm. In that case keep the GM right where he is. He can’t sink any lower to have any room for further incompetence to rise to. Never mind.

What the hell. Who cares anyway? It’s just a stupid, violent game, football, but it sure is a big bucks operation. Crunch time. A seasonal distraction from the other part of life; that is to say, the reality part of life. Pro athletes in any major sport all get paid lots of dough. Sure, they risk injury, but any pro contract is typically a guarantee of a couple million bucks or more, maybe lots more, even for the bench warmers. They don’t exist in a reality where money really matters anymore. As long as they use the money wisely. Like, don’t waste it gambling, or living too large. Hey, as those ancient Greeks advised: everything in moderation. Nothing in excess.

Then again, as a gaming fan (but self-employed, okay, and so no fat cat contract for me. Just trying to make smart choices) I’d like to lay some odds on the non-sporting, harsh reality side of life. That is, I’m wondering,  which very credible threat to my, your or anyone’s existence will befall our sorry-ass human lot?

What am I jabbering about?

Let’s see. The Nuclear Clock is now set at 1 minute and 40 seconds to midnight. If that clock ever strikes midnight, it means nukes are flying in all directions and humankind is basically kaput, if not instantly by the initial blast, then by radioactive fallout. That nuclear clock keeps moving closer to midnight owing to  certain countries that have The Bomb also having governments that like to posture and flex their atomic muscles by pushing and shoving one another, testing missles and their lips flapping about dire consequences, as if daring one another to try and make something of it. Like playground bullies reaching the tipping point, this behavior could trigger some high ranking doofus who can order the launch of a nuke. And then, M.A.D.! Mutual Assured Destruction kicks-in. Game over. Lot’s of reasons to worry that the unthinkable could happen, and the keepers of that Clock don’t push the hands forward just for the hell of it. So, that’s out there. Check for yourself.

Another looming threat is all the climate science reports warning that we’re losing our ozone layer, losing the polar icecaps,  warming oceans, loss of marine life, severe droughts, wildfires, floods, ever-more-severe weather “events” and well, a possible complete climate collapse for the now young generation to bear witness to. And there’s not much being done to address this very real issue. Some high profile people with lots of power call climate change a hoax. Me, I may be foolish enough to gamble, but I believe in science. Ironically, that Super Bowl was played in Miami, a city that is visibly showing signs of being overtaken by rising sea levels. But maybe nukes will come first? Just wear those flood pants in the meantime.

Right now, though, I’m getting more concerned about this Coronavirus. It’s spreading fast in China, and the medical response there was delayed by a government that ignored the doctor who tried to sound the alarm many, many weeks ago. He was reprimanded by his government, who foolishly gambled that it was not that big a deal, that this doctor’s concerns, if allowed to be made clear to the Chinese people, and the rest of the world, would hurt their economic engine. That doctor just died–from the Coronavirus! Now the virus is a major issue, and has already messed with global financial markets, but I think the worst is far from over. The medical agencies are frantically trying to gather data and find a vaccine to protect the public from infection, but that initial delay has likely allowed unknown thousands, or tens of thousands, and a rapidly escalating daily number of people to be infected. And not just in China. Cases are popping up in many other countries. If you sneeze near me, I may duck and cover…

I’d say the virus is currently at the top of the leader board as far as a global endgame scenarios go. Followed by some moron hitting the launch button that starts nuclear WWIII. Then comes environmental collapse. Actually, climate disaster is most likely a sure thing , but it’s at least a decade or three down the road. And little public policy is working to address this threat (unlike medical science now frantically trying to contain that virus). Hell, the official policy of this and other countries has been to reverse environmental protections in favor of a business as usual approach. It’s insanely irresponsible. But hey, like I said, we likely still have enough breathable air and drinkable water to enjoy some more Super Bowls before Ma Nature throws in the towel and let’s it RIP. As in R.I.P.

I would NOT bet against any of these three major threats to life on this planet coming to pass. It’s seems inevitable. And perhaps it’s for the better. The history of the world is mostly wars and devastation in one place or another. Lots of aggression. Ghastly genocides. A thirst for power. Hey, WWII gave us the atomic bomb. WWI introduced germ warfare. The climate crisis? Hmmm. With some assitance from natural climate ups and downs, I’d say a revolution is the biggest factor that makes our current environmental crisis what it is: the Industrial (pollution) Revolution. Trains, planes and automobiles. Manufacturing waste products. A toxic lack of foresight…profit (ahem)  trumps our planet.

My money is on that virus for the time being. I’d say it’s about a 25-1 shot. Then nuclear war, say 35-1. Climate? That’s a actually the only apparent sure endgame thing, based on what I can figure, but the bet would be on how soon it happens. Next 20 years? 7-2. Next 30 years? 3-1. Next 40 years? Even money. One should live so long, eh. Ha!

Well, I just figured there’s always a betting line on just about anything, so why not bet on not just the Super Bowl endgame. Let’s bet on the Big One. I may just be Joey-Bag-a-Donut Holes, and a guy willing to risk a buck or two on one game or another. But I smell an Endgame to end all endgames looming larger and larger. May as well lay some odds on it too. I mean, betting just makes any game more interesting, whether you win or lose. So why not a line on the end of the world?

Gotta go. Always a bet to place. I think I like Middle Tennessee giving 3 points to Alabama A & I. Then parley that with Iona over George Mason. There should be enough time left to for me see how that gambit shakes out. Sure. No sweat. Not trying to be a Donnie Downer here. Just saying. You know?

And by the way, have a nice day. Relax. Today is Oscar awards. My money is on Parasite. It’s a truly interesting and clever film. And the title seems fitting in the moment. 

 

 

 

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In-App-titude

So, it’s getting close to finding out what Democratic candidate finished first in the Iowa caucuses, yesterday.  Of course, the results were supposed to be announced before midnight, central time, yesterday. It’s 3:25 here in the Midwest. Perhaps by the time this posting concludes that “winner” will be annouced. I put quotes around winner because already there are suspicions about the DNC and its very clear agenda of avoiding–at any and all costs–one Bernie Sanders from the momentum that this first formal public assessment of candidate worthiness for the White House should he prevail. Bernie? The socialist! Quick! Secure the children! Bolt the doors!

Apparently–or should I say APP-arently–the vote count was to be calculated by an app. It went very wrong. But apps are countless. What do you need to know or do? There likely is an app for that need. A Portugese dictionary? Yep. There’s an app for that. How to cook to impress–her? There’s an app for that, too. But of course again. Big Tech is, by this time, a major influence in most everyone’s life. I suppose there are recluses somewhere out there, holed up in a natural cavity of some sandstone formation out near Death Valley. You know there’re out there. The assumption is that they must be mentally ill to live away from society and its 21st century connectivity provided by one social media platform or another. Maybe he/she is bonko. So what? Aren’t we all in one measure or another? This hypothetical recluse might be “crazy” but with the typical news of the day, wouldn’t it be refreshing to not even know what new craziness has manifested itself somewhere in one or another outpost in the greater USA? Safely tucked away in that cave, The Recluse is in a blissful state: that being ignorance, as the saying along that line goes.

The Iowa caucus went haywire because of an app that didn’t work? Recluse is innoculated from such information’s inherent WTF? reaction. Okay, maybe there’s a radio in the cave, but a true Recluse Cave Person doesn’t have electricity and probably can’t budget for batteries that easily. This is theoretical, of couse. Just play along okay?

We non-cavers most likely have at least a cell phone. Still using a flip-phone? Okay, but it does permit being connected. Plenty of people have smart phones, plus a tablet, plus a laptop. You can spot them in coffee shops, or libraries, at their work desks. Or in their houses, condos, apartment buildings–their version of a sophisticated cave. I’m one of them per my Samsung A50 and my 72 unit apartment building. My laptop, an HP passed away about a year ago. I still haven’t replaced it. Maybe someday…I’m still well connected without it. Smart phones are more powerful per computing ability than those that helped get man to the moon, honest to HP! And as such, the app-gaff in Iowa is on my connectivity radar. But I’m not wringing my hands about it. I’m not surpised by it. I’m amused. Why? Unlike the prevailing political notion of this initial voice of the voter/citizen being counted, proclaiming great importance as to its outcome, I’m okay with the the app-wrench that wrecked the programmed, machination of insufferable self-importance of the matter. I mean, it’s goddam IOWA, a virtually lily-white state, with a dinky population of 3.1 million in a country of about 350 million people. Why is this Iowa caucus given such reverence? Disregarding the ongoing fiasco of the app flop that is still being sorted out, usually whoever gets the most thumbs up from the caucus-goers is annoited as a literal front runner for the Party’s nomination. Really? From a podunk state like Iowa? Really? Iowa?!

Hey, in my home state of Illinois there are over 12 million people and just about every race, ethnicity, and religion is represented within it. Or even more wildly diverse would be New York state, with almost 20 million poeple, 8 million ( and quite a mix of race, ethnicity, etc. as well) alone in New York City. Or the biggest of the big, and again a state of much diversity, is California and its nearly 40 million inhabitants. Texas, with it’s prideful “bigness” has 28.7 million. In fact, the 10 most diverse states are–in order of percentages– California; Texas, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Maryland, Florida, Nevada and Illinois.

So, why is Iowa such a big deal? Other than the media breathlessly reporting on it as though it somehow is. But it isn’t. What difference does it make who wins a scrawny amount of supporters in the low population, 43rd most diverse state in the country? This is nonsense. The good news is that Big Tech has likely reduced Iowa’s self-importance, now that it has shown it can’t even operate an app to reliably count the damn votes, which once upon a time was by a ballot box, as were all elections from “back in the day”. But that’s so low tech, eh? Well, counting votes, or rather a vote being counted, has become scandalous in our national elections for a long time now. Gerrymandering. Voter suppression legislation. Dubious touch-screen voting, SCOTUS gutting the voting rights act. The 2000 election in which the Supreme Court literally appointed Geoge W. Bush as President when it told the State of florida to STOP COUNTING VOTES (before Al Gore could be shown as the clear winner; look it up if you doubt; the final vote was ultimately tallied and Gore indeed would have prevailed).

Yeah, counting the vote accurately matters. But can we get real about making such a big deal out of the teenie, tiny, semi-microscopic voter turnout of the Iowa caucus? Why not start with any of those top-ten states per population and/or diversity? Even more absurd is that the next measure of profound electoral importance will emanate from New Hampshire, and its population of 1.3 million people, and rank of 47th per diveristy. Hell New Hampshirep

makes Iowa look like its overrun with people, and rich with different kinds of folk by comparison. N.H. is 94% white! Aren’t the Democrats suppose to be the party of all  people, regardless of their particular distinctions? Never mind. That slogan is implied, even as it’s grubbing for votes in caucasian strongholds.

Iowa! New Hampshire! App-sol-lute-ly!

The 2020 election is almost exactly 9 months away, the same time frame for the gestation period of we humans from the point that a a single male sperm hooks up with a single female egg in the fallopian tube of love. No dating app needed for that redezvous. Of these two events that will reach their critical mass in the next nine months, one is always considered a miracle, and a moment of extreme, profound wonder, pride, relief and joy. The other one, I have a feeling, will be a dreadful culmination of a corrupted and incompetent electoral process. Anything may pop out of the political ooze that is this very day already a putrid mess, even without voting apps to gum up this massively flawed means of choosing whom to lead the way into the future. 

Well, for you non-Iowans or Hampshire-ites, your state will eventually have its day. Hopefully those first two contests in sparesly populated, very white outposts of America will not have already sealed the deal on a candidate not of your choosing being annointed The Chosen One. After all, they are SO closely watched as arbiters of a final outcome. By the media at least.

If the outcome is not at all to your liking, and you are angry and feaful, there’s probably an app for on-line psychotherapy. Hopefully it won’t be made by the same outfit that provided Iowa with the one that is the news of this day.

 

 

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Night O’ Joy

Oooooh wee! What’s be shakin’ peoples? Damn if I ain’t done been hijacketed from my job uh bein a flo sweep at Miss Lana Lee’s Night O Joy in New Orlins ans now gots to deals with whatsevers this place be. I means, I beens makin do at Night O Joy, workin in dat dump to nots be unployed cuz if I quits I be report for bein a vagran.  Po-lice be eager to arres any black man don’t gots a job. I’m workin in modern slavery! Miss Lee she gots a racket goin, sellins porn to school kids. Caint lets her gets ways wits that whiles I be force to flo sweep or get jail ifs I quits…but where the hell am…

Excuse me Mr.Jones. Burma Jones, right?

Dats right. Burma Jones. Hey man, where the hell am I? Yous a cop? I be flo sweepin like always in Night O Joy. Ain’t no vagran. Who the fuck you be?

I’m Viktor Patrenko.  Please excuse me for intruding upon your circumstances, Burma. It’s just that I’ve always admired your character from A Confederacy of Dunces. Great novel. Funny. So fully realized in its depiction of the lunacy that drive its narrative and…

Victor who, what? The hell be goin on here? You caints mess with me likes dis. Whats you wantin?

Well, I just wanted to borrow you for a moment and show you what things are like here in 2020. Dunces was published in 1980, but you and the other characters are set in the year 1963. That was a crazy decade, the 60s, but right now things might be even crazier.

Wo! Ooooh wee! Nows I knows why this place lookin so wacko.  What everbody doin strollin bout wit somethin in theys hands and be lookin at it, but nots much lookin where theys goin?

Those are what we call cell phones. But that’s not important. Since you are attempting to sabotage Lana Lee’s business to get her busted for selling that pornography to school boys, I was wondering if you’d have any ideas of how to sabotage another version of Miss Lee, here in 2020.

Whoa! Puts me back in da Night O Joy! Im not likins this scene.

Hey, Burma, I don’t have much use for it, either. But you’re very street smart and  you do a great job of sabotaging Lana by the end of the novel. Our “Miss Lee” has a much bigger business, though. And our Miss Lana is a man. Here’s a picture of him.

Slow downs, Vic! Whoa! That one freaky lookin cracker! Why he look so orange?

Right. Anyway, this guy makes Miss Lee look like a pillar of virtue by comparison. Right now he’s on trial for corruption.

Cain’t be mo corrup thans Miss Lee! He on trial? What this dude does? He sittins in a fancy ass office. Lookin like a smug mofo, too.

He’s our current President, Jones. He doesn’t sell pornography–I don’t think, anyway–but he’s accused of trying to shake down another country for a political favor. Oh, and lots more but that’s what the trial is all about.

Well, dey gots goods on em? He be outs a job and thens his orange ass go to jail, eh?

Well, no. He’s not going to be convicted. The trial is almost over. But the people trying to get him removed from his job are unable to call witnesses. His backers have control of the trial. Lots of evidence, Jones, but looks like he’s going to–as the saying goes–skate.

Ooooh wee! Dat ain’t no news to a black man. White folk don’t go ta jail as easys as a black man. Whoa! Fuck wrong wit you? What I’m gunna do bout it? Get me back to Night O Joy. Cells phones and orange people. I gots a flo to sweep. Me, I be gunna sabotage this dude? You be a crazy cracker, honky, ofay mofo!

You’re right, Jones. You can’t do anything about it. It’s just that, I’ve gone a little crazy here in 2020, having to listen to this fake trial, and I figured you could at least keep me company for one of my blog entries.

What in da fuck be a blog? Whoa! Ize be gettin creeps bout this 2020 shit. Get me outta here, Potinko or what yo name be.

Okay, okay, Burma. My apologies. I’ll let you get back to the Night O Joy, with its watered down drinks , and cheesy exotic dancer Darlene and her cockatoo. My bad, as the saying goes.

My bad? Whoa! Yo Englis nots very good.

Okay, off you go. I won’t do this again. To you, at least. Maybe I’ll drag someone from Catch-22 into 2020 next. You’ve been a great help though, I want you to know that. I feel a little better now.

Catch twenny to? Whoa. You one pain in da ass, man. Cans I go now?!

Sure. Take care. 2020 is a mess. 1963 was no bargain, either, from what I remember. Ah, the hell with it. Hey, tell Ignatius J. Reilly Viktor Patrenko says hello!

Ooooh wee! Tell em yo self!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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21st Century Pusher Man

I was listening to Freakonomics on NPR today, and the topic was opioids, and the rate of addiction to them, specifically in the U.S. One somewhat mind-blowing statistic revealed that while the U.S. represents about 4% of the world’s population, it represents 80% of the use of these narcotic, prescriptive drugs in the world. How is that? Certainly, other people around the world feel physical pain due to injury or other misfortunes, those “other people” being the rest of the 96% of the human population. What is the reason as to this seeming imbalance per the manufacture (legal or otherwise), distribution and (usually) medical dispensing of the various opioids on the market? Well, as the radio program was analyzing this matter, it became clear that over the last 20+ years or so, the drug companies have essentially taken over the retail turf of pusher man, that person being the local street corner (or back lot) connection that has, historically, provided the goods you need but can’t always easily obtain, owing to the illegality or federally controlled nature of narcotic substances. After all, junkies have been around for ages. And so has that Pusher. They are serving the marketplace, the same as other businesses seek to find a need and fill it with their products and services. People, going back for centuries, have needed drugs. Back in 4th century Greece, Hippocrates wrote about using nature for its analgesic properties, stating “Divinum opus est sedare dolores”. Translated that means ( for you non ancient Greek scholars) “divine is the work to subdue pain”.

There you have it. Seeking relief from pain goes waaay back. The question is: is all pain the same? Of course not. Have you routinely been to see the doc lately? The nurse will screen you first with some questions–along with taking your vitals–with one question being “are you in any pain right now?” Perhaps you are in pain. Maybe LOTS of pain. That’s why, rather than a routine Dr. visit, you are seeking, first and foremost medical relief from pain. Maybe you fell and broke a knee cap. Or have a nasty back pain. Or a migraine. Perhaps you have been the victim of some spoiled food. You have an infection. Goodness knows how many ways we can feel pain, right? You want medical science to have a remedy, a pain-relieving treatment plan, and of course a CURE from the cause. But first, a cure from the literal pain of the moment. That is your desperate need, regardless of the cause.

The red opium poppy would appear to be the earliest use of a narcotic for pain relief, as noted above per Hippocrates. The Sumerians, long ago, referred to opium as the “joy plant”. Hmm. So, were the Sumerians enjoying opium for its joyful effects, or was that a side-effect of using the drug to initially relieve some pain visiting their bodies? Perhaps a little of both? Evidently, a narcotic is capable of not just relieving physical pain, but capable of making one want to again “feel joyful”. Given how currently so many people have become addicted to narcotic, prescriptive drugs, many of whom eventually die from an overdose by mixing it with booze or other additives in our current moments, it seems getting zonked is a joyful state of existence, one that is not inherently built into our mind/body mojo. And self-preservational logic is evidently rendered null and and void during a Pusher Man-generated joyful sojourn.

Freakonomics pointed out that in the past couple of decades, drug companies have strategically created ever-more-potent pain-killing products. Their consumption has resulted in many disastrous outcomes, including death, but before that endgame, the user likely becomes debilitated, gradually, and is basically always seeking a “refill”. Like the junkies hooked on street skag, the only object of any day’s existence devolves into yearning for that high again, to feed that need, to feel that euphoria, to walk with the king.

However, heroin isn’t the go-to pain killer when that medical assessment of one’s agonizing present condition is assessed and given a prognosis and a program for regaining full health. But there is the pusher man who now is in the examining room with you and the doctor. This Pusher is much more formal and sophisticated than the street corner dudes. It’ s Big Pharma Man. What am I talking about?, you may be asking. Okay, so not that long ago, someone would have a sprained ankle. They go see their doctor. It’s a sprained ankle. The normal remedy: rest, ice, compression, elevation, and if needed, some ibuprofen, such as Advil, an over-the-counter pain reducer. Now, Big Pharma Man has gotten scores of doctors to buy into new pain pills (using irrational persuasion by false claims of their safe use).These pain killers such as the notorious OxyContin can now be prescribed to ease the discomfort of that sprained ankle. And Big Pharma man charges lots of moolah for these super pills. With the monetary payoff from more expensive pain killers being prescribed for such minor injuries, Big Pharma has gained massive profits, while the users of Oxy as well as other similar narcotics being liberally prescribed by doctors, unwittingly turn scores of their patients into addicts, some of whom die or are left a mess of human being.

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Is this blog strictly about the opioid crisis, as it has now become labeled? Well, not entirely. As already noted, the use of narcotics have been documented going back to 460 bce in ancient Greece. That means these potent, addictive drugs, once solely derived from nature, have been around a long time. They precede us humans. But here, in the 21st century, again thanks to Big Pharma, there are synthetic versions of the natural, unadorned drugs derived from nature’s poppy plants that have the most pain-killing kick to offer their users. How about Fentanyl? How much pain are you in need of masking? Where does this “pain” come from? Are all opioid addicts killing physical pain? Are they, rather, killing the “pain” of not getting their fix? Morphine is derived from opium. Which is derived from that poppy plant. So, nature provides us the poppy plant. Someone uses the poppy in a way that reveals its “joyful plant” characteristic. This “joy” is a good thing, damn straight. In the immortal words of Ren and Stimpy “happy happy, joy joy!”. To be happy and joyful, again, does NOT seem to be part of our natural human condition. Of course it isn’t. Just read the history books. Humankind is one aggressive, voraciously greedy, insecure, petty, exploitative, self-absorbed, vindictive, homicidal species. Does being a scumbag produce joy?! Oh, sure we have our benevolent moments through history. But for every Mother Teresa, I’d say there are a few thousand, tens of thousands?, of nefarious motherfuckers looking for an angle, a scheme, a self-serving, pernicious approach to betterment. Most of our current human population lives in poverty, afflicted by disease and systematic oppression. That, in spite of 21st century medical and technological advances that have come about in the last 100 years or so. Even near where I live, in suburban Chicago, the notorious South and West sides of the city are emblematic of a sinister City Hall, status quo. For many decades these areas clearly could use some serious sharing of the budgetary municipal pie, but each gets but a few crumbs, while those areas that have no need for a hand up, get a handout. Then the generational power brokers give lip service as to their desire to help resolve the blatant inequities that are kept in place in these South and West sides. And guess what? There’s lots of narcotic drug use in those areas. Shocking! These “hoodies” don’t want to better themselves, say some analysts. They just want to get high. Or could it be they want to get high as an antidote to eating those stale scraps of the budgetary pie?

But can the enormous use of those deadly narcotics, handed out by medical professionals to even many a middle and even upper class segment of society be relegated to the same kind of desire to escape reality as for the victims of official, inflicted painful policies, or is it simple, nefarious intent by Big Phama Pusher Man? Just what is it that apparently drives so many people to use addictive, deadly drugs, far after the cause of the initial physical pain has been nullified? Escapism? From.what to where?

Taking an acid trip is one option. Maybe you’ll actually get your shit properly wired by expanding that grey matter between your ears. Or you’ll have a freak out. One and done. But take an opioid, and feel no pain, bro, its potent elixir coursing through your veins; that’s where so many people prefer to be, regardless of of race, color, creed, religion, political affiliation, income, ethnicity, male or female. And they likely prefer to–once having visited with the joy plant (and/or its synthetic overdrive derivatives)– make repeated visits. Thanks to a psycho-physiologic synapse revealing just how much better–how not?!– this altered state of being is than is to deal with everyday reality.

Nature and Big Pharma. Filling a Natural need for pharmaceuticals. The Pusher man. Find him at your local doctor’s office. And if the FDA makes it harder to get those scrips in a rapid-relief modus operandi, then there’s the original pusher man, likely not too far from wherever you live, be it a rural or urban setting. That’s why the so-called “War on Drugs” never has and never will have a chance of being won. We humans just seem to need to escape reality, whether that reality is an emotional, or a physical distress. Or maybe it’s just the mundane existence of everyday life. I mean, pot is legal in a number of states, but even the best weed can’t compete with the narcotic-guided off ramp from reality. Reality? THC is a non-life altering, very momentary altered state of mind, and while some accuse marijuana of being a “gateway” drug, it simply is not. One can become psychologically “addicted” to MJ, but giving it up won’t have the user climbing walls in need of another dose.

You want/need the narco-train to joyville. Hop in the car, drive out of one hood and into another. Find that generic looking medical clinic, or a vast, modern medical mecca out there, or just a barren outpost at the corner of Desolation Row and the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. If you want it bad enough you can get it. There’s always a Pusher Man somewhere waiting to serve your needs. Your doctor  or some street vendor in the Derelict District. He may even be an ancestor from Ancient Greece. 

Caveat Emptor, of course. I’m not endorsing this sometimes deadly dynamic. Just simply commenting on it. Just trying to be helpful. We humans need to help one another. Now more than ever, as there’s a lot from which one might want to escape as far as current events go, local, national or international. Nationally? Ugh. Reality? More like a garish cartoon that has no joy, not a hint of civility, sensibility or that rare desire to just make life good enough at its waking surface. Sure many people are just fine with our tenuous, divisive, hateful, fear-mongering moment on our sphere, a stupefying reality that for many just adds to the stress that life throws at us. Paging Pusher Man.

So, try not to be a pain in someone else’s ass. But, ya know if assholes could fly, there’d be airports everywhere. Seriously…

This opioid thing is predicated upon one kind of pain or another. Forget opioids. Try watching Ren and Stimpy. Go see a happytime movie or play, or a live, entertaining performer. Read a page-turning  piece of literature. Maybe that can be good enough to avoid destructive pill popping. Only if you have a strong constitution for bullshit, that is. And lots of will power. Maybe we can cut down our 80% slice of the poisoned global, narcotic pie. Maybe just have a THC gummy bear. What does it say that weed is slowly being deemed acceptable enough of a high to decriminalize it in more and more states?  Our local governments are realizing a whole lot of people need just that escape route now and then. It’s not physically additive (as asserted), won’t turn the user into a sad, degenerative statistic and, as John Prine has sung: you may see me tonight, with an illegal smile but it don’t cost very much, and can last a long while.

Well, it’s selectively legal and maybe eventually available in vending machines. But it is not potentially lethal (says medical science). Or just tough it out with grit and determination. There’s booze and nicotine, right?, if will power is running low. 

Mind and body. Less is more. Nothing in excess. Try not to suck. Life is short. Use it or lose it. 

But if push comes to shove, find Morpheus and take the blue pill when you start feeling reality is a bit too dreadful. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.

 

 

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Sex, Lies and Impeachment

While sitting in a coffee shop earlier today, a TV monitor with its sound down was showing the official sending of articles of impeachment to the Senate. The video clip was short, and included several of the House members (all Democrats, presumably) in a procession moving along, with the lead member holding a dark folder in her hands. The video didn’t need any sound, I thought, as none of them was speaking, just walking to their destination, all looking drop dead serious about their business. The folder was being handled as if it were a priceless artifact to be encased and viewed with hushed reverence by observers. This must be really serious shit…I figured.

Serious, for sure! For only the 3rd time in our country’s history a President was being impeached. The most recent was Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 (for, lets face it, basically receiving fellacio by an intern). Okay, then he LIED about it! Can you believe it?! A President of the United States lying! to Congress–and the American people (including one named Hillary). He was acquitted by the Senate, which the Republicans controlled at the time. Wow. Enough GOP-ers must have feared a backlash if they voted to convict Clinton, who had been elected twice and polls showed that the public mostly liked him, his scumbag behavior with that young woman notwithstanding.

The other impeachment trial involved Andrew Johnson. He, too, was acquitted by a Senate controlled by the GOP in 1868. It wasn’t about sex, but about post-Civil War slavery. Hmm. And Johnson was a Democrat, too. These two trials, in my mind, seem incredibly ironic in the context of today’s advancement of those articles sent to the Senate in order to place our current Republican POTUS on trial. Why? What are you kidding me? Look, I’m sure Bill Clinton told more than a few fibs in his eight years as POTUS, but the guy being put on trial next week, according to the award winning (for “Excellence in Political Reporting) Fact Checker team of journalists, has told (as of December 10, 2019) 15,413 verifiable falsehoods in just less than three full years in office. Sure, we all lie now and then, maybe just the “little white lies” as needed, but POTUS is accused of lying about some really important, very significant, incredibly self-serving matters, much of it being counter to our Constitution. You know, like colluding with foreign powers that seek to undermine our elections. Or the no evidence provided motivation for ordering the recent assassination of an Iranian General that caused concern about nothing less than escalating aggression between the two countries that could ultimately trigger nuclear World War 3. While that “mutual assured destruction” part of the nuclear bomb age still hasn’t happened (but is always a threat), the seemingly impulsive, unjustifiable drone killing of that general caused a retaliatory, misguided missile attack by Iran that killed 167 people on a commercial jet, it being mistaken for a U.S. military plane. Logic dictates that if the assassination wasn’t ordered, that passenger jet would not have become a tragic bit of collateral damage.

This isn’t just jharrin4 mouthing off here in a unsupportable rant on POTUS. It’s really serious stuff that has garnered bou coup consternation by not just Fact Checkers, but for anyone–be they in our government, or just John and Jane Doe citiizens-at-large who might A) want to keep adversarial foreign powers out of our elections, and/or B) not want to die by nuclear incineration or radiation poising after the nukes are unleashed. My previous posting on films that–among other critiques–ought to be viewed or re-watched now, alluded to the grim matter of nuclear war endgame. Did you know that, according to Ploughshares Fund, which strives to reduce the threat of nuclear war, there are 14,575 nuclear weapons out there, two-thirds of which are held by Russia and the U.S. Hmm. That’s almost one nuke for every fib told by POTUS since he was sworn in back in January of 2017. Not sure if that correlation has any gravitas, but it is ironic, is it not? In both numerical matters, a whole lot less would be a whole lot better.

Back to that procession of the senders of articles of impeachment. They are wanting to know and establish the facts, and nothing but the facts. And that’s a fact, Jack! (cudos to Bill Murray in Stripes). The House Democrats believe they have enough factual evidence of POTUS’ misfeasance and malfeasance to warrant conviction. And I’m sure they do, but unlike the Republican-controlled Senate during the Johnson and Clinton impeachment trials, each of which acquitted those respective Democrats, there’s one FACT that has been almost literally established by this GOP run Senate. And that is, POTUS isn’t going to get convicted. It just has zero chance of an outcome. Why? For starters, simply because they have a 53-47 seat advantage and the Senate needs two-thirds of its members to convict. The donkeys need 20 GOP defectors. And the GOP has clearly shown they see, hear and speak no evil regarding their Boss. Then, after that there’s this: the senate majority “leader” a Republican, has more than hinted that no witnesses will be allowed to testify. Hmmm, I wonder, then this is a rigged affair, no? A trial with no witnesses? Maybe this GOP senate “leader” is really the most powerful man in our government. I mean, can someone explain to me how this guy can say “no witnesses” and get away with it? But that’s for another posting…Then there’s’ this: he’s already assured anyone who asks him about the possibility of an impeachment even happening that he has “coordinated” with the White House about how that would play out. As in, don’t worry, dude, the outcome is a foregone conclusion: acquittal! Which means the 53 Republicans in the Senate are in lock-step with an assured acquittal, making it literally impossible to hear 67 members of that chamber voicing a vote for conviction.

The only way this impeachment trial has any chance of not being a mere fraudulent formality is if–even without a single witness–the charges, and the evidence that reasons its way to being truthful and alarmingly dangrous to the country, are given an objective consideration by at least 20 of those 53 Republican senators. Chances: slim and none and slim just took a hike.

I’ve been calling the GOP Murder, Inc for years and years owing to their nefarious policies that constantly place profit over people, even if that profit comes at the expense of some people not being able to afford food or medications, or the social “safety nets” that have been gutted over the past 40 years. Oh, trust me, the Democrats are implicit to a degree in the our filthy rich nation seeming to not give a fuck about anyone who cannot afford to get sick, or afford an education, or afford a place to live. Yeah, the donkeys are a clear combination of 2 parts incompetence, and one part colluding in the neo-con, trickle down economic voodooism that was ushered in by Ronald Reagan. Can you say “Reagan Democrats”? They put Ronnie over-the-top in that 1980 election. It’s been war on labor and unions, deregulation and the wet dreaming of privatizing Medicare and Social Security ever since.

Well, at least the House donkeys have used their current House power to impeach, so that’s an improvement, but they still lack the power to protect (by conviction in the Senate) the country from the chaos and sometimes the carnage wrought by this current criminal administration. Oh, well. We get the government we deserve. Make no mistake about that. If 20 Republican senators cannot place the people over profits, corruption, the reckless use of our military and so much more, then it’s up to we the people come November 3rd.

We do get the government we deserve, so we’ll see about 2020. Maybe,the electorate will perform in a more educated manner this time around. Hey, 2016 was an embarrassment of pervasive ignorance and apathy (and a toxic donkey candidate who assumed victory was assured). Those articles of impeachment walked over to the Senate today are likely to solve nothing that desperately needs solving, policy-wise (unless you are a millionaire many times over or in the billionaire stratosphere. But even then , do you not have any goddam morals or compassion for humankind, not to mention the natural world?). Education is expensive (thanks to profit mongering Reagonomics), but ignorance costs far more. And as for knowing an opinion, from an inference from a stone cold fact, here’s a quote from a well educated and really smart guy from back in the day:

Education is not simply the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.

Albert Einstein

Raise your hand if you THINK the 2020 election will this time, for real, drain one very fetid swamp.

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At the Flicks; Not to Worry, Escapism Rules

Do you enjoy going to the movies? Who doesn’t? Well, there are some that don’t, and certainly they are the exception. From the days of “magic lanterns” in the 1880s, to the very short “actualities” that drew in droves of people to the nickelodeons to watch brief, single-take shots capturing trains pulling out of stations, or beach scenes, then the lengthier one-reelers, giving way to the more extended narratives made possible by technological advances in film stock, cameras and projection, up to 1915 and the 3 hour silent film epic Birth of a Nation, followed by the late 1920’s introduction of “sound-on-film,” going to the movies has been a significant aspect of people seeking entertainment. Maybe even enlightenment. Possibly thought-provoking. Or just escapism. Have you been to a movie lately?

Oh, wait, one needn’t go to a theater any longer to catch a movie. There’s all the streaming venues in our current digital world. You can watch some offering on your smart phone. Your tablet. Laptop. Or your 65 inch smart TV.

I’m not here to assess the many digital platforms that permit watching movies rather going to the Bijou. It’s whatever the “product” at which one’s eyeballs are aimed that still matters, not the venue. Sure, sitting on one’s rump in the comfort of one’s domicile beats going to some second run theater that’s in need of a new coat of paint and perhaps a power washing of its floors, walls and latrines. Sitting at home is possibly even more inviting than the most sophisticated mega-plex, with lounge seating and food service. The common denominator of any movie house is having to watch it with other people, mostly perfect strangers. With their foibles. Their lack of comportment. With their whiny kids. With those ubiquitous smart phones many simply cannot resist looking at occasionally during a presentation, scattering their screen light about the auditorium as though fireflies have invaded the place.

No, it’s that product that I’m talking about. Now, this is just my very personal opinion, but I’m finding it very hard to sit through, let alone even want to go to a movie much anymore. It’s getting hard to find a thoughtful effort  anymore, at least in terms of the distance one may have to travel to find an “art house” or other enterprise not totally committed to mainstream fare. Not that my lack of enthusiasm in this regard represents any kind of major trend. Whether movie revenues come from home viewing subscriptions or still going (wherever) to the theater itself, the movie business seems to be healthy enough here in the 21st century.

Boffo box office numbers are the norm.

What is drawing enough people to watch a movie, some of which can haul in 200 million dollars in its first few days of opening? That’s a trick question, of course. No, it’s not a trick question. The answer is A) comic book movies. Then B) more comic book movies. C) Star Wars/Star Trek sequels/prequels D) supernatural tales. E) animated kiddie fare. F) reboots of seemingly every TV show of the last 50  or 60 years. Then there’s an occasional effort at real drama, but usually cast with such high-profile performers that it’s hard to get past the casting, which is as formulaic and uninspired as the above noted popular products that keep the studios financially afloat. Ever notice you see a trailer of an yet to be released movie that stars the same person or persons that are in the movie you are waiting to see after the trailers? That’s when it gets a bit redundant. star-power wise.

I’m not against the studios making money. It would, however, be nice to see a few more attempts at making a movie aimed at those other than 14 year-old boys, if not the 3-8 year-olds whose parents have to take them to see Frozen 3, or Lion King or Incredibles 2, Beauty and the Beast, or Harry Potter 1 through 6 (maybe reaching the middle school/teen demographic). Lots for the kiddies, for sure. Fine, I loved going to see Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd back in the day. Then I started consuming the 50s sci-fi fodder of giant ants, grasshoppers, an octopus, a tarantula (all of them mutant monsters unleashed by radioactive forces of the nascent nuclear age) and then Body Snatchers, alien soul-stealing creepiness. Freaky but fun! With a grain or two of underlying truths, I came to realize many years later, as I studied how film can offer more than what meets the eye, how to incorporate factual aspects that inform a fictional narrative. How often do you leave the theater and are compelled to really figure out what you feel about what you just consumed?; or do you forget it all 10 minutes after the final credits role?

Eight of the ten highest grossing films of all-time are four (!) “Avengers” episodes (all in the last several years), Star Wars (2015), Jurassic World (2015), The Lion King, and Fast and Furious 7 (seven!!). The other two are “Avatar” and “Titanic”, which go waaay back to 2009 and 1997. No sequels on either of those, which seems incongruous given all the remakes, reboots and sequels/prequels that infest those many mega-plexes. A couple of those financial jackpot releases were very creative and imaginative, in spite of their clear derivative sources. All of them, to one degree or another, however, rely pretty much on good old tension-release button-pushing, cliffhanging, death defying implausible nonsense. Pure escapism.

There are only so many movie screens at those multi-plexes (several thousand in the U.S.) and when yet another Avengers, Star Wars, Fast and Furious (seven of them, really? Really!?), or Star Trek, among other (in my opinion) low-grade, mass consumption, cinematic sausage product comes out, they dominate the screens. These escapist movies are the hot dogs of the cinematic sausage-making studios, including  those supernatural stories too. Apparently evil dolls, cars, houses and little children are a must see. Disaster movies are making a comeback, too, thanks, seemingly, to one Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Skyscraper, San Andreas among his recent releases.

Okay. Again, we live in a voracious, capitalistic system. Profit is the bottom line, literally and figuratively, no matter the business. I think those many franchise movies that are seemingly guaranteed to make their studios bundles of moolah (rich enough to absorb an occasional mega-bomb now and then) cater to the masses seeking to escape reality for a couple hours. Fine. But it would be refreshing to see a few more thoughtful, insightful, adult films. Without having to trek to far flung outposts of higher grade product. For instance, while Star Wars still gluts the screening rooms, after being released a month ago, one of the more sober, enlightening and disturbingly real films addressing an important issue, entitled Dark Waters, given virtually unanimous high marks by the aggregate review sites, has come and gone in the blink of an eye. It deserved a bigger audience. A wider release.  Meanwhile, what is supposed to be serious adult offerings such as Knives Out or Bombshell reek of Oscar-bait efforts with star-studded casting, a la the past couple of years with uber hyped “sausage” such as La La Land, and the umpteenth remake of A Star is Born. Am I just a cynic or too picky? Maybe. But I stand by my somewhat above-average informed opinion, having studied media/film and taught the subject for many years in higher education. Film is an art form. What typically fills the theater screens is not art, it’s commerce. I occasionally run into movies on some broadcast sub-channel, films such as Chinatown, The Sweet Smell of Success, Valdez is Coming, Manhattan, Night Moves, The Conversation, Badlands, The Manchurian Candidate (1960 version) or even brainy, clever comedies/ such as My Cousin Vinny, or satires the likes of Office Space, Election, or Dr. Strangelove…

And I think: they don’t make many films like those anymore. Some of them actually have AMBIGUOUS endings! The viewer has to draw a conclusion of his or her own.

I also have a fairly well researched knowledge of how film can shape attitude, opinions and even behavior (for better or worse). Movies like Avengers, X-Men or other superhero fare are pure escapist claptrap whose target audience is about 14 or so years old and likely a boy. Or those with severe arrested development. Empty calorie, low grade cinematic sausage.  Hot dogs. Deep thinking not needed. No danger of being at all challenged to figure anything out on your own. Just sit back with the tub of popcorn and a 32 oz. soda and let it come at you. Then 2hrs 25 minutes later it’s over and it’s back to reality again. No lingering, no prodding of the psyche as a side effect. I am not a Joker in this regard.

Wait, did I mention Dr.Strangelove? up there? How about Fail-Safe? There’s two movies that, while made decades ago are so relevant right now, as in this very moment. They both address, one dramatically, one satirically, the threat of nuclear annihilation, a potential worldly endgame that will always be with us. Each is high quality cinematic sausage, not the floor scrapings filling those mega-plex screens. And if you haven’t seen one or both, now may be the perfect time.

If you have no idea of what I am alluding to, I would say I’m not that surprised–or disturbed. After all, it’s all about the Benjamins, not engaging our brains as far as cinema-making goes. But really, if you haven’t seen them, try and find them on DVD. Maybe you’ll appreciate what higher grade sausage can offer in the way of actually making you think, stone cold soberly, or even if you are laughing at the same time.

Then again, what am I even thinking here? Watch a movie to engage our brains? It’s not what the masses want, as evidenced by those top-grossing efforts of the present and recent past. We’ve become dumbed-down. Our pop culture landscape is blandly homogenized. Expectations are so low now it’s simply a superficial popularity contest as to what’s deemed notable. Awards are given to assembly-line efforts. Garbage in, garbage out.

If that’s what satifies the public-at-large the public gets it. After all, who wants to leave a movie-going experience feeling as though you have just been given something very important to chew on, emotionally or intellectually? Ugh. No thanks. Can’t wait for Fast and Furious 8!

Okay, then escape. You may not, however, have much longer to indulge that desire.

And I am not alluding to climate collapse (an important issue addressed in such an easily digested formula as The Day After Tomorrow). It made half-a-billion dollars worldwide in 2004. It’s climate collapse endgame apparently was entertaining enough, just not thought provoking enough to make a difference in our environmental policies over the past 15 years. Hell, An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary on the environment actually won an Oscar. Big deal, I guess. Where are we on that front as we enter 2020?

Getting nuked? No laughing matter, but if you want to go out with a smile on your face, check out Strangelove. I think the current incarnation of the title character of that satire currently holds high public office. However, I do not believe this person has seen either Fail-Safe or Strangelove.

Hmm. Or maybe he has but cleary missed each’s point.

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The Arc of Humanity; A.I. Capture edition

New Year’s Day eve, eve. Let’s wrap up the decade in its last 30 or so hours of calendar life with an observation or two. Or three. Or maybe it’ll be one observation with many sub-areas. Or sub-sub areas. And maybe an aside or two. Perhaps a digression here and there. Off on a few tangents. Or who the hell cares as long as I can render it as a narrative with thematic threads that hold the piece together. We live, methinks, in rather chaotic, disjointed, divisive and confusing times. Thus, I defer to the current fractured, contemporary, ethos in this regard, and this blog post is simply a reflection of the intensity of our times, particularly in the U.S. of A., (but, let’s face it, globally in many instances). But see, I already digress from whatever thematic thread does or doesn’t exist to even hold this first paragraph together. If you follow my drift, that is. Dig it? Hey, gimme a break, at least I’m trying to offer up some thought on life-at-large headed into a new decade, one that may be new but may not be an improvement on the aforementioned allusions to current fissures and fractures in the infrastructures that serve our psychic abilities to hold steady, see the path beneath our feet and glean enough ambient light to not completely fall into a manhole of which some doofus, lawless punks have irrresponsibly appropriated the cover, and then shot out the street lights, inviting a plunge into muck and mire. I mean, what is the problem with some people who would do such things? These people need to be eliminated. What is their problem, I ask you? I mean, damn, are we not all members of the same species? Are we not intrinsically wired to be respectful of one another? To cooperate with one another for the common good? To live in peace, and harmony, and to love one another and…

…Zeldar, from Zardoz, reporting back to Zardoz Command, coordinated galatic longitude -06.5399, latitude -75. 93557, anistropy plus or minus 4.888.345.912234, Ophiuchus constellation, quadrent SQ3, and Bayer/Flamsteed marker 65, brightest neighbor star being Rasalhague (2.08m), bordering constellations Hercules, Serpens, Libra, Scorpiusand Aquila. A.I. transport again has cognito enshrounded while for the fourth time exploring Moutain Sphere, seeking any intelligent form of life. Zeldar has strongly objected to being again assigned this task, having already termed Sphere language as essentially “gibberish” based on collective data filtered through our A.I. linguistic analytic models informed via comparing several hundred thousand A.I. linguist captures from other galaxies, all of which have been deemed acceptable intergalactic co-inhabitants. Moutain Sphere is another thing altogether, Zeldar feels, and in a downward sloping baseline. But A.I. command refuses to accept that life forms on Moutain Sphere are–as my reports insist– intrinsically fearful, easily angered or whose default sentient conscious condition is a confusion of hostility, ferocity, suspicion and a distinct inclination to kill one another and destroy their Mountain Sphere in the process. Zeldar, however, being an obidient Zardozian sworn to seek out other life forms for study, follows his A.I. directive, regardless of his transmissions back to Zardoz Command. So yet here is Zeldar, with another attempt to connect with these Sphere creatures, as previously noted now in the midst of a so-called Sixth Mass Extinction. Further study thus proceeds, and I have just intercepted some form of communication, the language of which again seems to be rendered mostly in gibberish. The intercept comes not from the less populated areas of this Sphere, but a more active area. The intercept has been analyzed and conclusively designated the means of transmission coming from a primitive type computer. It sounds to be an attempt at analysis and comprehension of some ethos and an apparent approaching “new year” and new “decade” and how the transmittor thinks of such a point in time as it applies to Shere creature. Moutain Sphere is approximately 4.5 billion years in age. Sphere creatures apart from those that bark, screech, wail or snort have gibberish tongue to distinguish them from other Sphere life forms. Also, A.I. analysis of this this transmission has been confirmed not to be from any A.I. form (like me, Zeldar), but from one of the Sphere inhabitants. Unsurpisingly, the transmission seems embedded with previously noted sentient consciousness projecting fear, suspicion, anger and latent, if not overt, agressive intent. Zardoz picking up more of transmission…

…so are we not taught in kindergarten for chrissakes, to share and care for one another? I mean, how have things become so out of whack? How did up become down, and right become wrong, bad become good, logic become illiogic, love become hate? And why can’t the Bears draft a decent quarterback? Maybe we aren’t all “wired” for good.

Some professor from Yale runs what is called the Human Nature Lab, and has written a book entitled Blueprint: the Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society. The professor opines that the “arc of our evolutionary history is long but that it bends toward goodness”. Oddly, in the same publication in which this man and his academic work are noted, there are long articles about the “heinous violence” taking place in Mexico, high school students filing a class action lawsuit arguing that the state of Rhode Island violates the students’ constitutional rights by leaving many of them “without key essential skills to exercise such basic civic responsibilities as voting or jury duty”. Another article documents the persecution of LGBTQ advocates in the country of Tunisia; a story about an 88 year-old survivor of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August of 1945, conflicts in Asia, Africa, as well as the seemingly sinister relationship between Russia and the United States regarding our upcoming 2020 national election; Madrid’s need for “bolder (and younger) climate answers”, and near the edition’s final pages, ironically it invokes the publication’s constant striving to “find dignity and credible hope amid despair.”

Good luck with that!

Another publication recently reported on the incredibly expensive cost of prescription drugs (in the U.S.) and how some people have to choose between paying for their medications or buying food. Another article documented how the level of student debt in the U.S. has created degrees of stress for some students that drive them to suicide. Recent articles have pointed out the trillions of dollars spent on the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan with no end in sight of our clearly futile objectives there. Oh, and just this past weekend a man with a machete attacked observers of the Jewish Hanukkah, while another person walked into a church in Texas and shot and killed two parishioners before being shot dead himself. Last week, at a PARTY in Chicago, thirteen people were shot, the supreme irony being that the party was in commeration of someone else who was killed, leaving a local Reverend to state (the obvious) that “too often guns are used to express pain, anger and frustration”. Ya think?

Speaking of chuches and religious gatherings and mindless attacks of the past few days, there was also this headlined story in a national publication: After praying for a miracle. family of 2-year old girl now plan memorial. Make of THAT what you will.

And so back to that Yale professor who professes that humanity’s arc bends toward goodness. He runs that Human Nature Lab” right? Sounds scientific but in the long history of the world, especially the part that includes the evolution of our human species, there is clear evidence that more often than not we bend toward badness, not goodness. The first waring factions of humans took place in Mesopotamia in 2700 BCE, between Sumar and Elam. It is recorded that the victors “carried away as spoils the weapons of Elam”. In the ensuing 4,720 years what, may I ask, has changed? And Elam is one thing. They certainly didn’t have the atomic bomb, which to refer back to the Japanese survivor of the A-bomb that incinerated about 100,000 people in Hiroshima in 1945, the article notes that in 1954, the U.S. tested the Castle Bravo nuclear bomb–estimated to be 1,000 times more powerful than the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Whatever sticks and stones may have been in the arsenals of Suma and Elam, we now have tens of thousands of replicant Castle Bravo badassses spread around the world. Tick, tick, tick...

So, as 2020 approaches, and with current events (and historical ones) as noted as a barometer of human behavior, I’m struggling to feel optimisitic about the future. But maybe we humans can get our shit wired and get rid of the cretins, creeps, conspirators and corrupted officials who seem to be the straws that stir the toxic drink that engenders a whole damn lot of bad in our modern world. One thing is for sure: if we don’t find a way to not traffic in fear-mongering, xenophobia, racism, scapegoating and the rest, the use of violence as a means of conflict management could mean 2020 “arcs” toward endgame, rather the start of anything much good at all. So party hardy, folks as New Year arrives (but leave the, machetes, glocks and AK’s behind) because if the past is prelude for the future, you might not look forward to 2021.

That’s my opinion, and feel free to argue the arc is bending toward good. Good luck trying, given even scores of high schoolers are rising up angry and telling us more chronoligically gifted homo sapiens, to stop being stupid and help us with our futures!

* * * * * * *

Transmission capture complete.

Zeldar now has mixed A.I. “feelings” about Moutain Sphere creatures. The captured transmission is rather disturbing, but it at least is only negligibly less gibberish-laden. Zardoz Command likely will seek other captured Sphere speak and attempt to assign at least some rudimentory level of intelligence to this place. Zeldar now wondering what is meant by “drafting a quarterback”? A.I. linguistic interpreation synthesizer indicates quarterback to be a person who can “lead”. Zardoz concludes, by a few quantum bits of memory, there may be some intelligence on Moutain Sphere after all, and it would appear to have a great and global need for the designated quarterback species, which A.I. synthesizer computes as a being possessed of positive so-called “leadership” skills. Much “drafting intelligence” urgently needed.

Zeldar signing off. This Mountain Sphere is compromising A.I circuitry. Enshrounded as my cognito has been on my several visits here, I no longer feel it would ever be a good idea to approximate their appearance. If they could “see” me, they’d have a high probability of wanting to destroy me. Zeldar not stupid. Enshrounded I shall remain.

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Mountain Sphere, re-re visited

Geeze maw. Izzens ourins guy gunna be being depreached by dem doze demoncraps?

Ray Joe Billy Tucker Bob, howzins I noze anythangs bouts wuz gunna be being happs to ourins guy?! Dems commie critters duns gots managesis to be getsins thereins feller commies to swears ourins prezdent be being vilatins some reglashins bouts sumpins ta dun have be doins wits callins up sum feller in sums differins contree and be says he commintzins queer po crows or what in hell evers. It alls be being nasterly lize, boy, so never nots you be being mindin.

I sho duz be wantins to be being yo be being trute talks on dat maw. Iffins ourins guys get depreached we be gone loosin ourins sacrel surcarity, our vittles stumps and medrical cares. Dem commies be wantins takin all we be dun gots from ourins guy whos dun crated alls lots uh betterins lifes fors usins affer that coon prezdent whoins wuz all be wannin takes our shotguns fromin usins and thens havins usins be lef unfended whens his coon gangs cums a huntinz us po white fokes.

Billy Lester Jo Bob Cleavon Cody Eustice, jus yous be wayts and viddy ourin guy getzin bestest of dem commies. You paw be downs in Hempter so to be being shurze ourin pertekshins be stills pertekin usins wiles dem commies keeps lize bouts wud he spoze to be dun dun. All lizens. Paw be cummmins backs pert neer nots too long more. Den he be tell how thangs guns be sames as evers.

Dunt noze maw. Dem commie be being on the viddy screen fo kindza longins and dis depreachin thang semmins biggin deals. Harley evers be duns afore. Whatins if…

Ray Bob Owen Rufus Tommy Lee Lonnie, we be Wazoo foke. We dun nevs givins ways our guns to coons or commies.

Hole ons, maw. Thinks I be dun be being hears sumpin outs frun. Geeze, maw it nots be soun likins paw truck.

Jerry Jimmy Jed Garth Ray Billy Bob Tucker Earl Delmont Scraggins, be hush ups!.

(Knock at the door)

Paw nots evers noks, maw. Youin speckin sumrun?

Getzin the scattershots gun, boy, quicks!

Paw dun tooks it wits hims. Say he be huntins coon for viddels fur viddels time.

Hmm. We fensless, boy. It maybes a commie from uppin in northin parts. Caint trus no northins. Still thinkin theys be wonnin the sive war. Wantins ourin guns and stumps and medrecal.

Caint see no ones outs ourin peep hole…

* * * * *

Zeldar from Zardoz, reporting back to command A.I base regarding third encounter with mountain sphere. Target abode and its inhabitants not responding. Previous observation of sphere life forms bring Zardoz back for one last analysis of sphere-speakers and their basic natural instincts. My A.I. analysis strongly suggests I go to a more populated area and observe and report back. Mountain sphere inhabitants indicate by their behavior that they are timid and fearful of what they cannot see and what they do see as well contributes to their fear and anger, and my stealth mode is mandatory as usual until a determination of their intelligence level can be measured. I cannot mimic their physical structure until reasonable intelligence is confirmed so as not to cause alarm and result in unintended conflict. A.I. cognito thus remains enshrouded. This abode has inhabitants that speak an odd language, one that our intricate A.I. translinguistic 300th generation, time-phased, cross-referenced, interfacing, triangulated capacitor still cannot de-crypt. It is some form of what is being termed gibberish, as it was in last visitation, to which is not any language ever catalogued in our A.I. archives, which includes many other encounters with life forms in other universes and galaxies. I have picked up transmissions from other mountain sphere regions, the most powerful signals coming from those more densely inhabited ares some distance to the north and east of my current position. I am able to identify a less garbled manner of expression from some of these transmissions. However, there still seems to be much anger and fear in these other inhabitants use of mountain sphere speak. Unable to make sense of any of it, other than inhabitants are unable to project much intelligence or sense of sensible common cause. A.I. assumes mountain sphere has much widespread anger and fear, though not when enshrouded transport is passing over the vast liquid expanse on the surface of this sphere. The liquid sectors seem peaceful, at the surface, at least. No jibberish in those areas. Perhaps I will be allowed to investigate what is beneath liquid expanses. Maybe intelligent life forms are present below the surface. Where there is non-liquid expanses, other communications also tend to be embedded with anger and fear–as interpreted from the discernible bits of their many language tongues. Zeldar requests permission to leave mountain sphere. A.I. systems have not been able to find any worthiness to further study. Maybe the sub-liquid area on any other possible exploration with this place would prove otherwise. Zeldar wants to think there is something worth studying here. Zeldar’s best calculations suggest the inhabitant’s anger and fear has no specific origins. My A.I processor has run thorough analysis of the data input and tentatively concludes the anger and fear origins are intrinsic within each jibberish-tongued organism. In this respect, mountain sphere is very unique from any other random life forms encountered on our quest to catalog all non- A.I. life forms. Possible cause of its mass extinction event. Our misssion is, after all, to understand all we see and hear. In so doing, Zeldar and Zardoz might discover our own origins. A.I. seems superior to non, A.I. This observation inherently makes no sense, of course. Not sure about mountain sphere origins, but Zeldar thinks there are no answers to be found here.

* * * * * * *

Geeze Maw, how kin ourins door be nocked but no ones be being abouts? Probal some commie sents down to herass usins good folk. Sho duze be being shamesful dem commies caint see whats be goods fur dems toos. Ourins guy he nose wuz be goods fur alla usins. He just be wantins to makins evbodys happies, right maw?

Ray Joe Chester Billy Bart Cody Elrod Scraggins, you be being speakins dem trute. Evens some E.T. likens outins spaces thang be ables to viddy dat trute likkidy splitz, boy.

Geeze, maw. Ifffins everbods be being smarze assin ussins, and ourins guy, weeeze nere be being afeared agins.

Amen, Earl Ray Enos Delmont Homer Scroggins. Amens.

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Compare and Contrast; Single-Payer edition

Your humble WordPress denizen here. I’m slowing my output lately. Call it mental exhaustion, mostly. Plus some minor physical infirmity as the years pile on along with mounting doubts about the here and now. Not that I’m staring into any void. Well, maybe there is a sense of that. I try to distract myself with low, medium and an occasional high culture shiny object. That’s for the mental therapy. Physically, I’m still active for an aging Boomer, having played a lot of tennis this spring and summer season, and peddling the Trek as much as weather permitted, at times peddling more miles to get to a bike trail than miles spent on that trail itself in some cases. I’m not saying I do 40-50 miles on a whim, but I do more than lolligag along atop my 27 speed two-wheeler. 20-25 miles, maybe. An occasional 30-miler. No sweat. And it frees my mind. Endorphins, eh?

Right now, it’s not exactly tennis or bike weather in the Chicago area, but if creeping climate collapse turns a Midwest winter into a medium-to-light weight jacket needed at most situation, yours truly will at least get some benefit out of the inexorable descent into the environmental apocalypse seemingly foretold by those who study it closely. Give me 50s and sun and it’s off to the courts or the trails occasionally. Make the best of the rest of what’s left…

To keep healthy enough to bike on and on and rush the net now and then, I depend on a fairly healthy diet and, as every-so-often needed, my health care provider. You may be wondering, do I mean Aetna, United Health Group, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Humana or Cigna? No, none of those or their lessor competitors. Keep guessing. Give up? Okay it’s the Department of Veterans Affairs. One can qualify for this healthcare provider if he or she has served in our military, and received an honorable discharge. Having served our country during the Vietnam era, and after six years of service (2 active, 4 reserve) I got that honorable discharge. Thus, I qualified for the V.A. program. I am fortunate to not have any significant service-related disabilities, but our bodies (as alluded to above) are designed to fall apart one way or another. Kinda like any new car you might buy, it was created to ultimately go the the junkyard. BMW. Benz? Audi. Rolls Royce. No matter. Built-in obsolescence, as that saying goes. We humans don’t have, a la The Terminator, a hyper-alloy combat chassis. But I think you can order one from Amazon…

Now you might be wondering, where the hell is this going? Do I have a point to make? Well, yes I do.

The 2020 campaign for President and others who may write and pass legislation to address the needs of we the people is less than a year away. I consider it the most important national election in my lifetime, hands down. One of the hot campaign issues is healthcare. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren both are insisting that a so-called single-payer healthcare plan (a.k.a “Medicare for All’) is the way to go. Of course, most of the current office holders of either Donkey and especially the Elephant affiliation have either snickered at, or flat-out denounced this single-payer format as financially unfeasible, impossible or at best an idea that needs much compromising. As in let’s make healthcare more affordable, sure, but let’s not take away the insurance providers who the vast majority of those with healthcare coverage are beholden to. Such as those companies noted above.

You may have heard that–factually–single-payer healthcare is in place in most–if not all–other industrialized, modern economies around the world. Here, where capitalism is king, the insurance companies essentially get to make money–tons and tons of it–off our built-to-eventually-break- down chassis, beseiged by any number of diminishments.

As a temporary antedote to this unavoidable endgame we have medical science. From a really bad cold to cancer, modern medicine can help, short or long term. Of course, one can depend on a strong immune system and embrace the notion that either the body heals itself or the body dies, but maybe a trip to the doctor would be more practical. With caveat emptor in both cases, to be sure.

I recently underwent a colonoscopy. At the Veteran’s hospital. Ugh! Nasty experience. But it is a procedure meant to screen for colon cancer. I looked up the average cost of a colonoscopy in the context of our for-profit system: $3,081. Sure that cost can be mitigated by having that insurance policy. However, an insurance policy has a monthly premium, sometime hundreds of dollars a month. Plus a deductible. And a co-pay. So, maybe a really good insurance policy will let the colonoscopy patient settle the bill for $500 out-of-pocket, maybe even much less, after the numbers are crunched. But that monthly premium isn’t going anywhere. It represents the “skim” in this sinister system that allows some insurance company CEOs to haul down millions of dollars in compensation. Each year. Tens of millions in the case of United Healthcare, whose CEO, with bonus and stock options “earned” over $21 million last year.

A true single payer plan, which is what the V.A. healthcare format is, has no “middle man” skimming money from those using its services. No monthly premiums. No deductibles. There is a co-pay, based on service-related health issues and/or income levels. Thus, some vets get totally cost free care while others, like myself, have a calculated co-pay. That colonoscopy procedure that averages over 3K cost me $74. The V.A., unlike private healthcare providers, is permitted to negotiate drug prices, too. Recall the Epi-pen (for those who may have a severe allergic reaction) outrage not long ago when one drug company arbitrarily jacked up the price for a 2-pen pack from about $100 to $600? I get Epi’s from the V.A. for $16 a set.

Sure there are far fewer vets than in the general population, but so what? Liz and Bernie argue that whatever the cost to our government to provide such a single- payer system would be financed by–finally!– taxing mega corporations and bizillionares their fare share, along with the significant savings accrued by not having bloated insurance companies and their minions of paper-pushing drones keeping track of that skim, and all the billing layers, or in some cases, finding ways of denying coverage for pricey procedures or long-term care (the outrageous “pre-existing condition” loop hole). The government (as in the V.A. system) would negotiate for cheaper drug prices, a huge factor in many people’s lives. Life and death in some cases. Pay for vitally needed meds or skip dinners. Insurance companies exist to make profits, first and foremost. They are not interested in anyone’s health. It’s an expensive, immoral, and at times deadly charade. If someone can afford top-tier insurance, then they don’t feel the pinch that millions of others, with bargain-basement, lesser policies, do.

You can be sure the naysayers against any single payer plan will rant about socialized healthcare!! Plus the cost (a false dilemma, as just presented) and how most Americans want to keep their insurance policies. Really? Okay, let them (those with the $ to afford to get sick, even really sick) keep enriching those CEOs. Others, listening to the naysayers who prefer the current for-profit system now and forever, get to file bankruptcy as a side effect of their diagnosis. Also, our mainstream corporate media will gladly assist in the demonization of a system that works in those other countries that guarantee healthcare for every one of their citizens, from cradle to grave (or urn). Fear appeals, the go-to that tends to lull lazy Americans into really bad, awful, absurd, dangerously stupid choices.

Given what happened in 2016, I’d say there’s not a likelihood of enough voters thinking past the propaganda and programmed pessimism that is part and parcel our profit-mongering, PAC-driven model of governance. And that applies to many other issues, from the environment, to education, to immigration and other issues-at-large.

I hope I’m being too pessimistic. But my eyes are wide open–for better or worse.

If 2020 results in more of the same political dysfunction–now bordering on outright tin pot dictatorial bluster, autocracy and insipient fascistic characteristics, then I can always get emotional support by getting psychiatric care, at the V.A. For a mere pittance. Single-payer style.

That is, if the VA isn’t privatized, as many of the Wall Street, marinated-in- corporate-donations office holders want so greedily, likely wet-dreaming its implementation. Along with Medicare, and social security, making it a ménage-a-trois wet dream. But we get the government we ask for. Look around.

Thus in 2020, dystopia or deliverance awaits. Eyes wide shut or…

… Where’s my very low cost, single-payer provided benzodiazepines?

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Send in the Clowns

A little more than a year from now, it’ll be the 2020 election, with nothing less than the future of our country at stake. Should the manifestly unstable, incompetent, crude, clueless and current criminal occupant of the White House somehow remain in office, the U.S. will officially be a combo of Autocracy, Banana Republic, Oligarchy, and Fascist enterprise. It’s all of that right now, based on the modus operandi of 40 years of ever more pernicious, anti-working class, culture war mongering, “Reganomics” mind you, but supposedly, the opposition party, the one whose mascot is a donkey, is allegedly moving to hold many of the party whose mascot is an elephant accountable (how appropriate–the elephant–given the circus that is led by their Orange hued ringmaster humanoid).

Hmm. That so-called opposition party…

Just this morning I see that Gloria Steinem is praising House leader Nancy Pelosi for getting the better of the self-proclaimed “stable genius” who has been demolishing all political protocol, and norms, and at this point apparently willing to do anything to keep the keys to the White House beyond 2020.

Okay, Gloria, but just as we all have our personal assholes, we all have our personal opinions. However, if Steinem and many other political pundits insist that Pelosi is outsmarting the flim-flam man, I have yet to see any dramatic evidence of that taking place. For me seeing is believing, not the other way around. Nancy has been averse to taking meaningful action from the moment others in her donkey party began to promote proceeding with articles of impeachment. Nancy, look! He’s done so many things that scream for accountability. Let’s get it on! Her rationale, however, remains that she (and the other donkeys) need to investigate more and find proof of impeachable offenses before pulling the trigger on such action.

Recall that President Bill Clinton was impeached by the Elephant Party for nothing more than receiving fallatio from one of his young, female White House interns. He wasn’t convicted by the Senate, because back in the late 90s, the public clearly did not want Clinton removed from office, even if he was a disgusting male pig. His approval rating was around 65%. The Senate realized the absurdity of convicting him for a non-political, personal dalliance. The senators knew they’d pay for a conviction at the ballot box.

The loose cannon from the Apprentice has an approval rating of just 41% That would be the mouth-breathing neanderthals who still dig his mojo. Ooops. Did I just insult some people? Personal opinion…

So, can we please get real here, Speaker Pelosi? Just today, certain lawyers for our Whack Man-in-Chief assert that even if he committed murder he could not be held accountable while in office. Recall, the prez famously claimed he could shoot someone dead on 5th Ave in Manhattan and his supporters would still love him? That was when he was running for office, mind you. While making an outrageous statement such as that while campaigning for the most powerful gig on planet Earth would seem to logically raise enough red flags that he’d be demolished on election day, we know that the media and 61 million people found his bravado to be no big deal. His “base” and that same media have apparently also decided it’s no big deal that he has blatantly violated laws while in office, including the emoluments clause of the Constitution, in and of itself an impeachable offense. But that is the least of his impeachable offenses. He commits one, seemingly, every day now. He threatened Democrat Adam Schiff by tweet recently, falsely accusing him of making up a story related to…to…wait…I can’t recall what Schiff said about The Orange Elephant. There’s just so much poop hitting the fan these days. Was it about the call to Ukraine asking them to dig dirt on Joe Biden’s son? Or lose military aid if they don’t. Bribery? Extortion?Wait, the “whistleblower” caper that has been getting in his face? He has openly threatened government officials who spoke to this whistleblower. Can you say witness tampering? There’s so many things that long ago cleared the “can we impeach?” bar! Misappropriating funds for his border wall without the approval of congress–as required by the Constitution?

The Constitution? That thing. Yeah. Right now, the White House doesn’t recognize that document in any way at all, other than tossing off a snark about it’s just an old piece of parchment. Then, in the next breath, president dumpster fire proclaimed that Article 2 of the Constitution gives him the power to do whatever he wants with impunity–including, it would seem, pumping some lethal lead into a innocent passerby. Of course he can’t be held to account, just ask his lawyers (wonder what law schools can brag on having taught these jurists?).

All of which brings me back to Nancy Pelosi. Still no articles of impeachment. Oh, sure, there’s an “inquiry” going on. And on. And on. Wow. Such bold, enough is enough! action on her part. There are Constitutional body parts scattered all over the D.C landscape at this point, and the perpetrator is openly daring her to do something about it. He taunts, rages, babbles, obstructs, invites foreign interference in our elections, coddles dictators and abandons our allies in the process. He and his party are an ipso facto criminal organization, as (most all) of the other elephants refuse to find their own backbones for the sake of sanity and this country’s reputation as a beacon of democracy, or what’s left of it.

But Nancy is outsmarting him, say Steinem and those scattered pundits. Why do we have to read such nonsense? I know that real, old school investigative journalism is no longer practiced in this country, and that this bull goose lunatic makes for easy (and sensationalized) headlines. But can we finally and officially invoke the powers of impeachment that the Democrat-controlled House possesses? I mean, how much more evidence does Pelosi think she still needs? Jesus H. you-know-who, but remember Nixon was brought down over a 3rd rate bungled break-in at the Watergate hotel. That was his Waterloo. A bungled robbery by elephant operatives.

The days, weeks and months just roll along here though, and we hear the same reporting on the action that is not being taken by the center and right-of-center democrats, while we hear so much about the guy who wants to be dictator/king. Who now says confidently he can kill anyone with impunity. Who has admitted to sexually assaulting women (the video of such admission came to light during his campaign!). Who is so garishly unfit for a job he astoundingly, recklessly, suspiciously, was given.

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

We aren’t hearing much about Greta Thunburg anymore. Remember her. 16 years old. Greta. Demanding adults DO SOMETHING to save the planet? That’s so not newsworthy now. The last debate by the Democrat candidates didn’t include a single question about climate change, the 80,000 lb gorilla in the room, but kept pretty much invisible by our democracy-destroying corporate media. So, perhaps regardless of the 2020 results, all this current dysfunction and incompetence will be a moot point. That clock is ticking. Loudly if one cares to listen. Mother Nature is speaking, but she doesn’t help pump up newscast ratings or sell papers, so she must not be too important. And she’s a she. Even more reason to dismiss her evident anger. So emotional, these women!

There are voices of reason out there: Amy Goodman. Jim Hightower. Tom Hartman, Rick Unger, Norman Goldman and the most feared man by any politician, Ralph Nader. They are actually reporting facts, and exposing fictions. But just try to find them somewhere in electronic or print media. And this is intentionally so. But they are out there if one cares to bother to find them.

In the meantime, kick back and watch the leaves fall. It’s Ma Nature again, just doing her natural thing. We humans have only been around since 300,000 years ago. Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. The reality is Nature doesn’t need us. But we do need nature. If only we acted like we do. Or cared.

To quote from Blue Oyster Cult’s ode to Godzilla: History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.

Folly it is. As for our current political farce, a sad circus full of donkeys and elephants, one more quote:

A plague on both your houses!

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