The Anchorman and the Alien

Hello out there. Or, rather in there. Gotten into a quarantine/shelter-in-place routine by now? Staying inside except for some modest amount of outdoorsy excercise, or to walk the dog (and pick up that pooch’s poop, okay? Unless it’s dropping a load in your own backyard, making it optional). Then comes the absolute need to get out to the grocery store. Mask on. Sanitizer in hand. Gloves on. Keeping your distance. Of COURSE you re doing things as prescribed by the medical experts. By now you know the drill. And you know how surreal, unsettling, mind bending a matter of staying the course is until a vaccine is created. However, the course just circles back to the same day, in defiance to what a calendar may otherwise suggest.

It’s Groundhog Day meets the Day the Earth Stood Still.

Groundhog Day is a funny but soulful film. It has a trajectory of one’s becoming more sensitive and self aware in spite of being trapped in a repetitve external sameness that kicks-in at exactly 6. A.M., to Cher singing I Got You Babe on a clock radio. The Day the Earth Stood Still is an edgy sci-fi thriller, a confrontation with an obstinate alien power threatening to “reduce Earth to a smoldering cinder” if nuclear proliferation isn’t reigned-in, with the potential to send nukes into space and threaten other life forms–such as the alien, Klaatu, sent from his deep space domicile to read the riot act to leaders world-wide. These two references to classic movies are relevant to what is going on in Covid World: people are virtually living the same day over and over, sheltering-in-place and trying to break the monotony inherent in this strategic battle plan to conquer the virus, which literally is threatening all of humanity. How much different–other than varying degrees of mental readiness, gumption, finding a sense of renewed purpose alone or with some family, perhaps with just that pooch or a kitty–can each passing day be from what preceded it? And each and every day has the same global threat ingrained in it upon our awakening,

There has been much speculation on how we come out of this looping, quotidian sameness. Will we all have soul-searched and learned how to be a better person, even if you were already quite self-satisfied with the face that confronts you in the morning mirror? Too soon to say, I suppose. We are, weather we want to acknowledge it or not, transforming, perhaps imperceptably and unconsciously so. This event undeniably changes everything. It holds a mirror up that not so much reflects who we are but what we are. It demands reflection. Assessment and re-assessment. We are being pretty much forced to reconsider everything that came before this came along. We will never be the exact same again, even if you think you will be. You would have to have your memory scrubbed clean to not know that nothing can ever be exacly the same again. We are all acting like we have never had to act before, writ large or small. Impossible to honestly deny that it isn’t so.

Do we not feel an uneasy cautiousness that accompanies our every touch of any surface, or the needed suppression of suspicion of being endangered by that trip to get more toilet paper, knowing this is how that invisible virus spreads–by being among others? Does your proximity alert alarm go off when someone in that store or even on the walkways invades that six foot distancing strategy? We are all, in a way Phil Conners, the Groundhog anchorman anchored in the same day, day after day after day… We are all Klaatu, potentially the univited alien that threatens humanity, one contagious encounter at a time.

Ah, but do not despair!

Keep in mind, Phil Conners finally breaks out of his recycled same-dayness and is a better person for the ultimately transformative experience. Klaatu and his menacing robot, Gort, depart after having warned humanity that it needs to change it’s ways. When a vaccine is developed, however far off that is, Covid will depart, having also given us all pause as to how to make this world a safer, saner place, a world that will have learned its lesson about living recklessly, ignoring common sense behavior that collectively invites catastrophy and carnage.

That’s me trying to put a positive spin on what we are all stuck in. So, keep on truckin’. Keep the faith (whatever one you choose). Time is, after all, on our side in that it doesn’t stop. Whatever day we are finally free to start our renewed lives (safely and sanely), however many more days that may entail, with the alien threat still in place, know that each day is a day closer to living to see the adage This Too Shall Pass proving its inexorable, inherent truth.

Excuse me now, please. Time to wash my hands. Again. And again. and …

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Easter Sunday, Showdown at the Defiance Corral edition

Easter is upon us. As in it’s tomorrow. Here in the US, Easter Sunday is formally observed in myriad places of worship, be it a small church in some remote outpost, to towering cathedrals in big cities, repleat with ornade emblems of biblical narratives, plenty of stained glass and seating capacities up to 6,000, as in the Cathedral of St.John the Devine in New York City.

However, this 2020 Easter Sunday will not have the devoted flocks of parishioners gathering shoulder to shoulder in pews to hear a sermon. Of course not, because virtually every state in the country has given John and Jane Q.Citizen orders to shelter-in-place, a directive that makes perfectly logical sense as a strategy to flatten that Covid-19 curve. Need I explain any of this?

Of course not. Unless…

…the place of worship is located in a state with enough elected officials belonging to Murder, Inc. aka the Republican party. I believe I made a logical argument for using the moniker of Murder, Inc when referring to the GOP in my previous posting. I stand by it, as I have for a looong time. Not to again rehash the overtly egregious intents of these callous killers (okay, just consider how much they drool over getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, without any proposals to replace it, a plot that uneqivocably would lead to certain death for countless people who can barely afford to buy aspirin, let alone have completely private, for-profit health insurance). Mind you, the ACA is not nearly the answer for our criminally expensive healthcare system, but it is better than nothing. The GOP prefers nothing. But back to Easter Sunday worship without going to church. Most all of those heading various places of spiritual devotion have planned for a tele-sermon, or one or another digital dais format, to maintain the social distancing aspect of battling the further spread of the coronavirus. However, there are some spiritual practioners who prefer to preach to their parishioners in person, and many among the faithful are just fine with having Easter Sunday sans social distancing. These people are, of course, fucking crazy. However, even crazier are the ruling red state legislators who demand that the service be performed as usual. If they get their way, with hundreds of people gathering under one roof, it would almost certainly increase the odds of the virus spreading.

**************************************INTERMISSION********************************

Oh, hello again. Uh, let?’s see. What was I going on about? Oh, right, social distancing and Easter Sunday. And the goddam GOP! I mean, Is there not ANYTHING that Murder, Inc ever supports, proposes, or worse of all, passes into law, that DOES NOT, at a minimum, cause at least middling adversity, or major headaches, to literal life or death outcomes for most people? Can these mentally rigid, neo-conservative, control-freaky types be genuinely convinced that their ideology is righteous? I’m not just talking about the elected offficals. It’s the “flock” that follows those officials who votes for them, too. If they are “all in” and ready to stay in, then how does that separate them from other organizations whose agenda sometimes leaves blood on their hands? You think Lefties are the ones trying to deligitimize a woman’s right to control her body? What a compassionate attitude. Then we return to when septic back alley abortions were notorious. That’s the Elephant party’s version of “progress”. So, if these followers are large enough in number–and they are in the tens of millions– and are “all in” with the Elephants, the herd gets bigger and more agressive. They are True Believers! But they are worshipping something that makes no sense if it does little good but great harm? Ya think?

************************************Time to Reflect********************************

Sorry I took a bit longer than expected . I was reflecting on how meaningless it all is. And how the fact that we even exist makes zero sense. Geeze, how do you make something out of nothing? How did this reality start? What was there before there was nothing that became something? What, some “god” made it? Oh, really? Where’d he she/it come from? But wait. This blog rant has something to do with “god” and churches and the Covid-19. And something else. What? What was it? Oh, those motherfucking Republicans! Let me tell you something. Their actions are very well strategized, practiced and polished to somehow tap into far too many a person’s lack of listening/critical thinking skills. Forget skills, How about basic, no frills common sense? It’s a style over substance trance. But the style, devilishly, is as well manufactured as the message. The medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan famously said. They are masters of manipulating crucial segments of the mainstream media to unwittingly do their bidding. Or unwillingly, at best, owing to most major outlets being owned by corporations that own the media outlet. And own the GOP (and most of congress for that matter, but especially those Elephants).

Therefore, we now incessantly have to listen to a carnival barker disguised as a human being disguised as a “leader” of the most powerful country on Earth who never slightly appears to have a sense of empathy or ability to give a shit unless he abosultely, positively has to; but he’ll not really give a shit even when he tries because he can’t because he’s incapable, like a freakazoid humanoid whose wiring does not permit any other form of decision making. Not even a pandemic that threatens to kill people the world over can trigger a basic reasoning override. And he has his flock, some of whom can’t process the need to NOT HAVE large gatherings, as in especially huge congregations pouring into some churches. Perhaps the local authorities will enforce common sense, the easy way, or the hard way. I hope. These ignorant bofflecocks need to be stopped by some local agency that sees reality for what it is. The local GOP acolytes be damned.

Why does this even have to be litigated, as it is? Because we have Murder, Inc as the party that has the most power, and now has sects that deserve to be called a Death Cult. This isn’t slick marketing of a message or the lull of agitprop repitition. There are no sublte, subliminal emotional buttons to be pushed here. This is in your face defiance with lives on the line. If allowed to happen, it could cost far more people illness and death than the people who hit the pews tomorrow. Inevitably it will go to surrounding communities. Enough of a spread to work counter to the overall need to flatten that curve. The curve that has been ever so slightly lowering, especially where rigorous in place sheltering is being hard core taken as gospel.

Hey, maybe their invisible entity up there will reward their devotion by ending the threat of their spreading death. Cured! We be cool, okay? The power of defiance! Yeah, a benevolent god would do that, right? Then again, a benevolent god wouldn’t permit pandemics.

Or the Republican party.

One’s god is within, One’s beliefs are within. Build a shrine to your personal god in the clothes closet. Then leave the matter between you and your wardrobe. Just keep it to yourself, okay? That would be a refreshingly benevolent gesture.

Me, I believe, too. Sure do. I believe I’ll pour myself two fingers of rye.

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Flattening the Curve(s)

Today, April 7, 2020 in the Covid-19 pandemic. While most states here in the U.S. have made official shelter-in-place orders, there are several that still have not. For those living in the states where the governors refuse to act in accordance with the irrefutable medical science which emphatically states stopping Covid-19 from spreading means staying home, maybe at least local mayors are using their brains to help save lives. And getting the public to shelter at home, only going out for necessary supplies once in a while–and then wearing face masks/bandanas and keeping at least 6 or more feet apart from others–clearly does work. The proof of this is that today, for the first day since the virus outbreak was started in China–likely in the Wuhan area–there has not been a single Covid-related death reported. I repeat, not a single additional death from Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

If only the U.S. could say the same. Not about to happen, as today, New York City recorded 731 deaths. Since the virus reached the Big Apple several weeks ago, it has suffered 3,202 Covid deaths. In comparison, back in China, where the virus was first reported back in late November or early December or thereabouts, it has reported 3,331 deaths. That’s China, folks, where 1.386 billion people call home. New York City has 8.6 million residents. These statistics are telling us a story. The narrative here is this corona virus can be stopped, if only people would be smart about deploying the stay home strategy very assiduously.

While the Chinese government at first tried to downplay the seriousness of Covid-19’s initial spread, when it realized that the virus was immune to magical thinking, and it was going to decimate the population if allowed to, it got real serious about not letting that happen. The Chinese officials locked-down the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, population 11 million. That order was put in place 76 days ago–Jan 23. And as noted, today not one new Covid death. Additionally, the residents of Wuhan are being allowed to go out again, with precautions of course.

The first diagnosed case of the virus here in the U.S. was January 21. On January 30, the World Health Organization (that’s a scientific organization, okay?) declared a GLOBAL HEALTH EMERGENCY. By the end of January, our President was given the grim projections on the Covid-19 deaths here in the U.S., estimated to be as much as hundreds of thousands. However, as with the initial Chinese response that downplayed the matter, the White House insisted that everything was under control. To this day, the day in which there has not been one new death in China because of the virus, our country’s “leader” still has not ordered a national shelter-in-place order. Thus, those several states–all so-called “red states”–that still don’t get it about what a seriously deadly matter this viral attack is. And by “red” state I’m not talking commies here. I’m talking Republican led states. Some “leadership” going on there–a deficit that is emboldened by blathering from a cartoon show masquerading as sober consideration from 1600 Mar-a-Lago.

However, I need not go on another screed about the national political party I have long referred to as Murder, Inc. GOP policies have been killing people for years. You should know by now that the GOP has fought against every piece of legislation that actually aims to serve everyone in the U.S (what a concept eh?). That would include, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, any attempt at universal healthcare, protecting women’s reproductive rights and on and on and on. So, why would they care about who dies from the Covid attack? And to put a fine point on my assertion of Murder, Inc., just today, the state of Wisconsin–with a Democratic Governor but a GOP run legislature–is conducting their scheduled primary. However, the governor tried to push the primary into May. The legislature acted in conjunction with the state’s GOP majority supreme court to rule the primary will take place today, with the matter also being quickly settled by our nation’s Supreme Court by–of course!–a 5-4 vote with all five votes for letting the primary go ahead being given by conservative, GOP lapdog justices.

See what I mean? In Wisconsin, the GOP says go out and vote. It may cost you your life, but obviously we Republicans don’t care about that. Why? As usual, the strategy works for them, and against any possible loss of Murder, Inc not calling the neo-liberal, let-them-eat-cake shots. You know, it’s a variation on Tony Montana/Scarface denoting the progression of achieving supremacy: first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the woman. But the difference here is women don’t count at all with the GOP. Power and money gets their rocks off. Women? Several of those red states have used the coronavirus pandemic to pass draconian legislation to prevent a woman from getting an abortion, even if it is a matter of that woman’s life or death. The GOP is one hideously inhumane, greedy, creepy and morally corrupt crowd, whose “leader” admitted in front of a camera and microphone prior to his running for office, that he can use his celebrity when in the presence of a beautiful woman to “Grab ’em by the pussy”.

Then again, from our current cartoon character occupying the White House, from where he conducts a reality show akin to the corporate media-based one that gave him a smaller but significant stage, on down to local GOP office holders, I wonder: how do these political cretins ever get elected in the first place?

Well, one reason is their systematic implementation of voter suppression laws in those same red states–and mind you this red state/blue state political map of the country has taken shape for the last 40 years, given birth when Ronald Reagan was elected, ushering in the neo-liberal agenda that today has generated outcomes like the Wisconsin primary becoming a literal life-risking matter in order for its citizens to vote. But voter suppression is not the sole reason the GOP continues to wield its nefarious agenda. Another factor is the unabashed rigging of the judicial branch of our government. Again, as above with a right-wing court ordering Wisconsin’s primary to be held in spite of the obvious dangers that ruling entailed, and the anti-abortion laws being enforced in the face of this pandemic, as if the constitutional right for a woman to control her own body is nullified by the virus. The virus that–and yes to beat a goddam dead horse–that was not taken the least bit seriously by our Republican pussy-grabber when it was first documented by the W.H.O. And that because of this stupendous stupidity New York City has recorded virtually as many Covid deaths as the entire country of China–where it first ran rampant.

Do you see the self-stoking vicious circle that is in play here? Murder, Inc., Established in early November of 1980, when the American people went to polls and decided that Ronald Reagan was the best choice to lead our country. I will never forget the term “Reagan Democrats” denoting how many of the Donkey Party’s members went from blue to red. And for many of us, who lived through that upheaval of the political landscape, now living with the unprecedented political earthquake, a tectonic plate shattering, brace yourself against the wall, slap yourself in the face this-has-got-to-be-a-gothic nightmare event of November 8th 2016, bad done turned worse. Much, much worse.

How do enough people still actually vote for members of a political that overtly displays its contempt for any but the most wealthy and privileged? A party that–taking its cue from Reagan who famously warned us all that the government is the problem, not the solution–currently cannot provide any trace of leadership in the face of a life-altering, global catastrophe. A party whose policies serve the very, very few, even now in our communal hour of greatest need.

The pandemic is a matter of “flattening the curve”, as we have all been told. That curve gets flattened by people being officially told to STAY HOME. If the virus cannot continue to spread by close contact, medical science can get the upper hand all the sooner to resolve this life and death matter. That strategy has been shown to work, not just in Wuhan, but in others places, including Singapore, Austria and Germany. Here in the U.S., California, a very blue state whose governor early on saw that the federal government was pretty much useless, has become a model for flattening the curve. Yeah, let’s flatten that curve, okay? It’s the SMART thing to do. Stay home as much as possible. To not do so is pretty stupid. Can’t beat the virus by being stupid. Stupidity won’t flatten the curve (hello, red state mopes taking its cue from Idiot Number One).

There’s a second curve–akin to the corona virus curve–that needs to be flattened. And that curve is–what else?–the Stupidity Curve. What does this curve look like? Well, it is far, far from being flattened. It has been slowly spiking for decades, leading to why Republican con artists of every rank and file keep getting elected. Seriously, tens of millions of voters keep voting against their best interests. The 1% that controls almost all of the power and wealth in this country have been put in place by millions of voters being stupid enough to be conned. As if the GOP supporters, most of whom are working class, who need healthcare, education, economic opportunity, safe drinking water (recall the GOP led Michigan officials essentially poisoning the Flint, Michigan water supply to–what else?–save money for their corporate backers) breathable air and other basic human rights, can’t discern fundamental right from wrong.

We will, eventually, flatten the Covid-19 curve, here and around the world. In spite of the noted stupidity displayed by those who have the power to help, but choosing not to be much help at all. To prevent having such sinister and cynical, incompetent and corrupt government, here and elsewhere, people need to make smarter choices about who they support to govern. I don’t know about this Stupidity Curve getting flattened anytime soon. Maybe stupidity is a disease too. Is there a cure for stupidity? And don’t say education. Lots of people with a college degree or two choose to vote against their own self-interest.

I keep hearing about how great it will be to get back to normal. Really? Hmm. I believe what was supposedly “normal” prior to our current apocalyptic looking everyday life, is what created this medical and political mess in the first place. Please, let’s create a better, smartly maintained normal when this passes. It should take not an Einsteinian I.Q. to figure out the good from the bad. It shouldn’t take too much brain power to see right from wrong, in each’s most basic characteristics.

In theory anyway.

P.S.: the Democratic Party isn’t exactly free of some complicity in the aforementioned leadership vacuum. Murder, Inc. the DNC is not. More like Status Quo, LLC.

Just so you know…

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War of the World, Phaedrus edition

While I keep sheltering in place, fully aware of the dire need for everyone here and abroad to be smart and do the same, I am unable to forget how we here in the U.S. got to this point, on April 1. Of course, it’s because covid-19 is an invisible, lethal enemy. However, this precise point in time-cruelly April Fools day–should have taken place no less than seven to eight weeks earlier. Why do I assert such a claim?

Look no further than the occupant of the White House, who downplayed the seriousness of this virus and its potential for global disaster. But he is concerned not about the globe rather only the U.S. And not the general population of the U.S. No, only for the U.S. economy, which he appears to place above people’s lives. You should all understand how much he has blatantly made this priority clear. He wanted to “re-open” businesses by Easter Sunday, but with the covid number skyrocketing, he has had to let that absurd notion go. What he needed to do, long before letting his Easter dream go, was act on real, verifiable, information from the World Health Organization those many weeks ago and ordered the shelter-in-place/social distancing order with all due haste.

That’s what any other President in my lifetime would have done, and by extension I mean every last one who preceded our current occupant of the White House. Of course they would have. But there has never been a person with absolutely no ability to lead or a self-awareness that the job he holds demands leadership, in the best of times but especially in a national crisis. The only reality for this man stares back at him in a mirror. And he always is then self-aware and approving of that reality.

Alas, I belabor the OBVIOUS on this point! Well, for some of us that is, it is abundantly obvious. For others, not so much. Those others would be the ones who, in some recent polls, give him a thumbs up on his job performance. Yes, his polling numbers have gone up. These polls are shocking, disturbing and surreal–like the man for whom the polls measure likes and dislikes. Then again, the people who are themselves self-satisfied with their thumbs up in the polls, are also shocking, disturbing and surreal. Well, but his true believers have always come across that way to me. His being given the keys to White House was an abhorrent aberration. Mind you, I despise both Republicans and Democrats, and have cringed at how some of these office holders ever gain traction with voters. But the 2016 outcome exists in its own political universe, galaxy, solar system, star, planet, moon and asteroid pecking order. 2016’s stunning election results (corrupted by an outdated system, foreign interference, voter suppression, all proven as contributors to the outcome) have been a waking nightmare for those who once laughed at the mere notion of such an outcome; but we get the government we deserve. Right. Wait, but do we deserve this? That is, gross incompetence is one thing, but willfully ignoring proven science weeks and weeks ago means, at this moment, April 1, 2020, that ignorance has cost people their lives in creasing numbers.

As if he cares. He is considered by mental health professionals to be a “sociopath”. His hideous character warts have been on display for decades. Now his most glaring shortcoming–not having any empathy whatsoever–has become weapons grade lethal.

Well, I wish everyone well, even those who literally–albeit unwittingly– voted for this. The virus does not discriminate. It’ll kill friend and foe of our current resident of 1600 Mar-a-Lago. That was its modus operandi months and months ago, when it first become known as a matter of importance. If only we could have been given facts about the gravity of the situation before the virus itself forced the facts to confront our reality-denying president. Mind you, he very reluctantly has made recent concessions to our current reality. He has at last–and VERY late in this matter–conceded to the seriousness of the moment. I’m sure he loathed having to concede to the facts of this matter. No, sir. Covid-19 is so not fake news!

If only the mistakes of others only had consequences for those who made the mistake. But that’s not the way it works. We here in the U.S. of A. are all paying for that shocking, disturbing, surreal outcome back on November 8th 2016. I knew no good could come of it. But I never figured it would come to being THIS BAD, as much as I knew it had potential for unprecedented outcomes.

And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good,

need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

Gee, good question. Maybe a poll could be taken to answer that one.

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War of the World, Agent Smith edition

Hello, self-quarantined, sheltering-in-place, social distancing, diligent hand washing, not face touching, responsible practitioners/critical thinkers in what by now is clearly a deep dive into an a potentially apocalyptic pandemic. Being smart about this war against an invisible but lethal enemy is the only way Covid-19 will be stopped. Being stupid about it will increase the odds against winning, and by winning I mean being able to save humanity from whatever brought this calamity upon one and all, anywhere and everywhere.

Certainly, I am stating the obvious here, right? Who doesn’t already understand this? Well, obviously it is not obvious to a lot of people. And the people I am alluding to are swathes of science-deniers, or selfishly reckless individuals who still meet up in groups or who individually hoard sanitizers, face masks, and most all of toilet paper. Toilet paper! Okay, you might get diarrhea if you’re infected. But one person buying three packs of 32 rolls? And likely NOT suffering such a symptom as they stack their shopping cart full of Charmin. What a bunch of assholes, obviously. But–most of all–certain people who have a public presence via media outlets. Here in the U.S of A., we have an administration that is led by, as David Brooks, a bonafide media conservative put it, a “sociopath”. And this sociopath has made it abundantly clear that saving our economy, i.e. Wall Street, is more important than anything else. You may have heard of medical staff all over the country crying out for more vital supplies. This need has been established weeks and weeks ago, but only a trickle of new resources have become available. This sociopath could invoke the War Powers Act to require U.S. manufacturing companies to quit making one widget or another and make those medical supplies instead. But he refuses to use that Act. He prefers not to be a burden to business, apparently. Priorities.

For all I know, at the very moment I write this post, some further lunacy has been spoken by Sociopath Man. Yesterday he touted the idea of “reopening America” by Easter Sunday. You know, to help–not the doctors, nurses, first responders and others on the front lines of this life or death battle–but, you know, to help get the economy percolating again. This psychobabble was uttered at virtually the same time the World Health Organization postulated the U.S could soon become the very epicenter of this viral assault. Who do you want to believe? Sociopath Man or the World Health Organization?

I am of a mind that Sociopath Man will have to be reigned in by the scientific community, or we, here in the U.S. will suffer for it. More than we already are suffering from it. Sure, his fellow sociopathic true believers trust him. They are zombies, but unlike those in what was once just a science fiction apocalyptic narrative. This story is all too real. Sociopath Man’s zombies are very real. They want to eat brains alright. Brains that, as alluded to above, belong to those smart/critical thinking, regimen respecting troopers aligned to defeat our common enemy, Covid-19. Sociopath zombies indeed want to eat that type of brain, and they will if we let them. Then there are no brains left. Sociopath Man is a virus unto himself. His spores are his followers. When they speak, it is a the equivalent of an coronavirus infectee sneezing in your face. Duck and cover.

No one can yet see how this all ends. It’s a war, for sure. But in this part of world and others, there’s a secondary war of fact vs fiction. Black magical thinking vs sound reasoning. To win both wars is quite a task, but it can be done. If not then whom to blame? I think I know the answer to that one…

…and it was provided in one particular sequence of the 1999 seminal science fiction film The Matrix. In this sequence, Morpheus has been captured and is being tortured by three Agents, sentient computer programs that protect the Matrix from its human enemies. Morpheus is human but has entered the matrix as part of a resistance that strives to save humanity from the machines, which are now harvesting humans to use them as energy sources- batteries, if you will, that aid in the matrix’s operation. Agent Smith is desperate to break into Morpheus’ mind, to get the information that will finish off any human threat to the machines. As agent Smith becomes more impatient with Morpheus, he (it) decides to clearly explain his antipathy toward the human race that created the matrix in the first place. Smith, visibly displaying disgust with his assignment to crack Morpheus so he/it can exist without threat from him or leftover resistant humans, alludes to the matrix failing to ever understand how the human race functions, saying that although the computers tried to make a virtual world for those humans serving as unwitting servants to the matrix it created, nothing ever seemed to satisfy them. Human behavior is a puzzle that the matrix cannot solve. Smith asserts that all humans ever seem to do, is populate one place, destroying it in the process, before moving to another place and destroying it as well, time and time again. Rinse and repeat, in so many words. As Morpheus slumps, bound to a chair, hanging on desperately so as not to let them break his will–hack his brain, as it were–Smith then tells Morhueus there is another organism that has the same behavioral characteristics of the human race, that being a virus.

Yes, Agent Smith. You hit the nail right on the head! The human race is one nasty, greedy, genocidal, power thirsty lot. The human virus. Hell, the 20th century alone gave us two world wars, plus a handful of ridiculous, life-wasting ideological proxy wars. We slaughter one another, writ large or small. Before you accuse me of cherry picking humankind’s characteristics, just take a close look at the world, especially before this pandemic. Fascism on the rise. Racism. Sexism. Xenophobia. Class warfare. Plutocrats. Oligarchs. Totalitarians. Then study history farther and farther back. Rinse and repeat. Smith, my man–uh–my sentient computer program. You rule!

But we must dethrone agent Smith. Now let’s go and win this war! Both of them! Stay inside and keep washing those hands. Avoid those Sociopath Man zombies. Squirt disinfectant into their eyes. We can do it.

Or maybe this is our Matrix. If so, if some guy who goes by the name of Morpheus rescues you from your virtual world of placid, quotidian routine, when he offers a choice of a red or blue pill, TAKE THE BLUE ONE.

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Crime and Punishment; Pardon Me? edition

On February 7, 2003, the Bush administration continued its increasing drumbeat for taking down Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi honcho, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld  estimating  that such an invasion could last “Six days. Six weeks. I doubt six months”.

On March 20, 2003, the U.S. invades the country of Iraq.

In case one doesn’t recall the run-up to that march 2003 start of the Iraq war, allow me to remind such a reader that it’s official ending date is noted as December 18, 2011. About 130,000 U.S. soldiers entered into that invasion, along with about 45,000 British troops. According to National Geographic “war and occupation directly and indirectly claimed the lives of about half a million Iraqi civilians. The American military death toll stands at about 4500.

In the ensuing years since March 20, 2003, investigations into the assertions by the Bush administration used to justify the invasion have irrefutably shown that Hussein did not possess, nor was trying to develop, “weapons of mass destruction” to be used against the U.S. This is not only based on reporting by the likes of Mother Jones, but from our own CIA and FBI, which as the rush to war was reaching a fever pitch in early 2003, concluded the “evidence” was not reliable. Meetings, the CIA and FBI claimed, that were alleged to have taken place in which “proof” of Saddam’s WMDs were discussed,  never took place. If you doubt that the Iraq war was based on lies, distortions and propaganda 101’s “demonization” strategy, then do your own research (but check your sources, as there are many sites that spew a toxic stew of prevarication and pre-fabbed “facts”). Bush and Iraq was fake news long before our current Tweeter-in-Chief popularized the term. Unfortunately, the mainstream media, both electronic and print, at the time did not seem interested in truth-telling. The general (clearly non-critical thinking) public gave the invasion a thumbs up at around 70% at its start. By 2011, when President Obama officially ended our occupation of Iraq, 75% (Gallup poll) approved of the withdrawal. That’s a strange reversal of support, inasmuch as George W.Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and others from back in 2003 have yet to admit to any such fear mongering, deadly bait-and-switch tactics. The”Bushies” have never admitted to any wrongdoing to this day.  Keep in mind, however, that the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, a tribunal consisting of five judges with judicial and academic backgrounds reached a unanimous conclusion, in late 2011, BEFORE the withdrawal from Iraq, that George W. Bush and Tony Blair (Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time) were guilty of “crimes against peace, humanity, and genocide” as a result of their roles in the Iraq war.

That Rumsfeld estimation of the invasion likely not lasting even six months was off by 7.5 years. As noted above, as many as half-a-million civilians died during those years, along with several thousand “coalition” forces. And, in certain other parts of world, Bush, Blair and Associates are considered guilty of crimes against humanity. Those are serious charges, to say the least.

Has there been any official punishment for the now solid evidence that Bush and company lied the U.S. into a deadly war? Guilty of genocide?! Here’s the verdict on that: no way! Not a chance! And who cleared the path for Bush & Associates to still walk the streets like free men (and women, per Condy Rice and the New York times reporter Judith Miller)? None other than President Obama. Recall (if you can) that when Obama became President he had both the House and Senate with a majority of Democrats . That’s alot of power to effectively and justly serve  we the people. But when  asked if he was considering his Justice Department looking into the allegations against Bush invoked above, his response was simply “We need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards”. No wonder the Republicans have always accused the Democrats of being “soft on crime”. No, wait. they didn’t offer that retort to Obama.

No way. It’s all circumstantial, selective perception, apparently

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

Which brings this blog posting to its actual point: Not all crimes are created equal.  Quite clearly. Nor are they prosecuted equally. Which further brings me to the matter of Tuesday’s pardoning of Rod Blagojevich by the Tweeter-in-Chief. Blago, as he is often referred to, was serving a 14 year sentence at a federal prison in Colorado. He had served eight of those years at the time his pardon was granted. Since Tuesday, his release from prison has been reported on breathlessly by both local and national news. The media spin on this matter has suggested there was a miscarriage of justice committed by freeing Blago before his scheduled release in 2024. And why not? After all, are we not a nation founded on the rule of law? Do the crime, do the time. Damn straight!

What was Blago’s crime? Well, he, like many another public office holder, abused the public’s trust. Corruption. Wheeling and dealing. Shocking, no? A public official abusing his/her power? Blago was tried–twice–before getting that 14 year sentence. The essence of his corruption during his tenure as Illinois governor had to do with his apparent attempt to “sell” former U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s senate seat, vacated when Obama was elected President in 2008. See any irony in that scenario? Obama, who had no interest into even tinkering with the idea of holding George W.Bush to account for a war built on lies. A war with estimates ranging from at least a few hundred thousand Iraqi civilians having lost their lives. Not to mention our own military dead.

But Blago? U.S.Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald went after the former governor like Elliot Ness going after Al Capone. Sell Obama’s seat? That will NOT be tolerated!

Okay, fine then. Crime and punishment. Ness–err Fitzgerald, finally got his man behind bars. The sentence: 14 years! That’ll teach him, and all all other corrupt politicians. The rule of law…

But, wait. Blago didn’t kill anyone. No money ever changed hands. He was a lot of bluster. An easy target. But 14 years? And now that he gets out early because of the pardon, to hear the news reports and opining about such an action sending the wrong message, may I just say this: What a steaming, stinking pile of bullshit!

For all the local pundits, broadcasters, analysts and a lot of John and Jane Q.Public, please shut the fuck up about it. In this case, your political ignorance, your facile indignation, your simple minded assessment of what crime deserves what  punishment is so absurdly skewed into the twilight zone of hypocrisy it reminds me of–wait for it–an episode of South Park. That would be the episode where Cartman, a fat, white, blowhard 4th grader, always in it for himself and himself alone (hmm. Isn’t there someone else who fits that description? Yeah, and while Cartman is a cartoon character this other person, a human, is not a cartoon–damn what IS his name?–but acts cartoonish…and self-absorbed and…ah never mind) impulsively throws a rock intended for one of his playground classmates, but it hits another kid, who happens to be black. The school counselor puts Cartman in detention for two weeks, but two federal agents show up and haul the kid away, charging him with a hate crime. Cartman is sentenced to a juvenile detention center until he is 21! As the judge says, upon his passing sentence, “I’m making an example out of you that if you intend to hurt someone, make damn sure that person is the same color you are”.

Blago’s sentence seems similarly intended to make an example out of him as far as political corruption goes. The judge isn’t letting him off easy. He crossed the line!

However, Blago didn’t smash anyone’s head with a rock, although his dubious “seat for sale” gambit might be the result of a blow to the head and and a resulting lack of ethical reasoning. What it was NOT however,was  an act that caused anyone, anyone at all, any physical harm. If anything, it may have amused some of his fellow political pals otherwise ready to wheel and deal.

One politician (and his fellow wheeler dealers) falsely asserts evidence that propelled the U.S.military troops into harms way. Then, in the span of eight years kills hundreds of thousands of people, not to mention destabilizing a critical part of the Middle East, from which even today Iraq is still trying to recover from the carnage. That criminal action resulted in no legal action whatsoever. We need to look forward, as opposed to looking backwards…

And so, all of the hand-wringing and finger pointing about justice not being served in the Blagojavich case is asinine. He served eight years more than any of the above named, tribunal-convicted perpetrators of crimes against humanity, genocide, and certainly a breach of the public (lazy and gullible as they may be) trust.

I, for one, am glad Rod has been let out of prison. He paid his dues after the first few years of that sentence, given his actual failure to even close the deal.

If only sinister and cynically manufactured reasons to go to war with a consequences be damned cold bloodedness warranted any punishment at all. Too big to fail is one thing. Too big to jail?

Ugh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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