Crime and Punishment, post-insurrection edition

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Or something.


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Infection and Insurrection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Learning to Speak, the day after day 6 edition

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

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

What. The. Fuck!!??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Learning to Speak, 2021 edition

How ya doin’? I declined to post a la fin de l’annee blog before the onset of the neujahr. Guess I lacked “inspiration,” which is how that word is spelled in both French and German. Verstehen? Comprende? Oui? Nein? Look! I’m multi-lingual!

Okay, maybe not so much. Actually I’m I’m not even semi-fluent in any foreign language. Took Latin in high school and a semester of it in college. Latin, the “dead language”. Hmm. The anti-social language? Not always, though. It was all the rage in ancient Rome. It’s all about the timing. If I were born in contemporary Rome, I’d be speaking fluent Italian. However, I was born in rough and tumble Chicago. Of Scot, Irish, German and Italian bloodlines. But I am fluent only in English, although I didn’t “choose” it. Any more than I didn’t choose where to be born in Chicago. But I yam what I yam, to quote Popeye the Sailor. English is the most common language on the planet, counting both native and non-native speakers. But who wants to be common, other than Common, the talented and successful actor/rapper? Should I choose to flee the country and seek a satisfying sunset on distant shores, I ought to be able to get by with my oh so common English language ability.

Go to live in another country? Many people do just that. And what’s a most common destination? If not Chicago, somewhere in the United States.

As an educator at the freshman/sophomore level of higher education, I’ve had students who not only spoke English (some quite well, some not so much) plus one, two, sometimes even three or FOUR other tongues. Quite impressive, no doubt. Exotic. However, most of these bi, tri, and quadrilingual speaking people did not speak French or German. Quite a number spoke Polish. More than a few spoke Russian, and/or Ukrainian. Or: Czech. Romanian. Bulgarian. Latvian. Slovenian. Lithuanian. Bosnian. Serbian. Croatian. Albanian. Slovak. Hmm. Oh, and there’s the occasional Hindi, Arabic and I recall one who spoke Tajiki. Plus languages from other of the “STANS” countries. Uzbek. Kazak. Urdu. I’m probably still forgetting a few of the other native languages that arrived in my classroom along with the mono-lingual homies who, like moi, learned English not knowing what the hell language was being babbled at me while I fussed with a crib toy while repeatedly pooping my panty. Now there’s a universal experience.

Where am I going with this, you may be wondering? It’s more like where is this tedious litany of foreign languages coming from?, since everyone knows (once one is just a few years past the panty-pooping, goo-goo, gaga, universal gibberish of infancy writ worldly) that not everyone speaks the same lingo. Well, I’m saying that native German or French speaking students virtually never end up parking their backsides in a seat in my classes. Why not? Because they’re all in France or Germany. Why would they need to attend college in the U.S., as an undergraduate, especially? The same goes for rarely if ever having a student from Spain or Great Britain, Austria, Belgium and certainly never from Andorra (quick, try to picture that country’s location on a map). Evidently, there are countries whose citizens are able to feel life is just fine where they are, natural born citizens, again not by their own choice buy, hey, glad they were. The Andorran’s, et al, might come to the U.S. to visit, but going home again raises no concern for their well being. And good for them. Coca-Cola had that mojo back in the early 70’s via (Latin!) I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony….Or, cue up Kumbaya and let’s all hold hands…

no wait, that damn pandemic.

Ah, but life in the US of A these days is so not kumbaya, and might have scores of its natural born citizens pondering about the wisdom staying on for the longer and longer haul. Why?

Well, 2021 is in its fourth day. It’s in goo-goo gaga territory, given there are 361 days waiting their turn to possibly have something important to say. 2021 is going to grow up really fast as far as speaking to we the people. Especially to we mostly exclusively, English speaking, natural born, denizens of the United States. It’ll be speaking to all my soon-to-be and former international students too. It’ll be speaking to everyone, anywhere here or abroad, since the U.S. is the major global player. We have the gigantic economy and an even more massive military. We have the most nukes, and we’re the ONLY country ever to use nuclear weapons in anger, toward the end of WWII. Keep a close eye on our actions, for sure.

Keep both eyes on the U.S. since, at this early stage of 2021, we have a president and a portion of his party’s members clearly attempting to stage a coup d’etat. Well, not exactly a coup, since the current Big Cheese already has Big Cheese power. It’s more of a coup to overthrow the legal election of a new president, due to be sworn in on January 20. The voters have spoken in the unambiguous language of electoral mathematics. That is, the Big Cheese (also known as the Big Cheeto, Agent Orange, Angry Dreamsicle, Captain Chaos, Cadet Bone Spurs, Orange Julius, and even Godzilla with Less Foreign Policy Experience) and his acolytes want to reverse the election results by using the mystical language of the mathematics of magical thinking.

But wait. That’s coming this Wednesday, the 6th of January. Tomorrow, the 5th, there’s the crucial run-off election for two Senate seats that will determine which party rules that branch of our government. But wait, again. If the coup is successful (supposedly it is not possible, but given what 2016, 17, 18, 19 and oh so especially 20 has dumped onto our laps, anything might still happen) then those two senate seats won’t matter. But wait yet again! If the opposition party’s two candidates defeat Cheeto’s preferred candidates on the 5th, then what happens on the 6th could be dramatically altered for better or worse. In a twisted game of cause and effects, if the President-elect’s party gains those two seats, tens of millions of Americans will be rejoicing. Simultaneously, tens of millions of Cheeto’s followers will be using very fowl language, both verbal and non-verbal, when the 6th of January showdown takes place. Again, the legal experts say Cheeto has no possible means of staying in power, but for those who voted to thrown the bum out over TWO MONTHS AGO, the current countdown to the 6th brings with it a surreal sense that the 6th won’t settle a damn thing. Merely having to engage this 2021 scenario of the treacherous 5th and 6th tandem is an act of maddening cognitive dissonance.

2020 and its pandemic has brought out some very disturbing behavior on the part of millions of people. There are those who refuse to wear the mask, or who still gather in crowds where other mask-refusers choose to gather, or who start fights in stores or on the streets blathering about their rights being taken away, adding fuel to an already toxic stew of stupidity, anarchy and black magical thinking. 2021 is just a number, but many want to think it will ultimately speak the language of common sense, decency and good will. Hmm. Right now, as I’ve said, 2021 hasn’t said much of anything, electorally or pandemically, different than 2020 hadn’t already been screaming for months and months. But 2021, unlike 2020, isn’t going to sneak up on anyone. Four days of stasis is all we get. Nothing is likely to be settled after the 5th, 6th or even the 20th, one way or another. Even if Covid-19 never came along, this would still be a sick-ass country.

Perhaps, right now, there are many who want to follow in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents or great grandparents by coming to the U.S. and its legendary opportunity for advancement. If the pandemic that did indeed come around doesn’t permit that to happen anytime soon, I wonder what affect the month of January 2021 might have on how good an idea that might still be.

At this precise moment, to those from troubled native lands wanting to come to America, 2021 edition, I’d emphatically invoke caveat emptor.

Hey, see? Who said Latin was a dead language?

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Ah, Humanity!

James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, wrote that there were elements in human beings that require “a certain degree of circumspection and distrust.” Those words were penned as he advocated for the ratification of the Constitution. Mr. Madison clearly was onto something back then in the late 18th century. I mean, just look around. As in, the news of the day. That is, today’s news. The big story concerns the U.S. Congress, the legislative body of our government, which is now haggling over how much financial aid should be given to assist the millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of Americans who desperately need help as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc over their lives. **************************************** After the pandemic forced much of the country to close shop, so to speak, throwing tens of millions out of work, while being told to stay home, keep that 6 foot social distance and wash hands effectively, congress did pass a relief bill that, among other features aimed at being a pandemic palliative, sent a Treasury check for $1200 to those making less than 75K a year. Now, close to 10 months later, the pandemic is worse than ever, and that initial relief package has been long ago used up. Congress has been “negotiating” for months on end in an effort to legislate another relief bill. Earlier in the week, our congress critters finally came up with a figure of $600 to be sent out. Hmm. The pandemic is worse now than before, but instead of increasing the aid money, congress cuts it in half. Thus, the hashtag #letthemeatcake was trending on social media. ************************************ Ha! Now, it may as well be #letthemeatshit. Why? Because our petulant president demanded the amount be increased to $2000 for those eligible for the second aid bill. Not that he gives rat’s ass about anyone but himself. He is displeased with Mitch McConnell, who is the Senate majority “leader.” Why? Because Mitch finally admitted that one Joe Biden won the 2020 election. In the alternate universe of our lame-duck president, he was cheated out of a second term. Demanding that $2000 figure least he vetoes the $600 offer puts immediate pressure on McConnell, who Scrooge-like fought for that $600 figure as opposed to even the original $1200. Why? Because, James Madison was so absolutely right to invoke that opinion about “circumspection and distrust” regarding his fellow humans. ************************************* President Petulant, McConnell, and the vast majority of the elected members of congress are worthy of every once of scorn and rebuke that #letthemeatcake connotes. Isn’t the U.S. supposedly the wealthiest country in the known universe? If so, then we have a government full of Ebenezer Scrooges. After Mr. Petulant tossed that wrench into an already malfunctioning congress, McConnell and the Republican majority refused to go along with that increase. Thus, with that circumspection and distrust in mind, 2020’s Christmas gift from our government is a lump of coal (of course, coal, because according to Herr Petulant, climate change is a hoax). ************************************** We’ll have to wait until Monday when those elected officials (hey, ever hear that bit about our government working for us? You know, we’re their boss. We gave them their jobs. Right?) return from the Christmas holiday weekend to find out what comes next. My guess is it won’t be what is needed. *************************************** I’ll say it again: we get the government we deserve. Do we thus deserve this abomination of a government? Let me consult with the ghosts of ancient Greek philosophers on that one. ******************************************* In the macro-analysis of our human propensity for aggression and exploitation in the service of survival and domination, many historical tomes are yet to be written as testament to our detestable existence. Somewhere, one is being written feverishly right now. Hey, don’t look at me… ****************************************** In the micro-analysis, however, we offer quotidian antidotes to our worst characteristics. Such as, in my community’s local newspaper, dated December 6, is the front page story of how we humans sometimes just want to be kind and considerate and go to any length to demonstrate such admirable qualities. The story I refer to is of the proverbial cat caught waaay up in a tree. Yes, a cat decided to climb up and than realize it had no plan on how to get down. The locals asked the fire department if they could help. No, they couldn’t. Too much liability. The police said the same. Cold municipal reality. The County Forest Preserve (the cat was up a County tree you see…) also said no can do. ****************************************** The paper’s account of this feline ordeal included a hawk circling above the tree, apparently spotting dinner below. Then a man with a drone came by to get near the cat and nudge it back down below, where a number of locals had tarps to catch the cat if it fell. Nothing was working. Kitty. Hawk! A nail biter. Then, as frustration mounted along came Fernandez Tree Service. Word got out to this small company, and while refusing to charge a fee, the crew got the cat down with the kind of equipment and knowhow that was given impromptu attempts by strangers who decided that cat was going to be saved one way or another. ******************************************* There! Take that James Madison. If only those kind of people ran our government, eh?
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Test Time

Now that Pandemic World has encased all of us in its groundhog day repetition of starting each day as if the preceding one never ended and tomorrow is already today, I’m certain that all my memories are now subject to review as to their veracity. Maybe you were already stuck in a unconscious time loop before the one you are consciously in now. Was your life progressing? Or did you simply delude yourself into thinking it was all working out just as you planned? Surely, no one plans to be unhappy, eh? If you felt less than satisfied, you assumed you could change that negativity into an ascending trajectory. But even if you now recall the imperfection of life before “life” essentially had to be officially shut-down, you’d welcome all that was then back right now, exactly as it was, right? Why not? You had to be happier then than now? Now, now is always stuck as now with virtually no then to distinguish advancement. Sick of it too! There’s no forward momentum in a covid vacuum. It just circles back on itself. ****************************************** Yeah, think back! It all made sense. You know that feeling? That restaurant over there. That movie theater. The myriad storefront shops. The salon. The fitness center. The museum. The music venues. The scared gin mill. So many options. Those and other easily accessed places filled in a lot of space in our lives once upon a time. Now it’s as if thinking about them is an act of self-flagellation. Or maybe not. For some, life has always been flush with lemons but very little lemonade. Now, Pandemic World is just another lemon. Rather, the only lemon. In that case, covid has consolidated your woes into one big psychic compartment. If anything, you can take satisfaction in knowing you have waaaay more company who now knows how you’ve felt long before 2020 erupted like Vesuvius on Pompeii. **************************************** Or, perhaps you were genuinely fulfilled and right on course as planned. Whatever that must feel like. Except, you’re in the same Groundhog Day loop now. Maybe the pandemic has drawn the curtain back on just how much of that self-satisfied world view was based on bullshit. Not that you admitted to it. Hell no. Well, bullshit that affected other people while allowing you to live comfy and cozy and self satisfied.. Now, you are literally out of business. Opps. Didn’t see this coming, huh? Covid19 is the great equalizer at its non-discriminatory essence. ************************************* I figure, most of us are in the middle ground here. You were okay enough then and had a realistic self-concept. You lived within your means. Had respect for your fellow human, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or gender, and always kind to the elderly, little children and puppies and kitties, blah blah. Always seeing the glass as more than half-full, even when a personal drought came along. ************************************** 2021 is upon us. And a covid vaccine has been created. That’s a reason to feel this same day we have been living for at least nine solid months will finally flip into a tomorrow that allow us to go back to whatever we once had. But wait. That makes no sense. Go back? I doubt that. There’s still months and months left of Groundhog Day, and our memory lane stuff comes with an unavoidable critical analysis. We will not ever be the same after this passes. How could this isolation of the mind and body not render both altered to one degree or another? Self-reflection and self assessment of our individual occupation in this now strange and enervating world would seem to be as involuntary a function as is breathing. Maybe for the very, very old or very very young, this endless day will not have been imprinted upon them with any lucidity. For those of us who will never forget this current endless day, maybe that sounds pretty good, especially on the very very young side of the temporal extremes. My feeling is, this is the ultimate learning experience as far as who we really, truly are. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime lesson in how to see ourselves, and others, like never before. ************************************* Learn your lesson well. Most likely, it will not be offered again in anyone’s lifetime.
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You Might Find this Interesting

Where were you fifty-seven years ago today? Perhaps, as the saying goes, you were but a gleam in your parent’s eyes. Haha, right? You might have to count backwards to find what year was 5.7 decades ago, then stick today’s date of November 22nd onto it. Then you may readily recall exactly where you were and precisely what you were doing around 12:30pm central standard time. That’s when news bulletins flashed reports of president John Kennedy being shot in Dallas.

In the ensuing half-hour after the initial discombobulating thought of Kennedy being shot, then rushed to Parkland Hospital, and by 1pm being pronounced dead, people young and old entered into a terrible twilight zone-ish mental state. Can this be real? What happened? How? Who? Why? It was a Friday, and like today Thanksgiving and all its wholesome traditions awaited families across the country. Except, Thanksgiving was now an abstraction as time seemed to stand still after it was confirmed that JFK was dead. That entire weekend became a profound funeral dirge, as shock and disbelief lingered, mingling with a deeply felt grief. To add to the stunning and surreal process of scrambling to swear into the presidency Lyndon Johnson, while the who, what, where and why questions were being sorted out, the prime suspect, Lee Oswald, was shot dead on live television on Sunday, the 24th, in the basement of the Dallas city jail moments after he and his police escorts exited an elevator.

On LIVE television! Interesting, right? The wrong kind of precursor to reality TV.

Looking back, the decade of the 1960s was seemingly rife with turbulence. Before JFK was killed, he went eyeball to eyeball with Nikita Khrushchev and the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis. Historians now feel that nuclear war was a distinct possibility. Fortunately, the planet wasn’t decimated by atomic missiles flying east and west, This was 1962. Nuclear annihilation remains–and always will remain–a threat to life on Earth.

In 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated. In 1968, both Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. Swirling around these cataclysmic events was the Vietnam War, the women’s movement and the ever present racial unrest that included ML King’s non-violent resistance, along with the more militant Malcom X, and the fledgling Black Panther Party.

The decade did include something monumentally admirable too: the 1969 moon landing. That was a globally celebrated event. Not too often we humans cheer one another along.

There’s a saying, May you live in interesting times. It is arguably either an old English expression or it originated as an traditional Chinese curse. Either way, those of us who were around for the 1960s have a lot of memories linked to all the calamity and chaos that defined that decade.

Now we have not a decade, but a single year that, while not infested with assassinations or a massively unpopular war, still has the threat of nuclear devastation–as in the “nuclear clock” is set at 40 seconds until midnight (doomsday, central, pacific, mountain or whatever time zone). We have a recently defeated massively divisive president who specialized in sowing chaos and consternation who has refused to accept his defeat. Oh. and and he has the nuclear launch codes. There still is significant racial tension. We have an irrefutable climate crisis on our hands (festering for decades and decades and now possibly too unstable to ever again stabilize). Oh, and there’s the pandemic. All three of the above noted “we have..” components are capable of decimating human and other life forms.

So, if November 22nd 1963 is but a history lesson for many not yet on the scene, those more recent arrivals plus those of us from the JFK era and onward have 2020. We all are living in “interesting” times. How about the 70s and disco? The 80s had hair bands, shoulder pads and Reagan. The 90s had grunge rock and the Clintons. The 2000s had an illegitimate president who started an illegitimate war, followed by an African American president and a global economic meltdown. Then came the 2010s and especially November of 2016. That’s when two unbelievable events occurred. First, on November 2nd of that year the Chicago Cubs won a World Series after 108 years of failure. Then came November 8th and a shocker of an election, and until November 3rd of THIS wretched year of 2020, a most awful, terrible, no good, lousy, rotten four years now haven been given an official expiration date of January 20, 2021.

Well, as James Joyce said, History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake. One might find that quote hyperbola. Given the quote comes from Joyce’s Ulysses, published in 1922, just after WWI, and now having WWII and the 1960s, plus what has transpired since the early 2000s and up to the moment, I’d say Joyce is not guilty of hyperbole. He simply looked around back then and well, had to say what he said.

Maybe 2021 will usher in a more positive zeitgeist. It certainly has to be better than 2020. I started this blog invoking the unthinkable assassination of a young and popular president fifty-seven years in the rearview mirror. I was old enough then to still recall how life can be harsh even in a vicarious way. My eyes have been wide open for all these decades hence. Adapt or perish, right? We are all slogging through 2020. Masked and distanced and packing disinfectant. At least most people are doing that. By this time next year, we’ll see what the shake-out of the pandemic, political calamity and climate change will have produced. I do hope we can take a long, long break from this reality, and that the future will be so very. very, not interesting.

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The Other Guy

Greetings, earthlings. I come in peace and wish you no harm… ************************************* No, it’s not Zeldar from Zardoz. It’s just Joey Baggadonutholes. However, if I were a life form from another planet, and was able to furtively assimilate myself amongst the locals, I’d be at a loss for words based on empirical methodology as to assess what my alien eyeballs perceive. How can this world find its way out of the darkness that besets it? You know, those “existential threats” known as climate chaos plus a lethal global pandemic. Oh, and in the US of A, there’s racial tensions escalating and election chaos. Well, now it’s post-election denial of reality with sulking and sinister motives lurking on the part of the losing side. ********************************** The pandemic is more pervasive than ever, with infections spiking far and wide. Some global outposts are reaping the benefit of getting tough with the virus, requiring its citizens to follow the science and get ahead of the spread. Well done. But those are the exceptions not the rule. In the U.S. we have not exactly taken care of pandemic business. Why? Well, that has to do with our lack of national leadership. Non-existent leadership actually, which now has officially been taken to task by the November 3rd election. It took five days but the candidate who campaigned on not being the other guy has been declared the winner. The “other guy” still hasn’t conceded. And he gets to keep those nuclear launch codes until January 20, 2021. It may as well be eternity, given how much more damage he clearly intends to inflict to offer a reply to a bruised and swollen ego. Nuke Iran? Invade Canada? Invoke martial law? ************************************* …oh whatEVER. Aren’t we all exhausted with this bullshit by now? Okay the guy who isn’t that other guy won. But he comes off as a stiff. He looks like a stiff. As in a corpse. He’s the Mothball-in-Chief elect. Mothballs. As in protective storage. He’s the Dead Horse I alluded to a few blogs ago. Now the dead horse is going to take over and lead us out of all that darkness. Sure he will. He’s going to eradicate the pandemic. He’s going to reverse climate chaos. He’s going to get single payer health care passed. Free education guaranteed. Student debt forgiven. Raise taxes on the uber rich. Crack down on cronyism and pay to play. He’ll get campaign finance reform in motion. He’ll do it because polls show that’s what the people want and because he’s not that other guy. Of course. That’s what got him elected, right? Close to 80 million people voted for not the other guy. It was an enthusiastic outpouring of the electorate saying to the guy who hoped to get a second term that they would vote against him. And so, the other, other guy wins. Why? Because he isn’t that guy. And so, as asserted above the new, not the other guy, guy must realize what this country wants and needs. Sure. He’s going to be be a real reformer. *********************************** And I really am Zeldar. Sure. *********************************** And we who didn’t vote for that toxic other guy can live happily ever after. Every day will be a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. Why? Because compared to that other guy the new guy will always not be that other guy. *********************************** And I know where Jimmy Hoffa’s body is. *********************************** What? Climate collapse? Coronavirus? Mothballs has us covered. He was hand-picked to be an alternative to that other guy. That’s all that matters. You want more than that? Ha. You’re in the wrong country if that’s what you expect. Why so cynical, Mr.not Zeldar guy? Joey Baggabulljive guy. Okay, here’s why: while the other guy who beat the other guy may have won, his party lost more than it won in the bigger picture. And of course the Mothball Party failed miserably to win important House and Senate seats, or flip any statehouses their way, because the Mothball Party–otherwise known in this corner of the blogosphereas the Dead Horse Party simply lived down to its well established expectations. Only the repulsiveness of that other guy paved the pathway to a top-of-the ticket victory. C’mon. Who in the hell was excited about the other guy who wasn’t that other guy? *********************************** Keep in mind, 2022 campaigning has already started. Now that a corpse is the leader of the Dead Horse Party, I have a feeling that...thatwell to hell with it for now. ************************************ We can still feel better knowing that, for the time being, that other guy is the loser and he can suck on that. The Corpse and the Cop are coming, because someone HAD to win, right? Maybe they won inspite of their status quo platform, but regardless the people have spoken and they had a clear message–not for the winning couple but for all the Maga mopes and dopes, dupes and dimwits who support him: fuck off! ************************************ That’s the best result of the election no matter what else ensues. After all, the future isn’t January 20th. It is, as always, now. Kick back and enjoy watching the suppurating sore loser and his brain deads deal with a nightmare of their own now. ************************************ In the immortal words of Jackie Gleason, How sweet it is!
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⁸The Unnatural, Natural World, part 2

In the 24 hours since posting the story of Magawa, the mine-sweeping, medal of bravery recipient rat, let’s assume that he has again sniffed out a number of active landmines to be rendered into harmless srcaps of metal along Cambodian landscapes. Perhaps some readers wondered if this was fictional. It’s factual. Hey, it was meant to be a feel good slice of life, both human and rodent species-wise. Do we not need feel good distractions in our time of greatest need for such? Feel good as in let’s not politicize this, okay? Just because it’s about a rat doesn’t mean you have to re-direct your mindset to a figurately speaking “rat” that infests a certain domicile along Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation’s capital. Can we just not go there, please? I’m trying to work my way through you-know-what, dig? But then see, it’s next to impossible to not… ******************************************* Oh, well….I suppose there is a sliver of politics inherent in the story, since landmines are a form of official policy instituted in the cause of one governing entity seeking to achieve final victory over another governing body. Politics is friction. Power politics is frictional and fractional. It’s a nasty numbers game. During the reign of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge soldiers in the late 70s, 2 million Cambodians died. That regime was overthrown. Left behind, however are estimates as high as 10 million landmines. Thus, Magawa is certainly worthy of praise. Rat or no rat. Better Magawa was raised and prepped for his humanitarian mine-detecting prowess than having wound up in some research lab, awaiting being sacrificed on the alter of cold-blooded evisceration so that we humans might eventually be prescribed yet another pill for what ails us, and the attendant, related deluge of drug ads that infest certain broadcast television programs. So there’s that. ********************************************************************************** Speaking of medical science research, the world awaits a vaccine to protect humanity from the current pandemic. Goodness knows what a relief it would be to get past Covid World. So, if a certain number of rodents are going to be snuffed out to get that job done, then fine, right? What does a mine-detecting rat matter if all of humanity is doomed to perish because of…a…BAT! Yes, the prevailing scientific theory on how Covid-19 formed and spread globally has to do with cross-species transmission. That non-human species is most likely that winged mammal, largely connotating darkness and and icky dreadfulness. There’s even a “vampire bat” species. Talk about a negative image. However, one might step back from the popular culture’s demonization of bats and consider this: bats play a vital role in the ecosystems they inhabit. They spread seeds, and in so doing even help in regenerating rain forests. Rain forests, also referred to as “the lungs of Earth”. Bats eat insects that otherwise would damage crops. “Bats are ecologically just really important,”, says one behavioral ecologist. “They provide billions of dollars worth of ecosystems services to people.” Pro bono service. ***************************************** There you have it, lords and ladies. Rats. Bats. Cut ’em some slack, Jack. They have gotten a bad rap, and that’s a fact. Well, sure rats and bats carry diseases, but each also–as I have noted–have some redeeming qualities. Maybe looking at a rat or bat induces negative reactions, but the point is not to judge so quickly. Don’t be superficial. *************************************** Then again, in some cases, it might be hard to figure what the benefit of some other creatures may be. Take the fly. Hmmm. What, exactly, is ennobling about this object the size of snot, that feasts on feces? Including covid-carrying bat feces that likely landed on some off-the-culinary grid eatable critter, served up in some backwoods culture zone. Or maybe on some cow or pig or lamb and though given a Michelin-starred chef’s haute cuisine approach to presentation of the rendered animal, perhaps a morsel of which has been placed ever so delicately amid an array of this or that from the garden, is consumed by an upper crust type, who after settling up a bill of $750 goes back to a lavish high-rise overlooking a shoreline or keeping company with other glittering towers that attest to the finer things in life, starts a pandemic that takes out the rest of humanity. *************************************** In such a case, Magawa could retire and do what comes natural to its rodent instincts. Bats could hang out without vilification. And flies would have abundant deliquescing delights with which to sustain them. ************************************* See, it’s a an attempt at providing a feel good story, folks. ************************************** You’re welcome.
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IIntrepid Youth!

He was born in Tanzania in 2014, socialized and moved to Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2016. This September 25th, this young male named Magawa, was awarded a gold medal for bravery for “acts of the greatest heroism or for most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger”. ***********************************

*Magawa, however, is a civilian, not a soldier. What he did to earn his medal (and continues to do) in his short span of life thus far was help clear 141,000 square meters of land from still active landmines. In so doing Magawa has made life safer for countless Cambodians. He wears the gold medal around his neck, a symbol of humanitarian selflessness. Magawa is an inspiration to all who have been a part of his life. Magawa is proof that there may be hope for ridding the world of landmines left behind during one conflict or another, sometimes exploding and killing those that unwittingly step on one, killing some children even younger than Magawa. *************************************

One may have seen Magawa’s likeness more than a few times. Such encounters may likely not elicit a sense of admiration or inspiration. If fact, coming across a Magawa-like figure usually elicits negative reactions. Revulsion. Disgust. Fear. Why? Why the rush to judgement? ************************************

Because our gold medal winning young male is a rat. Yeah. A rat. Now you know they may not be all bad. *************************************

Magawa can now keep company with other PDSA medal winners. That would include horses, dogs and pigeons. *************************

So, next time you see a rat scurrying about here or there (just looking for food and shelter, no doubt, and–ironically–trying to avoid those deadly traps aimed at killing them for their effort) before you think of the Black Plague or the face devouring rodents invoked as a torture technique in Orwell’s 1984, think of Magawa. I mean, come on, it’s not as though our human species is always trying to better other’s lives. After all, who do you think made those deadly landmines in the first place? And then left them behind after one of its armies killed more than their adversaries killed them? *******************************

Long live Magawa!

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