Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Irony is Dead

 

This past Sunday, the Washington Post did a “Lou Dobbs” (he asked back in 2004 why the birther questions about Obama wouldn’t go away); he repeatedly asked this question while on his Fox program.  He often used the trumpian trope:  "Lots of people are asking these questions."  Or:  "People are asking...."

I refer to the Post headline: “Democratic Campaign Can’t Shake the ‘Court Packing’ Question”, (which was asked by the Post in their widely read newspaper).  

The newspapers fired most their editors a few years back.  Now they rely on hacks like me who write on the internet.  

Irony is dead.


Friday, October 9, 2020

I guess I'm just not empathic enough

 Look, I know that one is supposed to be wistfully pleased to be reminded of a past loved one especially when unexpectedly coming upon something, an object, a reminder, something that we shared back when we were both alive.

Oh! Fuck You!  I did that today.  I came across something my brother left here for me in my disorganized and messy shop.

 I’ve tried to do that wistful thing, and I have felt nothing except pain because my brother did not have to be dead now.

My experience is but a microcosm of what more than 200,000 people here in the USA are feeling. 

 I guess that we’re supposed to be so much better and absorb:  “It is what it is”.

Trump is insane.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Think for a little while

 I had an epiphany today; I finally felt compassion for Trump supporters.  They have missed their chance to follow Jim Jones, drink the Kool-aide, or die in flames with David Koresh.  They’ll never put on their special tennis shoes and meet the mother spaceship with Marshall Applewhite and the Heaven’s Gate people They will never be invited to a Trump Tower or to Doral Country club.  

I came to this moment of understanding as I confronted my own weakness.  I was standing naked before my little fish pond and I was considering what the 50 degree water and the tangle of pond weeds would feel like if I jumped in as I had intended when I stripped off my clothing.  I stood there a long, long time.  What have I gotten myself into?  Is this right?   I've come this far, should I turn back?  I had to think.  I thought of the Trump supporters.

I considered their position of standing on the brink of their intentions.  They too, might be looking at what they’re about to do and what their future will bring.  Some of them can imagine a plunge into the deep end of their commitment to Trump’s three terms as president or his dictatorship, or they may wonder if they have the courage to follow up on their naked Rambo fantasies of what will really come next if they commit to a civil war to make that happen.  I imagined that a few of them were wondering who their enemies are.  Some surely realize that their participation in a Rambo movie might not include happy endings for them personally.  A few may have looked at their overweight wives and thought what Trump would have to say about them.  If you stop and think for awhile, lots of things come to mind.

My compassion was for those who have doubts as opposed to their rhetoric, bluster, and their actions to this point. 

I don’t know what they will do.

But I jumped in to that cold, cold water. 

After having thought for a while, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Then again, a few minutes in very cold water isn't anything like more years of a Trump presidency.



Thursday, September 17, 2020

We can do this the hard way or the easy way.


So, the University of North Carolina opened, and James Madison University (much closer to home for me) opened and both of them decided after a week, or even less, to close due to the increase of cases of Covid-19 and the immanent and obviously predictable spread of the pandemic and its death to their staffs and their communities.   I commented on this in a letter to my local news:

I was heartened to see that JMU students were concerned about the health of the greater Harrisonburg community.   If only the administration of the university were as empathetic and intelligent as the students, we wouldn’t have to learn the hard way that it is too early in the course of this pandemic to reopen the school.  As G. W. F. Hegel 1770 – 1856 said:  "What experience and history teach us is this - that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it." 
Apparently, the hard way is the only way.

Now, perhaps because Trump wants it, the Big Ten conference (14 teams) is going to play football.  The chancellors and presidents have made their implicit decisions.


“Yes, we know that this will kill people, but hey; you know, money.”

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Two letters to editors



To   The Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, Virginia:

I was heartened to see that James Madison University students were concerned about the health of the greater Harrisonburg community.  If only the administration of the university were as empathetic and intelligent as the students, we wouldn’t have to learn the hard way that it is too early in the course of this pandemic to reopen the school.  As G. W. F. Hegel 1770 – 1856 said:  "What experience and history teach us is this - that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it." 
Apparently, the hard way is the only way.

         [The University closed down after less that a week of in-person classes]

To The Washington  Post, Washington, DC

Re:  What I learned when the contact tracers CAME for me.  Dispatch from South                 Korea:

I think that the Washington Post needs an ombudsman or at the least much better editors, (I refer to the “Dispatch for South Korea” article of Sept 3).  The headline: “When the contact tracers came for me" (emphasis added), was yellow journalism at its worst.  What?  Are you guys trying to compete with the Globe and Enquirer now?  Your use of an infamous phrase from the depths of fascist Nazism was completely out of synch with the rest of the article.  Click bait isn’t restricted to the internet; your Headline editor is doing the same thing to your newspaper.  Stop it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Let’s Hire a Successful Businessman.



If you’re happy with Trump and his “turbo speed” vaccine, because it’ll save us time, and cure the disease and that awful “government bureaucratic waste” thing, and it will get here quicker and better because Trump is a “successful business man”.  Well great!  Successful has a very simple definition, right?

Please, just try to remember Martin Shkreli, (former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals).  He’s the successful business man who succeeded in buying a company that had a patent on a life and death cure for a deadly disease.  After he bought the company (with money he made in a totally different, not in anyway related, business), he immediately raised the price of this drug by 5,000%.  If this drug had been costing you $13.50 a week; he raised it to $750 a week.   Martin “successfully” purchased the company; it cost you, his customer, everything.  You see, he successfully collected lots more money for something that was already available.  A great success!   He succeeded in telling you: “Your money or your life.”   He was a very “successful businessman”.

Now, please ask yourself who is going to get the life saving Covid19 vaccine and how much is it going to cost.  Please, someone ask this question.  Given the record of Big Pharma and Martin, I think I know the answer.  

By the way, Martin Shkreli went to jail, not for LEGALLY extorting dying people of their money.  He’s in jail for cheating his investors.  Now THAT cannot be conscienced!  Stealing from the dying maybe OK, but stealing from rich investors?  WELL, we know what to do about that!

Now, how much money do you think those first anti Covid19 vaccines are going to cost?   Who do you think will get them?  If Trump is taking credit for them, then where do you think the money will go?

When someone tells you someone is a “successful businessman” ask yourself to whom the success accrues.   

You see, it’s never enough for those who have (always had) too much.  


Friday, July 17, 2020

YOU know what he meant to say

Some folks will recall that recently in the Washington Post News Paper, I took Kathleen Parker to task for suggesting that we should all (media people included) translate Trump’s words into something decipherable.   (You know; YOU know what he meant to say….). 

                       I disagree. 

Maya Angelou said: “When someone tells you who they are, believe them the FIRST TIME.  (Emphasis added). 

Donald Trump tells us all who he is, every day, sometimes several times a day.
It may be the job of indulgent parents, elementary school teachers, and therapists to stretch what they heard someone say into something acceptable; but that’s not the job of the American people (much, much less the media reporters).  It's not your job when listening to the president as he is making official statements of policy, his intentions, and his vision of what American is all about to translate him into cogent truthfulness.  He’s the president; he’s speaking; what more are our responsibilities above listening?

Why should we listen at all if we have to translate what he’s said into what we HOPE he meant to say?  We might as well elect an 8 Ball!  (Younger folks might have to look that one up).

I’ve given up on trying to communicate on Twitter, but I do believe that
#rightwordsmatter   If you say it; own it, or apologize if it’s shown to be wrong.  

Don’t expect anybody to clean up your mess just because you’re Trump, or one of his supporters.

Trump is insane; what's your excuse for accepting what he says?


Sunday, July 5, 2020

More Floating Boats A "Bonu$" Sequel


 

I expect that all you honest,

“Rising tides lift all boats, ‘the genius invisible hand of the market’ people”,

(you, you bottom line; PROFIT is GOD and efficiency is defined as:  MY PROFIT MARGIN)      economists and rabid capitalists…  You know who you are.

 

You will forthrightly acknowledge the fact that all insurance companies pay a hefty bonus to their workers that have an amazing talent.  The talent is to DENY perfectly reputable claims; the bigger the claim; the better the bonu$ for the denier.  That’s a big plus for the bottom line: the company profit margin.  They’ll even argue that if they don’t make a profit, they can’t offer you “insurance”.  Then their CEOs go home with 7 figure bonuse$ of their own; sometimes even when they’ve been fired for not delivering big profits for the investors.

 

The other side of this ridiculous coin is the business model that doesn’t recognize cost benefit analyses, much less common sense and simple decency.

 

I just spent an hour on the phone with a “very nice” representative of a company that I had a very reasonable, reputable claim about their refusal to honor their responsibility to me.  The hour went away.  This “very nice person” was paid an hourly wage that was…    wait for it:

 

an order of magnitude greater than my reasonable request.

 

I guess they made a statement.  I guess they made an “example” of me.  By throwing their own money away by spending more effort assuming that I was the crook, they proved that they are the crooks.


Sunday, May 17, 2020

Are all the wrong people being humble?


If you’re not allowed to point out Irony, is that a paradox?  Does not admitting something make it go away?  Are all the wrong people being humble?  

Of course, which questions are being asked, which are being answered; and which answers (right or wrong) are more important than those other answers… Well, might the answer to that be accumulative?  Maybe, only if one pays attention.

So, my concept of humility was abundantly multiplied when I hired a man, his son and his crew to build a fence around my garden (I couldn't use my right hand at the time - and that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it).  I did do 90% of the preparatory work myself, sometimes while they were working. 

Once we are past the adolescent false confidence of: “I know it all.” it is so easy for us to fall into that adult mindset where one thinks that one has most (if not all) the important answers.  

My concept of the value of humility was changed by understanding that one's own humility is powerless in the face of people who have none.  "Joey", with his crew, had said they could build a fence; unfortunately, none of them had ever heard of a fencing tool.  Worse, nobody had absorbed high school geometry, much less vectors.  After Joey had screamed at his teen age son a few times, I told the son he'd be better off with a different father (so much for MY humility).  Joey's single competent worker; I told: “Get a new boss.”

I guess, paradoxically, I'm saying that some people are humbler than others, and maybe, they shouldn't be.  It just doesn't work. 
I’m not saying that it’s me, but just maybe, some of the time, the wrong people are choosing to be humble; at the worst possible time. 

At the so-called Covid19 press briefing in April, Dr. Brix allowed the idiot, Donald Trump, to look her in the eye and suggest that people should inject disinfecting products into their bodies, and subject themselves to ultraviolet light irradiation in order to save themselves from dying from the virus.  THIS was a violation of her Hippocratic Oath.   She chose to “humble herself” before the ignorance, stupidity, hubris (the opposite of humility), and the misinformation from Donald Trump that killed people.  

She should have stood, taken the mic from him and said: "Don't do this; this man is an idiot."  No one could have substantively argued with her assessment.  She was way way too humble.

If humility is strength, then it has to be exercised.

The wrong people are being humble.  The right people are acting humble at exactly the wrong time.  

Is that “IRONIC”?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Whatever Floats Your Boat



   Is not magic.  Two ‘Happy Birthday songs’ (…  while washing our hands…)    is NOT magic.”    Easy short term answers are almost always too short, too little, too soon, and are based on assumptions.

The concept of a minimal response, to change a course, is one of those “economic” principals that seem to work.  Supply and Demand … ( let’s apply a nudge here or a tug there, and we’ll fix all our problems.)  They often even have math equations and graphs!  All we have to do, is just adjust a few little tiny, easy to manipulate parameters.  Just a tad; and all will be well (as defined in my Econ Text book). 

Our economists say that the  most “efficient” way for the world to work is for it to allow that wonderful  Invisible hand of the Market, with its ability to “weed out” those “inefficient” things that impede “progress” (or any other solutions old or new) is economic dogma.   It is the only way to set policy for the greater good of the greater fraction of mankind; and all because how much profit made is the only determiner of success.

 Man!  That invisible Hand is better than God.  Better than logic, empathy, justice, morality, or anything.

And the guy that made 1 penny per ton of extra profit on recycled used tires from Indonesia back in 1985:  he was a genius, (forget that the tax payers spent a 100 million dollar$ getting rid of the dengue fever epidemic that he brought to our shores with the Indonesian mosquitoes.  There was also a Cholera outbreak caused by “cheap imports”.   Cholera had been eradicated here for decades before the boat brought it to our shores.   The economically posited “genius”, the infinitely wise and omniscient God-like force that raises all boats (with its magical invisible hand) is the only way to set policy.   Now is the time, if any of you disagree, to have the capitalists scream: “Socialism!” 

Let us all be like economists; let us assume that we have a boat.   I recall a discussion about a hypothetical problem discussed between two economists:  It was thus:  “You are stranded on an island and you are desperate to get off ASAP…” one economist asks the other, “What would you do?”  The answer from the other economist was, “Well, let us assume that I have a boat.”  And then he went on at length with lots and lots of details.  The economists at Goldman Sacks just predicted the unemployment rate for 2021.  That’s when the pandemic with be over.  Forget that there is no vaccine now, no one knows how soon there will be one.  No one knows how much of it can be produced how fast, how many people will need it, how long it might work…  But they’ve assumed we’ll have it.

Now….  “Efficient” as defined by almost all economists is, the CHEAPEST short term bottom line, corporate, (and now: governmental) way to run the world and everything in it all the time so as to $ave money...  Shall we quote those who have said that the USA should be run like a business? 

Perhaps by a successful business man?

That Supply Chain Problem!  I just heard that the collapse of the supply chain is due to the fact that most (capitalists) ran their decisions of supply, sub contractors, manufacturing, movement of product, and retail distribution, based on the bottom line: “WHAT is the cheapest way to maximize my profit?   TODAY.

The invisible hand of the market somehow (in its infinite wisdom) lifts all boats.

You might have to assume that you have a boat, though…


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Caves of Steel/Gate into Women’s [Covid’s] County: With apologies to Asimov and Tepper


Asimov’s vision in the Caves of Steel was a future where social distancing had become a near universal phobia of close personal contact.  Sheri S. Tepper’s Gate into Women’s Country posited a segregation of the sexes with limited contact and a strict set of rules as to how the two groups interacted.  



I see a future where the human race has been divided into two groups; those who have had the virus and recovered, and those who have had no exposure to it.   The gate between the two groups is in a wall.  The rooms separated could take many forms and the sizes of the two populations could vary dependent on circumstances.  The scenarios would be many. A small business might have two parts of their operations where employees come and go by different doors and never interact.  Schools, restaurants, sports venues, churches, all might have two separate groups of participants; patrons and workers.  The gate is only opened when someone new is infected and recovers.

This pandemic and its effects, many expect, will be temporary; but maybe it won’t be.  If there isn’t a vaccine, if the pandemic rages on; the separation will be necessary and the only solution to an economy where people work, play, and money keeps moving around, will be separation. 


Monday, April 13, 2020

My last Tweet and Testament


Everything is changing.  Nothing will ever go back to even a semblance of yesterday’s “normal”.   Do not deceive yourself.  It isn’t going to be all over in the foreseeable future, maybe not in your lifetime.  

Given the continuing ignorant and incompetent actions of Trump and the amazingly complicit Republicans, I honestly do not expect my wife and me to survive the Pandemic.  We’re in our 70’s and although sheltering in place, I expect we will eventually get Covid19, later than many, and therefore, when the hospitals are overwhelmed.  I believe that everybody will get it, all due to Trump’s stupidity, ignorance, delusional denial, and his cultish base’s faith in him.  Those who refuse to believe in the danger will spread it all over the USA.  With Covid-19’s two week latent period, by the time they are convinced that it’s real, many more will be infected.  The deniers won’t die fast enough to be stopped from spreading it.

I had already decided to quit Twitter for reasons other than imminent death.  I deem it to be a black hole where truth and honest communication go to die.  Besides, if Trump finds it useful for his agenda, there must be something very, very wrong with it.  I quit FaceBook because I believed that it gave us Trump.  It has done incredible damage to communication; it is the platform of the crazy vandals.   I quit Twitter because it is Trump’s public media platform of lies.  It is finishing off the destruction of democracy that FaceBook started.  Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, remember those names.

I am a confirmed atheist and do not fear death at all.  When dead, I will not know it.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about what happens after I’m gone.  I just don’t worry about what happens to me after I’m gone.

So, with this communication I will impart a few things that may make life a little better for those of you who do survive.  It will help adults care for children and ease their transition into the America of the future.  These are tips for country people; city folks I can’t help.


Teach your children.  Read. Read. Read.  The NASA channel has excellent and stimulating shows.  Science is available on the internet.  Avoid the amateurs and their junk science.  If possible, stimulate curiosity in your children.  If you can achieve that they will teach themselves.

Learn to separate “wants” from needs”.  The sooner you recognize all the things you can live without, the sooner you can stop wasting your efforts (and safety) attempting to acquire the “wants”.  Trips out among the diseased must be minimized.

Learn to garden.  Garden from scratch; learn to produce your own seed, plant starts, and fertilizer (compost).  Plant nurseries will never be the reliable source of starts and seed that we have come to expect.  Grocery stores too.  Save some potatoes from last year.  Cut the bottom inch and a half off your cabbage and root it in a saucer of water.  Collect dried bean seeds after the string beans get too tough.  Tomatoes want to produce new plants, they’re going to be “cherry tomatoes”.   Kale, broccoli, lettuce, they all can produce seed for next year.

Stop throwing stuff away.  “Garbage” pick up is just a way of losing resources.  Compost organics, save paper for fire starting (wood stove heat).  Not going to the store will result in your “garbage stream” being greatly reduced.  Repurpose things you’d normally throw away.  I have often made things out of pieces of stuff I’ve kept for thirty years. 


Bye, now.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Whistling Past the Graveyard: The Moron Savant Donald Trump


With all due respect to Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump is not a “fucking moron”; Donald Trump is a moron savant.  He’s really stupid but he has an unsurpassed talent.  He says stuff that many people want to believe.  He has stock phrases that resonate with those who refuse to employ critical thinking.  He speaks to the angry, ignorant, and lazy.

He lies, says almost nothing, and people who want to believe him (or are terrified of not believing him) interpret his word salads as something semi-reasonable. He's very good at mimicking an adult rational person but he's really an ignorant toddler.  And he is stupid, but he has a talent that hides this from many people.  He hides his ignorance (or his inability to even understand the question) with a number of vague stock answers.  Their ambiguity allows him to get away with saying nothing.  Much of the time he doesn’t even have to lie.

While it is true that the art of the non-answer is as old as politicians, Donald answers almost every question, difficult or simple with a deflection.  It is effective for non supporters because any push back is easily rebuffed.  When he does say something substantive, it is often just a bluff that he will completely forget about after the next bluff.  His base thinks that he has delivered because....  they are ignorant; they're not watching "fake news" where the truth is.

After all.

He IS the president; you aren’t allowed to “brow beat” him into a substantive reply.  If you do have the courage to stand your ground like James Acosta, you will be labeled as a Trump “hater”, someone who will have to watch his back because of the very large MAGA mob available to put you in your place.  He'll call you names on Twitter and try to get you fired from your job.  Or you will be fired.

Only when he goes off of message does he reveal his true "thought process".  It is at this point that one might glean substance from his words, like: inject bleach, subject your body to ionizing levels of ultraviolet light, take unapproved prescription drugs. 

Dr. Brix violated her hippocratic oath when she didn't stand, gently take the microphone away from trump when he went off confusing surface disinfection procedures with treatments to the human body.  She should have said, "No no no, never do this.  The President is confused.  Do not listen to this."  With real bravery, she could have said, "This is the time for the 25th amendment; President Trump is insane."  But no.

Instead, we are still being gaslighted with some stock Trump “Answers”:

“We’ll see about that.”  We’re looking into it.”  "It's perfect."

“I think XYZ is wonderful.”  “America is the greatest.”

“I’ve done more that anybody [about XYZ].”  "No one has ever done it."


"[XYZ] has never happened before."  "Nobody thought it was possible."

 “We’re coming out with a certain policy that’s going to be very interesting and very surprising, I think, to a lot of people.”  


“It relates to everything we’re doing…”

“You’ll be hearing about it in—over the next couple of months.”

“We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely.”

In the beginning of his term, almost nobody thought that he could actually be as bad as he was during the campaign.  People thought it was a clever act.  It wasn't, he hasn't changed a thing.  No one wanted to believe that America could be led by someone as awful as he showed us he could be then; the office would change him; his advisors would temper his worst behavior.  He had to be kidding.  

We whistled past the graveyard. 

We hoped he would be humbled by the office, schooled by good advisors and encouraged to do his best for the country.  It’s a little like Vietnam in 1970; surely all those young Americans didn’t die for nothing, so we’ll all refuse to believe that, and keep on doing what we're doing.  Too many of people convinced themselves that we had to persevere; then and now.  Don't change run-away mad horses in the midst of an on going disaster.

People say their votes for Trump don’t make them responsible for the mess we are in; it has to be somebody else’s fault.  Little by little too many people have gotten used to him.  He has normalized the unthinkable: an ignorant, stupid, stubborn, immature, lying, spoiled brat, bully with a third grader's world view is president of the United States.  And spectacularly, the Republican Party, Republican Senate, and Republicans in the House of Representatives appear to be OK with that.  NOW, there's a problem.


At this point, Trump is literally killing people on 5th Avenue, New York City and all around America.  Anyone who believes what he says may die.  Anyone who doesn't vigorously contradict him to his face in public, is enabling him.  Accessory to manslaughter, is not exactly the hippocratic oath.

Now, he wants the United States' Military to dominate American citizens because they see what he is.  

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Erasing History? or Creating a Myth


There has been quite a bit of discussion about the removal of Confederate memorials lately.  Many defenders of the “Southern Lost Cause” rue these removals as an affront to history.  I too am very concerned about monuments to our war veterans.  Specifically, I search in vain for the statues dedicated to the brave Monarchists that fought against George Washington during the illegal war of the Colonies against the God given absolute rights of King George.  People today laughingly call this the American Revolutionary War; oh, how some folks like to change names and the meaning of words.

A neighbor of mine, a local Virginian who reveres Confederate memorials, wrote a letter to our news paper wherein he called what most of us call the American Civil War: “the War in Defense of Virginia”.  Many southerners like to say this war was about “states rights”.  Let us be clear, it was fought to maintain the “rights” of white supremacists to own human beings in absolute bondage and deny those people any rights for them, their children, and descendents. 

There are no statues to the Tories that fought George Washington, for two reasons; their cause is now deemed to have been wrong, and they lost.  Even Robert E. Lee said that the Confederate battle flag should only be seen in museums.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Snail mail clickbait?


We give to a number of charities.  It’s enough of a burden to keep up with the legitimate causes which are all too often willing to dun you for more donations one week after you’ve given them money.  Not to mention the causes that have a magazine that will happily send you three concurrent copies rather than the three consecutive years that you intended.  

Then there’s the “survey” letters where they pretend to be soliciting your opinions.  Ha!  They are trying to echo-chamber your opinions and asking you for money to affirm them.  Then there are the incredibly weighted questions that cousin to your ignorance and bias.  So many “questions” sound like:  “Now that we know that moon landings cause hurricanes, are you in favor to defunding NASA?”  Republican Representatives use these a lot while trying to justify their attacks on straw men democratic policies and the mean, greedy policies that they propose which actually hurt their constituents.   

Then there is the snail mail “clickbait.”  No return address?

When the mail comes, if I see an envelope that has no indication of who has sent it to me; it goes into the trash unopened.  If you wish to be (mysteriously?) anonymous; I respect your anonymity; I choose to not see you.  

You’ve wasted your mailing$.    I don’t think I’ll play.