Emotional Difficulty   (2018Nov30)


 

 

Friday, November 30, 2018                                              12:59 AM

Emotional Difficulty   (2018Nov30)

Do you use civilization, or do you participate in it? Civilization, like life itself, is not something we asked for, but something we have thrust upon us with the implied understanding that its pros outnumber its cons. And, as with life, that depends on who you talk to, after the fact—not that the dead are ‘questionnaired’, regularly, but if you could, I mean.

I’ve been thinking about how each year’s (or make it month’s) round of new science research, new real-world lab and tech developments, new enhanced coding in the cyberscape—all exciting, many awe-inspiring—are also, most of the time, a scythe wiping away employment, skill-sets, and their attendant sub-cultures.

When science makes convenient alternatives to human workers, it also erases their way of life. If you read an O. Henry story or Damon Runyon story today, you’d need a glossary for all the occupations and pastimes that have been swept away with the cyber era. And good riddance to some of those cultural norms and social iniquities—although I’d venture, at this point, that they are not gone, but hidden in new ways.

No, the evil abides—but the jobs and the salaries and benefits and, most importantly, the easy pace of life back then—those things are all gone. When I first began office work, in the early 70s, I began with a normal, manual typewriter, until later, when I used an IBM Selectric II. All the bookkeeping was done by hand in green-paper ledger books, using an adding machine.

Now, when we went to calculators, and soon after, PCs, we only stopped using the one adding machine. When the new mini-computer system came in, we only stopped using two Selectric typewriters. When faxes came out we only stopped seeing that one messenger-guy that stopped in once or twice a day on his round of clients. And when our computer-based work-style stopped us using traditional stationary supplies and equipment, the big, lovely-smelling, tradition-heavy stationary store in Mid-Town only lost one business account.

If you’ve ever seen “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” in its film incarnation, you might remember the scenes in that movie—surreally infinite ranks of typists and accountants, using the same typewriters and adding machines. But those scenes are puny compared to the actual hidden army of such people who made up a sizeable percentage of the people needed to run a big firm (up until that time).

The street-messenger army virtually disappeared in the same fiscal year that fax-machine sales exploded. Today’s messenger delivers only physical objects and legal documents—and nowadays, he or she hasn’t the leisure of strolling around Manhattan on foot.

You can’t imagine the unlimited amount of petty jobs that had been presented to a new Twentieth Century—the bigger businesses got, the bigger the crowd required to do all the millions of details. And amongst that milling mob, there was also exchange of ideas and emotions. We often call early Twentieth Century America a ‘melting pot’ (as if all the disparate ethnicities actually combined) when, really, it was a ‘mixing bowl’. The crowds of people going to and from factories and mines—the same people seeking out gathering spots for recreation—that’s where the cohesion came from, IMHO. That’s what made Central Park so fascinating and popular.

For awhile, the more machines appeared, the more jobs were created—factory jobs, repair jobs, retail jobs, office jobs, packing and shipping jobs—a rising tide, in commerce, used to lift all boats. Nowadays, in case you missed it, the job market has no connection to the economy—half of us could drop dead and the rich wouldn’t even notice. There is a dangerous disconnect.

Simultaneously, virtually every aspect of our parents’ way of life has disappeared. I don’t mean that in a political way. I mean that in the sociological, archeological sense. The milk-man, public school, trusted bank, security blanket America is gone—and without judging the ups and downs of that, I would merely observe that it is emotionally difficult to watch the world disappear, right or wrong, good or bad.

Clarity of Vision (2018Nov13)


IronMan

Excelsior !

 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018                                           7:23 PM

Clarity of Vision   (2018Nov13)

One of our best States burnt up this past week-end. Climate Change is the kind of thing that takes a cooperative effort to respond to—and humanity has become too comfortable in a global culture of Capitalist competition. Our society’s every axiom tells us not to cooperate—and so we are doomed.

Or so I have heard people say. I think people have an urge to cooperate so strong that it can shoulder past the establishment’s limits. But it is much more difficult to recruit soldiers to a love-in of international cooperation than to say, a desert shoot-em-up that promises to bring all your gamer fantasies to life.

It’s always harder to build something than it is to tear something down. We have a fantastic planet. If we recognize that our present careless rapaciousness must inevitably destroy the entire eco-sphere—then we have a new mission on Earth.

We no longer need defend against alien invaders. We no longer need to vie for wealth, possessions, or power. We can be satisfied with the simple goal of leaving a viable planet for our grandchildren to start families in. Sounds easy, right? But we’ve been fucking off for way too long, as people do.

And we’re still stuck here—at the point of acceptance. Yes, you simple poopy-heads—we’re all gonna die from greenhouse gasses and ocean acidification and habitat destruction. Did you think the world was too big for us to make an impact? Well, it was—but that was two centuries ago.

Our leaders, our most powerful and prominent businesspeople, even our most pious ministers—are all in agreement: Don’t pay any attention to California burning—or Texas or Florida flooding—or thousands of Puerto Rican hurricane victims lost—blame it on God and keep laughing off the scientists—all the scientists.

The rest of the world sees it better—you have a few countries (sadly including the USA right now) too dis-informed to join Europe and the rest, all of whom are eager to get to work on climate-change solutions. Just another thing in which America has lost its preeminence—our clarity of vision.

Can we talk about the President? We’ve had presidents I didn’t like, presidents I got furious at—but never a president who made me ashamed. Trump makes me ashamed for him, for the government, for the country, and for myself (for being naïve enough to think this couldn’t happen). I’m ashamed of the entire Senate, because they have the power and the responsibility to react to Trump’s unfitness—and do nothing, and even say nothing. The whole farce is shameful. The Republicans have ceased to be a political party—they have lost all legitimacy. ‘Nuf said.

Excelsior !

Trump’s Senate, However, Is Just Straight-Up Crooks & Pervs (2018Oct28)


20120930XD-GooglImages-WllmBlake-DeathOnAPaleHorse

Sunday, October 28, 2018                                       8:02 AM

Trump’s Senate, However, Is Just Straight-Up Crooks & Pervs  (2018Oct28)

We now have proof (if any further were wanted) that Trump’s ‘base’ are people who fail to understand the spirit behind America’s Founding Documents. It makes me sad to see these indoctrinated, but not educated, people worry the scraps of propaganda that the Right has fed them—self-righteous for the hell-of-it people, veins in their foreheads and finger-pointing like mad—more sure of their sureness than of their reasons.

Trump has taught them that words are meaningless—only bombs and guns have any real effect. He is wrong, mores the pity, but that is what he has taught them. He has also taught them that if they are pompous enough, it’s okay to disrespect women, gays, African-Americans, Native Americans, Muslims, Mexicans, Educators—you name it. Hate’s the new Love in Trumpland.

Trump’s Congressional Republicans, however, are just straight-up crooks and pervs—I couldn’t tell you how much understanding of American principles they have to bury down deep inside every day to continue as they are doing. It hardly matters. If these people had ethics, Trump would have made their heads explode long before now.

The Republicans’ constituencies are a marvel: They voted for Trump in 2016, yes—but they’ve been voting for these withered trolls as Senators and Representatives for decades. They vote this way in spite of clear proof that they are voting against their best interests—and voting in favor of blatant untruths and greed.

But I must add a caveat: If a person is smart enough to vote against the Republicans, but too lazy or stupid to do so, that’s actually worse. Democracy only works if you’re not a lazy sack of shit.

Clown Prince of Murder (2018Oct21)


Jamal-Khashoggi-15390870_10154765309794844_4714301979347099637_n

Sunday, October 21, 2018                                       2:30 PM

Clown Prince of Murder   (2018Oct21)

I know—that title sounds like an old Angela Lansbury TV episode. But I feel it encapsulates both the horror and the farce of the present scandal. The murder of the journalist Khashoggi is his own fault—he should have known better than to set foot on the sovereign soil of the Saudi embassy.

But it serves to remind us of the Saudi culture—which strains mightily to contort its obsolescence into the 21st century mainstream—and which we turn a blind eye to, in hopes of one-hundred-billion dollars in arms sales.

This Crowny Prince liar starts with “Nope—didn’t happen” and ends, today, with “Yeah—dead—killed him—not my fault”. In his country, he can get away with that BS—and because our media reports even his lies, he may believe that we swallow it over here, too.

Personally, I can’t help thinking of the ‘Tom Cruise Paradox’: “If the captain gave orders that Santiago wasn’t to be touched—and the captain’s orders were always followed—then, why was Santiago in danger?” You know? I mean, these are the top aides to a guy who has people slaughtered and dismembered if they talk out of turn. Are we really supposed to believe that they acted autonomously? Ridiculous.

And everybody knows—has known—the truth for about a week now—well, since the day after the murder—whenever that was. And we’ve all known this Prince guy was lying—and that Trump was pretending to believe his obvious lie. And Americans aren’t worried about bone-saws. No, we’re just too greedy to let go of that sweet arms-deal money.

And all of it overlooks the questions of: Why any country needs a hunert-billion in arms?—or why the world, as a whole, needs a hunert-billion in arms?—or why the hell the manufacture of a hunert-billion in arms is a staple of the U.S. economy? And I’m sure some geek can spout the party line, about how fear and distrust force mankind to live this way—but I don’t buy it.

The people with the money and power want everything to stay just the way it is. The fact that it is impossible does not faze them. Holding back the tide of time is their main function—it’s how they maintain balance atop the pyramid, by keeping it from shaking too hard.

They smear change as disruption. They praise head-in-the-sand ignorance as security. According to scientists, these entitled farts are going to kill us all in about twenty years—by keeping us from doing what’s necessary, just because it’s too ‘expensive’. As if that word will maintain its meaning, once we all start frying.

And what they really fear is losing their death-grip on the status quo. Imagine the globe on an emergency footing, with all kinds of barriers and costs tossed aside in aid of the present crisis, with massive R&D projects focused on completely ‘non-profit’ aims. Heavens, the economic instability—survival isn’t worth it.

As we consume the natural bounty of the globe, we suppose that our comfort is part of our survival. That was the old way—comfort was the pinnacle. Now we see that health is the true pinnacle—that comfort without challenge leads to boredom and obesity—and is fatal in large doses. That is true for the Earth and for our bodies and for our societies—and we are running out of time to learn that.

But so what? Right? He’s the friggin’ Clown Prince of Sadly Arabia. What is it? MBS? Is that Mucho Bull S**t? I think it may be. Fuck that asshole.

Mr. Khashoggi –soldier of truth–may you rest in peace.

Why Fascism?   (2018Oct08)


musoTrump

Monday, October 08, 2018                                               7:43 PM

Why Fascism?   (2018Oct08)

Conservatives want to hold us back and freeze the future—they want everything to stay cozy and familiar. The faster and more disruptive the global rate of change becomes, the more dangerous Conservatism becomes to our country. Rather than embracing change (an American tradition, ironically) Conservatives want to go backwards, revisiting all the old issues they lost on, in the sixties and seventies.

But they know they lost—they know that they have to ‘hide’ their bigotry and sexism behind denials and rationales—so they double down. White supremacy is not suddenly rearing its ugly head because racism and misogyny have become popular again—no. These people are afraid of the future.

They fear the future because they are predominately uneducated, and conditioned to react negatively to adult-education and job-training. They fear the future because it’s harder to lie in a world with Google, it’s harder to exclude in a world with Facebook, and it’s harder to price-gouge rural folks who have Amazon (especially Prime).

Modern media and the Internet make it easier for them to spread rumors and conspiracy—but the same online-connection can give you the truth on multiple other websites. They can lead you to water, but they can’t make you stop drinking. The Fascists are shouting and angry—because they are peeing themselves with fear. Cowards and bullies always bluster to hide their terror—so, if someone invites you to join their hate club—tell them to grow a pair and embrace the future.

Unsupportable   (2018Oct04)


StatuOLibrty_06

Thursday, October 04, 2018                                             10:55 PM

Unsupportable   (2018Oct04)

So I heard Dr. Ford’s testimony (and Kavanaugh’s rant) then I heard Trump at a rally. He apparently remembered that Dr. Ford testified her most searing memory was the laughter of the predatory, drunken boys that roughed her up—so Trump thought it would be nice to get an entire stadium full of people to laugh at Dr. Ford’s pain.

This dishonorable, deceitful pile of crap has never had any business in the White House—and he provides daily proof of this fact. The Republican leaders who back him are equally without honor, or any sense of what honor might be.

When I saw the flood of women inundating Washington D.C. today—each and every one, by their presence, announcing, “I have been physically disrespected by a man, or group of men”, many of them arriving from Maine—and Alaska —then I thought back to Trump’s disgraceful strutting the night before—I felt rage.

Do these entitled, precious pigs think that they are invisible? Do they think we don’t see them? It’s easy to fill a stadium with bored knuckleheads—did he have any Nobel scientists there—at his rally? There were a couple of Americans who just won the Chemistry Nobel (along with a Brit). They might have enjoyed a dinner at the White House. Trump is not wise, but he is slick—he would expect, if two people created life in a lab, they probably wouldn’t want to hang with a tasteless ignoramus.

A real president would have given those Nobelists a public nod. Real presidents have always done so in the past—with good reason, as any thinking person would explain. But under Trump we don’t suffer mere incompetence—we suffer a total denial of moral awareness. The only ethics Trump is familiar with are the mouthings he’s learned are required of someone pretending innocence.

We must accept it—that surprisingly large percentage—millions of Americans who cannot be trusted to use a toilet correctly, forget about them using their brains, or their mouths. These people consider themselves the other party—they say there are two sides to things. But nobody else has to hide behind that BS. Why is that? When I go to the store, I pay my money—me and the cashier are on the same side. Someone has to explain to me how Public Service became so nebulous that it can have ethical quandaries over whether or not women shouldn’t get raped on the regular. How did these puss-bags ever get near a position of responsibility?

I know, I know—it’s a democracy. Sure. With no voters—except the nut-bars and the worried parents.

But still—Trump. He disgusts me. —And that army of sexually-traumatized women marching around Washington—it haunts me. There’s a T.S. Eliot line (which he stole from Dante) :

Unreal City,

Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,

I had not thought death had undone so many.

Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,

And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.

Flowed up the hill and down King William Street…

(from “The Waste Land”)

I believe that a woman who is betrayed by a male friend or relative, or stranger—sees her previous life, her previous world, destroyed. She must evermore live in the new world—where men are predators without shame or conscience—where she is never again as safe as she was.

Women have the strength to endure these things—and to fight back—as today’s demonstrations proved. But, why the fuck should they have to? Do we really live in a country where more men are okay with this shit than are sickened by it? This has been a very disappointing and disheartening three years—the bottom ever recedes.

Having these farcically corrupt and hypocritical people be the leaders of our government—is proof that what makes a good campaigner does not make a good states-person. It’s unsupportable.

foundingDoc_02

Increasing Intensity   (2018Sep04)


170824-noaa-texas-gulf-storm-harvey-njs-1105a_cfe6824a843278e082782d095a130cf9.fit-760w

Tuesday, September 04, 2018                                          12:45 AM

Increasing Intensity   (2018Sep04)

I’m always tempted to use the phrase ‘tsunami of bullsxxt’ when I think of the Republican party now. Mueller (and some helpful States’ Attorneys-General) are having success in uncovering a lot of corruption—and a lot of interaction—illegal interaction—with Russia (meaning Putin & Co.)—perpetrated by most of Trump’s entire ‘campaign cabinet’.

And now the Trump business and the Trump charitable foundation, and Eric, Ivanka, and Don Jr., are all looking down the barrel of tax-fraud and campaign-finance violations, especially surrounding the Inaugural Committee. Over $100 Million dollars in contributions (some contributed illegally by foreign entities—some stolen since). Cohen, for one, confessed to stealing some—but it appears unlikely his was the only wet beak.

Then there are the first two Congressmen to endorse Trump as a candidate—both facing indictments alleging corruption. This sect of the Republican Party is no Cub Scout Den—these folks have a very elastic understanding of ‘all men being created equal’, not to mention ‘public service’.

Now, when a floral horseshoe of charges, either convicted or confessed by a number of his circle, hangs around Trump’s neck—we are witnessing the unraveling of this manufactured ‘counter-culture’ of alternate-truth and non-facts and conspiracy theories like grains of sand. His so-called ‘base’ is about to be pushed back under the rocks it crawled out from—by the unison outrage of people who don’t yearn for an imagined past nearly as much as they do for a better tomorrow.

I use the word ‘tomorrow’ advisedly. I’m not talking about some ‘future’. We saw how quickly the Putin gang and the Alt-Right gang networked themselves into a de facto traitor-in-the-White-House—and with a host of avid cultists ready to excuse his every evil. If we are lucky enough to get a Blue Wave, we must use it to match their effectiveness—even if the truth is rarely as exciting as the dramatic lie, we must sell the truth with the same fervor as they hawk their ‘story’.

There was a time when we had sent astronauts to the Moon, long ago—and new Personal Computers were becoming something little children were playing with. Say the Eighties or thereabouts—when we started to think of ourselves as living in the future—‘George Jetson had nothing on us’.

And, of course, as in all transitional phases, we threw out a lot of babies with our old bathwater. The Sixties assassinations (highlighting public service and civil disobedience) were scarred over some—and the recent resignation of Nixon had soured many of us on the whole Authority thing. Not that we were surprised, really—no—but it was discomfiting to have it all spelled out and proved on tape.

Then Carter proved, in a way, that being a selfless, honest leader made easy prey for the jackals. And to twist the knife, the Republicans gave us a movie star—then overlooked Iran-Contra and his failing mental health, to christen him the ultra-Republican. And that is certainly true—flash over substance has been their business model, ever since Eisenhower left—and Reagan certainly personifies that credo.

The decades of hypocrisy—both in stealing oil from developing countries, and in defying the science behind the environmentalist movement, had made us ashamed of our American lifestyle—even though we (had we been asked) would have wanted things otherwise. The Ultra-Wealthy had a stake in the status quo—but the obstinance with which they shoved ethics aside to pursue profit has made the world what it is.

The hurricane season is something recent Republican presidents have not done well with—and that season is now upon us. When FEMA left Puerto Rico last year, they claimed great success and a very low mortality figure—double digits, I believe. But last week, Puerto Rico revised their mortality figures for Maria and concluded that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the loss of electricity and clear roads and medical treatment—and drinking water!

I can’t understand why no one much cares about this in Washington DC. Tomorrow may be an unusually strong hurricane near the mouth of the Mississippi—and it seems that ‘unusually strong’ will ironically be ‘the usual’ for several years to come. So we have a president (oh how I hate that goon having that title) who did a lousy job on last year’s storms—and—he won’t even admit why the storms have increased energy every year.

I will never understand a person being so loosely tied to reality that they would deny it for purely political purposes. Trump knows as well as I do that Climate Change is real—there are pictures. And if he doesn’t believe the photos, he’s the president—he can fly a rocket up to the ISS and look at the polar ice caps himself—or, better yet, send Eric (that poor kid is better off where he can’t be subpoenaed).

With so much electronic interconnectivity, with so many environmental challenges, with so much new science and technology, and with so much income inequality—this is a bad time to decide we should follow luddites and anti-intellectuals. It is an even more dire time to be allow Inclusion and Peaceful Coexistence to be threatened by retrograde Nazis. What Trump did to children at our southern border was a Crime Against Humanity—whatever party you support, you should realize that the whole rest of the world sees it that way—because it was.

We really do live in the future now—but, instead of dazzling us with bottomless charity and industrial miracles of recovery and renovation, I suspect this year’s hurricane season will be, sadly, just as bad as last year’s, or possibly worse. And I mourn in advance the dead which Trump’s incompetence and bigotry will cause.