Hello?   (2017Feb28)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017                                             11:42 AM

Feeling a little disappointed lately with the traffic on my blog and YouTube channel. Makes sense, though—I’ve been so busy writing posts and posting videos that I haven’t spared any time to appreciate other people’s blogs and music videos. I do follow some bloggers and YouTube musicians—I’m not completely self-absorbed—and besides, isn’t the point of the Internet to allow us all to bounce our ideas off each other? Sharing ideas and creativity is the only real communication—everything else is entertainment—click-bait and eye-candy to lull the masses.

So, I’m thinking maybe the end of Winter is a particularly fertile period for people to get work done, get new ideas, and feel inspired to create. Like me, everyone else is too busy doing their own thing to check in with my stuff. Either that, or I’m getting old, predictable, and uninteresting—always a dark possibility that I’m sure I won’t recognize when it happens—if it hasn’t already.

Today’s videos use new pictures of the baby—some of them are a little dark because I just used them, as is, to make the video. I’ve been processing hundreds of pictures lately, and for this batch of 376 new ones, I decided to take the easy way out—no photo-shop, no enhancement, just the candid camera. Fortunately most of the pictures are just perfect, like their subject, and my only worry was in recording some music that would be suitable accompaniment to such a beautiful baby.

I tried to play one of Bach’s French Suites—the b minor—but my left hand is getting so spasmodic that I may have to stop sharing my piano-playing and go back to playing for my own amusement. It’s never been that good, but it’s really starting to mess up everything I play. And I really hate not being able to play a strong bass line—it’s my favorite part, dammit.

With our new president, I have a bug up my ass about something he says or does nearly every day—so I’m struggling to come up with non-political posts, just to break the monotony of my constant bitching. I need ‘happy’ posts because I don’t like to put my beautiful granddaughter’s videos on the same page as a post about that horror-show.

But here I am, bitching anyway—and about people ignoring me, no less. What an idiot. I look at YouTube Creators notes sometimes—they always talk about requiring a minimum of 1,000 subscribers for certain programs they offer—and I go check my channel and see that, for my eight years of posting videos, I’ve amassed a whopping 60 subscribers. Usually I’m grateful that there are that many—but YouTube always reminds me that I’m not really ‘in the mix’, as it were. It’s depressing to be a music-lover and be such a terrible musician. Still, it beats living without music in my life.

All’s I can say is—if global warming is going to destroy the world, it’s surely offering us some lovely weather for the apocalypse. Last day of February and it might as well be the first day of June. The crocuses, snowbells, and what-all are simply exploding out of the ground. I should get my camera out there while it’s all blooming—those flowers come and go in the blink of an eye. Even indoors, we’ve got red and white amaryllis blooming all around the kitchen. It’s a very flowery day—too nice a day to complain. Hello.

D is for Dummy   (2017Feb28)


Tuesday, February 28, 2017                                             9:11 AM

According to the New York Times, Trump wants to add $54 billion to our military spending, saying, “We have to start winning wars again.” This sorry fuckwad doesn’t see a problem with wars—just with losing them. It may be difficult for those of us living in reality to understand what this drooling moron means when he spews his ignorance. I believe this particular tid-bit was meant to suggest that we will go to every hot spot on Earth and use American Might to slaughter everyone involved, thus ‘winning’. I guess when you’re that old, mere diplomacy and world peace won’t get your dick hard.

BLOTUS says, “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” He doesn’t want to admit it was just him—so he says ‘Nobody’ knew. This is the beauty of seeing reality as a story to be shaped, rather than a true thing—you can adjust the facts to make yourself look sane. Every-fucking-body knew—and everyone has known for years and years, that Health Care was complex—only someone who completely ignored politics until last year could possibly have missed the fact that Health Care was complex—and guess who that sounds like.


I know that facts are unpopular nowadays—but here’s one: the ACA was based on a Republican governor’s successful state program—it addressed several injustices that existed in commercial health insurance, it saved lives, and the only way it could be improved or made more economic would be to put back the single-payer option that Obama was forced to drop when he pushed the bill through. That’s the simple truth.

But Republicans and Trump campaigned on the notion that the ACA was evil incarnate—a curse upon the nation. They wanted to repeal it so bad they could taste it. They passed repeal bills in the House like sixty-something times. We can see now why they were so desperate—people have gotten used to health insurance—they like it and they don’t want anyone to take it away now. It turns out that some people look on this evil curse as a blessing—who knew that keeping kids healthy would be popular with parents—even dyed-in-the-wool Republican parents?

But how can they rail against something for years—and then turn around and claim they had no idea how complicated it was? How can they justify ending a government policy so popular that twenty million people signed up for it—and without any kind of replacement? Trump went on to say that his Obamacare-replacement plan is going to be incredibly super-terrific—he doesn’t have one yet, but he knows that it will be terrific. Is that just his subtle way of reminding us that ‘terrific’ has the same root as ‘terror’? I’m afraid so.


But I’m not going to condescend to you, dear reader, as if you were some brainless Trump supporter. You know he’s an ignorant, confused old elitist who snuck into a position he is unfit for. You don’t need me to tell you that the GOP has to use gerrymandering to win elections because their priorities don’t include serving the people. You don’t need me to tell you you’re being lied to—you can tell the truth from a punch in the face without any help from me. I only write these posts because I’m consumed with a thirst for vengeance, just dying for truth and justice to make a comeback.

Trump’s statements, his behavior, his so-called policies—I see them as proof of treasonous criminality and incompetence. Others see them as something to vote for. That’s an incomprehensible gap in our perception of things. I believe that a quarter of this country is made up of people who had trouble with school, with comprehension and reading skills—people who’ve spent their lifetimes being corrected, confused, and condescended to by intelligent people.

They hate subtlety, they hate ideas and ideals, they hate science and math, they hate history and education—and most of all, they hate eggheads, nerds, brains, or intelligentsia of any kind—study and knowledge are the enemy to that quarter of our population—the quarter who see Trump as their champion. Trump told them it’s okay to stand up in public and be an idiot, to say something that three-quarters of Americans laugh at for its inanity—that being a perfect fool is nothing to be ashamed of—and they love him for it.

Of course, it’s a little uncomfortable to come right out and champion stupidity, so they rebrand intelligence as ‘being liberal’. Then they change it to ‘libertards’, to imply that thinking is the real stupidity (and to get away with using ‘retard’ as an insult without anyone being able to call them on it). Sadly, they condemn thinking as if it’s something they would never do—when the truth is that thinking is something they’ve never been able to do.

That quarter of our population got Trump into office—but they had help. The people who didn’t bother to vote (which was fully half the country) may not have been stupid enough to vote for him—but they were stupid enough to let it happen. I give them a D.


Evil, Ignorant, or Psychotic   (2017Feb27)


Monday, February 27, 2017                                             5:40 PM

What do we mean when we say someone is ‘psychotic’? I don’t know anything about psychiatry—but I know it doesn’t mean misbehavior—we have criminal law to define what misbehavior is—and it even has conditions that attempt to separate crime from insanity—so ‘psychotic’, whatever that means to us, is not merely doing something bad. I’ve always assumed it meant disassociation from reality—perceiving reality in a way that is fundamentally different from sane people.

And we’ve seen several media reports recently that go out of their way to point out that psychosis, in and of itself, isn’t evil, per se. They give examples of people who are diagnosed as psychotic, but functional, meaning that such people can take care of themselves and don’t make a habit of hurting anyone else, but are nevertheless technically psychotic. That would seem to bear out my assumption that being psychotic isn’t the same as being a bad person.

I think, when we discuss modern politics, we often use ‘psychotic’ to label someone who thinks they have a good idea—and we recognize that ‘good idea’ as a very bad idea, the badness of which should be self-evident to any sane person. Thus Trump and most of his coterie are often described as psychotic—their ideas, if you can call them that, have been seen before, have been discussed before, and have been discarded as shortsighted, or just plain wrong, sometimes years or even decades before now. Their ignorance and willful blindness suggest someone with a malevolent agenda—and rather than call them evil traitors, we give them the benefit of the doubt—and say they must be crazy.

But these are our choices: evil, ignorant, or psychotic—they’re either doing wrong because they intend to, because they don’t know better, or because they fail to grasp reality. Not great choices. Rachel Maddow did a segment on this last week, giving examples of seeming malfeasance, or incompetence, depending on how much volition and knowledge you give them credit for. With each example she repeated the mystery: ‘Are they evil, or are they ignorant and incompetent? You choose.’ But she left out bat-shit crazy—and I can understand why she wanted to keep it simple, but she still left out a very real possibility.


And I can also see where a knowledgeable reporter would shy away from the question of psychosis. Capitalism is psychotic, when we consider that we are destroying our planet as fast as we can, meanwhile shouting to all who will listen that we can’t afford to slow down. American Politics is psychotic, when we consider that Trump won the election. Religion is psychotic on its face—the very definition of insanity—believing in something that there is no evidence of. And you and I are somewhat crazy as well—everyone is a little crazy, or a lot, depending. I like to think I’m only a little bit crazy, but who knows?

But a true psychotic is like a runaway robot—it will follow its programming, and it won’t slow down just because people start suffering or dying. It won’t adjust for outside input, peer pressure, ethics, morality, or any other reason—it will do what it is doing, and god help you if you get in its way.

And if that sounds a little too much like Trump and his administration, then you and I are in agreement. He may be evil. He is most certainly one of the most ignorant people ever to wield such power. But whatever else he is, there’s some crazy in there, too, no doubt about it.

Look at his life before politics—always skirting the far edges of propriety when it came to personal behavior, always skirting the far edges of legality when it came to acquiring profits, always dismissive of anything like ethics. Had things gone a little differently, Trump would have been campaigning from a jail cell, arrested for one illegal or perverted act or another. It is entirely possible his entire campaign was meant merely to give him immunity from prosecution for many actions he dismissed so quickly, while yelling that his opponent belonged in jail.

The fact that Trump University was found to be fraudulent, during the campaign, and even this clear indicator was ignored by his supporters—means that a good quarter of the country’s voters are a little t’eched in the head, as well.

Then there’s Putin—a murdering crime-boss who wormed his way into the Russian establishment and will kill anyone who threatens his primacy, now that he has it. Trump admired him openly during the campaign and now, as president, he urges America to ‘get along’ with this mafia thug. Crazy loves crazy, I guess.

But America is funny—we’ll do the whole four years with a madman in the White House—but if he takes off his pants and starts running around the front lawn singing nursery rhymes—we’ve got him. This is ironic since, if Trump were to do that, it would be among his most sensible activities—and his least harmful agendas—in the last year.


Stuck in the Snow   (2017Feb27)


Monday, February 27, 2017                                             11:29 AM

I’m tired of discussing it. I’ve been in meetings with people I respected, people who knew what they were talking about—and still, at some point you reach a time when you just get tired. How much more tiring it is to have an argument (I won’t dignify them as ‘discussions’) with someone who is speaking from an emotional, partisan obstinacy.

They trot out their syllogisms, their zingers, their disdain for other points-of-view, their outrage, hurt pride, and puffed chests—the tools of those for whom reason holds no fascination—just a lurking fear that calm, sensible thought will prove them wrong, and a blindness to their emotional attachment to maintaining the wrong, if that’s the case.

It reminds me of a story. I was hitchhiking on I-684 in a snowstorm, coming back north from a visit to a friend in White Plains. Four guys in a real boat of a seventies car picked me up. Their friendliness was greater than their care for their automobile, for the windshield-wipers weren’t working and the driver was trying to reach out his window and wipe the snow from the windshield as he drove.

Traffic moves right along on 684—we must have been doing sixty when the driver’s attention to the windshield caused him to stop paying attention to the road and he went onto the shoulder. The shoulder had deeper snow, and so pulled the car further off the road—the steering wheel, at this point in the snowstorm, had become more a suggestion than an instruction.

Soon we were basically sleigh-riding the car through a field full of saplings by the side of the highway—shearing their tops off as the car’s inertia plowed us unerringly towards some older trees—trees with trunks that would put a quick stop to even the largest vehicle. The car, luckily, slowed to a stop just a few feet in front of one such tree. We all breathed a sigh of relief that we hadn’t met the tree, and piled out to try to push the car back from the tree and towards the road again.

The car wouldn’t budge. We pushed and pushed and nothing happened. I got down on the ground and looked under the car. I could see that we had sheared off a healthy sapling’s trunk and the base of the young tree was not only jammed up into the carriage, but bent towards the larger tree we had just avoided smashing into. Five men with slippery shoes in the snow would have had a tough time moving the car had it been free to roll. But this was five men trying to push a car hard enough to uproot a small tree—while pushing a car.

I tried to explain the physics to my kind travelers—but I couldn’t express myself clearly enough to make them understand that we would have to literally lift the car off the ground to extract it from the spot it was in—I couldn’t even get them to look under the car, as I had. They wanted me to continue helping them try to push the car.

At the time, I felt more stuck by my inability to get through to my new friends than by the car being physically, inextricably stuck where it was. I’m not an alpha-male—I’m not the assertive sort—when I say things, I don’t shout or insist—I just say them. It never fails to surprise me that no one ever listens—it’s not like I’m wrong all the time—and you’d think people would notice that, right? But, no—no one ever says, “Hey, we better listen to Chris—he’s usually right.” I only got noticed when I made a mistake. In that way, I’ve always identified with Hillary Clinton—the smartest person in whatever room she’s in, but the last person anyone wants to hear from—and just let her make one little slip….


Of course this was all long ago, back when I had a pretty sharp mind—I’m wrong all the time these days—I live in a fog. Yet, I still see some things that seem obvious, even in my fog, that I simply can’t believe others don’t see clearly. I still get exhausted trying to argue with people who don’t think about what they’re saying, just saying whatever seems like a ‘good argument’ or a clever rebuttal—and fuck the big picture.

And I’ve found that most people are not at all stupid—even the Trump supporters are not as stupid as one would expect a Trump-supporter would have to be to support Trump. They don’t lack intelligence. They lack respect. They don’t respect reason—because they’re afraid of it—maybe having a hard time in school taught them that logic is not their friend—I don’t know. They don’t respect themselves—and that pushes them to reject any show of respect for people that know what they’re talking about—or even for the subject under discussion. Most Trump-support boils down to self-loathing, turned outwards towards the rest of the world. They’re basically saying, “I’m gonna make an ass of myself—and you can’t stop me, because I voted for the king of the ignoramuses—and idiocy is in charge now.

The Russians support Trump. Bannon is a confessed anarchist who wants to destroy the government. Conway got so used to lying she tried to give it a name: ‘alternative facts’. At least ten of Trump’s hires since inauguration have been expelled due to unfitness. And Trump has claimed that a free press is the enemy of the people—if I was crook and a liar, I’d say the same thing. The Republicans—jeez, these scumbags—whenever one of them opens their mouths, I want to shoot’em for treason. How do these trolls get elected—are their constituents in a coma? What? I just don’t get it—and boy, am I tired of pushing this car.


Sunday   (2017Feb26)

Sunday, February 26, 2017                                               1:52 PM

Sunday—and February almost over—these months just whip by if you don’t stay on top of them, eh? I’ve gotten a whole slew of new baby videos in from the fam—so, new YouTube videos are the order of the day.

I sent a Rusty-the-Robot teething toy—which appears in the videos—she seems to get a kick out of it, so I’m a happy grampa. Lil Sen is really starting to crawl now, so there’s lots of action in the videos—Sundance here I come.

With a February like Spring, it isn’t that I deny Climate Change—it’s just that I kind of like it. Is that wrong? It’s not like I’m the guy causing it.

I’m reading a new sci-fi book called “Breakthrough”—it’s about a lady scientist who tries to tell people that ocean levels are falling. No one will listen to her because they think she’s a climate denier—but it turns out there really are aliens running a star-gate on the ocean floor in the Bermuda Triangle, siphoning off seawater for their parched planet. It’s fun—I hope the earthlings win—we’ll see.

I’ve been adding a lot of sappy stuff to my Spotify playlist recently: Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic”, Johnny Mathis’s “Chances Are”, Billy Holiday’s “I’ll Get By”, Dusty Springfield’s “Spooky”, and some Chopin Nocturnes—even some Carpenters, and Barry Manilow—I guess I’m getting backfire from Valentine’s Day, I don’t know. I’m always into sappy, but I don’t usually dive this deep.

So, that’s Sunday, here at the Dunn’s.

Not Flat—But Maybe Our Brains Are   (2017Feb25)


Saturday, February 25, 2017                                             7:34 PM

20160107XD-NASA-MagneticReconnectionIt should be no surprise that the era of Trump has brought back a resurgence of Flat-Earthers—in the quest for distraction and chaos, no idea is too ludicrous. (And if Trump didn’t generate three scandals per day, our gaze might linger on one of his fouler failings.) Believing that the Earth is flat is kind of like a religious thing—it didn’t exist for the ancient Greeks, who knew better, and it doesn’t exist today, among most developed nations’ peoples.

The surface of the Earth is observably curved. If you watch a sailboat pass below the horizon, the boat disappears first—the masts remain visible for longer—this is not something that happens on a flat surface. If you send a perfectly horizontal laser-beam across the desert floor, someone a quarter of a mile away would have to hold a piece of paper ten feet over their heads to catch the beam’s reflection—that’s because the light is a straight line—the Earth’s surface is not.

The ancient Greeks did not need to see Earth from space to know that it was round—it is perfectly plain to see, from several simple exercises like those just described—not to mention the Moon—also visibly, patently spherical, is hanging in the sky half the nights.

But beyond this—we also have proof that Earth is not only round—but spinning like nobody’s business—the Coriolis force is what causes Foucault’s Pendulum to work the way it does (and why the water spins in a flushing toilet—clockwise here, and counter-clockwise in Australia. Without the Coriolis Effect, water would simply fall down a drain, not spin around it).

And there’s the question of why nights are longer at the poles—why we have seasons in the temperate zones—and why it’s so hot near the Equator. Ultimately, one has to stay indoors, both physically and mentally, to maintain a belief in anything so easily disproved as a flat Earth. I find that those who insist on a Flat Earth are not merely stating that single mis-fact—they are attempting to delegitimize Facts themselves.

In effect, it is a declaration that a person has the right to dismiss reality, for no reason at all—and that is the case—but the result, in a perfect world, would be a diagnosis of insanity, not a debate with serious people. In my youth, a person purporting the flat Earth theory would be told to sit down and shut up—we were busy going to the Moon back then, and had little patience with willful ignorance.

Now it is all the rage—getting someone to say something wildly stupid is irresistible click-bait to the so-called journalists of mass media—a Flat-Earther is money in the bank to them, regardless of how low it puts the bar of public discourse, or eats away at the fabric of modern society. And here is where we find the connection between the rise of Trump and the sudden resurgence of Flat-Earthers in the media. They both substitute attention-getting for intelligence-gathering. They are both subtle attacks on our way of life—perhaps too subtle for us to defend against. What do you think?


Global Disgrace (2017Feb25)


Saturday, February 25, 2017                                             1:40 PM

This world could be a beautiful place—we could all be working towards a happier, safer, more just world—so, how did we end up with a bunch of crooks in the White House and in Congress? How do the most ignorant, most thoughtless, most corrupt people come to power—especially considering that they all needed us to vote for them? How is that possible?

Well, for one thing—goodness is quiet. Evil shouts and punches and razzes its opponents—evil trumpets its false goodness to the mountaintops. Real goodness doesn’t do that—goodness is kept busy doing the right thing; it doesn’t waste time on PR.

Also, Democracy itself is a flawed concept—it assumed a sober judgement on the part of voters (an assumption that never held true, but fell completely apart last November). Democracy allows voters to confuse leadership with popularity—and Democracy makes elected officials cower away from unpopular but necessary policies.

No policy in America can ever be right enough to survive disfavor—which is why a ‘tax-cut’ is always popular but rarely wise. Policies get fought over in the media based on anecdotal memes, rather than serious analysis. Democracy is, in many ways, a political lobotomy. I don’t have an alternative to democracy—but being ‘better than tyranny’ is a pretty low bar—and when democratic dysfunction allows for tyranny, even that bar isn’t overcome.

The Electoral College was our founders’ only concession to popular idiocy—but the Electoral College is made up of people—people no wiser or more infallible than the voters—and, as in the recent election, even a minority-vote candidate with severe fitness issues can slide by them, like they weren’t even there. So much for the Electoral College. It’s official—the only thing the Electoral College does is make our elections less democratic—hence the clown with the least actual votes winning, this last time around.

I don’t think people see this as clearly as I do—I think a lot of Trump voters thought they were voting in a one-day protest against the establishment—none of them thought of their vote as a request to be led by a madman for four whole years. See, we’re a democracy—but once you elect someone—even a Trump—that person has awesome power that no protest can change—the only way to get rid of a bad politician is to wait for next election day and run someone else against them.

So, when we made a mistake with Trump, it was a four-year mistake—those voters made it impossible to get rid of Trump until 2021. End of story. Impeach him, you say? Well, his new AG is in charge of the Russian investigation—and was part of Trump’s campaign while the crimes were being committed—and refuses to recuse himself from the investigation! So, don’t hold your breath on impeachment—and don’t think Pence will be any great prize, either.

I believe that what really complicates politics is the spectrum of empathy—some people are willing to make significant sacrifices on behalf of the common good, i.e. other people; some people are only willing to make small sacrifices on behalf of the common good; and, of course, there’s the people who say, ‘I got mine, Jack’, and could care less about anyone else.

That’s only natural—but the problem is that government is not supposed to be about one person or one group—it’s supposed to be about all of us. Within that context, a spectrum of empathy certainly complicates things. But we are now in a fantasy world, where ‘all of us’ is considered an exclusive club—and immigrants, refugees, gays, women, Muslims, and African-Americans are not really part of us. It’s a sick paradigm created by a perverted fraud and traitor—whom we just elected. His idea is to improve our lives by discounting the value of the lives of others—I hate this fucking guy with every fiber of my being. It is ironic that Trump says, “America first” because he’s that stupid—and not because he knew it was the Nazi party’s slogan.

I’d like to say he’s ‘not my president’—but that is sadly not the case. He is my president—and I may never get over the shame of it. The rest of the world will mock us for rejecting a true leader, because she had a problem with her email account, for the next hundred years. I can almost hear them laughing at us from the other side of both oceans.


Bunch Of Geniuses   (2017Feb24)


Friday, February 24, 2017                                                 8:19 AM

Why is everyone so excited about a new solar system 40 light-years away? Do you really think we’re clever enough to suss out interstellar travel, when we can’t even pick a president?

We still have a whole branch of government that does nothing but kill or be killed—but don’t worry—we only use our military when it’s absolutely necessary for national security, i.e. when the Wall fails.

And even though Jewish people have been around longer than anyone else, we still manage to teach kids to hate Jews—shouldn’t it be the Jews that hate us, at this point?

If you can’t look at a woman without undervaluing her or thinking of ways to mistreat her or take advantage of her—that’s not a definition of what it means to be female—that’s you, being an animal. But I get it—women are strong, women are powerful—they’re scary, and we men need every handicap we can heap upon them, to avoid being totally intimidated and outclassed.

Any man who can afford a suit and tie, and has the ability to have his voice heard on television—has no business commenting on the poor, the underpaid, or the underserved. Miss a meal or two, be ignored for a week—then maybe you’ll have the slightest idea about it. Until then, your entitled, elitist, overbearing, smug thought-bubbles are worse than useless and you should really be keeping that verbal embarrassment to yourself.

I’m all for guns—everybody should have them—especially kids. Take some kids, kids who’ll only be thirty-five or so when the rising ocean levels are due to wipe out all the coastal cities—give those kids some guns, and the address of the Koch Bros. compound. Second Amendment rules!

And let’s stop blaming Trump for everything—he’s an idiotic clown, yes, but he’s an idiotic clown who’s being propped up by cynical, wealth-grubbing Republican party-leaders and a willfully misinformed constituency. These suicidally foolish people maintain their support for Trump, even after proof that the Russians have their hooks in him, and helped get him elected. Oh yeah, let’s get that group of geniuses together and design that starship.


Aspera Ad Astra   (2017Feb23)

Thursday, February 23, 2017                                           8:26 AM


The discovery of seven earth-sized planets orbiting a dwarf star, Trappist-1, makes me wonder how big the ‘goldilocks’-zone is, when talking of a star that isn’t much bigger than Jupiter—and if the orbits of all seven planets could all fit in that little slice of space. Being the same size as Earth means the gravity would be the same—but without placement in the ‘goldilocks’-zone, a planet will be too cold or too hot to live on.

I’m so used to thinking in terms of science fiction that it’s hard for me to get excited about seven planets orbiting a dwarf star forty light-years from Earth. But even from a non-fiction point of view—forty light-years is a ‘fer piece’.

Do the math: one light-year equals 5.8 trillion miles (that’s 10 to the twelfth, for those of you playing at home). Here—we’ll do it the kids’ way: 5,800,000,000,000 miles. That is a very long walk. If we traveled at 1,000 mph, it would take about 6,600 years to travel one light-year. If we traveled at 10,000 mph, it would still take over 660 years to travel one light-year. Thus, in practical terms, a light-year is a distance that a person has never traveled—and has no way of traveling, at present, within a single lifetime. The new solar system that was just found—that’s forty-of-those-things distance from us—that’s just a ridiculous distance away.

Light-years, the unit of distance, was created by and for astronomers—it allows astronomers to discuss the relative distances of stars—but don’t let that fool you into thinking of light-years in terms of human travel—it’s not a human scale of distance.

Plus, if you want to fly through space at 10,000 mph for 660 years, you’re going to need a very big gas tank. Carl Sagan told us that we could avoid this problem by using a Bussard ramjet, a spaceship that collects hydrogen atoms as it moves forward—and uses fusion to propel itself. The Bussard ramjet would use the near-vacuum of space as its fuel—imagine!

But that still leaves you with the need for food, water, and breathable air for however many people for however many years—and even with great recycling tech, that’s a lot of supplies to push through space. And again—forty light-years—if we could travel one light-year, we’d still need to do it forty times to reach that dwarf star with its seven planets.

Also, once you arrive at the dwarf star, you are completely cut-off from Earth—and Earth from you. Forty light-years means that even a radio message would take forty years to go in one direction—which means, if you got on the phone, said ‘hi’, and waited for the other end to say ‘hi’ back—that’s eighty years.

If we ever send people out there, we won’t be ‘colonizing’, we’ll just be sending little samples of humanity out into the cosmos. Maybe their great-grandchildren will communicate with Earth, but never in a “Hi, How are ya” kind of way. Assuming they survived, they would become a totally separate civilization from our own.

And this is the sad truth—space exploration will not ‘save’ the Earth. Sending people to space, even into our local solar system, will help protect the human race from extinction—but it won’t do anything for the people that remain on Earth. And living in space will never be as safe and easy as living here, on the cradle of life.

There is enough raw material in the asteroid belts and the Oort cloud for us to build several ‘earths’—but we will never be able to move significant numbers of people up from Earth ‘s gravity well without a space elevator—and we still don’t have the technology to build one of those.

In summary, space exploration is not easy or simple. It will take more determination than the human race has shown itself capable of, to date, to get there in any meaningful way. People often theorize that an alien invasion would help to unify the human race—and, in the same vein, the destruction of our biosphere would help to motivate people into space. But why do we need a global disaster to get our asses in gear? Can’t we just be grown-ups? Let’s reach for the stars.


What A Tool   (2017Feb22)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017                                                 9:59 AM

Ain’t it weird to sit around feeling attacked every day? Here I am at my desktop, nothing happening, yet every day I feel more and more threatened. And the truth is—I’d be more pleased if I were delusional—if it was all in my head. Sadly, it is not my imagination—cynical horror-shows like Trump, Bannon, McConnell, Ryan, and an evil host of others all get up each morning with no aim other than to screw the American public. And I don’t think they’re even working towards some end or trying to help their rich friends take advantage—I think it comes down to outright psychosis on their part.

These are sick people. They harried our fine previous president every minute of his eight years in office—and no amount of good could dissuade them from their simple-minded robotic attack on the ‘enemy’. They all lied about each other, all through their primary, culminating in the nomination of the lowest among them (which reminds me—what’s Ted Cruz up to these days?) and continued the lying-fest right through the general election, smearing HRC as if she had horns and a forked tail—and somehow enough people fell for their barrage of bullshit that Trump won the Electoral College.

So now we have these psychos in power—their psychosis has spread to the heartland, the non-urban middle of our country—as if those people didn’t have enough problems without making a deal with the devil. So now we have a situation where evil monsters have taken over—and cast a spell over many Americans, making them believe that they’re living in a fantasy world where things get better simply by accusing others—no hard work required, no change is asked for—we just have to punish the guilty and all will be well. Sorry, I don’t think so.

So we have unemployment woes, low wage woes, crumbling infrastructure, crippled educational systems, terrorists, and hackers—but these monsters, with straight faces, mind you, tell us that our highest priorities are taking away healthcare and banning abortions. It’s like living in an insane asylum. Elitism and gerrymandering have done an end-run around the Constitution, misinformation has created a zombie army of self-destructive supporters who couldn’t find their asses with both hands, and while the majority of the country disapprove of Trump, he keeps yelling that everybody loves him. What a tool.

Mismanagement can kill a company—Trump didn’t file for bankruptcy three times because he’s a wizard of management—he went bankrupt because he’s the kind of boss who throws his weight around, ignoring warnings and advice alike, until the wheels fall off—in other words, a bad boss—a terrible boss. Now, I’ve worked for bad bosses in my time—that was something many of us suffer through in the course of our career. But no one, ever before, has actually picked a bad boss, voted for him to mismanage the whole country. That’s new. Maybe someday someone can explain to me how people can be so enormously misled.

Hurry Spring   (2017Feb21)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017                                             4:06 PM

Well, today settles it—I get maudlin towards the end of Winter. I start writing poems, I start playing piano in a minor key, I write bitter diatribes with far more than my usual cynicism. My taste in music gets a little weepy, a little dirge-y—I read more than watch TV. It’s a whole ‘Spring-better-show-up-soon’ depression-fest.

Also, I tend to write a lot more personal stuff—half of what I write this time of year is either too personal or too depressing to post—and I go on and on about stuff that I’m pretty sure isn’t driving the throngs to my blog—but that’s February for me. I’m fading fast—and I need some sunshine.

Well, things have settled down a bit—I’m used to either rooting for a Democrat administration, or I’m worrying about the one, really-big mistake that a GOP administration is currently making—I’m not used to purely dysfunctional—that’s a new one on me—and, I suspect, on all of you as well. But normalization is inevitable—short of storming Penn Ave, we’re stuck with the Clown until 2020—and the more avidly we stare, waiting for an impeachable offense, the less likely one is—‘a watched pot…’ and all that.

I’m still getting used to an America that is not actively trying to exceed itself—I’ll miss that forever, or until it returns, whichever comes first. Never before has a candidate won an election with a message of despair. “Make America great again”—I’d like to punch that fucker right in the mouth—the only thing that isn’t great about America is your benighted ass, you fucker, and the cowering, feebleminded jerks who voted for your sick agenda.

But let’s not get ourselves all worked up, every damn day, over the same old tragedy. What’s done is done. The odds on Trump sitting his whole term are long—one definite drawback to not knowing what you’re doing: you don’t know the rules. And while Trump may rubber-stamp some of the GOP’s worst legislation, they will find it hard to actually work with him—everyone does.

Fortunately for the Republicans, their platform was already custom-tailored for wealthy bastards with no public conscience—but they will inevitably try to mollify their base with something—and that’s where they and Trump will part ways. Trump’s penchant for blaming the establishment will ring rather hollow in 2020, after four years of being the establishment, so it’s hard to see him pull this off a second time—unless he actually does something.

But like most of his kind, Trump’s greatest ally would be military strife—even Bush-43 looked more dignified with Americans dying all over the place. Thus, it isn’t that I don’t want Trump to do anything—it’s that I’m afraid his ‘anything’ has some dark options waiting. Improving education, creating jobs, fixing our infrastructure—these would all be laudable accomplishments—if Trump can improve anything on such fronts, I’ll be glad to reevaluate—but I’m not going to hold my breath.

As much as I look forward to the coming of Spring, it will be all the more bitter for being a time of rebirth in an new age of tyranny—for 2017, T. S. Eliot will have got it right: “April is the cruelest month….

Today’s poem and videos all contain cannibalized artwork from my one and only book of illustrated poetry, “Bearly Bliss”. It may seem ironic that my hand-tremors make me unable to draw, yet I still try to play the piano with the same hands—this is because I’m used to sucking at the piano, whereas I was once pretty good with a pen.


Monday Blahs   (2017Feb20)

Monday, February 20, 2017                                             1:14 PM

It’s February, it’s Monday, and I’m feeling fatigued—I’m tired of Winter, I’m tired of watching politics, and I’m especially tired of wondering why—did you ever just throw up your hands and say ‘people are crazy’?

Why do people see governance as a team sport? How does gerrymandering work—do all the rich people get together and decide on which crook is getting elected this year? Isn’t there a point at which even wealthy people say to themselves, ‘Jeez, what about our children, our grandchildren—what kind of future community will they live in?’

People try to justify their support of the Republicans, or worse, of Trump, but I never hear a lot of carefully reasoned objectives and agendas—I just hear a lot of anger and confrontation and defiance—and these people aren’t really mad at the Democrats, or even the Left as a whole—they’re mad that the world has become a place that belies their conservative nature. That the Republicans, and much worse, Trump, are willing to play on those fiddle-strings is a shame and an unexposed scandal.

Science is king. Defy it in small things if you want—but notice that you take an airliner to get to the rally, that satellites inform the GPS in your rental car on your way to the venue, and that the Internet has made it possible to gather a large crowd at short notice.

Science rules. It even controls our money—cash was already a mathematical construct, even as mere paper—a utilitarian fiction for the sake of liquidity, but now cash is stored digitally, magically, like a genie in a bottle—kill the science and you kill the cash.

Advanced tech keeps us all clothed and fed and safe and warm—kill the science and you find your family living in a cave—if they survive. People talk about the economy—about how we need money to maintain order and security. Well, you need science just as badly—and that’s just the existing science—that’s not even going into the question of what happens to countries that fail to keep pace with science, moving forward.

Yet science is under attack in America—it’s downright oedipal. Where’s the erstwhile pride in ‘Yankee ingenuity’, in being first on the Moon, in inventing the Internet? We have taught the world that the real Olympics, the truest of international competitions, lies in science and technology—how have we managed to lobotomized ourselves in the process? How did the country that invented Public Education sink lower in scholastic achievement than Zimbabwe? People are crazy—and I’m tired of it. Trump is a traitor, not just to America, but to humanity—but then, that just makes him one of the Rich, doesn’t it? O right, it’s Monday….


Journal Entry   (2017Feb19)

Sunday, February 19, 2017                                               3:28 PM


I’ve spent the day creating new piano videos for my YouTube channel. These are something a little new—I’ve taken my ‘masterpieces of art’ graphics collection and interleaved them with baby pictures of Sen—so you see one old master, then Sen, then another old master, and so on. The baby watches the videos at naptime, some days, so this will give her something to look at besides herself—and all the paintings are colorful with vivid images (which was why I collected them in the first place).

One of the videos is fairly long—that’s partly because it includes a ‘cover’ of the old Carpenters tune, “Yesterday Once More”, which I play rather freely, for a wonder—and the following improv is about twelve minutes—so, a rare recording in several ways. The other one is shorter, just an improv, and only remarkable in that I chose to name it ‘Toothpick Charlie’, for no reason on earth—it’s a funny name, is all. But I’m satisfied with both performances, making it a good day’s work.

My mom’s not well—the doctors are trying to figure her out but so far the best they can do is a morphine drip. I wish I could travel—I’d take up residence in the bed next to hers—I could use a good morphine drip—and those damn doctors could get around to me once they’ve figured out my mom. Meanwhile, we’re all pretty concerned.

Been doing a lot of reading lately—nothing to write a review about, but passable fare. It’s like that old bumper-sticker about ‘a bad day of fishing vs. a good day of work’—a bad book is still better than your average TV show.

Nothing much else to go on about.



To-Do List   (2017Feb15)


Wednesday, February 15, 2017                                       12:37 PM

We get it—you guys love a good debate—if I had Kelly ConJob as my truth-squirmer, I would too. Spicer, as well, though no Kelly, has been described as “the M. C. Escher of bullshit”. So, let’s say that your delusional reasoning wins every argument—that still leaves the question of what to do. And, on that score, even “He won—shut up and sit down” doesn’t really cut it.

Let’s look at the proposals we’ve heard so far. At the top, there’s ‘build a wall’, which I consider more of a ‘what not to do’—it’s efficacy is questionable, over and above (if you’ll pardon the wall analogy) the question of the cost and logistics of the actual building. We made it through two centuries and two world wars without a wall—the crying need for it, here in 2017, still eludes me. And if America truly requires a wall, why are we stopping at one? Where is the wall for the Canadian border?

Then again, sea-walls on both coasts would actually be of use, in the global warming and ocean-level rises to come—why are we building a wall in the only place we don’t really need one? Never mind.

Moving on—we have the travel ban, the refugee freeze, and the repeal of Obamacare—but these are things being undone, not things we’re going to do. They all represent giant steps backward—and even if you don’t agree with that sentiment, there’s still the question of, outside of what we’ll undo, what (again) are you going to do?

Trump’s excuses for re-upping our carbon-footprint may sound like they are designed to bring back manufacturing and other jobs—but that’s not what they actually do—they simply make profit for Big Oil. The opportunities we are losing by our reluctance to embrace alt-energy industries is the real, long-term effect of his petroleum-friendly policies—and his bent towards commodifying education isn’t going to help the job market either.

It may be a misnomer to label Trump a traitor to his country. I suspect that wealthy people don’t see countries as rallying points in the way most of us do—they look at concentrations of wealth as the sovereignties of their world—and they’re not far wrong, though their patriotism is mere lip-service.

His continuing confusion of his presidency with a more familiar role, that of a commercial executive, is further indication that when Trump commits treason, he is ignorant of that aspect of his actions. He thinks he’s running a business, or worse yet, a TV show. Unfortunately, neither of these roles ever expects responsibility of its holder—except for the bottom line. And we’ve seen Trump’s bottom lines—often in the red—so, there’s little joy there, as well. Yet there are still those who insist they voted to put a businessman in the top slot—I might agree more fully if they’d specified a successful businessman.

Trump might have more readily caught on to the fact that ethics were involved, had he not become a member of the Republican party—but they are the Party of the Rich, so what choice did he have? As Vonnegut said, ‘we are what we pretend to be’. So, even if Trump is not the billionaire he pretends to be, he stills has to act like one.

In the end, I point out the lack of goals not to spur Donald to create some—truly, the less damage that a-hole does while in office, the better for all of us—but to point out its very comfortable absence from Trump’s agenda—he’s a fighter—he loves confrontation—but he ain’t much of a doer. His egotistic impetus to run for the office contained no vision of a better America—he only meant that, if elected, he would consider America great again—because we had elected him. And in this he is very much a Republican.


I’m Already There   (2017Feb13)

Monday, February 13, 2017                                             7:11 PM

Actively dysfunctional—is that a thing? Do some people go through life thinking that their job is to screw everything up? Is it possible that people realize the fragility of the status quo—and some are actively making it as bad as possible? I mean, you wouldn’t think so, would you?—because it wouldn’t make any sense at all. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

People do lots of disruptive things—and for a wealth of rationales: to strike back at ‘authority’ (whatever ‘authority’ may mean to the disruptor—and whoever is picked as its representative)—or simply to feel empowered by being capable of disruption—or to use disruption as a diversion for something else that won’t bear close scrutiny.

This is something I don’t think a lot about. I’m overly earnest in thought and deed. It would never occur to me to kick over an apple-cart, because that would just mean someone had to pick up all the apples. I’m all about cooperation and efficiency—thinking otherwise, for me, is a trip across the line into insanity—but I’ve come to recognize that we all have our own sanity. Just because I can’t think of a reason to put a knife between my ribs doesn’t mean no one else is thinking about it.

Surely you have wondered, like I do, how we can reconcile the incredible powers of communication, where people from twenty distant parts of the globe can interact as if in the same room, with a globe that is such a shit-storm—how can this be? How can we have reached a point where we can do momentous things, as if by magic, but we don’t do any of them—because of the rules we’ve set up? What crimes do we commit against each other in our enslavement to Capitalism? Beyond poisoning the planet, that is—I’ll leave out the obvious.

I’ll grant you the fact that imposing order is easy if you don’t care about people’s rights or feelings, and a just organizational plan is far more complicated than trying to rule the world by fiat—but with modern organizational tools and our ability to transport materials and communicate with each other, it remains a mystery how we could be so shoddily led by our government, or all the world’s other governments, for that matter, absent a tremendous lack of will—or possibly even intentional disruption. I’d like someone to explain to me how we can make progress in every avenue—except that which makes government more efficient and transparent, life less scary, or people less helpless.

The whole world sits around while Aleppo is bombed into rumble, for years on end—and yet the whole of the world’s nations can’t summon the will to defy those two or three countries for whom all the deaths and blood and suffering are part of some cold calculation of power and profit. We have the technology to watch the whole thing on TV, in real time—but we act like it’s fucking Twain’s weather—everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it.

And when the helpless women and children come crawling from the ashes—do we spring into action then? Oh no—those people are a threat—they might blow us all up at any minute. Let’em suffer.

I tell you—I wrote a blog the other day about how I am still embarrassed to be white—but I think it’s becoming more pervasive than that—I’m about to become ashamed to be an American. Too late—I’m already there.

I’m still in love with the idea, the history, the memory, and the dream of America—but I’m living in a country I don’t recognize—a country where hate and fear have become, somehow, popular—popular enough for them to elect a modern incarnation of Hitler. Truth itself—and Science, are both under attack by forces that can only be bent on disruption. America may recover some day—I haven’t given up—but I still don’t know how we got here—so how will we ever get back? It’ll take more than a twitter-war.

You think Trump is crazy now? Just wait until they try to tell him his term is over.


Chopin   (2017Feb11)

Saturday, February 11, 2017                                             9:48 PM

Fryderyk Chopin was tutored in piano by Wojciech Żywny from age six until age eleven. From age 13 to age 16, Chopin (a child prodigy) studied at the Warsaw Lyceum, then composition under Józef Elsner. Chopin lived in Warsaw until the age of 20, in 1830, when he and several friends decamped to Paris—just prior to the November Uprising that same year. This marked the start of a doomed Polish struggle against Russian rule which Chopin is noted as supporting from afar throughout his brief adult life.

Chopin was such a consummate pianist that some of his compositions, when they do not cross into virtuoso territory (which was often the case) are technically accessible even to someone like me—though reading-through and playing the correct notes (mostly) is still a far cry from a true, capital-P performance of a Chopin work. His delicate lyricism and serendipitous, near-improvisational freedom of expression are found nowhere else in written music—and merely playing the notes as written is just a beginning towards reaching the full effect.

But I try—there is something about playing a piece oneself, on the piano—it is the reason that I play, albeit poorly, and with no hope of ever mastering the instrument. When we listen to music, we hear only the sound it makes. But in reading the music, as written by the long-dead genius (or any other) and in pressing the keys with my own hands, I feel an understanding and a connection to Chopin that is easily equal to relationships I’ve had with living people—I get not only the end result, the sound—but also the roots, the human source of whatever musical invention I happen to be playing. It is a wonderful kind of rush that transformed the way I listen to music, as much as it included me in the making of music.

Thus, when I play Chopin, I can stop dead in the middle of the piece—odds are I had to, but even still, I speak to Chopin—I say, ‘clever, that bit—and very beautiful.’ And Chopin replies, ‘I thought you’d like that.’ It’s amazingly like a vicarious composition of my own—as if I was creating it instead of playing it off the sheet music—as if I were Chopin. Despite the fact that my end results are hardly praiseworthy, in the playing of the music myself, I can hear it as Chopin first imagined it—in some ways, sounding more beautiful than the most polished artist’s performance of the same piece.

I was a weird kid. I enjoyed classical music in grade school—I had a lot of LPs, and many more that I borrowed from the Katonah Village Library. I sometimes fought with my siblings about playing classical music on the big stereo in the living room (rather than their rock n’ roll—not that I didn’t enjoy some of that, too) but most often, I would stack’em up on my record player, turn out the lights and lie on the floor to listen in the dark. My dad hated that—he’d burst in and turn on the lights and say, ‘What the hell are you doing in here in the dark?’ or whatever.

But my point is this—I’ve always loved classical music. But it wasn’t until I was fifteen (way too old) before I took piano lessons. There’s something about hitting the keys and making the notes play—feeling the music as an activity, as a part of you, instead of listening to music—it gave me a heightened appreciation of music that I don’t believe is possible without some experience, with some instrument, or with the voice. Glenn Gould’s Bach recordings, for instance, went from relaxing to fascinating—without changing a note—it was like a veil was lifted for me. Music is a wonderful thing to hear—but it isn’t until you make your own that you get the full picture, as it were.

And I’d say that’s why I improvise at the piano every day, too. I can’t make great music, but I can make music—and there’s something very empowering about playing music that no one else has written down, music that I make up as I go along. Survivalists prepare for a life after civilization—I suppose I’m preparing for a life after I-tunes?


Trump Is God   (2017Feb11)


Saturday, February 11, 2017                                             10:02 AM

Supporters of Trump show similarities to evangelicals—blind faith, blindness to the truth, and an eagerness to pick a fight with non-believers. And I think we can put some of the blame for our political chaos on our collective blind spot—religion. Do you have a religion? I do not. Many Americans have a religion which they are deeply invested in—and many Americans have absolutely no belief in the supernatural—horror-, or Christian- based.

America believes in religious freedom and the separation of church and state—which is good in that it protects Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists. The trouble resides in its protection of orthodox and extreme religious sects—anything short of public terrorist acts is permissible—including science-denial, misogyny, and racial discrimination—all features of certain, otherwise ‘legitimate’ religions.

Just as freedom of speech is sometimes misused—as when a neo-nazi’s public speaking goes unmolested—so, too, is freedom of religion misused to perpetuate ideas like those of Julius Evola (a hero of Steve Bannon’s) who was a little too radical for Mussolini, but is enjoying a resurgence due to Trump’s administration.

America made a great leap forward when it founded itself on the idea that religion was too iffy to form a basis for our laws or our government—where, hitherto, no government was without its state religion—a partner of the secular power structure, enforcing a deeper obedience than can be achieved by mere physical intimidation. Nonetheless, in separating the church from state, we only solved half the problem.


Atheism’s numbers are growing—now that we have ‘magic’ in flight, in medicine, in digital electronics, etc., we have less interest in the non-responsive magic of angels and deities. Open study of archeology and variant scriptures such as the Dead Sea Scrolls have given us a clearer picture of the human side of religion—offering proof that, even if the original supernatural encounters had happened, the leaders of subsequent sects modified the original faiths to meet the exigencies of change and power.

Over the centuries, changes in society and culture caused changes in religion—and modern findings of this destroy the monolithic, unchanging image that religion likes to project. If God were real, neither he (nor she) nor his rules would ever change—which makes today’s religions either false, or sacrilegious, i.e. false unto themselves.

We also have a much smaller world now—the different religions across the globe are used to being insulated from each other. But now, especially in America, one can have a neighborhood containing members of every religion on earth—and while religious freedom protects each of those faiths, it can’t protect people from noticing that these other faithful are blindly true to something entirely unconnected to that which they are blindly true to. It may seem a small thing—but the old joke is true: everyone is an atheist about all religions except their own. It is only a small step from recognizing that everyone around you believes in hogwash, to recognizing that you are in the same boat.


Aside from the competing magic of science and technology, and the pitfalls of ‘comparison shopping’ for religion, perhaps the most insidious threat to organized faith is our recognition of the hollowness of authority. Where we once looked to religious leaders and political leaders and respected journalists as authority figures, we rarely get through a month without one of these archetypes being indicted, exposed, or debunked. Today’s surge in atheism is just a symptom of a larger tendency to distrust those in power.

To me, the whole thing is an issue of being wishy-washy or not—you either accept the magical thinking of your faith or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways. If the afterlife exists, if souls exist, if God exists—then a lot of what we are doing is wrong—and we shouldn’t be doing it. I respect the Amish for their refusal to indulge in tech. I respect the Christian Scientists for their refusal to use modern medicine. If you’re going to believe in magic, don’t be half-assed about it. These religions with one foot out the door seem hypocritical to me.

But they are in the majority—and their dilution into something modern people won’t laugh at is a far greater retreat from faith than all the furor over abortion or evolution. Their own embarrassment is a far greater enemy of their faith than any argument we atheists can provide.


I remember when, as a boy, the Catholic Church demoted all the saints that were too close to fairy tales—my own name-saint, Christopher, and other popular saints like St. Valentine, St. Patrick, and St. Nicklaus—were considered too apocryphal to be included in the Church’s saint’s-day calendar. They were not entirely disowned or erased, but their high visibility became an embarrassment to modern Catholics, and they were no longer to be part of our serious rites of worship. That may be where the seeds of my atheism were sown—don’t name me after the guy who supposedly carried the infant Christ across a torrential river (the Christ-bearer) and then turn around and tell me the guy might just be a fanciful legend after all. That’s no way to cement my faith.

Times change—and religions change with them. The fact that times change slowly—and that each generation is presented with a religion as if it were a static foundation—has kept this simple truth from becoming an obvious fact—until now, when change is swift and communication swifter. Religion has become pitifully threadbare in modern times—the idea that a man can have a special connection to the eternal is hard to maintain when that man gets busted for pedophilia, or when that man decides that suicide-bombers are his favorite converts.

We are stuck now between a rock and a hard place—the Muslim extremists would be perfect poster-boys for atheism, if we weren’t so dead-set on pretending that there is a significant difference between one Judeo-Christian-Muslim faith and another. People even go so far as to argue that Christianity has never indulged in murder or terrorism—a patent falsehood that only reveals a deep ignorance of history—and not very ancient history, either.


To me, the most ugly, yet hilarious, paradox is that we, as a nation, are not ready to contemplate a presidential candidate who is an avowed atheist—yet we are completely unable to take a presidential candidate’s faith seriously. While ‘God will provide’ might make sense at home, it is beyond the pale when speaking of public policy. Reagan, Bush, et. al. were always at their most laughable when they reached back for their fundamentalist rationales to explain their decisions. And that’s overlooking the more basic paradox of one faith’s extremist becoming the leader of a multi-faith nation—or designating one faith as more quintessentially American than all the others.

Then there’s the darker issue—that, for many Americans, money is their God, and hypocritical playing on religious heartstrings is fair play, as long as there’s a profit to be made. Religion has been used as a prop for the powerful since the dawn of civilization—Karl Marx was very clear that he felt religion was used to keep the masses subject to state-determined morality. America is famous for having severed the direct link between power and faith—but such things have the ability to morph into other paradigms. We have recently seen many Americans embrace the return of faith as a political power-base—an ignorance that saddens any educated student of American history.

Religion fills a need. Even I, knowing that faith is an imaginary construct, still feel the lack of its warmth and security. My atheism has not made me feel happy or safe—I have simply had to accept that religion is false, and live with that. I even avoid promoting atheism, since I wouldn’t wish it on a happy believer. But when religion gets on its high horse, as if it were real, I am the first to rise in opposition. This defensive posture is a weak one—and the rise of atheism has spurred a sudden strength in the religious—but religion itself has weakened in its obsolescence.


So now we have a new president who got himself elected mostly through demonizing violent extremists of a certain religion—and pretending to support the more popular Christian one. No one is blaming religion itself for any of these problems—most Americans react to Muslim extremism by redoubling their faith in Christianity—even though their differences are minor details. The insistence on blaming Muslims for terrorism is a backhanded way of avoiding religion as the true culprit. Extreme religion of any kind always puts faith above reality, worship above humanity—and there isn’t a one of them that hasn’t descended, in the end, into bloody violence.

So why this blind faith in Trump—why do facts simply bounce off the Trump supporters? My theory is that religion has become too embarrassing, but people still need something to believe in—and Trump fills the bill. Like a god, he offers easy answers, no explanations, and an unbounded self-regard. Further, he sees no obligation to jive with observable reality. If you are an evangelist, or have evangelist leanings, in a world that is slowly waking up from the dream of heaven and hell, Trump is a perfect substitute. Plus, he allows you to attack someone else’s religion without even having to stand up and declare yourself a member of your own.

Snow Day   (2017Feb09)

Thursday, February 09, 2017

I admit, when I heard that yesterday would have a high in the sixties, and then turn to ten inches of snow overnight—I thought the meteorologists were overexcited about the prospect of a winter storm—either that, or that a weather front so severe would bring winds strong enough to knock out our power-lines. But my pessimism has been reprimanded—by this beautiful snowy morning (after a yesterday hot enough to sweat in).

There is some wind, but no hurricane or anything. The snow is magical, as always—and Bear loves the snow—she went out shopping yesterday, happily preparing to be snowed in—and people call me an overgrown kid. Oh, there’s a heavy gust outside my window—I hope I didn’t jinx us, by saying we still had power….

I watched the FX premier of Legion last night—it was good—good enough for me to miss The Daily Show, which it overlapped. Legion is kind of a mix of X-Men Origins, Wanted, and The Philadelphia Experiment. I always admire cinematic creativity that can tackle themes as challenging as psychic powers, dream worlds mixing with reality, or telepathy. Such themes are just good fun for a writer—but to show this esoteric stuff visually requires a clever screenwriter—and a lot of CGI. I’ve never seen a show that so clearly indicates the double-edged sword ‘super powers’ would be, in real life.

It reminds me of a collection of essays, by sci-fi writers who obsessed about Superman—one essay pointed out that, if Superman and Lois Lane ever consummated their relationship, his super-strong, super-fast ejaculate would rip through poor Lois’ body and explode out the top of her skull. After reading that, I never quite thought of Superman in the same way. Likewise, in Legion, the protagonist, David, has Psi powers that he can’t control—he has the ability to kill everyone around him, just by becoming overly upset. Now, that’s a super power, by definition—but hardly one that kids would dream of having.

But super heroes make me sad these days—in my cynical old age I’ve come to realize that most of the world’s problems are the result of human nature. A super-powered champion of justice wouldn’t change things any more than having a superpower like the USA trying to be the global sheriff in town. A hero can stop violence easily enough—but violence is just the easily seen, easily interrupted aspect of the trouble in the world. Most of it is invisible corruption, religious extremism, and the manipulation of crowds with misinformation.

Evil, like Good, only exists in our minds. In nature, there is life and death, predator and prey—but that is nature’s horrible balance, it’s not a morality play. In fact, I see most of evil as being an imbalance—the result of someone wanting more than their fair share out of life. Humankind could easily work out a formula for keeping everyone healthy and comfortable—if we wanted to—if our society weren’t instead largely based on a complicated form of ‘king of the hill’—an unnatural scramble to take everything for oneself and leave nothing for others. So we end up with our ‘Society’, where Evil is re-cast as a hungry person stealing a loaf of bread—surely the most natural thing in the world—but a horrible crime against Capitalism.

Now we have a society where it is a crime to be good (and good to be a criminal—just look at our new president). We raise our children to be little angels—but as soon as they’re old enough, we start explaining to them that all of that horseshit was for fairy tales—and they better start cheating, lying, biting, and scratching with the rest of the adults. Money, perhaps the most wretched, worthless crap on earth, is prized as treasure—and Happiness is relegated to children’s songs and feel-good (fictional) movies.

Now I know I must sound hysterical—damning our entire social paradigm without offering any sensible path towards a better society. I don’t have solutions—I’m not even sure there are answers out there to be found. But if the illusions that populate our lives are both bullshit—and a cause of misery for 99.9% of us—then I feel obliged to point that out. I can’t snap my fingers and make life a sensible proposition—but neither can I sit around and pretend that what we are doing makes any sense.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017                                       11:06 AM

War, Money, Religion   (2017Feb08)

What have we learned? Well, thousands of years ago, someone combined a philosophical life-approach with a very old religion. We still haven’t learned to separate the wheat from the chaff in that book. We’ve learned that, as an unled mob, we are dangerous—even to ourselves—but that we can’t trust anyone with leadership—especially those that want the job.

We’ve learned that money, once it really insinuates itself fully into our lives, is pretty cancerous stuff—it makes socialism a crime of sorts—although socialism, in some areas, properly administered, is mere humanitarianism. Socialist programs are also a boon to society as a whole. The apparent unfairness of having some of us work hard and others not work—is an illusion. Some of us are able to work harder and faster—but we all need to eat. The apparent unfairness of socialism is what keeps capitalism from paying different salaries for the same job. Getting paid the same as the guy next to you is pretty good, right? But it’s bad capitalism—capitalism says we should evaluate everything—fairness be damned.

Socialism is just the recognition that we are all here—some of us can’t afford the basics, some of us are unable to do a full day’s work—yet we all need to survive. Handing out money to hard-working people for a job well done—that’s a fine thing—but it’s no crime to spend money on those who haven’t ‘earned’ it. It’s called charity—and it works to everyone’s benefit, because the more you care for the underserved, the less they impact your own life, and the fewer of them there are. Even if you don’t give a damn about people in need, it still benefits you to look after them.

And that is true for nations as well as people—the happier and busier the rest of the world, the safer we are. America doesn’t police the world for fun or profit—we do it because a world full of nations in chaos is a dangerous world for us. Of course, we do enjoy throwing our weight around—and we do make substantial profits at times—but that is just human error—we can’t resist taking advantage of our power. The real benefit of our global military presence is to maintain stability out there, for safety here. Ironically, our military is at its most effective (and least efficient) when it is not in use. Use of military force is an admission that either you can’t figure things out, or you’ve let a bad situation become worse.

But all of that is theoretical—the hard fact is that a lot depends on who’s in charge—a lot of seriously messed-up stuff has happened just because the decision-maker was a fool or a coward. So I can blow smoke rings all day about social engineering and it doesn’t mean squat. Money is a problem not just because of the harm greed and selfishness can do—it is also a problem because it holds the reins of power. Government controls power, you say—and you are right—but Money controls power in its own insidious, unofficial way. Capitalism isn’t a philosophy—it’s the brand name of a type of power—a dark power that knows no constitution or bill of human rights.

We’ve come to think of America and Capitalism as almost synonymous, but they are not, and they never were—Money, like Religion, got a free PR ride during our Cold War against the moneyless, godless Soviets—but the Cold War is over, and terrorism isn’t the only new threat to emerge.

Xenophobic Nonsense   (2017Feb07)

Tuesday, February 07, 2017                                             6:47 PM

Okay, time to slow things down. Trump’s blitzkrieg of incompetence has the overall effect of forcing us to play his game, on his timetable. He does and says so many inflammatory, imprudent, borderline-illegal things that we simple folk are spurred into instant response—there’s never time for sober discussion—his stupidity is faster than light.

And while it may seem impossible to justify ignoring Trump and his minions for even one second—I sense that pulling back from his shit-storm of non-ideas, and taking the time to laugh at him and them—and to remind ourselves that life goes on, madness in the White House be damned—is the correct course. When caught in an inane conversation with a drunk, we don’t try to win the argument—we try to move away from the drunk—and this seems the sensible course in the case of Trump’s fascist Justice League of Losers and their obsession with media-storms.

Granted, Trump’s Electoral College win is a huge blow—in spite of the majority voting against him, he holds the presidency for the next four years—and that’s a lot of power for a crazy egotist. But the sub-set of Americans identifying as Trump supporters is still, in many ways, a far more ominous threat in the long term. These people are trapped within the echo-chamber of ‘alternative’, resentful, paranoid fantasies about how the world works, outside of their town.

Where their existence was once threatened by the ubiquity of information, the rise of biased information sources has now strengthened their grip on such self-excusing delusions. Bigotry is back in fashion. As long as Trump (and their portion of the Internet) reinforces their balky refusal to open their minds, they’ll feel infinitely justified in maintaining even the craziest notions.

These people have even been convinced to vote against Health Care, for themselves and their families. Think about that. It’s not far different from offering someone a juicy steak dinner—and them punching you in the mouth, like you’d insulted their mother.

You tell them the globe is warming, sea levels are rising, untold disaster awaits—and when their boss at the oil company, or the coal mine, sez, ‘No, it isn’t’, they dutifully jeer at the scientists. Scientists! People who make a career out of sweating the details—and who, more to the point, have no dog in this race—unlike their deniers.

I’ve seen regular people—not rich business owners or anything, just regular folks—who actually oppose the Minimum Wage. The sole purpose of a minimum wage is to make it hard for employers to pay you less than you deserve. Do these people think that the rule will only apply to immigrants—and even if it did, do they hate immigrants that much? How will they feel when their own kids can’t find work that pays their rent? Minimum Wage might start to look a little more attractive then.

So, in my humble opinion, there are some tragically, self-defeatingly, self-destructively stupid people out there—and a lot of them vote. For the most part, they don’t really oppose the changes that the Left promotes—they simply fear change—and that is their only real point of agreement with their leaders, especially Trump. Imagine a 21st-century American putting billions of taxpayer dollars into a wall—a big, stupid wall. Hasn’t he read Clausewitz?

A wall can be swum around, tunneled under, and flown over—if Trump’s idea was to stop immigrants, he’s a failure—if he merely wants to inconvenience them—good work, Donald, spend away. Although it should be noted that immigrants are no strangers to inconvenience. The act of building a big wall can be seen as less of a practical exercise and more of a desire for the world to be so simple. It is a statement more than an achievement—and those familiar with Trump’s pre-presidency resume will recognize this theme.

The sad truth is that rich people raise lazy kids—and rich countries raise lazy citizens—America maintains its preeminence by constantly blending in fresh blood. And if the newcomers are not creamy white, that is beside the point—they are eager—even desperate, for a chance to make something of their lives, and their families’ lives. They work like dogs. They take everything seriously. They listen to what’s going on around them. Basically, all the stuff that you and I are too ‘over’ being Americans to bother with.

These people prevent the rest of us from drowning in our own toxins of apathy and entitlement, selfishness and irresponsibility. They recharge the battery of America and they always have—our own ancestors were part of the process. Deciding to stop now, to shut it all down, to ban travel and build a big honking wall—suicide—sheer suicide for our country and ourselves.

Don’t take my word for it—look at Europe. A lot of those countries are accepting refugees, not simply out of the goodness of their hearts, but also because their populations are becoming too small and too aged to maintain their economies. They need immigrants—and the only reason we don’t is because we’ve always had them. We’ve never known what lack of change, lack of growth is really like—stagnation is foreign to us—but not for long, if we keep up this xenophobic nonsense.


DeVos Wins Electoral College   (217Feb07)


Monday, February 06, 2017                                             9:27 AM

I’m sorry—is my title “DeVos Wins Electoral College” a misleading, inaccurate statement that does more to confuse than enlighten? I thought that was how we were doing journalism now. My bad.

Name one reason to endorse Betsy DeVos. Senator Frankin nailed it—the $200,000,000 she and her family have paid the GOP—the one and only reason she was picked. She flunked her hearing—she was so unfit that even a GOP-controlled Senate had to bring in Pence for the tie-breaker. She appeared on television, demonstrating to the whole world that she has no experience, insight, or education for the job she’s supposed to undertake—and that she has become a partisan hack without having first even become a politician. We know she’s a hack—because if you or I were to embarrass ourselves so completely in public, we’d slink away in shame.

This could never have happened if Trump hadn’t already made Unfitness the hallmark of a Republican. But if a game show host is sufficient for the Presidency, why not have an empty-headed rich bitch head the Department of Education—it’s a free-for-all—don’t think about it too hard.

Trump is a fraud and a lecher. Bannon is a hate-monger. Kellyanne has a PhD in Pants-on-Fire—but, well, they all lie like rugs—she merely enjoys it the most. The Cabinet appointees are all shills for the wealthy. And every last one of these pigs, from Trump on down, is incompetent—they have no idea how to run our government—except perhaps as a game show.

The far right will make equally inflammatory remarks—but their outrage is based on delusion, or hypocrisy, or ignorance—not, like mine, out of disappointment that these con artists have hijacked a once-great nation—and that you Trump-supporting yahoos will cheer him on, as this country’s proud heritage dies.

But then, people are stupid. I’m stupid. You’re stupid. We none of us knows what we’re doing or saying half the time. We look at computers, space stations, and airliners—we think, oh, how brilliant we are—but those things were created by unique, educated, highly-trained people—individuals and small, tight-knit teams. You want to see how smart people in general are, as a group—just look around.

Banks make profit from indenturing college students. Prisons make profit from prisoner labor. Employers scoff at a minimum wage—as if having someone work for you all day doesn’t entitle them to live. People rail against socialized medicine, even though it seems to work better than the Insurance Industry’s idea of profiting from tragedy. And distinguished-looking farts in fancy suits will tell you that saving the environment is for sissies.

This is the wisdom of the greatest country on earth. Couldn’t make so much as a paper airplane with that bunch. And don’t point to that precious bottom line—money don’t mean shit when you’re choking for air, dying of thirst, expiring from the heat, or living in chains. If the economy can’t take responsibility for our survival, then the economy is a mental disease—beyond the mere stupidity, into the insanity of the mob.

How many of us are ransoming our children’s future for the sake of a paycheck? Too many, I’d say—since a bunch of people who live off of destroying the planet (like coal miners) will tell you that their jobs are much more important than global anything—but they’re not being selfish—oh, no. They’ve got ‘mouths to feed’. They’re wasting their time—if we don’t change soon, all those mouths will perish in a poison wasteland—so what was the point? It’s just math—how the hell do they politicize simple math?

Oh, I know! Betsy DeVos.

Hail Mary Pass   (2017Feb05)


Sunday, February 05, 2017                                                2:30 PM

Super Bowl LI today—it may have started already, for all I know, but even non-sports guys like me can’t help but hear about it—and the commercials, and the half-time show. It’s a national institution, there’s no denying that.

And a business watershed—the ad people can spend the whole year getting ready their Super Bowl commercial—and if they get it right, it’s an instant classic, a feather in their cap for the length of their career. Between the ratings fluctuations and the reviews of the half-time entertainment, it’s a show-biz watershed as well. And, of course, it’s a sports thing, first and foremost.

My experience of football was brief and uninspiring—so I don’t want to get all ‘sour grapes’ about the game—it’s exciting stuff. Still, I can’t help worrying that Football will go the way of Cigarettes. With cigarettes, we had that first study showing it was dangerous—and that made the sensible people quit.

But, between industry pushback and personal inertia, smoking remained quite commonplace. Then a second push, following a few court cases lost by Big Tobacco, virtually wiped cigarettes from the face of society—and that was a good thing—I remain a rare smoker, still, but I’m not complaining about the non-smoking movement.

So, too, with football—we’ve already had the big announcement—that hundreds of micro-lesions can form in the brain through repeated concussive blows, making football a very risky way to get rich. Industry has pushed back fairly successfully, minimizing the risk and making noises about helmet sensors and increased vigilance—but the basic facts have not changed.

Now that symptoms can be linked to their true causes, and autopsies include inspections of brain matter for long-term damage, the connection between a youthful football career and a middle-age of drooling vegetation, or suicide, will become nakedly obvious. If we are just now getting rid of bullfighting, how long can we continue to support a sport that kills its human players a few years after they retire? It doesn’t look good for American football.


Still, chain-smoking somehow seemed to make a World War into a bearable ordeal—so, if we need a weekend of football to get us through the new World Order fumbling into being, down in Washington, so be it. At this point, any diversion is a gift from above.

And I come bearing gifts of my own—two new improvs with pictures of the world’s finest baby. The music is so-so, but the pictures are adorable. Somehow, the Big Game got politicized—but all I care about is the new “24” series that follows the game—hey, if Keifer isn’t in it, why are we watching? Couldn’t they just call it something new? Well, I’m ‘too old for this shit’, as they say—maybe Sutherland is too.




The Dust We Stand On   (2017Feb04)


Saturday, February 04, 2017                                             5:31 PM

So, I was reading about my hero, Joseph Henry, who grew up in Albany, New York at the turn of the nineteenth century. That got me interested in the history of New York State. Today I started reading one such history and it described the Native Americans of the area prior to First Contact with the West—the Iroquois and the Oneidas, Mohawks and what-all—what was the Five Nations and would become Six. It described their early agriculture—the Three Sisters, which were beans, corn, and squash—the beans climbed the cornstalks like a trellis and the squash leaves kept the moisture in the ground, plus their root systems descended to three different levels, so the three crops weren’t competing for nutrients.

The East Coast Native Americans were different from the Plains Tribes and others further West and South—and certainly different from the Natives closer to the Arctic Circle, up North. They lived harsh lives, from our perspective—but looked at differently, they lived in the ultimate health spa—living and dying exactly as nature had evolved them to live. They hadn’t even gotten around to metallurgy before the Europeans came along.

Yet there was a civilization—with a spiritual framework, a wide-spread confederation of oversight (one couldn’t call it governance—since their lifestyles precluded the need for taxes or prisons) and, more to the point, a society just as complex—and more humane—than any we have created or seen since.

It is melancholy to imagine what the Americans would have done with their land, left to themselves. A land without livestock, mining or metalwork—an incentive to live less bellicose lives. Who knows how that would have panned out, given some space? But now we’ll never know—and given the reality, we are fortunate that any record of their cultures survives (not that all of them have).

So, I’m going to slog through this pre-invasion history—and then try not to think about it, as I move forward to the more modern history of colonization and ultimate statehood. What else can be done—rewind the past? There’s no helping the fact that the birth of the United States was the death of something else, something that had a right to exist, something beautiful—but no one can undo the past.

The genocide, like Henry’s discovery of Electromagnetic Inductance, is both a foundation of the present—and entirely irrelevant to the present. It is now nothing more than dust—but it is the dust we stand on. A fascination with history can turn sour if we don’t keep our heads above water—there’s a limit to empathy and we are only human.

The early chapters of my history also describe the geography—the many lakes and rivers—particularly the Hudson River and the Great Lakes—and what a convenient harbor New York had at the mouth of the Hudson. It is strange to think that waterways, today, tend to be obstacles to transport rather than a means. The vast majority of international shipping still travels the oceans—but today’s technology makes inland travel almost entirely a dry-footed affair.

The Native Americans hadn’t much technology above the bow and arrow—but they had invented canoes (and moccasins—a technology the Europeans first ridiculed—then instantly adopted). And water was kind of handy to have around in those days, even if you didn’t travel. They had a great trail that went from Manhattan all the way up to Canada—today we call it Rt. 22, mostly—and 90% of New Yorkers still live along that trail. But when they weren’t walking, they were using the profusion of rivers and lakes that New York offered.

I read somewhere that New York State has the greatest diversity of trees of any state. I read somewhere else that an early European colonist once described flights of migrating birds so vast that they would darken the sky from horizon to horizon. Can you imagine what it was like back then? Virgin forests, pre Iron-Age culture—golly.


I feel a little jinxed, peering into the details of the improbable history of the Empire State—the stuff of legend, half of it, and the rest merely incredible—here at a juncture in time when the whole thing may be balanced on a knife edge—and only because the entire world as I’ve known it seems bound and determined to hurl itself into the abyss as quickly as possible. From what I can tell so far, what we call New York was a great land before anyone ‘discovered’ it—it became a colony and a state that was an empire unto itself, regardless of the federal government—and the tip of it became a city so busy with power and life that it, too, became an entity unto itself, outside of its state.

New York State is one of those things so large and diverse that we are taken unawares by the sudden realization of its existence—this massive determiner of so many destinies—so much a part of our lives that we hardly realize it’s there. And it is even easier to overlook, given that each of its nooks and crannies—particularly within the five boroughs—is a province unto itself.

New Englanders are known to be flinty, anti-social types—but they are a step down from Manhattanites, who are actively antagonistic towards their neighbors. Yet New York City remains such a gravitational force on the globe that we can excuse the inhabitants their need to be actively repellent—they need to make sure you really want to be there—it’s crowded enough already. And the pressure at the center of human civilization is not for the faint of heart.

It makes me superstitious—as a computer guy, I’ve spent a great deal of my life learning about things that disappear—old hardware, old software, old businesses that have faded away—all my precious knowledge becomes so much sewage clogging up my brain—and it’s not as if that stuff was easy to learn, dammit. And now, as I study American history—and my home state, no less—I feel a cold draft on the back of my neck—it could be melting ice caps, it could be Trump’s inability to resist the big red button—I can’t help worrying that I’m learning about something else that may disappear someday soon.

Nation of Fools (2017Feb02)

Friday, February 03, 2017                                       10:56 AM

A Promise To Pollute   (2017Feb03)

Lots of phone calls and Facebook posts wishing me a happy birthday today—I’m glad everyone else is enjoying my turning 61—I’m of two minds about the aging process, myself. I think I’d celebrate a lot harder if I got a year subtracted from my age—but you work with what you have.

People pay a lot more attention to politics when it’s all going up in flames, as it seems to be doing right now. Back when Obama was being a competent president, with a firm grasp of world affairs, nobody gave a damn—there were even people who said, ‘I don’t know—I don’t think I’ll vote for anyone.’ Well, they voted without even realizing it, by letting the far-right win enough votes to elect Trump.

America doesn’t believe in the ‘Check Engine’ light—we worry about our problems only after the engine block has burst into flames. Well, the car’s on fire—are you happy now? The female half of this country is up in arms. The environmentally-conscious are up in arms. Anyone who doesn’t have pasty-white skin, or who talks with an accent, is up in arms. But Hillary had an email server—so what choice did we have, right?

The army of redneck supporters, ignorant enough to be taken in by the alt-right alternative facts and the subtle racism and the fear-mongering—those people are numerous enough to give Trump his electoral college win. But they are the least of it. The cynical power-brokers behind the scenes—the spreaders of the new fascism’s propaganda—are not the leaders of these shoeless morons. They are using them, not leading them—and they are using them to divert our efforts away from regulation, ethical watchdogs, and much-needed social programs.

The wealthy love the status quo—and all the suffering that implies. A real leader makes real change—and change is the enemy of the wealthy. They never argue this stuff head-on. They create a fog of controversy about a hundred little things, twisting the truth and stonewalling against accusations as if they really care—meanwhile, their true agenda carries on virtually unnoticed. It’s diabolical—but it’s working like gang-busters. For instance: Trump didn’t campaign on a promise to dump coal waste into our rivers and streams—but that is one of the first things he did.

Thursday, February 02, 2017                                           7:17 PM

Nation of Fools   (2017Feb02)

In the early 1700s, the Protestant Huguenots fled persecution in France. These educated and successful people took all their skills and energy to other countries, mostly in Great Britain and the colonies. This ultimately weakened France and strengthened her neighbors and enemies—at a time when the exodus of nearly one million was not the ‘blip’ it is today.

Nazi Germany would make the same mistake—destroying the University system that had made Germany the intellectual hub of the world (although they would make deadly use of some of that scientific development) and driving the finest scientific minds of the day to foreign shores—many of them, thankfully, here to America.

Todays’ warning of the dearth of young scientists America now produces, combined with our new draconian xenophobia and divisiveness, shows the US seemingly poised to shoot itself in the leg, in like manner to Louis XIV and Hitler. And, truly, when stupid rules the roost, can we expect our brightest to hang around?

There is a cost to idiotic foreign policy, to populist-partisan domestic policy, to science-denial, religious reactionism, ignorance, bigotry, and especially to the dilution of rigor in public discourse. Those with the energy and brilliance to excel in society are not going to keep themselves in a dumbed-down America out of pride—not when our pride becomes transparent bluster and our legendary Yankee ingenuity is focused solely on such post-modern breakthroughs as the world’s biggest cement wall.

Where are booster rockets built? Russia. Where is solar technology being developed? China. Where is tidal power being researched? The Netherlands. Who’s building the electronics of tomorrow? Everybody but us. The question is: whose boot is most heavily pressed against the neck of America’s collective intelligence? Is it our school systems? Is it our politicians? Is it our ubiquitous media-trance? Why have we become a nation of fools?

Is the Internet nothing but a subtle form of mass lobotomy? When faced with dueling fact-checkers, is it not obvious that one of them is a lying, faithless scumbag? I give up. The world is too full of dogmen—humans are too rare. It is too cruel to teach me to love this country, sixty years now, only to see it transform itself into insane asylum.

I made a commitment to face down these drooling dogs of ignorance and hate—but I feel my determination flagging. Stupid is a powerful foe. And like an exorcist faced with a body possessed by a demon, it’s hard to decide how to exorcize the stupidity without destroying the victim—a lot of these people are not evil, per se—merely trapped in a web of alternative facts and fear-mongering that makes them zombie followers of the king of the brain dead—Trump himself. Telling them they are in error only hurts them, causing them to reflexively clutch their delusions to their breasts all the tighter.

Evil’s got us in a pretty tight corner, just recently. It’s ironic that I get some of them spewing the most outraged denouncements at me, when all I was trying to do is save them from their own mistakes. Granted, no one likes to be called an idiot—but for some reason I thought being brutally frank would help cut through the BS. I lose—same player plays again.

I was wrong. And that’s the tragedy—we’re all wrong, at least ten times a day. To err is human. But, when a group of cynical hypocrites start institutionalizing their own brand of self-serving Wrong—well, that’s evil—and those fuckers need to be exposed and neutralized. We use to rely on journalists for that. What happened? “They’re calling from inside the newsroom!” Noooo!

Trump the Traitor   (2017Feb02)


Thursday, February 02, 2017                                           10:35 AM

By and large, Americans self-identify with liberty, equality, inclusion, and a class-less society. But there are those so in love with their religion that they really don’t care for Separation of Church and State—America’s oldest and most important ideal. There are those who insist that one’s skin color does make a difference—and we just aren’t giving Separate but Equal a chance. There are those who say, “Of course, women are different—how can you say they are equal?”

There are those who think that Islam is fundamentally different from Christianity. (I’m an atheist and, trust me, they’re the same damn thing.) There are those who insist on owning a gun because it’s illegal to stand around in public with your dick in your hand. There are those who say we should mind our own business and let business owners piss all over our heads and call it ‘trickle down’. There are even people stupid enough to think that a 2,000-mile long wall on the Mexican/US border is a valid thought.

These people will tell you that these mistakes are ‘alternatives’. They will insist that Freedom of Speech gives them the right to be wrong in their own way. In former times, many stupid ideas were championed in the name of state’s rights—today, they are championed as the right of ignorant people to disagree with people who know better. It’s kinda the same thing. And in the Land of the Free, the voices of the galactically stupid do deserve a hearing—they even get to vote—it’s one of the pitfalls of the humanitarian approach: not condemning people for disagreeing—or even for their bottomless, willful ignorance.

Yet while these yahoos cannot be thrown in jail (our jails are busy founding a modern form of slavery, anyhow) they can be publicly contradicted by people who understand the intent of the Founding Fathers. BLOTUS, the champion of the galactically stupid, is not leading our nation—he’s leading the assault on America’s core values. He’s got his liar-in-chief, Kellyanne, and his Nazi-in-chief, Bannon.

But worst of all, Trump has on his side the most un-American political party we’ve ever known. They call themselves Republicans, but they are undeniably the Traitor party—their ‘rules’ change to fit the occasion, their facts ‘alternate’ to fit their PR, and their allegiance to the Constitution is like their allegiance to the Bible—they cherry-pick the parts that fit their unholy agenda, and dismiss the troubling parts as ‘typos’.

The fact that our liberal idealism is the only thing making their hypocritical, traitorous, money-grubbing, hate-spreading, and ego-stroking corruption possible—is entirely lost on them. They see Freedom of the Press and view it as an opportunity for Propaganda—they see Freedom of Speech and view it as on opportunity to Lie with impunity. They see rules meant to enforce fairness and twist them into a means to an end. And all the while they use their positions of responsibility to further their fortunes and power, never to serve the public good.

Trump hates Public Service—that’s why he ignored it for seventy years, and only got involved when he saw a shot at the high chair, grasping for power and fame in an office that, for over two centuries, has been filled by men of honor and responsibility. And now that he’s in there, he’s acting like a game show host—because that’s what con-men do, to distract you, while they’re rifling through your pockets.



This traitor and his gang have walked the extreme boundaries of credibility and professionalism, honing the public impression towards what we’re used to, while their de facto impact is an assault on what it means to be an American. They are helped greatly in this villainy by the fact that our ideals are subtle, fragile things which shatter in the hands of the disrespectful. Words can be twisted. Denials can be made—and false equivalences. Intent is the crux—and intent can be masked—is being masked, behind a barrage of bullshit the like of which this country has never before seen.

So that’s Trump—a traitor, pure and simple. But let’s move on to an even more unpleasant theme—those who voted him into office. What can be done to save these people from their own inanity? Mandatory Public Education?  Maybe just to remind them what it’s like to have an educator at the front of the classroom, correcting them when they say something bat-shit crazy stupid. What can you do when people believe the lie and scoff at the truth? Will the dishonesty and willful evil of the empowered go unchecked, as it did in 1860, until we have no alternative but to start taking pot-shots at our neighbors and set the country aflame?

For most of us, the Right, the Truth, is always there, right in front of us. We are rarely confronted, personally, with the evils of bad government. We see politics as optional—‘if we had more time, maybe, or if something were to go really wrong, then….’ And then there’s the inertia of one day after the other, our little lives seeming to have little connection to the big doings in the halls of power.


But I find myself obsessing lately over that old adage ‘a stitch in time saves nine’. If we had voted better, none of this would be happening. We see it now, when it’s far too late to fix—but it was visible back in November, for those who cared to look closely. And this recent playing around with ‘the  rules’—who are they kidding? They make the rules—and by they, I mean all of them. If the Democrats are not filing a thousand lawsuits, right now, then they’re part of the problem and have gone as far off the rails as the GOP.

I hear Democrats telling us to stay engaged—hey, how about some tit for tat? Why aren’t you people raising hell and a half, every day? Are you really okay with this assault on everything we live for, everything our soldiers, down through time, have died for? Is every civil rights victory for the past century to be wiped away by this monkey in a Chinese silk suit? We knew there were disgusting little rich bastards, hiding in the shadows, supporting ISIS for the distraction value of their bloodthirsty tyranny—but who knew one of them would be the President of the United States? Up off your lazy asses, Democrats—it’s all hands on deck time.


Baby Talk   (2017Feb01)

Wednesday, February 01, 2017                                       7:23 PM

Well, latest talk from out West says the baby has just begun crawling, and she’s eating solid food (though why they call it ‘solid’ when it’s fruit from a blender is beyond me)—I feel like she’s going to grow up and I’m going to miss the whole thing. No fair!

But they are all well and happy, so that’s okay. And things are good here, too. The music-video inbox is slowly draining back down to ‘manageable’—and the improvs are as good as can be hoped for, given the performer. Bear found a beautiful print the other day—an Edward Steichen Flatiron Building poster with a statue of a man in a top hat—very pretty, with lots of blues in it.

We don’t obsess over the news, so once we’ve been bowled over slightly by the morning’s madness in the New York Times, we pretty much let it go for the rest of the day. Bear does the Sudoku and I do the Crossword—I check the TV listings to confirm there’s nothing good on TV again tonight, and we’re done. Then we have the rest of the day to ourselves.


I had the greatest lunch today—roast sausages, and a mac and cheese that (I don’t know how Bear does it) tasted like eating Fondue, but without all the fuss and equipment—sometimes Bear’s culinary magic blows my mind. I’m not too crazy about my recent reads—decent books, I suppose, but nothing I want to crow about—something of a let-down from the books I was reading last week (see reviews above).

Has anyone else noticed? When I drink Irish Breakfast Tea for awhile, Earl Grey tastes like the fanciest tea ever, but after drinking Earl Grey for awhile, Irish Breakfast Tea tastes exciting again. Weird, huh? And after both of them, a little Darjeeling, or even some plain Lipton, suddenly has more taste than I remembered. Same with coffee—even a great Mocha—after awhile, I enjoy switching to African or Arabic.

Well, you can tell I’m just blabbing away—had to have some kind of text to go with today’s videos—hope you enjoy them.



More Bitchin And Moanin   (2017Jan31)


Tuesday, January 31, 2017                                                10:18 PM

Okay. It’s Tuesday. All’s well here at home. Nothing to worry about. Remain calm. That’s what’s important here. Getting all worked up about what might happen or what tomorrow may bring—that’s all wasted effort—energy wasted that you may need, should tomorrow’s fears come to pass.

I can’t bring myself to watch the news anymore—a combination of not wanting to hear what’s really happening—and not believing half of what I see on TV, anyhow. And I can’t enjoy most movies anymore—I’m overexposed to cinema from a lifetime of movie fandom—and now, the new stuff is so facile, so puerile that I can’t sit still for it. So I’m left with books (not without its problems and limits), piano (ditto), and the computer.

And what of the computer? Here I am, typing away again. Talking to nobody—how is this different from having voices in my head—from being crazy? Well, it keeps me indoors, anyhow, instead of running through the streets screaming and pulling my hair out.

And who am I to complain anyway? My life is a bed of roses—if you leave out the crazy and the stress—and the world is full of people who would literally kill to take my place, here in a cozy, peaceful enclave of Upper Westchester, with all the trimmings—good food, dry and warm, soft bed, cable TV and WyFy—what’s to complain about? I live like a king—and I’m not even one of what you might call the wealthy. Still, to 90% of the people walking this earth, my life is cloud nine and only a crazy person would bitch about it, sick or otherwise.


Still, I think I deserve a few points for being sick. I used to be Mr. Happy Funtime—look at my face now. That’s the face of a sixty-year-old who’s had to fight to stay alive, to stay mentally there and physically upright, every minute of every damn day—and while it may look easier than holding down a full-time job, it isn’t. I’ve tried both—I’d gladly go back to 50-hour weeks as a systems manager if I could have my health and my intellect back—but that’s a dream.

What used to be that life, my life, ended decades ago. I’ve spent the time since about 1988 trying to survive cancer, chemicals, memory loss, and depression—all while having chronic fatigue and atrophied muscles—some muscles, in my abs, were even cut during the liver transplant—they just hang off my bones, unemployed but with nowhere else to go.

Thus, in spite of all the assholes who like to pretend that disability is a free ride for lazy people, the truth is that disability is a shit-show—those smug bastards wouldn’t last a single day of it, without crying for their mommas. ‘I work for a living’, they say—and you can just hear the smug. Big fucking deal—I’ve done work—it’s easy-peasy, compared to what I’ve been through—what a lot of disabled people have been through.

Imagine how bad off you have to be for the government to decide ‘Yeah, let’s just pay that guy money so he can stay alive.’ If you walked into Social Security with a splinter in your finger, they’d laugh in your face—and if you lost the whole hand, they’d still find you work. Me they just stamped ‘paid’—imagine the shape I’m in.

Not that I’m complaining. The rule is: if you go through a meat grinder and come out the other side still breathing, you’re supposed to be grateful that you’re still alive. So I’m grateful—get off my back. You go ahead and flit around—with your steady hands and clear memory and sharp eyesight and strong muscles and your sense of balance and your whole life to do with whatever you please—I’ll be sitting here, being grateful.

Don’t mind my bitter resentment if your mind is too lazy to crack a book, when my reading has gone from ten hours a day to three, tops, on a good day. Excuse my sharp criticism if my barely-held consciousness still has enough light in it to identify your confused, mealy-mouthed excuses for political acumen as the trash they are worthy of being called. And don’t be surprised when someone who spends his every waking moment experiencing the fragility of life finds your childish, locker-room jock bravado (masquerading as political ideology) so far beneath adult consideration that I lose my patience and call you an asshole. That’s just the way it is, bub.

No, there is no teacher at the head of the room—we are no longer schoolchildren. But when you’re wrong, you’re still wrong—and you know it—deep down in the bottom of that empty head, you know damn well that hate and fear and selfishness are negative forces that corrupt and destroy—and even the people on top, for now, will eventually suffer from poor judgement and bad leadership. And if you think you can just screw up the world and die, leaving others to suffer, think again. None of us gets out alive—but none of us escapes our fate, either. Karma’s a stone cold bitch.

Even you, Trump—when you stroke out, trying to do a job you aren’t fit for, think of all the criticism you’ll never be able to tweet back at—it’ll all just hang out there, unanswered by you or anyone else. And your tremendous ego, under the distraction of President Pence’s ascension, will dry up and blow away, never to bother anyone ever again. Well, I can dream, can’t I?