Adult Freedom   (2017Apr30)


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Sunday, April 30, 2017                                                      12:53 PM

Some of us see being adult as taking responsibility for being a part of a family, of a community. But there’s an aspect of adulthood that is simply the freedom to tell parents (or teachers, or anyone else) to go to hell— freedom to do whatever, and not care what other people think. So being a grown-up is a mix of being let off the leash, and learning to guide yourself.

Currently, many adults show signs of emphasizing their freedom, without any commensurate responsibility. They insist on freedom from facts—if those facts run counter to their preferences—raising the question—where is the line between freedom and irresponsibility? Even our own president shows irresponsibility in his words and his behavior. To hear him blather, one might suppose that some Americans are more free and equal than others—i.e., that freedom includes the right to impinge on another’s freedom.

I marvel at the continuing election of Republicans—they stand for things the majority of citizens oppose—and oppose many of the things that truly matter to the majority of citizens—or, just as often, pretend to ignore things that most of us consider important. Their supporters tend to insist that, since society has always had a pecking order, society is supposed to have a pecking order—as nature intended.

Many people cannot conceive of anything more nuanced—and who can blame them? Everybody has people they must answer to, and people that answer to them—an almost military-style tree of authority overlays every aspect of our communities.

The strength of this pecking order was once inviolate—rejection by a community, in pre-industrial days, was next to a death sentence. In the modern era, the chokehold is capital—cold, hard cash—communities can no longer demand total conformity, but now workplaces can. Your employers can drug-test, credit-check—even restrict bathroom breaks—American freedom ends abruptly at the entrance to your workplaces.

I believe this lust for authority has become the true motivation behind Capitalism. Competition no longer makes sense—humanity’s total production could easily support every single human in comfort far above what we see around today’s chaotic globe. Automation and digital tech are erasing jobs with increasing acceleration. If we extrapolate capitalism out to the next few decades, it results in maybe a thousand really wealthy people, 50,000 people with service jobs, maybe another 50,000 maintaining the tech, and I guess the other (by then) 9,000,000,000 of us are supposed to just curl up and die? If I have that wrong, please explain how it can go any other way.

Now the joke here, to me, is that people counter calls for socialist-leaning policies as ‘attacks on our freedoms’—ha! There has to be more precision in our discourse. Our ‘freedoms’ as individuals remain untouched by regulations on business—unless we’re talking about employee rights—which we never are. It is our ‘freedoms’ as business-owners that are under attack by socialist programs. (According to the ‘American Dream’, anybody could end up being a business-owner, so it really applies to all of us, right? O—wake the hell up. And besides—it’s ludicrous—if everybody had a business, who would they hire?)

It’s as if America were Amway, writ large—lots of promises, lots of ‘opportunity’—but no guarantees, no protections. This is a great thing for an employer—but makes a cold, cruel situation for employees. Consider the years we’re expected to spend on schooling and experience before we can be considered for a good job. Now consider how quickly a person’s life disintegrates when they’re let go—money for food runs out within a week, within a month or so, the home is lost (and most possessions, since you can only own what you can carry with you).

There is no justice in American Capitalism—the opportunities it once boasted have shriveled down to match the odds of a lottery win—the lack of regulation wasn’t enough to satisfy business-owners and has become a surplus of business-centric legislation, a dam against any employee push-back—assuming an individual could afford to sue a company in the first place. The stuffed suits that rail for their ‘freedoms’ are concerned that justice might turn off their taps. The manifestation of their destinies depends solely on neglecting the destinies of the rest of us—their freedom is the freedom to take advantage of us, to curtail our freedoms whenever it conflicts with their profits.

The digital age offers a profound enhancement to the lives of the well-off—but it has zero impact on the poor. The income-inequality divide is partly due to this bisecting of society into digital haves and have-nots—like college degrees on steroids, digital technology makes it easier for owners to take advantage of employees and consumers—and harder for the poor to keep up.

Plus, after more than two centuries of ingrown affluence, our government rarely stops meeting with lobbyists long enough to glance at the needs of the people—so any adjustment of this unfairness is, ultimately, in the hands of those few who benefit from it—while the rest of us watch jobs continue to evaporate. It’s a recipe for disaster.

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Harder and More Complicated (2017Apr28)


Friday, April 28, 2017                                              4:34 PM

Trump recently commented that the presidency is more complicated than he thought. Just yesterday, he commented that the presidency is much harder than he anticipated. I heartily agree—having an incompetent president is much harder and more complicated than having a fit candidate in that office.

Just imagine a prepared, informed, sane president—aaah, how easy that would make everything (comparatively speaking—and for us, not the officeholder—but all fit candidates who run for president expect their hair to turn gray, or white—they wouldn’t be surprised by the nature of the office they spent a year campaigning for). Trump, in attracting his base, displayed a total lack of respect for the demands of being president—because he, and they, were constitutionally unable to respect President Obama.

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(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Which brings us to Trump’s favorite burn—pretending that his job is harder because Obama didn’t do it properly. Trump’s trademark is self-contradiction—so now, having pooh-poohed Obama—and by extension, the job of head of state, he turns around and says he’s shocked that being president doesn’t leave him enough leisure time.

But, basically, what disgusts me beyond bearing is his constant surprise—yes, Donald, as an ignorant, empty-headed ass-hat, all new information will no doubt surprise you. But you seem to think we, too, are being surprised—no, no, Little-Fingers—we were surprised by your Electoral College win. We were surprised that so much ignorance lay beneath the surface of the electorate, especially the rural areas. We were shocked by that revelation—but, that you are clueless is no surprise at all—doing the job well, now—that would have shocked the hell out of us.

We were not surprised that healthcare is complex, that foreign affairs are complex, that taxes and trade are complex—we knew. And we knew you were clueless by the way you dismissed these issues during the campaign (as if past presidents had neglected to use the UPS tracking number to locate these answers)—your total ignorance and zero experience is what made your election such a shocking surprise—they were clearly on display throughout your campaign.

Trump, you discover something new about our country every day—with the wonder of a newborn child, you gaze at the enormous task before you and notice some new, little detail every day—surprise. But the rest of us read newspapers, stayed informed, followed current events—as part of a lifestyle. Believe it or not, some of us perceive our vote as both a right and a responsibility—which means it behooves us to know what we’re voting about. That is why it is true—anyone who didn’t vote for you could probably do your job better—just because things like the Syrian civil war (or the First Amendment) are not surprises to these people.

You were a traitor the second you took the oath of inauguration—because you swore to protect and preserve the Constitution—and you lacked the sincerity of someone who knew what it says in that document. You would have been more honest if you had said, ‘yeah, sure’, like people do when they just want to avoid a subject they don’t really understand.

Speaking for the rest of the planet, let me assure you—if you feel this job is too much of a strain, please feel free to resign. We’ll manage, I promise.

Beltway-Collar Crime   (2017Apr25)


Tuesday, April 25, 2017                                          12:50 PM

I dunno.

http://occupydemocrats.com/2017/04/24/senate-republicans-just-busted-sabotaging-trump-russia-investigation/

and then there’s this one, too:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/two-republicans-break-ranks-call-for-trumps-taxes/article/2616360

Excerpt: “Two House Republicans joined more than 160 Democrats on Friday in calling on President Trump to release his taxes.

Reps. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., and Walter Jones, R-N.C., signed a letter to Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, calling on them to ask Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to compel Trump to release his taxes for the past decade to those committees for review.

The letter is the latest move by Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., in trying to finally pry Trump’s taxes loose.

“Disclosure would serve the public interest of clarifying President Trump’s conflicts of interest in office, the potential for him to personally benefit from tax reform, and ensure that he is not receiving any preferential treatment from the IRS,” the letter leads.

“The Founding Fathers were so determined to prevent corruption among public officeholders that they wrote into our Constitution the foreign emoluments clause,” it continues. “Yet President Trump has chosen to keep an ownership stake in his businesses, in which we know that state-owned enterprises in China and the United Arab Emirates are involved. We know that his business ties stretch to India, Turkey, the Philippines and beyond. None of these potential conflicts and violations of the emoluments clause can be verified until and unless we have disclosure from President Trump.

This all seemed pretty clear to me, back in January. Two GOP Representatives, now breaking ranks with their party, to address an obvious potential fraud—is proof to me (finally) that one does not have to take an ‘asshole’s oath’ to be accepted as a Republican. That there are only two—and here it is already April—puts a pretty hypocritical face on the rest of the party. We aren’t talking politics here—we’re talking complicity and collusion in a criminal conspiracy.

That the papers and the TV (and the people) talk about it endlessly, while our government pretends to oblivion to this ongoing conspiracy, is a crystal clear ‘FU’ to the American people. The rules only apply when you’re not in power, I guess—all evidence from the beltway certainly points that way. Hey—we may have been stupid enough to elect this guy—but there’s a limit, ya know? Are we supposed to put up with this Trumpster-fire for a whole year, two years? I don’t think so.

Fooling us into allowing you into the White House was easy. But now that you’re there, you have to obey the law to stay there—and Congress is supposed to impeach you when you flout the law, whether they want to or not. Odds are, Trump, you’re breaking several laws, right this minute—how long do you think the GOP is going to stonewall for you? I get that you love walls, but perhaps you don’t realize that you campaigned to put yourself in the brightest spotlight there is—and the truth is coming for you. The real question is whether the entire Republican party will be justifiably dragged down with you.

Let Momma Through (2017Apr22)


Saturday, April 22, 2017                                          11:02 AM

Improv – For One and All

I guess it’s time we went full matriarchal up in this bitch—recent indications provide mounting evidence that women are better able to deal with modern life. In a global, hi-tech environment, cooperation works better than competition—giving the feminine mindset the advantage over the male. In the old world, a bellicose nature helped to grab up land and resources—now that all the land and resources have been grabbed (‘post-frontier’, if you will) civilization benefits more from teamwork than from pioneering.

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While our premiere female politician, Elizabeth Warren, rails against income inequality and corruption, our premiere male politician, Trump, neglects his leadership role and uses his high office to stuff his own pockets. Women are more inclined to nurture the group—where men are inclined to compete for the alpha position. And fighting to be king of the hill, in a hill of seven billion, is more disruptive than empowering.

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Seven billion means cooperate or die—and men just don’t get that—even now, they’re busily destroying the environment for a quick buck—deadbeat dads to the world. ‘Have your fun and don’t look back’ is bad enough when a child is involved—when it’s the atmosphere, or potable water, that’s species suicide. Women, for whatever reason, seem less inclined to ignore their children’s future—or their present welfare, for that matter—or their education… Would it be sexist of me to suggest that women are more concerned with children than men are?

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As capitalism leads us all over a cliff, I’m thinking women are more likely to be able to let go of its siren song—to see past the status quo to the requirements of sheer survival. If that is true, it is only because women are the ultimate minority—they have always gotten the short end of the capitalist stick, so they are well aware of its shortcomings. Their lack of fealty to America’s traditional upper-hand, capitalism, is the one spark of hope in an ever-more-hacked democracy.

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Not that there aren’t bad women—or good men—that’s not what I’m saying—I’m talking about our approach—the things we choose as goals as part of our nature, as much as our judgement. Do we look for advantage or compromise? Do we look for primacy or partnership—command or community? Fragile egos tend to go for all the former—and who has the most fragile egos, men or women?

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Eternal Argument   (2017Apr19)


Wednesday, April 19, 2017                                              1:51 PM

A good person, we are told, avoids fighting unless it’s absolutely necessary—but the one who throws the first punch has the best chance of winning a fight. A good person, we are told, cares about others—but then again, one is supposed to look out for number one. Honesty is the best policy—but a little white lie can sometimes be the difference between life and death.

If these sound familiar, it may be because they are often the crux of a drama: to fight or not to fight, to give or to take, to be honest or not. So, one might assume that ethics adds drama to life—ethics tell us to find a way around our animal impulses—and that’s where the drama comes in. But, if we are successful, we feel that we’ve risen above our animal nature—ethics is our way of proving to ourselves that we are above dogs.

No offense to dogs—some of them are far nicer than people—but if you try to reason with a dog, you won’t get far. Then again, trying to reason with some people is no different. They use the pretense of reason to rationalize the behavior of an animal. Even math can be warped into the service of bullshit—4 out of 5 dentists agree.

Some claim that ethics are pretentious luxuries, a thin veneer that falls away at the first sign of deprivation or hunger. But the same could be said of friendship—and while that may be true of many friendships, or ethics, it is not true of all of them. Some people are kamikazes about their friendships, or their ethics—are these people mad? Or are the rest of us missing out on some key factor?

I think it depends on how much you value yourself—if you consider yourself a part of something, you’re less likely to see yourself as irreplaceable—you’re more likely to see sacrifice, on your part, as benefitting the whole. If you think of yourself as a ‘lone-wolf’ individual, you’re more likely to see your own survival as the bottom line.

So, it seems our choices are: 1. suicidally sacrificial or 2. selfishly self-centered—at this point, we realize that everything has two sides and there is no simple, rote answer to any question. A-little-of-each presents itself as the obvious answer—but is it really that simple? Sorry—no, nothing is simple—then again, it can be, if you shut your mind to the endless variety of existence. This accounts for the effectiveness of some douchebag giving out with a derisive ‘whatever’ as a rebuttal to common sense. Apparently, ‘I don’t give a shit’ is an acceptable substitute for ‘I know what I’m doing’.

I don’t respect people that walk away from a losing argument—to me, losing an argument is the most educational experience there is—to find out that there is a better answer, a better way of seeing things. What could be of greater value? When I argue, it’s not to win the fight, it’s to communicate a different point of view—and if I lose the argument, I’m obligated to recognize that the other person had a better grasp of the issue than I did—and that I’ve learned something.

Even if someone hears me out and insists on disagreeing with me, because of their ‘faith’ or some such non-rational bullshit—even that I can respect more than someone who enters into an argument just to be belligerent—and walks away with a ‘whatever’ when they can’t bully me with their rhetoric. That’s just being a jerk, in my book.

The glut of such jerks online is similar to the increased hate and xenophobia that we see today—and it has the same source. Trump is a bully-arguer, and a racist fear-monger—and he won the election (or, at least, the Electoral College)—so, other bully-arguers, and racist fear-mongers, feel emboldened, having such a prominent role-model. And in the end, the bad example of our head of state may do more lasting damage than his bad governance. Bad laws can be rescinded, but encouraging people to hate is a poor lesson that can have a life-long impact on our society.

That is my strongest reason for wanting Trump impeached—conduct unbecoming an American. A leader should be an example—and his incompetent, unethical leadership isn’t nearly as damaging as his bad example. Trump isn’t just a bad president—he’s a bad person. #Sad!

Improv – Late in the Day

 

Thursday, April 20, 2017                                        3:29 PM

The Job of Jazz   (2017Apr19)

The R&B brass section, the vocal back-up trio, the echo effect—and then the electric guitar comes in. It’s got smooth power—and makes you feel like you’re madly in love. But the drums seal the deal—you fall into another world—a world that was hiding behind the silence. At that point, anything the front man sings will sound like sexy poetry—he could be reading from a phone book. And that’s the artifice in art—to the audience it is transporting—to the creator it is hard work, made to seem effortless.

Poetry is much the same—Eliot called it ‘a mug’s game’. Writing in general is a matter of pacing and rhythm—even the graphic arts have a sweep to them that is the visual equivalent of rhythm and pacing—composition and contrast, highlights and empty space.

The paradox is pure—self-expression is not for the creative worker—it is for everyone else. It is an expression—which presumes a listener, a viewer, a reader. Yes, it is your unique and personal self-expression—but it is still an expression—a message sent—and why send a message if not to connect to a recipient?

That is the nakedness of it—to be honestly self-expressive is to reveal who we are—and who we are is the sum of our lifetimes. Thus honest self-expression becomes one’s life story—who we are and how we live. Its revelatory nature is the thing that frightens many people away—and they are all quite sensible people. Apparently, strong feelings and conflict drive some people to creative self-expression—contented people can enjoy art (I’m in that group) but they aren’t as driven as those who live and breathe their art as an almost exclusive preoccupation.

Some people insist on being the audience. They’ll call out to a celebrity actor by their TV character’s name—ignoring both reality and the hard work of the actor in an unconscious effort to merge entertainment with reality. To the actor, I imagine, that’s a double-edged compliment—the high regard of the delusional—but with their numbers so high, ratings are guaranteed—in some way, he or she is making their living by feeding that delusion.

And am I any saner, just because I know to turn off my willing suspension of disbelief as the credits roll? We all crave seeing our lives as something other than the reality—we love to connect to feelings we share, to experience vicariously and empathize with the challenges and exertions of heroes and heroines. Reading a good book isn’t much different from living in another time and place as another person. Coming to the end of a great movie is like waking from an incredible dream. Sex, drugs, and liquor have their place—but there is no escapism like the arts.

Hadyn – Sonata in C (Excerpt)

Friday, April 21, 2017                                              12:42 AM

These new videos I’ve posted today include one that is a sight-reading of the 2nd and 3rd movements from a Haydn Sonata in C (I forget the number). First of all, I misspelled Haydn’s name in the video, which is always embarrassing, yet I always do it. Secondly, I don’t keep any kind of rhythm and everyone knows that you have to keep a steady rhythm. Try to think of it as conversational sight-reading. Talented musicians sometimes take exception to my posts—they are the antithesis of good technique—and I get tired, sometimes, of explaining that I can’t play the piano as well as I would wish—but I like to do it, and I like to share it with people who aren’t so picky. I had a run-in just the other day and I wrote it up, but then I decided not to share it with you. Now, however, as a preemptive disclaimer to my poorly-played Haydn, I share it herewith:

 

Friday, April 14, 2017                                              6:28 PM

YouTube Scuffle   (2017Apr14)

“Every Time We Say Goodbye” by Cole Porter (2013Jun06)

https://youtu.be/4BMa7HEE1Uo

This is a video I posted four years ago. Three years go by—nobody watches, nobody cares—then, a year ago:

plica06 (1 year ago) This is so bad. You could have at least practised a bit before uploading.

xperdunn (1 year ago)  plica06: What a perfect opportunity for you to show us all how it’s done with your own video performance. Or are you all talk and no go?

US GameRat (4 months ago) xperdunn: good thing you know how to handel this and im not being sarcastic at all, im being serious. dont worry about what he or she said, because even if you did or didnt practice that is one beautiful song and you deserve the love because i know what music is. i know why this was so good and it still is, so thank you for making this video become true because without this video i woulndt have any other help, and this is the only video i found because i have the same music, and i found it online and so youre basically helping me learn this song. but this video was better that what i thought than what i would find. you impressed me thank you! i dont care if this plica06 guy calls me some random 13 year-old-piano-player-wanna be, i dont give a shit. i love music, and no one can make me stop. i really have an extreme, basically addiction, or really really deep love over music. but yea. thanl you. at least you made this come true than someone judjing you by who you are because i know truly youre an amazing person. really. and im talking to xperdunn 🙂

xperdunn  (4 months ago) US GameRat: thanks for the support, guy! We music-lovers must fight the forces of musical snobbery, encouraging everyone to enjoy music, no matter the trolls. Be well.

US GameRat (4 months ago)  xperdunn yeah! thank you 🙂

pianoplaylist (2 hours ago) plica06 was extremely lacking in tact.  I disagree though that he or she is a mere troll or a just a musical snob.  You, sir, should fight the forces of mediocrity and make a version that is worthy of your years of investment of time and worthy of the genius work of art that this song is.  It’s a free country and you can upload whatever half-baked, sight reading practice session you desire, but you obviously have the talent and the knowledge to refine your rendition and make it more pleasing to the ear.  That would be more encouraging to the learners.  Sorry for being harsh.  I wish you the best in all things.

xperdunn:

So, you can see that plica06 is critical of my poor piano playing—and because I post my videos to encourage other non-talented music-lovers to go ahead and share what they love, I don’t take crap from nobody—that’s part of it, showing people that a troll is nothing but a guy wasting his time at the keyboard.

But pianoplaylist is critical because he thinks I can do better. That’s the trouble with the internet—everyone has an agenda and nobody knows the whole story. I can barely hold a cup of coffee in my left hand—intentional tremors are just one of the symptoms of nerve damage—poor short-term memory is another. My decades-long struggle with HepC and liver cancer and a liver transplant—and all the permanent damage that was done to my body and my mind—make my poor attempts something of a triumph, even though they suck by the usual standards.

And that is the reason I post my videos—anyone else out there who has been told that they weren’t meant to play music—ignore the critics. Anyone out there that is embarrassed to post their music—post it anyway—be brave. If you have even a pinch of ability, you will soon be much better than I am, or will ever be. As long as you love music—play it—share it—don’t stop to listen to anyone else—they should be playing their own music, not stopping your bliss.

I was extremely gratified that my sight-reading was able to help US GameRat to learn to play this beautiful tune by Cole Porter, an American legend. If he is the only person that takes heart from my posts, so be it—good enough. But who knows, maybe there are more young beginners out there….

Improv – First Star

Factuality    (2017Apr18)


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Tuesday, April 18, 2017                                          12:52 PM

There are seven billion people on the planet—and that’s a large number of people. If every one of them used the same amount of resources and energy as the average American, the Earth would ignite like a matchhead, leaving a gray, smoking waste where once we had green, lush bounty. I don’t say this to bedevil my countrymen—I’m just stating a fact.

Neither do I believe we are guilty as people for living as we do. The evil logic of Capitalism creates the over-abundance of pollution and waste, as much as our lifestyles do. In many cases, as in the use of a personal, gas-powered vehicle, the choice of whether to use one is made a matter of ‘can one afford to?’ rather than ‘should one use a car, at all?’ And it isn’t the citizenry that decides how much public transportation is available—it is wealthy capitalists who determine what industries are most profitable—and the health and safety of people does not enter into that formula.

On the one hand we have politics and government, which we all debate with enthusiasm. On the other hand we have the obvious—that each of us wants to live his or her own life without restraint. Simply put, we don’t want the government interfering in our lives—just in everyone else’s.

Government governs best which governs least—except for my next-door neighbor, who needs a lot of governing, right? But government can’t manage the welfare of the citizenry without some control over the citizenry. We try to make that okay by providing the citizens with control of their government, through democracy, but in the end that government must impose rules upon us, whether those rules were democratically arrived at or not.

So, ideally, we want rules that will constrain everyone’s behavior, but which we ourselves find little or no burden. For many people, the criminalization of pot carries no onus, because they don’t smoke pot. For those who do, the criminality of it is an outrage. For those earning minimum wage, income taxes are no great burden—a little bit less than too little is no big deal. For those who must pay millions, taxes seem truly hurtful.

Politics, as we have lately seen, is a far cry from government. Politics used to be an arena for those who felt they knew, better than the main run of folks, how to govern—but politics has devolved into a kind of industry, where motives (if there are any, beyond money or power) are no longer ideals. There are exceptional politicians, still—but their tiny numbers make them less than the main thrust of political discourse—and they are often ridiculed by the ‘stuffed-shirts brigade’ for trying to do something unusual—as if the ‘usual’ had some sanctity to it.

Plus, politicians have surrendered themselves to the moneyed interests as the natural course of things—where, in the past, their reluctance to bow to pressure was their only difference from the businesspeople they now submit to, as if business had the rights instead of people. If they must be so craven, they should just scrap the whole wasteful circus and let the businesspeople run things for themselves. That’s not a bad idea—let business deal with the problems of humanity for a while and maybe they’ll realize that neglecting people is, in the long run, as bad for business as it is for the people.

But let’s be real—people are so stupid they’d burn this country to the ground, if only they can keep making a fast buck. The few sensible people among the crowd talk too softly to be heard over the shouting of the self-important. We haven’t lived like the other animals for a long, long time—yet we still think and act like them. We have the ability to coordinate the entire human race into one, united family—but that is the last thing anyone in power wants to do. They tell us to focus on the ‘economy’, meaning the shell-game that they are currently winning, rather than any bigger picture that involves a higher form of civilization.

I see us all too clearly—and I’ll tell you true: if we destroy ourselves, it will be no great loss. If we can’t do any better than we are right now, the entire Earth and everything that lives on it (or what’s left of it) will be better off without humanity’s thoughtless abuse. And why are we all working so hard—seven billion sweating and striving so that seven hundred or so can enjoy the fabulous wealth and power that humanity is capable of?

All you hard workers out there—start taking long lunches—let the assholes figure out where the toner is for once. And stop watching the news until they rediscover journalism—or at least until they start ignoring Trump. Trump may be president, but still, we are all stupider every time he speaks. And that is only slightly less true for every Republican politician and spokesperson. Let’s face it—they are not another side of things—they are the wrong side of things—else why would they have to hack the system with Wikileaks and Citizen’s United, etc.? They do not express a different side of the truth—they seek to obscure the truth—and that’s not acceptable. Not to me. Only to a media that thrives on confusion and sensation and distraction.

I don’t want to bring down clownish assholes like Trump and the rest of the GOP—I want to incite a rising up of the people who’ve given too much and gotten too little in return. I want people to stand up on their hindlegs and start barking back at these slimy crooks—bring enough light into our society that the flimsy facades of these bastards become as transparent as onion skin. Then we won’t have to topple Trump and his ilk—they’ll crawl back into the holes they came from, their putrid skin burnt by the sunlight of reason, justice, and tolerance.

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Monday, April 17, 2017                                          3:20 PM

Jerks Of a Feather   (2017Apr17)

Like calls to like—Trump is more interested in Kim Jong Un than in anyone in our country. That’s because both leaders are far more concerned with their egos than with the welfare of their citizens. Un inherited poor citizens and Trump grabbed up the rich citizens—and even the world’s largest ocean won’t keep them from standing toe-to-toe, puffing out their chests though the rest of the world holds its breath against the possibility of nuclear winter.

Trump’s got it easier—all he has to distract us from is his treasonous campaign, his ignorance, his incompetence, his taxes, and his nepotism. Un has to actually distract his people from their starvation in a country with no electricity or telephones—a much heavier lift. But give Trump his full four years and who knows? The two countries may end up looking much the same.

Retail stores are hurting from the rise of Amazon, etc., and the cheapness and convenience of the Post Office, UPS, and FedEx. The USPS may not be carrying any first-class letters anymore, with the internet and email rendering them obsolete, but the package biz is booming—our local postal worker complains about the packages that clog up his office when we don’t pick up our mail every day. And with their price-point (and certain grandfathered-in legal restrictions) the post office maintains a strong advantage over third-party delivery services, like UPS.

The fact that many entry-level jobs at retail stores are disappearing, as site-specific shopping disappears, would be no great loss, as careers—but many of those jobs were taken by young people—who were already hard-pressed to find employment, or work experience of any kind. Technology always subtracts jobs from the economy—tech-positive types will assure us that they create new jobs while they destroy the old ones, but let’s take this retail business as a case study.

Floorwalkers and clerks were once needed for every shop in the mall—will there be an equal demand for UPS and FedEx drivers? And will that experience prepare young employees for future jobs as well as working in a retail store? I don’t think so. I think it’s time Silicon Valley started designing apps that use people instead of code—create jobs, not programs. Otherwise we’re headed for a fully-automated society with zero employment.

That would be doable, in a somewhat socialist society—but in pure capitalism, unemployment means poverty, period. So we can either start progressing backwards—or embrace socialism. Yes, it’s ironic that capitalism created the situation, our present race towards human joblessness—and for profit, no less. But that doesn’t change the facts: that a capitalist society requires consumers, and consumers can’t pay without jobs. It’s also ironic that business owners are even more vulnerable than workers, in that any business, nowadays, can disappear overnight—and losing a business is a much greater fall than merely losing a job.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017                                            3:00 PM

Happy Easter   (2017Apr16)

Pick your preference—the solemnity of a holy day, or an Easter egg hunt and a fight over the Cadbury egg. I prefer combining the two and watching Turner Classics’ day-long re-airing of the Hollywood treatments of the Christ—kinda like Eddy Haskell reading the New Testament to June Cleaver.

As a boy, in Catholic Church every Sunday, I would look at the bas-reliefs on the walls of the church—the Stations of the Cross were depicted in small, white-marble tableaux and spaced along the walls on both sides. I was fascinated by the way everyone had a different way of sticking their tongue out to receive the sacrament—it was cognitive dissonance to walk up to the priest and stick out your tongue, but you had to do it.

I never liked Easter egg hunts—they were competitive, but you weren’t supposed to be greedy—very strange, conflicting messages. You were supposed to find as many as you could, but you shouldn’t find them all, because then the littler kids would be left out. Stupid game. We did it for our kids, but we put their eggs on opposite sides of the yard so they each had a search area and could take their time.

I don’t like Easter—it’s like Christmas without the fun and presents. And way too many hard-boiled eggs were involved—which meant deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches and just plain hard-boiled eggs, with salt, for a snack—for days afterward—yuck. And I hate mint jelly, which only appeared at Easter dinner.

I think Americans like Jesus because he dissociated faith from the state, just like our founders dissociated the state from the monarchy. And it’s a grand story—death and resurrection, freedom from the pains of this world—I’d buy it—who wouldn’t. But faith is like quitting smoking—it sounds a lot better than it is—especially when you’re down in the dumps.

So happy Easter, everyone—and enjoy the movies.

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Nihilism   (2017Apr15)


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Saturday, April 15, 2017                                          10:51 AM

Do we have laws or don’t we? The Trump campaign colluded with Putin and Wikileaks during the election—and that’s treason. Trump refuses to divest himself of his businesses—or release his tax returns—or close his D.C. hotel—all in direct violation of the Constitution’s banning of emoluments of any kind from foreigners to the president—and that’s an impeachable offense. Trump has hired unvetted, unqualified family and friends to important posts in his ‘administration’—which is nepotism. Do we have laws or don’t we?

Trump spent millions of taxpayer dollars to bomb Syria (once) and bomb Afghanistan (once)—and, as intended, we are all taking about those non-events now, instead of running him out of office, as the good lord intended. There are at least ten different reasons for impeachment proceedings—and the only reason they aren’t proceeding is that Trump is in their party.

You know partisanship has gotten out of hand when the Republicans turn a blind eye to blatantly criminal behavior in a president. And you know that media-hype has gotten out of hand when the president so obviously blows things up for no reason other than distraction—and the media run with it, anyway, as if his unfitness for office suddenly disappeared.

This whole thing is beyond sanity—don’t try to tell me that our politicians represent the people, when we the people stand aghast at the perfidy of the Republicans and nothing is done to rectify their total dismissal of any laws or ethics. These skeezy bastards deserve to go to prison—they all seem to have a hard-on for more prisons, so let’s send them there.

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Of course, the real shame is us. Racism elected Trump—his ‘platform’ is nothing but the erasure of any accomplishment of Obama—and the enormous number of haters and pigs in this country voted for him because he promised to take away their healthcare (and everyone else’s—especially minorities). Our government sucks the big hairy throbbing red one—but we citizens aren’t much better—we brought Trump on ourselves, through our own ignorance—no wonder the pols are in no hurry to oust him.

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