Things Pile Up (2016Oct22)


Thursday, October 20, 2016                                             8:33 PM

The recordings pile up—so the graphics I create for the videos piles up too. So, the YouTube upload count ticks upward. Meanwhile, I’m writing this stuff—and posting it—so the WordPress blog-posts tick upward and these documents keep piling up essay-titles. And, with all the PC activity, my files and folders get longer, bigger, and more numerous.


The books get bought and, sometimes, read—and while I no longer create a pile of actual books, my Kindle is getting severely crowded. And if you though it was hard to remember what you had already read, when they were actual books—forget about the Kindle’s ‘Library’ listing. Plus, there’s the incessant stream of new TV shows and new movies to keep track of.


The point is—I’m retired, disabled—I do nothing all day—and yet my life is a steady stream of data, too much, and too fast, to keep track of. I can’t remember what it was like when I had a busy, complex job on top of all that—and a social life, once upon a time.


So don’t think I’m complaining—I’m just stating a fact—I would not be surprised if your life is far more complex, and your firehose of data is choking you even worse. There may be an internet-access gap that separates the human race into digital haves and have-nots, but the digital haves are not without their share of problems.


Businesses and governments will find ways to dump a lot of data processing in our laps—there’re insurance forms, tax returns, bill-paying, car registration, subscriber services, cable-package options, and wyfy-speeds to choose from (and pay for). There’re school applications and job applications and loan applications and grant applications and business plans and budgets. There’s chores and meals and shopping and laundry and the kitchen sink (I threw that in too).


When you get down to it (and if you leave out the suffering and deprivation) the poor really have much better lives than we do. A poor person would have to work awfully hard to hurt as many people as a corporate executive can with a simple paperwork mistake. The more power one has, the greater the damage one’s mistakes can do. And it is far simpler to live life without a nice house full of comfortable things, than to spend every waking hour worrying about losing a nice house full of comfortable things. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve had occasion to be poor, hungry, cold, and tired—and that’s no bargain either—but it is simpler.


Of course, I’m just being foolish—having had occasion to be short on funds, I’m well aware of the high cost of being poor—the piecemeal existence demands more man-hours and more cost per reward. And the complexities of stretching a dollar are, in truth, more, not less, than those of maintaining a high-income lifestyle. But the grass is always greener, isn’t it?


I’m starting to wonder what I’m going to do when the election is finally over and done with. I’ve been blogging about the presidential race for two years, pretty near, and it’s time for me to find a new subject. I’m thinking the guaranteed minimum revenue idea deserves at least as much thought and analysis as I’ve given to this lopsided popularity-contest-cum-constitutional-crisis.


It doesn’t fully address the far future, but it is a reasonable idea to begin the transition from a labor-based economy to a labor-free one. Trying to reform capitalism, in one fell swoop, into something completely different, would be like throwing the transmission of an ocean liner into reverse at full revs—you’d tear the engine apart. But a guaranteed minimum revenue for the unemployed, without conditions, would provide consumers in areas without jobs and, more importantly, give people some financial security outside of the job market.


It would also serve as a de facto minimum wage—the higher the guaranteed minimum revenue, the more employers would have to offer to get a person to come to work. Politically, you can call it socialism if you want—I can’t deny it.

But you tell me—if manufacturers and business owners produce more goods with less labor (an ongoing trend with a potential zero-sum result) then we must ask, “Do the people that own things become the only people with any revenue?” If the answer is ‘yes’ then we must further ask, “Who are they going to sell this stuff to?”

Henry Ford only paid his workers generous wages because he wanted them to be customers, too. He didn’t do it out of the goodness of his heart—he wanted to sell a lot of cars. No one ever got rich selling stuff no one can afford—and without jobs, people can’t afford anything. Okay, dead horse well-beaten—I think you get my point by now.

In a world without jobs, you have to give people money. They buy the stuff, the businesses make a profit, the businesses pay taxes, the taxes pay the guaranteed minimum revenue to the people, so they can buy more stuff—and round and round it goes. The only difference is that computers and robots do the actual work—the salaries once paid to workers now take the form of taxes paid to Big Brother. The taxes are disbursed more uniformly than the salaries ever were, so it’s actually a much fairer system in some ways. We just have to get past our conditioning—our belief that a man makes his bread by the sweat of his brow—we can still do work, but we will not have to have jobs.


We will have to accept that doing almost anything by hand is pure therapy—that it would be easier and quicker to have a machine do it. Human life once included defending ourselves against wild beasts—it was so much a part of how we defined ourselves that men still hunt and fish today—for things they could more easily get at the supermarket. Soon, labor will be equally vestigial—like running on a treadmill to stay in shape, instead of fleeing from a mountain lion or a pack of wolves.


Who knows? Perhaps, at some future date, we’ll even need some artificial form of stress, just to keep us mentally fit—in the same way we exercise to stay physically fit, in a world without walking, lifting, or carrying. You know, most people don’t work in busy offices resembling zoos because they have to—they do it on purpose because they get off on the energy of it. Without stressful jobs, we’ll be desperate for challenging activities to match that energy—especially the younger people.

But I digress.


I’m starting to feel sorry for Trump. I still need him to lose the election—nothing about that has changed, only intensified. But this guy really has issues—once he is without Secret Service protection, I hope his loved ones can stage some sort of intervention and get him the help he so clearly needs. Did you know he has numerous siblings? But forget the eerie absence of his kin—let’s talk about his mother. What political candidate has ever failed to dote on his or her mother, to harken back to her sure, steady raising—that made them the person they are today?


Where is the love? Is that the true purpose of his presidential run—to be loved? Is Trump crying out for attention, much like an abandoned child? It’s kinda startin to look that way. His fear and mistrust of women is readily apparent. His avoidance of babies and children is publicly documented. Trump has intimacy issues. The poor guy—no wonder he’s this close to pulling the whole country down around his ears—and doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. Melania, give that poor bastard a hug, wouldya?

Losing this election isn’t going to help him any—but self-destruction and self-loathing go hand-in-hand, so it’s inevitable that it should come to this. Still, I’m really starting to feel sorry for the guy.


The Shifting Sands of Time (2016Oct19)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016                                         1:23 PM

Do you remember the ACA website roll-out? Gosh, what a mess—it took them weeks to make it work properly, right? And the furor, while it was still kludgey, was amazing, deafening—as if a buggy program could never be fixed. But now it works fine (better than the legislation, if we’re being honest about it) and nobody says ‘boo’ about it.

Opponents of Obamacare saw the bobbled roll-out as an opportunity to press their case—against the bill and the president, both. But the moment passed and now we are back to judging ACA on its merits, rather than the mechanics. Issues are always more vulnerable to criticism while they are still in flux—but success always changes the playing field.

The same could be said for the economy, wages, and the fight against ISIL. The meat of Donald Trump’s campaign is that ‘America is losing’. He talks of inner-city hell-scapes (even though crime rates are plummeting). He talks of job loss and high unemployment (even though employment has risen steadily for eight years). Stats on wage-increases show the biggest jump since the sixties. And with the siege of Mosul under weigh, and ahead of schedule, the idea that ISIL represents an existential threat to the USA becomes more and more of a fading boogeyman.

I’ll be interested to see in tonight’s debate whether Trump will get a pass, running on stats that were borderline when he declared two years ago—and are laughably out-of-date in October of 2016. While he’s been vaguely promising to somehow ‘make America great again’, Obama’s administration has been repairing the damage left by Bush, and exceeding the level of success our nation enjoyed before Dubya got his hands on the reins. Yes, Bush-43 did take a lot of the wind out of the sails of our ‘greatness’, but our incredible President Obama has undone all that, and moved beyond, to historically surpass our previous greatness.

People make a lot of noise about wanting the candidates to focus on issues—but they are. There is only one issue—Trump is unfit to be president. Hillary Clinton is as fit as a human being could possibly be. There’s your issue. You can dress it up, if you want—but we do not need a savior to repair all the ‘disasters’ of the Obama years—because they are small potatoes compared to all his enormous successes.

In fact, a case could be made that the whole idea of a ‘disruption’ candidate is an expression of pure frustration—and that slow, thoughtful change is the only reasonable way forward for the world’s greatest government. That is why the Educated demographic is fully backing Clinton, and the Uneducated are fully backing Trump—the uneducated, less mobile, more financially-insecure people are far more open to an emotional message, promising them the moon without any details about the journey.

So, in the end, not only is Trump wildly unfit for public office, but his mission to ‘bigly enGreaten’ America is an entirely unnecessary one. Competent public servants are already taking care of that, Drumpf—you can scurry back to your TV shows. Hillary will handle it.

Reviews   (2016Oct18)


Tuesday, October 18, 2016                                               2:14 PM

Beautiful day. Leaves is fallin. Sun is shinin. Can’t beat that. Sarah McLachlan may be an acquired taste, but her music is fantastic—what a voice. I’m making a video—I just played Bach’s keyboard arrangement of a Vivaldi Concerto in D, an early transposition from an early influence of old J. S.’s.

Then I played an improv—I don’t know what I’m doing, but it felt good. Now if it only sounds good. I called it “High-End Stroller” because that’s what baby Seneca rolls in these days. There’s a break about a minute in—the camera does that every twenty minutes, making a new file, but it loses a second or two of recording. I took too long with the Bach, I guess—it’s not usually a problem because I rarely play piano for more than twenty minutes—and I often restart the camera recording when playing for longer. What I really need is a film crew, I guess.


Shall we discuss politics? No! It’s far too nice a day for that—and tomorrow’s the final Shootout at the OK Corral, so let’s wait, shall we?

Autumn preys on my weakness—if anyone ever wrapped themselves up in melancholy, it’s me—and that time of year (thou may’st in me behold, when yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang…) sorry, Shakespeare got me—this time of year makes me dive deep into memory, loss, and the unending cycle of change that is living.

I fairly delight in depression while the summer fades, the leaves fall, and the winter looms. We must remember that ‘clinical depression’ is an imbalance, that modest, occasional depression itself is natural—a way of crawling into bed and putting the covers over our heads, while working or relaxing. Chronic Depression, the problem, is much in the news nowadays—but if you get depressed, sometimes, there’s no need to panic—it is only when it takes over your life that it becomes a problem with a capital ‘P’.

I used to prefer the grey, rainy days—but now I settle for leaves falling—the wet weather chills me to the bone, making me stiff and achy. I still enjoy breezes—you’d have to be dead not to enjoy a breezy day. But enough about the weather.

I just read a sci-fi book called “Machinations” by Hayley Stone. I was disappointed that the plot was a straight rip-off of Terminator, but it was well-written, with good characters, so I finished the book. Dear Ms. Stone: It isn’t science fiction if you don’t have a new idea—it’s just writing, however good. I took one star off of my Amazon rating—because it was a good book, but it wasn’t good science fiction. (If I finish a book, I usually give it full stars.)

I saw the “Ghostbusters” re-make—loved it—loved everyone in it. I don’t see how they could have pandered to fans of the old original any more than they did—and it was nice. Anyone who wasn’t satisfied is just too hard to please.

I enjoyed a few episodes of “Lucifer” on TV, but as with all outlandish premises, they try to ‘mealy-mouth’ it down to a drama, instead of juicing it up into a comic-book fantasy. I watched nine episodes of “Luke Cage” on Netflix, but I’m getting too old for the kid stuff. I’m having trouble with stories that contain corruption, violence, and amorality—they just upset me. My options are narrowing tightly—I’m down to mostly biopics.

I’m trying to read the new Bruce Sterling book, “Pirate Utopia”, but it’s hard—I’m sorry, I just can’t stand ‘alternate history’ sci-fi—it’s a bridge too far for me. Woulda, shoulda, coulda—that’s all it means to me. But Bruce Sterling is heavy-sledding—I’ll keep on for now, and see if I get drawn in. It might be one of those books you don’t get until you re-read it. Sometimes, they’re the best.

What Have We Learned? (2016Oct18)


Tuesday, October 18, 2016                                               8:32 PM

Tomorrow night is the third and final debate. For most people, it will be a spectacle, rather than an education. This campaign is on its second year—if you haven’t heard it all, already, you’re just not paying attention—and you haven’t seen a TV since 2014.

I have learned a lot about this country and the people who live in it. I learned more than I wanted to know about Trump. I have learned a lot about the media, especially media journalism. And, of course, I’ve learned about our next president, Hillary Clinton.

I find Hillary Clinton so impressive that, to my ear, all those who can’t abide her sound like a lot of sour grapes. She’s tough—in a very tough game—world power. You know those people who always win at Risk? Well, she does that—in real life. Do you know how rare it is for capable people to throw their lives away on this inexcusably wretched, yet crucially important, circus called national politics?

Only a martyr to public service like Hillary would put the intelligence and drive that most successful people put into forging empires of their own—into a lifetime of helping our ungrateful, apathetic asses. Look at the crap she has to take from us, before we will deign to allow her to work herself gray-haired, in the toughest job on earth, for four years. Oh, no, no—wait! We might prefer the racist pig idiot clown with the stupid face. Hmmm—let us think. Hmm—think, think, think. Well….

Are you joking? Are you seriously joking right now?

Watch the last debate—watch him tell every lie three times—he thinks that makes people believe it. Even children see through him. What is wrong with the grown-ups?


The Running of the Snark (2016Oct17)

Monday, October 17, 2016                                               1:58 PM

lewis_carroll_-_henry_holiday_-_hunting_of_the_snark_-_plate_1“Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,

As he landed his crew with care;

Supporting each man on the top of the tide

By a finger entwined in his hair.

“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:

That alone should encourage the crew.

Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:

What I tell you three times is true.”

—from “The Hunting of the Snark (An Agony, in Eight Fits)” (1874) by Lewis Carroll [Fit the First : The Landing]

The idea that repetition suggests authority is no doubt rooted in the days when anyone who would gainsay the head man rarely got to repeat themselves. In fact, the value of free speech is more than mere human rights—it is the assertion that truth exists outside of, and in spite of, authority.

This can be used and, just as easily, misused—the Scientific Method is an example of the use of truth-seeking through disruption of the established consensus—science-denial is an example of the same principle, turned on its head, by conflating Science with Established Authority. The latter use amounts to saying, ‘I’m not gonna be bullied by all this provable, reproducible experimentation.’

This is irrefutable logic within the bounds of free speech, but it still falls outside of common sense, and is suggestive of a motive or agenda, rather than pure objectivity. Pure Objectivity doesn’t help matters any, by being an imaginary ideal that we aspire to, rather than obtain—so the arguments persist, simple by virtue of the complexity of the ‘knot’.

lewis_carroll_-_henry_holiday_-_hunting_of_the_snark_-_plate_2Propagandists, thus, still live by the rule—say anything three times, and people start to believe it. Trump states this in his Art of the Deal—as if he discovered a big secret. Whenever Trump lies (or rather, whenever he speaks) I always listen for that third time. It would make a deadly drinking game—a shot for every third repetition of a lie—the whole party would be passed out in the first fifteen minutes.

But Trump has become too used to this concept of the pliability of reality—his flights of fancy become ever more outlandish, more self-evidently false. Or, as he put it, ‘the shackles are off’. What gets me is, every time he lies, he’s saying that we are stupid enough to believe him, just because he says it three times in a loud authoritative voice. I find that incredibly offensive—not much different from the time he asked a crowd of Ohioans, “How stupid are the people of Ohio?”

He insults our intelligence with all these lies—I find it hard to grasp why people would take so much disrespect from him. But then, I’ve always had a great big chip on my shoulder, so I react pretty strongly to that sort of thing. He doesn’t ‘get’ that, yes, many politicians lie during campaigns—but they limit themselves to lies that can’t be technically disproven, at least not easily—like, with a quick Google search. Yes, ‘the Donald’, politicians lie, but within the bounds of reason—they don’t force cognitive dissonance upon their constituents, making their continued support require a blind rejection of the obvious.

lewis_carroll_-_henry_holiday_-_hunting_of_the_snark_-_plate_7I think, after this election is finally put to sleep, the media should start to take stock of the Outlandish factor: ‘Obama is a secret Muslim, alien Kenyan’, ‘Death Panels’, ‘Obama founded ISIS’, ‘Hillary is a she-demon’, ‘Trickle-down economics’, ‘Muslims are dangerous’, ‘Weed is dangerous’, ‘Poverty is a choice’—you name it, the Republicans are allowed to go on TV and say whatever crazy bullshit comes into their heads.

The media needs better ground rules—Trump supporters have been spreading their unblinking, shrill crazy-talk across America for a year—everyone, including the anchors, knows they’re lying, twisting the facts, and supporting a dangerous psychopath, yet they are rarely cut-off, or even interrupted, while saying things that make me physically ill. WTF, media? Mental disease can be just as contagious as germs, you know—you’re creating a health crisis by your lack of quality-control on the disingenuousness of your guests—in the name of fairness. It’s not fair, it’s a false equivalence and everyone knows it.

Journalism has a responsibility to give both sides of an argument—not one side of a very lopsided issue versus plain old crazy. That’s not ‘both sides’, that’s an invitation to inanity in nice clothes. And the media has had a parade of that from the day Trump declared. Once we are saved from ourselves, assuming Election Day isn’t a death knell for America, the media needs to rethink their ‘equal time’ policies—crazy doesn’t need any help—and it sure don’t need any free air-time.

Which reminds me—Trump says the media is rigging the election. Is this the same media that gave him billions-of-dollars-worth of free campaign advertising by reporting on his every word, obsessively, daily? Like I said—plain old crazy.


[Fit the Eighth : The Vanishing]

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,

In the midst of his laughter and glee,

He had softly and suddenly vanished away —

For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.


Sunday, October 16, 2016                                       5:25 PM

Made a video today—not too bad—but then the darn camera’s charged died before the very last note—Arrgh! But the pictures of the grandiloquent granddaughter more than make up for the music’s shortcomings.

As you can see, when Seneca goes out in her stroller, she looks a little like a tiny granny-lady—very fussy and querulous—it’s so adorable.


Twenty-Five Days   (2016Oct14)

Friday, October 14, 2016                                         8:11 PM

What the hell? We’ve been treated to a disturbing-revelation-a-day for like two years now—and the last twenty-five days is going to outdo all the guff that went before? What is going on? Oprah says, “You get an October surprise! And you get an October surprise! And you get an October surprise!…”

I’m tired. Let me tell you, I’m tired. I’m gonna vote for Hillary on Election Day and I’m gonna hope for the best. That’s all I can handle at this point. I don’t know about you, but I have enough stress just doing me—I don’t need Donald Trump trampling over every tradition, every decency, every law—making a mockery out of this great country. Fuck that ass-hole.

He may be the first candidate in history who actually needs a secret service escort. He makes my skin crawl. And let me state clearly—he does not represent the male gender. He rather represents the sub-group of rude, crude troglodytes that feel entitled to harken back to the days when any man had virtual control over any woman’s fate. Most men see that dark past as an example of how not to behave towards women. Real men find a way to respect women without condescending to women, as if it’s some big favor they’re doing. But troglodytes do exist—and, sadly, they are not rare.

The only real surprise about Trump’s behavior is that he thought he could revel in it so long, and then run for President, as if no one would pop up and say, ‘hey, wait a minute.’ Even his denials of his past behavior reveal his objectification of women—‘just look at her…I wouldn’t pick her [to assault]’. He is so clueless that he denies his groping allegations by suggesting that he gropes prettier women!

Whatever mental imbalance this guy suffers from, it is, as I said, not rare. The hard 30% of voters forming the Trump Cult share his ‘hate is natural—don’t fight the feeling’ neurosis to some degree. No amount of testimony, evidence, or reasoning will reach them. I would feel sorry for these folks if they weren’t so terrifying—they are the human equivalent of Skynet in the Terminator movies—smart enough to destroy humanity, but crazy enough to think it’s a good idea.

Now, Finally   (2016Oct14)


Thursday, October 13, 2016                                             7:45 PM

With all the problems in this world, we nevertheless have one clown ready and eager to burn it all down to satisfy his ego—Donald Trump, and three people who won’t let their inevitable failure keep them from their ‘right to run for president’: Evan McMullin, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein. If Trump wins (God forbid) he will have done it with their help. And people say Hillary is ambitious.


Friday, October 14, 2016                                                  12:04 PM

It is a season of extremes. If Trump wins, I will feel a greater despair than when Bush-43 was re-elected. If Hillary wins, I will feel an even greater elation than when Barack was elected. And that’s not hyperbole—those moments of deep disappointment and sky-high celebration are both burned in my memory.


Though I resented Bush and felt happy for Obama, my deep disappointment was in my fellow American voters—my celebration was, too. Democracy means self-government—we rarely contemplate that such a system depends entirely on the knife-edge of people’s judgement. It’s terrifying. An uninformed, or misinformed, electorate will have the judgement of a drunkard—which is to say, no judgement at all. And as we become more and more a culture with various ‘genres’ of truth, judgement becomes something of a commodity.


The complexity of modern life requires not only that we reveal the truth, but that we also beat back the misinformation. Children are educated in schools, where there is some quality-control on the information being taught—but the rest of us get our information from the media. Some media-combines have a political agenda. They promote this agenda by cherry-picking their info—but they also have to cast doubt on the rest of the media, which contradicts many of their premises—and even their ‘facts’.


It is a very fancy, very cyber-age form of lying. It’s lying. The whole point of Journalism (with a capital ‘J’) is to be impartial, to report the facts, without any filter. But we live in a complex world—reporting all the facts is virtually impossible—no one can read that fast. So today’s reporting is, by necessity, an abstract of the research—rather than printing 2,000 pages of a report, reporters try to convey the sense of the report. Objectivity is an ideal—and such reporting almost begs to be interpreted subjectively—so a journalist has no easy task trying to give us nothing-but-the-facts. If media outlets go into that process with an agenda, their results can’t be truly labeled ‘journalism’.


The differences in our politics used to be philosophical differences—this ‘genre-fication’ of our news-media twists our politics into a battle of air-time, spin, and financial backing. This is, no doubt, what convinced the SCOTUS to find that ‘money is speech’ in the Citizens United ruling. Personally, I think they can only truly find so if, and only if, speech is also money—which it ain’t.


The beautiful thing about the truth is that it has a ring to it. When propagandists go too far, we can tell. When the entertainment value of Trump’s rallies wears off and we revisit what he has said, we find nothing but the vacuous nonsense and bitter resentment of a spoiled child. When Fox News fails to air Obama’s speech this morning, we can still watch it on all the other news channels. There may be millions of bitter, frustrated Americans who eagerly latch on to Trump’s ‘hate train’, but the rest of us can easily see through his machinations.


I put it to you that Hillary Clinton has been investigated in courts, Congressional hearings, and by the friggin FBI—if she belonged in jail, don’t you think she’d be there? The Republicans have been stalking her for thirty years—if there was even a hint of real criminality, wouldn’t they have convicted her by now? And, since that hasn’t happened, can we now, finally, begin to question the motives of those who stalk her? Can a lady who has done so much good, also manage to do so much bad—and do it so secretly that no one can find any hard evidence of wrongdoing? Please.


If the Wiki-leaks hack of Podesta’s emails shows anything, it shows an engaged career politician hacking her way through the undergrowth of others’ mendacity. Granted, politics is nothing if not manipulative—but it is manipulation for a cause—private and public policies are a reality. Only a history-illiterate newbie like Trump would deny that Lincoln was a politician as much as a leader. Trump is not a candidate so much as an insult to our intelligence—to even begin to compare him to a real leader like Hillary, we would have to first find, in his seventy years of existence, one instance where he thought of someone else’s welfare, ever. ‘Nuf said.

Vote for Hillary!