Showing posts with label Stuff Not Launched With Voyager 1. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stuff Not Launched With Voyager 1. Show all posts

Friday, January 24, 2020

Reprint Heaven: January 29, 1933

You Want It Darker

(From December 3, 2016)

(NBC)
"Waiting For The Barbarians", Chris Hedges, Truthdig; November 27, 2016, via Mr. Fish:
... The desiccation of our liberal institutions ensured the demise of our capitalist democracy. History has amply demonstrated what was to come next. The rot and political paralysis vomited up a con artist as president along with an array of half-wits, criminals and racist ideologues. They will manufacture scapegoats as their gross ineptitude and unachievable promises are exposed. They will fan the flames of white supremacy and racial and religious bigotry. They will use all the tools of legal and physical control handed to them by our system of “inverted totalitarianism” to crush even the most tepid forms of dissent.

The last constraints will be removed by a crisis. The crisis will be used to create a climate of fear. The pretense of democracy will end.

“A fascism of the future—an emergency response to some still unimagined crisis—need not resemble classical fascism perfectly in its outward signs and symbols,” Robert Paxton writes in The Anatomy of Fascism. “Some future movement that would ‘give up free institutions’ in order to perform the same functions of mass mobilization for the reunification, purification, and regeneration of some troubled group would undoubtedly call itself something else and draw on fresh symbols. That would not make it any less dangerous.” ...

... There will be rebels. They will live in the shadows. They will be the renegade painters, sculptors, poets, writers, journalists, musicians, actors, dancers, organizers, activists, mystics, intellectuals and other outcasts who are willing to accept personal sacrifice. They will not surrender their integrity, creativity, independence and finally their  souls. They will speak the truth.
Read this. Read it allAnd by everything I hold dear and sacred, I hope he's wrong; that what will develop in our future will be an aberrant episode in the American Experiment and not the end of it. And, everything I was raised to believe says It Can't Happen Here.

(And it has to be pointed out: My perspective on the American Experiment is rooted in the 'High School Civics Class' definition of America, which has status quo spray-painted all over it. And we all know what the Status Quo is about, who benefits from it, and who suffers in order to keep it going. I can't be blamed for wanting the stuff We Learned In School to be true -- but it isn't true for All, and that's the problem.)

At The Place Of Witless Labor yesterday, I had another conversation with Archibald "Harry" Tuttle. Unlike other people at the POWL, Harry goes right at Recent Events -- a 60-ish black man, he has no illusions about what's 'permissible' in our culture. I had mentioned the Chris Hedges article to Harry, who listened as I described it, and said, "And? Your point?" (Harry, incidentally, is an actual person, not a fictive alter ego for my own opinions, and the conversation was for-real.)

"You think a police state, in America, isn't possible?" Harry said. "Curfews, checkpoints, 'illegal' searches and seizures? Being singled out because you 'meet the profile'? Just because the Constitution this and the Bill Of Rights that? Or just because it's never happened to you?" Harry laughed. "It's been happening to us forever. Fuck the Constitution -- it doesn't mean shit, if they don't want it to. That ain't news to me. This guy [he meant Hedges] sounds like he's just catching up."

"Sometimes I wonder -- movies and television have been showing us for decades all kinds of bad events happening," Harry said. "Terrorists get the bomb, use it in some big city; another nine-eleven. Or a virus gets loose. Or space aliens -- and monsters are just symbols for real shit we're afraid of anyway.  

(Machine)
"But there's always a state of emergency, a lockdown. Army in the streets. What those movies don't ever show you is how long all that lasts -- everyone watching makes the assumption, 'When the monsters are gone, everything will go back to normal.'  They'll go to work and go to the mall and take their kids to school, or whatever.

"What if it doesn't?" Harry said. "After nine-eleven, we ended up with 'Snowden' and a war in the fucking Middle East, and drones, and the economy went to hell so the Usual Suspects could get even richer. The prisons are full and they are still shooting unarmed people in the back. None of that has changed. It didn't go away. It's the new normal. 

"When something big goes down here, some people are gonna have a rude awakening when they find out what a whole lot of people already know about power, and rights, and how far your arguing about the Constitution's gonna get you. And, with the fuckin' clowns about to go into office, it wouldn't take a flying saucer landing in Washington to give them the excuse."
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MEHR, VON DIE VERGANGENHEIT:  All this reminds me that a week before the election, I rode a Cable Car up the hill to my stop, near the border of a Very Wealthy Person's District. I sat beside one of these Persons, a white woman of indeterminate age -- honey-blonde hair done with just enough grey; excellent plastic surgery gave her the facial features of someone vaguely fortyish, but her hands were spotted, bony claws of the fairly elderly. I'd seen her riding the line in the past, but we'd never spoken.

She was dressed in a classic blouse/wool skirt/camel's hair topcoat/print scarf ensemble, as much a signal of class as School and Club ties for men once were. I don't remember how we began talking about the election -- in a city like Kiddietown, the assumption was that everyone was voting for Clinton, anyway. She wasn't direct about saying she was a Republican, but her assumption was that I (white-haired, white man in a suit and tie, topcoat, grey Fedora) might be One Of Us -- if not in Net Worth, then in spirit. 

"I know she'll win," the Person said, quietly. "But it would be so nice if it were -- you know; if he would win. All these unpleasant things would stop, then," she said, and her smile was shy, conspiratorial, like a wink. As if we had been on the S-Bahn in Berlin, long ago, and she had flipped back the lapel of her very expensive tan coat, just for a moment, so I would see the Parteiabzeichen pinned on it's hidden side.

Assumptions. All the unpleasant things, stopping. One of Us.
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Fuck that, man.

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MEHR, MIT EIN ANDENKEN:  And, a reminder of a deeper focus that needs to underlie our everyday attention, courtesy of The Soul Of America.  Woof !

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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Eat Your Pie

Every Bite


For All America: We Ordered It. Now, We Eat It.

I'd felt compelled in the past months to make a scale model -- of a random tree, one planted by the City of San Francisco, growing for at least twenty years near a streetcorner. The scale would be 1 inch = 3 Feet: roughly thirty feet of tree would be rendered in ten inches. I'm a visual artist, among other things; it was within my range of abilities.

My vision was to recreate as many fine details as that scale would allow, including at least a thousand leaves, and an uncanny crispness in the detail was the goal. I didn't really begin, but did preparatory drawings, bought supplies, took reference photos. But -- sculpture or modeling in any form isn't a normal impulse for me. So: a puzzle.

Over the past few weeks, it finally struck me: I'm part of a physical world, where every living thing in it is now threatened. I'm also living in a world of ideas, created by other humans -- a political world, now mutating away from everything familiar.

In that, the desire to recreate a familiar, primal living form, and reduce a part of the world to something, through an act of making, which I could control, suddenly made sense.
_____________________________

In 2016, like almost everyone else, I assumed the fix was in -- that Clinton would become President. Of course, there was no possibility Trump would win (though I toyed with the thought in February of 2016). Even the MAGA Bundists didn't believe it.

He was a joke. His rabid base in Flyover Country were underclass jokes, 'deplorables' who believed his anti-immigrant, White supremacist / fringe-separatist dogwhistling. His campaign was a sideshow, allowed (or, if you preferred, conspired against) by the Powers That Be.

Trump said and did things which broke political and cultural norms. And no matter how crazy things seemed? He'd never actually become President. The best pollsters didn't believe it. Pundits and insiders laughed about it. Reportedly, Trump didn't believe he had a chance, either -- but he was getting a months-long Trump, Inc. infomercial, paid for with other people's money.

Some in early 2016, like university professor and Washington Post columnist Daniel Drezner, read things differently.
Turns out those few voices had spoken up for good reasons. Now, every one of those reasons has borne fruit -- rotten, nauseatingly spoiled, rancid -- slopped as filling into a pie that 99.09% of America has been eating for over three years.

It is making us sick. It's killing us. But it's what America ordered, and we will have to eat our pie. We will eat every bite -- even if it takes ten years, or twenty. We'll eat it all. We won't have any choice.
______________________________

Like everyone else, I had grown up repeating the Pledge of Allegiance. And if you didn't get the Pledge, you did understand the power of the State it represented: One Nation, Bigger Than You; Under God, Too: Believe It, and Square Yourself Away In That Bulkhead, Marine.

The majority of our fathers had fought in WW2, for pete's sake. We'd hear the stories. America kicked Japan and Germany's ass (Italy was apparently just a place to have a war in, not an actual enemy), and by God, America won that sucker. Get on the other side of that equation, and see what happens (or, paraphrasing from Stephen King, "we'll just loose some pioneer spirit on ya'), damn Commies.

I accepted the High-School-Civics-Class-View of the United States. We were an exceptional People. History didn't apply to us; we were writing it. Even later personal experience overseas (where we did not win), and at home didn't really touch the bedrock assumptions I carried around about race, and class, and gender, and geopolitics -- or, that one could say Liberty and Justice For All and still not understand it was a slogan.
__________________________________

Trump won. Everyone in Washington expected him to play by the rules of conduct and engagement between Congress and the Executive. He couldn't be who he appeared to be and function as President.  But he didn't play by their rules; if anything, he played by Stevie Bannon's rules (that is to say, Josef Goebbels', or Josef Stalin's), Rupert Murdoch's rules, Vladimir Putin's rules.


With the help of people like Pompeo, Barr, and the Republican leadership, Trump has hollowed out America's governmental institutions, muzzling the FBI in a Justice Department organized to investigate those The Leader charges with the 'crime' of not being sufficiently loyal. Thousands of children are kept in virtual concentration camps, abused and mistreated.

Trump and the GOP charged a $3 Trillion bill to ordinary Americans in order to pay even more money to Our Fabled Wealthy; he runs a foreign policy sideshow which appears to benefit Russia far better than the United States. We, The People, have paid $118 Million to fund his weekly golf trips since taking office. The EPA exists in name only. National Weather Forecasters are muzzled when their opinion counters that of The Leader.

The new Federal judges, appointed for life by a Republican-controlled Senate, many without any qualifications whatsoever. Two (more) right-wing appointments to the Supreme Court -- in particular the nasty, entitled Frat Boy -- and the push by evangelicals to finally overturn Roe v. Wade. The list goes on and on.

But: even if Trump were removed from power, immediately; even if Mikey Pence were shown to be living with a rent-a-boy in a Motel 6 outside the Beltway; and McConnell and his wife were caught selling the North American SIOP to Russian agents, it wouldn't matter: Trump has trampled the boundaries of what is permissible in American political life -- and the Republican party, now nothing but a crowd of vicious suckasses, have enthusiastically helped him.

Even worse, Trump has given the cover of Presidential support for 'very good people' -- openly fascist, separatist, white nationalists. Fascist ideas are now something not to be fought, but given legitimacy, to be debated, to be allowed to sit at the table.

Trump has, with assistance, broken the United States of America. And if it isn't intelligently repaired -- if Trump goes on and on; if the GOP pays no electoral penalty for what they've participated in -- then after the next Crash, we're within a few short years of living in a failed Fascist State.

And Trump won't be our worst nightmare -- it'll be waking up to find there's a popular new conservative Leader, someone colder, more focused and sociopathic than Trump ever was. Someone who promises order and safety with the smile of a rapacious predator. America becomes just another authoritarian dictatorship: god help you if you're a minority, or LGTBQ, or a woman, or any stripe of Liberal.

Or, even worse, American society descends into real conflict, the "boogaloo" our fascist Right currently hopes for. Disorganization and violence rises... until some group of 'christian' leaders (perhaps 'The Family') decide that god has willed they step in and turn the nation towards the path of righteousness.

At that point we wake up to find we're living in a new country, with a new name, and with multiple, cold, focused and even more sociopathic leaders. And they won't just demand a political allegiance -- they'll want you to give them your soul.
_____________________________________

On Twitter this morning, I responded to a comment on an article -- that Trump's popularity had taken a slight dip in Texas, the reddest of Red States. Most people responding thought it was cause for cheer -- I replied,
What should frighten every thinking person in America is -- how popular would a right-wing candidate be in Texas if he were smoother, more cunning, more 'attractive', more evangelical? Trump isn't what we should be afraid of. It's what he's made possible.
Not long after, I scrolled down to find Newsweek columnist Seth Abramson observed very much the same thing:
The list of things now officially permissible at the highest levels of our government -- because of GOP cowardice -- is enough to permanently degrade our democracy: foreign interference in elections; pathological lying without shame; personal conflicts of interest never resolved... 
The worst part: the GOP will vainly, even grotesquely try to do a take-backsies on destroying America the second there's a Democratic president. At the first lie, they'll howl. But it'll be the boy who cried wolf... 
Part of it is that the culture in Washington -- already toxic; already chasing away most good people --is now permanently fatal to any goodness or integrity. But part of it is Trumpism generally, which is going to be with us for decades no matter what happens with Trump specifically. 
When and if Trump leaves office, he'll either start Trump TV immediately and be in your house daily pretending he's still president or, if he's indicted ... he'll go somewhere overseas he can't be touched and from *there* be in your house daily. 
There's one chance—and not even a great one—to avoid this. A historic reversal, revolution, and rebuke arising in the Senate that sends Trump reeling out of office. Would the GOP likely have to sit on the nation's political bench for a few years? Yes. But they could save America. 
Obviously, that's never going to happen. And so it's the alternative: a permanent diminishment of America that nothing can stand in the breach to avert. The Rubicon is the Senate trial, and if it's crossed -- no matter who wins in 2020 -- it's crossed, and Trumpism is made *permanent*.
______________________________

MEHR, MIT DER NEUEN KRIEG ZU KOMMEN:  Yesterday, an American drone strike killed the Iranian General in charge of that nation's Republican Guard special forces, and one of the principal architects of Iran's paramilitary strategy in the Middle East.  He was simply assassinated, without any Congressional consultation -- "on order of the President", The Leader; the child-man dictator. 

As I keep saying: This cannot continue; and, This cannot end well:  Consider this.
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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Reprint Heaven Forever: Still Missed

John Lennon: October 9, 1940


Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither while they pass; they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
Possessing and caressing me
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes,
That call me on and on across the universe;
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way,
Across the universe
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Sounds of laughter shades of earth are ringing
Through my open views; inviting and inciting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me
Like a million suns; it calls me on and on
Across the universe
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world...

Across The Universe (Lennon / McCartney, 1969)


We don't care what flag you're waving,
We don't even want to know your name,
We don't care where you're from or where you're going,
All we know is that you came;

You're making all our decisions,
We have just one request of you,
That while you're thinking things over,
Here's something you just better do:

Free the people, now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people, now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.

Well we were caught with our hands in the air,
Don't despair paranoia is everywhere,
We can shake it with love when we're scared,
So let's shout it aloud like a prayer:

Free the people, now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now

We understand your paranoia,
But we don't want to play your game;
You think you're cool and know what you are doing,
666 is your name;
So while your jerking off each other,
You better bear this thought in mind:
Your time is up you better know it,
But maybe you don't read the signs

Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.

Well you were caught with your hands in the kill,
And you still got to swallow your pill,
As you slip and you slide down the hill,
On the blood of the people you killed

Stop the killing now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Stop the killing now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now...

Bring On The Lucie (Freda People) (John Lennon, 1973)


The Soul Of America reminded me that I missed the actual day. Normally, I put up a memorial on December 10th. Better, I think, to celebrate someone's birth.

... I can't say I listen to Beatles music too much myself, these days (though I did listen to the Magical Mystery Tour album last weekend, by chance, while padding through the Haight).

So:  Absent Friends. Happy Birthday, John.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Reprint Heaven: Edge Of The Volcano Edition

Unraveling

(Originally From 2016)


Cousin Ignatz, Asleep At Princip's Post: Sarajevo, 2014 (Matthew Fisher / Postmedia News)

Roughly twelve hours and 105 years ago, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the Grand Duchess Sophie, were shot by Gavrillo Princip, a member of an assassination team sent to the Bosnian city by the government of Serbia.

Collectively, the team was the gang which couldn't shoot straight: armed with crude grenades, a few pistols, and carrying some form of suicide pill, they waited along the route Franz Ferdinand's car would take as it drove beside the Miljacka river, which cuts through Sarajevo (local Austro-Hungarian authorities had helpfully published the Archduke's route beforehand).

Most of the team either was poorly positioned, or chickened out at the last moment.  One conspirator did throw a bomb at the Archduke's car, which bounced off its folded-back fabric top and exploded near a second car traveling just behind. Several people in the car had minor injuries and it continued on to a local hospital.

The Archduke's driver, Leopold Lojka, continued to Sarajevo city hall. When Franz Ferdinand arrived, he effectively unloaded on the hapless administrators about the state of their local security ("I come to your city and am greeted with bombs!"). Meanwhile, back at the river, the would-be bomber had jumped into the Miljacka and swallowed his suicide pill -- which he promptly threw up. The police arrested him, barely managing to keep him from being lynched a mob of pro-Austro-Hungarian citizens, and so save him for later trial and execution.

At approximately 12:30 PM, having finally accepted the thanks of the Sarajevo city fathers, Franz Ferdinand and his wife got back into their car, planning to go to the local hospital to see those wounded in the bomb attack that morning. They used the same route, in reverse, that they had taken into the city, driving along the river. But when the Chauffeur, Lojka, came to a particular intersection -- to his left, a street; to the right, a bridge over the Miljacka river -- he was confused.

 The Royal Couple (Seated, At Rear) Leaving City Hall: Fifteen Minutes Left

Believing it to be the route he needed to take to drive to the hospital, Lojka slowed and turned left into the street.  Almost immediately, he realized he'd made a mistake and stepped on the brakes. The car came to a stop a few yards into the street, and Lojka moved to put it in reverse gear.

 The Intersection, 2014: The Archduke's Car Turned Left, Into This Street;
The Restaurant Where Princip Bought Lunch, Now A Museum (Photo: CNN)

At that same intersection was a small restaurant. Gavrillo Princip, last member of the Serbian assassination squad, had gone inside to buy a sandwich, angry and dejected after the team's failure that morning. Standing on the sidewalk outside the cafe, he saw a large, dark-green automobile turn out of the boulevard and come to a stop directly in front of him. In the very rear seat were the Archduke and his wife.

The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne had been delivered, less than ten feet away, from an armed assassin who had come to the city specifically to kill him. If you were writing a novel or screenplay, anything that coincidental would be branded as implausible. No one's gonna believe that.

Princip didn't hesitate. He dropped his sandwich, pulled a pistol out of his jacket and stepped towards the car, firing several shots, managing to mortally wound both the Archduke and his wife. Lojka, the driver, was ordered to rush the royal couple to the local military governor's residence. Sophie died on the way. A military officer in the car, checking on the Archduke's condition, asked the wounded man how he was; Ferdinand said, "Nichts (It's nothing)", and died.

Just over a month later, Europe was at war. Over the next four-plus years, the entire social fabric of the continent and much of the world changed, irrevocably. Monarchies ended; millions died; the map of the world changed as the victors annexed territory from Germany and Austria Hungary, and new countries were created. New technology was developed -- and in the Versailles Treaty, the groundwork was laid for a second, even more horrible war to begin by 1939.

(And, in 1918-19, the Spanish Influenza infected 500 million people, killing 40 million, worldwide. It was the largest number of fatalities due to pandemic disease since the 'Black Death': the coming of  Bubonic Plague to Europe in the 14th century [which killed an estimated 200 million].  In the U.S., millions were made sick, and 675,000 died [~0.6 per cent of America's 103 million population at the time]. It's often referred to as the "forgotten epidemic" -- just one more terrible event in an ocean of violence and atrocity.)

 Cousin Ignatz, Worn Out By All The History
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Why the history lesson? We're living through history. When we read about events in Europe during the Interwar Years (1918 - 1939), there's a feeling of inevitability, of being slowly sucked down a drain -- the revolving-door failures of parliamentary governments in France; Britain's declining empire; the manic Totentanz of global capital leading to 1929 and the Great Depression; the rise and fall of Weimar; the apotheosis of Italian and Japanese, and finally German, fascism. Regional war and civil war. 

... and we know where the story is going. It ends in Nanking, the Anschluss; Kristalnacht, Dunkirk; Auschwitz; Stalingrad; the Warsaw Ghetto; D-Day; the Führerbunker; Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But we always read about the years leading up to all that with a mounting sense of horror precisely because we all know how it ends. 

And we have the same feeling, looking at major global currents in our own time. While Brexit may be not have been a "shot heard 'round the world", the Tories are still (unbelievably), in power in the UK. The Scots still wonder about independence. The Greek, French and Italian economies are still at risk. Putinland, the Great Bear, still pushes the envelope here and there -- in Ukraine, and Syria. As IS loses on battlefields in the continuing slow-motion atrocity that is the Middle East, suddenly they appear in a Philippine city, on a London street. Disproportionate numbers of Black people are shot in major American cities on a routine basis. Climate change is not fake news.

America, ruled by Babbitry, greed and illusion, retreats from the world stage. Its leader is Bloated, Raving, delegating the running of a government to corrupt, car-wash dilettantes. Other nation-state players are happy to rush into the vacuum we leave behind. The balances in the old alliances we created after WWII have been squandered, all but unraveled. 

A regional conflict -- between India and Pakistan; Kim Jong Fat Boy's Fun Republic Of Chuckles and South Korea; Iran and Saudi Arabia, almost seems like a sure thing -- 'of course that's where all this is going'; no one would be truly surprised if one started tomorrow. What we wouldn't be prepared for is what would happen the day after, and the day after that.

Kleiner Mann; Was Nun?
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Monday, June 24, 2019

Your Cephalapod Monday

Jobs For Suckers

At Least Cephalapods Don't Find Excuses To Release Toxic Levels Of Societal Stress
By Assaulting Each Other At A Child's Baseball Game

Today is Cephalapod Monday. Take a Cephalapod to lunch -- and, no, having Cephalapod for lunch does not count, barbarian. The average Cuttlefish is at least as smart as your Dog -- just because it can't do the NYTimes Mini-Crossword or know who Tucker Carlson is doesn't mean it couldn't beat you at 'Jeopardy'. We recommend not trying to eat things which have the potential to be smarter than Tucker Carlson -- which is a long list of Things, beginning with kitchen appliances.
____________________________

There are many jobs in Amrica -- at least, until the Crash comes. You may wish to have one of them (Note: Cephalapods And Dogs Need Not Apply!)

Acting Defensive Secretary: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His wise stewardship of Amrica. If you know what the front and back of a boat is called it is a plus. Also missiles! Some experience suggested, but if you're a friend of the Mercers, Ralph Reed or 'lil Stevie Bannon; well, allowances can be made. There will be some travel in this position. You will wear Blue. They will play Die Präsentiermarsch whenever you get up to go to the restroom. And, do not worry about That I-ran -- you're just an Acting Secretary! You're only acting, and don't have to be a real secretary, and take dictation or make coffee, very often. Learn to change color to blend in with your surroundings. Don't ask questions about those UFOs and you should not fuck up and be okay.

Acting Department Of Homeyland Insecurity Secretary: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His Big Hands, grabbing Amrica by the genitalia, like he had tentacles. You must have a home on the land, somewhere, and be ready to sweep all those who are bad in The Leader's eyes from within our Borders, except for the ones He wishes to clean His toilets and trim things on His golf courses. You must be hard, and do the hard things so that The Leader will not fire you. Mostly, you will be in the Bunker. Wear black, and they will play The Bonny Blue Flag for you whenever you scratch yourself. And, do not worry -- you're an only an Acting Secretary! Which limits your potential culpability at the International Court at the Hague for crimes against humanity, maybe. Just acting! Still, you are prohibited from fucking up in all time zones. A real secretary would quit, or ask for a raise, or work from home.

Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo
In Middle Of Blog Rant

Acting United Nations Ambassador: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His Amrica, the bestest country -- not like those scheisshole countries like France and Sweden. As with Nick Haley before, you may defecate on the floor in front of foreign dignitaries, like a goat.  And you must go to that UN building and repudiate every alliance and destroy as much Good Will as we may have had with all other countries, and isolate Amrica from the community of nations for no explainable reason, except that The Leader wishes it. You will be graded on this! You will wear Plaid and they will play Pop! Goes The Weasel for you whenever you fart into the seat cushion. And, do not worry -- you're only an Acting Secretary,  A real secretary would wear a Vicky's Secret brassiere, and eat Calimari, see. So, don't fuck up!

Acting Chef of Staff: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and the shrewd way He takes things, here in Amrica, and hides them at More-Lego. Once the job of Wash-n-Rince "Nancy" Preibus and General Kelly, holding this position with both hands will make you responsible for everything, including purchasing many Treats for Leader, and being Ivankagalonka's PB (Personal Bitch). It is a thankless job, and as long as you have it you will never thank anyone, for anything. You will wear Gray, be required to Hold Your Squid, and the Murine Band will play the 'Love Theme' from All The President's Men for you, on the hour. Do not fuck up.

Additional Obligatory Small Animal Photo
(Image: Screenshot, Foxtel Network [Australia], 1997)

Acting Federal Emerging Meringue Agency (FEMA) Director: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His huge intellect and His immense hands and his knowing that in Amrica, climate science is just Hooey. This is a really big job, getting ready to make Amrica the Greatest Disaster Movie of all time -- and you get to be the Director! How cool is that? Not very, given the global heating. There will be plenty of travel for you, and the food in those all-expenses-paid trips to meet Coal and Plutonium and Fozzilfool executives is supposed to be "really something". You will get to say, "We will look to the science" and "There is some question how much humans have affected our flexible climate." You will wear Poly-esther and be photographed eating some form of Crisps made from reef-dwelling aminal species. The 'Gutzholtz Rangers Band' of Preeborgen, Minnesota, will play a medely of tunes from Richard Rodgers' Victory At Sea on Alpenhorns, made from the tusks of African Elephants, every time you check into an exclusive hotel, courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Taxpayer. And, don't fuck up!

Acting Icky Combustible Enfoodment (ICE) Director:  You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His deep knowing of Amrica and its desire to be the whitest of all cold, icy whiteness. No milk or snow or never-worn, briefs-style underwear is as white and cold as the Amrica that you must create for The Leader. He campaigned for and made promises to The Gasket Of Unmentionables that all the bad people from 'somewhere else' would be made to go away. By Soon! So get right on that. You will wear sky-blue and will be Shot From Guns, as the 72-voice Aquarium Church Choir (now with 50% more Cephalapod!) sings Marching, Marching To Shibboleth. Good luck! Didya fuck up yet? No? Keep trying.


Acting Federal Aging Airplanes (FAA) Administrator: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His terrifying desire to fly, crapping on all Amrica, like a diseased seagull. You will be responsible for so little to so few that this job is a cakewalk. You will be required to eat cake, also, and that's as tough as it gets. You may have to appear on TV after large-scale air disasters, oh, maybe eight or ten times a year, but those poor people had to know the risks when they put themselves on the planes. Right? Oh, ah-yuh. And remember the useful phrase, "pilot error"; it's not like you built the damn planes yourself or anything.  It's not like you're a bloody octopus, multitasking genius that you may be! No blame! No collusion! You will wear Red, and every time the FaLaLa Orchestra plays the "Up In The Air, Junior Birdman!" song, you will do a Tequila shooter. The only way you can fuck up is to miss out on that cake!

Acting Sturgeon General: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His wonderful form, his manly arteries in the Big Hands; like a twenty-year-old, he's is so healthful, and that you have never seen a man-child so trim and fit in all ways. Be prepared to say that. You will be provided with guidance so that any decisions about public health will not discomfit large drug companies, or the Persons who hold with their suckers blocks of Pharma stocks in Off-The-Shore accounts. And remember -- you're not really a doctor; you just play one in the governament. A real doctor would wear scrubs all day. You will wear Teal, and the Hester Street Rentgirls Band will play "Like A Sturgeon" for you. Often. If you fuck up, no one really notices.
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Extra Random Barking Questions Monday:

1.)  Is it a definition of madness, when parents of children who were murdered by assault weapons in Amrica are threatened by those who believe the children's murder never took place?

2.)  Might it be disingenuous when, having become wealthy from decades of peddling spurious information and divisive monologues in Amrica which made the Triumph Of The Leader possible, that media demagogues conclude The Leader may have many flaws?

3.)  True Amrican Missy Sarah, shamed by the Chicken, has gone away, when many believed she would stay in the Bunker to the end. Will being an obvious and shameless liar stand in the way of becoming governor of a Trumptrue™ state? Aber nicht natürlich.
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MEHR, MIT TINTENFISCH:  I was just thinking, in my artless Dog way: Check out this Cephalapod!
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UND MIT IMMER MEHR:  Deep-sea Cephalapod for real!
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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

This Is Only A Test

Grand Name Money Game
Testing. Testing; One Two. Testing:
Hot Damn, Viet Nam -- Hot Damn; Viet Nam. 
-- PA Announcer, aboard the RMS 'Magic Christian'
   From the 1969 film by the same name (Full Script Here)
For some reason known only to the great Coding Gods, my return to barking isn't being received by a larger world. Hence this test. Looking for content? Go here.  This is only a test.

If this had been an actual post, you would have been treated to the same low humor and half-considered analyses as are regularly presented here, with a leavening of equal parts egoism and self-depreciating offhand remarks. You would have been directed to tune to 640 AM or 1240 FM to receive information and instructions about, you know; things.

Damn; knew I shouldn't have said all those crazy things about Jeffy and ZuckCo.
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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Centenary Ferlinghetti

Happy Birthday, Larry: An Anecdotal
City Of Paris Sign In The Conversation (1974)

Almost half my life ago, a friend took me to an event in support of saving the Eiffel Tower-shaped sign which had graced the roof of the old City of Paris department store on Union Square. CofP had been there for generations -- since the Gold Rush; before and after The 1906 Earthquake and fire -- but business setbacks forced it to close.

The property had been purchased by Neiman-Marcus; they intended to build what still looks like a featureless beige box around the old CofP's oval, central core, topped by a stained glass skylight (you can see the old City of Paris building, and its trademark sign, in Coppola's film, The Conversation).

Replacing CofP with Texas-based Neiman's struck many San Franciscans as a cultural loss (dear god; Texas???) . Trying to save a landmark sign from a landmark local business was a way of saying No. A meeting was held to raise funds to purchase the sign, before finding a suitable location for it: and there would be poetry! Gary Snyder would read. So would Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

I went, I listened.  Snyder had been a particular lodestone favorite of mine for a long time; I'd only heard him read once before in Berkeley, and Ferlinghetti not in person at all.

When he did, he set "In Fascist America " in front of us like a dish well-cooked but spicy enough to be a challenge to eat, like reading The Fire Next Time all in one sitting -- dig in if you've got the spittle for it, baby. And he read it in the Beat cadence you can see, fortunately, in film and video clips.

The applause at the end was genuine. Everyone knew Ferlinghetti as a national treasure, a cultural icon, someone who had gravitas and knew it and used it. He was on the side of Right and it appeared in his work like a sword on fire. We applauded for all that as much as the reading.
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They never were able to buy the City of Paris sign. I went on to dinners over the years with friends and occasionally did (or was asked to do) my impression of Ferlinghetti, reading -- I'm gifted as a mimic; people laughed, which was the point (particularly about the repeating line in that poem, with a specific pause in his cadence when he would say, "In Fascist / America"). One person I knew in particular, who loved Ferlinghetti's poetry and had heard him read multiple times, always dissolved in laughter when she heard that.

Fast-forward a number of years: My acquaintance was taking lessons in a foreign language in the City through a cultural exchange group; Lawrence Ferlinghetti was in the class. The last, penultimate assignment for each student was to take a short piece of literature or poetry, translate it into the Language Other Than English, then read it to the rest of the class. Ferlinghetti chose, "In Fascist America".

My acquaintance said later she was able to hold it in "almost until the end", before exploding with laughter. Apparently she slipped and fell trying to exit the room but made it outside, leaving Ferlinghetti and the rest of the class somewhat mystified.
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I lived in North Beach for over a decade. In (for me) the old days, before heading to Vesuvio's or Spec's or Tosca's -- the real Bermuda Triangle -- I might stop off in City Lights Books; occasionally, you might see Ferlinghetti on the ground floor, talking with someone at a table in one of the alcoves. More rarely at night, coming out of Pearl's jazz club across the street, you might catch a glimpse of him, working late, through a window in City Lights' second-floor offices.

Most long-time residents in North Beach knew his house; it was roughly a block from my flat, and we passed each other at least twice a week for years, he walking up Stockton street towards Columbus, me walking down: two guys who wore fedoras. We made eye contact; I smiled, and sometimes said hello (it would have been odd if, after years of occurrence, I hadn't) but it was only a short time before I left the neighborhood that he began responding back.

The last time I saw Ferlinghetti was during a sentimental walk back, over a decade after I left North Beach -- walking across the grass of Washington Square on a warm, sunny afternoon, and there he was, wearing one of the trademark hats, lying on the grass with his head propped up by a day pack, a faint smile on his face as he tilted it up toward the sun.

At some point today I'll walk over to the old neighborhood and past his house, and put a good thought out for him. A century is a long time for a person, but it's not even a blink in the universe. Very few of us get to impact the Geist of the culture, live in people's hearts, and so sail on into time. But he will.
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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Random Barking: Duck And Vortex

In The Grip Of The Tentacle 

Oh-Dark-Thirty and down to the Bart:  Walking up to the Caffeine Dispensary Station on Tuesday, I passed a man in his mid-thirties, apparently well-dressed -- decent shoes (with a shine); newish Patagonia jacket with its hood pulled up; retro-fashion framed glasses, and carrying a black daypack.

I'd gone a few steps past him when I heard his voice explode ("How can you be so CONFIDENT!?! Don't you SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!?"), and in two seconds had to undo all the unconscious, five a.m., pedestrian assumptions I'd made after glancing at his clothes. Apparently, Kleider Nicht Machen Leute.

One hand on the door of Coffee Station, I turn; he's four feet from me, hugging the daypack to his chest like a life preserver, his right hand extended into that space between us to display his third finger in the fabled Bird.

"You monsterfucker; Die!!!," he almost literally growled, hunched slightly forward and continuing to flip me off. "DIIIIE!!"

The intensity in the space between us was -- well, intense.  My instant response was to match his intensity level and unload on him -- but then thought: Hey; that's what stupid primates do. Never been called a 'monsterfucker' before; that was pretty creative. Let's try something else with the energy, here. I looked at him, continued opening the door, smiled and said, "Well; have a nice day!"

Still hunched over, Bird extended, he didn't move. "Diiiiiie," he whispered, as if expecting me to keel over, right there, as a result of an act of sheer will on his part. "Diiiiiiie!!"

Inside the Caffeine Station, two SFPD patrolmen (whom I hadn't seen) had watched this exchange through the coffeeshop windows. So long as neither of us had touched the other, no property damage had occurred, and I wasn't some pissed-off Citizen hotly demanding they do something about the Nutball, the police weren't going to get in a twist.

We nodded at each other ("How's it goin'?" "Ah; it's early"). "What'd he want?" Asked patrolman A, lifting his chin toward The Guy, still standing in the same spot and having rotated to continue flipping me off .

"Oh; yeah," I said, waving a hand. "He just wants me to die."

Patrolman B considered this and nodded. "What'd you say?"

I shrugged; "Told him I was working on it."

The Patrolmen (as Robert Graves once wrote in another context) thought this a great joke. Outside, The Guy walked past the windows, displaying his middle finger to patrons, policemen, and Caffeine purveyors alike before disappearing up Market Street.
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Cute Small Animal Dies -- World Mourns, Or At Least Notices

RIP: Trevor, The Mallard, Near The Puddle
(2018: Rae Finlay / Agence France-Presse)

In January, 2018, a particularly bad storm in the southwestern Pacific carried a duck -- a male, standard Mallard -- to the tiny coral island of Niue, roughly 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand and not far from Fiji.

The 1,600 people living on the island had never seen a duck, had no idea what it would eat or how it preferred to live. Through trial and error, they found the duck liked oats, and corn, and preferred to stay near a large puddle left by the storm. The sudden appearance of food also attracted a local rooster, and a smaller chicken, which the duck tolerated.

The duck was a big hit with the island's children, and seemed content with the minor hubub he caused. As time went on, island residents and municipal authorities had to constantly add water to the puddle to make it viable for the duck -- which was finally named Trevor, after a New Zealand politician, Trevor Mallard (catchy!).  The islanders thought of sending Trevor to another island, such as N.Z., where he might have more Duck options, but didn't reach a consensus.

News about the arrival of what, for locals, was an unusual species began to circulate outside the little island. By the autumn (in the northern hemisphere), Trevor had achieved international status as "The World's Loneliest Duck" -- not entirely accurate, as Niue's residents paid a great deal of attention to the little creature: part pet, part tourist attraction. He became a landmark: it was apparently common to include the Mallard in directions to those visiting the island if appropriate ("go past the duck and turn right").

Sadly, it was reported last week that Trevor was attacked and killed by a local dog. His passing has been reported around the world -- which is more exposure than most ducks get (except this one, of course), and more than many humans can expect in These Times, and certainly more than all the species humanity has recently forced into extinction will receive.
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The Salmon Moose Tolls For Thee

Obligatory Cute Large Animal Photo At Opening Of Blog Filler

HOWARD: ... Don't see it that way, Jeff. Let me tell you what I think we're dealing with here -- a potentially positive learning experience, that --
DEATH:  SHUT UP!! Shut UP, you American! You always talk, you Americans! You talk, and you talk;  you say, "Lemme tell ya something!", and, "I just wanna say this!" Well, you're dead now -- so SHUT UP!
DEBBIE:  ... Can I ask you a question?
DEATH:  (Exasperated) What?!
DEBBIE:  How can we all have died at the same time?
DEATH:  (Looks around the table, then points) The -- Salmon -- Mousse.
[ ** Cue Snippet Of Dramatic Music ** ]
HOST:  Dear -- you didn't use the canned salmon?
HOSTESS:  I'm so dreadfully embarrassed. 

   -- Monty Python, The Meaning Of Life (1983): "Part IV -- Death"
      Graham Chapman (Host); Terry Gilliam (Howard);
      Michael Palin (Debbie); Terry Jones (Hostess);
      John Cleese (as The Grim Ree-pah)

Obligatory Photo Of Current Polar Vortex (New York Times.
Position Of Moose Is Approximate and Not To Scale.)
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The Leader Gets Larger

The Leader has signed many Executive decrees since his arrival as the Great Orange. I thought a quick review of his handwritten signatures  (specifically, a comparison of their size over time) might direct additional light upon his sociopathology, but as usual others had gotten to it first.


Click To Enlarge -- Easy and Fun!!
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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Antidote

Death; Food, Pooch

(Screenshot: New York Times)

Yeah Yeah: I understand, this is a national Day 'O Mourning. While I can't go as far as some in their criticism of Ol' Poppy -- he was a blueblood patrician, an Owner; a Bonesman; an influential advisor with The Carlyle Group; DCI at CIA; and President. He was as wired-in as it was possible to be. His wife's comments about survivors of Hurricane Katrina reflected perfectly how Poppy's class views persons such as you, and me -- servants, encumbrances, chattel, inconveniences.

Somewhere, John Calvin is smiling on the man who was born to rule by a just god: George Herbert Walker Bush -- a human being; a husband and parent; a man, and he's dead -- but, given everything, beyond the recognition that we were of the same species I just can't bring myself to give a shit.
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Anyhow: on the bright side of life, I sniffed out this bit from the Paper Of Record. The author is both fond of cooking, and a Corgi named Max (hoo hoo hoo cute Pooch; just look at that face. How could you not love that face?), and decided to turn Max into a Star on social media -- and at the same time prompting a discussion about Food and living and, you know, stuff. But there was a catch.
Yet about four months and 70 Instagram posts later [the author's social media platform display] is far from stardom. Despite how cute Max looked or how plump my steamed pork buns appeared, the account stagnated at roughly 300 followers. Max’s “likes” plateaued at an average of about 60. No sponsorship offers appeared in my inbox.
What the author did next to try and boost Max's (and his) popularity into the stratosphere is an interesting tale on popularity and the place social media -- such as this blog, for example -- has in global culture at this high point in our species' development. It's got everything: intrigue, technology and bots; a social media strategy; a desire for love and adulation and stardom and corporate sponsorship; apparently tasty things to eat, and a cute Pooch. What the hell else do you need?

(Screenshot: New York Times)

Yeah Yeah: all this is a First-world Problem. It does not involve horrific air strikes or the death of major land mammals or anything whatsoever about The Leader. However, it's way better than spending any time watching Poppy Bush's send-off, 'John Calvin Now Praises Famous Men'. 
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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Trick Or Traif

Surprise, October

What you will experience at my house. It's the one with all the lights off.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Reprint Heaven: Civ 103; The Seldon Theories

We Were Where We Have Always Been
(This, originally posted in August, 2010.)

Glenn Greenwald posted an article at Salon ("What Collapsing Empire Looks Like"), illuminating the slow-motion of deterioration wrought by the Crash.

>> Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further -- it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation. [Where we are in 2018: Hawaii's schools were famous for 'furlough Fridays' with their teachers placed on unpaid leave. The state almost immediately returned to a full, 5-day weekly schedule -- but the costs of public education and the effective freezing of already small teacher's salaries have forced teacher's unions in a number of states to organize and push back.]

>> Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.  [Where we are in 2018: Clayton Co.'s public bus system did not return until spring, 2015, when it was absorbed into the Greater Atlanta transit system.]

>> Even public safety has not been immune to the budget ax. In Colorado Springs, Co., the downturn will be remembered, quite literally, as a dark age: the city switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters. [Where we are in 2018:  Colorado Springs' municipal government took a hard-right turn in response to the Crash, and originally slashed it's police force and turned off streetlights in 2010 rather than raise property taxes to pay for public services. Thieves stole the copper wiring in the abandoned streetlights, and there weren't enough police to stop them. It later cost over $5 million to fix the lights, which are back on. It's municipal government is still conservative, but not insane.]

>> It's probably also worth noting this Wall St. Journal article from last month -- with a subheadline warning: "Back to Stone Age" -- which describes how "paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue." [Where we are in 2018:  Plowing paved roads back to gravel, instead of paying maintenance costs to keep them, has only accelerated since 2010. In an era of dismal infrastructure spending, transportation agencies in at least 27 states now have unpaved roads, or are considering gravel roads as options.]

>> Utah is seriously considering eliminating the 12th grade, or making it optional. [Where we are in 2018:  While Utah's school board didn't follow through on this idea, a proposal was successfully floated in 2016 to make Middle School classes in art, health, Phys Ed, and careers 'optional'.]

>> And it was announced this week that "Camden [New Jersey] is preparing to permanently shut its library system by the end of the year, potentially leaving residents of the impoverished city among the few in the United States unable to borrow a library book free." [Where we are in 2018:  The city of Camden's municipal libraries were nearly shut down -- but in 2011, they were absorbed by the Camden county library system.]


The nation didn't stop falling after the Crash of 2008. Only the pace has slowed, enough to make us believe that, somehow, we avoided real trouble. And as we continue to fall, the descent is accompanied by commercials and television, iPads and SmartPhones; anything to keep people from realizing what's happening to the society they've lived in all their lives, and to the promises that society has held out to them as the American Dream.

It's human to not want to see the water rising, to focus on the familiar and the comforting, not to hear the sound of the steady drummer, "drumming like a noise in dreams".

... It's different to live through times which -- with the added crisis of climate change -- we're just on the cusp of. The fun hasn't even started in earnest yet...

Natley (Art Garfunkle) And The Old Man: Catch-22 (1970)
OLD MAN: ...Italy is a poor, weak country. And that is why we will survive, long after your country has been destroyed.
NATLEY: What are you talking about? America's not going to be destroyed.
OLD MAN: Never?
NATLEY: Well...
OLD MAN: Egypt was destroyed; Greece was destroyed; Rome was destroyed; Persia was destroyed -- Spain was destroyed. All great countries are destroyed. Why not yours?
NATLEY: ...What you don't understand is that it's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.
OLD MAN: You have it backwards. It's better to live on your feet than to die on your knees. I know.
NATLEY: How do you know?
OLD MAN: Because I am a hundred and seven years old. How old are you?
NATLEY: I'll be twenty in January.
OLD MAN: If you live.
          -- Buck Henry / Screenplay to Mike Nichols' Film of Catch-22 (1970)
Will America dissolve into a State run by 'Pastors', conservative Oligarchs? Will most of us queue up for water, clothing; living space? Will we become like Britain, with CCTVs on every light pole and an electronic dossier on every citizen's email, personal buying and travel habits? Will someone in the Nuclear Club finally decide to uncork the Genie again?

People don't believe these things are possible; not here, in America. This is a land of opportunity, almost a meritocracy -- we don't have a class structure here based on family lineage or money; and we are the guardians of truth, justice, and the Rule Of Law™. You can rise as high as you can reach through hard work and the Free Enterprise system.

We say that we don't murder our leaders. We don't single out people for imprisonment or harassment because they espouse unpopular opinions. We are free to speak or write or create as we like. We are the strongest military and economic power on the face of the earth. We're not dictators. We don't quit, we don't surrender; we treat our enemies fairly and with compassion because that's the American Way.


Right.

As I've mentioned before, a Romanian acquaintance once said, while Ceausescu was still in power, "In the Eastern Bloc, if you are enough of a problem for the authorities, they take you out into the woods and shoot you in the back of the head. In America, if you are enough of a problem, they restrict your ability to make money."

And, today, what passes for common wisdom among the political elite, pundits and media is that in order to prevent higher deficits and more National Debt, the government should enact policies that reduce it -- to privatize Social Security, reduce Medicare to a voucher system, freeze the pay of the military... and slash every Federal program possible. To cut, and not stimulate.

At the same time, these same Austerians say that raising income taxes is regrettable, but must be done. Only -- they mean raising taxes for everyone except the top two per cent or so, who will receive a tax cut. Because the wealthy are the ones who,through their purchases of Bulgari jewelry, Bentleys and designer clothing, will raise the rest of us up from poverty... a millimeter at a time.

This isn't a joke. It's policyAs Paul Krugman notes, "We must place priority on reducing the deficit, say Republicans and “centrist” Democrats. And then, virtually in the next breath, they declare that we must preserve tax cuts for the very affluent, at a budget cost of $700 billion over the next decade."

(The wealthy, in America particularly, remind me now of the 'Owners' in Paul Theroux's 1986 novel, O-Zone, which I strongly recommend.)

So official policy is to protect the wealthy, and allow the country to pass slowly into history. Greenwald concluded his column with a quote from International Monetary Fund Chief Economist Simon Johnson, from his article last year in The Atlantic Monthly, "about what happens in under-developed and developing countries when an elite-caused financial crises ensues" -- and not targeting the rich is just par for the course:
Squeezing oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments.  Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the Oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency, or maybe a nice tax break, or -- here's a classic Kremlin bailout technique -- the assumption of private debt obligations by the government.
Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk -- at least until the riots grow too large... 
But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests —- financiers, in the case of the U.S. -— played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.
I don't know why, but I keep thinking of a poem written just before the beginning of the Great War; Barbara Tuchman used it as a section title ("The Steady Drummer") in her 1966 book, The Proud Tower -- another book I recommend; not many are being written like them any longer.
On the idle hill of summer,
Sleepy with the flow of streams,
Far I hear the steady drummer
Drumming like a noise in dreams.

Far and near and low and louder
On the roads of earth go by,
Dear to friends and food for powder,
Soldiers marching, all to die.

East and west on fields forgotten
Bleach the bones of comrades slain,
Lovely lads and dead and rotten;
None that go return again.

Far the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise.
A.E. Housman, "A Shropshire Lad" (1896)
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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Most Wonderful Bestest Ever

Let's Get Out Of Here; Iran's Buying

American Pestident Lies Speaks To (Some of) The UN General Assembly,
And The Superintelligent Parakeet (At Right);
September 25, 2018 [Original Photo: Reuters]

Leader lied spoke to the United Nations today, which apparently had better things to do than listen to a fat man play make-believe in front of them for thirty-plus minutes.

"In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country," Leader told them. Whoever was left in the room laughed (you can see it for yourself).

But, it didn't faze The Leader, who smiled his trademark Country Club Chairman smile, and said, "So true... I didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK," meaning of course that it wasn't. More people laughed. Some applauded. Several vomited.

The Superintelligent Parakeet didn't say a thing. He didn't even move -- and that's when I knew  The Leader had a real problem. Dissed by the Parakeet? Sucks to be you!
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Monday, September 17, 2018

Your Weak Under Way

Entertainment


As a result of his recent appearances, Paul Manafort will be crooning in the Metro D.C. area for your pleasure through the rest of this year, with an option for a series of public recitals during 2019.

His recent hit single of the old Ukrainian ballad, "Fix My Heart", has been remixed by DJ Roddy; even The Leader, taking time away from thinking about the plight of The Little People, has taken notice.

Accompanied closely by the Bob Mueller DOJ Orchestra, Paul's special brand of Family entertainment is keenly anticipated to please millions of Americans, and the Superintelligent Parakeet. Rumors are Paul may be joined by fellow singers Micky Flynn, Pinky Gates, and Michael Cohen; if true, these performances promise to be spellbinding in their warmth and cheer. Watch your local news broadcasts for dates and times!
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Whither The Weather Channel


Insult to Injury: A Weather Channel on-the-spot-weatherperson in the Carolinas, seen rocking back and forth in "high winds" while delivering a live report about the impact of Hurricane Florence making landfall, unaware of the two casually-strolling Dudes in the background. This has been flogged all over the Intertubes and needs no further description here.

The Weather Channel defended its weatherperson by saying they were exhausted, under stress, and had recently been painted blue. Or remodeled. Or had a head gasket replacement. And anyway, how can viewers expect things to function under such circumstances?

The two men in the background, walking along and apparently not affected in any serious way by wind, were part of a -- different space-time continuum! Yeah, that's it, hot damn; Science To The Rescue!!

If Deepak Chopra were here, he would tell us Quantum Mechanics explains that the two Dudes exist in all states of motion, inaction, and being, at the same time. The camera, as part of the observer paradox, simply pushed The Waveform to collapse when the men were thinking about a decent, balanced breakfast. Yeah. That has to be right.


But, consider: The Weather Channel deals with -- wait for it -- The Weather. They don't discuss politics, report on the effect of Betsy DeVos forcing children to work in sweatshops, the purchase of a third chin for Mikey Pompeo, or report on the latest Tweets of The Leader. The Weather Channel reports on The Weather, a set of science-based, factual occurrences.

It's one of the few things that are reported on that can't really be lied about, unless Fox gets into the weather-reporting business. We don't expect those people reporting the weather to be 100% accurate (the joke is that they rarely are), but we don't expect them to fake the effect of the weather they do report on. Sad!
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Biffy Wants His Balloon


Priviledged, pudgy Brett 'Biff' Kavanaugh has been reported as allegedly attempting to "force himself" on a girl while he was attending an exclusive, all-male Prep School in Potomactown back in the day.

Apparently, Senator Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, had been made aware of the allegation through a letter sent to her by Biffy's alleged victim. Senator Dianne held on to the letter and did not raise the issue, or question Kavanaugh about it during his hearings before the Committee, when he promised to be a team player, but would not reveal which team he was referring to. Biffy was clear that only he can fill the tiny, stretchy shoes left by the tubby, angry, maleficent "Fat Tony" Scalia.

Biffy vociferously denied that any such alleged thing had ever happened. He was outraged, and squidgy, and pressed his lips together firmly in a display of putting up with the politics of the peasants. He wanted his candy and his balloon and his seat on the Biggest Court In The Land, because it is owed to me.

The Leader told him so, even if The Leader is an odious little puffed-up poseur and not Biffy's sort at all. He can give Biffy what is so rightfully his -- ergo, Biffy loves The Leader.

A letter was produced, signed by sixty-five women whom Biffy went to high school with, essentially saying he was a perfect gentleman and never ever conducted himself in any way that did not involve copper wiring or optical-fiber cabling.

How these women could have attended Prep school with him at an all-male institution, or how Kavanaugh could have used optical fiber cabling before it became available, was not addressed.

Senator Dianne's late revelation of Biffy's alleged conduct was seen by some as an attempt to delay what had been Biffy's de facto appointment to the Supremes by the Committee's Giant Slug Republican majority. It might even cause Biffy to be sent home without a copy of the Home Game.

But Senator 'Chuck' Grassley (who is even older than Senator Dianne and barely able to remember what year it is), Republican Chair Man of the Judiciary Committee, is determined this will not stand.

"I have pants," Grassley said when he believed he was alone in the Lois B. Lane Senate Maintenance Trailer, "Pants no one can fill. Judge Kavanaugh fills the pants of Tony, and all America can see they are filled. And goddamn it, I'm not going anywhere until those pants encompass all America. We will breathe and think and find our way through those pants.

"Thank you, and good night. Where's my damn check? I want to get paid and go drinking."
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MEHR, MIT "WER, ICH??" :  Apparently, in July of this year, both Grassley and Feinstein were contacted by an attorney who indicated that Federal employees in the United States Courts had specific information about Kavanaugh they were willing to impart, but were concerned about possible retaliation.  

The information came from an attorney who had helped to blow the whistle on Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, who resigned after accusations by several women of improper workplace conduct -- including holding pornographic material on his work hard drive and making employees in his office view it, and sending unsolicited emails to others, including employees, with contents of a sexual nature. 

The attorney, writing to Grassley and Feinstein, stressed that any claims by Kavanaugh that he was unaware of Kozinski's behavior at the time it occurred would not be credible. Testimony by the former Federal employees' would support that.

It was also in July that Feinstein alone was made aware of Kavanaugh's alleged sexual assault by the woman who advised she had experienced it.

Kavanaugh had clerked for Kozinski in the 1990's. Kozinski recommended him as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and that clerkship began Kavanaugh's career -- from the Supreme Court, to Ken Starr's investigation of the Clintons, to his appointment as  a Federal Judge.  And, when announcing his retirement earlier this year, Anthony Kennedy recommended Biffy to The Leader as his replacement.

Biffy testified to the Judiciary Committee that he was unaware of Kozinski's past behavior -- and that his old mentor's resignation was a shock, a "gut punch". However, the Federal employees mentioned to Senators Chuck and Dianne in July might have been able to refute that, if they had been contacted and allowed to give testimony. They weren't.
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MEHR, MIT "ER IST DER GUTES FÜHRER":  The Leader's Twitter feed has been effectively free of whining and bile and invective since Monday, September 17. It is very very quiet.


The Leader.  (Tom Brennan / New York Times)

And, he has appeared recently, and said efforts to pack the Supreme Court with right-wing morons things with Biffy Kavanaugh's confirmation are "very sad" and that the judge is "very nice", and has a very nice wife. "It's a very unfair thing, what's going on," said Leader -- and that was all he said.

He has gone before the cameras and said that "nothing will be left undone" for North Carolina (as opposed to Puerto Rico, nicht so?), and even travelled a short ways from DeeCee to the area, and to be seen to appear and be photographed while saying nice things. Supportive things.
Trump then visited a church in New Bern, a town of 30,000 located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers that was hit especially hard by flooding, and joined volunteers in passing out boxed meals to locals in a drive-through line. He also walked through a neighborhood lined with discarded wet furniture, hugging residents and posing for pictures.
Stormy Daniels' book will be appearing soon, but The Leader has said nothing. Even when excerpts refer to her experience of The Donny as 3.5 on a scale of 10, to his raging insecurity, that he "didn't expect to be president", and the fact that he was having carnal relations with women not his wife ... The Leader has refrained from commentary.

You see, this is the Good Leader. The Kind Leader. The one who does not Tweet incendiary things and who hands out meals to persons he will never think about again. It's true -- he did talk to The Hill and say bad things about Ol' Jeffy 'Kiss-My-Sink' Sessions ("I don't have an attorney general; it's very sad") -- but otherwise The Leader has been quiet. Very very quiet.

This is the Leader who has been told by someone that he must be Soft and Kind and Good, a Leader who "is seen to care" until after a Republican majority can shove Kavanaugh down the throats of the country. Until after the mid-terms. 

He must be seen to be the one who cares about you (unless you live in Puerto Rico, Yemen, Syria, California, or other 'shithole countries'). And must be seen as Kind. And Good. He's the reincarnation of FDR. He's your Pal.

And so shall he be -- now, and until November 7th. Unless, of course, someone close to him is indicted, or he is accused of High Crimes and Misdemeanors, before then. In which case you will see Wonderboy, A Man In Full, come roaring back ahead of schedule.  Because he is not gone away. 
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