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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Abiding Shame -- the Inception

At this moment when I have started writing what I hope will be a series of blog posts on the current elections, after such a long but characteristic period when I didn’t post anything here, today, on the 21st of October, 2016, I am included in all the other 230,000,000 Americans who are going through by far the most shameful period in American history, BAR NONE!  (That is, short of the day long ago in 1620 when the first slaves were brought onto the soil of the place that eventually became the “Commonwealth of Virginia.”)

Though of course he had collaborators, and lots of them, this shame is principally the work of just one man – an individual named Donald J for “Jackass” Trump.  And the occasion is the current election cycle for state and national government offices.

Fourteen months ago, this person jumped into view by offering himself to the Republican party as a candidate for the post of nothing less than the top job of U.S. President.

Though he was not exactly welcomed, Donald J for Jackass was nevertheless permitted to enter the fray under the auspices of that hapless and unprincipled party whose constant deceit is embodied in its very name – the so-called “Grand Old Party,”  the Republicans, when actually that group is neither grand nor old, and they shouldn’t be called “Republicans” either.

When a party called the “Republicans” first came onto the American political scene, back in 1860 or so, they campaigned against the long-enduring atrocity of slavery, while the already existing Democratic Party was the party of the slave-owners and their supporters, and despite certain anomalies, that distinction in philosophies generally held through the next 100 years.

But then, in the 1960’s, a complete turnaround occurred.  Suddenly the Republicans, buoyed by taking into their ranks the Dixiecrats, became the party of would-be slave-owners, while the Democrats who were left behind happily found themselves in a party with a much more liberal and therefore more reasonable and charitable bent, and they became the party of Lincoln, despite the fervor with which the Repubs try hard to this day to hang on to that appellation for themselves, laughable  as that claim might be, as if Lincoln, were he still alive, would want to have anything to do with that bunch as it is presently constituted.

These days “The Nasties” is the far more appropriate name for the Republicans, and the reigning irony is that they have gone so far in earning that handle that they inadvertently set themselves up for having to admit into their tent this walking, talking disaster named “Trump,” though even they had misgivings about him from the start.  That includes the latest group of thugs that had followed the ex-Dixiecrats in taking over Republican thought, the Tea Party, because, like everyone else, they already had a fairly accurate picture of what Donald J for Jackass had been all through the most recent decades. and it was clear that he had shown up entirely to take advantage of what he saw as a golden opportunity to embark on yet another ego trip.

I myself had paid not the slightest attention to this bounder, and I am glad to see that that was with good reason, for, according to what has been revealed about him since he made his announcement, he was known for tall buildings and other real estate ventures, some of them financial disasters, casinos, golf courses, beauty pageants, multiple marriages to women who have all the appearance of not having been acquired solely because of his charm, and a reality show called “The Apprentices” about which I do not recall ever hearing anything.

None of those strike me as having been activities that were in any way contributory to the general good, and they certainly did not qualify him to be President.  Yet, against what he saw as a weak field in the primaries and in the final stage, I am certain that he viewed this election as promising to be his biggest romp of all  –- except that it has been somewhat different from that, as shown by comparing remarks he made at the beginning of his candidacy with an outburst that he was unable to hold in near the end of the third and final debate that took place two days ago between himself and Hillary Clinton.

He was so inspired by the response of the malcontents that he quickly picked up soon after he declared, that he immediately questioned the necessity of holding any election at all, and he said that instead he should be inaugurated as the new U.S. President then and there, and he seemed to be nothing if not quite serious about that.

I wouldn’t be surprised if very few people remember that he said that at the very beginning, but they couldn’t have missed how in the just concluded final debate with Ms. Clinton, and overcome with frustration at having been obviously and easily bested by her in all three of the debates – as was only to be expected -- he was unable to avoid blurting from out of the blue the very ungentlemanly and incredibly nasty remark, “You are a nasty woman!”

That latest attempt of his to drive up the nation's temperature was just the latest instance of how every damn second of his efforts has been to the detriment of everyone in the country, and that includes Donald J. himself, though, like his rabid followers, he is being a trifle slow to see that.   But that, too, was only to be expected – again, I’m sure, by all his Republican contemporaries as well, no matter how much they might wriggle like snakes caught in a rat trap, to keep from showing it.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What? Trump Struck the Right Notes? Imposs!

It's hard to decide what to do about Donald J. Trump, other than to devoutly hope that either Clinton or Sanders (but not Cruz, for God’s sake!) has his number, because every once in a great while, amidst all his usual garbage that should've been consigned to the Staten Island trash heap, Trump, unlike Cruz, will say or do something that is right on the mark.

For instance, not long ago, in a debate, he actually praised Planned Parenthood, saying that it had done some good work.   And I’m certain that in almost the same breath he said something else that was equally a big no-no among Repubs, but I must’ve been so stunned that my shaken memory couldn’t hold both of those severely unlikely shots at the same time.

More recently he declined to take part in yet another debate that Fox News was anxious to stage, in its urge to make even more easy money due to the ratings boost that that event was sure to bring, and so instead it had to be canceled.  Could it be that Donald J. or one of his leutnants had been reading this blog?  Because shortly before that I had strongly expressed my hope that there would be no more of those things, after a winter filled with them.

Another example was when Trump said that J. McCain was no war hero.   For that Trump was roundly attacked by his kind of people, though not enough that he was forced out of the race.

These kneejerk attackers showed their ignorance of the totality of McCain's military career, and all they knew was that he had been shot down by the Vietnamese and had survived five years in a prison camp, period.  In civilian life you will seldom if ever hear anyone in prison or afterward referred to as being a hero, even if something like DNA exonerates him 50 years later.  But when it comes to the military, for a great many people that one widely and grossly misused word "hero" is usually plenty enough.

What those indignants didn't think about was that it is almost certain that the Vietnamese thereby preserved McCain so that he could become a persistent boil on the American hide in his later years.   It could be said that they saved his life, not just once but twice and even three times, first by furnishing him with the ultimate encouragement to bail out of the latest aircraft that had the misfortune of hosting his reckless butt while they were high over Hanoi and thus removing him from the controls of war planes for good, the second being when a band of Vietnamese removed him from the purview of others who were rushing up perchance to shoot him after he hit the ground, and the third being when those people that he had heroically been bombing sight unseen from above patched him up after he suffered three broken limbs when he finished following his bombs downward, and also by feeding him and keeping him out of the rain and out of serious trouble for the next five years.

None of that is ever taken into account by McCain’s admirers, nor is the mayhem that he wrought upon the U.S. Navy's valuable warplanes earlier in  his career, when several planes were lost while he was essentially joyriding (which I am certain is what his successors a few generations removed regularly do around here where I live, by leaving a naval air station a few hundred miles away and minutes later nearly bursting eardrums by unnecessarily and without warning suddenly thundering directly overhead and thoroughly disrupting the deep peace and quiet of this humble American rural county that never did anything to them.)

It’s interesting that J. McCain contrived to be on the flight deck of the first U.S. supercarrier, the USS Forrestal, when, in July 1967, the absolutely unthinkable happened.  A launcher on one plane parked on the carrier’s flight deck suddenly fired a rocket that hit a second plane, bursting its fuel tank and igniting an enormous fire that ended with the deaths of 134 men and the loss of 21 planes. A newsreel camera recorded the young McCain running around while looking to see what he could do and probably getting in the way of those who had been trained in fighting disasters of that kind, if not one of that magnitude.

Not saying that McCain was in any way responsible for that, but there was the fact that such a dire and unbelievable catastrophe should have followed him there.  And no one can tell me that a lot of the Navy brass didn’t breathe a big sigh of relief when McCain was shot down and thereafter they didn't have to worry about him anymore, for the sake of their highly expensive flying weapons of war, for the sake of his own life while he was anywhere near those planes, and because his granddaddy had been a four-star admiral and his daddy had also been a four-star admiral and in fact was the commander of all the U.S. forces operating in Vietnam during that period.  And it may have been that lineage that accounted for McCain the 3rd even being allowed to climb inside a plane in the first place, after he had painfully disgraced his illustrious ancestors by lagging behind most of his classmates at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Sorry.   I just never saw where any of that ever recommended J. McCain, and I guess Donald J. didn't either, and he was within the bounds of reason to say what he said, though, unsurprisingly, not for the reasons that he gave – something about how prisoners of war can't be heroes or whatever.  But, with wars being the eternally messy events that they are, some could argue that even there he was not 100 percent wrong.

Also, as I've said before, I am still not convinced that Donald J.'s credentials as a racist are impeccable, even if he could be just too natively half-assed for that.  For instance I have a sneaking suspicion that whenever Trump orders that rainbow (i.e, "black") protestors be ejected from his rallies, he could actually be doing that for their own good, precisely because he doesn't trust the likely armed components among his supporters.   The air around him is always filled with non-sequiturs that he can grab, Palin-style, and fling back in response to his critics' shouts, but he has no good answers to their being shot.

Way back in 1927 a young man named Fred C. Trump, who by all indications went on to sire Donald J. Trump 21 years later, was arrested for refusing to leave a KKK parade that led to a brawl in Queens.   In the true Republican credo of Up is Down and Down is Up, Trump steadfastly denied that this happened, and anyway he would never want it thought that that kind of thing runs in his family, and as far as I know, he has yet to say anything along the lines of “All the black people in this country should be sent back to Africa,” as I was once told by a young lady who suddenly went KKK on me after I had thought that she loved me.

 So there's that, too.   

Friday, March 18, 2016

"From Anger:" A New Law

Back in my earliest days, in the young layer of the so-called "black” community of Washington, D.C. in the 1930's and '40s, we had many slang expressions going around, some of which seem to have gotten no farther than the District Line before they went out of use.  One that has probably suffered that fate is nevertheless still a strong part of my own language memory bank, which I am trying my best to maintain.

When someone was deemed sadly deficient in something definitely necessary, like ordinary common sense, or in the way that he conducted himself, or even in merely his appearance or his clothing, he was said to be "from hunger."   The reason I've retained that expression this long is because I always thought that for slang, "from hunger" is especially elegant, subtle, and telling.

Now, in the early spring of this much later year of 2016, I am hereby bringing to the world's attention a law of human nature that I am certain is irrefutable, because among all the intellectuals of the planet, from the scruffiest of participants in Gawker comment sections on upward, I've never heard of anyone else talking about it.   Therefore I'm also going to be so presumptuous and outright arrogant as to bestow on this principle my own name and call it "Gardner's Law."   Or maybe Gardner's 11th Law, because of course there are already many others.

This law states that, with the possible exception of Jealousy, Anger is the worst of the many sins in which humans indulge themselves profusely.   Therefore one should never do or say anything when he is angry, because then, under that pall of the psyche, he will invariably do or say something stupid and regrettable.

I have had many years and therefore many opportunities to watch this law being tested out by all sorts of unsuspecting individuals, and I can say without fear of refutation that it holds up, and it’s not my or this law’s fault that quality of conscience is in such short supply.

The other day, after he had won another string of Republican primaries, a segment was broadcast on the dish showing D.J. Trump once more patting himself not only on his back but also on all his other curious body parts, while crowing that he was winning because he had one message and that was Anger, and it was triumphing over all.  And when in that report's text section, that horrible word "Anger" was repeated in five or six lines straight, it popped into my head that this man ought to be described as being "from anger."   The Republican Party should therefore be renamed "the Anger Party," because that is really what they have nastied themselves into being, in the last three or four decades.

And what a truly pitiful situation the U.S. is in now, when such a repellent candidate and a repulsive political party are still considered to be perfectly acceptable by such a large slice of the American population, namely the "Wissies – my most recently coined name for the apparent legions of white supremacists.

Therefore I see myself as being in a battle with Donald J., a contest to see,  in the nominating process or in the general election, whether the validity of my law will be borne out once again.  I like my chances.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Casual Observation

Bearded irises in pots really get off on not sharing their space with any other plants.  It’s a matter of dress codes, you see.   Or, in another language, THEY LIKE TO STAY WEEDED!

So why, then, do you have them in pots?   Surely you know that irises grow best on open ground.

I had them on open ground, but some years ago, voles nearly wiped them out.   So, the pots.   Cheap, 3- and 5-gallon nursery pots on raised beds.

Lots of luck, then.

I know.   The jury is still out.  See you in another five years!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spawn of the Shootout at the OK Corral

Ever since adolescence I have been highly aware of the 19th Century origins and subsequent doings of ‘Tombstone,” a town located somewhere in the desert fastnesses of Arizona.   This was due to having come across a fascinating book of that name by a probably now long forgotten writer of the 1940's and '50's, Walter Noble Burns.

In the years since,  I have driven through Arizona several times, and have made a big point of visiting places there like the Hopi mesas, the Grand Canyon, and the Navajo Reservation.   Yet, for some strange reason, though I could easily have done so, I never took a little side jaunt to a place that was much more a part of my early Wild West cinematic and literary upbringing, Tombstone.   Maybe this was because of the impossibility of catching even the most fleeting of  glimpses there of any of the long deceased, historical characters that Burns brought back so much to life in his book, like Curly Bill, Johnny Ringo, Doc Holliday, and especially the Earp brothers, nor would the OK Corral be as funky in the 1970's as it must have been in the 1880's.   Instead Tombstone was likely to be all spiffed up and sanitized so as to be acceptable to today's touristy blandnesses.

In the afternoon of 26 October 1881 a shootout took place at the OK Corral that, in the events that it grandfathered, is still ringing down to us today, in real life as well as in what I, still steeped in my own antiquity, like to call  "moom pictures."   It was probably the first well-known mass shootout in American history, though by today's standards it was a quite modest event, in the number of participants and in the firepower involved.

Three groups of brothers had been carrying on a war of words, mostly conducted in saloons.  Finally, three of the Earp brothers, Virgil, Wyatt, and Morgan, who were lawmen though they were also gamblers, decided that they had had enough of the insolence of two sets of rancher brothers, the Clantons and  the McLaurys, and, accompanied by their good friend, the deadly, tubercular Doc Holliday, they made sure their six-shooters were operative and loaded,  and they grabbed their shotguns (Holliday carrying his hidden in a sling under his coat), and, clad in long, light-weight, jet black coats, they took the coolest stroll imaginable down some Tombstone streets and turned into the OK Corral where several also armed members of the Clanton and McLaury families just happened to be hanging around.

On the surface, in the ensuing 30-second gunfight the Earp side won, suffering injuries but no deaths, while killing three of their opponents.   But a lot of local public opinion was against them, and eventually, after Morgan Earp was assassinated, the Earps and Doc Holliday found it expedient to say bye-bye to Tombstone and to ride off into legend that is emulated to this day, of which the latest example can be seen toward the end of the first episode, on the second Netflix disc of the second year of the series "True Detective."

In that episode, titled "Down Will Come," Annie, the main lady detective and a member of a special investigative force, assembles a team of as many as 10 other cops and makes sure they are well-fitted with kevlar jackets and side arms and ammo.   One of her colleagues questions the need for such a large force for what promises to be just a routine arrest of one suspect..   With a prescience of which even she is not fully aware, Annie, cute but hard-bitten, answers, 'It's better to be safe than something else."

Near the site of the prospective arrest they walk down the street in twos in a spirit that is absolutely identical to the many re-enactments that have been made on film of the Earp approach to the corral over the decades that I have been keeping track of these things, of which there have been many, the best being one that appeared on PBS probably in the 1950's.   And very quickly the police team starts wishing they had brought along twice or three times that many men,  and some bazookas, too.

 They are instantly driven into having to take refuge behind the nearest parked cars as furious gunfire thunders down on them, courtesy of one guy with an automatic rifle, firing from an upstairs window.  While taking heavy casualties and armed only with handguns, they manage with difficulty to get rid of that assailant, only to be attacked from other directions by reinforcements that arrive in a car, out of which spill out several more bad guys, all also armed with AR's and the will to use them.  And meanwhile this is taking place where a large number of people are protesting something, and they also get shot down in generous numbers, because, after all, it is hard to stay alive when some of the antagonists are using those most inhuman of weapons, automatic  rifles.

At length, when they finally manage to gun down the last of the fanatical bad guys, the three main characters of the series, including Annie (who, having expended all her ammo, had been standing ready to use a knife) end up being what looks to be the only survivors of all that shooting, and in their fatigue and amazement and standing amidst the fleshly debris of all that carnage, they stare at each other, speechless, as if unable to believe that they themselves are actually still alive.   (Of course we could be sure that in the very next episode, they will be running around hale and hearty as if nothing had happened, though I am certain that in real life, almost anyone who had survived that kind of thing would be mentally scarred and scarcely able to function for the rest of their lives.)

That long segment of "True Detective" was easily the most gripping and well-done rendition of that kind of action that I have seen since a 2003 movie, “44 Minutes: the North Hollywood Shootout,” which was a close reenactment of a real incident that had taken place five years earlier.  What appear to have been two East European immigrants to the U.S., dressed and armed in the latest fashion of terrorists, emerged from their latest of several bank robberies, only to find police arriving on the scene quicker than usual, and that led to a prolonged sequence of a shattering intensity of gunfire that was unheard of on American city streets till that time, because the bad guys had AR’s.

All of these, on film and in real life, are direct descendants of the shoot-out at the OK Corral, with the only upgrade (or downgrade, if you will) being the use of automatic rifles.

  Since that incident took place in a corral we have to assume that horses were present and that maybe one or two were hit and downed by stray bullets, unless all the antagonists, being closely attuned to the utility of horses, made certain that they never aimed at any, even in the background, and at the cost of risking their own lives to do so.

In any case, as large as they are, you will never see horses getting shot by stray bullets in films.   Obviously horses are better protected in films than humans are, by humane societies.  In fact you will rarely if ever see horses being killed, period, in period war movies, though they might be all over the battlefields.  I suspect that that wasn't at all the case in the Civil War.   I would think that horses were the first things to go, once guns became commonly available and easily operable, even when there were still no AR’s.   Now that “collateral damage” consists only of innocent bystanders, if any are available.

Meanwhile, imagine!  One guy armed only with an AK-47 and enough magazines could easily be  a match for a small army of Genghis Khan’s riders!  Yet today many thousands of Americans feel that their homes are not adequately furnished unless outfitted somewhere with just such an “accessory.”

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Governor Christie's "Resting Bitch Face"

Above you will see a picture or excerpt from a video shot at a D.J. Trump rally during or shortly after Super Tuesday.  Trump is the lump on the right, while standing on a lower level behind him is Chris Christie, the present governor of New Jersey.  A few days earlier Christie had been one of Trump's many competitors in this year's primaries, but, having not been as adept as several others in fooling enough poll participants and voters into favoring him, he had dropped out, and shortly afterward he had become the first of those competitors to endorse Donald J.

That was a move that in general had been a big surprise.   Gov. Christie is so feisty, with a temperament that matches his severely outsized physical being, that one would not have expected him to endorse anyone at all, so filled would he figure to be with bitterness at his failure to prevail over what he would surely consider to be a bunch of lesser mortals, and one in particular, the pompous, blustering, late-coming entrant in this over-long, running political brawl, D.J. Trump.

That photo elicited a ton of study, purely because of Christie's facial expression in it.   There were as many different interpretations of what people thought had to be uppermost in Christie's mind in the instant when the photo was snapped as there were interpreters.  
"What happened?"  "That should've been me, not that dummy, up there raking in all those delegates."   "Who does this blowhard think he is?"  "What am I doing here?"   "Did I compound my errors by endorsing this chump?"  "What have I let myself in for, in the coming next days, weeks, months, and years?"   "How do I look up here?   Like a fool?"   "Do I look like I'm in a deep state of shock?"  What would happen if I just spat out a gob and walked out of here, one hand behind me with its middle finger extended? 
Those were just a few drops that had to have been in the enormous tub that was brimming over with conjectures as soon as that photo hit the public eye.   I think the most interesting possibility is that the camera caught Christie’s face when he was merely undergoing a "resting bitch" moment. 

Until a few days ago I had never heard of what I found out has just recently come to be called the "resting bitch face" or RBF.   The Feb 2 Washington Post article by Caitlin Gibson that brought it to my attention made it appear to be some sort of syndrome that is now scientifically recognized.  It is supposedly most often to be seen in women, hence the "bitch" part, though it can also occur with men.  An actress named Kirsten Stewart was cited as a good example, and below is a pic of another actress, Anna Kendricks, who according to the article has been afflicted with RBF all her life, though she appears to be none the worse for it:

It would do wonders for Sarah Palin if every once in a while she could look like this, in place of her empty and ever-present smile.

Kanye West was given as an example in a male, but I don't see that.   West is usually characterized as being a hostile guy, and so his glower is probably just his everyday look, though one has to wonder.   He is married to Kim Kardashian and so surely for him life among all those attention-getting women is filled 24/7 with things that ought to stir up in him millions of sensations other than barely suppressed, chronic rage.  For instance, he is in the perfect position to do an interesting book on none other than his wife, along the lines of Jame's Agee's classic "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," mainly the part where Agee is poking all through a sharecropper's home while that family is out laboring in the cottonfields.  But what does Kanye West waste all his time doing instead?  He puts out rap albums with lyrics that appear to have been written by a dedicated illiterate, for which he thinks he should be given hundreds of millions of dollars in backing by a billionaire.   Wild!

I'm wondering if this "resting bitch” thing isn't some sort of a put-on, or was meant to be someone's deliberate slur on women.  I would have thought that the word for that facial expression has already been around for centuries, and it has always sufficed to say that at such moments a person merely looks "pensive."

I'm interested in this latest "scientific" finding, because of a painting that lately I’ve been wanting to begin that will show a close friend, a highly personable young woman, whose normally brightly smiling face very occasionally assumes just that kind of expression for an instant or so.   In the way of preparatory sketches, I have not one but two photos that recorded her face when it was in that stance.

The first photo was a closeup of her taken by her photographer at her wedding, and it appeared amongst hundreds of other shots, all showing how happy that lady was, except for that one split-second when the camera caught her in a different mood.  Undoubtedly the button was pushed just at a moment when she was wondering what to do about a pebble in her shoe, or she was wondering whether every detail of her long-desired entry into holy matrimony had been covered.  It is even quite possible that, being an artist, she sensed that all the pictures in her wedding album were going to come out with all the participants and attendees wearing absolutely identical smiles, and she chose that moment to look  somewhat different.

  The other photo was taken by me at another wedding where I was taking a picture of the unusually colorful wedding cake while totally unaware that this same lady was not only standing in the distant background of my shot but also she was wearing that RBF that otherwise was so uncharacteristic of her.   I don't know what she was thinking at that moment but I am thinking that now I can use the close-up as the reference for her face in my painting, and I can use the other photo for the rest of her. Besides the RBF at that wedding she was also modeling a swimsuit.

I would very much like to make a painting showing that cake, too, with its “blushing” bride standing proudly behind it, though that depends on how much energy is still available to me, along with the difficulty of keeping those intentions strictly to myself.  Not that the two ladies involved would disapprove of the results but because the rigors of old age are a constant threat to the carrying out of intentions.

That article suggested that that RBF look may involve contempt, but that lady has such a rosy disposition that I question whether she is really capable of feeling true contempt for anybody or anything.  She told me about an instance wherein a guy that she didn't even know put both his ugly hands around her comely neck while laughingly informing her that he could choke her if he wanted.   And later all she could find to say about that was that she didn't like it.

As things would have it, that “resting face” is also a more interesting look than a mere smile.   That one picture taken in an unguarded moment of deep thought by a newlywed when its wearer might not be even the least bit angry, might usually be the main one that gets the most attention.   Similarly, that rally pic could easily become the image of Chris Christie that has a great chance of being remembered much more often than any others that have been taken of him.

. . . That is, of his face.  The governor's highly noticeable bulk is a whole another matter, and he could be facing the same situation as a Supreme Court justice who just recently appears to have been permanently taken out of here by his own personal assassin that he had come into the habit of wearing wrapped around his person just like six anacondas, before they all decided to squeeze as one.   But that is not considered to be a fit subject for discussion.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Water and the Middle East

In the Middle East, people have been getting uptight and fighting over the amount of water delivered by their rivers for thousands of years, while ignoring till recent generations those funny places where some black, gooey stuff kept oozing out of the ground.  Often shortages were caused by groups upstream denying water to less fortunate people living downstream.  At other times it was caused by the climate being stingy with rains.  But nowadays humans, largely living thousands of miles from the Middle East, have gotten to the point where they have a hand in producing climate woes as well, by launching so much carbon dioxide and other gasses into the skies that the planet has become a spherical hothouse in which, on land, water soon evaporates.

Thus a Google search will cite numerous articles speaking of how water shortages in Syria brought on by human-caused climate change in turn brought on the civil war there, with all its bloodshed and hard to understand twists and turns, and thus also side effects like acts of terrorism.

All in all, because of its water shortcomings, the Middle East has always struck me as being a pretty dicey place for habitation.  I have often wondered why Holocaust survivors were so deliriously happy to relocate there and whether they have yet sensed the error of their thinking.  I assume that the waters of the Dead Sea are even more toxic than those in the Mediterranean.    The well-known real estate dictum that “location is everything” must  have not yet become established at the time.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

My Badly Outdated List of Cool Sites

I know, I know.   My list of cool sites over there on my sidebar has gotten badly outdated and needs some severe overhauling.

I haven’t tried them all, but I’m certain that only a few of those links still work, which is only to be expected when I haven’t done any maintenance on this site for at least seven years, and it could be even longer. 

It’s also been amazing to me that the site itself is 12 years old, with a total of over 1,300 posts that I’ve published so far, with hardly any of them being two-line wise cracks, and that despite several long “vacations” that I’ve taken from here so far.  But those are the kinds of surprises that Time never tires of springing on us ancients.

Until a month ago, a period of several years went by when I didn’t keep my previously close eye on this weblog.  I would drop in a few posts now and then, but mainly I just let Unpopular sit here and take care of itself.  But last year I set a record.  In 2015, I published only one post here, and that was on January 1st!   And when I noticed that situation a few weeks ago, it was hard to believe that my memory had gone that far askew.  I had been thinking that it had been only four or five months since I had last posted here, instead of one solid year.

In the interim some of those cool sites and their proprietors with them have moved to new addresses, some have been discontinued, others no longer exist because their proprietors are no longer with us,  and the links of still other sites were always chancy from the beginning.    

Now I am faced with what is striking me as being the Herculean  task of updating that list.  What’s keeping me from doing that quickly?   --Several things.

One is the necessity of learning all over again how to do things.   That would've been hard enough if Blogger had remained the same, but meanwhile it has been revamped, maybe more than once, and that means that a lot of things can no longer be done in the ways that I have long since forgotten anyway.

  Another is going through those links to see exactly which ones still work and which ones don’t and figuring out why they don’t work, and that is going to cause extra pain, because then I will be afflicted with nostalgia for “the good old times” that are gone forever.   I will remember what those sites were into, I will remember the personalities behind them, and I will regret that things can’t still be the way that I can still vividly remember them.

A third problem is that it had already been eons since I had actively consulted any of those sites on the old list, and that means that I will have to assemble and put in a whole new list consisting of the links to the sites that I do regularly check out these days.

But probably my biggest hangup here is that also these days I tend not to do lots of little things that I should do, and that’s in addition to literally hundreds of big things that I dearly would like to tackle even if accomplishing those would be much more difficult and would take up much more of my time.   The little things would be easier to get out of the way and wouldn’t take long.   Still . . . .

I strongly resist the idea that I’ve gotten lazier as I’ve gotten older.  So what else could it be? 

  I haven’t figured that one out yet.  I will so inform you when I do – if I do!

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Two Peas: D.J. Trump and S. Palin

I wonder if I've ever called Donald J. Trump a fascist.   Actually, after all the notice he has drawn in the present election cycle, which amounts to a whole lot of magnifying glasses, I think he isn't focused enough to be seen like that.   He is far too scattered.

He is cut from the same cloth as Sarah Palin.  They never seem to think through or study anything.  They toil not, but they do spin – a lot, in their appraisals of things and in their craniums. They are entirely unscripted, and instead they just put forward whatever comes to their minds quickest.   That's why they are extemporizing entertainers more than they are anything else.  They are consummate comics with deadly streaks.  That wouldn't work in the White House, even if Trump were to put cameras in all its rooms, a la a reality show.   Palin came along a tad too soon and missed out on considering that kind of thing.   Trump, the latecomer, has already had practice, but that means that many are on to his game.

For these reasons it’s been entirely seemly that Palin was one of the first big names on their end of the political spectrum to endorse Trump.   And meanwhile consider their audiences.   The people who come in great numbers to cheer Trump strike me as being identical to the ones that eight years ago flocked to hear Palin when she was on McCain’s ticket.  There’s no need to describe those folk.  I’m content to say that they were/are mainly a bunch of rowdies, without a constructive or charitable thought to their names.
Mind you, I’m not suggesting that Palin, being the first of the two to get this high in the political eye, ever influenced Trump in any way.   Trump was born in 1946.  Palin didn't arrive till 18 years later, complete with the constant, disarming smile and not much else.  They came on their styles independently of each other, and their common m.o. is far from difficult to hit upon and to use.   That’s one of their problems.   It is much too easy to be that way, because it speaks of laziness that for them is impossible to resist.

Every once in a while you will see an article in which the writer tries to imagine what a Trump presidency would be like.   Eight years ago few people had any trouble picturing a Palin presidency if McCain had won and then had kicked the bucket -- she struck even some Republicans as being so scatter-brained that the country would’ve had a first of its kind constitutional crisis.   Therefore, except among unthinking parties. there’s been general relief ever since that with Obama's first win the country dodged all possibility of that particular bullet, and nothing that she has done in the interim has nullified that certainty.

Therefore the Palin Factor, ironically, must be one of the main reasons why a lot of people, aside from those addicted to laughs, are praying that D.J. Trump won’t make it into the White House either, except as a sniffer of the roses.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

What's Trumps?

The question posed in the title of this post is often asked in bridge and bid whist card games.   This past week the two Cuban-derived Republican candidates, Cruz and Rubio, have been racing around the Southeast U.S. like mad, trying out different suits to slam onto cards played by the frontrunner, who by some weirdness of happenstance is named "Trump" (Donald J, it is important to add but not so much in the cases of Rubio and Cruz, because neither exudes a trace of humor).

 Because Trump is the tenacious frontrunner, both are focusing on him much more than on each other, in attempts to find something that will help cancel him out in today's big bunch of primaries, while also allowing them to win in their home states.   Among the states that are in play during this Super Tuesday is Cruz's Texas, with Rubio's Florida and J. Kasich's Ohio swinging into action two weeks later, on the 15th.  Kasich has said that if you don't win your home state in these primaries, you might as well drop the whole thing.  That is the last thing that Cruz and Rubio want to do.   They have invested too much nastiness in this thing. 

After giving the totally trivial a shot, by suggesting that Trump is unsuited for being the Chief Executive, because he supposedly has small hands and blocked pores, Rubio must think he has hit paydirt because the media has picked up on his mentioning that David Duke, who perennially gets himself propped up in the political sludge because he was once a KKK grand wizard. endorsed Trump.   And Trump has emboldened Rubio, by talking out of all eight sides of his mouth, as is his thing, when asked about Duke.  And other Republicans who want to stop Trump have jumped on him about the same matter.

I have quite a huge problem with seeing Republicans trying to make political hay by charging others with racial bias, when they owe by far the lion's share of their political success in the last several decades to playing racist cards by the dozens and the thousands.
I object to their obvious insincerity, because they are only trying to hurt Trump but not at all in the name of opposing bigotry. a cause that is much too important to be falsely used in such a manner.   As for Trump, he is only a chump who is King of the Pumped, and he deserves to be dumped at the first bump in this severely overlong election road.

In the cases of Rubio and Cruz, that problem of misused motive is even worse, because they are members of the group that found it necessary to leave Cuba because of differences with Fidel Castro after he overthrew the Batista dictatorship.   Those immediate antecedents of the two senators landed in Miami, via the Mariel boatlift or otherwise, and there they were given privileges that were not extended to refugees from other places in Central and South America – an egregious case of discrimination in today’s world of immigrants by the millions.

 These former Cubans more or less took over Miami and gained so much political power that for the next half-century they were able to make sure that the U.S. kept a tight clamp on Cuba, in the form of an embargo that ensured that Cuba would not enjoy anywhere near the same amenities that were widely available in Florida.  Their rationale was that that would help drive Castro from power, though it never did, and instead it is easy to suspect that the real purpose of the expatriates was to punish  their former compatriots who, voluntarily or involuntarily, had remained in Cuba, for not being sufficiently interested in ejecting Castro themselves.  And in meting out these deprivations of many kinds, it "helped" that a large number of those left-behinds were dark-skinned while those in Miami had brought along sizable amounts of Cuba’s available cash and  so were able to get good restarts in this New World, along with the additional asset of being likely to sport hues more preferable to the dominant Floridians.

Therefore, if they weren’t already strongly into the Republican thing of instantly opposing everything that Obama proposes, no matter what it is, I strongly doubt that you will find Rubio or Cruz applauding Obama's finally having the U.S. join hands with Cuba and all the left-behind people there, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how this whole thing is going to go, when the people in Miami’s Little Havana and the people in Havana come into close contact once more, under these new conditions.

In that light, when either man, especially Rubio, tries to set himself up as a racial paragon who can freely attack others for bias, I think strong questions should always be asked, because their own immediate origins and early nurturers  suggest something very different, in spades.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Apt Analogies Can't Die

 What is behind the widespread attempts to discourage, if not to banish entirely the use of analogies that refer to the activities of the Nazis and their advocates in Germany in the 1930's and '40's?   What causes people to attack instances of what they call, among other names, "Hitlerization of the discourse?"  Why is Godwin's Law regarded by some to be as valid as, say, those laws of physics that were postulated by Isaac Newton about gravity and the like and have successfully withstood the tests of centuries?  
I'm not referring to the sense in which Godwin put his proposition, which was that sooner or later in any online discussion, analogies to the Nazis would be made.  I mean instead the use that is generally made of his observation now, as a way of saying that anyone making such an analogy has automatically lost the argument, and all ears should be closed to that person at once and forever?

It matters that though the Nazi armies were at length destroyed, their concepts were not, and their actions went far beyond the aspirations of a particular political party in one middle-sized European country during several decades in the mid-20th century.  ("Middle-sized" that is, except when the Germans went on the march, which they did several times starting in 1870, when it was always amazing how they could suddenly expand into being a very large country indeed!) The Nazi beliefs turned out to be the purest and most easily understood form of the aspirations of many other groups from then on, to put various other groups of people, usually but not always pigmented more generously than they, into huge, secure prisons of several kinds and also into the ground, as can be seen from many things that are happening now, in the United States as often as anywhere else.

A country that relies so much on a book that was written over 2,000 years ago, and on a Constitution that is now over 250 years old has no business treating toxic events that happened such a relatively short time ago as if they had never happened at all and that are instead still serving as heady inspirations to many who spend all their time oiling their guns and sharpening knives. 

It is interesting that the originator of Godwin's Law, Mike Godwin, is still very much around and that ever since he formulated his law, 26 years ago, he has monitored the way it is often cited, and he doesn't seem to support the practice of using it as a decisive sledge hammer, though that might not be obvious from the title of his article that appeared in the Washington Post in December 2015, which was, "Sure, Go Ahead and Call Trump a Fascist, but Just Be Sure That You Know What You're Talking About."

I think, however, that my point still holds and that concepts like "fascism" and "Nazi" long ago got past the confines of events in the Second World War, so that today they are as general as the terms "good" and "bad."  And Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, Mussolini, and the others have never "belonged" solely to their victims, as some people seem to think.  They are concerns of all humanity, and of all later times.

No matter how often analogies are used, if they are apt they are good analogies and highly resistant to arbitrary executions.

Saturday, February 27, 2016


So, I'm permanently stooped and lop-sided, I can't walk in a straight line, and I'm a slow walker, though I could move much faster and maybe even run, but there is almost never any occasion to do either, especially to run.. Also I live in a world filled with a light fog that lifts only during the several hours just before dusk. I don't get enough sleep, I'm always suffering from several kinds of cold, my longtime favorite books are crumbling or fading into mere collections of blank paper or both, I can't eat steak for fear of choking to death, partly because it's been years since I had the last tooth that I was born with, songbirds are getting rare, the frogs over in the wet spot beyond the creek where I tried to dig a spring no longer announce that April is somewhere close, which means they must be already extinct, and  in the latest of five or six attempts in various eras, my memory yet again seems to be unwilling or unable to find  room in all its clutter for more than the first 215 or so of the 759 lines that comprise John Greenleaf' Whittier's still phenomenal 1866 poem "Snowbound."

Now what?


Note: The image that precedes this post is of one of my paintings, done in 1994.  It is called "Snow Pines,} and it is painted in acrylic and measures 19" by 24."  It shows a scene at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. Two years after finishing it I donated it to a very cause.   Nevertheless missing it, as I have with every other painting that has gotten out of my hands, and also because I had it for such a short time,  I planned to paint another version, slightly different in some way, but of course, as with so many other things,  I've never gotten around to that..  

Friday, February 26, 2016

Little Dogs and Big Dogs

 With three major  candidates still going for each other's jugulars and two others barely hanging on, last night the Republicans held their 13th and last debate (better called "playground scuffles"), before Super Tuesday occurs in just four more days, after which I hope they hold no more of these things, or that, if they must, the media of all kinds won't pay so much attention.

  Confrontations of any sort, short of those that appear on chessboards, have never appealed to me anyway,  and debates are especially distasteful.   But when Republicans hold them?  Ugh!   Yet they call themselves "the party of Lincoln," a known great debater. Suddenly recalling what Lincoln did about the slaves,  they would love to say "the party of Reagan" at least as much or even more.   But it's noticeable that they hold back on doing that, because even they know that that doesn't resonate nearly as well.  In his contests against Carter, Reagan got a lot of "gotcha" mileage out of constantly saying "There he goes again," and I could never understand why that was never called out for being what it was – without substance of any kind and childish in the extreme after the first or second time.

From the internet accounts of last night's melee, you would think that Carson and Kasich have already dropped out and weren't even present, though they were.   That left  only Rubio and Cruz to see what they, individually or in unison, could do about cutting the longtime frontrunner, D. J. Trump, down to size – a tall order for them even when it came to physical height.   CNN gave the impression that Rubio if not Cruz succeeded in that, but Talking Points Memo in a very eloquent post maintained that Trump dominated, and I buy the point that he was far from buried but not the use of the word "dominated."

From everything I read, all I could see was an image of a large dog on the order of a malamute or an ovshanka being constantly barked and nipped at on both sides by two little yip-yappy yorkshire terriers and shaking them off while continuing to trot on in its usual direction, and if Trump received a slash or two, it was always self-inflicted, such as when, famous for being foul-mouthed himself, he attacked a former Mexican president for using one of America's favorite obscenities in reference to the wall along the southern border that Trump promises to build while making Mexico pay for it, or when what for all the world looks like a recently revealed Ponzi-type scam involving a supposed university with his name attached to it was suddenly flung at him like a barrage of fresh cow patties, and Trump seemed to be left two bottles short of his usual six-pack of ready replies. or when he made the surprising statement that he was being audited and therefore could not show his tax returns at this time.  (Later some experts strongly doubted that.  Still, it prompted the two terriers to instantly promise that they would show theirs as early as today.  Naturally neither man did any such thing.  Meanwhile it seems quite likely that Trump has so many hustles, deals, and what-not going that he couldn't release his returns even by next January!)

While hitting on my analogy I remembered that in his heyday, one of the principle nicknames that Bill Clinton's many fans had fondly used for him was "Big Dog."   And I also remembered that when Clinton thought the Repubs weren't making a good point, he  liked to throw some home-brewed Arkansas in their faces by saying, "That dog won't hunt."

For those and other reasons, that's why dogs come so easily to mind for analogies when  talking about shaky politicians.   But one good thing about these Republican shoutfests is that they are certainly giving the Democrats a lot of raw materials to use when, this coming summer and fall, the Big Push comes to the deciding Shove.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Shaked -- a Massive Contradiction in Justice

Image result for ayelet shaked imagesImage result for ayelet shaked images

Guess who the woman is whose images appear above?

Hardly anybody this side of Gibraltar, or on this side of Malta for that matter, will know.  But Americans especially should know, because whether they acknowledge it or not, not a day passes that huge numbers of them don't genuflect to this woman and her accomplices in crime, in the form of a cool million dollars and more that every day of the year the U.S. government drops into the bank accounts belonging to her and her collective national family, with testimonies of love, undying fidelity, and best wishes.

Her name is Ayelet Shaked, and she is 39 and she is married to a reserve fighter pilot and she has two children and she is one of the three or four biggest members of the Israeli power structure, because the Yahu guy chose her to be his -- and secondarily Israel's -- Justice Minister.   And who could've blamed him?   With her and her resumé in  the tech and the political fields at hand, who would not make such a choice?   Best of all from Yahu's point of view, without a blink she spouts opinions and desires that even he, the most shameless of men,  might hesitate to say publicly.

Unfortunately, however, the things that Ms Shaked cooks up in her noggin and lets slip through her lips or through the often dangerous practice of posting stuff on Facebook indicate, above all else, that.she is steeped in Evil, to say the least.   I mean really, really, major league Evil!   And remember that you heard it here first.

Meanwhile don't worry about me.   Where I live, you actually can't get here from there, and so the Mossad will never be able to touch me for saying that.   Or am I depending on my lifelong total insignificance a touch too much?   A man who posts the concepts that I present year after year with hardly a comment being made can't expect that situation to last forever,.though Blogger keeps trying to scare me by indicating that this blog gets as many as a couple of dozen page views per day.  There has to be some mistake.  I guess those unknown scanners just take one glance, sneer, and continue on their merry way, especially since my site is light on images.   But anything about Ayelet Shaked demands her picture.  Like it or not, she is defined by her appearance as much as by anything else, no matter how much everyone might try to stay cool about it.

I suppose that I've been thinking that some sort of excuse needs to be found for Ayelet Shaked ever since she first came to my attention two years ago, courtesy of Mondoweiss, or Mondomooser, take your pick – a website operated by Jewish anti-Zionists and a large crew of regular commenters on the same beam,  augmented by a  smaller band of true-blue pro-Zionists who might be even more Jewish and who are always ready for quarrels that, though vicious, never descend into the absolute muck of most internet comment sections on volatile subjects, perhaps because that site is moderated, and the anti-Zionistas who run it let their opponents have their say, within limits that aren't always easily discernible.

And Ms Shaked (I assume that that is pronounced in some way that is not as digestible as it looks in English) is not the only winsome female horror show in Israeli politics.  There could be many others.  I know of at least one other, also through Mondoweiss, who is just as deadly, named Caroline Glick.  You haven't heard a wrong-headed rant till you've heard her on the rampage, yet it's remarkable how she does wonders for the seated position.   Check her out in the Mondoweiss archives of a year or two ago.  What is it about the Dead Sea that produces such ladies?  

The other day, as I said in another post here, I saw for the first time a large number of Beyoncé photos all on one webpage, and I was struck by how they were so varied that I couldn't be sure which one showed her ordinary appearance, in case I should happen to spot her in the local Food Lion, cruising the cucumbers.   That  made me think of Israel's Justice minister, maybe because I realized that unlike the case with Beyoncé Knowles, if Ayelet Shaked were to walk into the room, I wouldn't be aware that I should make an instant exit and look for a kevlar vest, because the only time I had previously seen her picture, it had been too dumbfounding. 

 I decided I needed to see if there was such a page showing Shaked's likeness and so also to see if my first impression of her being so striking still held regardless of her program, and there was such a page, consisting of more than a hundred photos, a lot of them posed just as if she is also among the world's star entertainers, none of whom have anything on her.   But in contrast to Knowles, all of Shaked's shots were clearly of her and no one else, regardless of her pose, and I thought that that said something important about those two very different women and their callings.

But even more I wondered how Shaked could be the same woman who was alleged to have said on her Facebook page that all mothers of Palestinians should be killed, so that they would not  keep producing what she called "little snakes."

It would be easy to think that that was an invention, meant to smear Israel's Minister of Justice beyond all redemption, were it not for the fact that every day a thousand injustices inflicted on the Palestinians take shape in that country that appear to be inspired by just such a statement.  What is going on here?   Are sentiments like that, openly expressed, the kind of thing that is expected of someone in Shaked's position?   Are any of the Holocaust victims recorded as saying such things, even in the moments just before the xylon hit their lungs?   Is a second Holocaust now taking place in Israel, this time  much more of souls among one group than of bodies in the other?

I am completely baffled by how a woman who has an appearance configured as notably as  Shaked's can harbor such an evil, monstrous, and bestial sentiment as that, especially since she is a mother herself.

Something really dire must've happened early in her life, or it was something that she witnessed or that she did, that nobody's telling.   There is no other explanation.   Those aren't the only horrible things that she has said, along with the policies that she has espoused and that are designed to make the lot of the dreadfully mistreated Palestinians even worse than it already is.   Where she lives "justice" has obviously been redefined for the much worst, just as it has in that colony's mother country, the U.S.

I wonder if Ayelet Shaked has ever thought about trading stories with Palestinian mothers, especially those whose children have been shot out from under them by the IDF?

It's hard to imagine a bigger waste than this woman and her doings, who, however, if one didn't know better, might be mistaken for a lily in the fields, only recently opened into bloom.