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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.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Letter from the Black Pit

The other day I got a letter from the H. Cain campaign. Besides saying other disgusting stuff, it asked me to send money to support his continuing effort, and they said $2,500 would be a good start.

I was amazed, and also highly dismayed, because I had thought the whole world knew that I am the very last person who should've been hit with something like this. Even the sight of my name and his on the same envelope induced feelings not far from nausea.

So far I have nevertheless been keeping this noisome curiosity piece, though at any given moment it is only seconds from being thrown into the fire.

I am still trying to figure out how my name got on one of H. Cain's campaign lists. It couldn't have been from voting records. I thought those campaigns only contacted people on their side of the wall, and I know you will believe me when I tell you that I have never ever voted Republican in any sense -- certain proof of my congenital good judgment.

Maybe somehow his people knew that I am a so-called "black man" in a certain age range, which he and they obviously equate with being idiots, as shown by one of his statements saying that people like me who always vote Democratic have been brainwashed. But I was never one of those bone-headed "brothers" who believed Cain's golddust twin, Clarence Thomas, instead of Anita Hill. Or maybe this is a case of some Republican "friend" playing what they regard as a harmless little "joke," which is not harmless at all.

Actually this missive from the H. Cain people amounts to being a colossal scam, because of the fact that the process I've been predicting is now in full swing, and that rascal is now being dumped overboard by the side with which he threw in his lot. Once the darling of the conservative Repubs and the media, now you rarely see Cain's name mentioned, even though he is reported as being still one of the frontrunners in the Iowa caucuses, which are scheduled to take place soon, when finally things will suddenly start getting serious.

Instead all the Republican fuss is now being expended on a fossil from ancient times, Newt Gingrich, though that could all easily be just wishful thinking, to avoid thinking about the man whom the so-called "smart money" still sees as being the eventual and inevitable Repub choice, the chameleon man, Willard Mitt Romney.

So any money sent to H. Cain at this moment will be funds sent by fools even more than usual, and will just go to line his capacious private pockets, that have undoubtedly already been stuffed full by this little fling of his in presidential politics, and he will be very happy.

If you've ever sought the ultimate definition of utter grossness, surely this current positioning of H. Cain would be a great candidate.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Zomping Out of the "Super Committee"

Following the abortive fight a few months ago between the Presidency and the Congress over raising the Government's debt limit, the "super committee" that was then set up announced yesterday that after weeks of playing what an Air Force friend of many years ago might have called "playing grab-ass," they had failed to reach any agreement on their supposed goal of eliminating 1.2 trillion dollars from the Federal budget.

There's a bit of weeping and wailing over this, though it has all the look of being just a lot of crocodile tears. And it stood to reason that they would fail anyway, because their numbers by party were equal, six to six, and because, being members of Congress, they weren't the best people for the job, being as how, in general, Congress men and women are not the best people for any job of any importance.

This failure to agree is supposed to lead to automatic cuts that will now be made anyway, to the weapons of legal atrocities that are euphemistically called "war" and that are the Republicans' bread and butter and to the means of well-being for the less favored members of the populace that are the Democrats' chief interest, But little of real value is likely to come of that either, since these very same mischief-makers, the Conresspeople, have the means to tinker with that, too.

But even with that giant letdown still in prospect, some people argue strenuously that the Democrats came out ahead with the super committee's failure, while others are insisting just as vehemently that it was the Republicans who came out ahead, with both groups saying that their sides will now gain more through the automatic cuts.

It's highly baffling, this fact that it can't be clear as to who came out better. After all, isn't this -- and in fact everything to do with economics -- a simple matter of dollars and cents? You count how many dollars and cents you have -- not the money that you can raise or borrow but the money that you have right there at hand, which shouldn't be too hard to do, and then you count what the most important things you want will cost, and then you go on and spend your bucks first on those things. No fuss, no muss.

But no. Instead people from way back in the Middle Ages have found ways to invest economics with all kinds of hocus-pocus and other tomfoolery, just as other pursuits, such as religion and the law, have also done, so as to make these activities impenetrable to all but the Chosen Few. And so, by this late date in history, you have religion that is largely hypocrisy and legal systems that are largely criminal and economic systems that are largely resource-wasting and indecipherable even to the people that profess to know all about it. And if that's not true, then someone should inform me as to exactly why so many, if not all of the supposedly advanced countries and therefore in possession of the great majority of the top brains, are at this very moment deeply mired in economic confusion, conflicts, apprehensions, and paralysis.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When We Don't Know Something

What do we do when somebody hits us with a question whose answer doesn't immediately occur to us?

H. Cain looks upward for far longer than a man supposedly with all the solutions should. As he is a man of God, being an associate minister in one of those monster, megachurches, maybe he and his God have worked out things so that the Great Almighty writes out the answers for him on the clouds. R. Perry grins and tries to come out with something humorous to say. S. Palin consults the palms of her hands.

I wonder how I would react in that situation? The best that I can guess is that I would probably answer with a stare that clearly questions my questioner's sanity. In other words, look at them like they were crazy, while waiting for them to come to their senses. Ha!

Another Trick Bag,. This One About Suicide

Sometimes, and more often than they should, people write articles and get them published that are nothing more than "trick bags," because the pieces don't deliver what their titles promise.

Such an article is now running in Forbes magazine. Written by a Matthew Herper, it is called "What We Don't Know About Suicide."

That title seems to be promising to tell us something that we don't know. But if that "We" in the title includes the author himself, then how could he tell us anything that he doesn't know himself? But one brings up the article on his computer anyway, figuring that that title, like so many others, is just badly phrased, and that the article contains something new and interesting anyway.

But in fact this author does go on to tell us nothing new about suicide. Instead all he says is that a lot is still not known on the subject, and he does do us the service of subjecting that it will be a while yet before that changes, if ever, because suicide is so mysterious and daunting and terrible that even the the people charged with studying and trying to prevent it have too much trouble keeping from averting their eyes.

The several attached comments offered more, though still not much. Even though there were only seven of them, and all were somewhat detailed, they still suffered, as so many comment sections do, from coming at us from too many different and confusing directions at once. But I don't think it's inaccurate to say that that kind of thing works right in with the nature of suicide, too.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Get Out of My Space!

Anyone reading the account that I am about to relate should set back the time when this event actually occurred to nearly two months ago.

Tonight (22 September), while I was alone in the house, as I will be for the next two weeks because my wife is down in Florida seeing to her stepfather, who is even more aged than I am, a visitor knocked, that I definitely did not want to see. It was N., the older son of G. and C., two of our closest friends and neighbors on this road. I have known N. all his life, and he was back from a very successful stint working on a salmon fishing boat in the waters of Alaska. But he is very severely plagued by an alcohol problem, though I had never seen him as thoroughly tanked as I could tell he obviously was the second I laid eyes on him.

Once, years ago, while I was also alone here, building my house, one cold night something scratched at my front door, and opening it, I found a skunk there right at my feet, grinning up at me. There was very little difference between that and N.'s appearance now.

He was expecting my wife to be there, knowing that she would be easier on him in that state than I would be, and I very much wished that she was there, too, because I spent his whole visit, which lasted not much more than a hour but seemed to stretch to an eternity, wondering how I was going to get him out of there.

One of the great tragedies of alcoholism is that people deep in their cups have no idea of what a big drag they can be on everything. They think they are just what the doctor ordered, when nothing could be farther from the truth.

I also deeply resented the fact that he, more than most people, should've already known and had a feeling for how much of a similar thing I had already suffered in my own family ten years ago, which left me badly traumatized and completely averse to having to go through anything like it again. Yet my wife, when I called her later and told her about it, said she thinks there's something about me that makes drunken people like to talk to me. She was thinking of a usually very mature and stable woman who took me through exactly the same kind of nightmare over the phone for another eternity, not long ago. And there had been others, farther back in the past.

I will admit one thing, To amuse myself nevertheless, I had a lot of fun launching every kind of insult I could think of against N. -- within limits. But he was so happy and completely out of everything that it was all water off a very slick duck's back.

But finally he said something like "Wha yer really tryntta tell me is geyoutta yer space. " (By that time he had lost nearly all command of the King's English.) And it was with great relish that I answered, "That's exactly right. Get the hell out of my space!" Or words to that effect.

My wife said that if she had been there, she would've let him stay here and sleep it off, but I didn't want anybody in that state to be in my house, and I did try to convince him, to no avail, to simply go to his parent's house, which is a very short and safe distance just up the road, but he wouldn't hear of it, and if he had stayed here, all he would have done would've been to keep raving on constantly and telling jokes and engaging in all kinds of other verbal tomfoolery, including telling me what a great and unique person I am.

When he finally did drive off, after I had escorted him up to the head of my driveway in the dark, it was in the direction of his own house, which is on the same road, but about 15 twisty miles away. This was soon after I told him the obvious, namely that after several close escapes already, he can't count on Lady Luck being on his side forever, but I guess that forever tempting the fates is N's biggest pleasure in life -- besides drinking -- and telling people to "f--k off."

What a trap he's in, and it's already been driving his parents and his newly married younger brother crazy for a very long time.

Now, fast forward to today when I am actually posting this.

My tolerance for drunkenness must have gotten even lower than it always was, even during the several times when I engaged in the same behavior myself, nearly six decades ago, though luckily I never had the ego that would have allowed me to get anywhere near the point where I would go visiting anybody while in that condition.

A few days ago we saw "Another Year," a Mike Leigh movie that had Leslie Mandeville in it -- another of that string of fabulous "mature" actresses of whom nearly half are British and in whom I seem to find an endless fascination. But that fascination still wasn't enough to stop me from failing to finish the movie, and the reason was that near the beginning of the film, and looking much younger than I thought she was, she played a very intense and convincing drunk scene.

Strange. It was just as if Mandeville herself had been in that state, though of course that could never have happened.

Too Much Attention

Right now the Repubs can't be too happy with their near monopoly of what passes for political news in the country, for fear that it attracts too much attention to the pitiful bunch of aspirants, the Crazy Eight, that they have competing to be chosen as their candidate for President.

This contradicts the conventional wisdom that any publicity at all is good, but that shows how badly those lunatics in all their reckless screaming and running about have upended nearly all the furniture in the American house.

Even with the control of the mainsteam media that the conservatives enjoy through the ownership of all the outlets by tycoons who are all Republican, which is so total that even formerly enlightened publications like the Washington Post and the New York Times have long since gone "under," the media still can't keep the U.S. public completely uninformed, misinformed, ignorant, and malicious all by itself.

At least I keep hoping that it can't, but time is still waiting to tell.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Explanation for This Profligacy

Whenever I throw more posts than usual out into the Great Universal Void of this weblog, as now, it usually means that I'm not getting enough sleep, not only because I have awakened with my head abuzz because of all the things I have just been dreaming, but also because it appears that the hours just before dawn are the best time for me to turn on the computer and type something, while I wait for the welcome daylight to arrive, finally.

The Obligatory Paterno Post

A high ranking American religious figure, a deity more than just a high-ranking official in the Church, has bitten the dust.

This is if by now you have not yet sensed that the chief religion in the United States is not Christianity at all. It can't be, because the precepts of Christ are rarely followed anywhere in the country. But those of the real religion, Sports, are zealously put into play wherever you look, and the chief denomination of that religion is the game called football, a pursuit typified by the instant evolution of its players into men who have suffered the indignity of having their necks become suddenly shortened or the slopes of their shoulders have steepened and enlarged right up to the hinges of their jaws.

Unlike another deity in the same category, however, Steve Jobs, Joe Paterno didn't die, though by now he probably wishes he was dead. The longtime successful head coach of the Nittany Lions, a college football team somewhere in Central Pennsylvania, was instead fired, and with no hope of any kind of redress or of making an eventual comeback, because it seems that by many testimonies, one of his assistants has engaged in a long series of sexual crimes against young men and children, in which Paterno, by having covered up for him, has come to be seen as sharing a certain amount of the responsibility. Therefore, in the nation today, you can observe much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Some students at the Pennsylvania State University even staged a full-scale riot right on the campus, because of the firing.

Little did I know that when it no longer became possible to go to the stadium whenever the whim struck me and buy a ticket to watch the Washington Redskins, because that privilige had suddenly become available only to season ticket holders, that deed, on the face of it such an evil thing, was actually one of the best things that could ever have happened with me. It was right up there with the day I decided that I no longer wanted to be a Baptist or anything else along those lines, and with that season ticket atrocity the same became true when it came to Sports -- cemented in stone a little later when I further realized that when you have seen one football or baseball or basketball game, you have actually seen them all.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Where is Sarah Palin, Now That the R's Need Her So Much?

The absolute necessity of not choosing any of the Republican candidates for President during this election cycle couldn't have been more obvious than it was last night, during the 9th debate at which they all have been gathered. The efforts of this group, which has long since been dubbed -- and with great aptness -- the "Crazy Eight," seems to have reached its nadir when the guy from Texas, R. Perry, while trying to name three government agencies that he would eliminate should he win that office, absolutely could not remember one of them, nor could he even find that info in his paper crib notes. And so, after what is reported even by CNN, as having been a full minute of his fumbling up there on the stage in Michigan, for all the world to see, he finally gave up, even with people trying their best to help jog his memory, and afterward even Perry admitted that for all his efforts to improve on his many past debate stumbles, he had merely managed to put his best foot forward into an even deeper pile of Texas-size cow excrement.

For the record, the three departments that he thinks should be axed are those of Commerce, Education, and the one that he could not name, Energy. It seems especially odd that he would forget that one, because all along he has been pushing the idea that the country can only be saved by following his state's example in exploiting to the limit all sources of energy, though I wonder how many people, for instance in and around the Dallas- Fort Worth area, would say the same, in light of how their region is directly in the headlights of being badly torn up and their water contaminated by that ruinous technique of drilling for natural gas called "fracking?"

Actually, however, no one can be more sympathetic than I am when it comes to freezing up completely in front of an audience, and that is one reason, though not the main one, why I have largely avoided the whole idea of appearing before audiences of any kind, and especially never in that most fearful form of public speaking: debates. And so, for instance, I guess ever since I was a child I have happily entertained the notion of messing up on purpose, should I ever somehow be forced up on a stage in some sort of performance. In fact I think I would forget the Department of Energy merely because I would be too busy amusing myself with the notion of a purely intentional slip-up.

Another thing about this Perry mess is that it makes me wonder if he has followed at all the meteor trip through the doubtful skies of political acclaim of his fellow but now aborted Republican candidate for the Presidency, Sarah Palin? Unlike Perry, it didn't take her long to recognize her limitations in not knowing all the facts, and she soon resorted to taking advantage of the pretty, pale palms of her hands by inscribing them with her crib notes just before she faced any TV cameras.. The answer must be that, even if he had been aware of that strategy, such is Perry's mental incapacity that he would have needed a lot more than just two hands.

And that reminds me. Where is Ms Palin, now that the Repubs need her so much?

Today one thing is certain. The Crazy Eight certainly couldn't have fared any worse if she had been included in their number, even if it meant that thereby they would have had to be redubbed "the Nasty Nine."

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

En Passant, in the Fall

When the evils of men -- and women -- become almost too much to be borne, it works to fill the mind instead with the sight of the October leaves falling from the trees.

A La the United States

  • BBC is running an article on Europe's economic troubles, titled Europe's Four Big Dilemmas," that is easier to negotiate than the usual reports on economic stuff -- at least to someone who is as economically-challenged as I am. (I have always had a very simple creed when it comes to economic matters, and I like to believe that it has stood me in in good stead all this time. Save whenever possible, don't lust too much over expensive things (for which it eventually becomes impossible to cook up a real need anyway), pay no attention at all to the idea of being rich, and neither a borrower nor a lender be. In that latter case every few years borrowing something nevertheless becomes unavoidable, while lending becomes necessary much more often, with the subsequent losses that that so often involves, depending on the person, though in the long run those losses have never done me any lasting harm, except in my attitudes toward the people involved.)
But if you read the BBC article too fast, you might miss what the "Four Dilemmas" are, because the author maybe a little too seamlessly runs one into the other, using headings that are easily skipped over, instead of setting each dilemma off by saying something like "the first problem is....," "the second problem is....," and so forth.

The four headings of the cited article read: "Borrowers vs Lenders," "Austerity vs Growth," "Discipline vs Solidarity," and "Europe vs the Nations." But I think that what the author, Laurence Knight, says all boils down to the fact that the European Union is still just a collection of 17 countries still holding on tight to their former independence instead of being a federation like the U.S. or one big country like China, Russia, or Brazil, in which it is easier to get the various regions to work together.

There's probably nothing that can be done about that, though a real federation looks to be the best way for Europe to go. The European countries have far too long a history and a tradition of going their separate ways.

Maybe the Africans had that difficulty in mind.

The late and unlamented M. Gadhafi had a dream of just such a "United States of Africa," but the various African countries would have none of it, even though almost any kind of union between them would be better than what they have now. There, however, the motives weren't pure. Gadhafi was interested mainly in feeding his ego by becoming the President of such a federation, while the leaders of the individual countries liked their prerogatives too much, including enriching themselves monetarily at the expense of the populace.

I guess Gadhafi just came along with his idea far too late, after the English, the French, and other Europeans had carved up Africa into various nations where only tribes had existed earlier. The upshot must be that when nations are formed and have time to congeal, it's all over for certain things that might have been more salutary.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Dismantling of Herman Cain

It's funny and, for a change, not tragic.

Now that Herman Cain has served his purpose of furthering the illusion that the Republicans have long desired to put over on the American people, namely that they are all-inclusive and are indeed the "Big Tent," they want to shove him aside and leave him to perform, at best, in the circus sideshow outside the tent, while the Republicans decide which of the designated Big Two, M. Romney of Massachusetts or R. Perry, of Texas, gets to be the next President of the United States, as if the current holder of that office and the certain Democratic candidate, B. Obama, doesn't even exist. The Repubs have no doubt about their eventual success next year, because they feel that their absolute refusal to work with Obama has made him so unpopular and because, like Cain, he is also a Rainbow, and to them that means that he can and should always be easy to edge completely out of the scene.

It will be interesting to see how that concept works out for the Repubs, with respect to (and not for) Cain. as well as for the U.S. as a whole when it comes to B. Obama.

Hasn't the G.O.P. seen by now how H. Cain is nothing if not a king-sized egotist? And don't they know that when not taking time out to participate in the debates, he has been going around on a tour for his recently published book instead of engaging in much regular political campaigning? And don't they know that his book that he is so eager to sell is about the path of his life that culminates in his walking into the White House and calling it his new home? And don't they know that true egotists eventually jump beyond their initial cynicism that prompted their initial authorship, and they come to believe fervently in what they wrote in their own books?

I don't know. It may be that Cain does indeed accept his role as merely just another part of the infernal apparatus that so far as been so financially fruitful for him, and therefore he will gladly step aside in the correct deference to his masters.

But I doubt it.

He has tasted too much of the unlikely. In a very short time H. Cain has leaped from the bottom row of the Repub candidates all the way, in polls of somebody or another, to be the leader in the top row, despite having to backtrack on half the things that come out of his mouth. And as the weeks keep going by and instead of fading out after his turn as the so-called latest "Flavor of the Month," he continues in this phenomenon of actually outpolling both the Chosen Ones, Perry and Romney, he is turning out to be a big problem not only for the Republican Party but also for their handmaids, the U.S. news and pundit media. So, they ponder how to get rid of him since all else appears to be failing?

"I know what will do it," it's easy to picture the Conservative strategists saying. "How about a slight injection of that essential ingredient called 'sex?' That is sure to work in Herman's case," they assert, "especially because he's a Rainbow, and everybody knows how sexually out of control they are. And the great thing about this is that we can always blame the Left for unearthing a charge of past sexual transgressions and leveling it against him. That would surely fly, because the thinking of our beloved polling and voting dummies would be, why would we, the glorious Right, be responsible for bringing such a thing to light? After all, haven't we demonstrated the purity of our hearts by allowing Mr. Cain into our little vaudeville act despite his undesirable color and even to become not just the end man but to become the actual star of the show, thereby setting in stone the proposition that we are not racists. ==Magnificent! Let's go with it, shall we?"

And so they have gone with it. I am certain of that, because otherwise the Repubs were getting desperate Their program had drifted too far out of kilter even for them, and too much time had gone by when nothing else, not even the demonstrated and habitual Cain verbal idiocies (to say nothing about the obvious shortcomings of Romney and Perry) was working for their plan