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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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Worst State in the Union? Not So Fast, Ms Lohan!

Alternet, a site that is deeply enamored of publishing screeds stating x number of reasons for all kinds of misbehaviors, is carrying an article written by a woman named Tara Lohan (a wonderful handle, I think, partly because she shares the sirname of my favorite member of the American sensationalist media, a young lady with a wonderful face but with a nature by which she seems unable to keep out of all kinds of trouble. This author Lohan said that Virginia could be "the worst state in the Union, " and she gave five reasons why.

No. 1 is the recent passage of a law upping the already generous number of guns that a certain neighbor and good friend of mine down the road can now buy per month (he is directly responsible for my having a .22 rifle and a 16-gauge shotgun that have long resided in semi-secret places where their barrels are probably furnishing much appreciated homes for the mud daubers).

A second reason is another law that allows adoption agencies to say no to aspiring gay couples for no other reason than their sexual preference.

The third reason is the aborted effort that Virginia's attorney-general, a rabidly right wing cockroach of a man named Cuccinelli, made to force a professor at the University of Virginia who is an authority on climate change, to turn over all his papers, especially the names and addresses of a bunch of other climate change investigators, no doubt so that Cuccinelli can intimidate them all to a fare-the-well..

Fourth is the building near Virginia's vaunted, reconstructed colonial city, Williamsburg, of a huge coal-burning power plant.

And fifth is yet another recently passed law requiring women seeking abortions to undergo ultrasound invasions of their most private regions.

After reading that, for a while I was badly crestfallen, as I asked myself whether I had been so smart after all, by having intentionally relocated myself and my wife and son to here in Virginia so many years ago, when we could've stayed in the place of my birth and where the great majority of people invariably vote the same way that I do, and where, should the Great Progrom reach there in spite of all, I would at least have lots of company while being pushed into the Republican cattle cars .

But then I got to thinking, "Wait a minute there, Ms Lohan! Not so fast! What about Arizona? What about Florida? What about Wisconsin? What about Oklahoma? What about Mississippi? And above all, what about TEXAS?" In fact, as it stands now, you could throw a dart blindfolded at a map of the U.S., and your chances would be better than 50-50 that you would hit some state where conservative politicians are pushing through a number of policies that don't pass the muster of ordinary human decency, and it's not by accident that those states are usually called "red," the color of freshly spilt blood.

I should somehow inform Ms Lohan that while I agree that all those reasons that she gave very much hold water, nevertheless her title is badly misleading because of the size of the brush she used in her painting -- it was way too broad, implying that she was including all the citizens of that state. Instead she should have said that "Virginia could have the worst government in the U.S.," though that, too, would be open to question.

For instance I wouldn't trade Virginia's governor, a guy named Mc'Donnell, for Wisconsin's union- and teacher-busting head executive, or for that Texas oaf, or for that Arizona finger-shaker, among others. Mc'Donnell at least distinguished himself some months ago by getting into a bitter dust-up with America's No. 1 disease, the Lbaugh guy, and for that he did a great but badly under-appreciated service to the nation.

Virginia just happened to join other states in treating itself to some bad political behavior four years ago. Having distinguished itself by having been, despite being an ex-slave state and the leader of the southern states, the first in the nation nevertheless to elect a Rainbow governor, Doug Wilder. But in 2008, having voted for another first as well, a Rainbow U.S. president, a large number of the voters must've thought that that was enough decency for a while, and so they decided to lean way over in the other direction, which led to the missteps enumerated so well in that article written not by that endlessly funny Hollywood delinquent but instead by that other somewhat furious though with good reason young Ms Lohan. (She must be young, like "L," else her name wouldn't be "Tara.") Such is the nature of democracy that a vote cast by the misguided counts for just as much as the vote of the enlightened, and sometimes those things can't be helped and so must be endured for some number of a few years, just like a drought in Texas.

Rainbows, the non-braindead ones, can tell you infinitely more about that anyone else in the U.S., because their droughts of that kind have lasted for centuries.

Friday, March 30, 2012

High Driving

A few months ago there was a news report which, by skewing the conditions and conclusions of a supposedly scientific study, gave the very bogus impression that driving while high on weed is likely to result in much more injury and death than driving while drunk on alcohol. That was an obvious and stupendous lie, as anybody with half an ounce of sense and honesty would tell you. One of the best proofs of that can be seen in the question as to why, as far as I know, there is no organization called "MAHD," short for "Mothers Against High Driving," when for many years there's been a very visible and vocal group called "MADD," or "Mothers Against Drunk Driving."

The Daily Kos quotes someone named Jimmy Kimmel, who I assume is a late night talk show host, comic, or something, as making this very telling remark: "A recent report shows that pot smokers get into fewer car crashes than drunk people. Then again, it's easier to see what's coming when you're driving 11 miles an hour."

This backs up one of my favorite contentions, based on informal studies that I made four or five decades ago, namely that if you drive after you've smoked what the people I knew preferred to call "bush," well before those two Presidents were even heard of, the absolute worst that could happen would be that if you set out from D.C. headed for Baltimore, Maryland, there was every chance that after several hours of the most comfortable and incredibly precise motoring, during which you would have mentally solved several of the world's most pressing problems, you'd wind up instead in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Confessions About Writing

Every once in a while, no matter what effort is taking up all my time and energy, whether it be stained glass, or painting, or gardening, or cutting wood, repairing a roof, or mending our driveway, or even things like the beekeeping and the building of "cabins" and outbuildings in earlier days, I will suddenly stop what I'm doing and start reading one of my novels, all of which are unpublished. Usually it will be one on which I've done a lot of work but it is still a few chapters short of being finished. While I'm reading I'll always see some improvements that need to be made, and that will lead to more reading and constant revisions as I will start wondering what is next, having by that time partly forgotten what I wrote in previous years, and I will tell myself, "Hmm, this is some good stuff!" And then the next thing I know four or five days will have gone by when I have done nothing except work on that novel. That's happening now. And I will be so engrossed that you would think a publisher is eagerly waiting for me to finish the book and rush the pages to him, when in reality there is no such publisher waiting anywhere, and in fact there are no readers either who would want to read anything I've written. Yes, none that I know of anywhere.

Yet I'm perfectly comfortable with that, and as time goes on more and more I tell myself that that seemingly highly pitiful situation is actually all for the best.

This attitude is bolstered by the fact that it's been a long time since I did anything with making some money in mind. If any dollars did come my way it was purely by chance, and not always welcome chance, in the case of certain paintings that I wish I still had. The truth is that everything I've done in recent years I've done not to sell or to receive accolades. Instead I've done them mainly just to see if I can carry through one of my conceptions, and if I can stick with it generally I can do that, no matter what it is, even at this stage.

Writing has always been my first love, and so it's a good thing that computers and word processors were invented, because maintaining this weblog is a big help at keeping my writing hand in. And also, speaking of hands, using a typewriter with the ribbons always going dry is now way out of the question, and I believe I've even lost a skill that I had thought would always be with me, and that is using the little extensions of my upper starboard limb to do anything that would come under the heading of cursive handwriting. I can still print letters, but scrawling things, even my signature, seems to have become a matter of strictly hit and miss. Funny how that kind of thing happens. Weird stuff. Glad I've lived to see it, because otherwise I might never have believed it.

Disrespect for the President

I can remember when it was considered a big no-no to speak disrespectfully about the President of the United States even when you didn't at all agree with him about anything. In fact to do so was thought of as being almost as bad as taking the Lord's name in vain. And this courtesy was largely and studiously maintained. But today we have been enduring months of a primary campaign by the less enlightened political party where to speak ill of the sitting U.S. President in any way possible is not only the norm but also thought of as the most profitable way to get votes. How and when did this complete reversal take place?

To my observation it started happening in earnest in one of the Clinton administrations, when the Republicans, their numbers fattened like hogs in a pen by the numbers of Americans of the paler complexions who deserted the Democratic party in droves, out of their resentment at seeing Rainbows (i.e. so-called "black" people) finally obtain many of the civil rights that had been promised to them after the Civil War but had been held back by force and by numerous unjust laws and customs. And these people took out their resentment of anything that remotely resembled racial equality on any president that they saw as going along with that development, and to that end Bill Clinton was the first sitting Chief Executive that comes to mind as having been dumped summarily into the boiling cauldrons of hatred and disrespect, a fate that another President before him, Lyndon B. Johnson, also suffered but in a different cannibal pot labeled "Vietnam" instead.

Now, in the case of B. Obama, we see that process being repeated, in spades.

Yet we can expect that the next time the Republicans get their own man in there, they will demand that the deepest respect be extended to him at all times, while they will plaintively wonder where good old-fashioned American manners went.

No one knows where they went. But there's one thing that we do know for sure. When all those Southern Democratic demagogues suddenly became good, card-carrying Republican demagogues, they may have brought those manners with them, but their spiritual descendants had no idea what those things were, and they totally kicked those aside in favor instead of a badly perverted form of "truth in advertising."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Most Uncivilized Places

Tonight I saw two generalized and very significant maps of the world that were chillingly similar and also chillingly indicative, because they showed that this country in which so many of us live in borrowed comfort -- in the same sense as "borrowed time" as well as in other respects -- the great United States of America, an alleged "superpower," is actually just as retarded in at least two very important respects as so-called "darkest Africa," or fearsome China or India with their several billions in runaway population. One map appeared in Juan Cole's "Informed Comment" and the other in Andrew Sullivan's "The Dish." The one on Cole's site showed which areas of the world had universal health coverage and which didn't. The one on The Dish showed which countries routinely execute prisoners and which ones find means other than extinguishing something as relatively miraculous on the cosmic scale of things as human lives to punish serious wrong-doers, along with the inevitable numbers of those who are wrongly imprisoned. On these maps the U.S. was the huge, standalone, life-taking gray blob in North America when it came to health care and the identical bloody red blob in North America when it came to legal murders, and in that respect it was keeping dubious company with chunks of Africa and much of Asia along a line east of Europe and south of Siberia, and that means that China was included among those whose governments bump off citizens and don't see to it that all their country's people get an equal shot at getting adequate health care, and thereby in the long run blurring the difference between the essences of capitalism and communism..

Behind maps like these, what else can a person say?

Monday, March 26, 2012

No Easter Hunt This Year. Sorry, Kids!

The people who hold an annual Easter egg hunt in a park in Colorado Springs, Colorado have cancelled the hunt for this year, because of "aggressive parents." Anybody who has been to a high school sporting event probably can immediately start forming a picture of what happened.

The first account that I read somewhat breathlessly and furiously said that last year hundreds of parents jumped the low ropes that marked off the areas where the eggs were hidden and pushed others out of the way in order to help their children grab up and make off with as many eggs as possible, with the result that in seconds all the eggs were gone and many other children were left without any eggs at all. And all that without the quantity of found eggs leading to any kind of a monetary prize. Other reports, including comments posted by some who were there, give more nuanced accounts of what actually happened, but in general they do not paint a pretty picture in tune with the Easter season.

I can remember attending only one Easter egg hunt during my childhood, and it wasn't really a "hunt." It was called the "White House Easter Egg Roll" instead, and it is extremely vague in my head because I probably wasn't even as old as I was at the time that my father took the picture of me that you see up there on my sidebar -- only three, or four at most. I was so little that I had no real idea of what was happening. The significance of Easter eggs and of rolling them on the White House lawn completely escaped me, and instead all I did was just to sit there quietly and look around and wonder what in God's name was going on. And that's too bad, because this was somewhere in the middle 1930's, and I do remember my mother and father telling me and my sister that the President was there, taking part in it all, and that would've been Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his first term. But a great and extremely peaceful time was had by all, including yours truly, even if I did spend it in the fog and ignorance that accompanies being not long since arrived on the planet.

Getting back to Colorado I have never heard of such a thing happening at an Easter egg hunt. Was it a one-time and purely local thing, or was it a sign of the times? I am fearful that it is the latter, and it adds to misgivings that I'm already having over, among other things and speaking of the U.S. President, what's going to happen when the Republicans finally settle on one candidate and they turn their full attention and fury on running B. Obama down to the ground any way they can and tons more than they already have, by, also among other things, bitterly disputing every single statement he makes, even if he were to have the utter gall to claim that the Sun rises in the east and sets down in the west.

--Wow! I was just thinking. Not many people can say that they were at an Easter Egg Roll with Franklin Delano Roosevelt! Not even people as old as me and older can say that, because they didn't have the foresight to be a potatohead tiny tot in Washington, D.C. at that particular point in time. Imagine that! But I'm also thinking that such are the little distinctions that we all have at one time or another in our lives -- if we can become aware of them.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Unhelpful Article -- the Virginia Governor's Chef

You see on Google News a headline indicating that the chef of the current Virginia governor has had to leave his job and is under investigation.

It is several days before you click on the link, because meanwhile you've spent that time trying to think of what anybody's chef could possibly do that would lead to him being investigated and leaving his job, but the closest you can get is recalling that Mrs. Bridges, the cook in the British hit period drama of the 1970's, "Upstairs Downstairs," was at one point suspected of some wrong-doing concerning the buying of the groceries. So you finally go to the article, which you expect to tell all.

But when you reach the end of the article, which consists of no less than 24 paragraphs of various lengths, you are dismayed to find that you still know absolutely none of the true or false nitty-gritty about why the governor's chef had to speak sayonara. Instead all you've learned is that the investigation has been going on for a while and that the details have been kept a closely guarded secret, a la nuclear weapons, and that apparently the case involves irregularities in "kitchen management." So then you realize that mainly you've just plowed through a large amount of expert padding, consisting mainly of mentions of the chef's fabulous doings before he came to the mansion in Richmond, among which one of the most remarkable was that he got to go backstage during a Lady Gaga performance. Apparently being admitted backstage during a Lady Gaga performance is considered to be close to the very top of human achievement.

One runs into so many internet articles that totally fail to deliver on the promises implied in their titles that it almost seems to be reaching for the norm, but this one gets my vote as being an outstandingly unhelpful article, and its author or authors are to be congratulated.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cabin Porn

It's interesting to see the changes that online usage fashions in the language. For instance, all of a sudden (or either I've been behind the times for much longer than I think) the word "money" has been freed from its former bonds of being a noun and has been given the freedom to wander off into being an adjective with meanings like "convincing," "good," or "genuine,"as in, "This is a money idea." And then there is "porn," which has been similarly emancipated from its confinement to the sexual area, and now it's being used to cover concentrations of anything that gives pleasure and delight.

Therefore there's a website called "Cabin Porn," where you won't find any shots of scarcely clothed women (unless they're concealed in the backgrounds somewhere), but you will find the below pic of an ultimate treehouse, supported on six trees and built over the space of 20 years by a guy named Horace Burgess. If I were a traveler, it would almost be worth a trip to Crossville, Tennessee, which was also once the home of a notable homesteading store that may still be there, to see this thing, and maybe even to take a chance on taking a few steps in one of its upper regions, before fear of heights got the best of me.

But there are pictures of many other interesting edifices as well -- actually I guess hundreds -- that the originators of this site are pleased to call "cabins," though that seems a bit of a stretch, since it includes, among other apparent deviations from the term, several ordinary abandoned frame houses standing lonely in Detroit.

But just for that great generosity of inclusion, besides the huge variety of the buildings themselves, Cabin Porn excited me, because of my own homemade "green oak" house. Till now I had never thought of it as being a "cabin," but I guess it qualifies as much as any of the structures shown in Cabin Porn. My house doesn't sit on six trees, but it does sit off the ground on as many as 15 stout short timbers, some of them recycled from the building of none other than the D.C. Metro subway line, a while ago. My now sadly deceased next door neighbor, Shaw, worked for D.C. Transit, and he got these posts when I started getting interested in building this house down in rural Virginia, and I lugged them down here from D.C. in the old blue Dodge pickup that I used to have. Here's a pic of the house, taken some years ago, the last chance there was to get a clear shot of the front before the trees and shrubs that I planted prevented it.

Cabin Porn shows "cabins" from all over the world, and they welcome submissions, so if I were more venturesome and ambitious, maybe I could get my little undertaking shown there.

I know one thing. If I had had access to "Cabin Porn" back in the early 1970's , I would have had the images of all several hundred of those buildings baked into my memory in a very short time. There isn't much that is more addictive than pictures of homemade little houses if you're seriously thinking of building one yourself, no matter how or of what they're made.

In fact, after I had gotten far enough in building my house all on my own (except the septic tank) and seeing that I could do it, even at the advanced age that I was then, I seriously thought about repeating the effort and building a different kind -- just to be doing it. A wooden yurt, a stone house, a steeply sided A-frame, or a real log cabin. I even bought tools for making the last-named -- a broadax head, a froe, a timber carrier, a peavey, but luckily, as with so much else, I never got around to any of those.

But I did build one genuine second "cabin." It used to be my "honey house," a "rigid frame-type" building made for extracting honey when I was a beekeeper, and for it I used plans for a Pacific Northwest vacation cabin. Like my house, I think it is is a great little building, and I now use it as my painting, stained glass, and computer shop, though my wife refers to it as just being a "man cave."

Monday, March 19, 2012

What's the Big Idea, Israel?

It always did seem a rather stupid idea to concentrate half the world's Jews in one tiny spot and then have them work overtime trying to offend all they could, especially Arabs.

That supremely trenchant statement was how someone who called himself "Harzion" (which must mean "a place of Zion" or some such) ended a comment that he or she posted to an article that appeared yesterday in Haaretz, the news publication that does such a great job of expressing the liberal and therefore the moral side of Israeli thought, which has traditionally been more characteristic of Jewish leanings than is the right wing leadership with which that country now and then chooses to flail itself, as if it has just emerged from an ice-cold sauna bath there in the desert around the Dead Sea. I thought Harzion hit the nail right on the head when it comes to trying to understand what the big idea is of Israel being where it is, not only geographically but also in the realms of ordinary common sense that one would expect from a people who should've benefited from a very long tradition of such amazing accomplishments of the mind.

The article, titled "Iron Dome Won't Save Israel," was by Jarel Israel, and it was about the missile defense system that Israel has been using in the most recent deadly "ping-pong" game that it has been waging against Hamas in Gaza. The article is in Haaretz's Opinion section, and that section today is more striking than usual, because of the picture it presents of a nation under attack, although its reprisal shots are far more lethal than anything that Hamas can fling back in return. And, as has almost always been the case throughout this generations-long struggle that started with Israel's founding, this opinion page is also necessarily one-sided, because it doesn't and most likely can't present the Palestinian side of things.

Still it's enlightening to run down the opinion pieces of those who dwell among the aggressors in this battle -- the Israelis, as with their arrival from overseas, also started this latest round of volleys by assassinating someone in Gaza that they called a highly placed terrorist == but these dissidents have dire misgivings about where this leaves Israel, even though, as usual, it appears to be "winning," as it should, overwhelmingly, not because it is smarter or more deserving, but instead because it has been given great masses of superior military equipment that have on the other hand been systematically withheld from Hamas and the other Palestinians by the same badly misguided foreign "super power," the U.S.

They speak of how this latest affray is really an attempt by the Lieber-yahoos to maintain control by keeping the Israeli people in a state of unjustified fear, resulting in a million Israelis in the south of their country cowering in bunkers, though the Hamas rockets, though numerous, appear to be on about a par with the fireworks smuggled just before the Fourth of July from various more lawless southern states in the U.S. They speak of how there is bad feeling between two Israeli cities in this contest,, because the more southerly Siderot is receiving the lion's share of these rockets while people are continuing to dance in the streets of Tel Aviv, and of how that larger metropolis of the privileged can expect soon enough to have its day as a target. They speak of the much more serious missiles that Israeli is certain to have to endure should its leaders carry out their constant threats to stage an unprovoked attack on distant Iran. They speak of how they've been assured by those leaders that in that case Israel will incur a magic maximum of no more than 500 fatalities, while it will be the Iranian lot to have to mourn as many as 20,000. And one can also read a wistful conjecture on what would happen if, this year, the Israeli leaders let well enough alone and did not attack Iran or do anything else of the kind, though lots of luck on that, due to the habit of Israeli leaders to talk for only so long before something, maybe just their own static discharges, drives them to do something, anything, without regard, one can add, to anything resembling intelligence.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Limbogian Hatred

H. Rap Brown was a "black" militant of the '60's who became famous for saying that violence is as American as apple pie. It sounds clever but I have never subscribed to that notion, I guess because throughout my life that started only 13 years after the end of World War I, the first half in an almost entirely "black" world and now the second half in an almost entirely "white" world, I have seen quite a few apple pies but hardly any violence, especially when compared to all that I've heard about. But I do subscribe to a similar principle that occurred to me only today, and that is that barely concealed race hatred is not only as American but also as human as Coca-Cola, and always has been. If it wasn't, how is it that in the U.S. one air wave babbler in particular has become fabulously wealthy by doing absolutely nothing for upwards of 30 years except pouring stupidity and race plus many other varieties of blind hatred into avid ears?

All the disorders of the mind that the current, exceptionally prolonged and tiresome primary struggle being waged by the Republicans has stirred up on the American pond and kept things there roiled unmercifully reminds us of this. These dark, noisome vapors have been set into motion mainly in the southern states, where they've always lived in great profusion just under the surface, like all the methane under the Arctic seas, and the way that those ugly, toxic currents have been sent rolling across the rest of the U.S. have been how these primaries have performed such a great disservice to the country. People in those other regions look at that Deep South section of the pond and see mirror images of themselves. These images are blurred and not sharply defined, but mirrors still have that strange property of usually causing people to like what they see, regardless.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Coulter/Palin, Two Harpies in the Same Corner

As soon as J. McCain, in a cynical and ill-fated attempt to add some pizzazz to his flagging 2008 Presidential campaign, dropped Sarah Palin onto the American consciousness, I wondered what Anne Coulter thought.

To the extent that a woman's outward appearance matters -- which, whether we like it or not -- amounts to a lot, until Palin's arrival Coulter, a slim, leggy blond with a vacant and somewhat silly expression that belies her seriously evil aspect, had no real competition among the right wing harpies, and she had to be jealous. This had to be especially true when, as the author of several best-selling book-length diatribes against liberals, she could have had no trouble convincing herself that she was by far Palin's intellectual superior. But Coulter must've realized and accepted the fact that in this male-dominated world, a woman's looks far outweigh her smarts in the general appreciation of her, and in that respect Palin, even with her spectacles and her dark hair and the five children that she had borne, still far outshone Coulter, who, to the best of my knowledge so far has produced no children at all. For one thing, Palin's appearance has a warmth to it that is lacking in Coulter, whose face is like a chunk of ice with a grin carelessly smeared on it, and Palin's being three years younger is not enough explanation.

Coulter must also have chafed mightily that she herself had not been considered for the VP nominee role, if a woman was needed, in view of the long service she had wrought to the conservative propaganda cause, years long before Palin shook the Alaskan snow out of her hair.

Yet, if Coulter ever protested Palin's primacy in 2008 and in the four years since, I never heard of it. This High Priestess of Hatred, right up there in lethality with the Limbaugh guy, had been much more humble than I would have thought possible in such a woman. Imagine my surprise and even shock, then, when on the Huffington Post I saw an item a few days ago about “Palin vs. Coulter.” It seems that,without specifically calling out Palin, Coulter had not only come out with a statement in which she attacked the cult of personality with which she thinks Palin has drastically infected the Republican Party and the conservative cause, but also Coulter actually complimented the Democrats by saying that, unlike the Republicans, they had avoided stepping into such a trap. I thought that saying anything good whatsoever about Obama's side was a big no-no among each and every one of her stripe on that end of the spectrum. And at this point when the Republican candidates have been fanning hatred of B. Obama up to the superheated point? Incredible!

Coulter is especially scornful of the fact that Palin is pushing for a brokered Republican convention, which will give her a chance to come into her own as the eventual nominee, with the favorite, Romney, having avoided the fate of all his competitors during the preceding primary season, finally having experienced his own fatal comeuppance. So Palin would have grabbed the prize after all, after having shrewdly avoided all the hassle and humiliations of the primaries, and that possibility must've been too much too galling for Coulter to bear, in her last analysis.

If carried onward, this arm's length confrontation between these two iron-bottomed right wing females promises to be one of the most interesting sideshows of this political season, and it is as likely to be subtle as it is to be blatant. Palin will try to ignore Coulter, until she can't any longer.

Meanwhile can it be that Coulter, after a career of stomping and stamping on the liberal gullet, is finally considering making that most dangerous of moves in American traffic and turning more to the left? Or is she trying on the all-embracing mantle of that distinguished conservative of old, Bill Buckley, who in his later days was not above suggesting that drugs should be legalized? Either way, straightening her wheel would be a tectonic shift that I had hoped to see some day in Palin instead, because I obviously take much more delight in her (Coulter's longtime flourishing in the same bag with Mr. Bog has totally ruined her in my mind), though not at all because of Palin's physical aspects. Still no chance should be missed to display for the second time that truly remarkable photoshopped or impersonated likeness of unknown origin of Palin, because after bearing five children, the Bering Strait, and Todd What's-his-name, in real life she can't possibly be this, this.... Well, you say it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Google's Blogger

I've had this weblog (Wow! How I hate to use the word "blog!" It's such an ugly word, calling up as it does other not-the-most-pleasant terms, like "blob" and " bog." (I know I've said all this before, and maybe more than once. But as my wonderful mother used to say, never mind. I'll just say it again.) But when the computer nerds were accomplishing all their miraculous deeds, like having computers conveying graphics of every degree of complexity, they also failed to pull their heads out of their behinds when it came to naming things.

As I was saying, I've had this weblog for getting close to eight years now, and during that long while, I've gotten so much use out of the blogging service I use, Blogger, that I keep thinking I should be recompensing them for it in some wise, because it has never cost me one red cent. And in fact, I had also wondered why so many people keep asking for donations to their sites, as if it costs lots of money to keep their blogs going, when I keep mine going all by myself without much trouble, and if I wasn't online to keep up my site, I'd be there for other reasons. It involves some bother but not trouble, and I could post every day if I wanted to, as those other bloggers do, but I don't wanna. (I know, I know. Actually I seem to have lost all ability to post every day or even every second or third or even fourth day, but that's not my fault. That is something that can always be blamed on Father Time.)

I could even post more graphics, if I felt I needed to and as all those other bloggers soliciting cash also do, extensively, and I like to think that I could do it without too much extra-added exertion. But I've never wanted to, maybe out of a certain degree of laziness, but even more because I think that would make this site load more slowly over other people's computers, and I never want that, though there aren't that many "other people." Actually there are hardly any.

Anyway I was always mystified that Blogger also has never asked me for one red cent, and instead over that long period of years it has just kept right on silently and diligently hosting my many hundreds of rants and raves and keeping track of them and even keeping them stored somewhere from where I can retrieve them in seconds -- until of course that inevitable day when Google, Blogger, and everything else crashes and all will be lost -- had I not saved all my posts against that happening, or at least most of them, minus the ones that I posted between the last saving and the most recent posting, a number that always keeps growing from none to many and then all over again, as does the shame that would ensue should they be lost. But I can't be expected to stay right on top of things all the time, can I?

Well, just yesterday, when someone was speaking of blogging services, I saw the term, "Google's Blogger," and then it hit my always slow but now 80-year old brain. The reason Blogger has never asked me for any bread is that it is a service of Google, and everybody knows that Google gets lots of money from somewhere, probably from advertising, and so that's what I've been benefiting from.

Of course I had known that Blogger had some kind of connection with Google. This had become most obvious whenever Blogger didn't inititate right away, and I had Google doing the annoying stuff of demanding that I first cough up my name, address, and password, when I knew that it had already recorded that info, numerous times. But I hadn't put all that together. I guess I just thought that that was one of the main things that Google does, besides maintaining its stellar search facility -- its other main activity is to suddenly and occasionally jump up out of nowhere and withhold important things, like my weblog, on pains of me turning over my name, address, and some password that I am never sure is really the right one. But now I know. Sorry, Googler and Blogger. And glad that you make yet another of those old sayings appear now to be just one more myth. You know, the one about free lunch?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Palin, the Empress of Snow Jobs

One reason that my favorite Monster, S. Palin, continues to be so interesting and entertaining to me is that I think that almost from the first, I detected what her main modus operandi is, and I am convinced that it has served the former Miss Heath well, ever since her college days. I can't say anything about her skills in a great variety of other activities, except possibly the craft of making herself look physically good, but I do know that Palin is a master of the variety of obfuscation called "running a smokescreen" or "pulling a snowjob," with the latter being especially pertinent since she still lives in and was once the governor of Alaska. When she abruptly dumped that post, I thought sure that she would quickly relocate to Texas or Florida or the like, though so far apparently she has not.

Recently her main thing has been to apply her verbal and reasoning "skills," that is, as a snow job artist, to pose as an "analyst" on that utterly shaky network called Fox News. Actually Fox is so disreputable that it is the only venue where she could have any credibility at all as an analyst.

From what I always hear about Fox it is not necessary for their people to say anything at all that makes sense. In fact, the commentators there are obviously ordered to indulge always in the exact opposite. The less logical, the better, because Fox's appeal is strictly to the least common denominator among the listening public, namely those who are most likely to vote Republican. The Adelson and Koch-type billionaires are paying the Ailes of the world big bucks to keep as many Americans as possible dumbed down to the maximum possible extent.

Two paragraphs below is a cute little ramble that Ms Palin recently took on Fox, in response to a cue given to her by another Fox unworthy named Hannity. It seems that they were talking about a recent video that A. Breitbart thought would be his latest hard knock at B. Obama -- a move blunted when the Great Skychief, or more likely A. B.'s own ways, snuffed him out before he could do any more gratuitous harm, not that the video amounted to damage to anybody. But that didn't deter these Foxians from giving it a shot anyway.

The video shows Obama as a student 20 years ago at Harvard giving a collegiate hug to a now deceased Rainbow (i.e. "black") professor named Derrick Bell, who had gotten into trouble there for protesting the failure to give tenure to a female Rainbow colleague. This totally innocuous and worthy act is regarded by today's Foxians as an unforgivable radical act, and they saw that long ago salute to Bell as good material for yet another whack at the President of the United States. So Palin said:

What we can glean from this is an understanding of why we are on the road that we are on. Again, it's based on what went into his thinking, being surrounded by radicals. You could hearken back to the days before the Civil War, when too many Americans believed that not all men were created equal. It was the Civil War that began the codification of the truth that here in America, yes, we are equal and we all have equal opportunities, not based on the color of our skin. You have equal opportunity to work hard and to succeed and to embrace the opportunities, the God-given opportunities, to develop resources and work extremely hard and as I say, to succeed. Now, it has taken all these years for many Americans to understand that the gravity, that mistake that took place before the Civil War and why the Civil War had to really start changing America. What Barack Obama seems to want to do is go back before those days when we were in different classes based on income, based on color of skin. Why are we allowing our country to move backwards instead of moving forward with the understanding that as our charters of liberty spell out for us, we are all created equally?

What can this woman be accused of trying to say here? In fact, given the policies and practices of Fox News, could it have been her intent to say anything at all that hung together? After the Civil War, everybody became equal? Really? Then what were the Night Riders, Lynch Law, and Jim Crow all about? What was the question that she was supposed to be answering? What was it about seeing the youthful Obama congratulating saluting a law school professor who had taken a very principled stand that could later be seen as Obama trying to take the entire U.S. back to the days before the Civil War? In short what was Madam's assignment?

Nothing is easier to surmise. Ms Palin herself had returned to college, and she was taking a test for a class that she had never attended, and in fact she didn't even know which class it was -- a common nightmare, I think, for ex-collegiates. So she has to wing it. She has to get out the shovel and start shoveling the white stuff. It's been a while, but she has spent much time since then honing that skill.

As so often before, here she merely takes any talking point that happens to come to her mind, applicable or not and often inaccurate, and flings it willy-nilly at the main theme,which is "hit Obama with anything that comes to hand." When one nonsequitur finishes rolling off him, no problem. Just grab up a handful of something else, throw that, and on and on, until enough time has passed that her target audience can think she has really been authoritative about something, and then she can move on to other statements that likewise definitely don't come from any brain that resides at the top of one's spinal column and therefore must originate in another, more southerly part of Ms Palin's well cared-for anatomy that was originally designed by the Creator to grace beauty pageants but which she later found much more profitable to use in political arenas.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Call It What It Is

It seems hardly possible, much less sane, that, so soon after the GWBush administration left the U.S. deeply mired in a huge economic slump and a host of government bailouts of auto, banking, and other types of commercial businesses that are normally viewed with so much more reverence than the U.S. government, now, only three years later, many Americans are seriously considering bringing that same party back into power later this year. It's unbelievable that a part of the American electorate of any size can be so capable of learning absolutely nothing over such a short period.

Though the latest in the succession of crackpots who have been vying to be the Repub Presidential nominee have gotten sidetracked on deadbeat issues like abortion and contraception, the main issue of this election cycle is supposed to be the economy, as it usually is during any election, because the economy is such a slippery monkey that even the best minds never seem able to get their hands on it enough to put it on a steady, trouble-free basis for longer than a week.

Yet so far the Repub hopefuls have proposed nothing that has any hope of improving the economy by even a little. Their old reliable standby, tax cuts, tax cuts, and still more tax cuts, has gotten to be such a threadbare concept that even they don't seem to believe in it that much anymore.

You would think that if the Repubs were even half as clever as they think they are, they would instead throw in with the Democrats in revving the economy back up to the max, so that the next time they manage to hoodwink the often comatose electorate into thinking they should once again run things, they would have something once more to cut whenever any problem rears its inconvenient head.

But no, they always want it all, and they want it now. So now, with so little left to slice off the public rump as things stand, what else do they have?

Therefore their main and actually only battle cry is that everything bad is the fault of B. Obama and therefore he must be denied a second term. Period. That's all.

But what is it about B. Obama that makes him deserve so much of their undying and general hate? It can't be anything that he does, in light of how often he has stirred up anger against him by those on his side, due to his demonstrated readiness to apply Republican attitudes to various problems.

Therefore the hatred can't possibly be directed at the stuff he does or does not do. Instead it can only be because of what he is. And what could that be? He is what used to be called here a "mongrel." He has far too much Rainbow (i.e. "black") blood running through his veins and arteries. He is, in a word, a "Nigra" and therefore just because of that, these people screech over and over again that he must be ejected from office forthwith.

That attitude, which comes under the headings of racism and bigotry, is the whole and the only explanation for the hatred that one hears so often directed at B. Obama, and all the other reasons that you will hear given to this widespread antipathy to the man by the country's huge number of sanctimonious souls should always be called what they are: rationales that are pure poppycock, aka nonsense or bullpoop.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Letter to the Beast about the Beasts

Here is an email that I wrote as if to send it to Andrew Sullivan, the proprietor of what seems to be one of the several forms of what I am guessing is an overall site called "the Daily Beast." But how to send my message wasn't obvious, because I couldn't see where he provided any email links in his pages, though he must get tons of emails from the hoi polloi like me, going by the number of remarks from readers that he publishes daily, pro and con. But then, just hours later, almost as if in reaction to my reservations, I saw that he had started including just such a link, or maybe it's been there all along but I had just never noticed. So now there's no reason to hold off on hitting him in the face with this zinger. Har-har.

Still, I hesitate. ...Posting on someone's comments section is one thing, but sending an e-mail is something else altogether. I see E-mails as being more personal, and I don't want to send anything of that nature, because though Sullivan's site provides a wealth of all kinds of information, it is also badly marred in several respects, especially his way of going into all the aspects of the gay male experience in far too much detail. Also his understanding of the complexities of being a Rainbow (i.e. "black person) strikes me as being on the decidedly weak side. But then quite a large number of Rainbows themselves suffer from that same disability.

Well, we'll see.

Sir, as one of your readers I notice that you are quite fond of defending people who have made careers of spraying verbal poison upon the body politic and the American people in general, exactly like crop dusters raining dioxin, DDT, and every other kind of cancer-inducing toxin, all over the place. Just recently you argued strongly in support of P. Buchanan's right to do so, and then later you bitterly excoriated those who were overjoyed at hearing of the sudden permanent inactivation of that professional hater and con artist, A. Breitbart, and now you duly gallop up to give R. Limbaugh a helping hand during this latest of his self-inflicted times of trouble, the Fluke affair, arguing that nothing should be done to interfere with this man making his living, as if he is barely getting by, though the hate-mongering industry in which he is king is awash in dollars -- one big reason that so many get into it. You use as your excuse libertarian principles and the First Amendment. I assume you share the Maher "fare thee well" rationale that you may not agree with what g these people say but that you will always defend their right to say those things. And undoubtedly you would speak of the others as you did about Buchanan when you lauded him on the grounds that at least he's "honest."

That may be all well and good, but what about the question of yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater? And what about how these Satanic mouths are also constantly spitting out seeds that all too easily can sprout and result in vast, twisted forests of misery, death, and destruction?

Stalin was honest. He believed in his murderous crimes. Genghis Khan likewise was honest about his wholesale massacres, and so was Pol Pot. Nixon and GWBush were honest about their genocide-facilitating rapes of Cambodia and Iraq respectively. But that honesty that you value so much in no way excused the enormous harvest of millions of war dead that were the eventual results of the stuff that one Herr Schickelgruber, for instance, so sincerely and honestly spouted in the numerous instances of his indulging in free speech, and I doubt that any Jew naked and shivering in an Auschwitz gas chamber or any Russians that were carried out on the Black Sea during WW2 by German soldiers to be dumped overboard cried out in joy in their last moments, "Thank God for Der Fuhrer's exercise of his verbal rights -- 'Mein Kampf'' was a glorious book and producing it was the right thing for him to do!"

It turns out that what a person says and the amounts of it are even more important than their right to say those things -- a nicety that Libertarians often seem happy to overlook, though that failure is tragic for those who are ultimately affected by the spiels that men as rotten to the core as R. Limbaugh are paid millions to broadcast, and have been doing so for many years. I would argue that no man has the right to poison the American atmosphere with day after day and year after year of vituperation of the worst and most poorly thought-out sort. That way of a man making his living is especially life-threatening to members of visible minorities -- the preferred targets of "good" Americans everywhere.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Goebbels Effect

If you are of a certain disposition -- and I am certain that I'm not the only one by far -- when you reach an advanced age, you start wondering more than before about exactly what is going to take you out of here.

Though he probably hadn't devoted much thought to that or to anything else lately of a worthwhile nature, a few days ago a professional hater and con artist named Andrew Breitbart, who was less than half my age, got his answer to that question in the few seconds that he had left, when, while taking a walk he suddenly departed from this life.

That kind of thing seems to happen so often that it is obviously completely independent of the virtues that a person might have or lack. For instance, also just the other day, a distant acquaintance here in the county, a man my age or maybe a little older, who to all reports so far hadn't been feeling any pains that were out of the ordinary and was famous for having an enormous collection of jazz records, went downstairs to feed his dog, and a little later his wife found him just sitting there, newly deceased. I should say here, though, that, as for me, I do not have a dog, or even, nowadays, a cat, and only a modest jazz collection.

The mentions that I always saw of A. Breitbart were of such an unsavory nature that I had kept him as far out of my field of vision as possible. He seemed cut from exactly the same cloth as the ruinous and also notably short-lived Wisconsin red-baiting Senator, J. McCarthy, of yesteryear, but Breitbart's passing has aroused another comparison.

Those conservatives who vociferously seek to tamp down the numerous and understandable sighs of relief by liberals at having one of the worst and the trickiest of their tormentors now permanently out of action, think they are shaming their adversaries by plaintively howling, "What about the family that this great, good man left behind? You should be ashamed of yourselves!"

They don't realize that that "family" defense of newly demised wrongdoers was cut off at the ankles years ago, on May Day, 1945, to be exact, by what I would call "the Goebbels Effect." They fail to recall that that chief Nazi propagandist and his hardcore wife, Magda, ordained in those final fiery hours deep underground in the bunker in Berlin that along with them, their six children should also die then and there, so as not to have to confront forever afterwards the questions about the incredibly huge number of crimes that Goebbels had done so much to aid and abet.

I do not recall that even that horrible murder of so many innocent children at their parents' hands did anything to excuse J. Goebbels' execrable life work. Yet even in that light these endlessly ignorant conservatives would still scream, even louder, with spit stained with blood, "That's terrible! That's disgusting! There was absolutely no comparison between Goebbels and Breitbart!"

That may be true. Still, it seems all too likely that if they could meet, in the afterworld or wherever, those two would find much to talk about, with the R. Limbaughs and the A. Coulters eagerly awaiting their turns to lick their master's feet.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Unimaginable Bigtime in Painting

A sign of our times, that may be more revealing than most others....

A man named Gerhard Richter (born in 1932) has become so successful as a painter, at least commercially, that at auctions no less than 545 of his paintings have brought prices of $100,000 at the very least! Not only that, but also by comparison he is getting better prices than, for instance, Diego de Silva Velasquez (1599-1660), a certified Old Master and in my opinion one of the 10 or 12 greatest painters of all time. And now a drive is on with such speed and force that it is practically certain to succeed in establishing Richter as one of the four most pre-eminent painters of the past 100 years, putting him right up there with A. Warhol, W. de Kooning, and P. Picasso. And all this from a guy whose name was not familiar to me, though, as a painter myself and one serious enough to have managed to finish as many as 90 fairly substantial works up until about 10 years ago (the great majority of them, as with everything else I've done, whether in the writing or in the painting or in the stained glass, still in my possession), my eye usually catches any mention of art developments in the news.

First of all, 545 is a tremendous number of really serious paintings for any one person merely to produce, much less sell at such prices, in a lifetime, though the production part of that is not unheard of. Maybe Richter has a work ethic comparable to that of a couple of my neighbors that I can name. Or he is one of those modern painters who has a workshop where he employs a large number of people with art training to turn out works done in whatever style he happens to adopt at any particular moment. But it's true that he's been at it for a long time, and he has a wide range and is viewed as being especially proficient at both abstract and photo-realistic stuff, two genres that are usually at odds with each other.

Still, how can it be that he can have so many works selling at such high numbers, and, even more puzzling, how can he outdo an Old Master like Velasquez? Because it is highly doubtful that neither he nor Picasso nor anyone else in the past 200 years has produced a work equal to Velasquez's "Las Meninas," a painting that would be worth a trip to Madrid just to see it in its room in the Prado all by itself, or even just his "Surrender at Breda."

The following passage from the article I have cited may shed valuable light on that:

...I don’t think that the laws of supply and demand are particularly useful here. In many ways, the high prices we’re seeing for Richter represent a liquidity premium, and also the way in which rich people are happier dropping enormous sums of money on art if those sums have already been ratified by dozens of other transactions at similar valuations.

I guess that shows how things go for those who are currently occupying the often questionable niche of the "1%" that we hear so much about these days.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Book of Revelations

When I did the great bulk of my Bible-reading, it was during my childhood years -- before, at around the time that I turned 16, I suddenly stopped attending church, for reasons that had nothing to do with what I had found in the Bible and instead had everything to do with what others professed to practice based on what they had found in the Bible, though their conduct had turned out be total hogwash. And because in all the years since then the so-called Christians have as a whole gotten to be even more lacking in all the virtues that count, there has been no reason for me to reverse my "backslide" ever since. Meanwhile, in that same fateful year of 1946, I turned my home studies from finding out what is in the Bible to finding out instead as many of the numerous whys and wherefores of the game of chess as I could digest -- for all its difficulty a much more comfortable endeavor all around.

As a child I didn't read the Bible so often because of its moral teachings. Instead I read it for exactly the same reasons that I read "Gulliver's Travels," "Robinson Crusoe," and an eight-volume series on the American Civil War, among many other works -- because the stories in it, especially the ones clustered in the first ten books or so of the Old Testament, made for good reading. The rest of the Old Testament, and all the New Testament, on the other hand were tough going, and that ordeal was climaxed by the very last book in the Bible, the Revelations.

An article just published in the WSJ starts out by saying that that is the strangest book in the Bible, and that's exactly what I thought, and I was never able to see why it even belonged in the Bible. This article says that these (can I say it?) ravings of St. John constituted just one of numerous books of revelations that went around the Christian community in the early days, and this was the one that was chosen. The article says a little about two other candidates, but I would rather have seen something about one that supposedly is close to Buddhist meditation.

Occasionally I have made return treks to Revelations, just to see if anything has changed there meanwhile, but it remains just as uninteresting, unreadable, and even unintelligible as ever. This article tells us that after all the dark, grim stuff, the reward in reading it comes in the hope that it offers us after we have slogged through all the dark, grim, insane stuff. But that strikes me as being a pitiful reward indeed, especially when you consider the very lopsided ratio of that book's darknesses to its lights.

It is an unwritten but I believe a valid rule of good writing that you stay as far away as you can from relating a character's dreams and even more his nightmares, whether they came to him in the night or during the day. The hearing about them tends to get tiresome quickly.

Whoever finally put together the Bible from all those texts floating around during the time of Constantine the Great violated this principle big time.

And maybe also they should have arranged the Bible so as to first make it much more hospitable to the reading of children, the best time to net the biggest catches of the adherents, though that may not endure, as my experience shows.

In short the Bible needs many more interesting stories and much fewer moral teachings for lightly educated preachers to ring endless changes on and to try to dupe us into believing that they know, better than anyone else, what are the best ways to go.

Friday, March 02, 2012

No Way to Live in a Neighborhood

When I was a kid a very long time ago, on 53rd Place in the Capitol View neighborhood of Washington, D.C., somebody farther up the hill on that street kept a notably big and notably mean German Shepherd named "Bozo," and ever since, my generic name for bad, mad, big dogs has been the same.

Right now the leader of the ultra-pugnacious and badly misguided Lieberyahoo coalition government of Israel, B. Netanyahu, is about to drop in on President Obama once more, in order to take advantage of the urgencies of this American election year to deliver, once again, the message: "Sic' em, Bozo!"

Why is this not widely regarded as being what it really is -- a policy that is not only open cowardice on the part of the Israeli leadership, that it would demand to have company and a backup when, without further notice, they rain death and destruction on a neighboring country, Iran, that is no conceivable threat to it, immediately or at any time in the near or distant future? Therefore the Yahoos' intentions are also openly evil and destructive, to the utmost degree. (And they also show Jonathan Swift's amazing prescience in writing 300 years ago about a 4th group, called the Yahoos, that Gulliver encountered during his travels, who were not nearly as agreeable and interesting as the first three.)

If I were B. Obama, I would take great offense, on behalf of myself and of the country that I'm supposed to be leading, at having that country being regarded by the Israeli government, though not by the Israeli people on the whole, as being merely a big, ugly dog with a mouthful of huge, slavering teeth, that can be sicced on any of Israel's neighbors with devastating effect, on command. And therefore I would tell Netanyahu to shove it, with the accompanying admonition that that is no way to live in a neighborhood.

In his "Informed Comment" this morning, Juan Cole is running a post that consists of a picture of Mark Twain, plus Twain's question as to why it is that so many people are capable of displaying physical courage, while so few are capable of exerting moral courage. In this post Cole says nothing else, but it strikes me as being directed straight at not so much Obama as at so many of his more bloody-minded countrymen, as Obama confronts his miniature but loud visitor from way over on the other side of the known world.