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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.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

At the Mercy of Idiots 2 -- Shooting in a Crowded Theater

In my day -- despite the instant suggestion of age I really like that expression -- in my day you were never warned about the folly of firing guns in a crowded theater. The inveighments were always against yelling "Fire!" in such places instead.

The other day yet another young guy did what has become a commonplace thing in American life, except with refinements, if you can call them that. He picked up a whole passel of guns with the most up-to-date features for killing people quickly and in quantity, and he made two trips hauling that gear into the front of a full house movie theater in a Colorado place called Aurora, and he then shot dead and otherwise injured dozens of people not only in that room but also in an adjoining theater by firing through a wall.

This man was pretty methodical about all his slaughter, as if he meant to show how easy it is to do. In fact he was so nonchalant that he didn't even kill himself afterward, as so often happens, nor did he let the police do it for him. He gave himself up peaceably, and now he can sit back and enjoy the rest of the spectacle, which involves the world at large trying to get inside his mind -- though there is obviously no mind there to speak of -- while at the same time that world also looks for ways to avoid this kind of thing in the future, though of course those ways essentially don't exist either.

Maybe Congress will take its mouth off the teats of the Big Money long enough to pass laws at least banning the banana clips, but that is not likely. Otherwise, all can really do for comfort is to fall back on the Laws of Probability, maybe with the added touch of avoiding all crowded places in the first place.

That is possible. It's possible to arrive and to function in such a state of grace even if that wasn't what one was looking for at the time.

Years ago, one of my good friends, now living in Virginia's Northern Neck, went to see a flick of his heroes, Monte Python, in one of those neighborhood movie plexes. He totally enjoyed himself through the whole showing, slapping his knee and guffawing and doing all that kind of stuff, and it wasn't till the movie was over and the lights came up that he realized, to his astonishment, that he had been the only one in there watching the thing.

With people usually being all over the place all the time, I didn't put that much credence in his story, until, just a short while later, for some reason I went to see nothing less than one of the then hugely popular Indiana Jones movies and at that same kind of moviehouse, and the same thing happened, though I was quite well aware of it all along. I was the only patron in there, and a less appreciative one, too -- because of the flick.

But I guess that there are still legions in this country who still believe in total togetherness.

And I'll tell you what other kind of foolishness they also believe.

It is reported that right after the Aurora mass shooting, sales of guns skyrocketed in Colorado, amid stories of all that could've been done to avoid the mayhem if, it was thought, a suitable fraction of the theatergoers had been suitably strapped.

That idea is so easily shot full of holes that it is more laughable than most of the other fancies of the idiots among us.

First of all, what fraction of people is going to attend a movie while carrying a firearm heavy enough to counter a guy who shows up suddenly and stands covered with kevlar in the dark down in front while firing a full-blown assault rifle complete with a "banana" clip or maybe two of those taped together, and after he has already thrown a teargas grenade or two to really set the stage for his work?

When you go to a movie, you usually go in there traveling light, while carrying nothing heavier than a tub of freshly popped and buttered popcorn. You don't like to go in there carrying even a small package or anything else, for fear that you'll forget and leave it in there. Plus you go in there strictly to engage in fantasies and not at all in the most serious kind of gunfire. And if you were to go in there two or three times while suitably armed but nothing happens, very quickly you're going to decide just to take your chances and start attending in the old, light-hearted fashion of childhood once again -- the only way to view a flick in public..

Secondly, the guy standing down there in front has going for him an implement that puts things in his favor even more than his weaponry, and anybody would know this if they played chess. That implement is the all-important one called "the Initiative." The whole thing and its timing is his idea, not yours, and he's been ready for this for weeks, while you have only a few seconds to do anything at all, using up a bunch of those seconds -- if surprise, fright, and panic let you, which is very unlikely -- first to recognize that this is finally happening, and next to recall what you had been imagining you would do, and lastly on digging out from wherever you have secreted it whatever it is that you brought along in hopeful answer and getting that ready, too -- all of it way too late.

Also suitably "equipped" moviegoers are going to sharply decrease the pleasure of the cinema experience without even trying, and you will get a phenomenon much like 9/11 and the subsequent so-called "War on Terror."

The fact is that the moment those World Trade Center buildings came tumbling down as if all along they had been constructed only from badly baked cake dough, that "war" was over. The Al-Quaidists realized that they had won far beyond their wildest dreams, and quite likely the main reason that they haven't mounted any comparable attempts ever since is that they've seen no mileage in even trying, because that act was so impossible to follow, especially after the measures that the Republican administratioons put into place to combat terrorism, which were not only much too far after the fact but also served only to coarsen American life over and above what it already had been and so they furthered the terrorists' cause.

Carrying guns inside moviehouses and similar assemblies would have the same effect, and maybe L.'s experience and my own presaged the emptying out that was likely to happen more years farther down the line.

Guns don't do anything for anybody, except to make cowards of all who would pick them up and point them at others, with or without pulling the triggers.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Today marks the 81st time that the day and the month have reached the confluence that marks the date of my arrival on the planet.

Now I don't have to worry so much anymore about being too damn young!

I used to think that "7/27" was a pretty nondescript date on which to be born, aside from the presence in it, twice, of my favorite number. I thought that way even when that circumstance was nicely augmented during the many times when "7" also happened to be one of the numbers in my age. But just in the last couple of years, it suddenly came to my attention that actually the number 27 is bigtime stuff, because it is 3 cubed, and that's great because "3" is my other favorite number, though I have found things to admire in all the other single digits as well. The double digit numbers don't fare quite as well, and beyond those things really start sliding downhill.

Meanwhile it has been amazing how often I see the number "727" whenever my eye happens to brush one of our digital clocks.

I wish I knew what that means.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Kansas: Experiment in the Already Failed

Kansas is geographically at the center of the U.S., though it is not at all the country's centerpiece; that distinction usually belongs to wherever I happen to be at any particular moment. Kansas is notable for having been the home place of the woman who birthed and raised the current President of the U.S., whom the Republicans are now as busy as can be trying to portray as being the biggest Satan ever to exist, though that paint keeps being washed off quicker by the cold rain of facts than they can keep spraying it. But most importantly Kansas, before it became a state, was the territory that had even more to do than always-foaming-at-the-mouth South Carolina with launching the U.S. into its terrible Civil War, due to having "settlers" who wanted to bring in slaves and fighting hard against others who wanted to have no part of that "peculiar" institution existing on their newly stolen lands.

Today Kansas is shaping up as having become the scene once again of a classic clash between the forces of good and evil -- this time between descendants of Quantril's Raiders who want to impose on Kansas the policy of tax-cutting in a major way, and those who know that that is all just another big load of horse puckey that will inevitably reduce Kansas to being one of the worst of the U.S. state basket cases. And for once the battle is not between Democrats and Republicans, for the simple reason that Kansas is so politically benighted that Democrats there are few and far between. Instead it's between right wing Republicans and moderate Republicans, the latter being an endangered species that yet still seems to exist in Kansas in enough numbers to keep the state from blowing away in the drought winds entirely.

An article and its accompanying comments that appeared yesterday on the Huffington Post tells the whole story, especially as it applies to the way the very same struggle is being waged across the much larger stage of the whole country. Meanwhile the Kansas right wing Repubs openly admit that in trying to push through their drastic, draconian taxcutting policies, they are subjecting their state to a big "experiment." I wonder what the good citizens of Kansas think about that.

Kansas is famous for producing corn and tornados, not sheep, or guinea pigs.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Great Double Doublecross

It used to be that the three segments of the U.S. population that the Ku Klux Klan always singled out to demonize and torment were Catholics, Jews, and last but most viciously of all, what I call "Rainbows." This is an appellation that I chose to use instead of the odious term "black people" as far back as the 1960's, long before people were content to let the prism hues apply mostly to the gay community, when, unlike the case with the descendants of the slaves, there's nothing about gay people that suggests the colors of the rainbow. I suppose that, partly because of that gift to the gays, my term has no chance of catching on to denote the far more despised group of which I am a member. Mostly, however, we will never ever be forgiven for being constant reminders of a great ancient wrong, for which there has rarely been any regret shown, and instead chattel slavery has been relentlessly followed up by other belief systems and institutions with the same hateful purposes in mind.

Let's recall how the activities of the Klan reached a sort of apogee in the bigotry hotspots of the U.S. like Indiana as recently as the 1920's. But around the time of the election a few decades later of John F. Kennedy as President, his fellow Catholics were apparently let off the hatred hook, and now the same thing has happened with the Jewish segment.

Whether they like it or not, Jews have become the darlings of the demented right wing among Americans, and that keeps striking me as strange, considering how, till now, they were quite often the first to rally to the progressive banner, no matter what the cause, and sometimes at the cost of great personal injury to themselves, notwithstanding the lapses now and then, starting with one of their number, Judah P. Benjamin, who served throughout the Civil War as the Secretary of the Treasury for the Confederacy.

This sharp shift in the esteem of those who once professed to find the Jewish community so unacceptable delights their country cousins over in the Middle East, the Israelis, but that joy doesn't seem to be so general here in the U.S., and in "Haaretz" at least, you will regularly read that as much as 64 percent of American Jews are still likely to vote for B. Obama.

Nevertheless this means that rainbows have been left largely on their own when it comes to enduring the focus and the hatred of the bigots, and going by how the Republicans are going all out to attack B. Obama in any way they can, far past the ordinary hostilities of a political contest, obviously the rainbows have little to no chance to come out of Obama's one or two terms with increased standing in Majority America eyes, a la the Catholics after JFK or Jewish people during the GWBush era. Instead the future promises the exact opposite, and it doesn't take a blind man to see that far beyond getting rid of Obama, the deepest aim of the nasties is to make it so hot for him that afterward no sane man whose skin even approaches the color of his will likewise think of running for President. At least not in the near future. Not that very many ever did in the first place.

And it's not too far out to note either that the same thing is true of sane and at least partly decent Euro (i.e. "white") men or women. The current Republican candidate, M. Romney, is doing all he can to drive that particular nail of non-participation by the decent-minded deeper into the American coffin, with him seizing every pretense he can to attack Obama, a different charge nearly every day, no matter how ridiculous it is, to the point that it's a wonder that so far Romney hasn't blamed the President for the recent spate of 100+ degree days.

If that kind of thing -- and that kind of eternally mendacious and narrow-minded candidate -- is what it takes to run for the office these days, then that deeply diminishes the Presidency right there.

If this new Jewish status in the eyes of the country's regressives can be called "coming into favoritism," one of the main reasons must be the way the Israelis have chosen to treat the Palestinians. The Israeli leaders, especially the most recent of them, have acted in the best American traditions of stealing everything not nailed down from the Indians and also of "keeping the niggaz down" every day through all the centuries.

An equally strong explanation for the sudden right wing embrace of the Jews must be the Rapture, a concept that is so beloved by a key component of the American right wing -- the so-called "Christian" fundamentalists. As best as I can understand it, the Rapture has to do with the return of the Messiah, and for some reason that circumstance depends on the survival of the state of Israel. The great event will be climaxed by a gigantic struggle of the Jews fighting side by side with the fundamentalist Christians against the non-believers, and after all those infidels will at last have been wiped out, it will then be required of the Jews to convert en masse to Christianity or else meet the same fate as all those exterminated non-devouts.

The fact that American Jews in general and even a sizable number of Israelis are fully aware of that particular proviso for their participation in that decidedly un-Messiah-like wipeout leads to the idea that that "Great Day of the Ultimate Reckoning" more precisely figures to be called the "Day of the Great Double Doublecross." And as preposterous as all those projections of the Rapture are, one almost wishes he could somehow observe from afar, very far, from another universe if possible, all that nonsense going down anyway, just to see how it would all come out.

I wouldn't bet my money on either side. From here it all looks like a shoo-in for the ants, the roaches, and the bacteria instead.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Why There's Never Been Any Real Reason to Miss Marilyn Monroe

The above stellar photo of some unknown lady appears in the current issue of a mag called "the Washington Monthly," which I don't customarily read, I guess because it appears to focus on economic issues, and economic stuff is another one of those overstuffed aspects of life toward which I adopted yet another very simple attitude in childhood, which took place through all but the first two years of the Great Depression, and my solution can be easily stated in a single sentence: "Never spend more than what you have in your pocket, or in your purse, as the case may be." I was forced to violate this principle only once, though not by much, and that was when I bought the first of the only two houses I've ever had. (The second house, the current one, I bought purely as the money came to hand, by using the strategy of building it myself, board by board. ) I got away with that, and all has been smooth sailing with everything else as well, economically speaking. Of course then you'll never be able to buy a boat, a plane, or a U.S. Senator, but who needs any of that catpoop anyway?

To get back to the photo, which should always be done in a big hurry, because it is worthy of prolonged study, as you look, unsuccessfully, for a flaw in it of any kind, it illustrated an article calling for more female wonks in think tanks, and you should see the comments of outrage that were sparked by its appearance in an otherwise so august a publication, obviously made by people who have also never noticed the many glories of the clouds in the sky.

I didn't read the article either, because tanks of any kind are not my idea of good places to do anything at all. Instead, having been sent there by the "Daily Kos," I appreciated the illustration purely on its own merits, because I saw it as another shot that ranks right up there with the photoshopped one of the otherwise severely twisted right wing female would-be wonk, Sarah Palin, that some time ago I also posted here, somewhere. I don't post many of those masterpieces of the photographic arts, so pay attention or you'll miss something.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

At the Mercy of Idiots 1 -- Shooters

The greatest tragedy of modern American life has to be the extent to which all who are capable of as little as writing and maybe also speaking in complete sentences that make sense are at the mercy of the idiots among us. This is because with each passing day, it seems that these holdbacks are more and more in the majority, or at least they have the tightest grip on the cojones of the majority.

For example, take the gun nuts and the wildfires that had been devastating Colorado this summer, especially in and around Colorado Springs, the home, if I'm remembering correctly, of the glorious triumph of rock arrangement called the "Garden of the Gods."

People who have been combating the fires have been saying that a fair number were started by target shooters. Unlike bullets with jackets made of other metals, such as copper and lead, it seems that steel-jacketed bullets bring about a shower of flame-inducing sparks whenever they hit rocks. When taking a stand on things I go by logic more than by anything else, and that seems perfectly logical to me. Also, not satisfied with empty whiskey bottles and beer cans, the shooters sometimes use explosive targets that, when hit, spray the immediate area with stuff that quickly enough can set afire dead, dry debris on the forest and brushland floors.

As you might expect, two things then happen.

One is that instead of following the logic of those warnings and saving their shooting for rainier, snowier, and safer days, the shooters instead loudly continue to assert their right to do their shooting wherever and whenever they please, while wheeling up their big cannon of unreason that all such proponents of harmful causes use, namely that there is no real evidence that these things that they so love to do actually have such dire results, or at least in such quantity.

The second thing is that the shooters bring up the Second Amendment, and so in effect they're saying that by so modifying the U.S. Constitution, the writers of that guiding document gave the gun-obsessed people permission to set fires to their neighbors' property and homes and to Mother Nature's great good works in general, two and a half centuries later.

In that light, it's been pointed out as being too bad that all the homes lost in the Colorado wild fires could not have been confined to being those owned by members of the National Rifle Association.

I wouldn't go so far as to think that, even though it can't be denied that that idea has a logic that has a certain attractiveness of its own, if we lived in a world in which concepts like "just deserts" and "fairness" were more than being merely just some words and nothing else.