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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.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Trayvon Martin Scream for Help

Someone who lived close to the spot where the deadly encounter between G. Zimmerman and T. Martin took place made a 911 call to the authorities, and in the background one of the combatants can be heard screaming for help -- then sudden silence ensues after the sound of gunfire.

On the grounds that their methods are questionable, the judge has ruled that testimony of two sound experts about this cry for help cannot be introduced into the trial proceedings.  One of these experts had concluded that this desperate entreaty was uttered by Martin, while the other had said that the matter was uncertain but that the screamer could not have been Zimmerman.  This ruling is considered to be a blow to the prosecution, and meanwhile the Zimmerman devotees are certain that the cry came from their guy, therefore the "self-defense" nonsense.

Let's see now.  Can't logic and total probability play any part here?

We note that one of the combatants is armed only with a bag of some munchies called "Skittles," a container of tea, and a cellphone.

We also note that the other one, the aggressor and the one who precipitated the whole thing by stalking the teenager, is armed with an operable handgun, and in its chambers are real and equally operable bullets.

So which person is by far the one most likely to have been afraid for his life and calling for help, especially given the only too obvious fact that armies of people have been killed by others wielding handguns, and in fact that is a daily occurrence in the U.S., in droves.  And while we're at it, we might also ask why so many people of Zimmerman's patrilineal pigmentation are so busy mobbing gun stores and gun shows to scoop up tools much like the one that Zimmerman carried, for the express but carefully unexpressed (in public) purpose of mass shootings of people of Trayvon Martin's persuasion, should they get the chance?  Yet there've been no reports of similar runs for the items that the teenager was carrying, and, as far as I know, history is notably light on recording cases of anyone being killed with a bottle of tea, a cellphone, or a bag of "Skittles."  That is, unless the ever avid firearms death industry has been adding its expertise to the design of cellphones, a development that has not yet made the news, though quite likely that point might be already close at hand.

The idea that a bulky, 207-pound guy with a loaded gun in his pocket is afraid of getting his brains bashed out or of otherwise being offed by an unarmed youth 50 pounds lighter seems totally ridiculous to me.  And this is especially confirmed by how visual sightings as well as noting Zimmerman’s actions during this whole thing combined with his uniformly nondescript career up to and including the present time suggest without any doubt that as much as 90 percent of his noggin is pure bone, making it clearly impervious to serious damage inflicted by anything short of a wrecking ball.

 Yet in his opening statement, one of the defense attorneys, who must share Zimmerman’s cranial bone excess, after beginning his spiel by telling a “knock-knock" joke that fell completely flat and was an insult to the jury, decided to go still farther into lala land by finding a weapon  after all for Trayvon Martin.   He argued that Martin had brought along a concealed weapon in the form of a concrete sidewalk, with which the back of Zimmerman’s head is thought to have come into contact, at the time if not later.

   But of course this “self-defense” flipdoodle is not at all ridiculous to those who are so committed to seeing Zimmerman literally getting away with murder.  Such people never ever let absurdity stand in their way.   It's a big part of the American Experience, and all the Trayvon Martin survivors with his kind of melanin count know that only too well.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Sex and Money

Maybe I've said this before, but lately it has seemed to me that the most dangerous thing in the world is not terrorism, war, undying bigotry, religion blindly pursued, drug addiction, global warming, urges to murder, or even right-wing political thinking.   Instead it must be sex.   A person can get into trouble from that, in a thousand ways, quicker and easier than from any other actions.

This is shown by all the strictures that are put on sexual activities -- something that is found nowhere else in the animal kingdom except in the part of it occupied by humans.  And it is also shown by the extreme punishments meted out in the name of sex by legal systems, especially in the U.S., against all perceived infractions of those strictures -- punishments that usually are out of all proportion to the harm done by the "infraction."

Speaking of those dangers of the world,  I've also been thinking that money is second only to sex among them.

I must've known this all along, because, just as I have never been sex-obsessed, I have also stayed as far away as I could from all possibilities of becoming rich.  It has always seemed best to have just enough to live on modestly and no more.

I only have one close friend that could be called truly rich, though he would probably deny being in that situation, vigorously.   One manifestation of my attitude toward wealth was shown when, a few years ago, he offered to give me a top grade telescope that he had sitting in his living room and had seldom if ever used.   I, however,  refused the offer.   I had always wanted just such an item, but I saw that telescope as being way too fine and useful an object, for him to be simply giving it away, and I figured that if I had really wanted and needed such an implement, by that time I would have contrived to save up and buy one on my own.

And besides, now that my eyesight is slowly growing less acute, for me the night skies are gradually emptying of stars, and there was never any chance of me going to one of those incredibly distant places in outer space anyway, or even to a destination as close as the Moon, so that those longings, too, have lost all their previous interest.

For that matter,  I haven't even stirred myself to get on a plane or a boat and go to Spain to see "Las Meninas" ("Ladies in Waiting") by Velasquez, or that other huge painting of a Spanish royal family done by Goya that made them look like such a fantastic row of cretins to be in charge of one of Europe's most important countries at the time.   Nor have I made it to Egypt to see the big stone piles, much as I would like to see such wonders.  The most I did in that area was to go to Japan, and such is my twisted nature and therefore also the experiences that Fate provides for me, that I went to that country that is so distant in so many ways, to the exclusion of all others except Canada, not once but three times, the first time involuntarily, at the behest of the U.S. Air Force.   But now I no longer see those ventures as having been the highlights of my life that they once were.

Now, seeing how the desire to be rich and the actions of those who are already rich are responsibile for so many of the really intractable evils of the world, I wonder how I came to be so lucky that I can keep on existing while avoiding having wealth weighing  on my conscience.

It can't be native genius, so it must instead have surely come from being born and raised during the Great Depression, when most people didn't have much money, yet -- far from being as deplorable as it is thought to be now -- being in such a state was even considered by many to be a virtue, because it meant that a person wasn't screwing anybody or one's self, the same as is also done by the pursuit of sex too far out of need and too deeply into mere desire.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Embarrassment of George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman, a predator of humans and clearly the stalker and by his own admission the subsequent slayer of a rainbow (my word for "black"-- the LGBT community doesn't have nearly as good a claim to the term) teenager named Trayvon Martin, was finally arrested a while ago, after a largely unexplained delay of several weeks.  After thereupon having been securely sequestered somewhere in the Florida justice system for a similar period, he was granted bail of $150,000, which seemed light when compared to the magnitude of his crime and its widespread notoriety, and now, after yet another long period, his trial on a charge of second degree murder has finally started, and this coming week, after an extended jury selection process, the first testimony is about to be heard.

Maybe some things that we didn't already read long ago will come out.

After Zimmerman came out on bail, his whereabouts again became unknown for a time.  Using a tactic calculated to help build up the sympathy that is sure to come in handy for him during this trial, his handlers, defenders, and apologists claimed that he was again in hiding, out of fear for his safety. But there can be no doubt that instead he was being carefully kept out of sight  because it had been realized that he is such a big embarrassment to all those on the conservative, hateful side of things that he is a big minus for everybody, no matter how one chooses to look at this.

After the incident in Sanford, Florida, there were numerous searches into the background of the murdered Trayvon Martin, in attempts to find anything at all of an unsavory nature that could even remotely be used to justify Zimmerman killing him, though at the time Martin was not committing any crime at all, short of indulging in the normal vacuousness of a 17-year-old teenager. He was merely noodling along that evening, strolling back to where he was staying in that gated community while packing nothing more than the inevitable cellphone and some tea and a bag of something called "skittles" (which to me denotes only chess games played purely for fun but these days seems to denote something that could be edible) that he had just bought. But the rightwingers could come up with nothing with a usefulness that didn't evaporate in about 10 seconds.  That's what happens when anything called "skittles" is involved.

Less effort was spent on Zimmerman's background, when it became obvious that his prior existence hadn't been anything that anyone, certainly not his Peruvian mother or his Euro father, could've been proud of.  He had no noticeable vocation or avocation, though I saw somewhere that some years ago he worked for a company that took care of yards and gardens, and he was fired for being too aggressive with the customers.  So what was that all about?

Otherwise, one looked in vain for any indication that Zimmerman, a supposedly grown man of 28 or 29, with a conservative judge for a father, had ever had anything resembling a program, that is, a set of worthwhile goals or interests that serve as consistent themes for a person's existence. Moreover, it should be noticed that very few statements from either his mouth or his keyboard have seen the light of day.

Some who studied the videos that were made of him during his first appearance in court on this matter described him as being "shifty-eyed," which suggested that he has marbles rolling around loose in his head.  That was verified when it came time to post that bail and, on the plea of indigence made by the latest of the several lawyers who had taken turns coming to his aid, the others having meanwhile seen fit to bail out on Zimmerman themselves, saying that he didn't seem to want to be bothered with staying in touch with them, his family had to put up the 10 percent of the 150 K that was required before he could leave the jailhouse and go back into unofficial hiding, and Zimmerman neglected to tell his new lawyer that via the weird website he had set up for donations, he had quickly raked in a cool $204,000 (which makes one wonder anew why hatred and bigotry is invariably so lucrative in this land that on one day of each year makes a big thing of celebrating peace on earth and good will to man.)

Aside from these indications of how mentally challenged this man gives so many signs of being, Zimmerman's numerous defenders and justifiers also cannot be happy with the way that he brought off his execution of Trayvon Martin, even if, in their eyes, that was an achievement of real merit.  ("One more of those subhumans off the street and a big warning to all those of his kind!" they would have happily mouthed to each other, over their martinis and beers.)  But the bad side for them was that he did it in a way and under circumstances that attracted far too many doubts and questions that prevented the killing from being swept under the rug in the usual expeditious manner. The fact that Zimmerman continued to follow the youth after being told by the police not to do that is damaging, big time, and it will be interesting to see how his lawyers will get around that, in this trial that, in Florida, is nevertheless sure to result in a sentence, if any, as light as his bail.

This will not be before his attorneys will have to sandbag their way over a host of other high hurdles as well, because their contentions will be based on self-defense and Zimmerman's statement that at the moment of the shooting he was on the ground under Martin and being pummeled badly.

His position on the ground, despite his big weight advantage of being 50 pounds heavier at the time than the 158-pound Trayvon Martin, might still have been actually the case, because Zimmerman had a gun and his prey didn't. If you have a gun, you feel that you're above having to use your fists, especially if you're weak on wits.   And Zimmerman had a gun while Martin's arsenal consisted only of some tea, the bag of "skittles," and the cellphone.  That stark disparity in weaponry bears no end of repeating.

  Ironically, however, this will be a defense with which Zimmerman, if he had a full set of wits, could not conceivably be otherwise happy, because it would say that by being the one that was flat on his back and under his much lighter adversary and getting the worst of it, as he claims, he was not nearly as much a man as the considerably slimmer teenager that he had accosted.

All indications are that G. Zimmerman's thought processes were too limited to permit him to expect that someone he was stalking would have the colossal effrontery to turn and ask him what he thought he was doing -- a question that Zimmerman would not have been equipped to readily answer, because he wasn't thinking.   That is, if indeed Martin did turn or circle around and challenge him.  The numerous media accounts of what happened say that while following Martin, Zimmerman lost sight of the youth, and then the next thing he knew Martin was jumping him.

The sound of that proposition, like most things about this case, doesn't sound right.  What?  Are Zimmerman's eyes and ears also severely impaired?  Well, his eyes do appear to be set so unusually close together that that might distort his perceptions of depth, position, and the like.

In any case it also appears that he didn't know that the gun he was carrying didn't automatically give him the power over others and the authority that he had expected.   Was this because he didn't quickly produce it?   But if he had, is it at all likely that his prey would have approached him in any manner? No. Instead we have the dead Martin already testifying himself, in the form of the cellphone call he made to his girl friend, complete with a photo, in which he is essentially pleading to  her or somebody, 'Get me outta here!"  Though, being a kid, and seeing Zimmerman's eyes, at first he could also have taken the whole thing as some kind of gag, and thus the photo.

 It could very well have been, then, that Zimmerman was trying to inform his quarry by struggling to get out the gun that he had no business having, there or anywhere else, only to find himself forced to fend off some blows first, in a furious melee that he had brought about but hadn't anticipated.

 All in all, carrying a gun into any situation that has a potential for being a whirlwind of happenstance and the unexpected is a recipe for disaster and a sign of a lack of intelligence.

I wonder how many of the above points will be discussed in the trial?

All these meanwhile are signs that G. Zimmerman is a dim bulb indeed, and therefore he even drops somewhat below the usually poor credibility for being cast as a hero of the conservatives.  Nevertheless they can be counted on to demand Zimmerman's complete  exoneration, for what to all intents and purposes amounts to being a clear case of premeditated murder, even while, because of the obvious scattering of his gray matter, they would also prefer to keep only the back of his head instead of the front turned to the world.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Israel and Gemany

Of the many things about the state of Israel that are beyond me, the biggest is the question of why the Israelis are so interminably vicious with the Palestinians, when you would think that, because of the enormous amount of suffering and genocide that a huge number of people of their persuasion suffered at the hands of the Germans in the 1930's and '40's, their unending bile would be directed entirely against the Germans instead.   After all, it is beyond all doubt that there wasn't one Palestinian guard at Auschwitz or policing the cattle cars on the railway routes to any of the other German concentration and extermination camps.   But isn't totally illogical thinking and acting of a piece with how the 9/ll airliner hijackers were largely from Egypt and especially Saudi Arabia, with none from Afghanistan or Iraq, yet it was those latter two countries and not at all the first two that the GWBush administration hit hard in reprisal?

A year or two ago I read that a lot of Israelis are taking out insurance policies in the form of getting passports and visas to Germany, against the event of things getting too hot in and around Israel.   I wasn't sure of the veracity or the reasoning behind that till on the BBC News site I saw an article saying that in the Berlin area, as many as 25,000 Israelis are now thought to be happily living.

So here you have Israelis moving back in with the Germans, while the Netanyahus and the Liebermans remaining behind in the Promised Land have, in dealing with the Palestinians, used  techniques perfected by the Nazis to eliminate Jews, especially  the Goebbels tactic of presenting lies as truths.

These Israelis settling back in Germany aren't your ordinary "common man" people.   They are instead artists, intellectuals, and others of that ilk, who paint a picture of Israel as being a gray, culturally deprived place that doesn't offer a good atmosphere for creative and benign activities, and they say that Germany, or at least the area in and around Berlin, offers much better opportunities for that kind of the good life.

That may be so.   Still, if I were them, I wouldn't trust the Germans too much in that respect.

Yet who am I to be saying that, when here I am, a person to whom many in their less guarded moments would apply the notorious "n-word," born and raised in strongly liberal D.C., yet now living not  overjoyously but at least reasonably contentedly enough in the heart of rural Virginia, the former capital and most important of the Confederate states and the first of the slave states?

Yet I don't fully trust Virginia either, and I'm not here because of that state's prevailing winds and philosophies, as reflected these days in factors like its fondness for executing people, for electing Republican regressives, and for allowing those idiots to put into place policies that include some of the deadliest anti-woman measures of any state in the Union.   I'm here mostly because I wanted to have a big garden and to build my own house -- amenities that, as I used to like to say, though invariably the responses would be a dead silence accompanied by frowns  of resentment, "weren't available in D.C. even to Ronald Reagan."
From all that I've been able to see, blind unreasoning bigotry doesn't die easily in the human soul.   In fact, it never dies at all.   Instead its practitioners, in the times when they've been subdued, merely keep their heads down while sharpening their knives and waiting for their chances to re-emerge and assert themselves once again, because enlightenment doesn't burn brightly forever, anywhere.

No one should know that better than Israelis.   Yet, whether in and around Tel Aviv, Berlin, or the halls of the U.S. Congress, they seem to have dumped all awareness of that perpetual truth.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Standing Idly By (re: Syria)

With the Syrian rendition of the Arab Spring having now stretched into several years, during which upwards of 60,000 people have lost their lives, the Obama administration is coming under strong attack from those numerous quarters who know that they know better, because at last the Administration has come down more on one side than on the other.  Using the language employed by B. Netanyahu in relation to Iran and its supposed and, if true, perfectly legitimate desire as a sovereign state to develop its own version of the nuclear weapons that Israel and the U.S. themselves already possess in droves, the U.S. President now says that the Syrian government under al-Assad has finally crossed his, Obama's, "red line," by having used chemical weapons against the rebels at least four times.   Not much mention was made of all those slaughtered citizens by whatever means and the incredible mess that that has left of Syria in so many ways.   No.  Mainly only  the chemical weapons -- the vaunted WMD's -- weapons of mass destruction.

So the admininstration now proposes not at all to send in troops, which you would think it has proposed, if all the howls of outrage were any sign.   Instead it plans only to supply the rebels with light weapons that don't require any special training in their use.   No heavy weapons, which the rebels would appreciate much, much more.   And no no-fly zones, a tactic that was successfully used by the NATO allies in Libya to keep Gaddafi from succeeding in an identical al-Assad-type mass slaughter of his own people, with or without poison gas.

Likening this move to an earlier Obama policy, people will still stupidly scream, " Look at Libya and see what that brought us!"

Okay, let's look at Libya.   First of all, aside from morally helping the British and the French to get started in sending planes to enforce the no-fly zone and later by furnishing "intelligences" of various types, I don't recall the U.S. taking an active part in the Libyan fight, and it certainly didn't supply any troops on the ground.   The Libyans rid themselves of Gaddafi largely through their own blood and tears.

I suppose that Obama's critics would point instead to what happened in Benghazi in Libya more recently, which involved the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans when thugs took advantage of protests over a badly advised anti-Muslim film to attack not the U.S. embassy but a building being used by the CIA instead and where the ambassador just happened to be present.   But that was just four guys.   I know that the popular equation is that one American life always equals any number from ten to several thousands of foreign lives, especially if those foreigners are not the right color, that is, a European hue.   But let's be for real here, and let's also avoid the "Who's counting?" tomfoolery.   Instead, let's ask ourselves, "Four against sixty thousand?"   Non-American lives mean nothing to ordinary, God-fearing Americans, but on the other sides of the several oceans it's quite a different matter.

This critics of the American move that is now finally being made with regard to Syria also argue vehemently that in heeding advice that has supposedly been standing firmly for American presidents ever since George Washington, the U.S. should always avoid involving itself in foreign entanglements, especially civil wars.   And associated with that is the more recent popular motto that the U.S. is not  the world's police.   But there are two meanings to the word "police" in its verb form.   One is the usual snarling, pistol-packing meaning, and the other is far less well-known unless one has served in a boot camp of some kind, and that is the act of going around picking up any and all little pieces of trash to be found on the ground, mainly cigarette butts -- an activity commonly called "policing the area."

Of course it would be best not to feel obliged to police the world, in either sense of the word, but that is in fact just what the U.S. has been doing ever since the Japanese kicked it into taking part in World War II.   No other country has so many military bases of all sizes scattered all over the world.   No other country has special forces roaming through as many as 65 other countries, under the guise of sniffing out terrorists.   No other country. not even Russia, has such an enormous military that has set itself up to be lords of outer space, the air, the land, everywhere above and below the surfaces of the seas, and even on the Internet.   No other country invests so much money in those armed forces, even to the detriment of everything else that makes it supposedly a civilized country.   And a large part of those forces are posted on the waters adjoining the Middle East, where Syria occupies a linchpin spot.

So, instead of just standing idly by, why not lend a hand to trying to end the widespread slaughter of Syrians, finally -- a move that should've been made many thousands of Syrian lives ago, when it became perfectly obvious that al-Assad was not going to be anywhere near as respectful of the lives of his fellow citizens as was the ruler in Tunisia, or even Mubarak in Egypt, but instead was bent on keeping the Assad family in charge down to the last living Syrian.

"But ...but... what about Iraq?" these critics would finally sputter.

OK.   What about Iraq?   Going in there was nowhere near the mercy mission that dispersing the al-Assad forces would be.  The GW Bush ravishment of Iraq had other motives, none of them admirable in the least.   One was gaining control of the oil pumps.  Another was to make the Israelis happier.   And a third, and maybe the biggest motive was for Bush to strut his stuff, and ostensibly to complete some unfinished business left behind by his father, though Bush's intention was not at all to justify the man.

Bush's father also happened to be a U.S. President just a few years earlier (another indication of how lacking the Republican Party has been in having any figures with any semblance of true stature, so that they have had to depend inordinately on that one family, to the point that they are undoubtedly looking longingly at a third Bush for the next cycle -- the equally undistinguished Jeb).  Though the elder Bush was a considerably more sensible chief exec than GW, few might recall that he was always dogged by the charge of being just a big wimp, and the fact that when Saddam was driven out out of Kuwait, Bush stopped short of going all the way up into Iraq, so that Saddam was still there when GW Bush came in, serving as a means for the son to show off what turned out to be not all the size of his codpiece but instead the size of his behind, for one and all to see.

The trump card that is used for critics of the Obama move is the fact that the terrorist organization that Obama and all the U.S. is pledged to obliterate -- al-Qaida -- has already pledged support to the rebels.   But in World War 2, wasn't FDR glad enough to side with the dreaded Communists of the USSR?

In any case, I don't see how simply standing idly by while the ruler of perhaps the Middle East's most key country outside of Eygpt, uses his equipment superiority to murder his protesting fellow citizens into submission can be much of a foreign policy, especially for a country that has the mightiest Navy in the world standing in a big star-spangled funk just offshore of there.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Phone Call Garbage Collection

A great deal of the American scene seems to be aghast at the sudden revelation that for years the government has been using various communications carriers to listen in on phone conversations and the like of an entity called "millions of Americans."

Well, if all you mainstream people don't have anything else to worry about -- and there are plenty of much more important things to worry about, beginning first and foremost  with climate change -- then have at it.

I think that what we see here, in all this outrage about the government collecting data on all our phone calls, emails, internet posts, and the like is nothing more than a mass display of gross self-importance, based on the highly mistaken but apparently universal notion that anything in one's phone calls is worth being collected by the NSA or anybody else, when what you have going over the phone lines everywhere and all the time are merely whole mountain ranges consisting of absolutely nothing but total inanities.  And so on those grounds, if such information is being collected in such volume (the "millions of Americans" nonsense). then the outrage should instead be directed at the idea that the government would expend as much as one minute and one dollar delving into all those teratons of verbal offal.

     --If that were possible, that is.   But I doubt that the computer wizards have yet to devise machines with enough power and, if I may say so, enough stomach to sift through all the billions of phone conversations that are carried on daily to make any sense of it at all, and I suspect all this is just a dodge instead, to make us think that the powers that be are on the job, in the so-called "War on Terror," that, because of the clumsy way that his enemies and victims keep conducting it, Osama Bin Laden continues to win, even from his current perch at the bottom of the sea.

How much better it would be if a way could be found to eliminate ringing and ringtoning, to which we are expected and trained to respond instantly, like chimpanzees in a lab hoping for another goodie to come tumbling down the chute.   Having a ringing device suddenly and periodically destroying one's peace and quiet -- now there you have a real invasion of privacy.