Monday, October 31, 2011

Nowhere to Go

Is there nowhere to run on this globe from the baleful, sinister, and destructive power corporations hold over all our lives? No wonder there's a worldwide outbreak of visible protests against what they are doing to us. Listen, the "Occupy" movements that are happening everywhere are an encouraging sign. An indication that people are aware of what's happening to them. The pain that's being inflicted, the utter unfairness of what's being done to people all over the globe just so these monstrously rich companies can get even richer, can squeeze even more out of people who for over thirty years have been steadily bled by corporate and personal greed. I could probably blog every day on corporate malfeasance. It's a subject that never ends.

A case in point: I read that President Obama has ordered the FDA to "take actions to help reduce prescription drug shortages." Say what? Yes, that's correct. This year, in fact, shortages of over 200 of them have been reported--and this is near a record for this type of thing--involving cancer drugs, anesthetics for surgery patients, emergency medicines, electrolytes that patients need for IVs, and more. So what happens is treatment is delayed, surgeries postponed, or "make do with costlier and less-effective substitutes." Emphasis on costlier.

The FDA says many drugs in short supply are injectable, harder to manufacture, store, and ship. There are also supposedly manufacturing issues and raw materials shortages. Don't know about you, but this sounds like Big Pharma smoke. Why? Get this: "Companies may stop manufacturing older drugs in favor of newer, more profitable drugs, and the FDA can't require a firm to keep making a drug it wants to discontinue." What does that tell you? Tells me that generics are being discontinued along with the others that don't make as much profit.

The new executive order is not going to get at the root of the problem, which is unbridled greed. It's just going to require the FDA to urge drug manufacturers to voluntarily tell FDA about looming potential shortages so there will be earlier warnings. Oh, and the FDA is also going to monitor for price gouging. Monitor! Are you kidding me? Here's what the FDA spokesperson said about the current situation: "In recent months, we've heard reports of enormous markups such a blood pressure medicine usually priced at $26 being sold for $1,200." Do you think this is going to change with the FDA "monitoring"? This executive order is window dressing. Big Pharma is murdering us again. Bastards!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Anything They Choose

The other day before I was so rudely and awfully interrupted by the Texas Ranger meltdown in the World Series, I was discussing the imminent shutdown of WikiLeaks, which is being brought on by the big credit card companies (banks) and online payment companies refusal to process donations to WikiLeaks. This has essentially cut off the website from it's life blood. Indeed, WikiLeaks has shut down publishing anything for the rest of the year to concentrate on fund-raising. I wish them well. They need $3.5 million to continue through next year.

Let me observe something else that's sinister about what these big money people are doing. I have already mentioned the debatable nature of the great bulk of what gets slapped with a security classification. I saw stuff classified in the Air Force and at Special Ops that you could read in any decent newspaper. This is what happens when you give the power to classify stuff to 100,000 paranoid idiots.

But is isn't what I wanted to point out. What I did want to underscore was the obvious. The immense, murderous power being wielded by these financial institutions. Here we have a case of their snuffing out the life of an organization they don't approve of under the guise of helping protect the "national interest" of the United States. Are you serious? Believe it: there's no "patriotism"--what an abused word!--no concern for the security of the country in what these companies do. It's an exercise of raw power. They have reasons of their own for stifling the hell out of websites that expose the shams and shames of government and corporations. WikiLeaks is the deathly enemy of deeds done in the dark. It can escape no one's notice that if Big Finance can snuff the life out of WikiLeaks, they can snuff the life out of anything they choose.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's Over

The dream is over.

My beloved Texas Rangers lost the seventh game of the World Series tonight by a score of 6-2. What more is there to say?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

There Are Not Words . . .

. . . to express the horror, the rage, the crushing disappointment of watching the baseball team that you have given your heart to for over a quarter century get within one strike of winning the World Series twice and then go on to lose the game in the bottom of the 11th inning to a weaker team, a team that but for a series of miracles would not even be in the World Series. I cannot find the words for the feeling that gives you. The best commentary on the game from the Texas Ranger point of view is at BBTIA with the accompanying comments from shattered Ranger fans.

Here is an email exchange I had with one of my very best friends. We jumped through all the doctorate hoops at LSU together. He's a true baseball fan, and a true friend. He understands.

Have been out of pocket several days—just back from the Southern [Historical Association convention].  Of course, your name came up on several occasions, especially after the painful loss in the World Series.   If there has ever been a more painful loss in the World Series, I don’t know when it was.  Marius and I were going to turn in at decent hour (we were in Baltimore on Eastern Time) but got hooked about the middle of Game 6.   We ran into a number of stunned Texans at the conference.  I felt for you, bro
George, you are one of the truest of friends to understand the unbelievable hurt. There are not words to describe the crushing disappointment, the devastation. Baseball is the cruelest of sports. Bart Giamatti said the game was designed to break your heart. How utterly right he was. Of course, there are myriad explanations, all in retrospect, as to what might have been done in game 6 to avert disaster, but the ballplayers say they just "didn't get it done." That's as good a place to leave it as any.

Save this one observation: Ranger pitching, except for a few shining exceptions, just went south for most of this Series. As for the loss of the whole thing, I don't think there's a baseball team out there that could have recovered from game 6. Like I told my similarly saddened sons: this is like a wake service that never gets over. I don't think I can recover till next April, and maybe not even then.
Box score and play-by-play are here.

Slow Strangulation

I recently found out (here) that WikiLeaks, that notorious or glorious site depending on your political proclivities, is probably going out of business by the end of the year. Reason: American financial companies have refused to process donation payments to Wikileaks. After the site published a quarter million state department cables, U.S. credit card and online payment companies decided they were not going to sully themselves with assisting this activity. Their action of course is slow but sure strangulation of the web site. According to its founder, Julian Assange, "If WikiLeaks does not find a way to remove this blockade, we will simply not be able to continue by the turn of the new year." In order to devote the organization's full time to raising money, Assange said that "publication operations" would cease for the nonce.

I'm sorry, but I see this whole affair as quite sinister, and far more threatening than the public service WikiLeaks is performing by outing the State Department and the Defense Department* secrecy.The reason for secrecy is these agencies, which exist on our tax dollars, don't want us to know, obviously, what sort of activities we're paying for. I worked in DoD for over 30 years, and I saw lots of classified material. And I'm here to tell you there was no rational reason for the vast majority of it to be classified. That said, I think the American people generally would be appalled by the kind of things that are being done in their name by our country. That's why Assange is doing a public service shining a light on this stuff.

More on this later.

*Before publishing the diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks had published nearly a half million military documents, some of which were classified, from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Papist Proclivities

I read recently (here) that the religious beliefs of the one out of four Americans who call themselves Catholic are all over the lot. Fully 86 percent of them are not bothered that people holding beliefs contrary to official Church teaching consider themselves good members of the church. Even more amazing, four in ten Catholics say that you can be a good Catholic without believing in the "real presence" of Christ in the Eucharistic bread and wine. Other interesting findings, in line with these ideas: less than a third (31 percent) of Catholics attend weekly mass, and nearly half (47 percent) don't go to mass as often as once a month.

It's their own moral views, not those of the Church, that matter say over half of Catholics, even those who attend mass every week. The sexual scandal has had a devastating effect on people's view of the Church leadership. Eighty-three percent think the scandal has sapped leadership's political credibility; 77 percent thinks it's damaged pastors' abilities to minister. And only 29 percent (doubtless the troglodyte element) think the bishops have done a good or excellent job in dealing with the issue. I'm frankly amazed that any percentage at all could believe this.

The reason I even take time to notice all this, and find some of it amazing, is that I well remember the Church that was adamant about the necessity of believing everything taught by the Church lest your immortal soul be endangered. (It wasn't that long ago, if you're a geezer like me. It was million years ago if the only Catholic Church you know is the post-Vatican II one.) That has changed completely. I note with some dismay, however, that opposition to the death penalty is still relatively rare among Catholics. None of the numbers to the left there particularly surprise or bother me. Indeed, this chart more or less mirror my own feelings, except I oppose the death penalty a good deal more vehemently.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An Excellent Idea

I first heard of this idea from Jame Kuntsler's column today. That is, a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would preclude corporations from claiming protections under the bill of rights. That is, an amendment that specifically undoes the 19th century Supreme Court decision by which corporations were defined as "persons" and thereby entitled to the rights that you or I have as a citizen of this country and, be it noted, as a real, genuine person with a pulse and all that. Section 1 of this proposed amendment says it all: "The U.S. Constitution protects only the rights of living human beings." What an excellent idea.

Who would have ever thought it could be otherwise? But in the madness that seems to infect our national government from Supreme Court to the Congress to the Defense Department and beyond, we confront a situation where the rights of corporations and unions to free speech (first amendment) entitles them to give unlimited amounts of money, and in most cases, unaccountable money, to influence elections. This as a result of the egregious Citizens United v FEC decision of last year. In plain English, what this decision did was turn over control of elections in this country to concentrated wealth. It is no longer a figure of speech--it it ever was--to describe a senator or member of Congress as bought and paid for.

We are about to embark on our first presidential election under these newly established "rights" for corporations and unions. (I mention the latter solely for accuracy . . . there is no comparison in terms of dollars available to buy elections.) Already, the sums of money being amassed by the president and his prospective challengers is obscene. And it's just going to get worse.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cannot Resist

I cannot resist quoting James Kuntsler at some length today. As I've mentioned before, he reminds me a lot of Hunter S. Thompson in the skillful and entertaining way he dispenses bile and venom onto the heads of the so richly deserving. He's talking here about the proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the notion of personhood from corporations. Check it out:
One idea floating around the Internet is very good: a constitutional amendment aimed at redefining downward the alleged "person-hood" of corporations, so as to drive vast amounts of money out of our politics. Notice that the President of the US shows no interest in this idea. If the President were an honorable fellow, he would announce his intention to decline running for a second term. A free-for-all in the Democratic Party may be the only thing that can save it from extinction. Not since the Whigs under Millard Fillmore has a US political party been so feeble and purposeless. It can crawl off and die now. Something else will take its place, I'm sure. I wish Occupy Wall Street would show up at the next Republican candidates' debate and hurl bushels of rotten tomatoes at the fakers and imbeciles arrayed on the stage. They need to be publicly humiliated beyond their own self-induced humiliations when they open their pie-holes to yap about "faith in God" and "liberty" and "family values" and all the other mendacious platitudes from their scanty trick-bag of so-called ideas. They make me ashamed to be an American - as if there wasn't already enough.
This is the first intimation, nay, outright charge, that Obama lacks honor. I don't think Kuntsler is overstating his case, which as you may have noticed, he does frequently. If you think about it, how honorable was this president when he led all his millions of supporters in 2008 to believe that he was someone we could count on to move the country in a different direction? someone who would make difference? He talked progressive-ism and delivered the opposite. As you see, Kuntsler has no use for either one of the parties. He's exactly where I am, or vice versa.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

God Awful!

Yes, I am a grown man. An educated man. A man of some culture. A man who entertains serious thoughts on a fairly regular basis. A man who published commercially: books, poems, other writings of all kinds. A man who prides himself on being rational and having the ability to separate wheat from chaff.

All of the above, but I have to tell you, against all reason and despite all these protestations, I am completely and utterly distraught over what happened tonight to the Texas Rangers in their own ballpark in the third game of the World Series. The were crushed by the St Louis Cardinals 16-7 (when it's that bad, it's humiliation, not just defeat). Ranger pitching sucked, their defense sucked (3 errors, all costly). The bats were acceptable, but they could have been golden in this game and it would not have mattered. The team played a really lousy game. They were God awful. It got so bad I turned the game off before it was over. Almost an unimaginable act.

I'm just sick. And really berating myself inwardly for being so attached to a damn baseball team. There are some pretty famous essays about this game that speak to this aspect of it, how it causes you to die a little, how it breaks your heart. I could write such a thing myself right now.

Play-by-play and box score are here. See also here for NY Times account.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


That's exactly what it is. Incredible. This post is #1000 in the continuing series that constitute this blog. The very first post I made to the brand new "What Powderfinger Said" (still a very clever title, I think) blog was about guns, one of my "crazed obsessions" that put in an appearance here fairly frequently. The date was April 25, 2008, before the election of that year, back when I had all kinds of faith in Obama, when I actually thought the political process could make a real difference. Back when George W. Bush, who I habitually refer to throughout as "the vile little pretender in the White House," was still disgracing the White House by his presence there. Back before the great real estate crash, the Great Recession (is that what we're calling it?), and of course the great bailout, which saved the banks so they could continue to rape us all daily, and so they could continue to award their top executives obscene amounts of money and grow even bigger than they were when they were too big to fail. Back before the oil spill. Back before the unbelievable fact of the Texas Rangers playing in the World Series for two straight years.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since April 2008. It occurs to me that we had only been back in Oklahoma for a year at that point. I could have never foreseen that here, three-and-a-half years later, I'd still be keeping up with this blog. Particularly in view of the fact that nobody reads it--or practically nobody-- that it's sometime tedious, often tendentious, or otherwise unworthy of either my time or anybody else's time. But for all that, the blog has survived, and it's undergone some few cosmetic changes until it pretty well hardened into what you see here now.

Recently my daughter changed the theme of her blog and in addition to sprucing up its looks. But the biggest change she instituted was restricting her entries to three a week. A necessary move, probably, because she spends God only knows how many hours on Facebook every week, and she does have a job and my two grandchildren to raise. Cannot understand that Facebook attraction, but do see the wisdom of limiting number of posts. I may seriously consider that idea myself. I'm so compulsive, this blog takes me away from stuff I should be doing: reading more books, writing more poems, walking the dog, chilling myself out with fewer blog entries about stuff that pisses me off but I cannot do anything about.

So here's to another 1000 posts . . . if I last that long.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


As in "flat on your butt"--which is the way you will be if something like a flat-tax plan ever passes. This flat-tax idea seems to be the latest gee-gaa plan being trotted out by the Republican candidates for the GOP nomination for president in next year's election. It's going to make everything better, they say. Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, beloved of the Tea Party nuts and flat-earth types who think science is absurd when they don't agree with its conclusions, is about to trot out his own flat tax proposal. It's a "me-too" move: Perry is countering the so-called "999 plan" being proposed by Herman Cain, the Godfather Pizza guy. One of the 999 triad is a 9 percent flat tax on incomes. Another is a 9 percent national sales tax (a consumption tax).

Here's all you need to know about these taxes the flat tax on incomes or on consumption: they're regressive. They fall much harder on middle and low income people than on the rich "for the simple reason that most lower income people use all of their income to pay for food, clothing, shelter and other consumption whereas members of the upper class have lots of cash to spare that they are unlikely ever to consume in their lifetimes. There are additional significant flaws in those tax schemes, like unrealistic economic assumptions, difficult transition paths, rosy revenue scenarios, misleading propaganda about rates and the probability that a national sales tax that cuts deeply into lower income finances will repress consumption that fuels small businesses." And they would join a lot of other regressive taxes already out there: state and municipal sales taxes, for example.

There's a really good discussion of why these tax proposals are good only for the uber rich right and why the Cain plan is even more regressive here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's Rarely Good News

. . . means new Harper's Index. I am always fascinated by these things, although I have to observe that my renditions of some what they've said over the months has not engendered much in the way of comment or observation. (Although to be quite candid about it, I'm always delighted to get some kind of response for anything I write here. Yeah, I know I said this blog is basically self-therapy, and that is indeed true, but just think about it: why would I spend countless hours and God only knows how many words doing this if I did not want to have other people read it? I'd be a liar if I told you otherwise. I'm always delighted to know somebody is out there and paying attention.)

The Harper's Index rarely gives us good news. But the juxtaposition of the facts are always interesting at the very least. Much of the time they're a lot more than just interesting. To wit:

What's wrong with the U.S. Post Office
  • Percentage of U.S. Postal Service Expenses that go to labor costs: 89
  • Of FedEx and UPS expenses, respectively: 41,48
They are not in the Army now
  • Estimated percentage of Americans aged 17 to 24 who are ineligible to join the military: 75
  • Respective rank of obesity, drug and alcohol problems, and low "aptitude" among the most common reasons for ineligibility: 1, 2, 3
Hidden misery
  • Portion of unemployed people in the U.S. who are covered by primary unemployment insurance: 1/4 (What in the world are the other 3/4 doing?)
They're crazy down there in Florida
  • Percentage of all oxycodone sold to doctors in the U.S. last year that went to Florida: 89
  • Date on Which Florida began requiring potential welfare recipients to pass a drug test before receiving benefits: 7/1/2011
  • Percentage who have failed the test: 2.5
  • Estimated amount this will save the state over the next year in denied benefits: $98,000
What? I had no idea there even was such a thing.
  • Number of "designer vagina" operations paid for by the British National Health Service last year: 2,000
  • Percentage of women seeking the procedure who were deemed to have "normal" genitalia in a 2010 study: 100
Is this surprising? Not really
  • Amount by which a typical good-looking U.S. worker will out-earn a typical ugly one over a lifetime: $230,000
  • Estimated amount that discrimiantion against the ugly cost America each year: $20 billion
  • Date on which Joe Walsh (R, IL) said Washington can't put "one more dollar of debt upon the back of my kids": 7/13/2011
  • Amount that Walsh currently owes in back child support: $98,422

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Great Man

Happy Birthday. Tutu is 80.
Several years ago when I was still living in Florida, I heard Bishop Desmond Tutu speak out on the University of South Florida's campus. I have to tell you, he was an amazing man. He had so much warmth, such love for people, it just oozed out of the guy. Plus a wonderful, rollicking sense of humor, and an infectious laugh that filled the auditorium when it struck. And he held his listeners positive rapt as he talked about the truth courts and the process of reconciliation between the races in this native South Africa. I still recall today, some twenty years later, how moved I was, how inspired. And how unworthy I felt of my own professed Christianity in the presence of this guy. I knew I was blessed to have been in the same room with him.

And lo, comes the latest issue of Vanity Fair (it's my wife's subscription, but naturally, since I don't have enough of my own stuff to read, I read a good bit of this magazine too) with a collection of quotes from Tutu given during a recent interview. Tell me this is not a class guy. Let me share some:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? When we all live together in harmony as one family, in real interdependence; when all have enough to eat, have enough clean water to drink, have decent health care, and we know war no more.
What is your greatest regret? Not telling people they had done very well often enough.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Not wanting so much to be loved.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Being treated as rubbish, as a nonperson.
What is your greatest extravagance? Rum-raisin ice cream.
What is your greatest fear? That we will destroy ourselves through our greed and our destruction of the environment.
What is your current state of mind? Joyful and serene.

Amen to all of it. Long may he live.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Once More!

What can a fan of the Texas Rangers say at this point but "Wow!" or "Holy Cow!"? And don't forget, "I told you so." The Rangers clinched a return to the World Series for the second year in a row tonight by destroying the Detroit Tigers in the 6th game of the ALCS playoff. The Rangers scored 15 runs, and even if you erase the 9-run third inning, they still scored enough to beat the Tigers. There are actually some who frequent this blog who disparaged the confidence I had in this Ranger team, even going so far as to intimate that pride (among the team's supporters, no less) would be the team's undoing. Well, so much for that theory. There's no more room for trash talk, indeed, for anything to be said about which team is the best in the American League. Indeed, in a few more days, the Rangers will quite likely prove they are the best team in baseball. They are a team on a mission, and the St Louis Cardinals are a lucky wild card team which, because it's currently hot, leads some to believe they actually have a chance in the World Series. Well, these people are every bit as mistaken as those who gave the Tigers a chance.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Rabbit Hole

Interesting column by Paul Krugman in today's Times. He is concerned about the Republican party and the collection of Yahoos running for the party's nomination. They are all, every last one, mad as hatters who have jumped down the rabbit hole when it comes to economic policy, and it "terrifies" him. Frankly, I agree with him completely. Here's a snippet of what he says:
And since economic policy has to deal with the world we live in, not the fantasy world of the G.O.P.’s imagination, the prospect that one of these people may well be our next president is, frankly, terrifying.
In the real world, recent events were a devastating refutation of the free-market orthodoxy that has ruled American politics these past three decades. Above all, the long crusade against financial regulation, the successful effort to unravel the prudential rules established after the Great Depression on the grounds that they were unnecessary, ended up demonstrating — at immense cost to the nation — that those rules were necessary, after all.
But down the rabbit hole, none of that happened.
Precisely. I've been wondering for months on end what strange demons possess these guys that cause them to simply deny reality. Can they seriously believe that excessive government regulations and bad home loans to people who were not worthy of them were what brought the US and world economies to the brink of collapse? If this is truly what's in their minds, well I'd like a hookah bowl of whatever it is they're smoking.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nikki Lane Won't Be Back

Gone Gone Gone by Nikki Lane

Believe it or not, this singer Nikki Lane is not on YouTube. This is first for me, looking for a video of some musical artist I've stumbled across and not being able to find her/him. But there it is. All I can put up there is the little arrow. Nice tune. The ridiculous blouse she's wearing doesn't detract from the music. The song ain't bad. I've never had anything against country music, particularly when it's got a strong rock element to it. And this has got some swing to it, too. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

So Many Needs

Today Susan and I ate lunch* at a huge meeting hall in the Embassy Suites here. It was a fundraiser we had been invited to. Several hundred people were there to hear a presentation about the agency that takes care of, or should I say assists or ministers to, abused/neglected children and their parent(s) in Cleveland county. It struck me as I listened to members of the agency staff and board and testimonials from some of the kids and a dad they have served that the extent of human need, suffering, and want out there in the world is just mind-boggling. At this particular event, we heard horrifying figures on the numbers of kids affected, the gross ignorance of some people who have kids and mess them up for life by their cruelty and neglect. And all this damage done just in our little corner of the world: one county in Oklahoma.

Children are easily the most vulnerable victims in our society. In the world. No question about it. But what about that homeless guy I gave a buck to in Louisville? All those victims of storms, floods, tornadoes, tsunamis? Sufferers with sicknesses ranging from heart disease, a myriad of cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and a thousand more? War's victims, refugees, political prisoners? The millions who are hungry? What about all the human needs you can list that I didn't?

*The lunch was lousy. And there was way too much of it. Far too much for everyone to eat it all. I did not see a single clean plate. So how much food was thrown in the garbage just at that one lunch in that one place? How much do we waste in the face of so much suffering? I kept thinking about all the hungry people within five miles of this rather swank hotel, and I wondered if anybody in there shared the same thoughts. I hope so.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Gleaned from various spots on the Web today:
  • The OWS (Occupy Wall Street) movement is gaining steam. (Can there be the slightest doubt that this avenue for the mass of aggrieved to protest the present state of affairs will be seized by them? To wit: the gross inequity of our system and the drones at all levels of government who seems to consider it their job to keep things that way.
  • Writer Taylor Clark argues in Slate that The Strokes' Is This It is the best album of the past decade. "Is This It" was a decade-defining record that set the agenda for how rock sounded and even looked throughout the aughts." Naturally, a bizillion people will disagree, some vehemently, but that's what the nature of these sorts of pronouncements are all about. BTW, I have the album and think it's really good, but I would have to study the question more deeply to be definitive about the best of the decade.
  •  Also debate going on today in Slate whether too many kids go to college. I vote yes.
  • Tomorrow the magical, mystical iCloud descends upon us, for good or ill. Pretty long piece on the Atlantic website argues it will be ill.
  • Washington has benched Mitch Moreland tonight for the playoff game in Detroit. Michael Young will be at first, Nap DH, and Torrealba catching.
Go Rangers!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Did You Think I Was Gone?

Well, as a matter of fact, I was gone. I forgot to mention that I had to give a talk to the Louisville Civil War Round Table. I did that on Saturday evening, but we went over there on Friday and did not come back till Sunday. Add to those days, last Wednesday and Thursday, when I should have done blog entries and that will get you to right here.

I've got a lot on my mind. Here are some of the things, in no particular order: This whole Occupy Wall Street movement. Listen I'm all for these people on the streets. I am not naive enough or starry-eyed enough to think these freelance, free form demonstrations against the perfidious forces of greed that are eating the middle class up and have already pretty well destroyed the others is going to alter any of these forces. But I think the course of events is trending inevitably to more people on the streets, but I think it increasingly likely that they are going to be really pissed off people, not like the green tea and crumpet types who are politely trying to alert the country to a substantial body of opinion out here in the hinterlands that hates the banks and are doing a slow burn the more Wall Street flips them the bird.

In this regard, a recent entry from The Reformed Broker's blog is instructive:

You want to know why everyone in this country hates you and wants you dead, you big stupid fucking bank?

Here's why, pay attention:
(Reuters) – Bank of America Corp will pay $11 million to ousted executives Joe Price and Sallie Krawcheck, a large payout at a time when banks face protests over pay but smaller than the eight-figure packages some executives received before the financial crisis.
Krawcheck -- a former Citigroup Inc executive who came to Bank of America in 2009 and was one of the top-ranking women on Wall Street -- will receive a one-time payment of $5.15 million, according to separation agreements filed by the bank on Friday.
Price, a Bank of America veteran, gets $4.15 million. Each will also receive $850,000 over a one-year period.
Price was head of consumer banking and Krawcheck led wealth and investment operations.
Don't know how long the suffering people of United States are going to put up with this kind of idiocy.

Actually there's too much on my mind to talk about it all here. But I cannot close without observing that the Texas Rangers are up on Detroit 2 games to none in the American League Championship series. Today's game was made in heaven. A really tense eleven innings with Texas winning on a walk-off grand slam home run by Nellie Cruz. Awesome! Recap, box score, video, pix: all right here. Go Rangers!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

One Sentence

I had all the best intentions of blogging about the "Occupy Wall Street" movement(?)--is it a movement? What is it? . . . Anyway, to show how easily distracted I am, I just now ran across this website and feel compelled to share it with you. I'm thinking something like this will really appeal to my daughter, who loves This site that I stumbled across is similar. It's called One Sentence. The subtitle tells all: "True Stories, Told in One Sentence." Now, who can resist that? Well, maybe some people can, but I can't. I naturally got hung up reading them. These sentences are a lot like M&M's. If you eat them one at a time, you'll have eaten five or six dozen before you know it. Of course, they run the gamut, from funny to bizarre to heart-wrenching and all over the rest of the emotional map.

So I thought you might like some samples:
  • When I asked her why he was out of her league her only response was, "Because I know he won't beat me."
  • I just walked in on my mom and neighbor smoking pot and felt so uncool.
  • The Soup Kitchen that I volunteered at as a teenager is now my only source of 3 meals a day.
  • I have freezer burn on my chest and under my boobs because I reasoned that a popsicle held up in my bra would be a great personal air conditioner.
  • My wedding cost $6700 and my divorce cost $16425, both were worth it.
  • As I cried in front of the cash register at CVS, a woman pitied me for having my college health insurance expire the day before and paid the $200 fee for my medication, saying "Christmas came early this year."
  • I asked my 93 year old Grandmother, who I adore, what she thought life was all about and she replied, "I don't think about those type of things." -- one of my favorites
  • I called my dad from my dorm to bitch about my dvd player not working only to be told that my home was on fire
  • "I wrote a poem for you," he said, then proceeded to read "Ode to your cleavage."
And so forth. Great stuff, and yet another way to waste time I could be much better spending on something productive.

I will "Occupy Wall Street" tomorrow.

Monday, October 3, 2011

By the Year 2050

The latest number of Lapham's Quarterly has as its theme The Future.* Right up in the front is a two-page colored spread of a  world map entitled "By the Year 2050 . . . " I thought it might be interesting for me to list without comment some of the pieces of information from this graphic. The reason no comment is necessary will be obvious. What more needs to be said beyond the bare statement of these facts:
  1. Trash Superhighway: Five Texas-sized garbage patches will have formed in oceanic gyres crated by intersecting hot and cold currents. Two patches currently exist, one in the Pacific Ocean, one in the Atlantic.
  2. Drying Out: Land around the Amazon River may reach the tipping point at which the forces of deforestation and climate-change trigger desertification. 
  3. Trail Blazing: Arctic sea ice will have shrunk by at least two-thirds, opening up year-round shipping routes across the Arctic Ocean.
  4. Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner: No fish will exist in the wild in commercially viable quantities in gigantic swathes of every ocean. (Seafood will be raised in giant, robotic, remote-controlled fish-farm pods that rove around the oceans, raising fish for commercial consumption.)
  5. Troubled Waters: More than a billion people will lack adequate amounts of clean water. Situation will be most dire in Africa and across southern Asia.
*Lapham's Quarterly is one of my favorite periodicals. It is totally history oriented, profusely illustrated, and it contains only short pieces, which means you're not going to have to invest 30-45 minutes on an article like sometimes you have to do with Atlantic and especially The New Yorker. All of the articles are excerpts of previously published work by historically famous or influential people. This current issue, for example, has pieces by Gandhi, Thomas Paine, Livy, Jules Verne, Aeschylus, Boswell, Philip K. Dick, to name a few. Lapham was the former editor at Harper's, so I knew the quality of his mind and of his writing. I've been with the quarterly since Vol II and have enjoyed issues on such diverse topics as: medicine, food, travel, the city, religion, lines of work. It's not cheap ($60 a year), but it is fabulous.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I'm again musing about the passage of time. Today is the birthday of my youngest child . . . he's 31 years old. Which, I say, is great for him. Right now he's heavily engaged in intellectual pursuit: earning his law degree. He's working hard, and from all indications, enjoying his life.

As is to be expected. The thirties and forties are the best decades, at least from my present perspective. Which doesn't make the other decades of our lives any less good. They are good or bad solely on the basis of our own highly subjective criteria.

But it really doesn't make any difference what we think, time's march is inexorable. When I was 31, I was also heavily engaged in intellectual pursuits. I was a father, husband, and graduate student at LSU. It was the year I got my master's degree. My dear wife was still in her twenties then, and my daughter Tanya was only six. I almost said "little daughter" till I remembered that just the other day she was over with her own daughter, who is nine. That was a long time ago. Time passes, and we pass with it.

The passage of time: it's a phrase that contains the whole of life, the whole of history, the whole of the future within it. Birthdays are but tiny little pricks of light in deep darkness, buoys in a vast, silent ocean.