Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A No-No?

As always, my goal is provide something thoughtful if I can't provide something otherwise.Question here is how many sins can you think of that you would list before this one? I can think of a bunch. A whole bunch.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Are You Ready for This? The Stones at Fifty Years

Rock 'n Roll will never die--but it will get damned ancient-looking.
From every indication I've seen, the Stones just blew them away in London a couple of nights ago. I think they have one more show there and then three in the New York City area. Here is one of the many stories. Looks like they had a great lineup of songs, including one new one. And just in case you're in a mood to remember the greatest of the Stone's albums over fifty years, this list from Rolling Stone should get you started. And are you ready for this? You can listen each one of these fantastic albums via Spotify from right on the list page. Check out some of the early bluesy stuff. Man, these guys can kick it.

One more thing . . . are you ready for this? The average age of the Rolling Stones is higher than that of the US Supreme Court by a about a year and a half. You can look it up.

And if you're tempted to just O.D. on the Stones, Rolling Stone (the magazine) has a massive retrospective of what must be every story they ever did on the band for fifty years. You can find that right here.

Can't quit without just a little taste. This song is one you never hear played, but it's one of my most favorites. It's called "100 Years Ago" from the album "Goat's Head Soup," a great, but underrated album. That's Mick Taylor on the fabulous guitar work, a guy who never got enough credit in the band. He was superb.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Speaking of Very Cool

The Snowy Little Town of Qaqortoq, Greenland

Look, Ma! No 7 Eleven!
I'll betcha this is one of Santa's first stops.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I'm the Best . . . No, I'm the Worst

Some interesting graphics my daughter shared with me.

I guess the reason no state bears the "Most morons per capita" label is that there were too many claimants. Mesothelioma, in case you're wondering, is "a malignant tumor of the covering of the lung or the lining of the pleural and abdominal cavities, often associated with exposure to asbestos," according to

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Those Pesky Facts

To listen to the right, you'd think that unions are the worst evil since Social Security to afflict a country full of people otherwise just trying to make good by working hard in the old American way. To wit, during the eternal run-up to the election and still now--have you noticed that the right is more rabid than ever?--you have heard how the public employee unions by their dastardly pension plans and dangerously out of whack contracts are threatening civilization. That's right. Let these people bargain and let them have the hard-won rights won by the blood of working people in the early 20th century and the country will go to ruin.

But the pesky facts of the matter are that the people we have to blame, if we're going to be doing that, are the richest, most well-to-do in the society. Those pesky facts are in this article. A snippet:
CEOs and Financial Managers take much more than their share.

Corporate executives and financial employees make up just one-half of 1% of the workforce, but with nearly a trillion dollars of annual income (11.3% of $8.12 trillion), they make more than ALL 15 million unionized workers in the United States, and almost as much as ALL 21 million government workers. Much of their income derivesfrom minimally-taxed capital gains. Meanwhile, the great majority of their private company employees toil as food servers, clerks, medical workers, and domestic help at below-average pay.

The article also indicates with facts, figures, and percentages just how much government employees at all levels and union workers, all of them, earn compared to the with the fat cats we're talking about here. It's a scandal. But one that doesn't seem to bother much of anybody.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Good News

We're Watching You Because We Can

For anybody concerned with civil liberties in this country, this is terrific news. The Supreme Court has blocked enforcement of an Illinois law that prohibited people from recording police officers actions, agreeing with the ACLU that the law "restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests.”

CopWatch, in New York and elsewhere, explains why it matters. (This video has some horrific footage of a NYC guy who was just minding his business in a subway station getting really manhandled by a cop. And other stuff. The most depressing thing in the video: the information that even documented police brutality and malfeasance rarely has consequences for the guilty cop. Next step is to see that these criminal, sick cops get what's coming to them.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Turkey used to be a bargain protein. No anymore. The price of turkey has absolutely soared since the beginning of the great recession. Why? Does anybody have any idea? I mean just look at the jump.

Buying the bird ain't cheap anymore. Why? (Source)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


 Here's what you can turn up on the Internet when you're just bored out of your skull with ruminating about something, anything, to blog about. This from a site called--are you ready? Some of things in this list are really stupid (a broken clock is correct twice a day), but other stuff is really fascinating (a donkey will sink in quicksand, but a mule will not). There's also a lot of stuff that will have you asking: well, how do they know that? For example: A healthy individual releases 3.5 oz. of gas in a single flatulent emission, or about 17 oz. in a day.  
Sorry I didn't take the time to cull the list for you. You're just going to have to be alternately bored and fascinated.
The Most Interesting and Unusual Facts on the Net
(not really . . . but I just lifted the title for this list)
Facetious and abstemious are the only words that contain all the vowels in the correct order.
"Adcomsubordcomphibspac" is the longest acronym. It is a Navy term standing for Administrative Command, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet Subordinate Command.
"Almost" is the longest commonly used word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.
"Flushable" toilets were in use in ancient Rome.
"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson was the first video to air on MTV by a black artist.

"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".
"Duff" is the decaying organic matter found on a forest floor.
"Fickleheaded" and "fiddledeedee" are the longest words consisting only of letters in the first half of the alphabet.
"Asthma" and "isthmi" are the only six-letter words that begin and end with a vowel and have no other vowels between.
"Fortnight" is a contraction of "fourteen nights." In the US "two weeks" is more commonly used.
"Forty" is the only number which has its letters in alphabetical order. "One" is the only number with its letters in reverse alphabetical order.
"Four" is the only number whose number of letters in the name equals the number.
"Hang on Sloopy" is the official rock song of Ohio.
"Happy Birthday" was the first song to be performed in outer space, sung by the Apollo IX astronauts on March 8, 1969.
"Kemo Sabe", meaning an all knowing one, is actually a mispronunciation by Native American of the Spanish phrase, Quien lo Sabe, meaning one who knows."
The lunula is the half-moon shaped pale area at the bottom of finger nails.
"Ma is as selfless as I am" can be read the same way backwards. If you take away all the spaces you can see that all the letters can be spelled out both ways.
"Mad About You" star Paul Reiser plays the piano on the show's theme song.
"One thousand" contains the letter A, but none of the words from one to nine hundred ninety-nine has an A.
"Ough" can be pronounced in eight different ways. The following sentence contains them all: "A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully.
"Rhythms" is the longest English word without the normal vowels, a, e, i, o, or u.
"Second string," meaning "replacement or backup," comes from the middle ages. An archer always carried a second string in case the one on his bow broke.
"Speak of the Devil" is short for "Speak of the Devil and he shall come". It was believed that if you spoke about the Devil it would attract his attention. That's why when you're talking about someone and they show up people say "Speak of the Devil."
"Stewardesses" is the longest word that can be typed with only the left hand.
"Tautonyms" are scientific names for which the genus and species are the same.
"Taxi" is spelled exactly the same in English, French, German, Swedish, Portuguese, and Dutch.
"Teh" means "cool" in Thai. (Pronounced "tay").
"The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick" is said to be the toughest tongue twister in English.
"THEREIN" is a seven-letter word that contains thirteen words spelled using consecutive letters: the, he, her, er, here, I, there, ere, rein, re, in, therein, and herein.
"Underground" is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters "und." $203,000,000 is spent on barbed wire each year in the U.S.
1 and 2 are the only numbers where they are values of the numbers of the factors they have.
1 in 5,000 north Atlantic lobsters are born bright blue.
1 in every 3 people in the country of Israel use a cell phone.
1 kg (2.2 pounds) of lemons contain more sugar than 1 kg of strawberries.
1,525,000,000 miles of telephone wire are strung across the Unites States.
1.7 litres of saliva is produced each day. In Discovery Channel, its a quart.
10 percent of all human beings ever born are alive at this very moment.
10% of human dry weight comes from bacteria
11% of the world is left-handed.
111, 111, 111 X 111, 111, 111 = 12, 345, 678, 987, 654, 321
1200 equals 1 pound (72 rupees).
123,000,000 cars are being driven on highways in the United States.
166,875,000,000 pieces of mail are delivered each year in the United States.
1959's A Raisin in the Sun was the first play by a black woman to be produced on Broadway.
2 and 5 are the only prime numbers that end in 2 or 5.
203 million dollars is spent on barbed wire each year in the U.S.
22,000 checks will be deducted from the wrong bank accounts in the next hour.
23% of all photocopier faults worldwide are caused by people sitting on them and photocopying their buttocks.
25% of a human's bones are in its feet.
259200 people die every day.
27% of Americans believe we never landed on the moon.
27% of U.S. male college students believe life is "a meaningless existential hell."
3% of all mammals are monogamous
315 entries in Webster's 1996 dictionary were misspelled.
315 words in the 1996 Webster's dictionary were mispelled.
4 tablespoons of ketchup has about the same amount of nutrition as a ripe tomato.
40% of all people who come to a party snoop in your medicine cabinet.
40% of McDonald's profits come from the sales of Happy Meals.
43.7% of all statistics are made up right on the spot
48% of astronauts experience motion sickness.
52% of Americans drink coffee.
55.1% of all US prisoners are in prison for drug offenses.
56,000,000 people go to Major League baseball games each year
67 million pounds of pesticides and about 3 million tons of fertilizer are used annually on lawns in the US.
78 rpm albums, used prior to 1948, were only capable of recording for four minutes. It wasn’t until later that year that Columbia Records introduced 33 rpm albums capable of playing 23 minutes per side.
80% of animals on earth are insects.
80% of arrested criminals are male.
In Disney's Fantasia, the Sorcerer to whom Mickey played an apprentice was named Yensid, which is Disney spelled backward.
By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you cannot sink into quicksand.
One in ten people live on an island.
84% of a raw apple is water.
It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.
85% of men who die of heartattacks during intercourse, are found to have been cheating on their wives.
85,000,000 tons of paper are used in the United States each year.
28% of Africa is classified as wilderness. In North America, its 38%.
Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.
90% of bird species are monogamous; only 3% of animals are.
90% of New York City cab drivers are recently arrived immigrants.
98% of all murders and rapes are by a close family member or friend of the victim.
98% of the weight of water is made up from oxygen.
99% of the pumpkins sold in the US end up as jack-o-lanterns.
A "2 by 4" is really 1 1/2 by 3 1/2.
A "Blue Moon" is the second full moon in a calendar month (it is rarely blue).
A "hairbreadth away" is 1/48 of an inch.
A "jiffy" is actually a proper time unit for 1/100th of a second
A "quidnunc" is a person who is eager to know the latest news and gossip.
A 1,200-pound horse eats about seven times it's own weight each year.
A 1.5 oz. milk chocolate bar has only 220 calories. A 1.75 oz. serving of potato chips has 230 calories.
A 10-gallon hat actually only holds about 3/4 gallon.
A 14-year old French girl had extraordinary electrical power. With a gentle touch she could knock over heavy pieces of furniture and people in physical contact with her received an electrical shock.
A 17 year old girl from Miami, Florida started to sneeze on 4th January'66 ant continued till 8th June'66.
A 6 pound sea-hare can lay 40,000eggs in a single minute.
A 7-year study, which concluded in the summer of 2000, found that 33 U.S. deaths were caused by rottweilers, pit bulls were responsible for 27 deaths.
A acre of coffee trees can produce up to 10,000 pounds of coffee cherries. That amounts to approximately 2000 pounds of beans after hulling or milling.
A B-25 bomber crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building on July 28, 1945.
A Baboon called "Jackie" became a private in the South African army in World War I.
A bat is the only mammal that flies.
A bathometer is an instrument for indicating the depth of the sea beneath a moving vessel.
A bean has more DNA per cell than a human cell
A bee could travel 4 million miles (6.5 million km) at 7 mph (11 km/h) on the energy it would obtain from 1 gallon (3.785 liters) of nectar, or it could just sit down on and enjoy that honey properly.
A beaver's teeth never stop growing.
A bibliophile is a collector of rare books. A bibliopole is a seller of rare books.
A bird requires more food in proportion to its size than a baby or a cat.
A Blue Earth, Minnesota, law declares that no child under the age of twelve may talk over the telephone unless monitored by a parent.
A blue whales heart only beats nine times per minute.
A body decomposes four times as fast in water than on land.
A Boeing 747's wingspan is longer than the Wright brother's first flight.
A bowling pin only needs to tilt 7.5 degrees to fall.
A broken clock is right at least twice a day.
A butterfly can look at you through 12,000 eyes.
A Californian doctor has set the record of eating 17 bananas in two minutes.
A Canadian tattoo artist had 4,831 tattoos on his body.
A capon is a castrated rooster.
A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
A cat has 4 rows of whiskers.
A cat uses it's whiskers to determine if a space is too small to squeeze through.
A chameleon can move its eyes in two directions at the same time.
A chameleon's tongue is twice the length of its body.
A Cheetah at full speed takes strides of 8 meters.
A cheetah is the fastest animal, clocked in at: 70mph.
A chef's hat is tall and balloons at the top so as to counteract the intense heat in the kitchen. The unique shape allows air to circulate around the scalp, keeping the head cool.
A Chicago law forbids eating in a place that is on fire.
A chicken who just lost its head can run the length of a football field before dropping dead.
A chimpanzee can learn to recognize itself in a mirror, but monkeys can't.
A citizen of Calcutta, India , grew the fingernails on his left hand to a length of 76 inches.
A cluster of bananas is called a hand and consists of 10 to 20 bananas, which are known as fingers.
A cockroach can live nine days without its head before it starves to death.
A cockroaches favorite food is the glue on the back of stamps.
A company, Warner Communications paid $28 million for the copyright to the song "Happy Birthday".
A Cornish game hen is really a young chicken, usually 5 to 6 weeks of age, that weighs no more than 2 pounds.
A cough releases an explosive charge of air that moves at speeds up to 60 mph.
A cow gives nearly 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime.
A cow produces 200 times more gas a day than a person.
A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.
A crocodiles tongue is attached to the roof of its mouth.
A cucumber is 96% water.
A Dalmatian is the only dog that can get gout.
A day on the planet Mercury is twice as long as its year.
A decree declares that anyone caught stealing soap must wash himself with it until it is all used up.
A dentist invented the Electric Chair.
A device invented sometime around the time of the birth of Jesus as a primitive steam engine by the Greek engineer Hero is used today as a rotating sprinkler.
A diamond will not dissolve in acid. The only thing that can destroy it is intense heat.
A dime has 118 ridges around the edge. A quarter has 119.
A dog can hear high frequency sounds, which a human ear cannot.
A donkey will sink in quicksand but a mule will not.
A dragonfly can fly 25 mph.
A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.
A dragonfly is also known as "devil's darning needle", "horse stinger" and "devil's steelyard".
A Fag is to work hard or to tire by strenuous activity and cigarettes are sometimes called Fags
A fagot is a bundle of sticks or a bundle of pieces of wrought iron to be shaped by rolling or hammering at high temperature.
A father Emperor penguin withstands the Antarctic cold for 60 days or more to protect his eggs, which he keeps on his feet, covered with a feathered flap. During this entire time he doesn't eat a thing. Most father penguins lose about 25 pounds while they wait for their babies to hatch. Afterward, they feed the chicks a special liquid from their throats. When the mother penguins return to care for the young, the fathers go to sea to eat and rest.
A father sea catfish keeps the eggs of his young in his mouth until they are ready to hatch. He will not eat until his young are born, which may take several weeks.
A female ferret will die if it goes into heat and cannot find a mate.
A female mackerel lays about 500,000 eggs at one time.
A female swine or sow will always have an even number of teats or nipples.
A fetus acquires fingerprints at the age of three months.
A fingernail or toenail takes about 6 months to grow from base to tip.
A fish's memory span is 3 seconds.
A five and a half year old weighing 250 pounds was exhibited at a meeting of the Physical Society of Vienna on December 4, 1894. She ate a normal diet and was otherwise in good health. The problem: she wasn't able to sweat.
A flea can jump 350 times is own body length. ( jumping the length of a soccer field)thanx seraph
A flock of sheep grazed during Woodrow Wilson's term. Their wool was sold to raise money for the Red Cross during World War I.
A fly always jumps backwards for a quick getaway when you try to hit it.
A fly hums in the middle octave, key F.
A foal is a baby horse.
A full moon is nine times brighter than a half moon.
A full-grown bear can run as fast as a horse.
A full-grown pumpkin has about 15 miles of roots.
A ghost writer pens an anonymous book.
A giant squid has eyes that can grow up to 20 inches in diameter. (Now think of how big your computer screen is..)
A giraffe and rat can go longer without water than a camel can.
A giraffe can clean its ears with its 21-inch tongue. i know some people who can do some amazing stuff too.
A goldfish has a memory span of 3 seconds.
A googol is a 1 followed by 100 zeros. Mathematician Edward Kasner supposedly asked his nephew Milton Sirotta to suggest a name for the number, and he came up with this word.
A grasshopper needs a minimum temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit in order to be able to hop.
A group od geese on the ground is a gaggle, a group in the air is a skein.
A group of crows is called a murder.
A hamlet is a village without a church and a town is not a city until it has a cathedral.
A hard-boiled egg will spin. An uncooked or soft-boiled egg will not.
A healthy (non-colorblind) human eye can distinguish between 500 shades of gray.
A healthy individual releases 3.5 oz. of gas in a single flatulent emission, or about 17 oz. in a day.
A hedgehog's heart beats 190 times a minute on average and drops to only 20 beats per minute during hibernation.
A hedgehog's skin is so tough that when they get run over, its entrails come out of its mouth and its ass.
A herd of forty-five thirsty, rambunctious elephants stampeded into a brewery in Midnapore, where they smashed vats and slurped up beer in a bender that went on for two days.
A hinny is the offspring of a female donkey.
A hippo can open its mouth wide enough to fit a 4 foot tall child inside.
A hippopotamus can run faster than a man can.
A Holstein's spots are like a fingerprint or snowflake. No two cows have exactly the same pattern of spots.
A honey bee must tap two million flowers to make one pound of honey
A honey bee travels an estimated 43,000 miles to gather one pound of honey. A pound of honey consists of 29,184 drops.
A honeybee can fly at fifteen miles per hour.
A horse can sleep standing up.
A Horse has 18 more bones than a Human.
A human being loses an average of 40 to 100 strands of hair a day.
A human has a bone just after the spine ends, which helps proves that humans once had tails (possibly).
A human head remains conscious for about 15 to 20 seconds after it is been decapitated.
A human's scent membrane in the nose is about the size of a postage stamp. A dog's is about the size of a handkerchief. It's olfactory lobe is also 4 times that of a humanThanx liz chell
A humming bird flaps its wings up to 90 times in one second or over 5000 times a minute.
A hummingbird weighs less than a penny

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What We Think About Socialism

The Republican crazies, the Tea Party types and their parrots, are continually hollering and blathering about Obama being a "socialist." Let's lay aside the fact that the likelihood of these ninnies actually knowing what socialism is is pretty damn remote and concentrate what the numbers below are saying. Anybody who's truly worried about socialism can look at these numbers and be either worried or not. Only 3 out of 10 of us are favorably inclined to socialism, but 4 of 10 aren't high on capitalism. But the less advantaged demographics--blacks, Hispanics, those making less than $30,000 a year are much more favorably inclined towards socialism than the rest of the society. And it's no secret that the number of them is rising.

Of course, I should note that there's no guarantee that the respondents to this survey know what socialism is either. Still, I find these numbers pretty intriguing.

Monday, November 19, 2012


The Petraeus revelations have brought up a subject I've been griping about this for literally years: the lifestyles of the high-ranking military potentates who rule the world in their geographic fiefdoms. You did know that the Pentagon has divided the entire world into sections, each of which is commanded by a 4-star general or full admiral. So we have Pacific command, Africa command, Southern command, etc., etc. They are known as the "war lords" in military jargon. Indeed. These guys live like kings. There is no material want you can imagine they don't have satisfied: sumptuous housing, sumptuous eating, sumptuous transport. They have personal servants (called aides) who take care of everything from valet servive to calendar management. I'm not sure whether they also drive or whether that entails another functionary to the generals' royal personages.

Here's a pretty good idea of what we're talking about from the Washington Post:
The commanders who lead the nation’s military services and those who oversee troops around the world enjoy an array of perquisites befitting a billionaire, including executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aides to carry their bags, press their uniforms and track their schedules in 10-minute increments. Their food is prepared by gourmet chefs. If they want music with their dinner parties, their staff can summon a string quartet or a choir.
The elite regional commanders who preside over large swaths of the planet don’t have to settle for Gulfstream V jets. They each have a C-40, the military equivalent of a Boeing 737, some of which are configured with beds.
Since Petraeus’s resignation, many have strained to understand how such a celebrated general could have behaved so badly. Some have speculated that an exhausting decade of war impaired his judgment. Others wondered if Petraeus was never the Boy Scout he appeared to be. But Gates, who still possesses a modest Kansan’s bemusement at Washington excess, has floated another theory.
“There is something about a sense of entitlement and of having great power that skews people’s judgment,” Gates said last week. (Source)
It's really an outrage that the taxpayers should be subsidizing this regal treatment for what is euphemistically called their "service." Hell, this ain't service, brothers and sisters, this is servitude for us poor slobs that put up with this, not to mention footing the bill for it.

And they tell me the Pentagon budget can't be cut. What a load of crap.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

[Don't] Stop Digging

I absolutely love it when some Republican luminary--hell, doesn't have to be a luminary, just an ordinary run-of-the-mill Republican--actually either on purpose or accidentally says something that's true. It's not their normal way. Such is the case and such my satisfaction with reports that the senior GOP senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham basically told defeated party standard-bearer Mitt Romney to shut the f--k up. Not only that, but the way he said it was kinda cool.

Last week Mittens broke his silence on the election drubbing he took by blaming his loss on all the free goodies the president showered on minorities, Hispanics, students, and other undesirables. Things like free health care, a break on student loans, a partial dream act for children of illegal immigrants, etc. (NY Times story on that here.)

Well, today on Meet the Press Senator Graham slapped Mitt's jowls but good:
“We’re in a big hole [and] we’re not getting out of it by comments like that . . . When you’re in a hole, stop digging. He keeps digging.”
“Self deportation being pushed by Mitt Romney hurt our chances . . . We’re in a death spiral with Hispanic voters because of rhetoric around immigration and candidate Romney in the primary dug the hole deeper.”
Well, maybe Mittens can stop digging, but I'm sure digging this.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's Unanimous

Well, its unanimous. So few things are in this country, it really should catch our attention when something is. So . . . all 50 of these United States are now petitioning the Obama administration to allow them to peacefully secede from the United States. It's unanimous: we have stone raving idiots in every state in the Union.

All this nonsense derives from a service offered by the Administration at where you can go an start a petition. You have to get 150 signatures within a month for it to appear on the website, and you have to have 25.000 signatures for the Obama administration to pay attention to it. Well as of this moment, we've got more than enough from all points.
The Texas petition currently has 97,103 signatures and is the most popular petition on the entire site. It reads as follows:
The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the US suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect it’s citizens’ standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.
In addition, Louisiana (33,086), Florida (29,038), Georgia (27,462), Alabama(26,595), Tennessee (26,559), and North Carolina (25,863) have also reached the 25,000 signature benchmark. Before you think this is a response to the election, consider that Florida went to Obama in this last cycle.
I'm happy to report this idiocy began in my native state of Louisiana, covering itself with imperishable glory while continuing to accept vast sums of federal aid for the disasters of hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Death of the Liberal Class

Chris Hedges was not thrilled with the results of the election, but anybody who reads him knows not to be surprised. (Source) The way he sees it, and it's a point of view I'm not at all unsympathetic to, is that we've simply reinstalled a party that is beholden to the money, and it's the money that calls the tune no matter who runs the government.

Hedges, probably more than any other single political commentator I read, punctures the essential bubble of falsehood that encloses the myth that Americans really are making a choice between two distinctly different understandings of the way the country should work.

No. That's not what happens in elections. What happens in elections is we all engage in a quadrennial mime show of people exercising the right of self-government. What nonsense. We live in a plutocracy. That has nothing to do with self-government.

Here's a bit of what Hedges had to say: 
Liberals, by voting for Barack Obama, betrayed the core values they use to define themselves—the rule of law, the safeguarding of civil liberties, the protection of unions, the preservation of social welfare programs, environmental accords, financial regulation, a defiance of unjust war and torture, and the abolition of drone wars. 

The ineffectiveness of the liberal class, as I saw in the former Yugoslavia and as was true in Weimar Germany, perpetuates a dangerous political paralysis. The longer the paralysis continues, the longer systems of power are unable to address the suffering and grievances of the masses, the more the formal mechanisms of power are reviled. The liberal establishment’s inability to defy corporate power, to stand up for its supposed liberal beliefs, means its inevitable disappearance, along with the disappearance of traditional liberal values. This, as history has amply pointed out, is the road to despotism. And we are further down that road than many care to admit. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Maybe Too Far Out

This Sunday is the last day of my modern poetry course. I've thoroughly enjoyed being exposed to poetry I would have never in a million years read voluntarily. And there's no likelihood that I'm going to be gravitating automatically to avant-garde poetry once the course is over and done with. I'm perfectly happy with my Thomas Lux, Tony Hoagland, Bob Hicok, Stephen Dunn, et al. I'm not sure I want to be setting myself a task every time I read a poem, which is what it is with a lot of the poets I've encountered in the course.

And then there are the ancillary things you run across while reading the assigned critical essays. Such as the work below. This is a piece of art (and I'm afraid I use the term advisedly here) by Martin Creed. Here is the title and decription.

work illustration
Martin Creed: Work No. 79
Work No. 79
Some Blu-Tack kneaded, rolled into a ball, and depressed against a wall
Approximately 1 in / 2.5 cm diameter

You know that stuff you use to hang pictures or other things on walls without nails? (Susan and I call it "ticky-tacky.") Well, this is piece of it rolled into a ball and stuck on a wall. Now, admittedly the color coordination is nice. And I'm advanced and enlightened enough to know not to dismiss this out of hand as "not art." But, and here comes the confession, I do confess to requiring some learned critic explain to me why this is art. It's perhaps a bridge too far for me . . . maybe too far out. Maybe along with the other baleful effects of aging, one loses one's facility for refined discernment. For I suspect that about 99.78 percent of the people in the world, finding this on your wall would wonder what in the hell you've got a glob of ticky-tacky just sticking there for.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Same As It Ever Was

USA Today carries a story about unrest on the Ole Miss campus . . . er, make that "550 'agitated and angry' students and spectators," who according to the story gathered to hollar about Obama's policies but also about race. Meanwhile, the same sort of thing was going on in Virginia on the campus of Hampden-Sydney College with a lot fewer people involved.

This is a familiar refrain. We've been here before. Two people were killed in 1962 on the Ole Miss campus during massive riots protesting the integration of the university by James Meredith, the first black student to attend school there. U. S. marshals and the National Guard were eventually required to quell the violence.

The National Review says it's all overblown. But of course what else do you expect them to say? We're talking about Mississippi here. Where, I'm sure there's been a huge advance in race relations in the past 50 years. But we all know the dark vein of racism that still runs through this country. It hasn't gone away, and it won't not for a very long time.

Update I: There have been some reports that the doings at Ole Miss were exaggerated. OK. I'll give you that is possible. But I still think it's ominous.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

They're Under the Bed

You know all this talk about socialism lately--you know, that socialist in the White House for another four years is really dangerous (Don't know about you. I'm terrified.). Little segue: we were in the waiting room of the surgery center where I got my cataract surgery done the other day and overhead a guy talking about the election. Quote: "He's reelected. It's all over." Seriously. Remember, this is Oklahoma. What's all over, one wonders. What does this guy think is going to happen? 

I'm sobered by the realization that there are literally millions of people who share his fear. What can possibly be wrong with these people? They've already seen over the past four years that the president is not a bogey man. Where does this kind of thinking come from? I have my suspicions which I'll talk about tomorrow.

In the meantime, here's a sample of a brilliant send-up of past paranoia by Bob Dylan. For those of you too young to remember the pervasive fear struck into the hearts of Americans by the threat of the "worldwide communist conspiracy," you're lucky. It was the overarching theme of the 20th century. (The fascists were just a momentary menace.) It twisted us as a people in ways we haven't even discovered yet.

Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues

Well, I was feelin' sad and kind of blue  
I didn't know what I was gonna do  
The Communists were comin' around 
They was in the air, they were on the ground 
They were all over

So I ran down most hurriedly 
And joined the John Birch Society 
I got me a secret membership card  
Went back to my backyard  
And started looking on the sidewalk 
'Neath the rose bush

Well, I was lookin' everywhere for them gold darned Reds  
I got up in the mornin' and looked under my bed 
Looked behind the kitchen, behind the door  
Even tore loose the kitchen floor, couldn't find any
I looked beneath the sofa, beneath the chair  

Looking for them Reds everywhere  
I looked way up my chimney hole 
Even looked deep inside my toilet bowl  
They got away
I heard some footsteps by the front porch door 

So I grabbed my shotgun from the floor  
I snuck around the house with a huff and hiss 
and "Hands up, you Communist" it was a mail man 
He punched me out

Well, I quit my job so I could work alone  
I got a magnifying glass like Sherlock Holmes  
Followed some clues from my detective bag  
And discovered they was red stripes on the American flag  
Did you know about Betsy Ross

Well, I was sittin' home alone and I started to sweat 
I figured they was in my television set  
I peeked behind the picture frame  
And got a shock from my feet that hit my brain  
Them Reds did it, no one's on the hootin' nanny
Well, I finally started thinkin' straight  

When I run outta things to investigate 
I couldn't imagine doin' anything else 
So now I'm at home investigatin' myself  
Hope, I don't find out too much, good God