Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Certain Sadness of a Soon To Be Forgotten Man

All eyes now are focused on America's tomorrow. Many thinking it likely bright; others frightened by its possibilities. Regarding our tomorrows, of course, in the end only time will tell. But less open to question, and being given relatively little thought, is the end of he who once was seen by many as The Great Hope: Barack Obama. And that fact, while understandable -- and perhaps well deserved -- strikes me still as rather, well, sad, Unlike every previous President, Barack Obama will not upon leaving office be grabbing a carriage, taking a train, or flying out of Washington DC to somewhere else -- to a true "home." No, Obama is staying in Washington. And even there he is said to have no real friends. Sycophants he has had aplenty, of course. Just being President assured that. But friends? Or even people who look to him for his wisdom and experience? It is generally agreed, of these he has, really, none. (Thus his need to so often sing his own praises and "toot" his own horn.) The sadness of this goes way beyond the sadness of, or for, the man himself. No, it is the sadness of lost promise and promises. For just eight years ago so many people had so much hope. For President Obama as a man, and for the promises he was making And now we just need look at the world -- or, really, even, at just our own nation -- and we cannot help but see how empty those hopes and promises proved to be. Other presidents, too, left office without great honor. Richard Nixon comes to mind. But in truth his -- Nixon's -- list of accomplishments was quite large. -The EPA. A major reduction in nuclear arms proliferation. Greatly improved international relationships -- such as those with China. And this list could go on. But Obama's main "accomplishment" -- Obamacare -- forced through without anything but single-sided support -- is seen as a failure. And, many say, was doomed to be that failure from its very start. This because of poor design, and by its having been built on even then known falsehoods. And thus with its -- Obamacare's -- crashing failure we see Obama's own, personal, failure as well. Yes, as he boldly told the nation after it elected a congress hostile to his further acts, he had "a phone and a pen." But nothing beyond that. No wisdom. No actual vision. No real accomplishments. Nothing that unites -- only that which divides. And so all that follows him is... emptiness. Like the sound of a hollowed out log. Yes, I, as do so many, wish to put both President Obama and his entire era behind me/us -- to be forgotten as quickly possible. But still, with our doing so, there is -- there should be and there has to be -- a certain sadness. -For the greatness that so many looked and hoped for, but for which we must now look to another.To possibilities -- those of unity, prosperity and peace -- that so many yearned for -- but that still remain far out of reach. I, like many I suspect, will rarely think of President Obama once he has left office. But, thinking about it, that itself is a sad, sad thing. So, yes, a new tomorrow dawns. It, quite properly, has our full attention. But Obama, even now (it seems to me) deserves a moment of silence. For he who promised so much -- and left behind so, so little.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Everything Is Hype (And Why It Matters)

Back in the "old days" -- and, yes, I know saying that well demonstrates my advancing years -- only BIG news got BIG headlines.

And by "big" I mean big.  Like this...

No longer.

Today everything is a big deal. Everything is hyped. Everything is designed to take your breath away or get your heart pounding. Yes, everything.

Now to the quite young -- and by this I wish I could be referring merely to actual "children, but, alas, no - everything is "big" even if it is small; commonplace.  "Wow! Tomorrow I turn two!"

Thus when bad things happen -- the dog dies for instance -- parents of young children have to deliver the news carefully. And with a bit of sweetener.

I still remember when I was about five my older sister's kitten died. My parents told us they'd taken it to the veterinarian (she knew that) and that it had "run away."

Uhuh.  (If I believed it then would I remember their saying it so clearly now?)

But when dealing with children such at least seems necessary.

No longer.  Today college kids, too, need to have reality broken to them very, very gently. And the news breaker has to be prepared for what may come. (A copious supply of Play-Doh is said to help. Along with available counselors.)

Maybe that is because the big and the small are today confused.  The small is made big.

Take the current cold period.

Is it "cold" out? Yes it is. Fourteen degrees f. (-10 c)  Cold enough that one better wear gloves and keep the ears covered.  Especially as it is also windy. But really, is that a big, big deal?

No.  The fact is that we have on numerous occasions seen temperatures 'round here of minus 14 f.  And colder.  That's -25 for those used to the centigrade scale.  Perhaps that is 'a biggie', but if so it's a not rare one.  As I said, we've seen it many times.

Yet from the POV of the headline writers our present temperature is a big deal.  Big enough that the networks and newspapers have been hyping its supposedly dangerous coming for days. And now that's it's here -- 14 degrees! -- they are writing about the tragic consequences.

I.e,, one person somewhere in the mid-west is said to have died of exposure.

Now I'd not want to make light of a single death or the pain that came with it.  Yes, every life is precious -- especially to that someone and their family and friends.  But in truth, is there ever a day when someone does not die?  No. And in a nation of 300,000,000+ such tragedies are, and will remain, common.  Yes, even deaths by exposure. So the thing that is creating the headline and the News Flash isn't the newsworthiness of the event, it is the need for the hype.

Does this matter?  Yes.

Most of us know the story of the boy who cried wolf.  And how his calling out to his neighbors, bringing them running day after day when there was no wolf, left him defenseless when an actual wolf showed up.  And so it is today when small news, or no news at all, is hyped.  -Made to appear as something big.

But the dulling of the senses to real newsworthy events -- events that call for immediate awareness and action -- is only part of the problem with the hype. Two others come to mind. Possibly more damaging to society.

The first is mistrust.

Today each supposed news source is using what once would have been called "large type," not because the stories warrant it, but to grab readers.

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." -So goes a popular saying.

And it is true.  No one likes to be fooled.

"Made you look! Made you look!" so said the schoolyard smarty pants of old.

Or in its slightly more modern iteration...

What's the effect?  We -- and (hopefully) McFly -- eventually stop looking.

But worse yet, if little things are big, what are bigger things?  Or REALLY big ones?

When commonplace things are described as big we lose, not just our vocabulary to describe truly big things, but -- and this is far more serious -- our emotional ability to deal with them.

How many young people are right now staying indoors because of fear of the cold who could be outside enjoying themselves?

Again, yes, I know it marks my age, but we never worried about the "wind chill factor" when I was a kid.  (Did the phrase even then exist?)  If it was cold we called it "Winter." And then we bundled up and grabbed our sleds. Or we went to school.

Yes, true blizzards kept us home, but only from official functions.  "School is closed! Woohoo! Let's go skating!" Or sledding.

Today mommy won't allow it.  The headlines warn against it. And such are quickly followed by the network nags. -Those pompous know-it-alls who tell parents and teachers -- everybody within the sound of their droning voices -- what "good" parents do. And don't do. What they allow (little it seems) and don't allow (most everything).

What will happen to a generation raised in such an environment?  If the little things get large frightening headlines followed by a thousand "don't dos" how will people -- both adults and young adults -- react if ever a real threat comes?  -One that requires action -- either personal of societal?

To know we just need look at the colleges with their "safe zones" Play-Doh and therapy puppies.

I haven't played with Play-Doh in years.  (Did I ever?)  But I do love puppies.

Still, when the challenges in life come -- and they always will and do -- that is not where I was trained to look.

Hard times will come again.  Maybe very hard times.

Will we as a people be ready?

Or will we just read the headlines?  And hide?

Yes, the hype matters.  IT is a BIG DEAL.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Joy! Joy! To Be Able To Really Hear Again!

Back in the days when I was rockin' with a band we didn't know anything about the effect of exposure to loud sound levels -- be it the noise of an air compressor, the repeated discharge of a firearm, or, yes, loud rock music. But our ignorance did not lead to any bliss -- well, apart from the possibility of "blissful" forced silence.

I.e, "old" people went deaf. 'Twas just the way of things. ("Eh? What's that you say sonny?")

Now we know otherwise and hopefully younger guitar slingers are taking that painfully learned truth seriously.

For older rockers such as myself it is too late. The damage was done. And apart from the use of devices to regain some of what has been lost, irreversible.

But, oh, those devices! As I have learned recently the progress in "hearing aids" has been as great as in all the rest of the world of digital processing and miniaturization of electronic amplification and speaker technology.

My first foray into the world of electronic hearing correction, two years back, was a relative baby step. I researched, and then purchased for about $1000, a basic set of hearing amplifiers -- no prescription -- ones made with musicians in mind. That is, ones that amplified every sound frequency that is generally affected by hearing loss, equally.

They did what I'd hoped them to do. Well, much of it anyway. Music sounded good with them on -- nuanced -- not tinny, tubby or artificial.

My ability to understand speech was also helped a little -- but not as much as I'd have liked.

Jan, and others, were instructed to face me directly when speaking. The "TV" was turned up fairly loud. Not because I needed the volume to actually "hear" it -- but I did need it to understand what was being said -- to make it other than audible 'mush.'

But the passing of yet more time took yet more of a toll -- that is what happens over time once the mechanism of our ears has been damaged. Progressive loss continues on, diminishing our ability to hear a little more with each month by month; each passing year.

About a year ago my know everything (really! or so it seems) son, Aaron, had warned me of another deleterious effect: That hearing loss, if left uncorrected, leads to losses in mental capability as well.

I recently met with a PhD hearing professional and she reiterated that fact -- and explained it.

Senses such as hearing and balance use parts of the brain used for little else. When the auto functions start to fail for any reason other parts of the brain start to be utilized to make up for that loss, and with that comes noticeable (and measurable) cognitive losses.

A brain is too valuable a thing to waste. Hearing is best done by the parts of the brain normally assigned to it. And we should thus do whatever is in our power to assure such.

Okay, all that was the bad news. The good news, for me, was learning that here in NH insurance companies are required to include hearing devices in their coverage -- a minimum of $1500 per ear every five years. And with family medical expenses this year already having used up our deductible that gave me $3000 to put into trying to resolve my hearing loss issues.

The same professional mentioned above helped me evaluate what I needed as well as desired. And Jan and I both agreed that for me hearing was a worthwhile investment even if such cost quite a bit more than that provided by the insurance coverage. Music. Conversation. Cinema. All were essential to my quality of life. To the extent possible then, we decided to approach this with the attitude of "money be damned."

And so earlier this week I was fitted with the best. -Digital hearing devices exactly "tuned" to my personal hearing loss -- and with very advanced computer and electronic capabilities to allow the devices to do even more.

Now wearing them for several days of a trial period I am completely blown away.

The "speakers" themselves are so small they they fit in the ear. That is the actual speakers mind you, not just a tube carrying such speakers' output. A small (almost invisible) wire leads form the in-the-ear micro speaker to super-miniaturized digital processing and amplification units that sit (again, almost invisibly) behind each of my ears.

The full sound spectrum is amplified so as to exactly make up for the loss in my hearing across the entire frequency range and at various db levels. But that is just the start.

The two devices speak electronically (via Bluetooth technology) to one another -- analyzing the type of sound and it placement in space -- and then maximize the output to each ear -- even negating sound that the computer models see as unimportant.

For instance when driving a car with passengers in the front passenger seat and the rear, the units determine that the car's drone should be minimized, and then analyze each of the voices as to its placement. They then amplify each of them so it sounds natural, is fully understandable and properly placed in space -- front, rear, sides.

Driving home from the clinic following the initial fitting I was able to have a completely natural conversation -- this despite our driving on a rough, somewhat snow-covered, road. And this even if Jan intentionally whispered. Amazing!

It was suggested to us that we visit all sorts of environments as part of the test. Yesterday we 'did lunch' in a restaurant with quite a bit of ambient noise.

I had to remind Jan that she need not raise her voice. ("It sounds to me like you are shouting." ) She wasn't -- but was, through habit, speaking a bit louder than she otherwise would. Now that is no longer needed.

Nor is turning up the TV.

Oh, and music. Did I mention music? Wow. It now sound much as it used to --  before I got "old."

The 'units' do other things as well.

For one they can, if I wish, connect to my iPhone, MP3 player, the TV or our Alexa devices via Bluetooth. Thus providing me with wireless stereo hi-fi with access to my entire music collection. And that with a range of about 100 feet from the device.

They units are rechargeable. Three hours on the charger gives 24 hours of continuous use. Or twelve hours of regular use plus six more of Bluetooth listening. And the  lithium ion batteries they contain can't over charge. Thus I can take them out/off at night, put them in their small storage/charging case, and in the morning they are all set to go for another day.  No batteries to change. No fuss. No bother.

Equally wonderful is that they are comfortable.  So small and light that I am barely aware of their presence. The micro-speakers almost float in the ear canal, with no feelings of pressure or sensation of clogging.  Too they are virtually waterproof, dust proof, and require almost no care.

Anyhow, it is so nice -- so cool! -- to be able to really hear again.

No, they weren't cheap, but they are truly worth every penny.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"Fake News" - Can You Believe It?

"Everything" is a big deal today. "Everything" is worthy of network news alerts. Reams of digital paper and barrels of digital ink are used to cover the story 24/7.  -As if our lives depended on the networks doing so.

Every storm is life threatening. Every act of a miscreant puts all of society in danger. News Flash! News Flash!

Haven't you noticed?

Except what I said above isn't true. No, not even half of it.  For in fact only certain news stories get the News Flash treatment. And which stories those are is determined by how each fits the desired narrative. -Which one move forward the stories favored by the media itself.  Yes, and their masters.

Now there is a new, and especially loud, "hue and cry" --  as in earlier times the calls alerting the people to an impending danger, and/or calling for the capture of an evil doer -- was called. But this time the supposed danger is those who will no longer play along. Or of those who insist on bypassing the official town criers and insist upon having a voice of their own.

That the media and those who empower it are frightened by this trend is fully understandable. Probably there is no greater danger to such keeping things as they are then having the official heralds ignored. Or, worse, laughed at.

Thus the current cry of an impending danger: That of "fake news." And the call to silence those to share it.

The laugh here is to be found on two levels. One is the "who," the other the "what" of the "fake news" story.

When the old dog media daily passed the accepted word of their masters that the then newly proposed health insurance law (now called "Obamacare") was going to reduce the average family's healthcare costs by $2500 a year and require no sacrifice in personal choices as to care -- this despite the fact that such was known to be false by those writing the law, and by at least some of those sharing what has proved to be total falsehoods -- that was not "fake news."  No, it was just...  Well it was just something that happened.  A mistake. ("oops")

When the accepted meme was put forth by all the officially sanctioned criers that Donald Trump had no chance at all of becoming president -- and all the stories were printed and posted telling us why that was so -- that was not "fake news" either.   No, it was just... just... just.... Yes, more of the same. Another "mistake."  (oops again)

But what about the sources that were writing and saying what contradicted this supposed "real" and true news --that accurately foretold events, be it about the costs of Obamacare or the outcome of the recent election? They, we are being told, are "fake." And as such are about to be banned from places such as Facebook's news feed and Google's searches. (As, indeed, they have long been from the pages of the NY Times, the Washington Post, and many of the lesser sycophant news sites such as Yahoo News and the Huffington Post.

What can be done about this?

The Man of the Hour -- the about to be President of the United States, Donald J. Trump -- has an answer. One  that is working very well for him.  He simply makes news and spreads it himself via midnight tweets and direct-to-the-viewer YouTube videos -- many of which he broadcasts live on his own, and other supporting, Facebook pages. -Tweets, videos and live presentations seen and followed by in some cases hundreds of thousands of readers,viewers and listeners.

"Boo hoo hoo."  That is the new cry and hue. This time a wail of self-pity by the miscreants themselves -- those self-appointed heralds who also have seen themselves as defenders of the city gates-- the official media

Gates erected to keep out whom?

More and more would answer "us" -- we the people. Yes, and simple truth.

Only time will tell how effective at silencing truth this "fake news" meme will be.

And only actual "fake news" would deny any of what is written above.


Monday, December 5, 2016

The Day of "Mr. Jones"

When, not too many weeks back, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature I thought, frankly, that such was pretty lame. Well maybe I was wrong. Because has anyone better described what is happening in the world today than did Dylan in his song "Ballad Of A Thin Man"?

     You walk into the room
     With your pencil in your hand
     You see somebody naked
     And you say, “Who is that man?”
     You try so hard
     But you don’t understand
     Just what you’ll say
     When you get home

     Because something is happening here
     But you don’t know what it is
     Do you, Mister Jones?"

Yes, such as Dylan's "Mr. Jones" can see the outline, but only the outline. He/they with shock and dismay read the headlines on November 9th. He/they saw what to him was incomprehensible -- that the people were rising up. He/they knew that somehow he'd/they'd missed what was happening. -But just what it is that is happening he/they -- the "Joneses" of the world -- still do not understand.

They -- today's "Mr. Jones" -- cannot conceive that the "something" that is being rejected and cast off is their entire worldview.  -The idea that they -- these "Joneses" -- are the betters; the ones with understanding. -That those who they -- the "Joneses"-- view as their inferiors (and that, it is worth noting, includes everyone with a different point of view than their own) need to be understood and reckoned with. No, and not just somehow placated. Not just patted on the head.  Not just given a bit more bread and/or a bigger circus.

They -- the "Joneses" -- cannot conceive that their fundamental plan of a borderless world where the only fences that exist are those they themselves have built to keep these lessers out of their own lives -- that all of this is itself based on selfish and demeaning falsehoods.

They -- the "Joneses" -- cannot conceive that 'average people' should be the masters of their own destinies. -That such one's "common sense" is proving to be the only real sense there is, and it is something that they -- these "Joneses" -- these elites -- for all their education and self aggrandizement, lack.

As Dylan says of his "Mr. Jones"...

     You’ve been with the professors
     And they’ve all liked your looks
     With great lawyers you have
     Discussed lepers and crooks
     You’ve been through all of
     F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books
     You’re very well read
     It’s well known

     Because something is happening here
     But you don’t know what it is
     Do you, Mister Jones?

The future -- the path back to a world where such "common sense" prevails -- may be fraught with many unknowns and enormous difficulties and challenges, but it is the only real future there is. For the common man with his common sense understands common humanity with its common needs. -Needs not taught by the "professors" Dylan's "Mr. Jones" has studied with. And that people -- real, human, "average" people have needs not included -- indeed, in many cases denied -- in the "books" these "Joneses" have read and studied.

No. Nor that the power and authority the "Joneses" have taken on, they have taken on for themselves. And that now the people are wanting it back. Taking it back. And that, apparently, not just here in Donald Trump's America, but, seemingly, world-wide.

Want some free advice Mr. Jones?

You'd better get used to it.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

The New Word Games of the Oh, So Busy, "Thought Police"

It has long been understood that the ability to control the conversation equated with the ability to control how most people think.  Not just their opinions, but the very words and language of their thoughts.

Back when all the media was owned by the Great Whoever such language use and control could be, and was, subtle.  And since the words and expressions the media sources all used was the only language most everybody read and heard the language of thought was amazingly consistent across the nation.

The opening of new media sources where one could see and hear different ideas -- sources outside of mainstream control -- meant that controlling thought was less easy. New tools such as the creation of PC "forbidden" words and topics were created, or, more often, old and commonly understood words were given a brand new meaning.

Suddenly people were said to be "homophobic." Not just a few -- but many. Even those who rarely thought about sexuality much at all.

"Racist" too!  And again that included masses of people who never thought (or cared) about race at all.

Resistance to all of the above has led to the creation of new categories of thought, newer yet words and phrases, and common thoughts turned into memes -- all with the same intent: To control what we each think. To make it (and us) uniform. And "safe." Especially that: Safe. For the Powers That Be.

Once one becomes aware of these new word games they can actually become rather fun to play -- Or to refuse to play.  More fun even than acrostics, anagrams and cross-word puzzles!

One of my own favorites is Finding the Media's Word of the Day.

Today, for instance, there are two. "Gerrymandering" and "Russian."

The first of the two is the new explanation of why the 'favored side' lost the recent election.  If you don't know the word "gerrymandering" just put on most any Sunday talk show.  You soon will! Yes, they are all into it!

The word "Russian," of course, isn't  new at all.  Its a oldie given a new life.

The word "Russian" started getting a new lease on life when WikiLeaks started doing a number on the Hillary campaign. And now it is being put forth with the equivalent of a flashing red (appropriate color that!) warning light -- especially by the Jeff Bezos owned Washington Post. Glen Greenwald gives the WaPo's game away here.  Give it a read!  (Then give it a play.)  :D

Then there is that other new game: "Phrase of the Day.

"Fake News" is a biggie right now. And it is designed to come with a double 0 number -- i.e., with a License to Kill.  (As in "Kill that idea! Quick! It's dangerous to us!!!")

The Fake News game is being especially pushed by Facebook, but it is being played by several other well known groups and people as well.  NPR, for instance, is getting into it in a big way.

Call something or some source Fake News and who will complain if you silence it.  Right?

Clever dudes.

Evil dudes.

One of my favorite ways of getting in on the current games -- and this without having to actually play them myself -- is to simply read the email and FB postings of a few self-serious FB friends. Mostly people on the left, but some, too, that favor the right.

I just look for a not quite common word or phrase that is suddenly appearing in several of their posts. -Then I Google the word and find it's hidden lair.

Typically that will be one or other other of the big media outlets -- and quite usually many or all of them.

Yes, the LOVE this game too!

If you are into word games this is one that you will enjoy.  "Find the Word."  Oh, and give yourself extra points for finding its source!

Any of these games is fun to play on your own, but could be yet more fun if one was to get several sharp-witted friends to play it together. Call it "Expose the Wordsters."

Find the word, find the source, and then make it public.  Henceforth refuse to use that word at all -- or, maybe better, give it a new meaning all your own.

You know. Like Hillary did when she created the word "Deplorables."

Now THAT was original!  Pretty good for someone who is anything but a Master. At anything.



Saturday, November 26, 2016

What Is It About "Home"?

Yes, we people are funny.

Sometimes funny "hah hah!"

Always funny "odd."

Last night, far past my usual bedtime, Jan and I arrived home from a glorious week in North Carolina where we'd stayed with our son, Aaron, and his wife -- our beloved daughter-in-law -- Soutpatthana. Great company -- indeed, some of our very favorite people in the whole wide world. Their gorgeous home. Warmth. Love. Kindness. And something always appreciated by persons Jan and my age -- their willingly sharing the knowledge and wisdom needed to allow us to (albeit, barely) keep up with life in the modern world.

Now add to all those joys the fact that Sou is a true gourmet cook. That the meals she prepares are always a joy for all the senses. For the eye. For the palette.  And that several of Aaron's interests nicely coincide with my own. His love of movies and home theater. Cool cars too. (His is a Tesla)

Put all that together and you may see where the funny "odd" comes in.  For after being surrounded by all of that I was still, yes, thrilled to get home.

To our home where it's often cold. To our home where everything that needs to be done -- and in an old house like ours that's always a lot -- has to be done by me. Or by Jan.

Yes, and where I -- hardly a gourmet chef -- have to do pretty much all the cooking.

This seems to make no sense. No sense at all.

But actually the "why" of this is simple. For especially as we get older many of us -- even the once adventurous -- start to crave something. And that something is routine. To have a sense of continuity in our lives. To be someplace that is truly our own. Someplace made to our personal liking. Someplace that is to us with our own unique individuality, "just so."

It was that which made me so joyful upon our return home late last night.

Yes, I'd got to bed late. But it was to sleep in my own bed. (And it being such I fell asleep in mere minutes.)

And then this morning, despite having fewer hours sleep than I usually enjoy, it was finding that at exactly 5:30 am, just as usual, with the stars still in the sky, that my eyes popped open. I was ready to "go." I was home. In my own, old, common, routine.  My place. My world.

There was actually no need for me to rush. There were no appointments to be met. No bells ringing. But despite that I almost jumped out of bed, my mind affixed on the espresso machine.

I turned on the machine and its little glowing lamp somehow brought me great comfort and joy.

And then, as the espresso machine warmed up, I went outside, opened up the spa, turned on its jets, and then added the needed chemistry.  Then back in the house I went. -To savor some of that now ready to be drawn 'elixir of life' -- my morning espresso. Oh, yes! Yes! Yes!

Why do I/we find such pleasure in little things?  -Hot coffee made with favorite, just-ground, beans. Watching the sunrise -- especially, for me, from the warmth of the spa.

Those other "little things" too.  Such as my own little routine of setting things up for Jan's breakfast. Putting out a bowl and spoon and her favorite muesli cereal. Placing her favorite coffee cup in the brewer that it should be ready and waiting for her upon awakening. Why is there so much joy in things like these?

Again, the answer is found in two words. Home and routine.

And now -- those simple pleasures done -- to be sitting here in my office, at my computer. Tapping away at the keys. Writing, reading, thinking. Feeling a deep, deep, joy within. The one that comes from being in a favorite place -- my favorite place. Being here in my home in Peterborough.

Yes "home."

There is such magic in that word!

A magic that we make for ourselves. Our own little world. That place like none other.



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pure "Rope-a-Dope!" Oh, What a Show!

Call it "The Great American 'The Joke's On You' Freak-Out!"  -All the fools -- and yes, that is what they are behaving like -- "fools" -- who got rope-a-doped by master deal maker Donald J. Trump before the general election and then did so again during the general election, are getting rope-a-doped once more. Will it be the last time?  I doubt it. Oh, what a show!

Are you finding it fun to watch? Or painful?

To me it is pure fun.  Pure "rope-a-dope" -- and being done to people who oh, so deserve it!

"Rope-a-dope" is a phrase said to have been coined by Muhammad Ali. It referred to a strategy he used to beat the considerably younger George Foreman in their heavyweight title fight in 1974.

What Ali did was lean way back against ropes -- something that made him appear to be totally helpless -- and let Foreman take one ineffectual swing at him after another. -Ineffective because being leaned back against the ropes as he was those otherwise mighty punches and jabs could not really have much affect. Well, except for this one: They totally tired Foreman out leaving him weak and ineffective.

That done, Ali pivoted away from the ropes, and "bam!" -- laid Foreman flat.

"Rope-a-dope" is exactly what Donald Trump is doing.  And no, it is not his only strategy -- but oh, it is proving an effective one.

During the primary season he used it, allowing one opponent after another to ineffectively swing at him until they had exhausted themselves. Each was 'knocked out' in turn. Then he used it again against Hillary, who ran ad after ad after ad against him to little effect, and then, on on election day, "Pow!" -- to borrow another out-of-time phrase -- "Right in the kisser."

Wouldn't his opponents learn?  It seems not. Because he is doing it again and these "fools" are again falling for it.

The "ropes" here are the long, elastic, lines of "niceness."  So Trump is being "nice" to Barack Obama -- thus, in analogy, appearing to himself accept being "on the ropes."  And the "dopes" are buying it.  Obama himself, of course.  Being the self-glorifying narcissist that he is I suppose he has to.

"Obama" Trump suddenly announces "is a very good man."  Uhuh. One that he intends to 'look to for counsel.  And Obama glows in satisfaction.

Obamacare -- something loathed by the American people and about to be totally removed and replaced -- has 'certain provisions,' Trump tells Obama and his obedient media dogs, that  "I like... very much."

Again, uhuh.

Even the right-leaning media is getting "rope-a-doped."  Or at least pretending to.

Take, for instance, Trump's announcement that he is appointing RNC Chairman Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff. "We’ve gone from RINOs to Rinso in one election" cries talk show host Michael Savage. Is he totally unable to see the brilliant gamesmanship on display? --That of enlisting the head of the RNC to be on his team -- under the guidance of Stephen K. Bannon who will also be serving Trump as White House "chief strategist" and "senior counselor."  -This the same Stephen K. Bannon, who had served as executive director of the Breitbart web consortium.  Using one of the oppositions strongest 'punches' against them?

And why all this?  Lets pretend for a moment that we, too, are brilliant strategists...

"In this corner, with two more months left him to cause all sorts of mischief and grief, the Light Weight Champion of the World, wearing a supercilious smile, Barack Obama."

"And in this corner, about to be Heavyweight Champion of the World (but presently powerless apart from very cleverly steering things), wearing an impish grin, the Great and Masterly Donald J. Trump.

Yup, pure "rope-a-dope."

Swing away Ex-Leader(s) of the Free World.

Ain't this fun to watch?  Ain't it?


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Some Thoughts About "The Media"

It is something most of us have experienced at one time or another. A dark and dreary day when for a brief moment the sun breaks through an opening in the clouds and reveals surprising, hitherto unseen, details about the surrounding landscape. When such occurs one looks about with pure wonder.

All of us who are awake and with our eyes open have had such a moment lately. That as a bright and revealing light has shown forth on the media revealing all that it is worth.

Which is little as it turns out. Very little.

Here then are a few thoughts that 'showed up on the lit landscape' from where I was standing.

The first is how large a field the media is. How much it encompasses.

For a time there was a phrase "the Mainstream Media." This was the 'same old, same old' group that was understood to include the big newspapers -- most famously the New York Times, The Chicago Times and the Washington Post and all their little brothers and sisters. Also the network TV stations -- those of the nightly news with their familiar-to-all hosts whose hair and articulation are equally well groomed.

Then there was the  so-called "new media" -- that which inhabited the lowlands with its snide commentary and revealed 'dirty little secrets.'  Among these the most famous is perhaps the Drudge Report but also to be included are such as the Huffington Post and Mother Jones.

Then there were those few that inhabited the supposed high places: The organs of the so-called Think Tanks (of the left and right). Less familiar to many, but highly respected among a few, such includes the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation. Also a few who blended scholarship, both bogus and real, with some popular flair. This group includes such as National Review and the Weekly Standard -- both of the right -- and the left's New Republic, Politico and Third Way.

Each of the above has its own niche and partisan supporters, but in fact they have a heck of a lot in common.  Including a sharing in all that follows.

What Has Been Revealed

1) The were WRONG. All of them.

It has been said, with some humor, that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  If that is so than all of the above are less accurate then a stopped clock.  Think about that!

Most of America, every single day, "turns on" or "goes to" this or that of the above news and information sources, and during the last full year or longer, as perhaps the most major political story in twenty years unfolded, not a single one of them got it right.  The recent flash of light revealed that. People were feeding on... WRONG.

Will we forget this?  Alas, the power of old habits makes that likely. Let's not.

2) They are OWNED.

Evidence is abundant that that what they -- the media as a whole -- produce was 'incorrect', not just by mistake, but by intent. That each was, to varying degrees, paying homage to its master.

In many cases that master was He of the Status Quo.

Let's face it, left or right, those on the 'inside' have their entire living -- and not just the monetary part of it -- connected to keeping in power those presently in power. "Those" being the people, the institutions and even that 'status quo' mode of thought. But also another group of status quo lovers:  Us.  Yes us. You and me.

Yes, satisfying us  -- their readers and listeners -- telling us what we wanted to hear --also affected what they said and wrote.

Said and sang Paul Simon in his song The Boxer...

    All lies and jests
    Still a man hears
    What he wants to hear
    And disregards the rest

As did Simon's boxer, so do we.

And that is another lesson to clearly keep in mind and remember.

3) They were EVIL

Okay, this third point is a judgment call -- but I stand behind it. Here's why:

Our nation has been sinking for some years.  Like a mighty ship that has been taking on water.

That is not a point of view of just the left, or just the right, or just those caught somewhere in the middle. As recently as Nov. 6th -- just days before the critical election -- when the respected national poling organization Rasmussen Reports asked Americans of all stripes and persuasions whether the country was "heading in the right direction," just thirty percent of likely voters said they thought it was.  Thus getting things right should have been seen by all as of prime importance. And in a republic with a democratically chosen leadership, the key to that has to be the spreading of accurate and all-encompassing knowledge. But that is not what we he people got.

Largely the straining of information was done to aid one side:  The campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Note that this is not the same as saying that the editorial leanings of most of the above sources were in her direction.  No, it is the fact that critical information about Hillary, as well as her opponent, Donald Trump, was hidden from listeners and readers.  This included some extraordinary stories of corruption from the Clinton campaign's own emails that had been revealed by Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks organization.

"But Assange was taking sides!" some will say. "He was only revealing Clinton's "foibles."

Perhaps that is true.  But it matters not.  Such would be akin to him having an editorial stance -- something he was entitled to do.  What matters is was what he was revealing true? -Was it significant?  If so -- if it was information that would have helped a voter get a clearer understanding of a candidate -- either candidate -- than it needed to be 'out there.' Broadcast widely. And it wasn't.

If Assange had an editorial POV -- something, btw, that Assange denies -- well so did the outlets of the right.  What is amazing this election is that largely their -- the right's -- editorial slant was in the same direction as the media on the left. They said and wrote only what would help Hillary, and damage Trump.

No, their reasons for doing so were not the same. -At least not all of them. But they did share the same selfish desire to protect their own little patch of turf.  In other words the right-leaning media was as a rule just as dishonest as that of the left.  And this about their own supposed candidate!

Any time a 'broad brush' is used some details will be covered over. Some reputations tarnished a bit unfairly.  And certainly that is true here.  For there were a few, on both the left and the right (and in that supposed "center") who tried to honestly find the pertinent facts and to share them, allowing their effects on the outcome of the election to fall where they may.

But that said, such were few. Sadly, few.

Now we are approaching a week after the election. The election that proved pretty much all of the media wrong, owned and yes, evil.  Have they changed?  Not at all. Are we as a nation suffering for it? Yes.

The "ship" that is America may yet be put right. Most of us hope so. (I, for one, believe it will.) But if it is little if any credit will belong to the media, be it the old, the new or that of the 'rarefied air' intellectuals.

What can we average citizens do about all the above?  Actually a great deal -- if we are brave enough. If we are willing.

One is that we can stop listening to the media -- all of it -- in the way we used to.  Yes, we can still listen to and read their words -- but not with trust. We can -- indeed we must -- force ourselves to leave our respective comfort zones and ease. We must see the media -- all of it -- for what it is: People with their own agenda. And that that agenda likely does not at all match what is good for your or my individual long-term welfare. No, nor for that of our nation.

No, be it the NY Times, NPR, National Review or one of the more "high brow" intellectual news and commentary sources, be they of the left or the right, we must see them for what they are. Opponents to our common good.

Two is we can vote with our wallets.  Turn away from those who mislead us to the same extent that they did so. Hold them in derision. Laugh at them. And let their monetary supporters see and know that we are doing so.  ("You advertised where? Hah! Some chance I'll be buying a widget from YOU!!!")

Doing the above can be -- yes! -- "fun and games."  That of getting the better of our self-appointed Guardians and Masters. But like the best of all fun and games doing will require hard work and acquiring some learned skills. Firstly that of learning to think for ourselves. -To see things for what they really are. And then 'playing the game' accordingly. With enthusiasm. And to win.

So, yes, the media let us down. Badly.

The good news is that less were fooled during this election than were in the past -- and this despite them -- the combined media --playing their best possible game and playing it to win.

Yea us!

As they say in gameland -- "may the best man and the best team win." And may it always be We the People.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Post-Election Recriminations That Are (Once Again) Missing the Mark

After every election there are recriminations expressed by the losing party.  Unexpected, or especially severe, election losses typically raises the volume of those some.

But this year we are seeing something different:  Recriminations from both parties -- not just from the one that "lost."

That is so because essentially both parties lost.  Yes both.

The Democrats lost in the typical sense -- the candidate bearing their banner did not get elected to office.  That both the party, and especially the candidate herself, saw her election as pretty much a pre-ordained "given" made those recriminations somewhat worse. But apart from that they are typical.

"What should we have done differently to win the election?" they ask. A different candidate? Different advertising themes targeting, perhaps, different groups in different ways? What? What? What?

The Republicans see themselves as having lost too -- this despite the fact that the candidate bearing their banner won and won big.

In the case of the Republicans the recrimination is that the candidate bearing their party banner wasn't actually a part of their "team."  He'd not come up from the minors to the majors as a team member ought to have. And while he willingly carried the party's banner his hat -- very noticeably --had another team's logo on it.  His own.

Apart from that the recriminations are, again, for both parties, pretty much normal. "What could we have done -- and what should we in the future do -- to win the election?"

And that, dear reader, is the problem.  Yes it really, really, is.  For the error is not being properly framed.  The real issue is not 'what do they need to do to win the election' -- for it is that very focus that has put each of the parties on the loser's bench.  It is not the election methods that failed, but both parties' lack of attention to what the election is supposed to be about:  Satisfying the governmental needs of the people.

In other words making whatever changes are needed at election time is, and in the future will be, too late.

This is equally true for both parties -- although, rather interestingly, things came to a head with this failing mostly for the party whose banner carrier actually won:  The Republicans and Donald Trump.

There was -- and this is the key point I am trying to make -- there was no way, no tool, no gimmick, no slick technique that could have changed the outcome of this year's election. None.  Any changes would have had to have come earlier. Much earlier. And that change would have had to have been much more fundamental. As fundamental a change as was/is the candidate who won -- Donald Trump.

In other words the parties -- yes, both of them -- will need to change their very focus. They will need to start focusing not upon winning elections, but upon winning  the hearts and minds of the people by actually caring about what those people -- all of we people -- care about.  Not gimmicks. Not phony election-year issues. But the the very place that we the people wish government to play in our lives.

Not the place that the government and its massive employment roster (More people in the USA today work for the Federal Government than work in manufacturing!) wants for itself  -- but upon our wants and needs. Not at election time, but all the time. Every day. In our cities. In our towns. In our small communities. In our families. In our own private lives.

And mostly that is a small part.

And there's the rub. For government -- itself so focused on itself -- has lost sight of that essential fact. That they -- the political parties -- both of them --  have come to believe their own blather: That the welfare of the people depends largely upon them. And fundamentally that just isn't so.

You know that is true about yourself at least. -That what makes you happy is not government.  So do I. But they -- government itself, and the political parties -- don't. And until they learn that fundamental truth -- that what really matters is not them, but us -- their post-election recriminations will miss the mark and gain neither them, nor us, anything at all.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Few Quick Thoughts on Last Night's Wonder

First is that it was just that: A wonder. America has once again, I truly believe, seen the grace of God.

History is not pretty. It is not Story Land. But the growth of freedom, and the enjoyment of it by more and more of the human family speaks to something great. Something too great for most of us to quite define.

America exists because over and over again the right leader was found -- sometimes in the seemingly most unlikely places -- to move the cause of liberty, and law, and equality under that law, ahead.

A gangly, witty, often self-deprecating -- but strong as steel --self-taught, back woods lawyer named Lincoln.

A physically disabled, but ever strong in spirit, millionaire who somehow felt for the common man, FDR.

A 'B-school' Hollywood actor who somehow -- judged by his works -- proved smarter than all the egg-heads of his generation, Ronald Reagan.

And now, yes. Donald J. Trump.

That is the hope. That is the promise.

His proven ability to do what others say is impossible is there for all to see. His strength. His energy. His rare and almost uncanny ability to sense the moment. His absolute unwillingness to lose. -These will now all be focused on healing our nation's wounds, correcting its someday (I truly expect) to be seen as unfathomable mistakes, and to opening up its door to opportunity for another generation.

Many, of course, are disappointed, dispirited and fearful. It is human nature to be more comfortable even with a demon that we know than to enter into the unknown.

To those feeling that way I say: Give Trump time. Try to get past your mistrust -- not by closing your eyes, but by keeping them open.

And as to Hillary Clinton, well please observe, painful as it may be to do so... Last night thousands of people who had entrusted her with their hopes, and in many cases poured themselves out on behalf of her dreams and promises, were sent home without her even deigning to make an appearance or give a personal word of thanks. Possibly -- just possibly -- has Kind Providence saved us from what that small "oversight" suggests?


Monday, November 7, 2016

Do We Really (Still) "Reap What We Sow"?

'Old school' thinking says "you reap what you sow." To the non-agriculturally minded that means that whatever seeds you plant in the ground is what's gonna come up in your garden. ("duh!") Oddly that's an axiom our current culture prefers to deny. Denver, CO, is among the nation's most "proud to be hip" cities and thus is one of the better places to test out that axiom, and many, many others. "Out with the old, in with the new" being there a fundamental principle. And among the "silly" and "out-of-date" laws one of the first to be canned was the one that banned pot. "Hey, what's a couple of joints between friends?" Or so Denver's thinking went. Well, those seeds have been in the ground now for a couple of seasons, so we reasonably ask: How does Denver's garden grow? Here are some findings' from 2014 -- one year into the experiment: – Marijuana-related traffic deaths had increased 32 percent – Almost 20 percent of all traffic deaths were found to have been marijuana related (compared to only 10 percent less than five years earlier) – Marijuana-related emergency department visits had increased 29 percent – Marijuana-related hospitalizations had increased 38 percent – Marijuana-related calls to the rocky mountain poison center had increased 72 percent – Diversion of Colorado marijuana to other states had increased 25 percent Of course that change in law was limited to "adults only" -- well, at least in intent. But what do we see in the actual garden? A survey of school resource officers and counselors provides at least part of the answer. Such told us that pot is having a tremendous impact in the schools. “Kids" (the official report says) are "going out on lunch breaks, getting high and coming back to school loaded on marijuana." Gee, what a surprise. Who could possibly have predicted that? And just this morning CBS Denver Channel 4 shared a report about one Tyler White, a twenty-five year old Tennessean who had recently moved to Denver, seeing it, he said, as a great place to get a "new start in life." He, the report says, had smoked some pot, and then drove 134 mph on a city street, causing a 4 car accident that took the life of another driver. He then fled the scene and was apprehended a bit later dancing stark naked on a public statue. Yes, he did admit that he'd be "smoking" -- but insisted that he was not "feeling high." No, “Something" he said "just took over me, told me to go there.” He was, in his own estimation, just "being stupid." Yeah, I guess. And what about the people who created this mess? They're probably running for re-election, and if so, Denver being "hip" Denver, I bet their chances are very good. Now there are several arguments that could be raised against all the above. One being that there are many pot smokers who never drive 134 MPH under the drug's influence or dance naked on public statuary. And that is certainly true. Another is the old saw "yeah, but what about alcohol drinkers?" And again, that argument is not totally without merit. But bottom line is the fact that societies -- all societies -- struggle with various things that release people's demons. Pot is just one of them. Was there really a shortage of such in Denver that made it somehow advantageous to add another to the list? And in so doing was there some recognition that there would be actual, real, and possibly painful, societal costs in doing so? More likely, or so it seems to me, this was just one more example of the spreading 'anything goes' spirit consistently popular with youth -A spirit traditionally held in check by the more mature members of a grown-up society. One that goes along with what other "hip" cities are doing with things as disparate as the allowance of public drinking, allowing public urination, and the public denial of traditional, biology-based, gender. Okay, I admit it. My questioning the wisdom of any of the above is anything but hip. But as to me -- here at least -- I'll stick with the old ways. How does that song go? Oh yeah... Gimme that old time religion Gimme that old time religion Gimme that old time religion It's good enough for me. "Religion" here being not so much some old, blindly-accepted, dogmas. But time honored and time tested truths. You know... Things like "what you sow you will also reap."

Friday, November 4, 2016

Learn, Think, Know, Speak and Act

There's a rule: Whatever "they" can control they will control.

The divide is that real and that great. It really has become "them" against us -- the self-important governing class -- the "elites" --  against us, the common man and woman.

Keeping us -- you and me -- focused on only the small and immaterial  is the key to their keeping power. They know that. "Bread and circus" is how the rulers of ancient Rome described it. And they -- the rulers of ancient Rome -- thus provided both.

(Usually, it is worth noting. less "bread" and more "circus.")

Doing that left deciding about the important' matters up to them -- the ruling class. And that was just the way they liked it.

Empowered elites today know and follow that same rule and make every effort -- some seen, but much unseen -- to keep the common man and woman likewise focused on life's 'littler' things. On 'bread and circus.'

But what of those of  us that won't play along? -That prefer to think about and discuss matters that the ruling class see as their own prerogative? Such are quietly silenced.

The internet was for a time a true "free for all." A place where anyone could say just about anything. And amidst the trivial and garbage alike was much of greater worth.  And search engines such as Google made it all easily accessible. It was then a matter of "just ask."

That, sadly, is no longer the case. Algorithms have been designed and instituted in search engines such as Google to consign undesirable material to the mere periphery -- making it hard to find -- and increasingly to consign some of it to the cyber garbage bin where it will never be seen by anyone.

That free political thought would fall into this category of the banned and discarded was a given. For nothing so threatens the self-assigned governing class as does a free flow of information about both the choices they daily make to control our lives, or the choices we might make for ourselves were we to become free from their ever-steering, "superior," knowledge.

If we understand this should we really be a surprised that the Obama Administration has given away control of the internet -- an American invention -- to a non-democratic, United Nations, body? Control. Control. Control. That to the ruling class is everything.

Note that all the above is not just theoretical. Even now things are already getting bad.  And noticeable. Our ability to post and access material that is not "approved" by our self-assigned 'masters' is becoming more and more difficult.

I, myself, have seen attempts to cross post a live political event to Facebook thrice thwarted -- until the event was over. Then, suddenly, my post about it appeared -- too late to do the ruling class much harm or to do potentially interested people much good.

Two days ago I shared information on Facebook about a respected writer and thinker (with a medical degree with specialty in psychology from Harvard and a Doctorate in Political Affairs from MIT) who had himself posted a controversial idea about current US politics-- and low and behold saw his website disappear from the web.

It was gone for two day. Now, interestingly, its headline status gone, it is back.

The above happening is hardly unnoticed. Return pressure is being applied, sometimes with success. But the battle is far from won. Indeed one can expect that this battle has only just started.

Is there anything we -- that is people who care -- can do?  Yes.

Know about the above. Care about it. That is the first step: Be aware that others -- those in positions of power and influence -- wish to both silence you and keep from knowing what it is they are doing.

Continue to think, speak and post boldly -- that's the second.  About not just the trivial, but about things that really matter to you.

I am not suggesting that one must reject "bread and circus."  Life is much more than politics and the world's affairs. So yes, continue to post to Facebook and the like about your favorite recipes and restaurant visits. Share photos of your family and friends. Shout out about your favorite music, sports teams and movies.

But if your mind and  spirit cries out for things of greater depth don't allow "them" to limit your interests. Or your expressions.

Learn. Think, know, speak and act.

In the end it comes down to our continuing to do those five things.

It did for the ancient Romans.  It does for us today.

Remember: They are the few. We are the many.

Also remember: They only have as much power over our lives as we are willing to allow them.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Comey, the Clintons, and the Painful Road Ahead

Way back when the Clintons were invited out of Arkansas onto the national stage many voices from their home state warned the nation that they would be the source of endless pain and corruption.

Bill was most oft the focus then -- he was the candidate -- but others spoke of how Hillary had tainted both the personal and the professional lives of everyone she had come in contact with.

Such word came from lawyers who had worked with both Bill and Hillary, members of their staff, fellow politicians and even from the Arkansas State Troopers who had been charged with their protection.

The words were always the same: That these people -- the Clintons --were self-serving and destructive like few others even in the rather less than saintly field of southern politics.

FBI Director James Comey, on the other hand, was once a man almost universally respected. Even with the political stakes so very high people on both sides felt comfortable with him at the helm of the investigations into both the growing email scandal and the other possible wrongs connected  with what has come to be called "Clinton Inc." -- the Clinton Foundation.

But then somehow, be it though the sweet syrup of enticement or the raising of acid threats, Director Comey for a time fell -- clearly entrapped -- his name and reputation ruined. And his agency -- the vaunted FBI -- likewise.

Then, just this past week, something unexpected happened: New evidence appeared that would allow for the re-opening of at least one of those investigations - thus possible undoing of the taint of corruption that had enveloped both Comey and his agency.

Comey, we learned yesterday, grabbed that opportunity.

Taking such an investigation public is somewhat unusual.  But in an initially private memo -- now made public -- Comey explained why he felt compelled to do so...

“We don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations," he wrote, "but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record."

How much Comey's own personal need to clear his name and reputation entered into the picture, along with the his desire to undo what so many see as a great miscarriage of justice, we simply cannot know. Possible Comey himself does not know. But whatever his motivations -- be they for personal redemption or the good of the republic -- good this most certainly is.

This event and all that will follow will not be "clean." Extracting one's self from the snare of sin never is. And no matter how pure Comey's and his fellow FBI investigators' motives are in reopening this investigation (or investigations), there will also be an ugly political side to everything that transpires.

Looking back we can now say -- just as we'd been warned -- that it would have been better for all concerned had the Clintons had never been invited out of Arkansas onto the national scene.  But at least FBI Director Comey is now trying to undo some of the hurt and damage they have done -- both to him and to our nation.

And for that at least we should be thankful.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Is The Election Actually "Rigged"?

Is this election "rigged" as Donald Trump is saying?

Read articles addressing this question in the mainstream media and you likely will think that it is not. That such is a gross exaggeration, if not a total falsehood.  Such articles consistently point to the relatively small number of fraudulent votes in comparison to the enormous total number, and thus conclude that such "rigging" has no real meaning.

Even framed that way, however, such an explanation and conclusion is seriously flawed.

A hypodermic needle may puncture just one ten millionth of a person's skin, leaving hardly any visual trace, but when carefully placed into just the right vein, and if carrying the right poison, such can none-the-less kill the victim dead.

However the election being "rigged" doesn't just mean phony vote tallies and votes cast by illegitimate voters. It also means all the many myriad things the establishment does to control the outcome of the election. This includes the creating of false, but endlessly repeated, stories about one candidate, while hiding possibly far more damaging stories about the other. It includes the burying of stories of worth while filling the media's 'pages' with distracting stories of no real consequence. It includes the giving of microphones as it were to some voices, while putting gags over the mouths of others.

"Rigging" the election includes allowing some money to speak -- that of pro-power structure unions for example -- while at the same time, by carefully framed law, cutting off the voices of "money" that speaks for others. -That because their voices speak against the establishment's approved outcome.

Also of note is that what Donald Trump is saying about the election being "rigged" ties right in with his equally forceful declarations that in a real sense such is equally true for many, many other things. -Things that impact our entire lives, not just the election.

The tax laws, for instance. Where wealthy people such as he can write off  many of their daily expenses, but we -- those of more average means -- cannot.

The setting up of a system where massive failures such as that of investment banker Goldman Sachs are bailed out by the public treasury, but where the consequences of such failures on the 'little people' continue to rest on those people's own shoulders. They pay the taxes, but 'the bennies' go to others.

-A system where the powerful - or those who speak in favor of the outcome such prefer -- is given a loud microphone, while the voices of those seen as insignificant -- or even the rich and powerful (such as Trump) -- who speak against the 'preferred' outcome are muffled or, when that cannot be done, silenced with public ridicule.

If all that be true, what do the rest of us have that can possibly counter it?  The vote.

Yes the vote. That little and seemingly insignificant "voice" that when placed in union with like-minded others can amplify a message so loud that it drowns out that of those who have placed themselves, and their interests, above us.

In conclusion, then, yes, the election is "rigged." It has been rigged. And it has been rigged against us.

No, we are not supposed to know it.  In fact no one is supposed to even say it. (Least of all a wealthy powerful man such as is Donald Trump!)

Is there anything we can do about it?

Yes.  We can vote.

We can vote against the interests of those who lord it over us.

We can ignore the "noise" and false stories, and dig in deep and find the truth. -How things actually are.

We can put our voices together and make a noise so loud that it cannot be drowned out.

And this election that means ignoring the smears, ignoring the lies, and voting for Donald Trump


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Some Thoughts on Trump's "Indiscreet" Words

Odd. Maybe I am odd. But while I loath this type of talk -- and I, like I suppose every man on God's good green earth has heard lots of it -- I think that it is in reality a bunch of trumped-up nonsense.

Maybe the pundits are correct. -That the world of make-believe is that real and the power of the media to feed and control people's brains that strong.

I listened to Trump's response and thought it perfect. He is what he is and we right now desperately need that strength. That "alpha male" thing.

Such used to be called simply manliness. Guys spoke this way at pubs and then put their life on the line for their wife, mothers and sisters. That while keeping picture of Betty Grable in their tent, undressing her further in their mind's eye than the times then allowed in a picture.

Now its all namby pamby. Pajama boy. Obama on his bicycle with his little helmet.

Are there enough of the above to sway this election so totally? Perhaps.

Seeing frightened Republicans turn and run -- "OMG! OMG!" -- is sad. It is pathetic. It is they that got us here. They, IMO, more than anyone else.

I don't care for that kind of speech. And in the office I avoided it as best I could. But I'd rather have a Trump than these others.

Yes, even now.

Can we get 51% to agree?
Are we willing to try. Really, really try?
On this the Republic stands or falls.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"I see" said the blind carpenter

As a kid I found great amusement in this word play. "I see said the blind carpenter as he picked up his hammer and saw." It amuses me even more now as the irony of its vision becomes clear. Its focus on that humble carpenter. This morning in response to a friends comment about the blindness of the 'seeing class' I shared the following:observation (here slightly modified so as to stand on its own)... "Watching things unfold of late, here's what has come to interest -- and teach -- me: There was a time when the "uneducated" were Barnum's rubes. When he could lead them quickly out of the circus side show simply by posting a sign that read in fancy script "THIS WAY TO THE THE GRANDE EGRESS." But those days are past. Today it is true that there are many things that only an educated person is foolish enough to believe. The reason is, I think, exposure. Unadulterated and unguided. And thus in this vast complex world the basic skills God gave man to navigate the old "smaller" world are now working to help him navigate the larger one. Today the common man sees and *gets it.* No persiflage stands in his way. That is why the pundits have been, and continue to be, totally wrong. And the people -- "We the People" in that old but by no means outdated phrase -- so very, very right. We the People did not walk away empty handed last night. As Scott "Dilbert" Adams wrote on his blog "Clinton won the debate last night. And while she was doing it, Trump won the election."
Then this evening I came upon this article by Newt Gingrich... Trump won the debate. Don't believe the "Intellectual Yet Idiot" class Newt seems to be observing that same exciting "new" but old reality as I. And he provides data to support it. I do encourage you to give it a read. It may give you a basis for hope that our Republic can survive. And if it does that it will be because of people like us. Seeing. Speaking. Acting. "We the People."

Last Night's Theater of the Absurd (I.e., the "Debate")

Yes, I watched it. Painful as it was -- and, especially, came to be.

My normal morning routine is to have a cup of coffee and then get busy absorbing the world news; searching for cogent and meaningful discussion thereof.  This morning, though, I wanted to put these few words into pixels before anyone else's thought, cogent or otherwise, blended in with my own.

The "classic" American political debate was something quite different from what we call a "debate" today.  The greatest of these, but not by far the only "great" ones, were those between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas during their run for the Illinois senate. That was back in 1858.

What made those debates "great" was two fold:  One, they were true debates -- that is they were formal arguments about ideas. Ideas important to those who they hoped to represent. And, two, they were the expressions of focused minds with strong and clearly distinct opposing points of view.

If their intent was to win public office -- and it was -- their method of doing so was to inform and win people over to possibly for them new ideas.

Last night's affair never reached anywhere near that level. Nor, frankly, was it intended too. It was at best to be good theater - a performance put on for show. For entertainment. And in fact it in the end proved to be far less than that.

Interestingly -- and maybe informatively -- it started out on a plain, if not quite up to that of Lincoln/Douglas, at least elevated enough to provide a vista worth viewing.  Both Clinton and Trump had what we could call "lines."  Clearly memorized sentences that they hoped would become news sound bites, or, failing that, at least something that would stick in a listener/viewer's mind giving them something to 'take home.'

In Trump's case the most obvious was his supposed graciousness toward Hillary.  How 'important this was to him.'  Something that any viewer of his performances in the Republican primary debates knows is simply not the case.  What is important to him is to win. At everything. (And, indeed, it is the later quality that so caught some of the public's imagination. What might America be like if it were to actually have a President devoted to this country's citizenry, who felt just that way - and had the proven means to succeed in it?)

Hillary, too, had memorized lines. So many in fact that it is hard for me to single out any one. She, even more than Trump, was (and is) a performer. Not meaning a good one.  Her "lines" are too easily seen to be what they are: Words written in advance -- a script -- at best read out in her own, odd, artificial, sing-song way.  (Unless she is having an off day -- then her underlying nastiness quickly shows through.)

Still, despite all of the above, the opening half hour or so of the "debate" actually was that, without the quotation marks.  Differing ideas were put forth. Ideas worth considering. Ideas important to voters, to help them -- us! -- make up their/our minds.  Maybe even change a few? (Wouldn't that have been wonderful!)

Then the "debate" became a non-debate. That was when moderator Holt got involved.

I shan't here go into a list of his obvious (yes, and expected) one-sidedness.  Too bad that, but it goes with the territory.  Something true every year as the "owned media" is just that, owned -- and not equally by both parties. They are coastal entities and thus they lean left.

But this year all the established media -- yes, even Fox News -- is on one side: The side of the establishment. They may well loath Hillary Clinton -- so many, including her supposed "supporters" do -- but Trump is to them far, far more a threat. He is not one of them. And he says and does things according to his own goals and vision.  Scary stuff to those who have found a protected and comfortable perch in these windy days.

The bad thing about Holt's involvement was thus not that. Its favoring Hillary was a given.  No, what made it bad was that he changed the subject from things that we care about to things that in fact we don't.  -"Birtherism," released tax forms, and the like. And even the subjects he raised that are of some (if not primary) interest to us, the way he asked the questions and the things he didn't say, showed that answering our questions and helping us make an important informed decision was by no means his primary goal.  Indeed, not his goal at all.

Just to site a clear example... Holt raised the concern about internet security.  Important?  Yes.  But how can Hillary talk about that without the fact of her intentionally putting classified information on an unsecured server even in this context being raised?

No, I do not mean that Holt should have attacked her -- that was not his job, he was the moderator. But to obviously steer the discussion away from that towards a focus on the Russians -- well that made even this possibly worthy point of "debate" superfluous. And in doing so made his real goal rather evident.

The live audience understood this. For they, at that point, started cheering and applauding. And he, who earlier had reminded them of the agreed to "rules" forbidding such, suddenly (and, again, quite obviously) went mute.

I watched the show till its painful end. Saddened more than surprised. Left with the question not "who won," but who lost. Us. We. The American people.

'Tis a shame that.  But then again, so is so much else in recent years.  Not things that will so much effect me (well they could, if the proverbial "shit hits the fan"), but what all this will mean for what some day will be quaintly called "history." And for those who between now and then have to live it.


Monday, September 19, 2016

My Other Voice

Today, perhaps more than ever before, the axiom is true. Talk is cheap. We are inundated by it. TV and radio, yes. (How old hat!) Facebook, email, tweets.

Well, at least we rarely anymore hear pagers going off!

Music is a lovely escape from all this word chatter.  But so can be pictures.

When the camera was invented some thought it would be the end of painting.  But the human imagination being what it is that newer form of imaging -- so literal and real -- instead moved painting in a new direction. Towards impressionism and abstraction.

Today, with cameras everywhere, seeing what "is" in almost real-time is commonplace. But much as with the nearly endless increase in words so much of today's imaging seems to have very little to say. Another face. Another smile. (What is it about selfie smiles?  That lip stretching unreality that is supposed to pass for joy and enthusiasm.)

I have, for most all of my life, taken a somewhat different path.  To not ask the viewers of my work to see what the camera saw (It needs me not for that. Nor I it), but what I saw in my mind and then made 'seeable' to others via the tool of photography.

Here are several of my favorite such images, limited by what I have made available to  myself in digital form.

Yes, the newer ones were created that way. But others -- no more or less literal -- were created using chemical means. Film and paper. Or transparency. Then digitized as they appeared in that earlier modality.

In no particular order. Accompanied by just a few words.

"Charles in Winter"

A silver print "brought out" with potassium ferricyanide. Mid 1970s

"Grapes at Sunset"

Any 'manipulation' was done in camera with light. Natural light, just as the name suggests.  Late 1970s. 

From a Cibachrome additive print.


Ektachrome printed on Cibachrome additive color process.

This was an "eureka!" grab shot taken in the Everglades National Park. Sisters from Mother Teresa's order.

Whether the sisters were prayerful at the time I cannot say. What had caught their eye was a large alligator swimming underneath the only slightly elevated boardwalk.


My then young son carefully placed in the composition with a remnant reflecting pool shortly after the tide went out at New Hampshire's Rye Beach,  The ethereal quality was, again, carefully created in camera.

Ekatachrome on a Ciba print.


A "found" shot.  One of my favorite photographic experiences. Isolated, yes, but largely otherwise as seen.

Ektachrome on Cibachrome.

And now some created in the digital modality.

"Bench in Autumn"

Like many here this is from a series I call "My Morning Walk."  Grab shots of the beauty all around me/us here on my property in the Monadnocks, NH.

As I saw it, not the camera.

"Wild Flowers"

"Winter Sunrise"

Nothing here, apart from the sun and the cottage, is quite what the camera saw. But it is exactly what I saw. Even to the contributing "lens flare."

"Sunrise on a Misty Morn"

How much was in the scene vs in my mind I almost cannot say.  But the scene called everything forth. I just had to let my eyes see it all.

"Storm's End"

Probably the most "natural" shot here. Light did all the creation. And color. But it lasted a mere moment and was caught forever.

Taken through our bedroom's "glass wall."

Thank you for allowing me to share these.