Let’s Do What Works

About a week or so ago I saw a photo, accompanied by an article, on my Facebook page. It was of a highway overpass somewhere in the American West, I think it was Utah, and it was a bridge for animals, so they won’t have to cross the road and it will save wildlife.
The basic tone of the accompanying article was “Wow. It works!” as if that were a surprising thing. These have been around for years, some places more than others, and of course they work.
Animals don’t think like we do. They don’t have language, and can’t read books, so you’re never going to have a good conversation about history, or politics, or great literature with a moose, but they are not so stupid that they would cross a freeway and risk their life if there’s a perfectly safe pedestrian crossing nearby. Animals actually tend to be pretty good about navigating their environment.
But also, road planners and politicians should know they work, because they have worked in other places. And that is a bigger point. When a program works exceptionally well, it seems to me they should be imitated. Places which have legalized marijuana are reaping numerous benefits, so why isn’t that happening everywhere? Countries with universal health care have healthier people, and no economic problems associated with health, so why is it not possible in the U.S.? China and Japan have been testing high speed trains for decades, so why hasn’t a network of them spread across the Earth?
We have all the ideas we need to make civilization work. Animal bridges is at least a positive step.

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Gutenberg Still Wins

Once again, I am just responding to the headline, so you can take my opinion on this matter with a grain of salt. I tried to read it, but got some page about ‘managing preferences’ and I clicked ‘accept all’ because I didn’t want to argue about it but that, apparently, wasn’t good enough for them. There was a button that said ‘read more’ but I really didn’t want to read more about my computer preferences, I just wanted to read the article, but if they’re going to be dicks about it, well, there you go.
The headline read “Perhaps Gutenberg didn’t invent the printing press after all,” and the accompanying picture showed some kind of metal plate with a bunch of (presumably) Chinese pictograms.
O.K. I guess it’s good that we’ve got people who are willing to continually revisit and revise history. Knowledge is always good. But, even if the Chinese had a kind of printing press, Gutenberg printed a bible, it was a big best seller, and this revolutionized Western, and world society.
Sure, it’s good to know that the Chinese invented spaghetti, but it was the Italians who made it what it is today. Sure, the Vikings were the first to reach North America, but they didn’t begin a wave of settlement. For better and/or worse, Columbus did. It’s good to know, regardless of what they teach in American schools, that Henry Ford did not actually invent the automobile. Before Ford, they were too impractical for long distances, too unreliable for a daily commute, no fun at all in inclement weather and, above all, expensive enough that only crackpot inventors and millionaires could own one.
So, back to the printing press. It’s cool to know someone had had the idea before Gutenberg, but Gutenberg still matters. In fact, he matters the most.

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Clarity

Here’s a little poem I posted a few days ago on Rattle’s Anything Goes poetry page:

Bells should ring

and drums should pound

and trumpets boldly blare

sending out a joyous sound

and filling up the air

Pictures should be pretty

and flowers should smell sweet

and all the food upon your plate

should be good to eat

Teachers should instruct you

and doctors help you heal

and psychologists should tell you

why you feel the way you feel

Parents should be patient

and children should be good

and poetry, above all else

should be understood



and it got more comments than anything I’ve ever posted, by far. Which is not to say it’s the best thing I’ve ever posted, it’s not that at all. Apparently, it just touched a nerve. A lot of people were seriously bothered by the idea that a poem should be easy for readers to understand. (and some were supportive. It was a good, healthy comment thread, and is still going on)
This (along with the rhyming thing) is what sets me apart from most other poets. It’s good to have a niche.
Also, spent a bit of time today working on putting together my next book of poetry, which I hope to put out before Christmas.

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Ancient v. Modern History

I just finished watching First Man, a 2 hour+ made for Netflix movie about Neil Armstrong, starting in about 1960 with early astronaut training and climaxing, of course, with the moon landing. On the other hand, I am currently binge watching Vikings, and I’m almost up to season 6.
There is a difference between watching ancient history and watching modern history. Of course, I’m interested in both because it is history, the ongoing story of mankind and, as a human being, that is of great interest to me, but I enjoy watching the ancient stuff more, and by ancient I guess I mean anything that happened before the 1950s, when I was born.
One difference, of course, is that I remember the moon landing, and a lot of the events that led up to it, because space is also fascinating. So, the film held few surprises. I did catch them in one historical inaccuracy. It was in a montage scene of people objecting to ‘so much money’ being spent on NASA (which is chronically and shamefully underfunded imho, hence the scare quotes), and they showed Gil Scott-Heron performing ‘Whitey on the Moon,’ which wasn’t released until 1970, after the moon landing. A minor thing, and a brilliant poem, actually.
Vikings, on the other hand, is only very loosely historical. One of the main characters at this point is Ivar the Boneless. I went to Wikipedia, of course, and they said that his name may have referred to a physical handicap, or impotence, or maybe it was a total mistranslation and just meant Ivar the Hated, but apparently the makers of the film just decided to cover all those bases, and portray him as a legless, impotent son of a bitch who enjoys torturing and killing people to a totally unnatural degree, especially if they are related to him. The character of Lagertha, pretty much the only one I still sympathize with at this point, may be totally mythical, or a compendium of real characters, a la Robin Hood, or King Arthur.
The further back you go, the more liberties you can take, seems to be the rule.

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5-4

The U.S. Supreme Court just decided that religious institutions are exempt from the rules against large gatherings, and recently appointed Christian Warrior Amy Coney Barrett (who was confirmed with almost zero resistance from Democrats) cast the deciding vote.
Of course I think this totally violates the concept of separation between church and state. To their credit, though, it’s not just churches. The wording clearly says ‘religious institutions’ so Jews, Muslims, Satanists and Pagans can also gather in large groups and infect each other, although I think Satanists and Pagans are actually smarter than that.
I actually think the whole ban on group gatherings is a bit unconstitutional, but I accept the safety concerns.
This could lead to a huge spike in the number of religious people who get infected, but maybe not. Just because they’re allowed to gather in large numbers doesn’t mean they’re required to, and maybe the smarter and/or more cautious among them will choose to stay home.
But, I doubt it.

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