The World We Want

Now, anybody who’s read this blog more than once or twice knows that I  am disdainful of what’s on TV.  The entertainment channels are just one damned cop show  after another, History channel is all about people going to auctions and bidding  on literal junk, people driving trucks  on ice or across the Australian outback, people buying and selling or fixing cars, and it’s all accompanied by a lot of people  yelling at each other.
Anyway, another problem I’ve got recently is that the 4 or so entertainment channels I get in English have recently been flooded  with programs in French and, for some reason, Turkish.
Turkey is a very interesting place.  One foot in Europe, and the rest in Asia, but the point where they connect is Istanbul, which has been at the center of world history before and may well be again.  So, it bears  watching.  The other day, with  nothing interesting on any of the other channels, I watched a show in Turkish.  Well, I kind of left it on in the background, not understanding a word.  But, one thing struck me.
They may have a majority Muslim population, they may have terrorist groups representing ethnicities Americans have never heard of, they may have hamams, and kebabs, and sell cucumbers on the street as a snack food, which is kind of cool, but on TV they wear nice clothes, drive nice cars, live in beautiful homes next to the water, own the correct glasses for  drinking wine, and play scrabble. Bollywood does the same for India.
So, wherever their culture sits on the East-West scale, they want that dream of the Western  life, at least the parts about material success.  TV doesn’t actually  portray  us as we are, but more as we want to be.
And who in the world, who in their right mind,  doesn’t want that life.  Clean drinking water, hot showers every day, plenty of leisure time to have leisure, and beautiful  women wearing  lots of jewelry.  It’s great.

Here’s the kicker.  We could have that.  We could have that everywhere in the world,  we could have that beginning pretty much right away.  Within a couple  of years, tops.  We have the technology.  We have the work force.  We have the raw materials.

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How Stupid Was This?

Last night, Trump committed an attack on Syria.  It was a bad, and stupid thing to do.

First of all, war is bad.  It is criminally bad.  It is the legalization  of murder.  Large scale, mass murder.  Premeditated and with malice of aforethought.  It is a great conspiracy, which employs horrific methods.  The victims are random.  Civilians, mostly.  Some children.  Some women.  Some people in hospitals.  Even the villains on  ‘Criminal Minds’ never  come up with something as evil  as war.  It is really not a very nice thing to do at all.  Therefore, anybody who calls for it, or who stands by and rationalizes it, is probably not such a nice person.

Second, war is stupid.  It does nothing except kill people, make the world a worse place, make people blind, and crippled, and homeless, and set the stage for more wars.  I suppose some people get rich off it but, knowing who  those people are, I don’t view that as a positive.  Since war is stupid, anybody who calls for it, or stands by and rationalizes it, is probably not a smart person.

So, those people who support Trump’s war (and there are Democrats among them) must ask themselves: Am I a bad person?  Am I a stupid person?  Because you must be at least one or the other.  Maybe both.  Your president is both.

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The Limits of the Lie

The build-up to Viet Nam was insidious, or at least it seems like that to me.  I was a kid, what did I know?  I was 9 when Kennedy was shot and had never heard of the place, although we’d had ‘military advisors’ there already for a decade or  so.  Didn’t give a moment’s thought to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, and even in the late 60s, when I’d started to wear my hair long and attend anti-war demonstrations on a regular basis, I never thought it was the out and out fraud that it turned out to be.

The buildup to the first Gulf War was much more abbreviated, and just as shamelessly dishonest.  It was the time the CNN was just getting big, and they beat the drums for war 24/7.  Remember the ‘nurse’ crying about the babies being ripped from their incubators, who turned out later to be the daughter of  the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States giving the acting performance of a lifetime.
2nd Gulf War?  Well, the questions over 9/11 were drowned  in the clamor for war, war against anybody.
A lot of people are now convinced that 9/11 was an inside job.

Now, they are trying to build up the case for an attack on Syria, and it seems that nobody is buying their case.  I wouldn’t put it past them to pull another false flag, but I’ve got a suspicion, through all I’m reading on the internet, that maybe this time people aren’t going to buy it.  The poisoning of the Skrypals?  People are calling bullshit.  Assad used poison gas?  People are calling bullshit.
The power of instant mass communication has linked people like never before, and it seems like a large number, perhaps a critical mass of of people, have just plum stopped believing in the powers that be.

This could be a very good thing.

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Dance Class

Tonight, Helena and I had class #2 of our ballroom dancing course.  In a way, I enjoy it because it is about the most exercise I get in the course of a week, and the only chance I get to go dancing.  On the down side, it isn’t really dancing at all.  It’s trying to move your feet in the correct way while an instructor barks out orders like a drill sergeant.  Actually, I think everybody else thinks she’s just fine, she even had everybody laughing for a while there, but that’s what the Czech language sounds like to me.  Flat, monotone, humorless.  Basically, I just watch her feet and then try to do the same as everybody else.
Which worked fairly  well  until we got up to the Waltz.  Something about it just confused me and I was stumbling all around the room.  Maybe it’s because it came at the end and I was already tired and unfocused.  I suspect I am the oldest person in  the class.  Not sure, there’s one gray haired guy who could conceivably be older than me and it’s also a tossup between him and me who’s the fattest.

I’m pretty sure I was the sweatiest, though.

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Zuckerberg 1, Congress 0

It is that lovely time of year when every day is different than the day before, and the changing of the cycle of the seasons becomes visible in real  time.  I walked past some flowering cherry trees today, and they are finally flowering, brightly pink and beautiful.  I know (through Facebook) that Japan is  ahead of us by a few weeks.  On the other hand, I  still  occasionally get posts from people  cursing the snow so, as late as Prague is, we are not the worst in the world.

I spent a bit of time today listening to the congressional interrogation of Mark Zuckerberg.  Not a lot, certainly not the whole thing.  I like to keep informed of what’s going on in the world but I’m not that masochistic.  So, here are a few observations for what they’re worth:

Mark Zuckerberg is a pretty smart guy.  I don’t know if he’s a good guy or not, but he’s certainly a smart one.  Very few people in congress can make the same claim.  Despite the fact that they were the interrogators and he was the one on the witness stand, they came off as fools.
They had 4 minutes apiece to question him, and most of them used 3 minutes of it flapping their gums and not asking any questions.
I didn’t hear Cambridge Analytica mentioned once.  There was one guy who talked about the opioid crisis and ivory  sales on  Facebook.  That’s rather like blaming Alexander Graham Bell because people talk about their criminal conspiracies on the phone or blaming Henry Ford because the bank robbers used a getaway car.

There may very well be legitimate reasons to criticize Mark Zuckerberg.  They certainly failed to find them today.
T

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Free Book Offer!

Well, the next free Kindle book giveaway is up.  Four Syllables on Water, which is one I’m particularly proud of, because I worked out that meter with reason and logic and stuck to it throughout, and yet most of the poems wound up rhyming pretty well anyway and, in the process of writing poems about water in it’s various states of existence, I think I tumbled across a true statement or two, and I love it when that happens.

re the Mark Zuckerberg hearings, I don’t get this.  If a law was broken, then it needs to be tried in a court of law.  If no law was broken, then congress should butt out.  I’m not making a comment pro or con re Zuckerberg or Facebook, I just don’t see how it’s any of Congress’s business.  They are pretending to be protectors of the people, but the country is crumbling around them and they aren’t doing shit about it.  Interviewing Zuckerberg, which will  have no real result, is like naming a Post Office or deciding that May 6th will be National Asparagus Day or whatever.

Just had a seriously unpleasant conversation on Facebook.  The original poster put up a little  meme attacking some poetry for being too trivial, like a bumper sticker, like a meme.  I raised my objections, because that’s the kind of poetry  I  write.  Then another person, who’d put in  a comment above mine, heaping praise on the OP for his thoughtfulness, said ‘What are you talking about?  I never said anything about poetry.”  I  pointed out that the original post was all about poetry.  Then the original posted jumped back in, with a semi-coherent and ungrammatical diatribe, the gist of which was “Don’t argue with me, mate, you’re an asshole.”  So, I blocked the site he  was sending from for thirty days, because that was all I could do, and then I noticed later that he’d liked my comment, and sent me a friend request.  Weird, eh?

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Make-Up Blog

Last night I didn’t get around to writing my  blog until almost 1 a.m., nothing was inspiring me as a topic as I sat, immobilized, at the keyboard and simultaneously flipped through the channels on the TV from one grisly murder to another.  Watched one real case, they can generally hold my interest longer than the police procedurals where they always find the clue by blowing up the CC footage to a point beyond which it can be blown up in real life, or finding, via a quick computer search, the only store in  New Jersey that sells that kind of carpet fiber.  In this case, it was a rabbi who murdered his wife, I was surprised they didn’t suspect him from the beginning because I thought the husband was always a suspect but it was complex, a murder for hire, and they did nail him eventually, and then I was watching the last half of a movie that I saw maybe the last 15 minutes of the night before and maybe eventually I’ll see it from the beginning but maybe not.  Essentially, it was an absurd amount of death by guns interspersed with some funny quips, a few humorous accents, and one hot lady FBI agent.
Then, when I’d finally decided to say ‘screw it’ and just start in trying to write a stream of consciousness screed to get the blog done and go to bed, my blog popped up without the little box in the upper right hand corner that says ‘write.’  So, since my ‘IT department,’ as I sometimes refer to her, had already gone to bed, I put it off until this morning (she fixed the problem in about 2 seconds), and here is my make-up blog.  I’ll write a proper one  this evening.

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