November Spit it Out Poetry Reading

O.K., had a poetry reading tonight and had just tons of good stuff, well, four never before presented in public poems and I thought they were all  pretty  good but they got no more than the usual polite response.  The one that I just finished this morning, that I thought was great, I think now I’ve got to rework the last stanza, because it doesn’t rhyme.  I thought I’d leave it the way it was   because it was just so awesome, but I’m going to go back  and work on  it some more.
If there was any theme to the evening, it was anxiety.  An even stronger common thread, if this can be called a common thread, was poems in other languages than English.  There were a couple of poems in French, one in Czech but he kind of muttered his way through it, one in Italian and one other with a bit of Italian thrown in in the middle, one in Estonian that nobody at all understood, one in Slovenian that she was nice enough to explain and it sounded quite beautiful, a guy spills his drink and then starts drawing in it with his finger, the house, the trees, the rose bushes, the wife, and then the  waiter comes and wipes it all away, a tale of lost dreams, one in Portuguese which  must have been very sad indeed because the girl reading it started crying in the middle and found it hard  to carry on, and one very white guy reading something in Chinese, which was apparently song lyrics, but it sounded like he actually spoke the language.
It was an interesting evening.

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A Non-Incident on the Tram

I just had an interesting experience on the tram.  Well, not so much an incident as an imaginary incident.  It was really kind of a mundane thing but it was a Prague thing, and I thought it was funny, so I’m writing about it.
I was going to pick up my daughter, who’d been at a dance competition all day.  I got on the #26 at Masarykovo Nadraži, headed for Olšanke Naměsti.  Now, it’s always a 50/50 shot at whether  you’re going to get a seat or not.  There is no time of day or night, no neighborhood so remote, that there is a guarantee the tram will not be crowded, and 9 o’clock on a Saturday night, near the center, it was no surprise at all that it was standing room only.
But I looked around and, lo and behold, I saw a spare seat.  It was a bit different, though.  The first thought in my head was “Cool, they’ve upgraded.”  It was a cushioned seat, looked rather plush, with a polished, elegantly curved black armrest.  I was about to sit down, and then realized (“Hmm, that’s strange,” I thought) that all of the other seats on the tram were perfectly normal, hard plastic tram seats.  And then I realized that it wasn’t part of the tram at all, it was a chair that belonged to the woman sitting next to it, probably just taking it home from the shop.
It would have  been a bit awkward and embarrassing  if I’d  gone ahead and sat down.  Especially if I broke it.

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The Good is Getting Better

This is a morning make-up blog, which is a bit awkward after I’d just bragged to one of my Facebook friends that I write a blog a day but it happens sometimes, I was staring blankly at the screen and couldn’t think of a good topic, so went to bed.  Part of the problem, I suppose, is that I’m always looking for the zinger, and sometimes the zinger does not come.
Anyway, last night I dreamed I was writing my blog (also that I was a spy type walking with Will Smith through an all black shopping mall, with some very fancy restaurants, and the service was just as indifferent as anywhere else, I was pretty much ignored entirely), but in the part where I was writing my blog I had a topic, which wasn’t an amazing or original topic, and I can’t remember anything of what I wrote, but the topic was that for all of our complaining about the flaws of social media, and how often it lets us down with computer glitches and such, there are moments when it astounds us, and not only should we focus more on those, in the same way we should focus on love over hate or beauty over ugliness or good over bad, but these moments are going to increase as the technology gets better and better.

I read a great quote by Bill  Murray yesterday.  He said that in every Olympic event they should have one normal  person competing, for reference.  Good point. When you’re watching brilliance competing with brilliance constantly, you tend to forget how bland and uninspiring everyday life can be.

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Geography Bee

Choices of TV viewing is a big area of conflict in our family.  Partly that’s because of the  language difference, i.e. my wife and kids don’t want to watch anything in English and I don’t want to watch anything in Czech, especially not the soap operas my wife is totally addicted to, but also I don’t much like cop shows and my kids are right into those now.  The Czech cop shows (like Criminalka Andel and Specialista) are basically clones of the American formula, with the discovery of a bizarre and grizzly murder in the beginning, and then a crack team of super dedicated and self-righteous police people bully a series of suspects, and find clues like a bit of carpet fiber that only one place on the whole planet manufactures or  some stupid shit like that.  More murders occur on Czech TV than in real life in the Czech Republic, I’m almost certain.
Anyway, today my daughter broke the pattern and wanted me to watch a ‘Geography Bee’ on YouTube, it was out of the U.S. and I think her motivation was to show me I’m not as smart as I  think I am, at which she succeeded admirably.  This group of kids, from 11 years old up to about 15 or 16, I would guess, totally put me to shame.  I did all right in the first round, when the topic was U.S. State Capitals, but with each round the level of difficulty increased a bit and these kids were answering questions about places I’d never even heard of before, without hesitation, and pronouncing them correctly.
Despite the idiocy coming out of Washington, D.C., despite the dumbing down of Western civilization, despite the pernicious influence of T.V., and the internet, there are still some hella smart kids in  the generation coming up.  There is still some hope for the human race.

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Tulsi’s Awesome Tweet

Normally, when I see headlines saying “Mic drop” or “totally eviscerates” with regard to some tweet somebody has tweeted, I don’t even bother looking because every time you do, you see some tweet that’s bland as bland and the headline is just clickbait.  Come right down to it, it’s a little  bit ridiculous that twitter threads get covered as news items at all.  The fact that people talking about the news is news is a bit too meta, and taken out to the old reductio ad absurdem will lead to articles about people talking about articles talking about people talking about articles talking  about people talking about articles.

However, this was an exception, and a true evisceration,  a spitting and gutting, a tweet that’s short and sweet and full of so  much truth that there’s no coming back  from it.  I refer, of course, to Hawaii congresswoman and potential first Lady President of the U.S. Tulsi Gabbard’s “Hey @realdonaldtrump: being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not ‘America First'”
Of course, it is an attention grabber that she used a bad word.  Our soft spoken aloha lady, sweet as Hawaiian cane sugar, whose usual  tone of voice is  a near whisper and never says  a  bad thing about anybody, called Donald Trump a bitch, in  the sense of prison bitch, sycophant, whatever it is that Smithers  is to Burns.  At first I didn’t even  believe it. I thought, ‘No, that must be a fake  account,’ but apparently  I was wrong.
It’s all good.  In  fact it’s awesome.  The words were correct, they were  appropriate, and they were well timed.  Trump could say “I’m not their bitch, I’m not their bitch” but nobody would believe him.
Tulsi Gabbard should be Speaker of the House.  That’s the kind of leadership the Democrats need.  I’ve heard some people  say that that would not be a good political move, that Speakers of the House never go on to become president, which isn’t entirely true.  It hasn’t happened since James K. Polk, and never happened before him, either, but there’s no  rule against it.  Before Trump, no illiterate reality show host had ever been elected President.  And yet, there he is.

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2035? Too Slow

I do like Tulsi Gabbard, so this blog is about one detail of one policy, in which I totally agree with her in  the main.  Among her stated goals, she lists “complete change to renewable energy by 2035.”  I like the ‘complete change to renewable energy’ part.  That should be the policy of everybody in the world by now.  The research has been done.  Every serious, not-employed-by-an-oil-company scientist in the world agrees.  We need to clean up our atmosphere and that means we need to stop pumping greenhouse gasses into it, and that means we need to switch from oil and coal 100%, just like she’s saying.
But 2035 is way too slow.  We’ve been told 12 years, and I suspect it might actually be less because we seem to be still accelerating the pace instead of slowing it down, but 2035 is 17 years from now.  So, if we haven’t converted to clean energy by then, it will be 5 years too late.  At the most optimistic assessment.

I don’t think it will be economically or technologically different to do it well before that date.  For the most part, we have the technology.  Solar and wind energy could replace the current power grid, and many countries around the world are moving fast in  that direction.  Germany and Denmark are both near supplying 100% of their daily energy needs through windmills, and China’s putting up solar panels faster than the U.S. is putting up strip malls.  High speed trains will run on electricity, or magnets which are run on electricity, or down vacuum tubes which would be super fast and awesome, but none of those would require oil.  Electric cars exist, and  as soon as gas burning vehicles are banned, they will be produced in large enough numbers that the price will come down and all gas stations could be converted to charging stations very easily.  All you really need is a parking lot and a little, glass building to buy snacks and coffee in.
Air travel might be a bit of a problem, but I’m sure we’ll find solutions for that, too, once we start looking.  I see a return to dirigibles.  Large, luxury dirigibles.  With solar panels on top.

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Stage 2

While planting massive numbers of trees will go a long way to cleaning up the environment, cost very little money, and have lots of side benefits, it is still  only part 1 of the solution to our environmental predicament.
Part 2:  The oil and coal industries need to die.  Completely.  They are the ones who are destroying the planet and they must be stopped.  This will not be as economically wrenching as the oil and coal industries spend huge amounts of money to make us believe.  It will  be a bit of an inconvenience for their major executives and share holders, who will  have to spend an afternoon or two thinking about where to invest their millions and billions of dollars, but it won’t be a serious problem for them, because once you have millions  of dollars, there are investment opportunities all over the place.  The employees of  those industries will be able to find work in whatever industries replace them: manufacture and installation of solar and wind panels, engineers, ticket takers and stewards on the new, glitzy high speed railways, electric car mechanics, and so on.
The average person will save a lot of money, because petrol  is expensive and only going to get more so, as we reached peak oil probably  a couple of decades  ago, and now they’re having to poison the ground with chemicals just to extract it.
And we’ll  save  money on health care and live longer, because the air will  be cleaner.  Win-win all around.

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