Thursday, August 13, 2020

Waiting for . . . Whatever

 A friend read my posting on Endings the other day.  He liked it, but then . . . he awaited the next posting. Nineteen days later, he was still awaiting that posting. Then he asked me, “So, you’re not finished writing are you? The Endings piece was nice, but hopefully it does not mean an end to your writings?”

And, oddly perhaps, I had not thought of that piece as a conclusive end to my writing.  I suppose COVID, or even just Old Age will finally draw that writing thing to a close.  Just not right now, I hope.

But I must confess that writing anything about our world right now, is difficult.  What do we have going on?

COVIDIOCY – The COVID thing seems to hang in every room of my little mind. Every time I think I want to do something, I have to prepare myself, either to not do it at all, or to don a mask and gloves, and then to remain as far away from other humans as possible.  But, see, if a major part of the point of “doing something” is to see people, then what am I doing, disguising myself with masks and gloves so no one can actually see me, no less hear me. We go to a weekly farmers market. It used to be a source of joy, chatting with our farm friends who supply us with amazing, fresh food. They keep us alive through their hard work, and chatting with them, so as to thank them is the least we can do. Well, we try, but staying 6-8 feet away, and speaking through a mask does not a proper conversation make. We try to laugh, but how would anyone know? And then our family wants to get together, to share a meal and just chat. But everyone, including our family must be treated as a risk assembly. And that is hard, for us and for them. And if all this COVIDIOCY was going to just stop soon, I guess we could all just grin and bear it. But it isn’t, it actually may never end. When we have a vaccine, I guess we will be safe . . . won’t we??  Or maybe not. Who knows? The Shadow doesn’t even pretend to know.

Donald Trump – It has become very difficult to write anything halfway intelligent regarding our nation under Donald Trump. His stupidities know no end. He just goes on and on, seeming ever more terminally stupid than the last time he opened his mouth.  Lately, he seems to think that the flu epidemic of 1918 (he thinks it was in 1917) ended World War II, because all the soldiers got sick.  Now think of that. He actually said that. And he wasn’t joking. He simply seems to know nothing. He just reacts. A pseudo-thought pops into his head and he either says it, if he has an audience, or he tweets it (ahh, Twitter, the communications system for people who can’t communicate).  And he just keeps not leading, not preparing our nation. Instead, he keeps insulting our intelligence by saying stupid things, most of which are simply lies. And everyone knows when he is lying, but no one ever says anything any longer. I don’t know, have we now stopped counting his lies?? He has redefined “normal”, because he is abnormal . . . all the time. Yeah, that’s right. He is simply not “normal” by any reasonable definition of that term. And what is most distressing, is apparently his abnormal behavior is what keeps his supporters in line.  Yeah, they apparently hate “normal”. They love someone who hates almost everyone and everything, cuz that’s who they are also. His supporters love to hate.  They hate normality and normal people.  It’s why his rallies are filled with an excess of hateful rhetoric.  And so, when Trump speaks, or Tweets, they all stand up and applaud.  If he says something hateful or threatening, they laugh and cheer. And so, he has redefined America and Americans.  And I really do not like that redefinition.  Were I a 20 something, I would almost definitely be looking to move somewhere far away from America.  And, why?? Well, because he has so redefined America and Americans that he might well succeed in winning the next election, even if by stealth and corruption.  We know he will try to prevent opposing forces from voting by any means possible. Republicans now do so hate voting and people who vote.  His latest apparently is to try to kill the US Postal Service, first by removing its funding base, and secondly by appointing someone to head the Service whose sole mission seems to be to kill the Service. Yeah, so there’s that.

Aging in Place --  So, I am now heading towards 86, or my 47th 39th year of existence. I have already chatted about one our favorite TV British “comedies”, Waiting for God.  It’s all about old, cranky people who live in an elder home and sit around waiting for that final notice—you know, where you wake up and it turns out that you actually failed to awaken, mainly because you failed to continue breathing. And so your mind went blank. And then they come to cart off your now useless body, but you don’t know it, because you no longer know anything.  You know, that Waiting for God.  Yeah, that Aging in Place thing. And partly the COVIDIOCY helps to make this final life stage less than ideal, because you can’t really do anything. As noted, it’s hard even to see anyone, because everyone is wearing a mask and you can’t touch anyone.  And a side effect of the Pandemic is that it has closed off activities that could serve to amuse or enlighten you, as you “Age in Place”.  For example, Carol continues her beautiful quilting, but the Pandemic has placed certain cautions on everything, such that the local Children’s hospital can’t accept donated quilts for their sick kids.  So, now she has to be even more innovative in finding places to donate her beautiful creations.  And I used to at least pretend to create artsy things, you know pictures that I could print and then display at events called Art Walks. And those events would provide me with some positive feedback, even to the odd sale of a piece or two. But those events have ceased, mainly because large gatherings are now a No-No. One must not gather is the latest theme of America . . . well the world really.  Apparently stupid people are exempted from that dictum. They continue to gather, as stupid people will—see the motorcycle gathering in Sturgis, South Dakota.  And I imagine these folks will all arise on the morning of November 3rd, and go to their polling places and vote for Donald Trump, cuz he’s their man. They love hating and they love stupid.

And so each day blends into the next, and life continues, until I assume it stops.  But, I was thinking the other day about all that. You know, how, when someone “passes into the next life”, there is always someone who will say, “well they are now looking down on us and smiling”. And I think, “Well no, they aren’t sitting up on a cloud looking down. They actually aren’t thinking or watching, because they no longer exist in any form.”  And then I think:

Every person on earth should consider the wonder, and the magnificent beauty that is LIFE. Each time you awaken, and your eyes open, and you see something, anything . . . the bedroom, the wall, a window, perhaps a pet cat who is sitting staring at you, hoping you will awaken . . .  you should think of the beauty of that moment. You are alive. You can see the wonder that is our world.  Just that . . . seeing our world once again, is cause for saying “thank you” to whatever natural forces cause you to exist still.  And try to spend your day such that at least several times each day, you just look, and think, “wow, how wonderful is life”. Yes, it will cease some day, but for today, it continues, and Life is a beautiful gift. Please do not squander that gift by hating other people.  Love is All.  Practice the Art of Love.  Every day, in every way, practice Loving.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Endings


Yesterday evening we participated in yet another ZOOM meeting/call. This call was for a family and friend tribute to the mom of our son-in-law, who just passed at the tender age of 92. Terry Manning lived a nice long life, well, long relative to many other folks. She experienced personal and artistic success, as a model, because she was beautiful, and as an artist in her own right, creating in different art forms, but stone sculpting seemed a favorite. Terry also succeeded in life by becoming married to a man of good virtue and then remaining happily married for many decades.  Terry’s marriage to Larry led to two children, Ken and Sandy, both of whom adored Terry.

Happily, Ken married our eldest daughter and they produced kids and those wondrous creatures called grandkids. And Terry thrived on loving her grandkids. And so when her good life came to an end, her family, kids, grandkids and close friends were asked to gather and provide tribute to Terry’s fine and loving life. We attended from afar, along with several dozen or so others, but that is the nice thing about this tech invention called ZOOM. People can now attend such events from afar, and still feel as though you really did attend.

And so another life, happily lived, came to an end.  And I am drawn back in time to others who have left my life. Because life is a series of encounters with people, places and things. And we all get so many encounters, each of us different from one another, and then we leave.  My first actual encounter with a “departure” was my Scottish grandma, Elizabeth Inglis.  GM Inglis came to the US with her husband somewhere in the vicinity of 1890, maybe even the mid 1890’s.  They both came from Edinburgh, Scotland, having decided that Scotland was not delivering to them a life quality they imagined they deserved.  And so they decided to migrate to America.  Because they, like many thousands of their immigrant colleagues, lacked any advanced education or training, GP Inglis had to rely on his basic carpentry skills to carve out a sort of economic life in Brooklyn.  They were married and so they created some children, my Mother included.  Because the early 20th century in America was filled with  cataclysms, Wars, a pandemic flu, a stock market chaos, the Inglis’ never made it into the solidly middle class.  But they lived, and their kids lived, and their kids married and produced their own kids.  And so I was created, one of three to my Mother.

But finally their lack of economic success caught up with them and the couple simply ran out of money.  Eventually, GP Inglis succumbed and then Grandma was forced to live out her life with us, my mum and siblings.  And then, when she was about the age at which I now find myself, GM started failing physically. I found myself, at the age of 16, alone in our little house with her, when she began failing badly. I applied an oxygen mask to her, and then held her, but she simply stopped breathing. And I cried a bit, but then I had to move on. I called a doctor to come to us, and then I called others, starting with my mum. GM Inglis had left us.

And see, I too keep using this language of a trip. My GM left us—she “departed” for some other place. But all we know really, is that folks at some stage of their lives, simply cease being. They stop breathing, and then, apparently, their brain function ceases, and then they cease to exist as humans.  Good Christians have invented this fairy tale that people who die, simply move upstairs to a place called heaven, and then they begin looking down upon us living folks.  How long they continue looking down before becoming terminally bored one cannot say.  I suppose when they really do become bored, they then turn their attention to God(dess?), or maybe to Shakespeare? Only they know of course.

But we are then faced with the job of getting on with this thing we call life.  We are expected to continue living, almost as though nothing significant has occurred. And  we really need to do exactly that, because otherwise, our own lives might begin to lose meaning.  And since the whole idea of Life, apparently, is to keep on breathing and creating –something . . . anything—we need to recreate our lives without the someone who has left us, but with the memory of their wonder embedded within our subconscious.

Now, as we age, we move through this end-of-life process numerous times, with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, even siblings, and, of course, close friends.  I have now reached an age at which I have outlived my parents, grandparents, all aunts and uncles, and both siblings. Many other friends have also “departed”.   And each time some human “leaves” us, or ceases to exist, some part of us suffers, at least a little. And the closer is that human, the greater will be our suffering.  But what survives is a set of memory clips of each of those someone’s.  And those memory clips become part of us. Our brains are composed of integrated memory clips of all kinds of things, past lives included. So, the folks who have “left” us actually remain within us, in our brains, in the form of these memory clips. To that extent, we each “live on” in the brains of those who have known us.

So, what is LIFE after all?  We arrive as a new creature, entirely untouched by humankind. And then we begin acquiring memories—we also call that “learning”.  And we forge attachments, close memory links to others, some so close and so profound that we will enter into combat to preserve those links.  The attachments seem to define us most profoundly, although many folks would suggest that our creations really are what defines us. But who is to know?  We have people who love and are loved. And some of those people leave behind creations that will define who they were when they were alive. Some of the creations are other humans, and some of the creations are physical entities that will touch other humans by their presence—artistic creations, surely Shakespearean writings have touched many well after William left his stage. Some folks create and leave behind physical entities, like buildings, or institutions, like centers of learning, or other physical buildings that will house other humans for generations.

And then there are the negatives left behind.  Many mighty rulers are still remembered because of the chaos they created and the lives they destroyed. History books are filled with their stories, and, I wonder whether those mighty rulers ever thought about the long-lived negative memories they were creating, and that they would always be remembered for chaos. I think of someone like Hitler, for example.  He lived a high life for only a couple of decades, but his memory fragments that he left behind will always be ones of death and evil. But perhaps he would not have cared.  Most of humanity would care, I would hope.

So, to live our lives perhaps we need to at least be aware that every day we are creating memory fragments within the brains of other humans with whom we come into contact. And those fragments are perhaps the only things we can fully control. We can choose to leave fragments that will make others smile, or make others frown.  So maybe that is really all that life is about.  Choose your pathways and your memory fragments carefully. Leaving smiles seems infinitely more desirable than anything else we can do.

And so Terry, you apparently lived the good life. I detect many smiles that you purposefully left along the way.  So thanks to you Terry. That is called a life well lived.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

What Next?


I wonder whether perhaps it is beginning to be easier to determine what Trump is going to do next to corrupt our democratic system of government. Over the past three plus years, we have become accustomed to Trump going on rants about something that the Dems are planning, or that Joe or Hunter Biden are doing/planning to do.  Almost invariably it turns out that, when he starts yelling about something crooked, he is either already doing it, or this is a signal that he plans to do whatever he is yelling about.

Recently, we are becoming used to Trump yelling about mail-in voting. Now this one is really curious.  First, despite all his yelling about fraud in elections, no one has been to produce any serious evidence of fraud in elections generally, or in mail-in voting in particular.  Virtually no evidence at all has been gathered showing any serious level of fraud.

Now the second curious thing about his claims that all mail-in voting is fraudulent, is that Trump himself routinely has used mail-in voting.  Yeah, he never shows up at the polling places, instead relying on mail-in voting.  So, why is he yelling that the system he uses is subject to fraud?  Well, likely because he is planning on defrauding that very system.  And how might he plan to defraud the voting system? Well, I might imagine he might:

1.       Try to eliminate the US Postal Service before the election, so that voting by mail is impossible, because there is no mail system.  He has discussed openly his disdain for the postal service and suggested that they either need to begin charging customers (especially Amazon) more, or perhaps even just privatizing the entire system.  But should he embark on a restructuring plan, perhaps leading to privatizing the system, he could well interfere with the mail-in voting system this year.  We know that the main reason Trump goes on about the mail-in voting system is that he understands that the system, if used extensively in an election, would cost him the election, and he has stated that a large mail-in system would mean that republicans would likely never win another election.  So, his opposition is entirely clear and it is entirely based on the threat to him personally.  And since he is the Compleat Narcissist, all of his actions are and always will be based on enhancing his present or future status.  So, look to Trump trying to reduce or eliminate the Postal Service before the election.

2.       Reducing polling places throughout the country. The republican party has already succeeded in increasing the difficulty folks experience in actually going to a polling place and voting in person.  In various places, they have closed polling places, thereby increasing the lines at the remaining places, sometimes causing many hours of delay in actually casting a ballot in person. Given the pandemic and the fears the public has in  being in or near long lines of people, many of whom would likely not be wearing masks, any reduction in the number of polling places will certainly lead to a reduction in in-person voting. Arguably, this could be managed with an increase in vote-by-mail systems. However, as noted above, Trump may well create stumbling blocks to any increase in the mail system for voting.  Also, even if they do not/cannot eliminate the US Postal Service before the election, it is known that any serious increase in a vote-by-mail system will need to be accompanied by serious efforts by each state to guarantee supplies of ballots, suitable envelopes, and staffing to handle the incoming mail, systems not currently available in all states.

3.       Deployment of Federal troops. Trump’s deployment of Federal troops in Portland, and his threats to deploy them elsewhere, e.g., Chicago, at least suggests the possibility that Trump will attempt to use Federal troops to actually interfere or create chaos at various polling places, perhaps in states, or regions that are hotly contested.  With long lines likely, he could argue the need for Federal troops to “safeguard" the polling places, leading perhaps to troops actually making the voting lines even longer.  And any increases in the logistical difficulties in voting could well lead to people simply giving up and staying home, or leaving before they have voted.  And Trump would then be yelling that he has safeguarded the system from attempts to overwhelm it with fraudulent voters.

4.       Dumping ballots.  If Trump can gain some semblance of control at key ballot stations in hotly contested regions, he could well resort to simple fraud. Perhaps, for example, he could have his minions collect and destroy mailed-in ballots because they were “flawed” or “obviously fraudulent”. Or he might dispatch people to collect ballots from folks’ homes, with the promise that they would be delivered safely, when instead they would be dumped in the trash.  One can imagine a wide variety of methods being used to stop ballots from actually flowing into the legal systems of ballot collection.  And then, of course we have the computer systems used to count the ballots and record them into the systems.  If Trump has control, one can easily imagine ways to corrupt those systems, including having them hacked by his Russian colleagues, as was done in the past.

5.       Contesting the Final Election results. Trump has already suggested the possibility that he might not accept an election result in which he is the loser. When asked by Chris Wallace in a recent interview, Trump refused to promise to yield and accept his loss.  It is by no means clear that Trump has any serious legal channels he might deploy, but we should be prepared for him to argue that an election loss was fraudulent and that he will fight the result all the way to the Supreme Court, which he believes he controls due to his appointments. He might even, one imagines, threaten to deploy the US military to enforce his decision that the election was fatally flawed and he must, for the good of the country, remain in office.  I can easily conjure up in my mind, a speech from the Oval Office in which he attempts to convince the American people that he, Donald Trump is the only responsible person left to protect them from the Left Wing conspiracy that produced the election result.  Can’t you hear him now?

So, I would urge all agencies of the federal government, including certainly all military agencies, to begin preparing for how they will act to either support or eliminate such a Trump coup-d’etat, for that is what is coming.   Think of it. Our very first official Coup d’etat, inspired by arguably the stupidest and most corrupt human in America. If he succeeds, then America is finished. It would fall into a gangster-state.  

Let us hope we are both smarter than that, and perhaps even more civilized. 

Are we?

Sunday, July 12, 2020

COVID Strategic Planning


Seems like 100 years ago, but early in my career I used to work in the aerospace industry on weapon system designs.  I worked with companies designing and building the Corporal (an immediate successor to the old German V-II), the Polaris, and the Minuteman weapon systems.  And then I broke off and began work with a strategic planning and control consulting firm, working with the Air Force on long range planning and control systems.

Then several years later, USAID hired our firm to go to India, to work with their Planning Commission on long range planning and control systems approaches to assist their own long range development programs and goals..

The work was intense and complex in all these ventures, mainly because such work is demanding and grand in scale. Much depends on the outcomes, so the investments in planning seem eminently worthwhile.

Enter the COVID19 Pandemic, ravaging the world, and, especially the world’s various work forces. Part of the basic difficulty here is the set of unknowns coupled with a complete lack of medical tools that might help in battling this disease.  We have no vaccine (yet) and we really have little in the way of treatments should folks contract this nasty disease.

And so, work around the globe is being interrupted because of the possibility of person-to-person transmission, especially from touching surfaces that might be hosting the virus, or, even worse, airborne transmission.  We know that some personal protective equipment, masks, help, but are not a panacea.  So, the idea of people working within the same rooms, or even in the same buildings, traveling in the same cars to get to and from work, sitting together in cafeterias, sitting in rooms where meetings are taking place is now anathema. Close contact breeds illness and even death.  This thing does not produce the common cold, or even the ordinary influenza.  Those are nasty, but they rarely are fatal. This thing is killing thousands every day. And, again, we have no treatment and no preventive approach.

So, what does our federal government do under Trump’s guidance? Punt.

Yeah, Donald Trump really has no idea what he is doing as President, during one of the worst, most catastrophic periods in our history. He basically keeps doing the same thing—punting the ball to someone else, really anyone else.  But in his case, because he has no idea what he is doing, he “manages” by trying to direct the blame for failure to someone else, really anyone else.  First he blamed everything on Hillary. Then he began blaming everything on Obama.  Then he began blaming governors, or mayors.

And now, because he wants things to open up to better support his re-election campaign. He wants large open rallies. He wants schools to reopen, shops to reopen, everything to reopen. And if they can’t/won’t simply reopen, he yells a lot, throwing shade on everyone but him.

The schools thing is interesting. He has been yelling, along with his idiot-malenfant Education Secretary DeVos that the schools must reopen right away. But he has no plan for them to reopen. He simply demands that they reopen, and soon.  But the threat level posed by open schools with kids gathering in large groups—classrooms, cafeterias, school buses, and then returning home is mind-boggling.  While the kids arguably might avoid the worst consequences, they might well act as superspreaders, bringing the disease home to parents or elderly grandparents.  Further, the risks to teachers and administrative staff is very large. 

What is required is less shreaking and more intelligent long range planning. We need some bodies of professionals skilled in the arts of planning and evaluation to begin gathering (with appropriate social distancing, maybe even ZOOMing), to discuss alternative means to the end of educating our children at all levels, from kindergarten through college.  We need to develop alternative program designs that can be tested and evaluated. We need a major Federal planning intervention, to assist states, local systems, and colleges to better understand how they might go about their tasks of educating our children safely. The local systems are not equipped to carry out such planning initiatives. This would be an amazing use of federal financial assistance towards the aim of a more productive educational system. And the Feds have carried out such planning initiatives many times over the past 50-100 years.

And once you begin imagining such an approach to a more productive educational system, it begins to occur almost immediately that such an approach could be employed in dozens of other environments.  Many companies are using virtual means to work while separated. Some external planning assistance could be deployed here to examine and devise alternative approaches to working at home, or while socially distant.

It is easy to imagine a highly productive use of federal money and expertise (the Feds gathering expertise) to develop enhanced approaches to the world of work.  It could be the biggest opportunity since the Cold War and the development of superior weapon systems, for a major federal intervention in the Nations’ systems of economic development.  During earlier presidencies, ones accompanied by some actual intelligence, we had initiatives like the Eisenhower federal highway system, development of rural health care systems, even early systems for advancing computer systems communications. The list is endless.

But there has rarely been so clear a role for a major Federal intervention as now. Beginning immediately. All it takes is intelligence within the upper reaches of Government.

Oh dear.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Face of Public Stupidity


Masks. I guess I really just don’t get the opposition to wearing face masks.  People are furious about the various official requirements to wear face masks when out in public. Now, to be fair, nobody is requiring folks to wear a mask when they drive around in their cars. Or walk around their living rooms. It is simply a requirement when you plan to enter a business, or any public place where other folks may be gathering for their own reasons. So, if you go into a store, or a restaurant, or any place of gathering, where proper social distancing is not easily accommodated, then face masks are a requirement.

Whenever I take my 2-3 mile walk along the streets of downtown Concord, I do not wear a mask. However, whenever someone approaches me on the sidewalk, I immediately step into the street, so that we have a proper 8-10 foot distance when we pass each other.  I choose to do this, so that the approaching folks will not have to and neither of us actually requires a mask. Many approaching people are pushing baby carriages, or walking with friends in a group, or running.  I enter the street, so they won’t have to.  And, my movement is always taken when we are still 50-100 feet apart.
Now, to be fair, downtown Concord, is not Manhattan. Were I doing the same thing there, I would wear a mask. It’s that simple. Now, I must note here, that I do routinely wear a mask (and gloves) whenever I go to a store for a pickup of items we have ordered online, or anytime I will be meeting people for any reason. We even wear masks around our family.

And why do we wear a mask? Well, because it is the simplest preventive act we can undertake to minimize the spread of this pandemic virus.  Yes, we know the mask is not perfect. But it is way better than wearing no face covering when out in public.

All this mask outrage, makes me wonder. If these outraged folks were to undergo surgery, and their surgeon announced that he or she decided not to wear a mask while carrying out the surgical procedure, how might these folks feel? Would they think, well, I think that is his decision, so I really cannot complain.  Hmmm, No??? Oh, I thought not. Or how about if they walked into the kitchen of a local restaurant and observed the chef sneezing openly into the pot of food he was preparing? Would these folks think, well, that really is his decision.  Hmmm, No again?
Now let’s think beyond the masks.

How about . . . clothing? What if the local nudists within our community decided that wearing clothes while shopping downtown was simply too much government regulation.  So, they all just wandered about the downtown shops and went in and out, while totally nude. And, guess what, they were not all young and beautiful so the sight, was, well, less than exciting? And some were even fat, with sloppy big bellies flopping about. Would that be ok?  Probably not, huh?

And then, we get into our cars, and decide that, not only am I not going to wear a safety belt, but I refuse to lock my child into one, or into a secure car seat. Nope, that’s just too much government intrusion. And those double lines in the middle of the street? To be ignored, right? I mean, no one should be able to dictate on which side of the street you drive, or whether you are allowed to pass someone driving too slowly. Right??? I mean, who really needs a copper telling us how to drive, right?

And on and on, as we get stupider and stupider. Civilized societies construct rules to live by. Otherwise, we are left with chaos.  One of the signs of a civilized society is that it has rules by which folks must live.  There are all kinds of rules. We aren’t allowed to take our gun out of the closet and shoot someone because we disagree with them. Or, if we come to an agreement, and that agreement involves, say, money, we expect both parties to adhere to the terms of the agreement. Otherwise, the aggrieved party is allowed to file a legal claim against the other.  And speaking of money, we also construct rules about how we are going to find the money to allow us to construct roads, or schools, or to build parks. Those rules are called tax rules. And, while we almost certainly won’t like giving our money away for such purposes, in the end, it is called civilization.

So, the anti-maskers are simply people who are opposed to civilized living.  They apparently prefer chaos, which is everyone making up their own rules.  Now, where does all this opposition to masks arise? Well, once again, Donald Trump. Our doofus president decided that wearing a mask would make him look weak, or stupid (he’s both actually), so he would reject the advice of his scientific advisers. And to make certain that he did not look weak or stupid, he punted the issue to the governors and the mayors of the land. So that if they created rules, and the people, 6-9 months in advance of an election, became annoyed, he could always say, “well, I didn’t require that. Complain to your stupid governor.”

And so, he promulgated an official viewpoint—that masks are a stupid, ineffective idea, and he would never wear one (even while touring a factory that makes them). And that provides ammunition for the people who hate having anyone telling them what to do—the rather stupid, and more broadly uncivilized folks. And Trump, thereby, creates and holds onto a presidential election voting base.
Now, I can’t wait until next year, sometime in 2021, when a vaccine appears on the street. What will Trump do then, and, more to the point, what will his anti-maskers decide to do? Will, they refuse to get vaccinated, like good antivaxxers?  No one is going to fill my body with these vile vials of chemicals. I refuse.  And then, what will the Drumpf say, or do? In fact, will Trump get vaccinated, or get his children vaccinated? He is stupid enough that he might well join the anti-vaxxers and decide against a vaccination.  One problem is that, to acquire a herd immunity, a certain percentage of the population must be vaccinated, or otherwise acquire an immunity (see the following article for a discussion of herd immunity: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/herd-immunity-and-coronavirus/art-20486808).

Exactly what percentage of the people will need to be vaccinated to acquire an adequate immunity to protect those who cannot get vaccinated is unknown to me at this stage.  But again, both our public health community –the Dr. Fauci’s of the world—and our presidential leadership will need to join forces to protect the American community at large. That likely means that we will have to get rid of Donald Trump, who seems to specialize in terminally stupid and destructive government policies.  So, we will see what happens in our election, and then subsequently after a vaccine is developed.

If Trump is re-elected, then I assume the younger population of America will begin to seriously consider emigrating to Canada or even New Zealand. Let us hope that is not required. Fond hope springs eternal, someone once said. We will see.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Fox News Fiddles While Rome Burns


It’s amazing really that Trump manages to keep his Fox News toadies in line. Makes me wonder whether Trump and Rupert Murdoch speak each night, or perhaps each morning to make sure the Murdoch pseudo-newsies continue to toe the line.  And I wonder even more, are the Foxies simply actors making great salaries for repeating the lines written for them by Murdoch hired guns?

Yeah, it really does seem like Rome, or in this case Washington, DC, is burning down as the Foxies fiddle away madly. My wife and I have been watching a new series called “Designated Survivor”. It is a story of a massive bombing of the Capitol, which kills the President, the Vice President, all of Congress, SCOTUS, and most of the Cabinet. The Designated Survivor is a system put into place at some time in the past, which has a list of officials who are called “designated survivors” and who constitute the “next in line” after the normal list of successors are killed. In a Wiki definition, we read the following:
“In the United States, a designated survivor (or designated successor) is a named individual in the presidential line of succession, chosen to stay (at a secure and undisclosed location) away from events such as State of the Union addresses and presidential inaugurations. The practice of designating a successor is intended to safeguard continuity in the office of the president in the event the president along with the vice president and multiple other officials in the presidential line of succession died in a mass-casualty incident. The procedure originated in the 1950s during the Cold War with its risk of nuclear attack.
If such an event occurred, the surviving official highest in the line of succession as delineated in the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 would become acting president of the United States. Consequently, the individual named must be eligible to serve as president. In practice, the designated survivor is usually a member of the president's Cabinet, and is chosen by the president.”
 As we watch in both horror and fascination, I keep thinking, “well, we did not have a bombing kill off everyone, but we have the nearest equivalent”. In this case, Donald Trump has killed off everything that was considered normal before his election—people of normal intelligence and normal ethical/moral behavior standards acting in the interests of the American people, as they perceived it, and directing policies and actions that at least appear remotely normal. Everyone he has appointed, seemingly without exception, is aberrant in some way.  Either they also seemingly possess subnormal intelligence, or possess such bizarre views of the country and of our accepted approaches to domestic and world affairs that they are way outside anything we might view as “normal”.
We have never before Trump seen such a parade of people being appointed and then fired from key positions. Mostly, Trump seems to know nobody who is remotely normal. If we look at his close associates, his press secretaries, his lawyers, his personal advisors, and even his cabinet, they all appear fatally flawed as human beings, and utterly without any redeeming virtues in the positions to which they have been appointed.  When he inevitably fires them, it is almost always that they have proven incapable of making him, Trump, appear normal, or competent.  And mostly, his appointees to important government positions are classic Foxes in the Hen House.  He appoints industry lobbyists to run agencies charged with overseeing industry. Or he appoints people to positions they have spent a lifetime battling against—see Betsy DeVos.

So, this is now a “New Normal”, which has nothing to do with the pandemic.  This normal is a world of subhumans, who pretend to act in the best interests of America, but who in fact act, always, to protect the status of those few Americans lucky enough to be billionaires.

And if that “New Normal” is not terrible enough, then we have daily Trumpisms roaring out of the cloud of Twitterati. He must sit in bed at night, or early in the morning, having absorbed the daily Fox stupidities of the previous day, and sends out his Twitteratisms of the day.  He apparently tweets 10-20 times per day, depending on how outraged he is about some subject. One estimate was that from his announced candidacy through the first 2 ½ years of his reign, he tweeted over 17,000 times. Now that is just not normal.  That is ABNORMAL, by almost any definition.  Now were he some frustrated 13 year old bleeping on about high school rejections, one might say, ok, that kid needs some parental advice or some counseling.  But for the President of the United States to go on like that, we are in a different realm. Yes, clearly, he needs psychological counseling, but he may also need to be institutionalized and under daily, if not hourly, care. The White House is not such a place.  Think of what his Cabinet meetings must be like.  Are staff folks sitting there suppressing amazed giggles?

He really seems terminally stupid almost all of the time. And apparently, his KKK/Neo-Nazi supporters continue to love him.  I guess they don’t mind having someone that stupid with the launch codes to nuclear oblivion in his possession.

And over the past three plus years, we have all grown used to having President Stupidhead at the helm of our government, and the subject of daily late night comedy humor.  He is a never-ending source of comedic horror and general humor.

But lately, I think he seems to be slipping out of even his weird definition of “normal”. He is now almost full time racist, seemingly turned on by the Pandemic, by Black Lives Matter and by the Confederacy.  Anyone and anything associated with Black people in America appear to offend him and give rise to bizarre tweets. His speeches seem barely in adult English any longer. Whenever I listen to him speak for more than a few moments, I wonder if perhaps he never really learned English at all.  And I also am drawn to wondering whether he is either on some psychedelic drug, or that his mind is merely slipping away from him. I know he doesn’t drink alcohol, although he seems vaguely drunk most of the time. Most adults will orate better than Trump even after three martinis.

And in the midst of this bazzaro world he defines, this Pandemic is killing literally thousands of people almost daily, and he refuses to act, claiming that we have defeated the virus, and that it is 99% harmless.  It is as though the Russians have been dropping bombs on our major cities daily, and Trump is preoccupied with Tweeting about people he hates.

So, what are we to make of this bizarre behavior, even by his own bent standards? Is there no one to stand up and announce that Trump is now completely broken and needs full-time in-patient psychiatric care? Would it take, really, for Trump to literally take out a gun and start shooting people he doesn’t like?  And if he did that, would anyone finally step in and do something to remove this horror show from our country? Is there any someone capable of doing that?  I have seen no evidence that anyone within the White House or on Capitol Hill is capable or willing to take any action. And so, we the people, are left to observe and to live in fear that this madman is going to try to destroy our upcoming election process, and that nobody would stop him. And that, were we to have an actual election and he lost, he might still declare victory and refuse to leave.  He does not live in the real world. Perhaps he has never lived in the real world. But he has always gotten away with it. Will that continue? Or will the world simply end because COVID19 kills off everyone?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Leaving America


I think now, often, of my grandparents who left their homelands in the 1890s to come to America, in order to make a better life. I have no actual information about precisely why they left their own homelands to come here. But come they did. In the case of my Scottish grandparents, they came here in the 1880s. We have a naturalization certificate dated 10/16/1893 for grandpa.  Their kids started arriving (being born) in the mid-1890s, with my mother arriving in February 1899. Now, Grandpa Inglis had little formal education, maybe the Scottish elementary school.  He had a tradecraft—carpentry, and so, after his arrival, he began working in the homebuilding trades. I am told that he built houses in Brooklyn. I even have a very dim memory of being in a house in a rural community, I guess in Brooklyn. But then we moved into Manhattan, likely because Daisy got a job in Manhattan.  We rarely moved because Rudy got a job somewhere.  Rudy rarely “got a job”.

I have to assume that my Grands left their own homelands because they believed they could no longer lead a full life there. Perhaps, the times were difficult, and, without any education, they were ill equipped to manage their lives. And so, they moved.  I think of that, but I really have difficulty understanding the enormity of such a move.  In the case of the Inglis’, Scotland was all they knew, doubtless going back multiple generations.  Moving to New York must have been seriously uprooting, and I also cannot really understand what their families back in Scotland must have felt at their move.

And so we arrive at America in the year 2020.  What would I do were I a 20-something, and fresh out of school, hopefully Uni?  Well, I know I would be doing something to support a replacement candidate for our current idiot-in-chief. Having survived, just barely, almost four years of Trump, I now believe the United States will not survive four more years.  It is as though he has set about to systematically destroy the very fabric of our Nation.  With every breath he opens greater crevices in American society. He seems to specialize in causing people to hate others, fear-mongering, race-baiting, general hatred of “the other”.  But he is also systematically dismantling the structures and institutions that have been erected over several centuries to safeguard the republic. He has been busy eliminating regulatory safeguards, especially ones intended to minimize climate change, but also ones intended to rein in the worst instincts of capitalism. And his judicial appointments are almost uniformly destructive of a civilized world.  And then there’s that “rest of the world” thing. He has also been systematically destroying our relationships with other nations, especially ones with whom we have been allied over many decades.

So, what will happen were he to be granted another four years?  He would, I predict only get worse and more destructive. Since he appears to have no idea what he is doing, his actions may become more sharply destructive. His narcissistic sociopathy seems to know no bounds. It is almost as though he really does not understand just how destructive he is—maybe because on top of everything else, he seems amazingly ignorant and, yes, stupid.

So, what would I be thinking were I, say 20-25? Well, I think I would be thinking of doing what my grandparents did—leaving this United States of America.  I would be at the early stages of planning my departure, should that awful event occur.  But the problem is where would I want to go? The pandemic will not yet be over, likely not until a year or so after a vaccine is actually developed.  So, wherever I might go, it would have to be a nation willing to take me, and in which I might stand a reasonable chance of finding a lifetime career path.  Not too many countries spring easily to mind. Right off, Canada seems way better than life in America. Also, I would be looking seriously at New Zealand. Unfortunately, Australia seems as bad as America.  And unless I began learning one or more foreign languages, much of Europe seems difficult, however much I might wish to move there.

So, I imagine the task of finding a replacement country would not be an easy one.  But the alternative just seems to me too awful to contemplate. Living in America during a second Trump term seems potentially catastrophic. I almost cannot imagine the prospect.

Being in my now mid-80s I have no chance to even consider moving anywhere. So, whatever happens in the upcoming election, we will have to simply hunker down, and maybe stay permanently socially isolated.  But I fear for our children, and even more for our grandchildren. They require a humane, civilized country in which to live, work, and raise their own children.  America under Trump is and would in the future no longer be such a place. Migrating is such a difficult charge. But, I believe that, under another Trump period, living here is simply unsustainable. Surely there exists some other place on this globe that is a real civilization. 

Surely.