Count On It

“I’ve got to stop saying “How stupid can you be?” Too many people are taking it as a challenge.” — George Carlin
” A little ignorance can go a long way.” – Curmudgeon
“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of us are stupider than that.” – George Carlin
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not always sure about the universe.” – Albert Einstein

This is not the first thing I’ve found to laugh at since last November, not quite. But I do like it.
German neo-Nazi mayoral candidate laughed at when he called to ban Arabic house numbers
Otfried Best appears to take a satirical question seriously
Jeff Farrell|
6 days ago|
The Independent Online

A neo-Nazi mayoral candidate for a German town was greeted with laughter when he promised to ban Arabic numerals displayed as house numbers if elected – unaware that they are the same as western numbers.
Otfried Best is running on an anti-immigration ticket for the ultra-right NPD party, in the small town of Volklingen in the district of Saarbrucken.
Along with three other candidates, he was questioned about his policies in a debate ahead of the election in front of an audience.
Uwe Faust, representing the satirical Die Partei, appeared to set a trap for Mr Best when he asked him a joke question over a supposed regulation in Volklingen.
“According to the building code, paragraph 126, each owner is obliged to label his property with the number given by the municipality,” he said.
“I find it alarming that in Völklingen many house numbers are displayed in Arabic numerals. How would you like to take action against this creeping foreigner infiltration?”
Mr Best replied: “You just wait until I am mayor. I will change that. Then there will be normal numbers.”
As he appeared to answer the question seriously, Stern magazine reported that around 600 audience members began howling with laughter. He appeared to brush off the raucous crowd, adding: “Wait a moment, Mr Faust, until I’m Lord Mayor, and I’ll change that.”
Atef Alshaer, a lecturer on Arabic and Linguistics in the University of Westminster, told The Independent: “A German man actually translated Arabic numbers into the Western style used so it is incredible how ignorance can lead to this kind of political blindness.”
Arabic numbers are based on the decimal number system and originated in India in the 6th or 7th century, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica. They were first brought to Europe in the 12th century by Arab mathematicians and paved the way for modern algebra.
The NPD party is accused of neo-Nazi links. Intelligence services in Germany have described it as racist and anti-Semitic. But politicians in all of the country’s 16 states failed to outlaw the party in a bid through the Federal Constitutional Court. It dismissed the appeal in January, saying the party’s concept “disregards human dignity” but there was no “concrete evidence” it could achieve its nationalist goals.
Oh my people! Here’s my latest moral dilemma. Do I shriek and tear my hair because there is anyone this abysmally clueless, or do I take comfort in the fact that several hundred people did get the joke and laughed? Also, this was not, as it so easily might have been, Arkansas or South Dakota. Although … is it truly encouraging to find my country has no corner on idiocy? Perhaps not.
And next, not that I’m cynical, I wonder if this little faux pas will help or harm the man’s election chances. Anyone care to start a pool and guess how the poll numbers will run? Me, I’ll just wait and see. As one of our illustrious Ohio football coaches once said, either team could win.

Posted in Education, Elections, Humor, Music, News and politics, Science & Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Why Wait?

“A king can stand people fighting, but he can’t last long if people start thinking.” –Will Rogers
I’ve been getting emails for a week or so, posturing about impeaching … the new White House squatter. as if our spineless “representatives” would even consider it. When we’ve let scum like Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Obama, and both Bushes waddle away, collect generous pensions and build their self-aggrandising libraries, who in hell believes we will ever hold any of these bastards accountable? Not that I would object — hell, let’s hang ’em all, heaven knows they’ve earned it.
But why have we waited for this latest affront to human dignity and intelligence to assume office? No wonder sloth is considered a deadly sin — infections never sleep, and we have let this pernicious system get away with murder and worse for far too long. So long that far too many of us just accept what trickles down in our faces … which is not exactly ice cream.
I hate saying “if only” but it does come to mind. My fondest memory from 1980 is of riding with a friend through a midwestern city, soon after Reagan’s revolting election … sometime between thanksgiving and christmas, always a dull and dispiriting time in such towns, even without additional political angst.
Suddenly my friend laughed, and shouted “yes! I love it!” and pointed to a warehouse with “IMPEACH REAGAN!” boldly emblazoned on the wall facing us. Still my all-time favorite bit of grafiti!
Well, we didn’t do it then and I do not expect it now. If anything, we seem less inclined to act promptly and in solidarity now than at any time I can remember. Because we have let those with power and privilege persuade us that our problems are caused by those with no power or privilege. How logical. I’ve heard that we can imagine the extinction of our species more easily than the end of capitalism. Because if capitalism dies we’d have to carry on? Are we that hopeless and lazy? Sometimes, I do wonder.
In any case, we’re already well behind the curve. Is there a constitutional procedure for repudiating an entire administration in one fell swoop? That would be a start. Just barely. I am aware of folks who secretly (andd not so much so) hope that he whom we should have no good reason to name, notice or remember will prove so intolerable that Isis, or North Korea, or Putin, or Mexico, or some militia crazies for whom even this level of stupid and obnoxious is not enough, might just obliterate our capitol city for us. I won’t go that far — there might be two or three decent folks in the area. Actually, we know that Washington is full of solid hard-working poor people … since our elites and their lackeys cannot be expected to clean their own toilets or collect their trash, after all. But short of drenching the entire Potomac basin with heavy duty fungicides … I imagine dropping planeloads of Immunox, like they dump water on wildfires … there must be a way forward. A way beyond a few under-attended demos, beyond flaunting a few stickers, beyond signing petitions and liking Facebook comments. That’s okay — but we know it’s not enough. Hell, corporate capitalism makes money even from our dissatisfactions — the smaller stuff they consider harmless enough not to criminalize and punish, at least. How do we not only survive this insult to all humanity, but work toward some progress toward positive change.
We know what is needed. Unity. The one thing those in power truly fear. They fear it so much that they spend money, lots of money, just to keep us divided, distracted, discouraged, and disengaged. We know they’re doing it, and though it is still damned discouraging (especially when so many of our brothers and sisters seem to buy the lies, and accept, even embrace, selfishness, greed, hate and fear as normal and good), we do know better. What are we waiting for, miracles? I won’t hold my breath.
It’s up to us to resist apathy and inertia. It’s up to us to refuse the kool-aid … and maybe spike it, with the wild notion that better things are possible, if only we get past fighting and blaming our selves and our fellow sufferers. And together confront those who benefit from our misery. Why the hell not? Who wants to die with the TV remote in our hands, or waggling our thumbs on a fresh tweet?

Posted in Civil Rights, Dissent, Economy, Education, Elections, Environment, Family & Children, Health Care, Justice, Law, Music, News and politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Every Day in Every Way

“I have been reading the morning paper. I do it every morning–knowing well that I shall find in it the usual depravities and basenesses and hypocrisies and cruelties that make up civilization, and cause me to put in the rest of the day pleading for the damnation of the human race.” – Mark Twain
I’ve been bad, even for me, letting way too much time pass between posts. But I’ve been pretending to take care of my mother and aunt for a while, which does take time and energy. As part of keeping the ladies occupied with something other than their health, we have watched a lot of television. A lot.
(Which reminds me … can I deduct my outrageous music and earbuds purchases as essential mental health expenses? Just a thought.)
And, taking the bitter with the sour, we have also endured hours of egregious commercials. Drugs and insurance ads mostly. Also pitches for junk food … alternating with diet plans. Exciting stuff. Perhaps such demoralizing shit helps my elderly relatives accept the idea that they won’t be here much longer, convincing them they won’t be missing very damned much? I’m sure that’s why my otherwise sensible uncle wallowed in Jerry Springer and similar depravities before he died. And this is nothing new — at least since the penultimate ice age, we boring old farts have been shaking our heads, bemoaning the ccurrent sorry state of damn near everything, and gloomily anticipating still worse to come. But damn, what if we are right this time? You have to admit, it’s not easy to find much good news these days.
Wait, who said that? Oh dear, sounds like my own will to live is getting pretty puny too. Okay that’s it, no more television for Linda, that should help … and I sure as hell won’t miss it!
“The only very marked difference between the average civilized man and the average savage is that the one is gilded and the other is painted.” – Mark Twain

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Headed for Trouble

“We hang the petty thieves, and appoint the great ones to public office.” –Aesop
“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” –Emma Goldman
“The problem with political jokes? Too many of them get elected.” –Unknown

Eons back, I took a theater class … and no, not with Sophocles, thank you, nor Shakespeare either … It never helped my acting, damn it, but I enjoyed this story. According to my professor, in the many stadiums and ampitheaters throughout the Roman Empire, archaeologists generally find remains of emperors’ statues. Statues with removable heads. That way, whenever an emperor died, er, left office, only the heads had to be replaced. Thrifty folks, those Romans! Meet the new bboss … same as the old … Now why do you suppose I keep remembering that, in this election year?
Candidates and slogans change. Campaign styles and strategies change. But the system, which no ordinary people seem happy with, remains. Profit, privilege and power for the very few, with a perfunctory, unconvincing pretense of freedom and equality for the rest of us. And the merest whisper of a hint of a promise that we might, just possibly, better our circumstances … if we shut up and soldier. The state lottery gives us better odds! Maybe.
To vote, or not to vote. is that the question? Trouble is, we do not “get to vote” on the most important things. Who will be president, who will be state legislators, who will be county coroner — a position so thankless or unglamorous it usually has only one candidate. Does any of it matter? We appear to think so. But perhaps we merely catch the urgency fever from those who stand to benefit in some way from a given outcome. And I keep wondering … are we actually doing more than swapping interchangeable figureheads here and there, while the empire just keeps rolling along? Some days, I’m just not sure.

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Harvest Home

Bluegrass roots must be exceptionally strong and tenacious. Though our family moved to Ohio when he was quite young, my father never fully lost a Kentucky accent, or a fondness for his birthplace. He subscribed to his hometown paper for years, and despite some health problems, he went back “down home” for a local festival only a few weeks ago. His lifelong nickname references the county where he was born, and that’s the only name most people know him by. So we had to include it in his obituary.
My dad died this week, on a sunny afternoon while he was out mowing and bush-hogging. For him, that was probably a good way to wrap things up. Personally, I’d rather have root canal than run a noisy, smelly tractor all day. And I can’t stand bluegrass music by the hour either. But Dad loved them both.
That’s always been our relationship. I think we liked one another well enough, but with little understanding and few interests in common. Though we’re both talkers at times, we’d soon run out of conversation, when we even got as far as phone calls. We absolutely never discussed our feelings or philosophies … which was no doubt just as well. I would never say so out loud, but … I don’t even LIKE grass! … while my dad would rather mow than eat. I’ve love to read since I was four, but I have no memory of my dad ever reading anything for pleasure. He still loved collard greens, and wanted sorgham molasses on biscuits or pancakes. Let’s just say … I’d as soon eat dirt as either one.
Despite our distance and differences, my dad and I have had considerable lingering affection, from our time together when I was little, and our shared weakness for a good joke, and a few really dreadful ones. He brought me my first puppy, taught me to read maps, made a thorough job of pulling splinters and bandaging scrapes, gave me an enduring love for small planes, and quizzed me on state capitals … which I still know. Though Dad was not an enthusiastic early riser, he got up early for six long school years to wait with me for my ride, and after tiring workdays he watched cartoons (Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Quick-Draw McGraw) with me, when he wasn’t … resting his eyes. Which was not to be confused with napping. Busy men never nap, you know. I think Dad got his first job at twelve or so, and never stopped working for long, even in his so-called retirement.
Now it seems odd to realize that Dad isn’t still hard at work on something, somewhere. Maybe he is just resting his eyes for a spell.

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Saturday Serenade

Wow, we do have lots of Saturday songs! But then we have such diverse attitudes and approaches to the day itself. Some of us tackle a daunting list of Saturday chores, while others relax and calm themselves after a hectic week. The juvenile cultural emphasis on ‘Saturday night’ can stir feelings ranging from party-time exuberance to misery and loneliness. Maybe we should take things easier … it is our weekend … Louis Jordan might tell us, let the joy begin! Just remember, after Saturday night comes Sunday Morning. And maybe we need them both.

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Fantasia for Friday

I was born on a Friday, I’m told, though I can’t swear to it. For sure, I never live up to the nursery rhyme characterization of my day-mates as “loving and giving”. Far from it, I fear. Maybe someday! But never mind, it’s finally Friday, and time to … do our Friday stuff. And time for a few Friday songs!

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