Posted by: JDM..... | January 31, 2013

There I go…

…taking myself too seriously again…

too serious_450

Posted by: JDM..... | January 27, 2016

Regarding the “moron”

in oxymoron ….

I don’t go looking for this stuff, honestly. It just seems to jump out of the bushes at me while I’m on the way to something else, like that ******* Chihuahua that jumped out of a hedge line and sunk his miserable little teeth into my ankle back when I was in college. I tried to punt the snarling coprolite into the next county but he was too quick for me. The upside is that the little **** likely died fifty years ago.

But, I digress. I was talking about those off-the-wall websites and other waste products that some jerk I never met, sitting in an office thousands of miles from here, decides I really need to check out, join, or at least pay attention to so the referral source gets that fraction of a penny for a “hit.” Facebook is one of the worst for presuming the right to dwell in the global mind, heart, soul, and rectal orifice, and it was there that I was threatened with a web-group called…get this… “Libertarian Socialism.”

I’ve been trying to reconcile the use of the adjective “libertarian” in combination with “socialism“, but so far have failed. Perhaps it’s at an intellectual level beyond my reach, but I can’t get past the thought that “Libertarian socialism” has a bit of an oxymoronic ring to it, you know, sort of like “Celibate Prostitution .”

Of course, I had to check it out.

First of all, I have to say that the concept is real, in the sense that such a political philosophy has been around for a long time. I didn’t know that until I looked it up. Being given shelf space in some remote lexicon closet does not legitimize or validate the term, or any other. It merely acknowledges that the term had been coined and enjoys a reasonably stable definition, and is therefore, at least on that score, equal to any other ism.

That doesn’t belie my assessment, though. I stand by it. My first involvement with Libertarianism began many decades ago, whenever it was that I first read something by Ayn Rand, and later during the seventies when I registered as a Libertarian and voted for Ed Clark for President. My understanding has always been that “libertarian” refers to a concept of community that emphasizes the individual and eschews force in favor of volunteerism. Liberty.

Secondly, the first thing I encountered upon tiptoeing through the iron gate of the Libertarian Socialist page was a welcoming message:

“this is a place to discuss libertarian socialism. trolls, reactionaries, racists & race realists, etc. are not welcome. ableism, queerphobia, transphobia, misogyny and other forms of reactionary discrimination are not welcome. this includes libertarian capitalists/ancaps/right libertarians and so-called “anarcho” nationalists. violations of these rules may result in a ban, both for the person who does them and possibly the person who invited them to the group as well.”

Here again, I was tripped up by my preconceptions regarding definition. I thought I had learned way back when that “socialism” was an economic idea based on social, society-wide, ownership and a pseudo-democratic control of the means of production. I’ve never liked it because it disenfranchises the individual in favor of mob rule over the utilization of one’s assets, and it depends upon force to maintain its form. Despite verbiage to the contrary, it does not represent liberty.

Obviously then, the philosophy of “libertarian socialism”, at least the form offered by the internet group in question, eschews liberty and freedom of speech in favor of an authoritarian, narrowly prescribed menu of permitted sub-philosophies of the newspeak variety. The only reason I could think of why someone would wish to “join” such a group would be (1) if they could be in charge, or (2) could be located near enough to the emperor’s ass to facilitate profitable sycophancy.

Sycophancy has never been my strong suit, however, due in part to an unfortunate lifelong bilateral Tourettes-like tic in my middle digits.

They really should let me window shop for my own points of interest and curiosity. Nine times out of ten I find myself misdirected to some flame hole or digital Rubber Room that lacks any compatibility with me or my vapor trail. Just because I spent 30 seconds on Tuesday, 1988 at the urinal next to a guy in a blue suit in the Boston airport does not justify non-stop ads for blue suits or job offers from American Standard.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | January 22, 2016

Political philosophies

a la Mountains and Mole hills….

At the risk of stretching metaphor and analogy beyond tolerance, I’m going to describe a world of Mountains and Mole hills, where, for some odd reason, neither is satisfied with the status quo.

Never fear. Whenever someone wants something in most worlds, there are politicians to answer the call, promising to make mountains out of molehills and visa versa. This world is no exception, and there are several flavors to choose from.

First of all, there are politicians who, though they personally might not cotton to the fantasies of the proletariat, they appreciate the inalienable right of each to seek his own destiny without judgment or restrictions by others. They work to ensure that each is afforded the opportunity to go as far as his or her intelligence and character will provide.

Secondly, there are those politicians who, though they personally might not cotton to the fantasies of the proletariat, are perfectly willing and able to pretend they do in order to generate support and funding to create programs ensuring that Mountains can become Mole Hills and that Mole Hills can become Mountains. Mountains that are reticent to donate to the effort are re-designated Critical Erosion Zones and pared down to meet the strict environmental requirements of Erosion Free Zones, which, upon completion, strangely resemble the surface of a billiard table. Self Esteem Recovery workshops are held twice each year.

Meanwhile, Mole Hills who just wanted a leg up, not four cubic miles of Mountain dumped on their heads, are re-designated Pollution Prone Swamps requiring reconfiguration into Fill Eligible Zones, which, upon completion, strangely resemble the surface of a billiard table. Esteem Recovery workshops are held twice each year.

Thirdly, there are those politicians who, hearing that some Mountains wish to become Mole Hills, and some Mole Hills wish to become Mountains, raise one eyebrow, snort, and remark “I don’t give a flying **** in a rolling do-nut if they want to be lawn cookies as long as they don’t land in my yard. I’m too busy patrolling the shipping lanes and providing a safe place for everybody to live in liberty and to seek happiness. I’m not interested in trying to make sure every idiot gets everything he wants for Christmas on a silver platter whether he needs it or not…. ”

That said, perhaps it is time to return to the business at hand and contemplate the current flavor of politics in America………

As dear old Dad used to say, “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play..?”

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | January 13, 2016

Nice way to start the day…

this is Maine….

Photographs are nice, but sometimes it would be just a little awkward to grab a camera, pop off the lens cap, aim, compose, and click while tooling down I-95. I won’t say it hasn’t been done, but today was not the day to try such a stunt. We had our first notable snowstorm of the season last night, believe it or not, and with 40 MPH wind gusts, slick spots tended to inhabit every stretch of roadway not sheltered by woods or native geology. Rubbernecking is unavoidable, of course, and I’m not about to change my driving style at this stage of the game. Rubbernecking ensued.

Anyway, this morning I saw two scenes wherein I had to settle for quick mind-prints. They are usually better than the real thing anyway, just difficult to share.

The first was spotted down in the wooded ravine bordering the on-ramp to the highway near our home. During the winter months when snow blankets the ground, I always eyeball the embankments and fields bordering the roads and highways hoping to spot wildlife foraging. That particular on-ramp seems to be a favorite gathering place for local wild turkeys, and I often see a tom standing proud and shiny up on the hillside overseeing his “gang”. This morning, it was very cold and very windy, but I spotted a half dozen turkeys hunkered down near the bottom of the ravine, apparently more interested in shelter than food at the moment.

Deer under tree_001

Five miles down the road, where I left the highway, I glanced off toward a thinly wooded area to my right and saw a postcard shot of two deer in silhouette laying down in the snow under a small tree.

I thought this was a nice way to start the day.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | December 14, 2015

cartoon commentary…

TrumpPlatform_001b

Posted by: JDM..... | December 9, 2015

The “PC” Plague…

and daring to color outside of the lines.….

One of the recurring topics finding its way into my blogs for the past few years has been the obsession with PC, “Political Correctness“, and a couple of its subheadings like the “Apology Epidemic”.

People are afraid to offend someone, especially if they happen to be from any one of a dozen or so federally recognized “special interest groups” that seems to warrant special consideration. Some don’t really need it anymore, but it’s an old franchise that has grown roots, so I invite you to step up to the line and take it away from them.

The outcome is the paranoia about “offending”. You can drop an “F” bomb just about anywhere except church these days without a ripple, but woe unto he who steps in anything more than little toe deep that smells of discrimination.

The apology thing, like the “I’m offended” thing, may sometimes be no more than someone capitalizing on an opportunity for a sound byte or mention in print. I’m sick of it, and I don’t think I’m alone.

***

The latest installment of PC mania seems to have happened at Yale University , an erstwhile bastion of free-thinking and creativity, where an instructor resigned because of the stink raised about an e-mail she sent out encouraging students to be creative and not to worry about being offensive with their Halloween costumes.

Fist pumpers, the requisite helping of the “outraged and offended”, and Angry Guardians of the Public Soul united to clog up a few streets and make some night noise.

Oddly, at the same time the protesters were marching and fist pumping about this, that, and the other thing, they were practicing the very freedom of expression they were trying to shut down.

For whatever reasons, the instructor declined to teach in the coming spring as a response. Too bad. She sounds like some of my own favorites from the sixties. I always have learned more from people who color outside of the lines as a matter of principle.

TANGENTIAL TRUE STORY

Midway though college, I decided to transfer to a different university and change my major from Beer to Psychology. It was a small school, near the beaches, and it was led by a very conservative and devout President. They even had a dress code! Students had to wear shoes and socks on campus and a few other such things, perhaps to avoid the predictable invasion of half dressed, sand encrusted students just making it back from the beach in time for class. But, it was a great school and once settled in I was offered a partial scholarship to edit the campus newspaper.

I started with a summer semester and took some electives to offset some credits that didn’t transfer, and to boost my GPA a bit. One class I signed up for was a History of Western Civilization course, and it was to be taught by a visiting professor who was the department head at another university in the state.

On the first day of class, we appropriately dressed students were stunned to see our esteemed professor standing in front of the class wearing cut off jeans, a garish Hawaiian shirt, and sandals. He was holding a very large paper cup like one might get at a fast food restaurant today, and the rumor never did die down that it held Scotch. He stayed in the dormitory during the week and headed home for the weekends. He told us to not bother buying the required textbook and to forget everything we had learned in public school because it was bull.

We spent the semester hearing lectures, discussing, and doing independent library research. I had always hated history in school because all we did was memorize names and dates and polish off old myths about GW and the cherry tree and so forth.

I loved that class. In fact, I have enjoyed history ever since, and that was fifty years ago.

During one Friday class towards the end of the semester, a student messenger came in mid-lecture (the professor hated that) and gave him a note. He read it out loud to the class, just because he could, I suppose, and probably because the poor messenger looked anxious to escape. It was a note instructing the professor to have all of his graduate students grades in before he left for home for the weekend. He nodded, and said to the messenger “Fine. No problem. Tell the Dean they’ll all get Cs. I leave at four.

He colored outside of the lines and gave the finger at the same time.

I tend to like that in a person.

End of tangential true story.

***

Even with the strict campus rules of two generations ago, that little school encouraged creative thinking and exploring the new, unusual, and the controversial. The recent assassination of President Kennedy, the Cuban crisis, and the escalating involvement in Vietnam notwithstanding, colleges and universities tolerated off the wall ideas, and there were plenty of them to go around. Young people were trying their wings and pushing limits, as does just about every generation. It wasn’t perfect. That was the age of Kent State and some other unpleasantries. It just seems that the push was outward back then, while today it seem to be constricting with colleges and universities caught up in the PC, prescribed thought, Orwellian crap that has been infecting America, and that concerns me.

***

Some two hundred and thirty four years ago, my favorite historical figure was already a revered practitioner of Coloring Outside of the Lines. While residing overseas as Ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin was invited to submit some scientific papers to the Royal Academy of Brussels.

He had a low tolerance for stuffiness, which such circles had in abundance, so instead he wrote them a letter with a suggestion. It was never mailed to them, sad to say, but survives to this day as a wonderful little book. I have a copy on my shelf.

The letter began:

I have perused your late mathematical Prize Question, proposed in lieu of one in Natural Philosophy, for the ensuing year…Permit me then humbly to propose one of that sort for your consideration, and through you, if you approve it, for the serious Enquiry of learned Physicians, Chemists, &c. of this enlightened Age. It is universally well known, that in digesting our common food, there is created or produced in the bowels of human creatures, a great quantity of wind. That the permitting this air to escape and mix with the atmosphere, is usually offensive to the company, from the fetid smell that accompanies it. That all well-bred people therefore, to avoid giving such offence, forcibly restrain the efforts of nature to discharge that wind.

The essay, and the book, of course, had several titles but in modern times it has been titled Fart Proudly.

***

I sincerely hope that Erika Christakis, psychology lecturer and associate master of Silliman College, Yale University returns to her teaching opportunities soon. She’s a rare bird these days.

Wouldn’t it be fun if Ben Franklin could take her place for the spring semester?

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | November 11, 2015

You’re Doing it Wrong, II….

….of course, II….

When I first spotted the article I just rolled my eyes and muttered, “Oh, God, another co-dependency do-it-yourself-my-way project gone wrong.”

The title left no doubt:

“5 Ways You’re Breathing Wrong”

One of these days I’ll invest the two or three minutes it would take to set up a new default home page that actually features that archaism: NEWS instead of MSN’s crossbred, one-eye-in-the-middle-of-the-forehead offering of Daily Living Hints for the One-Celled, and supermarket tabloid re-runs. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just continue to enjoy using such daily fodder as justification to strut and throw big words around as though I know more than these pajama journalists do. Well, in many cases, I actually do, he said humbly.

Not long ago I mocked an article accusing myriad unknown readers of drinking water wrong, and guffawed that there was no way to beat that. I stand corrected, and promise to never say such a thing again without immediately slaying a goat and walking around an eert elpam backwards three times.

I read the piece and learned one thing of vital importance. I learned that all of the strange pills advertised to cure everything except ruminating over which pill to take to facilitate deciding which pill to take, and all of the terabytes of drivel “published” to instruct the brain dead and gullible how to consume water, breath, and metabolize, micromanage cell division, and perhaps even walk and chew gum (organic and sugar free, of course), are for naught. Everybody is most likely to expire at an unfortunately young age of massive ulcers and frontal lobe eversion.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | October 8, 2015

The Newspaper Box

Nicely said. Poignancy abounds. I’d say that even if I wasn’t your father….

goddessofglitter

As I stepped out of the nice and comfy Toyota this morning, grumbling to myself about the driver going almost a block past the metro station and having to backtrack, I noticed something on the sidewalk in front of the newspaper box. My mind came out of its self-centered thought bubble and focused on the fact that I was looking down at a person. A person poking through a small nap sack of items, bundled up in a dark blue coat with hood over their head, kaki pants, and boots. I could see all of this because they had no blanket. Just a person, sleeping in front of a newspaper box, while the rest of us hurried to the metro to get our jobs.
As I walked by this person I remembered my lunch bag hanging from my shoulder. I stopped, pulled out a kashi bar I had for a…

View original post 218 more words

Posted by: JDM..... | September 26, 2015

You’re doing it wrong….

but may be too stupid to know it…..

Morning coffee at the kitchen table today included a brief mention of Idiot Journalism, the phenomenon generally found only on line and, rather consistently, mostly on certain websites.

We’ve all seen it. Somebody sits around in his/her pajamas Googling random verbs and nouns, and after a few minutes puts together an “article” feigning expertise regarding the chosen topic. They’re easy to spot: the headline throws out a number and a subject, followed by an assertion that whatever follows is about something the reader didn’t know, didn’t know about, or has been doing wrong.

I once tried to put together a blog about Idiot Journalism, but the list of topics I had collected to build upon was so boring I deleted the document and went downstairs to make a sandwich instead. The title was going to be “Twenty Three Things I Really Don’t Give a Crap About,” which was kind of catchy, but the “Things” themselves were about as interesting as nose hair.

  • Why do people write this garbage?

  • Why do the websites buy and post them?

  • Do people actually READ them?

  • and, of course, Why?

Furthermore, if the topic of inane topics is so inane, why write anything now?

When I logged on this morning, (I’ve been too lazy to migrate from the default MSN so far) I found myself trying to make sense of:

Eight ways you’re drinking water wrong

I refused to read it, just as I bypass just about all of its kin. I always have a blunt question at such intersections.

1- According to whom?

I didn’t even think that question this time. It was such a stupid premise, I was reminded first of those silly initiation tasks one encounters as an adolescent, such as “write 500 words about the sex life of a ping pong ball”. I mean, is this for REAL? I’m almost 72 years old, so I’d say even if I’ve been slurping out of the storm gutters all this time, it has been the “correct” method. End of story.

I was also reminded of my former old friend, “Junior“, some 35 or 40 years ago. He was a car salesman down at the local dealership. Junior was a classic, and pure gold for someone like me who sees the world as one big cartoon. He had been a “horse trader” on the harness racing circuit for about a half century before switching to used Fords, and he could pile it higher and deeper than any man I ever met. When a customer walked through the door and it was Junior’s “up”, within the first ten words exchanged, he knew the person’s resume and pedigree and had them convinced (a) he had dated their sister back in the forties, (b) had dated their aunt back in the forties, (c) had sat next to their aunt in sixth grade back in the forties, or (d) he was their aunt. Junior wore a pork pie hat and plaid slacks and his teeth rattled around in his mouth when he talked, which he always did at a pretty good clip while constantly touching your arm or fiddling with something on your shoulder. Junior would have made a good pickpocket. He could sell a car to some poor fool that just walked in to use the bathroom.

One day, Junior and I were talking about all of the new regulations coming out of Washington, and he, of course, didn’t think much of them. In particular, he was guffawing at the regulations I had run into when I built my outhouse and someone from the town had come out to see what I was up to. That was back during what I call my “Grizzly Adams” phase when I tried the “back to the land” shtick that was such a hot deal back then. I use the term “town” loosely, my being one of maybe 600 residents, but one of the others with a title and clip board wanted to make sure I was following the rules as I built a small cabin and a “facility” on my 11 acres of woods.

Junior had laughed when I told him about it.

“Why, I’m north of 70 and the youngest of 8….all still alive and kickin’. Grew up on the farm (pronounced “faaahm”)…and the well was right next to the hosshit pile out back o’ the barn (pronounced “baaahn”) , and we all drank of it…”

So, I had to roll my eyes when I saw that headline, and then I started a new list. It probably won’t be long before some hotshot writes the next exemplar of Idiot Journalism and I want to see what follows that.

I guess I have to admit, one of the 13 things I didn’t know just happens to be how the heck does one top Eight ways you’re drinking water wrong…?

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | September 14, 2015

WORDS II

that have worn out their welcome. ….

Backalong, as they say in some parts of Maine, I posted the introductory version of a blog topic about words that have become changed over time to the point of being confusing, at best. Some are obviously “Newspeak”, coined and force-fed to the masses in order to normalize asinine political or cultural concepts and behaviors. Some words, many from the latter category, have simply worn out their welcome through gross overuse. the first example I chose was:

AWESOME

and people seemed to agree. Here, I would like to present Offal Word II for your consideration.

***

In the first posting, I explained that, with the passing of such sources of quality communication as Real Journalism, William F. Buckley, and several others that come to mind, our language has been getting stale.

Each generation historically has dumped the “must know” lexicon of its predecessor, created at least one new term or word out of thin air, and perhaps redefined some formerly unremarkable word into the newest obscenity.

Advances in science and technology contribute their share of new words, phrases, and concepts to the language as well, of course, and one of the most prolific offenders is politics.

It had occurred to me while searching for some cerebral sustenance one evening that, every so often, an old word or turn of phrase fails to be retired, replaced, rendered obscene, or to just fade away or to have the common decency to simply take a hike and never be heard from again. Politically spawned terminology quite often is distorted from the moment of its inception, sometimes through misguided passion and sometimes on purpose, and today’s nominee is an example. Such hangers-on deserve to be eliminated, which is one of my reasons for missing the surgically precise word symphonies of Buckley and the knowledge-based commentary of great journalists. Dead words should be pushing up daisies. Malformed and corrupted usages should be abandoned.

I’d like to suggest another candidate for verbal extinction should the opportunities arise.

NEED

An otherwise legitimate term with an honorable history, the meaning of this word has been expanded and broadened to become confused with WANT, and the availability of publicly owned or produced goods, services, and money for redistribution by some government agency or private sector non-profit subcontractor.

(to be continued…)

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | September 5, 2015

On challenging the law.….

and “being” right vs. “having” a right…

One does not have to approve of or agree with a law in order to demonstrate approval of and agreement with the system that produces it. The worst thing that can happen to a law is that it ceases to be challenged. What requires consistency is the system under which those laws are created and dismissed. Similarly, one of the worst things that can happen to such a system is that it is declared infallible. A claim of infallibility in any sector of human existence is one of the greatest predictors of impending tyranny. When an individual or group of individuals claim franchise to any kind of irrefutable, infallible knowledge or creed, the self-endorsed will stop at nothing to acquire full agreement with that knowledge or creed, and compliance with their interpretations of same. History provides a continuum of examples throughout the haunts of humankind, and the current slaughter occurring in the Middle East is a prime example.

Whether court clerk Kim Davis is challenging a law, defending one, or both, or none of the above is largely a matter of perspective as demonstrated by the varying opinions of the lawyers involved in the case.

Both Davis and the prospective couples who repeatedly requested marriage licenses, despite serial refusals, were standing up for principles of great importance to them.  Davis could have avoided the controversy and jail by simply following the law or quitting her job, but why should she? Not all laws are “right“, just because they are “legal”, and while it would be more expedient for those who disagree with her if she would just go away or give in, the same could be said of those insisting on obtaining their marriage licenses at that specific location. They could have gone elsewhere, but why should they? She shouldn’t, and they shouldn’t, any more than Rosa Parks should have quietly moved to the back of the bus as ordered.

These kinds of questions are not unusual in this country, and I hope they never become so. Some of the most significant changes in history occurred because people stood by what they believed in, regardless of consequences both threatened and imposed. That is not to say simply being oppositional invokes “right”, but that may be the start of discovering it sometimes.

Whatever stance wins out in the end, the “legal”, Constitutional, ethical, and moral “rights” of all sides of the controversy to assert and defend their particular positions must be respected, whether agreed with in substance or not.

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