Sunday in the Sun + 20 August 2017

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It feels like this country, like our president, is on some kind of weird, parabolic trajectory. We went up and up for two hundred years and had just kind of peaked around the time Lee Harvey’s bullets smashed into JFKs head and neck, and it seems like we’ve been headed down ever since. It’s kind of hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong, but I’d say – after watching the events of last week unfold – that the blame (if such a thing even exists) resides somewhere in our schools. Right?

How can decades of teaching the horrors of the holocaust be met with such profound emotional ambivalence, and on such a broad scale? Yes, there’s been outrage in the press, true enough, yet there are so-called NAZIs marching in our cities and the response by most republicans has been “so what?”. And I say most, as that’s the consensus reached by multiple polling organizations in the US this week. As in: 80% of republicans just don’t see it as a problem. I guess that’s the same 80% who see Russia’s interference in elections around the globe as “no big deal,” too.

But if schools have covered these things, and covered them in nauseating detail, where is the disconnect? Why can’t otherwise “good people” see the danger to our way of life in their passivity?

So, what happens when little Johnny comes home from school? Does he play ball with kids down the street before heading in to do his homework and have dinner with his family? Maybe. Sixty years ago he did. But what about today? What does little Johnny do after school these days?

You know the answer to this question better than I do. Johnny is confronted with choices we never had sixty years ago, isn’t he? Television was ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and ‘Father Knows Best,’ and you tossed the football (in autumn) with Dad right after he got in from work, right before Mom finished making supper. Today? Mom and Dad are both working and they probably get in late from work. Dinner? It’s more than likely to be at a local restaurant, as the more than likely single parent is usually too tired to cook.

Yet this is the familiar ‘family values’ narrative of American collapse, isn’t it? As in, the collapse of America is predicated on the collapse of the American family. Yet, if this is so, what caused this collapse?

Hyper-predatory capitalism? Does that ever get blamed? If you look at the collapse of the middle class in America, what causes and effects can you smell wafting away in the background? The drive to off-shore high paying middle class jobs, perhaps? In the name of share-holder value? All the Carl Icahn’s roaming the prairie, swallowing up and consolidating solid companies, spitting out the deadwood (i.e., terminated employees) who could no longer contribute to middle-class equity sharing, and all the trickle down effects such distributed wealth generated.

Now, magnify that on a large scale, say tens of millions people over decades, and look at the consequences. Look at Detroit, at Cleveland or Buffalo. Then look at a recent nighttime image from one of China’s mega-cities. Look at the growth. At the wealth generated by America shedding it’s real wealth (her people’s well being, her work-force) in the name of short term profit taking. This is the reality of income inequality. This is Trump’s reality, writ large.

Cities decaying, school budgets withering as tax bases shrink, ignorance blossoming.

But could it be that was a deliberate strategy? If an enlightened citizenry is the key to preventing things like this from happening, why cut school budgets? Why pay your teachers abysmally low wages compared to, say, Europe? And why are several 50-60 million dollar football stadiums opening up this year in Texas, for high school football games no less, when budgets for everything else are being cut?

A more important question. Why is the Hate of NAZIism still alive and well – in America, and elsewhere, even Berlin – more than 70 years after all the myriad guns fell silent along the Rhein?

Is hate like a virus? Can it take hold and spread through a population like a virus? If so, can the virus of Hate take hold within a family and remain in a semi-dormant state within those walls? If it can, how could a teacher ever hope to counter it – when Johnny goes home and watches Hate on TV, practices Hate inside the alternate reality of a video game, and then listens to a disgruntled parent rattle on about how Hate is the only way to change the sorry state of affairs in this country?

And lets not forget…the press is your enemy. That teachers are union backed lesbian communists out to impose their radical feminist agenda on your unsuspecting, too-trusting children.

Lots of patterns out there, coming into sharp relief then fading away. Lots of chaos in the noise, but if you look long enough the patterns are still out there.

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So…Trump’s narcissistic paranoia. Bannon’s desire to burn it all down. Kim’s insecurity. Kind of a perfect storm, right? Then throw some more fuel on the fire. Some alt-right crazy fuel, in a progressive college town in Virginia. Hate: In Your Face. It works every time. Ever hear of the Reichstag fire?

Or: like someone that hates the EPA becoming head of the EPA. That kind of ‘In Your Face.’ It’s a strategy. Pure and simple. Outrage the left, get them to focus on little flare ups here and there and they’ll forget to keep their eyes on the bigger issues. Right now? It’s get rid of all the talk about income inequality. It’s about tax cuts, for you know who. The real meat and potatoes issue for the Cock Brothers and their ilk. Getting government off their backs so they can keep all their social engineering projects going. You can’t play the long game if you’re focused on snakes in the grass, can you?

Heard much about Russia and Trump this week?

Thought not. And Bannon gets fired, only to say he’s going back to Breitbart to fan the flames of Trump’s War?

Patterns in the chaos, indeed.

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Remember Frank Capra? Perhaps his most accessible film is Mr Smith Goes to Washington, a heartfelt exploration of how power corrupts, especially in politics. Perhaps a better understanding of current events can be gleaned from Capra’s other classic on American politics, State of the Union. Startling parallels between politics in the 1950 and today emerge, notably the dark underbelly of Republican politics exposed through the McCarthy era witch hunts. It’s Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn at their best.

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Music matters? Well, the word is Fink. Try This is the Thing, from Distance and Time. Of course, Looking Too Closely has become something of a classic, and was recently featured in the film Collateral Beauty. Decent folk-rock-jazz, any way you splice it.

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Picked up a new TV this week, one of Sony’s new 4k OLED units, and so came home and hooked it up to my Apple TV – then downloaded the new Alien: Covenant film. What a piece of work Ridley Scott’s latest installment is, too. From the first, what struck me most about the new technology in this TV is the startling clarity pulled out of ordinary BlueRay discs. Images are so clear they no longer look “cinematic”, however…instead images look too sharp, almost too clear, and not at all like movies seen in first gen DVDs. Of the Alien film? About all I can say is it’s Dark, and I do mean DARK. The special effects are beyond gorgeous, with imagery of the ship in orbit over a cloud wreathed world shattering in startling purity. Compare the clouds flickering with lightning to anything you’ve seen before and tell me this isn’t a paradigm shift. Anyway, the story is a sequel to Prometheus, as well as a prequel to the original Alien, and as stories go this one is pretty good, with the only negative a somewhat clichéd ending that breaks no new ground – but should set up one hell of a sequel. Still, the existential pain from this film lingers.

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Startrees

Above, an image from a friend down under, out under the stars on his farm near Melbourne, Oz. No light pollution down there, eh?

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I’ll be spending some more time in the care of my good doctors this week, so should remain fairly quiet for a few more weeks. Sorry for that, but as hard as I’ve tried to make it so, “it’s” no longer an avoidable issue. Anyway, if you get out under the sun on Monday, remember to use some sort of protective gear if you check out the eclipse. Here in the American midwest, that will arrive just after noon.

Take care.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Sunday in the Sun + 20 August 2017

  1. Best of luck with the doctors. It struck me, the other day, on the parallels between what’s happening here and in Western Europe and the crisis of the third century in Rome. Wars, pestilence, economic disruption, unstable neighbors, and climate change all causing mass migration towards the seas of relative stability, be it Rome or here in the west. Rome survived, but it was never the same again.

    We had a Sears moment this weekend. The backup batteries died on our garage door opener, and since it’s a craftsman model with die hard batteries, we went to Sears for replacement. Of course, Sears being Sears, they don’t have the batteries, and can only order the replacements with a 6 week wait. The salesperson told use we can go down the street to the battery warehouse, who has them in stock. And they wonder why they are losing money.

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    • Almost comical, isn’t it? I went to get a shower seat and a handheld shower attachment at one of the local big-box home improvement stores, yet they didn’t have any shower diverter valves on hand? No problem…Amazon does, and I had it the next morning, too. Amazon is flat going to take over the retail trade in this country. BTW: neither True Value or Ace had one in stock. Only Amazon did. And I’m sorry, but that’s not right.
      Sears is a different story, though. They have an established retail presence everywhere in this country, and through what seems like active neglect they’re frittering away a century’s worth of trust and commitment to their customers. That’s not right, either. If online shopping, aka Amazon, is wiping out all the old retail that remained after Wal*Mart decimated Main Street, what’s going to happen to retail if we suffer a really cataclysmic disruption to oil production? Within a week we’ll wonder what the devil happened to all our Main Streets when UPS can’t make deliveries.

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      • Not only that, but it was Die Hard batteries that the warehouse sold us. They don’t even stock their own brand of batteries.

        Don’t need a disruption in oil production. Another nationwide strike against UPS like in ’97 would have the same effect.

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    • This was the first house I’ve purchased in quite a while where I didn’t get new appliances at Sears; I went with a local outfit instead. Will Sears be here next year? Will their extended warranty be worth anything? The options seem simple enough: shore up their operation or declare bankruptcy and fade away. Yet it seems a pity to throw away their history, and the role they played in developing residential neighborhoods around the country.
      “Craftsman Style House” was a Sears trademark for decades. People ordered Craftsman Style bungalows straight from a Sears Catalogue for over thirty years, and you can find them everywhere. Now we can order barns from Costco?

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