Gnews (4 August 21)

LOWI 6

Who’s driving this thing, anyway?

If you live in Florida or Texas, or maybe even some other mismanaged state like any number in Europe or South America these days, this is a pertinent question, and becoming more so by the hour. These aren’t bumper sticker issues, either, as more than 200 million people have now been infected by this plague. No, these are matters of life and death…yet it’s kind of odd how little seriousness is attached to the whole Covid-denial thing. At least…in Red states here in America (which we can conveniently define as states ruled by authoritarian Trump-style wannabe dictators, whether they be found in Texas, Florida, or even Brazil) where this remains the case.

This is an interesting subject, but not one I want to focus on today – though, as we’ll see, it is an interesting, and interrelated, sub-topic.

No, what’s on the menu today is something far more distasteful, at least it is to me personally. And that would be the failure of an entire generation to live up to the ideas that inspired us most. That generation – my generation – is most often referred to as the Boomer generation, as in the post-WWII generation. Here in the US a generation was originally defined by TJ, aka Thomas Jefferson, when he theorized that the federal government should not entertain any debts that could not be paid off within a generation, which for practical purposes he stated would be 18 years, and that is the sort of official designation to this day. But back to Boomers: using the 18 year benchmark, let’s define a Boomer as one born from 1945 and 1963.

Or, to make an unnecessarily caustic observation, those dates would also be 1) when the first two cities were bombed with nuclear weapons and 2) when a bunch of people got together and decided to shoot John Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Funny how these things work out, ya know? Spurious, specious nonsense? Probably, but odd nevertheless.

Grok.

Grok?

Stranger in a Strange Land? Or, if into Seventh Sojourns and all things Moodies (thanks, Stephan) that would be Lost in a Lost World. Can you grok it? We’re talking alienation now. Disenfranchisement. Anomie. Being on the outside, looking in. Feeling like you’ve lost your voice and that you live in a society that really doesn’t care about you or your hopes and dreams. That you’re nothing but a small – and very expendable – cog in a vast machine, and should you decide to raise your voice in anger or despair the machine will simply obliterate you. If you step out of line or speak out of turn, you and all your hopes and dreams will simply disappear, and it will be as if you never existed at all.

And the operant words here are so time-worn as to fall to the level of cliché. The Establishment. The System. The Man, as in working for.

Yeah. There’s a song for that, too.

Hell, there’s a song for everything, ya know?

So okay, whatever, let’s meet the new boss, same as the old boss…because we are the champions…of the world.

Okay. Right. Whatever.

“Let’s switch channels now, okay? There’s got to be a football game on somewhere, right? And bring me another beer, wouldya?”

So…Boomers and betraying the ideas they stood for…once upon a time.

Interesting trivia question. Can you name any presidents since WWII who did NOT have a degree from an Ivy League college or university?

Think about it and we’ll circle back to that one in a little bit.

And…any idea who the first Boomer president was? Yeah, if you said Clinton you’d be spot on. W was the second, though both were born in the summer of ’46. But what about Trump? Well, yes, he was born in the summer of ’46 too, and ain’t that weird? All three are Boomers, and all three are the same age, born just weeks apart, as a matter of record. And Obama…while technically a Boomer he’s a child of the sixties, bless his heart – as he popped onto the scene in 1961. Biden? Nope, our latest president ain’t a Boomer at all, as he was born in the summer of ’42.

And Biden is a curious departure from the recent norm, I think. He’s not really a Boomer, and in fact he’s being compared most often these days to FDR, especially in foreign policy circles. Still, he has just enough “progressive” in there to be a quasi-Boomer – in that unique Uncle Joe way of his.

Still, this whole Boomer generation is a confusing thing, taken as a whole – or a donut hole, your choice. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs? Boomers. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos? Not Boomers. Mitch McConnell is the same age as Biden, while Marjorie Taylor Greene is, like Musk and Bezos, a child of the 70s, yet it’s kind of hard not to think of these people as Boomers. Say? Is Boomeresque a word?

+++++

Being from Texas has major drawbacks. Whether you can appreciate this or not, I am a Texan. In point of fact, I hold a permanent (Advanced) Peace Officer’s Certification from the Great State of Texas, so whenever I go back there I am automatically, like it or not, a kind of cop. I have a duty, in other words, to respond to crimes committed in my presence. And that’s kind of strange, don’t you think? Strange, because to me, anyway, I’ve always assumed that every able bodied man or woman has a duty to intervene when observing a crime. Not so, however, and don’t even think about taking that attitude on the road unless you know a real good lawyer.

All of my good “cop” buddies are long gone now. My best was killed in the line of duty, another was killed in a meaningless accident while out riding on his Hawg (the two wheeled variety, sorry). I’m a badge number to be found only inside some computer located in a personnel office somewhere, maybe along with a few references to the Letters of Commendation I received once upon a time.

My first was for solving a homicide on my last night as a rookie. I’d responded to the scene of a supposed accident – a motorcycle lying off to the side of the road adjacent to a railroad crossing – and that’s all I had to go on. Long story, somewhat complicated, but all the pieces to that particular puzzle were all right out there in the open. Case closed.

I got my second letter a few years later, after a psychiatrist in the ER at Parkland wrote a letter to the chief about his observations of my dealings with a patient there. I talked this kid off a bridge one hot summer evening (he was going to jump down onto the local interstate highway) and rode my Hawg behind the ambulance to Parkland because I was still worried about him – and what he might do once he got there. The shrinks couldn’t get through to the kid – but for some reason I could (yeah, that undergrad degree in Psychobiology finally came in useful for something). I got him under control the good old fashioned way, too, by talking about pizza and beer. They cut him loose the next day – and he jumped later that day – killing himself and taking out the driver of a semi in the process – and it’s one of those things that sticks in my mind even now. Nightmares? You betcha.

Even when you know you’ve done everything you could, when the shit hits the fan like that there’s really nothing you can do. You just have to take it.

And that’s kind of the way it is now, too. Not just in the United States, and certainly not just in Texas, but everywhere. Because it feels like we did everything right and everything has turned pear-shaped even so. Nothing feels right. Everything seems to be falling apart, everywhere, and we’ve got the skyrocketing Deaths By Despair stats to prove it, too.

About 60 million Americans feel like the other 270 million are evil and many of these good honest Americans now want to kill the rest of us. If you listen to the evening pundits on Fox and One America or Newsmax the past couple of weeks you hear words like revolution and civil war being bandied about with careless abandon, like the Second Amendment applies only to them and that liberal don’t own guns too.

Max Boot, an opinion writer for the Washington Post, writes that Republicans have become nihilists. Disillusioned in the extreme, these folks believe their view of America is the only valid view, and so now they feel betrayed by the rest of us. Steve Bannon was their talisman, and Bannon’s mantra – to burn the fucker down – has suddenly become there’s too. Question? How many will it take to reach critical mass? What will happen when it does? (see Republicans aren’t conservatives. They’re nihilists, by Max Boot, Washington Post, 3 August 21).

Oh, the answer to the question above? Both Ronald Reagan and Joe Biden never attended an Ivy League school, and a large piece of our puzzle lies hidden in that factoid. Why? I think the answer can be found in matters of fairness and trust, but there are bigger questions lingering out there.

And while my standard answer applies, that these people are living inside a delusion, and they’re by and large probably more than a little sick, we may have reached a point of no return in this country. Unfortunately, as Reagan closed most of the public mental health facilities in this country, privatizing the industry and turning it into a system of for profit “treatment centers” for those with the means to seek treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, we have no good options for these people here in the United States. So with that in mind, right now I am putting forward my solution to the problem.

If you feel like America is doomed by multiculturalism, by gender ambiguity, by a fair rendering of history in the classroom, or if you know someone who feels this way, I would encourage you to hit this link (right here, you can’t miss it!) and begin to explore all the possibilities for your new life.

More to come. Stay tuned.

bill-the-cat

Gnews (1.8.21)

Sunday 10.8

We live in interesting times – there is no longer any doubt about it.

Not that there ever has been. Not really. At least, not since 22 November 1963, but I’m not going to digress today. No gnews is bad gnews, in case you didn’t know.

Yet…there’s something else going on these days, something worth talking about among friends. Because I feel, and regularly, too, that I belong to a threatened minority.

No, not because I am white, or even anglo, or (basically, as a matter of birth) a protestant. These are simply the things that I am, states of metaphysical reality that I can’t help because of the limitations of genetics and the continued, and irritating, lack of reliable time travel devices. A state of being then, I guess you could say. Rather, I am talking about being in a certain group of people in the United States that continues to read newspapers – albeit the online versions of the New York Times and the Washington Post. Some people can’t start their day without kickstarting their heart with a 16 ounce cup of French Roast, while others can’t function without the Times and/or the Post to jolt them back to reality. If you’re like me you need both, although there are some mornings I feel like I need an IV running wide open to satiate my early morning coffee lust. In a pinch I have been known to suck down cardamom tea with a little goat’s milk in it, yet oddly enough that only happens on days when I feel an insatiable desire to wear Birkenstocks with purple wool socks.

This weekend I read a humor piece regarding a restauranteur in California who has posted a sign on his door stating that he is requiring all patrons to provide proof of not being vaccinated before they will be seated and served. Putting aside the intrinsic lunacy that there is no currently accepted government ID that indicates proof of not being vaccinated, the proprietor told reporters that he was tired of the government telling people what to do. Of course, this enterprising Republican signed up for all kinds of pandemic relief programs, including the paycheck protection program, but what the hell…his reasoning for doing so was that the money was his to begin with. A final point, if I may. Said restauranteur advised that the real reason he had posted this sign was that he enjoys watching Liberals come up and read the notice because he likes “watching their heads explode” in the aftermath. His words, not mine.

And it seems to me that there is something to this.

That there is indeed something to the action of espousing utter lunacy just to get a rise out of people. You know, as in action – reaction?

Take the Flat Earthers. Or the Moon Landing Never Happened group. Or the people who are absolutely certain that taking the Covid-19 vaccine will make you either infertile or impotent, but probably both. People who deny the veracity of science backed propositions like climate change and then go hop in their car, turn on their air conditioners, sync their phones to the Apple CarPlay enabled car stereo on the tablet sized display in the center of their car’s dash – and they just don’t, can’t, or won’t see the inherent contradictions in their position.

You know…morons.

Of course, all you Fox News viewers out there already know all about this, but for the rest of us let’s take a peek inside the emerging schizophrenic mindset being propagated on right wing media. This weeks concerted propaganda spiel was that people who opt out of having children should be deprived of the right to vote. Yup, that’s not a typo. But why is that, you wonder? Because, well, you know, the birthrate is falling off a cliff…at least it is for white people, anyway. Seems like blacks and browns and yellows and reds are doing just fine with the whole hunka-chunka and nine months later out pops a baby thing, while, uh, whites just aren’t doing their fair share to overpopulate the planet anymore, yet the thing that strikes me here is that Fox’s pitch is just a little more overtly racist than their usual lob over home plate, and I wonder why…? Timing is everything, I assume you know, but consider that about 40% of white people are now too fat to see their feet, which means getting these people between the sheets and doing their duty for Uncle Sam is going to be a messy business, and probably not as productive as Tucker & Co hope it might be.

Of course the whole anti-vax movement is a figment of Fox’s overheated imagination, and they have the pending litigation to prove it, too, but amidst all the blather we rarely hear from those on the front lines about just that…the all too real impacts of disinformation campaigns. There was one this weekend, however, worth reading, and a couple of paragraphs are included herein for your amusement:

I am angry that the tragic scenes of prior surges are being played out yet again, but now with ICUs primarily filled with patients who have chosen not to be vaccinated. I am angry that it takes me over an hour to explain to an anti-vaxxer full of misinformation that intubation isn’t what “kills patients” and that their wish for chest compressions without intubation in the event of a respiratory arrest makes no sense. I am angry at those who refuse to wear “muzzles” when grocery shopping for half an hour a week, as I have been so-called “muzzled” for much of the past 18 months.
I cannot understand the simultaneous decision to not get vaccinated and the demand to end the restrictions imposed by a pandemic. I cannot help but recoil as if I’ve been slapped in the face when my ICU patient tells me they didn’t get vaccinated because they “just didn’t get around to it.” Although such individuals do not consider themselves anti-vaxxers, their inaction itself is a decision — a decision to not protect themselves or their families, to fill a precious ICU bed, to let new variants flourish, and to endanger the health care workers and immunosuppressed people around them. Their inaction is a decision to let this pandemic continue to rage.

This is quoted from an article reposted on Huffpost via AppleNews+, titled I’m An ICU Doctor And I Cannot Believe The Things Unvaccinated Patients Are Telling Me, byThanh Neville, M.D., M.S.H.S., 1.8.21. The article is worth reading.

The L.A. Times has an important story in today’s Sunday edition on the impact the drought is having on cattle ranchers in the Mexican State of Sonora. Herds have no grass, no water, and are dropping where they stand, and if you think this in no big deal, well, keep reading. Like most of us, Mexicans get a huge percentage of their daily protein from cattle in the form of meat and milk products, and tens of millions of people who live near the border with Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona could soon be facing starvation. You don’t have to be a Fox News presenter to see the human implications, but a way of life hundreds of years in the making is going up in dust right under our noses. (see LATimes, 8.1.21, In drought-plagued northern Mexico, tens of thousands of cows are starving to death, by KATE LINTHICUM.) In an aside, a regular reader sent an email recently describing how his family’s Montana wheat farm is experiencing the worst drought recorded in over 140 years. Gee, anyone know what wheat is used for? Think this might, just maybe, be a problem for more than a few people?

So, what’s the problem? I mean, what’s the underlying problem here? Gee, does too many people sound plausible? And by golly, didn’t Paul McCartney write a song about just that – almost fifty years ago? Of course he did, and here it is. Then again, Spirit came out with a song about many of the same issues about that time, too. But, oops, so did Three Dog Night. And film makers weren’t about to let that topic slip by without a bit of social commentary, even if on the sly. Take Soylent Green or Silent Running as the tops of the genre, but don’t forget to look at the dates these works came out.

Why? Well, because when it comes to climate change, there’s nothing new about denial.

There’s this whole off-shoot of truck culture here in the United States where owners buy diesel pickup trucks then remove ALL of the pollution control devices from the exhaust systems, re-routing all the resulting black soot up twin smoke stacks right behind each door, right and left. These owners love to drive their trucks in ways that produce the most soot, but what strikes me as the real “Ah-ha!” moment can be found in interviews of these owners. They get their biggest kicks when they can observe the effect of their display on some passing liberal in a Volvo.

Did you forget about the restauranteur in sunny southern California and the joy he feels when watching a liberal’s head explode? If so, you might want to read up on something called ODD, or Oppositional Defiant Disorder. This, from Wikipedia: (ODD), is a pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient and hostile behaviour, and is one of the most prevalent disorders from preschool age to adulthood.[10] ODD is marked by defiant and disobedient behavior towards authority figures. This can include: frequent temper tantrums, excessive arguing with adults, refusing to follow rules, acting in a way to purposely upset others, getting easily irked, having an angry attitude, and acting vindictive.

And just in case you forgot: