Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We're number -- 16?

By Capt. Fogg

Americans are still number one in one thing -- our capacity for denial and disbelief.  That we may be the most superstitious nation amongst the worlds 'developed' countries makes it all the stranger, but about half us of seem to believe that in the beginning there was something other than the expansion of the universe from an infinitesimal singularity and more of us angrily assert that only our God can change the weather. We're as likely to hold to a superstitious idea of our place in the community of nations as our place in the cosmos.  To very many Americans not only is the universe about Man, the Earth and its history is about the United States of America.

Michael Porter appeared on Fareed Zacharia's GPS the other day.  That's the Michael Porter who is a professor at the Harvard Business School and Director at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, and as Zacharia introduced him:

"a hard core capitalist, a registered Republican.  He is said to be the most cited scholar in economics and business in the world." 

Porter will inevitably be dismissed as a Liberal and probably as a Socialist simply because there is no other way to explain away the results of “The Social Progress Index”, a new report that ranks countries on how well their citizens live.  We're number 16, far too low on the scale for there to be a descriptive hand gesture.  Of course he's anything but a Liberal whereas the countries at the top of  the heap; the countries where people live the best, the longest, the healthiest and perhaps the happiest seem to be just that.  Is it too much of a stretch to look for a correlation between hide bound commitment to unfettered, unrestrained, unregulated Capitalism with massive political power and nearly full 'personhood' for corporations with a quality of life and level of opportunity that barely rivals Iraq and puts us at number 70 in terms of health and wellness?  Where does that put those who snark and mock and snicker and make up lies about Canada and it's "Socialist" health care sucking the life out of their economy when we're told the Canadian Middle class is expanding as ours is shrinking and that middle class Canadians are richer then we are?  It puts us in a locked room, sucking our thumbs, listening to Fox News and whining.

Perhaps if we weren't number one in self delusion and gullibility there might be some major changes coming in short order, but we are and there probably aren't going to be. In our own minds, if I can use that term without irony, we're always number one.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Oratorio

By Capt. Fogg

 A morning like this. And not too long ago I'd have taken coffee on the patio with my orchids and dwarf trees and watch the sunlight spread across the pool.  Not since I was sick.  It's different now, having been all but dead and buried and I struggle to remember how it was to feel the rising day.  I have one less now.  I measure out my mornings in coffee spoons.

In Brazil one has café da manhã. Morning and coffee are inseparable and even when you're having tea and a salted duck egg and a yo chow and you're farther from home than you've ever been, it's coffee of the morning.

Coffee in a tin cup. Lake water boiled over a sputtering Svea, old brass patina and gasoline smell and sitting on a log.  Tent and everything else drying in the breeze. Coffee. You don't need anything else to provide synthetic ambiance. No funny names, no audio, no Wi-Fi and everything is free.  Maybe it's only freeze-dried like the eggs in a foil package you pour water into, but it's coffee.  It's resurrection, It's life.

Coffee in a little cup, in a little town where they bring in the sardines in wooden boats and put them in tin cans.  You asked for duas bicas and you put extra sugar in but you don't stir it so you have to feel the full strength of it until you reach the sweetness near the end. Life is not like that. It's not like that at all.

Gerstner on Kärntner Straße.  Pastry and chocolate and coffee and your feet are getting wet as your shoes begin to thaw -- feeling shabby in all that elegance getting crumbs on your old loden coat with stains.

Café de Flore in the sixth, reading Kerouac and lingering over coffee and the heat is building because it's August and because we're young it's time to leave like everyone else. Flogging the old Fiat down to Juan-les-Pins, downhill, decreasing radius turns and high crown narrow roads and you do it non-stop except for coffee and gasoline in stations where you're invited to Mettez un Tigre dans votre Moteur as though it would help.  Cars on a mountain road blow by and the breeze and the view as the hills descend to the sea take your breath away as you sip from that white cup at a white metal table under the faded umbrella, soaking up the glory, soaring into the day

And I remember all those mornings, I remember them all. My sandals, my woven mat, taking coffee in my bathing suit overlooking La Plage and all those Paris girls down for the summer. Café au lait in the August heat and I'll meet you across the street at the beach in your white bathing suit where the sea sparkles like a world without end, right out to the horizon.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Zero tolerance insanity

By Capt. Fogg

This one isn't going to be easy to pigeonhole, or to blame the NRA for.  It isn't going to do too much good to the the often irrational arguments about Stand Your Ground which have become so intense the law doesn't have to be cited or be at all applicable to be blamed for both acquittals or convictions.

Despite what the public thinks about Florida's SYG law, not only does it not allow you to shoot someone because he's "suspicious" or someone you've been pursuing and no matter how much fun it is to say it, it may not protect you even if you shoot no one.  You see Florida has been so concerned that someone may not be sufficiently punished for being a criminal and owning a gun, even if the gun was far away from the crime that the mandatory, zero tolerance policy must result in  20 to life for firing a shot into the ground instead of into a person. It's not protected as self defense unless you shoot someone in Florida.

Remember the Jacksonville Woman who got 20 years for firing a gun to warn off her estranged and restraining-ordered husband?  Nobody was hurt but she got 20 years .  SYG was denied because she didn't shoot him.  So we have legal precedent for advising someone to shoot to kill when it's not necessary!   In fact I've been advised by a deputy I know always to shoot to kill, because otherwise you may go to jail and certainly will spend years in court. It's a hell of a thing is all I can say and I will say it to the knee jerk, gun control for gun control's sake people if I get the chance.

We just cant take the risk of someone exercising their right to self defense.  It's too dangerous to muggers and robbers and even though the Florida legislature has attempted to give victims of violent attack an even break, some Republicans take issue.  You see, if we allow one warning shot maybe we will allow a dozen - maybe we'll allow wholesale murder -- maybe.
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Friday, April 18, 2014

No Reason Allowed

By Capt. Fogg

Here Comes Easter again. Easter and the media puff pieces about how it's really all true enough in one sense or another and how it's wrong to say that it's a borrowed holiday, re-badged from pre-Christian European fertility cults, egg laying rabbits and all.  The Easter holiday (is it OK to call this one a holiday?) carries a large basket of  baggage without my needing to illustrate its long history and I'm quite as content to let people celebrate it as they will as I am to let anyone celebrate anything at any time including life itself.  It's a wonderful life after all, and not just at Christmas.

In the true spirit of American small mindedness however, others are not so happy with your freedom when it comes to protecting their hermetically sealed belief bubble from questions or against having to be aware of other ways of seeing and appreciating life in our shared world.  But I'm OK with that too if only for the humor.  Seeing an image of  an all year "Prayer Station" set up in the Warren Michigan city hall looking for all the world like something from the Peanuts comic strip, put a smile on my face in a way that only irony-blind religious fervor can. Reason isn't funny and I do like to laugh.

Not so funny though when Warren resident Douglas Marshall proposed a "Reason Station" for the same venue and  the Mayor, Jim Fouts  not only rejected it, but banned any such display for a year because after all, Marshall is an advocate for separation of Church and State.    Using a government facility as a church and to promote Christianity ( assuming it isn't praying to Vishnu or the Chinese Kitchen God being solicited) is simply no problem in this Detroit suburb.  Atheism is not a religion wrote Fouts to Marshal and his Freedom From Religion Foundation, unwittingly asserting that only a religion can have access to public space and non-Christian interests need not apply. Besides it might disturb the faithful, which is, in his words, a Constitutional violation!

What about equal protection, freedom of speech and all that Godless, Commy nonsense?  Don't make me laugh.  This is Michigan after all and in Michigan reason can fend for itself and you can take your Jeffersonian Humanism straight back to Moscow where it belongs.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Putin on the Blitz

By Capt. Fogg

Well, of course the media still hasn't come to the end of all the discussion, speculation, mourning wailing and fantasizing possibilities regarding that missing airplane and they need to keep reminding us that nobody has ever suffered as much grief as the families of the missing nor ever will, but I can't help but noticing that events in the Ukraine might be causing a bit of speculation as well.  Something we can do on our own during commercial breaks at least.

Russian troops are massed on the border, obviously fake stories of persecution are rampant in the Russian press, orchestrated riots, people running about with guns and armored vehicles and today we read that Ukrainian Jews have been ordered to register with the pro-Russian hooligans pretending to be a legitimate government.

Just in time for Easter.

USA Today tells us that in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk:

"Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated."

The leaflet  states that all people of Jewish descent over 16 years old must report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and "register." Non-compliance will result in deportation and confiscation of property.  Nothing for Americans to worry about of course and no celebrities are involved.

Now back to the Mystery plane story in which nothing new has emerged in weeks.  Isn't that exiting?

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Monday, April 14, 2014

God, Guns and Hitler

I have certain misgivings about hate crime laws, but we're reminded this morning -- the eve of Pesach or The Passover, and a week before Hitler's birthday, that people who belong to hate-based organizations and creeds, who post virulent hate messages and calls for extermination on-line, need their constitutional right to keep and bear arms infringed.

I feel quite protective of our guaranteed right to free speech and our right to think what we think, but speech that incites to violence, that creates a mortal danger to the public, is something else and that's been established for a long time. Frazier Glenn Miller is a founding member of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party.  That's not a crime, more's the pity, nor is shouting "Heil Hitler" from the back of a police car, but perhaps we ought to consider making it a felony to belong to groups who advocate murder because as far as I know, it's illegal for felons to own firearms.

I know -- penalties and restrictions don't prevent criminals and especially psychopathic criminals from committing crimes, but there's something wrong with Mr. Miller or Mr. Cross as he often calls himself, to own weapons.  There's something wrong if  the targets of hate groups need to arm themselves or to hire armed guards or to go about in fear because we elevate and protect a right to be armed above the right to remain alive.  We shouldn't have to wait for people like that to run amok before we do anything. Threatening violence against groups or individuals should be sufficient to disarm someone. 

Lest one think that being a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant is protection and a reason not to worry, Methodists were shot in this tragedy as well.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Kraut is out?

By Capt. Fogg

I'd hate to sound like I'm supporting or dignifying Charles Krauthammer, but he's right in saying that it's time for the Right Wing Wolves to stop howling about Benghazi. The administration has run out the clock and the public doesn't care, he said on Fox News.  Of course the public has moved on to other ruminations about other obsessive speculations driven by the relentless cable news networks which haven't yet tired of the "we know nothing, we have no facts but here's what could have happened"  approach to a missing airplane.  

Of course the implication is that the White House simply stalled until the furor died down and makes no mention of  the Republicans having cut security for the embassy in Libya.  The clock keeps running of course whether or not the Fox Fables have any truth behind them, and this one had little enough, but heresy is heresy whether or not we can prove the age of the universe or the rising temperature of our planet.  Can Krauthammer redeem himself before those wolves tear him to pieces?

 The Heritage Foundation, was shocked, shocked at his comments. The Malkin's website Hot Air blames him for "throwing in the towel on a fact-finding effort because it’s not politically expedient?" even though numerous investigations turned up nothing to corroberate the accusations.  No, this is right wing politics and just as with Right Wing Religion; even if it's over -- long over, it's not over ever.  The World was created by a deity 6000 years ago,  Bill Clinton ruined the economy and committed nebulous sins, Barack Obama is a Muslim, born in Kenya and a Communist and Joe McCarthy's blank piece of paper really contained a list of Communists in the Administration.

So maybe the illusion of Karma gets a bit more support when a wolf  tries to advise the pack for its own good and they turn on him, yelping and howling BENGHAZI, BENGHAZI!  Whether or not his creepy credibility suffers, I have to think it's funny.


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Friday, March 28, 2014

Deep tweets: Holy See

Best capture of the moment I saw all day on the social nets.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Deep tweets

It's become routine but I will never get over having lived to see pictures actually being sent to Earth from Mars. Just astounding.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Subterranean homesick blues

Today would have been my Dad's 86th birthday if he had lived to see it. I bought garden plants because that's what I did for his birthday for the last twenty years of his life. My soul brother Mark Herschler's new song seems to be the only thing I have to say today. Reminds me of how much I miss my Happy Valley family as well. It's been that kind of day.

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