Hot Air

Blowback

So, I used Apple Dictation yesterday during an interview with Charlotte Zietlow. It works, sort of the way a Roomba works if you’re trying to clean house.

Roomba

…And It’s Perfect For Windows, Range Tops And Sinks!

I start a recorded interview session with an identifying header, stating who’s present, day and time, and location. As I was doing this yesterday, I could see that the Pages document was automatically adding text on the screen. Cool. Looked like the thing was working. This morning, I started reading through the dictation text to see how well it did. Here’s what it gave me:

Wednesday July 29, 2015 at about 1:30 PM at Sharland it blows house Michael glad and Charlotte zip blow.

Hey, great. Works perfectly.

Hot Air

A Pal And Her Daddy-o

In this day and age of television discourse, when political opinionators are either superheroes or archcriminals, depending on whether the viewer agrees with them or not, I’d hope The Pencil can be a respite from that. Oh sure, I bash certain cementheads — the names Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin spring to mind — but I don’t issue blanket condemnations of all Republicans. Guys like Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Lindsay Graham all are fairly reasonable, serious  pols, even if I’d tend to disagree with them should they announce tonight that the sun will rise in the east in the morning.

And I’m friendly with right-leaning civilians like the Lake County Republican and the cousin-in-law from Wisconsin. I don’t need to agree with a person on a checklist of global, national, and local issues in order for us to be cozy.

The anti-sex league that has taken over the GOP and is trying to destroy, for instance, Planned Parenthood is a menace in my book. The folks who endorse police gunning down people for being snotty to them frighten me. Those who see Barack Obama as the second coming of Hitler and Hillary Clinton as a murderous castrator are delusional — and scary as well. Anti-Muslims, anti-brown people, and anti-black people are suffering from the disease of hatred. Their poison words should be seen as contagious symptoms rather than valid points of view.

Conversely, I suffer the fools on my side of the fence almost as badly. The anti-GMO crowd is as clueless as climate change deniers when it comes to the scientific evidence. The woo bunch that talks of “healing,” “energy,” and past lives, the anti-vaxxers and paleo-dieters, the idolators of “The Secret” and of doctors Oz and Chopra all give me a headache.

Still, I won’t necessarily wash my hands of someone who’s four-square against abortion and I count among my closest pals people who believe gluten and arsenic are virtually interchangeable toxins.

Yet it’s comforting to know someone — anyone — with whom I share a preponderance of views. The Loved One, for instance. (And even she entertains a notion or two that cause me to glance sideways at her.) It’s one thing to be broadminded and equanimous with one’s debate opponents but even this petit diplomat needs to know on occasion that there are a few folks in this mad, mad, mad, mad world who think as I do. They make me feel safe and warm and not so outré. One such kindred spirit in the Bloomington public sphere is Susan Sandberg.

S-squared has been a loyal reader and long-time supporter of The Pencil almost from its inception. The city council maven and social media soap-boxer is fearless when it comes to calling for a right, a just, a decent society. And she reads books like nobody’s business, a trait that elevates anybody a notch or two in my pantheon.

Sandberg lost her Daddy-o, Eugene Edward Sandberg, three Saturdays ago. She and her equally dynamic dame sis, Sarah, labored mightily to keep the old bird comfortable in his last few months. They tilted against our bizarre wealthcare system as well as that most fascist of all dictators, time, with all the ferocity of mother bears defending their cubs.

For Old Man Sandberg, though, 93 years was enough. He closed his eyes on the 13th of July for the last time. The Sandbergs and all their friends, colleagues, and loved ones gathered this past Sunday to remember him. Susan and Sarah delivered two of the eulogies, natch. In recognition of her loyalty to this communications colossus and because, well, she’s spot-on on just about every issue there is, I present her words, as spoken Sunday, in memory of E. E. Sandberg. Sarah Sandberg’s tribute fallows Susan’s.

It has been a wonderful time of remembrance, talking with so many of you who have come today to help Mom, Sarah, Katy and I celebrate the life of Eugene Sandberg. We hope you have enjoyed looking at the photos and reviewing the Remembrances of a Life that I’d urged Dad to write in 2005 to help us understand his early years leading up to his memories of serving in World War II. Known as Gene to most of you, he was a great father to me and Sarah, husband of 63 years to our mother, Jane, kindly grandfather to my daughter Katy, and second Dad to our honorary brother, Steve. Dad was born in 1921 to Henry and Blanche, brother to our Aunt Norma, brother-in-law to Uncle Al, uncle to our cousins, Becky, Jim and Phil. He was a veteran, a teacher, a gardener, a reader, an intelligent introvert, a fixer of things, and an overall good man.

The Sandbergs, with both Dad and our teacher/librarian Mom at the helm, have always been a bookish clan, and last week Sarah was busy building and painting another book shelf to help organize the many random stacks of books that have been accruing around the house over the past several years. 

Dad was a thoughtful man who loved books, poetry and words. He liked how books make us think, laugh, and certainly make life more interesting. I will remember Dad for so many wonderful things, but I will focus my remarks today on those literary gifts he gave to me and to so many of us as our teacher. No surprise that Dad was also a diligent student who loved reading, but according to his 2005 memoir, he really liked algebra too! In listing his freshman class schedule from 1935-36, he’d written that he had algebra class from 1:25 – 2:20, and then noted in the margin “Miss Moore was so pretty – I loved algebra!” Hmmm.

Here’s one of my first memories of being close to Dad as he would read to me as a kid, this poem by Lewis Carrol. The words are pure zany nonsense, but I loved the silliness that made me and Dad giggle together as he read Jabberwocky. Just an excerpt:

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carrol [Here, Susan recites from memory.]

Later on both Sarah and I would love to watch Dad read to his granddaughter, Katy, especially the Christmas Eve tradition of the reading of “The night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

As one of Dad’s students in Junior and Senior English at Bloomfield High School, I remember having to memorize things, along with many of you, and for some strange reason here’s one that stays with me…

Invictus by William Ernest Henley [Again, Susan recites from memory.]

Say those words out loud sometime, I think it will do you good. Repeat after me: ”I am the Master of my fate, I am the Captain of my soul!”

While I was his daughter and not his son, I loved Dad’s tough guy stuff, the literature of the lost generation — Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, the enigmatic Gatsby of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the poetry of stoicism, bravery, overcoming adversity and becoming a man. Here’s a favorite poem that I still go back to read when I need a little kick in the big girl pants:

If by Rudyard Kipling [From memory.]

Our family love of books and poetry also led us to appreciate beauty and romance and lyricism and impressionism, and the bravery of strong women. Emily Dickinson, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, the brooding Heathcliff, that splendid Mr. Darcy and — oh how even more delicious to me — snark and satire. That droll, sarcastic wit and wisdom of so many great writers and humorists like Mark Twain, Will Rogers, one of my favorite dames from the Algonquin Round Table, Dorothy Parker and then later on, my appreciation for the witty Texas political writer, Molly Ivins. 

From Dad’s memoir, here’s what he wrote about Will Rogers:

“On August 15, 1935 the family had just gathered around the kitchen table for dinner when the news came over the radio that Will Rogers and Wiley Post had died in a crash of their Lockheed Vega plane at Point Barrow, Alaska. Our meal was finished that noon in silence and sorrow for their passing. Rogers was a national idol known especially for his critique of Congress. It was he who claimed it was ‘the best Congress money could buy.’ Not much has changed, has it?”

No, Dad, not much has changed. 

To Kill a Mockingbird. And while my Dad was not Gregory Peck, how privileged Sarah and I both were to have been raised by a good and decent man, Eugene Sandberg, who introduced us to so many literary characters like Scout, Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, and our Atticus Finch, a hero in our young eyes, brought to life in the timeless classic by Harper Lee — to this day my all-time favorite book and movie. 

And another gift from Dad — the love of biographies of great men and women of history. Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy, FDR and Eleanor, Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh. The great appreciation for the great experiment that is America. Its founding, its struggles, its promise for a better day. Reading great speeches by great orators — Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy. Others who loved words and knew how to use them to inspire, to persuade, to lead us to a better place, to listen to our better angels. 

Which finally brings me to the literature of peace, comfort, the quiet reflections of Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond, Dad’s introverted love of nature and solitude. While thinking about appropriate material to honor Dad I happened upon this poem quite by accident, but it’s a suitable end to my remembrances of the gifts he gave us and the good work that he loved to do in life.  It’s about the hard work of the day that gives way to the easy peace of the night. 

Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon

shine through chinks in the barn, moving

up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing 

as a woman takes up her needles

and her yarn, Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned

in long grass. Let the stars appear

and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.

let the wind die down. Let the shed

go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop

in the oats, to air in the lung

let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t

be afraid. God does not leave us

comfortless, so let evening come.

Thank you, Dad, for everything you’ve given us. And thank you, Mom, for having the good sense to meet and marry Dad. Good call!

Now, Sarah Sandberg’s words:

As you know Dad isn’t with us today. He has come out of retirement and is back at work teaching and will be for another couple of years. He wanted to be a teaching cadaver and I remember talking about this with him many years ago. I teased him about his proclivity toward recycling but I thought this was a very cool thing to do. Dad was cool. He would not have wanted us to make a fuss like this today and I’m sure he would turn over in his Petri dish if he knew how much all this costs. Sorry dad but just like always the Sandberg women are in charge.

My sister mentioned how our Dad would read to us as kids, a lot. So much so that when I had him as a teacher in high school, every time he would read aloud in class or lecture I would tend to fall asleep like Pavlov’s dogs. He adapted his teaching style for me.

Dad could build things and he taught me a lot in his workshop. I still use his tools and many are much older than I am but dad knew how to take care of stuff. I am not sure how much of my creativity is genetic or a product of nurturing but both mom and dad made sure I was allowed to make things and play. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to let me play with the liquid mercury but….

Dad was really smart — really smart. I think the reason I have never embraced computer technology is because no Ask Jeeves or Google search engine was faster than dad’s memory. You could ask dad anything about history, art, music — you know, the important stuff — and dad would give you an answer instantly. He was a living encyclopedia.

With only a few exceptions, he loved music. The opera Turandot was one of his favorites. His favorite song was The Class of ’57 by the Statler Brothers. We will not be playing that one here today. Dad could play a mean harmonica but like his favorite comedian, Don Knotts, he could not sing, not a lick. According to mom he could not dance either.

As a child dad used to tell me television was not something I should waste time watching especially game shows and soap operas. He did love All in the FamilyUpstairs, DownstairsThe Woodwright’s Shop; and any World War II program on the History Channel. Both he and mom did become addicted to The Young and the Restless, however, and he never missed Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy.

Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday.

His favorite movies to watch over and over were Alan Arkin’s A Matter of Principal, and A Christmas Story.

Last year we gave dad the full size leg lamp and he really enjoyed that. 

The day before he passed  he had been watching shows about the fall of Nazi Germany and when he said he had had enough of Hitler, I switched over to the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I don’t know who he liked better, Marilyn Monroe or Jane Russell, but he had a big smile on his face during the whole movie. 

The day he died I was glad the last movie we had on for him was the Marx Brother’s Duck Soup. Susie and Steve have quoted many beautiful things today so not to be remiss I will leave you what I think dad might quote from Groucho Marx — “Hello, I must be going.”

 

Citizens Ask: Where Is Big Mike?

Writer Missing — Foul Play Suspected

Members of The Electron Pencil’s private security force have fanned out across Bloomington and are employing their fearsome talents in an effort to locate Big Mike.

From "The Set-Up"

Alright, Pal, Where’s Big Mike?

The controversial columnist and gossip-monger has been missing since May, although this communications colossus has received the occasional post from him, slipped over the transom at EP World Headquarters, in the intervening months. Rumors abound, including one that Big Mike staged his own kidnapping in hopes of garnering publicity.

We at The Electron Pencil suspect foul play. Talk on the street has it that one Charlotte Zietlow, former city council president and county commissioner, has tied Big Mike up and is holding him as a ghostwriter for her memoir.

THIS JUST IN! — A communique was delivered to the EP late this afternoon. Apparently written and signed by Big Mike, the message confirms he’s is being held by Zietlow. The note, in part, reads:

I am safe so far. Mrs. Zietlow wants the police kept out of this. She promises to let me go as soon as the book is finished. She means business!

We believe the message to be authentic. The staff at The Electron Pencil, thousands strong, have signed a plea to be delivered to Mrs. Zietlow, calling on her to hold Big Mike until he produces a top-notch memoir. Should he fail in that simple task, the staff adds, she can fit him with a pair of cement overshoes and dump him in Lake Lemon for all they care.

Cement Overshoes

Big Mike Wears Size 11 EE

Hot Air

Prosody, Please

The boys over at Ledge Mule Press are doing their best to keep Bloomington’s summer literate. They’ll host a book release party featuring poetry reading, music, and other folderol tomorrow night, Saturday, July 18th, 7pm at the I Fell building.

Ledgmule, run by Dave Torneo, Ross Gay, and Chris Mattingly, sponsors a summer poetry series at the I Fell throughout these dog days. Tomorrow’s entry features poet Leslie Marie Aguilar reading from her brand new collection, Mesquite Manual, published by New Delta Review. Aguilar will be backed up by poets Danny Quintos and Britt Ashley as well as musicians Corn Palace.

Aguilar

Aguilar

The Texas-born Aguilar taught poetry in Indiana University’s Creative Writing Program and will begin a 2015-16 fellowship at the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in the journals New Delta Review, the Bellingham Review, the Washington Square Review, Rattle, the Iron Horse Literary Review and many others.

I Fell is at 415 W. 4th St, the southwest corner of 4th and Rogers. See you there.

You Can Look It Up

In case you’re confused as to what, precisely, terrorism is, its definition has been reinforced once again by the fine folks who run this holy land’s security apparatus and corporate media. It is any blood-soaked outrage committed by a dark-skinned non-Christian. Period.

For proof, check the coverage of — as well as the FBI statements in the wake of — the shootings at military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee yesterday. The perpetrator, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez (a dead-giveaway, right?) is brown, Arab-born, and a Muslim. Ergo, his was an act of terror. The FBI special agent in charge of the investigation into the act says , sure, it’s prob. terrorism, and why not?

As opposed to, say, that lily-white kid mowing down black people in a South Carolina church last month.

Roof

Not A Terrorist

Special Agent Ed Reinhold wants to clear up any confusion: “We will treat this as a terrorism investigation until it can be determined that it is not.” The Dylann Roof turkey shoot, conversely, was treated as what the cops like to call “a simple criminal act.” Even when certain boat-rockers wanted officials to characterize Roof’s goof as terrorism, law enforcement types said, Whoa, now!

God forbid we should attach the emotional weight of the word terror and all its permutations to the act of a Caucasian.

Don’t you people know nothin’?

Banalities Are Your Friends

BTW, our faithful sentinels in the for-profit news gathering industry have rolled out all their terror- and/or natural disaster-related cliches in the 20 or so hours since the Chattanooga shootings.

The citizens of the town, reporters tell us, are:

  • reeling
  • trying to make sense of it all
  • wondering if they’ll ever look at their hometown in the same way again

Expect Chattanoogans in the next year or so to:

  • pause and reflect
  • come together as one
  • celebrate a new start

Got it?

The Schwarber Era Begins

IU baseball fave Kyle Schwarber apparently is up in the big leagues for good now. The Chicago Cubs have brought the hot-hitting minor leaguer up due to an injury suffered by their regular catcher, Miguel Montero. Schwarber had a cup of coffee with the parent club in June during which he punished Major League pitchers over a six-game stay.

Schwarber has been the subject of an intensive program to bring him up to speed as a big league backstop. He’s always had a rep as a blue-chip slugger but his defensive abilities long have been viewed as subpar. Acc’d’g to insiders, the Cubs have tried to rebuild his catching skills from the ground up since they drafted him in June, 2014.

Schwarber

Schwarber’s First Big League Appearance, June 16th, 2015

It’s a good bet Schwarber will serve as a backup catcher with the Cubs but probably will garner a ton of at bats as a left fielder, a position he is equally inept at. As a left fielder, though, his deficiencies will not be exposed as often as they would be behind the plate.

So, here’s the fantasy: Schwarber bludgeons pitchers for the rest of the year, leading the Cubs to a post-season berth, during which they win their first World Series since the Theodore Roosevelt presidency. Schwarber is then assumed into heaven.

Can’t a guy dream?

My Hiatus (And, No, I Don’t Mean My Hernia)

Just a reminder, I’ll be back pontificating and opinionating here daily (well, almost daily) soon. Right now, I’m still slaving away on the Charlotte Zietlow book. Be patient.

Hot Air

City Of Lit

Keep your eyes and ears open for a new designation for the city of Bloomington (fingers crossed).

There’s a movement afoot to get this teeming megalopolis tabbed a City of Literature by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known to us acronym-o-philes (made-up word; you’re welcome) as UNESCO. The UN agency pushes eggheaded pursuits around the globe so that all nations can live like sisters and brothers and not nuke the bejesus out of each other. Good luck with that.

Parker

Writer Dorothy Parker, Sharpening Her Tongue*

Ennyway, Caveat Emptor‘s John McGuigan has pitched the idea to Mayor Mark Kruzan who, in turn, has made City Council mistress of civics Susan Sandberg the point person on it.

Other Cities of Literature so far include include Iowa City, home of the world-renowned Iowa Writers Workshop, right here in Murrica as well as these international outposts:

  • Edinburgh, (Scotland) UK
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Norwich, (England) UK
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Heidelberg, Germany
  • Dunedin, New Zealand
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Granada, (Andalusia) Spain

So, hey, why not us? Acc’d’g to Sandberg, the 2015 deadline for applying for designation is mere weeks away so B-ton will aim for the 2016 window. The C. of L. is part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities dealio that recognizes “Creative Hubs” and “Socio-cultural Clusters” which:

  1. Strengthen the creation, production, distribution, and enjoyment of cultural goods and service at the local level;
  2. Promote creativity and creative expression especially among vulnerable groups, including women and youth;
  3. Enhance access to and participation in cultural life as well as enjoyment of cultural goods;
  4. Integrate cultural and creative industries into local development plans.

That’s us, right? So, pen-pushers, keyboard clackers, and other ink-stained wretches, contact our mistress of civics if you wanna suggest, support, or otherwise stuff the ballot box for our application.

[ * — Dorothy Parker has nothing to do with Bloomington; I just like her.]

Friday At The Fell

Speaking of B-ton’s creative types, the Ledge Mule Press‘s Dave Torneo — a crackerjack poet and letter-writer — will host tonight’s I Fell Building exhibit, Four Views.

Artists Erik Woodworth, Laurel Leonetti, David Long, and Sean Pendergast will trot their stuff out, mainly dealing w/ “unique representations of the subjective, images abstract and emergent.” (Artists, right?)

Woodworth

Erik Woodworth

Oh, and put aside next Friday eve for another installment of the Ledge Mule poetry reading series. Stayed tuned for more info.

Baked Bruisers

You can believe it or not but one former National Football League player says at least 60 percent of active players smoke marijuana regularly. This player, former star running back Jamal Anderson of the Atlanta Falcons, believes NFL players toke up not just for the high but because it helps them bear the pain incurred through daily hard-hitting practices as well as the body-blasting three hours of every weekly game.

NFL

Oh, Wow.

Here are the reasons advanced by players for smoking pot:

  • As mentioned, it serves as an effective pain reliever
  • It helps ameliorate concussion symptoms
  • This generation of players grew up in an era when marijuana carried almost no negative stigma
  • The league tests for banned substances, including marijuana, at a specific time of the year, allowing players to clean out their systems at that time then return to regular use thereafter
  • The league and the players association may have a secret deal wherein marijuana users are not chased with any vigor because, according to one player, “we wouldn’t be able to field a league.”

And the inexorable march toward the end of marijuana prohibition continues unabated.

Just Say No

All we can do is ask why.

The Colorado program that provides low-income women with free contraceptive devices is in danger of ending. See, a private funding organization pitched few mill at Colorado health officials so they could give free long-lasting birth control to women in the state. It was sort of a test — if women, especially poor ones, got intrauterine devices, for example, would that reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, teen pregnancies, and abortions?

IUD

The IUD — A Fairly Expensive Little Gadget

The answer? It sure as hell would. All three totals in CO not only dropped over the period of the program, they dropped precipitously. As in better than 40 percent. Poor women flocked to get the devices implanted. They flocked less and less to welfare offices and abortion clinics.

Huzzah, right?

Wrong. The private funding has run out and this past spring Colorado lawmakers refused to allocate dough for the program. I guess they just like the idea of single mothers on welfare, high school dropouts having babies, and abortion clinics sweeping out wombs by the score.

I mean, why else wouldn’t you fund such a bang-up good program?

Hey, wait a minute, I remember now: the Religious Right hates the idea of females having sex even worse than they hate welfare and abortion.

Okay, never mind.

Hot Air

America

At the time of its founding, this was the most forward-thinking, brilliant idea of a nation ever to grace this planet. Some 239 years ago, it was the apex of human thought and social congress. Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (as well as the succeeding Bill of Rights) were masterworks of compromise, leadership, and literature.

Was it flawed? You bet. How could it not be, considering it was the product of human minds and hands. In it, women did not exist. Slaves existed as mere fractions of white men. But the Founding Fathers — another flaw in our conception; without mothers, there are no children — were so progressive they built into our charter document the ability to change it. It was no Bible in their eyes, intractable and immutable, but a living, growing thing. One day, I’ll bet, it will even recognize women.

To quote Molly Ivins, “It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”

I like that. It makes me feel good about America. It may even be true.

Flags

A couple of centuries-plus later, well…, this ain’t the most forward-thinking, brilliant idea of a nation anymore. It is a bloated, self-important, willfully ignorant, bellicose giant. All the giants on Earth at this moment can be described as such. Russia? Sure. China? Yep.

Perhaps it is inevitable that the giants of the globe must become fat, annoying ogres. It may be due to something in the human genome. But we’ve got something those other two gargantuas don’t have — our founding documents.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, they can be misread and misused. Think Citizens United. Think the prevailing idea that nothing about the manufacture, sale, and possession of guns should be regulated.

Yet, think about the fact that, today, homosexuals can settle down and create families and homes with the full blessing of the state. Homosexuals — the most reviled class of humans throughout history. We accept them now, under the law. They are us!

To a large extent, we still live by the Jeffersonian axiom:

The legitimate powers of the government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God [sic]. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

Of course, we’ve extended those powers to include actually helping folks whose legs are broken or whose pockets have been picked. Witness the Supreme Court’s two affirmations of the Affordable Care Act.

Still….

We’re a nation that has dispatched the mightiest military in human history all around the planet, mainly to ensure that a gallon of gasoline remains cheaper than $4 and that electronic goods can be manufactured by foreign workers earning near-slave wages and bought by our citizenry for a song.

That military hasn’t fired a shot in defense of true liberty for the last three-quarters of a century, even though it’s been fighting almost constantly, both covertly and accompanied by parades.

We’re afraid — rightly so — of crazed religious zealots who wish to establish their god’s rule over the Middle East and we steer robotic weapons through the air to kill them. Fair enough, they live by the sword, but our drones blow to pieces anybody else who happens to be in the neighborhood at the moment. We don’t worry too much about that; they are, after all, brown.

We’re fouling our air, the water, and the soil for the purpose of finding and burning fossil fuel so our cars can go and our air conditioners can run. And when people complain about the damage this process is causing, we brand them liars and communists. Well, not all of us; only those who run our economy and make our laws.

We worship those who accumulate wealth. That is, those who amass so much that neither they, nor their succeeding ten generations can use it up no matter how profligately they spend. How else to explain the fact that the likes of Donald Trump and Jamie Dimon are neither in prison nor a mental institution? We’ve allowed our lawmakers to rig the game so that the tiniest sliver of our population gathers more and more wealth while the vast majority of us either stagnate or get poorer. Then we gobble up books and movies about all the richest guys who are so thrillingly imaginative and hard-working.

We wave flags and brag that everybody wants to be an American. Then when foreigners try to cut corners to get in here, we brand them rapists and murderers and disease carriers. Worst of all, from our POV, they are brown people.

So, today, I wouldn’t pat myself on the back just because I’m an American. I will be thankful, though, we gave ourselves a great set of start-up guidelines. Even if that start is getting a hell of a lot smaller in the rearview mirror.

Hot Air

Tempus Fugit Fugue

Hold on to your hats: Debbie Harry turned 70 yesterday!

Seventy freakin’ years old. She is now, officially, an old dame. And those of us who listened and danced to her when she was not are, by extension, also old bats.

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