Such Sweet Sorrow

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“Let’s go! It’s time to go!” The impatient voice of Trunk of Tree rung out too harshly in the soft glow of sunrise which reflected off the glaciers atop the Twin Peaks and suffused the village in a soft pink glow. 

“Patience, friend,” said Fleet of Foot. “I want to try one more time to convince Cat Eyes to come with us. And, since you’re in a hurry, have you chosen a book yet?” 

“I don’t want one. Just extra weight. They are mostly nonsense and lies anyway. Huh! Animals with necks as long as their bodies? Go have your conversation and then let’s go!” 

Fleet of Foot shook his head and stared at Trunk of Tree. He sighed. “How can you … can’t you see how important these books are? You can at least see that they are important to this entire tribe. You know that many of the Veritas of the Center Place…” Fleet of Foot shook his head and broke off. He could see by the look on the face of his friend that he would not be convinced. At least not this way, he thought to himself. “Never mind. I’ll go talk with Cat Eyes one last time. I won’t be long.” 

Cat Eyes was not difficult to find. Ever since they had arrived she had been an object of attention and now, all of these Veritas of the Twin Peaks treated her with a reverence beyond her years. Fleet of Foot stood quietly amid a small circle of people of all ages. Now, this particular group was dialoging about something called “logic.” When a decent cesura in the flow of conversation appeared, Fleet of Foot stepped forward and said, “Cat Eyes, I am sorry to interrupt you but may I please have a word with you in private?” 

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Several of the Twin Peaks Veritas glanced at Fleet of Foot. The group walked a few yards away and continued their dialogue. It seemed that the treasure that they had uncovered included books on almost every topic imaginable. Once Cat Eyes had brought the secret of decoding to her tribe, they had spent much time on these artifacts. The knowledge of how to decode them had spread quickly through the entire tribe, though decoding was still a slow process. Gentle Talons, the leader of the Twin Peaks Veritas, had gifted each of the Veritas one book of their choice to take back with them to the Center Place.  All had eagerly and thankfully accepted.

Jaccim had chosen a book about training horses. Hudah Salah picked a book that promised to show how to use water on a desert to make it a field. She remained skeptical that such a thing could be done, but if it were possible, it would mean something wonderful for her tribe. Lion Slayer had opted for a book about lions and their close kin. Fleet of Foot had found a book with many pictures that claimed it showed how to run faster. Only Trunk of Tree had eschewed choosing any book at all. 

“Cat Eyes, I think you know what I wish to speak about.” 

“Indeed, Fleet of Foot. You want to persuade me to come with you. I suspect you do this mainly on behalf of Tu-Swift.” 

Fleet of Foot blushed. “He does … he does hold you in high regard.” 

Cat Eyes reached into her shoulder pack and brought out two books and a small piece of bark. “I wish you to give him these.” She handed him books as she said, “These are two books about training birds. I hope he will find these useful. One is my choice and one is Trunk of Tree’s though he doesn’t know that.” She smiled, “I know Tu-Swift is working with Suze to train Eagles to attack NUT-PI. Maybe these will help. I think they will. And…” Cat Eyes, who had always seemed confident, but even more so since returning to her home, especially so. Now, however, she hesitated, unsure whether to go on.

Fleet of Foot looked at her. “And…?” he prompted.

“And, although I tried to express how I feel in what I wrote for Tu-Swift, please convey to him my feeling which is hard to put into marks on paper birch. I feel split in two. I really loved my time with the Center Place Veritas, and I especially loved Tu-Swift. He will always have a special place in my heart of hearts. Look at my eyes. You must tell him this so that he believes it. I know that in some way he fancies me as well. But he and Suze have something special as well. They seem better matched to me. I am an oddball. I was a child here. Then, I was a slave. Then, I was a stranger in your Center Place. But now — now, I am home. I not only belong here. I can do something important for my people. I am teaching all of them about the wisdom of these books and — I think Tu-Swift will understand how important that is. But you must make him also understand how I love him.”

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“I will do that.” Fleet of Foot again reddened as he said it. “Why not come back though and tell him yourself. We have the tunnel. It is only a few days journey. You can come back and describe what is here and then when you feel like it, you can come back again.” 

“Perhaps I will one day visit. I have no faith right now that the tunnel will keep working. Based on what I have read so far, no-one alive really understand how those tunnels — and especially the doors — really work. Jaccim certainly doesn’t — and what disturbs me even more is that he doesn’t care that he doesn’t know. He doesn’t seem to care that he has always just done what he has been told to do — what he was expected to do — even if it was to steal children. He isn’t even cruel. He seems like a nice man; fundamentally kind. Yet — he stole children. And he uses things with no idea how they work and he’s never made any attempt to learn. The people who made the tunnel, and I now think the city of the Z-Lotz, are long dead. They were killed in some horrendous wars. If you get back to the Center Place and many people explore the tunnels and we read more in the books about how they work, maybe I will some day visit — visit — the Center Place Veritas and Tu-Swift. And perhaps I will hold the children of Tu-Swift and Suze and tell the stories about my birthplace. But for now, this is my place. You see that yourself. I know you do.” 

Cat Eyes sighed and continued. “Tell Tu-Swift that someday I hope we shall meet again. Meanwhile, I wish him well in his endeavor to teach the eagles to hunt for NUT-PI. And, when we hopefully are done with that monster, I have another request. I am hoping he can train the eagles as well to hunt for, but not attack, my parents. No, don’t make that face. I realize that they are probably dead. But one never knows. They may have journeyed out to find me and ended up in a place by themselves. I know. I know. You need not put such a look upon your face. It’s been many years. I realize that. But I myself was lost from here for many years. Yet I am alive. And here. These are some likenesses of my parents from my memory and from the memories of two others who can make good likenesses and knew my parents well. It’s hope, Fleet of Foot. It’s hope. You must understand. I was hoping that they would be here. I need the hope. Even if they are never found or never return, I can still hope. It is a way to keep them alive in some small way.”

Fleet of Foot nodded. “I do understand. I will give Tu-Swift your messages — and your feelings.” 

“There is something else. I feel … the Eagles have their own life. To use them as a weapon… I would be glad if something came of training them besides murder. Tu-Swift wondered about turning the Eagles into weapons as well. Is that any better than Killing Sticks? It bothered him but he resolved it. He overcame it. But I wonder how different that is from whatever went on in Jaccim’s mind to allow him to steal children from their parents.”

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Fleet of Foot nodded. “Yes. As you say, Eagles do have their own lives. Many in the great web of life use others in the web. But the Eagles are free to attack or not attack, however you trained them. A Killing Stick however is not alive. It has no use I can see except to kill. It is not part of the web of life. It is not like the Eagles. At least I don’t think so. Tu-Swift, and Eagle Eyes before him, love the Eagles. If the Eagles choose to kill, it is partly due to that love returned. I don’t think of it as I do the Killing Sticks.” 

“Nor I. But I think all of us would feel better if the Eagles were also trained to find people and lead us to them. Imagine. Wolves can also be trained for such a purpose. But for that…wolves do not see well like Eagles. They can smell the scent of animals though. I don’t have any artifacts from my parents left. After they had been gone for years, people began to use the things they left behind. But I suspect that my scent must be like their combined scents. So, perhaps you can use this scrap of my tunic to have wolves find them too. It’s not likely. But it’s possible.”

Fleet of Foot blinked. “That is an amazing idea! To use the wolves to find people by scent!” 

The cat eyes of Cat Eyes twinkled. “Yes,” she chuckled, “though it isn’t mine. I read about it in a book. It can be done. Or, at least the book claims that it can be done.” Now Cat Eyes laughed aloud. “I can see your friend Trunk of Tree over there pacing and glowering, impatient as ever to get going. You had better begin your journey. I do wish you luck. I hope the tunnel still works and all of you return to the Veritas of the Center Place. And I hope… I wish Tu-Swift luck. That sounds cold. Just tell him I love him. But my life is here. And his life is with Suze. And with his sister. And you. And Shadow Walker.” 

“He’s … young,” said Fleet of Foot.

Cat Eyes laughed. “Yes, he is younger than I, but he has … you must understand … it is not just years. He and I, of all the Veritas I have met were the only ones who were stolen from their parents. We share that. And… if you can survive it, it ages you. He is older than he seems. Or, let me say instead that he seems older than he is. Of course, you’re right. He should be with someone of his own age, like Suze. Farewell. Leave now or Trunk of Tree will shed all his bark!” 

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Fleet of Foot glanced at his friend and could see that Cat Eyes was right. He laughed and Cat Eyes joined. Fleet of Foot took her hands gently in his. “You are a remarkable young woman Cat Eyes. I do believe we will meet again. I hope so. On behalf of Tu-Swift, I thank you for the gifts.” 

The small group of Center Place Veritas stood at the entrance to the tunnel and said goodbye one more time. Cat Eyes stood far off and waved to them. Even from a distance, Fleet of Foot could see the tears on her cheeks. Among the group returning through the tunnel was one from the Twin Peaks Veritas. Gentle Talons had chosen one from among his tribe to accompany them on their journey and to return in due course. This young woman’s name was “Flowing Waters.” She had artistic talent and, although quite bright and articulate, had been unable to master the decoding of books. Gentle Talons was hoping she could bring some drawings of the Center Place and its inhabitants back to Gentle Talons and his tribe some day.

A small number of Twin Peaks Veritas accompanied them on their journey back up to the door of the tunnel. Cat Eyes was not among them. She was already busy decoding more books and teaching others to do the same. Those who had come stood well back from the tunnel door acting for all the world as though some dark evil monster might emerge.

Hudah Salah noticed this wariness among the onlookers and considered. The only thing that had ever come out of that tunnel prior to the small Veritas delegation were child stealers. So! That really was a dark evil monster. No wonder they looked nervously toward the entrance, ready to bolt at the slightest urging. 

Hudah turned and watched carefully as Jaccim opened the tunnel door. It opened and though no obvious monsters emerged, the Veritas from beyond the Twin Peaks drew no closer. They continued to stare as their visitors, now including one of their own — Flowing Waters —entered into the oddly lit corridor that stretched beyond sight. They continued to stare as the doors closed. The onlookers collectively sighed. It seemed as though the entire party had been swallowed by a gigantic monster of rock. They turned and walked back home, eager to learn more of this wonderful world through the magic that The Chosen One had revealed to them all. 

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Inside, the returning Veritas, along with their guest, again gaped at the odd lighting and high ceilings. They strode along the smooth path confidently. Only Fleet of Foot found himself wondering whether this tunnel might collapse. On the way in, though he had been awed, the didn’t imagine the tunnel would “stop working” any more than a tree would stop growing or a bee would stop buzzing. Now, thanks (or no thanks) to Cat Eyes, he realized that this tunnel was not something to be taken for granted. It did not just spring into being. It had been built. And the people who had known how to build such things were gone, if the books were correct. Fleet of Foot thought about some of the many gifts the Veritas had received from their ancestors. How to start a fire, bow and arrow, which plants could be used for which diseases. Why had he always accepted these as part of the world? They were part of his world, but each meant his ancestors for thousands of generations had worked to make these devices better. Everyone he had known his entire life had experimented to make things better. 

Almost everyone, he realized. What if the likes of ALT-R and POND MUD had made these tunnels? They might have constructed them to appear an easy path — and then, they could collapse thus trapping and crushing their whole party under a mountain of hard rock. Did the books lie? Could there really have been a people so blind that they knew the story of the Orange Man and yet made the same mistakes again destroying in the process not just a single tribe but an entire civilization? No point in dwelling on a danger he had no idea how to defend against. He may as well walk to the end with as much happiness and joy in his heart as he could muster. If these were to be his last few moments on earth, he may as well enjoy them. 

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He smiled and caught up with Flowing Waters. 

“Thanks for traveling with us, Flowing Waters. I saw some of your drawings. Excellent! I especially liked the sunset on the Twin Peaks.”

“Thank you, Fleet of Foot. I like to draw. Do you?”  

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Author page on Amazon

The Creation Myth of the Veritas

The Forgotten Field — A Myth about the Importance of Finding Common Ground

The Orange Man — a Myth about the Importance of Truth

The First Ring of Empathy — The Beginning of Book One of the Myths of the Veritas

The Beginning of Book Two of the Myths of the Veritas

The Beginning of Book Three of the Myths of the Veritas

Hauntings Across the Time Zones – A Poem

Camelot – A Poem

Myths of the Veritas: Many Paths Awakes

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For three days and three nights, Tu-Swift and She Who Saves Many Lives slept little and ate less. They worked hard to keep Many Paths cool in the hot summer days. That was far from their only labor however. Among the Veritas, a large number fell ill with the mysterious plague of red dots. Fever and delirium were common as well as almost constant sleep. One had died.

It fell upon the few who somehow stayed well, including Tu-Swift and the elder Shaman to prepare food as well as care for the sick. No-one worked on decoding what the Z-Lotz had called “books.” No-one hunted or gathered food. Only the well were hungry. The sick had no appetite and little energy. It was difficult even to convince them to drink a little of the tea that the Elder Leader prepared with rose hips, honey, black elderberry and willow bark. Usually, after some coaxing, they could only manage a few sips and then, they fell back into a restless sleep. 

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On the third night, just as Tu-Swift began to nod off for a well-deserved nap, Many Paths sat bolt upright. She cried out, “Shadow Walker!! Shadow Walker!!” Tu-Swift and She Who Saves Many Lives both went to Many Paths to reassure her. 

Many Paths frowned in the dark room. “Old Mother? Honored Shaman? Why are you in my cabin? Where is Shadow Walker?”

She Who Saves Many Lives patted Many Paths on the shoulder and said, “You are in my cabin, not yours, Sweet Daughter. You came in her quite ill and somewhat delirious. Tu-Swift is here too. He was tending to you. Your fever has broken and perhaps you will now be on the mend. You should continue to rest though.” 

Many Paths persisted. “Where is Shadow Walker though? Is he well?” 

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Tu-Swift took his sister’s hand, “Many Paths, I am glad you are getting stronger. Shadow Walker and Eagle Eyes went to see what is happening with the Z-Lotz; perhaps steal some Killing Sticks so that we might better prepare to fight against such weapons. Do you remember?”

Many Paths looked around the room, lit only by a few moonbeams. Everything was out of place. Then, she remembered. She wasn’t in her cabin. But her mind, her memory, still seemed out of place. Shadow Walker had gone off with Eagle Eyes? Her friend? Why, she wondered, had Shadow Walker preferred Eagle Eyes? Hadn’t they…? Were not she and Shadow Walker connected forever by love? She said aloud, “Are we divorced?” 

Tu-Swift smiled. “No, sister. No, what do you mean? You and Shadow Walker are in love. Everyone knows that! It’s obvious.” 

“Then, where is Shadow Walker? Why did he go off with my friend Eagle Eyes? Where are the Rings of Empathy? Did Trunk of Tree take them? Where is he? Isn’t he supposed to be with Eagle Eyes? Did he go too?”

She Who Saves Many Lives sighed. She patted Many Paths. “All is well with you and Shadow Walker, my dear. We were visited by the Z-Lotz. A few days later, we discovered that one of their so-called gifts was a poison rock that they called glass. Stone Chipper and his son, Sees Horses, both have sick hands. We have kept everyone else far away from this glass. I am not sure, but it seems that these Z-Lotz …”

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Many Paths interrupted her in a panic (which was uncharacteristic of the Veritas in general and almost never happened when She Who Saves Many Lives spoke). “But where is Shadow Walker? Is he okay? Where are the rings?”

She Who Saves Many Lives put up her hand. “Many Paths. All will be well. Be patient. I will answer all your questions. There is much to tell. And all will be told to you. But you will learn more quickly if you do not ask so many questions.” 

Many Paths squeezed the hand of She Who Saves Many Lives. “I’m sorry. Please tell me in your own time.” 

She Who Saves Many Lives nodded her head and squeezed the hand of Many Paths. “Your well-earned Rings of Empathy are right with you in your pouch as always. Perhaps you should hold them and you might feel better.” 

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Many Paths reached for the soft leather pouch and took it into her hand. It did calm her. And, then, she remembered to breathe. And, to take inventory. She was alive. She could hear. She could feel. She could see. She could remember, but not very well, apparently.

She Who Saves Many Lives continued. “Many were involved in the tribe’s decision to send out two scouting parties. Shadow Walker, strong and smart, was chosen to visit the Z-Lotz. Eagle Eyes went with him because she has seen this great city before and knows a way in. Also, as you know, Eagle Eyes usually sees trouble before any trouble sees her. It is a dangerous mission. That, no one can doubt. But not finding out more about Killing Sticks could also be dangerous. The Z-Lotz are not to be trusted. If you recall, Cat Eyes, who lived among the ROI and the Z-Lotz, claims that the wealthy among the Z-Lotz do not even believe in their rigid belief system. They only use it to fool everyone else. When they visited us, they insisted that you believe as they believe — even though they couldn’t even tell you what that was! They wanted you to go visit them — alone! I do not trust them at all. And, of course, they are now led by our old “friend” NUT-PI. He is a terrible leader and lost almost his entire tribe. It is astounding that the Z-Lotz, or anyone else, would chose such a man as a leader.” 

The Older Leader paused. “Does any of this sound familiar? There is no rushing danger, Many Paths. If you need to go back to sleep awhile, that’s fine. You are better but by no means well. The people need you as a healthy leader.” 

Many Paths nodded. “You are helping me put my memory rooms back in order. I remember everything clearly except — maybe a week or so seems less clear than everything else. Isn’t that odd? Anyway, please tell me the rest. I am tired. But I cannot sleep until I hear the rest. How are the people?” 

She Who Saves Many Lives continued, “There are many who are sick just as you were. Luckily, not all of have gotten ill, but most have. It might be that the Z-Lotz intentionally brought this illness but … “

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“What!? No, surely, not even a people who steal children and make Killing Sticks would be so … low … so evil … so cowardly as to intentionally bring a plague to us! I’m sorry Revered One; I interrupted again. I’m not quite myself yet. Please continue.” 

She Who Saves Many Lives got up to open some slats so that more moonlight could illustrate the rest of her tale. Then, she returned to sit on the edge of the bed. “You may recall that Cat Eyes told us of Veritas brothers and sisters who live over the Twin Peaks. So Fleet of Foot, Cat Eyes, Trunk of Tree, and our friends from the Nomads of the South accompanied them. Jaccim said he knew a different way and so he led them. We know they got there safely. But they have not yet returned.”

Many Paths nodded and felt her eyelids begin to droop. “Perhaps I will rest now.” She closed her eyes and began to relax. Then, she sat bolt upright again. “Wait! What do you mean you know that they made it over the twin mountains when they haven’t returned? How?”

She Who Saves Many Lives smiled, “Ah, for that, Dear One, you must thank your brother Tu-Swift, Suze, and your friend Eagle Eyes! They have been training the Eagles and Hawks to deliver messages. And, Cat Eyes sent such a message back here.”

Many Paths smiled at her brother. “That’s amazing!”

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Tu-Swift returned the smile and said, “Thanks! And, Cat Eyes didn’t just send a pre-arranged signal. She wrote to me! She wrote to me! She said: ‘All safe. Kin here. Much wisdom.’ She fit all that in small marks and attached it to Smart One.”

Many Paths tilted her head and said, “Smart One? Oh, that’s the name of the eagle?” 

Tu-Swift smiled. “Yes, and it seems your brain has emerged from the fog. Now, go back to sleep. All will be well.”

“Knowing I have such a clever brother,” said Many Paths. “That should help me sleep. More Veritas. It’s true. Hmm.” Many Paths, the Rings of Empathy still grasped in her hand, began to imagine the Veritas beyond the Twin Peaks and how that first recent meeting must have gone. She wondered how joyous Cat Eyes had felt. Had she met her parents? What would that be like?

The musings of Many Paths soon became images and the images soon became dreams. 

Tu-Swift glanced at She Who Saves Many Lives and spoke. “She seems better at last! Suze was supposed to come see me here at moonrise. And, the last time I saw her, she felt a little ill. I’m going to check on her.” Tu-Swift exited the cabin of She Who Saves Many Lives and she watched his silhouette in the moonlight. He still walked with a slight limp, but, thought the Elder, to my old eyes, it seems that his limp continues to lessen over time. Perhaps, she thought, we should try spicebush and witch hazel hot poultice on that knee.

The inner eye of She Who Saves Many Lives began to swirl like the darkest of storms. Killing Sticks. My dream of Killing Sticks even before we knew of them. People as evil as NUT-PI. The corruption of ALT-R and POND MUD. Of course, the world has always had death, she thought, but this is something different. Have none of these people heard “The Myth of the Orange Man”? How could they think the same horrible consequences would be avoided. If you subvert language in order to mislead people and steal from them, it destroys trust. It destroys real communication. It destroys pleasure and love. It destroys everything. We then are just single individuals mistrusting and fearful of everyone else and have no real way to survive as such. And, even if we did… what kind of life would that be?

And yet, thought the Tribe Elder, there are these amazing young people who will be here after me. Many Paths, Cat Eyes, Eagle Eyes, Tu-Swift and so many others. The heart of the Veritas still values love and truth and honor. Plague or no plague. Evil or no evil. We who are on the side of life will prevail. Anyone can die any time. Everyone will die eventually. But life? Life is safe. Life is huge. Life is diverse. Life is endlessly creative and inventive. Life listens to the sounds of the truth. Life looks at reality so that the truth is revealed. Life feels and learns and thinks and cooperates and loves. Of course, life will survive. 

And then, despite her dark prophetic dream; despite the threat of the Z-Lotz and the remnants of the ROI with their Killing Sticks; despite the disease that was spreading among the Z-Lotz, the elder leader smiled because she knew in her heart; she knew with absolute certainty of logic that Life itself was well beyond the clutches of one such as NUT-PI. And as she smiled, knowing the final outcome regardless of the inevitable pain along the way, she fell into one of the most restful and peaceful sleeps of her long and loving life.

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The beginning of the Myths of the Veritas: The First Ring of Empathy

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https://petersironwood.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/math-class-who-are-you/

 

 

ANTIFA?

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https://www.cbsnews.com/news/twitter-fake-antifa-acount-white-supremacists-removal/

The content of the article corresponds to the URL. This got me to thinking: why has no-one ever asked me to be in ANTIFA or at least send them money?

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I’ve had junk email from all sorts of organizations asking me to join and send them money. Most of them are on the left but I get such stuff from the right as well. I get spam for products and services I’ve never asked for and have no interest in. Spam-friendly e-mail tells me about conferences and journals completely outside my field. 

In all this sea of e-mail, I have never once had anyone ask me to join ANTIFA or send them money. I didn’t think we needed an organization dedicated to being against Nazis. I thought our country is anti-fascist. Or, at least it was from 1941 through 2016. 

We fought a war. Millions died. We won. The Nazis lost. As well they should.  And, in the end, as they surely must. Like cancer, they are incapable of life on their own. The body’s immune system rejects the cancer — usually. If so, then the cancer dies. Sometimes, however, the cancer kills the host. And then it dies anyway. Cancer always loses though sometimes it destroys innocent life along the way. 

Cancer always loses in the end.

If you put power as a higher value than truth; if you think “might makes right,” then all you are is a parasite on the cooperation, hard work, good will, and creativity of others — the country around you now, the inventions and productivity increases of those who contributed before you — people inclined to do the best job they could. 

You also owe a hell of a lot to the moral position of America in the world. And by “owe” I mean you literally would not have a lot of the stuff you love about your life if it hadn’t been for those people who worked to make American products and services world class. 

If fascism replaces democracy in America, many of those good things will disappear. It’s cancer, pure and simple. Such a philosophy of “might makes right” makes nothing. All they can do is steal effectively. 

Yeah. Fine. You may hold a gun to a baker’s head and get him to bake you bread. But the quality of that bread will deteriorate over time and the first chance the baker gets, they’ll poison the damned bread.

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Even if you’re one of the thieves, you’ll have to look over your shoulder every minute of your pathetic life. You never know who is going to betray you or who made a side deal with whom. You are going to put way more energy into making sure you know who is on whose side and how the winds are shifting and how to kiss your boss’s a$$ most lovingly, and you’ll have almost no energy left over to improve your craft or care for your family. And, whenever the choice comes between explaining to your boss why his idea won’t work and simply keeping your mouth shut, you’ll keep your mouth shut and as a result, productivity will go down, or service will such, or lives will be lost. Over time, if you value compliance over effectiveness, then eventually, you will have a very ineffective, very compliant workforce. Less and less will get done. Don’t you remember the pictures of East and West Berlin before the wall came down? We don’t have to guess what happens in dictatorial regimes. We know what happens. A very few people live very well and everyone else is much more miserable. It’s no accident. It’s designed that way. You will suffer from fascism. Your family will suffer from fascism. 

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Speaking of family, since power trumps love at work, you will find yourself being more short-tempered and crueler to your kids and your spouse. At first, you might even think this is cool because you get your own way now by screaming and pounding your fist and if that doesn’t work by pounding the people in your family. And when those kids grow up, they are predisposed toward cruelty, and violence, and a$$-ki$$ery. But you won’t care because torn-apart families that hate each other is just fine with a totalitarian regime. Parents turn in their kids and vice versa. Spouses turn in each other. The fascist state loves that. 

Fascism doesn’t want sufficient power in order to get things done. It wants all power because all it wants is power. 

Cruelty is the point. 

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There is no reason Trump needs to be cruel to people in order to accomplish things. Whether it’s attacking his opponents or chastising his lackeys, he doesn’t name call and attack dead war heroes because he thinks it’s necessary to accomplish something for America. He does it because he loves to be cruel himself and he loves to evoke cruelty in his fans.

And that folks, is a Trumputinistic AmeriKKKa in a nutshell. Nut’s Hell? Needless (?) to say, racism fits right into the Nazi world view. It doesn’t matter what people do, or contribute. All that matters is how much they are “in favor” with the “powers that be.” It fits right in with mistaking a hat slogan such as “Make America Great Again” with — you know — actually making America great again.

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Meanwhile, in the civilized world, where one’s word still means something (and people value truth, love and contribution more than hatred, death, and power), people are curing diseases; inventing new sources of energy; having fun; loving each other; creating new recipes and dances and games; planting trees and building bridges. 

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Alas, we don’t want any part of that party! We’re going to stay over here in our dark little corner of the basement and do whatever master says we should do and feed on whatever scraps he throws us. 

I don’t think so. 

The vast majority of us are still anti-fascist. 

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Trumpism is a new religion. Now turned to suicide pact/death cult.

You Bet Your Life  Are some so enthralled with the entertainment value of the drama, they fail to act in their own interests?

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

A Profound and Utter Failure

Rejecting Adulthood

What about the butter dish? (Think *whether* to defend before thinking *how* to defend)

The Truth Train

Absolute is not just a vodka

Beware of Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing

The Loud Defense of Untenable Positions

The Temperature Gauge (on transparency in government)

Where does your loyalty lie?

You Know (which wolf do you feed)

America

Life is a Dance

Author Page on Amazon

Index to a Pattern Language for Collaboration

Essays on America: Poker Chips

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Oh, the pride, the swelling swell of pride

To be a chosen for the window side

On this long and deadly suicide ride, 

This pact of humanity’s genocide!

ace of spade and multi colored chips

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Thank God you’re white! You’re white!

It proves you’re bright! You’re bright!

A Poker Chip of Whitest White! 

That shows that you will win the fight.

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Poker Chips of Red and Blue

Have nothing whatever to do with you!

You were born perfect – a White Chip too!

And Male to boot! How clever of you!

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And, if you’re straight, that’s really great!

All will cheer when you find your mate!

If you can’t find, just buy your play date.

If you can’t afford that, just masturbate.

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If you’re dumb enough to say what’s true,

We may shoot out your eye, your orb of blue.

Turn it into gooey goo. You can’t sue, 

Just ‘cause you did as you’re free to do.

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Be glad you’re a White Chip; they’re the best!

Till the game is over and then, like the rest.

You’ll also be subject to false arrest.

Swept away and put back in the chest. 

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How do you like being a Poker Chip, friend? 

Red, White, or Blue — all killed in the end. 

Our bus careens round another tight bend!

An exciting plunge is what will send

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Us to our cliffside fall of fabulous fame.

At last to extinguish the last of our flame. 

There’s no-one left but ourselves to blame.

Do you like “Poker Chip” now for your only name? 

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“Poker Chip” —  doesn’t it have such a nice ring!

We must be grateful for our chance to sing!

The praises of our mad, inept, & orange king!

Putin’s Puppet, Mini-Hitler, Russian quisling!

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He’s out to kill us all, don’t you see?

He’s putting an end to democracy.

Poker Chips: we’ve now no rights nor any dignity. 

Regardless of our skin’s chromaticity. 

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Original drawing by Pierce Morgan

We were just toys to move and check and slay.

He told us so from his very first day. 

But you only heard he’d put them away.

You thought Poker Chips White could stay up and play. 

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That’s not the way it works, dear Poker Chip buddy, 

Your thinking’s been muddied by Fuddy-Duddy.

And soon you’ll see we’ll all be sick and bloody,

Look around you! It isn’t Great. It’s cruddy!

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Take my hand; let’s break boxed greed. 

Regardless of color; regardless of creed.

It’s everyone’s time of greatest need. 

Stand together. At least, it’s a seed, 

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Of what we can do with Red, White, and Blue.

Working as one to get everyone’s due. 

Working as one to grow out of this goo,

It’s up to me. And up to you. It’s what we do. 

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Author Page on Amazon

Trumpism is a New Religion

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

Where does your loyalty lie?

Rejecting Adulthood

My Cousin Bobby

Labelism 

Essays on America: My Cousin Bobby

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First, he was three years older than I was. I was only seven years old. 

The difference between a seven year old and a ten year old is a huge. My cousin Bobby was, I think, basically as smart as I was. But he knew a lot more, not just in terms of book learning, but also about the ways of the world and about sports. He was also bigger and stronger, but he knew details about throwing, hitting, catching, running, karate, etc. So, there was that. His dad was a psychiatrist who worked with the criminally insane. So. There’s that. 

Because Bobby was older, he got to do more things. I was allowed to do things with Bobby that I was not allowed to do on my own, so when he came to town, that was something of a thrill for me. And, going to visit him was also a thrill because it was someplace exotic (Indiana or Pennsylvania) I had never seen before that had sand dunes (!) or carnivals (!) or collies (!) and Bobby’s houses invariably had more rooms than our five room house in industrialized NE Ohio. Since most people’s attitude toward the places that hold the criminally insane is “not in my backyard”, the places Bobby lived were very much out in the country which was infinitely better than being 5 feet from your neighbors. Bobby and I flew his gas-powered model airplane; we built bonfires; we played with sparklers. 

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So, there were reasons for me to like Bobby — a bit like an older brother, but one you only see on special occasions. That’s apt to be important in understanding how I was manipulated into doing something against my own interests and desires. As to why Bobby did these things, I don’t really know for certain. He, like me, became a psychologist and his father was a psychiatrist, so seeing how the mind works is pretty interesting. While I thought of Bobby as a kind of older brother, Bobby may well have viewed me as something like a younger brother who sometimes got more attention. We were especially rivals for the attention of our grandparents. 

Whenever Bobby and I got together in our neck of the woods, Mom’s parents hosted. Two of my Mom’s brothers lived nearby and almost always attended special dinners such as hams and yams on Easter, hamburgers and hot dogs on July 4th, Turkey with all the trimmings on Thanksgiving and Christmas, etc. But, since Bobby’s dad worked and lived 3-6 hours drive away, his appearances were much rarer. When they did come visit, they typically got to stay overnight at our grandparent’s house. Because of this mere tele-inquity, Bobby’s family had an aura of specialness about them when they did deign a visit. I think that added to his caché in my mind and might also explain the gullibility I exhibited when it came to my cousin — and it went beyond merely believing something that was distorted and at least partially false; I acted on those absurd and harmful beliefs.

In one instance, Bobby and I were playing outside after a Sunday dinner. He began to tell me about a lot of things that bugged him about Granny. As he told these stories, a few of which might even have been true, he gradually encouraged me to add my experiences with Granny to the list of grievances. At first it was hard to come up with any. I loved Granny. And, she was very cool! She baked pies and always made some cinnamon roll-ups out of the dough too, made popcorn from scratch, listened to the radio with me and best of all, told me “Old Pete” stories. 

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But after enough probing, Bobby got hold of something when he asked “But don’t you hate it when you are eating those warm, cinnamon rollups and then they’re gone and she won’t make you just the cinnamon roll ups which are better than the stupid pie anyway, right?” That’s just what I had been thinking! Or, more accurately, it seemed to be just what I’d been thinking. 

If I had been thinking at all about those cinnamon roll-ups, I can assure you that my overall feeling would have been (and still is!!) very warm and fuzzy. I loved those rollups. And, yes, I am sure that there were times when I would have enjoyed more than were left. He gradually got me to see a lot of things that could be improved about Granny. And, then, he managed to convince me that the best way to an improved Granny (which would be better for everyone) was for us to go in there right now in front of everyone in our extended family and tell her just how we felt. Bobby gave me the honor of going first. It did feel like an honor. My cousin and I were allies, by God, and we were going to set things right. And, he trusted me, his comrade in arms, to lead the charge. By the time I walked in I was angry! And, I did lead the charge! Everyone was looking at me horrified. Well. That wasn’t the plan. They were supposed to be horrified at Granny! Not us!

I looked over at Bobby. He looked horrified too! Not at Granny, but at me. Us? There was no “us.” I thought Bobby had just chickened out. I still did not realize that he had tricked me into doing it. I thought a bit less of my cousin for being a bit of a coward, but I didn’t realize that it was all a con job from beginning to end. 

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That wasn’t the worst part. The worst part? About he year later, he did exactly the same damned thing. This time, he made me “explode” at my Grandpa. And the worst part of these diatribes was that there always some elements of truth thrown in. Grandpa was old and he did have skinny legs and he did smoke and therefore reek of tobacco. So, not only did I have to suffer the immediate condemnation of everyone in the family. (Again!) Some of the things I said hurt these people I loved. Despite their years of accumulated wisdom, it took some time to repair those relationships. At the time, I didn’t figure out on my own, why Grandma seemed so unfriendly. My mother seemed stupefied that I hadn’t known. “Why because of all those terrible things you said to her!” I had already apologized. But was it real? Or, was it just an apology forced by my parents?

I learned to be a lot less trustful of Bobby. But, I also learned to be a bit less trustful of myself as well. 

You know perhaps of various versions of the story of the “two wolves” that live within us. I have heard it variously ascribed to Native Americans of the Dakota tribe as well as the Cherokees. Basically, a grandfather, or other such wise person tells his grandson that there are two wolves inside him: a good wolf who is kind and generous and a bad wolf who is mean, spiteful and selfish. These wolves are in a constant battle with each other. The grandson asks which wolf will win and the grandfather replies “whichever one you feed.”

I learned that I have a bad wolf inside — and — that if I were not careful, someone else could call to that bad wolf, that ugly spirit inside, and arouse it to anger and then turn that wolf — not to to my bidding but to do his.

Has anyone ever awakened the bad wolf in you? 

brown wolf

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Author Page on Amazon

Trumpism is a New Religion

You Bet Your Life

Wednesday

At Least He’s Our Monster

What about the Butter Dish?

The Truth Train 

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The URGENT E-mail

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“You ready to head home, Barry?” 

“Yeah, just let me read this URGENT e-mail. Hold on.” 

DO NOT REPLY TO THIS USERID. THIS WAS SENT FROM A DISCONNECTED SERVICE MACHINE. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE DIAL THE TOLL FREE NUMBER AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS MESSAGE. 

“What the heck? I’d better read the rest.” 

WARNING: You have an incompatibility possibility between your X-CalDYS system CWP and your YODEL system HGH. If this continues, you will either cease to exist or your SNABLE account will be cancelled or both or neither. In any case, please fix this immediately by following the proper procedures. Dial 1-800-555-9876 for help. 

“What procedures? What are they talking about? I didn’t even know I had these systems.” 

“Sorry, Barry, I can’t help you on this one. Hey, it’s 8 PM. I’ve been going since six this morning. I’m gone.” 

“See you tomorrow. I’d better call.” 

Barry’s fingers beeped out the tones and then heard the cheery voice of concatenated speech: 

“You have reached the help center. Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line and you’ll be helped by the first available agent. Meanwhile, please listen to these important and informative messages from our CEO!

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“Hello fellow employees. Our results for the second quarter of last year are not so far behind the analysts’ expectations for our results for the third quarter of next year as they had been thought to be by the fifth quarter of this year. What does this mean for you? Work harder! Work smarter!! And, whatever you do, help make us the most efficient company in the world so my bonus will be bigger. Next quarter, we….” 

The pre-recorded and completely irrelevant message of the CEO was replaced by the concatenated speech synthesis.

“Thank you for holding. Press 1 for help on Windows, Doors, and Sewer Pipes. Press 2 for help on recipes for Chicken Tetrazzini. Press 3 for general counseling. Press 4 for other help.” 

Barry jabbed the 4 key. 

“Thank you. You have reached general help. Please enter your employee number followed by the Hunkdab.” 

Barry keyed in his employee number. “The what? Hunkdab? This must have been mistranslated from Serbo-Croatian. Probably the pound sign.” 

“That is not a valid employee number. There is no corresponding record in the SNABLE system. Please enter a valid employee number.” 

“What? Maybe the asterisk key?” 

He rekeyed his employee number followed by the asterisk. 

“That is not a valid employee number. There is no corresponding record in the SNABLE system. Please enter a valid employee number.” 

“Oh, crap. What is this all about? Geez. It’s 8:30. I’m outta here.” 

Barry moved the cursor to the entry line and typed “LOGOFF.” 

The computer beeped. “ERROR 95433-J: Machine cannot be logged off by a non-existent user.” 

“What the–? What is this? Some kind of virus?” He hit the power switch. “What a day.” Barry packed up his laptop and opened his office door. 

Beyond the door, the dim hallways and locked doors that typified the drab and depressing departmental decor had disappeared. Instead, Barry looked out on pure whiteness, infinite and featureless in every direction. He blinked. Tentatively, he began to stick the tip of his finger into the white goo, thought better of it, and used his pen instead. The pen felt as though it was going into hot tar. It disappeared beyond the plane of his doorframe. He pulled the pen back. The half that had been enveloped in the whiteness was gone. 

He went back to his desk, grabbed some loose change and tossed a few pennies into the white space. He waited for the coins to hit something far below. Barry cocked his head. A long time went by. There was no sound. He shouted into the whiteness, waiting to hear a tiny echo. 

Nothing. 

“Okay. Okay. Possibility one. I’m crazy. Possibility two. I’m in some really new weird part of the universe. Possibility three. I’m the victim of an elaborate practical joke.” 

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J slid to S’s work bubble and peered at S’s progressively overheated dance. S blinked at J’s presence and joined her hands. The bubble popped. 

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“Problems with your A-life studies, S?” 

“Yes, Master. Just like all my previous experiments, the organization reaches a certain level of complexity and it self-destructs. Each of the autonomous agents still seems rational but the whole doesn’t work. What am I doing wrong here, Master?” 

J laughed his mighty laugh. “Don’t be too hard on yourself, S. Even I haven’t totally mastered the emergence.” 

“I guess you did have a problem…there were some creations you had to scratch. Just recently, the Sol Project, I believe?” 

“Rumor races faster than fact. I call it the Earth Project after the planet with the intelligent life forms, but you are right, I might well have to scrap it. Same problems you’re having but at a larger scale. The so-called intelligent agents are destroying their own ecosystem.” 

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“Smart!” said S sarcastically. He pondered for a few moments. “Are they too smart? Is that it?” 

J considered. “I don’t think they are too intelligent. Cetaceans are more intelligent and they are doing just fine except for being killed off by the two-legged apes and having their oceans befouled. No, these particular forms grew into this weird combination of being intelligent problem solvers and inventors yet nearly blind to Ka and Karma.” 

“How can they survive at all?” 

“Not completely blind. I said ‘nearly’ blind. They are aware of the fact that they are destroying the ecosystem in a kind of frenzied self-centered greed. They have actually made a scientific study of their own behavior; written books about what they call ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’.” 

“Well, then, with all those insights, what’s the problem?” 

“They aren’t doing anything about it, or at least not enough to survive. Instead of baking more pies, they squabble about the pie they have.”  

“It’s the same thing really in my little experiment. Everybody knows the company has too much bureaucracy and greed and some people do try to fix it but as often as not, the fixes make things worse. But, you obviously already solved it for the company case, right?” 

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Barry found the number for the crisis line, picked up the phone to dial. Then, he noticed that the whiteness was creeping closer like a sea of living, moving, Elmer’s Glue, thick and deadly. And closer. And closer. The office, just a few feet in front of him, was disappearing with a hiss. He dropped the phone, turned, then ran to the emergency exit. Then, he remembered that it was locked from the outside to prevent people from stealing equipment — though, in fact, that had never once happened. 

“What the hell?!” were the last words he uttered. 

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The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

Pies on Offer: Mincemeat & Rhubarb

Index for Pattern Language for Cooperation & Teamwork

Author Page on Amazon

Screaming out a Warning

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I have been screaming all my life
For you to wake up.
I see the train coming
And you lie there on the tracks
Arguing in your drunken stupor
Over this and that
Tit and Tat
While the mammoth Midnight Express
Barrels toward you full tilt
A million pounds of steel
Headed toward your soft
Mammalian bodies
And your huge but fragile egos.

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Do you think that if you win the argument
Somehow your flesh
Will withstand the razor wheels?
Somehow, the sheer logic of your position
Will harden you to titanium?
Or that the diamond sparkling clarity
Of your almighty rightness
Will armor that sweet soft skin?

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What kind of drug are you on?
That you don’t hear the roar
That you don’t see the lights
That you don’t feel the track vibrate?

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And I always marvelled at the squirrels
Darting into the road, zigzag,
Throwing themselves stupidly under squealing tires
When peace and safety were so close
And so, so straight ahead.
Congratulations!
We make them look like mammalian geniuses.

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Clickity-clack down the track
We’ll all be sliced in two
And never even have eyes to look back
Never even

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Where does your Loyalty Lie? 

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Truth Train

A Profound and Utter Failure

Rejecting Adulthood

You Bet Your Life

Essays on America: Wednesday

Trumpism is a New Religion

Creativity in Issue Resolution

Build from Common Ground

Myths of the Veritas: The Forgotten Field

 

Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?

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Remember the days when you flew a lot for your organization?

Do you remember getting bonus miles from an airline? 

Do you recall that many them (and companies in other industries) called this a “Loyalty Program”?

Why do you suppose some of them called it a “Loyalty Program” instead of a “Frequent Flyer” program? 

Did you ever work for a manager or supervisor or boss whom you felt loyalty toward? 

Why did you feel that loyalty? 

What would you do if you caught your boss stealing from the company? 

Was your relationship to your boss more personal than your loyalty to the company?

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Artwork by Pierce Morgan

I had many part time jobs working my way through college. One of those jobs was as a projectionist (1964). It did not pay much (less than $2/hour), but it was a fun job in many ways. I got to stride all over the large university campus, mainly to show slides or movies to classes in the School of Architecture, Law School, Medical School, etc. I had a direct supervisor, Ted, who taught me the facts of life — at least, when it came to male & female plugs, the value of looping your cords, and of carrying with you at all times on the job, a spare projection lamp, a spare sound drum lamp, and a small film-splicing kit. He happened to be a Democrat. 

Another man, tall and bald Mr. “Cramer”, served as boss for the whole A/V department. He was a Republican, like me. I liked both of the people in my “management chain.” Neither one played any stupid “power games.” So far as I could see, we all just wanted to do a good job. That applied to my co-workers as well though I only interacted with them rarely. The nature of being a projectionist then led almost exclusively to solo gigs. 

That was okay with me. If there had been two of us in a projection both hidden away from fellow students and faculty, by sight and sound, being Sophomores, we probably would have acted sophomoronically and made fun of the material being presented or ignored it entirely and played cards or solved the world’s problems in a BS session. Working alone, I listened to every single lecture on topics that I would never get to in my paid classes; e.g., American 20th Century Architects including my favorite, Frank Lloyd Wright (awesome!); Collagen as a possible cause of aging (it isn’t); Alcohol and Driving. (Spoiler alert on that last one — not a good idea). 

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In order to get paid (for attending these free lectures), I had to fill out a time card every day and sign it at the end of the week. My direct supervisor hinted that I could put down a few more hours than I actually worked. I didn’t do that. He hinted again. I still didn’t do it. Eventually, Mr. Cramer spoke to me. He explained that if the department didn’t bill for their allotted hours, the departmental budget for the next year would be cut to match the hours that were billed for the current year. I still didn’t pad my hours, though I certainly could have used the money. It did seem a bit unfair to me that the department would have their budget cut because they were efficient. On the other hand, from the perspective of the entire university, it didn’t seem like such a ridiculous system. I didn’t feel as though I was being “disloyal” to my direct supervisor or the department boss to write down my true hours. Nor, did I feel particularly virtuous in putting my hours down accurately. It was just what I felt was the right thing to do. I don’t think it actually occurred to me to try to “rat on” my boss about the policy of padding the hours. I’m not sure whether that thought ever crossed my mind, but I didn’t do it. 

It should be noted that at that point in my life, I considered myself a Republican, though I was not yet old enough to vote. My parents had both been Republican. My mother’s entire family was Republican. I was enthusiastic about Eisenhower and  went to see Nixon talk at a nearby shopping center. I was likely only about 20-30 feet away. I have zero recollection of what he said, but he had seemed wonderful at the time. 

That same year, I also went to see Kennedy in an open car motorcade down Triplett Boulevard in Akron. He didn’t give a speech; he just waved to the crowd. I was curious because I had heard that he was super handsome. To me, he looked awful and not the least bit handsome. I could not understand why women thought he was attractive. His face looked like wrinkled leather to me. I grew up Republican and was “rooting for” Nixon. (Even my mother thought JFK was handsome, though she still voted for Nixon). 

Nonetheless, like nearly everyone I knew, I was fairly well devastated by John F. Kennedy’s assassination the year before I began working in the university A/V department. I was deeply saddened by his death and wondered seriously about the “conspiracy theories” about Johnson (among other possible criminal masterminds) having engineered the assassination. I didn’t believe any of them, but I did consider many of them as real possibilities. 

But even if it had turned out that Johnson had engineered he whole thing, I wouldn’t have believed that every Democrat was a crook or an evil person. I knew people who were Democrats and they weren’t any more or less ethical than Republicans. They had a different agenda. And a different espoused philosophy. 

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Ayn Rand had written two of my favorite books (then), The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Great stuff, I thought at the time. I felt like I could be one of the heroes in her books. I see now that people are much more interdependent than I realized back then (although, the degree of interdependence has also increased over the last half century — a lot!). Her work, at that time, gave me a philosophy somewhat in line with what the Republican Party said it was about — a high degree of individual freedom coupled with a high degree of individual responsibility, focused on, but not limited to yourself. 

In the current days, there are still people who label themselves as “Republican” who claim to subscribe to Ayn Rand’s philosophy. As someone who used to be very simpatico to her ideas, I cry “Bullshit!” The character of folks like Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, and Rand Paul are much like some of the villains in her fiction — nothing like the heroes. The heroes of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are the people who get paid a lot of money for actually producing something worthwhile; e.g., amazing buildings or a new and extremely cheap energy source. The villains are the cheats and the con men and the people who call in political favors and give contracts to people for kickbacks. The villains are the people who try to subvert the cheap new energy source to keep their oil profits!

Moreover, though it’s risky business to speak on behalf of a dead person, let me put it this way. I cannot imagine Ayn Rand agreeing to the kind of shenanigans that the GOP is trying to pull off now. She would have no doubt been against social security and for privatization. But she would not have thought it ethical to steal the money from the social security taxes and give it out to billionaires. In fact, she was for a progressive income tax. Her rationale was that the rich benefit so much more than do the poor from all the legitimate functions of government: police, fire, roads, post office, armed forces, courts of law, education(?). I’m not sure any more of her precise list, but it’s very short. It certainly doesn’t include having the government take on the job of dictating religious beliefs, or restricting a person’s sexual behavior among consenting adults, or of subverting elections, or of taking on the role of Crime Family in Chief. 

Trumputinists are not in any way shape or form taking their values or agenda from Ayn Rand. Some of them are absurdly accurate real-life portraits of her villains. None are anything like her heroes. All her heroes provided actual value. Trading money and favors and telling lies and making false promises and being a con man and a child molester — these are not value-creating activities. Not heroes. Villains. 

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Of course, there’s nothing sacred about Ayn Rand’s (mislabelled) system of “Objectivism.” There’s no particular reason why the Republican Party, or any other party, should base it’s own philosophy on “Objectivism” but it has made me suspicious about what the Republicans are really are up. They have claimed to be about individual freedom, but have increasingly been for taking freedoms away — the Second Amendment being the singular exception. Instead of being for real freedoms that actually matter such as — very importantly — Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, they now generate and promulgate made up freedoms such as “The Freedom to Infect Others” or “The Freedom to be an Asshole” and the “Freedom to Call the Police when POC Exists Somewhere I Can See Them.” These are not freedoms. And they are certainly not in line with responsibility. 

So, as you might now guess, I have come a long way politically from being an Ayn Rand fan and a Republican to being a Democrat. Some of that is because I have changed. As I said, it’s far clearer to me now that we really don’t earn our money independently of each other. We don’t live our lives independently. All of us are in this together whether we admit it or not. 

It hasn’t just been me who has been changing though. When I was first forming my opinions about the two major US political parties, it was more often the Southern Democrats who were promoting racism than it was Republicans. And, it was Democrats, not Republicans, who seemed more instrumental in getting us into dubious wars, dubiously led.

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Some of the Republican values seemed to have completely reversed from before. For instance, at this point, the Republican Party is far more ready to embrace racism and racists. No serious Democratic political entity would do that — at least not intentionally. That, to me, is sufficiently evil to put the GOP out of the running for my votes.

On the other hand, until recently at least, the GOP had some quite reasonable positions. I didn’t agree with them all, but they were reasonable. How much should America put time, energy, dollars, and the lives of our citizens at risk to make the world a more democratic place? You can’t look up the answer to a question like that in a trig table. It’s a complex issue requiring a balance of long-term direction and short-term flexibility so you can do the right thing even though the “right thing” is a choice between the lesser of two evils.

How fiscally conservative should the US Government be? How much should the government try to regulate different industries and companies? How much of our tax dollars should go to research various topics in science and medicine? What do we do about climate change? There are a host of issues where it’s actually useful to get input from a variety of different sources and where working together makes sense. 

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Lately, however, the so-called “Republican Party” has made such a sweeping change, that it seems absurd to me to even call it the “Republican” Party any longer. 

For example, “How fiscally conservative should the US Government be?” is not a question that the so-called Republican party even deigns to consider. They have new position which is: “Make the economy look good and do whatever it takes to make the DOW go up all the while funneling as much money as possible to us and a few of our friends.” That is not a political position! That is a criminal position.

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“How much should the government try to regulate different industries and companies?” is not a question that the so-called Republican party wants to consider. Their position is, “How can we make Americans sick by rolling back EPA and OSHA regulations while simultaneously getting kickbacks and making the economy look better.” That is what they are about. Again, it is not a political compromise about where to be on some tradeoff function between economics and health. No. It’s a strategy for crime; for graft; for stealing your tax dollars and making the planet worse for your children and grandchildren — not better — worse. 

“How much of your tax dollars should go to various topics in science and medicine?” This no longer interests the So-Called Republican Party (SCRAP). What does interest them is to funnel as much of your tax dollars as they can to their friends and family and donors. Scientific peer review? So experts will determine what should be funded? Ridiculous! We’ll fund whomever we damned well please. Again, that is not a political tradeoff that should be debated; e.g., how much research money should go to long term versus short term research. No, it is a criminal agenda. That is what SCRAP is up to.

“What do we do about climate change?” This is an issue that everyone in every party should care about. It is about the quality of the world that we leave for our children, our grand-children, our great grand-children and all the living being son this planet! And what is the SCRAP position on how we should go about this? It isn’t a problem! It doesn’t exist! It’s all a hoax! 

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What? Seriously? 

Not so long ago, Republicans and Democrats differed in their philosophies about Judges. The Republicans generally preferred “Strict Constitutionalists” while Democrats preferred judges who would take into account the current situation in interpreting the Constitution. This is nothing like what current SCRAP are doing. They want to select as many judges as possible who will swear loyalty to them. This is tough to carry out because people often, but not always, get into the law because they respect the Law. So, “conservatives” and “strict constitutionalists” may refuse to render opinions just to please the people who got them confirmed. But the fact that SCRAP is trying to execute an ineffective criminal plan doesn’t make it any less criminal. 

Political parties evolve. They change. They will continue to change. 

Evolution takes time though. The Republican and Democratic Parties changed their positions on racism over the course of decades.

The changes I am talking about above are massive changes. And, they have taken place only since Donald Trump took office and they have accelerated after the GOP Senate refused (save Mitt Romney) to convict Trump on his impeachment charges. Perhaps even more important than the fact that they failed to convict Trump is that Mitch McConnell swore, along with all the other Senators, to hold a fair and impartial trial. And, then, Mitch McConnell, in full view of everyone, smiled and laughed and promised that Trump would be found Not Guilty and that he would coordinate his running of the trial with Trump’s defense team. He promised Trump that they would subpoena no documents and call no witnesses. 

This goes way beyond being loyal to “your team” or “your party” — this is putting the Party above the Country. This is SCRAP, not the GOP, not the traditional Republican Party. If anything, my expectations are that actual Republicans might be faulted too much for sticking to the rules and might do so even when common sense demanded a slight bending of the rules. But this is not “bending the rules.” This is throwing the whole idea that rules matter completely out the window. You may think that’s just swell. I don’t. And maybe we can debate that later. But the point here is that it is a massive change in SCRAP. 

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If you think of yourself as a Republican, you have to do some real soul searching here. Are you being loyal to the “Republican Party” that you’ve been a part of for awhile? Or are you being loyal to SCRAP? Old Time Republican Party — believed in the rule of law; believed in playing fair; believed American power in international affairs was important; believed in individual responsibility. SCRAP – believes in dictatorship; believes in cheating; believes in letting Russia dictate foreign policy; believes in magic and crime not data-based management of government. 

And, there are consequences. In the rush to fulfill Trump’s agenda (make the Trump Crime Family Rich and stay in power as dictator), people have died who did not need to die from COVID19. More people — many more than have died so far — are also likely going to die — also people who did not need to die. Is that really what you signed up for? Is that really the Republican Party? I don’t think it is. But I’m no longer a Republican. I’m looking at this from the outside. The Republicans I have known throughout my life would not support most of this SCRAP. Mr. Cramer, my old A/V boss would not have supported this SCRAP. My grandfather would not have supported this SCRAP. My three uncles who fought in World War II would not have supported this SCRAP. My mother would not have supported this SCRAP. My father, who also fought in WWII would not have supported this SCRAP.

How about you? 

Where does your loyalty lie? 

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Trumpism is a New Religion

You Bet Your Life

Wednesday

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

Absolute is not Just a Vodka

Little Grandma

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“Little Grandma” (as we all called her) was 86 when last I saw her alive on what was to be her deathbed. She smiled and asked about my broken arm. She was old, bent, wrinkled — and tired — so she said. I guess it was from her Native American bones that I inherited my love of nature, my peace with all of it; all that is natural and beautiful on this tiny jewel of a planet — the wild iris, the rose, the caterpillar, the crimson sunset and the rain.

The rain. But of course, there are a thousand kinds of rain. They come in so many colors, moods, and sounds. Tall sheets of rain seen from miles across the “Big Sky” country; cold, drizzly little fall rains; sudden laughing summer showers; lashing hurricanes that flood and kill and toss trees like broken toys.

When we buried you, “Little Grandma,” it was a gray day steel steady rain of tears from a sky that held unseen clouds. It was the rain, I guess, that drowned out the meaningless words of the poor man in the black robes babbling uselessly to comfort me. The grass was very green in your little spot beneath the black, dripping elm.

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On the rain fell, on the ancient little church, on the little crowd of black umbrellas, on the stones of the graveyard, gradually, gradually, fading out even the words carved in stone — but not the words carved in my heart, “Little Grandma.”

We don’t think of “Little Grandma” as a fallen soldier. In her longish life, however, she saw her children and then her grandchildren go off to war. Seldom even a heavily redacted post card. Never a call on the satellite phone. And her grand-daughter’s husband was killed in a war. So, I thought of her on Memorial Day — and all the other millions of women who kept life going — and all the while never knowing whether their sons and husbands would ever return whole — or return at all. Now, of course, women are also war-fighters. But haven’t they always been?

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Citizen Soldiers: Part 1

 

Donnie Boy Plays Captain Man

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“Donnie, look, I told you. My Dad has strictly forbidden me to let anyone else steer. Get away from the wheel.”

“I know navigation, Biff. I’m following Pluto.” 

“What are you talking about Donnie? You can’t see Pluto with the naked eye?” Biff shook his head; sometimes, it was unfathomable how ignorant Donnie could be about even commonsense things.

Donnie went on. “It’s the brightest star in the sky! It’s huge. It’s Jupiter! It’s the Jupiter of stars, I mean. It’s the biggest and the best and the smartest and it’s the farthest away so it’s the brightest so we can see it!” 

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As Donnie spoke, his voice became more and more impassioned. At the end of this meaningless drivel of words, Biff found himself wondering whether perhaps everything he knew about navigation and astronomy were somehow wrong. Then he sighed and shook his head. 

“Donnie, look. We need to get back to the dock. Look at the radar. There’s a storm coming. See these?” Biff pointed to a bunch of blurs on the screen. 

It made no sense to Donald so he ignored it. Best to change the subject, he thought. “Hey, Biff, how come you didn’t bring any girls on board? I could use one about now. I mean, if we’re going to die in a matter of minutes, why not spend it making them.… Do you keep any on board, like chained up?” 

“No. God, that’s sick. Donnie, go tell the crew that we’ve got to come about. Now.” 

Donnie thought to himself, what a big prick. He thinks just because his daddy owns a sailboat, he can order me around. Yeah, we’ll see about that. Jerk. Prick. “Aye, Aye, Sir!” Donnie saluted as he said this but Biff was looking at the instruments. 

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Donnie went to the cabin door. He could see that Biff was paying no attention so he shot him the bird and thought to himself: my friend Jeffrey would have thought to chain some girls on board. Young, skinny ones. I could beat the crap out of them till they did what I want. I could be just like Daddy. 

The wind freshened so that Donnie had to shout to be heard. “BIFF SAYS TO DROP ANCHOR!” 

John and Mitt looked at each other and frowned. “WHAT?!” John yelled. 

Donnie repeated himself, “BIFF SAYS TO DROP ANCHOR!!” 

Mitt scuttled over to Donnie Boy, “That makes no sense. Look at the horizon! There’s a storm coming! We don’t…you must have misheard him. Go ask him again!”

Donnie screamed, “I’M NOT YOUR DAMNED ERRAND BOY! GO ASK HIM YOURSELF!” 

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Mitt stepped up onto a railing to get around Donnie. As he did so, Donnie gave in, as he often did, to a sudden urge to hurt someone. He wrapped one arm around the back of Mitt’s knee and shoved hard with this other hand. The boat lurched just then and instead of watching Mitt scramble to keep from falling overboard, which would have been great fun, he instead watched Mitt plummet into the ocean — which was even more fun! Donnie looked around. No-one had seen it. He held tightly onto the gunwale as he leaned over to watch Mitt bobbing among the waves. He was waving his hand and shouting something about throwing a life preserver. Hell, why, thought Donnie. He’s already wearing a life preserver. Stupid. Mitt was screaming in earnest now. Somehow his desperate voice carried enough to alert John who managed to slide and walk over to the starboard. He looked over to see Mitt floundering in the icy water. He looked at Donnie who was standing right next to a life preserver. 

“THROW HIM THE LIFE PRESERVER!” he screamed. 

Just then, the boat lurched again and the boom of the mainsail flew across the deck and caught John across the back of the head and it made a wonderful sound to Donnie’s ears as it cracked the back of John’s skull. John flew into the water in a wonderful sort of drunken cartwheel that was great fun to watch. 

Donnie figured he would go somewhere where he couldn’t get hit by the bang. Or blast. Whatever it was called. So many fancy schmansy terms. Holding on against the bucking of the small craft, Donnie managed to get back into the small cabin. 

Biff saw him out of the corner of his eye and yelled, “What the hell is going on out there? Are those guys too drunk to help me?”

“I don’t know. I told them to … I told them your orders and they said to tell you “F&&& You! They wanted to drop anchor and watch the lightening.” 

“WHAT?!! Don’t be ridiculous! Why would they do that? Did you tell them a storm was coming?” 

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“Oh, they already knew. You can see it without the radar gun, Biff. Look!” Donnie pointed one of his teeny fingers toward the horizon. The sky had turned and ugly dark orange color. 

“Oh, crap. Why aren’t they trimming the sails then?!” 

“Biff, when I talked to them, they sounded high. Like they’d been smoking marijuana or drinking beer.” 

“Okay, Donnie but where are they? I don’t see either of them?” 

“Don’t worry, Biff, I’m sure they’re doing something to help you out. But, like you said, I don’t know anything about sailing so I can’t make head or tail out of it.” 

“You’ve got to help me trim the sail! That wind’ll tear the mast right off the boat! Or, capsize us.” 

Donnie looked at Biff, “God damn, Biff. With all your money, you couldn’t afford to get a sail the right size in the first place?” 

“WHAT?! Donnie, oh CRAP!” 

There was a terrific crash and the boat seemed to be coming apart. 

A string of unprintable curse words came out of Biff’s mouth and then he screamed some primitive non-verbal cry of rage. He ground his teeth together. How the hell could this be happening!? he asked himself.  (More profanity followed). Biff clenched his jaw and his hands tightly. Damn, he thought; I’ll be grounded now for the rest of my life! Or, the summer, for sure.

As horrible as that might be, Biff was no dummy and realized it was better to be alive and spend the rest of the summer in the house than it was to be dead. “COME ON, DONNIE. HELP ME GET THE DINGHY.”

“I’M NOT LETTING YOU DO MY THINGY!” screamed Donnie. 

“DINGHY! DINGHY! You dolt, not your thingy. Where are John & Mitt?” 

Biff let out another string of the usual profanities interspersed with some nautical terms and the names of various Saints. He poked a button on the Captain’s console. He managed to have a strained conversation of sorts with the Coast Guard who said they would come give them a hand or a chopper if at all possible. 

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Relieved a little to know help was on the way, Biff cautiously worked his way out onto the deck to search for his friends. He was soon convinced that they must have fallen overboard.

He came back in the cabin. “DONNIE, I THINK THEY WENT OVERBOARD! I don’t see either one anywhere. Help me LOOK!” 

Donnie Boy put his teeny hand near his temple and said, “AYE, AYE, SIR!” 

Donnie cautiously went over to a part of the railing that had good hand holds. “BIFF!” he shouted. “BIFF! OVER HERE! I FOUND THEM!” 

Biff worked his way across the deck to where Donnie stood. Donnie held on with both hands but gestured starboard with his head. “THERE!” he shouted.

Biff leaned over to look into the waves. The waves were so high, it would be hard to see them. He might just catch a glimpse. They would soon freeze in this cold Atlantic water, he thought. As Biff leaned over for a better look, Donnie got down behind him on all fours and then stood up suddenly throwing Biff overboard with the weight of his body. He quickly stood up and watched Biff struggling in the water. “THROW ME A LIFE PRESERVER! THROW ME A LIFE PRESERVER! I FELL!”

Donnie held on with one hand as tight as he could but he couldn’t resist saluting “Captain Biff” one last time, “AYE, AYE, SIR!” Donnie shook his head. It was so easy to destroy people on your own side. They kept assuming you would work with them and you could literally get away with murder. That idiot Biff still didn’t realize that Donnie had pushed him. It was a lot more pleasant in the cabin, but Donnie braved the rain and wind to watch Biff’s stupid face as he realized right before hypothermia and exhaustion turned his features to stone that Donnie was not, in fact, going to throw him a life preserver. 

Later, safe and sound in the cabin of the large Coast Guard Cutter, Donnie tearfully explained how the storm had taken them all by surprise. Slowly, and as though against his will, he let it be known that his shipmates had been drinking a lot and smoking marijuana and that they began to get naked and engage sexually with each other because that’s what pot does to people and booze.

“It was disgusting! It was awful. They tried to force me to join them. Of course, I wouldn’t. But they were so busy fighting me that I guess they didn’t notice the storm coming. When it did, they panicked and started screaming at each other. I stayed inside the cabin. I didn’t know what to do. It’s probably my fault I guess that they’re dead. If I had given in, maybe they would have noticed the storm. But it’s so gross. I just couldn’t.”

The kindly gray-haired officer in charge put his hand on Donnie’s shoulder to comfort him. “It’s not your fault son. You did the right thing not giving in to those homos.” 

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Donnie bit his quivering lower lip and nodded sagely, “I suppose you’re right, Sir. But Biff. Mitt. John. Whatever their sins, now, they are gone. It’s terrible. Just terrible. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever really get over it, Sir.” 

Donnie was playing the part so well and then suddenly he damned near laughed out loud. He had learned to see this coming in himself and quickly bit his tongue and jammed his right toe into the back of his left calf. He didn’t want to get hurt, but he did manage to cause enough pain to wipe the grin off his face. 

He thought to himself, and not for the last time, that it’s so easy to cheat people if you pretend to be their friend. How stupid everyone is, he thought, quickly hiding his grin in his hands. He pretended to cry as the idiot Coast Guard guy again patted his shoulder to console him about the loss of his friends, or as Donnie himself liked to think of them, his toys. 

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—————————————-

Donnie Plays Bull-Dazzle Man

Donnie gets a Hamster!

Donnie visits Granny! 

Donnie plays soldier man

Donnie Learns Golf

Donnie Takes a Blue Ribbon for Spelling

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