Fire: “What are you doing here? Fool. I’m god here. You’re neither wanted nor needed. It’s over. Have an ice day!”
Ice: “Perhaps. Perhaps not.”
Fire: “Bah. In war, it is I who kills. Flame-throwers, the gunpowder propelling bullets, bombs, and best of all, but rarely used, atomic fire. Oh, it warms my heart to see.”
Ice: “Yes, but I am your best partner, though you know it not.”
Fire: “You? Hah. Okay, I grant you, frostbite and cold have destroyed the bodies of many. Napolean and Hitler and Lord knows who else’s armies. But still.”
Ice: “No, you’re foolish and rambling as ever. I’m not talking about how I can help you kill. I’m talking about how I prepare the ground for you. Make people not care. Encourage the turning of a cold shoulder, a blind eye. Without me, people might never turn to you.”
Fire: “I doubt it. Fire begets fire. Hate begets hate. What does your little chill of indifference have to do with it? Be gone or I’ll melt you to water.”
Ice: “Perhaps. But I might douse you to smoldering embers. I suggest you think about it. We can work as partners. Each making the other stronger. Actually, we have been partnering, but I’ve never gotten the credit I deserve. You’ve ignored me too long.”
Fire: “Hah! Not nearly so much as you have ignored me! You’re useless without me!”
Ice: “Fine, if that’s the way you feel, then this is goodbye. Forever.”
“Good evening, everyone. My guest today is the author and poet, Peter S. Ironwood. Welcome to our Thanksgiving edition of ‘Meet the Authors.’”
“Speaking of Thanksgiving, thank you for having me on your show, Walter. I grew up watching you do the news so it’s a real thrill to be on your new show, even though it has to be via Zoom. I’ve been on live TV a few times, and I have to say, it is a lot more comfortable without the sweat lights.”
“Indeed. Perhaps we could talk about your most recent extensive work The Myths of the Veritas. You have been sharing these myths for several years now on your blog and now, as I understand it, you plan to put these stories you wrote into a book trilogy. Is that accurate?”
“Yes, Walter, I will be putting these into a book trilogy. That is correct. However, I have to quibble with you about the verb ‘wrote.’ I translated these tales from Veritas. And, by the way, the name ‘Veritas’ comes from Latin for truth because this tribe valued truth very highly. The so-called myths have nothing to do with the right wing deception group called Veritas who attempt to trick liberals into saying something that can be taken out of context, twisted around, and help keep extremely greedy people in power. The Veritas Tribe I write about would not have been happy to have the word ‘veritas’ misused in this way.”
Walter’s eyebrows raised just a little and he pursed his lips. After a slight pause, he continued. “Speaking of the truth, Peter S Ironwood is just a pseudonym is that correct?”
“Oh, yes. I also use the pseudonym ‘truthtable’ sometimes in my writing and translations. My real name’s ‘John’ by the way.”
Walter bit his lip and said, “Now, John, when you use the word ‘translation’ — isn’t it true that no-one else has seen the original materials from which you translated these tales? I mean, the manuscripts have never been made accessible.”
“No, that’s not true at all, although I can see why you — and possibly the viewers — are a bit confused. Of course, the Veritas themselves, once they learned to read and write, saw and indeed created the original manuscripts. And, I am by no means the only translator. My task is to turn the translations into stories. In the future, there is a whole team of scholars working on the translations.”
Walter tilted his head. “Did you say — you said — ‘in the future’ — if I’m not mistaken.”
“Yes, of course. In the future, there are all sorts of sophisticated algorithms that we do not yet have today. Frankly, even if we did have them, today’s computers are simply not powerful enough to run such software. At least, not within one individual’s allotted 150 years.”
Walter frowned. “I’m sorry. I don’t understand. You are saying these stories are true and yet they are from the future. Is that what you’re saying?”
John smiled. “Of course. Everything exists in the past, present, and future. It’s really all one giant wheel. When we stand on the earth, we cannot see the whole earth, can we? We can only see a small portion of it. If we climb a mountain, we can see much more, especially if it’s a clear day. Isn’t that correct?”
The furrow in Walter’s forehead deepened. “What does that have to do with … are you claiming you can see into the future?”
“Yes, of course. We all can. Your staff booked me for this interview and here I am. You saw that I would be on the show and here I am. People look into the future all the time. I think … sometimes, like other writers, I climb a mountain of imagination. When I’m up there, I can see further into the future.”
Walter blinked a few times. “So, let me get this straight. You are saying that you can predict the future?”
“Yes. Anyone can predict the future. Science fiction writers do that all the time. Those predictions are not always accurate in terms of what happens on our own time line. But if a writer looks clearly, and speaks truth from the heart, it will always be true of onepossible future. Whether or not that possible future comes to pass will depend on the actions of everyone — and even of non-human events. Your staff booked me to come on the show and here I am. There might have been a big storm that took down the power grid and I wouldn’t have been able to keep the appointment. Or, I might have had a heart attack. Or, going back even further, perhaps stem cell research would have been made illegal and you yourself might have died years ago. Sorry to say this, but somehow, the summer of 2009 flashes into my mind. Our choices determine which of the many possible futures actually come to pass. And, those choices, importantly, include the choices the writer makes. Which futures do I write about? How is the material presented? Who reads these works? All of these choices and more can impact which channel into the future is the one we find ourselves in.”
Walter swallowed hard. For a moment, his mind was taken back to a weird series of dreams he had had in the summer of 2009. Those dreams had all dealt with his own death — some metaphorically and some quite literally. He had pushed them away. Was it possible the dreams had come from another time-line in which stem cell research had not given him another half-century of productive reporting? For a flicker of a moment, he considered bringing it into the interview. No! He told himself. Though his body may have been renewed, he still believed in a kind of journalism which never made the interviewer the subject. He was merely the — the medium through which the news was reported. He was not himself the news. Nor meant to be. The expression ‘Dead Air’ suddenly flashed in his mind. He shook his head and continued his questions.
“So, John, you are saying — well, are you saying that the Science Fiction writers in general — and you in particular — that you simply guess at the future and that those guesses may or may not actually come true? That the real future is independent of what is written?”
“No, Walter, not at all. I am saying the writer climbs a mountain and sees a part of the landscape that others don’t. They choose parts of that landscape to write about. It’s really out there. It’s not a guess. It’s a choice. What happens in our lifetimes is not the same as the stories. On the other hand, writing is an action and as such, it helps direct the future. In some cases, the writing helps us avoid imaginary futures. I think Huxley’s Brave New Land and Orwell’s 1985 served as cautionary tales that helped us avoid the idiocy of absolute dictatorships. It doesn’t always work. But sometimes it does. After all, The Orange Man may have helped many leaders of the Veritas avoid letting the greedy bend the truth for their own gain, but then, as in the tales called Stoned Soup and Three Blind Mice, the same themes come up again. Bad ideas like dictatorship come up again and again in different forms and ages. Locusts. Plagues. Drought. We learn about them and try to avoid or mitigate. Historians cannot make us avoid the mistakes of the past. They can only show us the dangers of a path. It’s the same with Science Fiction writers. I can help people see the mistakes of the future. Whether we avoid them is up to all of us.”
Walter stared and the expression “Dead Air” shouted into his earpiece. “You believe then, that if Orwell and Huxley had not written their books, some parts of the world might now be living under dictatorships?”
“Oh, yes. Absolutely. In fact, even if their writing had been slightly different or fewer people had read their works, we might have had millions living under dictatorships today. Democracy is not guaranteed. I do think it is more life-affirming though and therefore, if humanity is to survive, it will do so via democracy, not via dictatorship. Dictatorship is much like cancer. No. Let me rephrase that. Dictatorship is cancer, writ large. Part of the reason it no longer exists is because of writers. But people could have chosen to ignore those writings or to have fooled themselves into believing the lies of the dictators and would-be dictators instead. I report on the mistakes of the future, but I can’t force people to avoid them. That takes everyone.”
Walter stared into the camera, blinked a few times and said, “And, now, we must take a short commercial break. We’ll be back in a few moments to answer questions that have been texted to our studios by our viewers at home.”
Have you ever heard that expression? Perhaps you have even hurled it at someone in frustration. Or, perhaps you’ve had other people hurl it at you. Maybe both. But have you ever analyzed what such a statement really means? Have you ever heard someone say, “If you’re so smart, why can’t you jump higher?” Or, have you perhaps said, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you a gardener?” How about this one: “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you nice?”?
Here’s what I think. Some among the extremely rich, want people throughout the world to think that every rich person, no matter how they acquired that wealth, got that wealth by being smart. They don’t want you to think they simply inherited it. They certainly don’t want you think they stole it. They don’t want you to think they were just lucky. Every time you hear this expression — “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” — you are essentially implying that anyone who is smart should be rich. You are essentially implying that, of course, pursuing wealth is the top priority for everyone and the smartest are the richest are the smartest. If you were smart, you wouldn’t possibly “settle” for less wealth because you enjoyed living in a certain area or because you found more meaning or pleasure in a lower paying pursuit.
Among the very rich, and especially among the very rich who did not actually earn any of their wealth, there are some who are insanely greedy. Please understand, I’m not talking about wanting your fair share, or putting yourself and your family ahead of others. Nor, am I talking about people who really want more than their share and will cheat if they can get away with it. That’s what I call greed. I am talking about insane greed.
As you likely know from numerous TV shows about lawyers, “insanity” is not a psychological or psychiatric term so much as a legal term. In our society, you can’t lock someone up simply because they are neurotic, or psychotic, or manic-depressive, or because of claustrophobia or because they insist that the moon is made of green cheese or that the earth is flat. The test for involuntary residence at a psychiatric facility is whether you are a danger to yourself or others. The insanely greedy are precisely a danger to themselves and others.
It’s probably obvious to most that the insanely greedy are a danger to others. To go from being a billionaire to billionaire with another dime in their pocket, they will pollute and that pollution kills. They will tout false cures. They will design, build and sell deadly products like cigarettes and pretend it’s all fine. They don’t care. If they can get away with it, they just don’t care. They are insanely greedy in that their greed is a danger to others.
Their greed also makes them a danger to themselves. True enough, they typically know that they are a danger to others; they just don’t give a damn. But they often delude themselves so severely that they literally do not realize that they are also a danger to themselves. They are a danger in ways both trivial and substantial.
They are trivially a danger to themselves in that many of the things they propagate such as global climate change and pollution will hurt the life stream of which they are a very small and temporary part. If they understood their true nature, they would realize that their greed ultimately hurts them.
Their substantive self-harm specifically has to do with supporting a known liar, cheat, and criminal in his attempt to become dictator because they believe that since they are funding an insurrection to install him as dictator, that TFG will look favorably on them; e.g., by giving federal business to them or jailing their competitors. Or, perhaps they’re the sort of person who will simply enjoy having innocent people destroyed because of their religion or national origin or taste in dance music, or whatever other bogus divisiveness comes into vogue. It doesn’t matter. Regardless of the reason, there is zero evidence in TFG’s behavior that he shows actual loyalty to anyone. It isn’t that he has rarely betrayed others; it isn’t that he has sometimes betrayed others; it isn’t that he has often betrayed others. He’s consistently betrayed others. He’s cheated his wives, his business partners, his contractors, his own lawyers, his supporters, his fans, his co-workers, his customers, the people who gave to his charities, and random strangers.
TFG needs the money of his donors in order to gain power. He doesn’t need their money once he has power. He would control the intelligence agencies, the justice department, the military, and the press. He would no longer need the money of his donors or of their power. Supporting TFG to become dictator is essentially writing a blank check to him. He will simply take whatever he wants.
Poor people are deluded into thinking TFG won’t betray them because they want to a super spreader hate rally and wore a red hat.
Rich people are deluded into the thinking TFG won’t betray them because he used their wealth to become dictator.
I don’t know about you. But I see no reason to ever say, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich.”
Hairline fracture, fissure fracture, march fracture, spontaneous fracture, fatigue fracture
Stress fracture of the second metatarsal bone (below the knuckles of the second toe)
“A stress fracture is a fatigue-induced bone fracture caused by repeated stress over time. Instead of resulting from a single severe impact, stress fractures are the result of accumulated injury from repeated submaximal loading, such as running or jumping. Because of this mechanism, stress fractures are common overuse injuries in athletes.
Stress fractures can be described as small cracks in the bone, or hairline fractures. Stress fractures of the foot are sometimes called “march fractures” because of the injury’s prevalence among heavily marching soldiers. Stress fractures most frequently occur in weight-bearing bones of the lower extremities, such as the tibia and fibula (bones of the lower leg), metatarsal and navicular bones (bones of the foot). Less common are stress fractures to the femur, pelvis, and sacrum. Treatment usually consists of rest followed by a gradual return to exercise over a period of months.”
A few weeks ago, I was playing tennis as I regularly do about 3-4 times a week. Also, as usual, my feet really began to hurt after two sets. I find that changing shoes typically helps the situation, so I sat down to change my shoes. It was extremely difficult to get my foot into my shoe — I had to bang it hard to get it in. Finally — success!
So, I was ready to play a third set. But after two points, I realized there was no way I was going to play more tennis. I hobbled home and could barely mount the shallow steps to the front door. It was “Labor Day” so most places were closed. We finally got my painful ankle X-rayed and the doctor who read the X-rays said, “Good news! No new breaks in your ankle.”
That was good news.
Except that so far as I knew, I had never broken my ankle in the past! That brings to seven the total number of broken bones I’ve had.
I was born with flat feet and all my life I’ve had flat feet and pronated ankles. Now, however, things had moved to a new and much worse chapter. I could literally put zero weight on my left leg. Now, I can walk. Which means, I can now play tennis.
How could I have broken an ankle and not have been aware of it? Because of the structural defects in my feet, instead of having an arch that works to distribute the stress of running, jumping, and landing, one of the key bones in my arch has moved downward and toward the midline. So now, every time I land hard, the stress is not distributed evenly through the arch but smashes down into the outside of my ankle bone.
That sucks. And it makes playing tennis iffy. And, it’s painful. And, potentially dangerous.
Not so much as the fracturing of American democracy however.
The Trumputinists have been waging a War on Truth against America for years. They stepped up their game significantly with TFG. Who benefits from the War on Truth?
Not the American citizens!
The man who got TFG Putin office benefits.
America has long been the major thorn in the side of Putin’s ambitions to reconstitute the USSR and possibly even to “rule the world.” It’s a crazy ambition, to my way of thinking. But not to would-be dictators.
I like tennis.
But some folks like stamp collecting. And some like to quilt. And some few like to destroy the love and livelihood of others in order to gain power. (Essays on America: The Game).
About 2400-2500 Americans were killed by the sudden attack on Pearl Harbor. FDR immediately declared war on Japan. That was like a traumatic bone break to a human body.
The Trumputinists, through their campaign of lies, false cures, false promises, and executive orders have driven up the number of deaths of Americans from the pandemic by hundreds of thousands. They have killed more Americans than were killed in 9/11 and Pearl Harbor and the War in Vietnam, and the Middle Eastern wars combined.
In 1860, the South seceded from the Union. Did Lincoln declare war on the South? No. Did he attack the South? No. The South attacked Fort Sumpter. Do you know how many Americans they killed?
Two Union soldiers were killed in an accidental explosion while they were leaving the fort.
Even before the pandemic hit, TFG was rolling back safeguards on the food supply, clean water regulations, and clean air regulations. He was isolating America from our allies.
TFG replaced patriotic, non-partisan experts throughout government with inept lackeys who would do anything to curry favor with the Putin-backed coup.
TFG did everything he could to destroy the careers of any patriotic Republicans who stood up to him.
TFG, millions of dollars in “dark money” and the Trumputinist backers have subverted confidence in elections and passed “laws” that mean that they can simply “overturn” elections when they don’t win. Nonetheless, they have also passed laws to suppress the votes of POC, the elderly, Armed Services personnel, Native Americans, and students. Suppressing the vote, aside from being unfair, guarantees that inept, cruel, and corrupt politicians will be the norm.
The Trumputinists deny that their deadly attack on the United States Capitol was a crime. They claim it was just a regular day of tourism.
Major stress fracture.
America faces serious problems such as the need for immigration reform, wealth inequality, racial injustice, crumbling infrastructure, COVID, cybercrime, social media companies giving in to brutal dictators like Putin, climate disasters. The Trumputinists pretend to want to be part of the solution but actually are doing everything in their power to prevent these crises from being addressed.
As the stress fractures in your body continue to multiply, you will begin to bleed to death internally. And, being unable to move, you will be unable to battle predators of any description.
It’s past time to bring to justice those who are trying to destroy our democracy, even if that makes Putin upset.
It’s important to remember that in the last Presidential election, Republicans and Democrats worked together throughout the country to run the election. Those were actual Republicans — Americans who are typically more conservative than their Democratic colleagues. Those folks are being threatened with physical violence as are their families unless they pledge to be Trumputinists. Of course, the Trumputinist don’t call themselves “Fascists” or “Trumputinists” but so what?
People who stormed the US Capitol; politicians who support the overthrow of democracy; people who threaten violence against actual Republicans who do not support the big lie — they all need to be dealt with legally, but quickly and thoroughly.
One thing we do know from history: trying to placate a cruel ego-maniacal dictator by, say, giving them Poland, does not work. Ask the ghost of Neville Chamberlain.
I honestly cannot think of how the Trumputinists could make it more clear.
They are not playing on team America.
They have already attacked American democratic institutions and stormed America’s Capitol.
They have already killed 1/2 million innocent Americans.
They are still perpetuating the big lie.
They certainly have no business being seated in the Congress of the United States of America.
Many of the Trumputinists have been trained to deny the efficacy of masks, social distancing, and the vaccines.
But many Democrats have been trained to deny the severity of the crisis we are facing. Ignoring the X-rays and pretending it’s all business as usual won’t knit my bones back together.
Ignoring the fact that Trumputinists are fighting an undeclared war on our country will not make us safe any more than shutting our eyes will make us safe from the circling wolf pack or the growing climate crisis or the unsustainable chasm in wealth and opportunity.
Trumputinists killed a half million Americans (and counting) by not addressing the pandemic realistically.
This is satire. Gravity is not a hoax. And, should you feel compelled to jump out of an airplane from high in the sky, you will definitely want a parachute and not rely instead on a Faux News commentator’s words to cushion your fall.
I love walking. According to my parents, I began early at 9 months. I love walking in nature best because it’s almost always the most beautiful. But when I travel, I enjoy walking around wherever I am. In fact, when I have time, I often walk in the airport.
Aside from playing tennis, walking is my chief form of exercise. Recently, I began monitoring my steps and upped my goal.
Often, when I play tennis, I come home and ice my left ankle afterwards. If I don’t, it gets stiff & painful when I finally stand up and take a few steps. After walking around for awhile, it feels better. Sometimes, when I’m playing it helps my feet to change shoes after the first set. That’s what I did on Monday, but I had a lot of trouble getting my left shoe on. I had to really push hard to get my shoe on. Finally. I was ready for more tennis.
Because something didn’t feel right. I retired and walked home (a short distance). To be more accurate, I limped home until I had to hobble home. I could basically put no weight on my left leg at all. We went to one of those 7 days a week clinic but they were closed. Then, my wife drove me to the UCSD Medical Center. They were awesome. An X-Ray showed that I had no (new!) Ankle break. But apparently, I had broken it at some point in the past.
Anyway, I got some crutches and am following the RICE instructions: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. Luckily the US Open is on TV and I’ve already seen a dozen amazing matches!
I suddenly get an alert on my phone! Oh, who could it be?
It is from a health app! Maybe it’s checking up on my ankle?
No. It just wants me to know that it’s thinking of me and it wants to remind me how important it is to walk! What a great exercise it is!
Isn’t that sweet? Could you imagine visiting a friend who just sprained their ankle and telling them how much fun you had playing tennis or basketball or telling them all the reasons they should walk or that they’re really missing out by not being able to play sports? You don’t say such things! You realize that while, what you’re saying may be true, in the current context, it’s unhelpful and for some, hurtful.
I had to laugh out loud at the ineptitude of the message about walking. Imagine instead of a hopefully temporary injury, I had just lost a leg due to an accident or from diabetes? Suppose I had lived my life in a wheelchair and I got this message?
There’s a reason that sane people don’t walk up to strangers and say something with no preamble that presumes some sort of shared context! But marketeers and advertisers do it all the time! The have pop-up ads, “crucial” and “last chance” emails all the time and send it to millions of people. They blast it to you on TV and radio. Because of whatever is going on in someone’s life, these various messages will always be wildly inappropriate for a small percentage (but a large number) of people.
Even though my mom died more than 20 years ago, I still get many admonitions every year about how she’d really like me to wire her some flowers.
The marketing folks seem to want to have it two ways. On the one hand, they want you to believe that they care about you like a friend might. They care about your family. They keep track of time for you and have helpful reminders about people’s birthdays. They are on your side. But they don’t want to pay for actual sales people to do this. The can’t afford “Personal Shoppers” like Nordstrom’s does. Since everything is just cheaply generated by computer, of course they are often going to be dead wrong in their suggestions, their timing, and their message.
Guess what? They don’t care. Why? Because when they do something inappropriate, we will say to ourselves, “Well, it’s just an algorithm. Of course, it’ll make mistakes.” WIth everything else going on in the world, it’s small potatoes and not worth caring about.
When they chance to hit upon showing us something that is actually appropriate and appealing, we’re likely to buy it.
Meanwhile, I have to wonder what the impact is on our society of emotionally tone deaf and inappropriate messages being spewed out by the billions. Is it possible that part of the reason so many people go crazy in department stores, airports, and even medical facilities insisting on their “rights” to kill other Americans with their germs is that everyone sees inappropriate messages sent by bots? There is no real consequence to the companies who send inappropriate messages and often there is no real consequence to those who scream and threaten violence at school board meetings if their toddlerhood is not automatically catered to.
Is it possible these pandemics of inappropriateness are related? Is it possible that the toxic rhetoric of a hate-mongerer finds resonance in so many partly because they have been bombarded with so many tone deaf messages?