The Impermanence of Memory

It’s been another good day here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. 

IMG_20191024_123433317_HDR

They’ve all been good days.

Most of the our kit-tens are getting along well with each other, most of the time. Todd and Julia and Lea and I are all getting along well with each other. Julia is Todd’s girlfriend. She doesn’t live here, but she spends a fair amount of time hanging out here. In that regard, things are going about as smoothly as they can.

* * * *

The Minnesota Vikings have won four games in a row now that I’ve become a Detroit Lions fan. Unfortunately, one of the teams my old favorite team beat in that stretch is my new favorite team.

My lovely supermodel wife is actually upset with me for changing allegiances. She says it’s disgusting! I’d think she’d feel a bit of gratitude…  At any rate, I’m still rooting for the Lions. And if things continue on this arc, the Vikings might win a Super Bowl before I die.

* * * *

Todd and I bought a golf cart last week, officially making us serious golfing guys. Now all we have to do is start golfing like serious golf guys. And get the brakes fixed on our cart. And probably the steering…

FB_IMG_1572001760443

Presentando el carrito nacional de golf de México

We had all of the batteries replaced when we bought it, so it runs great. Stopping has been somewhat problematic at times…

Seeing how my life is as close to perfect as it will ever be, the Universe has to provide a few areas for me that aren’t ideal, otherwise there would be an imbalance in The Force, and we all know what happens after that.

giphy (5)

Whoa. It’s even worse than I thought…

Right now, all of my problems start and end with golf.

Problem #1. The Rainy Season has essentially turned our golf course into a swamp. Swamp Golf might sound like fun, but it’s not. In my case it has everything to do with wet socks. When my socks get wet, all I want to do is sit down and cry. The seasonal rains should end in a couple of weeks, then everything will start drying out and Allergy Season can begin again.

That should benefit my score. 

Problem #2. Todd and I have been taking golf lessons because we’re serious golfing guys now, and that’s another thing serious golfers do. I’ve been trying to tweak a few things with my swing to improve the consistency and quality of my shots. I seriously want to get rid of those shots of random suckdom that plague every golfer at pretty much any level of skill.

If I can do that, that will definitely benefit my score.

Problem #3. My biggest problem has been vision related. I now have three pairs of glasses with the same prescription, but each of them is just a little bit different. Depending on the weather conditions, I was shuffling my corrective lenses around when I golfed.

Between minor variations in how I was seeing, golf lessons to change my swing, and then trying to remember all of the things I was supposed to be doing — I wasn’t having random shots of suckdom. They all sucked!

That hasn’t benefitted my score at all!

I quit shuffling my glasses. I’m wearing my newest pair all the time now, and my eyes are getting used to them. I stopped thinking about the seven things I’m supposed to be doing and focused on a three. Keep your head down. Slow down your back swing. And follow through.

I played nine holes with my golf wife, Phyllis, this morning. I shot a 47. I one-putted five greens because my chip shots were so deadly. And, I replaced the black laces in my magic golf shoes this morning with bright neon green laces. That might have been a contributing factor. Julia needed black laces for her Medusa costume, so I gave her mine.

My caddy, Francisco Flores Bernini, told me I was fun to watch. It’s the first time he’s said that to me. I’m not sure there are any words to describe how pleased I was to hear that.

* * * *

Lea has been helping Julia with her zombie costume much more than I have. The Thrill the World dance is this Saturday. A bunch of people all across the world dress up like zombies and dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Julia is going to be zombie Medusa. 

images (5)

In Greek mythology, Medusa was one of the Gorgons, three beautiful sisters — Medusa, Stheno and Euryale — who were turned into dreadful, horrifying monsters with live, venomous snakes for hair by the goddess Athena. They were so hideous that anyone who gazed upon them was turned to stone.

* * * *

If you’ve never seen the featured image of my latest blog, you really need to get out more. It’s The Persistence of Memory, by the Spanish artist, Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marquis of Dalí de Púbol. He’s one of the best known Dadaist artists of the 20th Century.

Dadaism was an art movement that began in Europe after World War I. Dadaists thought the modern world was stupid and meaningless, so they set out to ridicule it as much as they could before they got dead.

Little Known Fact About Salvador Dali: he hated paying for anything, and whenever he wrote a check he would draw something on the back, knowing the person he wrote it out to would never cash it.

There’s a whole page of his check art on the Interweb. You could look it up if you’re interested…

* * * *

Memory is a tricksy thing. How tricksy is it, you might ask. Well, scientists have been studying memory ever since one of them tied a string around his finger, way back in 1885, so he wouldn’t forget to start studying it. And after all that time, no one understands the exact mechanism of how memory works.

Originally, many experts were fond of describing memory as a sort of tiny filing cabinet full of individual memory folders in which information was stored away. This cabinet was in a select part of the brain.

As technology adanced, researchers likened memory to a neural supercomputer wedged under the human scalp. One with an undetermined amount of RAM. And memory was stored in more than one area of the brain.

Today, experts believe that memory is far more complex and elusive — and that it is located not in one particular place in the brain — but is instead a brain-wide process.

* * * *

I used to think I had a great memory. I no longer think that. Aging affects memory. So does drug and alcohol abuse. And trauma. When I take all of that into consideration, I’m impressed that I still remember my name.

I’ve kind of written about some of the aspects of my particular flavor of insanity. I admitted that I have thought insertions. You can read about it in my archives if you like. Or you can Google it…

In a manner somewhat similar to the way that other people’s thoughts can somehow be inserted into my mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that they can also seemingly be extracted. I could give you an example, but how do you explain something that you can’t remember anymore?

Let’s find out.

* * * *

orion-aldebaran-betelgeuse-rigel-pleiades

Behold, the Pleiades

The Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, are a star cluster in the constellation Taurus. They’re somewhat west and north of the constellation Orion. You should be able to recognize Orion. It’s one of the most conspicuous constellations in the night sky. If you’re awake at around 5:00 AM this time of year, look up. It’ll probably be right over your head.

* * * *

In Greek mythology, Orion was a supernaturally strong hunter of ancient times. He was the son of Euryale (Yep, the aforementioned hideous sister of Medusa), and Poseidon, the god of the sea.

Everything I’ve read about Orion indicates he was a complete asshole. He liked getting drunk. He raped Merope, the princess of Thebes. And then he decided he wanted to kill pretty much everything that moved. So Gaea, the goddess of the earth, killed him to death.

In the Bible, there once was a mighty hunter named Nimrod. Orion and Nimrod are probably one in the same. Interesting side note: Nimrod allegedly ordered the construction of the Tower of Babel.

* * * *

Hey, that’s really cool and all, but what does this have to do with you not being able to remember stuff? That’s what we were talking about, right?

If you look at the Pleiades with the naked eye, the only way you can see them somewhat clearly is with peripheral vision. When you look directly at them, they practically disappear.

That’s what it’s like with some of my memories. I know they existed. I even know the context in which they existed. But when I try to find them, they are gone. I’m not sure that explanation makes any sense to you, but that’s as close as I can get.

* * * *

Back when I was a nurse, other nurses, girl nurses — real nurses — would sometimes ask me what the essence of my job was. Real nurses don’t tend to have a lots of respect for psych nurses. They think psych nurses are essentially babysitters for icky people. And I would tell them a story.

It was about a mother talking to her child. And that’s the extent of what I can remember. I can’t remember how I came to know the story. It might have been something I actually experienced. I know I told the story at least three times that I can remember, and you’d think I’d remember something I did that many times.

There’s one other thing I remember: that story was fucking perfect. 

Those real nurses would look at me and think, Damn! I totally want to have sex with this guy! Okay, they probably didn’t think that, but they had a higher level of respect for pysch nursing and psych nurses for at least a few minutes after they heard it.

* * * *

I don’t know how explain Donald Trump’s frequent lapses of memory, especially in terms of geography. In his latest gaffe he apparently thinks Colorado is one of the states bordering Mexico because he said part of his Great Southern Border Wall is being built there.

He called the European country of Belgium a beautiful city. And he thinks Paris, France is in Germany. Nor does he understand the differences between England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom.

The Donald said this during an interview with Piers Morgan in August of this year:

TRUMP: You have different names — you can say “England,” you can say “UK,” you can say “United Kingdom” so many different — you know you have, you have so many different names — Great Britain. I always say: “Which one do you prefer? Great Britain? You understand what I’m saying?’
MORGAN: You know Great Britain and the United Kingdom aren’t exactly the same thing?
TRUMP: Right, yeah. You know I know, but a lot of people don’t know that. But you have lots of different names. The fact is you make great product, you make great things. Even your farm product is so fantastic.

tenor (2)

There are a few possible explanations for Trump’s general lack of geographical knowledge.

Theory #1. He’s old. He’s 73. As stated earlier, aging does impact memory. So that’s a remote possibility. Plus, all those places. They’re never in the same place twice. If only the planet would stop spinning. Then locations would finally settle down and stay in one place.

Theory #2. He fabricates stuff all the time. Maybe he thinks he can do the same with geography because it’s so difficult for anyone to actually ascertain the exact position of any particular place on this planet. It might also be a symptom of Trump Derangement Syndrome, so there’s that.

Theory #3. He’s an idiot.

Trump_Dunce

The prosecution rests.

When the Bough Breaks

I’m going to figuratively go out on a limb and say that everyone has heard the lullaby Rockabye Baby. Even Millennials. If you haven’t, you should know the drill by now. That’s right, look it up on the YouTube®.

It’s a cute little song to fall asleep to, except for the whole crashing to the ground from the top of the tree part. That would startle you awake no matter how deeply you were sleeping.

strtldwk

See? I told you.

A lots of bad shit can happen when the bough breaks. It’s like unto the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. You take as much as you can for as long as you can, and then you snap.

Like I did last Sunday.

* * * *

The Minnesota Vikings played their fourth game of the season. In yet another dismal performance against a divisional rival, they looked absolutely pathetic as they were manhandled by the Chicago Bears and lost, 16-6.

Four games. The Vikings are 2-2. Hey, that’s no reason to jump ship, Mark!

I actually had people tell me that. But I’ve seen this movie before. It doesn’t end well. Being a Vikings fan is like unto dating a really hot girl that fucks you like a nympho pornstar one weekend, then shits all over the bed the next.

I finally got tired of having to clean up the mess. Halfway through the Chicago game I decided it was time to cut my losses and change allegiances. I became a Detroit Lions fan. I’ve been thinking about doing it for two years, so it shouldn’t be a complete surprise to anyone.

If there’s one team in the NFC North that sucks more than the Vikings, that team is the Lions. They’re so bad they only have one great player, but he is their quarterback. Matthew Stafford is a fourth quarter wizard. He is a master of the fourth quarter comeback, and finds a way to almost win a lots of games.

In the last ten years, the Lions have lost more games by three points or less than any other NFL team. You better check that. I may have made that statistic up.

I decided I’d rather root for a team that no one expects to ever win a game and almost always does, than root for a team almost everyone expects to dominate their opponents and looks like the Keystone Kops more often than not.

weeping blondes

I. Am. Done.

There were few notable events in the game that contributed to my meltdown. The first was Chase Daniel. He’s Chicago’s backup quarterback. He came into the after Mitch Trubisky, Chicago’s starting QB, was injured. Backup quarterbacks don’t usually win a lots of games in the NFL. There’s a reason why they’re backups.

Chase Daniel looked like Tom Fucking Brady against the Vikings defense, which is supposed to be one of the better defenses in the NFL, but Mr. Second-string Junior Varsity moved his team up and down the field with relative ease.

The Vikings revamped offense looked terrible against a depleted Bears defense. That’s right. Chicago didn’t play a few of their best players because of injuries, and they still shut down Kirk Cousins and friends.

The Vikings had one of the best rushing games in the league prior to last Sunday. Against the Bears they rushed for forty yards. If you can’t run the ball, you have to pass it. And if you’re going to that, you better protect your quarterback. Kirk Cousins was sacked six times, and spent most of the game running for his life.

Kirk Cousins is the $84 million man. He was supposed to be the missing piece of the puzzle for the Vikings’ Super Bowl aspirations. The Vikings hired at least two coaches to come up with plays just to make Kirk look good. And as long as he’s playing against teams that aren’t very good, he looks awesome.

However, when he plays against good teams with winning records, he looks like the biggest mistake the Vikings have made since the infamous Herschel Walker trade.

The Purple and Gold are the new Browns. You heard it here first.

FB_IMG_1569980536299

This is what my social media meltdown mostly amounted to…

* * * *

Last week, the House of Representatives began an impeachment inquiry into some of President Trump’s more questionable actions. The Donald may have abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government to undermine former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the Democrats trying to become the next President of the United States.

The Donald has said and done a lots of questionable things since he became President. Some of them have been reprehensible, in my humble opinion. But you can’t be impeached simply because someone thinks you’re an idiot. Or an asshole. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have any Presidents that weren’t impeached.

Bill Clinton was impeached because he got a blowjob from one of his female interns in the Oval Office. It’s ironic because I’d be willing to bet every dime I own that every man who voted in favor of impeaching President Clinton was also guilty of getting blowjobs from their interns in their offices.

images

I know it’s hard to believe that a guy who acts like he’s a Mafia boss would actually do something that you’d expect a mob boss to do, but that’s what appears to have happened. According to several diverse sources, this is just the tip of the iceberg of Trump’s illegal activities, and they are seemingly legion. We’ll see how all of this plays out…

The Donald denies any wrongdoing. This weekend he had a Twitter® meltdown that made my meltdown look like the beginning of the last Ice Age. He posted over eighty tweets saying he was the victim of a witch hunt and was being harassed and bullied by the Do Nothing Democrats. Then he demanded to know the identity of the whistleblower who exposed him, and threatened everybody associated with the inquiry with vague retribution and severe punishment. 

That, is witness tampering, and it is most definitely a crime.

He said the country would be torn apart in a civil war if he were to be impeached, which may cause some of his more loosely-hinged supporters to shoot a whole lots of other people. We’ll have to see how that unfolds, too. He added this wasn’t an impeachment, but a COUP intended to take away the God-given rights and freedoms of all Americans. And he said he’d be willing to fight with his supporters, but he has bone spurs and a note from his doctor, so there’s that.

At any rate, there has been a paradigm shift in American politics that will likely only increase the huge divide that already separates the Republicans and the Democrats. Though if you were to ask Republicans how they feel off the record, many of them would probably say they support impeachment and are secretly relieved.

* * * *

My lovely supermodel wife and I had lunch with a friend of ours last week. She was an attorney and a political lobbyist in New York State. During lunch she told me her theory about why the American political system fell apart.

White wine.

Remember when everyone started drinking white wine because they heard about some study that said white wine was good for you?

Before the release of that study, people drank whatever they wanted. Beer. Gin. Whiskey. Vodka. Tequila. Whatever. And that included politicians. That’s how legislative deals were made. After a political session ended, all of the legislators would get together in an office and have a few drinks, and voilà!

Shit got done.

Then everyone started drinking white wine, and going to the gym, and no one could eat gluten anymore…

Now nothing gets done.

I hadn’t heard this theory before, but chronologically, it makes sense. And I never thought I would ever hear myself saying these words to anyone, but you goddamn politicians aren’t drinking enough alcohol. Get your heads out of your asses. Drink a couple of glasses of Scotch, and do your jobs.

Drink, drink, and vote yea.

That, and nothing else, will make America great again.

I Didn’t See That Coming

Another post? Dude, are you feeling okay?

I’m good. Thanks for asking. I will admit to looking for things to do of late. I got kind of caught up in doing stuff around the new house, and I have some excess energy that I haven’t figured out how to focus yet.

Give me a week.

* * * *

Hey there, sports fans. How’s it going? The two best games of the NFL season were played yesterday to determine which teams would play for the Lombardi Trophy in the Super Bowl.

Both teams were evenly matched, so I didn’t make any predictions about winners, but I did have preferences. Both games went into overtime, which shows you evenly matched the teams were. You guys all know what OT is and how it works, right? Because I’m not going to explain it.

The Los Angeles Rams kicked a field goal to beat the New Orleans Saints, 26-23. I can’t say I saw that coming, but I was rooting for the Rams. Many fans are upset about the defensive pass interference penalty that wasn’t called, allowing the Rams to tie the game and send it into overtime.

I have an extreme dislike of the Saints. I don’t care how many penalties don’t go their way. I hope they lose every Championship game they play in from now until the end of time. I think they’re a dirty team, and this is just the chickens coming home to roost. It’s karma, and they’ve accrued an outstanding balance.

The Los Angeles Rams are a very good football team, with an impressive history. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, the LA Rams were one of the best teams in the NFL, but they didn’t play in a single Super Bowl, mostly because they had to play the Minnesota Vikings, outdoors, in Minnesota, in the middle of winter, for the NFC Championship.

They never beat the Vikings in December.

The Rams moved from Los Angeles to St Louis in 1995. They were easily the best team in the league in 1999, and won their one and only Super Bowl that year. Two years later, they returned to the Super Bowl, but lost to the New England Patriots.

* * * *

In the second game yesterday, the New England Patriots scored a touchdown to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-31. I did see that coming. Anyone that knows anything about football did. Like most of the country, I’m tired of the Patriots being in the Super Bowl. I was hoping the Chiefs would win.

It’s a testament to Bill Belichick, the head coach of the Patriots. I think he’s the greatest coach in the NFL, ever. There are a few coaches that have won multiple Super Bowls, but they did so with rosters that stayed essentially unchanged during their championship runs.

Belichick has done it with wholesale changes in personnel from one year to the next. The only player who has been a constant for Belichick is his quarterback, Tom Brady. Under his tenure, the Patriots will have been to the Super Bowl nine times. He has developed a near perfect system, and he knows how to coach his players to thrive in it, no matter who they are.

Lea and I have been discussing having a Super Bowl party, of sorts. Invite our friends, have everyone bring a dish to share, and their own liquid refreshments. What could be easier?

Go, Rams. Beat the Patriots. Please.

Maybe Tom Brady will decide to retire…

* * * *

In other news, there isn’t really much to report. Our kit-tens, Mika and Mollie have been keeping us on our toes, and sometimes they’ve been keeping us up at night. I mean, who doesn’t love wrestling at 1:30 AM?

They broke my terra cotta armadillo into six pieces the other night. It took me half a day to glue him back together again.

What I don’t understand is how two tiny, adorable sweethearts can make so much noise? They might weigh two pounds a piece, but they sound like a stampeding herd of horses racing across our tile floors in the middle of the night.

* * * *

The Mexican gas shortage goes on, despite the government claims that everything will be back to normal “soon.” Time is a very arbitrary unit of measure in Mexico. Seriously. Ahorita, the Mexican word for soon can also mean never. I mean, how arbitrary can you get?

It hasn’t been a huge inconvenience yet. I hope it stays that way.

* * * *

If I were going to write an autobiography, the title of this post would be a good candidate for its title. It’s one of the hazards of not being a prophet. And being oblivious to a fair amount of the things going on around me.

Two of my retirement wives have used that word to describe me. I could probably argue with them, but I’m not sure I’ve ever won an argument with Lea. And I have no idea how she does that.

She’s like unto a superhero in the Marvel Universe, and that’s her superpower.

Ms. Right.

img_20190121_161902

I know I didn’t see that coming when I married her. I used to be right about stuff before I married her. For the longest time I thought two people who were used to being right shouldn’t get married. I’ve gotten over that. In the Big Picture, being right isn’t the most important thing in a marriage.

Being at peace is far more important.

Besides, I really am oblivious to a lots of stuff. And I don’t see myself as being especially intuitive. Or empathetic. I might be those things from time to time, but it’s probably more by accident than design.

That would also be a good title for the story of my life.

* * * *

A funny thing happened to me the other day. I wrote a post that ended up being a political commentary on the United States and its current Commander in Chief. And one of my readers told me she thought it was the best thing I’d written.

It’s kind of like Mozart playing Die Zauberflöte for you, but you tell him, You know, I liked that Happy Birthday song better.

Let me clarify that. I’m hardly the Mozart of Writing. Weird Al Yankovic, maybe…

I think I’ve written some very good stuff. My last post wasn’t one of my best, in my opinion. It was one my least favorite posts.

Becoming a political commentator is something I know I never envisioned when I started writing my blog. If I had known it, I might have taken a different route. I am not politically savvy. You could ask any of my former bosses, they’d tell you. The fact that I’m writing about politics is probably one of the most egregious accidental things I’ve done in years.

What this person liked about my post was that I made my points without being ugly, or mudslinging, or name-calling. It’s not a tactic I would ever think about using. It’s something like unto the Golden Rule:

images

I don’t like people being rude to me. Therefore, I try not to be rude to anyone. I don’t know anyone who enjoys interacting with rude people. Rude people suck. It’s one of the things I don’t like about The Donald. He’s very rude, which is an unattractive quality in anybody, but especially unattractive in a President.

And then there’s this whole collusion with Russia thing, which I will freely admit I don’t understand at all, and have made no attempt to understand better.

I did see something the other day that said Trump colluded with Russia to destabilize the United States, and I have to admit that it made me laugh. From what I’ve seen, he hasn’t needed any help to do that.

He’s been doing a great job all by himself.

Any person in a leadership position has an obligation to model behavior that is beneficial to the organization they represent. Encouraging people to act like assholes is hardly needed in this day and age. Social media has that well in hand.

A leader who acts like a bully is nothing more than a tyrant. Back in the 1700’s, our forefathers fought a revolution to free themselves from what they perceived as tyrannical rule.

Is it time for another American revolution? Possibly. I’m still not much of a prophet, so I don’t know if it’s necessary or not.

All I know for sure is I won’t be fighting it. That’s for the generations that follow mine. I chose the Millennials. There’s a lots of them, they’re socially connected, and they don’t seem to believe in anything meaningful.

They need to create their purpose.

My generation already played there part in changing the world, for better or for worse. Like it or not, it’s something a generation gets to do only once.

Mexican Standoff 2.0

I’m not sure how much accurate news the US media reports about Mexico, but if they’ve mentioned anything about a gas shortage going on south of the border, that is true.

If you weren’t alive and driving a car in 1970’s, you might not know there were a couple of gas crises in the United States.

In October of 1973, OPEC decided to stop exporting oil to the United States in response to President Nixon’s domestic and foreign policies.

There was a second crisis in 1979 when the puppet government of the Shah of Iran, which had been supported by the American government, collapsed and the Ayatollah Khomeini instituted his repressive Islamic rule.

The result of these shortages was soaring gas prices and long lines at filling stations, and they contributed to  major economic downturns in the U.S.

I could elaborate more, but I’m pretty much done talking about American history. If you need to know more about this, look it up on the Interweb.

* * * *

The current Mexican gas shortage doesn’t have anything to with pissed off Arabs. The new President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is fighting a war against organized crime.

Criminal gangs known as huachicoleros have been siphoning gasoline from pipelines for decades, and reselling it. The new Mexican president campaigned on cleaning up the corruption in his country, and made it a priority to stop the gangs.

According to available statistics, the market for cheap stolen fuel cost the government some 60 billion pesos, or $3.14 billion last year.

That’s a whole lots of tacos, baby.

The short-term effect of this has been predictable. Long lines of cars waiting for gasoline, limited/rationed amounts of gas for sale, and a whole lots of pissed off people. It’s actually been closer to standstill than a standoff.

The long-term effects should be considerable. Increased revenue for the government to fund the multitudinous improvements that Mexico needs, and it could weaken the hold of some of the fucking gangs of criminals who have essentially done whatever they want without any fear of repercussions.

If you want to make an omelette, you have to break a lots of eggs. If you want to attack the grip of organized crime, you have kick a lots of gangs in the cojones. Studies have shown that if you kick a guy in the balls, he’ll stop engaging in whatever he was doing and get down on his knees to pray. Or puke. Or both.

I wish Presidente López Obrador the best of success. He seems to be concerned about actually improving his country for the benefit of his people.

* * * *

cor·rup·tion
/kəˈrəpSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.

* * * *

That’s the one of the definitions of corruption, just in cases you were wondering. To be certain, you don’t have to be in a position of power to be corrupt. In just pays better when you are.

Corruption isn’t a problem specific to Mexico. It’s a global political issue. Fixing it isn’t a huge priority for most governments, mostly because it’s such a huge problem. It appears to be easier to look the other way than it is to try to fix a broken political system.

The Donald was elected President of the United States partially because he promised to clean up American politics and make government work better for those who feel their interests have been neglected by political elites.

He proudly proclaimed that he’s not a politician. And nobody disagrees with him.

Yet, rather than feeling better about progress in the fight against corruption over the past year, a clear majority of people in America now say that things have become worse. Nearly six in ten people now say that the level of corruption has risen in the past twelve months, up from around a third who said the same in January 2016.

If you don’t change the way you do business, you end up with business as usual. This is one of The Donald’s broken promises that he hasn’t lost any sleep over. Trump’s hardcore supporters don’t seem to be upset by that in the least, and that says more about them than any of the things they actually say.

In all honesty, I’m getting tired of pointing out Trump’s shortcomings. I had no intention of writing about him when I started this post, and yet, here we are. Again.

The partial government shutdown is in its 29th day. Trump said he is going to make “an important announcement” later today that will lay out the details of a deal he’s hoping to make with Democrats that will end the shutdown.

It’s a face-saving gesture. The majority of the country blames him for the shutdown, and people remember that shit when they vote.

I hadn’t thought of The Donald’s Great Border Wall in terms of political corruption until recently. I thought it was more of his shortsightedness than anything else.

But if he gets the funding to build his wall, The Donald will be able to hand out government contracts to private companies to build his wall. And those contracts will go to some of The Donald’s rich buddies who support him.

* * * *

America is the only country whose lifestyle has been immortalized with a catch phrase.

The American Dream.

No one dreams about living in Haiti. Or Nigeria. Or anywhere else.

People want to go to America because it has promised something no place else offers. A chance for a better life. That’s what the American dream is. That’s all it is.

It’s not that much of a dream anymore. Global opinion of the United States has dropped precipitously in recent years, and remains at an all-time low. And there’s only one reason for that.

Donald Trump.

* * * *

It’s abundantly clear that Americans could care less about what the rest of the world thinks about them, or their country. They’re actually kind of proud about not caring. There’s another word for it.

Apathy.

If you don’t know what that means, look it up.

The American Dream is dying. To be sure, it’s dying a slow death, but whether you die swiftly or slowly, you still end up dead.

There’s still time to save it. America just needs to wake up and remember who, and what, she used to be.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ~ The Lorax

Mexican Standoff

A Mexican standoff is a confrontation amongst three or more parties in which no strategy exists that allows any party to achieve victory. As a result, all participants need to maintain the strategic tension, which remains unresolved until some outside event makes it possible to resolve it.

I had no idea what a Mexican standoff was until we moved to Mexico. Even then, I thought it was a term most likely used to describe multiple vehicles entering an uncontrolled intersection, actually, any intersection in Mexico. Traffic laws are interpreted more like unto suggestions down here than actual laws most of the time.

I tend to approach every intersection with caution because you really never know what the other guy is going to do here. Red lights might mean stop to some people, but they could mean go really fucking fast to others.

Given the specifics of the above cited definition, I’m not sure if it adequately describes the current political situation in the United States. There might be three or more parties involved, but I doubt that I could identity all of them.

If you are somehow unaware of what’s going on in the US, a partial government shutdown has been in effect since December 22nd because Congress and the President couldn’t agree on a budget and the appropriation of funds.

The main item of contention is the US-Mexico border wall. The Donald wants $5.7 billion dollars to build his wall. Evidently, he doesn’t have enough support in Congress to get it.

I’ve written about the political chasm dividing the Republican and Democratic parties before, but in this case I don’t think The Donald has the complete support of his own party. Because of Trump’s intransigence on this issue, he essentially has everyone in both parties, and God knows who else, by the short hairs.

The Wall. I’m not sure why The Donald is so stuck on such an archaic idea. No one with a functioning brain does. A wall might be a barrier, but in and of itself, a wall cannot prevent someone from climbing over it or tunneling under it. The Great Border Wall would have to be equipped with a whole lots of armed guards to make it an effective barrier against the immigrant horde that’s allegedly trying to storm into the United States to destroy it. Somehow…

The border wall was one of Trump’s campaign promises. He hasn’t kept many of his other promises, and not keeping any of them hasn’t seemed to bothered him one bit. This Wall, however, is somehow different.

Back when The Donald was running for President, he promised he would build a border wall and Mexico would pay for it. And then Mexico fucked up everything by not doing what The Donald said they would, cleverly avoiding being part of that Mexican standoff by racing through the intersection when the light was red.

I saw something the other day that The Donald is now saying he never said Mexico would pay for the wall. His hypocrisy, it seems, truly has no limits.

Perhaps in an attempt to sway public opinion in his favor, The Donald gave a speech from the Oval Office the other night, painting a picture of a national threat and humanitarian crisis occurring along the US-Mexico border, saying his signature border wall would provide a solution.

Even if what The Donald said were true, how would a wall effect a humanitarian solution? This is one of those Zen koans that doesn’t have an answer for multiple reasons. One, no great natonal threat exists. Neither is there a humanitarian crisis. If none of those conditions exist, why spend almost six billion dollars to fix it?

I think the answer is this: The massive military parade The Donald wanted was shelved. So he’s decided no one is going to take his wall away from him.

It makes as much sense as any explanation I’ve heard. Given The Donald’s petulant nature, it actually makes more sense than anything else I’ve heard.

* * * *

“Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country.”

The Donald said that in his speech. This, is apparently what the national threat and humanitarian crisis is.

Immigrants.

Illegal immigration is certainly a reality. Is it a national threat? Is it as huge of a problem as The Donald says it is? Probably not. From what I’ve seen so far, nothing is as big as he says it is…

“Them there immigrants are coming here to take jobs away from hard working Americans!” That’s probably what all of Trump’s blue collar, Walmart-shopping supporters say. So, is that even close to the truth?

Most undocumented workers are lucky to get even a menial job once they get to the US. Busing tables, washing dishes. Mopping floors, cleaning toilets. Harvesting crops. You know, the jobs most Americans think they’re too good to do.

In my entire working career,  I’ve never met anyone who lost their job to an immigrant. Have you? As near as I can tell, immigrants didn’t have to come to America to put any hard working Americans in the unemployment line. American industry came to them.

Have you ever heard of outsourcing and offshoring? I’ll bet you have.

“Do what you do best and outsource the rest!” has become an internationally recognized business tagline, and it’s essentially how Big Business functions now.

American companies discovered they could pay workers in China, India, or Mexico a helluvalot less than they pay their hard working American workers, and moved their plants to foreign countries. But can you blame them? Those big buck executives were barely getting by on their six figure salaries.

Let’s say the average American worker in the US makes $10/hour. Work an eight hour shift, make eighty bucks. The average worker in Mexico makes 80 pesos a day. That amounts to roughly four dollars. Imagine yourself making twenty five, maybe thirty dollars a week.

Yeah, let that sink in for a minute.

Increased profit margins. Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money. Greed is good. Executive pay in the United States in 2007 was 400 times more than average workers — a gap 20 times bigger than it was in 1965.

They’re called capitalist pigs for a reason…

But that’s not the problem. It’s those fuckin’ immigrants sneaking across the southern border.

* * * *

“More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War…  Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90% of which floods across from our southern border.” That’s more of The Donald’s rhetoric.

Yes. America has a drug problem. And yes, Mexico supplies a double buttload of heroin to the hard working Americans that demand it. However, the President’s assertion is misleading, blaming the drugs coming across the US-Mexico border for the total drug deaths in the US. Additionally, The Donald’s figures don’t distinguish between deaths caused by drugs smuggled into the country versus those prescribed by US doctors.

Doctors who don’t have to smuggle drugs in from anywhere. All they have to do is write a prescription that can be filled at any drugstore on any corner in any city of the country.

Just say No. Remember that? Nancy Reagan declared war on drugs back in the 1980’s. Judging from The Donald’s statistics, I’m going to go out on a limb and say there are quite a few Americans that didn’t say No, and just like the American experience in Vietnam, this is a war we aren’t going to win.

Building a wall is not going to solve this problem, Mr. Trump.

* * * *

images (1)

There are a lots of points of entry into the US, and most of them aren’t located on the US-Mexico border. Somehow, The Donald doesn’t seem to be concerned about any of the rest of them. He hasn’t said anything about building a wall on the northern border. In this he appears to be quite logical because there aren’t any criminals or even any crime in Canadia.

* * * *

“I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. I haven’t done it yet, I may do it. If this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it. I would almost say definitely.”

That’s what The Donald said yesterday, indicating that he probably, almost definitely, doesn’t have any real idea of how to extricate himself and the rest of the country out of the incredible clusterfuck of a mess he has created.

Using his logic, I could declare myself President of the United States, and it would be just as real as The Donald’s delusional emergency. How has he not ended up on a psych ward?

There is one specific group of people that have borne the brunt of The Donald’s disastrous desire to build his Great Border Wall. The 800,000 federal employees who have been sent home or are working without pay.

“Many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing…  and certainly they’re not thrilled — but they say, ‘Sir, do the right thing. We need border security.’ And these are people that won’t be getting paid.”

All I can say in response to this is the President’s head must be further up his ass than any of us could have imagined. Do you know anyone who would agree to keep doing their thankless job, with fewer people in the office to do it–probably doubling or trebling their workload–and they won’t get paid for doing it.

In the former Soviet Union, maybe. You’d probably end up in a gulag if you protested. In the United States of America, where the majority of those federal employees are living paycheck to paycheck? No. Fucking. Way.

I was once a federal employee. I was a nurse at the Minneapolis VAMC. Not only did I have to work without pay while Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich engaged in their pissing contest over the budget, I ended up taking out loans from the bank so we could pay our bills, and buy gas and food.

I don’t remember anyone that I worked with who thought shutting down the government was the right thing to do. We hated Clinton. We hated Gingrich. If either one of them had come to visit us during that time, we would have locked them in a seclusion room and shot them full of drugs until they got their goddamn minds right.

While some federal workers might support The Donald, the vast majority of them feel this way: Pay the workers, furlough Trump. There were protest marches in Washington DC, Chicago and Dallas yesterday. With no end in sight, there will certainly be more protests.

* * * *

The Kobayashi Maru is a training exercise in the fictional Star Trek universe designed to test the character of Starfleet Academy cadets in a no-win scenario. This, more than a Mexican standoff, appears to be the best description of the machinations of The Donald.

The Mexican standoff at least offered the hope that an external force could precipitate a solution. I can’t think of anything or anyone that could bring enough force to bear on The Donald to make him rethink his strategy. His mom got dead eighteen years ago. We can’t even appeal to her.

The saddest part about this is that the one person who is responsible for it will, most likely, never be able to understand that.

One Simple Thing

Do you remember when the Age of Political Correctness began?

I’m not sure of the exact date and time, and I’m not interested enough to Google® it to find out. The thing is, I’m reasonably sure that political correctness became popular because it was supposed to make our lives simpler and easier. Distill everything down to the least common denominator and we would all be on equal footing.

And then we discovered what a slippery slope political correctness actually was.

It was confusing as hell for me. There are reasons for this, of course. I was raised in a time of political unrest, not correctness. My generation was not going to be silent. We wanted our voices to be heard.

And there was alcohol. I used to drink. A lots. Drunk people tend to lack filters. Almost anything that pops into their heads is likely to come out of their mouths. I like to think that I was a pretty funny guy back when I drank. But I wasn’t always funny, and sometimes I was a real dick.

I could never survive a Congressional investigation into my past, though if I testified that I couldn’t remember a specific event, it would probably be true. Those aren’t the things that would scare me. It’s all the things I do remember. Satan, if he exists, likely held himself to a higher moral standard than I did in my youth.

However, I would be able to state with complete confidence that I have never had sex with a goat.

The Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings have brought the collective sins of our youth into a focus that can only be achieved through an electron microscope, prompting Donald Trump to say this, “It’s a very scary time for young men in America…”

Yes. Equal footing for our sons has been achieved. Now they know how our daughters feel.

Nor was The Donald speaking for all young men. Whether by accident or design, he was referring to young white men. It’s been a scary time for young African-American men since, well, forever.

The thing President Trump found to be the scariest was that “…you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of.” Guilt, I think, is still something that has to be proven. A lots of people have accused me of being an angel, and I know they’re wrong about that.

This latest shitstorm came to light when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court. In his defense, Mr. Kavanaugh produced a calendar that didn’t note he had sexually assaulted anyone, and admitted that he liked drinking beer.

One of my female friends pointed out that he never described himself as a raging drunk. Back when I really was a raging drunk, I didn’t describe myself that way either. It’s called denial.

As for not leaving a paper trail of your crimes, that’s simply self-preservation.

Is Mr. Kavanaugh guilty? Did Dr. Blasey Ford make all this stuff up? From my experience, I can tell you when there are two disparate stories, someone is lying.

* * * *

I’ve been thinking about this post, or something like unto it, for a few months now. I still don’t want to write it. There are reasons for that, too. I’m not a political pundit. I will freely admit that I try not to think about the current political situation in the US, or any other country for that matter.

I am probably the last person you want to talk to if you’re seeking clarity about American politics.

Be that as it may, I find that I am distressed by what has been happening in the country of my birth. A lots of people are, on both sides of the divide that currently exists in the American political system.

It is this schism that I find particularly distressing. A house divided against itself cannot stand. A guy named Jesus said that a couple of thousand years ago when he started preaching his message. A guy named Abraham Lincoln repeated it sixteen hundred years later, two years before the beginning of the American Civil War.

Whether this vast political divide is the cause of all the turmoil in my former country, or merely a symptom of something deeper and more insidious would take someone far more discerning than I am to diagnose. But lack of understanding has rarely stopped me from going where I have no business being.

Ready? Here we go.

* * * *

The American political system is composed of two major parties. The Assholes, and the Other Assholes. Some of you may know them as the Republicans and the Democrats. And once upon a time they actually used to work together for the betterment of the country.

I’m not going to offer an in-depth examination of the American political system, but I’ll elaborate this much. The Republicans are the right-wing, conservative party. The Democrats are the left-wing, liberal party. If you need more context than that, read something. Or watch a video on the YouTube®.

I’m not sure when the precise moment that the political chasm that separates the two parties occurred, but as far as I can tell, the only things our elected government officials do now is say some partisan based uncomplimentary things about each other, get together once a year to approve a budget, and the rest of the time they campaign to try to keep their very cushy jobs.

Any time this guy has more credibility than anyone in Congress:

giphy

That’s a problem.

I’m not even sure why the Republicans and the Democrats decided they needed to oppose each other tooth and nail on anything the other party proposes, but instead of seeing each other as their esteemed colleagues from across the aisle, they now view each other as the enemy from the wrong side of the tracks.

One theory I’ve heard about the lack of meaningful dialog between the parties is because the extremism of both parties is too great.

Perhaps that’s true. If you know the answers to any of the questions I’m not going to even try to answer, please feel free to fill in the blanks for all of us. You can comment on this post.

The Extremism Theory holds some water in my bucket of beliefs for one reason. And that reason is the current titular leader of the Republicans. President of the United States and Disgruntled Teenager with a Twitter Account, Donald Trump.

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of The Donald. He has done more in two years to divide the country than anyone has since the birth of rock and roll music. I don’t think President Trump created the Great Political Divide. He simply brought the boundaries into a stark relief, and sharpened the edges.

I call this new status quo The Walmart Intelligentsia v. The People With Brains.

Is he a bad President? I don’t know. Like unto pretty much every President I can remember, people either love him or hate him. And I don’t think it’s the politics or the policies. It’s who you are. If you’re liked as a person, you’ll probably be liked as a President.

Except Jimmy Carter. Great person, lousy President.

I think The Donald is a buffoon. You know who else does? The United Nations. The General Assembly actually interrupted his last speech there to laugh at him. And he wasn’t telling a joke!

There’s no doubt that he’s a narcissist. He makes fun of handicapped people. He disparages anyone who doesn’t agree with him. He’s a misogynist. He fabricates facts and accuses the media of fake news. He’s a schoolyard bully in a suit. In an age of political correctness, he’s everything none of us are supposed to be anymore.

And, he’s the President. How is this even possible?

Donald Trump is essentially the least Presidential acting President since Franklin Pierce. For those of you who don’t know about Pierce, he saw his only surviving son get horrifically killed to death. His son was run over by a train a few weeks before President-elect Pierce was inaugurated. President Pierce spent most of his time in the Oval Office in a drunken stupor.

On the bright side, I haven’t heard any reports about The Donald getting drunk. In my opinion, he’s already unstable enough. That instability has essentially drawn a line in the sand between his supporters, who absolutely love him, and his detractors, who totally despise him.

There is no middle ground here. In a world rife with gray areas, this is vividly black or white. Period.

* * * *

“Let the word go forward from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…” A guy named John F. Kennedy said that in his inaugural address. What was true then is true now.

The leaders of the current Asshole party and the Other Asshole party are straight outta my generation. We have done some great things in our time, but elevating a pissing contest into some sort of incomprehensible art form? There’s nothing great or even laudable about that.

We must remember, as Franklin Roosevelt so eloquently stated, that “…problems created by man can be solved by man, so long as we pull together toward a common end.” Therefore, it is incumbent upon the generations that have followed us Baby Boomers to vote all of those motherfuckers out of political office as quickly as possible. That’s not a joke.

It’s a call to arms.

To every forgotten male and woman out there who chooses not to vote because they feel their vote won’t make a difference, you are wrong. Your vote makes the only difference.

Distill this problem down to the least common denominator.

It’s a simple thing.

There’s a simple solution.

* * * *

FEMA recently instituted the Presidential Alert system. It’s similar to the state-level systems that let police and local authorities send out AMBER Alerts and weather warnings, except from now on they’ll come from the Commander-in-Chief.

Afterwards, Donald Trump may or may not have tweeted something like unto this: Just sent a message to 300 million people. No one responded. Oh well…

I’m sure I saw this, but I haven’t been able to verify it since. Seeing how President Trump can play it fast and loose with the facts, there’s no reason I can’t do the same. My Twitter account was actually suspended because I used to respond to the President’s tweets. A lots.

Give the people some time, Donny. I’m sure they’ll respond to you soon.

Like, November.