Sunday, November 25, 2012

Waiting for Mr. Death…

Broke Down Palace

Dear Friends,

I was just talking to a former colleague from the street. I asked how he was doing and he said that he just came out of the hospital and learned that he was going to die soon. "I'm dying", he said. I admitted that I was also, but likely not going to beat him to the door when the bell rang to let us out of school early. He chuckled and admitted that he'd heard that this Death Thing was going around.

My friend stands a head taller than I. He looked down at me with watery, yellowed eyes. He winked and said, "Yeah, drugs and alcohol might have been involved." We both laughed in a way that let us both catch our breath and step back from the abyss of Hard Facts were his liver was ground into paste and his brain hammered full of soggy holes.

A moment later we fell into talking about our shared but separate, now long ago, travels in The Grateful Dead Show. I was happy to tell him about something that I recently learned.

There is among the Shinto of Japan a legend quite like that of the old Celtic and European stories of the Grateful Dead that one might meet on lonesome highways through the dark forest. The Road can be long or too short, but it connects us all in our solitary traverse of this Life and that mystical path spans our terran orb.

Anyhow, my down on his luck buddy pledged to stick around until I could write him a proper elegy. I am a writer and unfortunately too expert and experienced in hashing out such material. I’ll do my friend proud, but I'm in no hurry for the occasion.

Hic Finis Est

Your Correspondent

Sunday, November 18, 2012

An Election Autopsy…

Willard "Mitt" Romney

Dear Friends,

It’s been a few weeks since the recent Presidential election. Now that we’ve had a chance to observe the aftermath, it is time to perform the autopsy on the Romney/Ryan/Rove campaign. What have we learned?

Well, most obviously, the GOP gets its revenge in losing by eating its own. Sure, they gave old Dick Nixon another shot at the prize, but we saw how that turned out in the blaze of deliberate, plain stupid and public self immolation of his career and reputation. They shan't repeat that sort of error. Yes, no sooner was Mittens sent to rut in humiliating defeat by a skinny black guy with bigs ear and a funny name, a lousy economy limping too slowly into recovery, the longest war in our nation’s history wheezing to an indecisive end at the hands of folks who make bombs out of camel dung and kerosene, Romney started to plead that he was just misunderstood and Obama outbid him for the approval of Americans. Then the PigFest® began.

Swiftly his own people were upon him, gnawing at his skull, shredding his carcass with their angry beaks until his viscera lay in the hot sun hanging over the merciless, dusty Desert of Losers. The flesh between his ribs has become dried jerky and the vultures plucked his pearly whites from slack jaws. His eyeballs and liver, of course, were saved as appetizers for the Big Donors, but more on that in a moment.

As to Ryan? He is finished. This freakish product of a Star Trek transporter accident that melded the corporeal forms of Eddie Munster, Eddie Haskell and the pathological, wounded mind of a child terrified by the knowledge of his own mortality while loathing all of those who represent the prospect of Birth that inevitably begets Death, everyone his senior or possessing a vagina. Paul knows that he is on The List. He’s lying low in his secret bunker. He’s reading comic books with a flash light under the bed covers. He is fervently praying that Mother, the Great Teat of The Grand Old Party, will not crash his own party and grind his flesh to paste under her elephantine hooves for his very poor grades in civics class and A.P. Pandering to numb skulls.

Paul "Puppy" Ryan

Then there is the matter of Karl Rove. I will now join with my good friends on the other side of the aisle and help toss the fat punk's carcass into the frier before throwing the bones boiled and shorn of flesh into the dumpster. The most admirable and reliable behavior amongst these thugs is how they detest the aroma of a loser, the stink of defeat, and will swiftly abandon their own after getting nothing but derision for the three billion spent trying unsuccessfully to buy a nation.

Karl "Porky" Rove

Qui Fueunt Sed Nunc Ad Astra, G.O.P.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thoughts on Secession in 2012

Dear Mr. President,

I understand that a number of folks in several states in our union are unhappy that you won reelection to the Presidency. These states have citizens who have signed petitions to secede from our nation’s union. I’d like to help you out here. The following is a suggestion for an address that you might offer to our nation on this topic. By all means, do feel free to have the folks in the black suits airdropped from black helicopters seize all television, cable, radio and Internet operating centers to ensure that each citizen in our citadel of freedom has the opportunity to watch, listen to and digest this message.

With Warm Regards and Unflinching Support,

Steven C. Solomon

To: President Barack Obama
Re: Go F^*k Off Texas
Dt: 11/15/2012

Please pass this on to your staff, Mr. President. I believe it is a dandy concept, at least a sketch of a speech that needs to be made.

“My fellow Americans, I interrupt this baseball game (Kathy Lee and Hoda, soap opera, idiots yammering on Fox News, etc and whatever) to bring you an important message. It has come to my attention that a number of folks in several states of America are sore about the fact that a guy with a funny name and is supposedly black or not and born in America or Kenya, is an atheist and Islamic, a transexual married to a man and a woman, and is a communist who wants to kill your grandmother is still President. Okay. That makes total sense. Nobody likes to lose a race of any kind. Now you want to secede from the United States of America

In any case, I will focus my remarks today on the state of Texas for the sake of simplicity. I understand that you folks in the red states require any help that I can provide in terms of focus and keeping things simple. I am, after all, the Chief Executive of Helping Explain the Obvious to Cranky Idiots. So, here goes!

Now, Texas, you can petition the Congress to secede. I’ll begin with the upsides of letting you do just that. Then I will move on to the counter argument.

Well, first, please write Uncle Sam a check for your portion of the national debt. We’d also like the roads, bridges, ports and airports we built back. Pack up the military bases and all the folks that work at and for them. You have an outstanding account regarding your citizens’ payments to Social Security, FICA and Medicare/Medicaid since the date of your declaration of secession. You need to settle up on that. Oh, and what about the bills due on support for your substandard and ill administrated systems of higher and K-12 education. Also, we want all the food back that we bought for your poor, as well as the medication for the disabled since you decided to break up our relationship.

Then there is the matter of subsidies to your oil and chemical industries. They might prefer to move their operations elsewhere in a more profitable economic climate. Mexico might look good. On the other hand, maybe Mexico would prefer to just buy the infrastructure and move their workers up your way. Yes, we know how much you’ve enjoyed that cheap labor, but now those guys will be your bosses.

Oh, you do get to keep the Alamo in this deal. Well, unless the new landlords tear it down to build condos for drug kingpins and former Latin American dictators. That will be your problem and the rest of your former nation will see about a trillion dollars returned to the Federal government. Yes, we downsized as you wished and are financially better for it.

Now, there is another way to scratch this itch that you have, this desire to reinstate the failed Republic of Texas. Let’s look to history as the issue presently on the table is not new. Indeed, it was settled by Congress, the Supreme Court, another tall, skinny guy with big ears in the Oval Office, and the most horrific war up to its point in history. Remember the Civil War? I’m a professor by training, so I’m going to give you a history lesson in terms that even folks challenged by a public system of education that teaches that Jesus rode around on dinosaurs and that the world is 6,659 years old can understand it.

So, forget about Honest Abe as the President. He’s a short order cook in this presentation. Picture old Gus at the Mope On Inn Diner. He knows how to whip up an omelet in a jiffy; a three egg omelet. He knows that you got to break the eggs to make that omelet.

The first egg is a vision that dates to the founders of this nation, The United States. Those folks back in 1776 had a concept for a nation that would be a democratic republic and span the entire continent to serve as a beacon of freedom for the entire globe. They saw the resurrection of an ideal not executed in two thousand years: free people sharing their commonwealth (think about that word) and collectively executing the will of the majority without trampling on the wishes of a minority.

The second egg is the notion that what this nation is about will never be altogether achieved but always strived for. We will always work toward that more perfect union that remains forever on the horizon as a goal. The nation had to be united and the our states indivisible lest we might as well have just thrown away that first egg.

The third egg was delivering the People’s franchise in those first two efforts. Everybody, every man and woman of whatever race, religion or no religion, wherever they came from on this planet or in this land had to have skin in the game. Else wise, those first two eggs got busted for nothing. Half a million folks would die in bloodshed beyond what any in Lincoln’s time could have yet imagined and half the nation would lay in utter ruin for no purpose. Thankfully, Lincoln was a fine short order cook.

So, Texas, here’s your omelet. Don’t worry about splashing it with pepper sauce. You can have extra onions if that pleases. Some folks like their’s with beans and tangy cheese. You can have it any way you want it, but you do have to sit with the other folks that amble into The Mope On Inn and abide by their chatter.

Thank you and good tidings to all in our United States.”

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Future is Now!

Dear Friends,

I present to you at no charge an exclusive look into the recent past, our present and near future as it may be. I am no mind reader nor savant of any kind. I cannot reliably prognosticate nor see into the future. I just read the writing writ upon the mists of Time as the river flows by.

Since the simultaneous rise of electronic computing, advances in modern prosthetics, medicine, surgery and brain science it has been a recently realizable dream to meld Human with machine. You encounter the present result each day when you notice an individual with a small neural implant on the back of his skull attached to a microphone in his ear. That part looks like a hearing aid. The implant’s interface to his brain looks like he’s pasted a quarter-sized piece of Silly Putty® to the left rear of his head, just above the hairline. He is a deaf person given the chosen gift of hearing by technology. He is a Cyborg; a Man Machine.

He is not alone. Today you are starting to see folks with funny looking glasses. They are blind but they can see by means of machine vision that communicates through digital to analog pulses to their Visual Cortex. It doesn’t work all that well yet, but it hold the promise of much better performance. Why settle for normal Human vision when you could toggle a switch to see like a butterfly or bee, see into the radio spectrum or perceive a night sky full of Gamma Ray Bursters making the best fireworks you could hope for?

Meanwhile, a lady in a wheelchair, a paraplegic, took the first sip of orange juice she’d had in thirty years without the help of an aide whom she communicated with only by blinking her eyes. She recently simply thought about having that beverage and a computer wired into her head told a disembodied robotic arm on a rolling table by her bed to give her some refreshment. It obeyed. She controlled a machine that, albeit temporarily, was part of her. She did it by wishing for a drink. That simple.

Well, it wasn’t really that simple. To get to this point of modest Human/Machine integration, a code had to be cracked. It’s the toughest code we know of this side of >Why and How Does Anything Exist?<. The code I refer to is the code of our most basic cerebral and sub-cerebral nervous functioning. It is the code clacking, gurgling and ticking behind our every physical and verbal expression, our very thoughts, both conscious and unconscious. A machine with such capacity would truly be a Mind Reader. Such machines have already been demonstrated in prototype to construct the words that a person is thinking and shine digital images of their visual imagination on fluorescing screens.

Flash forward to 2016. The United States unveils the federally mandated Mind Meters® to be installed in every airport, every ATM, every 7-11 and intersection where there is a stop light. Citizens can no longer get to the curb from the cab without having their minds scanned.

What sort of problems will pop up when brain scanners are perfected and installed on every corner. How will my nation’s economy and social fabric be ravaged as millions of folks from all walks of life leave their jobs to take online courses so that they might qualify as a Homeland Security Mind Readers and thus be able read the rampant pornographic thoughts of airline passengers and all the folks at banks or just walking down Main Street during lunch hour?

Surgeons will leave anesthetized patients in mid-appendectomy on the operating table. Lawyers and real estate speculators will leave money on the proverbial table to lunge at this new opportunity. The food service industry will become bereft of illegal immigrants working the dish washers as they flock toward the opportunity to find out what other illegal immigrants are really thinking about that skinny girl in the summer dress. “Is it what am I thinking or even dirtier?” Grandmothers will abandon their charges in bassinets to examine the secret thoughts of those swarthy fellows with their Mind Meters® as they also mine the imaginations of the very proper business man visualizing a lady’s underwear as she in turn tunes in a “suspect” for a reading of his response to another’s response to the response of another grooving to the spike heels of that “looker” as he ponders what’s on top of those long legs and her girlfriend monitors the entire situation. Teachers will ignore their classes while staring out the window to relentlessly scan the visual imaginations of folks on the town’s streets for signs of secret assignations underway while the kiddies are doodling on the margins of forty year old text books.

The economy will collapse, as will our culture, in a heaving sigh of an infinite loop consuming its own tail. No real work will get done. Children will be left unfed, ill educated and unattended. Every aspect of our civic life will be corroded. Commerce will sputter and belch and eventually swoon in a faint like a Victorian lady mortified that her bloomers were showing at the grand ball.

Oh, that has already happened. We don’t have to wait for 2016 and the perfection of Mind Meters®.

Hic Finis Est,


Friday, November 2, 2012

Remember Richard Noble, Our Veterans, Wars Well Over…

Dear Friends,

Remembrance Day in England and Canada is on November 11th. It’s like what we in the USA used to call Armistice Day and, after the Second World War, Veterans Day. Most of my country’s citizens have no idea where Flanders Field is or that it was the battleground for one of the lousiest and most brutal battles of World War One. It is the site commemorated by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in his poem “In Flanders Field” that bestowed upon us the tradition of old veterans handing out red paper poppies on a day that honors their service and the sacrifice that they, their comrades and friends and their families have made.

It is said that the broad territory of Flanders, fought over tooth and nail with every weapon from the newfangled tank to bayonets and bare hands, sprouted in an abundance of tiny crimson flowers as the soldiers’ last blood had seeped into the soil and silence fell. There was no sound but the wailing of the wounded and the far away weeping of mothers and lovers.

Reminded of this story, I have to mention Richard Noble. I met him when I was about thirty years old. He was then over ninety. He was the first American pilot to fly into that terrible rain of shit called World War One. He had to learn French before leaving the family farm in Hadley, Mass. He then had to spend his past few month's savings to take a boat to France and talk his way into getting a pilot's license. The USA did not issue them as it had no military air force nor commercial air. Then he had to talk the freshly minted RAF into giving him a Sopwith Camel from which he could drop grenades from the open cockpit of his rickety and infernal beast made of cloth and slats of wood with a load of sputtering steel weighing down its barely controllable craziness in flight. He tossed those little bombs down on guys close enough to rip up his flying machine with large caliber rifles and gatling guns and thus kill him after first inflicting a lot of bloody hurt. 

I was privileged to meet this guy. Even as he neared the century mark, he was ram rod straight and brighter than a full Moon on a still, clear night. I do not recommend war, I argue against most, but there are occasions when I get reminded not to confuse the war with the warrior. If you got folks coming home from war, I recommend just thanking them for their service and seeing where the conversation might lead, if anywhere. You both might learn something that was unexpected.

Hic Finis Est,