Archive for the ‘asshattery’ Category

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the Accidental F-Bomb

July 15, 2017

Shawmut F-Bomb_Redo2

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Out-spooking the national spooks…

October 20, 2016

Somebody picked the dip’s pocket…….

Okay, so I can’t help but see the “black humor” in this one…

The story is about the investigation of how a bunch of stuff, including some top-secret hacking tools belonging to the National Security Agency, ended up being offered for sale on the internet by a group calling themselves….wait for it…The Shadow Brokers. This exquisite woo-woo is right out of the Nixon era playbook. Compounding the irony is that the media got the skinny on the item from inside sources who talked off the record because they weren’t authorized to…you know the drill. I couldn’t make this up. Well, I could, I suppose, but I don’t drink anymore….

 

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Melting plots…

October 11, 2016

other tales of derring do….

Who hasn’t heard the term “melting pot” used to describe our American society? I don’t recall the first time I ever heard the metaphor regarding our multinational and multicultural makeup, but supposedly the first time anyone heard it was around 1780 or so when everything we hold dear as Americans was being organized, or thought up and authored. The idea of equating the USA with a melting pot became a sacred part of our persona in the early twentieth century on the heels of a play by that name. It makes for good press, good politics, and good tradition. So does Santa Clause.

So, are we really unique as a “melting pot”, or do most large pieces of real estate with their own flag tend to be so homogenized? Even more interesting might be the question of are we really a “melting pot” at all as the metaphor is intended to convey? I think the vision being suggested is that of a natural process, like melting snow. I’m more inclined to think of it as a “crucible,” where material is stuffed into a container and a blow torch is taken to it to make it change.

***

My interest in history, American or otherwise, waned at about the time my peers and I stopped cutting out construction paper turkeys and it really didn’t kick in again until I took a Western Civilization course halfway through college. I had transferred schools and it was a required course. It was a summer semester and I was attending a small private university in Florida. Accordingly, I had arranged my schedule so that I only had classes every other day and I was always done by 1 pm to allow for maximum beach time. Sweet.

Anyway, the history course was taught by a visiting professor who was department head at his home school. He stayed in the dormitory during the week and went home on the weekends. He was reputed to have broken more rules than most students, in the meantime.

Now, as I said, this was a small, private institution. It exuded rather conservative values, had a strictly religious President, and even had a dress code, so when the good Professor showed up on the first day wearing a Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, and flip flops, while nursing a large Dixie cup that some swore held Scotch, I kind of warmed up to the guy. When he told us to skip buying the recommended text book and that most of what we had been taught about history in public school was garbage, I started to like history as an academic pursuit.

That’s not to say it was an easy summer yawn between trips to the beach. It was actually  a lot of work, and I was surprised to find I had earned a high grade in spite of myself. He lectured, and all of our homework involved a considerable amount of library research and defending our own original interpretations of, and conclusions about, various topics. We didn’t talk about George Washington chopping down a cherry tree, but we did learn that he had been a master at cooking the books.

So, I became a student of history when my schooling was nearly over, and I’m still fascinated by it. I also still retain the skepticism the Professor instilled in me, and I strive to guard the elusive boundary between feel-good stories and verifiable fact. Of course, as editor of the school newspaper at the time, that may have been part of my persona anyway.

***

Back to the matter at hand. Are we a “melting pot”, and have we ever been such? In my opinion, the whole “melting pot” shtick is one of those deniable fibs so prevalent wherever politicians and circus barkers tread. In other words, “sort of but not really,” which is no answer at all, of course, but since I am neither a politician nor a circus barker, I don’t have any qualms about declaring it “untrue”, or some metaphor to that effect.

It is an irrefutable truth that the primary instincts of humanity are survival and propagation of the species, which needs are often, but not always, satisfied by stealing the other guy’s stuff and illicit pajama parties, sans pajamas. While those who have always tended to do so were singing Kum-Ba-Ya, cutting out paper turkeys, designating melting pots, and other such activities, the general population was busy farming, making widgets, and killing people in other countries rather than thinking about homogenizing. I’ve always tended to believe it was more normal for us to play King of the Mountain than to Melt, anyway.

In fact, I doubt the first “Pilgrim” to step ashore had even taken his first dry land dump before plots were underway to screw the natives out of their stuff and mess with their squaws. I suspect the good natives had similar thoughts of their own, once they figured out that Europeans were neither demons nor gods, and had some pretty nifty stuff just ripe for relocation.

Let’s face it, construction paper Doctoral Theses, et al, notwithstanding, Europeans were one-way tourists to North America, and they didn’t step ashore with any intentions of being either Melters or Meltees.

”Nice place you got here….now, get out. It’s mine.”

We worked our way all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific with bullets, not kisses. The only thing melting for the next four hundred years was lead. It still is, and in spite of a rabid uptick in efforts to turn us into 326,000,000 pairs of legs with one head, we’re still melting about as well as Cinderella’s step-sister eased into the glass slipper. Given absolute freedom to associate, homogenize, or anything else as we might please, the majority of people would seek out others similar to themselves, for the most part, with no criteria out of bounds because of some ill conceived rule. You see, there are some intellectually challenged folks out there who have convinced themselves and a steady trickle of initiates that “if we can make it look like a duck, walk like a duck, and smell like a duck…voila! It WILL-BE-A-DUCK! .”

The Politics of Tofu

People don’t “melt” and become “one”, although that phraseology has a certain romantic appeal to it. People compete; both sides don’t win like one big happy family unless someone making the rules cheats. We form alliances, which requires cooperation, usually in order to more effectively compete against other alliances.

I mean, the “melting pot” myth is catchy and all, but I think our energies would be better spent just figuring out how to acknowledge and accept our differences as normal.   It’s a simple concept:  if you don’t stick your foot or your nose where it doesn’t belong, I won’t break it. Neither Kum-Ba-Ya nor brute force has provided the answer, and I don’t know that there is one.   As one of the Unmelted, my best chances for remaining so most likely hinge on my quiet oath to resist temptations to melt someone else.

Human nature isn’t likely to change any time soon, but I don’t have to participate in its less than savory rituals, or lend them my tacit approval.

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Republican “debates”…

February 26, 2016

the pubescent locker room revisited….

I give the pundits and talking heads a little credit for their effort to make a silk purse out of a sows ass, but it is what it is. I also note their significant culpability for fanning the flames.

This is the most “non” election I recall seeing, and I’ve seen a few. I almost forget what the issues are. It seems this one, at least the Republican nomination part of it, will be won on more subjective scores. It reminds me of those spontaneous pubescent locker room assaults and just walking down the street “noogies” that signal the onset of male hormone toxicity where points are accrued according to “mother cuts”, crotch fights, and general ability to verbally disembowel and castrate the opponent. It’s hard to watch, so I don’t. And this isn’t so much about mentality the alleged candidates as it is about the sanity of the voters who seem to be enthralled with it, reminiscent of the public torture and executions of people who pissed off the king back in the Middle Ages.

I suspect great commonality between those days and today in that the monarchs and despots of history put on such theater to distract the people from whatever was actually going on in the country.

 

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HATE….

July 11, 2015

ya gotta love it….

I was trying to think of all of the things I have hated during my life.

I used to hate stewed tomatoes, but I got over that decades ago.

I never hated spinach like most kids. Popeye was my cartoon hero. I liked spinach best the way my mother prepared it though, fresh, and steamed just enough to take the backbone out of it and leave it with some texture. I couldn’t stand “school spinach”, however. I hated that. School Spinach was the texture of snot.

While I’m in the food department, let’s talk about asparagus. As a kid, I gagged if I was in the same room with it. I hated asparagus. When it came to mealtimes, my mother was of the old “clean your plate or die” school, but I even got special dispensation from her to take a pass on that disgusting dead plant. Now, I love it. If my mother had lived to see me shoveling down a forkful of asparagus, she’d have keeled over.

I hated my ninth grade algebra teacher, but everybody hated that sonuvabitch, so I don’t really count that. My class was the first to attend the brand new school, and we sat in “modern” individual chairs with individual table desks that weren’t bolted to the floor and connected in a chain from the front of the room to the back, each desk including a bench for the next kid in front of you. Anyway, Mr. SOB was apparently a Marine Corps veteran and had an annoying little ritual of making us stand next to our desks until he would bark “Ready……SEATS!” So, one day during lunch, a friend of mine and I sneaked into the room and stuck “Greenie Stick-on Caps” under the foot of each chair leg. The only downside was that my class wasn’t scheduled for Algebra after lunch.

Other than him, I can’t think of too many people that I have disliked that much. I’ve always had a quick temper and an eclectic vocabulary to give it wings, and I’ve been thankful for fast sneakers and big friends on more than one occasion. Some people and I just plain were never meant to be in the same place at the same time, but life happens. Nevertheless, I don’t recall “hating” any of them, even though I rattled off some rather unpalatable pedigrees for a few.

Academically speaking, I hated just about everything in high school except Art, Shop, and believe it or not, Chemistry. I wasn’t very good at Chemistry, but one could do some really cool stuff with some of the things in the lab. Besides, there was this girl at the next station….curled my 18 year old earlobes and turned them beet red, she did. Anyway, I thought it was clever to dribble sulfuric acid on my lab partner’s towel, among other things. And he and I discovered that if one removed the stoppers from these two vials on the shelf and left them off long enough and close enough together this neat little cloud started to form in the air. Unfortunately, highly toxic precipitates were not appreciated and that behavior was never repeated. All other classes, I hated.

The only course I encountered in college that earned my ultimate rancor was a Sociology class I had to take in my Junior year. The professor had written one of the books, and the poor man was a complete yawn. He could have put cement to sleep. After two classes, I found myself going to the beach instead. Around the middle of the semester I received a curt message in my student mailbox informing me that if I didn’t show up for the mid-term I’d be dropped and failed. I actually had forgotten about the class; one of the burdens of doing a summer semester at a college in Florida. I hated that class, but I survived it. Oddly enough, I got a “B”.

I’ve hated spiders for 71 years. I’ve established a questionable truce with them in recent years, however, sort of along the lines of North and South Korea. If the critter doesn’t get into “my space”, I’ll usually leave him alone, especially if its just a little one or a daddy long-legs. Those big goobers are a different story. We lived in a old house a stone’s throw from the river for fifteen years. It had a detached barn that had been a blacksmith’s shop a hundred years ago and it made a fantastic workshop for me. It also produced spiders that should have had license plates. If you haven’t met a Maine barn spider, good for you. I even hate talking about them.

Back during my Grizzly Adams incarnation almost 40 years ago, I decided it would be a great idea to live back in the woods. There was a lot of that stuff going around back in the seventies, and I had to give it a shot. I bought eleven acres of land a half mile in from the paved road on an old logging trail and contracted with a guy who needed to have a small barn taken down. I was to do the job in exchange for whatever I could salvage. I ended up with more than enough to build a small cabin and an outhouse, but it cost me $60 to have some guy haul off the stuff I couldn’t use. Anyway, crawling around in the upper reaches of that old barn was an adventure, to say the least, and that was when I met my first Maine barn spider. I was straddling a beam extending out from the loft, holding a wrecking bar in one hand and the beam with the other, and all of a sudden there it was, not two feet in front of my face. Attila the Arachnid! I went catatonic.

Instinct took over, I guess, because I executed a “lunge” with that wrecking bar that would have made my fencing instructor proud back in college, launching that juicy three inch horror from his web. I’ll never forget the audible “splat” it made when it hit the floor down below. I hate spiders, especially barn spiders.

Regardless of what the movers and shakers of the twenty first century may hold to be true, both the self-anointed and those who actually warrant the designation, it is normal human behavior to experience a full range of emotions, including hatred. It’s OK to hate. Trust me! Besides, all charges of violating federal Hate laws are based on presumption and hearsay. And even if some doofus on trial signs a document stating “Yup, I hated the bahstid,” there can be no proof beyond a reasonable doubt. What is not OK, however, is to engage in “hateful behavior”. You know, like assault and homicide. If someone beats the tar out of me (which happened one time in college outside of a bar), my assailant’s opinion of me would have no bearing on my injuries. The guy who cleaned my clock back in school by the way, “hated” me, because I was wearing a fraternity jacket and walking in “his” alley. His emotional pathologies were irrelevant, however, and would be equally irrelevant today, in my book. His actions, however were both injurious and illegal.

Not hating might actually be more harmful than being honest about that unpleasant neurochemical circumstance.

Let’s face it. This whole obsession with “hate” is based on asinine science. If one has strong, negative mindset about some person, place, food, insect, or academic endeavor, it is real and pretending it does not exist does not change the fact that it does. Most body functions freely exist and occur whether or not the host acknowledges them. Far better one should recognize the unwanted (fill in the blank) and deal with it appropriately, i.e. in accordance within the generally accepted parameters of the society.

When I feel “hatred“, which is extremely rarely, I find I am far less likely to act on it badly if I man up to it and seek more acceptable outlets. Profanity is a phenomenal way to spend a gutful when there is nothing around to break that I don’t need or treasure.

In conclusion, I would encourage people to be willing to own negative emotions, feelings, opinions, and ugly socks. None of it matters. Whether one Hates another human being or is hormonally obsessed with one matters not. What matters is how one responds to those circumstances. As far as the socks are concerned, they’re fine, too. Its just not advisable to wear them on a first date or to work on the day of your annual performance evaluation. …Strike that last one.

Oh, and I hate tofu, also. I almost forgot. That crap has no right being sold in the food department. It should be stocked with household chemicals or auto parts.

If you hated reading this, I don’t care.

 

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Ah, it’s an election year…

November 1, 2014

and the heady aroma of horse manure fills the air…

This isn’t the nastiest election season I can remember, or have read about from earlier times, but it scores right on down there with the worst of them, at least here in Maine. The other possibilities are that I’m just paying more attention now, or that I’m becoming more crotchety. I’ll stick with the first option.

Many of the “mailers” stuffing my Post Office box recently, like their television counterparts, say little or even nothing at all about the favored candidate or position, the entire message being devoted to insulting, discounting, and selectively nit-picking the opposition instead.

I can think of only one candidate for office who has not issued or approved of a single attack ad. The entire focus of any advertising for or by this person is on personal positions on the issues, goals, and prior activities or accomplishments.

Negative comments about a competitor’s actions or positions invariably leave me with questions about context and “the rest of the story.” If it is important that someone voted for or against a challenger’s pet program, I need to know why he or she voted that way before deciding whether that decision reflects my own preferences or not. A man would be roundly demonized for shooting his neighbor’s dog, until it was revealed that the dog was attacking a child at the time. Such omissions might be understandable within the general population, but in the political arena they are calculated and deliberate. I distrust any candidate who employs such deception and won’t vote for them.

Negative campaigners, in my opinion, are just “preaching to the choir”. Their ads certainly aren’t attractive, especially when they don’t say what the candidate is for or even who the candidate is.

I don’t vote for people who hope to win by destroying the competition instead of by outperforming them. It speaks of character flaws and deceit.

 

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Left coast borborygmus

October 9, 2014

Yes-yes law_002 [MOUNT]