Memorial Day

With 97,000 plus deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the United States in 2020 and states starting to re-open, I believe we’ll probably start seeing a new meme about ‘Memorial Day’ as we’ll certainly cross 100,000 deaths before Memorial Day.

Which prompts me to recall Trump’s February 26 comment. “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

Today, three months later, we’re at 1,637,593 cases in the United States, which is a long way from zero.

Political Rant

Sorry, but I’ve reached a saturation point with the POTUS and the coronavirus. I need to vent before I bust a spleen (yes, a new phrase that I just made up). (Yeah, that’s a lie; it’s an old expression.) (And I’m not going to bust a spleen.)

See? Consistent. Exaggerate; I own up to it. Lie, same. Consistent.

But, here in the last two days, we have Trump telling the states that they don’t need as many ventilators as they claim.

Trump downplays need for ventilators as New York begs to differ

Meanwhile, he’s berating (and threatening) Ford and GM for not making more ventilators, fast. (Side irritation, as part of that, he’s demanding that GM open their Lordstown, Ohio plant, a plant that GM sold in 2019. Always on top of things, that dithering Donald.)

Trump lashes out at GM, Ford over ventilators

Even as he’s claiming that too many ventilators are being requested and that GM and Ford must make more faster (and sooner), he’s telling states that he won’t give them more unless they’re nice to him.

‘It’s a two-way street’: Trump suggests federal coronavirus aid will be given to governors who ‘treat us well’

Yet, even as he says these things, he said a few weeks ago, “And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” (March 10, 2020)

Prepared? Doesn’t sound like it. Doesn’t look like it.

These statements do not align; they are not consistent. Some might claim that it’s part of a dog and pony show for the public’s consumption, but the inconsistencies don’t strike me as such.

Today, the United States took the lead in total number of cases, almost reaching 97,000 as I write this, surpassing the totals in China and Italy. We’re fortunate to have not met their death totals, but with this administration acting in its mercurial, disorganized ways, it feels like that’s just a matter of time.

The rant is over. That is all.

Monday’s Theme Music

Read a WSJ/NBC poll results. Posted today, the poll was conducted during 11 – 13 March 2019. It was about the coronavirus. The surprising results weren’t about support for the POTUS (not much changed there). No, more surprising was that most polled, particularly Republicans, didn’t think COVID-19 would have a major impact on their lives.

The poll was conducted as the NBA was shuttering the season for a while. The POTUS mad a speech that Wednesday and the stock exchanges showed a brief rebound. Since then…well, the news speaks for itself about what’s been shut down. It’s easier to list what isn’t shut down or impacted by the coronavirus. I guess it isn’t a surprise, then, as the POTUS has previously denounced COVID-19 as a hoax, or overblown as fake news by the media. Fox News happily supported those points for a while.

I then read another commentary on Italy’s situation (over twenty-five thousand cases now, and twenty-one hundred deaths). Then came an article that the U.S. (with over four thousand cases today) is where Italy was two weeks ago.

Finally, I read about Patient 31. She’s a woman in South Korea who carried on life as usual, attending church, eating at a lunch buffet, and working through a fever, a carrier who didn’t go and get tested, a woman now identified with a spike in South Korea’s coronavirus cases, a woman now considered a super-carrier.

Then I thought back to all the Americans who plan to continue business as usual, just as Patient 31 did.

From that came an old Bob Seger melody, “American Storm” (1986). Seger’s song was about a different epidemic, the increasing use of cocaine. But all the warning signs were ignored, and it spread. Feels like another song, about another storm, is due.

 

The Trump Badge Dream

Didn’t know how to label this dream. Had a little bit of multiple things, but one piece finally struck me as the oddest. So…

In the beginning…my wife and I were in townhome. We owned it and that’s where we lived. A lovely place, not anything brilliant, but modern and comfortable. Details past the rooms were the dream took place aren’t known. The dream was mospstly in the living room, beside a dining room and kitchen, a foyer adjacent to the living room, and the balcony, a large covered space accessible through a slider in the living room.

Cats and kittens are present. They’re busy, having fun. I’m sometimes petting them, sometimes feeding them. They’re like background.

My wife and I are talking about fixing our place up, changing some tiles, painting, minor things. We leave the place, going down the ground level (our place is on the third (top) floor). We meet friends on the green and cross to another building. Looking back, we see that, OMG, the gutter system just fell away. We’re horrified.

Only in retrospect do I see a dream paradox; we were living on the top floor; I knew that when I was in our place. Yet, when we see the gutters (drainspouts, etc.), we see them fail on a neighbors’ place above us. Odd, but I didn’t even notice it when it happened in the dream.

The gutter system itself was odd, too, consisting of a number of standard (in the U.S.) aluminum gutters along the roof but also spouts going down the side of the people. We didn’t think anything odd of them in the dream, though; it’s just in retrospect, again, that they don’t really fit what’s standard.

They had fallen away. We were horrified. What are we going to do? We must fix this. There’s also concern about the roof. Roof repairs are needed. A meeting is called to address it. We head that way.

Along the way, we’re ‘informed’ that the people above us are going to take care of the gutter and roof. They see it as their problem. Okay, great, we understand, but shouldn’t we shoulder some of the burden? My wife and I agree that we should, and make plans to approach the neighbor to inform them.

We arrive at the building where the meeting is being held. Going in, I realize that I have a badge, a photo identification, on a lanyard around my neck. Flipping it over, I see that I have a photo of Donald Trump, POTUS, with his name under. I don’t know how I came to have that (but it is a dream, innit?)

Walking into the room, I know that identification is wrong. I wait to be challenged, and it amuses me. I’m so amused, that I joke (in a poor imitation of Trump), “Nobody worry, there’s nothing to worry about, I’ll take care of it, I’m the greatest authority on roofs and gutters in the world.”

I’m holding my Trump badge up as I say that. Someone tells me that roofing and gutter experts are present, but I wave them off, continuing in my Trump impersonation, “They don’t know half of what I know. They know nothing.”

Nobody is getting the joke. I’m being hushed because several women in black uniforms (they look like police officers but lack insignia) are finishing up a conference call on an unrelated matter.

As I stop, watching them and waiting, the dream ends.

The Stock Market

There was a 2,000 point dip in the stock market (yeah, that’s a fun dip, innit) earlier this week. President Trump was quick to step forward with his insights.

“I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage, making fools out of themselves, and they say, ‘If we ever have a president like this,’” Trump said, referring to the most recent Democratic presidential debate held in South Carolina. “When they look at the statements made by the people standing behind those podiums, I think that has a huge effect.”

h/t to Vox.com

Trump made those comments on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. The Democratic debate was the previous night. As others pointed out, the stock market posted their losses and closed on Monday and Tuesday before the debate.

Let’s ignore that the debate happened after the losses. Trump seems to have a poor view of people trading on the stock exchange. He’s essentially suggesting that they’re so ignorant and weak-willed that a debate between the Democratic candidates to be POTUS would worry those traders and send stocks plunging.

The second aspect of it is that he’s discounting his own ability to affect the stock market. He’s in charge, but he thinks this debate between candidates to be the nominee has greater influence than him.

Wow. Talk about a lack of confidence, and high levels of desperation.

What most analysts (and non-analysts) believe is that the spreading coronavirus is affecting supply chains, travel, and productivity. They worry that a spreading virus (here’s a nifty site where you can track it) and the threat of greater quarantines and less travel will affect companies’ profitability. They base this on companies like Apple and Pepsico already warning that the coronavirus is negatively affecting their earnings, that they’re playing soccer games in empty stadiums in Italy, that the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is in danger of being cancelled, and that Delta Airline slashed flights to and from South Korea this week. With travel down, tourism will drop. So will consumer spending. It’s all connected.

President Trump doesn’t believe any of that, of course. He’d rather escape responsibility for anything bad that happens while he’s POTUS. So much easier to blame others.

It doesn’t bode well for the future, does it?

 

 

 

Eat the Rich

“Eating the rich has no nutritional value.”

I read that on the package, in the nutritional panel, before I buy the cookies. Nothing about fiber, sugars, or fat. “No vitamins are in this product,” the manufacturer claims. Serving size is stated, “Whatever you can pack in.” My kind of cookies.

I’d gone to the store for something snaky and discovered the “Eat the Rich” cookies. I put them after musing about whether these will satisfy my needs, but take no chances and add a hefty brownie from the bakery. After arriving home, I open the cookie package with tenderness, preserving the package so I can close it later to preserve the cookies’ freshness. I also like that cookie Mount Rushmore of rich people on the front. Trump, Gates, the Koch Brothers, and Jamie Dimon are easily recognized. So is the Queen of England.

I pull a few cookies from the bag. Naturally, I want to eat Trump first. Well, I don’t know if that’s natural, but it is my impulse. The bag’s back lists all the rich cookies that they make but caution that not all the rich may be inside. They warn, too, some cookies might be broken.

All the cookies are busts of rich people. I find a Donald J. Trump. Orange, the resemblance is pretty good, for a cookie. I sniff it for impressions and get nothing. I figure, the cookie being orange, it might taste like pumpkins or orange, maybe lemon or some other citrus flavor. No; it tastes like cold and greasy McDonald’s Big Mac and French fries. Despite that, I eat the whole thing. I feel a little sick when I finish it. It leaves a bad aftertaste.

Half a cup of hot coffee dilutes the aftertaste. I check out other rich cookies and discover the cookies have the people’s names on the back. Bill Gates. David Koch. Queen Elizabeth. Mark Cuban. Alice Walton. Howard Schultz. Musk. Bezos. Zuckerberg. Sergey Brin.

David Koch’s cookie is white as a plastic Starbucks lid. No smell to it. I take a bite. Hard and crunchy, it has no taste. Frosted pink, with a pink hat. Queen Elizabeth is more appealing. Nibbling on her hat, I’m rewarded by a sweet raspberry lemonade taste. She’s so yummy, I eat her all.

I find a Larry Ellison but I don’t want to eat it and move on to another shortbread offering, Mark Zuckerberg. He’s white-faced with brown hair, with a frosted white shirt and the shoulders of a blue suits showing. I munch on the suit. A flavor I can’t identify overwhelms me. Another bite also mystifies me, reminding me of raw broccoli covered with milk chocolate. I want another bite. Sourness coats my tongue. Dill pickles. Despite that, I want one more bite. A black licorice flavor rises.

Half the cookie is gone. I figure I’ll finish it and stop. Zuckerberg’s head tastes like cotton candy one one side and bad tuna fish on the other. Two bites remain. First one is lemony but the second one tastes like forty cats shat in my mouth.

I drink the rest of my coffee to drown the flavors. After a minute, I start looking through the cookies for another Zuckerberg. That first, mystifying flavor haunts me. I don’t have any more Zuckerberg cookies. I head to the store to buy another bag, but it’s like they say: Zuckerberg might not be in the next bag. Although the bags cost ten dollars each, I buy three bags to improve my chances of getting a Zuckerberg.

Driving home, I wonder about that. He reminds me of Facebook. I don’t know what I’ll get but I feel like I must keep looking.

***

This is entirely fake news. I don’t know if “Eat the Rich” cookies exist outside of my imagination. They were just a whim springing out of a glance at a bag of frosted animal cookies.

The Matters & The Change

Stormy Daniels was on Sixty Minutes. I watched. Didn’t learn anything new. Her situation with Donald Trump isn’t changing anything.

Nor will Karen McDougal’s situation with Donald Trump change anything.

Nor will what the other sixteen women who claimed, with graphic details, how he sexually assaulted and molested them, change anything.

Trump supporters will not, or do not, care for the most part. A few outliers will quit supporting him for this behavior. Most of Trump’s supporters will not. They’ll say, as Rush Limbaugh has said, “Bill Clinton,” cherry-picking exactly what happened, and twisting memory into making history different. And, or, Trump supporters will say that his personal behavior doesn’t matter, that it’s his political agenda, and what he’d doing, draining the swamp, that matters.

All that infuriates Democrats, many Independents, and those on the left. They’re disgusted when this behavior is uncovered, no matter who the person is, from Bill Clinton to Al Franken, to Hollywood actors and producers. Anger and support withdrawal usually quickly follows.

It’s been pointed out multiple times that Trump hasn’t drained the swamp with the quality of people he’s selected for his cabinet and leadership positions. Trump claims the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were huge mistakes, but he hired one of the architects, John Bolton, to be his NSC advisor, and John Bolton is hiring more of the thinkers behind PNAC and the horrific continuing wars of the Middle East. That’s one more point that seems to prove that what Trump says doesn’t matter, just as he said he’d never be on vacation as POTUS, and never go golfing, because he’d be too busy.

The children’s protests, walk-outs, and March for Our Lives won’t matter either, to Trump supporters and the NRA. They’re doing their damn best to ensure that the narratives are twisted to fit into a surreal political reality.

In the larger context of our politics, it all matters to the world’s citizens. What Trump and his supporters say, how they say it, and what they do, reveal enormous logic gulfs, and shreds their claims to ethics and morals. They can’t see it, won’t acknowledge it, or, when they acknowledge it, rationalize that it doesn’t matter.

No, the best that can be said about these matters is that America’s youth are bending more sharply to the left and equality every day.

Left is such an easy label, but we’re forced to use it, because gun control and equality are defined as left issues. So, every mass murder in a school followed by nothing more than thoughts and prayers pushes America’s youth further left. Every action against equality for transgender people and the LGBT citizens of America that Trump announces, like his ban on who can serve in the military, pushes them further left.

Because here is the funny thing. Not many of the youngest American generations watch television. They don’t read the mainstream media. They find their own news. Those children who organized, who hear Trump’s words and see how his statements don’t align with his behavior, how he flat-out flips on issues and lies about what’s going on, are being pushed further to the left. Every time they go through these lock outs and lock downs in their schools, and hide in fear, they think, “I am tired of this. It’s not fair.”  That’s what they said this weekend. And they move further to the left.

Which isn’t good news for Democrats and the Democratic Party. That party holds itself in the center. It’s opportunistic, short on principles and leadership, and doesn’t offer a great vision for America itself. No, this isn’t about whether Hillary should have won, would have won, or did win. Hillary, despite what so many on the right say, has nothing to do with it.

This is about, for example, stripping away the laws put in place after the last economic meltdown, which is what Democrats and Republicans in Congress just did. This is about, as Trump supporters have pointed out, business as usual in Washington D.C., and the merry-go-round of elected officials and lobbyists, and the influence of money in politics.

Trump wasn’t the answer to that.

Neither was Hillary.

No, this is about a new political will that’s growing and shaping itself. It’s growing among the young people. I’m not sure what shape it’ll take. I’m old, male, and white. They, the young, no matter what their color, race, gender and sexual identity, don’t think as I do. They create their own spin, decide their own truths, and pursue their own actions. Egged on by the high costs of living in America, dwindling opportunity, and failed government leadership, they’re moving away from the institutions and norms that were set up as the functioning center for the last one hundred years. Fewer of them are driving, so cars matter less. Manufacturing had already drifted away and they, the young, no longer see it as the savior it was after World War II. Money matters less because they have to do without it. Bankers have already betrayed them, and revealed their infinite greed, so the young have grown up not trusting them.

Water matters more because they see and experience what happens without it. The environment happens more because they see the impact of the plastic dumped into our waters. Equality matters more, because they know people who are transgender, and LGBT, and recognize them as equals and friends, regardless of the law.

And that is the change that matters, because they are bold and powerful, and growing in numbers. When they finally take control, it’ll be something to behold.

The Cusp of Revolutions

I’m pretty excited this morning. Awoke in that state. I owe this excitement to a teenage woman.

I didn’t meet her, but I saw and listened to her. It was during our weekly beer meeting of the BoBs, the pretentious and silly name of our group, “Brains on Beers”. It’s actually a group of retired doctors, scientists, engineers, professors, etc, that meet to have a beer each week and talk. We mostly talk about science, technology, politics, and beer.

We also collect and donate money to buy materials to help local schools and their STEM educational programs. One of the projects we support is the southern Oregon robotics team. The teenager was with that group when four of them came to us to pitch their project for a donation.

An adult leader and three local high school students were making the pitch. Christina, the young woman that I found so inspiring. She loves science. My sense, from listening to her, is that she loves life, knowledge, and learning. Her dream is to join Space X and go into space and colonize other places. Her enthusiasm was like gulping a dozen shots of espresso at once. It was beautiful to behold.

Her comments and enthusiasm trickled into my thinking streams. Eventually, a week later, thoughts came together and bubbled up from my subconscious thinking, and I realized, we’re on a cusp of a revolution.

No, make that revolutions.

People feel and see them coming. That scares and intimidates them. Many people dislike change, or are uncomfortable with change. I’m not too good with it, myself. Processing change requires time and energy. I often feel like I lack enough of either, and just want to climb into bed and cover my head.

Yet, I could see the revolutions coming so clearly in my thoughts this morning as I contemplated my fading dreams. I saw at least another industrial revolution as we move away from fossil fuels and introduce more robotics and automation.

We’re undergoing an information revolution right now. How we acquire, process, and spread information has evolved, and that evolution is speeding up. To combat it, guerrilla warfare comprising of false information and false equivalencies have been

We’re undergoing gender revolutions, and revolutions that are overturning Business As Usual. Sexual assaults, bigotry, and prejudice are being exposed. In a sense, we needed the Trump Administration, because its existence turned on the lights, revealing the ugliness that we’ve institutionalize and accepted as normal and standard.

Of course, the technological and digital revolutions are underway, as well. These are leading to social and cultural revolutions. These revolutions will cause yet greater economic and political revolutions. The great democratic revolution will itself undergo another revolution because the representative form of government, with its elections that establish a ruling class, has been outgrown. So have nation states, as we conceive of ourselves more and more as humans sharing a planet with finite resources, with a need to improve how we use those resources, and begin developing plans to seriously use exo-resources on other worlds.

That’ll launch the space revolution.

It’ll all be a bloody mess for a long time, of course. We know that economic, social, political, and regional stagnation and siloing reduce cooperation and create obstacles and roadblocks. Some like these obstacles. They even want to build walls, because they’re afraid, or they don’t want their comfort zone to change, which is wholly understandable.

But, smart people are out there. They’re perceiving these problems, and they’re conceiving solutions and new approaches.

Trust me. I heard one.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: