2018: A ramblin’ along. It’s a long list.

Everyone loves their New Year’s resolutions until the first contact with the enemy which, in the case of a resolution to blog at a minimum of once a week, is pushing ‘publish’ at least once a week. But! But! Here we are. We are bold. We will take action.

Since there were so many events to weigh in on during this last week and I don’t want to step on that scale today, I’m going to kick the new blog year off with a list of topics and ideas I’d like to tango with in the next year.

On my dance card, these ideas, topics, and questions are in no particular order, are not complete thoughts or ideas, and may include but are not limited to:

  • Autonomous self-driving cars

Where are we at, where are we going, pros, cons, and unintended consequences

  • Main Street versus Wall Street

If we see the death of shopping malls, what takes their place? Where will our autonomous self-driving cars take us? What entertainment, market, and social organizations and activities will take their place? What about vacant buildings, leftover real-estate?

  • Viva’s Prescription or RIP for the Democrat Party
  • Viva’s Prescription or RIP for the Media
  • Constitutional Convention

What would be addressed in a Constitutional Convention if the founders were meeting in 2018? In addition to all the constitutional amendments, what about advances in technology — communication & electronic devices? medicine? transportation? energy? production and distribution? and on and on and on …

  • Treatise on money, goods & services.

Trickle-down, gush up, the role of money as a medium for exchange in a healthy society …

  • Voter Suppression
  • Book Reports — these are books I’d like to read or reread — looking at you A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Hurricane Evicted
  • Elon Musk, energy, battery storage, etc.
  • Democratic Socialism
  • Paul Ryan: Howard Roark wannabe?
  • Healthcare is 1/6th of the US economy. What is the economic impact of cutting Medicare and Medicaid? When do gains on Wall Street diminish due to potholes on Main Street?
  • Education, meritocracy and ‘Stop Stealing Dreams‘ by Seth Godin.
  • Gush up economics.
  • Truth: Is it the old New Frontier?
  • Distance and walkability comparison of old cities — Paris & Rome — to urban and suburban cities in the United States.
  • Notes on aging — thinking, memory, the joy of learning new things.
  • Dakota Access Pipeline update.
  • Where is Puerto Rico? And geographically. Track the progress or lack thereof in restoration.
  • Technology: too much, too fast? Have we been overcome by “magic”?

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

– Arthur C. Clarke

  • Thoughts on why the traditional concept of hell is hot.
  • Sundry Assortments of flotsam and jetsam discovered while surfing on the web
  • Word mash-ups for when Merriam & Webster and all the rest, fail us
  • Etcetera. Etcetera and oh dear. Too much, too much.  But what are resolutions for if not to be broken? <insert Gallic shrug here>

I am a people watcher reporting from the bleacher seats. This blog is my whimper, my bullhorn standing on my orange crate to make sense of, and organize my thoughts on what I observe, to toss current events and developments against history as I understand it and to imagine potential outcomes.

And with each push of ‘publish’, this is an invitation to you, dear reader, to join me.

Thank you & Happy New Year!

Year-end Rumination: Pale Blue Dot

Years end and what a year this was!


This will be my most political year-end statement because it kicked off my 2017.

In the late ’80’s, a brilliant classmate from China mentioned that the Chinese cultural revolution had been horrible, bad — her parents were educators. Her mother was still living in China. Her father had died during the revolution. I stayed away from asking much. I was afraid I would learn too much about the horror she had lived through.

As the U.S. leans toward further divisions — economic, education,  generations — a cultural and/or political revolution seems imminent, so I started the year reading Mao’s Last Revolution. It is a hefty, heady tome and you will not be surprised that at years end, I haven’t finished yet. But let’s not focus on that, no. The authors — Roderick Macfarquhar and Michael Schoenhals — deserve bigly kudos for documentation of a closed communist culture in which conformance to party ideals and pledged loyalty to individuals in the political structure is a shifty business. Deception, intrigue, danger. It’s all there.

Struggle early in the revolution, early in what I’ve read.

And so at year’s end, we continue to struggle a more perfect union and I will continue to struggle Mao’s Last to the finish.


Sub-zero temperatures from my bleacher seat here in the Midwest of the U.S., so the following was a nice confluence of different points of view this year:

After the Alabama election of Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate to sit Sessions seat, Dulce Sloan on the The Daily Show with Trevor Noah said, “Or at the very least cancel winter. You know only white people like snow.”

But! but! This video of black Louisianan Da’Quan Bellard dancing in the snow made me smile, made me scream ‘put on a jacket! put on a coat!’, and made me shake my head.

And most remarkable to me, he sings along to Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles‘ like Frood did back in the day. Whoa!

And Frood’s in Hawaii for the New Years holiday, and I’m sitting here frozen. SMDH.


My New Year’s Resolution? I’m going to reclaim my time too.

And I hope at the end of 2018 I can report back on what reclaiming my time means in my world.

Focus isn’t a word that figures prominently in my vocabulary. That might be a start.


Maria Popova: In Praise of the Telescopic Perspective: A Reflection on Living Through Turbulent Times, reminds us that we have puny little sorrows when viewed from the universe across space and time. I recommend. It’s a good read.

And she nods at Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot.

Approximately 4550 days after leaving the earth, the Voyager space probe turned it’s cameras to photograph the earth from a distance of about 3.7 billion miles from the Voyager. God bless Carl Sagan! He convinced NASA to take the picture because it puts the earth in a context with its place in the universe.  Scientific value? Null. Nada. Zip.

“Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps a no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

(my bold)

Progress on this pale blue dot is small, baby steps. A struggle.

But the progress of this small pale blue dot in our puny little solar system, now we’re talkin’ and I love this reflection from a Vonnegut work of sci-fi:

“Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules — and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.”

― Kurt Vonnegut Jr.The Sirens of Titan


Here’s a picture of matcha tea making rings around a cup during an afternoon of conversation. It reflects the contemplative nature of afternoon tea and like crop circles so does conversation. Circle. Contemplation. Circle. Conversation. Circle, the noun, and circle, the verb.

Hardly comparable to the Grand Canyon. Yet somehow a puny little afternoon becomes, Grand. Capital ‘G’.

And very 2017 in it’s Pantone Greenery 15-0343.

Matcha

 

Note to self, fast now: Drink 2017 Pantone Greenery 15-0343 matcha; wear 2018 Pantone Ultra Violet 18-3838.


On the death of two souls I hold dear during December, with deep love and gratitude, I say:

Thank you, Richard.

Thank you, Joan.

And as needed, comfort dropped in yesterday in the form of an exclusive from Longreads:  This is How You Say Goodbye, Lillian Slugocki.


And thank you, dear readers!

Stay safe. Stay warm. And Happy New Year!

On blogging.

This time of year usually inspires reflection.  A check of the calendar shows that I’ve been standing on my orange crate bullhorning into the void for about 10 months. I set a minimum expectation of one blog post by Thursday each week and yes, I am behind this week.

And blogging writing. I love this quote by Joan Didion, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” And I think, well, me too. Run with me!

What I’m thinking.

Ah! There’s the rub. The quality of writing is directly correlated to the quality of thought. The practice of writing makes good writing possible; great writing at it’s foundation has not pen and paper or screen and mouse and keyboard, but thought. And this for me is always, always the challenge — to improve the thought, improve the communication. Words can be found. The exactness, the preciseness of the word, the nuance — that is what requires thought.

And I sit with that and I’m pretty sure greatness is overrated. Heh, heh.

What I’m looking at.

Originally, in early 2017 I was looking at the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and I wanted a place to drop my notes, research, and thoughts and prayers summary of the protest and concerns for possible outcomes.

That hasn’t happened yet.

My notes and research on DAPL are somewhere, since I started blogging there has been another spill, and it was announced that the pipeline will be finished soon.  I’m pretty sure I’ll get on it.

I’m often surprised to find that what I’m actually looking at and choose to publish isn’t what has been under my microscope. When I look through draft posts with ideas that were current at the time, I push ‘publish’ on something from the periphery. As an example, I had just finished Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City when the Hurricane triplets Harvey, Irma, and Maria visited eviction on great swaths of population independent of their poverty or wealth.  Instead of a commentary on eviction as living in a steady state of hurricane uncertainty, I dropped some climate change ideas. Go figure.

What I see and what it means.

The immediacy of the internet has made reporters of us all. And the professionals — the trained journalists and reporters and publications that try to beat the immediacy of ‘now’ — try to get the facts straight and think and form opinions on the fly. By reference to current news sources and writing about current events, I appreciate how hard it is to locate the truth. Any truth. Statements have to be researched, sources need to be verified and I appreciate that professionals deliver news in a race for your attention and in competition with click-bait.

And what it means is that I have the luxury of time to consider an event, to turn it over and look under the hood, to discuss with others what things mean. And to weigh in with my bullhorn after-the-fact and not in-the-midst-of and during.

What I want and what I fear.

What I want is to read and to be read!

And what I fear? Technology and that big blue ‘publish’ button up and to the right means there is no editor, there is no traditional publisher, there is no one between you and me. There is no one to save me from myself.  My thinking could be off. And very public.

What was I thinking? I stand on this little orange crate with my bullhorn. I might spout strong yet wrong ideas and slide off into the margins like the itinerant repent-the-end-of-the-world-is-coming preacher or other interesting and startling orange crate peers.

Or maybe my orange crate and bullhorn, reporting from my little space off in this section of the bleacher seats is just homage to my love of mixed metaphor and play on words.

I know that very time I click the ‘publish’ button and release a post, any post, this post into the internet wild, I win.

I think. I look. I find meaning. I write. I want. I overcame fear.

And dear readers, you have my love and gratitude for reading me thus far.

Thank you!

I win.

 

Fearless Girl has company.

Yass!¹ So earlier this year I celebrated with great lament the future of ‘Fearless Girl’ installed opposite ‘Charging Bull’ on Wall Street. She’s small, she’s tiny, she needs help! And lo and behold, help showed up and here are my nods to a few of the women in the army² standing with and behind her:

  • Serena Williams

I’ll start here with Ms. Williams because even though this is a Gatorade commercial, it is sweet. As a strong, smart, athletic mother, Serena encourages her baby daughter to “please keep playing no matter what.” As should we all Serena. Message delivered. Message received.

PhD in anthropology, expert on authoritarian regimes, speaks Uzbek. It’s a long list. Sarah Kendzior is a boss. If ‘Fearless Girl’ came to life, she would be Sarah Kendzior.  You can follow Dr. Kendzior on Twitter (which provides links to many of her articles) or de Correspondent.

  • Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California)

Don’t waste Rep. Waters’ time. And a thread of truth to power.

  • Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California)

Calls out white lies and the lyin’ white liars who tell them.

  • Rep. Karen Bass (D-California)

Well, this is a trend. Rep. Karen Bass, a California Democrat calls out our little white lyin’ Attorney General on upholding systemic racism studies and statements.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts)

She persisted. And Sen. Warren continues to persist.

Embedded with white supremacists and neo-Nazis to report on the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. I look forward following her career. And I hope she doesn’t get too tired before she gets old.

After years of silence, the thunder of truth to power.

  • I close the list for today with Uma Thurman, a wrecking ball who is angry balling balls to the wall for balls.³

Yass! ‘Fearless Girl’ has company!

And truth to power, it is a growing army of support.


¹ IRL: In Real Life;  Yass: according to the Urban Dictionary a Scottish way of saying ‘Yes’ in celebration. Also, Viva waves her arms and jumps up and down just saying ‘Yass’!

² And to be clear, I am referring to the non-military definition of army: “a large number of people or things, typically formed or organized for a particular purpose.”

³ Oh so many references to balls! I’ll unpack.

Wrecking ball: A heavy metal ball swung from a crane into a building to demolish it.

Balling – Urban Dictionary: used to describe an individual, situation, or object with well-rounded competence, force of personality, significant affluence, and physical prowess. And Uma Thurman is all that.

Balls to the wall. An engineering term. A picture or in this case a video is worth a thousand words and toward the end of this article is Jay Leno with a physical demonstration of equipment going ‘balls to the wall’.

Balls.  Again with the Urban Dictionary but nuance matters.  I’m looking at balls as “the centre of a man’s life,” (definition #1 provided by DamianRules123, May 23, 2007).

I do believe Ms. Thurman is big, big, bigly, like so big coming for Harvey Weinstein or HollyWood. Balling balls to the wall for balls.

 

A poetry moment: The Grand Ol’ Party.

Coincident with the announcement that Barnum & Bailey were shuttering their circus, the results of the 2016 Presidential Election and in response to the writing prompt “a social situation where the participants are all animals,” I wrote a series of poems that captured my mood in January 2017. Based on poetic evidence after the jump, the mood was dark, dark, dark.

Poetry isn’t for everyone. Furthermore, I warrant that this poetry comes with no quality control, editorial assurance, or even artistry.

If poetry is not your read, move along and let us not speak of it again. Continue reading

A sundry assortment of snapshots.

Here’s a sundry assortment of snapshot thoughts taken over the last week. Enjoy!

Or not.

Where I was on 2001.09.11.

The radio announced the plane hitting the first World Trade Center tower on the drive to drop my Kindergartner off at school.  And I thought ‘how could a plane not miss the one of the towers?’ what a tragic failure of air-traffic control? How …’ and I tried not to think of it further. The school drop-off zone can be brutal and requires focus and safety.

Continue reading

A sundry assortment.

A sundry assortment.  Glorious redundancy.  Yummy.

This is a post to celebrate the joy of standing on my own little orange crate in my own little corner of the internet yelling at the speed of blogging into the void.  These are some brief observations on the sweet nothings and big somethings that made their way into our news feed this week:

Tomi Lahren Elle Reeve

My first thought when I saw Elle Reeve on the Face the Nation Panel — aviator glasses, braided hipster blond — was “Good Lord, not another Tomi Lahren.” Continue reading