A Sunday Sundry Assortment of Tidbits

And I’ll attempt to keep it short but politics & religion – it is Sunday, after all, billionaire breakdown, and literature & poetry. Let’s go!


Politics & Religion

Israel envy. The Evangelicals are so behind the Trumpster building his wall because in spite of Jesus, they like the Old Testament Bible, they like Old Testament law, and they are Chosen People and the United States of America is their Promised Land by gumminey.

Meanwhile, the rest of us Philistines just want a solid wall between church and state.


Quick: Who’d Have Trouble Living on $450,000 a Month? June 26, 1990 by Kurt Eichenwald. This article details the economic hardships imposed on the current resident of the White House by his bankers in 1990!

Twenty-nine years later, the estimated daily cost of the government shutdown is about $857,000,000/day and suddenly, $450,000/month seems like a real bargain.

Please, get us out of this art of the deal.


Farming & Rural Rehabilitation. The 2020 Democratic field running to be President will be big and interesting and exciting! Julian Castro, former Secretary of HUD threw his hat in the ring this past week in San Antonio. And we are all of “Bravo!” and he will add nuance and complexity to the conversation.

But what really piqued our interest was the mention of HUD — Housing & Urban Development. With the plunge in the number of small farm operations and the horrific rise in the number of farmers who take their own lives, maybe isn’t it time to devote a department to Farming & Rural Rehabilitation?

Asking for some states.


Billionaire Breakdown

Billionaire I relate to on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Whilst researching the Bezos on the list of Forbes’ billionaires, I was surprised to see names that I instantly recognize because of the product they produce! Giovanni Ferrero of Nutella and chocolate fame, that’s a lot of happiness spread around — was #36 on the list.

Although I can’t relate to the wealth of anyone on any of Forbes lists and poor Mr. Ferrero is only 1/6 of a Jeff Bezos pre-divorce, I can relate to Nutella and chocolate.

Nutella spreads itself across Maslow’s entire hierarchy of needs, and chocolate? It improves my mood.


Mini-billionaire breakdown. I’m recording this for posterity and because I like statistics and numbers and information baby! Some people study astronomy and the movement of planets, stars, galaxies, otherworldly objects. Well, the this-worldly humans on Forbes‘ list also work with astronomical numbers.

Subject to visual inspection and any errors are all my own, out of the top 100 billionaires in the world on Sunday, January 20, 2019:

  • Jeff Bezos’ worth is down $37B (from $149B) to $112B.
  • If MacKenzie Bezos gets half in the divorce, and I hope she does, she will be the wealthiest woman in the world. Half of today’s Jeff Bezos worth: $56B.
  • Being worth a half-Bezos or $56B will put Jeff and MacKenzie between #10 – Larry Ellison ($58.5B) and #11 – Michael Bloomberg ($50B). Still respectable.
  • 10% of the top 100 are currently women. No photos but first names of Dieter and Michael were counted as men. I counted the no-photo Iris as a woman.
  • Combined worth of the current 10 wealthiest women: $242.9B or ($242.9B/$112B/Jeff Bezos) = 2.16 Bezos. Or 4.33 half-Bezos.
  • 4% of the top 100 are Walton’s of Walmart money — Jim, S. Robson, Alice, and Lukas.
  • Combined worth of the Waltons: $154B or ($152B/$112B/Bezos) = 1.37 Bezos. Or 2.75 half-Bezos.
  • 31% have US citizenship, 7% are Russian.

That is all on this line of numbering. Make of it what you will. As mentioned previously, I’m an information junkie and I like to mash it up all ways from Sunday for no good reason other than, why not?


Literature & Poetry

What was Margaret Atwood thinking? Politics trigger warning. I’m reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, published 1986 by Anchor Books. This week I read these horrific sentences which are as clean as a bone:

“It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time.

Keep calm, they said on television. Everything is under control.”


Wait, there’s more:

“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.

So much for fiction being a respite from reality. I was relieved when Nancy Pelosi cancelled the SOTU (Shout Out To the Union) this week due to the government shutdown.


RIP: Mary Oliver, September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019.

Mary Oliver was an American poet who died this past week. I end with a short piece of her poetry which captures the chiaroscuro, the light and the dark of life. From a Twitter share (@kaysarahsera):


Peace. Bless. Be kind.

Carry on.

A Poetry PSA: Vote!

tl;dr? If you’re not sure if you’re registered to vote, CHECK TODAY! This is the last day to register in a long list of states.

And November 6, 2018, VOTE!


A poetry Public Service Announcement: VOTE!

Today, we take time to remember that the struggle for a more perfect union is long. Protests and protesting can seem futile. This weekend the GOP steamrolled Brett Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court. In the wake of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, many laid down their own stories of sexual violence, assault, and rape on the track to slow or stop the train, but the Old White Guys and Gals persisted. Old age and treachery.

And so the long view. Some, poetry written, and read by Daniel Berrigan, (Hat tip: photo dropped by John Cusack on Twitter):

SOME by Daniel Berrigan

“Some walked and walked and walked” – Keep walking.

A few notes:

  • Poetry speaks to the soul. SOME reminds us that some battles are lost. Keep standing. Keep walking.  It’s the future, it’s not a war, and it might not be your future, but stand, walk, protest. Not once. Not twice. Continuous.
  • John Cusack tweeted this photograph of SOME on October 7, 2018, 5:19PM. His parents received this from Daniel Berrigan with a heart! and I thought how wonderful to receive poetry like this in the mail! From the poet!

And, who is Daniel Berrigan? And why do I not know this?

  • Slipping down the Wikipedia rabbit hole, Daniel Berrigan was a Jesuit priest, activist, and poet. He took an active role in the protest of the Viet Nam War, (Catonsville Nine), and he was born in Virginia, Minnesota! And so were we! But I digress.
  • I’ve seen John Cusack movies, BI – Before Internet. And so in this age of the internet, it is a totally pleasant surprise to find that John Cusack is a political activist with serious chops. His reasoning and arguments go beyond slogans. Agree or disagree with him, his arguments are thoughtful, weighty, considered.

And on that note, I’ll end with this rally cry: Buckle up!

Stand, walk. We’ve work to do.


General Election Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Vote. Vote. Vote.

(Actually vote once and only once, but VOTE!)

Let America Vote!

An exclamation of points! A sundry assortment.

Before we get started, in mathematical notation, n factorial is written n! For n > 1, n! is the product of all the integers between 1 and n. Example:

4! = 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 or 24

Wowza! Factorials get pretty big, pretty fast. Let’s go!

• 1! For love of an exclamation point!

When learning to punctuate, we learn that exclamation points should not be overused. Exclamation points emphasize excitement! Whoops and hollers! Surprise! Etcetera! Overuse undermines their impact! See?

To which I say, bah! Humbug! As a matter of expressing my complete excitement and enthusiasm for friends, the punctuation I have opted to use in salutations and greeting for personal correspondence is “Dear Jane!” or “Jane!” (Substitute your name for Jane.)

Consider the difference in your responses between:

Dear your name,

-and-

Dear your name!

If we read past “Dear your name,” we might discover we owe money, we are in need of services we were previously unaware of needing. The comma is the punctuation of business, all business, just the business ma’am. And we hate being ma’am-ed and we head to the shredder or beat the ‘delete’ key. Of course, there is personal correspondence for which the comma ‘,’ is still preferred. After all, boundaries do need to be maintained. Good fences make good neighbors and all that.

But! An exclamation point engages and expresses my excitement not about what I’m writing, but about our relationship! Good things to come! maybe? Adventure is afoot! I hope. Read on! Dear your name!

• 2! FLOTUS photo. For reals?

This week a photo of FLOTUS holding a child in Africa whose skin is ebony-colored threw us off a bit because FLOTUS, Melania Trump, appeared to be genuinely happy in the embrace! Perhaps Occam’s B**bstraps is too simple an explanation and FLOTUS is not the racist we assume.

And we would be happy to be wrong but given the company she keeps, this could be just another gaslight lit on the way to making us all crazy. We’ll keep an eye on this.

• 3! or 6. Universe bends.

In a concurrent sign from the universe that I am approaching page n of my long-hand journal, the blue ink pen I was using, ran out of ink! Synchronicity!

• 4! or 24. Peak news week!

In a new news peak news week — Rosenstein-fired-not-fired, Kavanaugh, FBI investigation, FLOTUS jaunt to Africa, UPCOMING ELECTIONS – VOTE! it’s a long list — the NYTimes couldn’t contain themselves and dropped the story of Trump multi-generational tax fraud writ large.

Given the current political environment, my projections for possible outcomes:

  1. Housing subsidies are reduced to limit the money the Trumps of the world siphon off the public good.
  2. Increased regulation of rent subsidies.
  3. Or, my favorite: investigation and prosecution of white collar, briefcase crime!

You might have waited for a less busy news week, but that might have been a long wait. So, great reporting NYTimes! Tax fraud is what sunk Al Capone.

• 5! or 120. Clickbait.

It may interest you to know that blog posts get more attention if they include photos and references to food. This is not a photo of tacos:

img_6679

Morning coffee with Lupita.

• 6! or 720. Friends!

In other late-breaking photographic video evidence this week, we are saddened but not surprised to learn that Prescedense OTUS does not have any friends, acquaintances, aid. No one is close enough to him, concerned enough to tell him or help him, or interested enough in his appearance to inform him that there was toilet paper stuck on his shoe.  Between a bathroom, the tarmac, the stairs. No.one.said.a.word.

Return text to FEMA Presidential alert from all of us: Hard to make America great again with toilet paper on your shoe, you orange-redacted-redacted-redacted redacted.

But maybe it was intentional? The USA as the metaphorical unflushed toilet paper stuck to his shoe? I digress. If FLOTUS were not off in Africa? I’d bet the toilet paper would still be stuck on his shoe all the way up the stairs and onto Air Force 1. Just sayin’.

• 7! or 5040. Civic participation!

With the abysmal performance of SCOTUS-nominee Brett Kavanaughnaw under pressure, the limited FBI investigation, the rush by die.die.die Mitch McConnell to seat Kavanaughnaw when there are other suitably objectionable candidates, Kavanaughnaw’s sorry-sad-sack-abuse-cycle-continues statement in the WSJ, I am so.in awe at the number, quantity, quality, and responsiveness of protests arising around the country and especially in Washington, D.C.

Individually, we’re navelent. In aggregate, we are a civic American force to be reckoned with.

Exercise your civic force in full November 6, 2018. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!! 

• 8! or 40320. Mental health break.

With the advent of personal communication devices, is it any wonder interpersonal relationships suffer? We cannot compete. We do not operate in micro-nano-itsy-bitsy-mini second moments. We operate in tree time, in real life rings earned by trips around the sun, the slow build-up of experience, time expressed in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades. The slow patina of age. And we short-circuit all that age and grace with clickbait — the flying bits sent through space and time which do not require our attention but consume our thoughts.

With a touch of irony, I offer this bit of clickbait – a video by Edward Tufte of Inge Druckery –  a designer and educator. It is a lush production taken at a pace which encourages one to slow.down, to immerse oneself in a pursuit that does not have an immediate payback or maybe any payback at all. This video reminds me that thoughts should be sustained beyond the rush-rush of 24-hours news cycles and click bait. There is a long game. It includes thoughtful design and beauty.

I find even 3- or 4-minutes restorative. (The entire video is 37 minutes long.)

Enjoy! Or not.


• 9! or 362880. Happy Birthday, Ann!!!

 

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