Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

It is a statement, a sentence, not just a movement, not just a fad.

In a post that is now so last year, I copped to being a ‘Becca’ white woman in the whole of the ‘Becky’ taxonomy.  As stated:

“Keeping in mind that I don’t know what to do or what I’m doing, I will push beyond my Becca-ness of being ‘willing to do the work … but not really.’

I will do work. Really. “

And for me the challenge became discovering a way to 4) Use your privilege to support marginalized movements without drawing attention to … me.  How could I be a quiet, present, and strong ally? Other than pinning up every day which can be seen as an empty gesture used to assuage my own ‘guilt’, how can I be heard without saying a thing?

I’m open to wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirt, but that seems too easy, too obvious, and if the BLM movement doesn’t persist, then what?  And my inner optimist hopes I’d be the butt of a joke for wearing a dated ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirt when I’m old, but then my inner cynic says “shut up, systemic racism will be here long after you’re gone.”

Much like pinning up, wearing a slogan t-shirt could be interpreted as an empty gesture. I needed to create something of my own that unapologetically makes the statement ‘Black Lives Matter’, and it struck me while working on another project that Morse Code is the perfect medium.

And so this is my artist’s statement regarding the Black Lives Matter: Morse Code collection:

The challenge is to be a present, silent, strong ally making the clear statement ‘Black Lives Matter.’

Morse Code is heard in the darkness.

Darkness doesn’t see color.

Be seen to be heard.Morse code - BLM freehand (2)

Black Lives Matter.


Black Lives Matter: Morse Code t-shirts, sweatshirts, coffee cups merchandise available from Zazzle via the Viva Boutique Vending page. After-tax profits will be donated to Black Lives Matter. (I get a small % from each sale.)

The BLM: Morse Code design was my own vanity project as I want the statement Black Lives Matter to be as easy and accessible as a Roswell or a Saint Helen of the Blessed Shroud Orphanage t-shirt.


The following is included for fun and advanced reading beyond the basic blog post.

I entered some Viva facts in the 500letters.org Artist Statement Generator and it spit out the following which I thought was spot-on, perceptive, and fun. Not unlike a horoscope. Try it and see what kind of artist you’re meant to be.  “Between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves.” Oh? Really.

Viva Escritora

Viva Escritora (United States) is an artist who works in a variety of media. By applying abstraction, Escritora touches various overlapping themes and strategies. Several reoccurring subject matters can be recognized, such as the relation with popular culture and media, working with repetition, provocation and the investigation of the process of expectations.

Her artworks often refer to pop and mass culture. Using written and drawn symbols, a world where light-heartedness rules and where rules are undermined is created. By using popular themes such as sexuality, family structure, and violence, her works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.

Her work doesn’t reference recognizable form. The results are deconstructed to the extent that meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, she creates intense personal moments masterfully created by means of rules and omissions, acceptance and refusal, luring the viewer round and round in circles.

Her works demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves.

 

 

 

 

A Sunday Sundry Assortment

What a whirlwind week it has been!  The list I made last week gives me lots of topics to investigate and focus on that aren’t  politics, but here I am again with my binoculars pointed toward Washington … go figure.

Dodgeball: White Goodman

The character White Goodman in the movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”, (2004) — reminds me of the Prescedense — clueless, cheap, arrogant, an *ss**le. He thinks Kate Veatch is attracted to him because he is attracted to her.  She is not.  He thinks she works for him. She doesn’t. He believes his privilege and position make him a winner.  He isn’t.

So when it was reported that the Prescedense loves his McDonalds, I can’t shake the closing credit image of White Goodman, antagonist, chowing down on his sorrows.  I do not include a link. You have to Google it yourself, (‘White Goodman Dodgeball closing credits’).

You have been warned.  You cannot unsee it.

White House smoke & mirrors.

From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks and this week it was reported that during a discussion of immigration policy, the Prescedense referred to certain countries as ‘shithole countries.

And yes, I’m taken aback. And no, I’m not surprised.

And so this week, the New York Times with their motto of “all the news that’s fit to print,” gained a word that’s now fit to print — shithole.

Is the plural of POTUS, POTII? Asking for a friend.

Well, previous POTII have used salty language in White House meetings and it has not made national news in such a bigly way.  Why now? Who decided we should all be outraged over his language? The words from his mouth reflect the abundance in his heart and we are not surprised. But this time, this administration, someone in the room and someone in the MSM decided Teflon Don’s pronouncement — his exact words —  were news worthy.

No, with the current cage match the Prescedense is waging with the office of President OTUS, respect is gone.  Trump did not respect the office before he was elected. He doesn’t respect or step-up to provide behavior, the gravitas expected of someone sitting POTUS.  His tweets, his statements — winners, losers — he treats his role like it’s reality TV. And for the most part, the MSM treats the events in the cage, the events under the big tent like entertainment.

But it is smoke &and mirrors.  While you’re busy twittering on and on about ‘shithole countries’, magicians work on the other bigger s*it that’s happening.

And we are not entertained. (Link: “Trump’s racism is more than rhetoric – it forms policy and ruins lives”, by Sarah Kendzior.)

 

S*it*ole.

I like asterisking the ‘h’s in shithole.  It looks almost foreign.  S’it ole. Maybe it is a greeting. A term of endearment.

Word Mash-up: Pronounciation

Pronounciation (n): A bold declaration of an alternative way of pronouncing a word.

Pronounciation is a mashup of the words pronounce (v): declare or announce, typically formally or solemnly and pronunciation (n): the way a word is pronounced. And by way of example, we offer the following pronounciations:

Shi•the•ad:  SHY-thê-äd

As•sho•le:  as-SHO-lay

Bastard is still BAS-tard though.

Wheel of Fortune: Public Service Announcement

If you’re ever a contestant on Wheel of Fortune and you’re spotted the letters R, S, T, L, N, and E, the solution to:

S – – T – – L E

– – – N T R – E S

is ‘SHITHOLE COUNTRIES’ as stated by a R – – – S T  – S S – – L E.

MSM: Stop it. Get out from under the tent.

Bark, bark, bark! Get angry. Stay angry.

This headline from OZY captures the mission of the MSM: “Annoyed, Frustrated, and Outraged? You need this Nigerian word.”

I am reminded that when you enter a circus, a zoo, a barn, a smelly place, it stinks and after then after you acclimate, it really doesn’t smell at all.  The MSM is still trying to tell us that is it smelly in here.  It is smelly in the Trump circus. We know.  Make note and move on.

The circus is on the move. Follow the money. Income tax statements. Real estate transactions. Follow the documents that get signed, the policies that are implemented.  You are killing us with the chase to publish click-bait. We are sick of the diet of circus cotton candy.

Drilling in Hawaii

For 45 minutes Saturday, Hawaiians were exercised in a drill that had kicked off with the words ‘THIS IS NOT A DRILL.’

How is this? I have participated in bulk electric system restoration drills.  The #1 Rule: Every statement, every announcement, every conversation and announcement end contains the words “THIS IS A DRILL.”

If the Prescedense had not been preoccupied with golf, would we now be busy at another war?

SMDH.

DNC & the SOTU address

Rep. Maxine Waters and Rep. John Lewis among others will not attend the State of the Union address this year.  And that is their right, their perogative, and good Lord, they’ve earned it.

For Democrats who choose to attend —  I mean, you will have primo seats at the circus — comport yourselves with the same solemnity and respect as at a funeral.

Wear black. No smiles. Solemn all the way around. Pay your respects to the dying.

And I would love to see Kamala Harris deliver the rebuttal in the form of a eulogy celebrating the passing of the traditional American values that are missing from the Trump Administration — truth, liberty, equality, independence … it’s a long list.

 

 

 

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!

Taxes vs. the Common Good

With the projection that the tax reform bill which passed this week will throw another $1.5 trillion dollars on the national debt over the next decade, I was reminded of a quote from Ernest Hemingway:

“How did you go bankrupt?”
Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

― Ernest HemingwayThe Sun Also Rises

and combined with The Tipping Point — an idea and a book by Malcolm Gladwell:

“The tipping point is the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development.” (Google)

I wonder if this political experiment called the United States, this democracy, has hit a tipping point?

  • Did we hit the tipping point when we decided Social Security was a good idea? (1935)
  • With Medicare and Medicaid? (1966)
  • Various and sundry wars through the years? Ugh. Now that’s a long list …

Can we continue to afford capitalism? Pure unadulterated obeisance to business to solve any and all economic problems?

Well, the GOP Tax Reform Bill passed this week. And with some of the last minute additions to the bill — I’m looking at you Bob Corker — “taxation without representation” has morphed into “no taxation with representation.” Which, when you think about it, explains the Kochs — the Charles & David. But I’ll save that for another time. This is a time of good cheer.

Due to cold weather, the celebratory beer lap around the White House Rose Garden in golf carts has been postponed. Also, Trump had to get to Mar-a-lago. 

A Merry Christmas to you all!


As I rifled through my list of draft posts, I tripped across the Vox editorial by a former Wisconsinite who noted that his quality of life is better. In Sweden. Where there are

… more TAXES!!!

And it reminds me that at one time improvement and maintenance of the “common good” in the US was a priority, a goal. Taxes were not a necessary evil. Taxes paid for education, for infrastructure, for common defense, for all the things in the Preamble to the Constitution. The strength of our struggled union can be measured by our individual freedoms and the quality of life afforded to all. Not just a few. All of ‘We the People,’ the whole collective, the Common Good.


In closing, consider the metaphorical economic teeter totter – businesses at one end have taken our money and continue to take our money — I’m looking at you now, Apple — and they have run off to work in other playgrounds leaving our Common Good butt hurt on the other end of the totter, on the ground, awaiting trickle down.  Maybe we’ll have lunch money.

And the playground monitors don’t address playground shenanigans, changes to the landscape, the changing rules. After all, they’re part, parcel, and party to all of it. (And I’m still looking at you Bob Corker.)

Recess is almost over. The trading day ends. The bell will ring.¹


¹ Love me my mixed metaphors.

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.

 

A sundry assortment of musings.

Today I will try my best to not pontificate with my bullhorn on my orange crate in my little corner of the internet as I’m wont to do.

Here we go anyway:

Fearless Girl & Time

And not tick-tock time! On December 1, 2017, I identified women who have joined the company of ‘Fearless Girl’ and Time Magazine’s annual Person of the Year 2017 is The Silence Breakers — more company for what ‘Fearless Girl’ represents. The Time stories are painful — “if you do [speak out], your complaint becomes your identity“¹ — but this is literally facing down a figuratively charging bull.

An avalanche started.

GOP Tax reform.

No taxation with representation! And that would be representation in the form of dollars — Kochs, Mercers, Adelsons, et al.

Representation of voters?

Eh, not so much. In word only. Overall,  suppression is going well. Just show up as an adult, present, able and accounted for and it will not be enough.

We require ID.

Eh?

Hard to obtain an ID?

Well, no worries. Our national experiment in a pluralist democracy may be over soon.

And we’ll return to historically scheduled ‘taxation without representation’ programming shortly.

Trump & GOP Tax reform.

He benefits. But his estate benefits bigglier when he is dead.²

Polling all millenials …

Well this is good news! From The Independent, “a majority of young people in America want a third party involved in US politics.”³ And so do I and I feel young again!

I hope Millenials can organize, identify leadership, establish a party platform and a snappy name. Bring it.

I’m here for you kids.

Project Runway Season 16: A new development. Cliff hangers.

In the run up to the finale, Project Runway featured episodes that ended in cliff hangers and we had to tune in next week to see the runway results.

I don’t know whose idea this was, but stop it. Stop it future seasons of Project Runway.

There is too much drama going on in the regular news cycle and it is hard to keep up.  We do not need more drama in our reality TV show competitions.  We need less.


¹ Zacharek, Stephanie; Dockterman, Elianan; Edwards, Haley Sweetland. “The Silence Breakers.” Time Magazine, Person of the Year 2017. December 2017. Web. 08 December 2017.

² And so do the rest of us. Harwell, Drew and O’Connell, Jonathan. “The many ways President Trump would benefit from the GOP’s tax plan.” The Washington Post. 10 November 2017. Web. 08 December 2017.

³ Sampathkumar, Mythili. “Majority of millenials want a third party in US politics, new poll says.” The Independent. 29 November 2017 19:45 GMT. Web. 08 December 2017 11:40 AM CST.

Aside: In a different political environment, I would also include bullhorn screams at Democrats. After all, we should all be better in our struggle for a more perfect union.  As such, due to the current GOP majority rule, I hold my rage at the Dems back.