Monday, November 10, 2014

So absurd

Spare me, please, the columns about personal experiences of aging that begin, "I've just turned fifty." Turn at least 75, Frank Bruni, before you attempt to qualify to talk about the last part of life. (This refers to his column yesterday in The Times.)

While my son tells me that 85 is what you have to attain before you're "really old," I believe that only accounts for the extraordinary among us. I noticed old age when I reached 75 and obviously some of us, like Frank Bruni, notice it way earlier.

It's not that I can't still get around and enjoy myself, it's more like what John Cleese said on the Jon Stewart show, "I don't care anymore".

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thoughts for a Not-So-Sunshiney Morning

Remember: "Behind the carefully maintained fa├žade of “gridlock,”  the two parties work in lockstep to implement the ruling class’s agenda of war, austerity and the gutting of democratic rights." (The quote is from the World Socialist Web Site.)

So don't worry. It's just business as usual.

Monday, October 27, 2014

McDonald's Denmark spokesperson: “We don’t want there to be a big difference between the richest and poorest, because poor people would just get really poor,” Mr. Drescher added. “We don’t want people living on the streets. If that happens, we consider that we as a society have failed.”

In Denmark, McDonald's employees earn $20 an hour; their cost of living is higher, but not by THAT much.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Somehow it has just come to my attention that Michael Brown was killed for WALKING DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET (not on the sidewalk). Is that possible? Jesus.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Your pages are full of Ebola coverage, but to my mind, you're not covering the real question: given our much-vaunted healthcare system, how is it possible that this hospital in Dallas sent the Ebola patient home, even after he told them he'd just come from West Africa? It boggles the mind, and also recalls Rick Perry's lapse in the presidential debates, except the hospital only had to remember ONE thing: West Africa is where there's an Ebola epidemic. Oh maybe a second thing, too: Ebola is a grave, contagious illness that can kill people, innocent people. Is this an example of how our splendid health system works?

Maybe, just maybe we need to stop spending money on war and spend it on education and other human services. If ANYONE in that hospital knew the prospective patient had just come from West Africa and didn't know that he should stay in the hospital, under quarantine, there's something very very wrong with that hospital, our system, the entire country.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Here's an extremely important comment on a touching story in the Times today about a woman trying to save her dying father (it's from MGdoc of Oklahoma City):

There's an extremely strong cognitive disconnect running through this story that the writer, Mr Andrey's daughter and most of the comments fail to realize. Mr. Andrey was ALWAYS dying. 90 year old Alzheimers patients falling from weakness and unable to care for themselves are terminally ill. No amount of physical therapy, rehab, nursing home care etc could change that. For this sort of patient, nursing homes are just warehouses holding them until they complete the dying process. While the bedsores, malnutrition etc alleged in the article are horrifying, repeatedly taking a terminally ill patient to the hospital, repeatedly treating sepsis, having emergency surgery for somebody who is about to die despite surgery is a CHOICE. Both the patient and his daughter wanted him to keep on living, but weren't willing to accept the consequences of that decision. Mr. Andrey could have gone home, and stayed home, and died at home. Instead, he kept going back to the hospital, over and over. THAT's the real tragedy here; that he was dying and a slow agonizing death was chosen instead of realizing that death was inevitable and that death at home, without medical intervention was an acceptable alternative.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My response to a friend who sent me a blog that featured a letter by a learned Middle East scholar who seems to like Israel, or at least writes a screed (it seems to me based on nothing but pilpul) in its favor (and against using the words apartheid or nazi in speaking about the country of Israel):

I'm afraid I can't quite read all of this letter, viewing it, as I do, as Israeli propaganda. I too deplore the loose use of the term Nazi, but one cannot blame the world for seeing certain parallels in feeling tone, if not in detail. I am pretty much convinced at this point, that Jews should NOT have a country, and why wouldn't I be, since I've been brought up to believe in the SEPARATION of church and state, as we all have. In fact, I guess you could say that all this is just one more last lingering horrible effect of the Holocaust--making the Jews fulfill the worst thoughts of the ant-Semites.
The Times has one of those seemingly benign editorials about not giving the death penalty to "the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks." A commenter referred to this man as a "mass murderer." I commented:
"But is he a mass murderer? As far as I can tell, this man has not been convicted of anything. And isn't a guilty verdict the only way we'll ever know, according to our system? It seems to me that even if our torturers were prosecuted (an essential move if we are ever to regain our self-respect), this man's trial is hopelessly compromised if he was treated in the cruel, heartless way you describe."

Got 24 recommendations!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


says it better than I could. They never mention that it's our children we're sending to these absurd wars.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nobody ever mentions that our new war will kill actual people, just as dead as James Foley even if they're not actually beheaded. Could someone just mention that? Even if it's just our troops, which it won't be, why send our young people far away to be killed? Because you know that will happen.
From Digby's blog, Hullabaloo, about the working poor and how some sneer at them and call them lazy:
This discussion always reminds me of Jack London's description of what happens psychologically to people who work at low paying hard labor jobs in his book Martin Eden. Martin is an ex-sailor and budding writer who takes a job working in a hotel laundry to make money so that he can ask his girl to marry him. He thinks it's a good deal --- 12 hour days leaving plenty of time in the evening for writing and reading. And one day off a week. It doesn't work out that way. The work is brutal ... and tiring. And it does something destructive to the spirit.

This picks up the story of his laundry work a week into it after he's discovered that he's too tired to do anything but sleep and work:

All Martin's consciousness was concentrated in the work. Ceaselessly active, head and hand, an intelligent machine, all that constituted him a man was devoted to furnishing that intelligence. There was no room in his brain for the universe and its mighty problems. All the broad and spacious corridors of his mind were closed and hermetically sealed. The echoing chamber of his soul was a narrow room, a conning tower, whence were directed his arm and shoulder muscles, his ten nimble fingers, and the swift-moving iron along its steaming path in broad, sweeping strokes, just so many strokes and no more, just so far with each stroke and not a fraction of an inch farther, rushing along interminable sleeves, sides, backs, and tails, and tossing the finished shirts, without rumpling, upon the receiving frame. And even as his hurrying soul tossed, it was reaching for another shirt. This went on, hour after hour, while outside all the world swooned under the overhead California sun. But there was no swooning in that superheated room. The cool guests on the verandas needed clean linen.

The sweat poured from Martin. He drank enormous quantities of water, but so great was the heat of the day and of his exertions, that the water sluiced through the interstices of his flesh and out at all his pores. Always, at sea, except at rare intervals, the work he performed had given him ample opportunity to commune with himself. The master of the ship had been lord of Martin's time; but here the manager of the hotel was lord of Martin's thoughts as well. He had no thoughts save for the nerve- racking, body-destroying toil. Outside of that it was impossible to think. He did not know that he loved Ruth. She did not even exist, for his driven soul had no time to remember her. It was only when he crawled to bed at night, or to breakfast in the morning, that she asserted herself to him in fleeting memories.

Monday morning he was hard at work, sorting clothes, while Joe, a towel bound tightly around his head, with groans and blasphemies, was running the washer and mixing soft-soap.

"I simply can't help it," he explained. "I got to drink when Saturday night comes around."

Another week passed, a great battle that continued under the electric lights each night and that culminated on Saturday afternoon at three o'clock, when Joe tasted his moment of wilted triumph and then drifted down to the village to forget. Martin's Sunday was the same as before. He slept in the shade of the trees, toiled aimlessly through the newspaper, and spent long hours lying on his back, doing nothing, thinking nothing. He was too dazed to think, though he was aware that he did not like himself. He was self-repelled, as though he had undergone some degradation or was intrinsically foul. All that was god-like in him was blotted out. The spur of ambition was blunted; he had no vitality with which to feel the prod of it. He was dead. His soul seemed dead. He was a beast, a work-beast. He saw no beauty in the sunshine sifting down through the green leaves, nor did the azure vault of the sky whisper as of old and hint of cosmic vastness and secrets trembling to disclosure. Life was intolerably dull and stupid, and its taste was bad in his mouth. A black screen was drawn across his mirror of inner vision, and fancy lay in a darkened sick-room where entered no ray of light. He envied Joe, down in the village, rampant, tearing the slats off the bar, his brain gnawing with maggots, exulting in maudlin ways over maudlin things, fantastically and gloriously drunk and forgetful of Monday morning and the week of deadening toil to come.

A third week went by, and Martin loathed himself, and loathed life. He was oppressed by a sense of failure. There was reason for the editors refusing his stuff. He could see that clearly now, and laugh at himself and the dreams he had dreamed. Ruth returned his "Sea Lyrics" by mail. He read her letter apathetically. She did her best to say how much she liked them and that they were beautiful. But she could not lie, and she could not disguise the truth from herself. She knew they were failures, and he read her disapproval in every perfunctory and unenthusiastic line of her letter. And she was right. He was firmly convinced of it as he read the poems over. Beauty and wonder had departed from him, and as he read the poems he caught himself puzzling as to what he had had in mind when he wrote them. His audacities of phrase struck him as grotesque, his felicities of expression were monstrosities, and everything was absurd, unreal, and impossible. He would have burned the "Sea Lyrics" on the spot, had his will been strong enough to set them aflame. There was the engine-room, but the exertion of carrying them to the furnace was not worth while. All his exertion was used in washing other persons' clothes. He did not have any left for private affairs.

He resolved that when Sunday came he would pull himself together and answer Ruth's letter. But Saturday afternoon, after work was finished and he had taken a bath, the desire to forget overpowered him. "I guess I'll go down and see how Joe's getting on," was the way he put it to himself; and in the same moment he knew that he lied. But he did not have the energy to consider the lie. If he had had the energy, he would have refused to consider the lie, because he wanted to forget. He started for the village slowly and casually, increasing his pace in spite of himself as he neared the saloon.

"I thought you was on the water-wagon," was Joe's greeting.

Martin did not deign to offer excuses, but called for whiskey, filling his own glass brimming before he passed the bottle.

"Don't take all night about it," he said roughly.

The other was dawdling with the bottle, and Martin refused to wait for him, tossing the glass off in a gulp and refilling it.

"Now, I can wait for you," he said grimly; "but hurry up."

Joe hurried, and they drank together.

"The work did it, eh?" Joe queried.

Martin refused to discuss the matter.

A big screen TV and a computer are probably the only respite from the mind numbing nature of the work low paid workers do --- it's all they've got to keep them from going nuts. Sadly, some of them might be watching Fox News.

I wrote a letter to the Times about how they always leave out the real antecedents to any "unrest" attributed to Palestinians in Israel. Now what could they say (instead of "events that led to" referring to one recent incident)? They could say, "The West Bank and Gaza, where most Palestinians live, have been occupied by Israel since [whatever year]" or "for nearly 50 years." They don't even need the phrase about "events"--the fact of an endless occupation would be sufficient, I think. They could, of course, add, "the ancestors of current Palestinians had homes in what is now Israel, an entity which expelled them from their ancestral lands." But it's not bloody likely.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Overdetermined. The word of the year? The decade? The century? While "overdetermined" was used quite a bit in the last century, in this one, it seems to be taking over. In just the last day, I have come upon it in about four times in four web excursions. Very useful it is, too, when you're talking about something we all know and are already bored with. But is the word "overdetermined" also overdetermined? Yes, I think so.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Jeff Koons at the Whitney:

A wonderful piece by Jed Perl in the New York Review of Books: "His combination of in-your-face banality and in-your-face extravagance"is just one beautiful phrase among many. How I detest that banality and that extravagance and everything this "artist" stands for, including getting the largest amount ever for a piece--82 million dollars, maybe. Not while I'm eating.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reading about Mary Beard and the rape she experienced and her [later] reporting of it, on the New Yorker's web site, has made me want to do the same. Her experience could be called a date rape, just as mine is/was, and she and I didn't quite know how to look at it in those days. It was only later, when the phrase date rape became a part of our lexicon, that I was able to see it for what it was.

It was long ago, in my bathtub-in-the-kitchen Sullivan Street walk-up, that it happened. A man I had always liked a lot dropped in one evening--we'd seen each other at several recent parties. Actually, I don't think it was a drop-in; I think we'd made a date. Anyway, I was of course happy to see him. (I think we called him Red for his hair, but I don't remember his real name.) He proceeded to take me to bed, my own bed, despite my objections. I thought of everything; I tried everything, including the words "no" and "stop," but nothing worked. He was determined; I was a well-behaved young lady. Hitting him over the head with a frying pan never occurred to me (it might have been possible--well, maybe a heavy book would have been closer to hand). Calling the police? Faggedaboudit. They would have laughed at me. Of course I never told anyone. I felt very much as if it was my fault. Until many years later, when date rape was invented. Then I knew what had happened.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I am so appalled by Israel's murderous attack on Gaza, just ending now apparently. It seems so obvious to me that Israel wants simply to get rid of the Arabs, views them as less than human (much as I hate these comparisons, I'm afraid that was the way the Nazis viewed the Jews). They do all they can to ruin the Arabs's lives, short of just gunning them down, except in what they call war. To expect a people to live for years under occupation and then to be shocked by an intifada? Give me a break. They want ethnic cleansing, but they are not quite arrogant enough to announce that to the world. Just make their lives so horrible that they will leave (although sometimes they can't even if they want to, but I guess the Israeli government enjoys watching their dilemma--it sure does seem that way. I fear the government has also brutalized its people--Jews are not well-known for behaving this way. All this schadenfreude. I wouldn't have expected it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

NOTE FROM SAM HARRIS'S BLOG (on Gaza): "It is worth observing, however, that Israel isn’t “Jewish” in the sense that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are “Muslim.” As my friend Jerry Coyne points out, Israel is actually less religious than the U.S., and it guarantees freedom of religion to its citizens. Israel is not a theocracy, and one could easily argue that its Jewish identity is more cultural than religious. However, if we ask why the Jews wouldn’t move to British Columbia if offered a home there, we can see the role that religion still plays in their thinking.]

Sam Harris seems to feel quite strongly, despite several caveats, that Israel is, in sum, right. That's a position I cannot agree with, but especially I don't know what he's talking about in the "note" above. What does the part about Israel not being Jewish in the same way Saudi Arabia... is Muslim mean? And all the rest. Don't get it.

I definitely feel there's no excuse for Israel's behavior in Gaza and on the West Bank. I also believe Jews SHOULD be held to a higher standard and, while I thought right after the Holocaust that they (we) should have a country of their (our) own, I'm not at all sure I believe that now. Plus, why shouldn't the Palestinians have a country of their own. It was theirs when the Jews came. Seven hundred thousand people were displaced. That is wrong.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Why Do Our Elites Keep Behaving Like Criminals And Sociopaths?

- The question is from: But isn't it obvious? Not only are they criminals and sociopaths who cannot behave any other way, but also, they love money and this behavior gets them more of that.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Bergdahl Swap

It seems that conservatives spent a lot of time accusing the Administration of weakness for not getting Bowe Bergdahl back from the Taliban, but as soon as Obama did that, they began talking about Bergdahl being a deserter (which they could well have known beforehand) and about Obama's perfidy in freeing five Taliban from Guatanamo. For heaven's sake, I would think any excuse for getting prisoners out of Guantanamo would be worthwhile. But here's my question: Why doesn't Obama talk about this? Gosh, why must he be so sniveling. All he has to do is say, Hey, you guys wouldn't shut up about this and about my weakness in not getting him back, for years. Now that I've done what you asked, you're attacking from the other angle. It just seems so obvious. I also would like to know about these five "Taliban." Why have they never been tried? No evidence, maybe? Or maybe they've been tortured and thus there's way of trying them? What's the story, news media?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

This is getting too scary

Regarding the NSA subjecting us all to facial recognition files. How is one to live a private life, with dignity and humanity, any more? I've never been diagnosed as paranoid, yet I rely on Woody Allen's well-known riposte: Even paranoids have enemies, I think is how it goes. I'm grateful not to live in the United States, also grateful that New York City, where I always did live, doesn't allow people to carry guns around without a permit. Especially since I'm about to come to New York for a month. But while I'm afraid of all those guns in the U.S., what really scares me is the government. I am grateful to Edward Snowden for revealing all the horrors of the NSA, but I find it very scary, being watched all the time (when I'm there I guess). I'm pretty sure nothing bad will happen to me, I am 79 years old, but the atmosphere is demeaning, the idea of everyone being spied on by our own government. It's not something I ever dreamed would happen in our country, totally gutting the Constitution this way. 1984 seemed so absurd when I read it, way back when, but now it's becoming true before my very eyes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The REASON we have mass killings?

In case you haven't noticed, America is broken. No, it's not the Congress, the Government, the mental health system, the health system, the education system--it's all of that and more. Somehow, with the help of Fox News and its ilk, the whole country is, well, fucked. Nobody cares about their neighbors, their community, their nation (or at least very few people). I attribute it to money, which is so blatantly displayed by "celebrities," not to mention government functionaries and anybody who has it, that what money can buy becomes all that anyone cares about. If some part of our country worked (like for instance our Congress, those we pay and pay very well to represent us), laws could change some of this. Laws about taxes, say, laws about guns, and laws about health and education. It does appear, from all the polls, that ordinary Americans want a better system; they want single-payer health care, they want better public education, lower college tuition, they want stimulus to the economy so everyone can get a job (and a job that pays enough to live on). But alas, they have no idea of how to get those things, since the concerns of ordinary Americans cut very little ice with the craven officials who run our government, despite elections. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Have we forgotten that old saw? And it's the rich who pay their way into everything and who get their way throughout the country.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY Reaffirming Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Vision Julia Ward Howe offered her Mother’s Day Proclamation to the world in 1870. Her dream was the establishment of an international Mothers’ Day Festival dedicated to the cause of nonviolent resolution of conflict and international solidarity among all women. Her pacifist consciousness had been provoked by the bloodshed of the Franco-Prussian War. Her activism was cultivated in the struggles for abolition of slavery and the quest for women’s suffrage. She had the proclamation translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Swedish, working for the establishment of Mother’s Day in concert with women internationally celebrating peace and women’s empowerment. .... Here is the text of her 1870 Mother’s Day Proclamation, so prescient in its understanding, so courageous in its call, so plaintive in its currency nearly a century and a half later. Arise then…women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts! Whether your baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly: “We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, For caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, Will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.” From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.” Blood does not wipe our dishonor, Nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil At the summons of war, Let women now leave all that may be left of home For a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means Whereby the great human family can live in peace… Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, But of God - In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask That a general congress of women without limit of nationality, May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient And the earliest period consistent with its objects, To promote the alliance of the different nationalities, The amicable settlement of international questions, The great and general interests of peace.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Could someone just tell Cliven Bundy that slavery was not as great as he thinks? I find it infuriating that nobody ever deals with the facts. No, Mr. Bundy, they didn't have their families together. One could be sold off all by him or herself, because they were just simply property. Get it? Human beings but property to be bought and sold. So there was nothing good about it--or as you would say, there wasn't nothing good about it (that seems to be your vernacular). How do you think you'd like that, Cliven? Not so good, huh? Even with "gardens, chickens." This was not a case of getting away for decades without paying proper fees to the effing government whose flag you carry on your effing horse. This was a case of the person being taken away any old time against his or her will, for effing profit. Hello-o

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Is Bill Maher also an idiot?

How disappointing. Bill Maher's new rule is all about how we should pit the young against the old, because the old get so much from the government; children almost nothing! Hello. What about the military. I'm quite willing to bet they get a helluva lot more than any age group per se. And I know that congresspersons get a lot more money than I do. Plus, we oldsters supposedly paid in advance for all of this--there was social security insurance and medicare insurance as I recall, taken out of my check when I was working. Oh fuck you Bill Maher. You do not know what you're talking about.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


It's hard for me to understand how the Republican Party can lay claim to high moral ground when they clearly are monsters of sadism--consigning children, old people and the disabled to a category called "takers," for instance. But as to the Democrats, most of them voted to deny billions of dollars worth of food stamps to needy families when they voted for the farm bill. Apparently, no one in office speaks for simple decency any more. Surely somewhere in the Bible, there are words that urge us to take care of those who need our help. Something about Do Unto Others... and certainly even more. Don't these people swear oaths on the Bible? And of course, the Constitution, which is not on the whole a mean-spirited document.