Post # 584 BENEATH THE BLUE AGERATUM [reprise]


The soil curates small slips of man
His life, his work, his resume
The petit detritus of his life
A library of tales, again retold.
No need to search with system code
Items are best secured by chance
With lucky use of spade and rake
Close searched where man did live and die
A rusty nail, a piece of tool
Both witnesses to man’s resolve
To raise a shelter for repose.
A fragment of a printed page,
Reveals a ken that there’s yet more.
Old cans and jars and rusty spoons,
Betoken, victory over want,
And man’s resolve to live out life.
The grassy fields perforce are doors,
Enclosing bits of lives past lived—
Far warmer than some research “App.”
With cold results in digit code!

Leonard N. Shapiro, N.Y. 9/1/16

-p.

Post #823 Ragtime Reprise

It seems that when we reach our later years and are obliged to finally confess, that we are well into that stage of life, commonly termed, “growing old,” that we are, at times, confronted with the return of long-term memories, concerning singularly meaningful experiences in our past life; perhaps, a spontaneous projection of the stage- setting of a period of residence, in our very early life, the sound of a forgotten voice, or perhaps, a remembered scent (like ocean air, or a cooked food) suddenly recalled, after a veritable lifetime of subsequent experiences.

Such a sudden, recent memory visitation, was apparently triggered in us, by the mere encountering of the mundane verb, “crochet,” which appeared on the page of a novel we were reading. The word was not, in truth, used in any complex, metaphoric, meaningful or especially artistic sense; just the normal, unexciting and mundane word. At first, our lowering of the book and looking away felt unusual; then, a sudden eclat, “Mom!”

Our mother knew how to crochet and managed to be rather accomplished at her often practiced skill, despite the lack of a right index finger (amputated in the “dark ages” of medical ignorance of the White Russia of her childhood, in primitive manner, to prevent the spread of infection.) Crocheting was a common pastime when she was not cleaning house, cooking meals, tending to sick children or food shopping.

Historically, she may, perhaps, be entitled to be numbered among the world’s original recyclers; but truthfully, only did so, as a matter of necessity.  In the impoverished life, endured, together with her hard working, immigrant husband, and children, seldom was anything actually discarded, if it could be seen to have some other function, or some future possible utility.

Among our earliest memories, was of mother, actively tearing long, thin strips of cloth, from clothing and other fabrics, the latter, finally consigned to the dire functional diagnosis as no longer repairable, and, consequently, and at long last, falling into the rarified scientific category of “schmattas.” There was no limit to the wide provenance of these residual schmattas, old washclothes, towels, pants, undergarments, very torn sweaters, ancient shirts, blouses, dresses and whatever deserving fabric which, at long last, had fairly earned the right to meet its maker.

We would see her, in any break from housecleaning, cooking meals, nursing sick children, and the like, crocheting these substantial, multi- colored, multi-textured, accumulations of ancient family utility. Her recognized artisinal canon was area rugs, which  multi-splendored, objets d’art, kept our bare (or stockinged) feet warm, despite a cold flat and cold floor.

Then, a second lightening bolt (“eclat”)  struck; this time, a truly inventive, exciting and more scholarly eclat; as distinguished from the emotional jolt, set forth, above.

These cloth strips, torn from fabrics, used during the time of her family history, starting with her emigration to America, represent a witness, going back to the time of her escape from pogrom country and the Russian dark ages, though an American period, from Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt to John Kennedy, and encompassing events which occurred during such era, including, World War II, the Korean and Vietnamese Wars,  the exponential changes in technology and medicine, social upheavals and developments, indeed, all of the intervening domestic and World history of the era.

May not these historic strips, albeit arranged and conglomerated into somewhat different form, be of significant academic use to historians, economists and sociologists, studying the life and events of the approximately,  one Century of American existence represented, find a veritable treasure trove of desired information therein? Devoted and capable scientists obtain needed enlightenment from radioactive carbon, from fossils and geological strata, from the study and computation of tree rings, why not schmattas? Mom would be very pleased to know that they have yet another use.

-p.

 Blogpost # 882   THE GRIFTING OF GRANDMA

Recently, we were the intended victims of an unsuccessful attempt in one of the crudest, but, arguably, boldest, species of the many-faceted deceitful iterations, of what we have contextually, termed, “The Grandma Grift.” In simple terms, our general concept describes the pernicious act of preying upon the elderly, with false and deceitful representations, presumably, upon the arrogant and immoral assumption that, being elderly and presumably, infirm, they are easy marks for deception. In our case, the landline phone rang and following our customarily, reserved, response of “Hello,” the young grifter stated, “Hello Grandpa.” Had we responded in presumably, predictable fashion, with something like, “Hi, is this Jordy?” the errant caller would have thereby, obtained his desired and malicious, entre to a false, communicative, intimacy; predictably, followed by a scripted conversation, the concluding, and intended, portion of which would be a request for monetary help. In this case, the wary, old fish did not bite. We, shortly thereafter, were surprised to read in an AARP pamphlet, that this primitive swindle, is widespread and, often successful. In the interest of literary propriety, we will refrain from comment on our perceived persona of these young grifters.

 We are especially outraged, by the more sophisticated, and deceitful, offers of “beneficial” transactions, touted to senior citizens, in the areas of finance, life insurance, and real estate. These misleading, and essentially false, representations, broadcast on television by well-known, attractive, show business celebrities, pseudo-doctors and “experts.” Unlike the miscreant defrauders who perpetrate their crude swindles by telephone, the sophisticated, televised offers of “snake oil” panaceas and monetary enrichment, purport to intimately, disclose to the (presumed vulnerable) elders, the inside, (actually, “insidious”) wisdom, in the context of a faux pretention of a dedicated and informed desire to be of empathic service. Some of the most egregious targeted, deceit, perpetrated on public television, occurs in the areas of life insurance, and real estate ownership.

[Life Insurance] The offer, on the part of insurance companies, to repurchase, long- existing, policies of life insurance, from the insured senior citizen, is touted as a pragmatically, facile mode, for the latter, to obtain needed finances. The solicitation, itself, is tactically, scripted, in positive, convincing, language, delivered by a convincing, well-known show business, or talk show celebrity, in a neighborly and intimate context. The consumer is emphatically, “reminded” that he is “sitting on an unused, pot of gold,” and thereby, can free himself of the oppression of current financial concerns, too often the worrisome, plight of the senior citizen.

It is known that insurance companies calculate their premiums actuarially, i.e., based upon the statistical life expectancy of the prospective insured; moneys, not dedicated to its contractual payment are, profitably, invested in mortgages, real estate and other “legal,”  investments. With regard to the individual insured, as stated, the amount of his respective, premium, is calculated upon various personal factors, the most salient, being age. The younger the applicant, the less probable, his imminent death, and, the longer (and greater) the anticipated period (amount) of premium payments. It is empirically, obvious that older, long-time policyholders, having, over the years, paid substantial sums in premiums, and being further along in age, are actuarially (predictably), nearer to their date of decease;, the event obligating the insurer’s payment of the face amount of the policy to the designated, beneficiary. The return to the insured, of, a calculated, formulaic, portion of the substantial total of the insured’s paid, premiums and the cancellation of the, imminently due, death benefit (to the beneficiary) is, at the same time an unjustified, bonanza for the insurance company, and a relatively, modest financial benefit to the needy, policyholder.

For the purposes of clarity, and emphasis, we choose to restate the inequitable fact, that the insurer, after having received many years of premium payment, calculated upon the actuarial date of death (the older the insured, the greater the premium payment) and, having earned profits, from the investment of such cost-free source of investment capital (premiums), can thus, profitably, avoid its contracted obligation to pay the face amount of the policy to the hapless, beneficiary, for whom the policy proceeds, were intended. The offer of this avenue of financing is, wisely, avoided, except in cases of ultimate desperation.

[Insurance] Another, misleading, elder- grift, in the context of life insurance, which we would descriptively, term, deceitful, solicitation, (by partial and misleading information), is as follows: The stereotypic, handsome, smiling presenter, affably, offers “life insurance” at the identical, non-cancellable, relatively, modest premium, “regardless of age or state of health;” but deceitfully, omits to reveal the relevant amount(s) of insurance coverage, to the insured, available for such uniform and modest premium. We would, doubt that the amount of insurance, respectively, purchased by a prospective insured, is not, by sheer business and arithmetic necessity, in some fashion, calculated upon the nuances of age and state of health. The solicitation is an obvious, elder-grift, known as a “come on.”  Misleading, “loss leaders,” deemed, permissible, in the sale of foods at supermarkets, are not acceptable in the sales of insurance.

[Real Estate] Lately, there seems to be a bit of a lull, in the advertisement and solicitation to elder homeowners, of the  purported financial benefits of the “Reverse Mortgage;” qualitatively, termed by us, as the “Perverse Mortgage,” due to the policies of general non-disclosure, by lending institutions and the consequential misunderstanding, of its compliant responsibilities by the prospective, borrower,

The ownership of residential real estate, the “home,” exists, for many people, as the most substantial financial asset, in their lifetime portfolio. Conceivably, as significant, is the fact that, nostalgically, it has been the mise-en-scene, for their lifetime, family drama. 

The lure of the reverse mortgage is the empirical, discomfort of modest, periodic income, following retirement, which makes the life of the elderly (retiree) worrisome and difficult, and, correspondingly, the advertised, lure of the reverse mortgage attractive and compelling.

This alternately, dynamic vehicle of financing is labeled, “reverse mortgage,” since the loan is granted by the financial institution against the calculated equity (the value of the realty, after subtracting the value, as applicable, of its recorded mortgage obligation. It is available to individuals over the age of 62 and its perceived virtue consists of the ability of the cash-strapped owner(s) to remain in the home, without the obligation to make monthly remissions of mortgage payments. Naturally, the amount of monetary, cost, charged against their assigned equity, grows larger, as time passes. Nevertheless, the salient, feature is the ability to continue living in the house, without the financial obligation to make monthly, mortgage payments.

However, there exist mandatory, financial and personal responsibilities and inflexible, limitations, concomitant with this avenue of financing, to be aware of, and carefully considered, prior to application. An unfortunate matter, related to us by an old friend, demonstrates that proper diligence and attention to detail is, essential. A surviving spouse, invited her emotionally challenged, sister- in law to live with her in her home, for reasons of compassion and personal company. The two lived together, until the owner of the home, who was the surviving, mortgagee under a reverse mortgage, suddenly took ill and died. The emotionally. handicapped sister-in-law was thereafter, rendered homeless since reverse mortgages provide for cancellation and sale when the mortgagee (owner) sells the premises or dies.

Additional points for consideration are the age requirement, 62, unusually high closing fees, and, notably, the continuing obligation of the mortgagee-owner to pay for the real estate taxes, insurance, repair, and upkeep. When the title owner dies or moves, the mortgage is terminated and the balance of the unused, pledged equity, if any, paid to the mortgagee less the selling and closing costs.

Should an owner of real estate, fully aware of the above requirements, nevertheless, find it acceptable, to apply for an equity reverse mortgage, we would recommend, as an initially, prudent matter, that he obtain an independent appraisal from an independent and trustworthy broker.

We intend, in the near future, to write on the subject of “snake oil” medicine, similarly, designed to scam older citizens, but, simply, could not defer comment on the pharmaceutical products, touted as a panacea for memory loss, due to aging. Some of the advertisements make a point of boasting (?) that their product is derived, from jellyfish. We have taken the time to investigate the subject with various doctors from N.Y. Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, who have, advised, that, there seems to be no proof, whatever, of the media representations. We are obliged, under the circumstances, to assume that the advertised, effective, result, was attained, by scientifically, deduced conclusion, based, upon the total inability of medical researchers to locate any medically, recorded cases of senile dementia, in jellyfish.

-p.

Blogpost # 881    DUCK AND COVER!

Following Russia’s explosion of its first atomic bomb (1949), America, under President Harry Truman, implemented certain programs, relative to the public’s protection in the event of a nuclear bombing. Readers of sufficient age may nostalgically, remember the randomly, transmitted, school alarms, responded to, by the teacher’s solemn cue to her previously, drilled students, to duck under their school desks for cover, (“duck and cover”). As we recall, the desktop was to serve as a shield from flying debris caused by the theoretical, bombing; however, it is inarguable, that in the event of an actual, nuclear bombing such compliant, protective action, would not be ultimate.

Among the contemporaneous, “external,” threats to the American Nation, would appear to be, pandemics, escalating climate crises, cyber and digital threats, and, conceivably, international economic disruption. Fortunately, however, no external threat, to our Nation presently exists, comparable to that of a terrifying, nuclear attack.  

Kudos, are certainly, due, to the white-wigged, prescient and creative 19th Century, Founders of our Nation, for the sagacious, architectural design of their conceived, radically, experimental, Democratic Republic. Their foresight was posthumously, rewarded with a political structure, whose foundational integrity has successfully survived many major, external threats, including, two World Wars, as well as many, singular, internal challenges. Such internal challenges, historically, have included, no less than a Civil War, the subsequent, Reconstruction Period, a Great Depression, and, memorably, the rancorous and divisive, strife, attendant upon America’s conduct of the Viet Nam War.

It is disappointing and profoundly, troubling to be obliged to note, that, contemporaneously, our Nation and its democratic form of government, face, what appears to be, its historically, greatest existential peril, said dire threat posed by perilous, internal sources.

Thomas Jefferson’s admonition, often quoted by us, that, for a democracy to be successful, it is necessary to have an educated and well-informed citizenry, has proven to be as prescient as it was wise. The contemporary, Nation, unfortunately, evinces a large number of, useless, inadequately, educated and poorly, informed citizens, which negative condition, per se, poses a life and death challenge to the continuance of a democratic republic (one, “by and for the people”). Further, it appears that such vast hordes of misguided and inadequately, schooled citizens evince a general discontent with their lives, which, by the defensive dynamics of subjective projection, maintain angry anti-government (program) sentiments, and bigoted delusions.

Said population is perforce, vulnerable to tactically, false, “pie-in-the-sky,” populist, dogma. Recent history recounts the unfortunate events in which the foolhardy and perverse, authoritarian-populist, inclination of the Nation’s said, “underbelly,” was demagogically, catalyzed, and invigorated, by our failed, aberrant, and despicable, past President, Donald J. Trump; with whose, reductive ignorance, demonstrated bias, and autocratic, repudiation of “truth,” they could, effortlessly, identify. A potentially, disastrous peril to democracy, was created by the consequent, conglomerate-like fusing together of the heterogeneous and amorphous, denizens of the Nation’s malcontented underbelly. Unfortunately, the latter class consists of a sufficiently, large number of voters to intimidate many elected legislators and officials, whose political ambitions seem to outweigh their constitutional oath of office. Like hapless lemmings, the latter support Trump and his cultish sycophants, rather than act on behalf of their constituency and the Nation.

The foundational American promises of justice and truth, have been denigrated by Trump and his “MAGA,” “supporters, and replaced, by them, with bigoted ideations and subjectively, preferable, (Trump –style) “alternate facts.” A new, freakish and subjectively, malleable “truth,” flexibly, and tactically, suitable for undemocratic and, autocratic, memes, was thus, Presidentially, enfranchised, resulting in an unproductive, factual morass and a fertile source of inane and delusional, conspiratorial, ( ethnic and political) ideations.

The latter, anti-intellectual, anti-government, horde, or population, are, in addition, tactically, encouraged and financially supported, by better informed, but irresponsibly overriding, financial interests, whose sociopathic preference for profits, far outweigh any concern for the health of humankind, by the salutary government regulation of air pollution, opposed by the anti-government populist.

As known, Trump’s resounding and unsurprising, loss, in his attempt at election, for a second, ( another disastrously, incapable) term, as President, was, neurotically, denied by him, and responded to, in true autocratic fashion, by his classic reprise of the stereotypic, autocratic, “Big Lie,” viz., the tactically false, denial of the validity of the election, (albeit, certified as valid, by all official audit agencies); with which deceit, Trump’s, newly congealed, cult of ignorant, underbelly, supporters, and those others, whose financial or political interests were benefited, thereby, were, and continue to be, in congruence.

The historical aspiration and efforts toward universal, egalitarian and democratic unity of the Nation, have, accordingly, descended to an antagonistic stage, bizarrely, segregated between the Trump, sycophantic, “alternate facts,” cult, and mainstream Americans, who continue to support the determinative nature of the democratic voting franchise and are accepting of empirical and demonstrative truth.  Their oppositional, right-wing cults, have, also included various military-style Christian White Supremacy organizations whose character, motivation, and aspirations, vary from the Hitler Brown Shirts, only by the color of their official uniform. These fascistic organizations and their misled, acolytes, have aspired, by sundry, illegal and unconstitutional means, to literally, deconstruct American democracy.                                                                                                                             

The Nation, on January 6, 2022, was shocked and aghast, at the occurrence of a violent and lethal insurrection, against the Capitol Building in  Washington, D.C., initiated and encouraged by President Trump, himself, seeking reversal of the election, and the delivery of the Presidency, unjustly, to the neurotic, autocratic loser. The violent, unprecedented event was led by such American Nazi militias, as the “Proud Boys”, and the “Oath Keepers,” and seditiously and violently participated in, by many hundreds of right-wing “patriots,” in a populist-authoritarian attempt to reverse the valid outcome of the Presidential election and thereby, deconstruct democracy.  Happily, the Insurrection failed, despite regrettable mortalities incurred by Capital Police and others, in the failed insurrection. The matter is presently, in the prosecutorial hands of the U.S. Justice Department.

Many other anti-democratic, phenomena have, concomitantly, been put in play, by politicians, and legislators, irresponsibly and self-interestedly, pandering to the large horde of populist authoritarian voters, the latter including, voter suppression, gerrymandering, antagonism to intellectualism, undemocratic book banning and censorship, curriculum banning, such as CRT and cultural bias. The ever-increasing number of tragic gun incidents, the politicization of SCOTUS, growth of unconstitutional and improper religious influence, notably, the overturn of a half-century of legalization of abortion, increase in anti-Semitism and bigotry in general, opposition to refugee immigration, opposition to the established government assistance, comprise existential threats to the acceptable, American way of life.

Mainstream America is alarmed, but armed, solely, with considered voting, and occasional opportunities to write or speak in the interest of democracy. We urgently, need some more, albeit, ultimately, effective “duck and cover.”

-p.

Blogpost # 880   THE PATHOLOGY OF CENSORSHIP

 After many years of considered, experience we have confidently arrived at the empirical, conclusion that the conception and practice of moral censorship is nothing short of delusional, pathology.

As often appears to be the case with other maladies, the basic etiology of the subject infirmity has its own mutated variants. The associated scourge of political censorship, i.e., the tactical rejection or alteration of objective truth, in aid of the substitution of official mendacity for purposes of strategic, political mind control, is one example. The latter, variant, while, indisputably, perverse and immoral, can, at minimum, be rationally, apprehended, as a stereotypical tactic for Nazi-style, controlled societies.

By comparison, it seems to be beyond the scope of humankind’s, developed, capacity for reason, to comprehend any individual’s delusion as to the personal assumption of a self-anointed, evangelical mission and the presumption of requisite, bona fide capability, to cleanse humanity from subjectively, perceived “immoral” or “impure” thoughts.

The metaphysical designation, or the foundational understanding, of the ubiquitously, relative terms, “immoral” and “impure,” would present a challenging and comprehensive subject, and one, pragmatically, reserved for a future writing. For the specifically, limited, purposes of this essay, we would merely, observe that the definitional or applied, standards, of such judgmental adverbs, do, in fact, tend, to be subjectively, or temporally, variable.

The historic, foundational right to free speech, deeply embedded, in the American psyche, is assured by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and nurtured by American, juridical precedent. The reductively, ignorant delusion of the stereotypic censor, seems, nevertheless, to perseverate, upon his own, neurotically fueled, fantasies of guilt and rectitude, rather than upon man’s liberty, artistic sensitivity and aesthetic creation. The latter is existentially requisite to Man’s development, in his search for ultimate understanding, and the satisfaction of his humanistic, desire for intellectual and artistic, expression.

While censors seem to have their nuanced, individual predilections, presumably, based upon their, respective, individual or neurotic mindset, the most common attack on the established right of free speech, is in the delicate context of human sexuality. Belief, that early exposure to language and to action of a prurient or lewd nature in literature, or, the bizarrely, ignorant belief in the “grooming” of transsexuality (rather than the chance, natural, distribution of hormones and chromosomes) raises the  hackles of the ignorantly, reductive censor. It may further, be historically, and instructively, noted, that this area of criticism far outweighs his moral outrage against societal or ethnic violence.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice, John Marshal Harlan, stated, “One man’s vulgarity, is another man’s lyric.” Nevertheless, upon the theoretical assumption, that it were possible, to construe a universally, confirmed standard of improper sexual depiction in literature, it is inarguably, clear that the same, might more, appropriately, be addressed to the young in the course of their school curricula, where the appropriate, factual information can be, beneficially, illuminated, as a rational and salutory, alternative rather than to completely, eliminate the transcribed subject, only, to thereby, relegate its inaccurate elucidation to, readily, available, misleading, vulgar influences.

The irrationality and dangerous acts of Nazi-style, book banning and the autocratic suppression of school curricula, by self-appointed, bigoted, inquisitors, are patently, presumptuous and clearly undemocratic. Such misperceived, pedantic, policies, if officially, condoned, would clear a dangerous and unpredictable, path, to the anarchical, determination of the acceptability of National speech and art, by America’s feckless, horde of self-appointed, reductively, ignorant and despicable, bush- league, moralists. 

-p. 

Blogpost # 879    THE IN’S AND OUT’S, OF DINING (Redux)

[PREFACE] For the contextual purpose of this writing, we would choose to differentiate the word, “eating,” from, “dining.” The verb, “Eating,” essentially, is the existential activity of humankind (and other living organisms) by which food is regularly, ingested, to assuage the organism’s eternal need for nutrition. Dining, as we intend its meaning in this writing, is eating, (usually, the evening dinner meal) socially, with family or others, on special occasions, usually, at a selected, restaurant. Collateral, but, socially, significant, functions of dining, are communication and the confirmation of relationships (with friends, family or business representatives.)

[“Dining out”- a/k/a “eating out”]

The practice of eating, or dining, “out,” customarily, takes place at a restaurant, selected by the host, or by one of the attendant parties. The selection of the restaurant, normally, is made by the host, or one or more, of the participating, parties; the customary criteria for such selection include, location, ambiance and the perceived quality of one’s previous dining experience.

All restaurants, big and small, ethnic or American-style food, have similar, “balletic” rituals. Upon arrival, if seasonally, relevant, there is the disposition of outerwear, to a “hat-check” clerk. Although the restaurant may be, empty all experienced diners understand that they are expected, to wait, compliantly, at an indicated and appropriately designated space, until they are cued, for “seating” at a table.  An attractive shaped bottle of water is then, supplied by a “busboy,” followed by the graceful and ritualistic distribution of menus and solo recitation, if applicable, of the evening’s “special” selections. The server, then, invitingly, makes inquiries, as to desired, wine or alcoholic beverages. The dance ritual continues with the server disappearing for about three minutes, only to return and gracefully, reply to questions and note (“take”) the parties’ orders.

Following the end of the dramatic, action-packed second act, consisting of the parties’ actual eating experience and social discourse, the server, who, throughout the performance, had been waiting in the wings, for questions and requests, gracefully, clears the table, and solicits requests, for dessert or coffee, following which, he, as a finale, delivers the bill. The latter, is customarily, augmented the diners, with what is known, as a “tip,” frequently, 15% to 20%.

Such final coda, to the restaurant’s symphony, is a ritualistic ceremony, with which we have always willingly, complied, albeit, never, truly, understood. An experienced restaurant patron, once, pedantically, explained, in an arrogant and condescending, manner: “I’m surprised that you don’t know that the word “TIP,” is an obvious, abbreviation for the phrase “To insure Proper Service!” We, politely, refrained, in the interest of civility, to furnish the empirically, logical reply that pedantic declaration made little, temporal sense since its dynamics were empirically, ex post facto; the tip is given after the service, and logically, could not serve to expedite or improve it. N.B.:  It is our view, that adequate remuneration is the legal and moral responsibility of the restaurant proprietor, as it is for any other entrepreneur.

[“Dining In”, a/k/a “eating in”]

Dining at home, is unquestionably, the most uncomplicated, comfortable and simplest mode of socially, ingesting food, and is universally, enjoyed for its routine and convenient, simplicity. Our declared, standard for the category of “dining,” is, not satisfied, with the exception of special occasions, viz., an honored guest, holidays, and celebratory occasions. However, the virtues of communication and ratification of relationships are, certainly, relevant.

Among the salient, virtues of eating at home, (“en famille”), is the existence of “home cooking,” with its accommodating, facility to cater to nuanced tastes. Also relevant is the relaxed, familiar and comfortable intimacy and, of course, the relatively modest cost. It may be noted, that there are a substantial number of nutritional studies and media articles, to the effect that home-cooked, cuisine eliminates certain unhealthy, ingredients, employed by restaurant chefs, such as excessive salt, sugar, oils and fats, and, accordingly, is nutritionally healthier, furnishing especial, critical emphasis on, “fast food” purveyors. All the foregoing, benefits exist, in addition to the societal and psychological benefits derived from familial, reaffirmation of shared, personal relationship.

[“Dining out,” ”eating in”- a gustatory, hybrid]

On occasion, there is a mixed desire to “eat in,” and, simultaneously, a yen to have a variation from the (admittedly, good but, predictable) home-cooked cuisine. Such impetus may arise for various reasons, unexpected guests,  the empathic desire to afford a respite to the hard-working cooker, a desire for a momentary change in home cuisine, or, a yen for a specific style of ethnic food.

A  call, telephonic, or by smartphone, is made to the relevant restaurant, the order taken down and shortly, thereafter, delivered to and enjoyed by the home diners. This is a hybrid instance of “eating out,” since the meal, as requested by the diners, was prepared by an outside-the-home, chef, and delivered by a (bicycle-driven) server; the latter, similarly, receiving a tip for his services. Other than the dynamics of ordering, service and tip, the diners have the dual benefit of the comfort and intimacy as with the comforting ambiance of a home-cooked meal, combined with the elective, experience of partaking of a professionally, prepared meal, personally, selected from a menu, albeit, despite the absence of the restaurant balletic.

It would appear, that, universally, we have the ubiquitous benefit of a dual “menu;” one regarding the choice of venue and the logistics of a meal, as well as another, listing the available choices for dinner.

Bon Appetit!

-p.     

Blogpost # 878 “WHICHCRAFT” (CHOICES)

Our readings of the erudite essays of the classical philosophers, on the subject of “free will,” reveal them, in general, to be the context of the concern for political liberty from a King or from Church dogma. In the contemporary, post-Freud era, it has become relevant and meaningfully, useful, to consider such conceit in the context of the nature and extent of the individual’s realistic, motivational freedom of action.

The subject of Man’s freedom of choice, is contemporaneously, perceived in the nature of an unfolding, dynamic scenario, commencing at the earliest stage of childhood  (perhaps, even earlier) based, upon the nuanced confluence of many individualized, factors, sociological, psychological, environmental, medical, economic and situational. The Individual’s choices, aspirations, fears, and general mindset, if not quite, ordained, by his life circumstances, are certainly guided, or affected, thereby. It might, empirically, and reasonably, be declared that no choices in life are, in themselves, entirely spontaneous or haphazard.

An individual’s expressed views, overt actions, chosen affiliations and friendships, are empirically based upon established, criteria, developed in the situational and contextual setting of his life, most especially, experiences at the early stages of childhood. However, The attitudes and innate inclinations of the mature individual may be altered, due to significant experience warranting such change, or perhaps, by educative persuasion; notwithstanding, he will, predictably, in some residual way, eternally, demonstrate a trace of his nuanced persona, and make choices, to some degree, affected by his earlier, impactful, perceptions.

Our basic apprehension as to the subject of individual motivation and free will (choices), fundamentally, commences with our often-cited and lauded, John Locke. Locke famously, declared, that Man is born with a clean slate (“tabula rasa”) and that his knowledge is (exclusively), acquired by experience. One’s signature and nuanced, frame of reference, aspirations and fears, accordingly, are dependent upon personal, situational and experiential, factors.

Included, among the latter formative, factors, are: the nature of his parental personalities and their level of education, the family’s state of finances, his race, religion, personal and family health, both physical and mental, his level of intelligence, inherited genes, acquired ethnos, existence of siblings, nature of his community, and his national and ethnic affiliation.

A virtual universe of accepted, familial views, relating to spiritual, matters (religious or secular), morality and justice, aspirational propriety, political affiliation and lifestyle, even food preferences, are among the impacting, factors in the home environment of the developing individual; which have enduring, if not, lifetime, influences on his “free,” choices of lifestyle and outlook.

His interactive experiences in society will be salient factors in the resultant development of his self-image and perceptional reality, which will affect the nature and extent of his aspirational choices (“free will”) and their possible effectuation. In the sober apprehension of his situational reality, factors such as race, economic situation, physical and emotional health, degree of education and innate, experiential, aptitude, will pragmatically, color his perceptions, and, accordingly, his “voluntary,” choices.

Nevertheless, it can, empirically, and positively, be said that “free will,” and aspirational choices, are, factually, attainable, or, else, unattainable, to the extent that the individual, albeit, fully, cognizant of the above phenomena, perceives them as impassable roadblocks or, to the contrary, more admirably, and constructively, as a personal challenge.

-p.

Blogpost # 877 AMERICAN LEISURE BARBARISM

In common with other informed members of the public, we were able to breathe a grateful sigh of relief regarding the news that Buffalo Bills,’ 24-year-old, Damar Hamlin is, now, expected to survive. Hamlin’s near-mortal injury, as reported, was, incurred, in the course of a violent tackle, during a professional league, football game. The incident re-ignited our eternal abhorrence of violence, most especially, for the questionably moral, purpose of spectator amusement.

The occurrences of painful, life-sustaining injuries, even death, are predictable, events in the context of the aptly, called, “contact sports.” However, the acquisition of substantial profits derived from the public’s accepted, perverse and barbaric pleasure, spectating human beings in physical competition commonly, productive of pain and suffering, seems to override, socially, humanistic inclinations. On numerous occasions, we have been present at homes, where televised football games were being viewed, and recall the loud, ecstatic and congratulatory cries of “great hit,” at the occurrences of the most violent blocks and tackles.

It is ironic, to note that, in the interest of propriety, the sadistically, cruel exhibition of cockfights and pit-bull conflicts, are illegal by State Statute. Such empathy and respect appropriately accorded to the State’s roosters and dogs are not, in this “compassionate,” Nation, extended to human beings.  Boxing is and has always been, legal and popular, in the United States. Champion boxers are awarded star status, and treated as celebrities, for their brutal, effectiveness in the delivery of unrelenting, physical cruelty to their opponents. In such savage “sport,” unlike football, there are no complex considerations of tactical play strategy, no, runs, blocks, kicks and goals, but, simply, hard, injury intended, punching.

In the event of a failure, of the officially, designated, conclusion of the match (consisting of one combatant, savagely, and successfully, striking his opponent with sufficient, savage blows to the head, as to cause him to fall down and be rendered, unconscious, or comatose, (the reverenced, “knockout,”) points are justly earned and officially, awarded by the referee and judges, for the most, potentially, damaging hits, most often, to the head.

We would recommend to the reader, in this context, an eye-opening, classic movie, entitled, “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” in which the tragically, debilitated life of a long-time boxer, is painfully, and compassionately, depicted.  The protagonist of the movie portrays the boxer’s pitiful loss of normal brain function, an empirically, predictable, result of a boxing career.

What sort of judgmental observation can be rationally, comprehended, regarding an evolved, sentient species of planetary fauna, that evinces the bizarre, contrary capacities, to derive pleasure from reading a Jane Austin masterpiece, enjoy the pantheistic, beauty of Wordsworth’s poetics, or the humanistic, authorship of  John Steinbeck, while, simultaneously, possessing the perverse inclination to savor the witness of an intentional and barbaric, mutual infliction of pain and injury, by boxing combatants, or between competing, team players, engaged in a violent, contact sport?

We are able to conjure up two possibilities, in resolution of this strange confluence of contrasting, human traits. In our view, the most probable of the two is that the multi-faceted, persona of humankind is capable of contrasting, even divergent, traits and behaviors, regarding which, the contemplative, sensitive individual has the innate capacity to employ any one of the same, as desired, or, secondly, that the essential will of man is insecure and fluctuates, as he is bidden, by external stimuli, e.g. advertisement, other, tasteless, humans.

We would prefer, and therefore, opt, to select the first possible explanation, regarding the capability of choice. If such reasoning is correct, one will have, revealingly demonstrated the true nature of his innate persona by his evaluation of recreational choice.

It should be empirically noted and instructively, observed, that those individuals, with the good fortune to possess the inclination to explore sources of internal (intellectual) benefits of aesthetic pleasure or amusement, are especially, rewarded in ways that are lasting, and conducive to their personal advancement and, as well, to the decency and humanistic growth of their Society.

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Blogpost # 876  ON “AGE APPROPRIATENESS”

In elucidation of our forthcoming theme, we would relate the following humorous, but, instructive, anecdote:

 [A local Pastor, following his return home from the conduct of his Sunday Church service, responsibly, decided to engage in his serially, postponed chore, of repaving the cracked concrete walk directly in front of his family residence. It was a rather warm afternoon and he perspired, profusely, from the three hours of mixing and laying of the cement and the painstaking, finishing and smoothing of the surface. His next-door neighbor, a member of his church congregation, came outdoors and complimented him, profusely, on the excellence of the finished job. Just then, an eight-year-old boy carelessly, ran over the still wet, concrete walk, angering the Pastor, who thereupon, gave the boy a spanking for his irresponsible deed. The neighbor stated, confusedly: “But Reverend, in this morning’s sermon, you preached that corporal punishment was not religiously, acceptable or proper.” The Pastor cagily, replied, “That admonition was in theory, but this offense is in the concrete!”

Our American-English lexicon features various terms and vocabulary such as “age-appropriate,” which are eminently, useful and salubrious, in theory, but empirically unclear and disputed as to their pragmatic, (concrete) application. Our themed subject is such an instance of a flawlessly, rational and pragmatic, concept, however, by virtue of its, necessarily, subjective and judgmental nature is, in its application, the impetus for substantial dispute and societal conflict.

Essentially, “age-appropriate,” refers to that aspect of normalization that reinforces such elements as, recognition of an individual as a person of a certain chronological age. Included, are dress, language, choice of education, physical and social development, choice of leisure and recreational activity, physical and emotional maturity, personal possessions and self-perception.

An official, formalized, determination of “age appropriateness” may be observed in those societal, standards, which are expressed in the written law, concerning the legal age for drinking alcoholic beverages, employment, voting, marriage, legal consent to sexual relations, capacity to enter into enforceable contracts. Such, particular, “age-appropriate,” legal determinations are precedential and objective in their standards and application and are variable only when society will have so determined. Whether these proscriptions are realistic or arbitrary, fair or unrealistic is exclusively, for the legislature (society) to determine.

While, accord would, predictably, exist as to particular matters of obvious, highly, improper, behaviors ( i.e., offering a baseball bat to elderly, sick, grandma, dressing in a batman costume for religious prayer services, exposing a three-year-old to a cage wrestling match, giving an expensive, box of Cuban cigars, to a ten- year old child, dressing a fat, aging grandpa in a yellow bikini, offering a vodka martini to a middle school sophomore), by contrast, determinations of age propriety, (other than those governmentally, determined), are usually, subjective and, eternally, ripe for contention. Considerations of age appropriateness have often, appeared to coincide, analogously, with an individual’s politically, liberal or conservative inclination and at relevant times, his religious stance.

The most significant and empirically, the most, impactful of contested appraisals of age appropriateness, is cogently, found in the delicate, area of sex education. In this context, it is often, possible to discern some degree of confluence, between an individual’s political affiliation and his inclinations regarding childhood sex education. It would bizarrely, appear that right-wing, conservatives, are against early sex education and enlightenment, and as well, opposed to contraception and (avoidable) unwanted pregnancies. Their opposition to abortion earns them, a trifecta gold medal for this spectacular feat of intransigent ignorance.

We would urge the subscription to the enlightened and principled standard, that unless a pursued, subject of instruction or a particular, rational course of action is not, clearly, harmful, illegal, or in demonstrable opposition to the morality, or just governance of the community, that the evaluation of propriety of a choice of lifestyle, action or other rational behavior, be left, empirically, to the individual citizen, for his own, privately earned, gain or detriment.

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Blogpost # 875  HAVE OASIS WILL TRAVEL

One cannot, with ample justification, blame the traditional American citizen, who finds himself profoundly, disgusted and thoroughly, exhausted, with the profuse, and seemingly, never-ending, existence of hotly disputed, social and political issues of the day, viz., immigration, guns, abortion rights, bigotry, voter interference, populist authoritarianism, religious influence on secular issues, international trade policy, global warming and environmental concerns. In addition to the rancor, evinced by the divisive, tribal parties, there exist, groups of militant organizations, seeking the bogus recognition of preeminence over non-whites and non-Christians, whose implicit goal is the destruction of the democratic republic, the anti-science and anti-vaccination advocates, political, partisan and religious conflict, and other perturbing, matters, including, criminal threats to citizens and political personalities, by un-American thugs.

In addition, is the existence of potential stress factors on the home front, such as intra-familial or domestic strife, personal disappointment, financial stress, illness and injury, unemployment, concerns about aging, “keeping up with the Joneses,” issues between generations, vexing problems at work, social and interactive strife with others and, possibly, money expenditures, concerning home and auto maintenance.

For some extra stimulation, are transitory concerns regarding the occurrence of extreme weather, loss of personal articles, fender-benders, disputations with neighbors, delivery of damaged purchases, injury or death regarding a loved pet, accidental damaging to an expensive or especially, valued, item of personal property (especially, an heirloom or one on gratuitous loan).

The copious occasions and opportunities for stress are virtually, endless; yet the import and context of this writing, is remedial acquisition of temporal relief, from the stress and personal discomfort found inherent, in such emotionally, provocative events. Some relief, or an “oasis” from stressors, is vitally, needed and regular followers of this blog space will not find our nuanced, declarations, as to palliative remedies, unpredictable.

We had chosen to dedicate a previous essay, to the empirical principle, that the appropriate degree of subjective response to any exciting stimulus, should vary, with the degree of perceived significance, by the receiver of the same. This principle being stated, and the persona of humankind, inarguably, being variable, it, ineluctably, follows that the respective responses to stimuli (ex., problems) would, likewise, vary.

A retrospective, of our (several hundreds of) essays, would doubtlessly, reveal, that our menu of recommended goals, sought in the successful development of the human persona, viz., maturity of perception, and wisdom, comprehends a basic understanding of the eternal, classic, human problems and a reliable, moral compass; the latter, founded in an empirically developed, confident and stable self-image and self-knowledge. This is supplemented, by the participatory, understanding of the responsibilities of the communal, institution of the “social contract,” empathy and understanding of other cultural, as well as domestic, non-stereotypic lifestyles, dedication to truth, and, material progress in the ultimate goal of enlightenment.

Great literature, fine art, music and the aesthetic arts in general, intrinsically, deal with the universal experience of Man, his, strengths and especially his eternal weaknesses. The continued relevance of classical art and literature, in addition to their aesthetic excellence, is the analogical similarity, of classically demonstrated, issues, joy and tragedy, played out in the context of the artistic creation. The contemplative person comes to the determination, of the similarity and analogical relevance, of such universal issues, and is enabled, thereby, to objectivize (the commonality of) the human condition.

Such mature perception gives context and understanding of the presenting problem, and to the feeling that “we have been here, before,” and overcame the impediment, or resolved the problem, in some fashion. This is Humankind’s amelioration of despair, his oasis. Such dynamics are the reliable path, as well, to the ultimate goal of mature perception and enlightened, reason.

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